2 days until we move to Basking Ridge, NJ– almost all I can think about. This move is a striking contrast to my move to Fort Myers/Estero, FL back in 2005, which led to deepened mental illness, obsession with marijuana, dropping out of college and a kind of psychological downfall.
*It’s seizing my consciousness: only 2 days until we move to Basking Ridge, NJ!
*What does it mean to think about living somewhere?
*Personal/inner revolution…major changes– like the world of Heraclitus
*The dark, revolutionary period when I moved to Fort Myers/Estero, FL in contrast to our upcoming move
*I did not really think through my move to Fort Myers/Estero, FL
*I was, in general, an oblivious person
*paranoia, panic attacks, and other consequences of my marijuana obsession
*morality & time
*convinced I suffered from severe intellectual disability
*unable to even enjoy a romantic relationship, convinced of the worst in everyone, including myself and believing Fort Myers was cursed by evil spirits
*My fantasy vision of myself as a rich & famous Ex-pat poet living in Europe only to end up a nihilist in South Beach
*My troubled epistemology
*Questions I should have asked myself & tried to answer
[Note: I began this essay in the autumn of 2017 initially intending it to be a poem. It has been revised numerous times to reach its current form]
Music plays on my Apple laptop…the back reads: “Designed by Apple in California Assembled in China.”
According to the “executive summary” for the China Labor Watch Website “workers making the iPhone” are exploited, paid just $1.85 per hour.
(Compare to my $11; compare to $7.25, America’s minimum wage).
The Guardian reports that the Foxcon Longhua factory in China, which manufactures iPhones, has body catching nets to curtail its suicide epidemic.
Should I trash what the workers produced in protest, and boycott?
I sigh…the music plays on…a man and woman sing: “I-I-I-O-I-I-I-O-I-O-AH- I-O-I-O-O-AYYYY! AYYYY! YEAHHH!…”
According to a Business Wire article published June 23, 1999, it was a husband and wife singing “a vocal chant” called “Jubilant Drinking Song,” recorded in the late 1970s and incorporated without their knowledge in this international top ten hit– the 1993 song “Return to Innocence,” by a music group that calls itself “Enigma.”
This resulted in a lawsuit and then eventually a settlement.
The music continues…I think of wind…wind…blowing through American beachgrass…
…the sound of ocean waves crashing while I’m walking on the Rehoboth Beach boardwalk, gazing at the snow falling from a dark gray, nighttime sky.
I show the winter wind my toughness as it persists, whipping my exposed skin.
The music inspires, and facilitates contemplation and day dreams…
Walking helps me meditate. My thoughts: streaming, roaming, like wind, or birds flying. No obligations… except to walk, and meditate. The sky, a sheet of blank white paper. I wish it would snow. Yes, let winter arrive early! Make it colder. Cold air, so blunt, stimulating, ordering me to feel its intensity, like masterpiece art work or extra dry gin, and refreshing, like pure cranberry juice (without any added sugar) from the refrigerator, or like waking up late after a much needed, long night of sleep, and exciting too, like the first French kiss in series, igniting my nerves. At least the air this afternoon chills enough to repel the gnats, and mosquitoes. Autumn’s rustic bouquets blooming…I wish I could walk through its maze all day. The air’s force, when it gusts, feels like God’s blessing, an extract of pure benevolence, a grandparent’s kiss.
[Note: the writing of this essay began back in the fall of 2017, intended originally as a “poem” and was completed within a year’s time and now ultimately takes the form of a short essay)
Fear of dying in my sleep…of dying in poverty, no career I climbed up to reflect on… just a plethora of aspirations and thoughts racing like a flock of thousands of birds headed south…while America’s democracy and rule of law corrode…gin and prayers fail to relax me…
But I am like my grandmother.
She used to listen to talk radio late at night as she fell asleep, sometimes not until three a.m.…
I watch the news on my laptop…
…five splits in the screen so we can see the face of each expert on the news panel… strikes my eyes like the rays of a plasma ball, the dendrites of a neuron under a microscope, octopus arms, jellyfish tentacles inside an aquarium…
President Trump called NFL players “sons of bitches” for kneeling during the singing of the national anthem to protest racism and police brutality.
Nuclear North Korea threatens the inevitability of violence…
Even on Friday, at 11:30 p.m. when one could be doing anything… many, like MSNBC’s Brian Williams analyze our Earth’s environment and community- its well-being or lack thereof.
Caretakers indeed abound: bureaucrats, military, police, fire fighters, hospital workers, and nocturnal intellectuals, with integrity.
It helps me sleep…
The developing complexity of my psychology, my determinism, my nihilism, and my marijuana obsession, as I transfer from Kean University to Florida Gulf Coast University (From Elizabeth/Union, NJ to Fort Myers/Estero, FL) between 2004-2006
*My desire to drop out of college and emulate Jack Kerouac, hitchhiking America
*Moving to Fort Myers/Estero, FL to attend Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) felt like a miracle, an artist’s “dream come true.”
*The irony of feeling “liberated”– falling into the depths of determinism & nihilism
*WHY was I really even attending college? I didn’t know…I was just waiting for riches and fame because I was convinced that was simply my fate. Bob Dylan put it so well when he sang:
SOONER OR LATER ONE OF US MUST KNOW
THAT YOU JUST DID WHAT YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO DOBob Dylan; Sooner or Later
*Trying marijuana for the first time and falling in love with it
*The place you live and the philosophical ideas you develop when you live there and come to thereby associate with your time spent living there
*My addiction/obsession with marijuana
-I believed I “needed” marijuana to be a “good” poet or become “one with the universe”
*second time I tried marijuana I suffered extreme paranoia and panic attacks, yet I kept smoking it…
From my childhood obsession with the Caribbean Sea while living in Robbinsville, NJ to my frustration with urban Kean University in Union/Elizabeth NJ in 2004-2005.
*The role of memoir/autobiography/personal essay/introspection in philosophical contemplation
*Falling in love with the Caribbean Sea & “the beach” in general
-a love poem I wrote about the beach when I was 18 y/o back in 2004
**ah the naivete of youth!**
*18 y/o @ Kean University, not standing up for my love of the beach
-loved the people but too urban for me (Union/Elizabeth, NJ)
*I’m very sensitive to geography/ picky in my taste
*Kean University: disgusting dorms/ felt like a prison cell in contrast to Florida Gulf Coast University dorms in new, beautiful apartment with my own room
*Ignoring my dream & happiness: that had to change
[Note: this essay was written during a very psychologically complex time in my life. First of all, this was happening around the time my grandfather passed away. Secondly, in the midst of my final semester of undergraduate studies I was in a state of profound confusion concerning what my next step in life ought to be. Though it seemed clear I ought to do all I could to break into the opinion-writing scene within the journalism world there were two very particular things troubling me: A) I honestly didn’t know initially what to make of the Kavanaugh hearings, especially after we learned that he had been accused by multiple women– and without evidence– of sexual misconduct. No matter how much I read on the subject I didn’t want to end up saying something or thinking something biased or blatantly demonstrating how little I know about legal nuances. In a word, I felt unqualified to “think” about what was happening; B) I felt confused about the aesthetic questions behind how one ought to write a political commentary. Moreover, I felt two competing impulses: one was to be completely detached from this rather fascinating but unpleasant period of U.S. history and the other was to in fact record my thoughts on what it was like to “experience” the occurrence of such a dramatic span of political events transpire. Spiritually and philosophically I thought, as someone who loves to write, it seemed there might be a kind of ethical obligation to document how this historical crisis within the Senate and Supreme Court permeated my mind, not as a mere political analyst or commentator, but as a human living in the country where this was happening.
This complex reaction led me to wonder if I should perhaps experiment with approaching the current political events from more of a “poetic” perspective, or “artistic” or “humanistic” or “personal” perspective– though I was not sure exactly what that should ultimately mean.
As a result, this essay was initially conceptualized as a “poem,” and one composed in a very complex intellectual-psychological-aesthetic frame of mind.]
Warriors will keep alive in the blood”
The fight for justice…hands stretching, muscles tearing, reaching for the sky- daunting, tempting to surrender, and submit, assuming futility, but people walked on the moon, made a vaccine for malaria, polio, and other diseases.
I contemplate my White Privilege, resenting every remnant of it, and scowl at America’s White Supremacist bigot bullies…oppressing…Native Americans, African Americans, Arabs, Jews, Women, the non-heterosexual, the poor, the vulnerable, the non-Christian, non-Caucasian and it disturbs me, makes me drink my whiskey with a little extra intensity…
I fear that nothing, not a single atrocity, would have moved Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s supporters in the Senate to oppose his confirmation (not that we know whether he was guilty or innocent… “the allegations fail to meet the more likely than not standard,” Senator Sue Collins said in her speech, explaining her vote to confirm him…but the way Christine Blasey Ford’s accusations were “investigated” in a rush- “More than 40 people with potential information into the sexual misconduct allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh have not been contacted by the FBI, according to multiple sources that include friends of both the nominee and his accusers,” NBC News reported…and what about Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick who also made accusations of sexual misconduct…ignored by the Republicans in Senate, the F.B.I., President Trump ((outright misogynistic deference to Kavanaugh, it seems to me))– a “sham” as many Democrats in the Senate called it!)
Even months later, Trump says he knows acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, then says he doesn’t know him, adding to the reeking junkyards, and mountain chains of venom filled sewage lies, poisoning our politics, government, law enforcement, rhetoric, relationships, and the Republicans– not a…flinch…
A NIGHTMARE AND AN OUTRAGE!
But hope…hope…hope…look at things like New England, where the snow seems to grace with its elegance as it falls- the homicide rates there, among the lowest in the nation…look at the gentlemen like former F.B.I. Director James Comey, and the ladies like newly elected Congress woman of Kansas, Sharice Davids…
More Americans voted for Clinton than Trump.
More Americans voted for Clinton than Trump.
More Americans voted for Clinton than Trump.
[Note: This is a one of a short series of essays which had originally been conceptualized as a “poem” at a time when I lacked a firm notion of what it was I really believed a “poem” to be. This piece is also interesting because I spent years not only writing it but furthermore I had spent a number of years wanting, in general, to write something about President Obama as such, or as a topic, as opposed to something very policy specific, which had been excruciatingly challenging for me. No doubt, if I compare exactly my approach to writing about a topic now to what my approach was when this essay was completed, in December of 2018, it would be somewhat different however not so much in sentiment or substance.]
January, 2016: I see President Barack Obama crying.
Small splotches of white salt under his dark brown, snowy night eye seem dabbed on there by a paint brush; of course, it’s just the light reflecting off his evaporating tears.
The photo was taken by Jim Watson for AFP/Getty Images when President Obama was giving a speech on gun control.
November, 2008: I was 22. It was my second time voting for president.
I voted for Barack Obama.
Just the past month my father had died because his colon exploded.
After he died, I thought I lived in some other universe.
The yellow, red, orange, and brown leaves falling from tree branches seemed to be all that could comfort me, reminding me of my father’s book of Van Gogh paintings that I inherited.
On occasion, when those trees shook, and threw their leaves in the air, especially when it rained, I thought maybe my father’s… ghost… was trying to tell me something.
November, 2012: In my naiveté, I betray my fellow Americans, voting against Obama and for Romney– my… Republican phase… failing to notice things like, say, the nature of my own poverty, and the poverty that surrounded me and my coworkers in the retail industry.
I failed to realize the exploitation.
I was a college dropout then, holding false assumptions.
Example: if people fail to “think and grow rich,” blame their skepticism, not their exploiters.
Less government, more optimism.
Mix errors like that with tornadoes of panic attacks… (extremely low… serotonin level…a doctor and I later hypothesized) almost deafening, blinding, throwing me all over the place, meddling with my thought process…
I returned to college, combating my anxiety with knowledge, learning to think and analyze more critically…as I reflected on President Obama over the years, I came to miss him.
[Note: This piece was originally written in the summer of 2017 as a poem. Over the past few years it has been revised and re-conceptualized to its current form as a very a sort of personal micro-essay on romantic love]
Things we do not desire, which I do not prefer to list, do exist in this universe but not in here, where our hands are touching like water touches the surface of the Earth as we float a little, on a black, leather couch and watch a fictional cop and a criminal shooting bullets at each other, on the television screen, or is it congress versus President Trump’s corrupt conspirators, or jeez, is it a shielded window through which we see countless episodes of good versus evil- life’s most basic theme? Now my wife’s hand slips away, innocently, like a leaf on a branch would shift in the wind, so she could grab her glass of water from the small table in front of the couch. A little while later we turn towards each other and lean in for a long kiss. After that we both smile- our lips spreading like a sunrise, bit by bit, pushing out night’s darkness, diplomatically exiling it, and we continue watching the TV.
[Brief note: This brief essay, which was completed around December of 2018, and is a reflection of thoughts and feelings I was having around the time of the 2018 midterm elections, is mildly experimental in nature, and is perhaps somewhat “lyrical” as it is part of a series originally intended to be categorized as a so called “prose poem.”
Since that time however, my views on aesthetics have evolved significantly. The exact definition of a “prose poem” will make for an interesting essay in the future but at this point in time I can tell you that at the time in my life when I was writing a number of so called “prose poems” I was in fact writing short, highly compressed, highly personal essays. That is to say, I was writing straight forward, matter of fact thoughts on particular subjects of interest. Now in a frame of mind where I believe this piece is properly categorized and understood with respect to its intentions I am happy to share it with you here for your contemplations]
Now everything’s a little upside down, as a matter of fact the wheels have stopped
What’s good is bad, what’s bad is good
-Bob Dylan, “Idiot Wind”
“‘Can one be well while suffering morally? Can one be calm in times like these if one has any feeling?’”
–Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace
This election feels like a spaceship heading for a black hole.
Please don’t explode…please don’t explode…please don’t explode, and shatter like the German democracy did in 1933…
Last Sunday night at 9 p.m.– the Sunday before the election–instead of “Headliners,” which is usually on at that time on MSNBC, there was special coverage discussing the “big day”– the anticipation, a spectacle like fireworks on New Years’ Eve… or Christmas trees decorated with bright red, green, orange, pink, and blue lights, and a diversity of ornaments…like steaming, spicy mulled wine still in the pot.
Just two weeks ago, pipe bombs were mailed to prominent liberals, and what the Washington Post called “the deadliest [attack] on Jews in U.S. history,” took place at Tree of Life Synagogue.
Voter suppression…reported in Texas, North Dakota and Georgia… targeting… Native Americans and African Americans…in particular.
America these days is like a toilet, filled with excrement, and vomit, that just won’t flush.
I say this categorically, and in pain.
I apologize with fervor, writing such nauseating words, but…at least the Democrats won the House of Representatives.
Though I strain, I do see the light of one, glittering star dancing on the horizon.
(Brief note: this short essay was originally completed on November 4th, 2018. I initially wrote this with the interest of making it part of what I referred to at the time as a “essayistic poem.” Although I have since abandoned that particular project and the accompanying view of aesthetics I possessed at the time of undertaking that project I maintain, after over half a year of hindsight, that the thoughts in this essay in themselves are a sufficient introduction to my thinking on the question of whether or not a God might exist and thus, this blog being devoted to my “Public Comment” on my views of things, it seems reasonable to include this here)
There is no empirical evidence to suggest a God exists yet even if the universe arbitrarily happens to be,and even despite atrocities [things I hate to acknowledge like disease, genocide, tsunamis, accidents…] there is beauty-the beauty of stars sparkling, mystifying, burning, illuminating; there is the beauty of the wind, whether it is tossing autumn leaves or brushing palm tree fronds, or making contact with water, ground or the skin of a living, conscious human, or a French kiss [mmm, just the thought of one!]-or fantasy!-all only a sliver, only a microscopic speck of the beauty that we indulge in with such pleasure.
Virtually each of us, if we try can find some beautiful things that bless us. From the atheistic perspective: how serendipitous! And that is all. From a less presumptuous perspective such blessings do provide grounds at least for suspicion -and thus for hope that some creative “entity” one might call “God” is a genius artist with profound bravura composinga masterpiece universe.
There is so much to it! Think, just think about the diversity: humans that evolve from the discovery of fire to the inventions of the internet and space stations, ah, and strawberries, planets, colors (so many colors), oil, mountains, lightning, gemstones, jellyfish, cats, dogs, horses, snakes, milk, wood, sand, ocean waves, atoms, genes, silk, Aristotle, Abraham Lincoln, Helen Keller, Meryl Streep, my wife Ashley O’Connor, my mother Amy Hanselmann, my stepfather John Hanselmann, music, wine, Effexor, coffee, blizzards, motion picture, the New York Times and the Washington Post, Proust, Walt Whitman, Montaigne, gravity, ink, blood, consciousness, language, memory, mineral water, birds flying (flying!) hot springs, seahorses, broccoli, brussel sprouts, pizza, moons, temperature, states of matter, sexual and asexual reproduction, sky, seemingly infinite particulars that just so happen to be and with such nuanced particulars within the particulars-all the cells in a human and their nuclei and mitochondria, the layers of the Earth, its biomes, the gasses of Jupiter and Saturn, every planet’s orbit around the sun, the position of every star, et cetera…
If there is that much fascinating complexity, and variety, in this universe then why mightn’t there be such a thing as a God? Some creative thing that possess something like a mind that imagines, reasons, produces, just by its glorious, unfathomable nature.
Oh yes, do I ever suspect there may indeed be a God, and do I ever hope, now on the cliff before I dive into the good kind of crying…