Saturday, November 16, 2013

"A long, elaborately-choreographed but awkwardly-executed dance"

Here is an article in which Jonathan Franzen and Clay Shirky debate whether technology is good, toxic or both.

The most interesting thing to me about internet culture is how it creates or facilitates relationships and interactions that would never occur otherwise.  This is particularly significant in the case of people who are reserved or not prone to making lots of new friends in their "irl" lives.  Suddenly, no one is totally inaccessible.  Potential friends and creeps alike have multiple avenues by which to pursue your attention.  In the past, when meeting interesting strangers or friends of friends, you generally had to rely on happenstance or time in order to get to know them.  You couldn't just go home and learn about them in anonymous privacy.  You couldn't just send a message that would instantly appear before their face, forcing the situation, the immediate extraction of a response.

Overall, I think it's a good thing that interactions are so easily had.  It makes it easy and less frightening to connect with someone you would never have a chance to know.  It helps the socially inept, the lazy, the reclusive, the avoidant and the noncommittal to carry on some semblance of a social life.  It helps to overcome otherwise deterring circumstances.

Example: I'm friends with someone my ex briefly dated.  I didn't know they were dating and she didn't know he was my ex.  It was a situation that could have been weird, but wasn't.  We chatted in person and later made internet friends, and I put her in contact with my out-of-town best friend because both women were about to move to the same city.  Weeks later I received a Snapchat of my old BFF and my new buddy drinking together in a bar in New York.  Technology!  The future!  Improbable connections made from random situations occurring thousands of miles apart.  In a historical context, I don't think it would have been possible for us to connect the way we did, with social mores generally dictating that we should be awkward around each other due to the nature of our mutual connection.  Or maybe she and I are just grown ass men who don't care about trifling shit.  Either way, it's a weird example, but they're all weird examples.

Still, in making private stranger-interactions so easy, the internet in turn makes them less meaningful, because there is almost no risk involved.  Interactions can almost seem random, motivated by boredom or curiosity rather than a genuine interest or purpose.  It's easy to stay in some vague contact with someone you don't care about, someone who otherwise would have fallen from your life like a dead leaf if you had to maintain that connection in person.  In the end, many of these relationships strike me as a false pantomime of human interaction.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Office Ghost

I recently learned that several people have seen an apparition in the building where I work.  Where does this apparition like to hang out?  Outside my office door.

Although I am generally skeptical of what most people believe about the paranormal, I still acknowledge that I have heard convincing stories from trusted sources, and have experienced some mid-level weird shit myself.  As a child, I was obsessed with ghost stories and had stacks of books of them.  This slowed into adulthood, but I have spent many an hour trawling Fortean Times' "It Happened to Me!" board, another source of high quality weird shit.  As such, I pay more attention than most when I hear about real, live stories of house hauntings.

Immediately upon receiving this rumor, I texted our admin and treated him to a Macaulay Culkin/John Candy in Uncle Buck style rapid fire questioning session.

B: I hear you saw a ghost and didn't tell me about it.
K: I've seen her three times.
B: TELL ME.
K: She's not very scary, she just stands there and looks at me.
B: When.
K: Late at night.
B: What is she wearing.
K: A white dress and large white hat.
B: Old fashioned?
K: IDFK!
B: Where did you see her?
K: In the back hallway...In the corner.
B: Which corner.
K: West.
B: AT MY DOOR.
K: Bingo.


Any time I try to re-decide if I believe that things like ghosts exist, I remember our experiences in my childhood home.  While I have no expectation of understanding that arm of the paranormal, I think it's there.  I wrote a creepy overview of my experiences in the house a few years ago.

Earlier today, I came across an Edna St. Vincent Millay poem that I liked a couple of years ago and marked to remember.  A oddly-timed reminder.


The Little Ghost
I knew her for a little ghost
That in my garden walked;
The wall is high - higher than most
And the green gate was locked.

And yet I did not think of that
Til after she was gone-
I knew her by the broad white hat,
All ruffled, she had on.

By the dear ruffles round her feet,
By her small hands that hung
In their lace mitts, austere and sweet,
Her gown's white folds among.

I watched to see if she would stay,
What she would do - and oh!
She looked as if she liked the way
I let my garden grow!

She bent above my favorite mint
With conscious garden grace,
She smiled and smiled
There was no hint of sadness in her face.


She held her gown on either side
To let her slippers show,
And up the walk she went with pride,
The way great ladies go.

And where the wall is built in new
And is of ivy bare
She paused - then opened and passed through
A gate that was once there.

Edna St. Vincent Millay, 1917



Saturday, November 2, 2013

Is it always like this?



Music to have a tantrum to.
Just kidding.  This music is awesome.

There's a very young Nick Cave, then some more Australians, Cocteau Twins singing in their made up baby language, classic Cure, my favorite Dead Can Dance song, extremely depressing NIN, amazing mid-90s Siouxsie, an excerpt from the dreariest Cure album ever, and we prefer to forget the last news stories about Peter Murphy as we listen to songs from Love Hysteria. THE END.