TITHONUS' DIARY!!


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explanation and stuff
2002-09-14 - 1:38 p.m.

Ok, what happened yesterday was that two people were sitting at the computer next to me, and he was trying to access his Eudora account through Hotmail (Gah!) and she was asking him every five seconds what he was doing (GAH!!) and suggesting that he didn't know what he was doing (true but not helping) and I kept wanting to stand up and say, "Alright, get away from the fucking computer, shut the fuck up, TELL ME WHAT YOU WANT DONE AND LET ME DO IT!!"

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It was just really, really annoying, Ok? Especially because I was trying to concentrate on what I had to do at the same time and there was this insistent murmur in my right ear of "...but what's that going to do? why are you doing that? ...no, I'm not with hotmail, I'm with Eudora... ...then why are you on Hotmail's page? what does it mean sign in?" and so on and on and on...

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Here's some stuff I wrote today, I think it might work as a diary entry, I don't know.

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Choice is the activity of an agent. I see two options and pick between them; make a choice. But why am I “making” something? This creative language also used for mistakes – “I made a mistake”. Arriving on time or succeeding at something – “I made it”.

Determinism would have it that the human being is a machine, like a wind-up toy, and that the idea of choice or agency is illusory. Daltonian atomism. This model says that even our determination to believe that we have choices is a result of our wiring.

I make choices, but out of what? Agency is the result of control. I control my hand; the hand does what I want it to. But this is a mind/body split and presumes an alienated hand, which does not feel like me. I am my body, my hands; when I’m typing, I just give my hands an idea of what I want – no, not right either. I just think the words and the hands give them to the screen. This is me in action. I do not exist except in action. While I sit here, not breathing, not thinking, not looking, I am not alive. The thought and the typing and the motion of my hands and the appearance of the words are all one fluid thing, in which I live. I live by writing. I live by breathing. I do not pre-exist the writing, I do not pre-exist this moment. Remembering is an action too, a journey. A living body walking through dead archives, massive mental filing cabinets; no. I tap my forehead with the heel of my hand, I say little words that connect, somehow I know they connect to the thing I want to remember and suddenly – ah! – I breathe and it’s with me, I remember it, a miracle, life is breathed into the old moment, the corpse of my past walks again, in my body, my mind.

I know that I’m a child again, I remember this feeling, walking down this same hill, I am the way I was then… and I know from the way that this feels that I am also not this child. By becoming him I can feel that I am no longer him. The jolting of my legs on the steep hillside did it. I did not choose to feel the way I did then, then, nor did I choose to go back there now. I did not choose the gait that I adopt as I negotiate the steep hillside; the hill gives it to me, my legs and the hill work it out between them. The hill has made me into a child again; I am a victim of the hill; it owns me. Just as I might say I own my hands; it’s not right. The world lives and I live and my hands live, and when things breathe together, en-train, get into the rhythm of their existence, open… journeys happen. I did not choose anything about the way this hill took me; I had to get to the house and so I began to walk down from the gate. The jolting of my legs, the smell, the slowness of it all… it’s only a few moments in the car but by foot it takes a good while. You lose yourself in the action of it, watching the uneven surface of the dirt road for crevices and large rocks, the necessity of it… it demands attention and yet does not forbid thinking of other things.

Actually, Daltonian atomism somehow seems less terrifying to me when I think of it in terms of the way I feel walking down the hill. Why do I need to know that my choices make a difference? If I can believe it falsely, is that so different? “Real, fundamental, underlying truth” – so important when you’re trying to kick somebody else’s argument, hardly matter on the hill. There is no efficient way to do this. I am “picking my steps” but a robot could do it as well – could it? Could a robot ride a horse, or would the horse throw it? Maybe it could ride a robot horse, but how would the horse cope with a hill like this one? Would it bring back a feeling from its childhood, make it into an animal it used to be, or further, remind it of a time when it was minerals?

Lying in some grass once I had the feeling that the grass and the earth and I were somehow equal to the rain that fell on us… I did not mind. It was nice to have a connection with something so old and still. Is the dirt any less alive, for its slowness and stillness? The hill I am walking down… changes constantly with the rain, although it is dry as dust now. The dryness makes the earth very hard, so that my legs jolt with each step, the earth does not yield at all. I am carrying a heavy bag and no other gait is available to me. I do not think to complain about the bag or the jolting; there is no one to hear me. All I hear is the buzzing of insects and the slight movement of a hot wind. Perhaps if I listened more closely I would hear the river below. I am lost in wonder and the power of the sensation of remembering. It is not just a memory… I am somehow both in and outside of the way it is to be me at fourteen, feeling it alive again in me and yet aware that this is not how I am anymore.

I don’t know how it happened. I think it was the slowness of the journey, the uneasy ancient familiarity with the landscape, the jolting sensation as I struggle to cope with the unpleasant steepness of the hill… but this is supposition. I did not feel it coming on gradually, or see the steps that lead to it. It was on me already some time when I realised it was on me. “On me” not exactly right either because it is me. I am fourteen just as I am shocked to discover I am fourteen again and know also that I am not really fourteen. It is not such a long way down the hill; when I reach the bottom the feeling has gone. The house has changed during the intervening years, and no longer feels like my house, but an old place I used to live in. It does not have the resonance that the outside has; I think I like it better in here now than I ever did before I left. Although, I do not like sleeping here; I get nightmares. Perhaps it is more deeply resonant than I like to admit.

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Yes, it's a lot, I know.

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"You can show me you're sorry if you think it's a shame

That I'm only a poor little beggar girl" - Richard and Linda Thompson


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