Monday, July 10, 2017

The Flattening of Things




The other night I went to a party. I wasn’t invited directly but I was with someone who was and I knew most of the people there so it didn’t feel awkward. It was a loft party somewhere in Brooklyn. I already had a few drinks and we took a car so I really have no idea where it was but nonetheless it fit the Brooklyn loft vibe to a T.

There was chatter, drinks, and smoking on the fire escape but the main event was karaoke that was being projected on a large wall. People were singing and happy and doing their thing. I drank more and talked more and sang a song or two. It was basically all art people and it was a young crowd and everyone was very pleasant. All this should make one feel fine, but it didn’t.

Perhaps it was the one (three) drinks too many. Perhaps it is the general state of melancholy that I admit I am currently in, but I think it reflects something more than those things because there seems to be a pervasiveness of a certain type of feeling.

As I sat looking around me, at all those lovely faces and fun times, I felt a creeping emptiness. Not in a personal way, just in the scale of how things just sort of are way. It’s as if everything just flattened out and this room, the people, everything about it, just became a flat surface. It felt like some form of disembodiment, hovering above all this activity below but it just felt so blank.

I left without many goodbyes and over the next few days this feeling/sensation, has begun to overcome me.

Do you believe in coincidences? I’m not sure what that really means but the idea that things seem to line up in certain ways that seem to be giving you hints, clues, revelations of some truth or another. This has been happening since the night at the party and heightening the feeling that everything is just flat.

For example: there is a profile in the current issue of The New Yorker about a young tennis player, Nick Kyrgios, who could be one of the best the games has ever seen but he just doesn’t want to be. The article implies a type of mental lethargy for a sport that he doesn’t even seem to care all too much about, even though he obviously does. This article made me think about the concept of potential, how we are told and trained to optimize oneself, that this is the goal, but is it really? Kyrgios seems to be infected with some sort of antecedent bug and his act of deflecting his potential made me feel a similar feeling I had at the party.

Another example: I am mildly reading Peter Sloterdijk; Critique of Cynical Reason, wherein he tracts and opines about how the cynic, and thus cynicism has been become de facto and compounded.

Psychologically, present-day cynics can be understood as borderline meloncholics, who can keep their symptoms of depression under control and can remain more or less able to work. Indeed, this is the essential point in modern cynicism: the ability of its bearers to work – in spite of anything that might happen, and especially after anything that might happen.

Well if that isn’t me/us, I’m not sure what is. This idea of continuing, laboring, knowinglyeven without desire or pleasureis essentially what most of us are doing the bulk of our lives.

There are many more examples that I can give. Like the novel, Quartet by Jean Rhys that I somehow felt compelled to re-read this week because these characters embody a flat anxiety and nihilism that makes my skin crawl with familiarity. Or even today when I was observing a lecture on Aesthetics to high schoolers and Walter Benjamin was introduced and those ye old concepts of reproduction and the repetition means more then just technological processes but also the articulation of reduction in self and perception.

This is all a bit gloomy I know but this seems to be what is floating in the ozone at the moment. It’s like this haze of bored, apathetic misanthropy that has out served its uses and all we have is a bag of blah-blah cliché. Even critique and judgment has lost its fun.

Is anyone else feeling this way too? Perhaps it's the absurdity of politics, or perhaps it's the final veils being brushed aside. I’m not sure why or where or how long this feeling will persist but doesn’t it just feel like everything is too flat and revealed? The illusion is what we all agreed to. But what do we have left when even that is stripped?

This feeling probably has a lot to do with my personal chemical levels but I don't think entirely. I feel like a lot of people are feeling this weird thing. I know art sure seems to have been infected with it. There is something around the corner, I can feel it. I just hope it’s not a boring ass abyss.

Pazazz, Pazazz, that’s what we need.