Nihilistic Summers

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I wake up to words ending in -less. Like: meaningless, aimless. It’s just another episode of Rick and Morty all over again where the aliens have taken over the world and they’re left to escape into another dimension where nothing matters, nobody chooses to live, and we all die anyways. Now come watch some TV.

Starting to realize that I’m only ever transferring my stream of consciousness from one place to another. So I wake up and it’s my Notes, and then I sidle on into Word, and then I’m back to scribbling on you, WordPress. What is this? A journal? Maybe. Probably. I don’t really know. ‘Why don’t you just get a journal?’ my friend asked. Yeah, well, I have a journal. More than one journal. If we’re talking number of existing collected journals, I’ve got somewhere around, oh, fifty?

Seven years into one of my best friendships I said something about collecting journals. She responded, no, you don’t, you don’t collect journals. Except that I do and all my notebooks are heavy with scrawls and stories and childish arrays of emotion.

Attempts to Journal, Pt. 1

Sunday, April 23rd, 2017

We wore matching clothes today: bright yellow tops that ultimately looked ridiculous together. We tried to get a friend to wear yellow as well–we’d loosely planned to meet and go to an art show–but alas, plans fell through. It’s okay, though. ’twas still a good day.

God, I used to write journal entries like this all the time. I’d come home from school and go straight to the computer where I’d write and write and write. I’d write about the stupidest things, things I’d never care to remember the next day or month or year. I’d write things like, we each had baked potatoes for lunch and then made wild chants upon finishing them. Life’s a million times more interesting now than it was then. Ironically, though, I don’t feel the need to write about it as much. Or even record it. But it could just be a momentarily lapse in obsessive life-recording.

Anyways. Where was I? Right. Journaling. I’m trying to get back into it.

Image result for chewing gum show

Started and finished Chewing Gum on Netflix in about three days. It’s kind of hard to describe how utterly weird it is–it’s cringey in a do-I-laugh-or-cry? sort of way. And it’s so absurd that it catches you off-guard multiple times in a funny discomforting way. My best friend didn’t like it much, but the Internet’s raving about Chewing Gum. At first I didn’t get it, thought it was strange and foreign, but then it grew on me. Next thing I know, I’m imitating the hilariously uptight little sister who’s religious and shrieks a lot.

It’s quirky. But, y’know, I like weird, I like quirky.

Now I’m trying to get into Stranger Things. I’ve watched about an episode and a half, haven’t gotten too far. It reminds me a lot of the video game Beyond Two Souls–from the (Spoiler alert!) government-rooted shapeless evil blob to the hunted protagonist girl with short brown hair and supernatural powers. Update: turns out I’m not alone in drawing the parallels.

Wanderlust

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It’s 1 in the morning. I feel an inexplicably wild desire to photograph the world. The closest I can get to explaining it is via a tiny purple monster inside of me that’s smashing all the imaginary cameras in my heart, bellowing on about viajar, como yo quiero tomar los fotos en un otro lugar.

That sort of thing.

Creative obsessions are kind of awesome but torturous. It is both tiring and invigorating to pour every ounce of your all into furthering this abstraction/concept/thing and not being able to contemplate or do anything aside from it. Then you’re onto the next. Or not. Sometimes you have creative lulls where you just want to punch your way out of the creative rut.

I’ll paint something Ophelia-esque. She’ll be surrounded in a bed of roses that look no different from the rest; they’ll be beautiful, but meaningless.

East of Eden

east of eden

Lately I’ve been thinking of a book I’d read years ago that was such an utter mindfuck that, upon finishing the book, all I could do was reread the ending and sink into the couch and bawl a little bit. The book was East of Eden by John Steinbeck. I barely recall the plot, to be honest, but I remember the way I felt: enthralled (cringing at my use of this word, but it’s fitting) by its lurid prodding complexity and numb from all the philosophy.

Some quotes from the book I really liked:

“We have only one story. All novels, all poetry, are built on the neverending contest in ourselves of good and evil. And it occurs to me that evil must constantly respawn, while good, while virtue, is immortal. Vice has always a new fresh young face, while virtue is venerable as nothing else in the world is.”

But where does free will, or lack thereof, factor into it? Steinbeck weaves in the concept of timshel, that man ultimately exercises free will in choosing to do either good or evil:

“But the Hebrew word, the word timshel—‘Thou mayest’— that gives a choice. It might be the most important word in the world. That says the way is open. That throws it right back on a man. For if ‘Thou mayest’—it is also true that ‘Thou mayest not.”

On monstrosity as deviation from the norm; on normalcy as deviation from monstrosity. A reference to the monstrous Cathy, whose character was evil incarnate (so much so that critics described her as too flatly evil.) Interestingly, what Steinbeck describes is a feeling that many sociopaths may have: the unnerving sense that others have something they lack, something internal, a moral compass, a set of emotions, a conscience.

“Just as there are physical monsters, can there not be mental or psychic monsters born? Monsters are variations from the accepted normal to a greater or a less degree. As a child may be born without an arm, so one may be born without kindness or the potential of conscience.

To a monster the norm must seem monstrous, since everyone is normal to himself. To the inner monster it must be even more obscure, since he has no visible thing to compare with others. To a criminal, honesty is foolish. You must not forget that a monster is only a variation, and that to a monster the norm is monstrous.”

And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

There was no single takeaway from the book, at least, not for me. Its significance didn’t lie in the plot, but the themes. But maybe I say that because I’m not as familiar with biblical stories, particularly the one of Cain and Abel, which the novel recreates between the Civil War & WWI. At any rate, I highly recommend the book, especially if you’re interested in postwar fiction, philosophy, religion, ethics or literature. Or a book-induced mindfuck.