04.22.2015

Many of these sentences will lack cohesion with one another. Apologies. May the reader be assured that there are logical connections, between these lines. My physical life in this city is relatively simple, but my imagination is having far too much fun with itself as of late; winding around another author or philosophy every six days. I do not tout the ideas of whomever I’m presently reading, but continually, nearly continuously synthesize the concepts I’m learning with my writing, and my internal narrative. The things I imagine and think carry me far away from this city I ostensibly exist in, to places more real, where I choose to persist.

Nearly forty days have passed since I began working outside again. With every hour lost, I’m reminded a hundred-fold just how badly I want a better job. I have a list of bookstores and writing gigs, but haven’t yet applied anywhere new. I came close tonight, before another whirlwind of self-loathing and existential terror began. The simple truth is that I can’t survive on the money from this sales job. I don’t doubt my desire to escape, but it’s eclipsed by the desire to continue writing my stories and essays, by the desire to research time travel narrative, by the desire to reacquaint Spinoza and Nietzsche, and my desire to make imaginary peers out of that vaguely affiliated collection of philosophers and cultural theorists once called the incorruptibles.

My opinion of myself and the state of things vacillates so strongly that in one day I know I will both ask a girl out and rock back and forth with arms wrapped around legs, repeating the series of mantras I used to use to keep track of the years’ turbulence with. I suppose I’m trying to say I want discipline, too. I just don’t want to come back to the world of taxes and debts, or my empty wallet and empty bed.

Things may be overwhelming, but my thoughts have become much clearer. I have more critical freedom because my sense of social reference feels more objective. I’m becoming very surprised at my writing. It’s so much more potent and alive and interesting! Not here, though, no, this is me about ten percent awake.

I won’t describe the pieces I’m writing in this post because that would literally be counter-productive. My works progress because I stay loyal to the desire, the yearning behind each piece. It’s fun, though. Each one nurtures a distinct version of myself. It’s a party in here. I have much more to talk about with myself than with anyone else. Especially here, in Manhattan. I say this only because everything intentionally shared is reduced to utility, in this place. Every word squeezed dry for neurotic or micro-fascist value, every confidence transformed into an opportunity for exploitation and mind control.

I really must find a new job, though. I do not believe I can keep this one much longer, because I either do well there or in my writing. I do not have the requisite support to cop both right now, and I do not expect that to change for a while. So I grow. These are the truly trying times. What was it I compulsively wrote on walls last year?

NEVR ALONE, NEVR TOGETHER.

that’s right. fading now.

must sleep.

04.16.2015

I’ve been rewriting this essay i composed in the fervor of cultural shock last summer about the multifarious crises of identity endemic of the phenomenon of an expat repatriating to his country. I name the state i was in with an adjective because the lion’s share of recognitions I suffered upon returning were not of my own ineptness or maligned social habits, but rather the obvious shock everyone else in that country (i.e. this country) seemed to be suffering from.

The subtle niceties seemed unnecessary, the etiquette insidious. My mother’s house, filled with pictures of her (recently deceased) mother and family which had long ceased to exist represented the structure of my mother’s psyche; a model that was synecdoche to the kind of humanity I was choosing to live amidst. And what kind of people were these? Repressed, individualistic in an old, impractical way. Inexorably sentimental and convinced of the superiority of linear identity, of always returning to the same versions of oneself, the same old story: the King sent his son away; he’s gone, but he’s coming back that old boy, he’s coming back to take revenge on the big bad Tyrant. Behold, he’s returned and he’s strong enough to win. I always knew that child would take his rightful place. But the new King has a child who is sent away again by the power of that throne which is really the center of the cycle of life and death…

In a word, I’d returned to the Empire of the Oedipal, and I seemed to be the only free mind here. But I wasn’t an idiot. I reneged the temptation to solipsism by assuming that this home of mine is far too clever to not have a place for this sort of blemish on the psychological landscape, a trail forged by other wacko artists whose foray back into this field of mechanical people was in all likelihood already eaten up, branded and redistributed by the advertising sector of a dollop of corporate presses and other visually syndicated media.

But this metanarrative became my identity; one who will have been nothing more than a remembrance of people who’ve passed, one who was free to float on with (mostly) unmeditated plans for the future, one not responsible for one’s own story, because it will inevitably become something that’s been done before. It’s a little disappointing to know how much of last summer I let go by without making any headway because I was afraid that any progress made wouldn’t be novel enough for “me.” I had my metaphysical thumb stuck out, hitchhiking the psychohistorical current for a lift to somewhere more fascinating. Somehow I landed in New York.

But what I’m looking to resurrect while rewriting that Return for an immodest new zine called BTLG is the non-unitary, potent, radically liberated pathos I enjoyed and suffered those first few nights back in the USA, after I sobered up, but before I stopped not believing the land I was seeing, because it allowed me to exist as pure thoughts and emotions, because the imago formed during this time had neither my past in Vietnam nor the future in the States in mind; my retention and protention were futile by fiat, and I liked it, because somehow (it seemed that) to exist out of common narrative was to exist out of time.

04.08.2015

More than a month has passed since my last entry here. This time, between then and now, as I hold it in my mind’s eye takes the form of a channel, or current, with more swirling eddies of retrospective questions than any yet in my time so far as a New Yorker. Questions of purpose, questions of knowledge: what kind of life have I been seeking? When have I felt things were going according to plan? When have I felt like there was a plan? It’s as if parts of me have been systematically cut from myself, and put up for board review to the crew of the ship of fools.

It’s so strange how much I’ve expected from people who are essentially strangers. Stranger still, I’ve thought over the past week, how directly I’ve transferred my own voice onto this “picayune” blog, how superlatively narcissistic these words have become. Most others who compose do so in a voice not so different than what one would find on any other social networking site, implicitly praising univocity. Of course, I have full non-consensual access to the voice of imagined dissent, too. The one which crosses oneself on the grounds of what one does not or should not possibly know, but I’ve always felt entitled to expressing my thoughts, and this tendency has only become more fastidious and inexorable as the weeks go on, because no one I live amidst is thinking about these things so directly: Time, Desire, Repression, Eros, Narrative, Psychoanalysis, Philosophy, Linguistics, Poetry. All whom I’ve personally met and carried on an extended correspondence with are more concerned with mainstream humanism, philanthropy, ideologically-ridden sentimental solace, efficiency, mental ticks, advertising, profit, drugs, modernist ethics, games of categorical denotation, decadence and unconscious hedonism.

But the strangest thing recently, since I returned to that unhappy vocation on the streets of Manhattan, is how quickly I’ve coated myself in psychosomatic, syntactic and rhetorical code. I’ve sunk into myself, embedded my own feelings in my appearance, hidden away from the daily world of capitalist-driven charity and its infinite greed. Why? I’ve not had a single real desire answered (let alone sated) in six months, and the city, in its sound and fury, has no translatable import to my real voice. What I mean is that I have not truly communicated one single word or gesture in this city yet this year.

Everything is mediated. There’s no “there” there, just a husk.

Consequently, anything resembling a real sense of identity has switched tracks from the physical, embodied space of skin, substance and dimensions to the vicissitudes of time itself; I am here, but I am not here. Most of what I think about and feel has as its object things which exist only partially, yes in memories, but also in their manifold interpretations, and the alternate relationships and manners and genders I’d persist in now as a result of them. This multiplicity of past timelines has a substantial philosophical effect; namely, an acute sense of enhanced authenticity; every quip, tick, retort, mood and voice has an entire narrative of its own, each again with another higher-order manifold in alternate origins. The greater the complexity, the more I seem like everyone else; the simpler, the more abstract, odd and exceptional I am. What this means is to be myself is to be a very strange man, indeed.

But it’s the future that completes this shift in personality to the temporal. A dandelion blown away into a gust of full wind no one else believes in, a cloud of infinite forms pausing for a moment to return my gaze.

A man named Arthur living in the upper east side, born and raised, spoke to me for twenty minutes about his temp job, how he’s losing the battle for his house against the forces of gentrification, how he’s facing early retirement, how he has survived cancer despite his family withering away. He is attractive, with gray hair peeking out of his face; vibrant, strong and experienced, yet tired, and afraid. He almost brought himself to tears. He kept repeating “it’s only getting worse, it’s only going to get worse,” looking over my shoulder all the while, addressing what I imagine is his last conversation with the present.

On the subways I read Derrida on my phone, and contemplate the ironic value of how perfectly my former college life’s socially available (and virile) narrative fits into his notion of différance; repetition within origination, the mechanism inside the singularity; the machine in the event. The train transports me between worlds, from my own homebody’d phenomenology of spirit and somber recognitions to the Sisyphean masques of the weekday; the tribal assemblies pre-sales-dissemination, the curious eyes I send away, the spiked coffee to tolerate quantitative individuation, all of it is a strange machine everyone turns into gears for, and I give thanks to myself for having even accidentally given myself a place abstracted enough from the artificial movements of others’ quotidian woes for me to at least have three hours’ physically manifested space which does not forbid melancholy, and tears are fought back on that 2 train to work, every other day, whether I know which thoughts are bringing them to bear or not.

And every night, one promises oneself that emails will be sent, signals made to other machines, other jobs, other feeds and zines and queens, and that someday, someone wrapped up in self-contemplation among the stars of all the myriad ways one’s future-perfect self could turn out will unravel, to Ravel, and appear, laying, pre-stretched and relaxed on this multiverse one was always already treading through.