Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Current life synopsis as 2009 departs. Part 1/2: Prosaic.

A post of two halves; the first half, me as ostensibly human with all my existential anguishes; the second half, an attempt to philosophically review my current state and look at processes from a higher point of view.

Part one.

The prosaic.

As you can probably tell, I have an analytic type of brain; I like to theorise about things.

But perhaps it is time for less theorising, less intellectualising; perhaps some simple brutal honesty is required.

Having higher purposes and a higher goal in mind may be all good and well, but the basic fact is that I'm now heading towards 30 and my life is going nowhere.

I watched the quirky, dryly humorous British film A Complete History Of My Sexual Failures recently, which despite I not being particularly like Chris Waitt either in personality or history, the main character in this autobiographical film, the similarity of our resultant circumstances nevertheless did make me pause  and look at my life from an entirely mundane perspective. Of course, it being a film, it all worked out in the end for him. Doesn't always happen that way in real life, unfortunately.

I haven't had a meaningful relationship with someone for more than three years now; in fact, more to the point, I haven't really even had a meaningless relationship in that time. So, over three years ago I changed my life and came up to live in Newcastle. The Newcastle-Gateshead metropolitan conurbation has a population of nearly one million; so in principle, plenty enough for there to be a reasonable number of potential compatible women, statistically; even for someone as eccentric (in an authentic sense of the word) as me.

In that entire time, nothing. Well, except for one fuck this summer, a Saturday night. I'd gone out, and we were both drunk. I hardly ever drink anything; but from time to time I'll go through brief hedonistic phases and indulge in alcohol. It was a random meeting at a rock club, I saw her on the dance floor, and things just happened of there own accord. I have no idea how or why, but for some reason I knew I'd get lucky that night even before going out. This particular feeling has only ever happened twice before, and both of those were successes too. Unfortunately, I've never been able to find a formula or pattern for learning how to generate or channel this form of magick; and it only occurs as an extreme rarity (i.e. 3 occasions in 28 years). If I could find out how to utilise it, I could directionalise it towards effecting change in my life. Anyway, she came back to mine. We had a fun Sunday morning too. There did seem to be at least some genuine compatibility; got on nicely together. The quietude of post-coital bliss in the morning with just a hint of actual intimacy hinted at some genuine relationship potential. So we arranged to meet up for lunch a couple of days later, which we did. That seemed to go OK too, and we arranged to meet up after work some days later.

That didn't happen, and instead I just got two weeks of silence. She eventually responded telling me she'd decided to get back together with her ex. I expect that this was probably entirely true. Reflecting back on events, although I'll never entirely know - and it does not matter in any case - I suspect I simply happened to be the fortunate (well, for at least the brief weekend experience, anyway...) target and used as a tool to get back at her partner; perhaps he'd cheated on her. Whatever. I was disappointed not specifically because it didn't go anywhere, but because her behaviour and interaction with me had hinted that it could/would - not just be a one night thing. I wouldn't have been disappointed if she'd simply just upped and left first thing in the morning, as would generally be the case in that type of scenario. Kate. Come, and gone (excuse the pun).

The only other time when there has been even the promise of something was with a nice girl who I'll just call J. I very much doubt she ever reads this blog these days, but just in case she does (since she does know of its existence), I won't quote her name in case she wishes to remain entirely anonymous. J is a fantastic singer and incredibly passionate about her Jazz-Soul-Funk type of band that is really her own entire conception. She's the central driving force behind the outfit, even though the rest of the members have changed over time.

We actually got chatting through the whole Zoosk/Facebook thing, and much to my surprise/bewilderment - after many botched attempts, and concluding it just wasn't going to happen - we eventually met up, quite bizarrely, in the local park at night in the pitch black. I guess that's trust! We had been talking for quite some time before we eventually met up. Not sure what had caused her to want to avoid a more obvious social meeting place such as a pub; after all, she is a fine looking girl so has no need to worry on that front. In any case, so we walked and talked for probably 3 hours. Great.

Over the coming couple of weeks, we ended up spending a fair bit of time together, I got to see her sing with her band. There was definitely that energy, that chemistry there. For a brief period of time, there was a critical period where I felt we were incredibly close to something happening, just not quite... Or perhaps it is just a product of my imagination.

But nothing happened, and in the end she pushed me away. Not entirely sure, but I suppose it was the usual case of me being too intense. It perhaps gives a mistaken impression that I expect them to over-commit or require more than they are at any time willing to offer; simultaneously, I hypothesise that it also perhaps creates a fear that I am going to become a dependency or form a disproportionate emotional attachment.

Apart from the nearly-something-but-ultimately-nothing with J and the random physical-act-with Kate this summer, there have only been two other dates, both of which were not successful at all and did not go any further. In both cases we went out for dinner, had pleasant in evenings in both cases. One was another Kate, nice girl, but nothing materialised. Perhaps I came on too strong? Don't know; the meal/conversation had gone seemingly really well. And a highly intelligent Polish girl called Illona, don't think there was much physical chemistry there in the end, and I guess I ended up descending into a kind of existential hubris over the course of conversation; she'd just graduated with a first class honours in Economics, was off to do a Masters, so had a bright gleaming career ahead of her. I was, or rather, am in, a place of absolute mess and failure (most especially in material-economic terms) at the moment.
And that's it. In three years.

It's all very well receiving the usual platitudes of "something come along when you least expect it" etc., but the much more basic reality is that I can go literally weeks, if not months, without even talking to a single female. The only females I interact with in my day to day life are either colleagues at work or the few friends that I know because they are the girlfriends of male friends. That, and members of the public coming into the shop.

There are no unattached women that I know of in my entire social network. Meanwhile, none of my female friends know of any other single female friends they can even "introduce" me to. 

I can also reflect upon the other axes of my life in similar terms.

I have a job that presents no real intellectual challenge or in any sense makes me feel like I am utilising anything like my potential. It also has appalling pay. I am suffering this situation due to a lack of coherent career decisions many years ago that has left in me in a financially crippled position.

Secondly, and consequently, I live in largely miserable living conditions. A crappy little room in a shared house. I can barely move because all of my possessions are crammed into a room this is approximately the length and width of 1.5 double beds. The room turns into a disgusting tip after even only a couple of days of not tidying it; my wardrobe is so small I can't actually close the doors properly because my clothes are overflowing out of it (it has one hanging rail perhaps 40cm long; about the same as in those mini wardrobes you get in cheap travel lodges and motels).

The rest of the house is dirty, squalid, and typical of "bedsit" type accommodation. This is not a house that is a "home", it is merely a place to pass through, or in this particular case, a house of depressed bachelors. It is a place I'd be ashamed to bring anyone back to; it is somewhere you have to suffer, rather than desire to be there. The whole place needs renovating. But living here is cheap, and all that I can afford at the moment.

I have no car. So am largely stuck within the city in all practical terms and limited to public transport.

After all my basic bills/costs have gone out, I have around £150 a month to live on. That figure does not include food costs.

It is fanciful, hopelessly romantic, and frankly ridiculous to think that hardly any women are going to take me seriously in light of these facts. It would be different if I was closer to 20, and/or at University/college/etc. But I am approaching 30, and still fundamentally living the life of a student - except I not heading towards a qualification in anything (except perhaps of learning about life's disappointments). I suppose, at least, I am not still living at home with ones parents; at least I gain some sense of independence and self-destiny from that fact. Whilst the type of woman I am looking for is most definitely not materialistic, indeed quite the opposite, the simple fact is that unspoken or not, admitted or not, subconsciously or not, people make significant value judgements based immediately on your material circumstances. And the old social/gender stereotype of "male as provider" does still have significant force, even its modernist sublimated form.

I am unable to formally study anything (apart from more basic qualifications and some largely recreational adult learning courses) since there is no financial assistance available for me to fund higher education, since I have already used up my allowance when I attended University. So you don't really get second chances in life. This is one of the hard facts.

So it is difficult to see how anything will change for me in 2011. Come January 2012 there will be some improvement, as I will be free from my Career Development Loan after 6 years of paying it off. I will then be in a position to clear my overdraft and credit card. However, at this rate, it is going to be 2013 before I am basically clear of debt and back to ground zero, and still nowhere meaningful - materially - in my life. And two more years of living like this. It is taking its pycho-emotional toll.

This Christmas - or rather, Yule, as I prefer to rightfully call it - has perhaps been the bleakest of them all so far. Surrounded by the swarms of people in the shop where I work, open endless hours, maniacally buying and spending large sums of money, talking about the ski holidays they were going on and the things they were getting up to; getting randomly asked what I was up to over Christmas. To which I'd give some placatory and meaningless polite answer, rather than burden and darken the tone by revealing the truth. The truth was that I did absolutely nothing. It was a non-event. I had three days off work. I spent them by myself, in an basically empty house, penniless and present-less - there are very few people I am close to, and those couple of people have virtually no money either. I am not a materialist, so whilst it would be fun and enjoyable to receive (and give) presents, that is ultimately of no real import. But to basically have no company, no one in your life at all in any real sense - excluding my mother, of course; and my ex, now "family" to me, who lives in another country now we've chosen separate paths again - is pretty fucking hard. Even for someone who considers themselves pretty strong, independent, and quite at peace with large tracts of solitude.

Sucked into an existential void and consigned to a meaningless empty oblivion - that's what it feels like a lot of the time.

And that most human, all too human part of me? The weakest part of me that sometimes wants to crumble? It is a form of agony to have no woman with kind eyes for me in my life; someone to share conversation with. Someone to make love to. And the ultimate admission that the archetypal male never wants to speak aloud, since it is almost seen as a sign of weakness in the male ego: Do you know what I miss the most? Not the "simple" companionship, not the practical easing of burdens, not even the sex (though that absence is indeed an extremely acute one, physically)... just the simple act of having someone close to hold in your arms, to be held in her arms. Not physicality; intimacy.

So, no philosophy, no intellectualising. Just plain old me; basically a lost and lonely man. 

A man, at least, with a higher vision in mind - even if, not yet in practice.

This first post covers the main thematic material of the current state of my life from a basic, down-to-earth, utilitarian and eminently emotional point of view. The next post will review this position from a deeper philosophical and spiritual point of view. I'll hopefully get round to writing it on New Year's Day; it seems an auspicious day to do so, and take stock of where to go and how to proceed from here.

To be continued...

Update 06/12/09: Concluding part is here.


Finally, just a little thank you to a few of you in particular whose comments, suggestions, or remarks have left an impression in this tail-end of 2009. Whilst I don't write this blog primarily for anyone but myself, or rather, for anything other than the service of trying to find expression to that deep mystery that is life, it is nevertheless heartening to know that some people evidently find something of interest here.

Dianne, a stalwart of compassionate remarks from the very inception of this blog, thank you.
Findingmywingsinlife, for the enlightening comments from someone with an entirely different window on life, thank you.
Triana, same as with Findingmywingsinlife, and for bringing some levity in my direction with the little random mentions. It does not surprise me in the least that you two are friends with each other in real life. :-)
Ashley, I do not know whether I am worthy of your praise of being described as an "exceptional writer" in that final sentence... but I do know that the little comment you made - from someone I don't know, entirely out of the blue, without any ulterior motivation; therefore all the more valuable as a result - was perhaps one of the best gifts I've ever received in this dark period of my life. Small things can make all the difference. I don't really have any other creative or intellectual outlet apart from my writing, and it is entirely undignified and immodest for one to deliberately seek out praise or validation from anyone... so that unexpected compliment was a real emotional and confidence booster. Thank you.

Banner change #4 to #5. Updated look.

Old banner #4:

New banner #5:

The new scene depicts Newcastle-Upon-Tyne from the large expanse of the Town Moor. This photo was taken on Christmas day; cold, fresh, and peaceful. Very few people were out and about, unsurprisingly.

Also decided it was time to change the appearance of this blog, for no other reason than that it was time for a change with the onset of a new year ahead.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Confounded by....?

So where does one go from here.

One of the necessary psychological survival techniques is to convince yourself that things will improve; things will change for the better. Motivational speakers will urge you to "become the change that you want to be", or to "make it happen".

How does one deal with being subjugated into a life denied of meaningful purpose by economic tyranny, starved of the intellectual, spiritual, emotional and sexual fulfilment, grated down into submission by a world whose values have been emptied?

The old chestnut; problems are easy to diagnose, solutions very difficult to find.

I fit in well only by denying the very essence of who I am; refusing to allow the disintegration of the qualities from which all of my strength depends means confronting the emptiness without.

"Adaptation" to social norms resulted in assimilation; and so I found myself sitting at the table in the restaurant on my only date of this year, earlier this summer, projecting a complete absence of any defining personality whatsoever. She was a perfectly nice girl; highly intelligent, reasonably physically attractive if slightly awkward of dress, and looking forward to a bright future in Economics (it turned out she graduated with a First and is now no doubt studying for a Masters at Warwick University). There was no real chemistry between us, so although conversation flowed reasonably well, there wasn't that critical element of sexual tension that characterises real attraction. Consequently no particular specific (in this instance) disappointment that nothing resulted.

However, the experiment (since, if nothing else, it has proved my one and only opportunity for the possibility of anything at all happening with someone this year) did reveal a negative result in terms of drawing my awareness to the enormous discrepancy in the properties and qualities of my internal existence in relation to their expression in my external existence. This discrepancy has a profoundly damaging effect on my ability to project an attractive rich personality; instead I present a book of empty pages, full stops, chapters prematurely ended and a story that has abruptly terminated.

I trawl myself to and from work; blankly nod and mechanistically say and do the things that need to be said and done; come home, eat, sleep, listen to some music, fire a few words out into the gigantic (though not entirely empty) void of cyberspace, superficially trace the events of a few real friends (and far more who should be more aptly described as mere "connections") lives through the ultimately barren universe of the cultural zeitgeist of our times, namely "social networking" through Facebook (or should that rather not be better described as Facelessbook? Excuse my cynicism, perhaps you can still detect a grain of dry humour hidden in my writing)... and find myself stuck in this abrogating circle.

Under such emotional stultification, can I be permitted some emotional outbursts? Why, but this is first and foremost my blog, so I have artistic license to do as I wish, I suppose!

God, can I not scream out to the universe! Or Gods, show me a path!

Indicate some path that is right for me, something, anything with some meaning than this.

Something to spark something off! I've put so much energy into trying to find some vision, I need something to become clear!

Something to make me feel like a man - with a purpose.

And how I miss a woman; some company. A woman's embrace. Sexual alchemy. Someone sharp witted, fiery, compassionate and with spiritual strength. Tired of the endless platitudes of "someone will come along eventually" etc., etc. All intellectual deliberating aside, on a most basic level, who wants to come home, day after endless day, to an empty house? And hey, wouldn't it be nice to actually have someone to spend Yule with.

The time is now; I need many dimensions of my existence to change significantly, I feel myself growing immensely weary with this existence that lies so far from my intentions. Mere self-preservation.

"Through the countless agencies of mass production and its culture the conventionalised modes of behaviour are impressed on the individual as the only natural, respectable, and rational ones. He defines himself only as a thing, as a static element, as success or failure. His yardstick is self-preservation, successful or unsuccessful approximation to the objectivity of his function and models established for it."

Dialectic Of Enlightenment, Thedor W. Adorno & Max Horkheimer.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Extemporal meditation

From silence comes creation. From non-being emerges being. Life is in the intervals; those acquiescent moments when temporal and material boundaries are dissolved.

How much we hurry; how much we bustle; how much we scurry. Switch off or silence the phone; switch off the TV; disregard the "outside" world; only allow precisely that which you wish to allow into your universe, even if only for an hour. This is a form of mundane meditation, and in Eastern ontology is the route through which you find your very being itself.

In a sound recording, the term describing the variation in relative volume level from the faintest sounds through to the loudest peaks is called the dynamic range. Allowing periods of minimal input into your life expands the "dynamic range" of your life. Here in the modern world one of the discordant problems is that we're constantly subjected to an overload of noise in innumerable forms; and not just sonically either, as much in terms of "information noise".

Perhaps this is the aspect I find worst about those busy periods at work when you have long days, and little time outside except to eat and sleep. I begin to suffer an immense life fatigue, or perhaps it would be more accurate to say I suffer an immense lack-of-life fatigue. Constantly rushing around, doing one thing or the other, endless background noise and invasive viral-like advertising; visual and aural.

And so it is a treat indeed to have a weekend off work, and experience that wonderful phenomenon that only occurs at the weekend when you live in a suburban area, namely an ambient stillness and quietness, coupled with a cherished lack of any things that I'm particularly required to do. So I get to do "nothing"; which is very much far from nothing. Enjoy some fine music playing away quietly, lazily get up out of bed at a schedule determined by my body rather than external circumstances, and find a few words to flow out onto this blog.

This is indeed a fine morning; the cold, dark fogginess outside merely lifts my spirits, for it carries a primeval essence that reminds us how brief these citadels we've constructed really are, and how quickly they could disappear; for if humanity simply ceased to exist, in a million years there would be little evidence remaining, and this would be merely a blink on a geological timescale.

The fog however, would quite simply remain.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Banner change #3 to #4

Old banner #3:

New banner #4:

This photo was taken with my phone one morning on my walk into work and shows a tree near Newcastle city centre during the dying days of autumn; those special couple of weeks when everything turns golden in preparation for the onset of winter.

Shackled by hollow restraint

Sometimes words don't come easily. Most especially when you're conscious of an almost overwhelming sense of negativity in your being. You want to write something enlightening, something interesting; but the effort of saying anything at all can almost seem too much.

But I suppose it is important to write something; expunge your emotional state. Even a torrent of vitriol is better than a wasteland of silence in the boundless theatre of the abyss. The abyss that lies at the root of being itself is perhaps something that most people have never even experienced.

Simple observations can prove quite illuminating. Take television viewing, for example. Broadly speaking, a certain type of person will mute the sound on the television when the program they are watching is interrupted by a commercial break. They are the sort of person that usually cherishes silence in at least some degree. There are other qualities and personality traits that are also endemic in this type of person that allow us to draw some broad characterisations. Of course any model that groups people into "types" is inherently simplistic and quite often incorrect; what does bear greater accuracy is one that recognises certain groupings of interrelated tendencies, homunculus's of personality quirks; in other words, certain types of norms.

It would be heartening to say that in what is virtually a year since the first posts on this blog, that great progress had been made personally; whether materially or spiritually. But such a progression can not be claimed; instead I am stuck, quite literally. Financial pressures mean that I have little space for manoeuvring for at least another year.

Perhaps this stasis is not entirely without benefit. For if anything, it has continued to increase my appreciation at the absolute spiritual emptiness of this modern world; I find myself gathering an immense wellspring of what can only be described as existential horror. This world of increasingly brief, endless fads and transient gimmicks; a world without any real substance. The side effect of making everything so convenient, so easy to digitally archive is to make everything increasingly disposable. This world of empty faceless "communications"; this world of Facebook, perhaps better described as Facelessbook - and it is not a matter of how many photos or otherwise are present. For example, it is reflected in the fact that you can build up a large list of "friends", and yet barely know most of these people, and certainly not genuinely have much in common with most of them. For as much as Facebook, and all these other social netwoendrking tools can in principle facilitate social contact, in practise they often achieve the opposite effect; a couple of empty sentences digitised and exchanged as a substitute for an authentic human interaction.

But social networking sites, the disposable nature of digitised information, the transience and rate of change; all of these are merely technological symptoms. They are merely neutral; it is how they are applied that determines whether or not they can be considered positive or negative factors.

Rather, the underlying malaise, the underlying cause is the very spiritual foundation of the modern world as a whole. On this, it is difficult to find anything to draw positively from. I am very "Evolian" in that I share his overriding belief that we are in our own Kali Yuga, an era of decline; I find it extraordinarily difficult to imagine that this trend will ever be reversed in my lifetime. So, I simply do my best to cope with this existence, and perhaps navigate towards a higher goal. Less idealistically, it is merely a struggle to simply plough on, week after week, month after month, merely paying the bills, keeping going.

Much as I enjoy the cultural benefits of living in a city, as time wears on, I increasingly look to escape - to somewhere sparsely populated, a beautiful wilderness, somewhere free from the endless empty vacuity of modernity. Perhaps that is the only way to have your proverbial cake and eat it; you take advantage of the benefits of technological developments of the modern world, but escape all the degeneration.

And yes, I'm one of those people that mute the TV.