Sunday, 10 January 2010

On cloudberries, snow, facebooking, the absolute animal, and fountain pens

There is a balance to be found between a change, that wandering, that embraces new, alters, and discards old accretions; that and the preservation of past materials for the possibility of re-presenting, analysing, detecting developmental changes, or deducing new hidden truths.

Consequently, we create something - it could be any endeavour; a poem, a brick wall, a painting, the placement of a certain poster on the wall - and then later than can be a temptation or perhaps even a need to alter or obliterate it. Everything seen in this instance can be viewed as manifestations of being.

This can apply to blogs as well. There can be an understandable temptation to eradicate what is old, what is different, what is no longer felt necessary; or perhaps even what doesn't meet your own quality criterion.

I personally believe in leaving everything intact, for the course. It shows as much where you came from - each one has some type of qualitative value as a moment of existential expression. Even moments of inanity have value as an expression of the set of conditional circumstances that give context to your being. This is not equivalent to saying they have value for everyone, of course - this is not a claim to a hypostazing of all that is universal to some barometer of equality, much as our modern enlightened "progressive" society would have do. So in other words, some (who knows, perhaps most?) of my perambulating quite probably has value only to me. Irrespective, I leave everyone to their own court of judgement.

In any case, I hope Cloudberry will allow me to resurrect a few snippets of materials he has chosen to eradicate as I personally found them highly interesting, and their loss a great shame, all the more so because I can closely identify to a lot of the sentiments contained therein. I will let him consider the metaphysical and existential meaning to the resurrection, [re-]possession and adaptation of material he had withdrawn due to whatever motivating basis.

On the subject of Facebook he wrote:

"Just as there is something quite awesomely lonely about the gigantic metropolis, even as one is amid the swirling mass of humanity... so there is something intensely lonesome about Facebook, even as one has multitudes of squares, frozen faces, staring at you in various poses of shock, dismay, happiness, joy, anger, significant-othership, coitus (well, maybe not that one), being-abroadness, or anonymity.


Another thing is this: facebook profiles give an illusion of closeness to a person, but usually they are an enigma.


Facebook is testimony to the change underlying all phenomena. We friend someone, we exchange messages and posts with them, and then when the real-life context vanishes, the messages and posts dry up. But, generally, we do not defriend one another. The linkage is a corpse, meaningless, and probably unused, but it remains. Why?

And hence the culmination of Facebook's mental life reveals itself: the person who, rather than knowing people and being friends with them, is simply the person who looks at people, like Baudelaire and the Paris of industrialising France."

So indeed, we become voyeurs; or perhaps rather react in a manner befitting inauthentic being in a Heideggerian sense.

I've had this debate with myself one several occasions: Shall I delete my Facebook account entirely? It becomes a vapid time-wasting hole. Ultimately, I decided the sensible approach was the one moderated between extremes; Facebook is most especially valuable as a tool for organisational purposes, and used as a mere utility to keep abreast of, say, musical concerts and events going on, and arrange real-life interactions with people, redeems itself somewhat. Above all, avoid the trap of ending up succumbing to the urge to post those status updates and "microblog" about the disquietude of your own mental state. Because, ultimately, most people don't actually give a damn, else they would actually choose to reach out and interact with you in real life (excepting, of course, all those long distance contacts for whom such an arrangement is impossible).

So the simplest method of all: use it very sparingly. Have a quick look, or pick up a message if someone sends it to you, but otherwise, avoid it almost entirely, and instead try to operate more in the "real world" in terms of societal contacts.

Perhaps I felt motivated to create this new blog entry after starting to read one of Cloudberry's old posts entitled "Purge", which dealt with the metaphysical/existential meaning of snow. Since, after all, there is so much of it around right at this very moment, and especially here in the UK, quite unusually; we do not normally get winters of quite this severity. I rather enjoy it, as I alluded to in my previous post.

A small digression as to my reading habits regarding other blogs: I do not necessarily "check by" every day to see if someone has put a new blog post up. Instead, I prefer to "batch read"; so I might not look at someone's blog for several weeks, and then all of a sudden, read a whole great deal, and catch up again.  If I come across an interesting new blog, however, I will always bookmark or add it to my RSS feeds, and will, when the time is right, eventually come back to it and spend some time reading through it all. So, from my personal selfish point of view, I am rather glad my feedreeding software Liferea had fortunately kept a local copy of these older posts of Cloudberry's since they're now gone.

Anyway, again I hope he will not mind too much if I quote some of this extirpated material. On snow:

"I use the phrase "snow-white" advisedly. Sartre talks in Being and Nothingness about how we like to ski on snow because it barely changes the snow at all to ski on it. When we change the substance we're working on, that means it is stuff as opposed to pure fluid--it is in-itself rather than for-itself. Untouched snow is like for-itself, but when snow gets all mucked up by people walking or urinating in it, it is like in-itself. The most exact phenomenal symbol of for-itself is water. The most exact phenomenal symbol of in-itself is slime, which sticks to everything that touches it and doesn't move fluidly on its own, nor can it resist the imprint of everything else that comes into contact with it."

This statement reminded me of the opening paragraph of Manly P. Hall's profound Lectures on Ancient Philosophy. The opening few sentences, from the first chapter, "The Nature of the Absolute" go thus:

"To define adequately the nature of the Absolute is impossible, for it is everything in its eternal, undivided, and unconditioned state. In ancient writings it is referred to as the NOTHING and the ALL. No mind is capable of visualizing an appropriate symbolic figure of the Absolute. Of all the symbols devised to represent its eternal and unknowable state, a clean, blank sheet of paper is the least erroneous. The paper, being blank, represents all that cannot be thought of, all that cannot be seen, all that cannot be felt, and all that cannot be limited by any tangible function of the consciousness. The blank paper represents measureless, eternal, unlimited SPACE. No created intelligence, has ever plumbed its depths; no God has ever scaled its heights, nor shall mortal or immortal being ever discover the true nature of its substance. From it all things come, to it all things return, but it neither comes nor goes.

Figures and symbols are pollutions drawn upon the unblemished surface of the paper..."

We therefore see here a connecting principle between phenomenology, being, cosmology and theology. Extemporise at your leisure on the interrelationship.  It rather draws me towards the quote of Proclus that has always adorned the right hand sidebar of this blog:

"For all things are in us psychically, and through this we are naturally capable of knowing all things, by exciting the powers and the images of wholes which we contain."

One final aside, it this helter-skelter of a post. Quite of my own volition, I felt a peculiar random imaginative inclination to write a fictional story entitled The Frog Lantern. It is being written at the moment. It is quite possibly absolute nonsense, as it is descending into something wildly surreal. For some reason, perhaps due to the chaotic turbulence of my own bizarre existence in this ugly modern world, every time I attempt to write fiction I descend into completely peculiar and downright strange imaginative splotches. In any case, imagine my ironic surprise, when perusing Cloudberry's new blog, The Nostalgia of the Infinite, I discovered his posts on "animal totems"; foremost among them, frogs.

Incidentally, excluding perhaps frogs, which evidently seem to have some type of subconscious, symbolic importance to me (that I was not hitherto aware of), my animal totem would undoubtedly be a cat.

Why? Cats always make me remember a certain narcissistic independence; a complete absence of any need for validation from anyone or indeed anything else; in their "Egyptian" pose and always astounding elegance, balance, and regality, one feels the echo of nobility. They reify what is higher, what is above, what is beyond. And yet, on their own terms, and you as human on yours, you can nevertheless meet, and what is exchanged is authentic. The cat accepts, and then you know that it is genuine. They are indeed mighty; how often is it the case that you will walk down the street, and see a cat gazing out of the window, impassively scrutinising and observing.

They are perhaps the ultimate philosophers. They are perhaps the animal equivalent of Evola's "Absolute Individual", able to give transcendent meaning to one's own life.

It is little wonder that domestic cats have always been popular among writers, as they espouse a certain quality of apparent introspection that all writers must possess in order to be able to write.

And finally, on pens.

Perhaps as a result of the transience and impermanence of everything that is modern, I find myself drawn back to the humble art of handwriting; there is something qualitatively different to giving something a permanent immanent existence through the personal lens of handwriting. I would very much like to get a proper fountain pen. For some reason, I find myself with an intense desire to have something like a German Pelikan Souverän M800, or a Japanese Sailor Classic 1911. Along, of course, with some funky ink, such as the Noodler ink "Sun Never Sets".

Perhaps it is just another retreat along the axis of my increasing anti-modernist tendencies.

"Sun Never Sets"

"Pelikan Souverän M800"

"Sailor 1911 Classic Sterling Silver"


Strawberry Girl said...

Aren, you state perfectly the tendency that I feel and I notice a lot of people feel to want to obliterate what is past. I've changed many of my blogger posts to be drafts for that very reason, they do, but they don't reflect who I am at the moment. I was just complaining to my Ajey how certain aspects of the internet left me feeling empty, including the Yahoo homepage and facebook... so I've been looking for a different homepage but find that all new media outlets seem to have the same sort of endless inanity... so it's still Yahoo because I've been using Yahoo mail (and even there want a change for some reason).

Snow, it always seems a shame when a perfect white sheet that is covering the yard is disturbed by footprints, but then there is a certain thrill of being the one dashing through it for the first time, so to with a piece of paper.

Cats, I am a writer, and am drawn to cats... you state their particular personalities perfectly and I do have an affinity towards that quiet introspective behavior.

Fountain pens, you are not alone in that urge. I often bemoan my own handwriting and long to study some elegant script. Plus I've loved fountain pens from my youth. Mum had a glass jar of ink up in the cupboard and I confess to making a mess of it, homemade quills don't quite work... especially if you don't know what you're doing. I love calligraphy as well.

hmmm, sorry for the brevity of my last comment as I was in a rush and couldn't do it justice. Let me say though that I found what you said very interesting (and I will admit that at the moment I felt too inadequate in my verbiage to comment at the moment)

Cloudberry said...

Hi Aren,

Actually, I check your blog fairly often, as I find you a keen observer of inner and outer spaces, and one who shares some unusual common interests besides. I read blogs much more often than I comment, since I usually don't have much worthwhile to add. But I'm glad you found some of the old material useful and interesting, and since you did I'm glad you still have access to it. And I agree that, from the point-of-view of wanting to observe personal growth or fluctuation, keeping a blog intact is better: it is a more accurate historical record, let us say. But I was unhappy with it, and whether it's obvious or not to the outsider I've implemented a new way of approaching blog-writing for the new site.

I agree with you on cats, by the way. I am fairly sure that cat is one of my totem animals.

findingmywingsinlife said...

Your posts tend to get people really thinking and sparks quite a dialogue.

I rarely ever use my facebook, for a lot of the same reasons- its just empty.

I do however, like to look back on what I've blogged. I use it quite like a diary and I've been able to see where I've been versus where I think I'm going. Not neccessarily in the physicality sense but more in the personal growth and introspection of my self and being.

hmm, frogs and cats. Two animals that I've always quite liked. With cats, it seems I've always been fascinated with the larger, more exotic felines. Particularly the black panther and the white tiger- though for the life of me I couldn't tell you exactly what it is about them that intrigues me.

Interestngly enough my nickname for years (that still lingers to this day if I happen to run into a few old friends) was Turtle. I tend to be slowly deliberate, though when I was younger my Mother would swear up and down that I was just trying to aggrevate her by taking so much time to do certain things. Not sure if that makes much sense, but I do not tend to have the same sense of urgency as others when it comes to decisions or when doing something that requires care and thought.

Your friend, Cloudberry, has some excellent thoughts, thank you for sharing them here.

And pens. I find that I'm not so concerned with a particular pen as I am with one that works when I want to write; one that fits comfortably in my hand and doesn't give me fits while I try to write. And I do love to write things out on paper versus typing it all out on the computer. There is something intimate and beautiful about handwritten things. In fact, I still send out a few hand written letters occasionally to those who have impacted my life in one way or another.

I could keep going, but I think my comment is getting quite lengthy already. Do keep writing Aren, you have a wonderful way of sparking thought, introspection, and debate.
Well done.

Cloudberry said...


I recently moved yet again, to (it's in my profile). This time it wasn't out of a desire to expunge my old material; actually it's still there but I changed the address to The problem was just that, under its old name, the blog was too visible in google search, brought a lot of traffic.

Triana said...

Yes, I know I'm terrible at blogging as of late ... and I never commented on this post although I have amny thoughts in it and every intention on doing so. I just never actually DID. Today, randomly at work, I was dreaming of far away places, and thought how I hadn't talked to you in quite a long time. Thus tonight lying in bed, I again thought of you and went to my facebook - WHERE YOU ARE NOT AT! *sigh* I can understand your arguement with the social networking concept, but how am I supposed to reach you? No email. No phone nmbr. I have none of those things - merely a name and general location. Give me something to work with here?!

Aren O. Týr said...

Cheers for all the comments everyone. Even if I'm often remiss at replying to all the comments left on this or any other post, know that I do have an RSS feed that tracks comments on my blog, so I always read any comments that do appear anywhere!

I tend to read everyone's blogs in big "batches" rather than on a daily basis so I'll get round to doing that sometime, as I haven't checked up on anyone's in a while. Time I left some comments, been lurking for a while.

@Triana, you should have something in your e-mail inbox for your AOL account by the time you read this. Yes, I deleted my Facebook profile entirely... just got so sick of being - despite all the photographs - a faceless individual on these social networks. Just felt kind of empty. So I'm going back to e-mail and written letters in one-to-one communication with the very few people that do want to really connect with me.

The probable truth of the matter is that those of you who read this blog probably know me better, in many ways, than the people who know me in "real life": and perhaps this is the real value of blogs. They can be a medium for real substantial honesty and communication.

Interestingly, there is virtually no day to day crossover between my blog and "real life": i.e. I don't really have any real life friends who know about this blog, as such. In fact there is only one exception to this rule. I guess it is my private space.