09 August 2017

VHS-DVD: no entry today...

but I had to clean out my storage room; so, in the process, I decided to photograph my movie library, because I plan to annihilate it, and it's nice to have a record of what existed.

  • VHS (Video Home System) is a widely-adopted VCR (Video Cassette Recording) technology that uses magnetic tape; it was developed by JVC (Japan Victor Company) and put on the market in 1976, exactly one year before the birth of the famous author Bryan Ray.
  • DVD (Digital Versatile Disc; originally Digital Video Disc) is a type of compact storage able to hold large amounts of high-resolution audiovisual data.

Why do I own only these titles, and what does such a pathetic collection say about its curator?

08 August 2017

Dull report from days away

Dear diary,

I've been off-duty for a few hundred seconds. Not out of the country, but away from this ship-log; I couldn't find any opportunity to write. Much has happened in the meantime. Earth-shattering events...

On Saturday I visited my boss at his home residence, as is my habit, and his mother and aunt stopped by and stayed for a while. This made me nervous. One should never be forced to mingle with one's boss's mother and aunt. Then in the evening I went to an outdoor barbecue with my sweetheart's colleagues. A barbecue is a gathering at which meat, fish, or other food is cooked on a portable grill. But it rained, so we all stood inside the house.

I don't remember what happened on Sunday.

O! now I remember: Sunday was the new Twin Peaks episode. Hour thirteen. Was it passable? No.

Then on Monday morning we awoke and entered our garage and sliced up some wood. There is a big pile of scrap lumber from years ago when I built my deck, and I've all along been meaning to get rid of it; but it won't fit into the trash can because all of the boards are too long. And there is an old door, and an old door frame, and other wooden objects in the pile too. So I got out a circular saw, a power tool, very loud to hear when it is in action; and I used this to cut the wood so it would fit in the trash. This story may sound boring to you, but it was a real adventure for Yours Truly. Each cut I undertook with the blade seemed as though it might be my last moment alive, because one false move would deprive me of life and limb. I'm very paranoid; I'm bad with power tools in general, and I always believe the worst is about to happen. But everything went fine. My sincerest apologies.

The thought of accidentally severing my arm off leads me to think about health care. That's the big topic of the moment, in the news; or at least it seems so to me. I hear people on the right wing of humanity say that we need the freedom to choose who will be our doctor, and that privatization will lead to greater competition, which in turn will lead to lower prices. And then I hear people on the left say that health care should be the government's job alone, and that this will keep costs down because it'll eliminate the waste caused by the middle men, the insurance companies which keep denying aid to people while jacking up their rates. And both the right and left say many other things as well, but these are the major arguments that I could recall at the moment. I side with the left, so my attempt at giving an unbiased account of this matter was probably not just biased but SUPER-biased.

It's interesting. We're all going to die, apparently. And one can mitigate the amount of pain and suffering that one undergoes before one's ultimate end; but one's end WILL come, and some modicum of pain or suffering often bleeds through whatever barricade of drugs that one set up to...

All that a soul can do is make peace with pain. Make peace with death. Until a superior steward of life arises.

I was born in the U.S.A. Does this fact make me more or less important than someone who was born elsewhere? (Did St. Paul ever claim that he was a citizen of Rome?) I've heard that certain other countries offer their populace not only HEALTH CARE but HIGHER EDUCATION gratis, which means: free of charge. Which is to say: these things are paid for via taxes. Here in the U.S.A., health care is so expensive that it bankrupts every single living creature, and higher education leaves even GOD in debt up to her eyeballs. So if I focus on just these two areas of perdition, it would seem that being born in the U.S.A. is a blank rather than a blank. But then there are countries that the U.S.A. is bombing or sanctioning or...

We watched A Clockwork Orange (1971) the other night, because we saw it on the shelf at our local library when we were browsing, and my sweetheart said that she hadn't ever seen it before, and she was curious. I myself have seen it many times. I've always had mixed feelings about it; I mean I love certain aspects of it and yet I have misgivings about other aspects. I think that violence doesn't work well on the silver screen. One of my favorite books is Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy; it's extremely violent, and tho I recoil from its carnage, I think that its presentation is responsibly challenging (pardon my milksop phrasing); and I would never want to experience the book as a film: I think that some subjects should remain exclusively in the realm of text, the realm of the mind alone. Thus A Clockwork Orange bothers me because much of what it presents violates my Code of Proper Movie Behavior; yet it is obviously masterful in its artistry, and, as the details of my personal history prove, I'd rather watch the film repeatedly than abstain from ever seeing it again. Incidentally I've read the book on which the film is based, and I think the film is better than the book. I love the music, especially the synthesized score. And I suspect that I should be embarrassed to admit this, but a lot of the artworks that are featured in the film, for instance the paintings (or whatever they are) that're hanging on the wall in the "cat lady's" studio, really appeal to me. I love that form of blatant eroticism. But I don't like the phallic sculpture near the door – that's too jokey. It works for the film but it doesn't transcend its utility.

*

What's gonna happen? When's it all gonna collapse? I'm speaking of the world in general; human life specifically. Doesn't it feel like a tragedy is immanent? How much more can the global economy take before it folds? Or has it already folded and we're pressing it to fold even further?

What are we, humans? It seems that life has subsisted in different styles than the current crown-species: Arm Leg Leg Arm Head. What about cephalopods? What about dolphins? What about elephants? I always think about Blake's lines in the Marriage of Heaven and Hell: How do we know but every bird that cuts the airy way, is an immense world of delight closed by our senses five? How can we percieve the evidence of so much life having preceded us, even just here on Earth, and not consider the possibility that abundant life will follow in our wake, whether what we call MEN survive or not? I love the human form, I think it is divine, and I hope that it wriggles thru; but at the same time I know that everything's...

Everything is. It just IS. But is it wanted or unwanted? I don't know. Do I want it? I'm not sure. I sort of half-want it. And does WANT mean "desire" or "need"...?

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. (Psalm 23:1)

Someone mentioned at Saturday's indoor barbecue that they were reading a book by a popular senator. This fact came to my mind because the above quotation is considered to be religious, and we're advised to avoid mentioning either religion or politics at social get-togethers. The senator in question is considered by the masses to be a leftist, so the statement by the attendee that she was reading his book could be taken as an invitation to lark, lark, lark about politics. I did not bite this bait. I felt a surge of desire to express my love for certain true leftists and their ideas, but, out of politeness, I refrained from speaking. I don't always agree with the masses. I wonder how many soldiers are wounded in war on account of their too-polite way of attending to slaughter. You'd think that once they put a weapon in your hands, you'd immediately begin to shoot at your uppers, your authority figures; but I guess this isn't always the case. If you're a police man, you honor your boss. If you are a soldier, you honor your boss. If you are an artist, you ape your college professor. Everyone needs a shepherd. But I shall not want. Long have we timidly waded holding a plank by the shore; but, as Whitman says:

Now I will you to be a bold swimmer,
To jump off in the midst of the sea, rise again, nod to me, shout, and laughingly dash with your hair.

That's the end of section 46 of "Song of Myself," which poem is MY religion, MY politics; and this is from the beginning of section 47:

He that by me spreads a wider breast than my own proves the width of my own,
He most honors my style who learns under it to destroy the teacher.

THIS maketh me to lie down in green pastures: THIS leadeth me beside the still waters. THIS restoreth my soul.

04 August 2017

Some thots ranging from bad to just OK

Dear diary,

I'm not going to have time to do this today, but you've got to remind me to do it sometime soon: I should talk about how I was surprised, upon first reading about the lives of André Breton and his fellow Surrealists, how much the Communist party meant to them; and how I almost couldn't reconcile what seemed these antipodes in my mind: the deep care for politics and the deep care for poetry. (For I believe Surrealism is, at its core, just the age old love of poetry dressed up in modern garb; attained via absurdity and the partial relinquishing of consciousness, etc.) ...And I should also compare this reaction of mine to the same confusion that I felt when first reading that story in James Joyce's collection Dubliners called "Ivy Day in the Committee Room," which gives much time and space to talk of the politician Parnell; and also the places in Joyce's other novels where the same subject comes up. (I knew nothing of Parnell, by the way: so I just presumed that he was a run-of-the-mill statesman.) I didn't understand how politics, politicians, or political parties could even attract a true poet's passing glace, let alone matter so much that they'd rise to the surface of a masterwork. But it's just like, when you're young, you don't believe you'll ever get old, yet then when you turn thirty, that feels as though it were inevitable, and then forty seems nothing, and fifty sixty seventy up to 120 are no big deal. At THAT point, to slide past death seems impossible. But then it happens, easy as breathing. Yet when you're not a vampire, it seems far-fetched to live through multiple generations of humankind. But it's like the lines from the "Song of Tom O'Bedlam":

Ten leagues beyond the wide world's end—
     Methinks it is no journey.

My point is that now I've been bit by the political bug. And it's as miserable as it looked to my happy-go-luckier self.

By the way, the thots (I began spelling this word like that because I saw Ralph Waldo Emerson do so in his notebooks) contained in the following entry are as follows, listed in alphabetical order: politics plus poetry; FB; bookmaking; online etiquette; newspapers; and marriage. You can skip ahead to the section that interests you most, by scanning your eyes up and down the words of the scroll.

And the title to this entry refers to the audio track "Hun" by Mr Oizo (which is the stage name of Quentin Dupieux, who is also the writer-director-cinematographer-editor-etc. of the 2013 film Wrong Cops, my current favorite movie) – a female computer voice introduces the album that the track heads off...

Bonjour. This is me again: Mr Oizo. You're about to hear a collection of some recorded stuff. Some are good; some are bad; some are just OK. Turn off the light, read a book. You are ready.

I simply like that, so I wanted to make it part of this blog. I hope you don't mind. Also I can't stop myself from reminding myself that I can avoid listening to the bad-to-OK Oizo tracks if I only trust my own critical judgment, which is better than the judgment of the artist (NOT because Dupieux is experimental—that's his strong suit—but because he values popularity and the cash that accompanies it and thus is always looking to make a "hit"), I say, I can get straight to the OK-to-good tracks by listening exclusively to my Oizo playlist on YouTube.

Now that I'm knee-deep in pop culture, or rather non-pop un-pop alt-pop anti-pop other-pop, I might as well tackle some additional online concerns that've been nagging me, which I've been putting off because I hate thinking about them:

Facebook. THE social network. I haven't used that system for a long time now. Should I review my feelings about it? How boring, alright I will. Right after leaving, I felt relieved. And then countless months passed, and I grew healthier and more robust in body and soul. I never felt the urge to go back and revive my account – it wasn't that familiar feeling of addiction, like when I try to quit drinking tea. But I did notice that my family stopped caring about me, not out of callousness but because they can neither see nor hear any creature who does not appear in their newsfeed. I remain totally off their radar. They don't even know who I am now. And friends who used to keep in touch with me thru Facebook are now as good as dead – I don't mean to be morbid, but it would be easier for me to converse with the ancient Athenians than to meet up with old school pals outside of Facebook. But the weird bonus is that people who I barely knew on Facebook connected with me via other accounts (Twitter, Tumblr, regular email, etc.) and we've bonded more genuinely than I ever did with most of my old school friends.

It's kind of like the feeling of being at an overcrowded wedding: everyone's talking and it's hard to hear, you have to shout over the commotion; it's chaotic. But then a fellowsufferer nudges you and says: Let's take a walk. So once you're outside, you hear the dull roar of the wedding that's continuing in the vicinity, and it feels as though you've both escaped from prison, because the walking path is so pleasant: it runs around a clear lake whose surface is smooth as glass, and the flowers and plants smell fresh, and the air is crisp. The conversation flows naturally and comfortably, you can hear each other perfectly in the quiet evening. It's a beautiful sunset.

Yet I sometimes do think of resurrecting back into the fusty realm of Facebook, if only for that same reason that Nietzsche's Zarathustra descends from his mountain. But then I decide against it, because I'm a lover of pleasure.

"Zarathustra has changed, Zarathustra has become a child, Zarathustra is an awakened one; what do you now want among the sleepers? You lived in your solitude as in the sea, and the sea carried you. Alas, would you now climb ashore? Alas, would you again drag your own body?"
     Zarathustra answered: "I love man."

(That's Walter Kaufmann's translation, as usual.) Bringing up Nietzche makes me wonder about my own contributions: to literature, to culture, to poetry, to thought. Nietzsche wrote his books fast and in a dithyrambic fashion, because he feared that he would lose his mind at early middle age, as his father did. Now Nietzsche's one of the most imporant writers, one of the greatest and most penetrating thinkers ever to live – chronically misunderstood, and it's beyond an understatement to say he's underrated – so no one will avoid appearing foolish if they compare themselves to him. So I'll compare myself to him now: I relate to his fast pace and dionysian fury in composition, because my dad lost his memory at a relatively young age too. I'm left with worries about what to do next, with regard to writing, because I bound all my publications up into one collection and another (plus an holy scripture), fearing that if I myself didn't do it, who else would? And if not now, when? And yet here I am with still a half-healthy mind. What went wrong? I always thought that, one day after finishing my final volume, my neighbors would find me dancing naked in front of the TV yule log. And then my mother and sister would have to take me into their house and spoon me gruel for umpteen more decades.

So if my mind refuses to crumble, what should I do with it? I don't want to write any more books, honestly. I like these ship logs that I keep semi-daily: they're light labor, and I can say whatever I feel, no one cares, that's how I like it. I can talk about bananas for a whole entire passage, if I want. Which someday I might do. But my (mis?)understanding of Nietzsche is that he wrote the Zarathustra books first, and then he went on to write all the others, like my favorites, Genealogy of Morality and Beyond Good and Evil and The Antichrist and Ecce Homo. So I sometimes get anxious that all my writings are just the Zarathustra-stage of my development, and that the real work comes after, and it starts now. And since I'm basically lollygagging, just sitting around leaning and loafing at my ease, tallywhacking. However, the truest, oldest, most transcendent part of my self—the aspect that shares an identity with the Ineffable—knows that those books I made are exactly right. Like when the flower opens and gives you its all: that's what I did, and there's no more that you can ask of me.

But I love second-guessing myself, that's why I hemmed and hawed about this so long. You never know: sometimes you find a flaw in your armor. And then you go to work either fixing it or making new stuff. So I'm glad that I was exonerated by the high court of my own judgment, so now I can spend my days contemplating spears of summer grass.

Yet why is naked dancing proof of madness? I say it's good. Even very good, and sane as love. I've cited the events from 2nd Samuel chapter 6 here many times, but I'm a person who admires a small number of well-built artworks intensely, rather than an ever-growing mass of new works flightily.

And David danced before the LORD with all his might; and David was girded with a linen ephod.

And as the ark of the LORD came into the city of David, Michal Saul's daughter looked through a window, and saw king David leaping and dancing before the LORD; and she despised him in her heart. [...] And Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David, and said, How glorious was the king of Israel to day, who uncovered himself to day in the eyes of the handmaids of his servants, as one of the vain fellows shamelessly uncovereth himself!

And David said unto Michal, It was before the LORD, which chose me before thy father, and before all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the LORD, over Israel: therefore will I play before the LORD. And I will yet be more vile than thus, and will be base in mine own sight: and of the maidservants which thou hast spoken of, of them shall I be had in honour.

This is a good maxim: Let me henceforth strive to be "yet more vile than thus," and "base in mine own sight."

But what do YOU want, all ye who use the online social networks? (All that I myself want is your undivided attention.) When you do some good writing; or when you share an image that is excellent, of yourself dancing without shame before the LORD; what would you like best: for people to click the heart-shaped icon, indicating their approval? or for people to share your work on their own ignored unhip bulletin board? or for people to leave a comment?

And if you'd like for people to leave comments, would you prefer that they are kept short, like "Nice!" or "[smiley face hieroglyph]"? or do you yearn to hear a more in-depth response? Because I always fear that if I leave just a brief positive comment, it'll come off like I'm not willing to invest more of myself, more time and energy, in studying your creation... BUT equally I fear that if I leave too lenghty and involved of a reaction, it'll force you to attend to my ideas, and you'll consider it annoying that I shoved upon you the choice between two ugly acts: either to suffer the labor of reading and responding in kind, or to match the rudeness of my affront by rudely ignoring me.

I sound like I'm overthinking everything. Amen; so be it. I'm not as paranoid or neurotic as that last paragraph makes me appear. I'm really a loving soul, and very generous when it comes to the artistic realm.

But what kind of a loving soul finds it necessary to ASSERT that he is a loving soul? I smell a rat.

Speaking too highly of oneself does not make people like you more, does it? I always assumed that it turns people away. Above, I smugly compared myself to Nietzsche; and yesterday I said that Max Ernst is the brand new me. In past entries I've claimed I'm Emily Dickinson. And William Blake and Herman Melville. Therefore here is yet another passage that I've quoted and re-quoted before; but trying to bar me from repeating this is like telling a churchgoer to stop rote-lipping the "Lord's Prayer" or John 3:16 or Psalm 23. My well-loved passage is from Alfred Jarry's Exploits and Opinions of Doctor Faustroll Pataphysician, which is subtitled: A Neo-Scientific Novel; it can be found in chapter 14: "Concerning the Forest of Love" (English translation by Simon Watson Taylor).

"Are you Christians?" asked a bronzed man, dressed in a gaudy smock, standing in the center of the little triangular town.
      [...] "I am God," said Faustroll.

Now I'll talk about newspapers; then I'll give one quote from Gore Vidal's Empire; and then I'll bid you good evening. Then you can dance with somebody else. (I'm imagining we're at a ball.) (Better yet, a masked ball. And you're wearing one of those glittery white dresses with a steel-hooped cage crinoline underskirt.)

Is it better to read the newspaper or to avoid it? All the news is untrustworthy. But some of the news (or much?) is factual, right? THE TRUTH. Even a deity must remain true, otherwise he's a false idol and no one likes him anymore. If you pay attention to what the newspapers print, you might think that we're in war where we're not, and that we're not at war when we are, and that we won battles that we lost, and lost ones we won. CONCLUSION: I should learn to read at least French and German and modern Hebrew and Arabic and Spanish. So that way I'll be able to compare all the newspapers from all over the world. I should also learn Russian, that'd be helpful. Then I could read Tolstoy in the original. If you think I'm kidding, think again: I love Leo Tolstoy. Even aside from his stories, which are the best of the best, my friend Ludwig Wittgenstein told me about The Gospel in Brief, where Tolstoy offers his version of right spiritual conduct by parsing the abovementioned Lord's Prayer while telling the story of Jesus. It's worth confronting. Yet keep in mind that my friend Wittgenstein who recommended Tolstoy's Gospel to me also dismisses Mahler; so if you're a Mahler fan, maybe think twice about trusting the type of people I hang out with.

I'm happy that my bookshelves are all upstairs again. Now I can walk over to them conveniently while typing; which is good for my wallet, because I pay myself by the keystroke, but bad for the reader, who thus gets inundated with quotes. I grabbed the title Culture and Value, which is a selection of Wittgenstein's notes, to look for the source of the aforesaid anti-Mahler remark, and I found it among the writings dated 1948, but instead of copying that, I want instead to give an unrelated sentence, for the sake of moving freely.

When you are philosophizing you have to descend into primeval chaos and feel at home there.

But now back to the topic at hand. How many hours of the day can one dedicate to newspaper reading? I can barely talk about it without going astray. I prefer to read poetry and novels, criticism, essays, plays, and also I love watching movies at night. We make popcorn and sometimes sip martinis. I live in eternity not clocktime. So if I must bulldoze aside all this transcendent activity for the sake of keeping up with current events...

I can't even end that proposition: it's unthinkable. It reminds me of the sad trap of dedicating all of your time to physical exercise, so that you can live another day to fill with exercise, so that you can live another day to fill with exercise...

And yet without the foundation of decent government and a forgiving and compassionate society, these vulgar daily struggles creep up and eventually strangle any artistic aspirations; so it's worth giving a minimum of effort to preserving the best parts of the current system and improving its worst parts, if only for the sake of Golganooza. (See my entry "Food for a Hungry Weblog" for scant info on that term.)

Anyway, here's the promised passage from Gore Vidal's Empire. It's from chapter FIVE. Page 194. I'm approaching the novel's halfway point. The subject is marriage.

Did Americans really believe what they said or were they simply fearful of that ominous majority whose ignorance and energy set the national tone? They certainly never ceased to pretend in public that marriage was not only sacred but the stately terminus to romance. Although one constantly heard of this or that bad marriage, adultery was seldom alluded to within the pale of respectability.

I suspect that Vidal is, on some level, seriously asking these questions himself through the thoughts of his heroine. My experience, having lived all my life here in rural Minnesota, is that YES the people "really believe what they say" about the sacredness of marriage. It scares the living heck out of me. People here are deadly serious about monogamy, too. When I read, for instance, certain European novels that take marriage more relaxedly—divine books like Boccaccio's Decameron—I'm always relieved; I breathe easier; I smile and feel glad. Now I'm reminded of one more passage from Nietzsche's The Antichrist (sec. 46):

Every book becomes clean just after one has read the New Testament: to give an example, it was with utter delight that, right after Paul I read that most graceful, most prankish mocker Petronius, of whom one might say... è tutto festo—immortally healthy, immortally cheerful and well turned out.

But I should add that the reason I feel about marriage the same way that our good European feels about the Christian scriptures has nothing to do with the state of my own spousal relationship: contrariwise, my partner is my partner because she's not a sour wife but a very sweet heart. My distaste for marriage is a philosophical stance. We hold friendship high above legal contracts.

And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam... but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him. (Genesis 2:19-20)

Poor Adam. I am thankful that Lady Luck sent me no animals but a true soul mate.

03 August 2017

Passin time flippin thru a picture book

(Sorry: I was all out of images, so I grabbed an old canvas of mine for a background and photographed some coins on top of it. No reason. I just wanted to emphasize that it has nothing to do with the picture book of the title or with any of the names or works referenced below, except insofar as it is an artistic masterpiece.)

Dear ship log,

Marcel Duchamp gave one of his artworks the title "To Be Looked at (from the Other Side of the Glass) with One Eye, Close to, for Almost an Hour". This fact came to my mind while I was paging through a book of classic paintings that I checked out from the library. Every page featured a work by a different artist; I looked at each one, but I was flipping the pages rapidly, like people do when they browse through magazines in the beauty salon. Splendor after splendor, and I'm giving them no more than a glance: less than a second of my time. This is not normally how I take in art; but I happened to be searching for a specific work by a specific artist, so I was moving hastily. Then certain pictures along the way would grab my attention and I would pause and look deeper while thinking about them, and I'd sometimes even read the brief text that was provided by the editors. The Duchamp work that was chosen to represent his whole life's oeuvre, by the way, was not the one I mentioned above (that work came to mind because of the droll note about time in its title) but stupidly one of his readymades. That frustrated me; and what they wrote about his life and works annoyed me. The book was badly done, but I don't want to waste my time complaining; I'd rather let my thoughts wander...

Why don't I visit an actual, physical museum, by the way? I should go visit an actual, physical museum sometime. How about the day after tomorrow? OK, let's synchronize our watches and meet there. How will I know you? My face will be obscured by a lime-green fruit. Let's rendezvous at The Dream of Henri Rousseau. But what if we get lost?—I don't think our local museum has any Rousseaus. Then let's move to New York; I have heard that the sepulcher and the white linen have yielded me up, and that I am alive there. (Yet can a declining Empire enter the second time into creative renaissance, and its States re-become the greatest poem? See John 3:4 and the preface to Whitman's 1855 Leaves of Grass, second paragraph. See also MoMA: Make omerika Marvel Again.)

Visual art in the Age of the Internet. What is the place of paintings nowadays? I wish I could see the new artworks that the young fresh artists are creating. Do people even exhibit their works anymore? Do people even paint, or do they only paw touchscreens? Remember the Armory Show of 1913, the International Exhibition of Modern Art? One reason I want to become cash-rich is so that I can buy exquisite paintings from starving artists, and make those artists cash-rich in turn. For I know the best stuff: I have the best eye, best judgment, best taste. But why would I say such a thing – isn't beauty too subjective of a notion to be spoken of in this way? Yes, but that's OK. There's nothing immoral about boasting that your opinion is superior.

But what about the way that people scroll through feeds of artworks on the Internet, and a mural that's 3.49 meters tall and 7.76 meters wide I.P.R. (= "in physical reality") appears relatively the same dimensions on the screen as a postage stamp? The homogenization of automatic image resizing.

And do people fall in love with paintings anymore, or is everything held on the same level as a retail store's ad pics?

Do people think that Paul Cézanne is boring? I recently heard someone in an interview speak as if there's a consensus among all fashionable museumgoers that Cézanne is passé. But I love Paul Cézanne. I don't have to go into detail explaining what is alluring in his works; I simply find myself fascinated by him consistently, and for many reasons.

Also [name removed]: he's very popular among the suburbanites where I live, who're the type of people that don't care much for art; I get the feeling that they like [name removed] because he soothes them, and he's easy for them to ignore; they think of his work as a blurry decoration that patiently, humbly, dutifully remains in the background. But this is not how I think of [name removed]; my heart opens to his paintings. Just because narrow-minded people endorse him for shallow reasons doesn't make him or his work any less wonderful.

But even if your art book only allows one single painting per artist, I say that Henri Matisse deserves many more pages of material to be reproduced: you should break your editorial rule for this fine soul. He's a favorite of mine.

I also like Paul Klee a lot too. I chose a work of his to be the cover of my bible, for criminy sake. He offers the mind visions that are too small or too big for our fleshly sight to perceive, and worlds that were before this world, and things to come. Not a mere copier of surface-nature but an illuminator of the mysteries of inwardness.

Pablo Picasso is a name that everyone knows, and I'm happy about that, because I think he deserves to be remembered as one of the two or three souls who get to occupy the glowing eye above the tip of the pyramid. It's not always that the popular ones are also the most sublime, but Picasso leaves me spellbound. Give him a trophy.

My sweetheart just sent me an electronic postcard from the grocery store saying that she finished shopping and is now waiting in the checkout line, therefore beware: she will arrive home soon. So I'll just page through the rest of this art book too swiftly, like I was doing when I started, and, instead of attempting to say anything interesting, I'll just pluck the names of my faves for a posy.

By the way, isn't it nice that you can walk to the farm across the street and purchase food? I'm thankful that living creatures exist.

Edward Hopper; Giorgio de Chirico; most of all Max Ernst. The book has two fragments that I actually like, in its notes about Ernst – I'll copy them here, for fun – this first one is just a five-word phrase:

. . . his inexhaustible delight in experimentation . . .

and here's the only other part of the book that's worth reading; it's almost an entire sentence:

. . . Ernst created pictures with subject matter that eludes rational explanation; in combination with their often-cryptic titles, these works are thoroughly enigmatic.

Also note that Ernst died in 1976, exactly one year before I myself was born. And it takes a soul 365 days to transmigrate into its new body. So I probably am the new Max Ernst; just so you know. Or rather, after the upcoming Friendly Black Hole absorbs our dimension and causes the stream of time to reverse its direction, Max Ernst will be considered the new Bryan Ray. That's why I'll have to try to die around April Fool's Day, so that our shared nightmare doesn't suffer mitosis. (Incidentally that's really his birthday; or was his death-day back when the cause-carriage led the effect-horse.)

Also Joan Miró; René Magritte; Roy Lichtenstein; and Jasper Johns. I even love David Hockney. Tho I'm timid about admitting my affection for Hockney, because he's comparatively new to me and SO prolific, also he seems dangerously close to the whatness of Picasso, so I'm always wondering: Is this guy satanic enough to stand out from Pablo's great shadow? But all I can say is that his work intrigues me, pleases me, fascinates me, strikes me as beautiful, seems passably complex...

And why must art be complex, Nicodemus? It needn't. But I prefer creations whose appearance celebrates a sort of intricate difficulty. Since we live in perplexing times, it is good to be able to embrace a vision of...

Ah, here is a young woman at the front door, holding grocery bags. I will help her bring them into the apartment now. Thanks for your company.

01 August 2017

My pre-T.P. flop is conceded & various brainstorms follow

(I drew the lines and my sweetheart colored them in.)

Dear diary,

I have a lot of explaining to do. I'm embarrassed about my last post, because I spent the whole thing giddying on about Twin Peaks, and then the show let me down. I made two predictions about the episode that aired yestreen – I said:

  1. Special Agent Cooper will snap back into his accustomed razor-sharp consciousness: no more sleepwalking.
  2. Thus far, only the third, fourth, and eighth hours have been sublime, and all the other hours of the show have been tedious, but I say that this twelfth episode will be the sublimest yet.

Not only did neither of these predictions come true, but they were countered almost sinisterly, as if writer-director Lynch were taunting me. Far from reviving into his usual splendor, the character Dale Cooper appeared just once in the hour-long episode, for a brief shot, which seemed no more than 30 seconds long, where he's led into his back yard to play catch with this kid, and the kid throws the ball, but Cooper doesn't move, he just stands there dumbly as the baseball hits him; then the scene ends. So it seems official: Lynch is going to give us 18 hours of Twin Peaks without Agent Cooper.

And as for this latest episode being the best yet, my guess couldn't have been wronger: it was beyond disappointing. I'm only interested in what blazes, not in what fizzles; so I haven't kept track of the show's worst episodes, but this was among them. I don't want to waste anymore words on this.

But what is there to talk about, if not stupid cable TV? Pretty much nothing. We got all our bookcases moved back into the living room. They'd been relegated to the basement while we were re-doing the floor. So now I can access my books. This is a good thing. I like books. They're so much more exciting than the Internet. I wish I didn't even have to mention the Internet, but I live in the age of its advent, so everything gets measured by its relation to it. Just imagine the age of the advent of books. When books were the newest technology. A brilliant stranger's mind is laid bare before you. What did they choose to write? An essay on the human heart? Religious ideas? A scientific study? Contributions to a nation's history? A poem? A story? ...Why does it seem like there's not as much variety in cable television, compared to literature? And why is the Internet always showing up in my nightmares claiming "I am bigger than books; I contain all books," and yet the place still feels so limiting?

I say: presentation matters. Books are quiet. I mean, the realities contained by a given book might be the loudest ever, but in the surrounding world that is the domain of the reader, even the wildest thrillingest god-defyingest text appears but as silent symbols on a patient page. So books are inviting because they don't need us; they're like cats in this way, with their self-sustaining disposition, except books are far more haughty, because they don't need food, and they mate in an intensely private way with only willing minds, therefore books are like cat statues – winged lions: cherubim. Yet if marble were aether. Now compare this perfection to the Internet. How is the internet presented. I'm using the word "present" in a slippery way here, I know: that's because I have designs upon my audience. The Internet has a built-in feeling of commotion, of marketplace barking, of rush-rush-rush, of "someone's already been here and done that, long before you"... Even plain white blogs like this one that I'm updating now – the fact that one must turn on one's device, one's laptop computer or phone, in order to view my words: it's cumbersome. And the buzzing, living nature of the electric environment is exciting, I admit; but it's also annoying: it's like caffeine: enough or too much: you drink a little and feel real sharp, you feel like spacetime might love you after all; but one cup of coffee too many and now you're jittery. The Internet is inherently jittery, in this way. It's not like tea or divine espresso; it lacks the fineness to satisfy connoisseurs: it's a much uglier threat, like sugar.

And I'll say it again: Online social networking is like saltwater to the thirst of loneliness.

But I don't think that it's below you to repair your own abode. My boss's water pipes sprang a leak, and he had to tear open the wall behind his shower to fix the problem. Then he bought an ornate wooden door, which he planned to install where the wall's hole is, so that he might be able to access the pipes in the future but not have to be affronted daily with the sight of their nakedness. Now the reason that I say my boss PLANNED to install this door, past tense, instead of that he still presently PLANS to do so, is that he no longer can find the will to go on. (That is, with the repair job, not life itself.) I told him about those last words from Beckett's Unnamable, "I can't go on, I'll go on"; but what inspires one's soul does not necessarily inspire one's employer. My boss felt an urgency, when he heard the scary sound of gushing water, which convinced him to leap to his feet and tear down that wall. But this door-installation project does not interest him. When I asked him why he doesn't just tackle it, for the sake of getting it done, he said: "I can't believe that we're so advanced as a society and yet we still have to do this type of labor ourselves." And when I asked him to explain further, he said he wishes that someone who truly enjoys this branch of science (small ornate pipe door installation) simply would be appointed, say by the government, to come and do the work. For he (my boss) has zero point zero interest in this type of thing. Not that he doesn't understand how to do it; he just feels that it's beneath him, as a computer programmer, to install his own alcove access. That's why I began this paragraph by declaring that it's not beneath you to repair your own house.

What are humans? We're big things made of small things. And those small things are in turn made of many smaller things. Small things join hands and become big humans. And there are bigger things than us. Things like stars, planets; even horseless carriages dwarf the stature of man. My point is this: We're not the median of phenomena, with regard to size – there is no midpoint to infinity. Or, rather: ANY point amid the infinite can be reckoned its axis mundi. Likewise, we're neither the least nor the most important item in this universe. As I've said before, it's my understanding that the ancient Hebrews employed phrases like "the song of songs" because their language lacked any superlative, such as, in English, one might say "the sublime song." So is our solar system the solar system of solar systems? We shouldn't consider any particular task as higher or lower than us: we should milk the potential interest out of everything.

My neighbor cannot figure out how to shut his door quietly. I'm not talking about my neighbor with the motorcycle, I mean the other one – the one who's behind me right now (I'm sitting on the couch that faces away from his wall). I had to mention this fact because, as I type this, it's the dead center of the night, and he just left for work... SLAM goes the door on his way out and shakes the whole house. It's an instant jolt of adrenaline, for me. Every night he leaves at the same time and SLAMS like this when he goes. (Plus his car has no muffler.) I know he's a nice guy, and that he probably doesn't even know how disturbing this action is to his hypersensitive neighbor, but you'd think that common sense would kick in at some point, and that he'd try just a smidgen to harmonize with the state of his surroundings: and in the middle of the night, the mood is peaceful. All the birds are sleeping in their nests – note that you do not hear them screeching. All their squawking and singing and chirping and twittering and divebombing of worms and windows occurs when the sun looms back. But for now we are safe. It is dark. It is quiet. Like a womb made of cork. Therefore, dear neighbor, try to sneak, show some stealth; pretend you're a spy: be creepy. Get in touch with your inner nocturnal predator. During these grave hours, doors should be handled diffidently. Later, when you're at your construction site in broad daylight, and it's time to break for lunch, certainly then you can...

I just realized that in this last paragraph I twice referred to instants of the night as midpoint or central: this goes against my assertions above about eternity; and nighttime is infinite, so this is concerning. But it also meshes perfectly with what I said about relativity. So I won't interrupt my reverie to mention it.

P.S.

Before I fold this entry into the shape of an airplane and send it to heaven, I want to say just seventeen words about a passage from the novel I've been reading – The Way of All Flesh by Samuel Butler.

If a man carries with him a little sketch book and is continually jotting down sketches, he has the artistic instinct; a hundred things may hinder his due development, but the instinct is there. The literary instinct may be known by a man's keeping a small note-book in his waistcoat pocket, into which he jots down anything that strikes him, or any good thing that he hears said, or a reference to any passage which he thinks will come in useful to him.

I consider myself as someone who "has the artistic instinct" as well as "the literary instinct"; but I've never carried a sketch book OR a note-book in my waistcoat pocket, ever. I don't even think I own a waistcoat ("a vest, especially one worn over a shirt and under a jacket"; alternately "a quilted long-sleeved garment worn under a doublet"). I should purchase a waistcoat, and keep a sketch book and a note-book in its pocket. And then I should jot memoranda, and sketch what I see. For a hundred things HAVE hindered my due development, and I need to remedy this.

Actually I don't believe in this concept of "development," so I don't think of myself as artistically deformed; but I know that there's neither right nor wrong in art, and that's why I love it, and I'm always eager to try some new path. Hereto, I've drawn strictly and exclusively from the visions I've seen in my own mind, my own imagination, and "the good things that I have heard said there"; I've decidedly abstained from any technique that draws upon nature—perhaps I should specify: mere nature—or that reflects what goes on outside my body in the world of other beings who speak move and blank. Now that I think of it, my keeping of this public-private ship-log is an attempt at breaking out of myself and into the world that surrounds me. But I end up ruminating introspectively here so often that my aim of self-emptying gets obscured. It's like a rare beast sighted in flashes through leaves of the jungle.

And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. (Genesis 3:8)

So keeping a journal is a bit like doing a striptease.

And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. (Genesis 3:9-10)

But what do I mean by comparing diary writing to disrobing? Especially with regard to my admission above about desiring to mingle more of the outer spaces with my inner world? When we reveal private thoughts, it's like a gorgeous angel flashing her flesh. But what if I relay what has "struck me" from among those life experiences that I've jotted down in my note-book? Is this enticing? Is it I who am laid bare, or the world itself? This is where I find my interest growing: there is neither a pure "I myself" nor a pure, exterior "world" but only a blend of my reaction with what I've encountered. This is what makes the artistic movement of Impressionism so fascinating, by the way, and what I presume angered so many viewers when the paintings first appeared – one might even substitute that label for Romanticism, in the famous quote from Oscar Wilde:

The nineteenth-century dislike of Realism is the rage of Caliban seeing his own face in a glass.
The nineteenth-century dislike of Romanticism is the rage of Caliban not seeing his own face in a glass.

Pondering Impressionism's freewheeling use of perception leads me to think about the concept of collage. I love collage, because I see it as an act of half-stealing, half-creating. But now I realize that even the most meticulous portrait painting, or the most sincere attempt at establishing a textual record of historical events, partakes of this same amalgamation of theft-and-invention. When you paint or sketch from a model, you are plagiarizing the model's face, hair, shoulders, etc...

"All you gotta do is take off that top and show me one breast, two breast, both breasts."

—Officer De Luca, from the film Wrong Cops (2013) written by Quentin Dupieux

But, from the earlier quote that started this whole pleasant tangent, I meant to proceed to another fragment that follows it directly in Butler's same novel. The narrator gives the following remarks about his godson, whose economic success and popularity as a writer are important to him:

For a long time I was disappointed. He was kept back by the nature of the subjects he chose—which were generally metaphysical. In vain I tried to get him away from these to matters which had a greater interest for the general public. When I begged him to try his hand at some pretty, graceful little story which should be full of whatever people knew and liked best, he would immediately set to work upon a treatise to show the grounds on which all belief rested.

First, I'm not interested at all in metaphysical writing – I mean, I enjoy reading others who pick this as their preferred poison, but I don't care to contribute to it myself. But what the narrator says about his godson's proclivity can easily be translated into terms that apply to me myself. So this passage affects me, because it brings back memories of when I first began composing my creative works: friends and family would say, "Why don't you write more normal stuff?" And I never understood what they meant, because I've always naturally been thrilled by the so-called abnormal (take the best work of Beckett as one among many examples). But in the passage above, it pleases me that at least a vague description of what's expected of an author is articulated: "I begged him to try his hand at some pretty, graceful little story which should be full of whatever people knew and liked best..." So now all I have to do is make my style pretty and graceful (at present it's somehow both frenetic and ungainly), and to spin plots so that my texts may achieve storyhood, and lastly to figure out what "people know and like best". For if the mount will not move to me, then I must myself mimic the mount.

P.P.S.

I just want to mention one last thing about postmodernism, because I think of myself as being an fanatic of that class of creation, but just moments ago I saw a video of Noam Chomsky disparaging postmodernism, and I listened carefully because I've never yet heard Chomsky say anything that I didn't agree with; and I learned that what HE was calling postmodern was different from what I give that label to. He's talking about more philosophical or theoretical writers, whereas, when I say that I admire it, I am really referring to certain works of individual poets. So I conclude that it's maybe better for me to stop using that word so carelessly. I should stick to listing particular works instead; that way we minimize confusion, and thus all of our street gangs can begin the process of nuclear disarmament.

30 July 2017

T.P. guess, T.P. scraps, & a P.P.S. on etc.

Hi ho, dear diary-o.

Bryan Ray here, reporting on nothing again. The next hour of Twin Peaks airs tonight. (Skip to the post-postscript if you're smart and do not care about the new Twin Peaks.) Instead of waiting, as I normally do, for the episode to end before I smear it with words, this time I want to venture a brief prediction while I'm still in possession of my ignorance, so as to have something to be wrong about. We've seen 11 of 28 episodes, so far; tonight will be number 12. That's two-thirds of the way through the season. Special Agent Dale Cooper is the show's main attraction, its lead character, its structural wall – or at least he was in the original show. Now this new Twin Peaks starts out devoid of its Cooper, because it attempts to follow the final plot point from the final season's final episode (WHY, by the way!? Why ever let a plot point dictate the content of any art you make?), where Cooper enters into the surreal realm and...

On second thought, I don't care to explain the silly reason why this newest season of Twin Peaks begins with no Cooper. The fact is that it does. So OK: here we are, beholding our favorite religion without its deity. Where has he gone? I see that the silly reason will not allow me to leave it unexplained: After being trapped in the surreal realm for a certain amount of time, the good Dale Cooper then escaped into the body of a guy named Dougie, who is new to the series, which is to say, he's a cipher: the audience knows not one thing about him. ...Haven't I explained this already? I feel like I've said all this before. ...Anyway, during our agent's act of commandeering this cipher Dougie, he (Cooper) apparently lost his memory and most of his physical functionality; so for well over HALF of this present season, subtitled Twin Peaks: The Return, Dale Cooper basically acts like the titular character from the 1990 film Edward Scissorhands (but without the cool costume).

My point is this: We're fast approaching the final third of the season, and there's STILL no hero. How long can this possibly last? It's not suspenseful; it never was. There's nothing at all of interest in a semi-comatose Cooper. It ranks null on the fun-meter. Therfore here's my prediction:

  • Special Agent Cooper will revive this evening.

I mean that he'll snap back in full effect: razor-sharp consciousness. No more Dougie the sleepwalker. ...Also I want to make one other prediction, with regard to the fact that, so far, only hours 3, 4, and 8 have been sublime, and all the other hours of the show have been tedious. Here's my other prediction:

  • This twelfth episode will be the sublimest yet.

You'll note that both of my predictions are made of 100% pure desperate baseless HOPE, nothing more. And, being predictions, they may or may not pan out. Here's how much I care if I'm right: Not much. Now here's how much I care if I'm wrong: Not much. So place your bets. It's a shrugging existence where few things matter.

P.S.

I'll write a second postscript after this one, where I'll touch on things that haven't been touched on yet; but first I'll share the passages that I aborted during the process of gestating the above. I kept cutting out the flimsy parts and filing them in a sidecar folder while writing, not intending to let them into the main-course entry, but now I've changed my mind. Not because I think what I've written is precious; on the contrary: my aim with this blog is ever to reveal more flaws, lows, missteps, ugly decisions, crashes and burns of composition; because any success speaks for itself, whereas a failure is like a signpost denoting a pitfall, and I'm in the business of rushing foolishly about, to mark the way for angelic prudes. In other words: You critics can't mock and deride me, because I wanted to stumble. My crucifixion is your checkmate.

*

The only reason I'm keeping a record here of my reactions to the new Twin Peaks is that it's one of the two or three TV shows that I've ever admired. Most of what I find naturally attractive is considered unattractive by everyone else, so I'm eager to overemphasize my compatibility with the masses whenever a genuine fluke of my whim can be spun that way. And since Twin Peaks was a popular show, which I truly fell in love with (and then quickly learned to be skeptical of, and even rose into hate with (during lags of Season 2), then at last learned to accept its overall unevenness and always look forward to Lynch's contributions), I am happy to talk about it as much as I can, in hopes of luring normalfolk into my...

Nobody normal is stepping anywhere near my web of obsessions, at least not on account of the present entry: Who am I kidding? It's way too wordy. Too involved. It has already failed. You've got to set out your trap in the very first paragraph, the first sentence if possible, like the good old newspaper men used to do, and keep the text at an elementary school reading level (I was assured that this was the case, by my elementary school teacher; she said: if the daily news is written simply and clearly enough that a baby can read it, then the populace will read it, because the populace is a planet-sized baby)...

*

This Cooperless experiment worked for the Twin Peaks movie Fire Walk with Me (1992) – apparently Kyle MacLachlan, the actor who plays the agent, didn't want to participate much in the film, so writer-director Lynch was forced to invent the protagonists Chester Desmond and Sam Stanley. I mention this detail only to show that such a setup need not result in ruin.

*

The other shows I like? Hmmm, I have to think about that. As I said, I know that there are at least a few of them. Ah yes, First Person is an American TV series produced and directed by Errol Morris.

P.P.S.
The REAL entry
(no Twin Peaks allowed)

Why do people still write poems? But I guess I don't mean ALL poems, because I understand why one would write prose poems, for instance; but what about verse: Why participate? If you live in a time before radio... No, even before the pre-radio days: way back before pencils and paper, in the era before writing itself was invented. The pre-literate ages. In other words: BLISS. If you live back then, you publish your thoughts by simply speaking them. If you want to get your words out to a larger number of people, you just speak louder. You climb up on a hill and yell down at your village: that's what you must do to be heard. Yet if you want your friends and family to remember certain of your teachings, so that their children can pass them down to their great-grandchildren, how do you assure that they send-and-receive your message as accurately as possible? You can't write down your words, because even if you find a feather quill pen lying on the ground next to a sheaf of college-ruled paper, with an ink jar nearby filled to the rim with fresh blood, you couldn't transfer your words to the future this way, because you have no alphabet.

If some rich kid would have thought to buy the copyright for the alphabet itself, way back before the beginning, then even God would have to pay that kid royalties, because the Word of God is made with letters from the alphabet. I'm just trying to show that poems were born from the distress of needing to SAVE one's thoughts but having no...

But it wasn't just the saving of thoughts, was it? Poetry comes as much from goofing off, screwing around, experimentation, as it does from the necessities of preservation.

No, that's wrong. I think that only LATER, AFTER poetry became written and collected and printed in books, only THEN did it begin to become intentionally wild weird zany and exuberant. I think that poems in the beginning were all pretty serious. People needed to remember how to properly hook on their war helms, and it was important to fix the codes of moral conduct, and to note the farming techniques that brought the luckiest results. And attribute all this to God.

So it makes sense that pre-literate civilization would employ verse, meter, rhyme, etc. to help them remember which brand names to buy at the supermarket. But what about the people who write verse today? I'm not talking about those who care about meter, because meter is important: you can't have rhythm without meter; and rhythm is fun. I'm not talking about rhyme either, because rhyme doesn't need a religious tract to defend it against the Truth: even solemn Reality loves to rhyme. But verse: why do we keep verse around? I guess I'm making an argument against line breaks and in favor of the period. Because the whole big deal is about whether you end your line with a dot, like a respectable sentence, or press the Enter key to make a hard carriage return.

I'm out of my league with this topic, I can tell. But I'm glad that I wandered this far, because otherwise this entry would have lacked the battle wounds that'll assure its entry into paradise. For on the last day, the sky will unzip like a vinyl catsuit, and the LORD (or LADY) will emerge to look everything over, to see how the things that (s)he created have fared in the interim. And he will wave cloudward all that hath scars and defects; and she will ignite a bonfire for everything eminent.

English, good: French, bon. Peppermint bonbon: peppermint good-good. Bonfire: good-fire. (This last deduction is false, I know, the word's actual root is BONE-fire; but I just like the thought, because it reminds me of Blake's "walking among the flames of hell, delighted with the enjoyments of Genius; which to Angels look like torment and insanity.")

I'm comfortable composing in the so-called prose format. That's why almost all my books are like that. But I did use verse to compose just one small work, which I titled Even Silence Nods (available on its own or in a variety pack). It's my attempt at heroic couplets, which are rhymed lines of iambic pentameter. Since modern readers hate this type of formal writing, I knew that it'd be all right if I botched the job. Not that I tried to be sloppy, but because this manner of verse is not my forte, I knew that I could relax and any naive mistakes would match the conception.

And I like the tension that exists between the prose synopsis of a section of verse and that verse section itself. In Paradise Lost, John Milton provided an "argument" to precede each separate poetic chapter, and this argument is a prose explanation of that book's plot, and the goings-on thereof. I thought to myself: Why not provide an argument IN VERSE purporting to give the gist of, say, a PROSE essay. But then I realized that, albeit with large-soul'd sincerity rather than belated deviousness, my friend Waldo did that already. I mean Ralph Waldo Emerson: many of his essays are preceded by verse poems of his own composition. And this practice didn't begin with him; I just choose him as an arbitrary starting point, for the best reasons available (I'm a monoglot from the United States of America). But whereas Emerson's essays are prose-heavy, and Milton's epic is verse-heavy, I tried to balance my prosaic synopses with the versified sections, give them equal time, to maximize the potential for discrepancies. Also my mood-style-attitude is late-decadent-comical.

Is all well that ends well? I'm thinking that the label "comedy" used to denote simply a work that concludes on a positive note, as opposed to having all the work's characters die of the plague; in other words, a comedy wasn't necessarily supposed to cause the audience to laugh aloud incessantly. So when I say that I write in the comic mode, or that my books are comical, I only mean that they...

Actually maybe I don't know what I mean. I just know that my books have a spirit-lifting lightness about them; a brightness about them. And a darkness about them. Therefore they are jovial. Terrifyingly inconsequential: I am shocked they exist. They are sincere and droll at once. I'm offended at their contents. I laughed when I wrote them, and I laugh when I read them; but it's not the laughter of a joke, it's more like the release that follows the realization: We just snuck into Heaven and the guards didn't notice.

But is all well that ends well? I hold a grudge against possibility that it was not manufactured so as to prevent much of the loneliness I've endured. And the indifference from almost everyone. I say ALMOST because I've met a happy few friendly souls out here in the wilderness. So when I become God, they'll be given choice rivers to stand by. I'll greet them personally, and speak to them audibly. I'll even offer them fruits, which I've polished myself with the sleeve of my tunic. But the problem is that most of the population of my world will end up in the eternal detention center, if I am allowed access to my earth-brain while judging their ghosts. So that's why I'm in favor of death, because it erases one's memory; and I'm also for enforcing a dress code requiring anything deific to wear flesh, because nothing bodiless should be able to sway the destiny of the full-bodied.

Be absolute for death: either death or life
Shall thereby be the sweeter. Reason thus with life:
If I do lose thee, I do lose a thing
That none but fools would keep. A breath thou art...

Those are the first four lines from the Duke's famous speech in Shakespeare's Measure for Measure. The initial line ends after the first instance of "life"; although there's a period after "sweeter" which concludes the sentence. Now I see why lines of verse are still important, even after the invention of the full-stop dot. The carriage return, or line ending, emphasizes for the reader those aspects of the rhythm of both thought and word which would otherwise be unapparent or less-noticeable. So the verse form offers all sorts of subtle magic that is good to continue experimenting with in the present. I bet the verse form will even have taken over all of futurity. I imagine that our faroff descendants, one and all, will sport prescription sunglasses and only speak in rhymed, metered, verse; but this will come naturally to them, because of their big brains. At first when you see them they'll just look like brains in a vat, but then you notice the vat has wheels, and that there are little limbs on the brain, and the eyes are like snails' eyes.

One last question: Do I mention my publications so frequently because I want to make sales and top the bestseller list? Yes, that is the reason that I say... No. I couldn't care less how much money is made from my books. I'd be happiest if some smart hackers out there would figure out a way to get copies for free from Amazon (the seller), because I hate Amazon and I'd be happy to know that the multitudes have awakened and become The Giant Albion again, and are beating the pulp out of all the transnational businesses. It's like that monster movie where the giant lizard battles the giant moth. Except there's finally a real god among the beasts: the Human Form Divine.

So if the hackers hack Amazon and get quintillions of copies of my collected writings (Vol. 1 and Vol. 2) delivered to their homes, and they distribute these all around the world, the LAST thing I'd do is complain about losing my cut of the loot; for first of all, I'd be dead, so not even the prophet Ezekiel himself, if he co-wrote a teleplay with David Lynch, could claim that my dry bones got electrified up from the surreal realm back into clocktime; but second, and more importantly, I care solely about igniting futurity's imagination.

Scatter, as from an unextinguished hearth
Ashes and sparks, my words among mankind!

(That's from near the end of Shelley's "Ode to the West Wind".) So help fan the flames. It's the only way all this is gonna end. Jesus said so. No deluge this round: the rainbow bars that boon.

My single reservation about exclaiming as I did above, when I said "the LAST thing I'd regret is losing my share of the spoils," is that I hope the pure evil corporation Amazon does not force me to work so as to recoup their losses, the way that restaurants will punish their own employees for a customer who escapes without paying their bill by deducting the amount from that table's waitress's paycheck.

29 July 2017

A few thots on domination

Dear diary,

Last night I dreamed that my trousers' waist button was loose. Soon it fell off. I held the button in my hand and wondered whether I should save it so as to sew it back on. But my psyche made the decision to cast it away, reasoning that it will be easy to purchase a replacement. And then I woke up.

I will not rate this dream as "vividly dull," because there was nothing vivid about it. Now I'll interpret its meaning:

The trousers represent global hegemony. The button that came loose is the U.S.A. And the replacement button is China.

What is empire, and why does anyone want it? I cannot keep track of my own back yard. Which is significant, because I'm chained to a post here. (I'm homaging Lynch's Angriest Dog in the World.) Yet tho my haunt is decidedly local, I'm attracted to spending my gifts in a way that will transfer them to others and expand all blessing. Isn't that the opposite of empire? Or is it identical?

Maybe the way to distinguish (as I hope you can) between my own stance and the "genuine" article is to note that old familiar boundary that I never stop harping on: body versus soul. The dichotomy of the psychosomatic. I'm all for intellectual empire: world-power gained via poetic persuasion; and I'm totally AGAINST the other kind.

Just since it's on the topic, I'll copy out a passage of text – I happen to be reading the novel Empire in Gore Vidal's series that he called "Narratives of Empire". Here is Vidal's (fictional) character Blaise Sanford venturing a brief question, and (fictional-historical) President Theodore Roosevelt giving an answer:

Blaise was beginning to work out a theme if not a story. "You are for expansion—everywhere?"
     "Everywhere that we are needed. It is to take the manly part, after all. Besides, every expansion of civilization—and we are that, preeminently in the world, our religion, our law, our customs, our modernity, our democracy. Wherever our civilization is allowed to take hold means a victory for law and order and righteousness. Look at those poor benighted islands without us. Bloodshed, confusion, rapine..."

This intrigues me because it's the polar opposite of the way that I think. At least I think it's not the way I think. I don't entirely relate to either side: the "benighted" islanders or the "preeminent" civilization. (Why not swap those adjectives?) I feel somewhat of both. So I'll maintain my balance on this fence. The contest's a draw. Unless, apart from the unwitting victims and smug imperialism, there's a third option available for me to side with wholeheartedly: dada-surrealism-pataphysics-mannerism-primitivism-romanticism-(etc.)ism...

All this talk of empire makes me think of another entity that blankets the globe: the super force that St. John's Jesus declares will have its advent after him:

And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. [14:16-17]

[...]

It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. [...] When he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. [16:7,13]

I always associated this notion of the Spirit of Truth with the so-called third person of the Christian Trinity, the Holy Spirit. But I'm also won over to the Devil's account in William Blake's Marriage of Heaven and Hell.

It indeed appear'd to Reason as if Desire was cast out; but the Devils account is, that the Messiah fell. & formed a heaven of what he stole from the Abyss
     This is shown in the Gospel, where he prays to the Father to send the Comforter or Desire that Reason may have Ideas to build on...

Our reason builds on ideas, which emanate from desire; and this is a comfort because otherwise reason would organize us to blah. It's like throwing bones to a watchdog. Or mysteries to a scientist.

But what did Jesus mean when he spoke of the Holy Spirit? (For the record, I don't believe in Jesus the way that churches believe in him – it's worth repeating this for all the sailors out there who are new to this public-private ship-log of mine, which attracts whole fleets of followers daily – I take Jesus simply as a literary character who acts and speaks in provocative ways that are worth mulling over.) Can one remain an infidel and yet hold the Holy Spirit as this planet's lone benevolent hegemony? What does that phrase mean, even? (I'm asking about "Holy Spirit," not "benevolent hegemony"—everyone knows THAT idea is sheer nonsense encountered only in fairy tales.) It consists of two words:

We know what spirit is: it's "the wind that bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth," as St. John saith (3:8); spirit is thus unseen, unpredictable, and powerful enough to cause both life and death: the former by way of the lungs, the latter by way of tornado (the god Yahweh speaks from out of this type of disaster in the Book of Job; see ch. 38 & 40). Spirit is also a synonym for ghost; which is why, when you expire from overwork, your boss announces on the intercom: "X gave up the ghost"; with X standing for your Employee Identification Number. This yields also the capitalized alternative: Holy Ghost. Hence, because time is money, when you sit around the campfire telling ghost stories, this wasted evening can be written off on your taxes as "studying spiritual scripture," which act, in the U.S., is considered charitable, so long as you are a registered corporation. For spirit = ghost = the Four Headless Horsemen of Armageddon, also known as the Ichabods of the Apocalypse.

And the word holy just means something that's been set apart as special: in this case, something supposedly superlative. The best breeze ever. So Walt Whitman is talking about MY style of Holy Spirit in the lines that end section 14 of "Song of Myself" (in which poem I DO believe as the churchgoers believe in their Jesuses – or rather moreso):

What is commonest, cheapest, nearest, easiest, is Me,
Me going in for my chances, spending for vast returns,
Adorning myself to bestow myself on the first that will take me,
Not asking the sky to come down to my good will,
Scattering it freely forever.

But I have two bad habits. One is that I sublimate anything physical. For instance, if a friend were to read the above quote and say to me: "Yeah, it's about free love." I'd answer: that's obvious, but I take the fleshly activities as tropes for the motions of the mind. The truest mating occurs when you read or write poetry. And by poetry I mean just about anything. And here's the other bad habit I can't shake: Ever since I was an infant, I have not stopped expecting the sky to come down to my will. I used to throw tantrums – raging screaming vicious bratty fits, writhing on the floor like a beached minnow – and my mom would say: "Calm down; it's not the end of the world." And I'd reply that it is indeed the end of the world, for there shall never be any more heaven or hell than there is right now. And this was before I could even speak English, mind you.

Now, having mentioned my childish impatience, I should clarify that these outbursts were wholly controllable: I myself drove them and gave them vent; they were not seizures that "came upon me" or anything involuntary. (Don't tell mom.)

This notion of turbulent spasms, breaking the chains and fetters that one has been placed in, even tearing out of one's straightjacket like a famous TV wrestler ripping off his t-shirt – it brings to mind those who are said to be possessed by demons. Chapter 5 of St. Mark's gospel tells a tale about Jesus traveling over "unto the other side of the sea, into in the country of the Gadarenes." Here Jesus meets an "untamed" man who lives in the cemetery. When Jesus asks the man's name, the man answers "Legion: for we are many."

This strange reply fascinates me so much that I'd like to abandon the demon topic and look instead for more name-related passages...

When Moses asks the LORD God what his name is, God answers "I AM THAT AM," and adds: "this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations" (Exodus 3:13-15); although nobody has ever called him that name, before or since. Yet, come to think of it, St. John, in his gospel account (8:58), claims that Jesus boasted "Before Abraham was, I am." Also I mentioned the other day in these diary pages the BREAKING NEWS that a sneak attack happened to Jacob in Genesis (ch. 32), where an unknown "man" whom Jacob identifies as God wrestles all night with Jacob and "prevails not against him"; then after asking Jacob's name, and Jacob answers "Jacob," the midnight marauder refuses to accept this correct answer and actually repeals and replaces Jacob's name with the unsought new name, Israel, BECAUSE (this reason is given in the exchange over verses 27-28) Jacob's power has "prevailed over God and men." (By the way, regarding those last two nouns: Why use different labels for beings who share the exact same taxonomic rank?) Lastly, when Jacob prays (in verse 29) that this alleged deity reveal his own name, the fiend refuses to answer; so Jacob cannot even implement "an eye for an eye," and rechristen Yahweh as Satan, but must forgo any resistance and let the thug smack his left cheek as well [Matthew 5:38-39]. But since we cannot know the identity of Jacob's assailant, in fairness I should admit that, had he gotten an answer, he might not have needed to change LORD to Lucifer but Christ to Jesus or Dracula to Nosferatu...

OFFICER DE LUCA: "Now I'm gonna show you a photo, and I want you to tell me if you recognize the man you're talking about."

DAVID DOLORES FRANK: "I'd prefer if you referred to him as my 'aggressor', not 'the man'."

OFFICER DE LUCA: "Your 'aggressor', if you prefer."

DAVID DOLORES FRANK: "Yeah, it's important, because he's not a normal person."

That's from the 2103 film Wrong Cops, written by Quentin Dupieux.

I don't like that this entry took the form that it took. Except for the Wrong Cops quote, which I love, it reached a dead-end: the place of my brain where six or seven bible passages impede further progress like a bloodclot. I wish I could have solved the maze and burst into freedom, but I'm out of time already and one can never go back. Even if you invent an anti-gravity mechanism that has the side effect of allowing you to revisit the past, so that you can undo mistakes, right relationships that went sour, and step in the same river twice, any presumed fixes that you attempt inevitably result in even severer catastrophe: because the previous episodes of life that have been rendered erroneous by your future-self's meddling do not simply fade away or get deleted like a file on some politician's computer: no, the altered avenues of every past existence are neither aborted nor full-stopped but swerved aside, thus they endure forever trans-dimensionally askew. Every endeavor to solve any dilemma simply multiplies the total number of dilemmas. You cannot make America great again. You only wind up increasing the sum of evil empires.

I don't like this extra ending either; but it's really time to go. Happy sailing to you.

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