1 — Introduction
Putting forth the question of analyzing the efficacious existence of Unicorns may seem from the onset as a futile exercise in sophistry Continue reading “A Philosophical Examination into the Existence of Unicorns”
1 — Introduction
Putting forth the question of analyzing the efficacious existence of Unicorns may seem from the onset as a futile exercise in sophistry Continue reading “A Philosophical Examination into the Existence of Unicorns”
It could be simply remarked that as we all transverse Continue reading “Hegel’s Streetcar Named Desire “
On September 15th, 2016, less than two months until the U.S. presidential election, the New York Times posted an opinion editorial titled When a Crackpot Runs for President, which asked — or, rather, fervently challenged — if the media is failing in their duties to honestly frame the narrative of Donald Trump relative to Hillary Clinton (Kristof 2016). The looming subtext that lies in the shadow of the left-right rhetorical jabs of framing Trump as the climate-change-denying-crackpot is: What happen to reason? Hegel once proclaimed, “reason rules the world” (Hegel 12) and in light of that we can look at the reasonable efficacy of Trump’s limelight-laden candidacy as representing either a challenge to the governing authority of Reason or, with heavy hand, a challenge to the Hegelian proposition, eo ipso, as wholly and fallaciously false. The staunchly attentive run-of-the-mill liberal response to the aforementioned inquiry would surely go as the New York Times opines and see Trump as a challenge to reason and definitely not a challenge to Hegel. And, notwithstanding that opinion and Trump’s fascist underpinning, the devout Hegelian may see Trump as a personification of Reason’s antithesis and will remain woefully idealistic and await the dialectical resolve as Reason acquiesces itself as being both in itself and for itself — there is a Reason for everything, even Trump. With that, and that, said, the purpose of this reflection is not to echo the persistent opinion that Trump is a threat to reason, nor is it to rescue Hegel by reveling in the ignorant veil of the known-unknown of Absolute Spirit, but, rather I ask, is Trump a challenge to Hegel? Continue reading “Trump in the Shadow of the Hegelian Ego”
You may have noticed in the past few years, there has been an increase in the popularity of Zombie’s and the subsequent apocalyptic disaster than generally ensues. The Zombie folklore began increasing in popularity in the 1970’s and then dramatically increased in popularity again in the late 1990’s through present day, as exhibited in an examination of the word “Zombie” in English literature (see Fig. 1) as illustrated by a Google NGram data analysis. Continue reading “Zombies & the Postmodern Human”
The purpose of this paper is analyze our (human) relationship to the non-human universe and how our relationship adversely impacts the environment around us; and, from this, where does this relationship come from and, more importantly, where are we going with it? As part of this process I will contrast two different metaphysical views: the metaphysics of Emmanuel Kant and object-oriented-ontology as rendered by the disciples of Alfred Whiteheads process philosophy. Continue reading “The Synthetic Negation of Human Progress”
When I think about my life and what I am, I can’t say with any certainty or rationality that I had any input in being who I am. I did not choose my parents, place and time of birth, race, gender, class and any opportunities or lack thereof. My life, my birth and, subsequently, my actions and experiences were akin to a dice roll…it is by mere chance that I exist in the form I exist, or even at all.
I could have been an Egyptian pharaoh, but probabilistically I would have been an unknown slave that served the unknown needs of a known king — a short-lived existence and a tiny cog in the machine of human history.
I could be an African American man born in Baltimore and perhaps instead of writing this blog I’d be rioting in the streets— as the anger and frustration of institutional racism bubbles from deep within me and manifests violently like a divine bolt of lightening from the gods. Or maybe I’d be a peaceful protestor, or maybe I’d be a police officer trying to maintain peace among the sea of chaos, conflict and contradiction.
I could have been a terrorist and maybe from that vantage point I’d see myself as a hero, prophet or a martyr.
I could have been a serial killer, a religious zealot, a human sacrifice or an aborted fetus that never saw the light of day.
I could have been born under the reign of Nazi Germany and been coerced and convinced that their way is the true way— and perhaps then, I could have been a Nazi. My ego would prefer to think that I would be part of the resistance and I would have helped Jews escape Germany — but by that fantastic, illogical and delusional reasoning, I might as well just will myself to having the opportunity to kill pre-nazi Hitler and negate the entire existence of Nazi Germany. However, that is not the case, nor could it have been the case. The reality of such things, is that I could have been a Nazi and there is nothing in my current existence I could do to negate, change or deny that possibility.
The probability of our universe, our galaxy, our sun, our planet, our life, our intelligence our existence and the abstracted symbols you read in this blog are a mere sliver, of which we can’t even measure. And beyond that, one thing we cant measure or know is the experiences of other people in a true sense. I cant pretend to assert that I know the experiences of other people; nor can I assert that if I was randomly born in their shoes that I would do something different or live different or actualize a different existence.
Given different economics, different politics and a completely different matrix of existence…
Michael Brown could have been the one who successfully fought at destroying racial injustice….
& Freddie Gray could have been the one to help bridge us towards world peace.
Maybe that is a fantastic stretch of my imagination, but perhaps it also a fantastic stretch to be born on third base and presume you hit a triple. We all had equal chance at being something or nothing; significant or insignificant; rich or poor; you or me. And this fact— rendered through a lens of empathy and compassion— could be the means upon which we perceive all other people. Not with judgement, not with pretense and not by denying that the person you cast judgement upon, could have been, for that matter, YOU.
After all, just as much as I could have been a Nazi— so could you.
If we wanted to successfully advance practices that serve the means of reducing violence, it would be prudent to first understand what violence is and, a fortiori, what causes it to be. Continue reading “A Theory of Violence”
As I sat in a coffee shop reading the schizophrenic philosophical whims of Gilles Deleuze I became bombarded with a young couple, their parents and a baker who devoured my personal space to fuss over cake choices for the young couples to-be wedding. The cake maker asks the groom to be, “so you do not eat gluten” and the groom replied promptly: “no”. And, without skipping a beat, the cake maker responds to this anti-gluten proclamation with the follow up question: “is it by choice?” If you so desire to need to know the grooms response to this rather puzzling question then I will pacify your need for absolution by telling you he said “no [it’s not by choice]”. However, for the purpose of this essay, I will focus only on the bakers question: “is it by choice?” I have no wherewithal to know or care if the groom has a gluten sensitivity or gluten allergy, but I am curious as to understand how it is reasonable for somebody to ask the question “is it a choice?” — how could it not be a choice? However, I will persist to claim that the cause of his desire to avoid gluten and the cause of his lack of perceived freedom to gluten or to not gluten is simply: Plato.
On any given day, as I transverse through the market there is an entire aisle dedicated to bread and the choices we have for bread seem to be endless— our bread freedom is not infringed upon. Our choices are aplenty. But our groom has no choice— so he says. Even if gluten makes him sick he still has the choice to be sick or not to be sick. But, however, it may be true that he has no choices at all— perhaps his casual response is more insightful than we first thought. The irony of his request to not have gluten, notwithstanding his allergies, is that the party of five was sipping coffee made in South America that has a substantial carbon footprint, milk from cows that lived off corn drenched in pesticides and processed/refined sugar; and more specifically for the bride to-be: “milk” from the pesticide drenched soy bean and, in avoidance of sugar, the neurotoxin aspartame is substituted as her method to sweeten up her coffee. And, the icing on the cake, (not to take away from their sugar laced literal icing on their cake samples), is their coffee is served in paper cups that will live out their days in a landfill— even though they completely consumed their beverage in the coffee shop and there is a full shelf of beautifully branded ceramic mugs awaiting to be actualized. If, he does not have the choices to choose to eat with gluten or not, then it is reasonable to assert that the decision to consume all of their coffee/cake accouterment is also not a choice at all.
This young couple, of maybe 25 at best, is getting married, having a wedding cake, testing cake with their parents and is under the polite consultation of the cake maker— where is the evidence of their free choice? What are choices anyway? Our desires? Our whims? Are conditioned response to the thing that triggers our pleasure principle? Are we, as Freud posits, merely desiring machines that perpetually operate in pursuance of acquiescing to the desires of our Id, Ego and Superego? But, if we are mere machine of desire— then it’d be reasonable to suggest that we as part of the social machine too. As, we do not exist as autonomous bubbles of desire — as much as we want to be. So do my desires and whims become the product of the social machine, or are my whims and desires the product of the social machine? Meaning, more specifically, does our couple do what they do because the social machine dictates their reality, or are they autonomously choosing to do as they do and are actualizing their true desires and, as it so happens, their desires are then reflected back into the social strata as the norm. In reduction, are they mere cause or mere effect?
So I will first abstract our subjects into the objective reality of, what Kierkegaard would call, the crowd and asses the casual relationship of desire. If I was to create a business plan to sell, say for example cakes, my potential investors would be avid to claim I need to specify my demographic and explicitly tell them who I am creating my goods/services for, who I am marketing to and who I am, hopefully, selling to. But, how do I know that my potential buyer exists, before the thing they want to buy exists? Is it, as marketing departments state, that the aggregate crowd of desiring people exist prior to the thing of which they desire? Or, does the thing of which they desire create the people desiring? Nietzsche would argue that “selection does not presuppose a primary gregariousness; gregariousness presupposes the selection and is born of it. ‘Culture’ as a selective process of marking or inscription invents the large number in whose favor it is exerted.”[i] In other words, “culture” as the creator of the thing that we desire— objet petit a in Lacanian — is mere cause and the mere effect is the desire. This would imply that our subjects desire to drink what they drink, eat what they eat, marry and all desire and choice in whole is mere effect of the social-machine as cause, viz. “culture”. However, it would be obtuse to suggest that all desire is mere effect, as the cause from social strata of “culture” cannot be causa sui. In other words, in order for a gregarious line of dominoes to fall in line, there needs to be a casual agent— a mere cause to tip the first domino, the creator of desire.
It may be intuited from the previous paragraph that there was a desire creator that dictates what things come into existence and from the creation of that the thing— desire grows. As to conjure and suggest that the cycle of production is a cycle of the repetition of creating, as Badiou would call it, an Event that becomes situated in the void to which it non-existed prior to its existence.[ii] In other words, prior to the invention of soymilk, there was a negated soymilk void to which the soymilk became situated within, and subsequently, the desire to select soymilk was thrusted into existence as the desiring subjects actualize their fidelity to the Event of soymilk. And this is all part of the cycle of production. But, even in the Badiou argument we run into the dilemma of not knowing who pushed the first domino. All that we have reasoned from Badiou is that each string of dominoes became from its own negated being and that it is only knowable by a process that can be reduced to a philosophical game of three-card Monte — as we try to discover the queen that hides between Aristotelian logic and axiomatic set theory. Is this merely just codifying the rules of ideology? Before we start to unpack ideology, let’s return to Deleuze for a moment:
Deleuze would argue, as Marx would, that capitalism divides — as a “repressive machine” — it’s own essence into two categories: “abstract labor” and “abstract desire”— notwithstanding its process to alienate, re-alienate,[iii] ad infinitum. This puts people into two categories: “political economy and psychoanalysis, political economy and libidinal economy.”[iv] The first category, as political economy is the desire cause and as psychoanalysis is the facilitator of desire negation and secondly, as political economy is the desire cause and as libidinal economy is the actualization (effect) of said desire. Meaning, all people are the cause and effect of desire, and the psychoanalysis is, as Deleuze argues, the facilitator of desire negation (in both form and content). Psychoanalysis does not discover repression, it, conversely, creates repression. What that said, I will go back to ideology for a bit:
Althusser would argue that ideology is created for the subject and by the subject and it has no history.[v] This notion that ideology is created for the subject and by the subject is arguing that an agent, as subject, objectively (as they perceive) projects their desire upon the Other and, in exchange as does the Other. Creating a feedback loop of self-validation that vacillates from subject to subject (rationalized in the illusion of objectivity). And although the content of ideology always changes, the form of ideology “has no history”— meaning it never changes or alters. It could be reasoned that Deleuze’s notion that all people are both abstract desire and abstract labor (as desire creating social-machine) is, merely arguing as Althusser does, but with different terminology. Inferring: desire is the ideology of capitalism. And the Event (or ideology) of psychoanalysis is the rational strong arm of desire repression; reduced to merely the scientifically validated repackaging of religious guilt.
So in returning to our married couple to-be we could suggest that their desires are the product of capitalist ideology and capitalist ideology is the product of their desire. They are both the cause and effect of their own desires— however, their autonomous choices to select their desire does not exist. As argued, their perception of objective ideology will create the illusion that the rationality behind their decision is objectively validated and henceforth it’s reasonable to acquiesce to the crowd— even though they are the crowd. This is, perhaps, a reasonable argument in our investigation of our gluten-fearing cake eating friend — he is not desire cause, or desire effect, but, in actu, is the Hegelian synthesis of cause (thesis) and effect (antithesis).
Although I could settle with concluding that our anti-glutenite was wrong to assert that he has no choices, but that also does not mean he has a choice. His act of actualizing his notion of non-choice is the act that removed his capacity to have choice. He negated his freedom by actualizing his freedom towards non-freedom. However, as stated earlier, I am going to blame Plato for this problem, so we shall continue. Marx and Deleuze would persist on arguing that this is the product of capitalism (division of labor) and does this have a history, a beginning—when did capitalism begin? Who kicked the first domino? Rancière would argue that the first domino was kicked over by Plato by the act of casting the shoemaker into the role of proletariat[vi] — Plato implicitly decided the division of labor. If it is true, as Althusser reasons, that both ideology and philosophy are not possible without society[vii], then I could posit the following: Plato is the father of western philosophy, the father of western ideology, the father of capitalism and, as he casted away our reality into his idealistic world, he inscribed the void within the human psyche to forever desire the real as we forever perpetuate the imaginary. As Badiou perceives all that is as coming to be in the void of all that is-not — it is Plato, I posit, who created the void, the hole, the desire, the dread, the nothing, the lack— the negative void of existence that all western civilization has been damned to contend with. This is our Platonic guilt.
[i] Deleuze, Gilles, and Fe Guattari. Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota, 1983. Print. Page 343
[ii] Badiou, Alain. Theory of the Subject. London: Continuum, 2009. Print.
[iii] Deleuze, Gilles, and Fe Guattari. Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota, 1983. Print. Page 303
[iv] Ibid. 304
[v] Althusser, Louis. On the Reproduction of Capitalism: Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses. Print.
[vi] Rancière, Jacques, and Andrew Parker. The Philosopher and His Poor. Durham, NC: Duke UP, 2004. Print.
[vii] Althusser, Louis. On the Reproduction of Capitalism: Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses. Print.
As Freud would see me, I am either in a pendulum swing towards neurosis, in which I am repressing my desires in order to acquiesce to the real, or I am swinging towards psychosis and actualizing my desires, notwithstanding the real. Am I sitting in the midst of a straight line, a vector, in which I can swing one way or another? Or, rather am I a vertex of a triangle and I can choose either one path or the other, notwithstanding that my departure only brings me closer to the opposing extremity.
Either I am destined to feel a lack for not actualizing my desires, or I feel a lack from disengaging from the real. Or, I can remain at the tip of the triangle and feel the partial lack and a repression of both my Id and Superego…what am I to do with this Lack? “On the one hand [I am] the desiring machine and on the other hand [I am] the Oedipal-narcissistic machine.” [i] But, nonetheless, a machine? Freud would go further to say that this desire, this lack, was deeply entrenched within my unconscious mind and it is a human condition— a constant, as evidential in mythology and his observation. Is this so? Am I so transparent and just a Zombie crawling through life in search of reconciling my desires to the desires of the collective in a process that serves at nothing but to be a yo-yo that coils and recoils, ad infinitum, and at every metaphorical X,Y coordinate I desire the opposite, the non-self, the other. My object petit a is merely everything that is not me at every moment in time— petulant desires, perpetual lack and, subsequently, perpetual neurosis and psychosis. I am the tripartite. I am screwed.
Daddy is the train, and mommy is the station. I sit within the circular course and thrust the train around, and around— in and out of the station/mommy.[ii] Over and over and over and over and over and over, oh wait— Does this make me God? Zarathustra swoons!
Does not the young Siddhartha lament near a riverbed at the sight of his own reflection[iii] and ponder what can only be seen as the same? Is it I that is truly attached to desiring, or is it the world that asserts this upon me, of which I can’t decipher as my reflection, although rippled and cloudy, is me and in the process of becoming— I am, I was and I will be. Is one of these incarnations of me incomplete, is there a lack, of which drives me to desire and be. Can I discover the moment in time where my reflection becomes I, and I become it and I reconcile and negate— the positive one, upon the negative one, that balances to none. My authenticity, alas, I have negated to nothing and like a cracker-jack box filled with the void, the nothingness, I discover the prize, my Dasein.[iv] But, you know, Heidegger be damned, this was all just a joke. As if Dasein is true, it can only exist, logically so, in two possible modes: either there is a lack that, from pure petulance we desire and, hence, desire qua desire and henceforth my desire is an infinite regression of vacillating desire and Dasein is merely an illusion, a dream— analogous to Wittgenstein illustrating that a finite perspective will always be perceived as infinite[v]; or, rather, there is no lack and henceforth there is no reconciliation needed and we all achieved Dasein by merely thinking ourselves into existence— Descarte for the win!
Who is, as they say, the prankster? Who found the lack and sent Heidegger down the rabbit hole in search of a finite replacement for the infinite void— comically this could be envisaged as chasing your own shadow in a room without light.
As a child I persistently played with trains, as to foreshadow my career as a train engineer— but, now, as my life spins in chaos the analyst tells me that my desire to play with trains had nothing to do with my proclivity towards the mechanical, but rather my unconscious proclivity towards my Oedipal desire— I situate within the tripartite as I lust for my mother and despise my father. Like a tether ball I swing around and around in search for solvency and only end up being wound up tightly in neurosis for a bit, then I retract and recoil and spin freely until wound up in psychosis. And Freud says this was in me the whole time. Voila! Now I know, now I see. I shall stand back and recognize this tethering ball and learn how to grab it, stop it, contain it, isolate it— alienate it? Existential crisis ensues.
But wait Sigmund? Is it possible in the possible of the possible that I just like trains and have a proclivity towards the mechanical? Is it possible that you did not discover my Oedipal desire, but rather created my Oedipal desire? As you said Mr. Freud, the malaise of the individual and the malaise of society run hand in hand, if this is so, how would we ever know if it is Siddhartha who sits upon the riverbed or is it Siddhartha who resides within the stream? What a cruel joke you played on Heidegger to make him spend 800 pages trying to solve such a riddle— as if it was possible to squeeze the universe back into the tiny little kernel of space it occupied before the Big Bang…
So regardless if Freud discovered or created the mode of lack-response, the lack, in of itself, remains the problem. But, how can a lack be? Does this not violate the law of partial objects? Is a donut complete, or is a donut a partial object that awaits the reconciliation of its lack— the donut hole? The only means of determining the completeness of the donut would be to know what donut is, in the ideal. Meaning, what is the true form of the donut? If it’s true form includes the hole, then it is whole and complete…no lack. But, how is this not just another paradox— is a donut defined by its definition or is the definition defined by the donut? Kant, to this accord, would argue that our capacity to know donut is forever and infinitely limited by our own mediation and what we see will never be real or true— the true donut lives in the noumenal and thing-in-itself will never be known[vi]. If this was so, then all things, all knowledge would include the lack— the delta between the thing-in-itself and the thing-in-which-I-see. But, just as Heidegger did, Kant injects us in to the dilemma between everything is real or nothing is real. Kant, as to perhaps avoid becoming God himself, removes the paradox by inviting all the metaphysics to a party and persists we can ask will the real pure reason, please stand up, please stand up. The bouncer, named Apriori, proceeds to boot the real pure reason out the door and, with that, alas, we know which metaphysics are reasonable and which are not— the line has been drawn. We shall be sensible and rely on our friend, Apriori, to maintain that divide. Although, I am rather perplexed, as to how reason can create Apriori, when we need Apriori to know Apriori in the first place, unless of course, as Kant argues— Apriori was born of a miraculous conception, and the only way we can really know this is by existing without existence, or knowing without any knowing— or, simply because Kant said so.
For those at home keeping score:
Freud discovered the lack in our unconscious.
Kant discovered the lack through reason.
Heidegger, as punch line, searches for this lack in his own shadow.
And me, the neurotic/psychotic train engineer, is still in malaise, as is the world around me.
Deleuze, as it were, would say that Mr. Freud did not discover the lack in the unconscious mind, but rather, discovered the conscious mind reflecting the lack that is necessary within the desiring-machine of what is capitalism. As, supply and demand would dictate, if capitalism implicitly and tacitly claims our world is our oyster and we can create, for what its worth, infinite supply, will we not develop an infinite demand/desire? Although our supply, in actu, is not infinite, but as reasoned earlier by Wittgenstein our finite perspective will infinitely be perceived as infinite— so as far as we know it’s infinite and hence, our desire to demand shall know no limits. Our super-human strength is our infinite capacity to consume. Delouse, notwithstanding his partial objects argument, is arguing in a paradox that amounts to this….
10 / 1 = 10 > 1 * 10 = 10
But, then again, maybe the math is not as simple as we perceive. As Deleuze claims,
we no longer know if it is the process that must truly be called madness, the sickness being only disguise or caricature, or if the sickness is the madness and the process is the cure, [but] the more the process of production is led off course, brutally interrupted, the more the schizo-as-entity arises as specific product.[vii]
Maybe this whole essay, this whole thought, this whole meditation has been an exercise in futility, as life and philosophy cannot be expressed in such neat packages, but it is, conversely, rather incompatible and hence: irrational. If life is irrational, then it may be expressed as √-1 — an irrational number. Is the product of our persistent effort to solve this equation just creating an infinite string of non-whole numbers, fractions— incompletenesses. As Freud scratches his head in preponderance over the schizophrenic and induces that they most be animals[viii]— a body-without-organs, an inconsistent anomaly that does not desire, does not lack— a incomplete fraction of existence. But, perhaps the schizo, the hyper rational, the animal as it were, was a human functioning on pure Id, a human without ego. A human without the need to reconcile their desires, henceforth, the only true rationalist is the schizophrenic created by the irrational desire to make sense of our world.
Kant & Freud lament.
[i] Deleuze, Gilles, and Fe Guattari. Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota, 1983. Print. Page 124
[iii] Hesse, Hermann, and Hilda Rosner. Siddhartha. New York: New Directions, 2009. Print.
[iv] Heidegger, Martin. Being and Time. New York: Harper, 1962. Print.
[v] Ek, Slavoj. Less than Nothing: Hegel and the Shadow of Dialectical Materialism. London: Verso, 2012. Print
[vi] Kant, Immanuel, and Norman Kemp Smith. Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. Unabridged ed. New York: St. Martin’s, 1965. Print.
[vii] Deleuze, Gilles, and Fe Guattari. Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota, 1983. Print. Page 136
[viii] Ibid. Page 23
For the tenth day in a row I woke up in a pool of my own sweat, semen and drool— and now I must, yet again, drag and slosh through my day in a daze. I slithered out of my bed into the pile of unfashionable fashion that has accumulated on my floor— their cleanliness was indiscernible. I flat foot stumbled to the bathroom and fell intently into my own reflection, although it took several moments for my reflection to become aware of the immediacy of my meditation. Once my reflected self became aware and focused back at me— we locked eyes. His eyes were squinted and bloodshot, like he had had been crying. His complexion was splotchy and distant and it became apparent that he was in a deep state of despair. I wanted to comfort this man in the mirror, I wanted to reach out and tell him it is ok and that things will get better. But, even though my rational voice wanted to resolve this mans conflict, the only thing I could do was become weary and cry. Why is this man so upset? I have known him my entire life and he has always been in sync with me, but now, out of the blue, he falls away and retracts. I want to be strong and keep a stiff upper lip and all, but I am barely strong for myself— I cannot be strong for him as well. He looked back at me and, as it seems, the sight of me brought him to tears. I watched him cry harder and harder— as if the tears became the element that created more tears— a feedback loop of sorrow. I told him, “please stop— PLEASE!” He ignored me. I repeated again, “ please! I cant do this!” Again and again, and yet he no yield. My tears and despair quickly and capriciously acquiesced into fear and rage. This stupid fucker does this to me every single day— he stands there alone in a flat world and cries at my tears. Mocking me with every emotion. I can feel my pulse rise, my lungs and fists tighten and I get a strange, and yet satisfying, feeling that begins in my toes and rises through my existence with the effervescence and persistence of rising smoke. The sense burns through my chest and through my spine and stops at my mouth. There is a twitching deep within my neck that wants me to take my fists and smash the face of this stupid crying fucker, and even as satisfying as that sounds, I am still scared. I am afraid if I hit him he will hit me back. I am afraid to be seen with bloody cut-up hands— the Others will see my hands and know what happened. Secretly mocking me in the shadows. I look down at my toes and watch them squiggle about and then draw my gaze back to the man in the mirror. “Fuck you” I tell him,— yeah, fuck him! And, in that instant. He was gone.
Once he departed the only thing I was left with was my pathetic reflection — standing before me with idle apprehension like a bunny rabbit that is moments away from being consumed alive and whole. The only life lesson I have learned is that life is less depressing in motion than in pause, so for that, I break my gaze and strip away my two-size too small boxer briefs and hop in the shower. As a child hot water was a scarce luxury and, for that, I have become accustomed to taking cold to lukewarm showers. I washed myself three times over with a bar of soap and washed my hair, or at least what is left of it. I, annoyingly so, failed at the final act of my shower ritual, otherwise known as masturbation, because I was unable to maintain an erotic thought for longer than ten seconds. At that moment I wondered if real memories hold more staying power than virtual memories— in other words, if my erotic arsenal was created from actual experience, as opposed to internet porn, would I be able to maintain the thought and, subsequently, an erection long enough to climax? Nonetheless, the mood has been spoiled. I blindly reached for my towel and quickly patted myself down and then scurried out of the bathroom with the urgency and trepidation of a scared little bunny.
As a programmer for Facebook I get to work from home 80% of the time and that means 80% of my life, if not more, is decorated with sweat pants and t-shirts from Walmart. I could, if I wanted to, live more luxuriously but the austerity of my thriftiness as become the fuel behind my thriftiness. In other words, I completely and utterly despise my job but it seems to be one of the only high paying job that allows me to avoid all contact with the outside world and I figure if I do this long enough I could retire early and actualize my inner hermit, but in the process of doing this I have found solace in my thrifty dogma and, money aside, I do it just to bask in the semblance of functionality. After scavenging though my pile of clothes for an outfit that is, odorously speaking, adequately un-repulsive, I traversed down the hall and flipped on my coffee maker— also from Walmart.
I preciously carried my mug of watered down french roast to the living room, threw my feet on my ottoman, opened up my laptop and proceeded to fabricate motivation to sit on my couch and etch code into the chasm of the inter-web. My motivation to work does not come from actual drive to work, but more from a deeper drive to refrain from the pain of doing nothing-at-all. I suppose, when I try to look at myself objectively it is reasonable to think that my future may only have two possible outcomes, either: I get laid-off at some point and drain my savings in pursuance of enabling my will to avoid people until the recession subsides and I get another programming gig and then it repeats and I retire poor and lonely; or, option two: I remain at Facebook until I have saved enough to retire and on my first day of retirement I die of a heart-attack caused by all of my thrifty food exploits. I know that there are many other possible outcomes to my life and some of them may even yield a happy endings, but I have this dark feeling that grows and speaks to me from within and it exudes and preaches the aforementioned pessimism like a stink that I cant seem to shake. And even though my foresight seems dismal and heart wrenching, it is better to work towards that, than to work towards nothing at all. If my life came down to merely me frantically running blindfolded along side a cliff with the faint possibility that I survive long enough to see what awaits me on the other side of the horizon— that is what I will do, forever. If not that then what? Sit in the dirt and heckle as everybody keeps running by and, now and then, watch somebody fall to their death— what kind of life is that?
I sip my coffee.
Maybe it was the man in the mirror or maybe it is because my shower ritual was incomplete but, for whatever reason, I was feeling less motivated to sit and write code. I do not recall stopping work on purpose, but, nonetheless, I suddenly became aware of my idleness: my elbow was perched on the couch armrest, resting my chin in the palm of my hand, while the rest of my hand gently cups my gristly cheekbone. My eyes slowly scanned all the objects in the room— inadvertently vacillating between things in the foreground and things in the background, as if I was an injured cyborg that was clinging to life in search of the tool that can be used to save me and the rest of my cyborg race. My autonomously functioning cyborg eyes ended on the image of Adder, my cat, who was curled up in a ball next to the glass door that leads to the patio. The gentle and sine-wave like motion of Adder’s tale snapped me out of my cyborg fantasy and while under seduction of my cats peaceful disposition I got up and crawled across the floor — slowly becoming lower and closer to the ground as I approached my Adder, my cat, my distraction, my objet petit a.
I, mimicking Adder, curled up into a little ball and laid next to him and stared into the rain. The rain, for some reason is not something I can see when I look up, or even straight, but I can only witness its effect— the droplets as they splash upon my wooden deck. Almost, as if they weren’t actually falling but merely jumping in place on the ground, over and over. My double-pane glass filters out all the sounds of the rain and, for that matter, society. So, I sat curled in silence and watched the jumping rain. I started to wonder what Adder thinks of me and what he must be thinking as I laid there— he probably thought I was a mother fucker for taking his idea and creating the awkward and unnecessary pretense that we need to acknowledge each others company. Adder, would never get into a fight with the mirror, or fall into a fit of depression for that matter. At least, that is what I like to think. Some people think that we, as in humans, try to anthropomorphize animals, but I do not believe this to be true; conversely, I think it is rather the case that we fantasize about becoming them. We want to live a life of a minimal existence, a life without language and the petulance of objectification that follows the burden of humanity. We want to eat, sleep, shit and be frisky now and then, and most importantly, stare at the rain. I quickly fell asleep with images of being a cat dancing in my head….and a big smile on my face.
At some point I awoke, however, it was only the sensation of being awake, without the appearance of being awake: I could not see, or hear, or feel anything with my sense. But, I felt agency and alertness to the moment. I wondered if Adder was still next to me and in that moment an image came to the forefront of my thoughts, without me asking or prompting it. It was an image of Adder, but rather it was an image I posted of Adder from my Facebook page. A candid image of him playing in the trash. This image warmed my spirits a bit and I thought about how cute and carefree he was, and in that instant I saw the words I was thinking flash in images in front of me.
I started to wonder if I was sleeping or dreaming or what was going on. I felt completely lucid, but this was a rather odd experience to not have any sense data. Usually people, at least in the movies, pinch themselves to ensure they are not dreaming, although I do not know how that works— couldn’t you dream being pinched? Anyway, I thought about pinching myself and suddenly I saw the words flash before me, I wanna pinch myself. Then within mere seconds after that I saw the words, David says: LOL, pinch yourself then dude. I responded:
Me: wait, does pinching yourself work
David: work for what?
Me: confirming you’re awake when you think you might be asleep?
David: uh, are you sleeping now?
Me: I don’t know, thats the point.
David: uhm, dude, its wayyyyyyyy too earlier to be drinking— lay off it.
I stopped a minute, wait— am I drunk? I tried to recall if I had been drinking this morning and for some reason the only things I could see were images of me drinking at a holiday party last year, images of me drinking at a friends wedding and images from my college graduation party…all of which, are images on Facebook. I tried to think of drinking experiences outside of that and the only thing I saw was the same images repeat over and over— every image on Facebook that includes me drinking is playing in my head over and over. To stop the madness, I begin thinking of Adder again and that silly little trash photo. Suddenly I saw the smiley face appear 🙂 and I thought how much I wanted to just be able to wake up and cuddle with Adder. Then I suddenly I see David’s name blinking in blue and curious to what that means….then suddenly the image of a chat dialogue appears in my head:
David: Did you seriously get drunk at 10am on a Tuesday only to go on Facebook and comment on photos of your cat?
Me: Wait, what? I did what?
David: You posted this. “ 🙂 I wish I was cuddling with Adder right now”
Me: Posted? What are you talking about…I didn’t post that, I just thought that.
David: Uhm. well i cant confirm nor deny your thoughts, but I am here at my laptop at work and I can see what you posted on Facebook. And its about your fucking cat.
Me: uhm, maybe I am drunk. gtg ttyl
As a test I decided to begin thinking of things to see what happens. I thought of my job and I instantly saw the Facebook posts posted by Facebook on their Facebook fan page. And, then I decided to think of specific co-workers and I then saw their personal pages and a rotating slide show of the pictures they’re tagged in. I decided to think of something that is not on Facebook to see what would appear and I thought of my father, who does not have a Facebook page, in fact, I don’t think he’s heard of it. And, a blank. No thoughts or images. I know I have a dad, but for the life of me I can’t recall the image of what he looks like— my memory is ONLY Facebook. I begin to think of my father in the more general sense of the word and I begin seeing Facebook fan pages dedicated to paternal parenting and even the fan page for The Shit My Father Says, but nothing about my specific father. I continued to test my memory and tried to recall other things and the more I did this, the more I learned first and foremost, that I was unable to recall anything that was NOT on Facebook— like my father, but more odd was that I was able to recall things that I did not know— insofar as it is something on Facebook. Like I can think of baseball and see the latest news and updates for MLB that are dated today and within the last hour. So either, my conscious mind is situated in Facebook, or I am dreaming and I am purely making all of this up. I really wished I could just wake up play with my cat….and voila and entire Facebook page dedicated to silly photos and videos of people playing with their cats— I decided to stay with this thought for a while.
I had no absolute clue if I was awake or not, but I did know that time has at least passed in my virtual Facebook world. I can recall, by merely thinking of, my original thought about wanting to be pinched and I can see the time stamp, and although I do not know what time it is, I can think a smiley face, or wonder what my friends are up to and see the news feed, and from that I can see a new timestamp and that is my only way of telling time. So, as it appeared to me— I had been stuck in Facebook for four hours. And, I was not sure how to get out. I decided to take advantage of this and I began looking at the news feed and commenting on many posts, while chatting with many friends at once. Since I could just think my comments/posts— I was able to operate significantly faster, as I could think faster than I could type. Although, my friends thought my Facebook page had been hijacked by a spam-bot because the speed at which I was typing seemed impossible. I began to find amusement in reinforcing the notion that I was not real and just a bot.
I suddenly got a message from my co-worker Brian and he starts asking what I am doing all day and how come I haven’t turned in my revised code? From that timestamp I know that it is around 5pm and I guess it would make sense that if I had been not dreaming and this was real then it would be reasonable that they would start asking for my revised files. Brian, said he had been calling, texting me and emailing me all morning with absolutely no response and he just noticed how active on Facebook I was and decided to reach out to me that way. I responded and he asked if I was ok or if I had really been drinking, as David asked earlier I told him that I did not feel drunk, although, I did not really feel anything at all. I told him not to worry about it and that everything was going to be fine. I had to assume that this craziness was all just a dream and that there is no possible way that i have been asleep while curled up in the fetal position next to my cat for 9 hours. Any moment now I am bound to wake up and realize this was all a dream and then get back to work. But, how can I wake myself up? If my existence is within Facebook then perhaps I need to remove that existence altogether. Perhaps I need to kill my Facebook self.
I rollover to my account and profile information and find the delete account link and I proceed to delete my account. It asks me several times to confirm that I want to do this and although I was absolutely sure that I needed to do this, as if I was dreaming then its just a dream, and if it is real, well, then I will know when i wake up and my account is deactivated. But, even though I know this is the smart move to make, I am rather hesitant and I am starting to feel remorseful and a sense of loss washes over me. Like I am in the process of committing suicide— as if that is something I would or feel or even be able to describe. Knowing that this is the right move, I push forward and click yes and yes and yes…holy crap they want you to confirm and reconfirm over and over. And finally, done. Then this appears:
We are sorry that you deactivated your account, we hope you come back soon.
As soon as I finished reading that prompt, it vanished. And, so did I.
Time from that moment forward seemed completely non-existent and I no longer had any sense of self…I could not tell if I was alive or dead, or anything. After an indiscernible amount of time— which for all I know could have been a millisecond or a millennium— I became washed over with a bright omnipotent light that flooded my consciousness. All I could see, hear, think and feel was pure bright light. I tried to resist the light and pull away, but I had nowhere to go— pushed into a corner, or so I felt. The light quickly began to dim and as it dimmed I began to see shapes appear and the light source radiated in on itself into a small blotch in the middle of my field of vision. And, then I realized I was awake, and truly awake this time. I was in my bathroom and the bright light was merely the sun piercing through my bathroom window and focused directly on me. I started to move my head a bit and realized that I was sprawled out on the floor and when I looked around the bathroom I realized I was laying in a pile of glass; which was scattered all over the bathroom — the floor, counter, shower, sink and even on me. I noticed some of the glass shards were dripping blood and then I realized my arms and hands were drenched in blood— with various puncture wounds scattered across my arms, some still contained broken pieces of mirror wedged into my skin.
In an attempt to recall how this happened, I conjured images in a third-person perspective of me pounding the mirror with my fists and forearms over and over while I screamed and yelled at the man in the mirror. Although I do not remember falling to the floor or anything else. After I fully came to the reality that I attacked my mirror and passed out and spent hours dreaming of living in Facebook I began to relax and realize all of that was a dream and I am not going to lose my job or be trapped in Facebook. I suddenly felt rather relaxed and indifferent to the present predicament I was in and this allowed me to situate myself within the absolute pain of my wounds. The wounds felt deep and all encompassing, like a giant glass wedge was pounded into my soul— my ego, engorged and exposed to the open air of reality, began to bubble and shrivel like a snail doused with salt.
I reached down and padded around my pants in search of my pocket and I took out my cell phone and while holding it over my head and while struggling to keep the image of my phone in focus, I navigated my way to Facebook and deleted my account. I held the phone high and basked in the pleasure of seeing those words: your account has been deleted. I lowered the phone back down to my side and even though I destroyed my mirror while trying to kill an imaginary antagonist in a rage of pure psychosis, I felt better now. I felt that somehow I have won over the man in the mirror and whatever power he had over me before, is now mine. I felt, for the first time, happy and, more importantly, whole.