Don’t read the times, read the eternities

Let us, on occasion, turn our eyes from the passing moment, the flashbang present of spectacles and controversies. I make myself sick gorging on media, on news and entertainment dressed up as political commentary and philosophical reflection, and must take time to purge myself of contemporary pathogens. The digital milieu in which we live brings many evils along with its many goods; it is a pharmakon in the sense Derrida developed from his reading of Plato’s Phaedrus. Through the window of the web, we can reach out and connect with the like minded, encounter healthy opposition, and research and write on any subject we like with untold resources at our disposal. In the course of our electronic lives, we will also be confronted with the worst of humanity, in thought, in speech, in picture and video. Now, watching a beheading is better than being beheaded, but if you weren’t going to be beheaded, the possibility of seeing someone brutally decapitated, and the internal struggle with morbid curiosity, would nevertheless disturbs and upsets your otherwise tranquil, sedentary, surfing soul.

Aside from the violent, traumatizing, dehumanizing images, we must also contend with the spiteful and ignorant words of our fellows. And we all have the capacity for spiteful, ignorant discourse. I do not hold myself above anyone in this regard. I am petty, willfully stupid, playfully hateful, mocking, crude, insensitive, and downright annoying and meretricious when I want to be. I don’t think my hatred runs very deep, and I never advocate violence or threaten anyone, even the most despicable ideological opponent, with bodily harm. But I will insult and caricature anyone, including myself, in a way that will come across to some as offensive and hurtful. Others will find it funny or insightful. I also stress that I am an artist that combats the pretensions of art, which makes me ultra pretentious, as well as culturally necessary. That’s right, I am delusional enough to believe that my words can be an ironic corrective to the excessive veneration heaped on the scribbling, leg shaking, horn tooting, brush stroking class. Even with my high minded explanation and defense of what I say, I am well aware of how my words may affect others, and ultimately hope that the pleasures outweigh the pains when the utilitarian numbers are crunched.

To make a right turn in this roundabout entry, I’d like to return to my original point, which is this: We can only take so much negativity and conflict in digital form, and we must find ways of cleansing and purifying ourselves. I take the stuffy, starchy route of reading and reflecting on enduring works, exiting the degraded realm of passing time and pondering the perennial. Long walks, meditation, vigorous exercise, and charity are also prescribed for the world weary soul. While engaging in all of this, I’d like to write a few entries on more substantive topics, questions and concerns a little farther removed from the contemporary cacophony. It will be a little experiment, and I’m sure I’ll be back to detailing idiocy and reporting on daily life in no time.

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