(La Cena - Belkis Ayón)
Awake at one am, knowing that sleep will not return, not for a long while. The boy will first wake up. I will sit on the couch with him, watching some cartoon hero conduct cartoon heroics. My back will start to slide down the back of the couch, I will try to curl up on one end, a pillow stuffed under my head, my legs will then stretch out, cramping the boy. I will wish in pre-slumber that I would have just gotten up and gone to bed, but sleep will come. Fifteen minutes of it, maybe thirty. That will be it for the day.
No wonder I am in a clipped mood most evenings after riding and working out. I am hungry and tired. Last night I waited too long to eat, my blood sugar dropped and I entered a foul mood gracelessly, one resolved only by food close to my face. We wanted to get Thai but there was a wait at the restaurant, so the Whole Foods hot bar it was. Who lives life this way? I'm like a bachelor with a family.
Yesterday's title mentioned Amazon Prime, today's post cites Whole Foods. We are surrounded, and they are coming to get us. Death by a thousand clicks.
Buddhists must recoil at the open pursuit of such suffering.
The boy will get a skateboard for his birthday in January. I am tempted to buy one also. I've never wanted to be this horrible middle age. It's not as if I once grew up and now shamefully wish to return to the Eden of youth. Anybody will tell you that's just not true. I am nothing if not a child of principle. The primary truth being to never live as an adult. It's why Amazon is so dangerous to someone like me. I am the proverbial kid in the candy factory. I buy little sweet, useless things until I have made myself sick and can no longer look at myself. It is the enlightenment of convenience.
Most everybody now seems able to make a career out of their eccentricities. That is but one of the perverse lies of social media: that you'll also one day get your turn at being publicly stupid. Bad examples always arrive towards the top of the news stream. It has a similar effect to that of a gambling addict watching a national poker tournament, or a writer reading Hemingway. I can do that! Why not I? The mortal me must wonder and ponder. People believe their chance is out there waiting for them, and for some it may be, if they could just fall into the other side of the news cycle and then rocket away, upstream into infamy. And some Honey Boo Boos do.
There never seems to be enough room for everybody to be complete, though. I do not wish to sound like Paul Ryan here, but as you grow older a few things happen and one is the grim recognition that most things are probably not going to change for the better. One side will always up the ante and fight for what they believe to be the justice of progress, while the other will always up their efforts for the reversal of all the upped antes. If justice is the goal then most people would live and die in silent democratic obscurity, and most do.
Justice is an approximation and no two people have ever agreed on its correct presence and purpose if the issue is pursued to its conversational completion. Everywhere there lies enormous disagreement about what should be, and how. There lies the respectful rub: Why are there others, and what do they want?
Some wish to return to a time in which there was a brighter future, though they are hesitant to define when that ever was. Others have no interest in doing anything beyond making the future as unlike the past as is possible, tossing out any progress they deem objectionable along the way. It is the cost of the now: to live either with memories or dreams of presumably better times. Some see the past as misguided arrogance, others view the present as the same, with an activist eye towards the future. To watch society crack at this temporal tug becomes less easy to accept as the years pile on. The mind wearies at the causes and effects.
The idea of social progress is a recent one. Its time had finally arrived. Only after the western world discovered and pursued historical inquiry did the concept that the future could be systematically improved finally emerge. The postmodernists taught us to dismantle the past to get to the future. But they're all gone now and have yet to have their batteries removed by more popular ideas. Everybody grabbed a cloth shred of postmodern thought and ran it up the flagpole of their enemies, proving its point of ironic artifice. By learning how to reject the grand narratives they backed themselves into competing ideologies, bolstered by categorical assumptions and vague notions of ill-defined moralities.
It is insufficient to recognize that history is a social construct, then attempt to create one that others must accept as true. Not if you wish to be in a society of others. Now we enjoy the many fruits of vagueness and the deliberate rejection of systemic knowledge. And these thinkers are the very same people who blame Trump for being Trump. You can not spend decades claiming that all we know is false and then not expect to see that platform eventually succeed. Trump is a logical political extension of postmodern discourse. The News Descending a Stairway.
Of course that stripe of false objectivity is just me trying to continue the consolidation of empirical power. I must be so blind and bigoted towards my own observations.
So unwoke, that crazy q6.
We need not have a collective disposition to share an understanding that we have differing dispositions. There is the expectation of equality, then there is political retaliation for the advancement of that expectation. Every political person that I know seems unhappy, nervous, unerring, and occasionally very, very angry. The few thinkers and writers that could make me laugh have all but disappeared from the conversation. That is not me aggrandizing the past, only a recognition that there is more rage and less humor now. There remains only the power to laugh at the losers when losing.
Factions mobilize to demand what is rightly theirs. It is theirs because it has been previously deprived them. What could be more definitive proof of rightful ownership than lack?
I've spent my life arguing that argument. That there has been collusion by the few to dispossess the many, to aggregate life's enjoyments beyond how they might reasonably be enjoyed. There is so much suffering that goes into affluence. No matter where you look, everybody wants more, and few ever have enough.
Pleasures are fleeting, yet leisure seems so sensible.
The Buddha said more than any man could have possibly spoke in a single lifetime. The paradox of excess exists even in spiritual wisdom.
Why would someone with so little say so much?