Notes on Passions

"Don’t become a well-rounded person. Well rounded people are smooth and dull. Become a thoroughly spiky person. Grow spikes from every angle. Stick in their throats like a pufferfish. If you want to woo the muse of the odd, don’t read Shakespeare. Read Webster’s revenge plays. Don’t read Homer and Aristotle. Read Herodotus where he’s off talking about Egyptian women having public sex with goats. […] You didn’t come here from nowhere. There are reasons why you’re here. Learn those reasons. Learn about the stuff that was buried because it was too experimental or embarrassing or inexplicable or uncomfortable or dangerous."

Bruce Sterling. The Wonderful Power of Storytelling

Sometimes I think I'm a little too intense. The theme of my life is passion, but that means obession and a complete lack of restraint, too. My mother used to say I have a one-track mind, and it's true. Once something has safely embedded itself into my brain, it balloons larger and larger. But, like throwing things at a wall, if it sticks, it's one thing, but if it doesn't it slides off and disappears and I could give a crap.

My obsession with skiing makes a certain amount of sense: it's a sprint sport. Once you get moving, there's a rythym to it, bursts and notes and flows, and the best skiers can read the most subtle of these and turn them into obsessive exaggerations. There is a distinct feeling to initiating a turn - that transition between turns is all of skiing - where you cannot half-commit, you dip your shoulder down the hill and the stance is aggressive but also wonderfully vulnerable. You've flung yourself and you're flying for a half second, until your body catches up or you've ended up face-first down the hill.

I am a product of that culture, I am a product of coaching advice ("In speed skiing, there are no brakes. Whatever you do, do not go for the brakes. Because they won't be there. There's only two things in speed skiing: an accelerator, and an eject button."), and acquired a lifelong habit of muttering, "Don't be a pussy," under my breath to myself daily.

If adulthood is about being able to see and operate in shades of grey, then I'm doomed to a sort of immaturity, I guess. It's a character trait. Some people think it's a bad thing, but I don't feel more alive than when there's only one answer, no alternate choices.

Sometimes when I walk down the street too slowly my feet tingle, they want more, they want to jump and balance and kick and find the kind of energy you can't find when you're moving too slowly.

In some ways, the internet is the perfect medium for encouraging this. I have an on button and an off button, matching all the subtleties that technology has allowed for with its 0's and 1's. The internet allows for so much "off," so much time spent meandering through mazes of hyperlinks and lolcats, and there is "on," pages upon pages discussing and dissecting the intricate delicacies of the most mundance or specific of subjects. But there is no half-on on the internet, because then you will just fade into mediocrity. You find your niche or your rythym, or you die trying, fading into obscurity.

Sometimes it seems like people who ask me to behave with maturity are asking me to get busy dying. But youth is more than a virtue, it's a way of life, and I intend to continue to make impetuous decisions that are all gassed up and nothing tepid. That's the ideal: either care recklessly, or don't give a flying fuck, but don't do anything inbetween.