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Wednesday, December 07, 2005

I'm not.

"How small a thought it takes to fill a whole life"
-Ludwig Wittgenstein

If I had gotten far enough to worry about coming up with a title, I might have called it "Ode to School". The sole line of music I wrote could just as easily have been composed by a primitive computer program. It followed basic music theory to a Z: no moving fifths, no moving octaves, precise four part harmony. It refused to show the slightest hint of ambition, moving those voices no more than absolutely necessary. It had no melody, and a plodding pace. It felt like it would go on forever, and in those six bars of music was packed an eternity of misery. No, that's not really accurate- an eternity was packed into each note. By the third note, any listener would be in agony. ---------------
I . . . V65 . . . I . . .
There were no surprises, no emotion but the bottled kind, no enthusiasm.

It must have been about a year ago when I sat down to calculate out a tune to provide the optimal amount of misery. It was a perfect musical representation of what I felt about my life at the time. I had a plan for the piece, a good one: I would drone on for much too much time, and then introduce some more interesting elements slowly, as if the character is trying to escape his fate. By the end of the piece, there would be no hint left of the dreary existence at the beginning. Nice message, don't you think? But there was no motion, and I had to sustain the beginning for at least a minute or two without any acceleration, or else the ending would mean nothing. I gave up after six measly bars of stillness and misery, rather than following through to the end of a satisfying masterpiece of destruction and happiness.

I can vividly recall running around the track in gym class with the rest of my grade. There was a clear goal, and we all did it together. The goal was to run until we reached the same point we had come from, then do the whole thing again. And again. There was an eternity in every lap- no, every step. After three steps, I was in agony. ----------
Left . . . Right . . . Left . . .
We did this routine every week.

It was so mindless, so tedious. I had to think of something -anything- to preserve my sanity.

I can't do this.
Yes you can!
No, my legs are aching so much...
Stop thinking about your legs! Think of games!
Games... Maybe "Preparation for the Real World" could have a little minigame representing the brutality of gym classes....
None of that! Try thinking of... of...
Of what? You know, I think I'm just going to faint. A faint would be nice- it would get me out of having to keep running. How do I faint? Is there a particular method?
I don't think so.
Faint... faint... please faint.... This isn't working.
A blog! You know, you said that might be a good idea. Think of that!
They're all running in the same direction. It doesn't actually get anywhere; it just goes right back where it started. They're just following what the teacher said- there's no room for any personality.
No, the blog! Get back to the blog!
Oh, yeah. I could just write whatever I like. That would be nice. I think I'll stop running now.
No, keep going! Keep going! You can do it!
Why should I? Why should I do what everyone else does?
The blog. I need a title. Something that reflects me. Who am I, really?

Who am I, really?

When I'm next to a pessimist, I'm cheerful.
When I'm next to an optimist, I'm depressed.
When I'm next to someone serious, I'm a complete nutcase.
When I'm next to someone nutty, I'm calm and controlled.
I love to argue.
I hate to agree.
If there are two sides to any argument, I'll find a third.
When faced with no opportunity for change, I love change.
When faced with every opportunity for change, I fear it.
When with adults I aim to act like I'm seven and a half.
When with children I aim to act like I'm seventy-four.
Who am I?

I'm not.
I'm driven by the conflicts between adulthood and childhood, rationality and human nature, art and rules, but most of all (as corny as it sounds) by the conflict between the Real World and my imagination.
By stifling imagination, there was no conflict with which to drive my composition. Without conflict, I will never move.

But who am I? Why do I need conflict?

Well, I don't really know, to tell the truth. Maybe it's just my nature. Maybe I'm just too lazy to care about anything else. Maybe it's my way of being different from all the people I've hated over the years who only know how to follow others. Or maybe I'm just a little kid, and this is how I get attention. I like that explanation best. :)

Hello. This is my blog. I don't actually expect anyone to read this, but as long as you're here, I ought to get started. ----------
It's so cool to think someone might actually read this!
No one will bother to read it. Here, I'll write "Dear Imaginary Friends" at the top.
At least it's funny.
No, it's garbage. Maybe I should say it's supposed to be.
Hey, that would be funny.
I'm really going nowhere with this. Anyone reading this will die of boredom.
Hey, I just had an idea!
So, um, hello. As I said, this is my blog. And I, uh, didn't expect you to be here. Should I get started? Or maybe I should just ramble on a little longer, or-
It was so liberating, so random. So childish, so entertaining. So unconventional, so ignorable. It was a perfect counterpoint to what I really felt about my life. I instantly fell in love with the format, and to this day I've continued to shape the blog out of a feeling of obligation.

It seems like only yesterday I left school, and with it any connection to the dark side of the Real World. Since then, I've been playing games, reading comic books, improvising, arguing, and generally doing nothing in particular. It's pure bliss.

Sometimes I wonder if I've become a piece of furniture. ----------
"There's the computer room in there. There's our TV, which doesn't work very well. There's our three computers, which are constantly breaking down. There's Mory, who sits there by that computer; we're thinking about getting him replaced. There's a chair we've had for a long time, which is all ripped up now....
I'm constantly doing things, but I never really get anywhere. I show no more ambition than is absolutely necessary, moving only between the computer and the piano. It feels like eternity is passing by in an instant. It feels like I could sit in this chair forever.

But I can't. Not because I have any faith in reality, but because my subconscious is becoming restless with no conflict to drive me. When will this new conflict begin to manifest itself? Why, it already has. Without really meaning to, I've been working on the structure necessary to push my life in a new direction. I've been working on it for months, in fact. "But where is this structure?", you ask. (Okay, so you didn't, but let's say you did.) What can I possibly craft to force myself to start moving? And where could I have put it, without my lazier side jeopardizing its results?

My dear imaginary friend, you've just read it.




A few comments about this post, not because they're particularly interesting, but just because I imagine someday I might like to remember them:

I did not, in fact, expect this ending. Furthermore, it is completely truthful.

When I first started the blog, naturally I was not considering going into a structure like this. So the symbolism (Myst/V, Me/I) was originally a coincidence, although I did notice it soon after, and of course you can see how I made the most of it.

When I decided I would like an overall structure to the introduction, my intention was to end with "What do I want?", as a homage to Straczynski. I abandoned this idea only while writing the post, since it was very obvious that beyond the "cuteness" factor, there was no point. The question of identity the two questions imply isn't relevant to my story. If I had used the Shadow question, I certainly would have tried to cram the questions "Who do I serve?" and "Who do I trust?" in somewhere a few years down the road. But once I started writing, there was zero chance that I'd go with that title. It's just as well- the way the blog turned out is, I think, homage enough to Straczynski. (Again, no conscious effort on my part- it just turned out that way, and I noticed as it happened.)

While I'm talking about influences, there are two other names I should bring up. My style of switching between styles, which I use in music as much as I do here, is inspired by Michel Ancel, and specifically his masterpiece "Beyond Good & Evil". The dots in this last post are inspired by David Mack, and specifically the way he often writes little thematic phrases past the edges of the panels. They didn't work out quite as well as I had hoped, but I'll be using them in the future regardless.

Finally, at one point I meant to end after "Betrayal of Myst", and the idea I had come up with for the inappropriately titled "What do I want?" turned into "The Fundamental Interconnectedness Of All Things". It works much better like this, don't you think? Especially since Myst V turned out to not at all resolve the issue.

By the way, I only know the Wittgenstein quote because Steve Reich made a song out of it. I'm not the intelligent sort of person who studies philosophy.


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