The childlike beauty of unfamiliarity

Much of our adult lives – especially in this age of social media – relies heavily on familiarity.  I’ll friend you if you’re friends with someone I already know.   If you’re a complete stranger – probably not.  Even in employment it’s rare to find a job without being referred by someone who already works at the company or who knows someone who does.  They just don’t take chances on “unknowns.”  (I wish they would, it’s a large part of the reason I’m still unemployed).

There is safety in familiarity, but it also encapsulates society in a sterile bubble that is largely bereft of imaginative creative force and impervious to change.  Admittedly it’s rare that anything truly negative enters your space and if it does you just “ban” it.  Of course it also is dependent on what you consider to be negative.  For some, ok most, it is an opinion that is different to their own.  But there is a great example in Mikhail Epstein’s new book, “The Irony of the Ideal” in which he talks about how Adam and Eve always had the gift of sight.  It’s only when they gave into the temptation of the apple from that unfamiliar snake that they truly saw things for what they really were – i.e. their nakedness.  And of course what happened?  They got kicked out of the paradise bubble.

Watch small children playing in a park sometime.  They talk to all the other kids around them – known or not.  They are curious about everything from the ant on a stick to the clouds in the sky and they’ll ask you endlessly about all of it.  Everything is new and unfamiliar – a mystery.  With each day comes a plethora of new stimulations to their intellects coming non-stop through all of their senses and demanding verbalization and explanation at every turn.  So why does it stop?  At what point do we close down and what propels us to that end?  It’s like hitting the emergency button on the elevator that is going up.  Why don’t you want to reach the top floor?


Conviction over Convention – “Revolutionary Speeches”

There is nothing that drives me up the wall more than tepidity amongst those that claim to be “part of a revolution.”  It amazes me at so called rallies for causes – many of which are indeed important – how speakers stand behind a podium and either read a script or even worse read bullet points off a powerpoint.   If you believe in a cause to the point of invoking the concept of “revolution” it should be a sensation that burns a fire in your soul so hot that it consumes your entire persona inside and out and can be seen from space.  If it doesn’t move you, why would it move me?  A revolution is something you are willing to die for, not an individual’s pathetic attempt to get more likes on Facebook.

So don’t make me yawn.  Don’t let me pass you by in a room and forget you within seconds of seeing you – like a wallflower at the prom.  Chances are I’m not on the same page as you.  If I was, I wouldn’t be coming to hear you speak to learn more – I’d be the one leading the charge.  So you can assume that either I’m lukewarm to the cause for lack of complete or compelling information regarding it, or I’m questioning its validity to exist in the first place.

It’s a bit like courtship, except on an intellectual plane.  I don’t want to admire you and then continue perusing the rest of the field.  I want you to possess me.  I want to be so mesmerized by the passion in your eyes and the conviction in your words that I am rooted to the spot – dumbfounded, blind and deaf to all else in the universe.  Even decades from now I want to remember the exact time and place I encountered you. I want it to be the defining moment of my life.  The crossroads at which point I charge down the path you told me to take without blinking an eye for better or worse.

Like A Dream…

You often hear people say that something was “like a dream.”  To me it’s ironic that the phrase is considered to be an indication of something better than reality.  After all – dreams are fragmentary by nature and while you might enjoy the images flashing through your mind you rarely if ever remember it upon waking and most certainly are unlikely to remember even the greatest of them years from now.  And of course there are the obvious deficiencies in that the only sense that is utilized in the process of dreaming is our cognitive processing.  There is no way to smell or touch in a dream.  We can have the cognitive sensation that we are engaging in these sensory experiences, but it seems a poor substitute for the real thing.  A bit like buying a knock off because you can’t afford the real label.

Dreams are an often pleasant byproduct of reality – something to keep us from being bored while we recharge I suppose.  But I must admit I have never caught myself saying something was “like a dream.”  To me in saying such a thing it is a denigration rather than an elevation of an otherwise pleasant and entirely real – fully experiential- experience.


While coining neologisms the other day I came up with the word “fauxion.”  A mixture of “faux” meaning fake and “fashion.”  There are many different layers to the concept.  The most basic and innocent being our attempts to alter our physical appearance in order to present an image to others that is not a true representation of ourselves.  Makeup, clothes, dying our hair, wearing a hat to cover baldness – all the basics of physicality.  Everyone knows it’s a perpetrated fraud yet there is no offense in it.

Fauxion extends beyond the purely physical though.  We all undergo multiple shifts in our personalities as the days progress and the audiences around us change.  You behave differently around your parents as opposed to your co-workers, to local shop keepers, to your lover.  Most of these changes are totally under our manipulative control, but of course the unconscious often enhances or sabotages even our best efforts – but that merits a lengthier discourse.

Lets face it, the majority of what we present to the world and what they in turn present to us – from people to products is little more than a well crafted lie.  Very little of what we see and experience on a daily basis from even those closest to us is true in the purest sense of the word.

For the most part we revel in self delusion and admire it in others.  No one likes to step off the carousel.  So what makes us step off?  What encourages us to put our glasses on (without rose tint naturally) so that we may more accurately assess the world around us?  It’s rarely an epiphany born of an unbridled desire to seek pure truth.  After all – every religion in the world is based on myths – the ultimate embodiment of fauxion – manipulations designed to elicit a sense of law, order and morality amongst an otherwise unruly group of animals.

Usually an epiphany is not born of light but of darkness.  If you gain that knowledge it’s not just a matter of personal enrichment – it gives you something that no one else has.  You’re the bearer of a secret(s) that is not privy to anyone else.  It’s the desire to get the upper hand over your own life and that of those around you – to find the wizard behind the curtain.  To in essence not leave it up to God to be the only one to know all the answers, but to be in on the big secrets yourself.  To basically become God yourself.  After all – what was created by us can be discarded by us as well.

Laughing At Toothless Trolls

There are passionate abusers of free speech all across the internet, keyboard crusaders, who amuse all except their victims.  They blaze across the internet attacking all in their wake – elders, women and children are not exempt.  One can hardly call it a blaze of glory for a cause, because the only vaguely sought after objective is merely mass destruction for destruction’s sake.  It often reminds me of an almost comedic sketch.  A coward puts a bag over their head in the hopes no one (namely their boss or their mother) will recognize them and they charge into a space – despite no declarations of war from anyone.  And there they are, catapulting bad grammar and expletives at targets both near and far while perched atop a mouse.

Secular and Spiritual Relations

I walked into a library the other day and saw with interest that of the dozen or so computers in front of me that were occupied by people of various ages – each and every one of them was not focused on looking up books – they were all staring at Facebook.  Seeing the blocks of “friends” portraits it kind of struck me – is it not a bit like a modern day secular Iconostasis?

Admittedly we don’t worship our friends, but the comparison is not as far off as you might think.  We look to our friends for comfort in hard times and to share good tidings with when things are going well.  In fact, the relationship is – on a realism level – far more rewarding in that there is the possibility of interaction and feedback.  I know many think that God talks to them, but in all honesty it is really your inner voice just telling you what you want to hear anyway.  Which brings me to another point:

I’ve never felt a reciprocal feeling when being in a place of worship.  Looking at Icons or even statues of Jesus, Buddha or whatever imagery your place of worship has (outside of those who don’t have such things of course) – they are all figures that are incapable of movement.  They have to put up with you staring at them, ranting and raving at them or falling all over them with kisses.  But keep in mind, they can’t see you or hear you. They’ll never say something you don’t want to hear because the voice is coming from within your conscience – because you see they can’t talk either.

In many ways the irony of worship is that it is not us submitting ourselves to those symbols – they are in submission to us.  They can’t escape us because we made them.  They are not animate in any way – so they are prisoners of our will.  They are placed where we want them, they are subjected to whatever we wish to do to them and best of all – they’ll never complain.   If they displease us in any way, we can remove them and replace them – just like defriending on Facebook.

Our relationship with those we entrust our deepest feelings to is just the ultimate form of domination and yet we ourselves ironically often claim that it is we that are at the mercy of the will of God.

Living an Indefinable Life

There is a marvelous concept by French artist Marcel Duchamp called Infra-thin.  It is his neologism for describing the indefinable transition between two things or ideas as they transition into and between one to the other – the warmth of a seat that has just been left, the whistling sound made by velvet trousers when walking, etc.

I have taken this concept as inspiration to alter the way I approach the routines of everyday life.  My comings and goings are no more adventurous than the average person, but I’m determined to make them indefinably extraordinary.  Not by trying to find or impose meaning in all things that I observe around me, but in trying to detect the indefinable elements that have no words to describe them.

When I wake up, how do I describe the scent of dew soaked grass outside my window?  What of the texture and color of my toast – like a snowflake – no two pieces are completely identical.  What the bird on my bird feeder thinks when he is startled by his reflection in my window?  Is it a friend, foe, or oddly familiar?  When the mint of toothpaste first touches my tooth, how does one define the sensation?  And so on…

Give it a try – I think you will be pleasantly surprised by just how little is “definable” in even the most routine lives.  It’s yet another humbling experience proving to us just how little we fully participate in our own environments and how much we still have to learn.

Political Ads and Breeding

There have been a plethora of political ads for local positions on TV as of late.  Have you ever noticed that practically every ad either begins or ends with the candidate posing with their spouse and children?  It’s amusing in the sense it seems that not only the ability to have sex, but to have it successfully – in terms of producing an output of healthy children – is part of their skill set.

It’s never just one child, it is always more than one.  An heir and a spare as the old joke goes. My mother was often ridiculed for having just one child.  Couldn’t she have more?  Why not adopt?  As a child I told her the best thing to tell them was, “I got it right the first time, I didn’t need to try again.”  Nevertheless, that is another essay entirely.

As a single woman with no children I myself have often heard this argument in the workplace that we just don’t understand the needs of families because we don’t have one of our own.  Are people truly so daft as to think that just because I haven’t reproduced that I lack any and all grasp of human empathy?  Do they really think single people are these ape-like imposters that seem human but somehow fall short because they haven’t fused with another and reproduced?

It’s not always due to inadequacy on the part of the primary party concerned you know.  If no one measured up to be worthy of entering into this world changing, irreversible deed, then wouldn’t you give that person applause for having the fortitude to stay single rather than settle into a loveless union?  They’ve had the courage to wait for the one that will keep the flame blazing eternal instead of seeing it dwindle to little more than a smoldering coal – heavy with time and despondency.   If you’re going to clone 50% of yourself wouldn’t you want the other 50% to be as top quality as you could find?  Why tie a pig to a chariot just because it’s sniffing around in the middle of the road?  Just because it flops itself in your path doesn’t mean you have to indulge it.

Besides that, single people have more time to observe those around them from an objective standpoint because their time is not as consumed by being distracted by dependents.  In many ways I think it actually makes us more compassionate and objective when it comes to understanding the needs of the society around us.  After all, not everyone comes from or has the perfect nuclear family and many of the most needy amongst us are indeed utterly alone.  In many ways a single person is more acutely aware of the difficulties of surviving alone in a world that seems to demand coupling as a required norm.

Empty Chairs At The Table Of Unity

The chatter revolving around the “we’re so divided, lets talk so we can all understand one another better and thus set down the first paving stone towards world peace” theme ebbs and flows.  As of late, it has been on an upward surge.  Case in point, there was a recent lecture at a local university touting a roundtable towards getting to know our neighbors better.

It was a bit odd, as when I entered it immediately became clear to me that everyone already knew one another and generally seemed to like one another.  This was going to be a safe, non-confrontational event, which of course defeated the whole point for which it was intended to begin with.

The meeting itself was a typical, boring, self-congratulatory jubilee of people decrying the bad attitudes of all those who didn’t come to the meeting.  Poor ignorant souls, they hadn’t seized the sacred chance to see the light which these enlightened champions for equality were projecting for all to bask in from within their stainless souls.

As I was sitting in the back of the room – a few people smiled awkwardly at the “unknown” but of course no one asked who I was – they just went to sit with those they already knew.  After all, it’s uncomfortable when someone might not agree with everything you say.  Unlike online, you can’t just ban them to make them shut up forever when they question you or criticize you.

When the meeting adjourned they all seemed invigorated, ready for the next crusade.  Same time, same place, same cause, same results.  High five!

I was famished after such an overabundance of synthetic sugar so I decided to peek into the cafeteria where some of the people from the meeting had gone to eat.  There were all the young people self-segregating just as they had decades ago when I too was a young student. So much for progress.  And there I was sitting by myself somewhere in this sea of diversity with all of its decades long invisible fences still as strong as ever and seemingly even higher than they used to be.

Despite the fact there were at least five empty chairs at my table and all the tables around me were completely full – no one sat with me.  They stood around waiting for seats near their “known” friends to become free.  Others got to-go boxes and simply left.

Admittedly I enjoy my personal space and don’t often allow it to be violated unless I think you’re going to impress or amuse me in some way.  But I don’t scowl and generally don’t bite.   I have a pleasant odor – courtesy of a floral scented deodorant and I don’t have ticks or inappropriate attire.  I even offered to some to join me if they wished.  They looked alarmed as if I were contagious or possibly armed – after all I was sitting quietly and alone.

So for all those that think we are well and truly on the path to world peace, I’m sorry to say that I am a first hand witness to the fact that the first stone has yet to be forged let alone set.  It seems we’re still arguing on where the path should be and who is worthy enough to walk on it.  A shame.

Launching A New Site

Just a quick note to let you know I have started a second wordpress blog (in addition to this one which I will still continue to do) dedicated to film reviews.  You can find it here:

Would love to have at least one follower, so please do have a look.  🙂  I’m an avid movie fan and watch both recent and older films.  The majority of my films are arthouse type films from either Russia or Hungary but I do watch other films from time to time as well.