08.24.11

the postmodern bible

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:19 pm by Administrator

i’ve written much recently about how my emerging spirituality is driving me to reconsider the ultimate goal of my walk. am i indeed a Christian because i want to live forever in happiness? or have i in fact given myself to God because i wish to be finished with what i am and incorporated into a transcendent being?

as i deconstruct myself—the one who once considered himself a man, an Asian, a son, a father, an American—i find the scripture to be a truer and truer guide in navigating a novel sense of identity. i once tried to fit my theological construct within the confines of my culturally-derived identity; but now i find that the spiritual identity is breaking me apart at the seams, marginalizing if not utterly vanquishing the prior basis of my rational self-concept. i can be godly within this culture; but i cannot be godly if i am defined by this culture. the experience of God that i am grappling with is forcing me to challenge the norms of identity and behavior that i have inherited. perhaps it would be diminutizing to describe my experience of Christianity as post-modern, because the Bible preceded the Western post-modern intellectual movement. perhaps it would be better to assert that the Bible necessarily pits its believer against his cultural context, in a vicious battle that promises to cause mutually redemptive destruction.

American exceptionalism, paternalism, and racism are some of the cultural foundations of my society that i’ve resisted for many years, but heteronormative sexuality is a core foundation that i’ve only recently begun to deconstruct in personal terms. the moral hierarchy of sexuality, with monogamous intramarital heterosexuality reigning supreme, has long been an unchallenged value in my life. the last three years of my blog have fairly clearly captured how my journey has forced me to attack this presumptive morality, through the lens of my own fallen experience of sexuality. coming to grips with my own experience of pornography has enabled me to view sexuality not as a binary reality but rather as a protean and undefined experience. it has compelled me to revisit Romans 1 and the very figure of Paul—and to recognize the apostle Paul’s innate limitations in grappling with the spiritual aspect of human sexuality.

today, one of my staff members gave the group an educational session on transgender identification, and for me the talk was a very powerful experience. for years, i have struggled to treat transgender clients with respect, mainly because i have viewed them as deviants. though i have been able to appreciate my gay friends in the context of their homosexuality, i have not been able to demonstrate “trans-affirmation”; at best, i have strived to demonstrate “trans-tolerance”. as i listened to the talk, i found myself studying myself and recognizing the fascinating reality of my situation. through none of my own design, i find God placing me in situations in which the exercise of my faith requires me to understand and appreciate a group of people who are universally loathed by society. given the trajectory of my walk, i feel Him telling me that it is time for me to get out of bounds—and to recognize just how much the earthly identity is a mere precursor to the revolutionized identity we will soon discover.

i have previously written about my ongoing need to relate to God as the divine feminine, as there is a certain dimension to devotion that i cannot experience toward a masculine god. i wonder if God has given mankind a protean sexuality not simply to demonstrate brokenness but also to demonstrate to us the subjective nature of our internal morality. it is not conscience that drives us to loathe and marginalize one another; it is our universal and innate self-revulsion at having experienced fallen, distorted sexuality. none of us have been excepted from this shame; and yet, it is also our strongest possible lens into the purpose of rebirth. the very thing that most intimately connects us to one another is also the thing that makes us most aware of depravity; it is the thing that declares the necessity of self-loss as the means to ultimate fulfillment.

it is only partly in jest when i suggest that we might be better off as a people, as a human civilization even, if we were all same-sex preferring. would there be a societal basis for misogyny? would there be overpopulation of the world? would there be the cruel dynamics of power, oppression, and greed that plague our interrelationships? yes, it’s not unreasonable to believe that these things would persist; but we might be free of a certain kind of cruelty exercised by men against women and by men against perceived deviants. i do not think it immoral or even crude to suggest that self-righteous monogamous marital heterosexuality is the very worst brand of sexual sin that this world has ever seen, worse than pedophilia and worse than polygamy. it is the closest thing we experience to utter self-idolatry; and it is opposed to the mutual embrace of universal fallenness.

today i learned to ask, not to assume, and to reflect on my loathings, even as i learn to love those i do not understand. we are finished with the days when we once considered homosexuality a mental disease, or a sin to be eradicated. the Bible has presaged this time; it forces us to lay aside our comforting norms of identity and to be revolutionized in our era. i believe in this radicalizing God, i realize. it was for this reason that God planted me in this country and in this time, so that i might know Him in this movement, and rejoice

08.22.11

The Eagles: 2011 season projections

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:59 pm by Administrator

back on 8.3.11, i posted my preview of the Philadelphia Eagles, which was a downer of an entry. specifically, i commented that the Eagles are thin at linebacker, and for a defense trying to find chemistry fast, that’s a fatal flaw. since the time of that entry, the Eagles have played two preseason games, the second of which demonstrated defensive deficiencies so concerning that the team is considering moving its sam linebacker Jamar Chaney to the middle. make no mistake; it’s a major overhaul, and it’s a project with very unclear consequences.

anyways, several experts are now jumping onto the idea that the Eagles aren’t so great after all. i’m hopeful that the bandwagon will thoroughly break down before the season begins, so that the Eagles can do what they do best—exceed low expectations.

here’s my game-by-game projection for the Eagles’ year. yes, i’m very excited about the season. no, i still do not have cable, nor do i plan to watch a single game this season.

1) @St. Louis: W 24-17. The Eagles will shut down the St. Louis spread offense for the first half, but the Eagles’ offense will be very slow out of the gates playing without Vick’s go-to-guy Jeremy Maclin. After starting the game 21-7, the Eagles will nearly blow their lead after tiring out in the 2nd half.

2) @Atlanta: L 21-31. Against a good run-blocking front line, the Eagles’ defense will get pounded by the Michael Turner/Jacquizz Rodgers 1-2 combo. They’ll give up 150 rushing yards, as they are fully capable of doing, and the Matty Ice–Roddy White connection will be largely unnecessary.

3) New York: L 14-20. Yes, the Eagles will start the year 1-2, and there will be plenty of frenzy about how overhyped they are. Bradshaw and Jacobs will rip a hole through the D-line, and i imagine a lot of people will start asking questions about why we spent so much money on flashy corners. Meanwhile, Desean Jackson will do a cartwheel celebration on his way into the end-zone and turn a TD into a turnover.

4) San Francisco: W 17-13. We’ll squeak this one out. Lesean Mccoy will turn in his 4th underwhelming rushing game in a row, and the team will start talking about why Andy Reid is forcing the passing game too much (as they always do).

5) @Buffalo: W 38-10. This will be McCoy’s first 100+ yard game, which will help set up Vick for a couple nice play-action tosses to Maclin. We’ll be 3-2 and guardedly optimistic that our worst days are behind us. Buffalo’s lone TD will be on a blocked field goal attempt.

6) @Washington: W 7-3. This will be one of the ugliest games in history, as Vick will throw three interceptions, all on bootlegs. The writers will ask themselves why they rated Vick a top-6 QB in the preseason on the basis of one anomalous season, because in fact he has no reliable weapon except for his legs. Despite this, we will escape 4-2.

7) Dallas: L 10-45. We will get stomped by the Cowboys because they will be, by far, the better team. Rob Ryan will get a cooler dumped on him at the end of the game for walking the talk. This game will feature more incredible mis-tackling, with 120 yards for Felix Jones and probably 100+ for super-soph Dez Bryant.

8) Chicago: W 28-20. We’ll be good enough to win the revenge game, basically because Reid will do his trademark trickery with an on-side kick at the half and some brand-new blitz packages to rattle the always finnicky Jay Cutler. We’re 5-3 now and tied with Dal for the NFC East.

9) Arizona: W 28-9. We know Kevin Kolb fairly well, and we’ll be hitting him in all his sorest spots at the bottom of the pile. It will be a dubious distinction beating up the Cards, who will be winless in week 10.

10) @New York: L 20-28. We’ll drop to 6-4 after getting swept by the Giants, which will prove beyond a shred of doubt how bad our run defense really is. McCoy will turn in some negative runs as usual, which means that our 20 points will be entirely powered off of Vick’s legs. This is the point in the season when the wear and tear on Vick will start to show.

11) New England: W 24-21. This will be the most important game on our schedule this year, because we’ll have to prove to ourselves that our defense can stop 4th quarter drives. I have to believe that our corners can stop Ochocinco and Welker, and our defensive ends will get around Matt Light to really deal some punishment on pretty boy Tom Brady. i think that our very angry defense is going to take Brady out for the season on November 27th.

12) @Seattle: W 30-13. We’ll be 8-4 after celebrating this blowout, which Tarvaris Jackson will hand to us on a silver platter. The flashy record will mask the fact that we’re not the best team in the NFC East, nor do we have a legitimate defense against the run.

13) @Miami: L 14-24. Straight up, this will be our most embarrassing loss of the season. We’ll be riding the high after breaking Brady, and then we’ll watch Chad Henne and Reggie Bush systematically break us down with a series of dink passes and screens. Vick is going to be exhausted at week 14.

14) NYJ: L 10-34. It will be our second losing streak of the year. The second Ryan brother is going to rip the Eagles apart. This is a team designed to make us look bad, with a brutally strong front 5 and a defense that will force us to throw over the top. Vick is not a pocket passer, and he will get picked at least twice in bad situations this game.

15) @Dallas: L 31-34. Here it is: the gut-wrencher. Every Eagles fan knows it’s coming, they just don’t know when. It’s a 3-game losing streak right here, capped by a last-minute touchdown from Romo to Witten. At one point we were 8-4 on the heels of beating the Pats; now we’re 8-7 and watching the ‘Boys cruise to an NFC East title, while we fall into the Wild Card hunt, thoroughly disenchanted with ourselves.

16) Washington: L 17-35. The 4-game losing streak to end our season will strike the experts as a shock, but it’s only fitting for a team featuring a hobbled Mike Vick, a patchwork offensive line, an overworked linebacking unit, and corners who aren’t getting challenged because all the damage is getting done down the middle of the field. We’re going to make Roy Helu look like next year’s superstar; and Beck is going to have this big win to tell all his doubters that he is the future of Redskins football. Meanwhile, the Iggles go home 8-8 and get to think for months about what went so horribly horribly wrong.

Toward synthesis but not concretion

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:18 pm by Administrator

when i look back on my life, i tend to see it as a series of paradigm shifts precipitated by crises. the crisis is usually rooted in some direct challenge to a core aspect of my identity. it forces me to reevaluate my values and my goals in life. in the aftermath of the crisis, i manifest lifestyle changes—oftentimes fairly drastic—reflecting the shift in my values and goals. invariably, these lifestyle changes presage more gradual philosophical changes. in my case, these philosophical changes generally involve my beliefs concerning eschatology and social justice. as abstract as these latter aspects are, they prove to me my prevailing fixation on “synthesis”. i have a deep and persistent need to absorb the challenges and travails of life and infer from them a broader pattern of metaphysical meaning.

in 2002, for instance, the trauma of my internship year and my intimate experience of East Baltimore’s inner-city decay precipitated a crisis of conscience, rooted in guilt and self-loathing. the end result of that process was profound. i lost my idealism; i came to the belief that the principles of American government are broken; and i embraced an eschatology of universalism. this dramatic shift formed over two or three years and became the basis for many of my decisions that followed thereafter: my penchant for anti-establishmentarian political debate, my reluctance to support overseas missionaries, and my deconstruction of my prior perceived missionary calling. my wife met me in this stage of retraction, and it sharply affected our dynamic early in our marriage.

i’ve had minor paradigm shifts since then, but perhaps nothing amounting to a crisis until a year ago. i’ve changed much since that point of crisis in may 2010, but only recently have i begun to discern the deeper philosophical shifts that have occurred—the sorts of shifts that will affect some of the very critical decisions i will soon be making about my career and life direction.

there are three recent conversations that perhaps brought these changes to light. the first was an interview i underwent as part of an internal HR study at my company. the second was a conversation with a mother of two kids who attends my church, which we had during my son’s 5-year birthday party. and the third was a recent phone conversation with an old friend.

the HR interview was focused on my career development since college. the interview felt routine until the two interviewers asked me to summarize how my values have changed over the past five years. i answered the question by describing how much my journey has led me to believe in the importance of community. i became surprisingly emotional as i talked about this change, because i realized with great clarity how deeply i felt about this idea. the old aspiration—to be personally successful, published, or influential in my lifetime—really has passed, to a large degree. my new aspiration, to be ingrafted into a holy people, has become real to me, as the primary expression of my faith.

the conversation at my son’s birthday party was another important moment for me. we were talking about my wife’s second pregnancy, and i incidentally remarked that this was supposed to be a low-birthrate year due to the bad economy. she then said something to the effect of “well, we shouldn’t let those sorts of things affect us because we have a different belief system”. it was a striking comment to me because i realized that in spite of my hope of having a healthy second child, i did not believe in a religious justification for having more children, nor did i believe that finances were a less credible basis for deciding on pregnancy. in the moment, in fact, i was tempted to suggest to her that the godly thing to do nowadays might very well be to avoid pregnancy if not marriage altogether.

the conversation reminded me that it is still so important to me to avoid doing things on the basis of tradition or conventional wisdom. perhaps when i was younger i believed this because i took pride in being a maverick; but nowadays i question conventional wisdom on things like family values because i personally feel the importance of diverging from the paradigm of my elders. in the sociopolitical arena, i see the failure of tradition in providing a strong foundation for marriage, self-care, and self-development; in the personal spiritual realm, i see the failure of tradition in helping Gen Xers like me actually identify meaningful life goals. having children for the sake of having children strikes me as an unfortunate default in an era of great compromises. it is not an unquestionable good for the world; and it is certainly not an unquestionable good for us.

lastly, i had an interesting phone conversation with an old friend, in which he unexpectedly directed conversation to matters of national politics. he suggested that my growing disenchantment with national politics is incompatible with my increasing focus on spiritual community. it was a jarring insinuation and one which triggered significant self-reflection. i realized that i have not actually had open conversation with anyone about politics or social justice for a good long time; and i haven’t missed it at all. perhaps i am a true cynic when it comes to these things; but more fundamentally i have learned to displace myself from the American modernist discourse on nationality and culture. my wife and i used to debate the merits of referenda or laws, as if our stances on these issues could function as a litmus test of our true beliefs. but now, i look upon our political landscape as a minefield of inherent complexities and misunderstandings; it’s futile, much like the war on drugs and the war in Afghanistan. i describe myself as the man who bewails the failure of the communist ideal; and as there is nothing left to dream of, i concern myself with the things that i can control, like the plants that need watering in our garden. i have come to believe that the political problem i wish to fix is human nature, and the events i wish to prevent are necessarily cyclical.

it is synthesis i seek, as always. my eschatology has changed, to reflect my post-modern beliefs and my resistance to the modernist norms. heaven and hell, i believe, are not about euphoria and suffering, respectively. heaven and hell are about identity, fully revealed. my idea of heaven is the outgrowth of my spiritual aspiration—oneness with God, as part to His whole. in the afterlife i conceive, it is not my tribe that persists but rather the “un-elect”; we who consider ourselves the elect will not persist as individuated identities. and the Hell that we have designed is where the rest of the souls will work out their eternity with one another and with God, not as those who suffer wrath but rather as those who were destined to be both immortal and forever verging toward God. Hell will be far “better” than earthly existence; but the one thing the souls of Hell will never experience is absorption into the identity of God. for better or worse, they have been destined to live forever, as themselves.

i am reminded even now to recognize that i seek synthesis but not concretion. every crisis precipitates untoward changes, and my thoughts and feelings create the milieu for a new worldview. if there is one thing i believe i was intended for, it is change. incessant, self-questioning, and self-diminishing change. if i’m given an idea, then i can run with it, for a time. but it seems to serve no purpose to define myself by any idea or calling anymore, save for the rudimentary fact of my faith. even my concept of God is continually changing, and the God i quest for now bears little in common with the God i loved at the start of our relationship. it is fluidity that defines my living, far more than concretion. it is the constructions and deconstructions of errant theories by which i begin to sense enduring patterns, the things i describe loosely as truth. i live for this rise and fall, this periodic self-death, i realize. this is what it means to work out my faith, to consider all as loss, to die to myself, to live in Christ

08.17.11

no ambition

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:16 pm by Administrator

lord,

how am i doing?

am i right in my life? right in my mind? am i being faithful? or do my worst moments prove what i am, underneath it all?

if righteousness could be acquired or earned, would i not even now be seeking it out, like one seeking a dry place in the midst of the storm?

and yet, despite my best efforts, have you not struck me down, showing me through my own eyes the evidence of arrogance and rebellion that i once called holiness?

you’ve marked my path with failure and trouble. where i sought victory, you hurled me into the despair of defeat. i despised you, God, because you showed me what i was. i love you God, because you gave me no choice but to be new.

the evidence of righteousness, i have come to realize, is the reality of my demise. everywhere i look, i see the deterioration of myself, the folly of my natural inclinations. but where the tide of my life recedes, i see the earth beneath rising with smoldering rage—new earth birthed in lava, overrunning the old. i see, in my failure, the beginnings of new life.

you did not come to restore what i was, or to empower what i am. you did not come to make me whole. rather, you came to rend me apart, so i would affix myself to you, like part to a whole. the evidence of righteousness is the end of myself, the revelation of you within me.

i am a lip to your face; or a tooth to your mouth. i am like a single tone in your imagined song. i collapse upon you, God, like the implosion of stars. if i no longer live, and you live in me, then what ambition can i claim? there is no war to fight and no cause to obey. i live to speak the words you give me, before i pass away

08.08.11

messages to my wife, about my misery

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:04 pm by Administrator

11:49 AM

for better or worse, i realize that what i’m really lacking—that
“missing piece”—is the game. i have no game in my life. there’s
nothing i’ve got right now in which i get to regularly express my
incredible competitive zeal. this is the glue; without it, nothing
else in my life seems to come together.

eventually, when isaac starts to get into competitive activities, he
will be my game. i will force him toward excellence, and i will
vicariously win through him. i know that this may be the set-up for a
dysfunctional relationship, but i don’t see a way around it. the
alternative is that i develop a game for myself, but all my attempts
in this regard (gambling, sports betting, fantasy, computer gaming,
competitive dancing) have been largely futile or self-destructive. i
suppose i could make a game out of just about anything, even writing,
but i have no one to play with and i have no one to play against. i
am a man built to hunger for domination, but i have no one to
dominate.

this is an area of my life that i need to explore this year. i must
find the game. i feel like my fulfillment in life depends on it.

—————————————–

11:58 AM

i suppose that ideally my game would be to start writing and to
compete for prizes. stories, films, screenplays—it doesn’t really
matter. this would appear to be where i should be headed.

monica cure and i are going to start a writing group this fall, and
i’m very hopeful that through the group i’m going to start developing
my literary life toward some constructive ends. my literary ambition
has afforded me nothing but a decade of frustration, but perhaps i
cannot ignore the fact that i quest for distinction, and i need to
start getting published.

—————————————–

12:01 PM

the worst part of writing, i realize, is that i simply cannot stand
myself. i cannot sit down and write. if i were self-projectable, and
writing were conversation, then i could do it. i need to make my
writing an exercise—a daily exercise—not a solitary venture in
self-exploration. the latter is a black hole of misery; i cannot
descend into it.

i guess what i’m saying is that i need your help. i need you to help
me win. i need you to begin structuring my literary life so that i
have something to build on. this may be as simple as giving me
homework exercises and reviewing them.

08.06.11

good or bad

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:54 am by Administrator

most of the time, really, i’m not myself. i’m the guy living out of body, studying myself. i’m not looking for good or bad. i’m studying him because he’s all i’ve got. his happiness interests me; and though i do not feel it like he does, i pleasure in it, in the same way that i pleasure in his sadness. his feelings tell me that he is real; and if he is living, then so am i.

but there are days when i am myself. i am the one who is in this body; i am the one who is struggling and suffering. and when i am me, good or bad are not theoretical anymore. good and bad matter.

today, i was tired. i got angry at someone. and then i found out that a patient of mine died. his wife called me a good doctor, a good man. behind these burning eyes, these aching ears, and this hurting flesh, i suddenly felt the importance of what she said—and my inability to believe it. how can i be good? i am the man who looks at other women. i am the man who is cheap, petty, cruel, and selfish. i took notes during all these years of self-study; i know what i am. who can tell me i am good? and yet, when i am myself, it matters so much.

i cried, in my office at the end of the day. not that furious, cathartic sob that enables me to connect to myself. my crying lasted seconds; it barely produced tears. it was the token offering of a man who feels what he is, the trivial and the bad. i am so tired; i am so lost; i am so empty. this is me, the real me. today, i am not the student of my ways, or the master of my life. i am just a man who was told he was good, and who realized in that moment just how much he wished that this were true

08.03.11

E-A-G-L-E-S

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:36 am by Administrator

all of the major moves by the philadelphia eagles during this pre-season have got me all riled up and excited. i can’t help but wonder—is this our year?

and, at the same time, i have to admit that this sort of hopeful anticipation strikes me with unease, because it makes me feel profoundly vulnerable. if there is one thing that defines a Philadelphia fan, it is his consistently dispirited anticipation of inevitable defeat, alternately expressing itself in angry entitlement and sullen despondence. this mask of rage is at times the only thing restraining the average Philadelphia sports fan from taking that fatal leap off the Ben Franklin Bridge into the frigid January waters of the Delaware River. American sports fans, ESPN, and the national media raise judgmental eyebrows at our snowball pelting of Santa Clause and our hostile reception of a Laker uniform-toting Destiny’s Child at the First Union Center. they do not realize that our expression of violence is a simple matter of self-preservation—a survival skill, so to speak.

now, i didn’t have to become a Philadelphia sports fan in 1999. i could have remained loyal to the Baltimore Orioles (God’s gift to any masochist of a sports fan) and the Washington Redskins (the most embarrassing show in town thanks to f*cking Daniel Snyder). but philadelphia won me over, with its brawling aggression, its fits of rage, and its smoldering passion. it’s a city that will never pretend to be happy; and in that respect, it will always be perfectly real.

nowadays, philadelphians find themselves in an awfully strange place. the Philadelphia Phillies have won the World Series, and they’ve become perennial contenders. the Philadelphia Eagles are actually trying to win it all this year, and they have the talent to do it. we are being coaxed out of our shell of wounded entitlement and obstinate depression. here and there, fans like my friend Won Ho are emerging from the darkness, silently mouthing the words “Super Bowl”. to me, it’s horrifying. i’m staying in the cave, where things are dismal, dark, and very safe. my attitude is that we’re going to lose, because the Eagles always lose, especially when they come out pretty and decked out, full of promises of something more than just another bad date with a strung-out ex-hooker.

and the Eagles have been just that. yeah the Eagles have had plenty of “winning seasons”; sure, they’ve made it to the big game. but no, they haven’t been well-coached; and Donovan McNabb was the ultimate tease, killing us with his occasional excellence and his unfailing commitment to throwing away games in clutch-time. 4th and 26 against the Packers notwithstanding, he proved that clinical depression is an infectious disease in Philadelphia; his vomit-inducing performances demoralized the entire city year after year after nauseating year. he was shipped off three years too late, and now it’s too late to create a championship run with Westbrook and Jim Johnson and all the great talent that he helped to waste.

sure, this is a good-looking team on paper. with an honest secondary, we might be able to focus on stopping the inside run on occasion. with a semi-accurate quarterback at the helm for the first time in a decade, we actually might be able to sustain those crucial 4th quarter drives when we have to. but the fact of the matter is that this is a patchwork squad with so many new defensive pieces that it looks destined to fall apart in reality. the glue for a great defense—solid, smart linebackers who can adjust and plug the holes—is something the Eagles don’t feature right now. the chemistry on both offense and defense is going to be a work in progress this year, and i don’t see the Eagles coming together fast enough to challenge the Pack.

yeah, i’m recalibrating my expectations. i have to. i’m addicted to the self-doubt and the preemptive rage. but mostly, i’m just tired of being disappointed. to all those Philadelphia fans who are whispering “super bowl”, i say get the F off the bandwagon and get back to what you do best: throwing back a beer and feeling sorry for yourself on sunday night. there are going to be sad mondays, just like every year. it’s never sunny in philadelphia

08.01.11

another earth

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:24 pm by Administrator

my wife and i had a few hours to kill on saturday morning while our son was at VBS, so we dropped in on our favorite indie movie theater. it was a close call on choice of movie; everyone else was watching “Sarah’s Key”, and i was tending toward “Point Blank”, a French action movie. but in the end, we decided on “Another Earth”. she preferred it; and despite the tepid RT reviews, i decided it was worth the risk.

there are only a few movies we’ve seen that have equally impressed us both. “Lat den Ratte Komma In” and “El Secreto de sus Ojos” are two of the very few. “Another Earth” perhaps outdid them both, simply because we were not prepared for the journey that it took us on. we were stunned by the brilliance of a movie that we found to be profound, introspective, and undeniably compelling. Brit Marling was sensational—perhaps the most striking personification of both failure and yearning that i have ever seen.

the movie was so poignant, in fact, that i don’t want to watch anything else for the time being. i want “Another Earth” to remain fresh on my mind. it’s not that the movie demands rumination; it’s not the “Tree of Life” sort of psychological burden. rather than imposing an agenda or reconstructing a familiar story, “Another Earth” instead seeks simply to resonate with the innate self-doubt within its audience; that resonance, like the incidental tones produced by the vibrations of trauma, alerts the self to an incipient idea not yet fully realized. Brit Marling’s movie only seeks to elicit that chord; she does not pretend that she can produce a song. in seeking this connection, and by avoiding the trap of overwrought self-reflexivity, she suggests an utterly novel take on the purpose of living. she suggests that the achieving, the loving, and the building are all ultimately about the transcendent and ever-elusive search for oneself.

the pain on the other side of this pleasure is that i so rarely encounter this sort of art that i cannot help but feel broken when i find it. there is insatiable love for the artist who reached me; a renewed sense of alienation from those with whom i have established a truce of coexistence; and a revived inner longing to again embark on the creative journey that i’ve previously abandoned out of defeated resignation. i remember that in society i’m primarily defined by my anger against its modern sensibilities and its bland aesthetic. i feel myself, my agitating contours, in their delimitation of invading spaces. the emptiness within me loathes the emptiness that i perceive outside of me. in that loathing is enough substance within which i can actually persist, as a reality of a kind.

i do so desire to create resonance with others—an orchestration so to speak—even if it be for just a single moment in time and space. the vibration, the alignment, it requires no meaning or explanation whatsoever. but i believe it to be the only evidence really that we were meant to exist as a people, not merely as people. sometimes, i experience this in the context of a communal religious experience; but in retrospect, i generally regard those moments as false. there is something more fundamental than a communal experience of individual guilt. the Pentecost, like every other experience that has genuinely united people, is about more than repentance or shared memory; it is about mutual and profound self-discovery, as the conduit into the discovery of the transcendent identity. some call that god. i am tempted to call it the great nothingness.

in a parallel world, if there were a parallel world, i believe i’d be no less lost, no less angry. i wonder if his experience of alienation would make my experience of it any more tolerable. perhaps i would bore him, and he would bore me. i think we would rightly fear each other, for being so necessarily determined. i don’t know. hell for me continues to be the idea of having to live as myself for the rest of eternity. adam and eve were given death so that they could escape themselves; and so i too look forward to the afterlife, not as one who seeks to be preserved but rather as one who seeks to become the other