Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Celphalization – A Fragment

One in four households in America consists of a single person, according to the Gray Lady (also, similar interview found at the Economist). I am one of them. At this point it is traditional to post the Forever Alone macro, but in all honestly, I enjoy solitude. I was reading up on the history behind the Asimov novel The Caves of Steel, in which humanity builds up cities to the point were they blot out the sky. Most men spend their entire lives without seeing the sun. Asimov, himself an agoraphobic, was surprised when a reader suggested that live without the sun would be intolerable. This story symbolizes the truth that we, as humans, unconsciously assume all others to be like us.
We live, as we dream – alone…
Joseph Conrad
I, too, often find it hard to understand why others enjoy the social life so. I am extremely uncomfortable in crowds (crowds being any number of people larger than five), and prefer to spend my free time at home. I am not anti-social or a misanthrope (well, not to a point of unbalance) but I just have a low tolerance for others. Even with close friends, spending more than a few hours with them begins to become a drag.

So reading this article really meant something to me. I found some kindred spirits, and it made me feel much better to learn how many people feel the same as me. I find there to be great advantages to be alone. I can spent my time the way I want to, I can do the things I want to do (and not do the things I don't want to do), and I don't need to concern myself with the sensibilities of others. For me, solitude is one of the greatest pleasures I can have.
I never found a companion so companionable as solitude.
And to this point, I do not seek companionship, since it would mean the subjugation of my will to another's. For most, this would be more than worth the price to avoid being alone. To me that is as bizarre as worshiping the sun.
Much like the lady in the article, I can not imagine trying to live with someone that wants to share their live with me. If I was to find companionship, it would need someone that enjoys isolation as much as myself. I would need someone that would be okay with only seeing me once or twice a day. In the few relationships I have had, this has always been the point were it falls apart. There is no way around it, I care for myself far more than I will ever care for another. And I will not change myself to meet society's standards.
So this means I will probably always be 'Forever Along'. But I am okay with this. Because the truth is that all men are alone. People will go to great lengths to feed the illusion that there is someone else out there that understands them, that will always be there for them. But we live as we dream. I just have been blessed (or cursed) with a greater clarity that most.
Alone, quite alone. You have no fear of that. And you know what that word means? Not only to be separate from all others but to have not even one friend.
-- I will take the risk, said Stephen
James Joyce
Celphalization posts are fragments of thought, unrefined ideas written with less rigor than other posts. Consider them to be like dirt in a oyster—maybe with time they will become a pearl, maybe not. When I was looking through some old college documents, I found a list of biology vocabulary words. The first on the list was 'Celphalization' – a trend resulting in well-developed head/brain/sense organs. I figured that this was a good as a name as any. 


Saturday, 25 February 2012

Codex Hermetica
Chapter 1: The Samurai

Welcome to the first of a (hopefully) regular installment: Codex Hermetica, where I will take a look at old and forgotten anime OVAs and movies. It is said that people die twice, once when they stop breathing and a second time when somebody says their name for the last time. When do anime titles die? I don't know, but I want to do what little I can to keep their memory alive. So in the Codex, I plan to write quasi-reviews of these series, and breathe some new life into these old bones. I strongly believe in the importance of history, and these are foundations that the modern industry was built on. It is only appropriate that someone pays homage to them. And for my first chapter, I shall write a little OVA called The Samurai.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

The beginning is the most important part of the work.

You are reading this for the wrong reason. That is first sentence of the Dan Simmons' excellent novel Endymion, and it still resonates in my mind as strongly as the day I first read it. I was told, when just a wee lad, that the opening sentence was the most important part of a story, since it is here that the reader decides whether to keep reading or not. A great opener means your words shall live forever, and a poor one can result in a different kind of immortality. But this opener has always fascinated me. Its sheer denial of the reader, the antagonizing arrogance of the author, pulls at something primal in me. It offers the promise of answers, answers to questions that up to the moment I didn't even know that I had, but now consume me. Tell me, O Author, for what reason should I read this? It feels almost like an esoteric expression of faith, whose revelation would reveal something fundamental about me. Of course, this is not the case, but the memory stuck with me, the experience of reading a voice that said:
[F]or good or evil mine is the speech that cannot be silenced
Joseph Conrad
But I digress. For it is I that am wrong, for I am writing this for the wrong reason. Why do people write blogs? To make money? I am sure that The Google has plans to do this, although I won't see a penny. (Along with not seeing any of the ads either, I use both Adblock and noScript, and I'd advise everyone else to use them as well). Is it for fame? As a follower of Epicurus, I take the motto “lathe biosas” seriously, and have taken great pains to obscure my identity. Is it to proselytize? While some use blogs as a platform to spread their ideas, I could could not care less. While I believe that my philosophy would beneficial to most, I care little for the conversion of others, for:
I hold it to be the inalienable right of anyone to go to hell in his own way
Robert Frost

No I am writing this for sheer narcissistic reasons. I am writing this to practice writing, since given the current lack of Mephistopheles to sell my soul to in exchange of unholy writing ability I am forced to use old-fashion methods of improvement. I am writing this as a form of emotional catharsis. Like St. Augustine, I shall confess my sins to the world, although I am not a brave as he was. I am writing this because I have searched high and low to find a place that I had the content that I wanted to see, and failing to find it, decided to make my own. But most of all, I am writing this because I wanted to, and I make it a policy to never deny myself anything that I desire. So we come again full circle. You are reading this for the wrong reason, because you are reading this for yourself, and that is not what this is about. 

So, with that little bit of unpleasantness out of the way,
Please allow me to introduce myself
I'm a man of wealth and taste.
The Rolling Stones

My name is Paul Melanchthon, and this is my blog, Hic Vigilans Somniat. I am a philosopher, an artist, a theologian and poet, albeit not particularly good at any of those. But as Pratchett's Rincewind claims, talent only defines what you do, not what you are. In this blog, I shall write about whatever interests me, but there will probably be lots about Japanese cartoons, history, baseball, quantum mechanics, philosophy, punk rock and my various neuroses and psychoses. I promise to tell the Truth in everything that I write, if from a certain point of view. And as for the rest, then me quote in full what Montaigne wrote in the introduction to his Essays, as translated by Donald M. Frame:
This book was written in good faith, reader. It warns you from the outset that in it I have set myself no goal but a domestic and private one. I have had no thought of serving either you or my own glory. My powers are inadequate for such a purpose. I have dedicated it to the private convenience of my relatives and friends, so that when they have lost me (as soon they must), they may recover here some features of my habits and temperament, and by this means keep the knowledge they had of me more complete and alive.
If I had written to seek the world's favor, I should have bedecked myself better, and should present myself in a studied posture. I want to be seen here in my simple, natural, ordinary fashion, without straining or artifice; for it is myself that I portray. My defects will here be read to the life, and also my natural form, as far as respect for the public has allowed. Had I been placed among those nations which are said to live still in the freedom of nature's first laws, I assure you I should very gladly portrayed myself here entire and wholly naked.
Thus, reader, I am myself the matter of my book; you would be unreasonable to spend your leisure on so frivolous and vain a subject.