Jake Wood-Evans - Sir John Fawcett, after Sir Thomas Lawrence (2013)

or how about this:

we can agree that words are arbitrary sounds, represented by symbols, that have meaning only to the extent that we (a community sharing a common language) have agreed upon it. a word has no inherent truth of the world.

further, a word is not a vessel for truth but for intention: the intent to convey a truth that is held internally. this is how a word can be used for sincerity (to mean what is said) or for irony (to mean other than what is said).

when speaking of things somewhat less defined than gravity, internal truth may be difficult or impossible to quantify precisely. therefore a word represents not only an intention but a belief: that the word in its use will cohere with reality not as-it-is, but as-it-is-experienced. (note that this is coherence not as in affirming opinions about the red sox pitching rotation or of a preference for coca cola, but as in the boundary between sense and nonsense.) this is the reason that both absurdists and materialists do not abandon fundamental principles of grammar and syntax.

the belief in the coherence of words is, then, a belief that the world is composed not only of that which is material, but of the shared experiences which are the result of material interactions. that is, words reflect a belief of a world not necessarily as it is but as it ought to be. here we might define “language” as a set of conditions governing a belief in the coherence of words.

language is a belief in a world that is not permanent and inflexible, but malleable. this is the atomizing capability of words: that reality, which is experienced as a whole, can be expressed analytically in segments (the parts of speech). it is in this sense that words do not act only from the outside in, but from the inside out—that by identifying and defining components of reality, we construct reality. by defining the contours of an internally held belief, words similarly define the contours of an external reality.

from this abstract discussion of the nature of words, their function and behaviour, we conclude that:

  • words are arbitrary, truthless signifiers of an agreed-upon meaning;
  • words are motivated equally by intention and belief;
  • words define the parameters (which is to say, they construct) an internally-perceived reality as well as an externally-acting reality.

it might be useful at this juncture to acknowledge that politics are not relevant to any point of this definition; however, from this definition we may understand how discussions concerning the use of language are relevant to efforts to redefine or reconstruct the parameters of our shared world.

Actress – Shadow from Tartarus

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before our travels were resigned to reviving old passions

the question is: where are you going? i don’t know. how am i supposed to see anything. i can’t see anything. i feel like im surrounded by fragments of things that sound like some other life. i picked it up and turned it over in my hand and thought…then put it back down again. fear sets in, and those old memories come back. eventually you start to fear the memory.

“this is a marketing holocaust”

a maybe obvious thing occurred to me the other day, that the real harm of advertising is not that it teaches us that we should change, but that it is in our power to change. that things which are out of our control have an established solution. it is has already been fixed.

“transport, motorways and tramlines”

where are you going? your destination can be found on the map. a fun game to play is to determine the most efficient sequence of transfers with the shortest time spent in layover. it isn’t so much a game of skill or resourcefulness as it is one which affirms your ability to take a not so subtly telegraphed hint. compliance is not interaction. the joke is that with the power to see through walls we occupy ourselves with constructing some more aesthetically or intellectually compelling arrangement (of walls).

“you can’t think in this place. you can’t make new memories.”

“how are you to imagine anything if the images are always provided for you?”

“one day / i am gonna grow wings / a chemical reaction / hysterical and useless”

even our biology is mechanical. even in our wildest dreams we confused a frantic buzzing with flying. “floor collapsing, falling / bouncing back.”

“it is so easy to be callous. it takes courage and character to care.”

“don’t get sentimental / it always / ends up drivel”

“one day you’ll know where you are”

where am i going? the fervent promise of “one day…” forks: in one direction the crushed in the ground dreams, the confused collision with a window mistaking it for air, circular and doomed by design to repeat itself like automated transit; in the other, a voice of wisdom insisting that the destination is the present, the are. there is no retroactive. if you had some capacity for acceptance maybe you wouldnt be so fucking bummed out all the time. they wouldnt keep locking themselves in there if you removed the lock.

Radiohead – Let Down

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initial thoughts

i thought the finale was great. i will probably need some time to think about it and the whole of this last season, but for now…the very last scene was almost perfect imo. all the talk about walt being “good” or “bad” or “transforming from good to bad” turns out to have been too simplistic. this show has probably one of the most honest and complex views about conventional morality that i can remember, and i cant really describe what it was i was feeling when i watched that last scene except that i was neither fully sympathetic or relieved to see walt die. the show seemed to embrace that walt had always been good, he had always been bad, that his love of chemistry and scientific reasoning was simultaneously the thing that made him feel alive, while being responsible for his death.

there seem to be a lot of people who say that the finale was too “neat”, which i am not really on board with. especially considering 2 weeks ago i would have said i have no idea how any of this is going to fit together, so for the show to wrap up so thoroughly in a way that maintained the integrity of the characters is quite impressive. also, ive been saying for a couple weeks now that in a way, contrary to what vince gilligan says about the show being “finite”, breaking bad is a show that could conceivably go on forever. that is, the one thing that was absolutely remained consistent throughout the series has been its fidelity to cause and effect. in this sense, the finale is almost antithetic to breaking bad, because we will never get to see the true “effect” of walts actions here, and if past season finales are any indication, the most likely outcome is one walt did not intend. look at season 4’s finale, for example. that was an ending that was just as “neat”, with walt concocting an arguably more elaborate plot than this one to win jesse back and kill gus. the episode literally ends with walt saying “i won”. then episode one of season 5 comes around and it begins to unravel almost immediately.]

it’s not wrong to want it

theres something interesting in our being reminded of Walt the Teacher at this particular moment in the season. for years now the slogan “breaking bad is about turning mr. chips into scarface” has been uttered in just about every interview and commentary on the show, yet the pithy statement is as reductive as it is misleading. as bryan cranston has observed with similar frequency in interviews, walter white’s transformation is not one in which he climbs into the transmogrifier with the dial set to “METH” then pops out with a goatee, but one which is enabled by context. as walt reveals to jesse in the previous episode, just as his pride and fragile ego were both with him in the days of grey matter, so are his abilities as educator and chemist-extraordinaire with him now. they are two sides of a coin: the nearly-nobel-prize-winning scientist who boasts a methamphetamine with 99.1% purity; and the ambitious rationalist who is unable to perceive the disconnect when he declares “no more killing” under the reign of heisenberg. for walt, that he traffics in and sanctions death is simply opportunity cost in the expression of his “potential”.

‘say my name’ sees walt making good on his designs on empire. the gleefully perverse opening scene indulges in western imagery, yet what we’re seeing is not a standoff; it’s a merger. walt is not arguing in gangster threats and posturing, but economics. he is unfazed by declan’s threats and his crew – though they outnumber walt’s by two – such is the power of the cold, capitalist logic he wields. it’s heisenberg in peak form, where his chemistry genius and bottom-line rationalizing win the day. declan’s disdain at the notion of being walt’s “errand boy” cant surpass the prospect of no longer having to compete with Big Methamphetamine. the success of walt’s proposal allows him to flex a little, leading to one of the show’s more gif-able moments: “you’re goddamn right,” he snarls through gritted teeth Extremeley badassly.

jesse, on the other hand, is the only character in the episode who is able to turn away from walt’s promise of extravagant, ethically sustainable riches (though it is worth noting that of all the characters, jesse is relatively untethered from responsibility to others). unlike declan, jesse has experienced firsthand the ways in which walt’s amoral theory of meth dealing does not hold out. walt lashes out at jesse, questioning his self-worth and mocking his moral “purity,” yet it is clear that he does so because he perceives jesse’s rebuke as an indictment of his own. “it’s not wrong to want [the money],” walt says, yet it is not entirely clear who he is trying to convince.

the ways in which the influence of money is to obscure or outright negate moral questions runs throughout. “the surveillance budget for ehrmantraut is now zero,” ramey tells hank, after a search of mike’s home turns up nothing. as usual, hank’s hunch is correct, yet in his new role as asac he is quickly discovering that he is less an arbiter of morality than an allocator of funds. the scenes between the lawyer and the bank clerk are a brief but poignant echo: the relationships being built in this show – whether through the exchange of money or bacon-filled cookies – are tenuous, utilitarian, and largely empty.

by episode’s end, walt’s victory from the opening has been severely undercut: jesse is out, mike is dead, and the arrest of the lawyer means mike’s guys are off the leash. walt’s desire for power has allowed him to manipulate and mistreat others with impunity, yet it has left him more isolated than he’s ever been. the heisenberg empire is off to a shaky start; at the very least, it can no longer claim to operate on a morally clean slate.

teenagers…sometimes you wanna just strangle em

the catalyst of the episode is the cold rationalization of the murder of a child. todd is in this moment the purest expression of heisenberg rationality (“i did what i had to do…i did it for us.”). todd’s actions create a rift in the group, which is quickly beginning to rupture. walt feigns regret (and later, a deep sadness) and procedurally lays out three options for how to move forward (though it is clear his mind is made up). mike, who in the previous episode pontificated on the Two Types Of Heist, as well as jesse, who devised the plan to begin with, must certainly be feeling a certain amount of responsibility for the child’s death. in their response, they are not so far from one another, though on opposite sides of the coin: mike reacts as a parent who has lost a child, while jesse laments the kid as the loss of his own innocence. the dead child haunts the episode, and provokes a meditation on the state of the family in breaking bad.

we get the sense that mike can feel the walls closing in on him. as mike later reveals, the dea have been tailing him “for a while now,” but it is not pressure from the authorities that are weighing on him. rather, when we see a teary-eyed mike in the park the following morning watching his granddaughter – while carefully eyeing gomez who looks on from afar – it is in that moment that he begins coming undone. that his illegal activities have contributed to the death of an innocent child is bad enough, and to know that he has put his own granddaughter at risk simply by association is horrifying.

for jesse, mike has become a kind of surrogate parent (as the two wait in the desert for their first meet with declan, the faintest affectionate smile flashes across his face). the bond between the two endangers jesse’s relationship with walt, however, who can barely contain his indifference to jesse and the dead child. walt’s tone-deaf pitch of “self-sufficiency” as “no one to answer to but ourselves” represents a critical moment of failure in their relationship: jesse, who has within a year lost his parents, jane, and andrea, finds himself more in need of family than ever. walt’s inability (and disinterest) to be the kind of family jesse needs is made painfully clear in the darkly funny, twisted parody of a family dinner scene.

the scene is, among other things, a comment on just how alienated walt has become from the other characters. his existence is toxic enough that his children have been sent away, leaving jesse as the nearest walt has to a son – though it is increasingly apparent that their relationship goes only so far as jesse acts in walt’s interests. that walt had had ever intended his dealings to serve his family now seems a time long since passed. he has his eye on something much grander now: empire. walt’s kingpin ambitions are necessarily at odds with family: skylar is forced to become his opposite, assisting walt only to the extent that it will keep him from getting caught and destroying the family. in the mean time, she has her small rebellion, filling the house with cigarette smoke, waiting for the cancer to put an end to it all. the poison will surely get them both now, but skylar can still hope to contain it.

today i turn 23

i, too, fear death; every day i look in the mirror
at the time lapsed explosion of a distant, unnamed star,
whose decay radiates outward, stardust settling
in a chalk outline of a dissolving body.
i am increasingly aware of the ever-
widening maw of my mortality: my field of vision darkens,
and as i descend deeper into the void i am grateful
for the regularity of your messages,
the flickering of facebook notifications
which light the way to my final rest.

its been one year and i didnt write shit

maybe i’ll change that

heres a list again

beach house – bloom

grizzly bear – shields

burial – street halo / kindred

actress – r.i.p.

women – public strain

the xx – coexist

department of eagles – in ear park

com truise – galactic melt

sharon van etten – tramp

knxwledge – buttrskotch

groundislava – feel me

flying lotus – until the quiet comes

jonny greenwood – the master

rustie – glass swords

stumbleine – drifting youth

lone – galaxy garden

mogwai – hardcore will never die, but you will

wild nothing – nocturne


i am writing to you from the inside of a car
hurtling down a road
which is worn and broken and has
always been


i wonder what the word is (or if there even is a word) for when
a generation of people grow up with a certain set
of tasks and problems associated with these tasks
and so they develop a solution which comes along with its
own set of tasks and problems and
an added degree of abstraction and
this process continues on and on
a generation of people who forgot what hands are for


here is music i enjoyed this year (according to last.fm 12 month chart)

Madlib – Madlib Medicine Show #11: Low Budget High Fi Music

James Blake – James Blake

Mogwai – Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will

Onra – Chinoiseries Pt. 2

Radiohead – The King of Limbs

Jonwayne – Bowser

Geotic – Mend

Shlohmo – Bad Vibes

Knxwledge – Flowrs

lets see if we cant turn all those links blue