let’s talk about Lindsay Lohan

Because my family is the type of family where your aunt is not only a professional organist but also a microbiologist who found the cure for some poultry disease, so you can eat chicken and eggs with no worries—and somehow my aunt is responsible. It’s a family of writers and mathematicians and political activists. It’s a family of people who really are published and who really did something that matters. And we try to be simple and simply love each other, but there is a pressure that pervades such a family: I met a girl once who was talking about how her brother was on death row for murder and she was telling me how the fact he was on death row was making it so that her brother and her were writing letters to each other, and she was saying how good it was, the communication they were now having because of these letters, this was the best their relationship had ever been. Well, my family is the type of family wherein if I moved to Montana and worked as a mechanic it would be a big deal. I have this pressure from my ancestors, and I have internalized it so that even when they are not present I recite mantras of pressure to myself: if I move to Montana to be a mechanic my family will mark me down as a failure; and even if they won’t actually do that, I will…because some idea of what is needed to please them has been branded upon me in a most crucial way. Maybe I provide some of that pressure, too, without trying: did you invent new types of 1-dimensional cellular automata? (I did.) What does the younger sister of such a person feel they must do? Hopefully nothing, but who knows. The point is that, somewhere, there is a sister who is happy her brother is on death row, because this has given them a chance to communicate truly, a chance they never had before. And somewhere, there is a Lindsay Lohan, some girl who struggles with alcohol and cocaine addiction, living in a world that in no way supports social and individual health; and, to me, there is nothing surprising in that a Lindsay Lohan has come to exist. And this post, that my family will probably never read, is my mention that while my failure in your eyes may not be that I crashed my BMW in Beverly Hills while drunk and high on cocaine, this is my mention that what in your eyes is my illness—that I didn’t become who you wanted me to, that I don’t run my relationships like you run yours, that I don’t believe what you believe…that I didn’t go to school, that I don’t own a home—all these little things that make me someone other than who you expected—are forgivable, are incidental, are nothing! Even Lindsay Lohan deserves our compassion and forgiveness; if my family will not give me the same, then how can I ever be surprised that tabloids exist to critically chronicle the foibles of some 21-year-old girl? We love to be in the audience of a talk show: we love to think that we’re better than the prostitute who’s pimp is waiting backstage to confront and embarrass her…but when you find yourself in the audience of a talkshow that’s focused on your brothers and sisters, that’s focused on your son, will you remain in the audience hiding behind the sign “spectator”? Or will you admit you are involved, admit you are more than a spectator, admit you are the reason why the person who you watch is onstage?

let’s talk about Lindsay Lohan

Our mantra

as human beings, should be: I have something special to give, and I must be well-cared for so that I can give it. Doesn’t that touch the core of psychology, and therapy, and social game-playing? Even criminality and large-scale social systems are, essentially, this.

Our mantra

The only unacceptable thing

to me, is not believing in my dream. All else is forgivable, that is not. There’s a scene in Signs, two brothers on the couch, that speaks to this. And I’m supposed to be bigger than my failures, we’re supposed to somehow escape our limitations, become more than our parents and more than our yesterday. Currents of culture create the reason that, say, Titanic played longer than any movie ever—Ash asks: what was it about our place and time that made it so people went to see that movie over and over in the theater? Why is marriage unacceptable to us now? It’s so hard to see, from within the culture of a business or a family or a country, that a lot of this is arbitrary. The king of Morocco makes bigamy legal in a country where, in that time, there was so high a female-to-male ratio that even-matched marriages left many women poor. And we forget this, but: when my sister is doing badly, that reflects on me. That’s part of the definition of family that has been forgotten: your problems are mine and my problems are yours. We’re deluded with the illusion of independence: people in Dayton want to keep public transportation out of the Beavercreek mall, but they don’t understand that in order to live the life they want to live in Beavercreek, you have to bus in people to clerk the stores in the mall, you have to bus in housekeepers and maids and slaves…having slaves and having no busses are mutually exclusive, but people will try for them both anyway. I read the website of my friend (and it inspires me to post here—maybe our websites are just talking to each other), I enjoy aesthetic reactions in my own brain to a computer-generated graphic of a surreal biological entity,

And I think if you step way back from the arts & sciences, that maybe, even though it’s all interesting, it’s all worthwhile, that the only thing left is poetry, photography, snapshots of existence: science is all well and good, and probably will never see an end, but, as a limited subjective being in time, who cares? What matters to us is isolated fragments, a conversation, that moment, one taste, the particular way it happened to me…that—and only that—is of the utmost importance.

I’m on a beach, and the sea and the sand and the sky come together. A railroad track separates the ocean from the highway and we take in the view, in our time.

The only unacceptable thing