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Date: First of May, 2003 2:57am (again)
Subject: riding the rails.

Home again.  Home now is Amtrak.  This month I'm riding the rails, a post-modern hobo; have laptop, will travel.  I've been reading Glas this trip.  That Derrida is a nut.  We've gotten sidetracked in Fruedianism now, perhaps the single inexcusable tendancy in his philosophy.  But heck, he married a Psychoanalyst, so what would you expect? Still, there's a lot of really good material...

What is sought here is a starcase that is not Hegelian, a slightly silly way of saying another staircase of the spirit from which to understand, to climb up and down, to dismantle the Hegelian course [demárche].

No longer can one even say, "it (ça) begins or ends with love." "I begin with" or "I end with" equals: "the I begins where it (ça) has begun before the I believes" and "the I ends where it (ça) continues to begin again," already.

..."Love means in general terms the consciousness of my unity with another, so that I am not in selfish isolation but win my self-consciousness as the renunciation of {Aufgebung, the dispossession of} my being-for-self and through knowing myself as the unity of myself with another and of the other with me."

The movement described is thus the relief {la relève} of a dispossession, the Aufhebung of Aufgebung by which I find again in the other what I lose of myself... The remark immediately turns on itself "But love is feeling, i.e. ethical life in the form of the natural.  In the state, feeling no longer is [ethical life in the form of the natural]; there we are conscious of unity as law; there the content must be rational and known to us.  The first moment in love is that I do not wish to be for me an independant person and that, if I were, then I would be lacking and incomplete.  The second moment is that I attain myself in another person, that I count in the other for what the other in turn attains in me." (pg. 17-8; Derrida, Glas, 1974/1990)

<for more of this philosophic rant, click here>

So this is what my head is doing, at 4:46AM (central time/GMT -6), somewhere in eastern North Dakota or Minnesota.  I am riding the Empire Builder, which follows the Lewis and Clark route, circa 1805.  Lewis and Clark were discovering the Northwest Passage while Hegel was sending the Phenomenology of the Spirit to press.  Meanwhile, almost exactly 200 years later, I am sitting on a train watching the tracks all merge.  I do not see the relevance in emphasizing the difference in all these systems.  Derrida employs freudian phallocentrism to Hegelian readings of the New and Old testiments.  I apply a different set of tools to the same.  Where is the truth? 

The truth is in the question.

And what is the question?

No, seriously, what is the question?  I don't know anymore.  For me, it is "How do I talk about it?"  Not so much 'what is the it to talk about?'.  Nevertheless, I have to face the fact that there are exceptionally few people who have now read this far.  For very few people have the time, patience, or desire to do so.  So now what is the question?  It wraps itself around the audience.


a'coupla' days later; What day? 

Date: 3rd of May, 2003

or so...

Rolling down the new Amtrak "fast tracks,"  Feeling rockstar.  Still reading Glas's dual narrative reading... narative reading... narative reading....   Something is horribly write or wrong in that other than spelling... Outcast is pumping some serious bass into my ears, while I tap on my laptop; this line involves an outlet at every seat and Gardenburgers.  Amtrak is learning.

Its now twice in Chicago that I've completely neglected to be a tourist. It occurred to me as I was leaving that they have a really tall-ass building downtown with an observation deck which I visited as a child; a freshly recovered memory of that trip. 

Feeling so rockstar after my visit with Jess in Chicago.  Jessica and I have this very unlikely relationship.  We're pretty sure we didn't get along back when we were "friends," but not a single point of controversey survived the crucible of time.  We have about nine years of common history, yet no memories to get in the way of the present.  So this visit I brought her a sari from India, however the future involves Japan, so we quickly dispensed with the past and changed costumes.  We dressed up in Kimonos, watched anime (the first episodes of Ranma 1/2), went to the liquor store for Saki, but had to settle on Sapporo; The final costume change of the evening was a return to America's heartland: wife beaters, cammoflage shorts, leopard print cowboy hats, switchblades...

After a noontime breakfast Bloody Mary (two days in a row) with Smoked Salmon Benedict (I had the eggs florentine) and mimosas, I boarded this train to Ann Arbor, from which now I write (sic.).  I think We're due in half an hour.  The funniest thing about this whole visit was going with her to the gym to work out together.  Jessica has gotten it into her head to train for a  marathon, much to everyone's mystification...  Coincidentally, I've gotten it into my head to lift unnecessarily heavy things for pleasure.  We, on our separate tacks, have reached this bizarre convergence and ran with it.  Well, she ran.  I lifted heavy things.  Its amazing how forgetful we can all be when we want to be.  I'm sure if I could remember correctly (or more likely were she to recollect), there are probably reasons Jess and I shouldn't be friends.  And certainly we shouldn't have everything in common.  Ah, time.  I'm reminded of a hundred monkeys with typewriters for some reason.

I'm doing a horrible job documenting this trip.  Seattle was great.  Somewhat a blitzkreig visit it was.  I went, drank, left; I don't really remember that much about it; must mean I had fun.  So far I'm making up for the last two months of "responsible" living... Who am I kidding.  All these arbitrary lines and definitions.  What separates all these states and states is less compelling than the binding twine.

Can't think.  The screwdriver and Johnny Cash, Outcast and Derrida, Jessica and Chicago, Seattle and Berkeley have scrabbled my head.  Just in time; Jackson, Michigan was the last stop. Now June Carter and Mr. Cash are talkin about goin' to Jackson... but its not clear if that is THE Jackson they were singing about...  Josh awaits me at the next...


More incoherent ramblings...  I have a HUGE NDA covering Ann Arbor.   So I don't know even how to begin this section.  Howzabouta date?

Date: 6th of May, 2003
Subject: wha....

Cleveland is just like I remembered it.  Middle America at its most middle.  The urban landscape between there and, well, a ways around, was fabulous.  As the early morning sun broke the morning sky into, the clouds marched steadily eastward low in the sky, while Amtrak crawled along the tracks on the outskirts of town.  The low, sad, lighting and urban decay created a landscape of Haiku waiting to be discovered.  Someday I will take a vacation to Cleveland.  Cleveland and Siberia.  I hear punk is huge in both places...

Spring's verdent fields, rural Ohio now, and lots of train traffic.  The staff on the train all seem to be zombies.  Nothing is quite animated enough.  Deciduous trees are bursting into leaf with that passionate green which defies even the flattest light, or dirtiest window in its insistence.  But everywhere, marks of mankind and develepment.  So many layers and textures on the east coast.  I always forget how that affects me.  The overlapping schemes of generations are most apparent from the train, behind the facade; the unintended facade facing the wrong side of the tracks.  I can almost taste the mottled brick and grey overcast sky.  I loose myself in imaginary explorations of abandoned factories.  I think of the boys who threw the rocks to break out the windows on the third story.   Baseball playing, all-American boys.  The ones for whom I registered Communist. 

Junk yards with rows of school busses, rusted red to compliment the peeling orange.  smashed up cars, their hoods up as they were in the dealership at the beginning of their lives.  Now advertising the parts from the whole.   Something so beautiful about the detritus of an urban-disposable society.  It fills me with visions and dreams of potential.   Inventions, materials, textures, photographs.  I see so many photographs everywhere...

Ann Arbor was a little too much for my head.  More emotion than I've dealt with in a long long time.  Everyone in Seattle keeps that shit locked down.  But between Josh, Amelia, David, and myself, we've all gone way too far together.    Josh has grown up.  Its scary.  Wisdom is starting to trickle out from the corner of his eyes, and he honestly and humbly seeks advice, contrary to his past confrontationalisms.  He has also spent the last several months  being turned into a pincushion;  Two dragons cover his back, reach down to his knees and wrap around his side.  One in color, one, black and white.  Fifty hours of self-inflicted torture, followed by a week of painful healing.  In short, this means he's been in self-inflicted pain for the better part of this year, on top of everything else...

I'm going to be so emotionally spent in two weeks time.  Thank god half this month is being spent on the train... lets see... something close to 12 days on the train this trip in total.   Farmhouses line the tracks, undulating hills half tilled, rusted oil dereks and hay bailers litter the landscape.  One big fucking poem this morning.  Its 7:55 AM and I have not slept.  Derrida has started to entertain me.  I can speak his language, finally, I understand his untent. intent... though the former is probably more correct....   Glas is one of the more complex emotional landscapes, one of the most unnerving books I've yet to read.  One column runs on for fifteen pages analyzing Hegel's interpretation of the Last Supper complete with implicit racial slurs toward Jews and Judaism (Derrida is Jewish now that I think about it...) and their philosophical blindness to the light of christ;  meanwhile on the second column of every page is Jean Genet's very literate and bizarrist, theatrical account of buccal coition,  homoeroticism, death, murder, rape, trial, punishment, prison, and more death;  Both columns are thoroughly infused with Freudianism,  castration anxiety, Oedipal complexes, phallic imagery... Meanwhile, the undercurrent of the whole text is the performative demonstration of a new method independant of the ideas being explored.  Overall, Its the perfect thing for one such as me, at four in the morning, while the civilians sleep on the train all around me.  Its quiet on Amtrak at night; strangely calm, but for the obese man behind me who snored all night, pausing occasionally to hock up phlegm. 

I can't express how complex the texture of Glas really is.  You really have to be pretty well versed in Linguistics/semiology to get it at all;  and one should also be facile in Freud, Hegel, The Bible, all of Derrida's prior works (hence, plato, Russeau, etc. ), etc.  I don't think I've ever done so much background study just for one book as I have for this.   I've even dedicated six days: travel days, captive days; to read the first 80 pages in one column, 100 pages in the other...  But enough about this...  You'll notice I haven't even begun to touch on the actual contents of "The Book."

Pittsburg.  Last time I was here was to visit Erik at Carnegie Mellon.   A week from today I will be visiting him in New York.  Time does some amazing things.  Before he was just a college student.  Now he has a Corporate career and a midtown Manhattan apartment.  I'm still essentially in the same boat as before.  Car, train; same boat...   Pittsburg, the Appalachian mountains and... the New River is it?  Anyway a big-ass river.  I'm right now War-Train-ing.  Looking for wireless access points by train...  Just a survey, really... sorta like catch-and-release fishing...  caught two so far... three; one WEP-enabled, two not... at 80mph don't do me much good... If I was a true geek I'd have the GPS attachment...

Yesterday was Cinco de Mayo... for the record, that celebrates a 1860s defeat of the French...  So everyone gets drunk.  Jesus. Even the MEXICANS beat the French...  But Josh and I did our part and drank Guinness all afternoon, had a heart-to-heart, Then caught up with Amelia and David...  On another infinite aside, I realized that Mahayana Buddhist studies is to me as PlayStation 2 is to most boys my age...

So this evening I should be hanging out with Karl, and then the following evening with my family.  Then a week from today in New York, a month from today back in Seattle, two months from today in Japan.  Now I'm figuring I may as well really rock it out at this point; get a second train pass and go visit some friends in San Diego, cross over to Mexico, check that off the list, Then head up the coast to Seattle... One zone Amtrak passes are cheaper I think...  The goal here is to wear myself out so that when I get to Japan I stay put.  As a child my parents used to trick me into running laps around the outside of the house while they "timed" me.  Now, I've adopted sorta a similar motif, running laps around the country to tire myself out..

Well, I'm gonna try to take a nap now before we get into D.C. and I have to amuse myself till Karl's off work... He's out in Fairfax, and I have to figure out the metro system; or see if he wants to come into the city.  I hope we make it there before all the museums are closed!  I am travelling with my uber-lite, library assault pack.  I have one book on Japanese Buddhism, Glas, and my laptop... oh and some trailmix, my toiletries and a change of socks.  I keep dumbfounding myself with the bizarre subsets of packs I acquire...

Right now I have the option of taking a bus to D.C. and getting there quicker, and making the museum thing happen.  But you know what?  I'm riding the train for a reason...

 

 

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