Tuesday, September 30, 2008

{Various Pretties + Happies + Heartstopperies}

Feeling balanced again, which is so pleasant. Enough sleep. Enough food. Enough breath. Fewer cigarettes. Less caffiene. Now, if I could just get that hulahooping thing to be a regular element of my day, all might be well. So, just a little bit of stuff:

My cat, she clawed my eyelid in an attempt to open it. Not a massive injury, but startling nonetheless. Now, I sleep more cautiously.
I finally got the new Jenny Lewis, Acid Tongue. Excellent. Still growing on me. Godspeed, Acid Tongue, and Carpetbaggers are my current favorites.
Finally saw Control. Good stuff. Brilliant stuff, actually. No one can demystify a man like his wife. Joy Division, You Cunt, and all that. Now listening to all the Joy Division possible and have regained a slight Ian Curtis obsession much more voracious than that of my teenage years, which is quite alarming, actually.
Finished the Twilight series. Amazing. The first vampire series I've read/been in love with since Interview with The Vampire, et al. Holy Lord. Just read them!
Still not writing. Somebody please help me!
Ignoring all economic and political news unless its on the Onion or Jon Stewart Show.
Still not calling people back, but still loving them.
Checked out the "Original Laugh-Out-Loud" cat. Very educational.
Reading Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. Happy to return to literaryness.
Will possibly be harboring a teenager on my couch for a week or two.

Next post will me much more interesting, I promise.

Friday, September 26, 2008

T.S. Eliot

Today is the birthday of T(homas) S(tearns) Eliot, born in Saint Louis (1888), who is the author of "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" (1915) and "The Waste Land" (1922). I love this poet. My dad memorized Love Song...when he was a child. I thusly memorized it as an adult, and spent a wonderful eight hours, once, in a coffee shop, with The Waste Land. Burned, worn in, like waves and wind, these words, the phrasing, the meter, the rhythms, the shifts, all have ridden so sweetly into my mind's tendrils and synapses and snaps and strange chemicals for so many years I feel they're a part of my inner workings, burned in there, part of it all, and I am so grateful.

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T. S. Eliot (Thomas Stearns Eliot)

*S’io credesse che mia risposta fosse
A persona che mai tornasse al mondo,
Questa fiamma staria senza piu scosse.
Ma percioche giammai di questo fondo
Non torno vivo alcun, s’i’odo il vero,
Senza tema d’infamia ti rispondo.

[Dante Alighieri's Inferno (Canto 27, lines 61-66)]

Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question ...
Oh, do not ask,
“What is it?”
Let us go and make our visit.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes,
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,
And seeing that it was a soft October night,
Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.

And indeed there will be time
For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
Rubbing its back upon the window-panes;
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and,
“Do I dare?”
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair —
(They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”)
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin —
(They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”)

Do I dare Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

For I have known them all already, known them all:
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.

So how should I presume?
And I have known the eyes already, known them all—
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?
And how should I presume?

And I have known the arms already, known them all—
Arms that are braceleted and white and bare
(But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!)
Is it perfume from a dress
That makes me so digress?
Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.

And should I then presume?
And how should I begin?

Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets
And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes
Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows? ...
I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.

And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!
Smoothed by long fingers,
Asleep ... tired ... or it malingers,
Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.

Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?
But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
Though I have seen my head (grown slightly bald) brought in upon a platter,
I am no prophet — and here’s no great matter;

I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal
Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
And in short, I was afraid.

And would it have been worth it, after all,
After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,
Would it have been worth while,
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it towards some overwhelming question,

To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”—
If one, settling a pillow by her head
Should say: “That is not what I meant at all;
That is not it, at all.”

And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while,
After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor—
And this, and so much more?—
It is impossible to say just what I mean!

But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:
Would it have been worth while
If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
And turning toward the window, should say:

“That is not it at all,
That is not what I meant, at all.”

No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool.

I grow old ... I grow old ...
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.
Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.
I do not think that they will sing to me.

I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.
We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

*"If I thought that I was replying to someone who
would ever return to the world, this flame would cease to flicker.
But since no one ever returns from these depths alive,
if what I've heard is true, I will answer you without fear of infamy."

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Laundry {Poetry + Pictures}

Laundry by George Bilgere

My mother stands in this black
And white arrangement of shadows
In the sunny backyard of her marriage,
Struggling to pin the white ghosts
Of her family on the line.
I watch from my blanket on the grass
As my mother's blouses lift and billow,
Bursting with the day.
My father's white work shirts
Wave their empty sleeves at me,
And my own little shirts and pants
Flap and exult like flags
In the immaculate light.

It is mid-century, and the future lies
Just beyond the white borders
Of this snapshot; soon that wind
Will get the better of her
And her marriage. Soon the future
I live in will break
Through those borders and make
A photograph of her-but

For now the shirts and blouses
Are joyous with her in the yard
As she stands with a wooden clothes pin
In her mouth, struggling to keep
The bed sheets from blowing away.

from The Good Kiss. © The University of Akron Press, 2002.
Reprinted at Writers Almanac with permission.

The Photos? From top to bottom from The Hanging Laundry Flickr Pool.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

RIP, David Foster Wallace

I sadly, ironically, discovered the news of David Foster Wallace's suicide while reading the Onion this afternoon, the hilarious headline being "NASCAR Cancels Remainder Of Season Following David Foster Wallace's Death". The image above is an illustration Harry Aung.

This happened September 14. I have no comment, other than one of my favorite collections of short stories ever is his, titled Girl With Curious Hair. No comments here, just a shooting forward of energy from inside me, out into the universe. Haven't been faring too well myself lately, but all in all, I still want to live. If you're unfamiliar with this genius, I suggest googling him, looking up his books at the library. His other works include Broom of the System and Infinite Jest. The below is from Gawker. May you rest in peace, DFW.

From Gawker.com:
Police have confirmed to Gawker that David Foster Wallace, novelist and essayist, was found dead of an apparent suicide in his home in Claremont, California, where he was a professor at Pomona College.

It's been reported that his wife found him after he hanged himself. Foster Wallace, longtime darling of grad students and civilian PoMo lit fans, was often very funny in print (see his famous essay skewering the cruise ship experience, "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again"), but as his 2005 speech at Kenyon College implied, he was not unfamiliar with the heft of existence:

"[L]earning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think. It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience. Because if you cannot exercise this kind of choice in adult life, you will be totally hosed. Think of the old cliché about quote the mind being an excellent servant but a terrible master.

This, like many clichés, so lame and unexciting on the surface, actually expresses a great and terrible truth. It is not the least bit coincidental that adults who commit suicide with firearms almost always shoot themselves in: the head. They shoot the terrible master. And the truth is that most of these suicides are actually dead long before they pull the trigger."

Very Sad. Indeed.

And Here's a Salon interview by Laura Miller, circa 1996, on the occasion of the release of Infinite Jest.

David Foster Wallace's low-key, bookish appearance flatly contradicts the unshaven, bandanna-capped image advanced by his publicity photos. But then, even a hipster novelist would have to be a serious, disciplined writer to produce a 1,079-page book in three years. "Infinite Jest," Wallace's mammoth second novel, juxtaposes life in an elite tennis academy with the struggles of the residents of a nearby halfway house, all against a near-future background in which the U.S., Canada and Mexico have merged, Northern New England has become a vast toxic waste dump and everything from private automobiles to the very years themselves are sponsored by corporate advertisers.

Slangy, ambitious and occasionally over-enamored with the prodigious intellect of its author, "Infinite Jest" nevertheless has enough solid emotional ballast to keep it from capsizing. And there's something rare and exhilarating about a contemporary author who aims to capture the spirit of his age.

The 34-year-old Wallace, who teaches at Illinois State University in Bloomington-Normal and exhibits the careful modesty of a recovering smart aleck, discussed American life on the verge of the millennium, the pervasive influence of pop culture, the role of fiction writers in an entertainment-saturated society, teaching literature to freshmen and his own maddening, inspired creation during a recent reading tour for "Infinite Jest."

What were you intending to do when you started this book?
I wanted to do something sad. I'd done some funny stuff and some heavy, intellectual stuff, but I'd never done anything sad. And I wanted it not to have a single main character. The other banality would be: I wanted to do something real American, about what it's like to live in America around the millennium.

And what is that like?
There's something particularly sad about it, something that doesn't have very much to do with physical circumstances, or the economy, or any of the stuff that gets talked about in the news. It's more like a stomach-level sadness. I see it in myself and my friends in different ways. It manifests itself as a kind of lostness. Whether it's unique to our generation I really don't know.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

No pain. Only love.

May each of our sufferings, all of our suffering, be transformed into joy, into love. This short post is made in loving memory of all who lost their lives, in loving sympathy to those who loved them, in loving compassion for all of us whose worlds were changed on this date, September 11, in 2001. "The Western world as we know it has shut down," my Dad said to me over the phone on this day. May we rise in Love, in Peace, in the shifting from sorrow into something sweet. {Paintings by Gerard Burns}.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Keep Your Defenses Up. Keep Creating.

It was on this day in 1981 that Pablo Picasso's famous painting "Guernica" was returned to Spain to hang in the Prado Museum in Madrid. The painting depicts the suffering in the city of Guernica, the capitol of Basque Spain, after a German bombardment in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War. Picasso exhibited the painting in Paris, but then sent it to New York and refused to allow it to be shown in Spain until the rule of General Franco ended.

Pablo Picasso, who said: "Painting is not made to decorate apartments. It's an offensive and defensive weapon against the enemy."
(From the Writer's Almanac.)

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Who's Gonna Knock You Out? (Bama Said Knock You Out!)

My friend Zach forwarded this to me. However, I know not from whence it came. Seek ye, children, and I am sure ye shall find. I had a little reflection on Obama all written, but I lost it. Can you guys find that, too? Nonetheless, this button, well, it's the bomb. Gimme one!

Friday, September 05, 2008


This program may be a little 2002, but I think my work could definitely benefit from it. Found here.


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