Thursday, April 22, 2021

Three short pieces

One. Events pass through novelty and nowness to become history, obviously. I'm thinking of when doing things or going places one perhaps registers either to one's self or whoever you're with, that you're here. This is happening, I'm in Santiago, Singapore, Cyprus or some other place, doing this and conscious of doing it, too. And then looking back on it, that was life, that was what happened, the novelty or uniqueness flattening off, smoothing out. It settles down into the narrative of a life. Not only is it unrepeatable, after all we already knew that didn't we? but it settles down into ordinariness in a way we didn't quite expect somehow. That was what we did. We went to different places and did different things. it was all gradually absorbed like sugar into the sum total of experience. What at the time seemed remarkable or unusual gradually became part of the texture of things. There's a sort of doubling effect, events are at the same time both very special and rather ordinary. But yes, we did these things. Didn't we? Two. Variations on the blind man's cane. Husserl or Heidegger? No actually Merleau-Ponty: 'The blind man's stick has ceased to become an object for him'. The cane has become an extension of the senses. The hammer (probably Heidegger?) recedes as it becomes an everyday tool. We only realise how invisible such things have become when they go wrong, break. The cane snaps. The head falls off the hammer. We miss the nail and strike our thumb instead. So much of Pandemic experience has been like this. The head fell off the hammer of our lives. The everyday gets suspended, at least for a while. We quickly call conditions the new normal and then slowly they become normalized. So normal we stop noticing them (face masks). A different sense of the everyday arises. We get accustomed to it, slowly forgetting how things were or romanticising our memory of how they were. We lockdown. And then lockdown eases and the way things scurry back to normality is unsettling too. Our memories are short, we are quick to adapt, in fact adaptation is our strength. Three. Blind spots, literally blind spots. The bits we don't see we quickly fill in. Our reality like rickety Super-8 footage, badly spliced, jump cut, ill-matched film stock with different colour tones, sometimes out of focus, the sound out of sync. Is it really like that, reality? Yes, all of that spliced in with random bits of information and all slicked over with the gel of consciousness. Consciousness pulling it altogether, imposing pattern, predictability, superimposing meaning. Making sense out of nonsense. Stitching it together, smoothing it over always making it normal. That was life. It was what we did.

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