Friday, July 6, 2012


This is perhaps one of my most autobiographical allays




            There is exactly one well known story about Kant, and beyond that, there's no more to say: his neighbors would set their clocks by his routine walks. Apparently virginal, this bachelor philosopher epitomized the station of all great philosophers: free from the sexual economy and so able to devote his mind to truth.

            Philosophers like Kant and Nietzsche lived insulated lives, ascetic by nature not by discipline. What men like even the ubiquitous Emerson felt as a distance from their fellow man comes from an intellectual difference. That difference is never settled when set with the others. It must always stand apart. It is perhaps characteristic of the aryans and the anglosaxons to love privacy and solitude -- and in this none is more characteristic of the solitary species than the philosopher.

            And so we insulate ourselves. Just as the Obsessive Compulsive will make rituals in her life to give the illusion of control over the unknown, so the great thinkers actually structure their life to be what in the eyes of any child might seem boring. The adventures of the body that characterize the hero are not the adventures of the mind that characterize the philosopher, thoughout wars and history it was the ideal creations of the philosopher that externalized into the muscle-based struggles of the heroes. History was always the articulation of certain insistent ideas, hatched in the minds of a few great men who like the hen on her nest preferred lives unruffled by the petty nuisances that keep most people amused.

            We all, after all, seek a certain amount of stress. For stress is interest, and if life weren't interesting -- riddled with problems -- then we'd be bored, and that's a bigger problem, for that certain deadly form of boredom we call depression can come to a point where it can't even imagine anything it would want to do. Such a state of mind is characteristic of most people when they are cut off from society. They do not need the sort of insulation certain philosophers and poets need, because their nerves aren't as raw and sensitive.

            Like Kant, I insulate my world from too much activity that would require energy to process. The cast of characters in my daily life is limited to my wife and children, mother in law, and sometimes sister in law. The permutations between these people are relatively static. When my well of friendship fills with energy, I erupt unpredictably and grab a friend. Some online personality is best for this. But I often lose those friends after a few months, and it seems those good times never want to stay. I lose interest but experience it as if they lost interest. A few friends stay on -- and they are dear to me.

            Meanwhile, I fly in the logosphere on the winds of books, and I play in the mythosphere where Ama is my dearest friend; but as for the outer world, I would consider myself boring -- or at least not dramatic.

            Life is in the living. With family, be fully present. With work, never be rushed. With passion, give your full heart. Our struggles are our assets, in this life and in the next.

            We must remember when we organize our lives to protect our dynamic. What we assume from the world, what we take at face value -- this is the gift the world gives to us, and the world is very generous. But those few issues that rankle us are meant to rankle us, that's our dynamic. What we dwell on we concerns us for a reason. We are building assumptions, we are building ideas.

            Systems of assumptions are like buildings that house the activity of habits. The inner city uses all the world's ideas, and within that place is the innermost sacrosanct garden of our intimate hearts. The ideas that anchor our habits, if attacked, can undermine our confidence in those habits. When they are doubted and ridiculed, we can become demoralized. Immunizing yourself from attack through graded levels of exposure can protect against wrongful disillusionment. After all, we protect our children from the world, but over the years, grant more freedom, after certain precautions are comprehended. The successful parent is he who can give full freedom to his grow children.

            Maturity dances through the world, skirting its dangers and abiding its light. Amidst different schools of thought, I am a butterfly dodging nets. I seek to learn all the moves, but I will never be pinned down to one system.

            I too play the game of life, but cerebrally. To maximize agency and presence is the imperative of every game of life. Agency, or power, is the ability to affect the actions of others; presence is the ability to impress yourself on their hearts and imaginations.

            Perhaps it seems strange to my friends that my worst and best moods come from reading books. I read passionately. I read foreign works to arrogate the soil, but the wells dug by foreign logic are reinforced with American clay and fill with aboriginal energy. I feel a kinship to a few authors, and the rest I must read with a hyperactive criticism.

            Ever since in my college years when I would bring a book with me as my brother dragged me to the bar I have preferred the disconnect from my immediate world. I am different, and I can't feel comfortable trying to fit in. Anxiety is the opposite of sexiness, and in the world I have no sex appeal. My love, my eros, is a quiet matter. I get my experience but I could never let myself go in the world.

            Experience is education. It comes in two forms, natural experiences derived from real life situations, and artificial experiences framed to teach lessons. The latter we call schooling, and it is able to teach things that could never be learned from natural experience, from the "school of life," but once learned, change that school of life, change all of life. A college graduate lives in a different world than a mere highschool graduate. The median point between this is art, which is of course artificial, but often doesn't give so narrow an experience as to teach only one lesson, but like life gives rich experiences capable of inspiring limitless lessons. Two men, opposite in many ways, could share a favorite author. Though learned in the artificial life of schooling, philosopher and literary criticism, the two approaches to information, can be applied to real life events -- and every man adds a unique intelligence into the world.

            My poetic antennae, my feelers, are not such that can be brushed with callous hands. The popular writers gain a popular audience -- they have that popular inflection. They write for the many because they are of the many, and are loved by the many. I write for the few, and not by choice but by necessity.

            Even what I choose to read is fated by my inner goals. I chew a lot of continental philosophy, but the American stones are forever in my gizzards. I slowly build my powers. My will is in fact a weak thing -- it only slowly builds up. My feelers, which come from my sensitive ego, ever protect myself and cushion me. I set up a world free from noise and excitement. My flights through the logosphere and mythosphere are kept from too much mundane adventure, and the inevitable trauma of life on earth is given reflection time to digest and comprehend.

            Perhaps that has made me slow in my development, and I've always been slow to develop -- but isn't that American? Emerson, Whitman, Melville, Hawthorn, were slow to develop, published their most important works only after the middle of their lives. I scarcely feel adult -- I feel permanently adolescent. I never have gained that sense of maturity.

            Frank Lloyd Wright had spoken of father hood, "The architect absorbed the father in me -- perhaps - because I never got used to the word nor the idea of being one as I saw them all around the block and met them among my friends. I hated the sound of the word papa. Is it a quality? Fatherhood? If so, I seemed born without it. And yet a building was a child. I have had the father-feeling, I am sure, when coming back after a long time to one of my buildings. That must be the true feeling of fatherhood. But I never had it for my children. I had affection for them." While I myself adore being called daddy by my daughter, and do have a fatherly affection for both my daughters and my upcoming son -- I have never been able to feel adult, like a father, like a responsible figure. I seem so lost in thought and constant thinking all the time that I lack the paternal initiative that my wife so excels at. I feel guilty about this, but I feel there is no changing it, at least not by willful resolve. I assume I will feel more properly fatherly over time.

            A father is not insulated from his family -- or at least I am not. To secure their loving affection, I must keep them safe, healthy, and happy. I care endlessly for them. They preoccupy much of my mental energy and inspire much of my writing. When one is in with a group, there is an intimacy, a shared artery of blood between them all, so that you must keep in constant contact, constant conversation, and you act as one, think as one, feel right only when surrounded by those people -- union is conversation and presence. Unlike Thoreau, Emerson, and Nietzsche, I am tender and affectionate. For this reason, I have insulated myself even from being called a philosopher. I am an allist and I write allays. By inventing terms and jargon that is of my own creation, nobody has the moral right to tell me how to use my terms or live my life. "Life on my own terms," seems an apt way to express what makes me so happy, daily grateful, and makes me cry a little bit each night for how fortunate I am to be able to have and to hold my wife.

            Nobody knows what's best for a person better than that person, once he has self-reflected. No manner of angel or deity could tell him how to live or what to do -- not even omniscience can guess the immortal truths yet to be born of out the private soul of the individual, who in is innermost is fully alone and full beauty: his walking in the world is a perpetual gift to the universe. What comes out of a man could never be predicted: it is a perpetual melody improving the universe.



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