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Moments and pieces just go through me so fast.

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Jun. 15th, 2010 | 10:55 pm

I think I'm going to use this again to chronicle what's going on in my head and to think out loud from time to time, usually about what I'm reading or problems that are capturing most of my attention.

So here is a landscape shot of my current mental vista (This is extremely long and not totally complete, but whatever -- I've gone a long time without posting here, so a long update is warranted).

"Asexual" has become an increasingly relevant signifier for self-identification lately. I have some problems with the term as it's currently understood by the asexual community itself, but minor quibbles over essentialism and permanence don't detract from the fact that it's comforting to align myself with the group for now. It's encouraging to find people who legitimately share my feelings and thoughts about sex, identity, and desire. It also doesn't hurt that lots of them are well read when it comes to gender, sexuality, and queer studies/theory.

I've become enamored with lazy spiritualism, unsupportable mysticism, hokey systems of thought lacking in intellectual rigor, and anything else that's meant to exacerbate or prod at my emotions while completely bypassing my critical intelligence. I've become pretty willing to call beauty and apparent epistemic impossibility the presence of god. I've even considered going back to church, though maybe just a Unitarian one where I can meet Buddhists and Pagans. I'm pretty sure that they have all the important answers to life's big questions. Annie Dillard and Ralph Waldo Emerson are to blame for this new development.

I was reading some old emails I sent to Mike, and I realized that even though there's a lot I don't like about him we still had really neat conversations. Things like this were said without shyness: (discussing the aesthetic merit of transgressive fiction) "So what I'm saying is this: the method may not be wonderful, but I think the result -- which is social critique, along with a move toward greater human freedom, creative agency, and autonomy -- is. I think transgression is beautiful precisely because it belies a desire for a deeper sense of freedom, a flight from normativity, and a move toward independent self-expression. Which are all pretty cool. But reading about gigantic lizards with narcotics-secreting penises sodomizing boys hanging from nooses can sometimes be a bit much."

I'm still constantly beleaguered by my terror of entrapment. There's always this fear of being stuck, of being without options, always the suspicion that at any moment I'll be caged. After dealing with the educational system so long, I don't want to feel stuck again.

In MBTI theory, the types that worry most about being trapped or feeling their possibilities are stifled exhibit strong extraverted intuition -- they're always searching for a way out, scanning the environment for possibilities, looking diligently for the next opportunity that will completely alter their conditions. They're constantly restless, dread routine, and want more than anything to get the hell out of dodge to something new and exciting (the way I'm describing this sounds awfully similar to extraverted sensing, but whatever, just go with it). I think I've definitely got that -- but it's all curtailed and reduced and diminished by my more dominant introverted thinking, a process famous for shutting every crazy notion down through its unique life-stunting brand of hyper-analysis. I am a wellspring of fantasies already in the process of being deconstructed.

I'm seriously considering trucking as a profession. A temporary one that I wouldn't do indefinitely -- but something to try for a couple years to build up funds to make my next move? Sure.

Thanks to Luis Alberto Urrea (the best professor I had at UIC), nature has become a new obsession. I have to know everything about it. I have to call everything by its right name. In Le Guin's Wizard of Earthsea series, knowing something by its right name was a way to have total power over it. Maybe that's what I'm imagining myself doing. Getting power over things. Foucault thought naming was an important part of establishing something's social existence and therefore its ability to be manipulated and regulated, so maybe I'm onto something here.

I just really like the nature of the knowledge gained through naturalist inquiry. It's so factual. It's so real. You read a fact or you see something out in the world and that's all it is -- a fact, hard and cold and there in front of you. You can't argue with it the way you can argue about the meaning of sociological 'facts' or psychological 'facts.' It's just pure observational reality -- animals do x most of the time, some caterpillars have x number of muscles in their heads (x, in that second fact, equals 49 :O).

Maybe natural facts are all a lot fuzzier than I'm making them out to be. You could complicate all of it by talking about the subjective nature of observation, the problem of universalization, or whatever. But if facts about spiders and bees and ants are fuzzy, then "facts" about human beings are even more fuzzy, even more in need of interpretation and analysis and difficult thought. And sometimes I just want the simpler, easier facts that result in fewer conceptual headaches.

Chicago is draining the life from me, much like it drains the life from everyone (if "facts" are to be believed). You walk in an urban environment, writhing as it does with its clatter of cars and milling faces and scrutinizing glances -- you walk through all that and your attention runs out, your brain turns to mush, you can't make yourself cohere. You walk in the woods, hear a bird sing, hear your footfalls, hear water splashing over rocks, see plant life -- and your mind's replenished. There are studies to support this, there is experience to support this, there is everything to support it -- but we don't take any of it as a sign that we need to go back, turn back time, do something to counteract urbanity. Well, I do. But most people don't. It's troubling.

Also troubling is the strange affinity I feel with carnival folk (who are called carnies, but who apparently prefer to be called "show people" according to this one blog I read).

Also troubling: I watched Spring Creek swallow an overly intrepid crab spider not long ago. First I thought he was going to murder an ant, which was already incredibly exciting, but then he went and drowned himself which, really, was even better. I'm not sure what it means to feel so enlivened and excited by witnessing the death of other creatures. Maybe I'm just thrilled to witness anything at all. Things are happening out there. Creatures are dying every second. Risks are taken each moment. Sometimes I see those things happen, sometimes I see those risks taken, sometimes I see those lives extinguished. I am lucky. We are all lucky.

On that same trip, I found a clearing in the woods near my house that is beautiful. I have to go back to it as soon as possible, and see it -- really see it.

Oh! I gazed into the eyes of a solitary fish, too, on that trip. He stood and watched me. He had nowhere to go. I could have snatched him from his pool if I wanted. But we just stared at each other.

I will live in Wyoming one day. I will live where there is nothing for miles save mountains and hills and sky, and one lonely road leading to elsewhere. One day I will also become romantically involved with a sea captain. And ride upon the back of a mighty stag. I have lots of plans. I'm what they call ambitious. "That Tony," they say, "there's a boy who's going places." And they're right, they're right.

Finally: I have listened to nothing but Blink 182 for the past three hours. I'm not sure what it says about me as a person that I still relate to them at the age of 22 (in an hour and a half O__O).

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