synthetic zero


August 21, 2004

I promise to write more often. I know, I've said it before, but I am recommitting to it.

I've been feeling very melancholy recently. At first I wanted to find some reason for it, but I realize now that's kind of a mistake. I just want to be in the feeling itself. It is wistful. It is both happy and sad. I was on the subway yesterday and everybody and everything on the train seemed so poignant, filled with significance. It felt like it was raining inside the train, but I was the only one who saw it. Yet, somehow, everything felt exactly as it should be.

I extended my sense of body until it was the whole train. I felt I was the whole train, with the tracks and tunnel and dirt and wind flowing past me. I thought, it's strange that we can extend our sense of who we are and identify with something so large. It seems odd that we can identify with something huge that surrounds us. Perhaps someday we will literally become something gigantic, like that, when we connect ourselves to that something bigger. Is that what all this language is for? These communications, these emails and weblog posts? Is that what people want from something they call "God," or nature, or the sky?

I am hungry now. I always forget to eat when I am alone. I think eating for me is more about spending time with people than it is about feeding myself.

August 14, 2004

Fred Kaplan writes "This is a terribly grim thing to say, but there might be no solution to the problem of Iraq."

I've been thinking a lot recently about the problem of action and non-action. I will write more about this soon.

Went out with Heather Anne Halpert and "Miranda" and Heather Fenby to a tonkatsu place midtown which "Miranda" (not to be confused with, say, Miranda July, or with anyone else whose name is actually Miranda) recommended (I call her Miranda because she prefers to remain anonymous). We had a pleasant lunch conversation about many things, but one disagreement we had was whether New York cuisine was superior to West Coast cuisine. Sue and I think that, while of course there are many good restaurants in New York, on average, the West Coast is better than New York. M. disagreed. I am not so sure --- I am mostly going on my average experience of restaurants in the Bay Area, Los Angeles, and Portland. I have had many more mediocre to terrible experiences in New York than I have had in those cities in the last five years. Even some of the more fancy New York places I've been to have often been hardly better than just an above-average place in the West; and I've had excellent food in those cities for very reasonable prices. Of course, M. moved from Seattle --- maybe the food sucks there...

August 6, 2004

I just returned from Los Angeles --- I've been there three times this past month, incredibly enough. Two of those visits were to work on my friend Miranda July's new film, a feature funded by the Independent Film Channel called Me and You and Everyone We Know. I did some tech work setting up the computers to do some scenes involving instant messaging --- I set up a custom instant messaging server and actually modified the source code of the spell checker so it would work with the script. But most exhilirating/harrowing was the typing --- I was actually typing the text for both parts of the instant messaging scenes. It was like a piano performance. I had to mimic the timing and rhythm of the two child characters, as well as the mysterious "Untitled" on the other side of the instant messages. It was really something. Quite a rush when we finished shooting all my scenes, even though I was just doing some technical work. I can see why people get addicted to performing.

Another strange thing that happened during the shoot --- meeting Miranda's assistant, Emily Bulfin. I've received emails from her over the last couple of years but had never actually met her in person. It was strange, because the first time I saw her, she immediately seemed familiar. It was like, "ah, there's Emily." Isn't it odd how you sometimes seem to know people you've just met, perhaps because you may know them in the future? Most of the people I've known for a long time I had that feeling about the first time I met them. I now have a tendency to recognize this feeling at the beginning. Of course, I don't think the future is fixed --- I think we can feel probabilities, however. But the probabilities might not become fully realized... the future can shift, I think.

This brings to mind an email I received from James Luckett a couple of years ago in response to my post about a gas station premonition.

i dream the future. usually these dreams are more intense than regular dreams, though usually nothing much happens. for example, several years ago i dreamed that i was sitting late at night in a french cafe drinking coffee and eating a shu cream cake with my wife maki. she was eating her favorite, a milles fleur <sp?> except that it was made with thin layers of eggy crepe. our friend tom was there too and he was wearing a very retro in a bad taste sort of way red jacket and asking how serious an expression "to tell the truth" is in english and i explained the usage with an example of a parade. as i said, these dreams are more vivid than normal ones, so i usually remember them....

i have such a dream 4-8 times a year. and never has it been helpful. the scene is always banal: a dinner party with people i don't know, a view of a park, a house i don't recognize. its never anything that clues me in to a decision i could make, its never presented as anything i have any control over. just brief pre-play of my future. a morning at the table drinking coffee and then the light changes, i look out the window and THERE it is, the neighbors walking by with the dog and the garbage men rattling recycle bottles as crows hover overhead: the scene i dreamed three years before.

This of course raises the question: if James is foreseeing banal events several years in advance, does this mean that the future is actually preordained to that degree? One would think that tiny quantum fluctuations and chaos theory would prevent this --- the butterfly effect. My feeling, however, is that it is not that the future is preordained so much that seeing the future is like other forms of quantum observation --- what we see becomes "preordained," so to speak, but only to the extent that we see it.

My own sense of the future is rarely so specific --- and, unlike in James' case, it often seems to be related to things that have some significance to me. Perhaps the vagueness of my "future feelings" is a way for me to preserve the unknown, variable quality of the future. It may be that we are better off either having specific premonitions about banal events, or vague premonitions about significant ones.

August 2, 2004

The structure of procrastination/personal paralysis is something like this: I need X to be the case before I can do anything. But this becomes: "I need things to be neat before I can concentrate. I can't concentrate so I can't clean anything up. I can't clean anything up, therefore things cannot be neat." Or, more simply, "I can't clean up my place until my place is clean."