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Memores acti prudentes futuri

You're unsure if I am a loose end or a strand
that waits for you to mend or understand
A few words
"When we describe the Moon as dead, we are describing the deadness in ourselves. When we find space so hideously void, we are describing our own unbearable emptiness."
~ D.H. Lawrence

"Is the meaning of life defined by its duration? Or does life have a purpose so large that it doesn't have to be prolonged at any cost to preserve its meaning?"

"Living is not good, but living well. The wise man, therefore, lives as well as he should, not as long as he can... He will always think of life in terms of quality not quantity... Dying early or late is of no relevance, dying well or ill is... even if it is true that while there is life there is hope, life is not to be bought at any cost."
~ Seneca

"People will tell you nothing matters, the whole world's about to end soon anyway. Those people are looking at life the wrong way. I mean, things don't need to last forever to be perfect."
~ Daydream Nation

"All Bette's stories have happy endings. That's because she knows where to stop. She's realized the real problem with stories-- if you keep them going long enough, they always end in death."
~ The Sandman: Preludes & Nocturnes

"The road now stretched across open country, and it occurred to me - not by way of protest, not as a symbol, or anything like that, but merely as a novel experience - that since I had disregarded all laws of humanity, I might as well disregard the rules of traffic. So I crossed to the left side of the highway and checked the feeling, and the feeling was good. It was a pleasant diaphragmal melting, with elements of diffused tactility, all this enhanced by the thought that nothing could be nearer to the elimination of basic physical laws than deliberately driving on the wrong site of the road."
~ Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita

"It is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend."
~ William Blake
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The economy
Saturday, September 7, 2019
I have recently been reading What About Me?: The Struggle for Identity in a Market-Based Society by Paul Verhaeghe. I actually bought it over a year ago but hadn't opened it until recently. It seems like it might be timely for me to read it now, though. Surprisingly it aligns with some of the thought tracks I've been having lately-- about the privileging of economic concerns above all else, chiefly.
Not so long ago, our culture, and thus our identity, was determined by interaction between four key areas: politics, religion, the economy, and the arts, with politics and religion competing for dominance. These days, politicians are fodder for stand-up comedians; religion prompts associations with suicide bombers or sexual abuse; and everyone is an artist. The only thing that still counts is the economy, and here the neo-liberal economic narrative has taken over. (p. 112)

Obviously Verhaeghe makes some generalizations here about politics, religion, and the arts, but I think that the main point is still correct-- that as a society we tend to place economic interests above all else. (His writing style is also intended for a lay audience and as such is written in a conversational way, not meant to be taken overly literally).

How else to explain some of the recent developments and priorities that have manifested? There was that news story awhile back about a baker who denied service to a gay couple and wouldn't make them a wedding cake. As I recall there was plenty of outrage over it. How dare this baker discriminate against gay people? And for what, "religious beliefs"? Completely unacceptable!

It's a compelling argument if you:
1) Believe that people should not be discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation
2) Believe religion has no place in business
3) Don't question either of the first two beliefs

I want to note that I don't think anybody should be discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation. I am generally in favor of treating people in an equitable manner as long as nobody's getting hurt. At the same time, I question the utility of forcing someone to serve others in their own business. If it's a government institution or some larger corporation that has clear policies against discrimination, then I think by being an employee there's implicit or explicit consent to follow institutional policies, but if it's an independent business? Something seems odd there. It seems like there's an implied message of "if I'm paying you, you do what I want, and you're not allowed to refuse" (within the scope of the business). Is it okay to force an independent business owner to work for someone they don't want to work for? This goes for both sides, not just with the baker. There will always be people who are more motivated by money than by other values they may hold, so I think it's unlikely that the discriminated-against potential patron would be unable to obtain services anywhere.

Of course, this isn't a novel idea in any way. I'm pretty sure there's constant acknowledgement of the influence that money and the economy have. Most edgy teenagers probably have some phase where they think money is evil, and goodness knows there are plenty of people who advocate for other systems because they think capitalism is the root of all the problems we have. I guess the difference for me personally, and why it's been sticking in my mind more recently, is that it seems nearly impossible to imagine alternate ways of living. We gripe about money ruling everything but also don't closely examine the pervasive influence it has in our lives. We get stuck just thinking about money and the economy and it becomes this false dichotomy of "MONEY GOOD" or "MONEY BAD"... But either way, it's still about money. There's a larger picture here, and it is theoretically possible to have a society where economic interests do not dominate everything else, isn't it? We are just so steeped in a particular way of thought here that the concept of a culture that doesn't put such an emphasis on the economy is ridiculous or unthinkable. Seems like in the mainstream discourse we mostly have people with different ideas about how to make different economic policies that will improve society along economic lines.

...Though, it's not as if I have any grand ideas about how we should change things. Mostly I'm just musing on the narratives that were invisible to me before.

"It's The Economy, Stupid" by John McCutcheon.

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Temporary, man made
Monday, August 19, 2019
Someone told me once that there was a theme in the photos I take-- that I take pictures of things that seem like they fit in when you're not looking too closely, but upon closer inspection they are odd and out of place.

I was reflecting on that today because I'm at a resort in Tahoe at the moment and had a few hours to myself today. I ended up staying inside, but I could have walked around outside, perhaps gone on a trail or wandered the grounds. Generally I enjoy taking my camera out for long walks, but that didn't appeal to me in this setting.

This might not be the whole reason, but I was thinking that maybe I like taking pictures in more urban environments because there is so much that is man-made, artificial, consciously intentional. In a constructed environment where things were planned, there will always be something out of place. There is chaos that breaks through the organization and the intentionality. It's like a reminder of the absurd.

On the other hand, in nature, in the wilderness, it feels almost like everything belongs there. Even the trash, even the debris of human civilization. Nature will take it in and slowly, patiently, wordlessly absorb it. Even plastic, which could take a thousand years or more to degrade, is still going to decay eventually and someday be plastic no more.

Humanity and all its buildings are just experiments in the grand scheme of things, aren't they? An attempt to resist forces far beyond our control, and extend the control we do have. We are trying, with our cities and our sidewalks and our tall glass windowed towers, to keep out something that will always get in, in the end. We are trying to separate ourselves from it, we pretend we have succeeded, but we are inseparable. Even though our experiment has lasted far longer than my lifetime and will probably extent beyond my death, I still find something enjoyable about witnessing what all seems so ultimately temporary.

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What am I doing
Sunday, August 11, 2019
Therapy school: Helping people is actually really complicated and there are like a million ways you're unknowingly hurting and oppressing people.
Also therapy school: Just have faith you're helping!

Me: wat

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I needed this reminder
Monday, July 29, 2019

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Trauma of the phoenix, mourning, religion
Sunday, July 28, 2019
"This Life" by Vampire Weekend.

Baby, I know dreams tend to crumble at extremes
I just thought our dream would last a little bit longer
There's a time when every man draws a line down in the sand
We're surviving, we're still living, are we stronger?


I was thinking about phoenixes today, and how their whole thing is like, symbolism for renewal, rebirth, etc. Rising from ashes. I feel like every description of a phoenix I've seen puts more emphasis on the "rising from the ashes" part than the "burning to death" part.

Given that going to school for counseling means getting trauma branded into your perspective though, I thought about the idea of the phoenix through that lens. Does the phoenix suffer while it burns? It seems like it would. And if it's being actually reborn every time, it can't become desensitized to burning to death, because it's a "new" being, theoretically. Or do its memories carry over? Could a phoenix somehow endure the trauma of burning to death and then pass down that trauma to... its new self? Sort of an intergenerational trauma of the self? Does a phoenix know ahead of time what its death will be like?


Unrelated(?) to that, I was reading about tear bottles earlier and found this tidbit about them:
Tear bottles reappeared during the Victorian period of the 19th century, when those mourning the loss of loved ones would collect their tears in bottles with special stoppers that allowed the tears to evaporate. When the tears had evaporated, the mourning period would end.

It seems like it would be nice to have some kind of contained period in which to mourn... to be given some kind of way to stop. Mourning is a phenomenon I'm still trying to understand in the context of my own life. My family doesn't do much of it at all and it's not clear to me how it should work.

I have noticed that when they talk about their deceased parents, my parents will sometimes use the present tense. My uncle does it a lot when he talks about my grandmother as well. It's been years since she died, but he will say things like "she likes to..." and "she can..." I'm not sure what to make of this way of speaking. It suggests that they think of the dead as if they aren't really gone, and maybe to my family, they aren't. When you believe in an afterlife nobody is really "gone", are they? They're just... temporarily separated from you. At least, if you believe in the Christian conceptualization of Heaven. I can't speak to other forms of afterlife. Maybe that's why my family members talk as they do.


I've also been reflecting on how religious affiliation and spirituality manifest in my family and how they have affected us. Despite identifying as agnostic myself, I think there have been benefits to my family's religious beliefs and connections. The community support is a big one. I think the belief in a benevolent higher power (in this case God) also gives them a sense of hope and holding, even when things might otherwise feel hopeless and alone. Studying the Bible also gives them a way to reflect on their own lives and try to make changes for the better.

I don't think every religious person necessarily experiences these benefits. There are lots of people who are self-proclaimed Christians and don't seem to do introspection in any meaningful way. Then again, there are lots of people, religious or not, who don't bother with introspection, so maybe that's not really a distinction that has any significance. I don't think being atheist or agnostic makes you any better or more reflective than a religious person per se.

It seems hard to find people in my position, who were formerly religious but are no longer, yet who don't have some kind of deep disdain or dislike for religion (especially the one they were raised with). I meet people who were raised Christian, left it, and got into Buddhism, but I don't think that's really what I'm talking about at all. Maybe I'm just tired of all the bickering and snide comments about other people's beliefs, and the assertions that the world would be a better place if one or the other group didn't exist or just got with the program.

Maybe I'm just tired in general.

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Pillowcases and fancy aloe cream
Friday, July 26, 2019
"PARTY ON THE WKND" by Kelandy.

I know this isn't the type of song I usually share but I like it a lot. Heard it in Hawaii and have been playing it a fair amount since I got back home.


So, Kyle got me some silk pillowcases. I still don't super like the way they feel on my skin, but I have noticed that my acne seems to have gotten better. Unsure if that's related to the pillowcases or if it's a hormonal thing, but I guess I'll see as time goes on.

Also have been using some special aloe cream that my mom got from Costco. I think my skin is finally healing up, which is a relief. I can't tell if it's the aloe cream or if it's the Epiceram prescription I got, though.


I was reading a little of Incandescent Alphabets: Psychosis and the Enigma of Language today and I liked this quote:
The body remakes the world; the eye opens on to a void and gives a glimpse of horror. The voices-- sounding, resounding-- speak over and remake the body. The head becomes a gateway to a new universe, its eyes and its ears open to vistas others do not see, cannot hear, and do not want to know.

I can't explain it well, but this quote resonates with me. It feels... familiar, somehow. Even though when I read over it I don't know if I can describe what it's saying, it makes some kind of intrinsic sense to me.

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Taking care of myself
Friday, July 12, 2019
I'm thinking I should try to take better care of myself. Like, physical care, I mean. not that I take terrible care of myself as is, but maybe I could be doing better? My legs have been... having skin problems lately and I'm not sure what I need to do to make them better.

Also wondering if I should try getting satin pillowcases? I love my flannel pillowcases and would hate to switch, but it seems like my hair has been breaking recently and supposedly satin helps minimize breakage... Though I'm unsure if the trade off is worth it to me or not, since I don't particularly like the texture of satin. Also, silk is the best way to go for this kind of thing (as opposed to polyester) and is recommended by dermatologists, but... it's expensive. T_T Bah.


Recently I have been making vodka sauce at the request of my mom. I've gotten a pretty good recipe down, using the one from Serious Eats as the base. At home I added a dash of smoked paprika and extra butter, plus lots more garlic. Makes it wayyyy tastier. Also, the quality of the canned tomatoes makes a huge difference. My mom got some crappy Hunt's canned tomatoes and it gave the sauce this terrible watery acidic flavor. I told her that this is something where you can't skimp on quality and she got the right tomatoes the next time, which greatly improved the flavor. I'm not sure if the tomato paste brand is as important, though.

On a rather different note, I looked at the Hunt's website to make sure I had the name right and stumbled upon this... thing... which looks like the Bloody Mary equivalent of those ridiculous milkshakes where they put like a whole slice of cake on it or something and it's not clear how exactly you're supposed to consume it. I can't imagine someone actually making this at home. At some hipster food joint, sure, but what kind of home chef is going to have all these ingredients (Slim Jim® Tabasco Spiced Giant Stick? Tajin?) and yet also be cruising through the Hunt's website looking for over the top cocktails to serve to...

...what demographic is this aimed at...?

What kind of person drinks a Bloody Mary? As a non-drinker I have no sense of this so I'm just going to make my best wildly uneducated guess. First off we have the person who thinks V8 is good, aka someone mildly psychotic. So you take this person who thinks drinking cold tomato soup out of a can as if it were a real beverage is a good idea, and you put alcohol in their already disgusting drink. Somehow that legitimizes their choice, though I can't tell you why. We live in a culture that likes to promote drinking as a way to deal with life, so maybe as a cultural choice, the insanity of drinking cold tomato juice and the insanity of having to be drunk to cope with existence cancel each other out. The drinker of the Bloody Mary is thus neutral using this very unmathematical and convoluted logic.

Or perhaps this is a person who claims to drink V8 because "it's healthy" (which I'm pretty sure it isn't). Assuming they don't grimace every time they drink it and have successfully Stockholm Syndrome-d themselves into enjoying it, we now add alcohol, which I think is pretty clearly unhealthy. So... we have... a closet alcoholic pretending to be healthy by drinking tomato juice with their alcohol. But ah, this faux healthy secret alcoholic is also a trendy hipster. A hipster who has some kind of disdain for the proles but also consumes "trashy" things ironically? But wants to appear worldly at the same time? Or maybe the kind of person who secretly genuinely enjoys things but wants to pretend that they're too refined to enjoy things, so they dress stuff up and pretend they only like it ironically. Thus we get this recipe stacked with skewers of Slim Jims but also the premium mediocre green olives. Cheese whips (apparently long string cheese) for the grade school nostalgia and kosher salt because that's what the real chefs use. Tajin for that exotic ethnic charm but the whole thing is still a Bloody Mary because they hate themselves.

I don't know why I chose to spend so long thinking about this but this stupid Loaded Mary is just stuck in my head.

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Vacation homework [4P]
Sunday, July 7, 2019
Be it extremely emotional, controversial, messed up, or whatever, this entry has been password protected.

If you know it, enter it; or, ask me for it.

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