Tuesday, December 23, 2008

the self and none other...

This surviving is life beyond life, more than life, and my discourse is not a discourse of death, but, on the contrary, the affirmation of a living being who prefers not simply that which remains but the most intense life possible. I am never more haunted by the necessity of dying than in moments of happiness and joy. To feel joy and to weep over the death that awaits are for me the same thing. When I recall my life, I tend to think that I have had the good fortune to love even the unhappy moments of my life…
Derrida, Learning To Live Finally: the last Interview,
an interview with Jean Birnbaum,
translated by Pascale-Anne Brault
and Michael Naas, (page 52)

In the documentary by the same name, Derrida makes a case that we are all narcissists. He’s right to some degree we must be it is inescapable. In argument the accusation comes, “You only see things your way.” How else could it be? Even if I try to see things from the other’s point of view, it is still mine. It is my imagining of how the other sees.

So for today… a self indulgence: I will tell you about myself.

I am not who I am for you but for me. I move toward some imagined self. I falter and sometimes do not make my mark but incrementally I move closer. I do not do or say the things I say for you but for me.

I adhere to an ethic of hospitality and try to follow the logic which extends there from.

I believe that true “good” can only be done in singular secrecy. No other can know of it not even a god. To imagine a witness for that “good” is to seek reward and is therefore self-serving. I am not always “good.”

I am not always honest but I try.

I understand the nature of a secret makes the keepers of the secret close. It puts them on the same side, makes them allies. It is more intimate than intimate.

It is only in absence that longing can be felt.

I grew up in a world that believes in magic. It is not a question or a guess. The culture itself believes. It is natural to understand the world in terms of the supernatural for me. I do not believe in Heaven or Hell … that is blasphemy. Yet the supernatural… the ubernatural, the magic… that is something else.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

learning to live...

“To ask me to renounce what formed me, what I’ve loved so much, what has been my law, is to ask me to die. In this fidelity there is a sort of instinct for self-preservation. To renounce, for example, some difficult formulation, some complication, paradox, or supplementary contradiction, because it is not going to be understood,…that the reader or audience will not understand … is for me an unacceptable obscenity. It is as if I were being asked to capitulate or to subjugate myself – or else to die of stupidity.”
Jacques Derrida
Learning to Live Finally: an Interview
with Jean Birnbaum
Translated by: Pascale-Anne Brault
and Michael Naas (page 30)

This past year has given me cause to take an accounting of my life, to consider its purposes and its ends. Derrida seeks “to learn to live finally”; to be “taught” the lesson of living. It is the ongoing lesson that one does not hope to end but to learn by degrees.

My lesson thus far… is but a striving … to understand at last that the only thing I can control is within me. The only choices I have are my own. Through this understanding, through this acceptance more than I desire can be accomplished. I strive to be calm; to be still; to experience this moment without hope for the next; to exercise a faith that what I do might live into the future and to be content so that to breathe this cool air; to feel the warmth of this moment; to drink the good wine is enough – to know that to feel and to allow myself to feel – sad, happy, angry, grateful, is to open the door…

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

this election...

The first time I voted I was eighteen. I worked the polls. I embraced the political process as an emblem of my maturity – my voice equal to others.

I face the current state of our political system with nothing but gut wrenching disappointment. I understand now… we have no statesmen… not to say that we ever had an abundance of them… but somehow my eyes have opened. Those who seek to lead, those dedicated to some sense of purpose beyond short-term economic gains and a place in history, those also-rans, are certain to fail.

I could give a f**k who wins this election because not one of them could do any worse than the current administration – and I’m sorry dear friends, no thrill of history convinces me that any of the current viable candidates have a vision worth following.

We do not elect candidates on the basis of issues or abilities… but in response to who has the best “spin” machine and PR representatives. I am a republican with a little “r”. We should elect representatives we know and trust to choose the president. What we have now is a parody of democracy… the popular vote may or may not matter in either the primaries or the general election and any candidate without a “war chest” can pack it in. Power rests in the hands of the few and we are placated with the “Entertainment Channel” illusion of a process.

I wish as a nation we would turn our attention to the real issues. I wish we would consider the environment, a sustainable economy and what we’re going to do with the mess in Iraq and Afghanistan. Iraq is the greatest blunder since Vietnam…. but I cannot bring myself to agree with my political compatriots who feel we should “just leave.” I can’t tell you how it grieves me to come to that conclusion…

We elected and allowed to be elected George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. We allowed them, out of our own real fear, to take us places we should have never gone. Now will we take responsibility for what has been done in our name? How will we repair the damage? Can we change our presence in Iraq from war to building? I don’t know…