stream-of-consciousness

Tributes

I'm sheepishly enjoying The Hunger Games. Not the books. The movies. Which Shirley handed to me and said, "You must watch these. You'll get it."

She'd something about the fakery. The posing. The couple that's promoted as a couple that's not a couple. The cocked heads and overstretched smiles.

Yes, I imagined I would get the fakeness. That's part of my problem. I can see fake pointing through most anything and it can drive me to madness when I look around say "Is anyone else buying this?" Seeing people slack-jawed, rapt, and even if they're not buying it -- they are. Just by watching. Participating. Swilling the equivalent of mind-clogging transfat into their brain. 

But get it. I didn't know what she meant.

"We're hungry," she said.

And I nodded. Yes. Isn't that the human condition? Hungry? Starving? Famished? How we come out... starving for something till someone gives it to us -- or not, in which case we go through the whole of our lives that way. Desperate for the thing we think, surely, just in wanting it and craving it, must mean we are supposed to get it -- that it can be had somewhere.

Zak and I had a little bit of a debate about The Hunger Games not even two months ago, sitting at their stainless steel table, talking about its merit and what it meant. The irony being that I had not seen it/read it, and he didn't even know what it was about...  but he was still on its side when I explained: "Kids hunt each other down -- kill each other. And people watch. How sick is that? That's the sick vision of the future that we have right now..."

Because this fit into the larger discussion of Dystopian art, literature, movies that we were having... and how sickly oversaturated (to me) the world feels, seems to be with Dystopia now.

"Where's the good vision of the future?" I asked.. "The pretty vision? The vision we can have hope in and reach toward and want to strive for to achieve -- like sending the man to the moon -- you can't want to achieve something if you have no picture of it... no vision painted..."

But Zak argued for The Hunger Games and all the rest's merit -- catharsis. For it being a product of the culture and Dystopia being something we can steer ourselves away from when its points are illustrated... the idea that going down this path, this is as bad as it can get. He said that, among other things that made me turn my mind around and say, "Hmm... you may have a point..."

Which, for the record, I love anyone who can flip my mind around and make me say, "You may have a point..." Since so many people do not have this power. I actually do like to be wrong -- I just like to be wrong with an interesting uncontemplated facet that I can pick up and say, "my... there is more beautiful nuance to the world than I thought..." which takes something other than just your typical full brute force proposal of head-on opposition. Not just jumping off the ground, and gravity that brings you down... but something more along the lines of aerodynamics that combines the two -- subverts and champions and negates them both... a third thing that comes in sideways and might just make a better world for all of us, if that power can be tapped, harnessed, discovered in the first place. 

ANYWAY -- so Shirley handed me the tapes (discs) to watch and at once, moments in, I understood that this was not Dystopia.

"Ohhhh... " I said to myself, shaking my head at my stubbornness as these terribly-named protagonists scrambled around... "This isn't the future... this is now."

But at night, mulling it over, I was thinking, "What's the significance of the Tributes.. what does that mean. what does it signify?"

And whatever it was had to correlate with that creepy high school lit story we all read called The Lottery... which, interestingly enough, was published at a time when the New Yorker didn't categorize and distinguish its articles fact from fiction, and there were plenty of people who wrote in and said, "Whoa, wait... WHAT community in the US is this???" and holds the record for garnering more letters to the editor than (I think) any piece, but for sure any piece of short story ever published in the New Yorker EVER.

So. Tributes. One person offered up for death, or a fate worse than death, or something just generally grotesque. An experience of sacrifice for the "greater good." -- a NECESSITY. 

Why does it resonate. Seem real. And how and why does a society use it? 

Baseline. 

It forces the entire population to make a statement about what a life is worth, supposedly because it cannot be any other way. And in return, understand what your own life is worth -- to the whole. You agree that a human life is worth only that... and it is totally okay for a human, any human, to be subjected to any number or tortures and horrors, and in agreeing with this baseline, you must simultaneously reckon with the reality that you are in perpetual danger of having those same things done to you because you have acknowledged that the forces are at full liberty to do it to somebody else. 

I'm a great fan of Ai Weiwei for no other reason than that he is brave -- and if we were all just as brave, if the whole world were just a brave, then nobody would ever be able to control us through the fear of what-might-happen... a fear we know all-too-intimately because we've let it be done to somebody else.  From grotesque treatment, to your-kids-can-starve-while-mine-can-eat, to the belittling work-at-Walmart-for-minimum-wage-and-collect-foodstamps-with-no-gas-money-left-to-drive-up-to-the-canyon-and-see-the-leaves-change-colour-in-the-fall.

Because the thing to reckon with is that we're all Tributes. All standing up and competing against each other as representatives from various states of the human condition.

Dear Lover

23:52 (that would be the time, GMT-style)

Chieh's bloggedy blog may have just inspired me to start up this racket again. Provided I only do these stream-of-consciousness posts -- as it has occurred to me that once-upon-a-time I used to write would-be lovers late at night, when I had weird thoughts that I wanted to spill onto someone else; didn't feel I could contain in my head. But I don't have those people any more. And I'm starting to realize that they served a useful purpose -- someone to straighten out my craziness I guess. Bounce off against, and then they would come back with some response that wouldn't outright say that I was crazy, and something within in me would be satiated. At ease. The anxiety of thoughts buzzing around late at might like mosquitoes with nowhere to land after they'd already gone round and round in my brain, finally flung out and lighted, planted in the arm of someone who likely minded them less than I did.

BUT what I really wanted to say is that I made a connection between Murakami and neuroscience tonight.

I've been listening quite a bit to Dan Siegel, who is friends with Steven Spielberg and Goldi Hawn and once showed up with a brain on Anderson Cooper's (short lived?) show, and consulted with, or at least has been in the presence of the Dalai Lama... presented to Google, once went to Harvard Medical School, then dropped out to be a fisherman, then went back... oh... if only I had gone back to some of the things I dropped out of doing... but I did not... so there you have it... anyway, Mr. M.D. Daniel Siegel is this neuroscientist who is adamant that our brains are actually *systems* of energy processors ... all this energy is floating about, and we are just systems... little system nodes within the entire system... which is... well, the whole thing.. the whole universe. And where this gets to Murakami is that is that there are these peaks within our systems which are the fixed ideas... going to dinner... having salmon for dinner... but down below the fixed idea is *possibility* -- an even white noise, only probably less noisy, of calm serenity, of possibility... where we have not yet gone to dinner, or settled on dinner, or settled on what we want to have for dinner... and in that space, is possibility -- and where there is possibility without fixed ideas, there is infinite possibility -- and the more our system can rest, can be in this state, can rein in our fixed ideas that haven't even materialized yet of salmon dinners or whatever... of Harvard medical degrees. Well *that* is where true novelty, creativity, the unthinkable comes, can happen. But it takes attention. Focus. Focus on allowance, and ease, and okayness with the allowance of nothing -- for that state to be there, for the infinite possibilities to be available to us. And frankly, that's what I think Murakami does in his books. 

For the longest time I thought I liked Murakami books because his characters were so lost, but they were so okay with being lost. I thought maybe they just had this inner knowing that something would happen. No. That's a lie. I didn't think they knew -- but they were so transfixingly OKAY with not knowing. Their life was in shambles. Shit. Strange. Lost. Confused. And they could just sit in a well and hold a baseball bat.

How many of us could lose our jobs and our wife and have no idea what to do with our lives and instead of drinking or eating or going and joining Cross Fit or something stupid could JUST SIT IN A WELL. A cold cool well, on our own. AT ease? Waiting. When that seems like the most counter-productive thing well, possible.

But that's what Murakami knows (or what he's tapped into) that this Daniel MD also seems to know -- that at this at-ease state, there is infinite possibility. And Murakami demonstrates that. Has it show up. Opens us up to that world of where infinite possibility lies with Cutty Sark in hand. Glass clinking and ice cubes. 

Anyway, Murakami's new book comes out this summer (in the UK at least) (which explains his story in the New Yorker... which led me to look him up and find the announcement) and I'm excited. There are dark stars outside. A 3/4 moon covered in haze. And there's no place I like better than the realm of infinite possibility. If only some day I could be totally at ease and get there, write there, myself. True dreams.

Love,

Whitney xoxox