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Posts Tagged ‘People’

City
lights
emulate
the night
sky, offering
up glowing
balls of
varying size arranged in systematic
constellations. Meteors with cone-shaped tails travel backwards
in long, predictable two-way paths. As the aeroplane soars higher
into the cold clouds of the night, I stare at civilization,
slowly but
surely, being
reduced to
empty
lights next
to dancing darkness.

Songs of the Day:
Teitur – “Poetry and Aeroplanes”
Elton John – “Rocket Man”

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You’re Old

study of an old man by rembrandt
Study of an Old Man in Profile — Rembrandt van Rijn

One of my biggest pet peeves (fairly recently developed) has to do with my age and, consequently, the age of my peers or people who I interact with…which is ridiculous as I will explain. It is when I hear:

“Oh wow, I’m so old.”

or

“Oh wow, you’re so old.”

…coming from mouths of people (or referring to people) in their late teens up to their late 20’s. (I start giving a little slack to late-20’s people. You guys really are kind of old…haha) When/Where/How/Why did this start? If someone said this within my hearing distance, I used to occasionally point out to them one obvious fact:

“You’re not old.”

Then I would get all sorts of weird (and offended?) looks or an awkward pause with expressions looking like they’re searching for something to say, like I said something they were not expecting at all (which they are not…but this is also ridiculous, considering how young they are).

You’re in your freakin’ 20’s (or teens). Okay, you might not be talking about physical, chronological age measured in years… Although a conversation that goes something like:

“How old are you?”
“Twenty-_____”
“Wow, you’re old”

…sounds like physical age is the measuring stick. I remember a terrible high school APUSH teacher who didn’t teach me much history once said something. He said that age doesn’t make you mature, but responsibilities do. So…are you married? Do you have kids? Okay, maybe you have a job or two to work, a few bills to pay, but does that make you old? But I’m kind of going off on a tangent now…we’re talking about “old,” not “mature.”

Oh, you feel old you say? Right. And no one can argue with feelings right? Whatever, okay, you’re old.

Seriously, why are young people so worried about this? Or is it that referring to yourself as “old” is the cool and/or popular thing to do? Maybe it has become some sort of badge of….whatever. I really don’t know, but I think there are too many young people who actually believe that they are old.

In my experience, there are three major types of people when it comes to this subject:

1) There are these young old people, who are not old at all but are just maybe delusional — mostly right out of high school, in college, or just out of college.

2) Then there are people who are usually not that annoying at all and are much more tolerable than the people who motivated the creation of this entry (see #1), and they are, quote-unquote, “old.” After these people get “older” they lose the quotation marks and can be referred to as kind of old. You can tell that they are “old” because they are constantly reminding you of how young they are. But these people are still not really old.

3) And then finally there are people who are truly old. You can tell they are truly old by looking at one thing: whether or not people who are older than them refer to them as old. And I’m talking about everyone older than them can call them old. A 25-year old and a 23-year-old calling each other old doesn’t count. Ask a 45-year-old if they think those two are old. Then ask a 75-year-old if the 45-year-old is old.

Then ask an 85-year-old if the 75-year-old is old, and you’ll probably get a different answer (e.g. “Yes”). So everyone else worrying about “being old” should take a deep breath and relax because you don’t even have to start worrying about “being old” until you’ve reached this point. The truly old people just don’t care much about it and rarely bring the topic up because they know they’re old and they know you know they’re old…which can be sad for some of them, I suppose.

Or

The fortunate ones realize it doesn’t matter.

Songs of the Day:

Bob Dylan – “Forever Young” / (album link)
The Beatles – “When I’m Sixty-Four” / (album link)
Peter Bjorn and John – “Young Folks” / (album link)
Stars – “Ageless Beauty” / (album link)

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comedy-tragedy-mask.jpgArtwork by Guy Haley – title unknown

“We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes —
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile
And mouth with myriad subtleties….”
Paul Laurence Dunbar, We Wear the Mask

“It’s all impersonation–in the absence of a self, one impersonates selves, and after a while impersonates best the self that best gets one through.”

“The treacherous imagination is everybody’s maker—we are all the invention of each other, everybody a conjuration conjuring up everyone else. We are all each other’s authors.”
-Phillip Roth, The Counterlife

I have this thing with assumptions: I hate them. There’s really not much you can do about them though. It’s just that some people make assumptions far too much and place far too much confidence in them — that’s what can be annoying. In many cases, the less you give people to go on, the bigger the leaps they make about you. But of course, assumptions are what we do. We all do it to varying degrees. We all hate them, yet we all make them.

I think assumptions are part of the reason why it’s so hard to really know someone these days. And it doesn’t help that people are more insecure than ever — insecurity is one of the defining characteristics of our post-modern condition, no? So we create multiple selves for ourselves, choosing a mask for each aspect of our lives.

Truth is relative — that is also one of the epiphanies of post-modernism: the most blatant of lies can carry more meaning than the starkest of truths; it can be a more profound “truth” than any real truth could have been. And this “truth” can help us get closer to finding and broadening the beautiful spectrum of our identity as humans…and can hurl us ten steps backwards by also serving to fracture and refract it even more.

In this age of personal blogs, myspace pages, user profiles, and polished, carefully designed resumes, we are always busy creating our various fictions that make up our identities, hoping against hope that it is the poignantly true type of fiction. So we create this fiction — some complete fiction, a lot of non-fiction, and much more a combination — for the world to read.

Boy, do people read. They read into everything we say or convey through our actions and expressions. So it’s probably understandable why we create these fictions for ourselves. People are constantly reading and counter-reading each other, and conclusions, no matter if they are true or not, are reached. Because, fuck, truth doesn’t matter. It’s the essence that’s of utmost importance. And really, it’s so much more intriguing when a lie or a series of untruths are able to convey a concrete, undeniable truth. (Perhaps we have fallen so in love with doing this that now we only get mostly flat, dull, boring untruths that don’t mean anything.)

We not only create fiction for ourselves but we also create fiction for those around us in our lives. And the conclusions we draw from our palette of suppositions — with their many nuances and varying shades and colors of truth, emotion, envy, love mixed in — are what we use to paint the people who surround our lives as well.

And it looks like I am in the same boat as all the people I get annoyed by — all the people who misread me, misinterpret me, and create their own fiction about me; all those people who I in turn misread and misinterpret, sometimes out of spite; and my self, who misreads and misinterprets me as much as the worst of them. Who am I? I have no clue really. I guess I’m writing my own fiction for me to read and say, “Ah, yes, this is me. I’ve found myself.” This of course is different from the fiction that I consciously and unconsciously write for everyone else to see. That fiction is the one that provides the hard covers for me to hide my “true fiction” within. And who knows how many other fictions are hiding in those? After a while, you can’t tell which is which.

We’re all writers, then we’re actors, in a continuous, alternating pattern, and life is just a matter of finding the best scripts to act out in the most convincing fashion. Ideally, that script would come from yourself, but it could come from a script someone else makes for you.

The idea of a “true identity” may only be an unreachable mirage of an ideal, only possible in a work of fiction.

“All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players…”
-Shakespeare, As You Like It

Songs of the Day:

Fugees – “The Mask”
Radiohead – “Fitter Happier”
Radiohead – “Karma Police”
Belle and Sebastian – “Storytelling”

__________________________

….We smile, but oh great Christ, our cries
To Thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
We wear the mask!”

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