scruta

Either you are sorting it out, or you are full of it.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Wanderings Through the Art of Manufacture

Ferret
In terms of refinement, is there a difference between McDonalds and the five star restaurants of the world?

Easy E
What do you mean?

Ferret
I mean, if you think about the absolute amount of capital and investment that a society has placed upon both kinds of food, you probably have about the same kind of quality. Think about it: the amount of research, in chemical engineering, human behavior and psychology, logistics, that goes into the production of a double cheeseburger. It’s staggering. Fast food is, in some ways, the epitome of technological progress, as far as food is concerned.

Easy E
It tastes like there are drugs in it, that’s for sure.

Ferret
That’s because there are drugs in it. But do you see what I’m saying?

Easy E
I don’t know. I think it’s a different type of refinement. Parallel systems maybe. You can manufacture things in two different ways to produce different outcomes. The resources it takes to produce a $80 steak are pretty hard to develop too. The ingredients have to be imported, and the knowledge it takes to cook it has to be imparted, etc.

Ferret
Yeah, but don’t you think that all of that knowledge has remained essentially the same since long ago, before the pre-scientific age? Before it was just a question of what was available. That might have changed a lot. You certainly have more flavors now, but the techniques haven’t changed, have they?

Easy E
I don’t know about that. You didn’t have gas fired stoves before, did you? All you had was an open spit or hot coals or something… Mmm, hot coals.

Ferret
I guess not, maybe you have more tastes to choose from, but there it seems like you are just benefiting from the technology at hand.

Easy E
How is McDonald’s any different?

Ferret
You’ve got me. I guess the only thing I could say is that McDonald’s uses the technology to try and create a common standard. The standard hamburger. The standard french fry. McDonald’s will try to incorporate technology to produce that standard as efficiently as possible. Fine dining tries to constantly reinvent the steak, or the hamburger for that matter. Technology is employed to try to individuate instead of standardize.

Easy E
Individuated steaks?

Ferret
Individuated steaks.

Easy E
For individuated people.

Ferret
Indeed.

Easy E
So basically, what you are saying is that you’ve got two competing tastes working in the world. There’s the taste that tries to employ technology for standardization, or those that use it for individuation.

Ferret
Yeah, and both appear to be pretty good, and both will kill you. McDonald’s hamburgers and slow roasted baby back ribs?

Easy E
I wonder if food tasted different a long time ago.

Ferret
I think it did. I just don’t know if it was better. Fine dining was probably different, just as fast food, or street food or whatever it was back then.

Easy E
These McDonald’s double cheeseburgers are so damn good.

Ferret
Mmmmph… so good.

[cf. Heidegger's Question Concerning Technology I'm thinking especially of this issue of a "standing ready," or the "framing of Being." Heidegger is especially concerned with this problem. I agree with him to a degree, but I think that it's okay to "frame Being" in some sense. Maybe he would too. It requires more research. Besides, he'd be crazy not to love some McDonald's double-cheeseburgers from time to time.]

* * *

Drugella
[perking up, suddenly carried away by the sound of the words 'cocaine' uttered in jest, her blond hair flailing in a light winter breeze, sucking down on a glass bowl of marijuana]
Oh my god. I need to have some cocaine. That would be so good right now, or maybe some acid! Did you hear that James has acid? Oh my god, that would be so good right now. Oh, I just love drugs so much. You know sometimes weed isn’t enough to try and change the situation. Sometimes you have take something like that. Does anyone have any cocaine?

Bu-Ran-Don
[in Chinese]
奴孩子,怎么样?
What do you think of the girl?

Ferret
[responding in Chinese]
这个奴孩子吗?
This girl?

Bu-Ran-Don
对。
Yeah.

Ferret
疯子。
Crazy.

Bu-Ran-Don
我知道。
I know.

Drugella
[She perks up more, and her eyes widen, ravished by the thought of ingesting the objects of her desire, overcoming her interminable ennui]
And there’s times when I’m so bored, but then you can always find ways to make it more interesting when you do some drugs. If we had some acid right now then we could fight all of this and run away with the night. It’s like floating on a cushion or something. I just miss it all so much. You know? You don’t have any drugs, do you?

Ferret
I don’t think that anybody has any.

Drugella
I know, but think about a world where you didn’t have drugs to create all of these times for you. How could I make things go on? Would there be anything to do? I mean, wow. I’m so bored right now in this superbigawesome house. But could there be a party in my head or something, you know?

Bu-Ran-Don
[in Chinese, again]
你喜欢她吗?
Do you like her?

Ferret
[also in Chinese, again]
不喜欢,我给她时候。
No, not really, but I’d show her a time.

Bu-Ran-Don
真的吗?
Really?

Ferret
真的。我不喜欢她。
No, she’s not hot.

Ferret
[unable to find the words, switching back to English]
Manufactured, you know what I mean? Unbelievable. Controlled by them. Boring.

Drugella
What were you talking about?

Bu-Ran-Don
Manufactured goods.

* * *

Crassus Clay
I can’t stand it man. All this bullshit. Girls here are acting all like they are stuck up, like they are some how above it man. They know I want to fuck them, and that they want to do it too. When I’m open about it, they all get pissed up. Stuck up girls, man. That’s why I like California. You just tell ‘em, hey, I like your tits, and they think it’s funny, man, like they know what it’s about.

Ferret
I think you are missing the point, Crassus.

Crassus Clay
No, I don’t think I am. I can’t stand all this hypocrisy. I hate all the lying and shit that girls are into here. Why not just tell the truth?

Ferret
Because ultimately women don’t want the truth. They want lies. Everybody wants lies. The truth is what you harbor in your soul and you let out when you know that it can be handled. You can’t shove the truth in everybody’s face because the truth is ugly. It’s the ugliest goddamned thing in the world, and people don’t want ugliness, believe it or not. Especially as far as girls are concerned.

Crassus Clay
I guess man.

Ferret
Don’t get me wrong, I think that it’s bullshit that people as a society construct elaborate lies or euphemisms around all kinds of things, but growing up is realizing that these lies are all important. We manufacture these things to make us feel better about all the things that are uncomfortable, or potentially hurtful, or make us feel out of control. Besides there are worse lies than the ones that come with women that I think should be changed. It was a slap in my face when I discovered that first hand. Sometimes the best way to tell somebody you care about them is to lie to them, or to put it diplomatically, to be diplomatic.

Crassus Clay
I’ve got to get back to California.

Ferret
It’ll catch up with you there, man. It catches you everywhere you go.

Crassus Clay
Not yet.

Ferret
Maybe.

* * *

Ferret
But I don’t know about kids man.

Easy E
Nor do I, those things are crazy.

Ferret
I mean, there’s no way I’m ready man. You produce this thing that wants to take everything from you, suck the soul out of your life. No more partying to three. No more long weekends of peace. You’ve got dependents, responsibilities. Yet, you love the shit out of ‘em.

Easy E
I think it’s all about manufacturing an indestructible self, building up your defenses so they can try to tear ‘em down, but can’t.

Ferret
It’s true, you’ve got to have ramparts.

Easy E
Turrets.

Ferret
Double barreled artillery canons locked, loaded and ready for destruction. Oh, and boiling oil.

Easy E
You’ve got to be defended. You’ve got to be secure in yourself.

Ferret
Those little fuckers aren’t taking any prisoners. That’s why having kids before you are ready is so bad. It doesn’t only have the potential to destroy them, but it destroys yourself. Unless you have re-enforcements, grandparents, shit like that.

Easy E
Yeah, but that’s like calling on your sworn enemy at the time of your greatest need. Like you finally vanquished them, but now you got to call them back and beg for forgiveness. That sucks, it’s like turning over the keys to the castle.

Ferret
You need your own castle.

Easy E
Undoubtedly, with burning oil.

Ferret
Man, families are crazy. Whoever made them should be shot.

Easy E
That’s like shooting yourself in the face, or your grandfather’s.

Ferret
Are we going to hell?

Easy E
Maybe, but you bet your ass I’m going to love the hell out of my kids, fortified, of course.

Ferret
Of course.

posted by ferret at 1:10 am  

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Appearance on the Daily Show

[The following is a transcript of my (ficitonal) appearance on the Daily Show, which garnered such a high rating share that I received a (ficitonal) call from several television companies asking me to produce my own show, exploring the content on my blog and my most recently published book (fiction, but also, as of now, ficitonal).]

John Stewart
Okay folks, tonight’s guest is the author of a blog that is making its rounds on the internet called “Scruta,” which has spawned a newly released best-selling book of the same name. Please welcome, Ferret to the show.

[Ferret walks on the soundstage, amidst cheers, and applause. He shakes John Stewart's hand, and they take their seats.]

John Stewart
So… your name is Ferret?

Ferret
Yes.

John Stewart
You have a blog named Scr-oo-tA, which I am told is the Latin name for trash.

Ferret
Yes.

John Stewart
Well, hmm… don’t you think that’s a little self deprecating to name yourself after a rodent, and call your blog trash? Like were you sitting there saying to yourself: Weasel and Dungheap, Rat and Cesspool, you might have more luck?

Ferret
Well, John, Rat and Cesspool does a nice ring.

John Stewart
It does, doesn’t it?

Ferret
Incredible! You can feel the angst flipping directly off of your tongue as soon as you say cess. Try it!

John Stewart
Cess!

Ferret
Cess!

[Laughter from the crowd. John and Ferret chuckle between themselves. Everything settles.]

Ferret
But seriously, I don’t think I need to tell you about the incredible powers of self-deprecation. It’s half of your shtick on this fine show.

John Stewart
You have no idea how far I’ve sunk.

Ferret
This show has truly been the bane of your existence, am I right?

John Stewart
The BANE. Oh yes, you have no idea how hard it is to actually comment on the news everyday with such cynicism to reefer toking, PhD candidates.

[Tittering from the crowd.]

Ferret
Their 1% market share is demanding… on weed!

John Stewart
Oh, there you go! My one great… well, my only role in film. That’s right, I played a man obsessed with smoking marijuana! But let me say, that I’m a big fan of the blog, and the book is actually quite good. You’ve taken things from everywhere. A critic from the New York Times called it “a wonderful form of pastiche, that refuses to commit to any genre, but delves into the issues of modern life in such a way reminiscent of the philosophical confessions of old. Ferret uses himself as his own view into the world, giving us hope in the virtuous life, and the honest man.”

Ferret
On weed?

[Laughter.]

Ferret
But in seriousness, John. I’ve tried to commit strongly to the idea that this new form of the blog might be a way to really explore philosophical issues, but also prove an outlet for my writing. It’s a sounding board where I try and figure things out, sort through all the trash in my life–actual or psychological, and hope that I leave something worthwhile.

John Stewart
Well, it certainly has. One thing I always admire about what you do is that you choose to post in every medium, writing, music, video. You seem to be able to execute all of these things so well. And they all tie into each other. Every time I read one of your blogs it carries beyond itself.

Ferret
Well, thank you. It sounds like you are talking about this whole pastiche thing that people always accuse me of. I’ve always thought that that was a nice way of saying that I stole my material, that I’m some kind of half-ass artist living off of the comments and events of the day. But you wouldn’t know anything about that, would you John?

John Stewart
Well, truth be told. Meh, maybe a little bit.

[He grins fiendishly; chuckles rise from the audience.]

Ferret
So it seems that we have something in common, god forbid.

John Stewart
God forbid.

[Ferret realizes that he's shut down John Stewart a bit, and quite frankly, been a bit of an asshole.]

Ferret
You want to do some dirty limericks with me?

John Stewart
Well, I-

Ferret
I’ve always wanted to do them on TV, and I figure this is cable right?

John Stewart
Oh yes it is. Umm… “I once knew a girl from Nantucket…?”

Ferret
Whose [expletive] was shaped like a bucket.

[Roars of laughter from the audience, John Stewart tries not to laugh, but starts to laugh. He starts to catch his breath, saying:]

John Stewart
It was so large?

Ferret
It could fill a barge, but none of the men could [expletive] it.

[Laughter; John Stewart as well.]

John Stewart
Wow.

Ferret
So there you have it. We’ve done dirty limericks on air. Viewers, I swear my blog is about real topics of interest, philosophy and like. It’s never low-brow.

John Stewart
Truly not!

Ferret
Cess!

John Stewart
Cess!

[More laughter.]

John Stewart
So… I guess we are running out of time.

Ferret
That’s fine John. I just wanted to have one last serious type of comment here. I wanted to thank you for all that you’ve done to further use of comedy in service of the truth, and for giving me a forum to say dirty limericks on TV. Your show has been a real inspiration to me, and it’s an honor to finally appear on it.

John Stewart
Truly a pleasure sir to go through the trash with you. Ferret everyone!

[Rounds of applause. They go to commercial. John Stewart and Ferret talk privately underneath the roar.]

Ferret
You owe me $50.

John Stewart
I know, I didn’t think you’d do the dirty limerick on air. I thought, you were…

Ferret
High brow? Come on. I’m a trash collector.

John Stewart
Touche.

Ferret
Touche.

posted by ferret at 11:53 pm  

Sunday, December 23, 2007

To My Imagination

I praise you, my greatest weapon

Triggered at quick scrapes with social obligations

Floundering insecurities

And greatest aspirations.

How could I thank you for all your services lent to me,

As a wiley beggar strangely, suddenly, perversely

Giving me money just as I hunger for dinner?

You ask nothing but that I engage you,

That I hold you honestly, like a child,

Finding in each of your fiendish devices

A new amusement.

You would pressure me to laugh at nothing,

To find joy in the mundane,

To find myself absentmindedly getting up and

Spinning loops in a square,

My mind full of fantastic scenes,

Only to think that I have lost my wallet

(but then realize it was in my hand the whole time).

You sting deeper than any drug because

You are hand crafted, genetically grafted

To my idiosyncracies,

Heightening no particular part of my psyche artificially

But heightening it all!

You teach me with madness

Only to bring me wisdom. I cry at the thought that I

Was blessed with so perverse an attitude,

With such a kind friend as you.

My shadow, my wanderings! You go

Where I go, intensifying, casting over and over into infinity.

But I feel I must reign you in,

These 3 AM love affairs you bring me while eating

A bowl of ramen can seriously, undeniably,

Medically verifiably, prove detrimental to finding an actual love affair.

It stands to reason you and I have gone too far,

Have perhaps broken off too great a chunk

From the muse’s hip as she bent forward and we stretched for her bosom,

Failing, but refusing to go away empty handed,

When my shrink,

Modern day arbiter of dreams,

Confessional for all those awkward reconstitutions of reality and fantasy,

Tells me I have an active imagination.

(This is usually when we begin to wax Freudian,

Beds filled with all sexes covered in blood and the smell of incest;

Behavior modification,

Careful accounting for thoughts and their distribution,

Since thoughts really can be regulated the same way as the UPS,

Although they rarely illicit the same kind of joy upon their arrival

As one of those brown packages;

The newest tinctures for securing the moderation of anti-social behavior,

Along with careful harmless looking advertising,

Weight gain? Ticks? Loss of sexual appetitite?

Not with this happy blob!

And of course,

Philosophy.)

Okay, we’ll strike a deal,

My ravaging imagination!

I’ll give you a couple hours a day

Just with you – like a girlfriend or something.

We’ll sit in public places, and dream all kinds of things

And I’ll laugh and nobody will know why.

I’ll lock myself in a room and furiously, passionately

Hammer out pages of prose with your assistance.

And then, later on,

I’ll go about my day,

Not going into flights of fancy

Unless I need to be clever for some reason.

I know that you don’t like to work on command,

You’re a prima donna and you need your

Led-Zeppelin style bowl of all green M&Ms

But do you think you could help me win the girl,

Or come up with some really original TV commercial?

Everybody says those pay well…

posted by ferret at 11:42 pm  

Thursday, December 20, 2007

On Mediocrity

“History is, irremissibly, the rule of the mediocre. The only capital quality Humanity possesses is the “H” with which we adorn it typographically. The greatest genius is shattered against the unlimited force of vulgarity. The planet, apparently, is made for the average man to continually rule. The important thing, therefore, is for the median level to be elevated as high as possible. What makes a nation great is not primarily its great men, but the stature of its innumerable mediocre ones. Of course, in my opinion, the average level will never be elevated without the existence of superior examples, models who challenge the inertia of the multitudes and attract them toward lofty heights. That is why the role of the great men is only secondary and indirect. It is not they who are the historical reality, for it is possible for a nation to possess individual geniuses without the nation’s being worth the more for it. This always happens when the masses are indifferent to their examples, when they do not follow them and do not perfect themselves.”

-Jose Ortega y Gasset, “The Role of Choice In Love,” On Love: Aspects of A Single Theme, p. 118

Ferret
To be perfectly honest, I don’t know what to do with my life. I feel like I could have been really great at something, but I always lacked focus. First, it was trying to be an actor. I was interested in drama in general, writing, acting, directing mostly. I guess I’m still am. That’s really how I came to be interested in Plato. I was always into philosophy, too. I can remember going to parties in high school and engaging in those adolescent philosophical debates: Do I really exist? That kind of thing. When I discovered Plato, it was incredible. Here was somebody who was really engaging philosophy dramatically, that thought of philosophy as an active enterprise. So after I fell in love with Plato I found myself studying Classics, trying to really get a handle on what was going on. Of course, the more I got into it I realized the father away I was getting from producing works of drama and literature, performing like I always used to like to do.

Mors
Yeah, I know how you feel. I think guitar is the same way for me. I started doing Classics because I liked that feeling of the grammar, and the mythology, those great stories. But I realize if I could really do whatever I wanted, I would just play guitar all day long, but I’ve put so much time and money into Classics, that I’ve got to try and make it work now. It just kind’ve feels like, I could do this. I don’t love it, but I could do it.

Ferret
It’s funny you say that. A lot of older guys, I mean pushing 60 with families, the whole bit, have told me that’s how life worked out for them. They had dreams of things they’d try and do if they had all the money in the world, but that ultimately, they picked something that was just “okay.”

Mors
I think there’s something to that, man. That’s how it just happens.

Ferret
There is, but then there’s always those guys who refuse to do that, and they end up being the ones who live the life of kings, rolling on the waves of their dreams. I just wonder if they’ve had too much of a head start; they’ve been too focused. I realize I have a lot to bring to the table, and everyone seems to believe in me. Maybe I can do it still.

Mors
Why not? You can still give it a try.

Ferret
I think I’m going to.

Mors
Then there’s the fact that you don’t make it.

Ferret
Of course, not making it to rockstardom, I think that this is everyone’s assumption. The weird thing is that I don’t know anybody who has tried and failed. Maybe you don’t see that because people find out pretty quickly whether they have what it takes or not, and make a decision, and don’t really talk about it much. People don’t like to think about their failures. I suppose that that is a risk I have to take. I’m still young. I can hustle for two years, and if it doesn’t happen then, well… I guess it’s time to settle for mediocrity.

Mors
It’s not really settling though, is it? I mean, you do what you can with what you’ve got.

Ferret
I think that’s true. I’ve thought a lot about this, when it comes to something like activism, or making a difference. I’ve decided I don’t understand the appeal of trying to find a cause. This idea of doing something great or being something great isn’t really something that you TRY to do. It just happens. If I were in the position to help a lot of people, following my own desires, then I hope that I would. Looking for things doesn’t make sense to me.

Mors
I agree with you. It’s important to fight injustice when you are confronted with it, but you shouldn’t actively seek it out like superman or something.

Ferret
The problem is that I’m afraid that I’ve become complacent. I’m afraid that there may be injustices directly related to my life that I don’t see. I’m afraid that I’ve become blind.

Mors
Of course, what’s the price of seeing? Maybe it’s not worth it entirely.

Ferret
Maybe not. I think that’s another sick and sad part about “growing up.” There will be injustice in the world that you just have to accept. You will have to choose the second best. However, for you, that is the best. There’s just always this thing that I think sticks in the back of everyone’s head, that adolescent refusal to compromise or accept hypocrisy… it always says: “You didn’t grow up, you gave up.”

Mors
Heh, I don’t think you ever get away from that, but that’s a thought that I think sits with most people. A reason to drink, maybe?

Ferret
Indeed, cheers.

posted by ferret at 2:25 pm  

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Mouse from the Sky

As I was waking up today, I got up to get some water because I was nursing a terrible hangover. As I was walking back, I noticed a strange piece of paper lying right near my open guitar case. As I moved my guitar case out of the way, I noticed that it was one of those sticky mouse traps with a mouse on it. I went and woke up my roommate (also suffering from a hangover) to come and have a look, and help me try to figure out what the hell happened. He assured me he didn’t put the mouse in my room, and that he hadn’t been using those type of traps. (I’m not exactly primed to the way in which things have been operating at my apartment since I’ve been away for quite a while traveling.)

So what the hell happened?

Well, the best guess is that it flew in from my open window (open because my building is always waaaaay too hot in the winter, so you have to crack a window to keep from sweating). But who the hell is throwing their mouse traps out the window of their apartment so that they can cascade down into mine?

Isn’t there a better way to dispose of your moused sticky paper?

I’m not happy to be a surrogate garbage handler, especially when the garbage is still twitching.

posted by ferret at 1:16 pm  

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Art of Endless Recursion

Ferret
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about art.

Honey
Yeah?

Ferret
I’ve been trying to figure out the role of gimmickry in art. I mean, I think art hinges on a gimmick of some type, but then goes beyond that gimmick. I can’t stand how modern artists give us some gimmick and then refuse to explain it.

Honey
Well, some of them do.

Ferret
I know that, and I think it’s good when they do, but you know that a lot of them don’t. It’s funny because people often talk about the kind of intellectualism and elitism that plagues contemporary art, but I think ultimately it’s very democratic. An artist tries to make everyone an artist.

Honey
What d’you mean?

Ferret
I would argue that true art is defined by that moment where an artist takes a gimmick and then voices a specific interpretation, or creates a specific effect in the person perceiving the art. The effect of Rembrandt’s use of shadow and light, for example. In the case of an open gimmick, where the interpretation is left to the viewer, they are suddenly required to participate as an artist, making the interpretation, taking whatever effect that they would like to from the art.

Honey
Yeah, but I don’t know. I don’t think that an artist is supposed to create a singular effect though their work. If they are able to produce a specific effect through their art, then that seems like a gimmick too. It means that there is no depth to the work at all. The great thing about art is that it doesn’t limit itself to one particular form of expression.

Ferret
No, you are right, but there are works of art where this kind of open gimmick is focused on more timeless or general questions. Where the artist reveals something about the world, and doesn’t haphazardly apply a gimmick.

Honey
But you have to take into account context. It might not necessarily be a function of the art or the artist. Take Duchamp’s urinal for instance. That work of art has been reconstrued so many times beyond what could be considered Duchamp’s original intentions as he defined them. It has unintentionally revealed something about the world.

Ferret
Didn’t somebody try to smash it?

Honey
I think somebody did smash it.

Ferret
Probably some performance artist feeding off of Duchamp arguing that he redefined Duchamp. Can destruction be creative?

Honey
Well, I think so.

Ferret
I think so too, but I find it suffers from the same kinds of problems that I have with all creative or artistic endeavors. I certainly agree that it’s worth while to take the piss out of Duchamp sometimes.

Honey
Ferret…

Ferret
I know, I should flush that one away, right?

Honey
Stop. Please.

Ferret
Okay, well, it seems we’ve come full circle. All of art may very well be gimmickry, but gimmickry may be a lot.

Honey
I think so, probably more than we realize. If anything, I think that art spins us in circles, from gimmick to gimmick, from one theory of aesthetic to another.

Ferret
So what then? Can we ever get outside of the loop?

Honey
Why do you want to get outside of it?

Ferret
Well, the whole thing seems to me to be a like an endless carousel where you are trying to make a judgment about the world around you, reflected in the mirrors, only to find that your perspective is constantly in flux. You get nauseous… I guess where I’m going with this is that I don’t like carousels.

Honey
I don’t blame you. I’ve always thought that they were hokey, and not too much fun to ride.

Ferret
I know, even when I was a kid, I didn’t get them. Okay, maybe there’s a better way to look at this whole art thing? What do you think?

Honey
I think so. How about this: I once had a dream where I was lost in this strange German beer hall, and I was trying to find the exit. It was so immense that I couldn’t see any walls near me that might suggest an end or a way out. And the longer I walked, the more I realized that there was no end. I just kept walking along the rows of these long tables watching people eating and drinking and having sex. Every type of food, every type of drink was consumed by every kind of person I could imagine, breaking now and then into orgiastic furor. Suddenly, when I came to the realization that there was no end to it all, all of these people began dancing on the tables wildly, failing their arms and legs as if they were trying to exhaust every possibility of movement, every orientation of their bodies. I could see patterns of dances coming through like waves from tables beyond my vision. The people would come together in these new dances for several moments, and then as they dissipated, return to their continual flailing, only to receive a new dance a moment later. I watched this for a while, until finally I asked one of the dancers why they wouldn’t stop dancing. He said, “We have to dance. If we don’t dance now, we will die.” I think that art in general moves just like those dances that I saw. It is what drives us forward without apology. It is the one thing that continues to animate us to something beyond ourselves.

Ferret
I do like that idea. But would we really die without art? Without its continual redefinitions?

Honey
I don’t know if we’d die literally, but I think it’s an essential part of our selves. We can’t imagine existing without it.

Ferret
So you’re saying that I’m stuck on the carousel?

Honey
I think so.

Ferret
Dammit.

posted by ferret at 3:43 pm  

Saturday, December 15, 2007

A Broken Heart

A broken heart is heavier than lead
In eighteen wheelers Jupiter attacked
By gravity. A broken heart will head
From sunny strolls to pits of snakes, when backed
By thoughts of love like lobsters boiled in pots,
A-squirm for life that suddenly went numb.
A broken heart will run on breathless plots
Of ponzi schemes, a soured chance to thumb
A nose at chance, to fill a void with void.
A broken heart will fight with shadows cast
By puppets, characterizing those joyed
Affections lingering to hold the past.

[WARNING: I wrote the following concluding couplet to try and add a happier resolution to the matter, but having just now taken my own advice, I find that it's basically bullshit. (This is probably attributable to my singular inability to have any kind of lasting, meaningful, affection for anyone. I attribute this to my genes or environmental factors, but I'm sure the victims of my so-called 'affections' would probably term this to be the case of my being a 'cowardly ass-hole,' unwilling to commit to anything of worth. (I should note that I'm not altogether unconvinced by their sentiments, but that I would attribute my own 'ass-hole cowardice' to geneological and environmental factors... A reductio ad absurdum: you provide the reductio; I'll more than happily provide the absurdum.) Like Washington, I now have similar reservations about love: "it is not reason, it is not eloquence; it is force." (Even though I know it's not.)]

But even broken hearts can mend with time,
A beer, a friend, or just a clever rhyme.

posted by ferret at 1:01 am  

Sunday, December 9, 2007

On the Name of this Blog

I named this blog “Scruta,” which is the Latin word for flotsam, rubbish, frivolities, trash… loosely translated, shit (“clean up that shit,” “we don’t need all this shit,” “talking shit,” etc.)

I did this for several reasons:

1) To take a little of the pressure off of myself by giving my blog a nice self-deprecating name. (Of course I realize that this could backfire horribly. Self-effacement (especially in Latin) could be seen as a sign of erudition.)

2) I think most of life is like wading through a pile of trash, hence the by-line: “either you are sorting it out, or you are full of it.” That being said, I’m at the point in my life where I need to sort some of it out (cf. Recent young, college graduate story 11A: Start a blog.) I should note, when I first wrote this post, I waxed philosophical about it. For those of you that like such discussions (there will, inevitably, be a number of those here), I’ve included it here. If words like ‘solipsism’ make you feel like you are the only one existing in the room, then feel free to skip to number 3:

When I reflect on my life, I can’t help but feel like my memories are the reworkings and continuous attempts to reconcile a bunch of trash. They are all memories requiring explanation, interpretation, and like trash, they are all indicative of past uses, past meanings. I should note that I mean this analogy in the most neutral kind of light. I don’t consider my memories useless. Quite the opposite. Like a young boy, soon to be a wunderkind engineer, discovering a junkyard for the first time, I hope that my memories will prove similarly useful, dare I say beautiful.

But what kind of use? What kind of beauty?

It occurred to me recently, although not uniquely, that so much of what defines the world for individuals, for statesmen, and for peoples is in their own eyes rubbish, or to put in more delicately, things “set aside.” Our passing reflections are often discarded, rarely given weight. But what if they are investigated, and squeezed for all of their worth? I have committed in these proceedings to try and find the meanings of many of my memories and memorabilia. It is my hope that they will not only reveal more about me to myself, but also provide a way into things in the world. Just as the junkyard boy looks at broken machines and finds ideas about them in himself, which will come to define him and his place in the world, he also finds ways that these machines can be redefined.
If I have a personal decision of economic weight, how can solving it provide an insight into the way that economies are run? Does mediating a petty dispute between my friends give me an insight into justice? Can recounting a funny story give me some kind of idea as to what makes something funny? Can recounting all of these things tell me something about myself? It is my hope that they can.

As for beauty: beauty becomes a kind of revelation which engages us in the world. It is the thing that defines us and our place within the world, and ultimately the world itself, suddenly and simultaneously. As a simple example, the fact that I think a certain person is beautiful is a moment of revelation. It tells you immediately who you are as well (i.e. You are the type of person who finds this type of person beautiful). But what type of person is this who you find beautiful, you might ask? You suddenly want to know. (This example works equally as well with our junkyard friend above. He sees broken machines. They tell him something about himself. He then wants to know more about them, about the world in which they exist.) The engagement continually feeds back to tell us more about the world, and about ourselves.

If I may be polemic, beauty is not something which is some subjective, volitional, ultimately undefinable notion. Nor is it some objective force outside ourselves which we randomly “try to find.” It is the thing which demonstrates the connection and the immediacy of the world to us. It is itself an immediate notion. It requires no judgment. It is what makes judgments possible. It is what makes understanding possible. Beauty is always with us.

We just have to wade through the flotsam of our memories to find it.

3) Like trash, my thoughts, memories, experiences come in many different shapes and sizes. Some are more easily recognizable, digestible than others. Poetry, dialogues, rants and raves.

Okay… that’ll do ‘er. First one from the landfill…

posted by ferret at 8:42 am  

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