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Diary
By aphrael (Tue Oct 06, 2009 at 09:50:57 PM EST) (all tags)
It's been a while since I've diarized about anything important; a long, dwelling silence representing my lack of free time and the feeling of having nothing to say, the emptiness that comes when you have little freedom to stand still and watch the motion of the world around.

Here's an attempt at a snapshot, a moment of my life.



I'm in the third year of law school; for most students that's all there is, but I've maintained my part-time status so I can work and pay the bills, and as a result I have naother year to go. There's a saying about law school that in the first year they scare you to death, in the second year they work you to death, and in the third year they bore you to death. I didn't find the first true to be true; the terrors of the first year of law school I found to be vastly overrated, and the second was, I found, less work than the first. But this year ... I've been bored since June, and it's not really the fault of the classes, it's my fault, it arises from my disengagement and my lack of understanding (on some level) of why I'm here at all and what I hope to gain, and my disappointment in being unable to transfer, and my general feeling of being tired; working and going to school is just fucking draining.

I can't wait to be done.

My classes this semester are threefold: a course in evidence which meets twice a week, a course in alternative dispute resolution (the law of arbitration and mediation, combined with practice at the same), and a survey course of asian legal systems. The survey course was a mistake. It's partly the prof's fault: the prof is a nice guy, an aging lawyer who once clerked for Justice Douglas, who loves east asian culture ... but who is unable to organize his thoughts, and whose understanding of American and European political and legal theory and history is so broken that every time he tries to compare asian systems to european systems my response is to wonder, since he got the european legal theory so wrong, if he really understands the asian theory, either. But the bigger problem is the structure: 28 hours of class, 2000 pages of reader, discussing the legal systems of fourteen different countries --- it's too much, too much to cover at anything other than the highest level of banal, pointless generality.

The gain in taking this class is a free night of the week; I'm not sure it's worth it. The night off mid-week is nice, but it's not like J and I do much with the time, and while simply being around is good for our relationship, I'm not sure how much good we're getting out of the night.

Evidence is a class which should be interesting, and sometimes is, but it's also a class where I basically started out behind and have struggled to stay caught up; and, worse, the subject matter is so itnertwined that it's impossible to understand A without understanding B which cannot be understood without understanding A. It's a bit like a foreign language in a way; I assume that at some point it will snap together and all make sense ... or not, and I'll be hosed. The one good thing, I guess, is that there is a woman from the PD's office tagteaming the class; this is bad in that I'm not with it enough to be making a good impression on a potential future coworker, but good in the sense that she's filling in with a lot of real world examples and stories, which increases the value of the lecture; the class blends in some ways into introductory trial practice. Useful skill-building, I suppose, but not necessarily helpful in learning the rules.

Alternative Dispute Resolution is awesome; interesting, dynamic prof and ... mediation is something I think I would enjoy doing, so I'm particularly attentive. That said, the state of arbitration law is totally fucked up; it's basically impossible to get out of arbitration once you've gotten into it, and it's basically impossible for states to provide safeguards to protect you from being put into arbitration without your knowledge. (I'm oversimplifying, of course, but that's close enough for government work). The theory is that we're just honoring the contract, the agreement between the parties; the reality is that arbitration clauses are priviliged above everything else in contract law.

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Work is ... work. I'm actually enjoying it more than school; I have a more or less central role in a team, I get to interact with people, I feel like I'm important and like I'm accomplishing something. I'm not sure I care in the end about the stuff we're selling, but I do feel a sense of ownership, and as a result I care that my projects come out as good ones. This isn't an unalloyed good, however; the two projects I'm leading right now both have absurd schedules (which I protested against) and so it's become much harder to find the balance between work and school: work wants more time than it did, and while I can get away with less time for school than I was giving in first year, I can only push so far ... so the result is I get less down time and feel overall more worn out.

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The biggest problem with this schedule is loneliness. I'm married, and I have a strong relationship with my husband, but I feel a need for a tribe, not just a relationship. Someone recently described me as someone who loves people, and that's true in a sense: people as individuals I almost always like, I always see something in them which is beautiful and frequently want to know them better s that I can experience that beauty, and am always a little bit hurt when that isn't reflected back at me. When I was younger, I had a hard time with people with whom I just had a distant relationship, because I was always afraid that they were judging me; the radical extreme of not seeing beauty in me, I think ... and i'm much better at that now, and so consequently can strike up short-term friendships of convenience with those with whom I happen to find myself at any given time. This is a radical improvement in my life; and yet ... between work and school I don't have time for anything other than superficial, not-very-close relationships with the people around me who are not my husband; and I have to sustain my need for human interaction on the conversations in irc, in passing interactions with people whom I want to be close to but cannot be, and on the memory of close friendships which have atrophied for lack of time. It's frustrating, and alienating, and at times it causes a deep, aching pain.

I have no right to complain; I chose this path, and I am in general doing well on it; but still sometimes I stumble and scrape my knee, and knees which are scraped bleed no matter how beautiful the horizon or how sturdy the handholds.

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I went to a corporate rave last weekend. (I'm being a bit flippant; it was an up-until-4 electronic dance music event organized by local companies which specialize in promoting such things, held in the city's civic auditorium; it's not really corporate in the sense that something run by clear channel would be, but there's also something about it which is antithetical to the underground rave scene of my youth.) It was a great deal of fun; it's fantastic feeling to lose yourself in the crowd and the music, to dance to a beat which echoes in your mind for days after the event, to feel the crush of the crowd and the happy closeness experienced by people who love dancing, dancing with one another. It took me a while to get into it, and the high didn't last nearly as long as the post-coachella high, but it was a great deal of fun anyhow. (Although Fischerspooner, whom I badly wanted to like, was mediocre, and he pissed me off every time he incorrectly referred to the guy coming on after him as 'Dangermouse'. TOTALLY DIFFERENT DJ, dude.)

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When the wise man learns of the Tao, he follows it with diligence;
When the common man learns of the Tao, he follows it on occasion;
When the fool learns of the Tao, he laughs aloud.
if there were no laughter it would nto be Tao.

I remarked a few weeks ago that the highest duty of man is to bear witness to the beauty of the world; someone contradicted me with the claim that this is the privilige of modern man. I disagree, but I've been in a mystic mood of late: the world, and everything in it, is suffused with beauty, a resonant splendor that vibrates through everything, living and dead. Look hard enough at any part of it, and there is beauty there, reflecting out from the core, muddled perhaps by the layers of hardness built up around it. It is our duty to see this beauty, to feel it, to allow ourselves to be encompassed by it; that is the role of thinking creatures: to see what is, to describe it, to memorialize it, to understand it.

I see this with varying strength at different times; some months it fades away, and I wander alone, an isolate in the crowd, blind and numb, unable to see, unable to feel. Then at other times it bursts forth, and I am at a loss; communication is hard, the words do not come, and even if they did ... I would not understand such words when I am closed off, so how can I expect the words to communicate anything to those who do not already know what I wish to impart?

Maybe language is futile.

Tonight, I can see the beauty, and I love my fellows, and yet I can also see the distance between them and me, between them and each other; and my joy at the beauty of the world is tinged with sadness at how the world fails to be what it could.

I don't talk much; I no longer feel as connected to this tribe as I did. But I love you anyway.

May you be blessed with much joy and the experience of the beauty of the world.

< My Monday | Rambling #2 >
Stuff, as Herring would say, and Things. | 20 comments (20 topical, 0 hidden)
Meh by hulver (2.00 / 0) #1 Wed Oct 07, 2009 at 12:41:39 AM EST
Modern Man ignores the beauty of the world, as "stuff" is more interesting.
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Cheese is not a hat. - clock
isn't that stuff part of the beauty of the world? by aphrael (4.00 / 1) #2 Wed Oct 07, 2009 at 01:00:09 AM EST
Depends by hulver (4.00 / 1) #3 Wed Oct 07, 2009 at 02:14:44 AM EST
The people I know who do it, rarely stop to consider what it is that they're acquiring. It's the act of acquisition that makes them happy, the object acquired is soon forgotten.
--
Cheese is not a hat. - clock
[ Parent ]
A recent study on happiness... by iGrrrl (2.00 / 0) #9 Wed Oct 07, 2009 at 11:23:03 AM EST
The conclusions were pretty strong: A purchase could make you happy for a limited time. Spending the same money on an experience, particularly one with friends, made you happy much longer. So money can buy happiness, if you don't spend it on stuff.
"I honestly pity the stupid motherfucker who tries to talk down to iGrrrl" - mrgoat
[ Parent ]
i can get like that somettimes by aphrael (2.00 / 0) #12 Wed Oct 07, 2009 at 12:32:21 PM EST
with music, say, or with books ... but i always come around and listen/read, eventually.
If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.
[ Parent ]
one of the unique things about modernity by lm (2.00 / 0) #6 Wed Oct 07, 2009 at 04:26:54 AM EST
... is that beauty largely becomes irrelevant and the important thing became stuffitude regardless of issues of beauty.

Put that bluntly, it's largely an overgeneralization. But I do think its true as a trend. Look at modern churches. While some are still built to be beautiful, most just look like warehouses.


Kindness is an act of rebellion.
[ Parent ]
ahh by aphrael (2.00 / 0) #10 Wed Oct 07, 2009 at 12:20:09 PM EST
but in the right frame of mind that warehouse is every bit as beautiful as a soaring cathedral.

still, i doubt the people building it were in that frame of mind.
If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.

[ Parent ]
I hope you really do dig mediation, by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #4 Wed Oct 07, 2009 at 02:24:05 AM EST
'cause it's gonna be better than 90% of your RL workoad.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

are you always this optimistic? by aphrael (2.00 / 0) #7 Wed Oct 07, 2009 at 10:01:53 AM EST
Oh, and deps too. by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #16 Wed Oct 07, 2009 at 09:34:15 PM EST
Forgot about them for a minute. Hey, it all pays the same!

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
That depends by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #18 Wed Oct 07, 2009 at 10:59:40 PM EST
That depends entirely on the area of law he chooses.

I've talked to patent lawyers who have likely never been in a courtroom and have never been in any sort of arbitration.
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman

[ Parent ]
They're an odd sort. by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #19 Thu Oct 08, 2009 at 09:53:07 AM EST
Yeah, maybe all their time logged on Westlaw.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
yep. by MillMan (2.00 / 0) #5 Wed Oct 07, 2009 at 04:11:49 AM EST
I see this with varying strength at different times; some months it fades away, and I wander alone, an isolate in the crowd, blind and numb, unable to see, unable to feel. Then at other times it bursts forth, and I am at a loss; communication is hard, the words do not come, and even if they did ... I would not understand such words when I am closed off, so how can I expect the words to communicate anything to those who do not already know what I wish to impart?

This has been exactly my experience and feeling over the past year, and I no longer discuss the trip on serious terms with people who haven't been there or don't have the imagination.

"Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, there are no libertarians in financial crises." -Krugman

modern man by duxup (2.00 / 0) #8 Wed Oct 07, 2009 at 10:06:42 AM EST
I'm not smrt so all that might have gone over my head, and I don't know about highest duty, but I don't see how what you describe is just a privilege of modern man. Non modern certainly went out of his way to include nature and such stories involving the beauty of nature in religion, ceremonies and so forth when he didn’t need to.  I can't imagine that was all just functional and no expression of what they felt or saw about nature.
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smartness has nothing to do with it. :) by aphrael (2.00 / 0) #11 Wed Oct 07, 2009 at 12:23:58 PM EST
I didn't say it was just a privilige of modern man; someone else did, and I'm paraphrasing any how. :)

I think what he was getting at is that modern man, because we generally don't have to work in back-breaking labor from the time we awake to the time we sleep, and our basic food/shelter needs are taken care of, is able to look at the world and see beauty where previous generations saw only toil and terror.

There's something to that, but I also think it's overstating it; mysticism has ancient roots, and is not a modern invention.
If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.

[ Parent ]
Oh I know by duxup (2.00 / 0) #13 Wed Oct 07, 2009 at 12:32:43 PM EST
I knew those were not your words.

"There's something to that, but I also think it's overstating it; mysticism has ancient roots, and is not a modern invention."

I agree.  Working back breaking labor might not give you a lot of free time, it does not mean with what you have you don't look around and think.  Hell they were working.... in nature, not a cube.  I'm not also really of the mind that suddenly today most folk have lots of free time and we're oh so more observant than other folks in the past.  Too often we underestimate folks in the past IMO.
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[ Parent ]
we seem to fill up our free time with distractions by aphrael (2.00 / 0) #14 Wed Oct 07, 2009 at 12:34:56 PM EST
In eras gone by, free time came from slave labor by lm (4.00 / 1) #15 Wed Oct 07, 2009 at 07:10:04 PM EST
Having a sufficient quantity of servants gave the head of the household the leisure to live the contemplative live.

I heard on the radio a few weeks ago that modern appliances and transportation gave the average joe the equivalent of the labor of about 100 slaves.


Kindness is an act of rebellion.
[ Parent ]
"duty" by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #17 Wed Oct 07, 2009 at 10:57:51 PM EST
Duty is a human construct.  It is a word used to describe what people feel they owe each other.  It has no relevance to a person's relation to the universe.  The universe is.  It neither owes or is owed.

Beauty is also a human construct.  It is a word used to describe what we find pleasing to the senses.  Without us and our senses, it means nothing.  Things aren't beautiful in and of themselves.  They are beautiful (or not beautiful) to us.  The universe is neither beautiful nor ugly.  The universe is.

We, as thinking creatures, have no role in the universe.  The universe is not made up of roles.  It just is and we just are.  It is entirely up to us to make our own roles and our own duties and to find our own beauty.  Long before we existed the universe was and long after every trace of us is gone the universe will be.  What meaning in our own existence we can find is fleeting and self-created.  It exists while we exist and where we exist and no further.
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman

Welcome to my world! by littlestar (2.00 / 0) #20 Thu Oct 08, 2009 at 12:12:53 PM EST
Hahaha... and Millmans evidently... and I'm sure many other peoples. The world is so big, and we are so small; yet we are SO big in the world, and it seems to small. Like the big feelings in our heads, the emotion that just consumes, and the little words that we use to try and convey them.

It is cause we get to think, which is swell, I dig thinking about things; as do you, I know. But thinking just clogs the brain up so much doesn't it? We all know that ignorance is bliss and surely can understand why that could be. Studying makes your brain work a lot (as does travelling) it's such a particular kind of a feeling after you've been reading and thinking, really thinking about your study. It's sort of like awe, or brain numbness. Hahaha...you can get the same feeling sitting on the side of a giant red mountain in India (or whatever magnificent place you may be).

And, of course there is beauty everywhere (it is our construct and a grande one at that!). Love it, live it, breathe in deep. All the good stuff. You know that life isn't going to be like it is now forever, school will end. Things will move on.

And, we still love you too.




*twinkle*twinkle*


Stuff, as Herring would say, and Things. | 20 comments (20 topical, 0 hidden)