There is a trail of dried wax resting on this white wooden table in the dark. The only illumination is this computer’s light, vaguely outlining this old Harlem room. Recordings of thunder and rain fill this space with memories of more authentically introspective nights in the Midwest, back during a time when this writer could speak candidly about a soul’s eternal fate, in that contented intermission between love lost, social transgression and academia.
I am sitting in a broken chair, balanced into its upright position with one foot, held down by the weight of the other. Crumpled copies of my manuscript and notes dating back to 2011 litter the oak floor, and the drive to complete even a single essay escapes me. In seven hours I will be at work again, begging strangers for money on the streets of Manhattan, fighting to keep what thoughts I’ve summoned in the past few hours within reach.
Time is one’s greatest enemy. The internet only plays at democratic pluralism, only pretends to be free mediation. Without the space to write one’s own categorical imperative, free from social assent or dissent, one’s attention becomes fragmented, polyvocal, self-contradictory and unsound. Endless feeds of news, politics and art elicit only urgency, decadence and envy, respectfully. We are forced into ego-death, and redirected to the races, our “careers.” While it may be true that only moral (or immoral) action yields individuation, it is also true that the absence of non-political spaces precludes the formation of a stable ego.
In a completely politicized world, friendship becomes enmity with an other’s lack of correspondence with the completed, idealized other of one’s imagination. A series of images is organized and consolidated enough to resemble a whole, then it is renamed as such, as other; gestalt.
An anonymous quote has intrigued me as of late:
a man once said to himself, “so tell me, is it better to die?”
A man posits a transcendent, future-perfect self who is both oneself and who one will have been. He walks along a crack in the road, one hand over the sun, the other like a wing swinging down, looking down through imperfection, through the trace of his more earthly, contingent self’s mortality, and considers his fate from this distance.
It’s something everyone does. An absolute imago, totally sheltered and abstracted from the blinding uncertainty of the present. But it is also a deferment of the question. If there is a higher self to ask, then the question is senseless.
He whispers his name. He repeats it, he echoes. He thinks greek, and feels the pull from the other, the magical space of noumenal intuition Kant posited between the phenomenal and the political, so he’d ‘know’ what was right.
isolation is a cold, epoch-producing machine. it brackets causality, it removes the castrating effect of proper use endemic of the term social. if Dostoevsky lived today, he would agree with Zizek that if there is no God, then everything is prohibited. We cannot act how we’d like to because there is no afterlife, no future-perfect to which we can defer our complicity, and delay our need to make amends.
time is one’s greatest enemy, not in the senseless way of lacking a requisite quantity or duration, but because it has been pulled down to us, in our hyper-mediated world. it drives us through so many frames of reference that we can no longer project it in any other way but how it wants us to. there is no era. there is no tribe. there is no season, no history. only statistical analyses and quantified jouissance.
when tomorrow finally comes to stay, perhaps yesterday will finally make good, and all of us will face Hegel’s Divine Day, present, game-free, unmythologized, undetermined and unavowed. breathing, divining, shining into one another’s eyes, we will cease to posit “me,” and exist as the future does: for one-self, in the future anterior, the origin of all past repetitions.