Where are we going here? I like to have these little check-ins every so often. Just you and I, reader. I’m having fun writing this, but are you having fun reading it? I just bet you are. But am I actually having fun, you ask? Perhaps I should stop reading meta-novels and explain myself.
When I started this blog, I came up with a big fancy mission statement, all full of pomp and purpose. Some bullshit about improving the transit system and the average person’s understanding of it…yadda yadda yadda. A year ago I scribbled all that out in a fit of cynicism. Then I allowed this little rant or this one to pass out of my database and into someone else’s. Clearly I’m engaged in negative attention seeking here to some degree, no matter how thoroughly I fail to attract any. The Authority’s door is closed and bolted and here I am like a jilted stalker, banging and hollering.
One should really get on with one’s life, you say politely.
I appreciate your discretion, reader. One should…
But let me deflect for a moment to ask about you, reader. Just who are you anyway? (Are you comfortable? Can I get you anything? No?) But let me guess, let me be a terrible bore and guess who you are. By your manner, I can tell you’re a connoisseur. A sponge for ideas, sucking and filtering and digesting the delectables. Firmly planted, for life if the angelfish don’t get you, you’ll grow large here.
Why do we find ourselves here anyway? Is it the rich current? Is there any point to asking the question? Am I plankton in this metaphor? Reader, I hope you won’t let me punish myself with that diminutive. Bless you. Yes, why yes, I must be a shark. Thank you. That’s much better. The stray blood can feed you just as well, can’t it? Cells are cells after all and we all love that yummy protoplasm.
Sponges are hardly clever, reader, and I hope you don’t think I insult by analogy. I mean only to imply settlement. How about a barnacle? They use their lives to build elaborate structures that every once in a while must be scrubbed off the bottoms of ships. They also have more complicated organs I presume.
Myself on the contrary, I find I’m quite unable to stop swimming, even if I do keep circling the dock…enough — this is getting silly.
I wanted to write about transit because I want to change it. But I find the situation quite impossible, and so I propose now as consolation that I write for my own amusement. I’m no good for organizations anyway. I only cause trouble. I keep catching myself with the goals of a diplomat and the inclinations of a grenadier. Perhaps, you say, I should adopt the goals of a grenadier? That’s an interesting suggestion, reader…a great many resources have been freed by the precise use of dynamite…
What are we even talking about? Reader, why is it that whenever I talk with you, we both get so bogged down in metaphor? Sharks, explosives, and this whole elaborate analogy with Ace and the Doctor and a missing TARDIS that I haven’t even worked out yet…
I mean, I suppose, that I must leave a tired Apollo to consort with his livelier brother; Do some thrashing that we both may feed; Become prankish, that word I keep circling back to.
Here is my plan for the coming months on this the Cincinnati Transit Blog, the name of which itself now chafes me with it’s seriousness:
Are you still there, reader?
A response from a reader,
I always have fun reading your blog, in fact… I often times turn the lights down low, put a cute bonnet on my cat and throw something in the oven beforehand. While I certainly do not read muchameta anything, I often appreciate your turns round the bend. We all have fancy mission statements. I have a few myself. I try to end them with the line “subject to whim and flights of fancy” in the same way you allow for the repositioning of the saddle on your lark. We all want to believe that the paid and responsible parties that regulate our passions will listen to our visions and reason, but that isn’t really the way things work, is it? A lot of it comes down to the motives, audience, and clout we have available to us. The doors are certainly not bolted, but rather they have an entrance fee. It’s also not just about experience or degree, but rather a willingness to play well with others. “Why won’t you love me!?” I was recently told at work that I was a visionary, and visionaries are not needed now. I think that is the exact moment I mentally quite my social service day job. So… it’s time to get on with my life without St. Joseph Orphanage having come to a complete realization that I am not exactly wanted or needed. I caused too many problems, I pointed out too many faults, but worst of all… I also provided solutions that were too hard to argue against.
But enough about me. What does getting on with one’s life really look like? Are we talking about some sort of relationship gone south that requires you to try as hard as you can to not think about those good old days when you thought you could handle the political cocktails? You felt included and valued? The pranksters are always looking through the window. “I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member.” I like my town with a little drop of poison, that’s you baby!
Who am I, you ask? I am never comfortable, I stay hungry. You can give me all the things and I will likely only put them in storage boxes for future use. But yes, I am a sort of connoisseur. Luckily I am not so much like a big fish in a small pond, more like a mudskipper with an action packed expense account! (well, that last part is a bit of a lie.)
Why do we find ourselves here? Partly genetics, partly chance, and partly choice. That doesn’t mean it’s necessarily ideal, but our minds have much plasticity. Our species is known for its environmental and social adaptability. I couldn’t see you as plankton in the metaphor, a shark is a better possibility, but let’s be honest… You may be a bit more like an archer fish that is aiming at a rump scratching baboon. I suppose we could engineer a Facebook survey that tells us all what kind of aquatic life we resemble, but it will probably be just about as accurate as what your horoscope in the Cincinnati Enquirer offers up.
You are right, this is getting silly,
You can certainly still write about transit in order to change it, but you have also stated that the political elements of it are untouchable. Of course that isn’t quite right. How is it that all of Cincinnati became polarized on the street care project? Was that due to the stump speeches of spiral mustachioed officials or was it more of a grassroots meme generator? I am actually asking, because I don’t really know. I recognized both sides as shit fountains and quickly lost interest.
Perhaps I like to think of you as a gadfly, there is another person who kinda thought that about himself.
“I am the gadfly of the Athenian people, given to them by God, and they will never have another, if they kill me. And now, Athenians, I am not going to argue for my own sake, as you may think, but for yours, that you may not sin against the God by condemning me, who am his gift to you. For if you kill me you will not easily find a successor to me, who, if I may use such a ludicrous figure of speech, am a sort of gadfly, given to the state by God; and the state is a great and noble steed who is tardy in his motions owing to his very size, and requires to be stirred into life. I am that gadfly which God has attached to the state, and all day long 1and in all places am always fastening upon you, arousing and persuading and reproaching you. You will not easily find another like me, and therefore I would advise you to spare me.”
How much do you want to change??? If you want long lasting influence, then simply keep doing what you do best, and never underestimate your own amusement.
We are talking about the future, dear writer. And metaphor is not a bog, but rather a wonderful coral reef rife with pretty living things and built on dead things. Be a clown fish, look more into how Dionysus went about his daily chores. Ask yourself how would Dionysus handle the dishes? What kind of fabric softener did he use? There are a lot of dometics that we need to attend to, and that often prevents us from seeing ourselves in the light we would like. That’s where Socrates hangs his lantern and hat.
So lets look at your plan.
1. Get those KINDA t-shirts posted online, perhaps giving them to the homeless if they don’t sell.
Yes, Get them out, and send some to goodwill as well. It supports the jobless afterall!
2. Make some absurd transit related bumper stickers. I have a few ideas on this already. Let the cars be explicit in their condemnation!
We need to talk about that more, I have ideas.
3. Place bus tokens on the streetcar tracks so that the new may flatten the ‘old’. Sell them as trinkets at a trendy OTR shop for a ridiculous markup.
Now you are getting it!
4. Find a new patron once my term with the current one expires(anyone??)
Oh… a new patron? I don’t know much about that part… while you are looking, get me one too.
5. Engage promiscuously with other cities.
Why you have not done that already, I have no idea. You work in themes, not particulars.
6. Make sweeping and provocative generalizations.
That’s what you hate the most. Lets not spend too much time whipping ourselves unless it happens with the track of Masochistic Tango.
7. Design SORTA’s mascot, the counterpart of TANK Man and probably a pig.
Tank Man shouldn’t be a pig, Cincinnati already has that. What about Herr Metzger?
8. Burn some bridges to warm myself by the fire. Anyway, I’m either catching a helicopter out or descending…
Drama drama drama…
“Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.” (Thanks Gandhi)
11. Speak only to my equals.
That’s pretty loaded and best marked off the list.
12. Keep reading, keep searching, move on.
What?! Are you not satisfied sitting quietly for the rest of the night? Stay hungry.
There is a lot more I could say… but I should probably get back to my own negative attention seeking. This comment would have been much more enjoyable with links, but I regretfully understand this is not my blog.
Dionysus doing laundry…wonderful!
While I digest this and dwell on an appropriate response, I’ll insert a few early thoughts and clarifications.
–When I say speak only to my equals, I mean something like what Nietchztse meant when he said something similar, I forget where. Basically, he saw himself writing to the ubermensche, which didn’t yet exist. He was writing a letter to the future, to an imaginary friend and companion, because he didn’t think his contemporaries could really understand him. For the most part, they couldn’t! We don’t see many serious attempts to develop his philosophy until perhaps the postmodernists in the (19)90’s gave him a sympathetic reading. Now, I don’t think I’m writing at that level yet of course, but neither am I writing for germany or europe. I’m writing for a small city and a much smaller group of people interested in this locally diminishing topic. When I say equals I mean that I need to assume their existence and speak to them. Or find them. This is the acknowledgement of my release of former democratic urges. I refuse to talk down to anyone, though that doesn’t imply my silence.
–SORTA-man will be a pig. TANK-man is a man ;-)
–Archer fish! Yes! Are they brackish? I seem to recall they live either in fresh or in tidal mangrove areas. I could be making that up though. Somehow I missed the obvious gadly parallel…
–Getting on with life means denying nostalgia and what-if’s, acknwledging that I only have ever been fogging up the pane.
–You can totally add links! You just have to add them directly with the proper HTML syntax. Your blog and mine should both allow basic HMTL…so no tables or embedded images or anything crazy like that, but links and italics and stuff should work.