Saturday, January 28, 2006


For a combination of reasons--addiction management, health improvement, the advice of my acupuncturist--I'm cutting down on coffee and, for the next few days (to clear up a nebulous but uncomfortable health matter), drinking green tea, eating cucumbers and pears and avoiding peanuts, alcohol, shrimp and spicy food (I'm also supposed to be eating mung beans, but I wouldn't even know where to look--I've eaten mung bean noodles . . . I wonder if those would be any help?).

Anyway, I find it interesting how subtle shifts in perception begin to assert themselves in light of even minor dietary adjustments.

I was tinkering with my profile. Not a lot, but enough to include some new discoveries like Animal Collective (think a folkier take on XTC style melodies and Flaming Lips style sonic experimentation only, like, WAY freakier) and Ennio Morricone (not a new discovery per se, but I just acquired a double-disc set called Crime & Dissonance--best title in the world--that collects some of his obscure gems that were influence by musique concrete and dissonant minimalist free-jazz) and eliminate some old ones (love him as I do, I haven't listened to Charlie Parker in years). I traded some old horror favorites in for some new ones on my movie list; I left the book one alone because, between multiple jobs and the occasional acting gig, it seems like so long since I've actually finished a book; and while I've enjoyed some of the non-fiction I've read, I rarely think of academic lit as something I'd include with favorites, as I'm usually going in for information.

What I noticed, though, is how the essential character of my lists remains the same, but the personality of the list changes, which speaks not only to notions of personal canon formation (my favorite hobby), but to the personality/character conundrum I brought up in the last post. Interesting (to me, anyway).

Speaking of "the occasional acting gig" . . . I've just been cast in a show! A very fascinating show, in which I'll play a very challenging role. I'm probably more excited for this piece than I've been for anything in a while . . . which of course leaves me terrified that I'm not up to the task. Oh, the double-edged sword of getting what you want.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Things I'm Not Writing About

Nothing's happening in my life, really. Well there's one thing, but I don't want to talk about it, 'cause I'll jinx myself. You know how some people catch every cold that comes through? Well, I catch every jinx. So you won't hear about it 'til after the fact. Deal.

Oh, there are things. 'Stine's doing well (although I'm sure she could tell you that herself). We just saw The Matador the other day, which is VERY funny, though arguably unexceptional . . . in every sense but one: Pierce Brosnan delivers, in this film, the best comedic performance committed to celluloid in years.

I'm having some mild success cutting down on coffee. But it's leading to an increase in appetite, which is either gonna have to lead to my ignoring my "hunger" pangs or exercising more, 'cause I gain ONE pound, I'm back on coffee. That's just the way of things.

I'm about 1/4 of the way into the Nag Hammadi Library. I'd be further along if I was just reading it, but I'm taking better notes than I ever took on anything back when I was feeling burdened with the strictures of formal education. Fascinating stuff. The Apocryphon of John actually deals in a strangely eastern sense of the notion of reincarnation, and a fairly loose definition of asceticism. I think the reconciliations I'm having trouble making with the gnostic worldview have already been addressed by the authors and philosophers through which I discovered gnosticism to begin with--Jung, Melville, Hesse, Blake--and through some philosophers whose work I've yet to tackle--Bruno, Jonas, Bloom. Besides, I've yet to encounter ANY philosophy that didn't contain some unacceptable premises; and being that most of these texts are contemporaneous with biblical scripture, one can assume that most of its problems are already endemic to Christianity. All in all, it's nice to have my talk of gnositicism taking on the hallmarks of (semi-)serious sholarly pursuit.

I've cut down on work, but I'm still putting in about a 50 hour work week. That means little to no time to really write on any topics that require discussion, at least not without an argument to spur me on point by point. To hold forth on a topic independent(ly?) of such a spur, I need to be able to construct a thesis, define my terms & the problem and elucidate the body of my internal conflict. Then I need to support it, and . . . well, it's just a nightmare. I understand that there are people who don't go around with their minds spinning spools of information this way. Lucky devils.

So here's a list of all the things I'm NOT posting about because work, time and the mechanisms of my psyche won't allow me too, despite their being on my mind. I've decided to list them under the titles of posts I started but never finished:

*Character vs. Personality - If character refers both to "essential nature" and "integrity or fortitude" (Houghton Mifflin), and personality to "the totality of distinctive traits of an individual", how does one differentiate between the two for the purposes of personal reform? In the first definition of character (essential nature), it would seem that personality is more changeable, more malleable than character. But given the second definition (integrity) would seem to put "character" in the position of that which needs change, in the sense that traits in an individual that speak to his integrity are the ones that need reform, whereas those that constitute "personality", looked at in this light, may only refer to superficialities like, oh, chewing with one's mouth open. So is the cause of self-improvement concerned more with character or personality? How does one identify traits worthy of reform vs. traits which may cause superficial problems , but have little bearing on personal integrity, trustworthiness and moral alignment? In the wake of a troubled, possibly demolished friendship where the end had as much to do with long-term character/personality issues as with any instigating events, how do we discern the important traits from the unimportant ones when evaluating the history of our personality/character conflicts?

*Sleepytime Gorilla Museum: A Tale of Two Concerts - The story of my attendance at two shows that introduced me to the only band that's really mattered to me for the last year or so, and the only musical theatre that's mattered to me in the entirety of my adulthood, is dying to be told. I missed them this last time they were in town, and am eagerly scanning their website to see when they're playing again.

*The New Dualism - The beauty of gnostic dualism--aside from its clear parallels in classic and Zen Buddhism and in Taoism--is its clear divergence from Christian moralism. But it also requires, at its heart, a certain disdain for this world. Most religions do, and those that don't circumnavigate that disdain with a nebulously defined optimism, not to say utopianism. Can one recognize dualism in the world without, of necessity, placing judgement on one side or the other? Can reality be divided into the pneumatic and the hylic without one being intrinsically superior, or without one being inextricably linked with right or wrong action? Is there room in Blake and Bruno's mysticism for Sade's deification of the violent lawlessness of the flesh?

*My Maverick Monkey - I don't care WHO thinks it's about race: Peter Jackson's fiercely entertaining King Kong is the most tear-jerking, pulse-pounding spectacle of 2005, a big movie the way they don't really do big movies anymore. More than that, it's the most poignant evocation of Rousseauian (not to say Rousseauist) rage in the face of impending civilization I can think of.

*Too True to Be a Biopic - Capote does what most artist biopics fail to do: It tells the uncomfortable truth about the chasm between art and humanity, and the price of mistaking that filter for real experience. Plus, Philip Seymour Hoffman is probably the best actor in the world.

*Let It Rain (But Let Me Sleep) - I hate summer clothes, and the sun gives us Celts cancer. Cloudy skies make me think of Tim Burton movie sets and Sisters of Mercy songs. Fact is, I like inclement weather . . . or at least that's how I always thought of myself. But this stuff is getting me down. Making peace with moods, seasons and aesthetics.

*Lost in LOST- Where is it going? And will Matthew Fox's beard ever grow into anything substantial?

OK, that's enough silliness for now. There's more, probably, too vague to even title: The nature of the artistic personality; the difference between the expressive and interpretive artist and whether it's possible to be both; porn, and the fact that everything beautiful and natural seems to have become a fetish item, leaving the casual porn-trawler with scrawny, shaved, airbrushed, made-up, implanted, subjugated women as the "mainstream" ideal . . . but maybe you'll get better capsules on these ideas as they evolve. Maybe my next post will be on one of the topics mentioned above (in the titles without dissertation section), and the subjects in this paragraph will have graduated to having a title and thesis. Who knows?