Monday, October 26, 2009

Seattle and cities that are 'it'.

Strange to write this, but Seattle is actually #2 to Portland at the moment as the top "with it" city in the Northwest, that is if you discount Vancouver. But they didn't let me into Canada last time I tried to go, so let's not talk about that....the details of which I've discussed elsewhere....not mainly political, at least not at first....anyways, Portland is currently experiencing a renaissance of sorts. But I stay in Seattle because besides liking the place I feel that it's ultimately not a good idea to move and move in order to be right where the action is happening right now. It'll always move on, leaving a nice city or town behind that's still mostly cool, still mostly with it, but just isn't where the very tip of the zeitgeist is. I though it was bullshit earlier in life, but there's truth to the idea that you have to eventually pick a place, stick there, believe in it, and try to organize and do things there instead of being constantly on the move. Of course, most of the time when people say things like that they're talking about organizing where you're originally from, which in my case would be the Detroit area, which surely is a fertile ground for radical culture, but it still applies to adopted homes as well.

I know exactly where the current will go after Portland: to the West itself. Maybe after Portland it'll move to Bend, Oregon, then to some place in Montana or Colorado. After that, who knows. Oklahoma. We'll have a Tulsa-core movement.

But, more practically, if you keep on living somewhere, then moving, then living somewhere, then moving, over and over, are you really building enough to make intelligent choices on where to go next?

That's ultimately the case with many kinds of consumption. Going to a new place is somewhat like getting more to consume on your platter. You can do it, just like you can buy books or CDs, but even if you're able to, the question is how good a use are you putting them towards? Do you have a closet's worth of trendy crap that you never listen to or do you have music that has enduring value that stays in rotation? I suppose the internet has changed this somewhat....

I believe, although I haven't been the best exemplar of this, that after you go broad for long enough you've got to go deep. It's not frivolous to cast a wide net, exploring everything within all kinds of consumption and experience, letting the spirit move you, but after a while there's a need to go down further below what you've explored and really get into the nitty-gritty of it. It's not that doing nice exploration isn't good or enjoyable so much as that ultimately there's a different kind of knowledge that you can get by going deep, such as you'll never get by only going broad.

At a certain point the ideas related to consumption also relate back to general experience in that even if you explore a topic somewhat thoroughly, if you don't go the extra mile how do you know that you're something other than a tourist? Or a simple consumer who doesn't get the underlying pattern of things?

It's always easy to consume, even if that consumption is intellectual. The real depth always seems to resemble the edge of work more than it does pure consumption. A transition happens somewhere along the way to where the activity starts to resemble productive action rather than just passive consumption.

And if you're obeying an external zeitgeist instead of determining things and interests yourself you're doubly in debt to passivity in that it only takes a smidgen more effort than just going along with the stream of life to jump from trend to trend, from emerging style to emerging style. Making style, creating things that become trends, now that takes more work.

My philosophy, such as it is, is to do what seems interesting to you and have faith that if you think it's interesting there are probably other people out there who will think it's interesting too.

I've yet to see how that works out, and sometimes have visions of one of my books being found by archeologists far in the future who think that it's cool stuff, while in the meantime I've disintegrated into dust dying as an alcoholic living in an SRO hotel, but that's a sentiment for another day.

Hopefully if you go deep it'll help to produce trends in some way and won't just..


Stay in school kids, do your homework, and get good grades. Develop a Protestant work ethic that early New Englanders would be proud of and always tell the truth, and someday good things will come.

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