Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Beyond Saturn's Rings.

One of the many benefits of having gotten into Minor Threat is that, on the rare occasions that i do now drink, i end up drinking one beer, whereupon i pass out on the floor, and wake up half way through an Om record.

I mean, Om are pretty good, so it isn't a huge problem really.

At the moment I am grappling with a general melancholy. This isn't really a bad, depressive melancholy, but rather one that comes about as a result of having nothing to do.

Days tend to stretch out toward infinity. As much as i try to have plans for the day, there still seems to be long stretches of time where i find myself sitting on the coach, staring at the wall, thinking about the various complexities of boredom. While this is kind of interesting, I feel it probably has a limit.

I remember Brendan quoted some anarchist book the other month about the necessity of having secret plans. The past few weeks, following uni, I have been trying to convince myself that it might in fact be important to have no plans.

We are hard wired to believe that we have to have plans, or goals, at which to strive. If we don't the implication is that we are somehow failing at something, namely life. The result of this is that people who find themselves in situations where they suddenly have NOTHING TO DO in a slightly more severe existential sense (different from the Sunday arvo nothing to do) do one of two things: travel, or go on to do further study. This allows one to post pone questions about life direction for a later, more convenient date.

So i have no secret plans, other than vague intentions and desires to write creatively again, for the first time since i was about 12. Considering the last time i was writing seriously, i was writing about wizards, i am having a hard time playing catch up. I fucking love wizards. Please note this is before the term 'wizard' was besmirched by teenage boy wizards. I'm talking full on, bearded, with big staff wizard. Anyway.

So i guess, to state things in their most cleched form, i need more direction, and more goal oriented thoughts. I ride my bike a lot, and that takes up a lot of my time, but i feel it's pretty important i have something else to do, lest i begin to despise the thing i like the most.

In an attempt to formulate secret plans, i have had the opportunity to do a fair bit of thinking about thinking up secret plans. The kind of thinking where, if i was a smoker, i imagine i would make my way through two cartons a day while i thought about thinking.

Ironically, most of the thinking i have done while doing nothing has centred around how crucial it seems for me to have things to do during the day before i sink into an abyss of nihilistic, oppressive melancholy. This in turn ties into the feeling one has that one must be DOING THINGS at all times, for fear of WASTING TIME. Wasting time is a really hard one for me. I'm very good at doing it, and incredibly hard on myself when i do so. You would think that it would be possible to sit back and enjoy a few days of doing nothing in particular, after a hard year of study.

But the minute you do, the world loses its form and shape. Beliefs and goals begin to seem abstract, pointless, and self indulgent (which is ironic, given the nature of this post). Time passes quickly, so the day seems to have gone by in a flash, but each hour is agonisingly slow.

It's certainly reminded me how important plans and goals are in giving metaphysical shape to the world. Without an idea of where you stand, and where you might like to go in relation to that point, you kind of drown in a world without a centre or perspective.

It reminds me of the fear people felt when it first emerged that the world might in fact not be at the centre of the universe but, rather, simply a point in an endless, borderless universe. With no centre, or border, there was no possible way to position yourself in relation to the rest of the world. So people made things smaller. Ideas of the solar system started to be kicked around, beyond which there were notions of infinity, but placed in such a way that they didn't directly affect our sense of selves.

You need to position yourself in the world, so you can see where you might be headed. You need a secret plan. Otherwise you suddenly find yourself in a borderless world, of limitless possibilities. It's that very freedom that traps and suffocates you.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

New Worlds.

You know when you go see a show of some band you only just heard of, which you think might be interesting, but don't really expect much?

Yeh. I just saw one of the best shows of my life from a band that i heard of an hour earlier. Recorded their stuff is solid, but not mind blowing. Live, i could barely grapple with how good they were. The Northcote Social Club has never been more fun.

The singer is this fucking crazy girl who literally defines the term 'showman'.

Fuck, it was fucking amazing.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Infinite Jest.

Being away from the internet for three days is the equivalent to not seeing a good friend for a year: you don't know where you stand in relation to this person, they are really different and into new things, they have a new sense of humour, and you spend the better half of an hour trying to play catch up in a vain attempt to still be in their good books.

So you can understand my surprise when Chaz took some time off from his usual excellent coverage of anything and everything to mention some stuff about philosophy and, most bizarrely of all, me as well.

One great thing about being stupid enough to complete a degree in philosophy is that the way people consider you is divided into two groups. There is the open hostility and anger at your blatantly taking up precious tax dollars, when it could be funding wars and stuff. Then there is the perception that you are somehow very, very smart with a mystic's knowledge of the UNIVERSE and EVERYTHING.

This is of course wrong. I don't know anything other than how to handle some puzzles that some dudes who lived thousands of years ago started grappling with. They didn't really have any immediate results, and so people with nothing better to do started engaging with the fuckwittery. This continued for two and half thousand years, with no real discernible progress.

Now, generally if you start a job, and you haven't achieved anything by the afternoon, you approach the task differently. Philosophy has done this many times, with so called 'revolutions' designed to approach the same old problems differently.

There were the Ancient Greeks (who really just formalised problems being grappled with by the great poets like Homer and Hesiod - look into it, fascinating stuff) then the Ne0-Platonists, the vice like grip of Aristotelian world views for the better part of a millennium and a half, the Cartesians, the Idealists, and the most recent linguistic turn (by recent i mean in the past 100 years).

Using these different methods we 'solved' a lot of problems. Except the method that came afterwards just debunked the past method. So we find ourselves in the late afternoon of the proverbial philosophical day, and all we have achieved is the equivalent of sharpening our pencil, doodled on three or four bits of paper, made a coffee, and finally walked the dog, only to come back and find a newly sharpened pencil next to a blank page.

There is nothing inherently wrong with this, but it does make you wonder what the fuck is going on. Philosophy is very good at cocooning itself into a world where the questions being answered are ones that no one really gives a fuck about anyway, other than other philosophers. We have world views and methods that, while neat and beautiful, don't reflect the interests of the average human being.

So when Chaz paints me as somehow knowledgeable about 'stuff', i get uncomfortable because, really, all i have achieved in my degree is highlight how much i don't know. This is old ground that i have covered before, but it really is true. I'm not particularly skilled at anything. I'm ok academically, but not brilliant. I'm ok on a bike, but nothing to write home about. I can kinda write, but i get bored easily and don't proof read. Finally, i love music, but can't play any instruments, and have no musical skill to speak off, other than my sweet death metal growl.

So, I kinda know my way around, but can't really settle down with anything. Philosophy is good like that, because it allows you to ruminate about specific problems that can then be expanded to take on Everything.

Most distressing of all is Chaz directed all his devoted followers to this blog as being about Heavy Metal and Cycling. It used to be like that. It has somehow turned into an egotistical clusterfuck, where i just rant about anything that happens to be on my mind. This is problematic and unfortunate. I apologise.

So, Chaz, sorry, I don't have any answers about anything. I wish i did. I'll keep trying though.

Also, if, for want of something to say in a philosophical context, you ever do take my advice and yell 'Socrates!' and punch someone in the face, please don't credit me with the inspiration.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Paris Is Burning.

There were some surprises, and some non-surprises at Meredith Music Festival this weekend gone.

Amongst the non-surprises were, in no particular order: the number of white people, the amount of misplaced raving about Grinderman, the lack of vegan food, the amount of bullshit vegetarian food, the amount of mind altering substances at large, etc.

Amongst the surprises were: heaps more bogans than i thought, lots of sweet utes, decent coffee, more kids than i imagined and, finally, that i actually had a good time, and didn't particularly want to go home.

The bands I wanted to see were great. Ladyhawke ruled and proved, once again, that really good pop can be a wonderful thing. Mudhoney proved that grunge can rok, in the right way.

Bands like Off!, Grinderman, and Explosions in the Sky were bands i wasn't expecting to like, but did with varying levels of enjoyment.

But, bizarrely, the mythos behind Meredith, of which i had been so disparaging and sceptical about...namely the holier than thou hipster 'no dickhead policy', turned out to be far less sinister and, in some cases, enjoyable.

People were largely speaking friendly and polite. The music was enjoyable, and there weren't any nationalistic, patriotic, racist or sexist exploits. It was surprising, and kinda rad.

Yeh, there was a lot of hard drug taking that i wanted no part of, but even that manifested itself in the most benign way possible: "Dude, Explosions in the Sky were AMAZING!"

"Sure dude, cool. Glad you're having fun."

So in conclusion: consider my head officially pulled in. Meredith was fun, despite my best attempts not to have any.

Oh, and the toilets were great.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Ruler of all of Life!

There isn't anything much more confronting than staggering into the front door, after having totally punished yourself on the bike in a weekend of brutal racing, than for your housemate to look up, mildly curious, (after having played ten straight hours of Zelda) and ask: "How was the ride?"

This is, of course, normal. Anything that involves bike riding, for the uninitiated, is simply riding, rather than racing. If i were to explain the difference, they wouldn't understand, and would probably care even less.

So I am back from the Tour of Bright. It went quite well. I am a little disappointed in the way i climbed, insofar as i could never find a rhythm, and was significantly slower than i was hoping. But i had a good time, and learnt a lot, that I will certainly be taking back with me next year.

The real star of the race, however, was of course Gene Mills. Gene faded a little in the last few kilometres of Hotham, but that was only after destroying the first third of it. I have never come across someone as willing and able to put himself in the hurt box, and then keep going. Sheer grit and determination got him through, and to quite a respectable finish! Let's not forget, of course, that Gene has been riding bikes for about two year, and only racing them for just over six months. It was a pleasure to watch you race Gene Mills. Next time though, bring your god damn helmet.

Rather than making me a little downtrodden at not having climbed as well as i was hoping, I am increasingly inspired to keep working to get better. As i have mentioned previously, next year is pretty free for me, and so i figure a few of those time gaps can be filled with riding bikes.

Maybe next year at Bright, i can get in the top 20, or perhaps even the top 10 if i work hard enough. That might be fun!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The World That You Despise.

After house sitting for my mum yet again, I can finally conclude that I am not meant to spend much time by myself. Rather than doing anything productive, I just eat too much and watch Hilary Duff movies. It's not so much the watching that is problematic, but my reaction at the end whereby i sit in front of the television, maybe sipping on some tea and think, 'yes, yes, that was actually not a bad film. Cinderella Story got quite a bad rap from the critics back in 2004. Thoroughly undeserved'.

These are, of course, the first rants of a madman, and so i can say with some relief that I am leaving the cultural wasteland of the Southside within the day. I won't be there long though because I'm off to Bright to race.

This is kinda what i have been training for (or trying to during my honours year) the past four of five months, so I'm both excited and a bit nervous. I want to do well, but I'm also very aware of the calibre of rider that is going to be out there this weekend.

As it stands, my tentative goals at the moment are to finish the Tour overall, as well as to finish in the top half up the Hotham stage. I think this is achievable.

When i get back, I reckon I'll take a few days off, and then take stock. Already i have vague plans for the new year and beyond that are bike related. But for now, Hotham awaits!