Balckwell Manifesto #4 – January, 2021

I find that I spend much less time nowadays thinking of my past. It used to be that I would spend hours of days recreating past circumstances, trying to return to my mind those lost emotions – emotions which felt so much more real than their present counterparts, due to their being frozen in time, encased in an immovable bubble that provided them solidity and clarity, as opposed to the malleability and transience that characterizes the here and now. My past is, in essence, a work of fiction, that I may read at my own leisure, while my current life is a manuscript, a work-in-progress, the writing of which brings with it the struggle and pain of creation. I am, these days, more of a writer than a reader, if you will. I remain an avid reader, but now I read not so much for escape but for inspiration. I read because the more I allow beautiful words and ideas into my mind, the more it becomes a rich, flowering garden, from which I may pluck delicious fruits as I laze within its luxurious grounds – fruits that provide the foundations for Works of which I will one day be so fond.

As it stands right now, these Works are but a pain in my side, a bee in my bonnet, and a sword in my back. My goal is to become one of the greatest writers to ever live. This is, of course, pure vanity. I often say that I lack ambition, but I find that I must now reveal the truth, which is that I aspire to a glory so high and vaunted as to possibly not even exist. Perhaps it is as they say, and the Age of the Novel is over. If this is the case, so be it. This fact changes nothing of the ferocity with which I approach my mission. In fact, its impossibility only increases its honour in my eyes.

I am a writer of novels. It is not my job; it is not my hobby. It is my vocation. I would not go as far as to say that it is what I am best at; instead, I would say that it is the only thing I am capable of doing. Over the years of my life, it has become increasingly clear to me that any other course is impossible. This is not to say that in some alternative reality, such courses may not have made me happy, or been met with success. In certain circumstances, I am sure that I could competently perform a wide variety of activities. However, in the specific circumstances that make up my existence on this planet, at this time in its lifespan, all these courses are closed to me. It is nothing about my social or economic position that bars me; it is instead some aspect of my own mind. Perhaps it has been poisoned, or perhaps it alone contains an antidote that frees me from other poisons – either way, due to what 19th century doctors might describe as my “nervous disorder,” or 21st century psychologists might describe as my “mental illness,” I find myself woefully ill-prepared for the lifestyle that many might term “normal.” For many years, I blamed this on my own stupidity.

Well, the words that we use inside of our head have immense power, and this word “stupidity” brought with it a self-restraining paralysis that was of no use to anybody, least of all myself. Nowadays, I choose not to call myself stupid. I do not call myself anything at all. I simply accept that I am the way that I am, and repeat to myself the adage: “It takes all kinds to make the world go round.” My kind, I admit, is one whose usefulness for maintaining the rotation of the Earth is difficult to recognize, but I, like many others, take the word ‘all’ to mean ‘each and every one,’ and logically speaking, this must necessarily include my kind as well.

All this is to say that I no longer consider it my duty to spend quite so much time reflecting on my life in order to determine what, exactly, “my problem” is. This time I now spend trying to determine what “my problem” will be – i.e. what disastrous circumstances might befall me in the future and make it readily apparent that my decision to make no money and forego the “building of a career” is a foolish one. This is futile time wasted, I know, and it is one of my primary short-term goals to eradicate such thoughts completely, allowing myself to focus exclusively on the composition of my Works.

‘What Works are these, exactly?’ you may ask. You may look around this website and see no works able to justify such an audacious renunciation of civil duty, instead seeing exclusively the confused, amateurish writings of a young man with an overblown sense of his own importance. In which case, you may chalk this entire project up to simple egoism! Well! I can’t help but admit that this judgement is a sound and reasonable one! All I can say in my defence is that a man’s life has the potential to be quite long, and I am trying my best to continually improve. If I fail in my goal of becoming one of the greatest writers to ever live, I consider that failure a more worthwhile use of a lifetime than success in any other pursuit. If I die having contributed nothing of artistic value to the universe, I will at least be able to say that I did no harm, and on top of that, I managed, at times, to enjoy myself.

I believe wholeheartedly that the creation of Beautiful Works is in itself a positive act, and that such an act is the most positive that I, as myself, can perform. This is not to the neglect of more tangible acts, such as being affectionate and generous towards my loved ones, and to a lesser extent, the entire portion of the human population that I come into contact with. My egoism does not extend to the social sphere; I consider it my duty as a responsible human being to behave in a virtuous manner towards whomever I am able. I love everyone. I love everyone, although many are twisted, evil, malicious creatures, and the structures and systems they create facilitate wickedness on a scale that no single individual could possible conceive. I can not help but be a human being, and as such, I can not help but feel a certain amount of love for all other human beings. I hope that you can understand.

It is on this note that I end this update to the ever-evolving Balckwell Manifesto. It is my hope that this document will continue to grow and change over the years, reflecting the contents of my soul and the system by which I govern my actions. I extend a hearty Happy New Year to all denizens of the Soup Web, and many happy returns. My greatest hope is that I can one day do you all proud

– Balckwell

All Good in the Hood?

The Imp is away! Today, she starts a full-time job Saving the World (in her own way), and so I must once more contend with the feeling of Being Alone. The Imp has been home for over six months now, ever since her university transitioned to online courses only. I have become used to her constant presence. Now, I must rediscover the world of myself. I am beginning by writing an essay:

“All Good In The Hood? An Exploration of my Current Mental State”
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I have recently become unable to sleep for more than one hour at a time. My nights are a series of intermittent checkings of a clock. 1:30, 2:30, 3:30, 4:30… Each time I wake, I rewind my audiobook to where it left off and settle back to sleep. I am awake enough to remember that I awoke, and nothing more.

It used to be that I would wake up once or twice in the middle of the night in order to urinate. My body is wholly unwilling to store such vile liquids within itself for long periods of time; eight hours without releasing them is simply beyond its capabilities. Recently, I have made an attempt not to hydrate my body at all for up to 2 hours before bed. I still wake up, but I do not urinate. I wake up more, in fact. Who is to say what is the deal with things such as this?

This morning The Imp had to rise at 6:40am, which, for her, is remarkably early. Thankfully, her nerves (it is her first day, after all) propelled her out of bed ten minutes prior, and the alarms did naught but wake me out of my semi-slumber. When she left, I was so overcome with my feeling of freedom, that I too jumped out of bed, and proceeded to throw my morning out of a window.

Ah, these windows, there are too many of them! It seems I can not pass one without throwing a day or two out of it. Just where does the time go? Before I knew it, noon had reared its beautiful head, and I was struck with the desire to nap. And that I did. When I awoke with clear eyes, I saw that my destiny today (since my multiple attempts to start work on my novel were met with little success) was to clean house. A few hours later, here I am, sitting in the living room (the office seems so stuffy when I am alone in such a large apartment), watching every surface in the house gleam with cleanliness. What a feeling! And I did the laundry to boot.

So, is all good in the hood? A man happened to ask me this just the other day. This man works at the liquor store around the corner from my produce store. He passed my co-worker and I, who were deep in our first conversation in over a year (I am naturally shy), and spoke those four words: “All good in the hood?” Naturally, I responded with: “what?” He repeated his question. I said, “I don’t know dude, it’s fine.” By the time I finished this reply, the man had already walked away. I turned to my co-worker, and finished the thought I had begun before the interruption: “It’s probably best to just not pay attention to anything.”

I have banished the world from my thoughts; you may yell and scream all you like, but you can not reach me now. I am secluded in a mind palace. I built this mind palace because every time I approach the world, I am thrust back in astonishment at my inability to understand its workings. Every time I am online, I am saying, “Who are these people? What are they talking about?” Of course, I know the contents of current events; I am no fool. I know the historical context too, more often than not. However, understanding events and histories does me no good, because I simply do not understand people. Perhaps it is my interest in history that has made me unable to absorb myself in the present day. In any case, I understand, before you go and tell me, that this is my own failing.

I created my current mindset in self-defence. It is almost a built-in antidepressant. For the future, I felt fear, and for the past, I felt shame. For the present, I felt disdain. In order to rid myself of these negative feelings, I endeavoured to eradicate feelings of any sort, at least to the extent that such is possible. I have opinions, but they exist behind qualifications and hesitations so deep that I rarely express them even to myself. I have emotional reactions, but they are limited to the world that directly affects me. I feel anger only when I am not understood. I feel sadness only when I become aimless. I feel happiness only when the source of my happiness is right in front of my eyes. I can not concern myself with the happenings of other sides of the Earth, or even other sides of the city.

I used to idolize monkhood and any semblance of asceticism. Nowadays, I have grown more skeptical. I think I have come as far as I can go when it comes to renouncing the world. It is time, I think, for me to return. That is why I am writing again. I have a hope that my novels will save the world, in their own way. I have a hope that my work at the produce store is a benefit to Earth. I smile at people. I ask them how they are doing. For some of them, I am the only person that day who will greet them with a smile. It is the absolute least I can do. Hey, you can do it too, if you feel like it.

I argue often with The Imp about science and fiction (although rarely about science fiction). These arguments generally revolve around my skepticism about the ability of scientific progress to save the world. Oftentimes, she is correct. I am simply difficult. I refuse to believe in progress, and I refuse to believe in value. I refuse to believe in much of anything, to be honest. I believe in fiction, but what the nature of this belief is, I can not say.

I appreciate science only when it is aesthetically appealing to me. I think there are hard limits to where scientific research ceases to be helpful; when I say this, I am referring to its applicability to human happiness (to use a word I dislike). Can science help make our lives better? It can certainly extend our lives; it can limit our pain and our suffering (in certain respects); it can free us from certain burdens. However, I always have the feeling that the more we learn, the more new ways we find to be miserable, and the more we lose those connections to the beauty of Earth that can eradicate this misery. My thoughts on this subject sound pedestrian; in truth, they are not fully formed. One day, perhaps, I will find an opportunity to explore this topic more thoroughly (the question still remains: would it be worth it?)

What I appreciate most about science is that it can provide us with new avenues of thought. My life is simply a quest for interesting thoughts. When I happen on one, I swallow it up. I digest it slowly. Much later, I exude this thought in the form of a piece of writing. By the time I write it, I have often forgotten where the thought came from, or that I ever ingested it at all. It seems to come out of my own brain. A clever trick, that.

In other news, there was a day last week in which I was actually busy, a rarity in a lifestyle such as mine. As it turns out, much of this business came to naught, and that which did not come to naught came to very little at all. Alas, a man must make his day’s pay, which I did, although I could have done without much of the worry it entailed. I am a worrier at heart; I simply can not help it, and no matter how trivial a task, a looming deadline is sure to send me into fits of despair. I do not work well with time constraints; in fact, I would often prefer if time did not exist at all. What is the use of knowing the time? Ah, for a man such as I, time is no matter. Unfortunately, many of the people with money to give away in exchange for labour do not feel the same way. It is just another way in which I must compromise with the world.

By the way, this morning as I ate my breakfast, a gamut of birds congregated on the trees outside my window. There were chickadees, juncos, starlings, finches, the requisite crows, and even my good friend, the Northern Flicker. There was even a species of bird that I could not idenfity, even with flipping through the pages of my bird book twice over. Ah, even without a name, its song was just as sweet.

In opposition to our expectations, birds were relatively scarce around our house during the summer. Perhaps this is because food is more plentiful, so they find the time to wander around non-human-infested environments. As the fall and winter approach, their reliance on bird feeders and the like might increase, prompting a return to the city. This is simply my hypothesis. At any rate, it was a joy to see them all back again.

So, is all good in the hood? Well, now that I’ve sat here and thought about it all, I would say that yes, in fact, all is good in the hood. The birds are singing, the house is clean, the laundry is done, the sun is shining, and The Imp is saving the world. And I am here, where I belong, saving the world in my own way.

Final Karaoke

This is an essay about an event in my past I refer to as “Final Karaoke”. This event is so old and so distant that I hesitate to even call it “my” past. It exists somewhere, maybe in my mind, maybe adjacent to my mind. All I know about it, I have written in this essay.

This essay is also about ghosts and dreams, but that’s okay, because all of my essays are about ghosts and dreams. I have bestowed upon this essay one normal title and one stupid title, and they are as follows:

“Final Karaoke”
or
“of all these ghosts that haunt me so, the one i am most frightened of is that one – that one over there. do you see it? it looks like me, doesn’t it?”
06192020

Continue reading “Final Karaoke”

思い出話

Prologue

When I first started writing this book, I had no idea what I would write about. I mean, I had a vague idea that I’d sort of fleshed out before, but I’ve forgotten the flesh and here we are. I’m hoping to recover some of it by the end. Come along with me on this journey!

Thank you



Chapter 1

GETTING LOST IN MY THOUGHTS

I do this thing when I talk or tell a story where I’ll start sort of broad, usually to avoid being a bother with something people might not even find interesting, and then start to become infinitely more specific about anything and everything, to the point of the story losing its purpose, because I’ll end up talking about one of the details I was detailing.

So a story will start with, “I went to the store,” and end with, “at 3:53, or maybe 3:54, with a southeast wind of 13.5 mph and there was a guy on the corner with a sign that said ‘God help you’, which I thought seemed weirdly ominous but what can you really do about it on a Wednesday night on the 23rd of April with humid 90 degree weather, AM I RIGHT?”

That was a weird day and uhh… uhm… yeah.

This is the end of my book.

Goodbye

“I Know of the Rot That Poisons Your Mind” (or, “Congratulations!”)

It is my belief, or you could say, a principle of mine, that all people should construct their own cosmology, or at the very least, heavily modify an existing one, or create a synthesis of multiple cosmologies. You should always be constructing this cosmology; it should be as changeable as the universe itself (that is to say, modified by time.) Continue reading ““I Know of the Rot That Poisons Your Mind” (or, “Congratulations!”)”

頼るってわかる? Do You Know Tayoru?

Four years and five months ago, I had a conversation with a Chinese girl in a small car, driving through the unnamed streets of Mito, Ibaraki, Japan. In all likelihood, she does not remember this conversation. I remember this conversation because a year later, I wrote it down. Thus, this essay is based on a three year-old recording of a then one year-old memory of a conversation. Continue reading “頼るってわかる? Do You Know Tayoru?”

If You Shout Loud Enough, Then Listening Stops Being a Choice: A Review of ‘Nujabro’

The bizarre Youtube creator Digibro has been occupying a permanent space in my brain for years now. So much about him rubs me the wrong way, and he consistently acts like a complete dickhead, but his life fascinates me. Continue reading “If You Shout Loud Enough, Then Listening Stops Being a Choice: A Review of ‘Nujabro’”

A Plagueworld Note on Mark Fisher’s Capitalist Realism

Two events occurred of which their coincidence really fucked me up.

The first was really an ongoing circumstance. It’s of course the current coronavirus pandemic, which has sent the world spiraling into a hellish state it’ll maybe never recover from. I’m fortunate enough to still have a job, which, like many others, I am now doing from home. In my case, I’m an English teacher for an English conversation company in Japan, so I am teaching lessons over zoom.

Continue reading “A Plagueworld Note on Mark Fisher’s Capitalist Realism”

Let’s Start the Heck Over (Balckwell Manifesto #3) (Balckwell Manifesto 2, #1)

I look around at the citizens of the world and I don’t understand what they are doing. I don’t understand their motivations. This makes me think that, perhaps, the citizens of the world do not understand what I am doing, and don’t understand my motivations. I know we are already two parts into this manifesto, but maybe we need to start again.

Continue reading “Let’s Start the Heck Over (Balckwell Manifesto #3) (Balckwell Manifesto 2, #1)”