Sometimes I stop writing on these things (blogs). The reason is: I get to a point where I can’t write what is true or else I’ll get [fired, disowned, divorced, etc]. You can’t write what is true, both, and also continue to live in society. The funny thing is, when you do write (or say) what really happened…no one will take it as truth…it’s too impossible to believe literally.
One way to think of it, of course, is to say that I’m OCD. But the subjective feeling of these things is the intuitive (or sometimes scientific) seeking of perfection. When I buy a shrink-wrapped DVD, for instance, I look through the entire pile to see which one I like best. Because they’re not all the same: the way shrink-wrap comes together at the seams when the plastic cools is different every time. And some of the instances of a product have seen more light than the others—their packages are faded more than the others, rendering different hues. Sometimes when you read the fine print on a whole stack of DVDs, you find that they’re different editions. And I’m not just talking about widescreen versus fullscreen. Sometimes you’ll find that the text on some items is of a different edition than the others. Which version would you rather own? Maybe it makes no difference, but I can’t shake the feeling that it does. With Denny’s, ordering the same thing every time is about feeling like I’ve arrived at a perfect solution to the problem: What Does Zha Like Best From The Denny’s Menu? It’s not that interesting or complex a problem, so to order the same thing every time feels like an affirmation that the solution I found continues to be correct. Sometimes repetition is a necessary part of searching for depth: reading the same book more than once, for instance, can be a result of reading for a more thorough understanding. Meditation involves repetition that is procedurally just mechanical, but repetition in the case of meditation can lead the mind to discover new aspects of its thoughts. Sometimes, as is almost always the case with “profound” thoughts, the new understanding is subjectively deeper, while the words that express the wisdom remain the same: an adage is heard many ways by many pairs of ears.
Tonight will be the seventh night in a row I’ve made the same exact meal for dinner. Each Saturday afternoon I sit at the same restaurant and order the same thing, drink the same thing, talk with the same server who’s been serving me at that restaurant for a year, and I read a book. (I check restaurants before I go there to see if the people I’m used to are working…if they’re not, I don’t go. I even learn cooks’ schedules, because a dish is not the same when cooked by a different person. Along the same lines: when I see a movie, I call the theater beforehand to see what screen it’s playing on…I like certain screens in a theater more than I like others. If I’m seeing a movie with a visual/cinematic emphasis, I’ll make sure to see it at a showtime when it’s playing on the theater’s biggest screen—theater managers recognize me when I call. I also sit in the same seat every time I see a movie in a particular auditorium…actually I have two different places I sit: one for the first watching, and one that I sometimes use for secondary watchings, when I want to reduce eye-scanning by sitting farther back. I love the Arclight because of this, since they let you reserve your seat at the time of purchasing your ticket. When I go there, if I cannot get the exact seat I like, I will wait for a later showtime.) When I worked at LexisNexis my lunch group used to go to Friday’s sometimes and once I decided to see how many days I could eat there in a row, eating the exact same thing (which at the time, as I used to eat more than I do now, was two 1/2 pound “Monday burgers”). I made it maybe four days. I think I could go longer now, just in terms of the repetition. Not only do I not mind repetition in certain domains, I enjoy it. I’m very much of the mind that once you find something you like, you should keep it, be that a chair, person, routine, menu item, type of pen. For instance, I use only Pilot Precise V5 Rolling Ball pens, and I have since early high school…so, for about 13 years. I mean, I’ve made brief forays into fountain pens, but I’ve never been without a V5. Most days of those 13 years I’ve had a V5 in my pocket. Two other things I’ve done the same since tenth grade: ordering Moons Over My Hammy at Denny’s and talking on the phone exclusively on my left ear. Also, ChapStick: I use ChapStick Medicated, and I absolutely always have some in my pocket. My right pocket. I mean at all times. If I ever left the house without it, I would go back, at the cost of being late to whatever engagement I was headed for. But I never leave the house without it. Certain things go in certain pockets: cell phone and wallet in left front, ChapStick, keys and V5 in right front. I never put my wallet in a back pocket…never have, not one time, just didn’t seem right.
Did you ever notice that on these new Apple keyboards all the key caps are concave, except the bottom row, which is convex…that that’s part of what makes the keyboard, when viewed from the side, have that perfect curve.
Maybe this is why I was thinking about New Yorkers & food.
“I was writing about up in Michigan and since it was a wild, cold, blowing day it was that sort of day in the story. I had already seen the end of fall come through boyhood, youth, and young manhood, and in one place you could write about it better than in another. That was called transplanting yourself, I thought, and it could be as necessary with people as with other sorts of growing things.” (Hemingway)
See, New Yorkers are spoiled about food, and they’re proud of being spoiled about that and a great many other things. But what a New Yorker can never see is that being spoiled isn’t a good thing. Because having good food all around you and not really enjoying it, is actually not better than being able to appreciate good food, even if you don’t have it around all the time.
New York has such a gravity for the easily influenced, and it may sound like I’m dissing New York, but I’m not, I love New York, I love it more than almost anyone, whether they live there or not, whether they’re from there or not. But people who see themselves as being from New York, or who see themselves as being so intrinsic to that place as to be a part of it, just the same as people who are so Italian or Irish or Jewish or African or Suburbian, or Whatever, people like that have thus far missed out on a wonderful way of investigating the truth: which is…transplant yourself, and you will quickly discover the partitions between what was you and what was the place (or the family, or the country).
Have you ever heard of a scientific experiment without both a control group and an experimental group? The only way to know anything about complex systems is to start isolating their components.
Without that type of transplant in yourself, whether it be from place to place or from role to role, from job to job or from team jersey to team jersey, or from family to family…well, I’ll tell you…to be frank I pity those who are so identified with one backdrop that they don’t know who they might be against another one. Do you know how tired I am of White people and Black people and Mexicans and Republicans and Democrats, how tired I am of Scientists and Artists, how tired I am of Nubians and Nordics? How tired I am of Feminists and Football Players. How tired I am of Atheists and Fundamentalists, of Conservatives and Liberals. Everyone has it backwards: you think you’re living your life the way you do because you’re a Liberal, when actually it’s that you’re a Liberal because of the way circumstances have forced you to live your life. You think you’re rich because of the way you view the world? You view the world the way you do because you’re rich. Try living one day where you get beat up and one day where you don’t—live them in the same city on the same day as the same sex with the same color skin and the same amount of money in your bank—and see how different those circumstances might make you feel.
All of you Libyans and Lesbians and MBAs and PhDs and Creationists, Capitalists, Communists, and Punk Rockers: take off your hats and grow the fuck up.