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The Madness of Good Thoughts

One morning I had awoken and traced my thoughts. I could not stop thinking about “the madness of good thoughts”. I think it’s absolutely mad to constantly have good thoughts, and especially now, almost impossible. 

After therapy, the day before, when April took my thoughts apart and showed me I could hold them still and full in my hands as tangible things, I fell asleep and woke with mindfulness. Registering every thought, feeling, sensation in the body before they became judgment. 

The madness of good thoughts would give one enough strength to pour oneself a glass of water and make oneself a cup of ginger tea, garlic, and other sediments swimming atop it, while one settled into their morning rhythm, the sun absolutely insistent on its own light, smiting and enriching all in its reflection. 

The trees say thank you and so do I, my head mad and full with good thoughts. After this, a morning cigarette, ci vous plait – I hope you don’t please. I told my friend Tomiwa, that I would quit if / when I survived the pandemic. She said the spanish flu lasted three years. 

The next morning, I meditate on forgiveness. The midnight show––a show on both sufi enlightenment, a bright light, a rainbow, and meditation. A show about the bearable lightness of being. It’s an animation about enlightenment and they just have these great conversations about spirituality, about the dead weight of consciousness and hope. Open your eyes, remove the blindfold, matrix season is up, give up all hope. Be, in fact, hopeless. Free yourself. Accept things as they are. 

So while the midnight show said all of these things, I closed my eyes and sent buckets of love to all the people who I perceived had hurt me in my whole life. When recently, I’d been sending buckets of bile. My landlady’s unseeming guile had triggered me into a state where I wanted everyone who had made me suffer to suffer too. But Paul of the Bible –– which I think should be my favourite book –– said do not grow weary of doing good. 

But isn’t this madness?

And in the midnight show, a lady who had bit her tongue off from despair, and then had it only grow back when she had saved her own soul by “letting go” had been reborn with a new tongue, so that when she sang, she sang like a beautiful chanteuse seasoned by many years in practice and said, in her old life, she’d been stuck in loop in prison, filled with rage, plucking out her cellmate’s eye but it was indeed her own eye that she had been plucking out. 

Subhanallah. It was there the whole time. 

While I slept, I replaced buckets of bile with massive love, and my love, woke me up at midnight, the olfactory delight  of oven-made pizzas wafting beneath my somnolent nose, whose aroma when mixed with hearts sharing buckets of love, smelled like heaven in dreamland and I, sleepy from too much day, took a bite from the pizza he held to my mouth, as he nosey-kissed me and I went back to pouring buckets of love to people from my dream. 

The next day I awoke with Beyonce’s voice in my throat. She says “tough love,” an oxymoron if there ever was one. Hate is easy; love that’s what tough. It was one of the songs I discovered while we drove on the highway and recorded windmills in their perpetual motion state. 

The night before, I had watched Rosemary’s baby, a horror film from 1968, and decided how old horror films are better than those that exist now. In fact it seems as though all the things of the past feel more rich and full than the things we celebrate now. Or perhaps I am just an old soul, missing one of my old lives. I do not know if I am extra critical of popular content, or as ___ said, all popular content is bad content. 

Those old horror movies would have such complicated plot arcs, the characters so complex and yet so precise, and complete. I see myself in any complicated character that hallucinates. I had written hallucinations behind my eyes because of this. Yet I couldn’t tell if Rosemary’s reality was real. 

Aren’t all realities real? 

It is so easy to distrust the realities of a sensitive doll. Sensitives, neurodivergents, no matter their positions on the scale, are always looking to find a certain line between their realities and their thoughts, but our thoughts make our realities so we often can’t tell when everything converges into one. To understand the madness of good thoughts, one has to persist in the moment.

Being present, you learn this in an instant. Presence means being without your phone. Phones often relay messages that would transport us to a nonexistent past or its nonexistent future. Being present is like constant inspiration. In presence, time does not exist. 

Yesterday, in presence, my lover and I stood outside and learned to call birds by their names. If you called a cat “psst”, it would not even make the effort to stare at you nor to stare you down. The sound of a pigeon is cheeks stuffed with air and a looping sound that becomes finite only through reverberated oooo’s. 

The moment is filled with the madness of good thoughts. At the moment, I am obsessed with light. And with bodies of work only inspired by light and made through intense burning light that the darkness of the world cannot cover. Once again, the madness of good thoughts. And yet, my friend had said to better not equate the greatness of artistic expression to the purity of the artist’s soul.

I remember what a youthful  Dostoyevsky writes to his brother just moments after he is almost killed by a death sentence and then relieved from it: if anyone remembers me with malice, and if I quarreled with anyone, if I made a bad impression on anyone — tell them to forget about that if you manage to see them. There is no bile or spite in my soul, I would like to so love and embrace at least someone out of the past at this moment.

 

Ona si jin 

A promise in javascript is a wish deferred. A promise in life is also a wish deferred. You want / need the value of something so you make a future wish that should it resolve in good time, then you will be there to meet it where it is. Or should it resolve with an error, then you’d be there to catch it.

It is no wonder the blockchain would utilise a lot of promises. The blockchain is perhaps a promise in itself, though it already exists, a lot of its functionalities seem hopeful, like future things. Actual digital blocks connected with hopefully irreversible cryptographic hashes, upscaled or downscaled for its own public –– which means anyone can access it, or permissioned –– which means a layer of authentication is placed around each node or set of nodes. 

It’s Saturday night in Amsterdam. I have spent hours reading, writing, programming, learning Dutch, and attempting to make a film. I had said I wanted my life to be filled only with intense innovation and epicurean reading during times which availed themselves. I see visions of my film. In my film, there’s a shot of birds perched on the chimneys atop a rooftop, drinking the heat. There’s a shot of a sage stick slowly burning, its smoke moving out of the bathroom where it burns. Olu Dara’s music, like rainshowers, floating within the smoke itself.  

Or John Coltrane playing something that if it had words would say, they say we should bring the music so I done overbrought it. 

About two years ago, my employer had told me they hadn’t intended to hire someone – “you know, who doesn’t even know promises.” Of course that didn’t inspire me to learn promises! Two years later, and I am now only coming to terms with actual specifications of what a promise does. Ableism is the curse of the fully abled man. A promise is asynchronous in a language that is synchronous. Which means it does its own thing, resolves in its own time on a separate thread and then reproduces the value. 

We are promises to ourselves, whether kept or unkempt. 

My sheets smell like great German winefarms. As though I threw up in my sleep after a night out sipping wine from a teacup, smoking cigarettes and talking to my friend, who when he wrote to me, about me, he wrote a poem that said: 

& the aura about her I love, what Walter Benjamin calls “historical presence” / the authenticity of an object outside the reproducible signs of its existence. 

Curious about the Walter Benjamin quote, on a Sunday morning, I read the essay from which the quote is pulled twice over and it’s mind boggling imposing any meaning onto it. Het is ook Eureka. The essay is titled, “The Work of Art in the time of mechanical reproduction.”

The academic precision of this four-part essay is so to be admired. The singularity of its purpose. A title which seems someone like Zadie Smith must have written about, or against, or in admiration of, because many times, her work is anything but and yet she, in the brilliance of her mind, in how she wields a pen, and in her ability to make inconnectable things connect. Zadie Smith must have written about the singularity of purpose or I am dreaming. 

I am always dreaming

Annie Dillard writes: write until you hit the chopping block. Slice discreetly through the wood, you are reaching for the thing itself, not the vision of the thing. Even to writing, the road is long. Even to writing, promises are constantly resolving, and rejecting themselves. All first drafts –– of code, of literature –– are all visions of the thing; that should ultimately be wiped through, until the thing by itself shines through. Hundred drafts skin deep and you’re still going. 

They say what you leave out of the work is just as important as what you leave into the work, but what about the writer who wants to write about everything

Walter Benjamin is writing of the work of art in the time of printing. I am writing about the work of art in the time of digital reproduction, originality, permanence, and immutability. What does the blockchain mean for the work of art? What sort of promises are then laid bare? 

The excited beginner is obsessed with process. The expert cares about the finality of the product — and this word “expert”  is an entirely optimistic word. An aspirational word – the echoes of process are barely as stimulating as the work itself. Yet there are no experts that are entirely satisfied with the final work produced. Publishing at best is a public record of the writer’s wrongdoings. And so the blockchain makes it permanent, undeletable. Stamps it in a place and time that is borderless, and maybe, even accessible by all. 

After the order of Rokerfeller, you may celebrate your first car, your first job, your first electric kiss under a starry night where your left leg is held against gravity like Disney and you can feel the rush of this unfathomable love force coming to shake your life, turn it over, for the first time and so you meet it prepared. You meet it ready. You have waited for this your whole life. The expert celebrates milestones in secret. The new lover wants to shout it out for the world to see. 

In my rookie excitement, I had sent the unreadable  first draft of my novel to three of my friends, and now I cringe whenever I think about it; and now I may never be able to go back to it because of the shame of other people reading your debilitating imperfection. And yet Zadie Smith’s most important advice to writers is to resolve to a life of dissatisfaction. I carry this as my cross. 

Neils Bohr, a physicist, said: “An expert is someone who has made every mistake that can be made in a very narrow field.” An expert’s goal in life is to make mistakes and live long enough to see them corrected. The road is still long. 

Asides from the literal, almost selfless quality of Walter Benjamin’s work – a work so done through, there are no splinters of the writer scattered across the page for navelgazing of any sorts – a work so dedicated to an idea and to the work, that that is really all it is. No one can argue much more or much less what Walter Benjamin’s work is or is not about. “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Production”. 

My friend had read the earlier quote above and had said that he saw me. I say that what I saw in that essay was Walter Benjamin conjuring up the blockchain and its usefulness even before it existed, even before Sakomoto made the thoughts, even before me.

Afọpẹ́fólúwa Òjó

Afọpẹ́fólúwa Òjó is a writer, creative technologist, and experiential artist whose work engages our lived experiences, language, memory, experiments with form, the lyrical, and the mundane.
Social media handles @abstractsth (on twitter and instagram)