June 30, 2005

A conscious effort to slow down and consider the behaviour of my fellow commuters can impress me by the regularity of our anthropological characteristics.

There are two trains that arrive, from opposite directions, on my "work" platform. This is the platform where we get off, so that we can go to work. This introductory detail is already anthropologically notable, but I am focusing on a slightly different one.

There is a relatively narrow staircase at either end of the platform. It's not really narrow; it's wide enough for three people to scale abreast comfortably, but it becomes relatively narrow when a train attempts to empty its contents into its well. When my train comes, a crowd forms at the head of the staircase as people wait for their turn to descend.

The people, since they encounter this situation every day, expect to meet a crowd at the head of the staircase. They thus make an effort to be among the first there, to avoid waiting.

The difficulty grows when both trains arrive at about the same time. This is when the behaviour of people becomes exciting. Races begin. If one has made the unfortunate error of boarding the middle of the train, the part farthest from either staircase, one must put on extra speed to attain the exit before one's fellow passengers.

This morning, my train arrived alone, and the staircase was empty at that moment. I started to walk towards it, straining to overcome my urge to hurry, as I strain every day. I strain in order to avoid overstraining myself, you see. I believe that a daily morning burst of speed, for no other reason than to beat my fellow commuters off the platform, is probably not physically healthy. A sustained walk is healthy; this stressed dash is unhealthy.

As I was thus walking with inner torture and outward calm towards the staircase, I heard the other train arrive behind me.

"This is it," I might have thought. Indeed it was. As soon as my fellow commuters, those who were already approaching the platform from my train, heard the second train, they picked up speed. I heard heels chopping the asphalt behind me, beside me, passing me. I watched the crowd start to run to beat the second crowd that was about to form behind them.

This is the hardest moment not to make a break for it. It is hard to let them catch up to you, pass you, clog up the exit behind you. But I think it is better for you. I won't go into the standard arguments about how much those precious extra seconds matter towards getting to your office--everyone knows they don't. But it's hard to resist the herd. Nevertheless, this small, hard thing is probably very much worth it. It's probably as much worth it as drinking soy milk, or doing yoga finger exercises that you saw in a lifestyle magazine.

Incidentally, there was that other time when I decided to wait out the entire crowd before descending the stairs. Two trains had arrived at once, and a jam formed. I decided, instead of waiting inside the crowd, shuffling an inch a second towards the stairs, why not just wait in the sun on the platform for them all to dissipate. I even thought I could read my book for the couple of minutes it would take. Unfortunately, before the last folks even had their chance to enter the stairwell, the next train arrived! I hadn't known that the trains came so often. Apparently, at certain times in the morning, that stairwell is never clear. So what could I do--I walked, very, very briskly, heart thumping competitively, to beat the newcomers.

June 23, 2005

Wait, I just have to update my documentation infrastructure.

It won't take long. It's just a little change that will make the documentation structure smoother.

I'm almost done. It's just that, after, I need to document the changes I made. I need to document the documentation infrastructure.

In order to do that, I just need to update the structure for the documentation of the documentation infrastructure.

I have a good infrastructure in place that lets me manage the structure for the documentation of the documentation infrastructure.

I just need to make a small change to the infrastructure for the documentation of the documentation infrastructure.

It won't take long. It's just that I need to document the changes to the infrastructure for the documentation of the documentation infrastructure.

I have a good infrastructure in place to manage the stucture of changes to the infrastructure for the documentation of the documentation infrastructure.

When that's done, all further changes to the documetation of the infrastructure of the documentation of the documentation infrastructure will be streamlined.

And then will we ever be efficient! At documentation.

June 22, 2005

Vibrant, Trembling, Shaky and Stirring

For the record, I'm finding Freud's theories about the means of representation in dreams to be somewhat shaky.

Let me frame what I'm talking about. In The Interpretation of Dreams, Freud lists and describes the kinds of methods dreams use when they are representing ideas. He claims that, when they describe ideas, dreams do not have the same tools at hand as, say, language does. For example, dreams don't have the word "or": they cannot easily present two ideas as alternatives of one another.

I'm okay with this part.

So, in the case of "or"--that is, when a dream has to represent an alternative--it will resort to simply juxtaposing the two alternatives. Tea and coffee are shown beside one another, or one after the other. But in language, it can be made clear that it's tea "or" coffee, not both; in the dream, the meaning remains ambiguous.

I'm still okay with this part.

So some of the meaning in dreams comes out ambiguous. Not all the time: it happens that dreams are very good at representing other concepts. To give an example of something that dreams find easy to represent, they find "because" easy: it's just a small dream followed by a big dream. The small, peripheral dream is the cause; the big, main dream is the consequence.

But perhaps you might start to note where I feel this theory is weak. The problem is that it is up to the dream interpreter to correctly judge what all the elements of the dream mean. And it seems to me that there may easily be confusion between what a dream meant by a certain method of representation.

Let me compare for example how a dream represents two different structures. I've just described how it represents a "because". And I've said that Freud said that dreams, faced with an "or", give up and juxtapose the tea and coffee.

So: how does the interpreter know, really, if the tea and coffee were a juxtaposition, or if they were a small dream followed by a big dream? Could the meaning be, instead, "coffee because tea"?

Let's not forget nebeneinander/nacheinander: there's a difference between a juxtaposition in space (one object beside another), and a juxtaposition in time (one object after another). Perhaps (I forget), Freud claims that dreams can use this distinction to distinguish between these two structures. That's fine. But it's not enough.

My problem is that there are a whole slew of ideas and structures that dreams need to represent. I'm not against the theory that dreams have a system to map evey type of structure to a type of dream, like language. That's a thrilling idea, because it means we could try to learn the language of dreams. However, the handful of mappings that Freud names seem already to overlap each other to the extent that it would seem impossible to untangle their meanings.

What I would really like to do is make a chart of all the structures in dreams mapped to structures of ideas. And I'd like to see if Freud's propositions are solid.

I imagine, however, that this has already been done by someone. Moreover, with the respect Freud seems to get nowadays, it's probably been used to label him asa a total psycho.

I just can't help noticing that he's the only one who seems to have made a western-scientific attempt at explaining why a dream does P, and not Q.

June 15, 2005

Same Joke Twice

A few weeks ago, I had a conversation with my... I suppose cousin-in-law, Tiago. He's one of the rare cousins that I can talk to in English, and--call me discriminating--I find it a bit of a relief. With most of my wife's family, I've had to learn a new language to communicate, and although I can speak well now, I don't think I'll ever get up to the level of comfort I have in English.

Anyway, I like Tiago cause he's an intelligent guy. Nice guy. Since I can talk English to him, I take advantage of that fact to utilise my smashing sense of humour to its full extent, unlike what I can do when I have to speak French.

But upon reflecting on our recent conversation, I realise I may have betrayed a psycho-social lapse. You see, before this recent, short conversation, I had also had a similar conversation with him about 10 months previous, and I realised that it had centered upon the same topic. One thing that I immediately remarked this time around is that when he answered one of my questions, the answer sounded, although technical, to be relatively familiar.

We were actually talking about his internship in sales at a retail store. Both times I had to ask him precisely where he was working. I forgive myself this because we had only talked twice in a year, so naturally the details were hazy in my mind. At some point, I jokingly asked him if, when a client asks for a product, Tiago tries to sneak in a couple of other products. I thought this was a funny thing to ask; I said to try to get a laugh. My cousin-in-law then logically disagreed that, actually, no, it is much more profitable for the store if he only proposes the necessary products, because then the client is more likely to enter into a longer-term, more profitable, relationship.

This is the somewhat technical description that should have been unfamiliar to me, but which sounded vaguely like I had heard it before. As I remembered that conversation this morning I realised, with some perturbation, that what must have prompted the familiarity of this description to my mind was the fact that I made the same joke both times I talked to Tiago.

Do I come across as a total fool? Hopefully he forgot, as I had, the first time I had posed the question. Yet still, if I could remember it now, there is a chance that he could as well. And if we are judged by the brilliance of our conversation, then, in his eyes, I am quite damned.

Next time I really need to think of something new to say.

Shaming Fetish

I have this overpowering fetish for genitals. I can't even come unless there's some kind of genitals involved, and this applies to intercourse and auto-erotica. I'm so ashamed to talk about it!

Luckily, my partner is GGG, so I am relatively satisfied in my sex life. If I say "relatively", it's not a knock against my partner--who I must boast is often titillated by my inventions--but because of the guilt I feel for constantly imposing my disgusting fantasy upon us, time after time. I can count on my genitals the number of times I've allowed us to engage in sex without satisfying my perversity.

As is, I've done it every which way. Genital-manual contact, genital-oral, even genital-to-genital! I just can't help it. I sometimes try to ease off a bit, to gradually try other forms of sex, but nothing gets me off. We'll (or I'll) do something else for a couple of minutes, but then I just go crazy. My brain just starts buzzing and my body is screaming for some kind of involvement of balls, clit, glans, labia minora, you name any sick genital area, I'm wanting it!

Don't even get me started on the time I thought I could go cold turkey. Straight vanilla sex with just us, no genital messing around... that certainly didn't last.

So, even though I've come to terms with my fetish, I still wonder if it's reasonable to impose it on my partner (and on my own body, for that matter) systematically? Is this healthy, or is there some way I can learn to come without revelling in my craving? Can our relationship survive such an imbalance?


June 10, 2005

Fun Without Writing

You too can have fun without writing. Here's how.

Ways to Have Fun... Without Writing

  1. You can scrub your hair or skin.
  2. You can count how many years flow like water from a faucet.
  3. Become partners or switch pants.
  4. Hold these.
  5. You can pray and lie in your prayers.
  6. Belch and record it and play it back over and over: see how long you can take it.
  7. Write to a Senator about watermarks.
  8. Oh shit, that's writing.

Many couples decide not to write for fear of getting a sexually transmitted disease from each other.

This is absurd. Writing has nothing to do with STDs. But it can, on the other hand, make you depressed or manic. It can frustrate you or enrage you, distracting you from the basic needs of life while tantalising you with unrealised rewards. It is like that Greek thing.

So you shouldn't write. Try not to for long periods of time. Or try writing just one letter, so that you don't get over-stimulated. Some writers have stopped gradually by burning every second novel. You can try writing your paragraphs in a constrained style, like for example making a rule that you have to include at least one technical writing sentence in every such structure. Technical writing is so boring that Holy Shit you're going to grind to a halt pretty fast, faster than lint rolling over a maple-syrup smothered pancake.

Also, you could try writing the word "such" after every declarative phrase. You could do math. You could write a blog.

June 03, 2005

The KLF Yeah?

Guy, your new first track is awesome! I love this! I'm gonna give it a new, hardcore name so we can refer to it in conversation: E.f.B.P.H.G.(W-w): Escape from Beat Prison Hardcore Gang (Wicka-wak)!