Excerpt from an email conversation...What is this beauty thing? What is clarity?

a friend and I have recently been on travel, separately getting out of DC for some time...some of this time has been good, while some has been peppered by life back home - the pressures, obligations, and other "realities" that creep into the daily representations of this "living" thing...

---to quote from the email---

that is why life is so beautiful
what is beautiful are the high tree branches i see from the fifth floor of the library where i write to you now. they are framed by a corner window and evenly sliced by dusty brown venetian blinds. their moment of movement made by the wind is the single confirmation that i am not looking at a thomas demand photograph, a construction fabricated by my own desire (desire, which is always born from absence) to see the beautiful of a life that lives less than its metaphors.


it unfolds itself before our eyes
and then the lids close.
and then the beauty stops, no longer held by the command of vision.

this time away has been good for the clear picture forming faculties of my brain
a picture, i hope, that is less informed by situational context, and one more motivated by the body and its detachable mind.

it's not always easy to figure shit out when youre mired in it
it's beautiful here

wish i could see the "it" with your eyes.

i dont want to come back
don't come back here, but don't stay there. plot your next move while the nostalgia of the familiar is sweet -- before tasting it too much turns it sour with redundancy and routine.

it's so clear here
so simple

it is the desert that erases experience with its expansiveness; the blankness of the desert doesn't ask to be filled in - response is not a demand.

Perhaps one of the reasons that clarity can be derived from travel is not just from the experience of a new place (or, the revisiting of a familiar one that elicits the effect of the new due to the difference of subjectivity experienced in the current moment, as informed by the individual’s spatial displacement), but because for that period of time, your social life ceases to exist as it was before you left. People leave the office, turn on their email assistant, telling the world "I am out of the office now and cannot respond to your message." What a great thing in this hyper-connected world to deny the possibility of communication with at least some of the individuals you are routinely required to engage in conversation. Granted, the cell phone presents an issue to this – many people still travel with them – but often the out-of-range call is so expensive to make that if cell phones are used on vacation, they are for very short, small-scale interactions. Perhaps it is the closing of communication obligations that truly delivers the clarity that can be derived from travel, not actually the physical distance (as we routinely credit; "the distance was good for me," "distance makes the heart grow fonder," etc.).

It seems that discourse with others is like taking a photograph – it creates, preserves, and (re)presents a version of reality (a picture of your life in that moment of time) that is not just that of the individual’s own framing, but is influenced by the context – the others’ discourse. This enters into the realm of representation and reality...Maybe what we need is a moment to ignore the other discourses that correspond to a certain reality...Like in most films (the more Realist, less-Brechtian types), for instance, the viewer is positioned in such as way as to ignore the production aspect of film-making and slip into a state of passive viewing...As Colin MacCabe argues, viewers can no longer "ignore the process of articulation by entering a world of correspondence in which the only activity required is to match one discourse against the realm of truth." If we ignore the production aspect of our socially-constructed reality for just a few days or weeks or however long our vacation is, we can blissfully derive the pleasure of passive viewing which perhaps may clear the clutter enough to gain perspective and furnish clarity on the movies lived in our minds.

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