There are some mornings, when my alarm goes off between 5–6am, when I simply do not know how I’m going to continue; I refuse to give up my social life — so I’m often going to bed around midnight, buzzed on a combination of coffee and fernet (my favorite drink) wondering how I’m going to rouse myself back to consciousness before the sun rises. I have two lives, really, a day job as a high school teacher, and a second job as a play director and writer — two jobs which have no respect for each other; which do not co-exist easily, even while they must. I’ve chosen, I chose, biological pain over mental boredom — the life I want to lead does not fit within the parameters set by my job and in a deeper sense, my bank account. Work to live, or live to work? The question haunts, provokes, but also annoys, dulls, persists — it’s a binary that you always wish you could break free of.
The thing I always wish I had more time for is cinema. I love going to the movies, but it always feels like a ridiculously indulgent choice (which is an absurd feeling).
Two or so hours staring at one screen rather than many screens, uninterrupted — it’s actually incredibly rare now. Movies are closer to books than we realize — at least the serious ones; the heal our divided attention far more than they hurt it.
Some of my best (in the sense of deepest) memories are memories of watching movies for the first time: the pleasant shock of encountering Fellini or Antonioni or Godard or Bergman or Malick and many more, for the first time.
Sartre’s popularity in the postwar period, and by extension, the popularity of all the major existentialists, was due, really, to the fact that they made philosophy, phenomenology, out of common, everyday stuff. Existentialism, or existentialist phenomenology, was the collision between heavy concepts and low or ordinary experience. Contemporary life — life in Age of Apps — needs a similar kind of philosophical redress. We need to find a way to talk seriously about our own ordinariness.
I keep this diary as an attempt to offer that kind of redress — or at least to begin; to dig a foundation for that redress. When I was a student, I was more impressed by (scientistic) analytic philosophy — I enjoyed the feeling of power that came from wielding conceptual tools. But that power was impersonal and depersonalizing; I was not edified by it (Kierkegaard’s complaint about Hegel). The older I get, the more I realize that abstraction is only useful when you arrive at it from the bottom, from the subjective, rather than the other way around.