Saturday, 6 July 2013

Liking things

Not even about rpgs a little. But it's my blog and I shall write as I wish.

I find it hard to talk about what I love. Yet dislike summons an instant legion of words and sets them to work.

I have often thought that the better part of myself was open and silent. An intelligence that moved between words and gave them the space in which to watchfully dance.

There is the idea of static as a kind of hell. The glitch-world aggressive thought-destroying torture noise. But there is warm silence as well. anyone recalling the BBC shipping forecast, or the tuning of a car stereo by hand, late in the centre of the night, on an empty road that loops the darkening fells. That is not an aggressive emptiness. It feels like something huge, invisible and carefully beneficent waiting out there across the night. It's lonely but not a bad kid of loneliness.

I have listened to the radio noise that ripples off Jupiter like a wind. It was indifferent, like the sea, but it was not hateful.

For me, love is silent, wonder is silent, respect is silent, courage is silent. They do not come in words.

Is everyone like this? 

Loving something connects you directly to the world around you. Hearing someone talk about why they love something is like watching them dance. You see them in motion. They light up a river of connections between themselves and the world. The part of themselves that liked the thing, the relations with the people who were part of the thing, and the thing itself. All lit up like a string of fairy lights. A living movement like a group of kids grabbing each other by the hand in a busy park. They do not sound very clever usually. But its not about what they are saying but what they are doing. The words in that case are just part of the doing.

If you listen to someone talk about someone they really love, that light goes on in their eyes, they drift a bit. Write down what they say. read it back alter on. They sound a bit thick. They aren't. There is something bigger going on. the words are just part of it.

Hearing them talk about why they hate something usually feels like you are watching a machine work. Something precise, toothed and efficient. Internal. The actions of the mind on a disembodied thing. I always sound clever when I'm angry. I am fluent in contempt.

But when you've finished listening or reading someone hate, what does your intuition tell you about what happened? Do you feel full? Do you want to go and do something? Do you pause for a second in front of the screen because for a moment the world felt like it got bigger. Like you realised someone you know well can speak french, and they always could and now knowing them is a bit more like an adventure.

Probably not. The words were good but the action was dull. You feel smaller that you did. The things that used to press on you press closer now.

If we have machinery inside our heads, does loving something turn it inside out?

I imagine a cross section of my skull. Arranged all along the inner side, like sunbeams in reverse, row upon row of robot arms. The machinery of thought, locked inside the skull.

And when you love something. When you experience something beautiful and unexpected. those arms turn. They rotate inside and reach out to the world, poking outwards, fascinated with what they find. Too interested. So when we ask ourselves "why did I like that?". What comes back, half the time, is bullshit. Very likely we don't know exactly why we liked it. The more very good it was, the more transporting and exceptional, the less available become the tools of our analysis.

The best period of liking a thing is half way through that chapter of your life. At the beginning, everything is good, everything is new, you have not been around long enough to taste the recycled ideas. You don't know much. Like music with the volume up a little too loud.

At the end you are too wise in the subject. You realise most things are average. A few are good. A very few are exceptional. You won't get that transport very often. You will be waiting a long time and you will grow crabby and keep your opinions close. It will still be good when it happens, but you better really love that thing. To hold onto it through the long halls of mediocrity without it turning you into a prick.

The middle period. You begin to know what quality is. Your own ideas begin to crystallise inside. First time you make something. First time you see it work. the middle period is a good one.


  1. I like this, though I feel like I am already past peak appreciation capacity at 34 but I think I can still remember enough of what it was like to be twelve and near to swooning with delight at things which now underwhelm me. The bitter-funny thing for me is the time lag between the age of inarticulate delight and the age of being able to describe what was so wonderful but not feeling it quite so keenly.

    1. In the light of day I submit a new possibility:- The more you know about something, the better you are at making your own version of it. So, as the mainstream loses its appeal, you metamorphise from being a consumer to a producer of stuff.

    2. Again, there is a phenomenon where the unfettered enthusiasm of relative youth translates into better art - more "authentic", fresher, more delicious manifestations of the impulse to adorn reality. I'm thinking mainly of the thing where rock musicians produce brilliant stuff in their twenties and trail off into incoherent blanditudes as the decades wear on. Is there a name for this? Is it merely that even the most talented individuals only have a couple of things to say and having said it might as well preserve dignity by not outstaying their welcome.