Apr 8, 2005

finding meaning in symbols and catchphrases

daffs in watercolor, originally uploaded by daff0dil.

So, I have a tendency to latch on to catch phrases, certain lyrics, slogans, etc...that define a mood or a sentiment. Over the last few years, over a series of livejournals and blogs, through out online internet communities such as friendster and myspace, I have used some that have offered, somewhat purposely, a partial picture and ...it seems, lead to some misunderstandings.
I found myself looking at 3 phrases I have used, and that have offered some tip off to the 'real me' (whomever she be) . But sometimes a partial picture is more dangerous than coy, so at the expense of any last enigmatic hold my presence might offer, I feel the need to offer some translation, not of the inherent meaning of such chosen phrases, but of their meaning to me in specific:
"The Persevering Power of Suck"
This was a phrase I came up with as a title for a collection of rants during my tenure in the bay area. It was in response to the phrase "it's all good." A friend commented it would be "a very nice title for my first heavy metal album"
The phrase, which I liked for it's lyrical quality and ridiculously panning nature, became a title for my first blog. Not because I am an overwhelming cynic, but because I was fascinated by life's ongoing ability to throw bizarre and occasionally "sucky" situations ones way. And I was amused by the aptness of some to view such a reality as condemning of life's general potential. And the reluctance of others to level some value judgements at the expense of true happiness.
And really, the phrase was meant to be at least a bit ironic. This could be found in the choice of the word "suck"... used by so many ridiculous beavis and butthead like characters...a word I enjoyed using explosively as a teenager to express my dissatisfaction for a myriad of annoyances...a silly pop culture kind of word really best to not be taken too seriously. I mean, come now, it's not even a proper curse.
It was also to express a certain notion: That whether you like it there will always be a bit of the suck, so it's best to move on, expect it, work with it, and not let it be too terribly cumbersome to your life's enjoyment. Realistic expectations tend to breed more satisfying results, as do an honest awareness that it's not "all good" but often a bit of the suck is just fine.
"In Time of Daffodils"
This followed as my journal catchphrase, but it was always present: I mean, I've been calling myself daff0dil online for as long as I can remember- a handle based partially on the ee cummings poem the phrase calls from, and partially on a vonnegut book: slapstick. It provided a union of two guiding notions that make life much more livable and enjoyable for me. The latter, the Vonnegut inspiration, sort of sat there, a notion undeveloped in my own head at the somewhat haphazard way we choose to make certain logics "fact", certain ideologies "sane" and certain absurdities "normal."
The former, the ee cummings poem, has also taken on meaning for me. I don't know if this is the "correct" analysis of the poem in question (conveniently located for all who might wish to peruse at the bottom of the page) but to me it symbolizes the notion of perseverance and balance. Of the necessity of growth and movement if only, at times, for it's own sake. This is what *I* would coin a culture of life.
It is nature's way to grow. To deny our own progress for the sake of fear or an unwillingness to act is, in my opinion, unnatural. I do not mean to condone capricious action for the sake of itself but only to say: not every moment in life is inspired or moved by a discernable goal, and we can't always see the big picture to know the way, so sometimes it's best to have faith in our own ability and necessity to grow and change, and do for doings sake. In fact, the older I get the more I latch on to an also a notion also dervied from a vonnegut book: that doing is key in who we are, that in many ways we are what we do ,so watch what you do, and do what you can feel proud of. In the same vein, I suspect action begets action, and we can, at times, re-program our needs and beliefs by learning new ways to do things, by experiencing life as a person who does this vs. that. This, to me, is a notion of faith to a certain extent, an expression that order will be revealed and joy can be found in action as well as inspiration, and that we needn't always find a deeper motivation than the freeing notion that our goal is grow, just like a daffodil.
"My flag of doubt is unfurled"
This is a lyric from an M. Doughty song: "I pledge allegiance to my displacement, my flag of doubt is unfurled"
I have always had a very strong sense of faith, an almost naive level of hope that at times embarrasses me. I was relgous and romantic as a young thng..much of this stays with me. As I have gotten older I have learned to balance it with a healthy level of skepticism, not to be confused with cynicism.
I am now a questioner. I question what I think is meaningful, binding or guiding because I believe this is a necessity for growth. I have found that devotion to one ideology, belief, thought pattern or group can be a good way to miss the external cues that bombard us with how life might be lived better. This notion has made it hard for me to subscribe to groups and cliques, left me feeling a bit lonely, wishing I could grasp onto a binding notion and move forward. But alas, my skepticism, bounded in hope that there is more than one way to live life and life it well, is what wins out, in the end. I trust people, life and changing times to continue to inform me to a better way of being. My doubt is firmly implanted in a pragmatism that borders on optimism, on a belief in our ability to find answers if we keep questioning and keep listening.

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