Have I already posted this?
Saturday, May 30, 2009
Friday, May 29, 2009
Last week while in Hanover I met a friend's step-grandfather who is 97 years old. My brief conversations with him combined with time spend around friends rather than people I loathe have afforded me, I won't say epiphanies, but rather a few interesting thoughts with which I have been tinkering since I returned to my shithole town of current residence.
Let's say that I were to live to be 97. Were that the case I would have remaining 71 years, which is 25,915 days (give or take) which is 621,960 hours. I say this not to indicate the time I have remaining but rather to spark the realization that my time here is finite; I am probably going to die.
The complications which result from this realization are many. At the moment, however, my primary concern is that if there is a particular task I desire to accomplish or a specific person with whom I desire to spend time then the opportunities I have to accomplish that task and the time I have to spend with that person are limited in a very real and existential sense. When I extrapolate this information and apply it to existence as a whole and the beings living within said existence I find that a great quizibuck forms in my mind: How can I wait?
If I genuinely desire to accomplish a specific task then it would seem sensible to effort as much as possible to accomplish that task. If I desire to manifest a specific situation then it seems sensible to manifest as quickly as possible. If there is a specific person with whom I yearn to spend time then it would be entirely sensible, I think, to act on these feelings and compulsions. Thinking "I will do that later" or "I will eventually accomplish that" or "I'll tell her tomorrow" is entirely nonsensical given that in the truest sense later, eventually, or tomorrow may never be experienced by me.
Having returned I started to re-read The Unbearable Lightness of Being. I think the message of this book, as indicated by the title, coupled with the realization that my time is finite manifests a delightful sense of existential terror. I have but one life to live, a finite amount of time afforded to me, and nothing but my own desires and compulsions upon which to found any sense of purpose, meaning, or value. I as a finite entity exist within a world of possibilities which are entirely neutral and baseless absent my own valuations yet these valuations exist only by my positing them the positing of which shall only exist for the finite amount of time within which my being has duration.
So how does one live upon having this realization? How can one play the game of life knowing that there are a finite number of turns? Were one to rush into a situation without following the designated steps feathers would be ruffled. Yet given that every breath may be my last am I not existentially justified in breaking social barriers and grasping at those ideals I desire to manifest before I expire? How can I, or anyone, wait when waiting allows for the expiration of the all too precious and finite resource of time?
My meanings and values are manifestations of my self. My time is finite. My being is airy and slight. Would it not follow that earnest proclamations and genuine action are the only sensible options within this finite duration of existence? Does not Carpe diem fail to acknowledge that one may expire before even the end of the day? How can one not be driven to madness by waiting or hoping when one recognizes the finitude of existence? How can one bide one's time once one realizes that time will end?
I can understand abandoning desire and maintaining apathy towards an existence which is finite. This seems like a sensible way to bypass existential terror in the face of an inescapable end. Yet when genuine yearning occurs, when one is driven and compelled to seek a specific end...how can one couple the inevitability of one's demise with the recognition that commonplace emotions and everyday sensibilities demand that one yield to the illusion that there is time to ponder, to wait, to consider, to reflect? If I have but 71 years how can I possibly wait? How can I passively hope and not ceaselessly attempt to manifest that for which I hope?
If one maintains the illusion that one's supply of time is infinitely stocked then I can understand waiting, lingering and pondering over decisions or actions. I can understand dabbling in possibility if one considers one's self to be blessed with an infinite resource with which one can actualize those possibilities. But if one realizes the facticity of one's life and the inevitability of one's demise...how can one wait?
How can one think "maybe tomorrow" if one truly realizes that tomorrow may never come?
So the last time it was Saturday, former South Korean President Roh Moo-Hyun committed suicide because he was accused of accepting bribes when he was in office. His funeral was scheduled to take place on Friday, and the location was about 45 minutes away from where I happened to be staying at the time, so I went uptown to see what I could see.
I arrived at around 6:45am or so, which turned out to be entirely too early. I went at that time because the TV was showing a procession already starting, and I didn't want to miss anything. When I got there, there were hardly any people around, and only a few guards around the main entrance, which you can see above. I'm not quite sure what the TV was showing, but it sure wasn't taking place near here.
Some time later, the rest of the people started to arrive, and they consisted almost entirely of police and military. The six or so guards with riot shields turned into two rows of guards, and there were hundreds of people in uniform getting into formation all around. There were only a few private citizens, and they seemed to be mostly students and guys with cameras. There were plenty of cars and busses unloading statesmen and families, though all of this was taking place inside the gates and out of view. There was a lady outside who looked like she was taking interviews, but for the most part it was difficult to tell if people were hanging around because of the funeral or if they were just waiting for a bus or something.
Around 7:30 or so, most of the people who had been hanging around the gate were shooed away, but for some reason, a few of us were allowed to stay right next to the entrance. There were police barriers running up and down the streets, and rows of police choking the sidewalk in front of me, and I suddenly found myself effectively trapped between the wall of the temple grounds and the orderly mob of police above. It didn't look like anyone else was going to be getting close to the gate, and it also didn't look like I was going to be able to leave very easily.
The other people stuck with me were the guy in the bike helmet who kept calling everyone "fucking idiots", and the lady facing the wall there who alternated between crying softly to herself and screaming at the police. I began to worry that we were left where we were because the police thought we were crazy and didn't want us mixing with the crowd. The guy in the helmet mouthed off to some pretty official looking guys whenever they tried to address the small crowd, and I was beginning to feel as though I was in the wrong place at what could easily become the wrong time.
By around 8:30am I needed to get back to my hotel to get some work done, and aside from a slow trickle of invitees entering the compound, there didn't seem to be much going on. Someone called out "at-ease" or something, because suddenly the crowd of police started stretching and adjusting their belts, and I took that as my cue to head back. I found out later that the funeral wasn't scheduled to begin until 11am, so I very nearly went for nothing.
The real story here is that all of the pictures were taken with a DSi. No zoom, no control options whatsoever, just a point it at something and snap away. I cropped the last picture and reduced the size of the rest to 50%, but they are otherwise untreated. For a piece of crap electronic pin-hole camera, I have to say, it works pretty well.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Ended up watching a Japanese film Battle Royale last night. This is a film based on a weird futuristic world in which the school aged children revolt en masse and boycott school. As a counter measure the adults/government regularly (annually?) dupes a class of middle school children to go on a "school trip", and then forces them to partake in a game in which they fight to the death across a 3 day period on a remote island. If you can wrap your head around the premise and grant it, it is actually a really good film.
After you can grant the premise, it becomes quite an interesting exploration as to how a group of children who have grown up together would approach the situation that has been thrust upon them. The 40 participants run the gamut of uncontrolled aggression, suicide, calm murderers, team work, manipulation, boycotts, and revolt.
All in all, I give this movie a postive review, but the premise was still painfully difficult to overcome and very quickly brushed over making it that much more difficult to understand.
Posted by Unknown at 10:15 AM