Tag Archives: Thinking

Long Years Fade Swiftly into Smoke of a Dying Candle

By Justin Cude

Short stories come from long years of living. I once met a woman who handed me many in a single night. Some I can still recite with my eyes closed, others have fled for now. Some maybe have gone forever, but I won’t know until the end. Others have left nothing in my mind. Maybe they have, I just haven’t heard from them yet. They’re in there dormant maybe just waiting to live. But, I can’t wait around for them to reveal to me anything that may or may not help in my own living. The sun burns out quickly and who knows what year we’re in. Sitting down for a coffee seems like a trip to me. Its one of the few things that brings it all back, then, with a bang bigger than the big one we believe in, expand outwards towards areas I’m led to explore, to visit. Love of a good woman, love of a wild one, both in the same, physical exertion, a read which melts your brain, the occasional hand-rolled cigarette, a few whiskeys or wines have done it temporarily, the wind, a few walks in nature have revealed to me something, feeling breath, an animals stare and affection, travel at times when I’m not looking for it to, a written line which stops me, love towards anything when I try, and coffee, black, sometimes with cinnamon or butter. There are others but I don’t want to taint this with lists. I also don’t want to share everything. A good secret is OK to have long as your soul doesn’t burn you. As long as you’re not scarring yourself. You have you’re own things which reveal to you the world you’re looking for. Don’t copy others. Don’t blind yourself either from the world which actually exists. There is truth in both. The sky remained gray lately, but I’m aware its of our own doing. The air we breath is poisoned with our filth. So to the rivers and the bodies they bleed into. The land as well, but the world fights back. Its has to. Its all it knows. Not in hate but in life and with love to live that life. But our filth is dumped into our DNA and we’ve done it. This is chosen, not fated. It blocks the sun, too. At times I can’t see mountains only kilometers away. I’d say miles but those don’t work here. Not everything works everywhere. Love tries and its damn good at it most of the time, if we allow it to be. If we allow ourselves to be. Love does conquer all, but we’ve made weapons for that at some turning point in our evolution. What an idea. At times I can’t see my reflection in a window an arms reach away. But there are those days when the mountains sit with peaceful calm intensity and my reflection shows compassion for the one it reflects. Those days keep me hopeful. One day the sky was mahogany brown. It was an absurd moment to have passed through. Was if all were drowning in a pond of spoiled red China tea, or mud. We put it there and now we must wear masks to keep from suffocating. Quicksand we’ve submerged ourselves in with small steps towards progress. An oddity of the modern world. Something one day they’ll hopefully look back on in disbelief like we have so many times looking back at others mistakes from the past. Its not a mistake when suffering is packaged and labeled for resale in what we call foreign lands. Its not a mistake when we can see but look away. Humanity chooses and it tends to be against ourselves, like a mouse going for the cheese. Maybe our brains are that simple too. Maybe we can’t see the trap we’re walking into. But, art tells us differently. Art tells us we can see, radically. So does love. More so love. The abstract and the realism. If love was there we’d choose differently. Radically differently. But cheese looks good to a hungry rat. Art means nothing when our gaze is locked on the outcome. Neither does love. But, when the simpleminded have had their hit, and the daze of satisfaction withers, and the cheese is nothing but cheese, where do we find ourselves? What are we so hungry for? Do we really know our own answer to this? Bob Dylan stares at me as I write this telling me with a single look to keep going but only if you have something to say. He wears a harmonica on his neck which reminds me the beauty of music. How powerful that beauty can be and how widespread it’s embrace. “Write that way” he says, and I try. A girl hugs his arm looking for warmth but provides a fire in the snowy streets of Greenwich Village back when the snow use to stick. Another, he’s confident but only in his questioning. He knows its a joke to play with. The next, still confident but with sun glasses on inside after recording attempted answers looking into the unknown of his own, which is also ours. He’s talking to me in still pictures but I hear his words clearly. His words have always whispered to my soul the truths I’ve needed to hear. That there aren’t any written in blood but blood still flows, so follow it. Go where your blood boils, or make it boil if you can. We all know how. Answer me this; what have we all been deprived of? I’d say love. Then I’d ask, why does this deprivation continue? I’d say we allow it to. We block it or ignore it, we withhold or we fear its life, or turn away when light from beneath horizon starts to illuminate the memories. Then I’d know the answer to this deprive. And I’d say love again, but as an action not as a label. There’s little work this morning so I’m looking in. We all have so much to say but it never comes out exactly right. I’m trying just to get it out mostly these days. It doesn’t need to be exactly right. It never is even when you try for it to be. Even when you struggle for it. Just getting it out is enough at times. There’s no wind today either. Here there’s either none or there’s the type which can blow you over. At least it tries to. Inertia will hold you down. The mind can be heavier than those mountains I can’t see at times. It can also be as light as the dust blown in from the desert just over those mountains. Dust from the Middle East reaches the shores of Brazil I read once. I’d rather be blown away or challenge the gods head on. Inertia is only good in meditation. Even sleep is dynamic. Contemplation has blinded be many times. The mind never stops but you can sit with it and watch it go by. And when you do watch it go by, when you can glimpse the light through the filth, when you’ve said what you’ve had to say, exactly how you wanted to or not, when suffering is accepted and not feared, when the air you breath is just air, the moment just the moment, the mountains just mountains, your reflection just that, when you understand how much we make-up, the malleability of stories, the degradation of self, the empowerment of illusion, the anything of everything, the everything of anything, love is all remains, and love is there if we get out of our own way. Short stories can all be summed with a shorter one, and can be learned even quicker before those long years fade swiftly into smoke of a dying candle; love. No story amounts to this, though they’re all trying to say it, one way or another. No words can say it better. No other action contains more truth, though there are so many which happen. Everything comes from this, and everything is just attempting to make its way back home to it. The shortest story in the world makes the most sense, but we write others to hide it, or to attempt to reveal it, to rewrite it to justify our victimhood. To complicate it. That’s what I just did, and I feel good for relieving myself of the clutter, that is a practice worthwhile, but, yet all this gibberish, all this nonsense, all the these words, one after the other trying to say something, leads back to this; love. That’s it. That’s what we’re all really trying to say. That’s what we’re all really trying to do. That’s what we all really just need to do. Just love. You’re allowed to.

A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

How did you come across the book?

I was back home in the Philippines when I first saw a copy of the book and it seemed interesting to me at the time but, I wasn’t… I just wasn’t at the point where I wanted to purchase it because I was reading a few other books at the time so I wanted to finish those first. And then, when I got to New York a few days ago, I was at The Strand Bookstore over on Broadway and 13th, I saw this book again and decided to buy it then.

So far, what have you gained from it?

Well, I actually had no idea that this book was written in the 1950s or 60s, but I think the reason that its coming back to the shelves and coming back to popularity is because the message and the core of the book is very relevant to us now. Like… basically the premise of ‘A Brave New World’ is society has become a place of homogeneity and a lack of individuality, because everyone is genetically engineered and conditioned from birth to have these certain traits and there’s this caste system thats involved where every caste and every person has a specific role to do, and… to me… I… I consider myself an individualist. I like to do my own thing. I don’t really like corporations and institutions and things like that, so… the perspective that I think is worth looking into is… how trends and things that are popular nowadays… look into how they come to be and why people subscribe to them, and if at anyway that takes way from their sense of identity… even though I think its important to have things in common, but… the extent to which we subscribe to these ideas and institutions is reflective of who we are as a society and I think while its important to have these things which we have in common, I think we should all strive to maintain our own passions and individuality.

Its a heavy read. It plays a lot on the concept of human sexuality. And now, more than ever, women are being objectified and taken advantage of. Women and men, for that matter. But, this book kind of… well… it’s obviously through a male gaze. Aldous Huxley is a guy, he’s writing from a male perspective, and… the women in the book, they are treated as sort of objects. First of all, there’s no emotion involved in personal relationships in this book… its all just like people getting together and having sex and absolutely no emotional attachment… literally hit it and quit it, and nobody has any emotion. But, yeah… the character that I most like from the book is named Bernard Marx, and he seems to be the only person who can think for himself. And, what’s interesting is he’s different from everybody else in the sense that… like for his level, he’s an alpha so he should be like tall, strong and buff, but he has a physical defect and he’s small, he’s frail, he’s thin, but aside from that, aside from himself being estranged from society because of his physical defect, its also… intellectually he’s different. You can tell because of the way he thinks. He has passions. He’s an individual and he can think for himself, which I find to be interesting and I kind of relate with him on that level.

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

Absolutely. I don’t think this book is meant for any particular demographic. Its hard to just humanize people in general, so, like I said early, it’s very relevant to our society today and the things we have going on in that society. And, like… old, young, whatever, there are themes which definitely reflect the world we’re living in today, so absolutely anyone should read this book. I definitely recommend it. Like, I’d make my kid read this, for sure! Yeah. I think its timeless.

Aristotle’s ‘Nicomachean Ethics’

How did you come across the book?

It was a book that has been on my list because I’m really interested in Stoic Philosophy; I really like reading Plato and Aristotle and all that… and so I hadn’t read this one… and so I put it on the list!

So far, what perspective have you gained from this book?

Oh… that’s a tough one! A lot of… you know… practical ideas about the human condition are spoken about in this book and it’s really… well, one of the interesting perspectives is how universal it is, after thousands and thousands of years! You can pick up this book and realize, [bctt tweet=”Wow! Things haven’t really changed in the human psyche all that much! ” username=”cityreadsnyc”]So, that’s been my main take away and kind of using some of these lessons and concepts to inform my own life.

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

Oh… that’s a tough question… another one! These are good! Umm… I would recommend it if you’re looking into thinking deep and thinking about society… thinking about people… thinking about yourself… and examining it in a different lens, and kind of questioning the world around you. So, that’s who’d I recommend it to… anyone who’s looking for answers… or looking to ask more questions!