2013: as fugitive as all years become

2013: as fugitive as all years become

 Marco Harder

Perhaps at the end of every year, everyone feels the urge to heave a sigh to express, however mutedly, ‘finally having gotten through all of that’, as if being alive to be able to mount such a weak expression was the only thing, the only consolation, one has left at the close of another planetary cycle. Some will come to this disposition’s defense and say that time erodes everything and that each year abrades one of so many things: youth, time, and opportunity. Such rhetoric then extends to citing entropy, and all related concepts ad infinitum, and becomes a chore to even ponder. As with all cycles, however, an end is necessarily a beginning and it is from this station that gleeful optimists make their proclamations: a fresh chance to begin anew, the perfect time for a reboot, the bow string fully stretched and primed to fire.  Such optimism and energy, when left unchecked, can be both infectious and blinding – clearly a mental cocktail bound to deliver only disappointment, if not tragedy.

Equilibrium, then, may be the ideal state but then – as a simple lab scale or see-saw will demonstrate – does this not also mean that such a state is only possible only if it stands on a very delicate and precarious fulcrum point? Paradoxically, a state of equilibrium requires uncertainty and a perpetual tendency to tip to either side: perhaps either disposition above illustrates the human tendency to prefer a terrible certainty to no certainty at all at work?

***

At this juncture, I don’t find it hard at all to look back and see what the last year has given me. Tersely, it is this: it has been one generous year and without conceding to any superstition, I feel thankful that the things that came my way this year did come (I think the word for this feeling and tendency is apotropaic). More travels with the Eraserheads happened this year (one of which had me on a plane on Christmas day), my Tumblr getting rebooted to contain only my work, and returning to social networking (not complete, but reasonably palpable) would be some of the more publicly noticeable events for me this year. But to my mind, the more important things deserve more than a rudimentary citation.

An old love – photography – filled most of last year’s hours. After practically shooting less than 4 rolls from 2003 to 2011 on a single camera, I went through about 20 or 30 cameras this year alone and ended up with about a dozen at the close of the year. As far as film stock has gone – yes, I made decision to keep my old workflow – I must have consumed at least a hundred rolls this year and have yet to scan 50 sets of negatives for archiving. I’ve also built my chemistry for processing black and white films and am slowly getting convinced to do color processing in my bathroom as well. The decision to keep on using film instead of building a full digital rig was due to a lot of reasons, and I think I’d need to reserve that for a separate piece altogether. My desire to take photographs has never been stronger, and perhaps because of the time and resources I have been able to afford in the last year allowed for that indulgence. The work I’ve done for the past year is something that I would consider directionless, and I hope that the following year would allow me to see where I would really want to take my photography.

My career, however, wasn’t as rosy as I had imagined it about a decade ago when I was still starting out in the profession of corporate training. Professional growth has been at a glacial pace for about three or four years, and with my temperament tending to favor dynamism over stasis, this has been causing a significant amount of stress in my life that fortunately gets countered by all the other things I do. I’ve taken steps to remedy this, including initiating a move to a totally different career altogether. I’ve yet to see how that pans out; as we speak, I still am left wondering whether they deem me psychologically sane [I kid you not: I had to take a battery of tests for a psychological evaluation for this job I’m eyeing] for the post. Should that turn out for the best, I imagine myself being in all sorts of exciting situations in spite of the pay cut I stand to take. The latter, at least I this point, I say is not a problem: money can always be earned, but opportunities for experience only waited for and grabbed when one can.

My return to Twitter was also very fulfilling. Aside from doing its primary job of broadcasting new posts off my repurposed Tumblr account, it also introduced me to very interesting characters. It was through various interactions with them (online and otherwise) that my engagement with topics both current and timeless has deepened. Through the discussions and debates I’ve had with these wonderful people, I believe I’ve kept true to my pact to be as intellectually honest as I can and continue to look for evidence against interest to check my positions on things.

***

The two-headed Roman god Janus (from whom ‘January’ was derived) was tasked with the responsibility of looking at both past and the future, to oversee both an end and a beginning. The myth of Janus, now that I think about it, provides way to square off the metaphor I toyed with earlier: perhaps the end of each year is the fulcrum upon which the shapeless mass that is our future balances the weight of our past. It just might be the point where we feel our regrets and dreams tilt us with equal force to their respective sides.

First off, a proper introduction.

First off, a proper introduction.

February 2012

In the face of a myriad of blogs, living and deceased,  I now am in front of you, dear reader, bearing a portent of yet another serving of online fodder. If circumstances were more fortunate, you would have probably read these words on pulp [a medium I find to be one of those things that can easily, but oddly, be described as ‘cheap’ and ‘expensive to produce’] but given our current limits you now are treated to this meretricious and flickering [albeit imperceptibly] electronic display of lights that translate to sentences in your head.

I am Marco Harder and I decided to start this blog after realizing that at some point, one would have to start thinking independently and that inevitably, conclusions that I eventually come to will have to be tested in the battle of ideas. I would like to think that I am a trained rhetorician, but I find very little opportunity to speak about the subjects that I care deeply about and while my friends possess considerably above-average intellectual mettle, some of them are not as bent towards disputation as I am. Not so much because they actively shun such tendencies but rather because I simply am more or less always in the mood for a good spar between conflicting opinions.

Because of this, it dawned on me that I might as well go about this business in the manner I am used to, which is doing things myself.  I decided to allot some online space and some of my time to get my ideas out there simply because I don’t see enough opportunities available for me to present my views on things. It may be argued that there is a dint of vanity in this effort as regards the motivation to put up such a blog, as one can easily see that creating one is a subterfuge to attract attention and thus afford me shot or two in a more public, more mainstream channel. However, I shall let you be the judge whether that is indeed the case, although I personally wouldn’t mind if I eventually find myself ventriloquizing my thoughts to a bigger audience.

Speaking of position, I feel that I should make it clear that the other main reason for this thankless job of self-publication is is that the idea of exposing my own positions to contrary opinions genuinely thrills me. In Letters to a Young Contrarian, Christopher Hitchens gave the most mordant and sobering description of the outcome of debates I have ever encountered: in disputes and arguments, he says, either party very rarely gets persuaded away from his original assertion. Rather, the likeliest conclusion of these dialectical affairs is that both combatants walk away from the debate thinking how they could further refine their arguments for their respective positions. Thus, it is under the umbrage of this principle that I mount my other – and personally, more compelling – purpose for this blog, which is to present and argue my case on topics that interest me at a given moment and have it subjected to critical appraisal. Obviously, I now perpetually run the risk of having my assertions and opinions repudiated but I think that the realm of knowledge and ideas should never be exempt from the rigor and stress tests under which we put regular objects to determine their resilience and in some ways, their value.

I do hope that you find this little online engagement to be entertaining. While I have limited time due to the other persuasions to which I devote as much passion as I do to ideas,  I will try to regularly churn out pieces that are at least worth your time, and at hopefully your opinion at best.

Marco Harder