The GIF: Realizing an Existential Nightmare

Existentialists tend to discourse on our sorry lot as humans in this life, caged between birth and death, trapped in this existence, the terror and nausea of realizing how lousy it all really is. alice trappedFriedrich Nietzsche referred to this terror as the greatest weight: What if this life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more; and there will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and sigh and everything unutterably small or great in your life will have to return to you, all in the same succession and sequence — even this spider and this moonlight between the trees, and even this moment and I myself.

starlightThe eternal hourglass of existence is turned upside down again and again, and you with it, a speck of dust!

Jean-Paul Sartre expounded on the horror in his play No ExitYou have stolen my face from me: you know it and I no longer do. beautiful faceLuckily, thanks to our evolved sensibilities and their application to technology, we can see the kernel of this philosophical gobbledygook captured in profound and eternal loops.

car crashcat's tailsexy-girl-gifThe GIF – or Graphic Interchange Format – is, as Albert Camus wrote, basically, at the very bottom of life, which seduces us all. There is only absurdity and more absurdity. And maybe that’s what gives us our joy for living, because the only thing that can defeat absurdity is lucidity.

gopro_bike_rideYes, life just as Nietzsche envisioned it. sex gifexistential

A Galapagos Tale

We visited Fernandina Island in the Galapagos some years ago at Christmastime. DSCN2016Among the thousands of the iguanas, blue-footed boobies and tortoises, the animal I remember most is an abandoned sea lion pup.

Alone on the rocky lava flats, it waddled back and forth, calling for its mother. DSCN2380No matter how much it squeaked and bleated, there was no response. None of the other sea lions showed any interest, lounging instead in the sun. The only animal paying any attention was a hawk, sitting atop a dead tree out of the bushes. DSCN2376“The mother has probably been eaten by a shark,” our guide explained.

“What about the baby?” we demanded.

“The hawk will wait until it stops moving and then come down to peck its eye out.”

“That’s terrible,” we replied.

He shrugged. “That’s nature.”

Christmas in the Room*

No travel bags, no shopping malls, no candy canes, no Santa ClausIMG_3333No traffic jams, no ice and storm, far in the house the fire is warm

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Oh, I can’t see the day when we’ll die but I don’t care to think of silenceIMAG2066For now I hear you laughing, the greatest joy is like the sunrise20141222_155453I’ll come to you, I’ll sing to you like it’s Christmas in the room

IMAG2060I’ll dance with you, I’ll laugh with you like it’s Christmas in the room.

(Christmas in the Room, Sufjan Stevens)

Le Nozze di Figaro – Instead of Christmas

Instead of Christmas, I propose music: Mozart’s opera Le Nozze Di Figaro offers actual moments of contentment. 482260_10151851175893135_27101049_nThe finale of this opera closes with the players singing of forgiveness and peace, music so beautiful that you wish it might go on forever – which is what Icelandic performance artist Ragnar Kjartansson proposed to do in his show, Bliss. Screen Shot 2014-12-19 at 9.41.20 AMThe performance, solely devoted to this 4-minute section, went for 12 straight hours, the performers singing this pure and wonderful section over and over.Screen Shot 2014-12-19 at 9.58.48 AMI dream that Mr. Kjartannson will consider bringing this exceptional work back – and maybe even make it longer.

Fuck Christmas

Christmas is like a politician: all promises but a liar in the end. UnknownWhile there might be gatherings and good wishes and fond regards, I can’t say that I am buoyed by any of these facile exchanges, given our on-going state of affairs. 141125-ferguson-protest-nyc-2003_f0a068f95e3919546018b9ced8b19245As for the songs, lights and trees, we all know where all of these things end up. 20140104_131303That just leaves the presents, the bags of things that the wealthy can exchange in excitement and glee. 130_0207_026_z+2006_SEMA_auto_show+car_mate_mercedez_benzAnd the extravagances that the not-so-rich can’t afford but have been indoctrinated to believe they must have to find happiness. samsung-tv-reviewsAnd then there’s whatever left for all of the rest. 20140414_110415And so, yes, you will have to forgive me for being so rude, but: “Fuck Christmas.”images

Writing Tip #666: Material must be emotionally charged.

“Could I get another?”

“Sorry, the bar is closed.”

“Oh, the bar’s closed?” I repeated it quickly to make it go away.

“Sorry, sir.”

“What about last call?” images-1“I made the announcement 15 minutes ago.”

“No, you didn’t.” My voice sounded outside of me.

“I’m sorry, sir.”

“I must have been in the bathroom.”20140716_191354

He started to take my glass.

“Just a pint. I’ll finish it in 5 minutes.” The ringing in my ears was worse; I had to see a doctor.

“I’m sorry.”

“It’s still 6 minutes to, right?” Could he even hear what I said? “I’ll be finished by the time you close.”

He took my glass.

“You’re not serious.”

And walked away.

“What the fuck…?”

The woman beside looked half around and pulled her purse closer in.20140131_220041

I slid the stool abruptly back. “I’m Jason B., man! What do you think I want with that?”

The bartender returned. “Sir, do we have a problem here?”

“I just asked for another beer, all right?”

“Do we have a problem?”

I blinked back, open and closed, like a mechanical doll. “No, we don’t.”

It was warm outside, still, and the streets were quiet. 20140426_124036I just needed one more.

Why Do I Watch My Phone Update Itself?

Why do I watch my phones screen as the blue lines race across, one after the other, until one box snaps in on itself and a message appears at the top and the arrow, indicating some kind of digital success? samsung-galaxy-s2-android-4-updateWhy do I wait as the next box engages, the little blue lines race again, when my screen suddenly goes dark – my phone shutting off?!?

Why do I jab at the power button, only to realize that the phone was wisely saving power as it took all this new stuff in, one program after the other – google, ebay, text-to-speech, printer services, security, anti-virus, maps and my account, 19 programs in the end – and now was ready to go? lookoutWhy do I think that my phone is now utterly up-to-date when I know the device will only have to be updated again?

(And why the hell am I writing about this?)