Applied Philosophy: Why I am Not an Objectivist

Posted in About Me, Get In My Head on October 31st, 2001 by Дмитрий

I once used the term “Liberals by Default” to describe both the majority of our society’s common men, as well as its intelligensia today. This is merely a more common version of what I see sometimes among people who surfacially resemble individualists, but ultimately could not tie their own shoelaces without help. I run into a lot of people who seem really into ideas or philosophy, but upon talking to them at length or getting to know them, I realize that they are actually like little kids, who have discovered a dirty word, and just spout it off repeatedly because it impresses people that they can talk dirty, or because it allows them entry into the “dirty talkers” club, when in fact they don’t even know the definition of their new pet word.

I endeavor to build bridges with just about anyone I see as worthy in my life. I am able to get along with, admire, and feel strongly for those who live benevolently, genuinely try to be logical, and operate upon principle, but with whom I disagree because we haven’t seen the same arguments or been given the same percepts. In such cases, I gain nothing by “converting” them, or trying to “sell” them on my specific beliefs. I can, however, still have a very profound intellectual understanding with them. Once again, if they are worthy of it, and see the same of me.

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The Ambivalence of Relationships

Posted in About Me, Family, Get In My Head on February 7th, 2002 by Дмитрий

I’ve been having deams about a certain person a lot lately, and it has made me look once again at the whole sex-romance-relationship thing. It’s actually been a long time since I’d dreamt about someone. By this I mean actually transposing a real person in my life to a dream, in a realistic setting. I always know that someone is making a profound impact on my life when my dreams switch from freaky fantasies to everyday whimsy.

At least, that’s been one sign.

Others types of signs tend to revolve around my (often overactive) analytical approach to interpersonal relationships. I like to think that I can just go with the flow, regardless of who I’m with. But more often than not, I’m always integrating people into my larger ïscheme of things’.

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Too Few Years of Solidtude

Posted in About Me, Fresno, Get In My Head, Home on April 15th, 2002 by Дмитрий

I have looked at my home often as a sanctuary. Growing up in a very closely-knit family meant that privacy and time by myself were often an afterthought. My strong desire for solitude is in part a type of survival instinct. I often feel that without it, I’ll end up getting depressed or taking out my frustrations on those who I care about the most.

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What I Want From Where I Live

Posted in About Me, Get In My Head, Urbanism on June 1st, 2002 by Дмитрий

I’m among the pickiest of people when it comes to choosing where I want to live. Usually, I do a big cost-benefit analysis when thinking of the subject, which usually results in deciding Fresno is the best, considering it’s where all my history is buried, where my family lives, where the rent is cheap, and where the weather is at least tolerable.

Fresno isn’t so much a trap or a prison as it is a really easy living solution. Unless you absolutely must live somewhere that everybody recognizes, Fresno pretty much has everything you need. There is a varied economy, a relatively rich semi-urban culture, heavily weighted on the less-affluent Latino end of things, lots of local art and talent (very little of which is publicly financed), a very high restaurant-to-population ratio, and enough complexity and intricate sprawl to let you explore and lose yourself even if you’re a native. Fresno isn’t nearly as wealthy as most large cities its size, and it also doesn’t have a very good selection of high-end jobs found in the big metropolises, but if you aren’t entirely qualified for such a thing, it’s a great place to grow roots.

About once each year or so, however, I get that nagging desire to get away from this home of mine. Being in comfortable surroundings and close to friends and family is wonderful, but it’s also something that has never quite been as rare as it should for me. I often long for the true independence and solitude afforded someone who lives a more substantial distance from friends and family. The loss of convenient meetings and scheduled get-togethers both helps filter out the superfluous people we tend to build up in our lives, as well as making one more appreciative of the ones that really matter.

I’ve never traveled much, of course. Out of all the cities across the country or world, I couldn’t honestly say I know the exact one in which I’d most enjoy living. But I do know some of the traits of my own city and the ones I’ve visited that I’ve liked, and what I tend to look for in a city. That’s what this essay’s supposed to be about.

The first thing I notice about a city is its weather. This is probably a bad thing for the casual visitor, since the weather you get when you visit a city can make an impression on you that is totally contrary to the majority experienced in that particular place. For instance, when I visited the Northwest, you would never have known that it was the humid temperate marine climate it is, since the majority of the weather I experienced there was warm, dry, California-style. This, of course, colored my impression of Portland and Seattle in a very positive way, but didn’t really give me a feel for how comfortable my average day would be were I to move there.

In general, I enjoy Mediterranean climates. My health, psychological well-being and habits are best served by the relatively mild weather I grew up with in Fresno. I enjoy warm summers, mostly year-round sun and an almost nonexistent winter. Too many days of constant rain or grayness brings me down and makes me almost claustrophobic. On the other hand, the oppressive sun of the Southwest kills my pasty skin, as does the constant need for air conditioning and antiperspirant. On the other hand, I turn into a useless wad of gum when faced with the excessively humid climates which dominate America, as well as the harsh winters of the continental interior. Basically, I’m sturdy in the dry heat and tolerant of winter in small doses. This pretty much limits me to the west coast of North America and the east coast of Australia. Since I doubt I’ll ever be willing to emigrate, chances are I’ll spend most of my life in the same general locale in which I currently reside.

Unless I can find a place with attractions which outweigh climate. That’s where secondary factors play in. I like cities more than the countryside. I don’t, however, like cities that are incredibly far from the countryside. Even though I don’t necessarily want to hear the cattle and sheep at night, I also want to be able to escape their human counterparts with relative ease. I’m not too eager to setup house in the Northeast or Southern Californian megalopolises, but I also don’t really want to be in a cookie-cutter suburban fringe or in one of the maze-like squatter settlements of the Southwest and Southeast, where everything is made of wood and paper and less than 10 years old.

I once heard it referred to as “texture”, and I agree: I look for a certain varied conglomeration of styles, periods, and histories in a city. I like Fresno because it has experienced immense growth in recent years, but much of its historical cultural and architectural record is still intact, from the faux-brick 1920s skyscrapers to the cute characteristic 1940s suburbs to the 1960s downtown redevelopment to the stucco castles of the 80s and 90s. I like a city which doesn’t manage to totally recreate itself every couple decades (even if it tries to), and which still has a bit of laissez-faire randomness to its development, whilst still being cohesive and well-put-together.

I like a city which doesn’t obsess over being a “center of culture” or constantly try to become a “thematic” city. That’s one of the few things which turn me away from Los Angeles, which, despite it’s varied economy and cosmopolitan population, still can’t shrug off the Hollywood costume. I like a city which is unselfconsciously diverse, both culturally and socially. I like to be able to drive through the rich neighborhoods and still do a bit of benevolent slumming. I like to have shopping and services within a reasonable driving distance, and to have a variety at that. Nothing bugs me more than cities that don’t let the Wal-Marts or the Best Buys in, but still manage to have disgustingly overpriced boutiques around every corner. I don’t need to be in walking distance to pubs, restaurants or shops, but it’s always nice for them to be in walking distance from one another.

I don’t like cities which are obsessed with being “cute” or attracting tourists. I remember back when you lived in a city because it was the best way to work, trade and live, and you vacationed in the countryside. Now it seems almost every city fancies itself a tourist destination, and as a result totally ignores the needs of its own residents. I don’t want to live in Disneyland. There’s a reason Disneyland calls itself the “Magic Kingdom” - it’s not supposed to feel real. Real, functional cities, on the other hand, are.

I like to be able to look at a city from a distance and see a cohesive whole, even if it is somewhat segregated and convoluted. The best cities I’ve seen are the ones which seem like some thought went into making them, without looking like the over-planned corners of Hell which are most of the Bay Area or desert Southwest. It’s good to have the choice between a house and an apartment without having to choose between radically different neighborhoods and having to feel segregated. It’s nice to have the choice between a new home, a 20-year-old home and a 50-year old one. It’s nice when a city isn’t so obsessed with “historical preservation” that its 50-year-old homes are gaudy caricatures which cost twice as much as new ones.

Most of all, I hate cities which spout their mottos or themes every time their name is uttered. A city should speak for itself, and should be fun to explore whether you’re on foot or in a car, whether you’re downtown or in the suburbs, whether you’re on a bus or a train, in the shopping district or the commercial district. I like a city with smokestacks and factories, dumpy neighborhoods and ethnic ghettos, ritzy shopping centers and hordes of Sunday soccer moms in their minivans. In other words, I wanta city which has everything. Is that too much to ask?

From the limited traveling I’ve done, I’ve yet to find that city. But I’ve found a few that come close; either they have a great climate combined with lots of the other factors or their cosmopolitan, textured intricacy makes their climate secondary. Fresno is one of them, and it’s why I’ve stayed here so long, and still don’t feel the need to flee in terror as many people have. From where I’ve traveled, I could describe a few more: Monterey, Sacramento, Portland, Seattle… They all differ widely, but when I weigh their factors against my very strict ideals of metropolitan perfection, they sure come damn close.

But the search does continue. I have already chosen a favorite from the list above, but I think I still need to see more. I want to venture further from the west coast and find out if the awful climates in other fascinating cities are compensated by interesting and amazing new opportunities to explore and find new adventures. I also don’t think I’ll ever want to plant permanent roots, unless they are back here in Fresno on some distant future date, when I’ve done my exploring and lived around more. I want to setup house in the cities which intrigue me, explore them intensively, and move often.

I want to see the neck-straining skyscrapers of Chicago and the squalor of Detroit. I want to navigate the intriguing infrastructure of Baltimore and experience for myself the congestion and headache of Atlanta. I want to feel the gothic doom of New Orleans and the snobbish conservatism of Denver. I think I can do it. I just need to learn to take a chance, cut the roots, and not let them grow too far into the ground for as long as I can…

The Grudge

Posted in About Me, Family, Get In My Head, Work on August 6th, 2002 by Дмитрий

Someone reminded me today that I have been quite often subject to manipulation by those who have provided for me over the years… It’s true. From the time I was very very young, I’ve relied upon provision, rather than ambition, to find me my ways and means in life. I realized this even more this evening, as I sat at my desk and spent close to an hour justifying and rationalizing to myself why I should accept my Dad’s offer for a huge raise if I promised to stay with his company for half a year more.

I used all sorts of arguements to support this white elephant: that I would be happier with a better nest egg when I actually did move, that I might strain my relationships if I was poor, that I could enroll in some additional education while I was biding my time and saving my money. All sorts of rationalizations which failed to address the true root of the monetary manipulation to which I’ve been subject for years.

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Movin’ On

Posted in About Me, Fresno, Get In My Head, San Francisco on August 29th, 2002 by Дмитрий

A week of lasts, coming up on a week of firsts. It’s odd that, as the day of my move approaches, it totally hasn’t hit me - all these lasts and firsts. I look back on my family, friends, acquaintances, people seen, places been. Everything I’ve experienced for the first quarter-century of my life (with a small few exceptions) has taken place in this town of Fresno.

As I prepare to leave, my emotions are somewhat mixed. I will miss many things about this place: the close proximity of my family, the friends I’ve retained, the handful of places which I truly enjoy. I will miss my sister, who has been my best friend for years. Pretty much ever since I started college, Sis and I have been the most functional part of my entire faminly, including extended - which I admit is at times not saying much. But I appreciate all the things she’s done for me over the years, and the great ear and eye she’s leant. She gave me my first Cure tape when I was still in 4th grade, and gave me my home for the past three years. She has come to me for counsel in her times of need and been a willing counsel in my (somewhat more numerous) times of need as well.

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Posted in About Me, Get In My Head, San Francisco on June 1st, 2003 by Дмитрий

I don’t think I ever planned it to be this way, it just happened. I was absorbed by my work, out of touch with the social scenes, in a new town, and I just slipped away from everyone and everything pretty much…

I honestly wanted to stay in touch, really. Sometimes in the early morning or late at night, I think of all the people left behind; from my sister to my parents to my friends Amy and Lauren… I know it’s easy to pick up a phone, but for some reason the desire and conviction to do so never hits me when the time is right. It only hits me when I’m sleepless at 4am and getting reflective. I know doing this is driving me ever further away from them all.

This is the same thing which ended my web log last year: the inexplicable inability to remain in touch. I keep putting off a phone call here, a letter there, a visit here, a reminder there… and suddenly the days turn into months. I feel like I’ve only been gone a few weeks, only to realise that things have changed rapidly in that time span, that peoples’ lives don’t freeze in time when I’m not involved in them.

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A Year in the Fog

Posted in Get In My Head, San Francisco on August 31st, 2003 by Дмитрий

Has it really been a year? A year since I drove to work, a year since I had Wednesday coffee with Amy, a year since I stopped commuting to San Francisco every weekend, a year since I could pop by Club Fred or the Den on a weeknight for a pint or three, a year since I worked in the family business… It’s so strange, since it doesn’t seem that long ago.

It has not felt like a year. In addition to the weather-related element, this truly has been a year in the fog. I’ve felt that strange unreal drunkenness for a year now. The clouded sense of place that comes from being plunked down in a new job, in a new home, in a new environment; working in a new job which demands more of me than I’ve ever given before, living in a slice of domestic bliss I never imagined possible, in a City full of strangely plastic people who seem incapable of comprehending that their planet is larger than a few square miles, and that a plane ride or trip across a bridge is not an interstellar journey.

I’ve contemplated what I prefer about my life this past year. First and most obvious is being married. I never thought it would suit me so well, but I’ve grown into it pretty fittingly, and it seems to get more pleasant and enjoyable every passing day, week and month. There’s the job: the job I struggle at, the job I have put my entire being into without any clear expectation of what it means for my future, but continuing to squeeze every ounce of motivation and energy of my being into. It’s strange how one can truly focus such a massive force into a task one never expected to perform, or do it routinely, or well. I never really thought my future lay in corporate finance, and I never thought I’d be any good at something I didn’t specifically enjoy outside of the timeclock’s grip, but here I am, and it looks like the long haul. Time will tell what sorts of fulfillment it truly brings.

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One Night in Fresno

Posted in Family, Get In My Head, Uncategorized on October 26th, 2003 by Дмитрий

I never could have guessed that there would be a single person on this Earth with whom I had so much in common. But it happened. And it’s wonderful. Who would have known I deserved such a great thing in what was already such a great life?

David is my husband. He’s the most amazing man in the world. I met him whilst he was on one of his many “research trips” to my home town of Fresno. We first saw one another in person at my favorite pub. I turned around at the bar and there he was. I couldn’t believe how amazing I felt with just one look. Does it demean someone to call it love at first sight? What else than sight can be so perceptive and instant?

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Learning to Leave and Letting Go

Posted in About Me, Family, Get In My Head on May 6th, 2004 by Дмитрий

It’s only started to occur to me very recently how I deal with pain, loss and grief. Every time I say goodbye to someone or someplace which means a lot to me, I die a little inside, and it erodes a bit of what makes me who I am. As antisocial as I am in most respects, I do get tied to good people very easily. It really would rip my heart out every time I had to leave someone behind and move on to the next stage of my life, as I will always have to do, being human and all. Loss and grief are merely realities that everyone has to deal with in the unfair game of life.

But I think I’m starting to realize that I’ve never really dealt with it. It’s trite and cliche, but I have never properly learned how to let go of people and places to which I’ve been close and emotionally invested. Like much of my behavior, from career direction to investment ideas, I take the safe route, avoiding big risks, and avoiding any undue loss. The main reason is that I have never faced real life- threatening (or at least livelihood- threatening) adversity, and thus never properly learned how to deal with loss, having had so little. When someone I love dies or when I move away from people to whom I’m attached (or when they must move away from me), I universally deal with it by subconsciously pretending that nothing has changed except perhaps the frequency of my exposure to those people. I will verbally acknowledge that my Grandmother is dead - I saw her body on the hospital bed only moments after she died. But by failing to really register the fact that I will never see her again, instead preferring to fantasize that I just can’t see her due to distance, schedules or other interfering phenomena, I’m spared entirely the grieving process. Rather than thinking they’ve moved on to a different plain of existence, I think they merely moved on and I lost their address.

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Confronting the Urban Daemon

Posted in Get In My Head, San Francisco, Urbanism on August 31st, 2004 by Дмитрий

Two years in San Francisco. Damn.

Over the past two years, my relationship with this City has had its ups and downs. It’s sort of like being adopted by your evil stepmother and trying really hard to love her even though she abuses and enslaves you in your own home.

San Francisco: it has such promise. If you look at it from the right angles and in the right lighting, it’s urban perfection and beauty realized. But with your feet on the ground and in the daily grind, it’s a most unlivable place.

I go through my day-to-day life despising this City. I hate the postage-stamp-sized apartment it makes me live in (even though our home is larger than most at its price). I hate the necessity of using the public transit system. I hate the dirt and grime and indigence. I hate the traffic and the daily drama of moving and worrying about my car. I hate the fact that even though the supermarkets are always out of everything, it still costs more than it would in a less-crowded, well-stocked suburban store. I hate the inconvenience of my neighborhood: the fact that it’s the most car-friendly, and thus has all the disadvantages of a dense urban area and none of the advantages, like shops and restaurants and coffeehouses. I hate the unbelievable extra costs incurred for living here: from parking tickets to gas to food to the increased amount of time spent getting to places that would be easy and quick in any mid-sized suburb. The lost investment value of time alone in this City has me running a huge deficit…

The amount of energy I’ve expended maintaining my life in San Francisco is in drastic excess to what the same standard of living would have taken out of me in Fresno - and Fresno itself is not necessarily the most convenient or cheapest place to live. At the same time, I’ve yet to really reap any promised advantages to life here.

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The Truth About the Big City

Posted in Get In My Head, Urbanism on September 25th, 2004 by Дмитрий

The Big City means high-end urban areas such as NY, SF, LA, Philly and Chicago. Places where owning a single-family detatched dwelling is not feasible for the vast majority of residents. This rules out up-and-coming cities with rational real estate such as Charlotte, Raleigh, Austin and Denver. It also rules out most of the rust belt, where property values tend to be declining and the population decreasing.

The Big City has three types of residents: 1) those who were born there 2) those who come there and 3) those who stay there.

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Posted in Get In My Head, Sods on September 30th, 2004 by Дмитрий

Contemplating the possibility of a future move to the Beautiful American South (land of evangelicals and baptists, birthplace of lynchings and the conformity of “rebellion”), I sometimes pause a moment to consider how my attitudes and behaviors might need to be modified in relation to my distance from the closet.

This essay, of course, refers to the closet that all us deviants and social minorities deal with in terms of allowing or promoting the exposure of our identity to the outside world. I owe significant inspiration for this work to the scratchings of and my chatter with a certain New England Nun, who has written his own plentiful volume on the matter.

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Wherefore Art Thou?

Posted in About Me, Get In My Head on January 31st, 2005 by Дмитрий

A quick summary of what goes on in my head when you are witnessing a Murderingscreed in action.

The following is meant to be a short overview of my worldview or political philosophy. Think of it as all of my political essays wrapped up in one dense soy-flavoured PowerBar.

I have often been accused of talking out both sides of my mouth or being inconsistent. Though my views have mutated over the years, the basic premises have remained fairly consistent.

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What Does Marriage Mean?

Posted in Get In My Head, Sods on February 14th, 2005 by Дмитрий

Marriage is a red-button issue in America (and maybe beyond?). Queers have spent the past year making strides and taking stock of setbacks. The majority of American voters loathe the concept of universal marriage equality. The war on contract law is taking some unsettling turns in places like Virginia, Ohio and Louisianna. Logical reasoning and rational debate regarding the issue has never been very prominent. Religious moralizing, thoughtless parrotting and empty rhetoric are the order of the day. What is marriage? Why is it important? Does contract law, in a law-based country, trump tradition? Does tradition, in an increasingly religious and dogmatic country, trump the concept of contract law? And to what degree?

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