01 December, 2005

Noise vs. Quiet

Our blargh-mate Jonathan Schwarz has been writing recently about the need for more quiet. Quit reading, quit writing, just sit quietly for a while. He quotes T.S. Eliot:
Because I do not hope to turn again
Because I do not hope
Because I do not hope to turn
Desiring this man's gift and that man's scope
I no longer strive to strive towards such things
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still.
He adds, "It may be significant that Eliot didn't write, 'Teach us to care and not to care/Teach us to start a blog.'" But before you head to the monastery, a few ruminations, slightly rewritten from a long comment I just left at Attitude Adjustor.

My journey to the blegs began with the birth of Indymedia but got much worse in the 2000 elections and then with 0.81818. Soon I stumbled on Tom Tomorrow's blog, my first. Through that period of 1999-2001, my day-job grew more boring and the office Internet hookup was fast enough that I could click just one more link. Just one more.

There seemed to be so much information hidden in the minds of regular folks -- in Seattle, New York, Central Asia, academia, and later Iraq -- information I could find if I just look hard enough. The blargosphere always promises to peel back the veil, revealing pure information just under the surface.

Normally I don't like to get so obsessed with anything, but in the case of politics, I have convinced myself that it's necessary -- these people want to kill me. I need to defend myself and those I love from those, like the President of the United States, who would kill us all over a golf bet.

But that's a justification. Because when I really let myself feel it, I know that the feeling of clicking through the web is identical to that of flipping channels, hoping that somewhere in there will be some hot sex, a belly-laugh, sex, a revulsion, or maybe some sex. While visiting my ancestral burrow (which has digital cable, while I don't even have a TV), I have spent hours holding a remote control, my hand losing its body heat to the night, waiting for something to break my stupor, even as a frigid moon reflects off the snowy trails just outside, where I could go with almost no effort, for real thrill, for something that raises the pulse through direct experience rather than simulacra.

I have read that web-surfing causes dopamine releases in the brain in the same way as gambling and other instantly rewarding activities (other than vacuum-cleaning). I believe it. At this point I believe I am an Internet addict. And that's ok for a while. Now is past a while. It is 1:21 am, my alarm is set for 6 am, and I have a full day of work ahead tomorrow, which is now today. It is getting self-destructive to even have Internet in the burrow.

Not that it's an option. We were cut off for a few weeks, but I found that from the couch in my nest, an unusually strong open network across the street just barely makes it to me. Sometimes, sitting on my favorite heap of leaves and moss, I must hold my laptop over my left shoulder to get reception, but that's nothing compared to tying a strap around my pubescent foreleg and tapping a vein.

And then there's writing. I admit it, there's a thrill to being listened to (whether or not one is heard is another question). When I had my first job at an on-line news service, I got a big thrill from looking at the daily logs to see how many people read the articles I wrote or edited. Wow, 88,000 people clicked it today. Cool. Here at Rhinocrisy, the numbers are lower -- more like 100 people a day -- but it's still exciting to get to talk to that many of you. And more of you come here on days when there are fresh posts. Much more -- a heavy-posting day will get 200+ visitors, while light days cause readership to taper down to double digits. So now I am addicted to not just reading but also speaking. More noise.

I wonder how much of the information hunger is not aimed at revealing truth but hiding it. So long as I can keep my hollowness turgid with a constant flush of information, I can ignore the decaying skeleton of faith in myself that would otherwise maintain my posture.

Fixing my mind on external threats, I ignore the grief and doubt and terror of mediocrity that leach strength from my joyful spirit, leaving it osteoporosic, on the verge of fracture.
We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet ahttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifnd meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats' feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar

Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion;

Those who have crossed
With direct eyes, to death's other Kingdom
Remember us -- if at all -- not as lost
Violent souls, but only
As the hollow men
The stuffed men.
Read the whole thing. Come on, just one more click.


giant things are very small, and we are but snails with hair. thus spake.

if ink could think
would it choose
to be words,
or tattoos? 

Posted by chromo

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