- BABY: [builds tower with blocks]
- ME: ok this is very good
- under capitalism massive building projects are constructed through wage slavery
- and through their sheer size and scale intimidate and pacify the masses
- so this is a great comment
- BABY: [knocks over tower]
- ME: that’s right
In another life, I made the mistake of choosing J over D. To my recollection, I didn’t spend enough time agonizing over the decision. My friends warned me not to pick J. I wanted him anyway. The problem was that when I made love to D, his Christian upbringing made him timid and shy. I felt only shame or hesitation where passion should have been. In this other life, I did not have the patience to teach him how to be a lover and remove his God-fearing guilt. When J fucked me, he pulled my hair hard and wrapped his hands around my neck and this seemed like something in this other life. But really that was another nothing too. Just because they fuck you harder doesn’t mean you feel it more.
I remember waking up next to D for the last time. Early morning and the Los Angeles sunlight made lazy streams through his loft windows. He was awake or he was not awake but my eyes moved around this room and I soaked inside his artwork and every small and large object he had hoarded over time. I, an object too, tried to maintain a stillness so as to not disturb him until it was he who wanted me to come to life. But D was not J and D did not treat me like other men because there is a softness that comes with self-reproach.
He drove me back to my liberal arts school in the suburban desert landscape nearly an hour away from his apartment and he knelt down and let my dogs lick his face and my roommate looked at me approvingly and I walked him to his car and I knew that I would never see him again. I probably would have been a better person with D. I like to think I would have been a better person with D. But I wasn’t ready to be this person with D. So I picked J. And we spent the next few months torturing each other and drinking too much whiskey and shouting until I moved back East and stopped returning his calls. In this other life, of course.
My therapist informed me, much to my relief, that I didn’t have to like everyone. This burden finally lifted after having spent most of my rational adult life, which admittedly hasn’t been very long, say after I turned 27 trying to really put into practice the concept of being a feminist and supporting other women, almost unconditionally. But, let’s be serious, some people are just assholes and don’t deserve unconditional kindness. You know who you are.
Even the term unconditional carries with it such a discomforting thought: that which is given without conditions. How can we even look upon this as a possibility when we are, ultimately, caught in the human condition and not the human UNcondition. Of course, Arendt would argue that what I’m referring to is human nature and that, rather, conditions are malleable and open to adjustment (perhaps changes in external influences, etc). But semantics aside, our very human condition is that we are bound to structures that are inescapable … our search for meaning, our drive for pleasure, our desires, the anxiety in isolation, and reconciling the inevitability of death.
But how do I integrate the ideological forces of my academic upbringing with the actual day to day of dealing with other Beings? I don’t live in a fucking vacuum bubble where everyone thinks alike and we’re all homogenous, slightly fascist, Daseins. There’s that layer of subjectivity that we can’t get away from. Things aren’t categorized so easily as to fall neatly into place in each philosophical generalization that some critical theorist came up with. I’m okay with avoiding the singularity for now.
Has anything changed since dissecting Dasein? Or are the code-holders, over-privileged and sitting pretty in the ivory tower, still reciting quotes of dead white men. From memory. Passing notes back and forth to each other in academia doesn’t make the least bit of difference to anyone outside of the gates. The current trend in society, the section of society that I am witness to, fixates instead on bondage, witchcraft, nostalgia, black magic, television shows where disgruntled white men play detectives or cops or murderers. Women are sacrificed. The True Detective finale crashes the HBO servers. Culture melts down when it is unable to get its fix. Everyone must make sure to turn their attention away from what might be real. War. Poverty. Death. Tragedy. News isn’t even actual anymore. It is junk for the junkie. Proust’s Swann longed for the day when information would deliver things more fruitful than flashy announcements. High society news is now celebrity gossip. What is Kim Kardashian eating? Is Gwyneth Paltrow the most hated actress of all time? Is Lindsay Lohan back on drugs. Of course she is. We are all on drugs. I’m still longing.
I am monitoring these incidents from behind the vantage point of a screen, removed. Like all good judges I sit and wait to receive all the facts but there are no facts here, only virtual unrealities. I am shocked to find out how seriously my friends take the internet quizzes that show up on my Facebook feed or the photographs they post onto Instagram or the way they represent themselves on virtual dating sites. I argue that what we are fed is now an algorithm created by brainless humans on another end of a computer – in other words, who cares? They do. I delete my accounts but I am troubled to find that it still haunts me, keeps my information and ensures my memory is encapsulated. Owns me. I click, therefore I am.
My finger itches for that quick snap down onto the keyboard. Tweaks. “As individuals express their lives, so they are,” writes Karl Marx in the German Ideology. If I can’t control my own information, then who am I? Once you’re on the sauce, you can’t get off. Once you’re in the system, you can’t get out. Google scans you. Images pop up. Kafka would be proud. We are our own executioners. More tattoos for everyone. Two people I know faint from exhaustion at work this week alone because we live in capitalist America and they are striving to become robots. Slaves to their paycheck: early twenties and living in the East Village and driving BMWs. They forget to eat because of distorted body images and/or Adderall.
Dasein also forgets to eat. Dasein forgets because Dasein does not need to feed: the ultimate in eating disorder and gender ambiguity. Dasein, this asexualized being, the almost-androgynous-body that is with by being without. Doesn’t this image walk up and down the runways of our high-end couture fashion shows? Slender, flesh stretched over skin, alien, nearly translucent skin neither female nor male with flowing hair. Without expression. Without desire. Without hunger. Dasein, the supermodel. French. Thin. Beautiful. Never shits. Uberhuman. Heidegger was, after all, revered amongst the French phenomenologists even after tarnishing his reputation with Nazi ideology in his own country. Oui. Passer l’eponge. But even Sartre gets Heidegger wrong: man’s essence is not in his action or decisions but in his own growing subjectivity and dominion over nature. Thus, how man does fail at cultivating the shepherd of Being. Continuously failing, flailing, falling. Fallen.
Thrownness. But, to be clear, I am not taking up Heidegger’s hostility toward modernity. We already dwell in it, have taken residence in it. To be hostile at this point, is to miss the point. We must investigate, instead, how it can be that this discomfort has come to exist and that we choose to live inside such utter garbage. Toxic waste sites of information and pollution and radioactivity and nuclear reactor disasters.