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    Fuck 'Exploring Inner Space' - A Response.
    Originally posted in the comments of sjef's post "Fuck 'exploring inner space'. " It was a bit long and in the hopes it doesn't get buried, I thought I'd repost it here.

    Original Post

    Wow. Okay. First off I haven’t been able to go through all of the comments, so please excuse me if I go on to say something redundant. I both agree and disagree with a lot of this, and even what I disagree with I largely understand.

    On Inner Space: Without falling into ‘know thyself’ clichés, inner space is an important aspect of human existence and must be properly cultivated in order to improve upon the world in which we live. This isn’t to say a focus and understanding of the outer world isn’t important, or even necessary, just that you can’t have one without the other. The Inner is essentially the outer on a smaller and more personal scale. While this statement may sound in conflict with itself. It is really true. A fine division between the inner and outer world is next to impossible, and it is the tension between the two – a sort of Hegelian dialectic – which will open up new possibilities. Obviously different people will give more focus to one or the other, but once one is forsaken in favour of the other is dangerous, and in my mind would (and has) lead headlong into a kind of Sophism.

    I don’t consider excessive drug-induced exploration, or playing tons of video games exploring inner space. While anything can be useful to certain point, abuse of one thing, or method leads to an inevitable sort of apathetic holding pattern. This can be said of rigorous scientific method as much as it can of Learyesque use of psychedelics.

    I think it is unfortunately true that people in many cases don’t maximize their potential (re: confront and understand their inner world), in an effort to improve the lot of humanity as a whole. Why is such a tricky question. The problems of malaise stemming from creature comforts and ingrained cultural apathy (a focus on consumption and style), is definitely part of it. I would also lay the blame partially on it on the Scientistic mentality. When rationality as a tool for explanation is placed on such a high pedestal as we have done, it is very easy for the world/universe to become disenchanted and viewed as simply a system of mathematical chaos. Disenchantment leads to laziness and a kind of nihilism. If you’re disenchanted by the universe as a whole, why not find comfort in food, or cars, or big TVs? As an aside I’m not advocating for religion by saying this, it’s just a thought.

    Another kind of nihilism can come from seeing the whole situation as pointless, as looking at the small efforts as not enough. The smallest of beginnings can always lead to much larger things and have a tendency to take place at the most fecund time. Think of Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat on the bus.

    There is a lot of ‘rad doodles and poems’ that are pretty pointless, and the internet has helped accelerate the dissemination (and appreciation) of them. While I’m not making the direct connections here, I do believe this also has to do with disenchantment to a degree. There is some status attached to being a ‘poet’ or able to draw, or in a band. But just doing these things doesn’t make them meaningful. It also doesn’t mean they are meaningless. Personally, I struggle with this – even though I know it to be silly – with my artistic life, which encompassed even my higher education. I truly believe in a project (in progress) that can continue to help me better understand myself, as well as influence the condition of others, and maybe – a long way down the road – assist on a grander scale of enacting the cultural shift that many of us are clamoring for. Having said that I don’t see it as an abstract pastime (many do), and I think that view could further contribute to nihilism and disillusionment (with which sometimes I struggle). I see at as a mission. Something difficult yes, but possible. And while sometimes it’s hard to maintain resolve in the face of our culture, I will continue to push ahead. I think this is something many people in the collective do with their respective projects.

    I agree as well that a many people pursue a higher education because that is what they are ‘supposed’ to do next. If we weren’t as affluent in the west as we are, this wouldn’t even be an option. The sheer amount of ‘educated’ (as in degree holding) people, has in a lot of ways cheapened what that kind of education was supposed to be about to begin with. Especially for those who took it really seriously. Where I live, having a university degree is not going to necessarily guarantee you financial stability, or even success. Just as further education may not push you up the ranks. I think part of the problem here along with disillusionment is a lack of meaningful options with regards to what people can do with their lives. There are options of course, but they either seen as unapproachable or people are too disinterested to tackle them.

    There is much that can be discussed regarding the failure of the post WWII era to fully bring about the better world, and cultural revolution that was promised. There are some interesting ideas concerning this, some of which are drawn from and related to, a post I’m going to make in the near future to the total library. Which will also include ideas of the inner/outer dichotomy, as well as some interesting ideas as to what contributing causes of these cultural shifts (or lack of) may be.

    This ended up being pretty long. I thought about making it its own post but I think its better left here. Some of it may seem a tad disjointed but it’s a complex and multi-faceted set of issues.

    Interesting aside: From dmitridb: “a psychedelic videogame which focuses on a creative plot that tricks people into working towards one thing and then ending up not attaining that thing and instead learning the lesson of their follies which they are enacting at that very moment.” The show ‘Lost’ is sort of like this (I know, I know), and I hear people constantly complaining about how their questions are never answered, and giving up because it will never go anywhere…while in fact they are in many ways missing the purpose and point.

    Thu, Apr 3, 2008  Permanent link

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         Thu, Apr 3, 2008  Permanent link
    I stopped watching TV and playing video games a long time ago because it's such a toilet for my time. I think sitting around for hours at a time watching "lost" is exactly the kind of thing that causes all this disillusionment and apathy, the spiral slide of dullness does not seem to start with disenchantment then to laziness then TV/materialistic pursuits to fill the void... I think it's the other way around. Being lazy leads to nihilism because you get used to not doing anything, and since your brain isn't used to much else its plastic form becomes all fucked up and warped, stuck in that uncomfortable and compromising position, sort of a face-down-ass up thing ready to be taken advantage of by the terrible commercials... now available during the show itself (which is exactly the straw that broke the donkey's back for me to stop watching TV... what the hell? seriously, what the hell). How could it work the other way around in the case of most people these days? Nobody's asking to get raped here. It just happens when ignorance abounds, kind of like how high pregnancy rates correlate with low abundance of female education.
    sjef     Thu, Apr 3, 2008  Permanent link
    Great response, cheers. As I indicated at the end of that post a large part of the point of it was that people would disagree. Do take the time at some stage to go through the comments, a number of interesting points are raised there. (Several of which are indeed also touched on in your answer).

    "There is a lot of ‘rad doodles and poems’ that are pretty pointless, and the internet has helped accelerate the dissemination (and appreciation) of them."

    I'm glad you picked up on this point, I intend to do a post / related book review on it sometime soon. Living now in the 'information' age, the meaning of the word information has changed, and it's value demeaned in ways that play an important part in how people deal with it.
    Add near instant communication to the mix and you a have large number of people devoting a large amount of time to swapping what essentially amounts to nothing. Part of my gripe with 'normal' social networks, that I think you also mentioned in another post.

    Looking forward to your post on the post-war era, I can't believe my statements regarding that weren't argued against more, as they were pretty blunt/uninformed/generalised/rough/etc.

    awindow     Thu, Apr 3, 2008  Permanent link

    The 'what comes first' situation with regards to laziness and nihilism is changeable. I think often people that are very interested become nihilistic in some ways (there were shades of this in the original post), mostly because they feel fed up with what seems like a hopeless situation - this has nothing to do with being lazy, but can lead to it, through the refusal to do nothing, because it seems hopeless. On the other hand nihilism can be a comfortable place for people who aren't interested and lead to laziness.

    All in all setting a cause and effect order was not my intention. These things have a way of acting on each other in a mutitude of ways...I do think that Disenchantment on a large scale is part of the root of many of these problems.

    Habitual anything is a time sucker for sure...and can encourage the apathy. However it is possible to do anything intelligently (i.e. consious and aware), even watch TV. Most of us enjoy films, I'm sure and TV can be 'art' as well, depending on it's quality and method of consumption. Personally I don't watch TV. I don't have the time, and like you, I'm not really interested. However I have watched 'Lost' in the past and have friends that do as well. I'd say that it's quality as far as television goes - which is mostly awful - and is something that encourages a certain level of thinking that most TV does not. I just thought that the popular consumption of this show, and peoples reaction to it, had some parallels with your video game example. It wasn't really connected to the bulk of the post.

    Ultimately, you're right. No one is asking to get raped. But people are willfully ignorant in many ways - also because of a myriad of other cultural reasons - and in a sense welcome, or at the very least, make it easy to be taken in. Most people are actually OK with it. I'm really bothered with commercials myself, and not just on TV, I find them often insulting and deeply reflective of alot of the current societal trouble we have here. However, because I'm aware of this, I feel I don't get taken in and mentally raped by commercials. My awareness, could even be said to be able to let me see through them. Like I said, it's possible to do anything intelligently, and provided it's meaningful to a degree, it can even be beneficial. The example of high pregnancy rates vs. eduction level is apt.
    awindow     Fri, Apr 4, 2008  Permanent link
    Thanks Sjef. More than anything I really understand where your frustration comes from.

    Add near instant communication to the mix and you a have large number of people devoting a large amount of time to swapping what essentially amounts to nothing.

    Couldn't agree with this more in many ways. Especially in terms of writing and music. I just think it may be possible to remedy, and that sometimes it's those small moments that cause avalanches. Space Collective seems to be a bit of an exception in this regard. I would like to examine more of why this is happening on such a large scale in other places, what it accomplishes, and why there is such a large interest in essentially saying nothing. I did sort of touch on it a bit in another post, but it'd be a good discussion to continue I think.

    The 50's and 60's was really a turning point for what became the latter half of the twentieth century. It's influence is still present going further into the twenty first. It's interesting how it much it came to define us and worth exploring in more depth. As well as the question as whether we should break completely from this history, or realistically grasp what it meant and then move on.
         Fri, Apr 4, 2008  Permanent link
    Yeah, I get your point now. Sorry if my rant felt a little unnecessarily caustic.
    awindow     Fri, Apr 4, 2008  Permanent link
    No worries at all. Dialogue is always a good thing!
    fishingpoet     Fri, Apr 4, 2008  Permanent link
    There is a lot of ‘rad doodles and poems’ that are pretty pointless, and the internet has helped accelerate the dissemination (and appreciation) of them.

    Add near instant communication to the mix and you a have large number of people devoting a large amount of time to swapping what essentially amounts to nothing.

    At the outset, I say I'm not sure where this is going, but something in these (and a couple other places) struck a chord when reading.

    I could very well be guilty of posting some of the poems that you hinted at, and they could very well amount to nothing (I'm not positioning you as having "called me out," just getting at the impetus)...but it took a great deal for me to actually post what I wrote. And no, this is not going to turn into a sappy "I've been writing since I was 9 and people always tell me my poetry is beautiful" birdwalk. Bear with me.

    I chased a post grad degree in poetry. But my reasons for going had more to do with the idea of being active—mentally—in order to understand more. About myself, yes. About others, yes. About the world, yes. I write as a continuation of that exploration, which is, I think, in agreement, with your position around cultivating inner space as a way to improve the collective human experience.

    But writing for the sake of writing is not enough in and of itself. There is a necessary physical aspect that closes the loop...again your thoughts on the effects of creature comforts ring true to me. Going back to my "writing since I was 9" the end, it does have to start somewhere. Not everyone can have a life as a doctor or insurance salesman and find themselves as an adult jotting down canonic verse. But as with any start, the true art comes with practice, with some pain and life and dirt under the fingernails. So I applaud the 9 year old writer, but I also curse the marketing shark that leverages the emotional dysfunction that drives people to pay for their books (yes, yes, I say this having not had a book published as of yet).

    For me, instant communication falls into this same arena. And it is becoming increasingly difficult to find space and audience where the line between novelty and artistry exist. Even as I write this I'm aware of how incomplete my thoughts are and how easy it is to fire off a worthwhile response. As I said earlier, it was difficult to begin posting work online. I come from an old-school mentality where I wish above most anything to have my work actually published in good old-fashioned ink on the toothiest paper the press will hold. But it's more than the medium. It's the message. And if it truly is about affecting change in the larger human condition, it's also understanding that to make a difference, to stand and speak, to fight the inertia of disenchantment by pushing awareness and desire for've got to stand in the shit with everyone and let the merit of your thought do its job.

    A brief aside before posting—-I am totally impressed and thankful for the level of thought and discourse here. It's been a while since I've used these muscles... it's good to feel thoughtfully overwhelmed again.
    awindow     Sat, Apr 5, 2008  Permanent link

    Firstly, I didn't all have your work in mind when this was written (I hadn't read any of it at that time), and some of those comments were quote from Sjef's orginal post.

    You're comments as to why you write, and what you hope to accomplish by doing so were exactly what I was getting at. Just because it ends up online does not make it meaningless...far from it in fact. But the internet has become a clearing house in many ways for substandard thought and work. By and large, Sjef's statement that it results in a: "large number of people devoting a large amount of time to swapping what essentially amounts to nothing" is very true. This is not localized to verse alone, the same thing can be said about music, the media, visual arts and on and on. I myself struggle with the notion (and the futility that can come with it) that in making my own work available online, I'm contributing to the mess. I see my work in a different light, but is it? is it really? I believe it is, and that intention, intelligence, and artistry shine through. I think why one does what they do, has much to to say about the end result. I.E. status or show vs. compulsive need for expression. It's not that the internet is all bad, but it has become more of a problem than a breakthrough. The questions is, how to make the more soulful work 'break through' in a largely vapid virtual world. The issue maybe that it has become very easy to put stuff out there that is missing a certain 'core', as vague as that statement is.

    Art of any kind involves having alot of dirt under one's nails. Real meaning comes from what is often an up hill battle or a longer time period than it is from instantly publishing one's Friday night musings about ...whatever.

    Having said all of that I really enjoyed this:

    ONE. MANY.
    When I say—
    (the sun sets on a field of blue to orange-red)

    it has nothing to do with—
    (thin fingers of smoke rise from refugee chimneys)

    (tired heart, clutching threadbare rest)

    Apologies if this comment is missing something. It's a sunny Saturday aftenon, and outside is calling.

    fishingpoet     Mon, Apr 7, 2008  Permanent link
    Thanks for the reply...I know there we're no fingers being pointed in my direction. I just felt this a worthwhile place to jump into the fray...

    That said...
    Intention and intelligence are exactly the crux. Which makes writing, at its best, a mess and glorious all at the same time. Much like the human condition. Like life.

    I used to perform autopsies while in college. Actual procedures at a city hospital, not preserved cadavers. My first autopsy showed me two things: my anatomy and physiology books are all painfully inadequate (there is nothing organized about the viscera of a human being), and the unbelievable organization in the midst of the mess.

    I think of my writing, and that of others I admire, stumble across, search out, like this. Online or hard-bound. There is something vital in the gore. interesting that in this way the search is as much about intention and intelligence as what's being sought.

    meika     Fri, Apr 11, 2008  Permanent link
    I've enjoyed reading all this, and like where it's going, even if I can quite see it yet...