March 29, 2011
He attacked everything in life with a mix of extraordinary genious and naive incompetence, and it was often difficult to tell which was which.
Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
March 28, 2011
Everything in life is a matter of opportunity - which, by definition, implies a considerable degree of randomness. Yesterday you might not even consider doing something - but today, a little thing has changed, and suddenly you glimpse what could be changed, and how. Even if you had no intention whatsoever to do it - suddenly you've got an opportunity to do so, and regardless of what you'll do in the end, you won't be able to help thinking about it, you'll mull over it, you'll consider what good could it bring, what cost would it imply, whether it would be fair or not. You'll be helpless on this matter: you have no other choice to go through all the "what if" and "maybe" what will doubtlessly surface.
March 27, 2011
The prodigal son
Of the few Bible tales I've ever been told, the prodigal son's always seemed full of bullshit to me. So the father celebrates the return of his lost son? Sure, so far it makes sense. But then he passes judgement on his other son's resentment? Hell - all he did was to reward ingratitude and to punish loyalty. All he said to his so-called prodigal son was "you can do whatever you like, I'll always be here to help you out and toss you a party - your brother will always do the work, so you can have your fun". As we say here, God told us to forgive the others, not to fool ourselves. I hope that the prodigal son's brother has at least kicked him in the nuts.
March 24, 2011
The heart of men
We know what lurks in the shadows behind us. Around us. Over our heads, watching us from the safety of darkness. We know what threat it poses, what power it has. We fear it. We know that we cannot fight it. We pretend indifference to keep ourselves from fleeing. We pretend to ignore it, to ignore its presence, to ignore its threat, illuding ourselves into thinking that if we chose not to see it it won't be there, it cannot possibly be there. We are wrong, naturally. Reality is oblivious to our doubts and fears and illusions, and that threat is very much real. We know it, of couse. As we try desperately to build up a wall of illusions, we know they are futile, that in the end they will bring us nothing. Things don't change merely because we wish them to. Sometimes they cannot change even if you pur your greatest and most honest effort into it.
March 23, 2011
March 22, 2011
On enthusiasm, or lack of
One of the reasons why I lack enthusiasm and expectations is the fact that both have been so short-lived of late. Sometimes there's a spark of hope lighting up, a sudden burst of enthusiasm that brings back a smile and makes me, for a moment, wish to go on and pursue it. The first step, however, turns out disastrous, and all the expectations die in that moment. As if one's looking for something and has a sudden glimpse that resembles it, only to rush towards it and realise that it isn't it, that it was something else entirely, something meaningless.
March 21, 2011
It's interesting to see how people change over time, how those we once knew so well become so different that we look at them and wonder: is that you? Sometimes they look the same - it's when we start talking to them that we notice the changes, the great distance that lies between who they were and who they are. Sometimes the changes are physical as well, but regardless of the impact they might leave on our eyes, it is nothing compared to the lasting impression that shapes itself on our minds. We bring back the memories of our days together, and realise they would be utterly impossible in the present - they have changed, we have changed, everything around us has changed... I know it's normal, life is not meant to stand still for everyone, and even when we feel that our motion has stopped and that we're as stagnant as a mire, it's not quite so. It always goes on moving. It's just that sometimes we cannot understand the motion, the changes, the differences, and worse - sometimes, after the initial shock, we realise that we don't really care about them. People change, and those whom we found so close to us once become distant, like strangers we're meeting for the first time, like strangers whose faces remind us of someone we've lost a long time ago, but who aren't they any more. They have ceased to be, and the person we're seeing now cannot bring them back. We promise to see each other again soon, to have a cup of coffee, maybe to go out, and as we walk away we know that we won't, that there's no point to it, no point at all. Things change. Even the stop-motion has moved on.
March 20, 2011
We forget so easy
Yes, we do. We remember the promises once made, bitter and full of resentment: never to make that mistake again. Like a drunkard who, after waking up in the morning with his head pounding, screams to himself: I shall never drink again. But he does. We always do. We always give in, we always give it another chance, we, unammendable optimists: next time it's going to be better, we're going to have more control, and the morning will be wonderful. It never is. We give it all another chance only to taste the same disillusionment in the end. Why do we do it? Why don't we drop the hope as soon as we face the first failure?
March 19, 2011
Luhmann revisited (recurring)
For most people, communication is most likely unlikely. For a few people, communication is utterly impossible.
March 12, 2011
Talking about war
One hour at the neighbourhood's pub - the old one, the classic one, the one where smokers are still allowed and alcohol flows swift and cheap. One hour for the cheer up. A boring football match on the telly, a loud and slightly non-sense conversation about the war following a loud and slightly non-sense conversation about today's protests. A laugh. Several laughs, a joke about codfish and potatoes in the scenario of an african war in the second half of the last century. On the table next to me, an old man says to himself that the end of the world is nigh. Football. Long discussion on football. Funny discussion on football, but not the game being played. That one is still boring. The game ends (a draw) and they go on - most people discussing football, the old man next to me still saying that the end of the world is near us.
Not to know
What you don't see, cannot see, is that even though I might not be included in such a group, I do feel myself included in such a group. Not that I have that much in common with its other members, for I don't; but the little in common is more than enough. So when you talk about such crowd, I do feel you're talking about me as well; when you pass judgement over them, I do feel you're judging me as well. I'm not sure if you are; it's just a feeling, born of my insecurity, my recurring weakness. But such a feeling keeps me from asking you. As much as I'd like to hear the right answer and be reassured, I'm too afraid of listening the wrong answer. Sometimes it's better for us not to know.
The smile of contempt
The true, lasting legacy of that other life was the smile. Not the warm smile of happiness, but the dry, deceiving smile of contempt.
March 08, 2011
Cigarrettes & alcohol
It's funny how I can feel more tired after a whole day at home, half-way through illness, than after a whole day working. Go figure.
March 05, 2011
Easier doesn't always mean better
We can say that the Internet changed the game of relationships, and while that's true, it's not entirely true. I totally agree that the Internet is a good way of making friends, of meeting people that share your interests and like the things you like. I even agree that the Internet might even allow falling in love, although it cannot really replace the real contact, the real human touch - especially for love affairs, but also for friendships. While on the internet it is rather easy for the shy to become outgoing, interacting across the Internet always involves a degree of image-making and self-delusion. Meeting in person, for real, is therefore risky, and not everyone is so daring. And it's a dangerous approach to interaction: the company it provides is quite a lonesome company. You might be able to talk with people that are half the world away, you might be really fond of them, and you might enjoy spending a couple of hours in front of the computer chatting with them. It is good, it feels awesome. But during those hours, you're utterly alone. You look around - with your real eyes - and all you see is bare walls containing the emptiness that surrounds you. I've made extraordinary friends over the Internet, I'm really fond of them, and I do love chatting with them. But with a handful of exceptions, I've met them in person, and I'd happily exchange two hours of online conversation with them for ten minutes talking over a coffee table any day.
When it comes to freedom of opinion, I know some so-called libertarians whose thinking can only match that of Henry Ford's on the Model T car: Any customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants so long as it is black. All other options are simply unacceptable.
March 04, 2011
The lives of others
All we know lies on the surface, walking in front of our eyes. That we see and measure and judge, and so often we do it wrong. The face value is deceiving; beyond that, all we see is the deep dark that each of us carry within. And what lies in the dark usually remains in the dark, unseen, unheard of. We might have glimpses of its shadow against the darkness, but we cannot begin to comprehend the shape, and then we chose not to see it. It's hard, and we don't like it when it's hard. We prefer the simple solutions, the obvious ideas. So we pick up what lies within our arms' reach, and leave the rest untouched, untroubled, forgotten. We chose not to see it; and deep down, we're fully aware of that choice. It's always so much easier to ignore than to understand.
The third time
Of the third time there were left no traces. Only memories. But such memories have no foothold in reality, as there isn't anything, any object, any place, to bring them back and to make them alive, if only for a moment. I can no longer precise the moment when it begun, or the day when it was over, although I do remember both moments clearly. There was nothing left behind, nothing new that would make me remember that particular time, as if nothing significant had happened. All the mementos of the past belong themselves to another past, more distant, more meaningul, happier even. Not to the last days that were shared, to the last moments of solace just before the impending disaster.
March 03, 2011
We can say it at last: we've seen each other, and we didn't recognize the other's face. We've chosen not to. We've made a stranger out of each other - out of bitterness, out of resentment, out of an unjustified fury. From my part there is just a tinge of sadness for it, of uncomprehensible loss. But that is just fine. At this point, I wouldn't have it any other way either.
Meeting people is (not) easy
I'd say it is a matter of opportunity more than anything else. Consider three different kinds of interaction: meeting people, making friends and falling in love. If we consider the ordinary John Doe, and not one of those rare, uber-outgoing guys and gals, what one lacks to be successful in these areas once one reaches adulthood is the opportunity. Before, there is school, with its very on idiosyncrasies and rules and codes. It is so incredibly easy to meet people while in school; there are the classes, always made of different people, and eventually you'll have to sit next to someone else; there are the common grounds; there are the transportations; there is a whole context shared by God knows how many people. And, more important, there is a natural predisposition towards socialization. We are young, innocent for a while (until we are 13, at least), and are driven by pleasure only: all we want is to have fun.
But once you leave school, the game changes entirely: you might still want to have fun (I do), but unless you're really lucky, one moment of fun costs a silly number of moments that are not fun at all. The whole environment changes drastically as well: the working world is, by definition, more defensive and more competitive. People are more wary of bonding. Besides, and unlike in school, you're seldom supposed to create your own background when you start working; you're supposed to have such a background already, with all the friends and people you might possibly need. I'm not saying that one cannot make friends, or even find a soulmate in a working context; I'm just saying that it's incredibly harder. There is the work itself, there are the routines it imposes, there is the age catching up - you know, the older we get, the less we feel like messing around. There's little time left for mingling, and even when there is, we don't really lower our defenses - we stay defensive, evasive sometimes; we don't share too much, we don't say too much, because we don't know the other well, his or her intentions, his or her behaviour, and we can take no chances. We are incredibly afraid of what others might think of us, even if we don't admit it - one step out of that line we can't see most of the time, and we'll be out of the game.