Today Am I a Barista, or a Philosopher?

I grab the gallon of 2% milk and pour some into a pitcher. Dipping the steel nozzle safely beneath the white surface, I rotate the knob which turns on the steam. A noise somewhat like a jet engine consumes the café. What was at first a soft murmuring of vowels, a vague linguistic portmanteau of customers chatting with one another, has turned into a deafening whine. Occasionally, I dip the nozzle further down, allowing little bubbles to leap up to the surface. Then I pull back up until just the very tip of the nozzle is touching the white. This creates a loud hissing sound, as if a hundred snakes had just slithered into the room. The milk moves in violent currents within the pitcher, undulating in tiny whirlpools.

One would hate to somehow become the size of a fly and be caught inside the pitcher. One can imagine the steadily building, suffocating heat, the deafening noise of the steam being interjected into the whirling froth. The noise builds, a sort of Doppler Effect, as if the jet were approaching instead of taking off. The tiny red needle inside the thermometer jiggles rapidly and the temp climbs in regular increments. 100 degrees, 110, 120, 130… Soon the jet noise reaches its climax and rests at a flat rumble. 145 degrees is the designated temp for all hot beverages in the coffee shop. I rotate the knob to its off position and take away the hot pitcher, making sure to hold it firmly by its handle. I do not want to burn myself. Again.

I pour the steamed milk, its texture like wet paint, into the cardboard cup with four ounces of espresso at its bottom. The creamy, tan darkness of the espresso mingles with the paleness of the milk, like two forces conjoining. An image of the Tao flashes in my brain. I begin to ponder the intricate dance of the two liquids, becoming enraptured by all those intricacies known only through the laws of physics.

I place a black, plastic lid atop the cup, lifting up on it once just to be sure it is in place. How easy it is to put on a cracked lid, causing a customer to spill it on themselves. Or for me to hand it over to them, only to have much of the beverage run down upon my fingers in one blistering moment of pain.

I hand the latte to a middle-aged woman with owl spectacles and long, curly grey hair. She says, ‘thank you’ in a sweet tiny voice, like a mouse, and walks out the front entrance. I am thinking that I’d forgotten to add the vanilla flavoring she’d asked for. I can be so mindless, so stupid, sometimes. But, now she is out the door and getting into her car. I watch as the Jeep pulls out of the lot and onto the main road. I take what little milk is left in the pitcher and dump it into a nearby sink. The steam rises into the air and I think of everything as being the same, as being steam. This world, the entire universe, and especially our very lives, seems susceptible to absolute evaporation.

This is, of course, not so much a moral standpoint for one to take, as much as it is a basic law of physics. Within the bounds of every life, there is always a phase change. What was once suspected as something solid, inevitably transforms into a vague, cosmic vapor; a mish-mash of excited particles.

All souls rise, and dissimulate into the balance of nothingness.

Freedom in Purgatory (Poem)

Please don’t forget to leave your thoughts in the comments selection below! I’d be interested to know if you’ve any criticisms, ideas, and the like about the following poem. In my view, what makes us responsible beings is our existential freedom. Perhaps this is my Halloween poem for 2018, as I happen to find the idea of, “What if we were really irresponsible and just blew it?” particularly scary.  Thanks in advance, dear readers!

***

 

The fate of this world is decided

By us;

One decision

At a time.

 

Freedom is worldly.

Every man’s choice,

Constitutes the world.

Even the breaking of dawn is a choice:

The connected tendons or the slit wrists?

Suppose

 

a bad heart, numbed brain.

World, hammered into cardiac arrest

By a clotted conscience.

World, overcrowded with sociopathic imbeciles,

Disintegrating in unfeeling stupidity.

 

Bad faith, bad lies.

World, blinded and bleeding for sights unseen;

A festering, terminal illness gone undiagnosed.

World, attempting justification for its ceaseless horrors.

Eternal wars,

gory religious schisms,

follies purged in blood.

 

Bad diet, bad consumption.

World, submerged in dripping fat, engulfed in sloth.

Mouths wet and seeped in instant gratification ,

With brains bathed in the electricity of vile taboo.

World, eating off its own carcass;

A geographical hermaphrodite

Cut up in self-mutilation.

 

Bad posture, bad money.

World, crippled o’er its lowly seas,

Rasping, clasping, aching for a drink.

World, bribed by an influence of heaven

and sent straight to Hell;

A green purgatory wherein ancient presidents burn

In the liver spotted hands of feeble men

Choked in the after-life at the collar and tie.

Our hearts will pump out the bills

to pay for their funeral.

 

Bad choices make a bad life.

World, collapsing its existence by choosing not to choose.

The easiest choice, after all, is one not chosen.

World, one life, cascading into sudden death

Due to a nuclear stockpile attached to a hefty red button;

Supplied fertile push by an Armageddon-hungry elitist,

Famished for golden eternity.

World, swamped into a cosmic dimple,

Sinking into the blackness of space,

Renouncing its queer absurdities

And returning into galactic star-shit.

 

We have decided to churn ourselves

into sub-atomic compost,

Particles of stellar garbage

upon our very own volition.

 

If this happens,

It will be what we have chosen,

Nothing more.

Imagine it:

A world-wide suicide

Constructed in the shackles

of our liberation.

 

We had

a great responsibility.

We were

absurdly free.

Reflections on Contradiction, Freedom & the Unfamiliar.

I’ve noticed two very popular, very contradictory clichés which are often used within the same breath. One is, “Life is short!” and the other is often spoken in the midst of vague chat, for example:

“How are you today?”

“Good, but busy.”

“Well, busy is good, right? Makes the day go by faster!”

Well, which is it that they want? For life to be longer, or the day to go by faster? It seems we have not very clear-sighted ideas as to what we desire out of living…

***

Environment, genetics, imprisonment, etc. are not valid arguments against free-will. These are only limitations which provide us a scope for action. We are always free to choose within our scope of situation, time, and history. These are the conditions of liberty, the fine print at the bottom of the existential agreement. If one does not agree, one may choose the door…

***

We may refer to dying as an “ontological diffusion” into the void of nothingness, or a return to pre-birth. This is not so much a philosophical euphemism as much as it is a way of separating ourselves from common language. What is familiar often has a tendency to divorce itself from our emotional understanding, that is to say, “familiarity breeds indifference”. Thus we should strive for the unfamiliar in all things. We should strive for the difference.

Reflections on Freedom (what is it? what does it mean?)

“Man is condemned to be free.” – Sartre.

One does not choose freedom. Freedom comes free with birth. It is inherent in the human condition. Likewise, one does not (cannot) ever choose to be born. Birth is the creation of individual consciousness; it is simultaneously the enabler and limiter of all freedom.

Choices are always here for us to make – and we are not free not to make them. One may choose not to choose and will have utterly failed in the attempt. For not choosing is always a choice. Freedom is a self-limiting fact of life. Liberation provides its own shackles.

As I have said, one does not choose to be born. This does not mean, however, that life is not a choice. The distinction is subtle, yet grand. Do you think that life is not a choice? Then simply turn over your wrists and slice diagonal– this gruesome act will have been your choice, and yours alone. Suicide, obviously, is an extreme consequence of one’s decision not to exist.

Freedom is not a right, and you and I have no right to it. Freedom is, rather, an enabler of rights. Freedom has a right to us.

Life is not a right, and you and I have no right to it. Life is an enabler of rights. Life has a right to us.

Life and freedom are inherent conditions of existing. One may either rejoice, or despair! Both are appropriate reactions. Yet whatever one chooses, it is his or her choice alone. Most things in life, although a majority of human beings are not aware of this fact, are choices.

Hence why I agree with the cliché that “with freedom comes great responsibility”. It is not so nearly often understood that with freedom also comes great anxiety, as well as great consequence. A free human being is one whom has realized that his or her life is a choice, and takes all responsibility for his or her choices and consequent actions.

As a conclusion to this short reflection, I would just like to straighten out one thing in particular: those whom tote that ridiculous bumper slogan: freedom is not free.

Well, if freedom is deprived of its very essence (that of being free), then exactly what are we left with?

I will of course gladly provide an answer: freedom without ‘free’ is just dumb.

Thoughts on Freedom, Art, Rebellion and Watching the Flies Do It.

Hope my fellow bloggers will enjoy this abundance of aphorisms I’ve concocted this morning!

*

Two flies landed on the page I was reading in my book and began to fuck. The sight was not as boring as I’d thought it would be.

*

Introverts are not necessarily anti-social. It is only that whenever people are around there is bound to be very little peace and quiet. If people brought with them peace and quiet reflection wherever they went, introverts would be crowd lovers.

Perhaps it is the extroverts whom are, in reality, anti-social; always shaking people from their thoughts and pushing them to go out and do things like dancing, drinking, conversing, etc. is perhaps not such a social temperament at all.

*

The greatest worldly value of the artist is that he or she presents not only visions of another way of thinking and perceiving: he or she presents new visions of being. The artist, whether he is aware of the fact or not, is often a creator of possible solutions.

*

Artists are the manufacturers of ideas and dreams merged with knowledge.

The Artist’s Equation is:

Ideas + Dreams + Knowledge x Action²  = Revolution

*

It occurs to me that nearly all of my creative and most daring endeavors in this life emerges out of a rebellion against futility. Futility is a haunting specter and a perpetual threat, like an axe on a hair trigger, rigged over every doorway.

I am a man of constant rebellion.

*

I write just to steady myself sometimes. Just writing down in my journal where I am and whom I’m with provides me with some illusion of stability; a feeling of comfort, at least. Like a sea sick sailor upon a storm-blown deck, grabbing hold of the cold iron railing. Life is like that: an always unsteady, at times raging sea. We feel we must all grab hold of something, for fear we may lose ourselves overboard…

*

The reason for my love and championship of art is because art means freedom. In putting words to paper, I am free to create whatever world I choose. My only limit is myself. In my world, I am God tending to his creations. I am free.

The artist is a practitioner of freedom. All his liberties are conditions set by his/her imagination.

*

Soldiers are human beings whom sacrifice their freedom in order that they may “fight for freedom”. Yet isn’t the best way to “fight for freedom” to remain free? To exemplify freedom by means of the choices one makes in one’s life? Giving the military ownership over one’s own mind and body seems outright anti-freedom to me. Fascist, even!

Having said that, I can feel that bloody, war-torn eagle screaming down at me, ravenous with pulsing talons itching to sink into my flesh, all the while screaming, “Freedom is not free!

*

America is a nightmare,

smothered with crosses like kisses &

soaked with proud stupidities

as if they were our children’s wishes.

Groupthink just as plentiful

as my kitchen’s dirty dishes.

*

Life, ultimately, has the quality of being forgettable. Humans become so caught up, so distracted by their day-to-day routines that they forget their primary preoccupation: that they exist at all.

*

“A rejections of seriousness” is something I consider to be simultaneously wise and foolish. Whether it is truly one or the other depends on the relative perception of the person rejecting seriousness. One is the cowardly fool, the philistine whom rejects serious matters and earnest discussion because he or she is simply too ignorant or stupid to comprehend – and cowardly in that he will not even attempt at comprehension.

The other is the wise, for he or she is knowledgeable of the fact that in this world “seriousness” accounts for little except a deduction of time and emotional energy. For all is truly absurd and impermanent, and if armed with this knowledge, how seriously can we take ourselves?

*

His ex-wife was a hair-stylist, and that was the last time he ever got his hair cut…

Life in the Shallows & Cosmic Humility

 Life in the Shallows

All of life is a play in the shadows of shallow things. Reality is grander than the limitations of human imagination, which is rather unimaginative. We are shackled by three spacial dimensions and one of time, and our eyes are stuck peeking through the keyhole which composes our tiny visible band of the electromagnetic spectrum. We are chained to cultural paradigms, blinded by the importance of our egos, and the illusion of our existence. We have a difficult time thinking and perceiving reality as it is because we are looking at the world through such a narrow lens.

Considering the Tao, the ultimate way of the world, in accordance to examining the quantum particles which make up atoms which make up matter, “pop in and out of existence”, is all the more reassuring of these current facts of human limitations.

Of course, with the passage of time, these things may change. One never knows. All is impermanent, all transforms. Ignorance today, knowledge tomorrow. And vice versa.

 

Selfishness (Lessons in Cosmic Humility)

          Selfishness can only come about when one takes him or herself too seriously. A selfish person, perhaps, is one whom clings to the importance or relevance of his identity out of fear of being forgotten, neglected, or decimated. Thus, out of a private existential terror, he puts himself first. He is the man who budges in line at the supermarket, passes you on the highway even though you’re already doing five miles over the speed limit, always sideswiping the other human beings in his life in order to obtain his own desires — his desires, his attachments, are ranked as the most important, most significant. In the eyes of this man, every other man and woman is illusory, negligible. What an eye-opening wonder if he were to realize that he is also illusory and in the grand scheme of the cosmos, quite negligible.

Lessons in cosmic humility.

Being Remembered (Is Not Important)

Being Remembered (Is Not Important)

If one believes that being remembered is important, then one has fallen prey to an all-too-common delusion — the delusion of immortality. I don’t believe that anyone is ever truly remembered. Even the men whom are “remembered” in the history textbooks are men whom are mostly mythologized and composed out of our imaginative interpretations of whom these people really were. No one remembers Napoleon Bonaparte, Caesar, or Socrates. These were once human beings whom have long since ceased to be human beings. They have become instead, “historical figures”. We don’t know whom they truly were, what they truly thought. We only have glimpses into their character either through writing of their own, or through the writing of others. Yet we know that language is an inherently inefficient tool for the understanding of our fellow human beings. The same can be said for any man living or dead. The closest we can come to truly understanding a person is by relating to them in the present. When the present flows ever onward (as it surely does and is doing now), the past lays claim to one’s death and all that remains is ash and imagination. The past is composed primarily of myth. Myth is history.

This lack of an immortality also sheds light on what is important. If all things fade into the oblivion of time and space — such as ourselves, our books, our art, our civilizations, our planet, our galaxy (which is currently on a collision course with the Andromeda galaxy) — than what is important has nothing to do with what lasts, because nothing ever lasts.

No thing, person, or relationship is permanent. All is transmutable. All changes form. So, what is important? What is important is what you are at this present moment. Are you the best, most honest, most wholesome, most gracious, most healthy, most virtuous human being you can be? If not, why not? Is it because you are busy striving for immortality? It is because you are distracted and confused by delusions of vast triviality? I have always agreed with the existentialists that the meaning of life is merely that meaning which you ascribe to it. But more accurately, the meaning of life is to live. How you live is up to you!

Meanwhile, the names and dates chiseled upon all our gravestones in all of the cemeteries around the world are being eroded by the entropic force of time…all will soon conjoin to a smooth, unremarkable surface.

***

Addendum to this Essay:

I used to write my books with the idea of an immortality for myself, the author, in mind. I fantasized about people reading my books and proclaiming the heights of my great, literary genius long after I was dead. Now that my perception has been met with much greater clarity, I say — What an idiotic ego trip this is! Who the hell cares? Certainly not I. Not any longer.

Now I write with a different intent. I am now more mindful with my writing. I write solely to entertain and educate family and friends and other fellow human beings, whom I love and cherish very much — and only at the expense of this present moment, which is all one has, until one is no more.

After all, we are united by a uniform fate — we are destined to join in inevitable and ineffable nothing, or, that which we were before we were born.

It is precisely as what the musician known as Frank Zappa once observed, “It is not important to be remembered.”

 

 

The Creative Pitcher, Meaningless Freedom, The Existential Frankenstein & a Duty Dance with Dukkha!

First, It Is Time for a Few Aphorisms of Divine Intoxication!

1). In the land of the ignorant, home of the living dead — Freedom is a gas station and Liberty is a jeep!

2) At times, I can’t help but think of life is a poor joke, created by a deranged prankster God with a gregarious appetite for sadism. Then I remember the constraints of my Ego. I’m taking life far too personally!

3) I hate people when they are less than people.

4) Because I am an artist, life makes me sick! It is necessary that I should vomit the truth upon the page and canvas. Existence is a constant ailment for those among the living.

***

The Creative Pitcher

The creative mind can be envisioned as a tall pitcher. The pitcher becomes full, drop by drop, with ideas, sensations and a multitude of subconscious inclinations gathered throughout our experiences of the day or week. Inevitably, the creative pitcher becomes so full that it is soon overflowing. Ideas are running over the sides and it is required that you empty the thing in its designated area so as not to waste such a precious resource. So we turn to the canvas, the blank page, the molding clay and go to work with pouring it all out. Not a drop from the Creative Pitcher is wasted, if the artist can manage it. We soon become emptied and satisfied. Then a slight anxiety ensues — “What if I remain forever emptied?”, we ask ourselves. Yet soon enough, drip by drip, the pitcher collects its contents, often unbeknownst to us. Just by living our lives with some appreciation for duty and what ought to be done, the Creative Pitcher becomes full to overflowing once more. The artist must get back to work!

***

Freedom in the Meaninglessness

To realize that your existence is fleeting and does not at all matter within the grand portrait of the universe is not cause for depression. This fact should bring us a sense of comfort and allow us to enjoy one cathartic, existential sigh of relief. Just imagine if the future of the entire universe depended entirely upon you and your actions in this life! What an overwhelming and terrible scenario this would make for one’s life! What a stressful temptation to suicide out of a desire to escape such a pressure! But because I do not matter, I am free. My body and mind are liberated to float easy upon the river of this present life. There are no universal demands upon my character. As it should be!

***

The Existential Frankenstein

Frankenstein’s monster is one of the great sympathetic monsters of literature and cinema. He is sympathetic because he is a victim. The monster never asked to be put together — piece by piece — to be created for life, to be born. Neither does anyone living. (Imagine the paradox if we had a choice as to whether we should like to be born or not!)

When the Monster, brilliantly portrayed by Boris Karloff in the early Universal Frankenstein films, out of suffering, angst, and anger proclaims, “We belong dead!” and throws the switch destroying himself, his newly created Bride, the doctor and the castle, he is speaking not just for himself and his bride, but the whole of humanity. Death is our shared lot, our fate. An eternal union with the Nothing (Non-being) is the most inevitable, most binding union of all. Humans are connected with each other in many ways than just one…

***

Clumsy Days

Those days when we are especially clumsy or mindless — knocking over full coffee cups, losing our car keys and stubbing our toes on furniture — we are apt to take great offence and feel as if the universe were abusing us, when it is merely us doing the abusing to ourselves. When a human runs into something and hurts himself, he is often bound to exclaim, “God damn you, you sunofabitchmotherfucker!” as if the object he’s come into abrupt contact with were conscious and with an intent to harm him! This is more than a mere example of anthropomorphism. Clumsy days like these should help to remind us that we are imperfect, that our mental faculties are not always in line with our wishes and desires. Days like these should remind us that we are, after all, human, and that is OK.

***

Duty Dance with Dukkha

The First Noble Truth of the Buddha: Life is Dukkha (Suffering).

Part of me tells me I deserve what I’m feeling and the other is more sympathetic, telling me it is okay to suffer, that just like shitting or masturbating, we all do it. This is the Duty Dance with Dukkha. This is Hell experienced in three-four time; a deranged and cruel waltz of pure humanity. Why do we endure such sorrows, such angst and confusion, such worry and strife? Because we are human. Life demands it by virtue of our living. All movement is costly. Each action is a risk. Despite all existential ailments, I am willing to take those risks. I want movement! I want action! The Duty Dance with Dukkha reaches the great prestissimo, and the world dances with us!

This is the Grand Duty Dance of the Dukkha.

 

Life in the Silence, Machine Men, & Jealous Gods

The Silent Life

Life, stripped of the subjectivity of its participants, stripped of all sentiment and nostalgia, stripped of ego and left naked, is immaculately silent. Life appears as a black and white film. All shadows. So very quiet. When we tyrannical men speak, our lips move and our tongues wag but there are no sounds to be vocalized — or to be heard for that matter. Our grand industries of energy, war and empire rape and pillage the planet with a silly, easy motionlessness. A sense of sorrowful hilarity can be felt in the heart. We raise our hands into the sky now and then, desperately in praise of something just as invisible and imaginary as ourselves. Lips mouth that ceaseless ‘O’, vomiting words into the void. Mad silent laughter. Parades of insane, rapid posturing and gesturing, like decadent cocaine-addled mimes. Our eyes blink into the swift, soft eons with an erratic frenzy, kissing gravestones into eternity. Then the universe blinks and we are gone.

At last! There is a more beautiful silence.

***

A Jealous God

God said, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” Is this an admission that there are in fact other Gods in existence capable of man’s worship? It seems as if this were written with an insecure envy, as if the Christian Lord were fearful of his date sleeping around with Zeus or Osiris. Can’t have that, can He? Interesting how insecure envy, or jealousy, is a particularly human trait. This is yet another facet of theology which of course begs the question: Did God make man in his image, or did man make God in his?

***

Monotheism Minus One

History has been making a more or less steady progress toward Atheism, or at least Agnosticism. First there were civilizations which had many Gods to worship — the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans, etc. Then the philosophers used reason and logic to argue against the existence of these Gods, which made way for Monotheism, the Christian God. We are getting closer to the inevitable. Monotheism is almost entirely correct, if only it were minus one.

***

Oh, Humanity

Humanity has an essentially retarded nature. For all our increased understandings and so-called progress, there is that omnipresent dark shadow, forever biting our heals, holding us back, and back, and back — to the point where a return to the tribal jungle may not be so unlikely, nor so bad. After all, what is there to lose when nothing has been gained?

Three questions: What is the ugliest thing you have seen? What is the most beautiful? What is the most suffering? My answer to all three: Humanity.

Oh, humanity.

***

Dissected Machines or Murdered Men?

I wonder about these people sometimes. I wonder if I took a sharp scalpel and cut into their flesh if they would bleed like men, or if those plain red, white and yellow wires would show, elongated into their arms and legs, mimicking tendons? I wonder if I cut out their eyes, would the flash bulbs go ‘pop!’ ? Or if I took a buzz saw to the 23-inch circumference of their craniums, would I see brains or circuit boards? If I dug into their chest cavities, would I pull out a still beating heart or mere white, placid cushion stuffing? Dare I try the experiment? I wonder sometimes.

 

The Actor Within

The Actor Within Us All 

I tend to agree with that great, Shakespearean concept — All the world’s a stage. In addition, I will say that a man is merely a role to be played and that there is a reason why a person is often referred to as a character. It is a godless, tragic and comedic script that our species is working with. Here is a conversation regarding this subject which I had with a fellow human being the other day:

“So! Whaddya do for a living?!” the idiot said, as if recited from memory.

“Well,” I said, “besides breathing in oxygen and exhaling Co2, I act.”

“Wow! An actor! That’s pretty cool. Been in anything I might have seen?” he inquired.

“I’m in this strange movie called, Life, which you might not have heard of.”

“Huh!” he says and scratches his matted hair with a furrowed brow. “Yup, can’t say I have. Who else is all in it?”

“Everyone,” I reply.

Everyone.