MONAD

1.

By about 6th grade, I was big enough to be given chores around the house. My older brother and I were expected to do yard work. Especially in the summer when our father’s famous ‘islands of beauty’ flower beds required regular weeding and watering. My brother and I hated yard work. One summer, when I was 11 or 12, I figured I’d impress my dad by going out in the afternoon on my own, on a weeding mission. I got a lot done. When I came back into our big, air conditioned home, I was met by my big brother, who uttered with venom, “You did that on purpose, so Daddy would like you!”

I remember standing there in jeans and white t-shirt–sweaty, dirty, in fluffy air conditioned air–when it hit me like a sledge hammer dropped on a crystal thimble: my brother had peeked into my private, secret side and read right. What’s more, how could he have known, unless he had a private side too, so knew to be suspicious. We both had secret sides we whispered to ourselves alone, pressing out intentions. And if he had a secret side, what about everybody else? Were people going around hidden in their heads, thrashing it out on their own? We both had public personas, our roles as ‘doctor’s sons’. The rules were strict about how to do public experience. Make a mistake and the disappointment from the parental units could be terrifying. This was a home where the kids scattered like frightened minnows when watching cartoons after school, when they heard their dad’s Imperial pull in to the carport.

Public/private. Inside/outside. What was the opposite of ‘on purpose’? There were levels and layers. What was going on inside my head was preferred, special, autonomous—the real me, in a constant blab that no one should ever find out. This is how I would navigate my life for some time. Thus is born Monad.

2. The Proposition

San Bernardino – Star Wars – Trump – Paris 

When what is happening means nothing is working. These vortices of catastrophe cannot be translated to bombshells of meaning. This is because they prove their resolve like that, foisting impossibility. It’s not my fault! The absolute convulsion of our planet is the convulsion of its peers, everyone Monad Hero in a belief space, obsessive concentration space of individualism. America probably came up with Monad: America’s privacy, America’s evolution, the world’s.

Monads cling to cringing, that separation is all, no society, secret, private catechism so fuck! cultural trends and international events. No one’s minding the store! Survival now is the circumstance of Monad getting what Monad can in a Monad private world. Whatever Monad can get away with–

World of Monad. Nation of Monad. Monads don’t surf. Monads don’t communicate. Monads don’t see you. What I mean to say: in impossible, Monads hiccough.

What happened to everybody? Why is everybody so unhappy?

Today, happiness, joy, good sex, good friends, good times are seldom broached. Pop culture does not abide happy. Pop culture insists on happy only in the right outfit. ‘True’ happy is vaguely vouchsafed as ‘good ol’ days’, maybe the Golden Days of high school. Finally, every Monad for himself, all against all, for that’s how Monad rolls. The extremism of separate awareness, say. The flakiness of fascism, say.

As a kid, I read a lot. The books suggested there were interesting people out there, somewhere, doing interesting things. Monads didn’t do interesting things. Monads didn’t have adventures. I wanted in. I wanted interesting friends. How did I know they were real? Why was I drawn to them? I knew there must be humans who did not live Monad way, in their heads angry, with headaches, but lived intensely with wonder. Monads didn’t do wonder. Monad satisfaction was getting Monad’s way. Interesting people were an awareness of humanity? My humanity came in? What is humanity? I guess I had an awareness of us. Not ‘the Other’. But us, all of us. Waves of utter humanity. My insight did not require intelligence certainly. It required an opening to something beyond Monad. Everyone has this chance?

It wasn’t my parents’ fault. For them consciousness came in a clunky model of traditional restrictions about God and country. Middle-class white people had available formats. But for the segment of my generation who lived in places like the Midwest’s burgeoning suburbs, this was growing up time of perhaps the richest generation ever, us, the most people ever having the most ever–in the 60s we had so much! without any guide. No one knew what to do. Did we deserve it? Had we earned it? What about everyone else? Did we have so much because most had so little? These questions were forbidden. Ersatz. Quibbles? (Strict rules included profiles of allowed transgression.)

Release the frisson of getting caught.  In this great unveiling of the untangling, my journey through Monad, my assumptions, my precious individuality and ego, I saw, were wallpaper.

American small town life had already been eviscerated by Sinclair Lewis and Sherwood Anderson. This was new: suburbia! (John Updike?) The land of privileged self-indulgence, I think, led our navigation to Monad as the next logical step to control. I have no proof. I can’t quantify or qualify the primacy of this privacy model. What goes on behind closed doors. But a new template was needed that, also, reflected Madison Avenue and realpolitik. How to handle it, other than how we did, was to stress private control. Paradox and irony became phony. I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s characterize Monad. 

3. Characterizing Monad

Monad:

  • is a control freak. Always busy, it’s difficult for Monad to quit. Monads have lists in their heads of what has to happen. Monads call it problem solving. Monads fight unfairly. Monads multitask.
  • is sexually frustrated. In a way, sex is not worth the hassle any more. Men don’t know how to make love, so find release with Net porn preferable. Females have given up. Obsessives who work up complex fetish fantasies are more specific about drama than sex.
  • has an eating disorder. Too much or too little has busy Monad constantly monitoring intake. A fantasy of what should be eaten is always available.
  • has no wit or sense of humor. When was the last time Monad had a belly laugh?
  • has bowel and defecation issues. When did Monad last have a good dump? Antacids always within reach.
  • tends to be a hypochondriac. With limitless information on pharmacology, Monad is tirelessly self-medicating, working out his or her routines for digestion, allergies, weight loss, sleep, rashes, nerves. Monad has huge stores of mismatched trivia about depression and weight loss to keep busy. Legal and illegal self-medication is daily. After all, modern medicine is just a guess too.
  • is concerned with immortality. For Monad the biggest worry is not whether there is a heaven or hell, it’s whether Monad will continue, endure, as Monad. The sanctity of the private realm must be maintained. Monad’s preferences are important, customized fantasies. Monad must go on separate.
  • has given up on communication. It makes sense because for Monad everyone is crazy, and everything is crazy. Monad is the normal, real one. Monad has lots of acquaintances. Monad does not know a single soul who is happy, fulfilled, or sexually active in a joyous way. Therefore, Monad can’t see anyone. Monad can’t listen. In fact, contact is contamination.

Monad is the model of the individual today no matter how much money a person might have, no matter where that person might live. Redneck, intellectual, it doesn’t matter, left-right, no real difference, because they’re all Monads and wallpaper is skin deep. This model may have started out in the rich bitch suburbs but it spread. I think what happened was 60’s kids, Baby Boomers, got into the concept of ‘rebel’, ‘outsider’. And what did rebels do? They hung out. So everyone in the suburbs became an outsider rebel hanging out. Thus began the iteration to Monad’s new wallpaper. There’ve always been rebels, iconoclasts of defiance, madness, excess. But for Baby Boomers rebels were on TV. On the radio. On their records. In zines. All over the place, Beatniks, Hippies, Yuppies, then Punks and New Agers. Cool was never so easy to attain: all it took was a haircut.

Monad has exhausted types, so revolution is sleepy. Monad science and art has no authority, just endless projects. Nothing of importance beyond what is preferred. Enthusiasms, hobbies, fetishes, visions? Separation makes sure attention is on Monad. What Monad is in to is what Monad believes. Monad truth is truth Monad creates for himself. The guide to growing up was found on the map of cool on the back of a cereal box. We played right in. Thus is born Monad.

Maybe there are true rebels out there somewhere. I think 20th Century rebels concentrated on the independent investigation of truth, or got really fucked up. Maybe they did try to obliterate the Enlightenment. But, also, maybe the deep hanging out alluded to duende, to contact with the world’s destruction to forge a creative voice, idiosyncratic as hell. Rebels’ admonition ‘Do what thou will’ only worked if you were a visionary.

4. Monads + hanging out = spaced out = Super Monad

So a generation’s wallpaper became a cultural moment, a class’s hagiography. In the 60s we had so much, and though we thought it secret, ours alone, Monad metastasized across the world. Today, hanging out, being cool, when everything happens now, requires a certain tonal timbre of toughness, the requisite ‘fuck it’ attitude. Monad has what it takes. Bad means good. No bullshit. Monad knows what Monad likes. The con, the hustle. Alternate worlds. Multiple universes. Because the way Monad draws up Monad personhood is with temporal diversity. Monads can be in more than one place at a time.

Monad never stops! Monad is all about self-aggrandizement. Monad, secret rebel hanging out in private, morphed to Monad Hero. Monad Hero ascends culture’s steeple chase. Monad Hero triumphs isolate. Difference as power. This proves that success comes from willfulness. Monad Heroes beckon. Monad Heroes believe. Better than imagination, better than virtual: Monad Hero. Monad Heroes take it to the next level. Ah.                 

So a generation’s wallpaper became a cultural moment, a class’s hagiography. In the 60s we had so much, and though we thought it secret, ours alone, Monad metastasized across the world. Today, hanging out, being cool, when everything happens now, requires a certain tonal timbre of toughness, the requisite ‘fuck it’ attitude. Monad has what it takes. Bad means good. No bullshit. Monad knows what Monad likes. The con, the hustle. Alternate worlds. Multiple universes. Because the way Monad draws up Monad personhood is with temporal diversity. Monads can be in more than one place at a time.

Monad never stops! Monad is all about self-aggrandizement. Monad, secret rebel hanging out in private, morphed to Monad Hero. Monad Hero ascends culture’s steeple chase. Monad Hero triumphs isolate. Difference as power. This proves that success comes from willfulness. Monad Heroes beckon. Monad Heroes believe. Better than imagination, better than virtual: Monad Hero. Monad Heroes take it to the next level. Ah.                 

5. Postscript

Monads love conspiracies because they have done away with significance yet the gears keep churning. Monads love tying together loose ends. Even when the tension has no resolution. I was a little too old to get in to RPGs (Role Playing Games), like Dungeons & Dragons, when they took off. But I was interested and read up on them. I watched kids play at tables in comic book stores. I noticed how beginning players, especially if they were young, would often create their avatars, their game characters, with so much power they were gods. I remember trying to explain to them, if your character is a god, then really you can’t get much gaming in, as your character will always win. Conspiracies, celebrities, movies, emails are tossed in the mix master maw of the gods’ living avatar—Monad. The awful pie hole goes on forever, so deep, so difficult to fill. But filling it must be. Thus is born Monad.

Monad’s private lists of things to obsess on are sacrosanct. There are no do over’s. No extra credit. Monad knows exactly how it will go. Limbo, then. Forever wailing for the other shoe to drop—for Daddy to pull up while we’re watching cartoons. Waiting for the A-Bomb (this has always been my favorite fear). Waiting for immortality. Monads are with it gods, waiting for the only surprise left to them they cannot control.

The ritual of avenues of action! Change? Oh, how Monads love to talk about change. Change comes from working hard. Change requires discipline.  Monads don’t do hard. Monads don’t do discipline. Magic, a pill, ruthlessness, and god gets his way. Monads got it down, assert what Monads want. Being there. Doing is never more than Monad being there. Productivity is detrimental. Monad is never more than Monad. Everywhere, everything, everybody suffices. Monad depends on the busy routine of pleasing himself.

Is everything and everyone crazy? Or is this, too, a perpetual motion machine? Look at the screws and circuit boards. Inside, private convolutions. Monad’s separation is perfect. It leaves no way in, no way out. Monad like an obsessed voyeur with Asperger’s Syndrome. So: chaos, order; freedom, slavery; conform, create, all the same to Monad. I don’t think Monads have choice.

Monads like naked blobs on their backs on rubber drop cloths, just waving, wiggling their hands and feet like bugs.

Peek under the wallpaper, at the infant freaking out every moment of every day. It’s like time travel. Monad be jumpy! Out Monad, Monad gonna get you!

What’s so mind fuck is how the centerpiece, privacy, is long gone, what with total surveillance detailed every day now.

Remember our molecules.

I think we have to give up on belief. Quit belief entirely.

Go back to what is engrained in our brains from direct sensual participation. Not just the mechanics of physical sensation, the total package that includes momentary awareness.

I want to acknowledge how to live with awareness.

What do we know?

Learning to love is learning to sacrifice.

(Monads don’t sacrifice.)

(Monad doesn’t do know.)

I recall a bit by Camus where he talked about people trying to recreate that moment, that one precious moment, usually of a child or an adolescent, when he knew everything and the world was at his fingertips. Monad never leaves belief moments are more real than real.

I’m pretty sure I was reading Philip K. Dick when I realized what made tales of alternate worlds, alternate realities interesting was their relation to the reality which humanity shares. Yes, I acknowledged a real. Without that, the whole conceit broke down, and we’re just gibbering doods in underwear ads. The pleasure of alternate world play was the frisson off certainty. For Monad it was an ultimatum.

(Some things are important. Some things do matter. It’s not all bullshit. See how these  crinkle in to our Monad topo maps like wrinkled chip bags: absence of creativity predicts unimportant things.)

So we have to ReModern. So we have to know. What do I know? ReModern is ReSurge.

I recall a communication, or insight, from an interesting person, Ursula Le Guin. She was wondering about westerners’ notions of time. How we see the present, past, future. We say the past is behind us. We say ahead of us, we are pummeling into the future. Other cultures see it differently. Some would say what’s ahead is past and present inseparable, with the heritage of memories of sites and lore and tools making survival possible. Future, on the other hand, was nearly impossible to see…sometimes we might catch a glimpse of the future over our shoulder, out of the corner of our eye—

We share knowledge of what is good and righteous (justice), or why do so many have it across the planet? Why do those who don’t share it show signs of mental illness?

Am I desperate to assert something beyond Monad?

Probably.

Belief makes no sense once you think about ReModern. Because ReModern doesn’t count on belief. We’ve tried the whole leap of faith routine. Best of possible worlds. We believed in the privacy of the individual. Monad got terribly selfish and mean and made up crazy dead parrot scenarios. The end arrived too soon. US military in over 130 countries. Water crises: too much, too little. Genetic manipulations, a routine thing. Return of fundmanetalism around the world. Information technology growing impatient with the organics. The human body burden nears limits.

Living in the Blast Zone is now, and I’m loving it!     

Knowing is the only super power. ReModern is not an all you can eat buffet. Monads steal hotel towels. ReModern makes towel art pietas—that’s a joke. ReModern as next, or final, or return to model does not grok. Quit staring at me. ReModern is the new new. ReModern is the moving of moving on, which is moving on little cat feet across the etherized scape.

Awareness is humanity. Consciousness is justice. How can I prove it? Contemporary culture is black iron prison of Monad suffocation. Science and art must start over again, talking about what they know for sure. All we know. Love exists. ReModern takes off fakes off jerks off–   

‘We are all trapped in that bright moment when we met our doom.’

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