NOVEMBER NOTEBOOK

nov not

 

ongoingly misc and sundry thoughts of late, late Fall

1-Somewhere between Neo Nazi slogan-slinging and the  15,000,000,000-page Millennial Thought-Crime Offenses Codex, there is reasonable, and reasonably unsanitized, discourse. Locating that sweet spot is a worthy (and not really terribly difficult) challenge, though it is clearly not for Retards or the easily-offended. The time may well be coming again…

2-A Novel is just a play with insanely detailed stage-directions.

3-I spent my adolescence in Las Vegas and therefore tend to pronounce “Vegan”  under that influence;  Daughter invariably corrects me (“It’s VEE-GAHN, Daddy!”)  and I invariably point out that this pronunciation is pulled randomly out of the pretentious ass of universal Snowflake’s Unconscious Collective, since, presumably, the word “vegetation” (with its short “e” and soft “g”)  has something to do with the root of the word “Vegan”. So I’ve started pronouncing it VEJ-IN” (/ˈvɛdʒ- (ə)n/)  at every opportunity, which Daughter finds embarrassing and hilarious. I want this to catch on.

4-There I was, ranting to Wife, out of the side of my mouth,  about the Relentless Infantilizing of the Culture, when I happened to land on the page of the New Yorker’s review of the Mister Rogers biopic.

5-Which was right next to the New Yorker‘s lavish excerpt from a Graphic Novel (as though it were a Novel).

6-Between impulse and action is the reflective moment of intellectual activity that the Zen Master learns to disable in order to become the animal whose absence of a thinking distance between that impulse and that action yields idiotically perfect results.

7-My experience of Post Modernism revolves mostly around the rich sensation of arguing vociferously against those who argue vociferously against those against whom I also argue vociferously.

8-Re: Bowie’s “Black Star”: what most critics possibly missed:

“His cry went on through the final image: the spots of raw bright blood on the earth. Blood on excrement. The supreme moment, high above the desert, when the two elements, blood and excrement, long kept apart, merge. A black star appears, a point of darkness in the night sky’s clarity. Point of darkness and gateway to repose. Reach out, pierce the fine fabric of the sheltering sky, take repose.”

Paul Bowles, The Sheltering Sky-(1949)

 

9-We are mostly-soft objects comparing ourselves, unfavorably, to mostly-hard objects. What’s worse (much worse) is that Time, after the peak soft-hardness of our ’20s,  renders us softer by the minute. Our only recourse is to work crash-diet hard at excavating and displaying the hardest thing we have to offer: our skeletons. Our very-hard hardware mocks us.

10- Escher Vs Giger:  The Visual Paradigm of Late Late Pre-Collapse Soc Med Capitalism.

11-We are each comprised of many minds of varying degrees of intelligence on a rotating schedule of running the show. Two of my minds (the Dieter and the Rabelaisian) often meet, late at night, in front of the refrigerator, to wrestle.

12-The sources from which I keep hearing that the “novel is dead” are the same sources promoting the kinds of conservative, unimaginative, simplistically moralistic and cookie-cutter fables of the middle class that they mean when they say “the novel”.  In which case: I’ll be happy to deliver the eulogy.

13-Somewhere between unripe and overcooked lies youth’s sticky magic; we lick our chops for long, long after that particular dish is eaten.

14-Reading a British critic exult over Richard Ford’s macho banalities must be like how it felt to be a film student in New Jersey, in the ’60s,   reading Francois Truffaut apotheosize Jerry Lewis.

15-American Society and its Foreign Policies, historically and in any contemporary sense,  are profoundly violent illustrations of the obvious principle that if you have something that everyone (anyone) wants, and can’t defend it, it will be taken from you. Period. That is the lesson and example America offers the world… none of that crap about Freedom/ Equality/ Progress/ Hope. Why do we persist in claiming otherwise? The “American Dream” = SUPERIOR FIREPOWER

16-Good Band Name: BVD DNA. Reminiscent of the one I thought up almost ten years ago (and which you are free to use): SUMO SPEEDO.

17-On Populist Colorism in Media (referring here, initially, to the cast of The Cosby Show): the commercial logic of casting two light-skinned mixed girls in that show,  as members of a nuclear family of noticeably-African Americans… Mother Claire is a leeetle bit mixed but not so much…  is the same old Antebellum colorism driving the casting of most of the “romantic interests” in rap videos, sitcoms and Hollywood flicks. The darker girls are usually “fat and sassy” comedic foils, the lighter-skinned mixed girls are the “dreamy,” “preferable” kind of “Black” leading lady or Pop Idol. Casting “Lt. Uhura” in Star Trek was actually going a lot more boldly than people generally realize, esp. when Uhura commenced to wearing an Afro later in the series.  Were that same part cast in the ’80s, or now, even, a much less “African” -looking actress would have gotten the part (as happened in the 2009 feature film). Even the Queen of Classic  Blaxploitation, Pam Grier, was on the lighter side of Black-Ambiguous. Though the sexiest thing I ever saw, in the Drive-In ’70s, as a stunned kid, was a very dark and silkily-naked JUDY PACE slipping under the covers of a bed she was seducing a gullible “honky” cop into. That may, in fact, be the sexiest thing I have ever seen while seated, fully clothed, among a large group of people…

18- I suddenly realized that I missed the last-call statutory good taste Lit Crit cut-off point for ripping Richard Powers’ radiantly asinine book The Overstory to shreds…  what was I busy with that year? I never thought Powers was any good (he writes like a Paul Auster who breaks into DeLillo’s vacation condo, tries on the robe and slippers he finds in the master bedroom, lights a pipe and starts typing) and The Overstory was the perfect misstep to trigger a cascade of savage reappraisals of the whole dud oeuvre. Don’t agree? Check out this opening:

First there was nothing. Then there was everything.
Then, in a park above a western city after dusk, the air is raining messages. A woman sits on the ground, leaning against a pine. Its bark presses hard against her back, as hard as life. Its needles scent the air and a force hums in the heart of the wood. Her ears tune down to the lowest frequencies. The tree is saying things, in words before words.
It says: Sun and water are questions endlessly worth answering.
It says: A good answer must be reinvented many times, from scratch.
It says: Every piece of earth needs a new way to grip it. There are more ways to branch than any cedar pencil will ever find. A thing can travel everywhere, just by holding still.
The woman does exactly that. Signals rain down around her like seeds.

It’s like Sting writing about Sex.

19- An old German fellow on the U-Bahn was making “funny granddad” faces at a delighted half-Black (I’m pretty sure my guess is accurate) baby in a stroller on the other side of the glass partition between old feller’s seat and the space in front of the train’s exit,  where the baby’s mother was preparing  to roll the carriage off the train, and all the Germans on the u-bahn wagon, that I could see, were smiling so beatifically , with such exaggerated pleasure in themselves and the tableaux, sharing and amplifying the (apparently)  deeply significant moment, that I thought:  there must be money in this sort of thing…

20-What we call “puberty” may well (among other things) be the year during which children first see themselves as beings deserving to be treated with Dignity, which rarely happens (ergo the “drama”).

21-Why is everyone suddenly using the grating eggcorn “stepping foot” (for “setting foot”)? Makes me think of the not-quite-equivalent but just as rampant “jibe/ jive” confusion of the early 2000s.

22-Was at an Audio-Engineer’s to do pre-production, yesterday and today, and the Audio Engineer (a very old friend) and his Wife, who are deliberately childless, live in an immaculately handsome flat, so neatly arranged, in muted colors and strikingly dustless, and which, I’m fairly sure, from what I can see, has not changed a degree or a milligram, not a new throw-rug or altered bookshelf arrangement, or shift in where the decorative figurines stay in the kitchen,  in fifteen years. It’s a very clean and obscure museum of their marriage. I swear it’s haunted. I would not care to try to spend the night there.

23-This is a real headline that I’ve just read and this is our world (these are our times):

New Zealand launches world’s first HIV positive sperm bank

 

24-I could sit here imagining any possible food on Earth, as peckish as I’m beginning to feel (and how many years ago did my plumbing start getting into the habit of making genuinely alarming sounds, like crimped and perforated iron pipes pumping high-pressure spurts and bucketfuls of demon-wolves and ball-bearings from one level of Hell to a much deeper level? the word ‘borborygmus’ doesn’t come close), but I keep thinking of Ramen Noodles (the better brownish kind, included with a packet of chili powder, a transparent packet of oil or congealed fat, a packet of monosodium glutamate laced with desiccated essence of pig, cow, mushroom, poultry or shrimp,  from an Asian grocery). The venerable dorm room delicacy. Whatever happened to the formerly unreasonable heights of my expectations…?

25-Discussing “bullying” with Daughter. I explained to her that Society as we know it is based on it (bullying) and that, often, the only way to stop bullies is to enlist the aid of bigger bullies (eg, the police are bullies; would you be as likely to obey an unarmed cop?). The key, I said, is to avoid, with great skill, bringing yourself to the attention of any cop, mob, criminal type or bureaucrat with time to kill and nothing to lose. Much easier out of, rather than in, School.

26-From the (neglected) To-Do List: construct a meandering and detailed joke with “the sweet smell of sock sex” as its unexpected punch-line.

27-Imaginary caption for an imaginary New Yorker cartoon from the late great Gahan Wilson:

 

Things are looking up!

 

 

28Blade Runner: the most optimistic pessimistic film of the 1980s:

 

BLADE RUNNER

 

29– Modern Comedy is being legislated by people who don’t get it… just like Modern Sex.

30-I was a dedicated purchaser of grocery store aftershave in the late 1960s, years before I would need to shave: Hai Karate, Brut and Aqua Velva, mainly, but sometimes I bought one called Jade East (and I’m probably misremembering a purchase of English Leather, although maybe I got some for a birthday), impervious to the patronizing grins and winks of the check-out ladies (who were probably, in fact, girls). Now that shaving is a big part of my day (the whole skull,  except the brows and lashes; chest; used to do armpits, too, but couldn’t keep up), ironically, I haven’t purchased aftershave in perhaps 48 years. I suddenly realize I need to start again. The missing puzzle piece. Happiness complete. Aqua Velva: even the name makes me glad.

 

Aqua V

31-Explained to Daughter that Capitalism, per se, is not the problem, although “They” (who are the problem) like it very much when We say “Capitalism is the problem!” Because then They can shrug and say, “Would you prefer Stalinism… ?” And things therefore stay the same, meaning: some people (They) do very little, or nothing, or very bad things, and watch large sums thundering in overflowing streams into their coffers, while a great many (Us) do quite a lot, and quite a lot that’s valuable and necessary,  and earn diddley (as Kurt Vonnegut would put it) squat. I explained to Daughter that the problem is not being forced to conform to some kind of system (even if this were all primeval forest, we’d have to wake up early every morning and forage, or hunt in well-organized teams, and avoid Primeval Death, every minute,  with all of our grace and wits): the problem is that the system is rigged to favor a very small number of not-very-good, or useful, or nice, people who rely on lethal force (police/ military/ secret police) to keep Them where They are. Keeping Them where They are (and Us where we are) is also the function of Television, Radio, Newspapers, Religion, i-phones, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and everything else designed to be consumed and enjoyed by hundreds of millions of people. Things are only as they are because “We” think that we “Like” them that way. Pass it on.

32– Some people who believe the amusing/ ridiculous “Paul is Dead” meme (a rumor I first encountered in c. 1970, I think, when an FM radio disc jockey butted into the long outro of “I Am The Walrus” with “This is to Paul, wherever you are now!” I was c. 11 and shocked)  are idiots who haven’t really thought-through the A) astronomical odds against sinister puppet masters finding a walking melody-machine with a wide vocal range and unusual facility as a left-handed bassist adept at playing right-handed guitar who also looked close enough to Paul McCartney to make any surgical adjustment of his looks and stature convincing enough to fool old friends and close family members and B) WHY? Because why not just manufacture The Bay City Rollers (which is what they did) instead? But many who cry “FAUL” on YouTube are just kids who look at any picture of McCartney from the late-’60s and find it difficult to reconcile the baggy-eyed stoner (drooping mustache attached) with the perky/squirrelly moptop speedfreak of 1962 and either of those, in turn, with the jowly dude with the lopsided eyebrows; in other words, kids these days just don’t seem to understanding Aging (aka How Time Fucks You Up) at all. They seem to think that Getting Old is a simple matter of airbrushing a few wrinkles and some gray hair over one’s class picture from 8th grade. It is not. Does anyone look at pictures of CANDIA MCWILLIAM and cry “That’s not Candia McWilliam! They replaced Candia McWilliam with an impostor after she died drinking furniture polish in ’77!” Ditto Marianne Faithfull. No one calls her “Marianne Fakefull” despite her “shocking” metamorphoses. But let’s get back to Candia McWilliam: this paragraph, in its roundabout way,  is really all about Candia. The profound loss of beauty,  the wounded childhood, the aura of unfair privilege she frittered away, the lows she sank to (she really did drink cleaning fluids and polish, et al,  for their alcohol content): I’m going to read her autobio next week for its amazing frankness. This, I intuit, will be a performance worthy of late Beckett.

“Candia McWilliam has written a shocker. Her new book, What to Look for in Winter: A Memoir in Blindness, is fundamentally different from any other autobiography I have read. Most people write their memoirs in the belief that if only they can explain themselves they will be liked. But Candia McWilliam does not care for herself at all.

She calls herself “a tired sow with lost eyes”. She tells us she feels like “a fat ghost”. She informs us: “I sense myself as a disaster in a room, as though someone has let in a maimed domestic animal and half killed it …”

She states that she is running out of things to lose, that she burns with remorse in the night, that she carries “like typhoid” the sense that there is nowhere left for her to go where she is not a nuisance. “The sense of being disliked and of not belonging is the earliest sense I have.”

Once she could rely on her looks. “But I never knew that I was, sometimes, beautiful. I didn’t feel it. Sometimes I see it now in a photograph, and I think, You fool, you didn’t do it right at all. When you looked like that, you felt as though you looked like this. You had it coming to you.'”

A cautionary tale that is fucking profound and profoundly fucking true. A pepper-spraying of Truth in a “post Truth” culture;  forget her former (or present)  class. Should be required reading for teens. This book should come bundled with Kardashian skin cream.

33- I used to  find money on the street all of the time… tens and twenties in parking lots ( and 165 DM in a phone booth my first week in Berlin, 1990); envelopes or brown paper bags full of coins; there was a young post-hippie beggar in San Diego (’97)  who snatched up an expensive pen I had dropped from a book while crossing the street, once, and he wouldn’t give it back… I turned in a huff and stomped off and found a 20 dollar bill five paces away and saluted him needlingly (instant karma’s cheerleader)  (and oh, fuck him; the dirt didn’t make him noble)! Yet I haven’t found one tiny Euro-dime in over a decade. Are people more careful with their cash now? Are too many transactions digital? Are my eyes weaker…? Is Jesus being mean because of that thing with the beggar… ?

34- This is a real book title that I’ve just read and this is our world (these are our times):

The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper

 

35-The overcrowded and pestilential space for the Shitty Novel is all used up, agreed, but there is an untouched aesthetic frontier, a huge wilderness,  for the Novelist of Intelligence, Experience and Talent to populate and replenish: GO (metaphorically) WEST, (OLD) WOMAN AND MAN! GO WEST! The Future is a Sunset.

36-A few weeks ago I decided, on a whim, to write the most “offensive” short story I could (on short notice), but got sidetracked. But this is how I it started (and it’s okay, kids, I’m Black!):

 

the fat retarded nigger

 

“Charles meet Charles,”  said Shelley Morgando, the wings of her Farrah-do gold in the Aztec sun.

“Seen you around,” said Charles.

“Cool,” said Shelley.

“Heat,” said The Aztec Sun.

Shelley’s lips were maximally labial in coats of cherry gloss. Shelley’s trademark scent of artificial banana made my stomach  whinny, a whinny I could feel but not hear, for dirt bikes carving, smashing  and spraying the dunes behind the school,  like playground cakes methodically attacked by helmeted bullies,  had covered the whinny up.  Shelley, who had always assumed that we two Charleses were Queer, was doing good deeds for votes that week. Introducing the two Charleses was a good deed but I was hungry and my stomach was whinnying and for once I was glad the dirt-bike riders were there.

“Were you guys like never going to talk to each other if I hadn’t done something?” laughed Shelley.

Charles stuck his tongue in his cheek.

“Rock on, “ said David Essex.

Pat the shit-kicker bowlegged his way across the street with a cowlick and a sack of cinnamon rolls from 7-11 in time for the momentous occasion of the meeting of the Two Charlses with a widening, chaw-stained grin and he was nearly hit by a Camaro.

“You may kiss the bride”, Pat cracked, as he passed,  his breath pure horseshit.  A breath I will never forget.

“What’s your damn problem?” said Shelley,  without turning to face Pat’s back.

“Here come de judge!” said Pat, back. The big blue door of the school went open and closed and Shelley flipped off the door energetically until  the wonderful stuff in her t-shirt bounced.

Two girls were crying for someone had spread a rumor that David Essex was dead.

“He’s just jealous because Lefoyer Grady blah blah blah,” said Shelley. Meaning Pat. I couldn’t listen to the rest of her sentence. Neither could Charles.

Fat retarded nigger, we were thinking.

“School!” said The School. The late bell rang.

“Charles,” said Charles, when Shelley was gone. “Think Shelley’s carpet matches her drapes?”

“I have no idea but Calculus is my favorite time of day. I sit right behind her. Did you know that quadratic equations smell like bananas?”

We high fived and exchanged telephone numbers, Hollywood Kids stranded in a desert of Mormon yokels. Vegas was the deepest South we’d ever lived in, though Charles had spent five minutes in Georgia, once. The  worst five minutes of his life.

There weren’t many so-called Colored kids at Albertus Strughold High School but most of the ones that were there were either charity cases, small time criminals, mousey Baptists  or jocks with phenomenally tiny heads. Most of the white student body consisted of Mormons,  small time criminals, stoners, ROTC-rejects and jocks with phenomenally square heads, but I didn’t care about any of that because I wasn’t white.  It was the defects among the Colored kids that bothered me. There were some Mexican kids, a French kid, two Arab kids, and Indian, an Asian and some kid we all called None of the Above. But everything any Colored kid did or was at Albertus Strughold High School somehow reflected on me and the other Charles, and we hated that, especially when the Colored kid who did or was was the awful Lefoyer Grady. We bonded over our hatred of LeFoyer Grady.

We wanted to see Grady dead.

We would improvise ornate comedic scenarios of LeFoyer Grady’s epic demise while tooling around our respective neighborhoods in Charles’ secondhand Mercury Cougar very loudly playing The Carpenters on his 8-Track. Sometimes we smoked and drove way out on Tonopah Highway as talk turned reverently to UFOs.  Never after dark, of course. Charles’ single mother had made that an unbreakable rule.

Never after dark.

My mother wasn’t white like Charles’ mother but my step-mother was.

My step-mother wasn’t bitchin’ but my mother was quite okay in the looks department. A little too stern, maybe, from living alone and teaching congenitally deprived kids in North Vegas. Her two-room  apartment was a forty five minute walk across the desert from our house near The Sands. She always warned me not to walk across that desert alone yet she was always overjoyed when I tapped on her living room window with my door key to warn her I was coming in. If it wasn’t a school night I’d sleep over in the room she kept for me, calling Carol to let her and my Dad know where I was.

Charles and I enjoyed unusually sophisticated circumstances with our families, despite the money problems.

My parents had had Primal Scream sessions with Arthur Janov,  in a private residence in Berkley, before the divorce and Charles’ mother had dated R.D.  Laing, which is to say  Laing fingered Charles’ mother in a crowded lift during the filming of a documentary about Laing in London when Charles turned fifteen in a hotel alone. As reported to Charles by his mother and reported to me by Charles.

Charles’ mother was 32 the year Charles and I were formally introduced but she was still quite bitchin’, nearly as bitchin’ as Shelley Morgando and twice as blonde,  her bleached hair straight down to her satin hot pants.

It was Homecoming week.

Does the “fat retarded nigger” actually die in the story? If so, does he die by accident? Do the two Charleses bury the body and bond for life over the frightening twist? Does the “fat retarded nigger” turn out to be a genius of some sort? Is this a parable of class vs race? These are the kinds of questions I usually ask myself after I’ve sketched in the first blurt of a new story…

37-Locally Optimistic, Globally Cynical:  LOPGLOC: LEARN WHAT IT MEANS

38– If you are not Of Color and happen to read a news item about the rape or murder of a pretty girl or a cute child today, here’s what your Of Color friends will do, after hearing about the crime, that you will not (unless you’re a Nazi): check to see if the killer is Of Color.

39– Every rescue of a long-dead Artist from the crypt of obscurity is also an indictment of the people of the Artist’s times;  if you love Art, you will by now have mixed feelings regarding Humanity. With the ironic caveat that it is Humanity that Art must love.

40- Pissing you off may be the first step in making you think about the matter more deeply.

41-Early in the summer I sent a very old friend the first test master from a project I’m trying to wrap up before year’s end. Excited by the quality of the production and mastering of the piece I sent him, this friend (a piano player I first met in 1980) asked if I might possibly send along some lyrics he could write to (I suspect now that he had just seen the biopic and saw me as a possible Bernie to his Elton). I dug through a few folders and sent him the lyrics for 20 completed songs I never expect to record; I told him he could strip the songs of the music and use the words as a starting point. P. immediately responded with i-phone recorded rough sketches of chords and melodies, singing to what I’d just then sent. It sounded like shit.

There couldn’t have been an interval of more than an hour before P. started sending back these rough sketches and it seemed to me he must simply be running tape and recording each first spontaneous attempt before moving on to the next tune. But if you aren’t Mozart, it doesn’t work that way. A certain amount of hard work is involved… unless one is up to hack work in a well-defined genre; sure, I can crank out five “rock” or “blues” or “new age” songs in about as many minutes, but I wouldn’t try to pass the attempts off as Art or remotely worth anyone’s attention. Why would I bother to even try? Well, if I were a Narcissistic Dilettante and of the belief that even my mistakes (or belches) were intrinsically interesting…

Referring to good old P. as a “Narcissistic Dilettante” sounds a bit harsh but Reality is harsh. The Arts are crawling with these kids and they are mostly from the Upper Middle Class, with just enough cushioning against Various Hard Facts of Life to encourage them to buy expensive instruments, rent rehearsal spaces and recording studios and hire session players to make their mediocre dreams come true. Too bad for all those dirt-poor geniuses out there struggling to pay the rent, self-medicating with drugs and TV, watching their hours, and ideas,  pour down the drain at the local franchise employment kitchen.

When I first heard P. bashing away on the piano, in the proto-PC,  post-Hippie  limbo of the burgeoning Therapy Craze of the brand new 1980s, I thought he sounded like a cast member of an Off Broadway production of Annie or Godspell. He had that outgoing, big-grinning,  major-key persona familiar to anyone who ever knew anyone who attended a school for the performing arts. He was 18 or 19 to my 21 and, not to be indelicate, we were both fucking the same Art School Student for a couple of weeks until the Art School Student “ran off with” me (figuratively) and P. came out of the closet.

P. would appear to teach some sort of music class somewhere (let’s be vague to shield his identity), and over the years I’ve seen videos of performances and I was always struck by how not-really-very-good they were. How does he keep going? I wondered. He’s still got that corny, Off-Broadway, boyish voice… the kind of voice you expect out of one of the counselors at an expensive Summer Camp, leading a campfire sing-a-long… how has he managed to avoid becoming any more interesting, vocally, in forty fucking years? How has he managed to avoid improving his compositional skills?

Whatever my abilities are in comparison to anyone else’s, in any field, I dwarf my own early Self in every respect except, perhaps, in the matter of blind self-confidence. But even my youthful confidence wasn’t delusional: I saw a mountain ahead and just thinking about it would make me tired. I knew I had so much (too much) to learn. I knew that I had just started and wouldn’t really be any good, in objective terms, in years or even decades. I put my head down and groaned and pushed forward: neither praise nor savage critique could cause me to quit or become complacent; I kept pushing forward, with ever-increasing weights to pull, up the mountain of Becoming Any Good. The goal was/is never Fame. A sincere engagement with anything worth doing comes with its own point and purpose, very much like the circular argument of Life itself. Life exists to create Life. The Artist exists to become the Artist.

Some Narcissistic Dilettantes are quite successful in “The Real World”. Very good looking people, for example, can pretend to be Poets/ Painters/ Actors and get away with it until the looks fail. Very much like the children (or spouses) of the very rich: they enter the world as the center of a psychic ecology of Yes (Wo)men and get to play DJ or Auteur whenever the whim hits. I’ve known (and been hired by) a few of these types. If the lack of talent is too egregious it isn’t long before I’m compelled to be varying degrees of frank (the nicer/ sweeter the dilettante is, the more artfully I frame my critique). But one of my greatest pleasures is to praise The Truly Great: I’ll never forget the time I was involved in a LitCrit flamewar with a reader who considered Philip Roth to be shit. I did some Googling, found the critic’s own writing and realized the fucker was jaw-droppingly talented and immediately told him so: we’re still friends. I never let my personal feelings eclipse my sense of The Work. Some are driven by fealty to Imaginary Sky Giants and some to Symbols like flags and dollars. I am driven by my sense of The Work… the ethos of an Immaterialist twist under the banner of Homo Faber.

I’ve walked, untouched,  through fires, floods, plagues, wars and earthquakes in the bubble of my force-field called Art. I think I’ve earned this protection by the purity of my dedication to the pursuit. I may or may not “like” your work but I will know (unless it’s too new a thing: New Things are another matter) whether it’s Real. You may absolutely suck now but, with great effort, produce deeply satisfying Work a few years from now. In fact, that’s the best kind of story: from Shitty to Brilliant. From Okay to Pretty Good is most common. I’ll accept either attempt as valid.

 

42– Dumb as a rubber ladder and smooth as a corduroy condom

43Gilligans Wake (if I Google this, I’m sure I’ll find that this is already a thing, so I won’t)

44-Do Women get Heroic Futility?

45– In Vino Verdigris

46-                                    The Old World’s Unfair (a pome):

the old world’s unfair
tao (how poeters lived on insecure sin
ecure of fickle noblesse, obese largesse & rich wives’ invites to
sup) supported Poèmetry’s need for Need much
better than Merica’s invent
of the licensed Poèmetrical Profess(or)ional w/
her/his charlatan robes& deeply
skinned knees (for who’d not liefer)
(blow a Duke than an)
(Hegemony)

?

 

47– Foolish is not, at the moment, a popular word, but it’s a very useful and nuanced one; it can be used to describe the actions of someone who, although not stupid, is behaving stupidly.  Any guesses why the word has fallen out of favor …?

48- Why Probabilistic Arguments in support of theories of Divine Intent are fallacy-laced bullshit (a comment):

“the grandeur of the Universe shud make anyone careful of saying there’s no God…if we’ve got any more than 2 brain cells ..if we’ve got any more than a synapse….we shud be careful NOT to be agnostic”

“Grandeur” in comparison to what? Writing from within the universe under discussion, you’re in no position to make a credible assessment of its relative attributes. Of course you think of it as “grandeur” because you have no other standard of comparison. Likewise, the probability of Everything Happening as it has Happened is off the table of calculations; it’s a meaningless calculation; there’s no way of knowing if ten trillion universes of this description occur every moment, or if Our Universal Config is eye-wateringly rare, and whether either that rareness, or commonness, are, in and of themselves, suggestive. To illustrate: From the standpoint of the mosquito you smashed, on your neck, last year, the odds that a hundred million years of hominid, and three hundred million years of mosquito, evolution, would intersect at precisely the moment, on a Friday evening, that you killed that particular mosquito, would seem so incalculably unlikely (a series of billions of “coincidences”) that it would appear to indicated Divine Intent. Well, the mosquito would think that, wouldn’t it…? But it was random. No offence to the mosquito. And even if the entire Universe consisted of nothing but evenly-spaced socks, the question (fluke or not?) would remain unanswered by your meaningless (context-lacking) estimation of the beauty of socks.

 

49- You struggle with a sock in your mouth, an arm tied back, a foot broken. You pause in the struggle to watch a sitcom, chew gum to a song, cry over the death of a famous man’s terrier and when the battle resumes mid-show you are blindsided, tackled, the wind knocked out, while expressing your trivial opinion of the famous man’s comportment during the celebrity interviewer’s remarks about the terrier’s death as covered in a newspaper that will line your coffin when you are done.

50–  Re: what most critics possibly missed:

“I am aware that the man who is said to be deluded may be in his delusion telling me the truth, and this in no equivocal or metaphorical sense, but quite literally, and that the cracked mind of the schizophrenic may let in light which does not enter the intact minds of many sane people whose minds are closed.” —R.D. Laing, The Divided Self (1959)

There is a crack, a crack in everything/ That’s how the light gets in“—Leonard Cohen, The Future (1992)

51– My family is, or was, a beautiful, soft, slow, multi-train wreck of many cultures… from antebellum Southern to Yankee Black & White to scattered African and scattered Northern European and chunklets, from the West and South East, of the Native American… but how many can boast of having grown up with a beautiful Aunt whose nickname (used absolutely, 24/7,  in place of her legal name)… KOOTCHIE? Which is, thrillingly,  on a par with “Jelly Roll,” in the great 19th century (suggestive names of the underclass) parade and not to be taken lightly.  I knew plenty of “blacker” families but knew of not one single other instance of a girl, or lady, called “Kootchie,” in the broad day light, to her face, Sundays included. Decades later I noticed a sushi place, in Berlin, on Kant Strasse (does anyone among you know the proper pronunciation of Kant?), in the late ’90s, early 2000s, and it was called (wink wink) Kucci. I always thought of Kootchie when I walked by Kucci.

Here was Kootchie in her prime:

Kootchie 66 - Copy

... and Kootchie in the 1970s:

Kootchie 70s - Copy

So my mother’s family inherited that much of the chic bit of the culture (Kootchie was the only one with such a risqué nickname, as far as I know), but my grandmother was a book-reviewer for the newspaper (uncool), and my grandfather rode horses (atypical), and I never (never) got to partake (sigh) in the underclass’s legendary tradition of the eldest son’s initiation by the youngest, hottest,  maternal aunt… though I cannot say I did not daydream.

 

52-It’s getting quite cold in Berlin, windy and overcast most days. But I like the cold: without the cold, you can’t really have “cozy”. The feeling of “cozy” must be a primordial memory; it must be a (pleasantly) diluted echo of the ancestors’ intense (life and death) gloating over adequate shelter finally secured, an epigenetic inheritance encoded along with the mystic reverence for the hearth that doesn’t make sense considering generations of modern humans raised with central heating. As I’ve pointed out elsewhere: why do pop songs swimming in reverb feel so unearthly or emotional? Do they trigger encoded recollections of deep, dramatically-lit, grottoes…? Think of all those yearning,  eerie, reverb-drenched love songs of the 1950s; so many are haunted with poignant laments, or insinuations,  about loss. What primordial deaths, in pre-civilization caves, are they commemorating?

 

53-There are a few large Turkish grocery stores within a (brisk, longish) walking distance of our home and we like to buy our fruits, vegetables, nuts and bread (the little we eat) at these stores. Recently, Wife and I were on one of our “shopping dates” (we get all of our real  alone-time when Daughter is in school, so we have to combine functions; at least we still don’t fuck-while-hoovering… yet) we tried a new Turkish grocery and I was inspired, there,  to try the meat, which I usually get at one of the German grocery chains. We bought half a kilo of “gulasch” meat. I was going to make a large stew. Got the “baby” carrots, potatoes, peppers and celery, etc, home and opened up the neatly-wrapped “gulasch” meat on the kitchen counter. The meat was in very large chunks and the chunks were richly purple with blood; the bottom of the white package looked exactly like a soaked-through field dressing. It was then that I realized that the “modern, western” standard of processing and presenting “fresh” meat must involve a step or two (rinsing? draining?) that “traditional” methods don’t bother with. The “gulasch” meat I get in German groceries is pink, at most, and cut much smaller and, more importantly (I now realize) does not put the consumer/client in mind of a corpse. But that packet of bloody chunks we got from the Turkish grocery made me think of nothing but a corpse; a cadaver chopped up for disposal (the “Naked Lunch” indeed). The difference was jarring and I couldn’t bring myself to prepare that not-really-cheap purchase of meat to be eaten. I flushed it down a toilet one large chunk at a time. Did this experience turn me Vegan?  No. But it made me a little more gratefully modern.

 

 

 

 

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