Archive for March, 2011

The Philosophy of Slack 6: Slack and Existence

March 29, 2011

As in the case of living beings generally, slack chooses the path of least resistance. Akin to life, for slack the idea that this is choice is misnomer – it is of its nature, emergent, and not a conscious reasoned decision. Perhaps “develops towards” is a better term.

Slack, like life, seeks nooks and crannies where it will be nourished and can thrive. Where it can, in a sense, “eek out” a living from the earth. Unlike other visions of existence, which emphasize struggle and strife, slack sees life as innately nurturing. Life isn’t competitive, “red in tooth and claw,” but rather unconsciously symbiotic. Holistic, interrelated, dynamically linked. Slack understands it is futile (and fanatical) to push so rigorously towards goals. What is a goal but a strange obsession, a preoccupation of the mind? Are goals, blind objectives, even healthy?

Slack seeks a knowledge and acceptance of life (and living things) that is fundamentally harmonious, not competitive and antagonistic. Antagonism leads to war, and war is the fundamental antithesis of slack.

Like Heraclitus, slack shares a vision of life that is both dynamic and non-committal. “Everything flows”. In fact, existence is flow…

Re-post: Simmering Apocalypse

March 22, 2011

Prompted by uberfrau, I’m posting an old poem. It’s pretty free-verse-y and actually has a latent political undertone (at least that’s what I remember about writing it), making offhand reference to the American bombing of Libya in 1986, an event which marked a fairly early point in the “war on terrorism.” Yes, I’m old(er). Think of this as a poetic ode to the post-modern longue durée. Poem is about fifteen years young.

Apocalyptic Tropism

Rusted metal drums of poison chemical soup
sit in the hot Mediterranean sun.
Waves of heat
up from the twisted streets of the casbah.
The barnacle ridden hull of a cargo ship
in the ancient port of Tripoli.
In a dream of another time
he can hear
the roar
of a distant engine.
Something stirs in his mind
“or is it now”
he asks.

Well, OK. It was conceived as a tropism…Whatever the hell that is…

N.B. Re-post seemed oddly relevant (if not grimly prescient) given the “progression” from El Dorado Canyon to Odyssey Dawn. The later is, at least, somewhat Homeric in awareness. Apropos given the likely tragic nature of “current foreign policy initiatives” in Libya…

The Philosophy of Slack 5: Slack and Individuality

March 18, 2011

In ages past, individuality was a function of effort (and/or privilege). Not so anymore. In our hyper-connected, hyper-conformist world, most are compelled to put an effort into fitting in, to excel in a given domain. Work and excellence are now often delineated by impersonal collectives; bureaucracies, institutions and organizations. Gemeinschaft gives way to Gesellschaft.

The slacker, in her unwillingness to participate, is thus in an ideal position to cultivate individuality by, well, doing nothing.

By opting out of a society of driven narcissists, slack achieves true individuality. This is not apathy, for that is a state of active indifference. This is the kind of individuality only “achieved” by a passive indifference to even apathy itself. Slack doesn’t check facebook, text or e-mail. There is no regimen or routine, even a nominally unproductive one, in slack. A powerful, unanticipated individuality results. Perhaps “emerges” is a better word. The “artificial”, in the sense that Paul Valéry understood it, melts away — evaporates — like snow on a warm spring day.

The Philosophy of Slack 4: Slack as a Way of Being

March 7, 2011

Perhaps ironically, slack can be understood as a way of non-being. A way (even “The Way”) implies a path and destination. Slack knows it’s more about the journey. Aimlessness is a virtue. “The un-aimed arrow never misses the target.” Ways of being (even Being) imply proscriptions, disciplines, and “goals”. Slack asserts (weakly) that being is the “goal”; or, more properly, non-being. In any event, being and non-being are one, as incomprehensible without one another (in spite of the fact that one is incomprehensible) as night without day.

Slack appreciates the Zen, but is too lazy to put in that much of an effort. Lao Tzu’s “Way” (that isn’t a way…), the “tao”, is admirable, but too proscribed for the Discordian tone of non-being slack advocates. This is, if slack advocated anything…

Slack, one should further mention, is not to be equated with nihilism as a result of its vague, half-hearted assertion of non-being. Rather, even nihilism, the embrace of nothingness, is an ideological act too charged with meaning for slack. Slack would be nihilism, if it bothered; that is, if slack was actually being.

But, as noted, it is non-being. Maybe.


March 7, 2011

The Philosophy of Slack 3: Slack and Action

March 2, 2011

In Towards a Philosophy of History, Spanish philosopher Ortega y Gasset argues that all action in life is rooted in conceptions of the world. Simply put, we act and do based on our conceptions and beliefs. Where does this leave slack? The slacker’s conception and belief is founded in inaction. Is this a contradiction? Can one have an inactive theory of action? Of course!

Better still, slack is not crippled by inaction, feeling a sense of guilt or need to heed the call of responsibility. Inaction is not a negative state. Rather, it’s a choice – a conception. And so, slack is at peace in inaction. It is, by definition of being a product of belief, a natural state. Moreover, slack seeks (in not seeking) to achieve (by not achieving) new horizons of inaction. For as everybody knows, even in inactivity there is sometimes hidden purpose and motion.

Slack pushes inaction to new heights, finding that in the (non)-quest for infinite nothingness, one is at peace, and becomes inured to the very idea of action. In its inaction, slack is all action, all moments, all events, all happenings, all eternities. And here we come to see what is hidden beyond action – the battle with time. Slack is beyond time – slack is an epicycle, a looping — literally a “slack” stitch in the fabric of all realities. If slack is any action, it is the action beyond time.

The Philosophy of Slack 2: Slack and Stuff

March 1, 2011

This could have been entitled “Slack and Materialism” but was avoided due to a confusion in the word materialism, which is both a practice (of acquiring stuff) and a point of view on the ultimate nature of reality and existence. Slack avoids drawing conclusions on the nature of reality as this requires both fierce conviction in one’s conclusions (effort), and an accompanying necessity to justify and prove these conclusions (more effort).

The slacker’s attitude to stuff (the former materialism) is simple, as is usually the case. Avoid acquiring stuff. Stuff adds unnecessary complexity. It needs maintenance, breaks down, requires other stuff to work, becomes obsolete, etc, etc…

The Philosophy of Slack

March 1, 2011

While I constantly come up with new ideas and concepts — for papers, research projects, etc…I’m often woefully incapable of completing them. I’m hoping this dilemma doesn’t end up derailing one of my more recent (i.e. in the last year or two) notions — compiling a series of aphorisms devoted to the development of a “philosophy of slack”. Slack may seem like a concept inimical to the rigors of philosophizing; but the reality is, I suspect, more complex. Anyway, without further ado, here is my most recent attempt at an aphorism, on “Slack and Ideal Form”. There is an absurdist quality to this one, but not all of them employ the same tone. There will be, I suspect, more to follow…

“Slack and Ideal Form

Platonic ideals are anathema to slack. For in essence slack thrives in the interstitial zone of chaos, a realm possessed of sufficiently obdurate irreducibility as to strike fear into the heart of any neo-Platonic dimwit looking endlessly for form. Plato’s metaphysics emerges as a kind of bogus two-dimensionality – like bad-tripping in Flatland. Slack, in contrast, was born with 3D-goggles on and yet also knows that only by taking them off can he truly see. Form and function dissolve into a surrealist funk – the wobbly three-legged chair balanced precariously on the backs of taxidermied Chihuahua’s, who themselves act as further “legs”. Mysteries wrapped in enigmas those forms. Ideal or otherwise.

Slack prefers the liminal beyond the a priori, a point of pointlessness, an event unscripted, being as it is a high beyond the apex. Even the slacker can ride that wave. And yet “wave” is the utterance of pure form. No good. Then how about this…

Slack rides the wave/non-wave at a point beyond the apex that’s never reached – but then gets tired, and needs to take a nap – at this, Platonic lameness seeps into his unconscious; he dreams about angry, pointy triangles. But, luckily, wakes with the setting sun and a caravan of dervishes camped by the Pyramids.”


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