Dec 27, 2004

Season's Greetings

This is a unique period in my life. I am totally and utterly by myself, without (so far) the tiniest tinge of loneliness. It was marked by the first night ever without Mihail in the bedroom. The shock on entering the room at bedtime and seeing the empty cot was almost physical. It's been almost 22 months of constant bonding between mother and son, intensified, rather than weakened, by his time spent in the nursery. And now he's gone, so is his sister. Rada was 6 months younger when I first sent her to stay with grandparents. She calls me every day, sometimes twice in a day, to recount the highlights of her eventful life in Bourgas. I don't miss them that much, overall. Or do I?

The benefits of a kids-free life are numerous. I sleep in until noon, fix myself a breakfast-lunch hybrid about two hours later, and generally lazy around not doing much. I play loud music (Ayreon, Into the Electric Castle and Human Equation, and all of System of a Down, accompanied by a rare Tool, Wallflowers, or GomJabbar song), I don't do anything in a hurry, I don't plan things, I don't think of anything in particular. I got so carried away with relaxation, that I forgot to pay my Internet account, so I got stranded without any connection with the outside world:) At first I panicked at the gap in my life, as often happens when an addictive substance is withdrawn, but I got over it almost immediately, and quickly convinced myself that it is for the better. Now all prerequisites for the 3-day experiment at isolation are present.

Unbelievably, I sank into the depths of philosophy, reading After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory by Alasdair MacIntyre. In the beginning, he basically claims that we are living in a world whose moral framework is nothing but the debris of a catastrophic demise of the moral universe of our ancestors. In the first few chapters he talks about the moral premises of Kant and Kirkegaard, their similarity to and difference from earlier philosophers, as well as their foreshadowing our modernity. For him, these philosophers signify the failure of the Enlightenment Project, as he calls it. MacIntyre's object for attack is the so-called theory of emotivism, which he defines as a moral framework without any ultimate reference, in which any moral statement is only an expression of attitudes, emotions etc. I'm enjoying the book slowly, since I alternate it with a collection of articles entitled Desecularization of the World: Resurgent Religion and World Politics. Definitely an easier read than the other one. Also, I read The Superstition of Divorce by G.K. Chesterton, and found I agreed with almost everything he says;), probably with the exception of his emphasis on patriotism which I have always found an inexplicable sentiment, ever since I was a kid. Right now I do not plan re-marriage, so my Catholic-friendly 'self' can rest with clear conscience:)

Music and books are old (I almost wrote 'cold', Freudian slip of the finger) friends, but I've got a newcomer in my life which makes me smile at the mere thought of its presence. It's a computer game, an unlikely pastime, as all who know me even a little will concede. It's The Longest Journey, released in 1998, a very beautiful game, with a female protagonist called April Ryan. I am so immersed in playing, that I refused to go out for a drink, in total contradiction with all my promises that I'll go and paint the old town red :D The invitation, however, came from another gamer, who so obviously preferred World of Warcraft to my company, that I felt neither guilty, nor a freak for refusing him. This particular game which hooked me is, I am told, a quest, or a point and click adventure game. Either way, I begin to find parallels with my real life, as always happens with any fictional narrative I choose to internalize. Yesterday I had to go and feed a rabbit while his owners were away, and just parking outside their entrance, I found I had forgotten the key to their apartment, so I had to go back and get it. This example shows exactly how bad I am at my game:) The picture will become even clearer when I tell you that the same thing happened on the next day, only this time I had forgotten the whole bag with the keys, driving licence etc. I just need to concentrate more on inventory use, I know:)

Ontopic: We truly live in a post-Christian, post-religious society. Almost noone remembers the 'reason for the season', and although I understand this worldview, I don't want to be a part of it. I missed going to church and hearing "Glory to the Lord in the highest". All the talk is about peace and prosperity and good will on Earth, which is an example of how far interpretation can stray without context. Christianity has been reduced to an ideosyncratic attitude and somewhat deviant behavior. I don't practice Orthodoxy as much as I would like to, still, I do profess my faith in public, which tends to be embarrassing for others, not for me. (Nothing can embarrass me these days, have I become a complete and hard-hearted cynic? Here's a poem to contradict this statement, or maybe to enhance it?)

For us there are no certainties, no star
blazing our journey, no decisive dream
to reassure hurt hearts or warn us when
it's time to move. The shepherds, harassed men,
are given answers to the questions they
have never thought to ask. Told where to go
and what to look for. We try out our way
unlit with angels, wondering 'How far?"
Yet in the story we find who we are:
the baby is told nothing, left to grow
slowly to vision through the coloured scheme
of touch, taste, sound; by needing learns to pray,
and makes the way of the flesh, dark strategem
by which God is and offers all we know.
Jennifer Dines

I found this poem in a 1993 notebook of prayers and reflections, in my own handwriting;). I don't remember where the poem is from, I had totally forgotten it (as well as the notebook). Yet, it is an amazing message from me to me, doubly so when considering that at the time I was a die-hard, right-wing, born-again evangelical Christian. Not that I felt entirely comfortable in that guise, that's why I chose Orthodoxy about 2 years later.

I like to think that although I have changed a lot, I still want the same things for my soul, and I'm growing to vision. And God, He hasn't changed.
Happy Christmas, folks:)

Dec 7, 2004

Musings on Solipsism

"We all weigh and compare each other’s experiences with the desperation of people who feel one life is simply not enough. "

This is by no means the only quote which impressed me from a recently devoured collection of essays and poetry entitled 'Impossible to Ignore', but it seems appropriate for my topic.

It strikes me deep inside with its truth; bells ring so loud my head throbs;) And yet, I feel an impulse to disagree, or rather, contradict its implication that a confluence, or fusion of lives IS enough. No amount of experience shared can satisfy a hungry mind, or a thirsty soul. I am not trying to deny all possibility for communication (otherwise I would be thinking this instead of writing it;), but I am denying the level of fulfilment we achieve by interacting with other humans. I am aware of the importance of the community for individual growth, however, I challenge the humanist assumption that this is all there is:) To throw in a cliche, expanding horizontally is not enough, we need the vertical. Our one life may be puny and insignificant, but so is everybody else's. Multiplying human experience is enriching, but why not admit the likelihood that we are a function of an invisible Entity? Ooops, do I begin to sound like a New Age fanatic?

" Communication is one part forgery, two parts self-delusion, and yet real all the way through."

Great as a catchphrase, but what's real, then? Something which can live harmoniously next to forgery and self-delusion? No, thanks. If reality is verifiable by experience only, direct or indirect, then the definition of 'experience' must be really stretchy. The distinction between primary and secondary experiences , made elsewhere by the author of the above words, is workable, but somehow it bothers me. So, what happens to me is primary, what happens to you and the characters of a book, is secondary. I am the original, you are copies. I am the center of the universe, you are marginal. I am a creator, you are just creation material. The border between me and 'not-me', the line between subject and object is as eternal as the line between God and 'not-god' ... for theists, that is. And if God is capable of initiating contact with the creation, being all-powerful, are we, too, capable of contact with one another? In a world where we make up new images of ourselves by the minute, and pose them as 'me', the feeling of togetherness, the sense of belonging is anything but real.

"Although it is normally considered a great marker of psychological normalcy to be able to tell where your own life ends and other people’s lives begin, I believe that a careful traversal of the boundary enriches one’s existence incalculably"

This is an eye-opener;) (Definitions of normalcy have haunted me for quite some time, I even discussed the mathematical definitions of local normalcy and extremum with an expert in the field. I can see much better now I'm blind, period.) Tight personal territory and sturdy bounderies prove my sanity, as if other clues are not enough! My recent insistence on the benefits of isolation has led me to re-build the walls around me with state-of-the art bricks. I like windows, though. And incorporating these quotations in my text, of course, subverts the very idea of being on a virtual island:) So, I'll continue sending messages in bottles every few days or so, aka blogging. Solipsism is just a pose, after all:D

Dec 2, 2004

System of a Down

My hard drive has some bad sectors. So has my body.

This is my second antibiotics treatment in a year. My son has a cold, too, and my daughter refused to go to preschool this morning, saying she had a headache. Deadlines are piling up, the moon has reached its hateful phase, so I scream every 10 minutes or so.

Hey, I am using the blog for its correct purpose, at last. I am complaining:)

A friend said the other day that I should feel lucky (lucky lucky) I am lonely only about 2 or 3 days a month. Self-sufficient IS my middle-name, true. I reached new heights of self-sufficiency by opening my PC and taking out the hard drive. I had to, since I don't have a CD burner. Probably carrying it around in combination with my toddler caused the trouble. Sorry, life is hard. And has some bad sectors.

How repairable is the damage I wonder? A few days ago I exchanged a few words with someone I had thought I had swept out of my life. My consolation is that he definitely was more scared than I was. After all, I have had so much experience of courage in unimaginably tough situations that I know I can face 'the horror' and survive. Survival, however, is not a virtue. Or is it?:)

Yeah, I can be down-and-out, and still smile. As my son says at least 20 times a day - AZ MOGA! He can't dress, but he tries to. Same here:)

System of a Down is not only an attempt at applying structure to PMS blues, but my newly discovered fave band;) Courtesy of Supercow, thanks:) I don't know exactly why but I was thrilled to find that 75% of the band's members are Armenian. I have always felt a cosmopolitan, but I seem to appreciate ethnicity in others:D