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The cold summer nights remind me, always, that school is coming soon. I can see the lights of it across the hill, and they always remind me of how they will soon force me back into a schedule where I can't spend a third of the day with a window opened onto a night sky full of stars. Instead I have to begrudge the night skies over to mundane tasks like sleeping, giving up my favourite and most productive hours to rest for something I hate.

School is sometimes compared as light next to jobs, but jobs are better. Jobs have choice. One can't quit school unless they desire to become something akin to flotsam in the ocean of today. So, I go every day I have to, learning things that I already know or could grasp comfortably at home with modern resources, having them pounded into my head and then being asked to regurgitate them regardless of my interest. Why? Because it's a requirement. Because it looks good. Because learning is a great thing.

The counselors aren't there for everybody, not really. Go and talk to them about feeling trapped and angry, but what can any counselor say? It's not much different anywhere else, and early graduation shorts you lots of classes and grades. Now please, the counselor has to go see somebody else with a real problem like drugs, alcohol, or both, so make room for the people who get care because they can't handle themselves.

The lights over the hill at the school are still mostly off, so I may make hay while the sun shines, as I do and will continue to do through the school year. Living through my books and favourite parts of the internet that aren't blocked at school, and all of it while I'm home, it's enough to make things acceptable at the end of a day. I can make it through with that and reminders, sympathies, that I am far from first or last, and that soon I will be gone from this place which has nothing more to offer me. Count it down like the ringing in of the new year.

I wake up fifteen minutes before the alarm goes off, and stumble out of bed to check it to make sure it will go off at the correct time. Isn't that silly? I could have just started my day right then but instead I delay it until the very last instant.

An insistent beeping, and my fiance rolls over groggily and I crawl off the bed like a drunkard, reeling around. I hit the button and shuffle into the bathroom. I reach instinctively for the tap, pull up the tab to route the water to the showerhead, and turn the handle to the middle, standing straight up. Something brushes by the door, suddenly exposing the warm steam of the bathroom to escape into the general house.

"Do you always shower in the dark?"


But it's not purely darkness, it's just the gentle half-light of six in the morning. I'm actually afraid of the dark. I don't know if it's paranoia or not, but I always see humanoid shapes in very mundane things, like a vacuum handle. When I'm finished washing, I wrap my short hair up in a towel and go back to bed, setting the alarm again for an hour hence. It's utterly heathen, but I've found that my sleep is never as precious as that stolen hour and I always remember the dreams from that period more clearly.

I never stop and enjoy the sunrise. It's never as beautiful as the sunset, it's too muted for it to titillate me.

Only one other portion of my day reflects that ease ... the stillness of an office recently entered, the lights still off, the doors still locked. No one is at the reception counter yet to bid me good morning or to interrupt my thoughts. I have a few precious moments of quasi-darkness in which to savor the silence and the oddity of a workplace not yet bustling with activity.

I think it's like falling asleep, that in-between period, but I'm never awake for it to remember what that's like.

Coming home last night I was thinking about music and why it does me good. Thinking about that made me think about a time when I spent a lot more of my time making and listening to music. I spent a lot of time back then being a lot less happy than I am most of the time now, and I presume the music was necessary.

This is not to say it isn't necessary any more. I've been singing and playing the guitar again recently, and I have realised that one of the symptoms of insufficient music is forgetting how much good music does you. I'll try not to forget again.

It can be tempting to think of music as an emotional affair, a misconception that some people make a lot of money out of. Or to see its sole value in its crystalline abstract beauty, as if there were no passion in Bach. Either view is incomplete. But I think it would be wrong too to see successful music as addressing the intellect and the emotions simultaneously: that would be to make two things out of one.

As I came home last night and thought about the time I spent more time on music, I tried to remember what I was like back then. In principle a hopeless task: our selves are not available for introspection, and even less for retrospection. Nonetheless I felt the illusion of a moment of success, my posture deteriorated, and I remembered or imagined an attitude more than a feeling which left me more vulnerable to the world around me, my mind like a house without a roof where the rain came in and made some things grow and washed others away.

On a longer timescale, I have been thinking about the mind and perception. I read something a few months ago in which someone mentioned the basic problem faced by the idea that our perceptions resemble reality, which is that you can never confirm the resemblance: it is not as if you could compare the perception with the reality itself! I have been thinking about why that is nonsense, and why it is not obviously such.

The implicit image is one of a person looking at a moving picture in their mind and wondering if it is a picture of reality, with nothing more than other moving pictures to judge by. As if our consciousness were stuck in a scale model of Plato's Cave in our heads, or a cinema with no exits.

In fact, the cinema has no screen and there is no image at all. Our perceptions do not resemble reality in any useful sense, and would be of no use if they did. Imagine that our minds constructed an image of the world in our heads: how would we then use that image? We would have to perceive the image in a similar way to the way we perceive the world. (And create another image?)

The temptation to imagine a perception as an image is a side-effect of an excessive concentration on vision. Those of us who are not blind tend to think of reality in visual terms, and it is not immediately nonsensical to imagine wanting to compare a reality conceived in visual terms with our visual perceptions, since we would apparently be comparing like with like. The problem is not, however, that the comparison is impossible, but that the idea of it is nonsensical. Reality is not a vision, although it can be seen.

Consider the other senses. How could a tractor resemble the sound of a tractor? Does garlic resemble its taste? A rose by any other name would not be comparable to the smell of a rose, and what thing might resemble the feeling of the warmth of the sun on your skin? Similarly, it is not a deficiency or a problem with our visual perceptions that their resemblance with reality cannot be confirmed, since there is no sense in which they could meaningfully be claimed to resemble reality, or even resemble an image of it.

In the real world, if we want to check the accuracy of our visual perception of, let us say, a tree, we go up to the tree and look at it from a different angle, smell it, feel it, hear the wind in its leaves, and possibly even taste it (or parts of it). In the doorless cinema image of mind and perception what we are doing is examining a model in our mind, or in a part of our mind – a part that in the 17th Century was referred to as the 'sensorium'. But there is no evidence for the existence of this model, and whatever the mind might do with the results of that investigation it could equally well do with the results of an investigation of the real tree.

Not only does the cinema have no screen, it has no walls. The world itelf is the sensorium. We do not passively face a model in our minds with no indication of where it came from, but actively explore the world that moves us. That truly moves us: action requires motivation, and therefore emotion: at the root of our intellectual comprehension of the world is our emotional engagement with it. It can please us and it can hurt us: the cinema has no roof either, the rain comes in and makes things grow.

Given the risks of interaction with a dangerous world, it is understandable if people at some point remain content with the things they have learned and build a roof over their lives to keep the rain out. It is possible to create a kind of model in the mind, representing those parts of reality we need to cope with the routine of a protected life, and to let things dry out in safety. Emotion is confined to desiring the attained, intellect to maintaining it.

The appreciation and creation of music demand that what would thus be channelled and separated remains whole and alive. It can be abused for temporary relief in an otherwise intolerable life. Or it can help us knock the walls down before they are built, blow off the roof, let the rain in and let things grow.

I looked at my calendar today and realised it was the 4th (technically, although I normally divide my days by sleep). For some reason I couldn't recall what I had done on the 4th of July 2 months ago, so I checked in my little diary-like-thing (I hate the word diary, makes me sound like a 12 year old girl).

I went fishing, really quite boring to write about but I liked the style it was written so I read a few more days. I laughed when I came across THIS on July 8:

I’m not that crazy. I mean, some people talk to their stuffed animals, some people have imaginary friends. Some people talk to their pets, some people talk to people on the internet. I talk to a leaf. So shoot me.

Don't take this out of context, really all I had done that day was cut holes in a leaf for eyes and a mouth and had an imagined conversation with it (there was nothing better to do). I got stoned that day too.

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