THE GOODS. I am writing this just a couple days after the birth of my son, and that is a tremendous good (my son being born, not me writing about whatevs, obvsies).
Another good: I am the recipient of a teaching fellowship that will allow me to hold my very own classes at the community college level for the 2019-2020 academic year. This fellowship will follow my second official university summer class in which I am the instructor of record.
More goods: I am doing what I love (i.e. teaching), my family is in good health (and growing!), and our lives are more or less comfortable.
THE BADS. If you are reading this, “this” being what I am writing just a couple days after the birth of my son, then it might be preventing you from doing something more substantially contributive to the betterment of your life or to the betterment of the lives of others. For example, you could be reading something different—a book, perhaps; one written by someone like Peter Kropotkin or bell hooks or some other profoundly influential author whose works have revolutionized the individual worldviews of people across the globe and yet someone that you might have never heard of. Who knows? Maybe you’re reading this silly little insight into the life of someone who’s name is not really Lux Inferni instead of feeding the homeless, saving a life, or stepping up to the frontline of one of the many current battles against injustice in this country or across the world.
Another bad: Me being awarded a teaching fellowship for the 2019-2020 academic year means that a different applicant was not awarded the same fellowship. And the university class I will be teaching over the summer will not be populated by students who cannot afford to take the class, because college is expensive, and there is always, always, always a “loser” in capitalism.
More bads. I love a job that the government and much of society in the U.S. is increasingly devaluing (there is always a loser in capitalism). The health of my family, or more specifically, the insurance that my family will stay healthy, comes at an egregious cost (or should I say ransom—paid monthly and out of shallow pockets?). Comfort is a subjective term and a lucrative commodity.
THE UGLIES. I continue to watch an entire nation suffer from daily strokes. Family members, friends, people who “kinda” know each other, people who don’t know shit—they’re all foaming at the mouth, seizing on the floor of a public bathroom that hasn’t been cleaned since Kennedy was shot (RFK, not the other one). They’re completely oblivious to the fact that their speech and motor skills are flying at half mast, and they only get angrier and angrier at the mumbling bumbling person next to them who doesn’t understand a single word. They only get angrier and angrier at the putrid floor that refuses to get back under their feet, that clings on for dear life to their shit-stained and hot-with-anger cheek, that forces them to keep looking straight into the furious eyes of Mr. or Ms. or Mx. No-Speakie-English. And instead of pausing to note that all these people are in fact horizontal like them and stuck to the same disgusting floor, they obsess over which side the other is laying on: “That one is laying on their left! No wonder they’re yelling gibberish like a lunatic!” or “That one is laying on their right! No wonder they can’t understand a damn thing I’m saying!” It’s fucking gross and it makes me sick to my stomach.
“Wait, what just happened?!” you ask.
I trapped you. Got you good. I painted a picture for the tips of your nose hairs to sensualize. I crafted a soundscape and pasted it to the inside of your eyelids. I slowly leaned forward from your device’s screen and whispered daftly into your ear: “Maybe when I say visceral, I really mean vessel.”
THE FIRST BOOK OF LUX
1. They who shall bear the light shall also bear the darkness, for the light has not the power to overcome the darkness, nor does the darkness have the power to overcome the light; rather, the power in each, and the power of they who shall bear them, is the ability to overcome the ways in which light and darkness are perceived.
Pause. Rewind. Play.
“Wait, what just happened?!” you asked. And then I told you (in so many words) that this—THIS—is the point: It’s complicated. All of it. Everything (and even nothing) is derived from a deep, rich, and overbearing complexity that defies the human disposition (if not desperation) for simplicity. In other words, you and/or everyone like you is at odds with reality. Your world, my world, the “real” world cannot be defined in black or white, right or wrong, good or evil, right or left, us or them, face or book, etcetera or so on. Because it’s complicated.
A river flows south. Fresh water, good water. The temperature rises and some of that fresh water, good water evaporates. From liquid to gas, from earth to sky. Temperatures change, processes intercede, and then, days later and somewhere half way around the world, what was once a part of a river flowing south is now a part of rain storm. It’s still fresh water, good water, but it’s different water—it’s complicated.
And yet, this is what we do, what consumes us: we simplify. We try so fiercely to fit the square-shaped block through the circle-shaped hole over and over and over again, our expectation turning to frustration, frustration to anger, anger to wrath, wrath to destruction, and all the while, through every step, we seek the simplest (non)answer to the (non)question, “Who/What is to blame?”.
Pause. Rewind. Stop.
Take a moment. Think about it. Accept the complexity of a reality in which you can never understand everything and nothing. Accept the fact that happiness or love or life as you know it is something that you define at the same time that someone else is also defining it. Accept the fact that there are definitions of these things that you will never learn about, or if you did learn about them, they would be definitions that you could never even begin to comprehend. Accept the fact that your plan, your behavior, your language, your political party, your religion, your president, YOUR LIFE is not a universal truth. It will not work for everyone, because everyone is not you. It is not worth hating for, or hurting for, or killing for, or dying for. And it’s not worth getting angry about others not understanding you.
There is good, and good is what we make it. There is bad, and bad is what we make it. There is ugly, and ugly is what we make it. As a group, as a pair, or all alone, we make the goods, the bads, and the uglies. We are the creators of our own universe. We are the masters of our own reaction to the inevitable collisions that our universe has with others. We are that we are—one of many and yet different from all. We are incomprehensible. And that needs to be enough.