It is a new decade, but the same old century. For myself, it is in some ways a new life as well, or at least a new page in that journey. I have moved to England, of the former United Kingdom.1 It is just about the end of January now, and I have been here nearly a full month. Admittedly, living in a "foreign" country is difficult, but at once exhilarating. England is an especially strange case, since they speak English (because of course they do) but the language and culture are different enough from the United States and Canada to feel as if you are living in an alternate reality. It's almost stranger than, say, moving to France or Italy. At least in those cases the language divide provides a lens through which one can appreciate the parallel divide in culture. Here, they all talk (basically) like myself, yet there are enough linguistic and cultural potholes to throw a lifetime of intuition out the window.
Nevertheless, this blog — a term about as off-putting as "touch base" or "maggot-riddled" (not only spiritually but also phonetically) — has been dormant for some years. Three years and one month, to be exact. It is no surprise, then, that a significant life event (i.e. moving abroad) would catalyze an impulse to write and reflect, if you can forgive the tautology.
This drive, this will to write, it is indeed quite the experience. It comes and goes, at least in the neural phenomenology of being in time this collection of cells that forms what others call Matt Wiese (because although we are in fact hiveminds of a sort, giving it (i.e. us) a name (i.e. a pointer) makes the lives of everybody besides us (i.e. it) easier). The will to write is to be cherished when it does appear, to be fostered and nurtured like one would cultivate tomatoes in a garden. But, much like the tomateos, one ought not to fret and fuss when it dies and disappears. Life, which this (i.e. it (i.e. us)) is an expression of, is not to be held too tightly onto. Grasp it like you would a small bird, and see it blossom into a beautiful rose before your eyes. One need not achieve moksha to see that naked truth.
What might happen then, when after I am long dead, some curious person stumbles upon my old papers — notebooks, journals, and multifarious marginalia — and peruses them? They will discover a new sort of authorial archaeology, as has been taking place for two decades now (and in some cases, even earlier).
Not unlike those who have come before, I thoroughly enjoy filling paper will those squiggles that we all agree coalesce into the written word. However, there will now be additional work; the sorts of ideas that, say, Walter Benjamin may have scratched into one of his countless notebooks, I will have stashed in some forgotten directory deep inside a likely outdated filesystem. If the poor soul tasked with organizing my textual neuroses has any luck, these files may have been stored in some kind of version control — but I'd bet anything like the centralized "social coding" websites we have now will be long since abandoned, if not entirely defunct. That's not to say that there probably won't be other quirks, but I imagine that my current setup is pretty timeless, and will remain so for the foreseeable future.2 That's probably about as much as one can hope for within the culture of modern computing. A small reprieve would at least be my obsessive tendency to save ideas and the like as plaintext (i.e. literal TXT files) as opposed to any more specialized encoding scheme.
After they cast my ashes into the rising sea and go through my papers, they ought to be able to traverse the command line. Unlike Kafka, I won't have to worry about relying on a friend to burn my papers — perhaps nobody will be able to access my computer anyway. I don't think the x86 instruction set and its accompanying hardware implementations will have totally disappeared by then, but much like we have difficulty accessing the contents of 5¼ floppies today, I can only speculate as to the inconveniences our descendants will face. All just to read the psychotic drivel of one of their ancestors. A curious case to be sure.
This "time" thing, especially the passage of it (i.e. the phenomenon (but is it (i.e. us) not merely an expression of it (i.e. time)?)) has always thrown me for a veritable loop. Some of this confusion can be attributed to the cultural celebration of the passage of time, such as the West's insistence on "New Year's" as the transition to midnight on January 1st. It all seems so pointless (because of course it is) but I cannot blame humanity for grasping at metaphorical straws in their (i.e. our) effort to ground themselves in a shared hallucination. However, do at least make an effort every once in a while to appreciate the arbitrariness of days, months, weeks, and years. After all, our preoccupation with calendars is simply an effort to make material that which is impossibly immaterial.
Alas, I am rambling (i.e. enjoying the flow of time) again... I think it pertinent to reclaim this blog (ugh) from the passage of time, and so hope to write more frequently. Expect to find new essays in the near future — at least temporarily.
I hope you're all well.