The Free Play of Signs and Signifiers

Language can be compared with a sheet of paper: thought is the front and the sound the back; one cannot cut the front without cutting the back at the same time; likewise in language, one can neither divide sound from thought nor thought from sound; the division could be accomplished only abstracedly [sic], and the result would be either pure psychology pr pure phonology.

- Ferdinand de Saussure


Scenes from an Italian Pancake House

Suppose that you're more than ten years out of high school. You have a well paying job with a modicum of prestige. You're happy with your life and you've grown up to be something akin to what childhood you expected. This is not to say that every day is wine and roses but you're generally short on serious life complaints.

Let's also suppose that, while about the business of being who you're happy to be, you bump into an old friend from that blissfully hateful life period called high school. You were not so close to this person that you bothered to keep in touch since but once upon a time they were part of your nearer circle. They called you by name, visited your house and probably knew a few things about you that you prefer they didn't. Likewise you called, visited and learned reciprocal things about them.

Let's now suppose that this old once-was friend has obviously not done as you have. You encounter them in their professional capacity and they job completely sucks. They are obviously unfulfilled. They garner no respect and probably earn an offensively low wage in a position most people can't be bothered to acknowledge even exists. They are not the person you thought they would grow up to be.

Now let's suppose that your appearance had changed so much in the intervening decade that you're absolutely certain that they don't recognize you.

Do you say hello?

Do you acknowledge them? Do you passively point out the differences between the two of you by striking up the strained and constipated "how have you been" line of conversation?

Or do you silently pass them by?


Big Ol' Jed Had a Light on

Just now, a jumbo jet just passed over my house, huge, subsonic, deafening, low to the ground, rumbling, raging, near and awakening. This happens once every few days when the prevailing winds put the approach path of Hartsfield-Jackson directly in line with my apartment. Despite four years here, I never anticipate the change from day to day.

Feeling the thunder of that first approaching craft I'm always caught by the assumption of impending doom from either a tornado or a nuclear attack.

It was neither, of course, but as the plane passed over head and the tremble of dishes and picture frames transmogrified into the whine of receding jet engines I was struck by how untroubled I was by the thought of passing on whilst engaged in the activity of that moment, the reading of a good book.

Most people say, half seriously, that they want to meet the apocalypse whilst at the emotional and ecstatic pinnacle of the most intense fucking imaginable or while staring at the sunset ocean. They prefer to meet death at the moment of little death and they want to feel true awe while viewing the awesome.

Tonight I was content to lose the grip of life while grasping towards enlightenment.

For one who confesses to fear death as much as I do, I'm strangely contented by this realization.


Just a Day Fading into Another

There is a school of thought in modern physics that holds that time is neither linear nor progressive. The entropic arrow notwithstanding, this school of thought holds that our perception of time as an advancing parade of causes and effects is an illusion, a perceptual byproduct stemming from the computational processes performed by the electrochemical computers we all carry about within our skulls.

Lacking the mathematical savvy and professional experience to critically evaluate the evidence, I neither believe nor disbelieve this supposition. Musing on this assertion, though, I wonder what other aspects of the universe that we accept as axiomatic might be our own biology deceiving us.


Sacred Silence and Sleep.

It's eight-thirty on a Friday night and I'm going to bed.

Why, you ask?

I'm going to bed at eight-thirty on a Friday night because I have a crew call at five tomorrow morning.

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