T for Tom

You’ve Been Redirected…

Posted in Uncategorized by johnsontoms on December 20, 2010


…and looking for information you’ve found this.  My rants and writings are the dribble of a madman, to be sure, but each has their merit. For this, I’ll give you one piece of advice then, for the moment I have you:

There is, in fact, just this moment.

I do not speak in the romantic ideal, that which is “in just this moment.” Or, “if we could share these moments.”  Though moments come and go, they do seem to last longer in spirit more than in body – that is to say, they pass through the chambers of memory for a much greater length of time than which we actually have to experience them.  The woman I last held? Too long ago and for not long enough, but the feeling will always linger.

I do not speak in the political ideal, that which is “our generation.” We have our comrades and our compatriots, and surely these are our greatest friends in times of stress.  Without those of our own age and mind no one would have the influence to carry out their volitions and convictions, of heart and mind.  But these battles do end, and new ones form in their wake.

I do not speak in the philosophical ideal, that which is the “mind’s moment.” Clarity is surely a necessary function toward growth, and more important than growth of body is growth of mind; we cannot use our physical tools without faculty of mind, but with the body’s end so goes the mind.

I am speaking in the literal sense, of which a moment is purely a meter of time – one second passing to another.

The cliche would lend hand at saying that “we have only these precious moments,” but credo is given where cliche is wrought – it came from a truth and is only worn out by the incessant use in our language.  Don’t let it fool you though; throughout the universe and here on this planet, time passes and we can stand to watch.  There is, literally, only the moment right now that we have, in which we are functioning, and in which our minds are facilitating its thoughts.  It goes without saying that it could end at any moment, and nothing short of a miracle could prolong each moment in the wake of doom.  Bombs fall, hearts stop, guns fire, cars crash, and even galaxies fold into nothingness, leaving whatever consciousness was floating around for dead.  If we, active bodies of energy, are capable of thought, it is only because of right now.

I’ve been for awhile now discussing the notion that humans are the animals furthest from the mud, the muck, the mire, or whatever it was that our ancestral creatures crawled from.  We, at this moment, are the farthest humans have come, and we are still only separated from the cows on the side of the road by one thing: we have a cognitive ability to recall facts, or memory.  It’s the single greatest component of human deference – without it, we wouldn’t have language (constructed by memory through Noam Chomsky’s “language acquisition device”, the part of the brain that recognizes and interprets native language and dialectic into a formal syntax and pattern naturally and without instruction).  I could go on and on to where memory has gotten the human language, but it suffices to pose one question: how could man grow if can’t learn from the past?

In fact, this brings to light the earliest question of noble man: what is a good life? The possibilities are endless, but Plato deconstructed the value into two possible venues: life served for others, and life served for self.  Exactly where do we fit in? The common string of American idealism has pointed our entire generation into a life served for self, one devoted to the notion of labor, family, and the pursuit of personal property (defined by our founding fathers as “happiness”).  Strangely, our economy is now constructed in such a way that if a sweeping majority of citizens were to stop consuming, it would collapse; whether this is by fate or something greater is a question for a different time.  We could go on working our jobs, eating our food, wearing our clothes, driving our cars, having our children, and growing old without knowing the answer or even caring, of course.  But what then will you think of, what will pass before your eyes right before your last living breaths are taken? Where will your memory take you, and if you had a choice, what could you do now, in this moment, to affect that future memory?

Norman Mailer said rather poignantly in The Deer Park that “the only true faithfulness people have is toward emotions they are trying to recapture.” If that were true, our only directive would be instinctual – and though I don’t fully agree, I don’t think we’ve come far along. Something I’ve grabbed a hold of recently is our generations considerable carelessness – that is, conviction without action.  We have done nothing to place our stake in the history books for even a single cause that could join our collaborative minds.  The Iraq protests lasted all of about a year, we reelected Bush, and when it was time “for change we could believe in” we stopped watching after the ballots were cast – as if, the victory won, the work was now over; back to our jobs and homes.  It is there that we try to recreate our moments of happiness: when with a lover, getting drunk, or in general not working on the mind – our emotions take precedence.  I make no philosophical judgment of whether our parents had it right, but at least they fought for what they believed in, at least well enough to take time and make vivid protest (ironically of course, they were fighting for these exact freedoms).  The 1960s may have seen the last great citizenry capable of voicing its opinion, through violent and physical demonstration.  Without demonstration all language is cast aside as prescriptory and useless.  It is without demonstration, however, that the voicing individual can still feel accomplished (see: the blogging and cyber-networking takeover).  For this, our generation feels as if voice is in turn action; the belief that democracy, for all its merits, works – that voice carries weight.  And for that, the torch of political protest was not passed to our generation; whether because we don’t care or don’t think we can, we haven’t done anything to stand up for a single belief.  It may be possible that Gay Rights will emerge as our best suitor for a generational battle, one that will be remembered; but, for all its efforts and its moral rights, the battle is not being fought.  Until it unifies an entire country of men and women, the corporate political agenda will largely not change, if only because it doesn’t have to.  We are afraid to attack ahead on, and primarily risk our own health and future for something we believe in.  But this I believe is a result of our lack of education; we do not think we can, and our selfishness makes it easy to forget.  For a better indictment on the charges of our selfishstate of civility, I point you toward Closing of the American Mind by Allan Bloom.

This of course comes back to the original question, what is a good life?  Before I can answer I must prepare myself with proper and necessary knowledge, that without I will have no true understanding of the life chosen.  This gets me to my point: experience is necessary, if not paramount, to knowledge, and I have only the moments that pass in order to gain experience.  Understanding mortality,shouldn’t it then be that each moment is the most important, equivalent to or greater than each moment before?

For these reasons I have joined the Army, while I’m young, among others.  I said it colloquially a number of times: “I want to experience humanity in its best and its worse.” Honestly, now, I have no idea if I’m prepared to receive the sights unseen ahead of me, and only time will tell.  But, if I’m going to be better, get better, and do better, I must become better and only through pure experience.  I guess you could say that my battle is myself: I believe most of all in myself, as an individual and a human being, and can only reattain the person I was through vigorous change – that by jarring everything I’ve ever known from its collective hold in my system of beliefs I may be able to find true happiness, a solid set of values that will guide me in a morally conscious life.

Here, I beseech, no, implore you to do three things:

First, read. Pick up the great works of philosophy and read. Plato’s Republic, Nietzsche’s Will to Power, Rousseau’s On Happiness, or anything that peaks your interest and challenges your mind – Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, Machiavelli’s The Prince, fiction or nonfiction, but works of political and social importance.  Allan Bloom makes the argument that it is only through the great books that intelligence can be found, and I find it hard to disagree.  With the before mentioned abilities described by memory, it serves us then to promote its proper use by seeking intelligent data and intellectual advancement – not by sheer recitation of facts (i.e., the American education system) do we become superior, but through absolute study, understanding, and use of the information acquired can we achieve anything close to a noble state of mind.  So read.

Second, act.  I challenge you to do something violent to change the course of your life.  Pick your strongest feeling and fight for it.  Marx’s thought on political construction demands that “revolution can only be won at the hands of people who live, breath, and eat revolution.”  I point again to the last time any great citizenry focused all their efforts on one change and how it worked.  Do this for your own life.  Be it religion, or freedom of religion, freedom of sex, sexual alignment, taxes, the nuclear family, abortion, music, international diplomacy, nuclear disarmament, or the American education system and its contrivances to wage slavery, FIGHT.  If it is only one life to be lived, I believe it best lived when seeking a change that allows for universal improvement.  If your beliefs can achieve that, they too are worth fighting for.

Third, remember me exactly as I was.  I’ve known all of you in different ways and for different periods of time, but I don’t want any of that to change.  What I mean is that you do not impose or extol any particular behavior or trait of mine for any more or less than exactly as it was.  Each and every moment, short or long, that I had with you led me exactly to where I am, and that’s a place I want to be.  If any of those encounters good or bad hadn’t happened, I may not end up in the Army, or even alive and comprehensible for that matter.  Those moments cannot be changed for all our efforts otherwise, and by that notion should be treated with the respect it deserves: do not alter your memory of me.  To some of you I was a friend, to others a brother, to some a lover, a thinker, a bastard, a son, a musician, a romantic, an asshole, athlete, leader, follower, philosopher, coworker, sophist, believer, atheist, teammate, gentleman, enemy, fighter, writer, reporter, contributor, a demise.  But I’m working to change that; maybe then, new and better memories of me will be left behind.

And that’s where my final point lies: I’ve always felt that my life had a greater purpose, a natural direction somewhere above “American.”  I fail to think that life is made entirely of 9to5s, and refuse to accept that for myself.  I saw my life going that direction and despaired the worst, even when I was working, and have chosen to leave it behind.

I’m going now to find out what’s out there.  I pray that if there is an afterlife, our souls will meet again.  Maybe we’ll even remember each other.