Consider success. Not success as defined initially, but rather the social attachments that are attributed to it. Now consider that nobody knows really what goes on in anyone else’s head. The closest we can get is asking someone directly and hoping they don’t lie.
So much of success—a massively influential concept within the fabric of American society—is based on an individual’s assumption of the judgment of others. We invoke perceived (or sometimes passed down) concepts of merit, as opposed to our own, for goals in life. The way to look or the amount of wealth one should have by a certain age; it should not be about the gaps between the extremes in these subjects but rather that they would be the subjects of success at all.
While it makes sense at first glance to endorse success around the things we all have in common—money being the primary invented constant—to me that seems almost antithetical. If we all have to worry about having money, why would that be how we judge one another? So much of our social roles are decided by where and how we live, what we buy, what we wear.
All these whats and never the why.
A significant few personal events are bringing these ideas to life. My roommate off to my alma matter to study theology in Boston; I find myself with another point of available transition.
Returning to Portland was about being my own boss within the system; I think, much like the concept of success, my continued unhappiness was regarding perception. “Being my own boss” as a merit, or achievement, was still giving weight to wealth as a tool of measuring priorities within my mind.
(These sort of subtle but significant influences are the underpinnings of society: consider how America may chide China for their human rights violations but not only capitalizes on them, but creates world-leading brands on modern slavery. We ignore that latter part, because China is a communist country and treats their citizens poorly.)
So this time around, to judge what I want my future to be, I first think about what I want to think about when my life flashes in front of my eyes before I die.
Being able to identify systems is a form of modern survivalism. A criticism (rightful) may get all Peggy Olson in some of this writing; the white American man talking about possibilities in life. But that’s just the thing: these are not possibilities exclusive to race, creed or color.
I’m going to do a stint on Workaway jobs; basic labor, teaching, things removed from the superfluous world of apps and technology that are not worth the stress they create. And this comes back to the ultimate idea: Absolute success can be judged by nobody but the self.
The idea of having a few years ahead where I may build houses in Scotland or help a family in some country ending in -stan, all the meanwhile being able to study my own art, writing and creative techniques with an international influence seems far better than working on padding a 401k.
Some may say, “Well, if we all went off and chased our dreams…”
I’m not even going to let you finish: We would find a way. People are remarkable when they set out to do what they love. When fear consumes them, we end up with, well, the modern landscape of America, filled with doubt and dread. We can achieve so much if and when we stop believing that success is some absolute, and that judgment rests in an existing construct.
Nothing has ever got it right, so why would we consider anything out there successful?
Perhaps it’s this notion of helicopter parenting or whatever, but throughout history humans have left families behind to explore the world. It’s how we got to where we are. People set out, unsure if or when they’ll see near and dear friends and family again. Especially in the digital age, why would we all be so decidedly geographically isolated?
Traditionalism has become an American vice, keeping us hindered with some romance of yesteryear when, I guess, it was cool that black people couldn’t vote or something. We are striving for a greatness that never was and ignoring the potential ahead; but in order to control the power that we could potentially wield, we must exhibit the knowledge of being able to define success as a humanitarian value and not a capital goal.
Don’t talk to me about the past; we’re moving forward.
Knock ‘Em Dead
Opportunity is a strange thing. I worked hard to create opportunity for my life to be generally self-directed; it comes at the cost of a stable future, but that’s a largely acceptable loss for me, as I don’t like having anything set in stone.
But opportunity, especially in America, is an often misunderstood concept because it is culturally linked to capital. The next three words in The land of opportunity are to get rich. For all of the potential in capital gains America has, in the post-war era it has largely erased any sense of culture with chain stores or popular aesthetics that make geographically significant differences relatively approachable.
Meanwhile, in Europe, if you take a night train from Berlin to Amsterdam, it’s quite obvious you’re in two different cultural centers. An argument may be that those are different countries, but what I’m saying is that in the internet era—as we go toward a global, humanitarian culture which one day would hopefully be free of war and borders—geographic heritage is imperative to retaining some sense of history.
America does its best to erase history, largely because we’re guilty of decades of international misery.
I don’t know; living without gain but experiencing these different places seems the most prudent. At least for now. You can get rich or die trying but in the end you’re going to be fucking broke when you’re dead.
Anyway. Three years ago I moved to Portland with the goal of being out of the country by the 2016 elections and that’s what I intend to do. Maybe financially a regrettable move but, fuck it. It’s time to see what I am capable of.
Catherine Deneuve, will you marry me? (And not just for the dual French citizenship, although that could come in handy in my life shortly.)
We see a huge amount about people who are very famous, who have millions of followers … and who have done absolutely nothing.
It’s wonderful to be able to take photographs, but I detest selfies … taking photographs of yourself all the time, showing off on FaceTime … it makes everything banal. It’s terrible, this notion that we’re always in the process of looking at ourselves doing something and not living.
“I Just Want To Fuck Up The Whole World.”
DOA Pro Wrestling
I have a continued fascination with Oregon’s DOA Pro Wrestling. A hundred-plus people in the back of a Moose lodge cheering 20-somethings in spandex who live down the street. Love it.
I Have Been Busy
Let It Burn
… well if this isn’t one of the most gorgeous sounds I’ve heard in a while …
It’s Pi day, and that’s cool. Especially:
So it’s fair to ask: Why do mathematicians care so much about pi? Is it some kind of weird circle fixation? Hardly. The beauty of pi, in part, is that it puts infinity within reach. Even young children get this. The digits of pi never end and never show a pattern. They go on forever, seemingly at random—except that they can’t possibly be random, because they embody the order inherent in a perfect circle. This tension between order and randomness is one of the most tantalizing aspects of pi.
This shit is fascinating, but one reason I never fully immersed myself in math is the sort of cosmic scope of death an interest in numbers provides. Take, for example, this video:
While I’ve seen this many times over (my mom was a middle school math teacher, so I grew up around numbers), I think it may help people understand climate change these days.
For example: You can see the similarities of organic systems at a micro and macro level within this video. The earth, or more specifically, nature, is reacting to the changing dynamics of circumstance that—at scale—are so minor, climate change is like scratching an itch.
People, though, are the itch and to us a scratch is hurricanes leading to earthquakes and rising sea levels.
What distinguishes pi from all other numbers is its connection to cycles. For those of us interested in the applications of mathematics to the real world, this makes pi indispensable. Whenever we think about rhythms—processes that repeat periodically, with a fixed tempo, like a pulsing heart or a planet orbiting the sun—we inevitably encounter pi.
I don’t know; I think a fundamental understanding of mathematical concepts is absolutely necessary to survival. Numerical systems are the most logical to understand, and what most of our structures in society are based off of. If you can see the ideal relationships between points, angles and compounds via math, it’s easier to adjust psychologically to the relationships between economics, labor and distribution in life.
Or else that’s just my brain and I’m fucking insane.