Night Talks #2

Night Talks is a new late-night column featuring photos & philosophical musings
by Joe McMurray

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The topics that came up while brainstorming the second edition of this column included: loneliness, life in Los Angeles, pills, and dinosaurs. Everything but the dinosaurs were suggestions, and the dinosaurs were a joke. It’s kind of a funny mix of ideas though. Funny to imagine someone imagining me holed up in my little room, alone, possibly on pills, writing about how lonely life can be in a fickle universe [Los Angeles]. And it’s not an entirely inaccurate image either, though I’ve been laying off drugs for the most part, and not really writing that much either; mostly I just kind of pulsate with nervous energy, mentally out to sea in the past and the present and the future and ‘what I’m doing with my life’ and a bunch of other dilemmas that either preclude or presuppose a clean room (the former in my case). Anyways, it’s fun to imagine what other people do, how they go about their days, get things done. Even if we know they’re probably inaccurate, the visions that we create in our minds of our peers establish little myths in the fabric of our social lives against which our own identities can achieve a certain definition. ‘So-and-so does this, and how do they get so much accomplished? and they’ve really got it figured out, and they’re so interesting.’ Fortunately, I’ve found myself idolizing people a lot less as I’ve gotten older, but I still compare myself to other people, I still admire people for what they do, especially as it relates to what little I do in comparison. People who choose a creative path in life are usually no less burdened by the strictures of a “good” work-ethic and the absolute requirement to have something, indeed many things, to show for themselves, lest they become irrelevant.

And I was thinking, as far as dinosaurs go, that this creative impulse we all share, this desire to put something of abstract value into the world, might be a symptom of our particular place in the arch of evolution, and that it (like a lot of our other human qualities) might one day vanish to make way for something better. We know that humans can be incredibly destructive and greedy, especially in large groups. We constantly demand more, even when we know it’s bad for everyone else. This is also true, of course, in the world of art and artists, perhaps even more so, since here we can adopt a variety of philosophical excuses for wanton excess, i.e. the consumption of material goods is fine so long as they’re put to good use. And what better use than the creation of works of human expression, which affirm, in the very system of values that got us to where we are in the first place, the significance of the exclusively human endeavour to create cryptic signs and symbols? Our desire to be creative and to be prolific is a byproduct of a world in which meaning exists only after the fact and which gives rise to things like money, status, power, and the image writ-large. Our case seems terminal on all fronts, accelerating in a tighter and tighter loop. A revolution is needed but is not necessarily on its way. What is certain is that things will continue to change. Perhaps when and if things ever get better, our preoccupation with notions of meaningful individual expression might be just another reminder of a much darker past.

 

Sent from my iPhone,

Joe

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