Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Narrowing Down My Complaints About Modernism

Wow, I didn't plan for the evening to go by so quickly. Then again, I guess going to the grocery store and doing some extra curricular activities contributes to the time drain that I have happening. Oh well. . .have to make do with what I've got.

I've set up something of a nice Moment Room right now. Sitting on the couch in our sun room with the door open and a couple windows. Just across the drive and down a small wooded hill cars go by on Nonantum Road, which connects to Soldier's Field Road then connects to Storrow Drive. The rain patters down nicely. I also like to think that I hear the Charles River flowing by from across Nonantum. I almost had the radio going, but with the rain, the wind and the cars. . .it really just makes me feel a little wistful.

Oh yeah. . .the Christmas Cactus, Jade and some other large plant really helps to strike the mood. I have never really bought a plant that has survived, but one friend gave me the Jade, another gave me the Christmas Cactus and I took the big bush home from work. It looks as if the Christmas Cactus will bloom any day now. It has some beautiful pink blossoms that come out for awhile and seem to last longer every year. I don't know if that has something to do with the cycle of the Cactus or if maybe our current environmental situation might have something to do with it. The Jade plant has grown a ton over the weekend while the Girl and I jaunted around Chicago.

The big City provided a pretty good time. I learned to navigate it a little better even though I had a funny experience of going west when I meant to go east, but I quickly figured out the problem when I brought out the handy dandy map. Learned a bit more about the mass transit system. . .ate some good Ethiopian food, hung out a the top of the Hancock Building again and, in general, really really enjoyed just being in such a big city, taking in all the people, all the buildings and got a kick out of the good vibes that I got out of the city that when I got into Logan again, learned how Northeasterners get the reputation for rudeness, directness and just all around. . .well. . .not seeming to care about other people and not trying to provide Value (oh yeah, saw Flight Plan. . .predictable but still kind of fun).

In general, I had a couple bad experiences with American Airlines this weekend. On the plane ride from Logan to O'Hare, I had the fortune to wait in the plane for two hours because of some freak electrical storms in or before Chicago. Not a completely horrible experience, as I had an interesting book to read, but I think my legs would agree. Walking around the city a ton helped to stretch them a little. On the way, home the Girl and I got to wait for another 1 1/2 hour in the plane because, for some reason, a line of fifty or so planes had lined to take off of one run way. It probably had something to do with the rain or something. Not a big problem, though. . .we can't really do anything about the weather, can we? Well. . .I guess we can, but that's a whole other issue.

I really could have handled everything, and I even could have handled the fact that American Airlines didn't put my bags on the plane in O'Hare or that they lost the bag in Logan or something. . .except that the baggage claim clerk really acted like a completely unsympathetic, patronizing bitch. After waiting at the conveyer belt then checking the area behind the line for my bag, I didn't find it, so I went over to her. I told her as much, then she asked me if I checked both places! Then on top of that, she couldn't even understand me unless I had completely and clearly enunciated every single word in a very very pissed tone. And even worse: I had asked her if she could track the bag or maybe go back there and look or talk to someone, but she just immediately went into entering a lost baggage claim into her computer. . .without a word of consolation, regret or anything. It felt like she didn't give one care, she saw me as an inconvenience and she just wanted to take claim then shoo me out of the door. After a bit of fuming while waiting for a cab, I went back to the desk and took down her name. This morning while trying to get updates on my bag, I filed a complaint and the American Airlines rep acted nice, compassionate and understanding. . .refreshing after the rude treatment from last night.

I eventually got my suitcase by the end of today. They tracked it down by 9 this morning then handed it over to some delivery service. Last night, I gave them my home address rather than my work address and my cell phone number. I thought about giving them my work information, but I was just tired and didn't want to deal with the crap of this rude chick. So tried to leave my cell phone on at work but turned it off for some reason. . .can't think of why. I turned it on at about 11 or so. . .I thought that maybe they'd leave a message because it could take up to six hours after nine to return the bag, and the rude chick said that they would just leave it at the door. Did that happen? No. . .after talking to a person at American Airlines to try scheduling the drop off at work because it struck me at that moment that taxi drivers and pizza delivery people couldn't even find my home, they said that the delivery service had dropped off the bag at home, so the nice rep hooked me up with the deliver service. Turns out that since no one was home and they couldn't reach me on my cell phone (they didn't even leave a message!), they decided to drop it off with a neighbor. . .and the Girl and I rarely talk to our neighbors. Maybe a wave and a smile or something, but we've only spoke with the neighbor who owns Kitty, the attention hungry cat that we've started to care for (even though we thought the neighbor had taken the cat away to their new home). In the end, the Girl got home and picked up the luggage from the nice neighbors, and all ends well.

Except that I feel that only the people on the phone showed respect, understanding and the desire to provide Value while the people behind the desk and the delivery person didn't think of how things work "customarily" these days, as in neighbors rarely talk these days in the Northeast, and just give this impression that instead of giving Value, they just want to get their job done with the minimum of effort and hand off the responsibility to someone else, which makes the Consumer, the person getting the service, the person pretty much paying your paycheck feel as if the company doesn't care about them. This whole thing presses onto me the idea that the bad thing doesn't lose the customer, the way that people in the company treat the customer either makes or breaks the long term relationship between the company and the customer.

Strangely enough. . .I probably sound like some kind of old fogey that I used to hate or something like that. People use to tell me that I should take pride in my work and that I needed to have responsibility. Both these things can provide value to the person who takes possession of them, but I don't want to complain about people not taking possession of them. I want to complain about people not caring about building relationships with other people. People have their own self-centered worlds and they just work these jobs to make money so that they can buy stuff and do stuff and maintain their stuff, when, in the end, that stuff really doesn't amount to much. The Internet, television, the telephone and numerous other inventions. . .people talk about how these things bring people together but sometimes it feels like it pushes them apart and keeps them further apart. Instead of building relationships with the people around themselves in their neighborhoods and in their communities and even with the customers that give them job security, these people just seem to care about the relationships that they have with their friends and the intrigue that builds in their cliques and friendships and such. I'm just throwing stuff of the top of my head. . .free flowing thinking. . .very speculative thinking. . .but I guess, in the end on this one, I relate modernism to pretty much people feeling powerless, not seeing a point to building relationships unless they want to network and want their own needs met in a direct fashion and people generally finding fulfillment in consuming things.

Which brings me to the comments that Mr. Ibis made to an entry that I wrote sometime last week. I like a lot of stuff written by him, even if I don't necessarily agree with all of it. Also, thanks for the correction on the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy. I think I disagree with your definition of hypocrisy. I kind of feel like the definition you gave for not being a hypocrite is hypocrisy since I want to change it, but I don't really take direct action to change it. I guess maybe if you meant that my acknowledging that I can't do anything about the "system" because alone, I'm powerless, then I'm not hypocrite, I can see your point and I can agree with you. In many ways, I feel that I want my writing and also my information "distribution service" through e-mail to act as my current contribution to changing the situation. With three subscribers, excluding myself, to the "service" and not really publishing anything except for memos and letters to customers and stuff on this Blog (whih I've found quite unprofessional lately). . .even though I'm working on my thesis and novel. . .I feel as if, right now, I'm not making much of a difference because of my own misunderstandings of things and my own shortcomings, which I try and try to overcome. So, I guess, in the end, I don't fall into the category of hypocrite. . .just the category of incompetent at the moment. . .so maybe my feeling of hyporcrisy and complicity really comes from a lack of confidence even though I have many many reasons to feel happy and I don't feel incompetent, just lacking in understanding and knowledge. Still. . .his lack frustrates me quite a bit as I nearly reach my Middle Ages.

Please don't feel pity for me. I don't want it. I want understanding and knowledge, but I probably need to articulate that which I want to understand and know more clearly. Utopia and dystopia for one. At the moment, though, I don't really know how to articulate much more clearly as that because of the morass of different theories and crazy information out there and the goals that different academics and critics have for the what they term as utopia or dystopia. I feel myself coming closer to something of an understanding, though, thanks to this interesting book I'm reading lately called Utopia and Organization. I quoted a part of it the other day. On the entry to which Ibis commented on, in fact. I have a couple more pages to read, but it has already helped me to accept the importance of concerted human effort and the high that people get from it and how some people can get somewhat addicted to it. That idea could help me a lot on this essay that I've tried to write for the last year or so.

Modernism. . .these terms like Modernism, Post-Modernism, Classicism, Romanticism, they kind of annoy me because different fields pretty much delineate different time frames and even have something of different definitions for all of it. Just read about Romanticism. . .I've got a couple books about it, but I forget the authors (one of them is Isiah Berlin, actually) and the titles. . .. But I'm starting to get a clearer understanding of Modernism these days. I don't like Post-Modernism, honestly, because it feels way too critical and negative. Then again, can I really say anything in opposition to it, since I write and make many critical and negative comments about things as they are. I guess my other issue with Post-Modernism comes from the almost pure cultural and moral relativism. I can see the point to cultural relativism up to a point, but I believe that limits exist as to how morally relative is allowable and such. I also don't like the idea of everyone necessarily having their own truth and such. I like stuff like holism and the interrelativity of everything and so forth, but that really just feels like a great extension onto logic and chains of events. Of course everything has some kind of interrelation to each other. At least, in my mind, it is obvious, even though, at the moment, I'm not in the right mind to spout off about it.

With modernism, though, I don't really have a thing against technology even though I reject the idea of using technology without wisdom, which includes social technologies and the effects on the environment and how the technology can affect people directly and indirectly. I hate the huge amounts of stress on individualism with modernism and the forgetting about relationships and community as I mentioned above, but I'm not about to become a suicide bomber and denounce people for having abortions, having pre-marital sex and a bunch of other things that they probably are more likely to do in our present society because they probably have a void left there from not having healthy relations with the people in their lives and feeling alienated. My thought track just ended there, but I guess I have something of a love hate relationship with all these broad ranged "schools of thoughts and culture," but yeah, I guess I'm really railing against the idea of the importance of consumption and the fact that people feel powerless but at the same time, naively become complicit to their powerlessness by not trying to understand the world, trying to fulfill their immediate needs without thinking of the wisdom of helping the world and building relationships and not thinking of the interrelationship of the Web of the existence (to mangle a Unitarian Universalist principle or idea).

To sum up, I want to help other people raise their consciousness and understand the world a little better while I do the same. I want people to interact with each other more and build relationships and try to think up ways to make the world a better place and try to create wisdom that we can share with each other. I want to get that stuff from other people. I would love if people made more comments and possibly put a ton of thought into their comments and felt free to say stuff that's on their mind in response to what I say and what other people say, even if they disagree (please do so respectfully and in a way that can build relationships, though). I really would enjoy if, just as much as I use this Blog to espouse about my ideas and thesis and announce things happening in my life, this Blog also became something of a Think Tank with the purpose of building relationships, exchanging ideas and thoughts and wisdom and if people participated with me to make the world a better place and such. . .even if I don't necessarily always have the most articulate writing here.

Interesting stuff about the solar panels and the ideas about trying to make no net impact on the environment. Thanks for the ideas. Honestly, at this point, I don't think it's possible to do so at my point in life, when I don't own my own house, don't work for an organization that has those principles as important things that they want to do, don't live under a government that has those principles at the top of their list of having things work that way (even though I do try to act as much of a squeaky wheel as possible to my political representatives), don't use an Internet with all the servers and people on it using alternative energies, don't have the money to buy a hybrid or biodiesel car, don't nessarily have the time to research these topics and implement them, etc. etc. I guess it comes down to capability and having the personal power to change my lifestyle while also fulfilling certain desires that I feel will help the world better if I accomplish them before I get focused on changing my lifestyle in radical ways to consume less fossil fuels and such. . .especially when trying to do that stuff now without help would actually cause me to take many steps backwards and possibly land me in poverty and out of good relationships with people and such.

There's a lot on the table, and I'd like to hear more than just myself on these kinds of topics. I'll keep spouting off stuff, though, even if no one else says anything. It helps to get my creative juices going.

1 comment:

Little Miss X said...

Just a thought....I believe people at their core crave community, but in the absence thereof, they will settle for familiarity. For the past say, 20-30 years, it has become increasingly common for people, because of their jobs, to move from one end of the country to another every 5 years or so. That constitutes a whole generation of people who don't really know what it is to be part of a long-standing community. It takes a very special environment to build a real community based on trust in a short period of time. My experience has been that that sort of special enviornment was possible because of an older, underlying community. Community is in part based on the on-going commitment of at least a core group of people. I guess at this point a good question to ask is this: Is it possible to sustain any sort of communinity with any depth from a constantly changing population? Perhaps a poor substitute for community is what corporate America has to offer: familiarity. So you might be in a new town where you don't know anybody, but at least you've been to a Walmart, a McDonald's or dozens of housing tracts before and know what to expect, and it provides some sort of comfort (albeit shallow).