Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Sunday, January 3, 2010
If anyone still actually has a reason to follow this derelict blog and is interested by this leave me an email as a comment, and i'll send you a copy.
Time to hit the cider.
Fo Realz! Apple cider=teh poop. and i mean poop as in the ghetto usage of the word shit.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
15. It's technically a series, but the first books i actually remember choosing to read are the "Goosebumps" series books.
14. "Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy" (the complete works) by Douglas Adams is indefinitely hilarious to me, and i can see myself finding something new to like about it each time that i crack it open.
13. "Everything's Eventual" by Stephen King. I first heard this as a book on tape, and Stephen King books (along with "Goosebumps) are actually what i learned to read on. I've only recently gained the paper version of this collection of short stories, and i quickly learned that while i managed to get the gist of the main story lines in that colletion, i missed several existential questions that King raises in those works. This book (though you might as well just include the entire existing works of King), and the "Goosebumps" series make this list due to the fact that these are the first books that i read, and they most definitely influenced my literary preferences for the rest of my life.
12. "On the Road" by Jack Kerouac is a book that often catches flak due to it's fan base. i actually stole this book from an airport because i first heard of Kerouac's in an essay written by Death Cab for Cutie's lead singer. I then read it on the plane as it travelled across the country. While he is heralded as the key voice of the "beat" generation, and this generation is famous mainly because of their free loving, drug using ways, i see him as someone who poignantly writes about human emotion in situations where life seems both infinite and irrelevant. Many American Lit classes ignore his contributions, when actually they are crucial to understanding the evolution of American Liturature into the point it is at today.
11. "The Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger. One of the most famous, and disputed, books of U.S. lit. Many write it off as a chronical of mere teenage angst, however, i see the main character's emotions as being something systemic of the economic and social conditions that existed, and still exist today, in American society.
10. "The Way of All Flesh" by Samuel Butler. It's an older book where the language was slightly more lengthy and odd, but if one can navigate that it's easy to see Butler's genius. This story is one that progresses from rags to riches, but contains far deeper characters (some that i want to know more about) than most books, and overall is a warming story that makes one feel fullfilled.
9. "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald is an extremely personal book for me that i try to make a point to read at least once a year. It started an odd fascination with discovering books where the narrator despises the character that ignites the story's events.
8. "Acid House" by Irvine Welsh. This is actually the most recent book that i've read, but i can already tell that it will be significant. The stories in this book progress in a way that speaks to the subconcious mind, and overall Welsh is brutally honest about life, god, women, drugs, and life again. One of the stories in it is actually influencing the format of something that i'm writing now.
7. "Tales of Ordinary Madness" by Charles Bukowski. This was the first Buk book i remember seeing, and it's actually rather ironic that it's the only one that i own. The tales in this book range from extremely hilarious to morbidly depressing. Buk manages to cover such a range of emotions in his time bubble that anyone who is not a-historical will appreciate.
6. "Men Without Women" by Ernest Hemmingway. Several short stories by old Ernie, who at times can be a very dry writer, but if you look past the dry dust you can find the rich topsoil underneath. All of these stories have different scenarios and different themes, but they share one common bond that ties them all together: the men in these stories lack women in their lives. Ernie examines this aspect of human life, along with several others, in beautifully woven stories.
5. "Scar Tissue" by Anthony Keidis. The lead singer of one of my favorite bands writes a heart wrenching biography about his own addiction and life experiences. What's not to love?
4."East of Eden" by John Steinbeck. The multiple view points and interpretations of biblical parallels presented in this book demonstrate Steinbeck's storytelling capability. His characters have immense depth, and his social commentary of the time period is refreshing and often overlooked.
3. "Death of a Salesman" by Arthur Miller. I was actually deeply insulted when my sister told me that she thought this book was dry and boring. I think it is one of the most intellectually stimulating works (it's actually a playscript, but i consider it a book) i've read, and i recently discovered that the movie "Step Brothers" staring Will Ferrell is basically the comedy version of "Salesman."
2. "Dream Tigers" by Jorge Luis Borges. This book of prose and poetry speaks to me in ways that few things have. It is one of the most influencial works i have read.
1. "Lisey's Story" by Stephen King. This book is so significant to me for so many personal reasons. Leaving it at that.
Books that didn't make the list for various reasons:
"Hearts in Atlantis" and "Duma Key" by Stephen King. I already had enough King selections for the point to get across.
"The Old Man and the Sea" by Ernest Hemmingway didn't make it because, while it is one of the most beautiful things i've ever read, it doesn't cover the breadth and complexity of "Men Without Women"
"The Grapes of Wrath" and "Mice and Men" by Steinbeck. These books are quite simply amazing, but they don't cover the depth of questions, and ineffable writing style that Steinbeck used.
"Running With Scissors" by Augusten Burroughs did not make the list because it is my sister's book. While i did love it so much that i finished it in one sitting, i feel that it is something that has influenced Paige far more than me.
"The Sun Also Rises" failed to make the list because it still sits oddly with me. I love the interactions with the characters, but it is obesely boring.
And the Various works of H.P. Lovecraft. These did not make the list because there is not a single story of H.P.'s that i can point to as an influence; instead they all have influenced me.
There are more that make this list, but i'm tired of trying to put my literary affections in an order.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
They both seem to fail to point out (Locke more than Marx), however, that those types people are very rare, and there are a ton of other people that do not have the capabilities to do so. Out of that, i have this to say.
While some people may have the capabilities to change the entire face of the world, most of us only have the capabilities to change the entire world of those around us. I think that the latter of the two scenarios is one that we should all aspire to a little bit more.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Track One, “Dragging Horse Bones”:
The album starts quite suddenly leaving the listener in a moment of disorientation where they are forced to try and reconcile themselves with the off timing of the measures, and rather twilight zone-esque high end. The track then morphs into what seems to be an explosion just shortly after the listener finally gains some sort of orientation. Out of this explosion of low fuzz comes a very tedious bass line that sounds as though it was done on multiple upright basses that are slightly out of tune with each other, and with drum beats in the background that sound close to sticks being broken. Overall the track is very tedious sounding, and it seems to put me on edge. Often it will wind down to a point of relief, or expand into some distorted explosion, only to pick back up with the same meticulous energy as before. Oddly enough, seems to fit the idea of being at the bottom of a hill and seeing another one, and that final track’s nod of the head to the title of the first track makes this album have a cyclical aspect. The track ends with a cacophony of distortion that blends into a more distinct and harmonious sound in the second track.
Track Two, “Rats in the Roots”:
The second track takes from the distorted end of the first track, but then turns into a rather somber techno beat; the listener gets sucked into believing for a second that there may actually be some sort of musical relief in this album, before a distorted guitar that plays a different timing than the techno beat snaps them out of their comfort zone once again. Charlie’s voice comes in very syncopated and distorted itself (I’m sensing a pattern here) which makes it sound as though the vocals are being piped through a blown, public speaker in the filthy street of a communist country. This characteristic gives his voice the quality of being something that you inherently don’t like and wish to shut out, but it also comforts you in the most strange way as though he were an actual political leader pointing out the fallacies of your own life through the example of his. Every now and then all of the music stops for less than a second before coming back in more distorted, and I think equalized lower. This track is a further disorientation piece just as the first one, and the echo at the end of Charlie’s vocal line continues to add to the feel that the voice speaking to you is coming from a loop recorded by a high ranking official. “Rats” becomes calmer for a brief moment at the end before fuzzing out much like the opening track. But instead of fading into the next song the listener is left with a haunting final word from the vocal track.
Track Three, “Teal Booth Friendship”:
This track starts off with a drum line that sounds much like the broken sticks in the first track, followed by a rather low, and slightly jazzy bass line (once again sounding akin to an upright played with a bow). While not in perfect harmony to a conventional meter, the bass and drum combo works, and vaguely reminds me of something that I’ve heard before; the listener very quickly is touched with a tone of familiarity. Sirens come in shortly to be followed with Charlie’s off beat but catchy vocals. At points in the song his spoken words become almost lulling, as the music turns down and fades into the background. This lull soon turns to head bobbing, and if you listen close you can hear what sounds to be (though it is most likely just residual feedback, whether intentional or not is to be debated) crystal glasses full of water with their rims being circled by delicate hands. This track drives, though not in the same way that the opening track does. It also allows the listener to find a point of contentment along the odd timing… Well, excluding the sirens cutting in that is. Around the three minute mark the song reaches what seems to be a point of frustration as various numbers of bass beats alternate between random siren screeches. This once again pulls the listener out of their comfort zone, but quickly allows them to fall back in. The ending once again becomes frustrated, and then seems to release in a quick, distorted burst, which abruptly is cut out when the next track begins.
Track Four, “Hide”:
“Hide” starts off with a very beautiful keyboard line that sounds close to a symphony, but after a few seconds of listening you can sense that the beauty is only a façade. Are those pick scratches in the background, or can you allow yourself to hear them as the sounds and screams of a person being tortured? A powerful drum beat kicks in after the beauty, and what sounds to be a distorted guitar plays a simple, yet emotionally charged lick. After a bit the guitar does seem to fall behind the rapid succession of snare hits however. This track also feels much quieter than the previous three before it, and the punkish feel seems to carry on a little too long before there is any musical change. When the lyrics do come in it is clear that the all powerful dictator vibe is pulled back into the arena, as Charlie (sounding at first more like an irate Nazi) informs you there is no escaping; you are in his mental realm now. While this track feels slightly lopsided, it does end and blend well into “The Way I Pray”.
Track Five, “The Way I Pray”:
The background music on this song sounds like something that might come out of an old broken Nintendo cartridge. It soon fades, and the simple bass line synchs up nicely with the descending drum line. The bass line begins sliding in a way that’s off putting at first, but one finds themselves being accustomed to it shortly, and even finding that it does actually match the drums. Vocally the singer sounds like someone obsessed with a sadistic mantra, and in some ways I think he is. Lyrically the song is a stab to everyone who thinks that all thoughts should be pure, and that there are set ways to going about any form of religion. “The Way I Pray” is one of the most straightforward tracks as far as timing goes: 4/4 and everything seems to lock in--if the chorus is overlooked. It ends with some very low end distortion, that is strangely blissful, at least until the mantra of “CLEAN” and glitching SNES game come back into play. Though, I wonder if it was the artist’s intent to get the listener thinking about old school video games right before the sixth track begins?
Track Six, “Child of the 90s”:
The beginning of “Child” instantly reminds me of cops episodes. The sound inserts are hilarious and tongue in cheek to me, and I’m curious as to why Charlie didn’t put in some more ridiculous Chris Hanson quotes. Then again, I can see how airing on the side of humor might distract from the reality of the issue addressed in this song--which is (from what I have been told) that creativity and music should not be accused for inciting violence in kids, but perhaps we should all take a closer look at those who collect our taxes every spring and see if they’re not doing anything that could cause systemic violence in adolescents. A fuzzy guitar line emerges from the sounds emitted by the ‘talking heads,’ and it definitely feels like something that would come out of the 90’s. The vicissitudes that befall the equalization of this track make it enjoyable to listen to for a while, even though nothing truly changes musically. For some reason, Charlie’s voice sounds more like that of a priest on this track, as he lists of some of the various terrorist attacks and tragedies that have befallen that era of U.S., and world history. Easily enjoyable, yet it still manages to carry with it a serious tone.
Track Seven, “Intermission”:
While humor may or may not have been the artist’s intent, I definitely found myself laughing while this track played. Something about the intrusiveness of that breaking glass sound cracked me up, and it provided a nice break from the actual music of the album. It disrupts the zone the listener may have gotten into while listening to “Child”, but it’s not an unwelcome disruption by any means. It also blends nicely with “Child”, as it gives the impression as though someone with modern day boredom is channel surfing. This is a weird enough perspective with the album, because for once you actually feel like you are in someone else’s mind, and not just being shown facets of that person. Overall I think this may be the most underrated track of the album.
Track Eight, “Moments”:
“Moments” begins with a huge dose of a melancholy low end riff, rife with distortion humming over the top. From there it melds into something truly beautiful, and I am in wonder at what some of those sounds are in it. Charlie’s voice comes in strong, and is almost surprising when it shows up. The emotion in his voice is in no way masked by the distortion he filters himself through, and while the lyrics may not be the most emotionally complex, there still rings something very true and human like within them. You no longer care how simple the lyrics may be because that is what this song needs: simplicity. It is the most beautiful song on the album, and it ends in a way that is neither abrupt nor drawn out.
Track Nine, “Bottom of the Hill”:
The final track has the nicest drum line out of all of the other tracks on this album. The combination of drum, sliding bass, and stupidly distorted guitar work extremely well at getting one’s head bobbing. It’s a jam that one could listen to for an extremely long time, which is a great thing considering this track is the longest, clocking in at 16¼ minutes. The changes in the riffs are well spaced and simple enough to not draw away from the vibe that is built with this track. This track is hands down the most Jammy (fuck off Microsoft for not having that be a word) track on this album. Vocally empty until almost 14 minutes in, the track sets up a good vibe before pulling the mic out of the closet. The lyrics seem to pose a question (to who is a mystery) if the singer has changed any now that he’s “Dragging Horse Bones.” I take this to be more of a sarcastic question than an existential one, though that could be personal interpretation as the album points to making a lot of personal progress with the artist. The ending leaves me with a rather haunted feeling, and actually caused me to shiver a bit.
With all of the moments that catch the listener off guard and sets them in a state of musical disequilibrium I would not recommend trying to study or read while this album is on rotation. However, if you feel as though you have an emotion you want to try and get from another perspective this album may be just the thing. It progresses through many different forms in the hour it spins. The timed, spoken vocals may either prohibit or expand upon the emotionality of this album depending on what your standpoint is on the whole “spoken words” debate. Regardless of your position on them, it is clear that they work well with the music presented by this album. I only have to qualms with the album, and those are with the lopsided and stagnant feel of “Hide”, and perhaps the seemingly frustrated ending of “Teal Booth”. I say perhaps because I do like the way the track ends overall, and it may simply be a mood thing that is making me not appreciate the dialogue between the bass and the sirens. I definitely did enjoy the overall equalization of this album (being a bass player myself I can’t help it if I like the low end), and while this equalization may have formed out of a necessity to keep feedback and white noise down, it makes the album feel that much deeper. “Dragging Horse Bones” progresses very clearly from more odd metered, tedious feeling music, into songs that seem to touch the listener somewhere, even if they aren’t quite sure where. This ‘touched’ feeling can be close to both rape or the embrace of someone close to you depending on what track you have playing. Sometimes the two feelings even merge into one. While I’m still not sure where I would put this album on a scale of one to ten (I blame my latest case of musical apathy for that), I enjoy it thoroughly, and will be pleased when a track from it shows up in my random rotation.
Monday, October 12, 2009
Firstly, the writing center schedule needs to shape up dammit!!!
Secondly, a friend of mine needs to get out of her own way. I don't often think she's being pathetic (though she often does), but what she's doing now is one of the most pathetic things i have ever seen her do and it infuriates me to witness it. The only thing i have to say to you (if you're reading this) is from "Headlock":
and lastly it has to deal with Charlie.
I would absolutely love to send you that story i just finished, but i don't actually have a valid email address (other than the hacksaw one and i did send an email to that again as well simply telling you what is stated above) to send it to, and so we should figure out some system we can use for literary dialogue between us. Also, Wednesday might not be the best day to work on musical things unless you're clear after 7. otherwise thursday or the weekend will have to be our best bets, as far as my end is concerned. Just get back to me with these things and we'll work them out.
anyway. i now have another 5 1/2 chapters to read, and a paper to write for tomorrow. fuckin great.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
With that being said i think i have effectively closed those moments with a firm and decisive period at the end of their phrase.
It is now time to read more, though not class work,
and let memories continue to fall through the seive of my mind.
So i guess if i could title this post something more related to the topic i'm going to (almost) write about i would name it The Perfect Constructed Dream. but seeing as to how thats the name of what i'm writing about but not posting here, (we'll get to that) it would be a lost meaning.
So yes, there is a theme of a dream here (funny shit, Huh Ang. we were both having dreams last night) and i can't even begin to describe that with any words... well, i am attempting. I'm writing a story about last night (i guess you could call it a story...) but i'm not putting that up here because... well, it doesn't seem right. i'm going to show it to a few people, and maybe one day it might get published with all of the other work that i'm doing if i'm lucky, but other than that i don't think i will really show it around, because that's not the nature of what happened last night... the nature of what happened last night is so outside of what life is that it can't even be thrown in here with other accounts from my life...
but as far as describing it goes....
I had my "House" moment.
Monday, October 5, 2009
although... i'm still not sure what to think of Heathcliff's resolve, for i'm not convinced it's a resolution... i mean, i feel that the author wishes me to change my opinion of him, but i'm not convinced on the grounds for which this change of view should take place... Furthermore, what happens in the ending leaves his position quite up in the air, and it doesn't help that the narrator remains skeptical at the accounts in the ending... i guess it really comes down to the intentions of the characters, but that also is a wall when one debates their intentions morally.
either way, this book is a great book where you aren't supposed to like the main characters...
(fuck this is gonna be a long one, which is not what i need right now)
and while on the subject of books, i now know for sure (it was really the completion of wuthering heights that made this decision concrete) that i need to change the disposition of my protagonist in the novel i'm working on... i started off making him (the past him) hard to get at by the way of a stoney disposition, but i think i need to make the character more open and agreeable in the past... (if none of this makes sense it's because i'm ballz ass tired) the change into his present character might seem less of a stretch when i set him up different, and it will make understanding him as a whole far easier...
and since we're talking of stuff that i'm working on, might as well touch base with the stuff that i'm not working on: music.
i'm really rather built up with the desire to play something--and actually put it to track--but i'm really lacking the means and the time. moreover i've taken a bit of a break this summer, and even though i've practiced every now and then, i know i'm a bit rusty; my fingers seem slightly more retarded than usual. it could also just be my acoustic though. i've come to find that it's a difficult instrument to play: the strings are more like cables, the spacing between them seems awkward, and the action isn't quite low enough to be able to just speed along it.
(but on the subject of that bass, i had a dream last night where sean broke a hole through the side of it
however, i still have quite an urge to play, and i really would love to work on things with charlie (which, i think, is half the reason why i'm posting this here so that he will see it, sense my desperation, and come swooping out of the blue so that we will sail away on a rainbow cloud of dissonant noise... haha too fucking funny to resist trying a semi-gay reference. no worries charles!) even if it's some menial task such as singing background vocals (though in honesty i'd want to try a ballsy two-vocals song with him, where we each write lyrics that coincide with one anothers lines... i'm eager to sing again really, but even just having a thunderous bass line would be a definite bone thown my way... speaking candidly, i'd really like for the two of us to get together and talk about the various options we would have so we can pick the best of them) i would really love to be working on something that i know would actually get laid to track, and that i would be proud to have under my belt.
anyway... i think it's fucking shower time... and then i have about a million other things to do... and i still have yet to eat...
this day is going to rape me.
Friday, October 2, 2009
...i don't know why people say things...
of course, i'm sure that doesn't make any sense to someone who probably just stumbled on to this, but it's what i was thinking.
Anyway... Sean should be leaving for here soon, and i think i wanted to get started on a short story i've had brewing in my head for quite some time... I'll probably post it when i get it done, and i'll be glad to have gotten it out of the way, but i still need to work on the fucking dialogue sequence in my book about Wendy Bird...
Haha... she would kick me right there.
Oh man... this is gonna be an awful day...
But not awful as in 'my house just burned down'
awful as in like
"there we go again: we're out of our medicine, out of our minds and we want in yours, let us in".
Thursday, October 1, 2009
But on the subject of food, i just bought bread and butter (the bread would have cost over 3 dollars at the corner store; FUCK A BUNCH A THAT SHIT!!!!) from grocery outlet (you know you're a college student when...), which is cool because those are the things that can really stretch a meal and make you a lil fuller than usual. The reason this is important is because i guess i've decided that i would love to play another quarter's worth of the "So when exactly is my financial aid check going to get here?" game, and it turn's out the answer to that is in three weeks... Looks like i lose. again. But it's cool cuz no one really needs books for class at this damn school anyway (though i will be doing my class reading in the book store, and if they don't like it they can eat a bag of baby dicks), though food is another question. I do have $40 dollars (whenever the effing bank decides i can spend it... faggots) which should stretch me out for those three weeks. I'm also really hoping i get the job at the writing center that i applied for, and if that happens i might actually be able to buy some of the books for my class before i have to write my self eval.
Anyway... I really want to get some sort of music going. I feel too blown out from class to actually write, but i would still be up for either singing or playing bass. Well... As soon as i get rid of this phlegm-y (doesn't look right at all...) cough i have i could probably sing. Otherwise i might hawk a huge lugey (also think there's a spelling discrepency...) on some bitch in the front row...
But i digress, so i feel like i should head out.
Hopefully the internet is working well enough that i can see some of the worthless shit my friends posted on facebook.
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Got the book list for my class and have to have 4 chapters read in one of them before class even starts; it sounds like this class might try to kick my ass, and i'm glad for that. But because i had to buy that damn book (which the subtitle to it is the rise and disaster of capitalism, but seeing as to how capitalism made it possible to print that book, and is in reality far from dead or a complete disaster i don't know if i fully agree with it) i now have very minimal funds for cd buying. *sad face* I think i can get the Imogen Heap album which came out yesterday in the U.S., but i just found out that Flyleaf has a new album due in October, and Relapse 2 is supposed to drop before the end of the year... This could get tricky.
And while we're on the subject of financial issues, I'm tired of getting the fucking backburner with Evergreen. I faxed in all the ridiculous extra paperwork i never knew i needed for my financial aid, and the status on my myevergreen account is that all of those forms have been recieved, but for some reason the financial aid office has been to busy preforming fellatio on other things or something because the forms have yet to be reviewed... After 3 weeks of being there!!!!!! Hooray for government run offices!!!!!!
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
I'm so happy that dustin gave me this media player!!
I'm hearing things on albums that i never noticed before, and the visualizations are so amazing and mind-boggling!!!
I thought i was going to bed, but now i'm gonna stay up late just listening to music!
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Monday, July 27, 2009
(and even if you don't imma say it anyway cuz that's who i am)
but what the fuck is with... well practically everyone?
I've decided to join a couple of writing sites online, and (despite some of them being infinitely confusing on exactly what is being posted) it seems like it's mainly filth...
Gah, i hate the fucking internet...
I mean, i really hope that i'm not just looking at this through my own shadow,
but i would like to think that i recognize good writing when i see it,
and so far i have yet to see it.
I may be able to attribute most of this to the fact that a lot of the things i see seem to be about a 16 year old paying homage to some relationship partner who dumped their sorry ass because they whined to much.
But still, one would think that amidst all of the madness there might be something that strikes a clearer bell.
I'm so fucking disappointed right now that i can't even concieve going on this train of thought...
but while we're on the subject of writing:
Charlie, i read what you posted on your story, and if this is what we're looking at now then i'm starting to like it. i kinda just scanned most of it (no fault to you; when i look at online articles i mostly just speed read, which is demeaning to your paper) and from what i saw i was pleased.
Minor spelling problems aside (that's why the good lord invented spellcheck on the 4th day) i think something that was distracting was that although your metaphors are very vivid and pleasing, they almost distract away from the storyline itself. But sometimes i like that, and it really will mainly come down to what mood i'm in when i read something. So i really wouldn't advise changing that much
I'm also just gonna stab in the dark here: Guessing we're talking the European front in WW2, and if that's the case it would be nice to know more specifically where in the European front this story is taking place, and this may result in you having to research battles of this war. I'm only saying this because the mood and description of your setting made it seem like the battle was taking place in a well forested area, and i'm not sure how many of those were fought in (purely personal speculation, not so much empirical). So as you progress make sure to further describe setting as well as characters (not that i think you wouldn't; i simply don't have any of your other work to really know how you write).
Anyway, i think i should be heading off to bed. I hope that you managed to weed through the first part of this post and recieved my critique. I will definitely read it through a couple more times to really grasp in, and i look forward to seeing more.
Oh crap; vertigo is setting in. Mos def bedtime.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Saturday, July 11, 2009
So to vent this anger i'm gonna touch myselft to that blonde girl from icarly... god she is a cutie...
Monday, July 6, 2009
Friday, July 3, 2009
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
While on line a few days ago I stumbled upon a copy of Albert Einstein's essay, “The World as I See it.” Anyone who hasn't read this essay; I deeply implore you to search for it on the Internet or your local library, and for those of you who have already read it, I urge that you dig into it again and let his words soak into your mind. This brief essay draws from that work of his, and it is quite a sobering, short essay that should be looked at many times.
Many people already know the famous physicist for his theory of relativity and the equation E=MC², yet he contributed so much more to this world than he is typically acknowledged for by the general population. For example, Einstein wrote letters to President Roosevelt that described that German activities with enriched Uranium were taking place in the hopes that the Nazi's would create a super weapon. It is entirely plausible that without such assistance the events of the Second World War would have taken different turns.
Yet, even taking note of such events in this man's life seem to sell him short. As stated in his essay “The World as I See it,” Einstein is a firm believer in the idea of democracy, because it is one of the only systems of government in which a human is allowed to be all that he or she is. While Einstein did not specify entirely what it is that makes an human being an “individual,” it doesn't take a degree of philosophy to tackle this concept. A person is an individual in their own experiences and emotions. Each of us differ from one another in the ways that we think, speak, and react to the different circumstances that make up our lives. Through each of these aspects of ourselves that makes us different from one another, we contribute to the world around us. We do this by interacting with the people around us.
Einstein's essay is a pristine example of such a contribution; his essay shows him for what he really was. He was a human capable of individual thought and expression. He was someone who understood that he was something small in something big, but that he needn't be scared of his own size. And while it does not come through in his essay, we must know that Einstein was a man who at times was foolish, frustrated, infatuated, heartbroken, content, and downtrodden. We can know this because, setting aside every contribution to modern science he made, Albert Einstein was a human being. As history clearly demonstrated, he was capable of a higher level of thought than most, but he was a still a man who needed food and nurturing like the rest of us. Einstein saw hope in the idea of democracy. He could see something that would enable other human beings to recognize one another for all of our differences, and use these differences to help make a better society and world. But as much as he loved the differences between two humans, he abhorred humans become “idolized.” For a person to be looked at as more than a man was something to be avoided. I have to say that I ultimately agree with this idea.
When I look at the changes that different societies have gone through, I would say that humanity is getting closer to understanding its individual parts as something special and unique; albeit this change is happening at a painstakingly, slow rate. Yet, we as humans cannot seem to pull ourselves away from the concept of making a person more than what they are. We romanticize, we demonetize; we idealize, and satirize. This act of making a human much more than he or she is takes place within all walks of life: political candidates, next door neighbors, boyfriends and girlfriends, even the family pets face the possibility of being made into something more than their own existence. Perhaps this act is merely a by-product of the associative nature of the human mind, but in all ways this act is unfair to the needs and feelings of the object in question. To demonstrate this idea, I'll use the primary source for this essay: Albert Einstein. As I've already said, many people know this man for his contributions to modern science. No doubt that when his name was initially mentioned, the equation E=MC² briefly popped through some of the readers' heads. Yet, to simply summarize this man as his scientific contributions is unfair to the human being that he was. Or contrarily, to look only at his emotions and daily life does not do his existence justice, because the effects he has had on human life are vast, and--in all possibility--still rippling outwards to affect the future.
So why does any of this matter? Well I believe that this matters because I hope to one day be a history teacher, and I hope to show the future generations that history was much more than just a series of dates, wars, and economic factors. History is comprised of people who made invaluable changes to the way humans look at the world, and each of these people is worth far more than a couple page summary in the confines of a text book. Hopefully by showing people that who we are is just as important (if not more so) than what we do, we can begin to understand our past and future events with far greater clarity.
That is why this matters to me, but why should any of this matter to you, the reader? I hope that by reading this you will begin to see the people around you differently. I would hope that each of you who read this take a second or two out of your time, and really wonder about those around you whom you don't know very well. The kid who skateboards by your sidewalk in the afternoon, the mother who can't seem to stop her children from crying in the department store, the elderly man filling out forms in the D.M.V.; all of these people have lives that extend far beyond the brief moments that you see them. Each of those people that you briefly encounter are capable of all of the same feelings that you are. Each of them have dreams and needs. And while it would be nice to say that all of them have a life where everything is going well for them at this moment, chances are that someone that you see is struggling with something bigger than themselves. So please do not be so quick to judge, and please be quick to offer some assistance if you think somebody genuinely needs it. Your present life is affected under influences of many people who have made contributions, sacrifices, and mistakes in events past; how will you be effecting the future ahead?
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Here's the ending paragraph...
"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed. It was the experience of mystery -- even if mixed with fear -- that engendered religion. A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, our perceptions of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty, which only in their most primitive forms are accessible to our minds: it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute true religiosity. In this sense, and only this sense, I am a deeply religious man... I am satisfied with the mystery of life's eternity and with a knowledge, a sense, of the marvelous structure of existence -- as well as the humble attempt to understand even a tiny portion of the Reason that manifests itself in nature."
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Sunday, June 14, 2009
and this is my 400th post...
which is a thoroughly disturbing thought... of course i think that this thing may count drafts and whatnot as well... but that's really not the point of anything...
Point is that hopefully i now have to never carry another cd anywhere.
I'm just starting to rip my entire collection.
It may be a long night...
Saturday, June 13, 2009
Which i suppose isn't anything significant...
Though i don't really know that anything is
But that's the talent of anyone who creates something:
to make something out of nothing.
to expand things past a breaking point of reality and bring it into something more sublime.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
It's amazing how being at evergreen can paint the perspective that some problems only emerged recently...
Yet, here we can clearly see that even 50 years ago people were suffering from the same things that ail many people today...
I'm not sure...
Maybe nothing really works.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Sunday, June 7, 2009
Exactly where to start is not clear. We both know the details, and i would assume that each of us has an idea of how they all fell into place. We had found ourselves in eachother's company. I'm not sure what it was that you found--or were finding--within myself, but i believe that i was finding a kindred spirit within you; someone who saw things from a perspective not too distant from my own. I don't think that there is really any need to gratuitously detail the events of the first weeks in this place: we took walks, we had talks, and things were as they would be.
Then through some fate things took a turn. I first became aware of it when, one morning, i knocked on your door to your room in an attempt to have someone to hang out with in the beginning hours of the day. As i stated before, my memory is not clear, and so whether or not i actually heard you within your room is a fleeting shadow across my mind. That fact is immaterial anyway, all that really matters is that either way i had rationalized in my mind that i was perhaps being far too needy on my part, and that i should simply wait until you made the next move that would advance our friendship. This line of thought has often been a master of my mind, and is the reason why i've had untold relationship failures and often struggle to get to know another person. So i had decided that it would be best for the both of us if i merely found something else to occupy myself for the time being, and waited until you next asked me to hang out.
Before i knew it we had apparently fallen out. The key words in that statement are 'before i knew it,' and 'apparently'. I say these because it seems as though other people had become aware of our rift before i truly was. I'm not sure if that was due to your everlasting mouth (this is a compliment, truly), or if other people were just more intune to our state. Either way, someone mentioned something to me about our current lacking, and whatever i may have said back to them was truly irrelevant; on the inside i was speechless and confused despite whatever i said on the outside. To me, waiting for you to make the next advance--the next plan for a day for the two of us--became something that slowly drifted to the deeper recedes of my mind. I was unconscious of the fact that we were not hanging out anymore, let alone joking, talking, and jesting as we had in previous weeks.
Once this fact was given light to me through an outside person, i felt as though some of my personal business had fallen to the hands of interlopers. As i'm sure you're aware, once personal business is brought out in the open (or in this case, revealed to be out in the open) the pressure to act is increased. Under this pressure i must sorrowfully admit that i had become slightly hostile. I searched your inner self and found anything i could grasp at that i could conceivably throw anger towards. I was never angry at you. Most of the things i said to have disliked you for i actually admire you for. I was merely angry at the fact that someone whom i had let view into the window of my life was no longer on my side. I was angry at the fact that i had no clue how to fix the situation that had befallen the two of us. I was still trying humbly to remain in my own life while hoping that you would be daring enough to step into it. Obviously we are now staring at the result of such action.
Of course there were things that i was genuinely angry towards with you. The first and foremost being that when Sean came to visit you told him that you were his temporary replacement. I had nothing against this at the time; it was a fact that we were both consciously aware of. The anger came when i reflected upon this moment after the fact that we were no longer on speaking terms was revealed to me. I was disgusted that i had let someone get that close to me to be able to say something of the sort, and then three weeks later there is no discourse between the two of us.
But it took something that my sister said to me when she came to visit that instantly dissolved any anger towards you, or myself, on this matter. After we had sat and watched the show (at this point i can't remember if it was for Flaming Mango, or one of the other thousand bands you've been in) she had brought you up in conversation... Or maybe i had on some comment about your bass lines. Either way i told Paige, "I really don't know what to think about him..." To this she responded, "He still looks at you, you know? Throughout the show he kept glancing over at you." Just like that, things became far more apparent to me than they had been. While it is possible that i could be misreading your looks as something of contempt, i am sure that this is not the case. When you and i look at one another, i sense a mutual understanding of the loss that has come to characterize us.
But exactly how far this understanding really grasps is beyond me. All i can know are my own feelings; beyond these i am a newborn kitten fumbling in the darkness on spindly legs. So what i do know is pure and simple: This fucking sucks. I hear you talking to others about the current writing project you're working on, asking others for advice and whatnot, and each time i want to scream at you, "Give me a copy dammit! I care about you enough to break your feelings with the truth of what i think, so i will help edit the shit out of your work if your really want it!" But each time i am checked by my inner impulse to remain humbly in my world until you step foot in it. I don't want to assume myself important enough in your life by actually asking to read your work, and i don't want to burden your time by asking you to read mine.
Which is, as far as i can tell, all that killed our being. I was too conscious of the possibility of me being annoying to keep trying to have a presence in your world. Unless i am misreading things, and you actually do have some bone of contention with me, we died out because we were too afraid to be men about the matter. Granted, you never were without a gaggle of followers, so i never felt comfortable discussing this with you personally, but i think that's a retarded thing to let a friendship die on. So this is me: extending the olive branch; lending a hand; building back my half of the bridge; doing whatever the fuck you want to call it to say to you, "I would enjoy having you be a force in my life again."
This is really all i have to say. What happens next is on you, and i feel as though i should emphasize that point, otherwise we may be doomed to repeat what killed us in the first place before we ever make any headway. I'm posting this on my blog as well as slipping it under your door, so just comment back, punch me in the chest, slaughter a chicken and hold an orgy in my room; do whatever you think is necessary to let me know how we stand after this. But just make sure that you let me know.
Saturday, June 6, 2009
Thursday, June 4, 2009
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Monday, June 1, 2009
Saturday, May 30, 2009
If you want to find all of it's nuggets go ahead
leave me any suggestions if you have them,
or questions and comments if they are present as well.
no need to make me feel like a god however,
that's what roasting ants with a magnifying glass is for.
And as i already said,
Sean, this is for you.
Character Studies: Spring Quarter
Cumulative Paper: Vignette
What is There to Prepare For?
Leonard sat at his small table in the café where he was having his lunch. Pastrami on rye, not that there was anything significant in that; it was the same lunch he had been having for quite some period of time now. No, this would not have been an extraordinary lunch in any fashion had Leonard not spied a kid coming towards him in a wheelchair.
Well, Leonard wasn’t sure if “kid” was the term that one properly applied to a 16 year old, especially when Leonard himself was only 2 years older than
Leonard mulled over the correct response to
“Eh, the same as it’s been the last couple months,” Leonard replied. And though he didn’t want to let it come out, Leonard felt the question escape his lips before he could control himself; remnants of social conditioning in his mind forcing him to be polite. “How have you been?”
“Um… Well, that was actually why I came up to you today. Do you remember towards the end of school when I was having a really bad day, and you said all that stuff, Gandhi and whatnot? It really helped me through that day, and I was kind of having a similar situation today… Maybe you could help me again?”
Ok, so maybe Leonard’s relationship with
Leonard could only guess that the situation today was somewhat similar to the last time. In fact just under his T-shirt, Leonard could see a couple bruises on
But what the hell did
Leonard swallowed the bite of his Pastrami on rye, took a deep breath, and opened his mouth to speak…
Character Studies: Spring Quarter
What is Necessary to Begin
Throughout the many different aspects of life (religion, political, family, ect.) people place trust in one another. These people that are entrusted with some form of information or task can come in many varied shapes, sizes, influences, and denominations themselves, but nonetheless, people trusting one another seem to be inextricably part of any human society. Someone who has been entrusted with a task or intimate details of another’s life can provide many things, such as action and inspiration, and these actions can result with either positive or negative ends. The purpose of the previous statement is not to debate the beneficial or malevolent natures of people who have trust placed in them, but merely to establish that that these people can provide qualities and assurance to life.
Obviously there are some aspects of life where trust does not have an equal influence in one’s life. For example: the things expected from the trust one places in a politician are not the same things expected from a family member. Trust also has different expectations for different distances and contact between people; the trust for someone who is present everyday in one’s life will have different expectations that the trust placed in someone who is only seen once a month. This wide spectrum of expectations for trust is one of the reasons that trust can be a difficult thing to write about, but for the purposes of this exploration the focus will be primarily on trust of a more intimate nature between people who are in close contact.
With the focus of this essay clarified we can now move on to the role that one entrusts another person. As described above, people who have trust placed in them are capable of directing human life; this is a power entrusted to anyone who is asked for advice, and this power can be used for either benevolent or malevolent ends. An example of this idea can be seen between the interaction of the characters Iago and Othello in Shakespeare’s play “Othello.” Once Othello is promoted to be a commander of an army, Iago becomes envious of his former companion. Iago’s envy compels him to lie and deceive Othello and the other characters in order to ruin Othello’s life. An interesting part of this play is that it clearly demonstrates that trust does not have to follow hierarchical power structures. Trust can cause people to take the advice of those closest to them, no matter what their ranking is. As demonstrated by the play however, once trust is put into the advice of another person, that person then possess power in some quantity. Power, as it is best understood, is merely an abstract idea that represents the potential to act or change something. This potential is neither inherently good nor bad, but as “Othello” demonstrates, once a person entrusts another, that person has the potential to mislead the trusting person.
This is by no means an insinuation that people who have been entrusted to assist others will attempt to misdirect others. Ideally (or at least theoretically) the art of entrusting someone is a long, trying process. Iago and Othello had been friends for quite some time before the events mentioned in the play take place. It is this mature rapport that drives Othello to take Iago’s word over his new bride Desdemona’s. So as demonstrated in “Othello,” trusting someone with the task of assisting one’s self can be a very risky endeavor that results in shambles. Of course, this play is only one of hundreds of stories in which the issue of trust is brought up. There are numerous literary and historical cases in which a character places trust in another human being, and is subsequently castigated for this action. There are also numerous examples, both fictitious and real, in which the same scenario as above takes place, but instead of being reprimanded for his or her trust, the character is rewarded for making such a relationship with another person. It would appear as though the entire world is split as to whether or not placing trust in a fellow human being is a good or bad action.
With there being numerous examples of trust helping someone, and equally numerous examples of it hurting someone, when does one decide that it is worth it to entrust another person with providing direction into his or her life? Soren Kierkegaard seems to believe that it is not necessary for humans to assist one another in their lives when he says in Fear and Trembling, “if the generation would only concern itself about its task [in his case: the quest to find faith, in this one: learning to live in general], which is the highest thing it can do, it cannot grow weary, for the task is always sufficient for a human life” (131). While Kierkegaard was talking primarily about faith, he mentions that faith is an act of passion. In fact, he states that faith is “the highest passion in a man” (130). So far these points seem rather tangential to the previous discussion. But are not most of the issues that we seek advice for on issues of “passion”? Are not most of the hardest issues we deal with in life issues of “passion”? In this sense Kierkegaard’s discussion carries through much more than his debate of faith. By saying that “no generation has learned from another to love” it can be seen that emotions are an individual experience (130). Undoubtedly there are multiple people who experience similar emotions, but it can be quite doubtful that these people all arrived at these emotions and can alleviate them in a duplicate manner. So while one person can describe one’s own struggles and over comings, another person will never be able to vicariously live these own experiences to alleviate his or her own. All of these points collide to demonstrate that learning how to live is an experience that will last an individual his or her entire lifetime. Kierkegaard goes even further to chastise those who assist one another by saying that “the false knight of faith readily betrays himself by this proficiency in guiding which he has acquired in an instant” (90). What was meant in this is that humans have a very narrow window into the world; our understanding of events is really just a single drop of water in a continually shifting ocean. Furthermore he writes, “The knight of faith is obliged to rely upon himself alone, he feels the pain of not being able to make himself intelligible to others, but he feels no vain desire to guide others” (90). One who actually understands the issues of passion that are present in human existence knows the futility of trying to make his or her life a prescribed method of living.
Such thoughts truly are bleak and disheartening to even the most tenacious of individuals. Throughout, Kierkegaard himself seems to feel the dreary state of following such a path, at times even seeming to be incredulous at his own ideals. Yet, this sorrow seems to be a pivotal point in human life. Kierkegaard reasons that it is human to be sorrowful and downhearted, yet, through perseverance one can become a great individual (32).
Since learning to deal with one’s passions is an individual, emotional experience that cannot be attained vicariously, it seems as though entrusting others to assist one’s self is not even necessary for one to attain a better understanding and control over one’s passions. Yet, it should be asked whether or not the world would actually be in a better place if no humans assisted one another in their individual struggles. It seems highly doubtful that such a reality would be considered better than the one we currently occupy if people walled up their questions and advice within themselves. Kierkegaard’s own ideas don’t fully support this end. The rules that he lays down are concerned primarily with his idea of a “knight of faith.” In his mind, a “knight of faith” is someone who has attained perfect understanding of his passions already: a paradox when this idea is laid beside his statement that understanding and controlling passion is a lifelong process for a human. If such a quest is to last an individual his or her lifetime, how is one to become a “knight of faith” while still being a human with plenty of years still to be lived? This action, it would seem, is reserved for the divine figures of holy texts, and Kierkegaard’s flights of imagination as to how such understanding would manifest itself in a person.
This idea of humans never placing trust in one another seems preposterous. If, as Kierkegaard stated, learning how to control one’s passions is such a tedious, lifelong process, it seems doubtful that a few moments in which one provides assistance to another could actually have a devastating effect on the overall control one would achieve at the end of his or her life. Moreover, Kierkegaard’s use of the term “false knight of faith” in his condemnation of those who speak of “that which they have acquired in an instant, lends itself to the interpretation that a “false knight” is not an everyday person struggling with his or her own issues, but instead a person that profess to have the utmost insight and presents themselves as an example to live by; someone corrupt in their attempts to help others.
This is quite the paradoxical statement indeed. How exactly is it possible that one can be corrupt in wanting to help others? As stated above, when one person is entrusted to assist another person (or with any task really) the person entrusted gains some form of power. In A Stone of Hope, David Chappell references Reinhold Niebuhr, and says that “it was necessary to corrupt oneself in order to get power” (31). As said above, one can gain power by being entrusted with a task from another person. Also as stated above, this is neither a good nor bad circumstance; power is potential, and without potential nothing would ever be accomplished. But this perilous necessity of corrupting one’s self is one that Albert Camus seems to fully understand in his book The Plague, when he has his character, Tarrou, say that “’we can’t stir a finger in this world without the risk of bringing death to somebody’” (252). To render this statement into more philosophical terms; Kant says that one must respect that all sentient life as ends in themselves, and that to treat them instead as means is a perturbation of their natural state (Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, 95). On this level all beings have a nearly limitless power within themselves. Yet, when one places trust (even temporarily) in another person, he or she hands over some of that nearly limitless power to the other person. That person now has entrusted his or herself to the ends of another person, and has consequently become a means to the entrusted person’s ends; now helpless to be either rewarded or exploited. This is true with all levels and types of trust, be it from simple friendships to complex political and religious followings. So to return back to Kierkegaard from this exploration, it appears that he really has no qualm with people helping one another discover the most helpful ways of life; he himself set out to do so with his book. Yet, he recognized that one must be humbly aware of the fact that he or she is not a true “knight of faith,” and that serious responsibilities are entailed when one becomes an entrusted person. Though perhaps it would be better still to not seek out to be a trusted guiding power in another’s life, but to instead nurture and cherish any trust that a fellow human decides to bestow upon another. In this way there is minimal corruption taking place on the part of the entrusted, and the trust bestowed can become something far more special in itself.
Nonetheless, the desire to help out others in their struggles seems to be an imbedded part of the human character; Albert Camus’s characters demonstrate this imbedded aspect all throughout the aforementioned Plague. When the plague forces the town’s gates to be closed, the denizens of Oran turn towards one another, in ways that they previously had not before, in order to find comfort and meaning in the struggle against the plague. Camus even encourages people to help one another in times of struggle. When the character Rambert is told that there is nothing shameful about him leaving the city to be happy with his wife, who is outside the quarantine zone, Rambert replies, “‘Certainly, but it may be shameful to be happy by one’s self’” (209). Taken another way: What good is it for one to prosper while others still dwell in a state of suffering? This question is a repeated theme throughout the book, and gives support to the idea that humans should help one another because, “[the] public welfare is merely the sum total of the private welfares of each of us” (88). Interestingly enough, the character Rambert initially uses this argument to justify his desire to leave the quarantined city and rejoin his wife. Later on in the story though, when Rambert realizes that his colleague, Rieux, was in a very similar situation, Rambert understands that by sacrificing a small portion of his individual well being he can make the public well being far better.
This is splendid news indeed, for the examples given in The Plague demonstrate that individuals have the capacity to assist one another, and make general life easier for all involved. But this has only established, as a counter-point to initial observations of Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling, that humans appear to have a need to assist one another, and that this need may be a beneficial facet of existence. Emphasis is placed on the word “may,” because, as stated above, there are numerous examples in which this need has brought about circumstances with no beneficial outcome. So the question still remains: When does one decide that it is worth it to entrust another person with providing direction into his or her life? Answers to this question can be found throughout numerous literary and historical tales, and the root of this question seems to lie at the more basic issue of a person’s own motivation. This issue brings up the subsequent issue that if more than one motivation exists for entrusting someone with providing advice and direction, then there obviously must be more than one type of trust.
Thankfully, such issues have already been explored in great depth by numerous people before this time. Aristotle wrote of such issues in his Nicomachean Ethics under the chapter of “Friendship”. One of the first things written in this chapter is the phrase, “[friendship] is most necessary for our life” (119). However, this idea of “friendship” that is put forth by Aristotle will not fully answer the question explored by this essay because Aristotle primarily explores reciprocal friendships, while trust is not required to act reciprocally (while at present this statement may seem to be contradictory it will be understood later), as is demonstrated when he writes “If they are to be friends, then they must have goodwill to each other” (121). Nonetheless, Aristotle’s work will provide a steady foundation for this exploration, because for a friendship to take place one must first place trust in another that the goodwill shown towards him or her will not be misused.
The first type of “friendship” brought up by Aristotle is a friendship of utility, or of “those who love for utility or pleasure” (121). This type of a friendship is based upon a single person cozies up to another in order to enhance his or her own well being. In all practicality, calling such a relationship a “friendship” was quite a generous stretch, and Aristotle wrote that these friendships dissolve after the enhancement of one’s well being ceases. A friendship of pleasure is Aristotle’s second type of friendship, and it is based off of a reciprocal desire for pleasurable experiences. This type of friendship seems to be the relationship predominantly attributed to lovers, and can dissolve when a person’s interpretations of pleasure change. The final type of friendship brought into play by Aristotle was the “complete friendship”. This type of friendship is one that is reciprocal between two equals, and that the individuals are friends not for their own sake, but for the sake of their partners (121-123).
Using Aristotle to look at some of the previous works mentioned in this essay brings an interesting light to some of the stories. While it is never detailed in “Othello” what caused Othello and Iago to form a friendship, one can only assume that they were once quite close friends who had met in the barracks. But after Othello becomes promoted to a higher ranking position than Iago, gaps in goodwill form and the friendship promptly disintegrates from a “complete friendship” to a “utility friendship”. Should Othello have realized this change in friendship he might have been able to prevent the disaster that befell him. However, his trust in the previous bond blinds him to the rumblings of the ground beneath his house of cards. While Shakespeare’s tale is an example of the fact that trust does not need to be reciprocated to exist (this is only a brief example of this point; a more thorough one will be brought up), it seems as though the issue of trust’s causation is an elusive vagabond. This could be due to the fact that trust seems paramount to the formation of friendship, and that “Othello” is not a story of such circumstances. “Othello” is a tale of the blinding nature of trust, and only begs further for the origins of trust to be sought out.
Camus’ Plague on the other hand, is a story of the circumstances that nurture trust’s formation. In this story there are two events that will be focused on, the first being the relationship between Rambert and Rieux. The relationship between the two begins as more of what Aristotle would define as a “utility friendship”. Rambert requests three things from Rieux: the first is some information that might lead to a story that Rambert can publish as a reporter, and the second is for help in escaping the city’s quarantine zone. These two requests benefit Rambert solely, and are what classify these characters’ relationship as one of utility. The third request comes as the manifest of Rambert’s decision to place trust in the advice and actions of Rieux, and evolves their friendship closer towards Aristotle’s exceptional “complete friendship”. This request is that Rambert is allowed to work alongside Rieux. The cause of this sudden change of character is because Rambert realizes that Rieux’s situation in the disease ridden town is not much different from his own. So it seems from this illustration that one reason that a person entrusts another is through a realization that the individuals share a similar struggle, bond, or goal.
The second primary example of trust in The Plague involves the characters Tarrou and Rieux. This example begins with Tarrou asking, “’Rieux, do you realize that you’ve never tried to find out anything about me—the man I am? Can I regard you as a friend?’” (245). From here Tarrou entrusts Rieux with a tale of his life, and the two of them discuss various philosophical sentiments among themselves from here. This entrusting is a rapid and startling event that appears to even catch Rieux off guard with its abrupt beginning. After Tarrou’s tale, two ideas are offered to explain exactly why Tarrou entrusted Rieux with this information. The first of these is that, as Tarrou says, “Yes, we’re both after the same thing, but I’m less ambitious,” and the second is that Tarrou expresses interest in becoming a saint (255). Out of these two sentiments it can be guessed that, much like the situation between Rambert and Rieux, Tarrou sensed a common bond between the two of them, and that Tarrou has a problem in which he believes Rieux can assist him with better understanding.
Both of these points seem to fully warrant the action of entrusting another person, but perhaps there is a third, additional motivation behind Tarrou’s actions. This point is more clearly articulated in Toni Morrison’s tale Beloved. In the tale Paul D arrives at 124 to find a woman named Sethe whom he used be a fellow slave with on a plantation. The two begin telling their stories to one another, and while it is possible to say that they entrust one another simply because the two of them shared common bonds of bondage, it would seem that the motivations run deeper than that. When Paul D first returns, Sethe asks herself “Would it be alright to go ahead and feel? Go ahead and count on something?” (38). From the moment that Paul D returns he begins to support her burdens and know her scars, as illustrated by his cupping her breasts and kissing the massive scar on her back when he is standing in her kitchen, so that she can do more than simply keep her past at bay. Sethe needs to entrust the story of what happened to her to someone else so that she can quit harboring such pain by herself, and move on to a state of mind where she is free to love and cherish life, and have a future. This very need is symbolized by the sudden discovery of the girl who comes to be known as “Beloved”. Sethe begins to tell the story of her pains to Paul D, but she stops short of telling the full tale. Then Beloved’s sudden existence demands an explanation for the rest of the story harbored by Sethe. This need for one to entrust in another could have been an additional motivation in Tarrou’s entrusting of Rieux.
Yet, in Beloved, Sethe’s story almost destroys her when she dwells within it too far. This idea of letting a story destroy one’s self is put forth is Paul D’s thoughts, “saying more might push them both into a place they couldn’t get back from” (72). Once Sethe opened the wounds of her past she failed to properly close them. Instead she continued to dig and pick at the open sores of her past, ripping open the remaining decent flesh and making it part of the wound as well. This is illustrated in the third part of the book, where Beloved becomes violent towards Sethe, and it becomes clear that Beloved intends to drag Sethe down with the shame of Sethe’s past actions. At this point the relationship between Sethe and Beloved turns sour, much in the same way as the aforementioned relationship between Othello and Iago. Yet despite all of the malevolence Beloved shows towards Sethe, Sethe continues to let Beloved close to her; another example that trust does not need to be reciprocated for it to exist. In this scenario it seems as though Sethe put too much trust in the wrong thing, she had begun to entrust Paul D, yet she stopped short and put too much trust in what was actually hurting her most.
Yet, what was it about Paul D that actually made him so trust worthy? And for that matter, why was Camus’ character Rieux the center of trust as well? In Beloved, Paul D is described as a very compassionate man. Paul D's state seems to be a mystery, even to him, as the book says, “he had become the kind of man who could walk into a house and make women cry… There was something blessed in his manner” (17). While Morrison never fully explains what caused this blessed manner, there are a few reasons as to why this manner exists in his character. It could be the fact that Paul D encountered quite a few hardships in his time, and that these hardships manifested themselves in his speech, walk, or stare. Or his mannerisms could stem from the fact that he keeps his own emotions sealed away and believes himself void of a heart, so that he essentially becomes an “emotional black hole” and draws others’ emotions to the surface. As for what makes Rieux’s character so trust worthy, he appears to be a rather humble doctor; shouldering his own burdens quietly while willingly assisting others with their own. When the characters Tarrou and Rambert begin to entrust Rieux, it is obvious that they share common bonds.
Both of these things are true of both Paul D and Rieux, but a curious difference between the two of them is that while Paul D reciprocally entrusts Sethe, Rieux doesn’t seem to entrust anyone else within the story (with the exception of the reader, but in a great sense both stories entrust the reader with a tale). While Paul D is considerably quieter with his entrusting than Sethe, he still commits this act far more than Rieux. Rieux seems to refuse to share the story of his life with the other characters in The Plague. When Rambert is so vehemently insisting that he suffers greatly from being separated from his wife, Rieux does not indulge the fact that he as well is suffering from a similar separation; Rambert has to be told this information through a third party. Yet, as stated before, perhaps this is not because Camus wants Rieux to seem deprived of the need to entrust people, but because instead the mere telling of this the tale is Rieux’s act of entrusting. Perhaps Rieux’s entrusting is not of a common bond, or of an idea that advice can be sought from another person, but it is just like Sethe’s in the fact that it is a story that needs to be told. Both of these characters, however, do not seek to be entrusted, and perhaps this is because they understand the corruption that this would create in themselves, but they accept the trust given to them humbly and nurture it into something greater. Maybe this is ultimately what makes them so naturally trustworthy.
Out of these three roots of trust: a common bond, recognition of a helpful individual, and a need to entrust, it can be seen that perhaps Aristotle was on the correct track by stating, “When a good person becomes a friend he becomes a good for his friend. Each of them loves what is good for himself, and repays in equal measure the wish and the pleasantness of his friend” (Nicomachean Ethics, 125). This idea of becoming a “good for one’s friend” is a brilliant metaphor for the change of power when one entrusts another person. This sentiment also expresses the idea that all of these roots of trust act for the well being of the one who entrusts; in each of the stories presented above trust was given to another on the hope of the improvement of his or her well being.
Yet, Aristotle’s statement fails to properly highlight another aspect that all three of these roots share: the vulnerability and humility one person experiences in trusting another person. The aspect of vulnerability was present in all of these situations through the understanding that a power shift has just occurred within the relationships of each of these people. In each of the stories a person also reaches a state of humility as the act of entrusting another begins. For Rambert it was the realization that he was not the only person who suffered, Othello realized that he possessed doubts within himself; Sethe’s eyes are fully reopened to the idea that she did a terrible thing, and Tarrou openly admits that while he may understand a great deal, he is unsure of how to act against the atrocities he sees. Even the very aloof character Creon in Sophocles’ play of “Oedipus the King” has a humbling experience through trust. After Oedipus gouges out his eyes and requests exile, Creon tells Oedipus, “I’d have done that already, I promise you./ First I wanted the god to clarify my duties” (Lines 1573-1574). At this line Oedipus responds that the god had already gave a command, to which Creon replies, “So he did. Still, in such a crisis/ it’s better to ask precisely what to do” (Lines 1578-1579). The tremendously tragic and shocking situation of Oedipus’s self mutilation makes Creon realize that even he with all his power reached a situation where he did not know precisely what to do, and that someone else needed to be consulted.
Perhaps it is this state of being vulnerable and humble that truly defines when trust is occurring, regardless of under what other conditions it occurs. Surely there are many other conditions than the three aforementioned roots of trust brought up in this exploration that explains why people place trust in one another; humans have many needs and we may fill them using a variety of different means, and deciding when it is worth the potential consequences to place trust in someone seems more like an issue of personal discretion than something that can be repeatedly formulated. Some might be quick to write parts of the previous statement off as an example of the selfishness of human action. But under the light given to us by these characters it seems apparent that trusting is not a selfish action in the least. Trusting is the exact opposite of a selfish action, even if the result is helpful to an individual, because of the emotions that are present during its enactment. During the enactment of entrusting another person, one opens him or herself to misuse and manipulation by the other person; a great risk of harm is present. Exposing one’s self to risk and giving power to another person could never be viewed as a selfish action, and so regardless of the actual outcome or the reasons trust was placed, trusting someone will always be a selfless action. As so helpfully demonstrated by the characters brought up in this exploration, this selfless action is one of humility and vulnerability, and genuine trust can always be discerned by the presence of these emotions.
What Aristotle said about friendship being necessary could definitely be true, and trusting someone is the first step in creating friendships. Throughout all of the literary examples there seems to be something natural about the characters placing trust in one another. In “Othello,” the love between Othello and Desdemona came from her sympathy towards Othello when he told her some of the stories of his life. The relationship between Paul D and Sethe in Beloved seems very similar to this as well, and even the relationship between Tarrou and Rieux in The Plague feels as though it comes from a similar vein to the previous examples. All of these relationships create a situation in which a person’s burdens are split shouldered between the person and another. And as can be seen through the relationship of Paul D and Sethe, this sharing of a load helps both of them deal with their own troubles. Yet, as was also shown through the relationship between these two characters, the act of entrusting another person can be a perilous one that can endanger the stability of a person when burdens are shared from deeper within one’s self. But overall the development of these relationships and the stories shared between the characters suggest that there are things in human life that are not meant to be carried and dealt with by one’s self. So while the exact conditions that are present that enable one to lower his or her defenses and trust another person will vary between people, it can be seen that this act of making one’s self vulnerable and humble to another person can be extremely beneficial, if not necessary, to human existence.
Character Studies: Spring Quarter
Cumulative Paper: Epilogue
To Return to the Beginning
This paper is dedicated to Sean Brown.
I don’t honestly believe that I will ever fully understand the idea of trusting someone. And furthermore, I don’t think that I ever wish to. But I do know that trust is going to be a present force throughout the rest of my life, and that even if I can never comprehend it, I should at least come to some terms with it. I suppose that’s what I strived for in this paper. Though, because I don’t believe that I will ever fully understand trust I can’t help but to wonder if I truly discovered something, or merely awakened a bit of myself that has become dormant beneath the turmoil of a freshman year at college.
When I look at this paper I see it almost as a classic song for piano in a minor key; the paper seems to build tension within itself and then release within the next couple paragraphs. The most obvious example of this is in the section where I initially introduce Kierkegaard’s work from Fear and Trembling. The tension is within the idea that someone who understands everything will never be able to share his or her knowledge with another living soul, and that perhaps we should follow in the footsteps of such a person to attain enlightenment. While on some level I agree with such a sentiment, I do not believe that what was put forth by Kierkegaard was wholly true. Nonetheless, it was the fact that on some level I did agree with Kierkegaard that created some form of tension within myself. Just as in the paper, this tension became released gradually, until I had read Camus’ Plague. Going through that book I then remembered what it was that I had thought about trusting one another, and about many aspects of faith in general: there is nothing wrong with (and for some it should be a priority) reaching out and attempting to be a reflection of the divine, but we must above all remember that we are still fallible humans who can become lost and flounder in our existence. The Plague put out, in basic, existential terms, that we should do what we can to comfort those fellow humans who are floundering and fumbling at times, and that through doing this we may lessen the struggle of existence for all.
While Camus’ book dealt primarily with the issue of helping others out in times of crisis, it does not deal with assisting one’s self, which is what entrusting another person does. This is where Beloved came in. Through the character of Sethe we can see that some stories need to be told to another in order for one to actually function as an ideal human should. One of the reasons that this was my favorite book of the year was through the way that it functions and unfolds itself: the beginning is convoluted dissonance, yet out of that conglomeration of past and present a sincere train of though emerges, and characters begin the process of releasing inner burdens and trusting one another. But what truly makes this story my favorite is how the character Sethe becomes drawn to the brink of destruction through her attempt at unleashing her burdens. Beloved demonstrates, better than many other things that I have read, the danger of making one’s self too vulnerable to the troubles that one has within his or herself when entrusting another person. This aspect of trust is a tension within trust itself, and can be seen as one of the reasons some people have difficulties placing trust within another person.
But another thing that Beloved demonstrates so well, is the helpfulness of sharing one’s burdens with another person; Sethe comes back from the brink of her destruction, convinced that she has lost everything, but is then told by Paul D that she is her own everything. Sethe is opened to the idea that her tragedies of the past are not what defines herself, but that she is the one who defines herself. Nevertheless, she would have never reached this epiphany without the struggle that lead her into the dark wells of her past acts, and it was the unburdening to Paul D that set this journey in motion and brought her to the final realization.
I’m still not entirely convinced that placing trust in someone is necessary as Aristotle stated, but I do think that it can play a large beneficial role in a person having an idea of a future and being mentally healthy. That is of course if someone’s trust is accepted humbly and nurtured and cherished by the entrusted person. I do not have any real arguments about how I do not believe trust is not necessary, but more or less leave it in the column of “not impossible but improbable”.
Along a somewhat similar train of thought, I do not know that we could ever really know what mindset a person has to be in order to entrust another person. This is one of the reasons that I don’t believe I will ever fully grasp the issue of trust. As I said, there surely are wide spectrums of circumstances that enable one to make a judgment call about trusting another. And really, that’s what trusting another person is: a judgment call that we hope works out for the best. However, I do believe that there are things in human life that cannot be dealt with solely by one’s self; Toni Morrison would probably concur. And it is when we are dealing with these moments, that we must really hope that our best judgment is being made as to who is actually trustworthy. So with this paper I don’t think that I really laid down any kind of groundwork that I believe people should follow, nor was that really my intention come to think of it. But I hope that after one has read through this they find the particular moments of their own lives where they realize there is a need of another person to split a burden between, and then find someone to share with.