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Does Collecting Make You Feel Dirty?
I woke up this morning with unusually detailed memories from a dream I’d been having and decided that I owed it to myself to record it, as best I could, even if that meant getting less sleep than I needed. The finished document came to over 1500 words!

I’m not going to share that one here. But I will share another. For years now, when I do manage to log something from a dream, however imperfectly, I email the text to myself in Gmail with a subject header that starts “DREAM:”, so I can easily search for it later.
After I’d sent myself today’s dream, I looked through some of the older ones and found this strange dream from August 24th, 2009, one which I had completely forgotten:
Japanese architect. I see him on park bench. Turns out tattooed woman in bathing suit w/ two children nearby are his family. At interview, in a big Arts + Crafts-style house in a neighborhood a la M's Capitol Hill abode, I don't really see the architect, though I feel like I brush by him on way in. Woman is naked, as are children, who
are running back and forth on wood floor violently. From across the room, her pubic hair seems mostly shaved, except perhaps for a sliver. I can't or won't look as she approaches. I'm trying to find a place to put my glass - when did I get it? - in the dishwasher as she stands next to me by the sink talking rapidly while doing some mom-ish activity, perhaps involving sippy cups. She's explaining how they have very little cash, with the economy and all, as a prelude to telling me what the job pays. I'm about to say I understand, that absence of cash is what brings me to this interview, when I awake.

NOTE: It's unsettling that I'm a man applying for this job and yet she wears no clothes. I think, during the dream, that it must be one of those no-clothes - not just no-shoes - in the house deals and wonder if I will be expected to fit in or will feel weird, grilled by the children, if I don't.

I just remembered Paper Tiger + how it overlaps.

This whole dream took place between 9:10 and 9:20. It was good I let
myself drift off.
What interests me, aside from the strangeness of this dream -- not a subject I can ever recall visiting before or after -- it that writing out the other dream and then searching through the ones I've archived on Gmail brought me to this dream, which connects up with something I've been meaning to do these past few weeks.

You see, I didn't attend many movies as a kid. My parents basically just took me to whatever Disney film was being recirculated that year. I do remember seeing Bedknobs and Broomsticks in pre-school at a church function -- I think it was one, anyway -- without either of my parents in attendance and being freaked out by it somehow. Presumably that was a 16mm screening, though, since it was held in a church basement.

It wasn't until 1977 that I saw a "grown-up" movie in a theater with my parents, Neil Simon's The Goodbye Girl, at the same theater in Quakertown, Pennsylvania where months later -- and many months after its initial release -- I finally persuaded them to take me to see Star Wars. But I had seen two other films in public spaces before that, on the Auto-Train my family took en route to a Florida vacation made possible because my dad was attending a conference for work during part of our stay.

My memory is a little unclear, but I believe that the first film I saw this way was Benji, which I experienced as a rather scary story and the second was Paper Tiger starring David Niven. The latter film is the story of an Englishman who is hired to tutor the son of the Japanese ambassador -- played by Toshiro Mifune -- to a fictional southeast Asian country, one which somewhat resembles Malaysia.

The plot of Paper Tiger centers on the fact that Niven's character tells the boy tall tales of his heroism during World War II, all completely fabricated, but then has to demonstrate real courage when he and the boy are taken hostage by terrorists. It's a strange subject for a film, even back in the cinematic strangeness of the 1970s, which helps to make it stand out more in retrospect.

I had been thinking, these past two weeks, that I should rewatch the picture and write about the powerful role it played in my perception of the world as a place of confusing dangers. i had even extracted the DVD I ordered years ago in preparation for a viewing. So the fact that I stumbled upon the write-up of this dream from 2009 today, one that I apparently believed to be connected with Paper Tiger -- perhaps I had started to rematch it on VHS back then? -- suggests that my unconscious was hard at work redrawing connections that had been blurred.

As I write this entry, now, I'm also seeing more pieces fall into place. I distinctly remembered just now that visiting Disney World after seeing Paper Tiger changed the way I perceived the theme park. Some small part of me was on the look out for risks. And the ride Small World -- my mother's favorite -- felt more ominous.

It also makes sense that I would confront this dream from 2009 today, because I have been working on rearranging some things in the family room -- to make room for my daughter's new snake Alexander -- whose position hasn't changed in years. I've dislodged items in physical space and that has led to also dislodging some things in my mind.

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I was trying to figure out why my photos aren't showing up here and decided to see whether entries from when I was posting regularly were still working correctly. I picked October 17th, 2007 at a random as the first date to check and discovered that the first entry posted on that day, for which the photo was not showing, had been titled "Blade Runner". This seemed a little spooky, since I had been planning to go see the sequel tonight before realizing that it was too long for me to see today. Here that photo, uploaded to LJ, which I took in New York just shy of one decade ago:

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It is hard to be here. As I much as part of me wants to return, I clearly exhaust my will in other ways. But I can at least muster up the energy to maintain a tradition:
There is never, if you like, an interpretandum that is not already interpretans, so that it is as much a relationship of violence as of elucidation that is established in interpretation. Indeed, interpretation does not clarify a matter to be interpreted, which offers itself passively; it can only seize, and violently, an already-present interpretation, which it must overthrow, upset, shatter with the blows of a hammer.

One sees this already in Marx, who interprets not the history of the relations of production but a relation already offering itself as an interpretation, since it appears as nature. Likewise, Freud interprets not signs, but interpretations. Indeed, what does Freud discover beneath symptoms? He does not discover, as is said, "traumas"; he brings to light phantasms with their burden of anguish, that is, a kernel that is itself already in its own being an interpretation (Michel Foucault, "Marx, Nietzsche, Freud" in Aesthetics, Method and Epistemology (New York: The New Press, 275-276).
I don't have the time to write very much at the moment. But I was thinking the other day of all the conversations I've had with my daughter during her years of teenage struggle, and realized that I'm often just trying to keep her interested in herself as an object of interpretation. Maybe that's not the right approach, clinically speaking. But I have a hunch that remaining interested and interesting for oneself is a good way to push the darkness away for a little bit longer.

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Palo Verde blooms at dusk

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This is our new rescue kitty, who is so noir that he merited the name of Raymond Chandler's famous detective

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We're into the second half of my daughter's two-week backpacking trip in the High Sierra with Outward Bound. That's a big deal for both her and her parents. I realize that a great many children would have spent at least a week or two away from home by this point in their lives. She is 17, after all. I certainly had. And her mother had left home for good. But, for a variety of reasons, her time away from us has been extremely limited.

Separation has never come easy for her. Back when she was a baby, when we were still living in the Bay Area, we had three people who could and did watch her successfully while we went to a movie or a concert. Once we moved to Tucson, though, those opportunities became a lot harder to find. Although we lived next door to Kim's parents, they were far from ideal babysitters. And we never found anyone else who could reliably step into that role.

Eventually, the children's gym near our house started having Parents Night Out events on Fridays, which she enjoyed, allowing us just enough time to see a film and maybe get a quick bite to eat. But the program only last a couple of years. Since then, with the exception of the few days she spent on a class trip in fifth grade, the highly unfortunate three days she was confined against her will and ours at our local crisis center for troubled teens back when she 15, and a recent overnight martial arts camp, she has only been separated from us during waking activities like school.

That's why her resolve to go away for two weeks and, what is more, under demanding circumstances she had never experienced before seemed like such an important step for her and, by extension, us. As we should have expected, her usual anxieties -- the ones she has been beset with since infancy -- were at their maximum levels beforehand. She had second thoughts about going right up until the day before. Thankfully, she managed to overcome this reluctance, in the end, though the long drive to Fresno was extraordinarily stressful for her, me, and her mom back home.

Since I dropped her off at Fresno-Yosemite International Airport the Sunday before last, she has been out of mobile phone range. We miss her. The cats miss her. Perhaps even the tortoise misses her. And she may well be missing us, though I expect that the sheer intensity of her experience, among other factors, will distract her better than anything can distract us. If all goes the way I hope it will, she will return with a much greater sense of autonomy than she had when she departed -- even if there were aspects of the trip that she disliked -- and we will soon be forced to confront that time that almost all parents struggle with, when the need to let go wars with the impulse to hold on.

I can't be sure how that transition will go, though I suspect that it will take longer than it should and feel shorter than it actually is. And I'm also pretty sure that the disconcerting emptiness I keep feeling throughout the day, this vague sense that something is missing that won't ever be wholly recovered, will be with me for the duration and beyond. It scares me. But it's also a source of hope, because it has become increasingly clear over the past few years -- as parents who have been through all this will no doubt remember -- that for things to continue as they have been would only make all of us feel claustrophobic to the point of paralysis.

As much as I miss my daughter right now, I am also realizing how much I missed being me. There are many reasons, as I have tediously rehearsed in previous entries, why I more or less stopped updating this blog. One of the biggest, though, is proving to have been the sheer amount of time I have devoted to being a parent. That wasn't clear to me before, because I was too close to my situation to get critical distance from it. The more time I spend not consumed by my daughter's crises, both real and manufactured -- I'm not sure even she can tell the difference, frequently -- the more I recognize that I allowed them, as has long been my tendency with the problems of others, to become my own to such a degree that I sacrificed my own autonomy.

I'm not saying I would have or even could have done things differently. My goal was to do whatever I was able to do in order to help her make it through a very difficult period in her life. She is doing better than she was six months ago and much, much better than she was a year or two ago. For all of our mistakes, her mom and I have managed, for our part, to facilitate this improvement. I'm not willing to discount the value of our efforts. At the same time, though, I am now aware of ways, going forward, in which preserving more time and space for my self could prove instrumental in her sustaining the sense of autonomy she is cultivating on this journey of personal discovery. That's why I took the time to write this today, to remind myself that it's important not to forget who I have been, who I am and who, most importantly, I could be in the not-so-distant future.

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Driving north out of Ironwood National Monument today, this cotton field appeared, right next to the irrigation channel carrying Colorado River Water. The cotton grown here is called Pima cotton because it is a native species. But this field was just over the county line in Pinal County.

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Foucault on Nietzsche Freud and Marx


Je jouis dans les paves


Jean-Joseph Goux on Marx Nietzsche and Freud from Symbolic Economies

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I was puttering about just now, getting the bikes ready for my almost-nightly ride with my daughter, when I suddenly found myself thinking about Live Journal and, more specifically, what led me first to taper off my output and then stop altogether. I have written before about my sense of alienation with regard to a platform that once played a huge role in my life, reaching conclusions that I still agree with. But this time the act of reflection felt different, more whole somehow, than it had previously.

It wasn't simply that I got burned my decision, back in late 2010, to create a filter in order to share a very difficult time I was going through. Nor was it that I had come to find it harder and harder to sustain my vision of family life in the face of frequently blatant contradiction. The technological explanation, that I had drifted from Live Journal once my life became so hectic that I started doing almost everything on my mobile phone, though undoubtedly significant, also fell short of the mark. The underlying problem, I finally realized tonight, was that I no longer felt capable of producing the sort of convolutions that I had established as my dominant mode here.

I had always told myself that I enjoyed being playfully indirect here, hiding the often painful truth of my day-to-day existence in plain sight. And I suppose I did take pleasure in the mechanics of subterfuge. But in reality this way of communicating was just a distraction from facts I was unwilling to face or, to be more precise, unwilling to be seen facing. Put bluntly, my journal had achieved a degree of deceit that I was no longer in the proper frame of mind to maintain.

So where does that leave things? Facebook, for all of its faults, continues to hold me in thrall because the brevity of what I post there makes it much easier to avoid confronting the deeper structural flaws in my world. I don't have to worry about being indirect because the very form of that social media platform guarantees that almost no one can piece together a clear picture of anyone else's existence. Live Journal, by contrast, demands -- or at least demands from me, because of how I have used it since 2003 -- that I either resume my former practice of crafting posts so lacking in clarity that even I have difficulty excavating their layers later on or find some new way of approaching what I do here. And there's also the fact that almost no one seems to spend much time on Live Journal anymore.

But maybe that's what I was waiting for, a "safe space" more like my journal was when I first began it, when I only had a few unconnected readers, rather than the far-too-public production that everyone at work seemed to be reading and, I suspect, commenting on behind my back. Part of me would welcome the opportunity to work in solitude, like a postmodern-day Thoreau. After all, if I want a large audience, I still have Facebook at my disposal. Here, by contrast, I can almost be certain, despite the fact that I have vowed never to post anything to a filter or even friends-only again, that very few people will read what I share and that the vast majority of that potential micro-public consists of people I am comfortable sharing almost anything with.

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The overcast skies and light rain today were unexpected and all the more wondrous as a consequence. I wanted to catch the dying light, but couldn't pull this shot off until a beam briefly illuminated the flowers in the foreground. That is Pusch Ridge in the background, the part of the Catalina Range closest to our house.

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Sometimes you just have to drop everything you're doing, throw your camera and tripod in the car, and rush out to the one spot you know will have the best view, even if it means getting your feet cold and wet because you forgot to swap your Vans for proper boots

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Skylar walking on the little bouncy bridge at the Benicia, California park we used to take her to all the time when we lived in Vallejo, only in a nostalgic mode, after we'd been living in Tucson for five months and had returned to the Bay Area on short notice to say goodbye to our old landlord Russ, Skylar's Uncle Grandpa, who was in the last stages of dying from cancer. It was a brutal trip, in many ways, and one that prepared me, I realize, for the stuff I've been dealing with lately. But it was nice to have a respite to meet friends for brunch at Benicia's First Street Cafe and then go to the park

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Although I started teaching last week, it won't really feel like I'm back into a somewhat regular schedule until Wednesday. Part of it is that my daughter doesn't start her classes until tomorrow. Part of it is that last week was a blur of stress, with Kim finishing up a massive work deadline and lots of teenager-related drama at home. I'm looking forward to feeling more grounded, though I know that there will be a rough adjustment thanks to the strange hours I've been keeping over the past month.

When I was a teenager, I was very nocturnal, frequently staying up until after 5am on school nights. I'd compensate by taking naps after school, but was still often underslept and over-agitated as a consequence. Unfortunately, Skylar seems to have inherited both this trait of mine and her mother's difficulty falling and staying asleep, whatever the circumstances. It's one of the principal reasons why the past few years have been so difficult -- not to mention why I have been scarce in these part -- since the schools she attended were not exactly accommodating to kids like her and her mother's work schedule and mine, to a lesser extent, are also at odds with her desire to stay up most of the night.

Over the past month, most of which coincided with my break, I have often found myself awake along with Skylar, while her mother attempts to sleep. Kim has never done well with late nights. And Skylar can be very demanding of parental time and energy when she is feeling low, which often happens in the wee hours of the morning. The head-trip in all that is that she probably starts to feel low because her sleep patterns are so irregular and out of sync with "normal" routines. But there simply isn't a way to correct the problem easily. If we couldn't make her fall asleep at a particular time when she was two, we certainly aren't going to be able to do it when she's sixteen!

I have been taking the approach of trying to be there for Skylar rather than letting her figure things out on her own. Quite a few people, including her mother, have told me that it's a mistake to indulge her in that way. And maybe they are right. My sense of things, though, is that it is better to talk to your teenager when she wants to talk out her worries than to let her brood by myself. I suppose time will tell whether I was mistaken in this conclusion. For now, though, I am just hoping that starting classes will help her adjust her schedule incrementally in the next few weeks and therefore help me to get good sleep on a more regular basis.

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Skylar on Spot, who was just a great horse for her lessons

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Looking for solace on a hard night

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I found it very difficult to talk about what was going in my life last year and even harder to write about it. But I did manage to produce a piece for Souciant about looking back through the documentary evidence of my year on Facebook and the two memory cards I shot with my "real" camera. Many of you are already acquainted with the former, though it can be difficult to piece together a coherent story for anyone there, because the algorithm for what is shown in a particular user's feed is unpredictable. And even if you did see most of what I shared, it's not like I'll ever win an award for Directness in Social Media. The photos from the latter, as I explain in the piece, I didn't really show to anyone.

A number of my favorite images dated from croneitude's welcome visits to Tucson, including this one of cloud shadows taken on the day I drove her around looking for Monsoon thrills:

Cloud shadows in Cochise County - August 2014

Today she wrote me something interesting about it that I wanted to share:
It isn't just the lack of humans in the frame. I love how there is this vast landscape, with equally vast details that are just hinted at in the image: The distant mountains, the cumulus clouds at the edge of the frame. Even the bushes that are in shadow. We know there is so much more under and beyond, which reflects the Facebook experience, in a sense.
Although my piece is all about "shadows" that fall over the selves we choose to present through social media and although I explicitly commented on my family's practice of excluding evidence of the human from what we framed with the camera, I hadn't consciously chosen this photo to reinforce visually what I was trying to communicate in words. But I also know that something in me chose it from a great many possibilities.

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Back in November, 2006, my sister brought her then-sixteen-month-old son out with her to visit us over Thanksgiving. The day after the holiday, we drove up to visit our longtime family friends from Pennsylvania, who were living and continue to live in Gilbert. On the drive back, Skylar opted to ride with her cousin and my parents, while I set out alone. I opted to take backroads on the return journey, to see the cotton fields, and was blessed with great landscapes and an even greater sunset

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