Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Confessions of a Dogfighter

Podcast - audio file

Like everything metaphysical the harmony between thought and reality is to be found in the grammar of the language.
--Ludwig Wittgenstein

"Do you want to hear about the summer I worked in a tampon factory, or the year I decided to start a dog-fighting business?" asked the woman sitting across the table from Tinguely.

They were in a small restaurant with high aspirations, self-styling itself "bistro" and mixing the Rolling Stones' "Brown Sugar" on the sound system, and a menu replete with "nouvelle mix" with items like “pine nut pancake,” “chipotle remoulade,” and “prickly pear jelly andouille.”

Pure Austin, thought Tinguely. Tiresome, on the whole, but when one contrasted it with the usual Tex-Mex fare, which always left Tinguely muttering vile things about her breasts and their propensity to hot-air-balloon on her whenever she ingested too much salt and lard, it wasn't such a bad thing.

"Tiffer, I'm not sure," said Tinguely. The humor she injected into her voice was a bit false. It couldn't be helped. Tiffer, short for Tiffany, was a child of the 70s who had grown up in a privileged home, but who considered herself a brilliant businesswomen, a woman with a Midas touch, not realizing (or acknowledging the obvious) that all her business acumen and sterling successes were due to parental bankrolling.

Tinguely knew there were certain parallels between Tiffer and herself, but she wasn't sure which were true parallels, and which were specious proclivities - that is to say, that Tinguely and Tiffer shared something and they resonated on some level, but it was not so easily relegated to its particular pigeonhole... that is to say that they did not much care for each other. Tiffer, child of the 70s, and Tinguely, of an era two decades later, but of a self-reflexive, self-creating decade that loved carving its own chunk of the 70s into its own consciousness.

"Dogfighting? Tampons?" Tinguely resented Tiffer's desire to call attention herself by means of pseudo-scandalosity.

It was clear that the disharmony between Tiffer’s thoughts and Tinguely’s reality fell squarely somewhere in the way they used language. One was flamboyant, with undercurrents of violence; the other was impatient, ironic, mildly put-upon. One built a mildly hyperbolic reality; the other flattened, perhaps even purposefully deconstructed reality.

In the middle of it all were giant icebergs of ethics.

Life was easier when one could take a pass on ethics. Unfortunately, this was not one of those times. She would have to hear the Tiffer out. Tiffer had bought working interest in Dad's latest high-risk wildcat oil and gas prospects, and there was no real options.

Tinguely ordered the "Duck Debris," a tiny waffle with a quail egg sunny-side up. It was supposed to be an aphrodisiac. It should have included two "huevecitos" (little eggs). Was it even ethical to eat an egg?

As it was, with one egg, there was something wrong with the metaphor. How could they presume aphrodisiocity when all they could muster was one tiny egg, sunnyside up, perched atop bean dip and a sad fried chive and one quarter of a waffle of obscure origin?

Give me a break, thought Tinguely.

She was glad she was on an expense account.

Today was a strange day. The workshop she had been so eager to attend ended abruptly when the speaker looked at her iPhone and realized a call had come in from the breeder of champion pugs, who was set to deliver the black-and-white pig she had been awaiting for at two months.

The speaker, a professor from the University of Texas, ran a seismic geomorphology lab with 12 graduate students he pushed in directions that advanced the science and various and sundry scientific ambitions. He was intensely charismatic in a profoundly "Alamo" way that spoke to all free-wheeling, free-thinking Texans who imagined themselves capable of self-invention and free-thinking.

Never mind that Texas had become a myth. Never mind that the collective mythology was simply a tool for community building and bonding.

Never mind that one can't ever quite transcend the fact that they spend their entire lives trying to avoid consciousness, and yet consciousness is what we have when we're alive.

The only ones who truly seek unmediated, unmitigated consciousness are those who have been declared terminal, placed in hospice, and who have decided to rebel, fire their hospice nurses, flush their morphine down the toilet (before it is pilfered by teen-age grand-spawn)...

Life. Living. Consciousness.

Spend your entire life avoiding consciousness. Or at least "most" of your life.


Logic is not a body of doctrine, but a mirror-image of the world. Logic is transcendental.
--Ludwig Wittgenstein

"I need to predecease my mother," thought Tinguely. It was an intrusive thought, completely unsolicited and unwanted. It was also illogical. Tinguely's mother had died when she was three years of age, and she was raised by her wildcatter father and a succession of housekeepers and private violin tutors, which was to say she raised herself, or, as she preferred to put it, wolves, making her the "wolfling" -- incapable of nurturing or mothering anything except like-minded wild things, of which she had met a total of 3 in her entire life, which now spanned 30 years.

Logic was not serving Tinguely well these days.

A sad version of "Light My Fire" was playing on the sound system. The Doors? It used to be that recordings that 40 or 50 years old were wildly anachronistic. When did that change?

"Ah. Light My Fire. This brings back memories. I liked the original. I'm not sure I like this muzak / rave version," said Tiffer.

"What kind of memories?" asked Tinguely. Tiffer still intimidated her, and she thought it was best to ask quiet, polite questions, and dispense with the darker elements that were obviously poking their heads above the surface, but which Tinguely was not comfortable in addressing.

"Surgicate yourself to Nirvana." The phrase entered Tinguely's mind and she thought immediately of her best friend and others who had tried to convince her that Botox, eyelifts, and "mini-lifts" were something you started budgeting for by the time you were 30.

Might as well take up tennis when you're 50-something, and at least four decades too late for anything except nostalgia and self-congratulatory bouts of muscle spasms and incipient tennis elbow (if only you had sufficient attention span and muscle tone to acquire such a malady)...

"Tiffer, I don't want to hear a single word about dog-fighting," said Tinguely. Unfortunately, Tiffer had already left the room, so Tinguely's brave declaration was essentially moot.

The Psychic Sponge's Guide to Zeitgeistland: "Love Philtre"