Gadjo dilo

Gadjo dilo

​The lives we lead never seen to get us anywhere but dead. That’s the promise, the blessing. That’s the place where all our struggles will stop being pointless, the place where we will rejoice, the People of Israel, where we will shrug off this mortal coil and finally be.

The blessing is not to be, but not to be. Imagine being freed from your own existence, from yourself. You are your worst enemy and your worst jailer. Imagine freedom from who you thought you would be and from who you are, life without sadness or pain, existence without disappointment. 

Death truly seems like a blessing, in these circumstances. But it’s not, because it’s not freedom, it’s just nothing. Being nothing – is it preferable to being something? Highly arguable. We just don’t know.

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Ghosts, specters and phantasma

Ghosts, specters and phantasma

​A ghost is absence solidified, given agency and an ethereal consistency. What else is there to say of ghosts other than that they are the tangible intangible, the voices of those who are not, who are no more and who are not yet condensed in painful immateriality.

In this sense, I think I have always been haunted, like so many others around me. I would walk down the rundown streets in my old neighborhood at night, returning from school and later college cloaked in darkness and specters, the ghosts of my own untaken paths and of those of my parents and their parents before them.

Younger still, I would sit in my room in the summer sun, listening to the loud ghosts my family would exchange at times. There always seemed to be a steady, endless and relentless supply of ghosts.

Ghosts demand justice, or at least vengeance. They hide in dark corners and look for a likely victim on which they exact punishment and smother with that strange wisdom of the absent, with poisoned whispers that take root and grow into more ghosts.

The biology of ghosts is interesting in this sense – it is a perverse natural mechanism that makes them seek justice through abuse and injustice, to reproduce through chronic and sustained cruelty, dulling the senses and numbing the mind and soul of the unsuspecting living receiver of their attentions.

Cities are always a good breeding ground for ghosts, as there are more people, and ghosts, despite popular belief, like being around people. Absence can only be felt when there is someone there to see what is not. 

Surprisingly however, an entourage of specters, no matter how extensive, is not a cure for loneliness. Quite the contrary, while ghosts do not foster solitude, due to their queer reproductive rituals, they do foster a feeling of aloneness through their very essence. Indeed, how can one not feel alone when faced with absence incarnate?

Much has been said of the sensation best described as being alone in a crowd, but no thought, however brief, has turned to that deepest manifestation of this modern illness – solitude amongst a multitude of phantoms.

Indeed, it truly seems that the feel-good adage of the new age – “you are never truly alone” has hit upon a startling truth: the lonelier one is, the thicker the press of ghosts around them.

And what a New Age it is, scared of loneliness, it has come to abhor solitude, see it as a sickness that must be staved off, shaken off, beaten off, with the medicines of endless socialization that only seems to feed the loneliness they claim to fight, like so many colored fluids procured from so many snake oil salesmen.

But I have seen them, those people who are alone but never lonely, them who stand in true solitude and who are not shrouded in specters. They have conquered and exorcized the wights by giving them not what they demand – vengeance and justice, dishes best not served at all, but what they require, acceptance and a home.

For it is only when you confront the spirit, accept it and accept to live with it, that it will be vanquished, like a bad dream or memory. It will always live within you, but better within than without.

On degrees of depersonalization

On degrees of depersonalization

​What I write of is always the same. It is always the wispy, melancholy text that pours out, an innate reaction to life and the dread that comes with it. When I write of ghosts or the perpetual adolescence I and many like me find ourselves trapped in, it is this I write of.

When I quietly muse on sin or disappointment, it is the absurd, the deeply existential that provokes it. But most importantly, when I grin sarcastically, when I sneer and deride, when my reluctance to engage honestly comes into play, this is what I am always referring to.

The implicit assumption is, of course, that emotional involvement, that unironic participation is something to be ashamed of. The self-awareness I and so many others are cursed with is the deep insecurity of being, transmuted to the deep insincerity of being.

To live in a postmodern world is to remove oneself from ones own experience, commenting on it sardonically and undermining it while earnestly experiencing. 

This removal from ourselves is necessary in a world that is both absurd and rife with cliches. We cannot live honestly because life is absurd, and we now know it. 

Had we not known, like naive children,  we would have lived, loved, lost, mourned and rejoiced. Had we not felt the pointlessness of our struggles deep in our bones and in our blood, we would have lived our lives in much the same way as our fathers before us and their fathers before them did, earnestly living through joy and sorrow, giving drama and tragedy their rightful places in the narratives of our lives.

But we are not the naive children of yesteryear. We are the first children of the 21st century and the last offspring of the 20th, the century to end all centuries through its sheer monstrosity. All centuries but the one that has succeeded it, judging by the claws the latter is starting to grow in.

And nowhere does this transfiguration of insecurity to insincerity show better than in the stories that catch our eye. We cannot experience life without watching it from the sidelines and commenting on it as if it were a variety act, meant to distract us from the sheer pain of existence.

Thus, it is only right that the variety acts of our world would cultivate the same sickly self-awareness, the unbearable separation of being from itself. Our tragedies are not tragic, they feel cartoonish, so it is only fitting that our cartoons be tragic.

We cannot communicate outside a lexicon of dissimulation. Why does Bojack Horseman work as a cartoon? Why would it fail as a live action series? Because we can see ourselves in actors. It is too serious to be taken seriously, so it can only work for us in a slapstick cartoon world.

The same can be said about all topics that were historically considered serious – the rise of the comedian as the sole voice to be taken into account when discussing politics is the symbol of this world we have made, one in which all of us self-styled Oscar Wildes refuse to accept being part of.

This juvenile refusal to participate is but a symptom of our deeper problem, which resides within rather than without. We can only exist now separated from ourselves – we can only read the narrative of our own existence with comic aloofness, allowing us to wink at ourselves and eachother, observing ourselves as if we were subjects of no more interest than a cartoon horse who, as is often the case with imaginary horses, has a serious drinking problem.

I am not one to mourn the death of innocence, nor have I ever been, but nothing good can come from this cynical detachment – we will continue to observe from the sidelines while leaving the true fanatics to be the only ones who act in earnest, reshaping the world in their own image.

We will keep our snark, out cleverness and our detachment as we see a world crumble around us and another crueller one be born from its ashes. And in that new world, this disassociation will be impossible, and we and our kind will become extinct, for better or for worse

Surrender

Surrender

​Let the written word prove my, our, nondescript but ever-looming defeat. Let the text, metatext, exordium and postface contain the failure whose seeds were always within. Let the footnotes explain the disappointment, with erudite references to philosophy, classic and contemporary. 

Let the thousands of failed scholars of tomorrow painstakingly pour through the humdrum facts of our existence, looking for the reasons for the catastrophic sadness that engulfed us in our early existence and the melancholy, the fury that is yet to come. 

When the time comes, let the learned sages of tomorrow sift through the ashes to distract themselves from the cold that will continue to seep in, looking for the embers of the past to warm them in their dreary futures.

Let them fool themselves, as we fooled ourselves, looking for external remedies to the loud failure of tomorrow which germinates today. 

Let them never find the truth, the horrible, monstrous truth. Let them cloud their judgement and not notice that we were never under seige, just in quarantine.