Imitation: Not only a game

The race of Ultra vs Enigma in The Imitation Game prefigures Edward Snowden, #Anonymous, and the Lizard Squad.

The Imitation Game is impressive in two distinct ways. One is the deployment of cinematic license to dramatically convey what Turing expert Professor S. Barry Olson describes as “the objective truth” about the invention of the counter-machine that cracked Enigma, the Nazis supposedly unbreakable coding machine.

However, Christian Caryl’s criticism isn’t completely wrong: stereotypes about gay men do inform Benedict Cumberbatch’s representation of Turing, and could support homophobic attitudes about what is/isn’t a security risk. That said, Cumberbatch does strike a nice balance between the story of the man and the story of the technology within the constraints established by the script.

In the end, as far as the significance of this film goes, as much as Turing deserves to be celebrated every bit as much as, say, Stephen Hawking, in historical terms it is the computing technology that eclipses the identity of a gay man. This leads to the second, most impressive aspect of the film, which is of a certain metonymy: The Imitation Game is representative of the material birth of postmodernity, in which time and space have been collapsed by the digitalization of communication.

The Ultra project at Bletchley Park brings to mind the Manhattan Project in Los Alamos. Although the film rightfully celebrates Turing’s life and achievement of “the unimaginable,” like most forms of innovative knowledge his invention has a dark side, too. Unlike the development of the atomic bomb with its obviously ethical aspects, the creation of the computer appears neutral. The ubiquity of computing today feeds ambivalence about the ethics of computing which might render its unintended consequences all the more dangerous because of their subtlety.

The dark side of computing is not videogaming or social media or the proliferation of cute cats on youtube or data mining or even threats to privacy or cyberterrorism (because both of these can still be contained, if enough of us act soon and in concert). Nor is it the deep canalization of subgroups being reinforced by targeted advertising, although this may outrank all the others by perpetuating attitudes of ethnocentrism and prejudice. The difficult challenge of computing is the social construction of time as a race that only the fastest can win.

The race of Ultra vs Enigma prefigures Edward Snowden, #Anonymous, and the Lizard Squad, the latter claiming to be “working to get access to some of the core routing equipment of the Internet.” This cyber/cipher “game” is as serious now to human life and death as it was during WWII, if not more so, with the entire planet at stake. The Imitation Game should win the Oscar for its historical relevance on top of all the excellent acting and flawless production. Imitation champions anti-sexism and anti-homophobia while skirting wide of racism, “the uncontrolled imaginings of the white mind,” which make it a politically safe contender at this volatile moment of “I can’t breathe” and #BlackLivesMatter.

The imitating that Turing and contemporaries created is far more than a game. As a technology, computing has sped up the rate and pace of human social interaction. Turing’s invention was perfectly in keeping with that era of industrialization: radio, telephones and television were spreading information faster and further than ever before, and assembly lines were improving efficiencies and cranking out products at ever-increasing rates. People were (and are, even moreso now) being trained to the clock, not to any natural rhythms of the actual earth or a biological species.

Conceptualizing time and humanity’s relationship to time is tricky territory, not least because science hasn’t yet figured out where time comes from or what it is. “We’re not in a war with Germany, we’re in a war with time,” is the most important line in the film. The meaning of the scripted line is transparent in relation to the calendar and the clock, to the exigencies of battle: factually and descriptively, it is true enough. Metonymically, however, the meaning is deeply representative, even reifying, of the effect of civilization on the modern and postmodern construction of time.

It wasn’t long after the war when Claude Shannon (also a code-breaker) wrote the foundational paper on digitalization. Turing and Shannon were working on different but complementary problems at the same time. Shannon’s application of Boolean algebra is where all those 0s and 1s come from, the key being that all digitized information is forced into one or the other value. This is (so they say) a great boon for copying but there is also loss of variation, at least some of which has artistic value and intrinsic human merit.

Digitalization forces communication to flow along extremely rigid channels. All analog communication, that is, all human communication, has to be broken down into a binary code: either a zero or a one. There is no variation. (Hence, for instance, the return to vinyl for musicians attuned to the richer quality of analog sound.) The unintended consequence now known as the postmodern condition is an effect of digital forcing. Increases in the speed and ability of communication to reach across distances have outpaced humanity’s ability for sane and sustainable cultural adaptation. It’s as if human society has been sucked into a wind tunnel; people find themselves either in the main flow or in the turbulence. Few seem able to find their balance within the onrush, let alone establish positions adequate to attempt healthy and restorative counteractions.

For proper historical context and relevance, The Imitation Game needs to be understood in parallel with Citizen 4. Whether you approve of Snowden’s action or not, you should see Laura Poitras’ film capturing his conversations with journalist Glen Greenwald as news reports unfolded on our television screens and online news sources. Citizen 4 should win Best Documentary because of the time manipulation it achieves in service of art and social justice. Humans now have the means to recognize and record significant historical moments as they happen. Awards aside, to understand what The Imitation Game can teach us about living through this perilous era in human history, it is necessary to be informed about the stakes of cyber-surveillance and cyber-security’s cipher games. The new imitation game (made visible by the Sony hack with its political fallout and economic consequences) not only threatens privacy, real democracy, and genuine social justice, but is also a crucial playing field where humanity’s efforts to evolve enough to avert climate disaster will be determined.

The Imitation Game is more than a good movie; it allows a rare window for comprehensive reflection on the highest stakes of life and living, here and now.

The Message of Interstellar, Birdman, and Dear White People

The declining ability to grow food foretells the end of humanity in Interstellar much as it does in actual climate science. Food doesn’t enter Birdman, and is only racialized in Dear White People. Now, stretch with me, will you?

The essential message of these three very different movies–all playing now–is that everything is up to us.

Interstellar and Birdman are rivals on the twinned theme of love and passion. Where they diverge is that Birdman establishes no context: there’s only the stage awhirl in the midst of contemporary chaos. Interstellar, according to the best principles of science fiction, embeds its story in the established science of our times, prioritizing the climate crisis on the scale at which it deserves, within the irrefutable consequences of species survival or extinction. Along comes Dear White People, to illustrate the sickening scope of intraspecies bigotry and pettiness which we’ve yet to overcome.

Mentoring for the Earth, Utne Reader, Mar-Apr 2014, p. 70.
Mentoring for the Earth, Utne Reader, Mar-Apr 2014, p. 70.

While watching Interstellar, I wondered at the non-representative racial composition of the slice of surviving humanity the film constructs for us to see. Tokenism reigns, unless Christopher Nolan and his band of writers aim to propose that the privileges of whiteness extend into the near-term upcoming calamity. They could, of course. Certainly the U.S. government is embattled on this linch pin: will democracy, freedom, and equality of opportunity truly be enabled for all or will special [white] interests continue to dictate law and privilege? Not that underfunded NASA seems likely to have anything to offer in the way of off-planet redemption. That’s more likely to come from the European Space Agency, having successfully landed a spacecraft on a streaking comet.

As far as media effects go (that is, convincing the world that white people, especially white men, are the main strain of the species worth caring about), Birdman is right on cue, with its agonized and agonizing straight white male Everyman. Saving Broadway! Hallelujah!

While Birdman patches together an impressively tight composition of literary layers and cultural references, Dear White People blows it out of the water with the most densely packed social commentary I’ve ever seen. (Curious to know what you think are its equals, or even in the same league.)

“Dear White People,” Samantha White (Tessa Thompson) sums it all up, “Nevermind.” Are the costs of racial fallout still too touchy to resolve? In our day and age, too many white people are playing racism as a game–and a fun one at that. People of color are still too often forced to craft lives within the omnipresence of race consciousness. (It’s time to be colorbrave.) Oh sure, Dear White People is a comedy! How else could such stunning criticism receive the light of day? Are all the characters types? Aren’t we all, each of us, out here living our real, untheatrical lives, also easily categorized as a type? The question is which types get airtime and which don’t; which types can help us reweave the social fabric and which won’t. We have to choose.

“Humans are cultural animals,” writes Mark Morey. “Our evolution continues along paths that we direct through our choices, patterns, and behaviors. Even more importantly—we pass culture along through initiation and story.” The story of Interstellar is that the bond of parents and children is a force commensurate with gravity. The science stretches into fiction here, because none of the things we need to know to pull off such a journey are within reach. The declining ability to grow food, however, foretells the end of humanity in Interstellar much as it does in actual climate science. Food doesn’t enter Birdman, and is only racialized in Dear White People.  Now, stretch with me, will you?

Just as Lionel blows when his jazz solo arrives—even though he doesn’t like jazz!—we need to be colorbrave in our daily lives, identify and dismiss noisome distractions, and alter the impelling rush of catastrophe.  Somehow, someway, the artistic and intellectual brilliance of today’s intergenerational collective intelligence must form new relationships and stories that recreate and renew society based on perennial agriculture, aka permaculture. The trio of films examined here demonstrate that social justice needs permaculture and vice-versa, if another seven generations are to prosper on the earth.

Interpreting

My dissertation is available through Scholarworks at the University of Massachusetts.

 

 

“Language is the medium and progenitor of discourse.”

~ Evangelina Holvino ~

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

This dissertation began twenty-five years ago, long before I entered graduate school, with the Deaf and Hearing members of the Bilingual-Bicultural Committee at the Indiana School for the Deaf.  By living what it means to be an ally, you gave me a taste of the possible and set my life on course. Together, all of you had achieved a large cohesive group where difference mattered but was not allowed to get in the way. I have not yet encountered another group with such a broad range of diversity and clearly shared purpose.

Continue reading “Interpreting”

Turn-Taking & Repair: Problems of Flow in Intercultural Communication

This workshop, featuring Dr Eileen Forestal, Dr Stephanie Jo Kent, and Cynthia Napier, M.Ed., will be presented at the Conference of Interpreter Trainers in Portland, Oregon.

 

What would interpreting be like if we embraced and valued interruptions rather than judging them as negative disruptions to flow? Conversation analysis yields specific insights about the dynamics of turn-taking (when the same language is used by all) and also about when, how, and by whom repairs can be initiated (also based on interaction in the same language). In this dialogue between two Deaf and one Hearing interpreter-researcher/practitioners, these functionalist analyses in the homolingual (same language) mode are combined with a critical analysis of power from the field of translation studies. Lawrence Venuti’s concept of foreignization(from cultural studies) is introduced as an opposite paradigm to the popular linguistic paradigm of fluency. The implications of exploring problems of flow from another paradigm are suggested as a productive path for improving the quality of interpreting for everyone.

The Resource and Reallocation Crisis

One way to understand the scope of the planetary crisis is how authors of speculative/science fiction deal with the problem of avoiding self-inflicted human extinction.  Alastair Reynolds composed a page of (fictional) historical reflection in Blue Remembered Earth (2012).

 

Context:

Geoffrey (the primary protagonist) is returning to his home in Africa from a space flight to the Moon. Unbeknownst to him until she speaks, he’s accompanied by a “construct” of his grandmother, Eunice (a main protagonist).

cover_BlueRememberedEarth_Reynolds_2014-06-26 at 7.43.43 PM“Look at that planet. It’s still beautiful. It’s still ours, still our home. The oceans rose, the atmosphere warmed up, the weather went ape-shit, we had stupid, needless wars. And yet we still found a way to ride it out, to stay alive. To do more than just survive. To come out of all that and still feel like we have a home.” (Eunice,  p. 167)

Geoffrey and Eunice are in “the recuperation and observation deck . . . Africa lay spread out . . . in all its astonishing variegated vastness. The Libreville anchorpoint was actually a hundred kilometers south of its namesake city and as far west again, built out into the Atlantic. Looking straight down, he could see the grey scratch of the sea-battered artificial peninsula daggering from the Gabon coastline, with the anchorpoint a circular widening at its westerly end.

To the north, beginning to be pulled out of sight by the curvature of the Earth, lay the great, barely inhabited emptiness of Saharan Africa, from Mauritania to the Sudan. Tens of millions of people had lived there, until not much more than a century ago—enough to cram the densest megacity anywhere on the planet. Clustered  around the tiny life-giving motes of oases and rivers, those millions had left the emptiness practically untouched. Daunting persistence had been required to make a living in those desert spaces, where appalling hardship was only ever a famine or drought away. But people had done so, successfully, for thousands of years. It was only the coming of the Anthropocene, the human-instigated climate shift of recent centuries, that had finally brought the Saharan depopulation. In mere lifetimes, the entire region had been subject to massive planned migration. Mali, Chad, Niger . . . these were political entities that still existed, but only in the most abstract and technical of senses., their borders still recorded, their GDPs still tracked. Almost no one actually lived in them, save a skeleton staff of AU caretakers and industrialists.

The rising sea levels of the twenty-first century had scarcely dented Africa’s coastline, and much of what would have been lost to the oceans had been conserved by thousands of kilometres of walled defenses thrown up in haste and later buttressed and secured against further inundation. But there was no sense that Africa had been spared. The shifting of the monsoon had stolen the rains from one part and redistributed them elsewhere—parching the Congo, anointing the formerly arid sub-Saharan Sahel region from Guinea to Nigeria.

Change on that kind of scale, a literal redrawing of the map, could never be painless. There had been testing times, the Resource and Reallocation years: almost the worst that people could bear. Yet these were Africans, used to that kind of thing. They had come through the grim tunnel of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and made it out the other side. And at least climate change didn’t ride into town with tanks and guns and machetes.

For the most part. It was pointless to pretend that there hadn’t been outbreaks of local stupidity, micro-atrocities. Ethnic tensions, simmering for decades, had flared up at the least provocation. But that was the case the world over; it wasn’t a uniquely African problem.

A million glints of sunlight spangled back at Geoffrey from the central Saharan energy belt. When people moved away, machines had arrived. In their wake they had left regimented arrays of solar collectors, ranks of photovoltaic cells and long, stately chains of solar towers, fed by sun-tracking mirrors as large as radio telescopes. The energy belt stretched for thousands of kilometres, from the Middle East out into the Atlantic, across the ocean to the Southern United States, and it wrapped humming, superconducting tentacles around the rest of the planet, giving power to dense new conurbations in Scandinavia, Greenland, Patagonia, and Western Antarctica. Where there had been ice a hundred and fifty years ago, much was now green or the warm bruised grey of dense urban infrastructure. Half of the world’s entire energy needs were supplied by Saharan sunlight, or had been until the fusion reactors began to shoulder the burden. By some measure, the energy belt was evidence of global calamity, the visible symptom of a debilitating planetary crisis. It was also, inarguably, something rather wonderful to behold.” (pp.165-166. Ace: New York)

 

 

Guide to Earning #KRKTR Points

#KRKTR is an open game for everyone interested in developing individual character and social resilience.

Points are earned for promoting and continuing communication, especially across different topics and among different groups. The idea is that both character and resilience are built at the intersections.

Rules

This ReTweet is worth 700 points: 100 (tweet itself) + 100 (it's a RT) + 500 (First Response).
This ReTweet is worth 700 points: 100 (tweet itself) + 100 (it’s a RT) + 500 (First Response).
  1. Every Tweet must include the hashtag #KRKTR
  2. Conference-based players should also include the conference hashtag, e.g., #NCORE2014
  3. All players, including non-conference players, may include other relevant hashtags
  4. Official play has distinct start and end times, announced by @KRKTR_HUB (all players are encouraged to follow @KRKTR_HUB but this is not a requirement).
  5. Unofficial play is continuous.
  6. This is a good faith game.
  7. Stimulating laughter is welcome; exercise good taste!
  8. Playing #KRKTR is an assertion of shine, all players are Bright Allies.
This ReTweet is worth 700 points.
This ReTweet is worth 700 points.

Points

  • 100 points per Tweet (remember it has to conform to the Rules above)
    • Plus 200 points if your Tweet is a Reply to another’s Tweet (be sure to include the #KRKTR hashtag!)
    • Plus 100 points if your Tweet is a ReTweet (don’t lose the #KRKTR hashtag!)
    • Plus 500 points if your Tweet is the First Response (as determined by the timelines at twitter.com/KRKTR_HUB and twubs.com/KRKTR)
    • Plus 250 points if your Tweet is the Second Response 
    • Plus 100 points if your Tweet is the Third Response or later; all additional responses earn +100 points
    • The Last Response in each thread earns all the points accumulated in that thread: 500 + 250 + 100 x (nbr of additional Tweets) NOTE: The Last Response is determined by the end of official game play as announced by @KRKTR_HUB.
1500 Points for SJEchat (800 + 700)...will elhistoryprof continue the conversation?
If this was official game play: 1500 points for SJEchat (800 + 700)…will elhistoryprof continue the conversation?

Threads

A thread is created whenever Replies and/or ReTweets are made to any original Tweet that includes the #KRKTR hashtag.

  • Previous Tweets from the #KRKTR archive can be ReTweeted or Replied to in order to earn points during official game play.
  • Threads can originate from any #KRKTR player.
  • Threads originated by @KRKTR_HUB may become privileged. (Haven’t figured this part out yet.)
  • Serious #KRKTR players are encouraged not to respond to “bad will” Tweets. Let them die alone and quickly.
Connecting issues across populations using hashtags. NOTE: The #KRKTR hashtag is missing = no points during official game play.
Connecting issues across populations using hashtags. NOTE: The #KRKTR hashtag is missing = no points during official game play.

Hashtags

Advanced play involves careful and strategic use of hashtags to make connections whenever an intersection appears.

Cultivation of a connection across two different discourses (as organized by the hashtag) requires repetition and persistence.

Rather than hashtagging every word, be focused and deliberate about the connection you’re trying to forge.

Prizes

Prizes will be announced as sponsors come forth with them.  (Negotiations are underway. Contact Steph with offers for this and future rounds of play.)

 

Race and Ethnicity promote Character and Resilience

At the end of May, I’ll be presenting two major workshops at the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity (NCORE) in higher education.

 

One presentation, called Social Interpreting: An emerging model of simultaneous interactioninvolves Babelverse, which you can learn about by watching this 20 minute video prepared for the @ think! Interpreting conference in Istanbul (March, 2014).

 

 

The second workshop is called Transmedia Character Building for Social Resilience. It promotes the idea that building character (#KRKTR) is an idea that can unify people across all kinds of divisions, and contribute to establishing locally-oriented community connections both within and beyond traditional power structures.

Can Permaculture Voices guide us through climate change?

 

Dominic reminded me that the way we talk needs revision. There is no “solution” to climate change; nothing to stop the forces already in motion. “We have to go through it.” What there are, instead, are ways of living during the escalation of natural disasters. Perhaps, against the odds, if enough of us change fast enough, the living earth will be able to rejuvenate itself and life on earth will persist into the far future.

Note: each subheading links to a summary of Tweets, one for each day of the 4-day conference.

Permaculture Voices is launched

Karl asked the most relevant question: What is the best path forward? Participants at the first Permaculture Voices conference in Temecula, CA spent four days searching out and following their own answers. A star-studded cast of some the living earth’s most well-known champions provided a scientific and ethical framework for the monumental economic, cultural and lifestyle changes required (of North Americans, in particular).

Eating locally grown food is the most obvious feature of permaculture; its discourse has begun to effect public opinion and (some) public policy. However, being a local hero in-and-of-itself is insufficient to guarantee a future for your children and grandchildren. Earth will lose its breathable atmosphere within decades if we persist in delaying fundamental changes in energy consumption and dismantling corporate agriculture.

Action Packed Presentation Schedule

If one wanted to notice, there were visible absences in the conference demographics. People of color, women presenters, and international representation, for instance, were seriously under-represented. Some of these imbalances were aired publicly and grumbled about privately, but perseverating on them would be a mistaken use of energy along the lines of the “feedback loops” Allan Savory refuses to entertain in the mission to let cattle (and other livestock) save the planet. Women (especially white women) need to step up and start doing epic shit (echoing Paul Wheaton and paraphrasing Larry Santoyo).

 

https://twitter.com/MontadoFarms/statuses/444884615346798592

The more significant yet rarely spoken tension is class and the luxurious privileges of whiteness. Not just white skin privilege (which varies according to social class), but the attitudes of whiteness that celebrate individualism and the myth of independence. It’s damn scary to realize that I don’t know enough people with the skills to help me survive; humbling to realize how little I have to offer in regard to growing food or tending animals; and terrifying to consider that not only is my incompetence not unique but rather it’s the norm. 

 

Building Urgency: Reaching for Permaculture Velocity

Toby Hemenway illustrated why there are no energy solutions that allow Americans (especially) to continue to consume so much power. We have to stop. Now. It’s really that simple. We have to suck it up and suffer for the sake of future generations. No presenters talked about how to make these transitions on a meaningful scale but I did hear of places (cities and regions) where significant progress is underway. Why not in more places?

There are a lot of excuses to postpone lifestyle change. These (mostly selfish) rationalizations combine with general tendencies of insularity (sticking with one’s own kind) and the drive to take care of immediate family first. The latter is reasonable, but permaculture as a movement can’t stop there. We need more Willie Smits’s and Geoff Lawtons and Allan Savory’s doing good works on massive scales (none of them are American, hmmm) demonstrating and modeling that complexity can be holistically managed and climate change perhaps mitigated by an unprecedented, massively-collaborative surge of homo sapiens seeking to survive.

Reaching for the tipping point

We need better soil for growing food and other critical biomass, and we have to stop the spread of deserts. There are ‘technologies’ – methods, behaviors, attitudes and manual human effort – that can make HUGE DIFFERENCES in a QUICK TIMEFRAME if we JUST START! Biochar is relatively easy and contributes on several fronts. Permaculture principles need to be imposed on all agricultural facilities, asap. Policies encouraging postmodern cattle drives are desperately needed to help reverse desertification around the world.

The thing is that we in the west (and those in the east aspiring to the west’s lifestyle with disregard for its awful consequences) can no longer have it all. We never could, but the bubble of privilege maintained the aura of illusion for a few generations. I admit I’m worried about how well I’ll hold up when my comforts begin to diminish.

At the same time, I’m honored and humbled to be called to participate in the greatest undertaking humanity has ever faced. Geoff, Paul, Allan, Toby, Diego Footer, Nicholas Wooten, Jessica Schilke, Souki Mehdaoui, Ryan Harb, Elaine Ingham, Doniga Markegaard, Nadia Lawton, yes yes even Joel Salatin and Mark Shepard (but I have to ask if you’re playing too close to the monster?), the other presenters and participants, and all the permies in the community house, with each your own specializations, commitments and passions: THANK YOU for your bright hearts, light spirits, and deep compassion for the living earth.

 

Permaculture Balance: Approaching Wholeness with David Eggleton

I’m thrilled to be co-presenting with David at Permaculture Voices on the necessary care of people dimension of generating (and re-generating) collectively-oriented social webs for planetary maintenance and survival.

David and I will co-present a workshop at the beginning of the first Permaculture Voices conference, to be held in Temecula, CA. He’s the Meaningful Makeover content guy; we’re both pedagogues, and I fancy myself the interpreter.

In our hour-long workshop, participants will be guided through a set of considerations for charting their course through the offerings of this incredible collection of luminaries full of unapologetic hope.  The considerations blend learning theory and permaculture principles. We’re designing the workshop to have immediate application for participants in the here and now of the conference in order to root a scaffold for self-directed, lifelong learning that can be taken home for daily use and applied to any experience, anywhere.

“We can’t go it alone for very long” (Weisman, p. 269)

spiderweb_applied ecologicsFacing “the Three Scary Numbers” of global warming isn’t easy. If you take in the ramifications of that terrifying math seriously (and don’t choose denial as a coping mechanism), you’re likely to wind up in the camp of Guy McPherson and the Doomers. Guy is the most vocal advocate of it being too late to do anything meaningful to salvage life on earth due to the amount of self-reinforcing feedback loops already in motion. If you do take the scary numbers seriously (as Guy, Bill McKibben, and many others have and do), you’re almost guaranteed to experience emotional shock or even trauma. For me, the fog from that “poison” of realization (as it was metaphorically described by a friend) lasted fifteen months; it’s only in retrospect that I can perceive how wounded I was by recognizing near term human extinction. Coming out of the fog meant, for me, gaining clarity on my values and my skills.

Permanent Culture = Permaculture

odometerI recently snapped this photo of my 1993 Volvo’s odometer to share with the mechanic I bought it from last year. Paul told me the record for a Volvo from his shop was 509,000 miles, and he had heard of a guy who supposedly drove his for over three million miles!  Personally I wouldn’t want to spend that many hours in the seat of a car! But this got me thinking about durability and resilience supported by maintenance: a web of social and physical factors interwoven with environmental conditions. Permanent implies fixed, unchanging, absolute—but culture is adaptive, adaptable, evolutionary. Putting them together is not exclusively about food, central as food is to survival. This is why I’m thrilled to be working with David on the necessary care of people ethical dimension of generating (and re-generating) collectively-oriented communities for planetary maintenance and survival.
Follow #permavoices on Twitter and contribute to the Permaculture Voices conference dialogue.

Memory of a Circle

“It is over.”

With this epigraph, Charles Genoud begins his book on the non-sense of time. Near the end of Gesture of Awareness (pp. 164-166), Genoud writes:

I hold on to the notion
of a subject.

On the impersonal world of experiences,
with a single letter, I
I trace a person,

as if creating
a blower of the wind,
a rainer of the rain.

A single letter
sets two worlds apart:

the world of object
and the world of subject,
and thus comes exile.

We are all storytellers.
We spin the fiction of our lives,
the fiction that we are.

I may move
my hand in a way that one
could call circular—

but there is no circle.
Can my hand be
at more than one place at a time?

If so,
where is the circle?

One is holding only traces, memories:
it is through such traces that one speaks
of movement, and of a circle.

The fiction that I am
is created in a similar way.

Holding to traces of past moments,
holding to imagined future moments,
I draw an enduring character, I.

But just as with the circle
seen in the movement of a hand,
I am no where to be found.

Once I’ve created the main character, I
once I’ve put distance between
myself and experience—

my story can’t be but a story of exile,
of a hopeless wandering.

Exile can end only with end
of the split between
object and subject;

exile can end only if the fictitious nature
of object and subject
is seen through.

As the main character
is also the storyteller,
he resists his own ending.

The world of traces, of fiction,
isn’t another world

as there is no real world
with respect to which it could be
other.

The memory of the circle
drawn by my hand is only
the trace of a trace,

the trace of something that
never was.

I’m also looking forward to seeing a ragged assortment of Monks and Nuns when the Human Sushi Platter will be guest of honor at an event hosted by Hot Mama.