Chaos

The self destruct button: when everything is in its place and things are going just the way they should, when life is horrendously monotonous, the mind shuts down. Disengage. Re-engagement only takes a press of that button and the unleashing of chaos.

I don’t know if everyone has that button. When it’s pressed life becomes a race across a collapsing bridge, every time a step finds something to push off the rush is indescribable. Partly because running forward when you should be falling, denying the odds and racing along the razor’s edge, is the ultimate rush. Partly because you know, sooner or later, a step will find nothing, and it all comes crashing down into the ruins of chaos, and that anticipation of oblivion is in itself is a rush. Everything becomes instinctual, fuelled by adrenaline and cortisol, the mask rips off and, for better or for worse, reality. Rush upon rush, life and reality, but at the expense of an unsustainable sprint down the face of a wave of chaos.

A question on deities

As a precocious and pretentious teenager, to prove a point about atheism, I once stood in the middle of a crossroads, in a thunderstorm, and called on God to smite me down and prove his existence. While God didn’t strike me down, I have come, over the years, to doubt my belief in atheism. Could it be there really is a divine being, somewhat akin to Bill Hicks’s prankster God, who, rather than than tricking us into believing in evolution by planting dinosaur bones with St Peter, is cutting about making my life a series of unfortunate coincidences and defeats snatched from the jaws of victory?

I almost respect his comedic vindictiveness.

The philosophical sound of silence

In so much as sound is the mechanical wave produced by an oscillation of pressure, on the infinitesimal scale, there is no silence; at least in the experiential sense.

Consider the theoretical vacuum, an absolute vacuum of complete emptiness. Silence exists here, but the moment we are introduced silence only exists where we are not; where we are introduced, we bring our inherent non-silence, the intrinsic oscillations of the functions of the living body. The absolute vacuum has no content, it has no media to transmit the sound wave caused by the oscillations of life; any sound dies on the boundary of nothingness. Our body, even when contained within the vacuum, remains something, a medium, or at least a collection of media, to transmit the oscillations; our skeletal structure transmits the waves by means of bone conduction.

It may be the amplitude of these bone-conducted waves is damped such that they do not disturb the auditory system sufficiently to generate a neural action potential; nevertheless there will be an infinitesimal disruption to any equilibrium of the system, there will be, on some level, a mechanical impact upon our being. Alternatively it may be that the frequency of the wave is such that the brain choses not to perceive it as a sound; but even at this level the mental differentiation requires cognitive processing, albeit non-conscious, to determine how the wave should be perceived. Analogous with visible and non-visible light, the brain differentiates between audible and non-audible oscillations through the mental construct of hearing. Evolution, or God, or intelligent design set the brain such that low-level oscillations are not perceived as sounds, but these settings are arbitrary and the absence of conscious perception does not constitute silence. The act of not hearing a sound does not negate its existence. The silence we think we experience is a charade, a manifestation of reality foisted upon us by the brain.

Life is intrinsically non-silent and the act of living precludes the experience of silence.

Dancing with the reptiles of fear

This is a story about reptiles. Actually it’s a story about reptiles and dancing, or rather dancing with reptiles. Yes, dancing with reptiles.

David Icke is right; there are reptiles everywhere. Reptiles of fear standing ten feet tall with a tail half as long again; insidious, invisible reptiles riding a black Cerberus across our shoulders while they whisper a siren song into our ear; thousands of reptiles looking just like us as they pass by on the street, sneering with conservative disgust; friendly reptiles celebrating mediocrity and handing another bottle of self destruct. There are reptiles everywhere, with endless different guises, all with an identical desire to keep a boot on the throat of life. If you don’t stand too tall, if you stay in your box, no rage against the dying of light, no kicking against the pricks they’ll let you be. Anything else, dare to dare, and they will smite you down with scaly green anger and a terrible, tail wielding fury.

But who wants to stay in a box? That way lays existential bad faith, chained by conformity to Plato’s cave.

You can rise up and fight, but it would be foolhardy to face them in all out assault. You might well win the fight, but there are so many of them you’ll have to pour everything into it just to survive; and then you’re not even going to have the energy to stand in victory, foot atop your pile of reptile carcasses with bicep flexed. No, there’s more to the game than the defeat of reptiles. It’s about succeeding in whatever they’re trying to stop you doing, avoiding the boot and breathing life. Escape and evade, subterfuge and subtlety, think of Odysseus not Heracles. Lull them, trick them, misdirect them; this is the dance. Pirouette away or hold them close and waltz them out of your present. Like a reptilian manifestation of McGoohan’s ball, they will always be there but they don’t always have to be here!

It’s the Kobayashi Maru; you win by cheating the game to suit your reality. Enjoy the ensemble piece; playing their game by your rules. Embrace the solo, this is your time to shine and break out of the cave screaming your incandescent insights. You don’t win by fighting until they concede, you win by pointing them in one direction while you run off in the other and do whatever the hell you want. You run the race, you write the book, you carve your reality into this life.

Don’t let the slimy bastards grind you down.

She stopped time

A friend has laid down a challenge to a few of us, we’re to enter the Scottish Book Trust’s monthly 50 word competition until one of us wins it. March’s prompt was a watch; here’s my first attempt, not sure it works but things can only improve:

He tilted his watch towards the smattering of light escaping the streetlamp; forty minutes late. She’d demanded to meet, then left him freezing in the night. He cursed her, and flagged a taxi.

“You’ll be quicker walking, traffic’s no’ moving. Bus’s hit some lassie just up the road.”

Hasta Siempre, Comandante

So Chavez is dead.

I was in Venezuela during the run up to the 2005 elections and I found it nearly impossible to get a balanced opinion of the man. In my experience the poor and some of the indigenous peoples (only some, the others were so remote they couldn’t give a fuck who was in charge) worshipped him. The middle and upper classes appeared to hate him and  they were exceptionally suspicious of his relationship with Cuba. I’ll never forget one embittered and unemployed Venezuelan teacher telling me he couldn’t get a job because he wasn’t Cuban.

If I found it difficult to get a clear picture of an apparently divisive man in his home country, then it was even more so to form an opinion through the international media who painted him as a modern day, Bolivarian messiah flicking the finger to the imperialist yankees.

Maybe I’m just a champagne socialist; or maybe I’m a silly, naive romantic; or it might just be the contrarian in me mourning the passing of a fellow contrarian but I’m sad to see the maverick go.

Not that it matters what I think.

I never had to live under his government or experience the hardships of so many in Venezuela.

For what it is worth, I hope a beautiful country and the amazing people who live there get the leadership and government they deserve, and I truly hope his passing doesn’t lead to destabilisation and pain.