On Vocation

Of these things I am not certain, which is why I write them; a thing can only be refined when fixed in place, motionless. 

But I have a strong sense that I am a good man who deserves to be. Also that, if I have failed at anything, it's letting people know me. I am not normal, and thankful for it. I think women are the greatest thing to grace the Earth and, more than anything, I would like to someday raise a child with one. It seems the ultimate artistic pursuit. But the world, though beautiful, is in an ugly way - we all know this and feel this and do an exquisite job of distracting ourselves from it. I consider it a part of my vocation as a father to tend the ground of which I must raise up my child and I'm excited at the enormous prospect of real work. This vocation begins long before I meet my child's mother, it began long before now, long before my father met my mother. It was written in the darkness before the passage of time was first felt.

This is a serious commitment to life and we do nothing but pacify ourselves from diving headlong into the anticipation which has been riveted a part of us by ugly patterns which appear to prevail, and only appear to. Likewise, we compulsively add layers of inauthentic, arbitrary complexity to avoid commitment to these essential questions.

These layers which are really shackles dressed up in sugar.

We are complicit in our own bondage and thank our captors because they have respected our will to "choose", but more precisely they have given us a set of options. We vote for this hood-ornament and not that hood-ornament and tell ourselves that we are free, in control, that our direction has changed and as propelled by a new engine.

We hate our fellow slaves because their humanity impinges upon our delusion, because they demand our love as we do theirs yet we were none ever taught how to give it.

We say that if I write this song of all songs, choose this color Volkswagen of all Volkswagens, pay for this customized license plate of all license plates, I will have expressed my true, inimitable self and thank you so much for your infinite grace, for letting me be.

If I hold this opinion of this book he will respect me, if I wear this outfit of all outfits she will love me, if I listen to this band of all bands they will be my friends. If I go to this school of all schools for this degree of all degrees I will live a long, beautiful life. If I study abroad in this place of all places (if I join this sorority/fraternity of all sororities/fraternities, if I watch this movie of all movies) I will have real, profound experiences. If I leave the last pinch of saffron in the jar someone will notice and understand that I am not a cook but a chef. If I order this whisky instead of that whiskey the bartender will see that I am a real man. If I choose cats over dogs - forever, for always - I will have fulfilled my destiny. Maybe I will even name my own something meaningful, unique. I am not but superficial idiosyncrasies and the combinations are inexhaustible - for this I am grateful. I will deserve your love.

Alas, this is not an inherent drive but a circumstantial one which has already been thoroughly explored elsewhere. I will try to avoid the tedium of facts. Fuck 'em.

Bit of a cover letter I had written for a pamphlet I distributed at The U:
...Imagine that you awake for the first time in the strange, heaving belly of a colossal ship. Like a second womb, you are dimly kept by a complex network of piping, actuating pistons, rotating shafts. Their mechanisms, intentions, designs are a mystery but they are your wilderness, and they come to be your comfort. The periodic, anonymous bong of expanding metal, the ping of bebubbled piping, the hiss and sigh of myriad valvework are nothing but the tapestry of life, unremarkable. These intricate mechanisms are your reference and it is not your job to understand them. Your guts eventually calibrate to the imperceivable swaying of the sea and over time you are well adapted to this rhythm, but there remains a nagging dissonance which you cannot define, a latent anxiety which you accept as inherent to life.
One day at a certain age, after having achieved certain milestones in training, you are told to shovel coal into a furnace. And you are told, at an implicitly understood gunpoint, "keep this ship moving or else this coal it burns is worth nothing", as well to "keep this ship going forward, always to a new place lest its passengers get bored of the ride".
You were born far from shore - what is shore? 
The ship's living passengers are sons and daughters of passengers who were themselves born on the ship, and so on stretching back ambiguously. Even so for the men holding guns. And each night as the vast water turns deep and dark - distending its surface restlessly, like gargantuan, dreaming lungwork - the passengers gather and ingest a history of the ship's travels: portions of its journey they themselves had never experienced but they ingest and ingest and ingest as images and beguiling-isms rendered from the original pith like a sweet, perfidious liquor so they can ride with conviction that where they are and where they are going is purposeful, by design - even if they are not privy to it. You ingest these stories and become identical with them.
And you are all told that if you do not work you cannot pay your admission to the ship but there is never stopping at the shore, no offer or instruction to alternative. If you want off, you must swim without direction. And the water is cold.

This image is a metaphor, of course. Apt? Daft? I ask simply to let the seed lie, it can do only one of two things. Perhaps you've already obtained a level of perspective. That would be good...
...All other things aside, I want to ask: why are you doing things you don't enjoy so that you might, in the unknown future, do something which only vaguely resembles the pursuit of that which you currently value? Is this school even pursuant of beauty, however obviously misguided its methods? 
Finally: do not be afraid to rebel. In any system of normalization, self-realization necessarily and always is a process of rebellion. Sincerity itself is rebellion! Take it slow, in small steps. Break little, silly laws when no one is watching. Have real fun. Tomorrow, walk with eyes open and make a small, honest motion toward justice. There is no action too tiny. But let them grow when they desire, carefully, by the aesthetics which so courageously persist in your heart. And live to fight another day. 
I have never been more excited about the prospect of my life than after stepping onto this path. It is not hard for long.
Does it really matter who's captain if the ship is sinking?
Do we enjoy the ride? Understand the destination?
Michel Tournier wrote two books which will forever throb within me. Gemini speaks of quarries, quarries within quarries, of digging meticulously to the flawless pearls nestled among flesh, fruits, to the grain of sand which was the seed and further to the grain's soul which longed to be embraced prettily. Of opening the universe's gift of exquisiteness instead of trying to suffocate it. Friday speaks of a man who chips away at himself, driven by circumstance, and retreats into the egg of the Earth to find his negative carved in stone, a dedicated womb. He experiences himself as a seed, as an image of the seed which is nested inside of him, the sprout yet unfurled in the almond, a process. His entelechy. These books are not literally but architecturally related, in the space of Tournier's soul and thus mine through having read him. 

I wander. A quick word on my motivations, methods: I utterly lack discipline. When I write, it is without goal, outline, or much editing. I hope that it is authentic and reasonably coherent. I suppose I aim simply to plant seeds since, as much as I lie to myself about it, I doubt I will ever actively pursue any formalization or organizational refinement in my work.

Here are some things I have already written:

All of existence is a collection of patterns and it follows that the world is had through a well-developed pattern language. Patterns are even more fundamental than mathematics, which is simply an abstract articulation of them. Patterns, to be momentarily tautological, are simply arrangements of things (for lack of a better term; "things" here denotes every delimitable component of every dimension and scale of existence). Patterns are always being naturally selected for; natural selection is thorough, universal, acting on every arrangement within every layer of existence. For example, ideas - something which some would say do not exist physically - are arrangements of concepts (or arrangements of chemical transmissions (or quantum events)) and thus patterns and these patterns, as all, are constantly being naturally selected for. For example, an idea may be extremely successful in the short-run, which is to say that it is very fecund, prevalent in the short-run, and we may then - our perspectives being naturally immediate - say that it is of high quality. But that pattern, that idea, may eventually result in the total destruction of the only environment in which it is adapted to subsist, the Earth via human neurology, in which case it would be a very unsuccessful pattern, a pattern of very low quality (you could say that human neurology is a type of ecosystem in which ideas are able to thrive; they reconstruct themselves by mingling with other ideas from other ecosystems (thus exchanging "memes" and selecting for the "best" through "corridors", i.e. means of communication). We arrive, then, at a methodology for parsing out existence and evaluating the quality of individual patterns found therein. This methodology - and it is correct - tells us that the idea that we ought to consume wholesale our environment - our sustaining patterns - is not a pattern of very high quality. Both in physical and aesthetic (aphysical) terms, because it precludes a respectful relationship with the larger patterns, therefore fostering a dysfunctional perspective on living/pattern-making. 
A pattern I smiled at today: skinny, summer squirrels
turning to fat, fall ones.
(And we also arrive at a potential theory of "God").
I would say that a pattern of high quality is constantly advocating for its own existence and especially the existence of the larger patterns in which it is necessarily nested. As well it is living, which is to say responsive, which is to say charming, which is being both outwardly perceptive and inwardly inviting, which is to say open - for the greater patterns in which all "lesser" patterns necessarily subsist as well the lesser patterns of which all "greater" patterns consist are themselves always changing. We arrive at a moral framework: the most beautiful pattern is always the best and what is most beautiful in any given circumstance is never precisely the same as any other (which is to either suggest to redefine "beauty" or to clarify the generally implied meaning: beauty is patterning of ultimately good quality). 
Morality is a consideration of aesthetic patterns. The optimal moral decision in any moment is that which would render the best - that is, most ultimately successful - pattern over all moments which are ever to transpire. Since we cannot of any moment project all others, the pattern must be alive, adaptive. And since moral decisions for humans are typically expressed as stories, narratives, we might say that the best moral decision in any moment is the one that would make for the most ultimately beautiful, fundamentally affirming story. The most authentically invigorating. 
Toward architecture: think of materials, concrete for example. Concrete only degrades as it ages. It is dead, it is meant to not change which is then to say that it only ever responds to its environment - when it does, which is rarely - in a way which compromises its own integrity which is to say that concrete is a pattern which requires the constant application of energy for its own existence. Now, maintenance is not necessarily a detrimental requirement (this is where I will lead to my justification of the term "beauty" [see: excerpt on Mayan ritualism from a previous post]). But the energy application that concrete requires, for example, is specific to an extremely rare percentile of a specific species which does not enjoy that particular application of energy required. Modern buildings (generally) only degrade with age - they are at their highest quality when they are new - and yet they do not invite maintenance both because the specific requirements are not easily parsed from their form and because the specific maintenance they require is not pleasant or illuminating for those patterns, us, required to apply it. Which is to say that modern buildings are inherently dysfunctional but, even worse, they offend the patterns upon which their existence depends. This, for some, has already been proven. For the rest, it shall be in time. Contrast, for example, the unmortared stone-foundations of Central and South America: their integrity is actually improved by the action of earthquakes.  
I would also argue that modern architecture hides from us both the existence of and the need to engage complexity, thus disposing us to stories which lack the necessary complexity or openness to assimilate themselves into the greater world and thus to be of lasting quality.
Now, as a violin apprentice, I would like to use the example of violins. I believe that violins are a particularly successful pattern because they invite and exalt the patterns upon which they depend. For example, a quality violin is built to be easily taken apart (with hide-glue) and thus maintained, it is also built with material that is alive, responsive, and is said to not only get more aesthetically pleasing as it ages and is acted upon, but to also get more acoustically pleasing. We could say that a violin is a very successful symbiote (organism [lungism]) that depends for its existence upon the manipulation of human emotions and the affirmation of human intellect - it mimics the human form, proportions, the human voice, particularly its most expressive moments; it is saturated with living patterns of parseable intent (wood grain) in which we have been steeped for all of our biological history and which bring us pleasure to rationalize and mentally order; it is a form which is generally sensually pleasant to construct and deconstruct; and it is a form which allows certain inclined persons to use as a tool to gain control and power themselves (by captivating an audience [how illuminating!]) by offering pleasure, not painful force, to an audience. It is also a form of great scientific refinement which is sympathetic and properly responsive to the greater physical patterns of gravity, mass, pressure, etc., in which it is required to subsist. Even at its beginning, Galileo was compelled to comment on the exquisite quality of its pattern and now we have violins upwards of 3 centuries old which yet well exist and as a good representations of themselves and which we divert enormous resources, emotional and physical, toward the maintenance of - when it is not even necessary! If violins did/do require the destruction of the environment upon which their creators and thus they themselves depend, they will/would ultimately prove to be a pattern lacking in quality, evidenced by the snuffing out of their own propagation. But trial and error is not necessary with a thoroughly developed pattern language. 
My back made in the golden method.
Now to expand upon a previous point: Beauty is a state of being which advocates for the maintenance of existence - beauty exalts existence and thus advocates for the only material in which beauty is to subsist, existence, and thus advocates for the only pattern which can render/transmit beauty, life. 
We also arrive at a more fundamental condition for fulfillment - it is not freedom. Freedom is not achievable, proven by our necessary subsistence in greater patterns. Do we desire to be gravitationally independent? What we truly seek is to be as ultimately precious as possible. 
A word on experience:
Experience is essentially the datum our brain collects, via our set of senses, in order to figure out the patterned-tendencies of the world so that it may pursue a refinement of quality of response. The more experience one has, the more data, and the higher the complexity, the more representative the quality, the more likely any given response is going to be effective. The human brain is hardwired to act on experiences. Thus, experience is important for one's growth and any act that goes against one's experience (and instinctual predispositions which have proven to be so generally appropriate that it was apparently a good adaptation to have them genetically encoded; a curiosity: epigenetics) shall result in an internal schism, anxiety. It also follows that if any system wishes to co-opt people's decision-making, it will co-opt their experiences; see: public school, film/TV, modern architecture, western civilization, et al.... 
Rest assured, there are greater patterns in which we all reside and they tirelessly measure right from wrong - like your immune system, like gravity. And, as a pattern which likewise encloses others, it is your duty to do the same. And our ultimate beauty, our ultimate victory - if we reach it - will be in doing what the cells of which we consist cannot: being not only true to one's nature, but further in understanding and articulating, and perhaps even crafting, toward what more exquisite end.
...God does not wish to contain you, child. He seeks to be contained by you, as we intend with our own homes. You were meant to edge this warmth, to stand unclothed but by the unending night itself. As our homes we build to face the weather, the dark, for us. Darkness from which all things flee - into you.
So who is there among that vast silence to hold you, child? Upon whose lap may you lay your head? Who shall say "everything is alright, my love. Now rest."? But, like a home, if you are true to this essential will - the will to life - focused on and formed around this centripetal purpose, you shall be cherished and maintained, warmed from within. And when the time comes that you can no longer stand, when your very bones have rotted against all wishing, your value will call for your reconstruction. If not in physical likeness, always of spirit...
One's "calling" is never occupational. What an insult to The Universe that would be. One's calling is always to be oneself, fully and authentically, in all of one's exquisiteness. The compulsion to define oneself by choosing an area of professional expertise and to sacrifice the prime years of one's vigor doing things one does not enjoy in order to accredit, usually arbitrarily, oneself toward that end - to, in essence, "legitimize" (legalize) one's existence - is utterly dishonest and disrespectful to oneself. It is ugly on the whole and would thus be shameful if it were not actually pitiful. This does not entail a turning away from the world, turning away from relations, an unabashed narcissism. The opposite is true.
Take joy in the fact that you will change, grow, become more yourself. Do not make it painful.
This was all somehow intended to be an introduction to my decision to emigrate to Mexico. May be expanded...

Acoustical architecture. Crusoe might have curled up in this.

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