9.28.2004

an evening with james.

First: completely irrelevant news. There is a kitten taking a shit in the corner of my bedroom, staring into the corner in a most humanlike manner. I find it hilarious. The kitten's name is "Neon", except that's pronounced like... ok, if you had a mouth full of tapioca pudding, and you wanted to indicate to the nurses that it was very tasty, and you had no class, you would say:
"numb." It's like that but "Neon."
I admit it, I'm having hella trouble pronouncing Korean. I just found out I've been calling my roomate "Mee-Song" when it's more like "Mee-San." I'm so embarassed. I should just mumble more often.

So anyway...
Went back to my hometown for an evening. It was a family birthday. On a limb, I call one of my old friends because he once told me comes to T.O. every Tuesday. Well, he doesn't. We ended up hanging out that night.
[interjection: It is so very difficult to explain the semantic difference, if any, between 'hanging out' and 'hanging around.' Just you try it sometime.]
A little about James. James turned me on to the Dead Kennedys, later Crass, later the Locust, before he abandoned punk and embraced rave. We go pretty far back. Most of my friends I have lost contact with. I'm not very decent that way. Despite promises, James and I hadn't talked in several months.
[interjection: In my room, meanwhile, there is a loud crash, and the kitten crawls out of the closet looking embarassed.]
In under two hours, around frosty pints of Wellington, we have begun talking about the circumstances of human existence. In another two hours we are in a park, tidying up these same far-reaching theories.
[interjection: Neon is in a plastic bag, chasing a dustbunny clinging to her tail. This is much better than teevee.]
My hypothesis is that human beings are-- duh-- social animals. Not only that, but scientific studies indicate that people's perceptions are altered based on whatever group consensus emerges. For example: a group of college students is shown a slide of the colour blue. An individual stands up and states strongly that the colour is green. The other students agree. Later, when asked individually, a vast majority of those students remember the colour green. Not only are people unwilling to undermine the judgement of a group, their very perceptions are altered by the will of the majority.
Now, most of our political and social structures are based on the expectation that there is an objective truth, that people who perceive that truth will argue succesfully for its existence, that people will listen and accept those arguments, and that a group will thus accept that objective truth and respond to its implications. This is enlightenment, people. It's the cornerstone of most, if not all, of our political institutions.
[Neon is now asleep on my lap. Just thought you should know.]
Representative democracy is the most obvious example, but in addition you've got the judicial system (trial by jury), and the scientific community (trial by peer review). Both of these institutions are, interestingly enough, supposed to be bulwarks against the occasional excesses of democracy's majority rule. Like, it doesn't matter if 80% of Alabamians(sic) want to see the Ten Commandments in the courtrooms, it's just not allowed in a secular society. Sorry.
So what does it mean if our political institutions, if the very foundation of our 'progress' in political science, is flawed? What if political 'science' is simply an impossible concept? I mean, most of the radical community believes in a form of popular democracy, which could prove to be even more excessive in its vulnerability to manipulation. How do you cope with these conclusions? How do you rework a political theory that addresses the innate elasticity of human comprehension?
My typically glib answer, that drunken night, was that you can't. If you understand politics as a scientific approach to organizing group responses to shared problems, well, what must happen is the annihilation of Politics itself.

Ahh, just savour that. Isn't it preposterous? It gives me so much satisfaction to see those words on the monitor.
The Annihilation of Politics. Ker-pow.
The idea delighted James because James is a taoist, I think. He explained taoism as such: reaching a point in life where you realize that everything is suffering, everything is meaningless, and everything is ridiculous. Then learning to laugh at it.
Man, so you get to have your cynicism and laugh? The idea delighted me.
I guess my point in writing all this down is that it is so very wonderful to have a friend where all of human existence is covered as a topic of conversation in under four hours. With some of my friends, I'm pretty sure we'll never cover this ground in all the time we know one another. There would be nothing wrong with either of us, and it's nothing personal. The chemistries between us just never reach the same degree of sophistication. The wind never blows the words the right way. It just never happens. James and I both sort of stepped back, whoa. It was good... really good talking to you, man. Okay, see you later. And that was my night.
How was yours?

4 Comments:

At 5:00 PM, Blogger inkheart said...

that sounds like buddhism to me, not taoism, but hey, i guess the thing about taoism is you can't really tell anyone what it is. and if you try, lao-tsu comes back and uses ghost powers on you. fucking dead philosophers, think they're hot shit just because they've shuffled off the fucking coil. I HATE THEM ALL.

 
At 6:34 PM, Blogger inkheart said...

oh and word to the wise lil buddy, you might want to change your settings so your blog allows anonymous comments. otherwise only people with blogger accounts can comment.

shameless plug!shameless plug on someone's behalf!

 
At 9:27 PM, Blogger eric said...

ohh... shit! thanks. and thanks for the kind words back at unquote. i'll be setting up a linklist very soon.

james wasn't so keen on buddhism. he said it put too much emphasis on meditation.

 
At 2:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey bro,
NIce site, wish i had a kitten with a crazy name!

 

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