A few days ago (or weeks or months? I seriously have no concept of time anymore) I picked up Haruki Murakami's 「What I Talk About When I Talk About Running」. Murakami has been one of my favourite authors for awhile, partly because his writing mixes kafkaesque scenery with insights on life. Just like Milan Kundera, this hits two of my sweet spots for things to read about. I spent some time today thinking about how this is like Woody Allen, and the kind of people that like that kind of content. Woody Allen's films give one a good impression of what it would be like to know Woody Allen in person, I think (even if they exaggerate) - the works are the person. Allen differs from Kundera and Murakami, I think, in that there are no social barriers between what Allen shows and what Allen might be in real life, while Kundera and Murakami's inner self, as revealed in their writings, are on the other side of what is appropriate to talk about - there is an expectation of intimacy as a prerequisite for the topics they consider. Not everyone is comfortable (or interested) with these topics, and I confess that were the topics shifted a bit within that zone forbidden for public discourse, I would be either skeeved out or uninterested as well. Murakami's new book is, being a memoir, a bit different - instead of fiction+reflections_on_life, it's running+reflections_on_life. Not having been a serious runner for a long time, my appreciation of the first is just metaphorical, but a combination of the topic and his writing style make it a really good read.
On some level I'd love to be a second-rate Murakami. Not having a lot of social ties left, my blog is probably the main "social" outlet in my life, and it being largely unidirectional, it doesn't do a good job at either fulfilling my social needs nor letting me know what people like to read. If people actually enjoy reading more than my occasional mention of things that happen, I would like to imagine that there might be some kind of Murakami or Kundera-esque quality in either my style or my perspective. Maybe there's not, but it's nice to imagine. Even if there is some truth to this, I should not go overboard - I have choked back a lot of posts because they were excessively mopey/depressive/intimate - even if I have a need to say these things in some form or another, other people really don't need to hear them. Long paragraphs of a subjective account of a panic attack really arn't that fun to read, I think. I'd offer to open it to certain people that I instinctively seem to trust, or to open up to them in general, but I know that societally, there is an obligation to say yes (or even to ask) that easily overrides what they actually would want. As urgent as it feels to let out some of the pain at times, I don't think doing so would actually fix me, and perhaps I'm destined to explode someday anyhow. I don't know if I would actually read me, or if it would it would be more than a sick fascination. Still, perhaps it's interesting to someone. Or not.
I saw on Jon Stewart an interesting criticism of Fox News that kind of relates - it poked fun at how the same station can express moral outrage for "deviant" behaviour and sexuality but later have those same critics involved in events with bikini-clad gals, beer, and mild debauchery. The interest isn't in the hypocracy, but in explaining that - implicit in it is an ideal conservative mindset where the moral rules are clear, people go to church and believe all the right things, but still enjoy a bit of out-of-bounds behaviour as a rare exception, properly structured. It's that ideal of a person who goes through a Frat, has the stereotypical frat parties, beer chugging, etc, and enters adult life with its different set of dominant mores. This is not exactly hypocracy, it's more of a life path that holds masculinity and feminity in certain ways, expects them to change when people settle down but has a place for inclinations of youth. In order to preserve this path, it has to fend off anything that would threaten permanent changes in social mores (admittedly, this conception would not fit with the straight-edge folk, although those folk may be willing to tolerate youthful indiscretion so long as they are sure that in the end people will turn into the adults that are more like them).
I loathe the person they're trying to build there - the traditionally heavily masculine "good ol boy" American conservative male (and other social roles similar enough) has for some reason always made me intensely irritated. Perhaps part of my enthusiasm for liberal culture is in wiping that kind of person out of the wheels of cultural/identity production. I would be delighted if the fuzzy academics, the goths, punks, philosophers, hippies, and probably a lot of other groups I should mention were to collectively be all of society and the short-haired (or completely-shorn) business-casual or business-suit all the time folk were relegated to the intellectual and attire grounds of the past. This statement lacks a heck of a lot of nuance, but there is at least a much more nuanced and detailed version of it in which I believe.
Today was pretty awful - woke up, felt too depressed to leave bed for a few hours, and stayed in my apartment all day - still got some work stuff done, although I wasn't as productive as I would've liked. I grabbed dinner at Taza21, and felt oddly better after having a giant bottle of chilled water. It's weird how food affects mood. Reluctant to head right back home, I had some tea at Crazy Goat, and there were some Mennonites sitting nearby. That's always interesting to see - reminds me of the group of Mennonites at the Creation Museum. One of the gals, who was between the age of the parents and those who were obviously kids, was dressed in more society-normal garb - I wonder if the family was in town to visit a "wayward" daughter who had integrated into modern society. Got home, and my new (embarassingly, secured) credit card is here. I can rent cars again.. which maybe isn't so useful given that travelling alone sucks, but occasional trips elsewhere might be nice.
I'm a bit amused how the secured credit card thing works - I write them a check for $2500 (I could've chosen less, but I think this, the max, repairs my credit fastest), I get a credit card that is backed by that, and eventually they figure, after I use it responsibly enough for awhile and my credit rating gets better, that I am worth offering a proper credit card. Plus I pay them $3/month. As a metaphor for a weird way of fixing myself (as a consumer), it's goofy. I wonder if seeing a therapist for problems in life might informally be kind of the same thing - pay money, get a fake relationship through which to explore one's problems (and get social contact), and eventually one is theoretically ready to live life without that again. Or perhaps seeing a REDACTED for issues relating to lonliness and difficulties building a significant-other relationship type :P (I am not doing nor do I intend to do either of the latter, just a weird line of thought).
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While at Taza21, I typically grab the remote and try to put on the news - this is the only time when I actually have access to a proper TV. It is very sad that the news channels waste time on fluff - CNN had a long special tonight about a comic being suied by their mother-in-law over some jokes in their skit. I may be misremembering the past, but I thought when I was younger that news channels usually had something of substance, even if that something was never foreign and not very in-depth. Ironically, of the channels, FoxNews seemed the most serious about providing news, even though they did so with their usual disregard for journalistic integrity. Frustrating!
I wonder if at some point in the future people will ever have high-resolution 3d scans of their body constructed for use in video games. If I had people to play Left4Dead with, I would love to be able to insert myself into the game as my avatar, and would find it hilarious to record appropriate audio content for myself. It'd be a lot more meaningful for multiplayer cooperative play if my teammates did the same - I have not yet had any Left4Dead dreams, but it would make good going-to-sleep idea-dream fodder.
Final note - Whole Foods has pure lemon juice (in containers the size and shape of wine bottles)! Sufficiently diluted and with sugar added, it can be used to make spectacular lemonade.
Tonight: running barefoot again, then a shower, then some permutation of more work stuff, Dofus, L4d, reading, and/or philosophy.