The influence of gaslight or electric light on the growth of paraheliotropic trees

bonebrushing the edges of the res interna (upper transcend)

Month: January, 2009

Book Review – The Broom of the System, by DFW

My first DFW book, and man, the man was awfully clever, weren’t he? And quite the writer —

Some of my favorite scenes include the trip to Amherst and Lenore’s conversation with her brother LaVache, a genius-wastrel feeding a drug addiction (?too strong?) into his false leg; another memory from the book: a really heartbreaking story told by W.D. Lang about going to visit his grandmother — how they would go to visit her every saturday, except one saturday they couldn’t go, or the next day, so they go on Monday instead, and when they get there, she’s waiting outside on the porch, in the cold, as if it were saturday.

“Why are you waiting outside,” Lang’s father asks. “It’s not Saturday.”

And then they learn that she waits outside everyday — a) on the chance that maybe her family will visit her just because but b) in ignorance of the rules and heuristics the Others use to order their lives.

The book examines the maintenance and disintegration of the self-other dichotomy — while at the same time parodizing that anxiety — it glosses on tongue-talking, religious hysteria, artificial and manufactured experience, continental philosophy, and literature. Examines the anxiety of many of us uberchildren of the 80s and 90s that we are not in control of our own destinies — that we are being pushed and prodded into some sort of upper middle class mold —

I have a Marxist library book that’s overdue. Should I refuse to pay the fine?

Postscript: In an article about Bolano, Bolano sketches the character who only reads great author’s minor works — as if they cannot handle the true greatness. Let’s not become that character. Don’t let Karenina stop you — onwards into the new canon, Jehosaphat.


Instant Messages

Across the top of my computer screen, a red bar of text: John Updike has died, his publishers say.

Curious, I think. Only last night, I was surfing through his wikipedia pages, learning about the fictional Rabbit that Updike has walked with for half a century. While Updike will never know of this connection, this fact that in his last hours, even so, someone nameless and fameless out there in the world was turning their attention to him and all he’s done and added to the world. He has planted many orchards and gardens, which will continue to bear fruit even though he is no longer here.

In the sad fall after 9/11, I was similarly astounded by a breaking news email that Ken Kesey had died. Only a few months before, he had written an article in Rolling Stone magazine, asking why, if 9/11 had changed everything, the men in suits talking war still all looked the same.

As I was coming back from Greensboro, right after New Year 2005, another strange message that traveled down the noosphere. Hunter S. Thompson. Did not make it to see America elect Barack Obama. At first, I felt happy for a man who lived a vivid rageful full and total life — I envisioned him stalking the Weird Happy Hunting Grounds of the sky. Later, when I learned it was a suicide, I paused for a time, thinking about the world, all our ends, and not understanding who Kurt Cobain was when I was twelve and in elementary school.

It ends, these memories whisper. It ends continually. That is added to. One more twist. It continues. Interesting. I’ll send this message back, into the common ocean of our secret thoughts, like a folded origami boat with a candle in it, half-remembered fragment from a television program about a Buddhist funeral. Somewhere there is singing.

Edward Yellow, re: Beard 1.0

Edward Yellow spent his first year at college experimenting with various different types of facial hair. While it was never exactly clear to Edward (his friends call him Ed) what it was that motivated this adventure, other than his newfound ability to grow something approximating a beard, a neutral observer would be quick to notice that Edward’s new best friend, who he had met during those first few days of college when everyone was still nervously introducing themselves and trying to discern each other’s respective cool and with-it-ness, sported a fairly thick and full goatee which to Edward seemed the height of sophistication and fashion.

At this point, it is almost unnecessary to point out that Edward had up until this point had a limited exposure to both sophistication and fashion.

So perhaps it was that. Or perhaps it was the outward manifestation of the inner chaos that was beginning to stir in Edward’s stomach, as he first made those fateful decisions to skip class and stay all bed in day, staring across his bed and over his toes at the little 9 inch television his parents had bought him.

His parents did not know of his truancy – his high school had been so small and mothering that cutting was only a option for the most daring – a red-haired girl comes to mind, rumors of drug use, an art class with a excess of giggling – who could tell, back then, the whole high school had been a bit of a free-for-all, the students sharing some private joke with the teachers, always left unsaid, as if everyone was fully aware they were playacting.

But now – in the real world – where Edward was only answerable to his self (or so he thought, never seeing the tuition bills his father dutifully paid or the loans he himself was being signed up before – did he sign? He must have signed something) – now Edward happily made left and right decisions, and flipping various coins, found himself often enough in front of his television when he should have been in class. Did he gain an education from this alternative form of media consumption? Unlikely. All he remembers from those time is the movie American History X, which contained a particularly heinous scene involving a curb, and Princess Mononoke, a Japanese animated film about a strange warrior in a strange town, something about an evil fairy magic forest queen, and a wolf, and, presumably, a princess.

What did he miss this first semester? Mostly Shakespeare, which had seemed to him to be too much poetry, not enough plot. Ed had always loved Shakespeare’s masterful plotting. Strong bones make strong minds.

Hype Machine Afternoon Playlist on Friday, January 23rd, 2009

  • Animal Collective, Blue Sky
  • Animal  Collective, Comfy in Nautica
  • Real Estate, Suburban Beverage
  • Real Estate, Old Folks
  • Bon Iver, the Park
  • Anni Rossi, Ecology

Living Room Winter Light

The slow song, on a quiet Friday winter afternoon, I am sitting in my New York City living room, thinking about nothing important, listening to slow chord changes, tasting my own saliva, my wristwatch heavy on my wrist, thirty different web pages open before me, and above the screen of my 21st century computer, is a folding plastic door leading to my peach and cream small room, everything thrown everywhere.

In a little window at the bottom of my screen, I have told my girlfriend not to come until tomorrow, sort-of. It was her idea, and sounds more sinister than I make it.

But there it is.

Long afternoons, and weak winter light streaming through. In another few minutes, in another few songs, I’m going to leave, and take the subway up to the New York Public Library, guarded by its stone lions, and find a book on pirates.

On another screen, I have found a commune where a girl I once met is staying. She apparently just helped in a birthing – so says Facebook (fiberoptic antiseptic false connections for the shy and lonely). I thought it was a metaphor, but apparently not.

Anyway. I have a phone call to make.  

Views of the Besht

The foundation-stone of Hasidism as laid by Besht is a strongly marked panentheistic conception of God. He declared the whole universe, mind and matter, to be a manifestation of the Divine Being; that this manifestation is not an emanation from God, as is the conception of the Kabbalah by Mitnagdim, for nothing can be separated from God: all things are rather forms in which God reveals Himself. When man speaks, said Besht, he should remember that his speech is an element of life, and that life itself is a manifestation of God. Even evil exists in God. This seeming contradiction is explained on the ground that evil is not bad in itself, but only in its relation to man. It is wrong to look with desire upon a woman; but it is divine to admire her beauty: it is wrong only insofar as man does not regard beauty as a manifestation of God, but misconceives it, and thinks of it in reference to himself. Nevertheless, sin is nothing positive, but is identical with the imperfections of human deeds and thought. Whoever does not believe that God resides in all things, but separates God and them in his thoughts, has not the right conception of God. It is equally fallacious to think of a creation in time: creation, that is, God’s activity, has no end. God is ever active in the changes of nature: in fact, it is in these changes that God’s continuous creativeness consists.

Toynbee Tiles

I have seen them.

Orphans of History

Young Americans, raging angry imperials, orphans of history, cut off from the Great Dung Heap of Old World Memories — we are free to live in this brave new consumer’s world and buy whatever shit we think we want. Sweet Jane in Paris in 1974 — women on the radio, head of KCRW, doesn’t know who Lou Reed is — it’s 2009 in America. Barack Obama is going to be the President. Israeli’s are bombing Gaza. What world is this? When did we get here? How did we get here? I’ve got a little chemical pill coursing through my veins and arteries, interfering with my neurotransmitters, and its supposed to make me happy happy happy. Happiness is a soft pill — happiness is a warm gun — happiness is the right quote, the right reference — dancing around, young law student, clever clever, building up and breaking down great large intricate lattices of references and referents, listening to the song in the background and typing in rhythm.

Would it be easier to read if I had more paragraph breaks? Singular audience. I love you. Is it enough? I hope so — still — with such great and terrible randomness and chaos and cloudy future weather — where is the hope? what is the point of talking about futures? Multiple futures — are we living in the middle of the apocalypse — Sweet Jane with a Suitcase — Phish, Hamptons, March 6,7,8, here we go — $300?? Not this year, buddy? Primal Scream? DJ Logic? The music of my youth — things listened to in the first few years of the second fin-de-seicle, Glorious Moderns, Ultramoderns, Dance, Dance, we are dancers, Stonehenge was a rave the internet says —

The bright white LCD screen — traces of my thought sketched across it like my finger along the glass shower door — three chords — six strings — somewhere there is a crossroads — deep inside the omphalos now — sitting across from Old Mother, Somewhat Agèd, Simple Woman, Lovely Woman of Philadelphia, You are Loved, Mother, don’t doubt it — she is scared I will leave — leave and never return — I do not understand it — I gave her more years than she had right to expect — now, I fade away —

Do I feel cloudy? Is time moving slower? I feel a cloud, yes — is it just lethargy and tired slowness? The emptiness of purpose? The great hangover? My life is in shambles — the money that was supposed to come will never come — there is no answer, no exit strategy. I whine and complain. Urghh. Orphans of history. That will need to be enough to end it. Erhh. Ahh. Goodnight, night. Good morning, morning.

Chelsea Morning

by Joni Mitchell

Woke up, it was a Chelsea morning, and the first thing that I heard
Was a song outside my window, and the traffic wrote the words
It came a-reeling up like christmas bells, and rapping up like pipes and drums

Oh, won’t you stay
We’ll put on the day
And we’ll wear it till the night comes

Woke up, it was a Chelsea morning, and the first thing that I saw
Was the sun through yellow curtains, and a rainbow on the wall
Blue, red, green and gold to welcome you, crimson crystal beads to beckon

Oh, won’t you stay
We’ll put on the day
Theres a sun show every second

Now the curtain opens on a portrait of today
And the streets are paved with passersby
And pigeons fly
And papers lie
Waiting to blow away

Woke up, it was a Chelsea morning, and the first thing that I knew
There was milk and toast and honey and a bowl of oranges, too
And the sun poured in like butterscotch and stuck to all my senses
Oh, won’t you stay
We’ll put on the day
And we’ll talk in present tenses

When the curtain closes and the rainbow runs away
I will bring you incense owls by night
By candlelight
By jewel-light
If only you will stay
Pretty baby, won’t you
Wake up, its a Chelsea morning

Chemical Wakeup

I place the white pill on my tongue, daily communion, self-delivered, this is my body, absolving me of one thing or another.