What I Learned in School Today: A Soliloquy of Sorts
Human nature is supposed to exist, subsist, between the irreconcilable
dualities of good and evil, restraint and decadence, moralism
and hedonism, reality and artifice, substance and surface, truth
and falsehood. Fashion personifies these tensions: although we
are born nude, we are propelled by society and necessity to cover
up, to literally “hide” ourselves. With
the birth of fashion comes the problem of existence: our endless
futile desire to express our inner “truth” via our
outer “false” appearance. The inefficacy of
fashion is a symbol of the limitations of all language,
of all efforts at communication between persons. Attempts at talking through
our images and through words are always rendered through a web
of misunderstanding; the requirement of a medium in all communication
always necessarily dilutes and warps the message. This is manifest
in the earliest states of human recognition, found first in the
fundamental disconnect between our inner cognition and our image
in the mirror.
All inner and outer life finds itself eternally irresolvable.
Why try to dispute or ignore these polarities? The idea of control becomes
the one human faculty that provides the fantasy of possibility:
either the gain of complete control, or the loss of complete
control. Extreme asceticism is proposed by one group, extreme
aestheticism by the other; again, the solution is posited as
moralism versus hedonism. Those who take the “middle
way” are seen by the extremists as weak, normalized individuals.
Perhaps. Or perhaps both of these options, extremity of choice
or resolve, are flawed.
The mysterious beauty of life and art is located within the
irreconcilable poles of human nature. It is only in the very search for
meaning that we find meaning. Out of visibility is born
the possibility of invisibility. Without the drive to
communicate we find no reason to live. The simultaneous
adoration and hatred of beauty is the only true expression of
love; in order to express love we must participate both in the
annihilation and the proliferation of ourselves. When we “give” ourselves
to each other we ultimately “take” from each other
as well. Nietzche has said that “acts of love always
take place beyond good and evil.” Love does not need names,
it does not need faces, it resides in feeling alone, in the sensations
of the present and the impossibility of this presentness. Time
does not pause, but love does.
Ultimately, love is fatal and impossible; it is the embodiment
of the human search and its meaninglessness. But without
this desire to express, to love, to create and to destroy…we
come to a standstill. In order to have knowledge we must leave
the garden. It is in this beautiful misery of our condition that
we must find the seeds of happiness. Impossibility
is possibility. The most passionate and creative love is
that which is doomed to exist among constants, forever fettered
to the diametric forces of life. This love exists indeed
a realm beyond reality, but without it we have only our ticking
mortality and our impenetrable fate.
Therefore, don’t just live for the moment, or in the
moment, be the
moment; embrace doom while doom embraces you.
Metal Heart, Cat Power
Spring Hall Convert, Deerhunter
Instrumental 2, Windy & Carl
We Can't Be Contained, Love
Mote, Sonic Youth
Killing all the Flies, Mogwai
(Mixtapes are better than Manifestos).
Emma Bee Bernsein
March 23, 2008