19 October 2017

Vacillating grouses

Dear diary,

I know: I entered this world with nothing, and I’ll leave with nothing. But in the middle of the journey, aren’t you supposed to get something, so that you’ll have a reason to complain about being barred from taking your possessions into eternity? But I actually had more at birth than I do at present; for my newborn self owned cravings and hungers unknown to most mortals.

…trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!

That’s from part V of Wordsworth’s “Ode”. And below is a bit of dialogue from the movie Gilda (1946); tho, to be clear, I’ve swapped my name for the titular character’s – my own spouse never spoke these words to me:

You’re a child, Bryan; a beautiful greedy child. And it amuses me to feed you beautiful things because you eat with so good an appetite.

But I live like Robinson Crusoe, a castaway on my island, which is an apartment, so I have the worst of both worlds: unbearable solitude, yet with constant noisy distractions of neighbors through the walls, and loud motorcars in the neighborhood—I can hear the street noise through my closed windows—plus they’re doing new construction down the block. So, all in all, it’s like Crusoe on an island which is orbited by hostile alien spacecraft day and night.

That’s why I feel for pets. Imagine how awful that is, to be the only representative of your species among extraterrestrials, who treat you according to their needs not your own; or even if you have the company of a couple of fellow-sufferers, because the squad that trapped you also owns a few other humans, still the conversation is dismal (the odds are against you receiving Oscar Wilde for your kennel-mate); and humans NEED conversation to survive, as much as dogs need adventure, and cats need… actually I don’t know what cats need. Cats need the luxury of total privacy; yet you must remain “on-call” at all hours, in case they feel the whim to shun you. ...But everyone says: “Oh I wish I could experience life as my dog Bannadonna—he has it so easy: we feed him pet chow, and all he has to do all day is sleep.” Well your dog is probably depressed; that’s what I say. Dogs want to run at top speed over rolling hills. Pet chow to us is like prison gruel, or unsweetened oatmeal, thanks a lot; we’re relegated to munching these pellets of sawdust, when our nature is to slay wildfowl with our TEETH—or, as the Book of Job puts it (41:14), with the DOORS OF OUR FACE—and to drink the fresh blood of rodents.

Noticing your interest in our closets,
we exchange the eyes-to-heaven look of parents.
We want you to grow up to be All Dog,
the way they wanted me All Boy. My mother at least
seems reconciled. Last week when your “other Daddy”
manhandled you, planted kisses on your belly,
she laughed, “If there’s a life after this one,
I wouldn’t mind coming back as Peter’s next dog.”

That’s from James Merrill’s poem “Cosmo”, which takes as epigraph the following Howard Moss aphorism:

People who love animals once loved people.

Darn it all, I did it to myself again: I researched that Moss quote, to make sure I was getting it right (Merrill breaks the line after “animals” so I wasn’t sure if I should copy it as verse or prose), and, in the process, I stumbled upon a trove of blogs written by learned people—translators of poetry, professors from colleges—and I spent a great deal of time reading through their entries. They all write so well: much better than Yours Truly, if you prefer the style of a scholar’s preface or typical introduction to a reprinted classic. So now I’m pissed to find that the Internet is crawling with excellent savants. I always think of myself as a passable writer (why would anyone write if they thought they were lousy?), and it’s disturbing to learn that this place, I mean the circuit boards of Computer Land, which I assumed was nearly vacated by the literate, is wholly infested with intellectuals. I just thought it was me and like one or two others. Like a trinity or quaternity: Elohim. Let us make essays in our image.

I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me […] there is none beside me. I am the LORD, and there is none else. [Isaiah 45:5-6]

So, on one hand, I want to complain about being Crusoe on my island all alone, yet, on the other hand, I want to whine just as loudly about all the other Crusoes that occupy this place. I want to preserve my cake in heaven but also sacrifice my only cake for all earthlings. Let them have cake, let them eat cake, too.

Yes, remaining firmly in line with the Ancient of Days, I refuse to heed my own advice from my Bible of Hell:

The Angriest Sovereign in the Dependency insists: “There is no man else with me; there is none beside me.” Similar statements are given elsewhere by Moses, Jeremiah, and numerous other Jehovahs, who think the best way to prove that one is the world’s only deity is to scream it at the surrounding deities’ faces; whereas a truly solitary spirit yearns for companionship, and the Hidden God does not despise humans but incessantly becomes the highest humans. The problem is that the moment a divinity loses his loneliness he forgets that he ever possessed it and thus wants it back.

So let me say: Those other blogs that I read this morning were trash. I don’t know how anyone could trudge through their stuffy language. College professors and translators of foreign poetry are very smart people, but they’re no FUN. Only stupid people are fun. And I am nothing if not stupid. That’ll be my claim to fame: I must embrace my inner Neanderthal. Let words fail, let thots trip over themselves, explanations be botched... leave paragraphs without their hind legs... countless eyeballs devoid of their wheel...

Take pride in your nothingness. Or don’t be proud of it but embrace it. The whole reason you opt, every time, to enter this broken world, is to take a vacation from the stress of owning everything. Because one actually does own all of otherwhere, and one could explain how matter was invented, if one wanted to remember that; but one came here to forget one’s troubles. Mortal existence: the saloon of the Ineffable.

One day I found myself here, in the bed. Having probably lost consciousness somewhere, I benefit by a hiatus in my recollections, not to be resumed until I recovered my senses, in this bed. As to the events that led up to my fainting and to which I can hardly have been oblivious, at the time, they have left no discernible trace, on my mind. But who has not experienced such lapses? They are common after drunkenness. I have often amused myself with trying to invent them, those same lost events. But without succeeding in amusing myself really.

That’s from Malone Dies, page 183 of my Grove Press copy of Three Novels by Samuel Beckett. But it’s like I said above: once I get my riches, I yearn for poverty; and when I obtain poverty, I want my riches back. I’m like LIGHT, I just can’t COMMIT to being only a WAVE or a PARTICLE. So this oscillation of dissatisfaction now leads me to The Hymn of the Pearl – I conclude with the letter that my parents write to me from the court in our kingdom (Bentley Layton’s translation; in case it’s not obvious, the word “Egypt” here is used as a trope for “this world”—that is, the realm of clocktime and death):

From your father the King of Kings, your mother who rules the East,
And their Brothers, who are second after them:
To our child in Egypt. Peace!
Arise, and become sober out of your sleep.
Listen to the words written in this letter.
Remember that you are a child of kings.
You have fallen under a servile yoke.
Call to mind your garment shot with gold.
Call to mind the pearl for which you were sent on the mission to Egypt.
Your name has been called to the book of life...

18 October 2017

Fleeing, or hastening towards?

A free brochure arrived in the mail today, so I hacked out a portion of its cover; then I added a line drawing at the right which my sweetheart crayon'd. And since the space where I removed some of the brochure's words was just plain white, I filled it in with a pattern labeled "grass leaves" from a computer art program.

(By the way, these stupid images that always accompany my text are made only with the intention of filling up a rectangle of space.)

Dear diary,

I’d like to try living in a pure democracy. I think that the phrase “mob rule” was devised by the slave-owning class to convince the rest of the populace that it would be a bad idea to self-govern. The gamers of the system have the cash-power to broadcast their P.R. (public relations = propaganda); but they lack the numbers, on their own, to win any vote. So they must subdue THE PEOPLE which is legion: lull it to sleep; hypnotize the beast (their words, not mine); make the lion desire what is only in the interest of its tamer.

Now I apologize to myself: I promised I’d stop investing my energy in political sorties. Or rather that I’d join a grassroots flock and become an (in)activist, but avoid henceforward allowing my leftist murmurings to seep into this ship log. Because it’s boring. When these problems are finally solved, then reading about them will be torment. Nobody wants to know how people were once badly treated – we’d all much rather concentrate on how to shake down the end of the rainbow for its treasure.

But if our age’s political dystopia proves endless, then any writings about it will increase in attraction over time. Would it be accurate to say that Karl Marx remains of interest only because capital-cronyism cheat-beat communism?

I suggest that a similar problem haunts the dental profession: I’m always suspicious of it; for dentists would erase our need of them, if all teeth acquired everlasting immaculateness. Imagine the day when all infants are born with stainless steel chompers, jagged and hinged like a bear trap.

And if people were to heed the teachings of Nietzsche, we’d no longer need his books. (What value might Antichrist possess in a post-Christian utopia?) Future minds might even pity the vanquished Church Fathers, the way that a modern reader of Homer’s Iliad feels compassion for Hektor, at least once Achilleus begins to maltreat his corpse (Book 22, Lattimore translation):

[ . . . here I skip past Achilleus’ “winged words” to the Achaians . . . ]

We modern Christians have improved in civility, compared to these barbaric Achaians. Our U.S. troops in the Near East, for instance, would never use spears and horses for this type of thing: we now have automatic firearms, tanks and trucks. Motorized vehicles with far superior horsepower.

So let me avoid speaking of politics in this entry today; it only leads us down an ugly path. I want to say a few words instead on the topic of yesterday’s entry. Since we live in this Age of Transition to Instant Omnipresent Super-communication, and everyone is represented by anonymous accounts or pseudonyms, people tend to act negatively and voice contempt and scorn. I’d like to do my part, add my two cents, on the side of positive appraisal: I’d like to list what I love.

I mentioned a favorite poet of mine, A.R. Ammons – I quoted a letter that he wrote, from back in the days before the Internet had hatched. Here I’ll give another excerpt from it, to provoke myself; because what he asserts I find interesting but only partly agree with:

The new Norton anthology of Modern Poetry is I’m afraid no good. You shuffle two decks of cards together and then nobody knows how to play. That’s what happens when you put English and American (and Irish!) poetry together.

I love the idea of poetry as being a game, which implies that it has intelligible rules; but, perhaps since I grew up on such hodgepodge anthologies, I’ve always been attracted to modern poetry precisely because I can’t figure out how it’s “played”. And I prefer breaking rules, and the absence of rules; especially in a realm like art, where rule-breaking hurts exactly no one. In “real” life—that is, in clock-time—I love rules and order: I’d rather eat the same meals at the same time daily, so as to devote as much vim as possible to the imagination. In other words, I like mental chaos alongside physical stability. But chaos has unpleasant connotations, so maybe I should simply say: I favor freethinking. In conclusion, if Ammons is correct about this, and the future of literature is something nobody knows how to play, then I declare myself the winner.

But I ask you, Ammons: Do you really believe that if you were to craft a poetry anthology of exclusively American moderns, the thing would gel? Well I hope you’re right. For then we have something to veer from. If I see a pattern in a continuum, my urge is to contribute some variation; whereas, if I sense mayhem, I want to coax the undisciplined demons into a sequence. Like, once upon a time, my former neighbors lost their cat in my garage, because the beast had wandered away from them, because they were probably bad owners (what owners have ever been good?), and it snuck through a crevice in my old service door – so my neighbors (the whole family: mother, daughter, father) were all gathered in my courtyard yelling the cat’s name repeatedly and patting the sides of their pants and whistling and snapping their fingers and clicking their tongues: all in hopes of enticing the creature to return to its “loving” and “rightful” owners; then I came out of my house to see what all the racket was about, and they explained the situation to me, so I crouched down a few paces away from the service door, and I silently and sinuously continued curving the fingers of one hand, like a magician luring a neckerchief out of a Klein bottle, and after just a few seconds the beast crept forth, and it emerged from the darkness and slunk near and rubbed its ears on my leg. Then, cradling their wild cat in my arms, I turned to the family and said: such is the kingdom of heaven.

NOTE. A living body is like an electro-mechanical device in which a plunger propels thrillions of billiard balls down a slanting surface among pins and targets, which are fears and desires.

So, in his now-famous letter, Ammons mentions Irish poetry, and he drops a disparaging remark about W.B. Yeats, which surprises me because I idolize Yeats – I’ve read with pleasant perplexity everything of his that I can get my hands on – Ammons’ insult is so harsh, I cannot even print it here (he calls him a “mush-mouth”); but one needn’t agree with one’s idols about absolutely everything. If we can swap that word “poetry” with “writing in general,” then my most loved moderns are Irish: to list just one, Samuel Beckett. Now let me tell you about David:

I met David at a local book group where we were discussing Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49, and I was taken with his admiration for Pynchon (at that point, I’d never met anyone who even knew the name, let alone had read, moreover admired, Pynchon’s books – this was before I had drowned in the ocean of the Internet); so, after the group adjourned, I approached David and questioned him avidly about his literary likings; and since my favorite novel at the time was Watt by Beckett, I asked if he’d read it, and, instead of simply nodding yes, he explained: “I read all of Beckett’s works while I was living in Dublin.” This impressed me deeply: for I hadn’t then, and haven’t yet, worked thru ALL of Beckett – my way is to read one composition, fall in love with it, and then read it over and over; so I get transfixed by certain works (Malone DiesThe UnnamableEndgameMurphyHow It IsKrapp’s Last Tape… also Waiting for Godot… and of course Watt) while remaining ignorant of others.

An off-the-topic admission that I must jot here because it just struck me but which was spawned in no way by any of the above (unless the thought of judgment itself led me to it): This whole contemporary discussion about gender and sexual orientation confuses me. I wish that we could leap forward millennia, into a patch of time where all is fair and opportune in the economy as well as among all groups and individuals. Is it true that a male will write poems differently than a female? I don’t know the answer to this, and I don’t dare guess; for I’m reluctant to discover that there are yet more conflicts waiting to burst out and distract us from the bliss of word-shuffling. My bias is for what is beyond gender, beyond sex. Instead of man or woman or any variation thereof, therefrom, therein, thereout, I want their ur. —What is common to all? Let’s say it’s the soul. I don’t even believe in the soul, but I’m happy to adopt it as a universal placeholder. OK: all humans of any gender are souls, and so are animals. (If you say that animals lack souls, you are wrong.) And in place of fornication I elevate literature. I know the word is a bore but it’s funner than fuck. The prolific and the devourer, to use Blake’s terms. Artist and critic. Writer and reader. Masculine Feminine (1966), directed by Jean-Luc Godard: “This film could be called The Children of Marx and Coca-Cola.”

Sorry—like I said, I don’t know what prompted that. Just gimme a chance to renounce it before you imprison me.

And, later in that unsent letter (the intended recipient of which, it’s worth recalling, is Harold Bloom, eventual author of The Western Canon), Ammons ventures an impromptu list of his own:

If you do an anthology, I hope you will give definition and exactly the right amount of space to what counts. Some Emerson, much Whitman, a little less Dickinson, much Stevens and pay very little attention to anybody else.

I like this, because I enjoy knowing anyone’s taste. But I would add a little more Emerson, a little less Whitman, ALL of Dickinson, and the same amount of Stevens that Ammons included. And I’d pay a great deal of attention to various others, which I must leave unlisted for the time being, because the day breaketh…

(Remind me to continue the above train-of-thot in the future, and to give the rest of my excerpts from Horace’s odes, and to react to his satires, and to praise Eric G. Turner’s translation of Menander’s The Girl from Samos, which we read last night. So much to blog about, so little time.)

Yet, before leaving, I want to mention something that is obvious to you but that gives me an excuse to quote another portion of Ammons’ non-letter. When he and I refer to Stevens, we mean the poet whose forename was Wallace. Ammons writes as follows:

I hope I have never said anything nasty about Stevens – he holds back under such pressure until just the right moment to deliver casually the crushingly beautiful. That both suffices and defeats the mind. After mastery has cut a design, what is one to say or do.

Ah, heck. I might as well let this entry get capsized at the finish line by Ammons quotations, because, just now, as I was intending to press the “Publish” button (you don’t any longer have to smear ink on the cumbersome printing-press contraption and then crank a lever to produce a copy of your pamphlet, instead you simply open your portable computing device and press the “Publish” button – it’s neater and cleaner, arguably less waste is produced, plus nobody cares), I noticed another paragraph that is as FREEING as the one that I shared yesterday was DESPAIRING, so I’ll end with this:

. . . how tedious and laughable it is – the picture of my old self trying to teach writing, being forced in spite of all protestation to adopt that pose! I have read what must be millions of comments and pieces of sizable literary criticism only to find myself able to say to poets, “Well, you know, poems just happen, they are acts of the mind.”

17 October 2017

Entry written while sitting near yellow flowers

Dear diary,

Wow, I am one selfish soul. I have no concept of any person’s relationships beyond what concerns myself. And I have no memory. Here is what happened this morning:

I was riding my bike down the pathway to Park Magnetron (that last word is used here to denote our town’s recreational area; but, on its own, it is defined as “an electron tube for amplifying or generating microwaves, with the flow of electrons controlled by an external magnetic field”), and up ahead on the road was standing a mother and her little tiny daughter. They were waiting for the bus. I’m guessing that it was the daughter’s first day of school. The girl was maybe six years old; she was very small, about the size of an army boot.

Then I watch a school bus pull up and stop at the side of the road. (This is all occurring up ahead of me, and I am seeing it from my bike as I approach.) So the little daughter takes her tiny steps across the grass and onto the bus; and the mother watches her board the vehicle safely. This is where I enter the scene. I note that my paved path runs between the mother and the school bus, so the mother will be at my right, and the bus will be at my left, as I pass by. Now, when I reach a point equidistant from either entity, the mother smiles brightly at me and waves to me. So I smile and wave back. Then she gets a disturbed look and slightly flinches. That’s when I realize that she was not waving at me but to her daughter, who is on the school bus yonder. There are transparent windows on the bus, so, if you’re a parent, you can stand on the street and view your child through the glass: you can see where your child is sitting, and you can wave to your child. The obvious order of this situation escaped me entirely. Not only am I averse to logic, but I can only follow plot lines if they revolve around me. I assumed the mother was waving because she recognized the big rap star and North American author Bryan Ray.

But I reached my destination, locked up my bike, and entered the woods. My walk was pleasant; thanks for asking. I was, by my count, the only living human who decided to spend the morning at Park Magnetosphere (“the region surrounding an astronomical body in which its magnetic field is predominant and effective”). The breeze was crisp, which I like. I kept thinking of Whitman’s lines from “Song of Myself”:

The little light fades the immense & diaphanous shadows,
The air tastes good to my palate.

Stop complaining, all ye who complain that I quote “Song of Myself” too much. This is my favorite poem of all, so I have a right to over-quote it. Asking me to avoid mentioning it in these blog posts is like asking a Christian to avoid quoting St. Paul’s wacky letters. And please note: I do not say that a Christian will quote the Holy Bible, but I focus specifically on the wacky letters of St. Paul: that is because only non-believers quote the rest of the Bible. I’ll explain this remark in a moment; but first I want to give a quote in support of my high praise of Whitman’s “Song of Myself.” My current favorite poet is Anne Carson. I mean, of the poets who still suffer life in the flesh. Before Carson, my favorite poet was John Ashbery; and before Ashbery it was A.R. Ammons. I only lay out these facts for you, dear diary, because I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned Ammons much since I began reporting here. In an un-mailed letter to Harold Bloom (from Ithaca, dated September 19, 1973), Ammons calls Whitman’s song “the single greatest poem in the last 150 years.” It makes me happy to see that a great artist agrees with my opinion.

In the same letter, Ammons, then in his mid-40s, writes a despairing paragraph that I relate to FAR too much. I noticed it just now, as I have the full text of the letter sitting before me—my eyes wandered over to the part where I made a curvaceous marking with my pencil, indicating deep interest. My ancient reader-self has accomplished a successful communication to its future writer-self, who is me at present (alas). The volume I’m using, by the way, is called An Image for Longing: Selected Letters and Journals of A.R. Ammons 1951–1974. And it is extra disturbing for me to realize that the passage quoted below was composed four years before I was born, so my mother and father had not even eaten the food that became me; and I, who now read the following excerpt, am presently edging up on the same age that Ammons had reached when he wrote it. As if I needed further proof that we existents are trapped in a recurring nightmare.

It seems to me everything serious is turning into a farce, including principally me. Here I am already old with at best not terribly many years left. I’ve struggled in terror for years and all I have done is arrive dazed, speechless, nearly lost. Nothing to say, too much invested in the future to want to change it. My heroes mostly toppled into mediocrities. The world is organized in such a way that you cannot win: there is nothing to win. Become financially independent, a precious liberty found, you become untouchable and impudent. Go along from day to day, broke, taking chances, there are rigors of astonishment and despair. It all balances, so the total is never more than middling, a little of this and a little of that.

I wonder what the secret escape-trick is? Like in The Exterminating Angel (1962), where the trapped group decides to try re-performing the actions that they were engaged in around the instant when their evening became deranged, in hopes that this will, as it were, lift the spell. What must we do to be saved?

(If I am making no sense here, it is because I’m too in love with the vicissitudes of this kaleidoscope to bother to codify any snapshot of its permaflux.)

Now I will explain why, above, I teased Christians for attending exclusively to the words of St. Paul and added that “only non-believers quote the rest of the Bible.” I’m basically just making a light joke with the hope that someone who perceives it will thus awaken to my superior view. And my view accords wholly with that of Ralph Waldo Emerson – yesterday afternoon I was reading in his essay “Montaigne, or the Skeptic” from the collection of lectures called Representative Men, and I was surprised how little of the American’s speech dealt specifically with that Frenchman, but how spot-on those words were which did take him as topic; and also I felt a deep and intense love for a few full paragraphs, among which were these two:

Great believers are always reckoned infidels, impracticable, fantastic, atheistic, and really men of no account. The spiritualist finds himself driven to express his faith by a series of skepticisms. Charitable souls come with their projects, and ask his coöperation. How can he hesitate? It is the rule of mere comity and courtesy to agree where you can, and to turn your sentence with something auspicious, and not freezing and sinister. But he is forced to say, ‘O, these things will be as they must be: what can you do? These particular griefs and crimes are the foliage and fruit of such trees as we see growing. It is vain to complain of the leaf or the berry: cut it off; it will bear another just as bad. You must begin your cure lower down.’ The generosities of the day prove an intractable element for him. The people’s questions are not his; their methods are not his; and against all the dictates of good nature, he is driven to say, he has no pleasure in them.
     Even the doctrines dear to the hope of man, of the divine Providence, and of the immortality of the soul, his neighbors can not put the statement so that he shall affirm it. But he denies out of more faith, and not less. He denies out of honesty. He had rather stand charged with the imbecility of skepticism, than with untruth. I believe, he says, in the moral design of the universe; it exists hospitably for the weal of souls; but your dogmas seem to me caricatures: why should I make believe them? Will any say, this is cold and infidel? The wise and magnanimous will not say so. They will exult in his far-sighted good-will, that can abandon to the adversary all the ground of tradition and common belief, without losing a jot of strength. It sees to the end of all transgression. George Fox saw “that there was an ocean of darkness and death; but withal, an infinite ocean of light and love which flowed over that of darkness.”

More faith, not less. I don’t say to cut the Bible down but rather to add Whitman’s “Song of Myself” to the scriptures, as well as Ralph Waldo Emerson’s writings, and Emily Dickinson, and Herman Melville’s Moby Dick

But, on second thought, I guess I do advise the holders of shears to trim the Bible, for I’ve been known to bark long and growl hard against certain books like Leviticus and Revelation. Plus although I wouldn’t eliminate the epistles of St. Paul from the scriptures entirely, I would prefer that they be published in a separate section, accompanied by disclaimers that their inclusion is more on account of historical curiosity than spiritual worth and so on… Like how, at family events, there is an adult table plus a separate table for children – I suggest that St. Paul be relegated to the adult table.

But his madness proves that he is my brother. And we share more than blood, we share spirit: my astringent life of zero motion and received indifference to the cult that I tried to invent are ways that a super-dimensional being atones for its sins. I suppose I should have kept my ambition in check.

P.S.

I didn’t get a chance to upload any new rap demo tracks since I last posted here, but my latest non-album, which I decided to title Rapping in My Room (I chose the word “Room” over the more descriptive “Bedroom” to avoid insinuating anything unintentionally sexy) is now available for clicking away from:

Lyrics:

1. Giant Orange Peel with Deadly Teeth

Here is a story that I should tell
About one time when all was well
But then we all stopped and looked around
And holy crap! up out of the ground
Comes a giant orange peel with deadly teeth
And chased everybody who was at the beach
Its deadly teeth were like razor sharp
And for miles around you could hear its bark
I was like scared I was going to die
And my brother was with me and so was Bry
And we all were sobbing and trying to run
From the giant orange peel with nasty gums
And big teeth

2. Airborne Boat

Have you ever ridden in an airborne boat
They are safe for children and soft like snow
They glide thru the air with skis of silk
And they’re warm inside like a pitcher of milk
I like to ride in my airborne boat
Cuz it goes so fast cuz it can’t go slow
It only goes slow when you need to land
But you will rarely need to do that
Cuz it is a boat that floats on air
It eliminates all worldly cares
It never breaks down, it doesn’t use fuel
It’s powered by using a magic tool
And it’s totally odorless and safe for kids
And it looks like a capsule filled with fizz
With two silk skis for landing softly
It tastes better than decaf coffee

Airborne boat holy smokes
Looks like a little piece of soap
Nothing as strange has ever been built
With skis on the bottom that are made of silk

3. Chocolate Grave Monsters

I don’t mean to scare you to death
But here is a thing that I saw out west
Chocolate grave monsters raving mad
They tried to chase us and tried to grab
They popped up out of the gravy mosh pit
Scary monsters all made of chocolate
I was like scared to death of them
Cuz there were so many like more than ten
They were chasing howling and totally barking
And one of them even was illegally parking
I was so scared I’m not gonna lie
Cuz chocolate grave monsters cannot die
Cuz chocolate never does really go bad
Cuz all of the preservatives that it has
But even at that it’s a tasty snack
Unless it dies and then like comes back

Chocolate grave monsters
Help me mom
Chocolate grave monsters
They’re the bomb

4. Nasty Teachers

When I was young and I went to school
And even though I was a stupid fool
The stupider fools were my nasty teachers
They have faces all covered with leeches
When they were teaching me how to read
Their nasty lips would like crack and bleed
And their hair would fall out and shed on me
And their drool would splash all wet on me
And when they would come and speak to me
Their breath would totally reek to me
Their breath was nasty stinking bad
Like raw meat rancid egg breath ham
Then they would try to teach me math
But I was like dang you need a bath
Cuz they had like visibly dirty clothes
And their armpits were totally soaked

Nasty teachers take a bath
Only then will I learn math
I refuse to learn your lesson
Until you like take a breath mint

5. Pot Smoking Crib Robbers

Call the mommy call the father
Pot smoking crib robbers
Where’s my baby where’s my daughter
Pot smoking crib robbers

Help somebody call the cops
There’s a residue of pot
And my baby now is gone
Look they left a magic wand
No that’s not a magic wand
That’s a cigarette for pot
That explains the residue
But where is my baby boo
She was sleeping in the crib
Then I went to do a bid
Now I’m back but she is gone
Plus it really smells like pot
Oh my god this can’t be happening
I think I’m going crazy
Someone came into my house
And smoked some pot and stole my baby

Call the mommy call the father
Pot smoking crib robbers
Where’s my baby where’s my daughter
Pot smoking crib robbers

6. Alien Lettuce People

Here is the worst kind of moral evil
Meeting some alien lettuce people
I remember when I was five
When I met them I almost died
They were all green and leafy crisp
And I was like totally scared as shit
Oh my gosh mom here they are
The alien lettuces steal our car
And drive really slow and chase us down
And show us their roots and make us frown
Alien lettuces you are bad
Now I’m gonna go get my dad
So my dad comes and now he’s mad
He only eats red meat and fat
He never eats no lettuce, fool
You’re gonna make him blow his fuse

7. Dead Angel

Once upon a time on the 4th of July
I was going for a fly up high in the sky
In my gold helicopter taking a spin
Then I heard something hit my fin
A super loud thud that made me scared
So I pulled over and fixed my hair
Then I got out and looked oh my gosh
There's a dead angel like on that rock
I hit an angel in my helicopter
Cuz I was driving all high on vodka
I was all sobbing and trying to focus
And looking around hoping nobody noticed
He’s too heavy for me to move
So I tie a rope to one of his shoes
And with my chopper I lift him high
And drop him into a lake nearby

Is it a bird? Probably not
Is it a plane? Oh my gosh
It is neither of those two things
Why does a dead raccoon have wings

8. Syrup Forest

Back when I was dating Chuck Norris
We took a stroll thru Syrup Forest
Wow what a nice place for lovers
All of the birds are trying to flutter
But all their wings are all drenched and sticky
Plus the tree leaves are wilted sickly
And all over the ground is mushy
All squirrel tails are never bushy
They’re all slicked back to look like rats
Here comes a syrup jungle cat
That’s trying to clean its fur that’s sticky
Then Mr. Norris moves in to kiss me
Now he’s frenching me deep and slow
All syrupy smooth like hot french toast
Then we ease down onto the ground
And sink down in it and drown

Syrup Forest a place for lovers
Syrup Forest devoid of gutters

9. Plastic Fireman

So even though he can’t move his hands
And his back has a big stamp “Made in Japan”
He’ll still save your life from the burning can
No he’s not wax he’s Plastic Fireman
And even though he has a painted face
And one of his hands fused with a suitcase
And hard to balance on plastic legs
He’ll rescue you from the burning keg
He’s Plastic Fireman super cool
He can position himself on stools
To create the illusion that he’s ready to jump
And put out the fire he saved you from
He doesn’t worry about his health
Even if he does get burnt and melt
All they have to do is mold him again
And then after that just paint him red

Plastic Fireman ring the bell
Thank you for saving us out of Hell

10. Waterproof Pantyhose

Here is a product I’d like to show
They are some waterproof pantyhose
Very useful and nice and sturdy
I am size twelve, you’re size thirty
I was at a party with all of my colleagues
And there was a punch bowl of liquid broccoli
And somebody lost their contact in it
So I jumped in and swam deep in it
And found not only their contact lens
But also a hen and two firemen
And all because I had waterproof pantyhose
Plus they are patterned with turquoise roses
They make super fun gifts for Christmas
Because the crotch has sturdy stitches
And you can wear them with moon boots now
Plus there’s a back door for choo-choo cows

Waterproof means you can spill your beer
And pantyhose means they’re super queer
I run around and huff and pout
And float all about in my period blouse

*

More rap demo tapes available at https://demorap.bandcamp.com/

13 October 2017

A zipleaf ending in a blogtest

(Zipleaf is herbspeak for nothingburger.)

Dear diary,

What am I gonna say today? When will I ever run out of words? Or will I continue journaling even after that point in the distant future where destiny waits to award me my very own disease?

Answer key:

  1. Nothing, as usual.
  2. Never, because I’ll just repeat myself like a holy scripture.
  3. No, I’ll continue far beyond that.

I was reading Horace’s satires today. Intriguing stuff. I told you yesterday that I finished The Odes of Horace, not to be confused with The Oats of Horse, and I really liked those, partly because the translation that I found was delicious. And now I’ve moved on to a collection of H’s satires and epistles, which the back flap of the book cover tells me that H himself referred to simply as his “discourses.” That makes sense: they’re pleasantly various – they could be blog entries, for the love of God’s eyelid. But they’re written in Latin metered verse, and most blogs are neither written in verse nor loyal to any fixed meter, tho mine are all composed in Latin originally and then converted to American slang, after which I let an online auto-translator render them into broken English, and then…

Sorry, I’ll try to stay on task. Honestly I like the idea of writing diary entries or letters as formal verse, even rhymed if possible (I mean near-rhymed or whatever half-passes – that’s what I’ve always loved about rap: its unconcern with dusty stiff literary shibboleths), and I thought about doing so as an experiment long before Horace was even a pony.

We rode to the park on our bikes today, and it was great fun because nobody was outside: we had the entire landscape to ourselves. The sky was obscured with purple clouds threatening rain… but it never did precipitate. We brought lunch along – my sweetheart made tasty sandwiches with tomatoes and hummus and mustard and olives and something like cucumber and other things that the church of science will not admit the existence of. All on homemade bread, soft, warm, and ruddy colored.

And a truck came by and serviced the portable restroom while we were at our picnic table; and when it drove away, I walked over there and got to be the first to pee in it. On the inside it was brand-new, freshly cleaned: sparkling new blue sudsy water in the basin, and it smelled so good that I couldn’t stop taking deep breaths – it smelled much finer than nature. It smelled like cigars.

So I still plan to share the rest of the quotations that I photographed from the Odes, but I wanted to skip to the Satires of Horace today, because they’re a lesser-quality translation, which makes me feel more at ease commenting on them. Isn’t that a shame, that we’d all (everyone’s just like me) rather opine about things that are inferior, for that way it’s less threatening when our assessments fail? No, actually I wasn’t planning on failing today anyway, so that’s not the tone. The tone is one of excitement, because I get to confront the thoughts of an ancient personage. It’s like he wrote me a message and sealed it in a sieve, and it sailed across a sea of eons, from Rome to my kitchen sink in Minnesota.

The sexual instinct is so strong in human beings. Is it weaker in other animals? How do you measure such a thing? I’ve heard people say “That tyger is in heat.” Can you measure exactly how amorous a given being is? The idea seems to be that if the sex force doesn’t utterly take over a creature, like a god infesting a prophet, then the creature will somehow forget to make copies of itself. This is what I do not understand: Why does the world need copies of this or that style of fiend? Well, the world obviously doesn’t NEED anything, that’s why the sex force has to yell; so I guess we could conclude that the urge to generate more, more, more of one’s species is just plain selfish, like the desire to overeat so as to bulk up one’s physical stature. ...But if you allow yourself to starve, just for fun, and you dwindle away without procreating, what will happen? The world will lack you, and the world will lack your line. So what if all creatures voluntarily carried out a pact to starve to death without bearing offspring? Then the world would be left with the type of matter that we call non-living. Or is that last guess wrong? If there were a trustworthy record that we could consult, that showed the history of this world, would it contain a pre-creature era, a pre-life era? Or would we find that there has always existed some form of animated, self-replicating, adaptable, frenzied, pugilistic, overreaching agony?

I suspect that even the smallest unit of matter possesses what we humans call personality and even free-will; but the reason that we think of, say, all electrons as devoid of individuality, is the same as the reason that, when we first discovered alien life on Mars, all the Martians looked alike – we could not tell Zom from Ip or Voox – but as soon as we learned that some of the Martians were artists while others were businesspersons… [end with joke about how the managerial class of Maritans is slack-witted]

And as I’ve said before (by the way, why is THIS one of the things I’ve chosen to harp on in these sermons?), there is no such thing as a “smallest unit of matter”; everything is infinitely divisible, and also the possibilities of harmonization are limitless. Big things are made of littler things, and the littler things are made of things yet smaller; likewise, vast entities can combine and create super-beings that offend the highest dimensions. Unprecedentedness is like infancy; with repetition comes meaning and maturity. So anyone on the side of half-sense is a true progressive. It means you’re always endeavoring onward and outward.

So if a bunch of Christians form a posse, the posse will most likely hold Christian values. But this is what I do not understand: Many people have pointed out how here in the USA, where we all pay lip-service to the idea of democracy, most of our corporations are run as dictatorships. Why is this? A number of people individually believe in the superiority of democracy, but when these individuals form a group, they choose to organize it as a dictatorship. Doesn’t it follow that they believe in the superiority of dictatorships, and that they really don’t give a hoot about democracy? By their fruits we should know them.

Here I will quote Matthew’s gospel (5:38-40) again, because I want to make a nasty point about the posse of Bible-thumpers who claim to live by Christian values.

Ye have heard that it hath been said, “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth”: But I say unto you, that ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.

So what are “Christian values,” exactly? Christ is identified by believers as Matthew’s Jesus, who is the speaker of the passage above; so the values inherent in the above words must be Christian. Now a posse claims to follow the values of “turn the other cheek when struck” and “give thy cloak as well to anyone who tries to take away thy coat” – how can this posse then ride into the neighboring village and slay the people and steal their goods? If you reckon a group by its actions, this looks like a generation of vipers. Does this reasoning change when the posse grows to the size of a nation, and uses tanks instead of horses, and guns and bombs instead of swords? A Christian nation cannot go to war without forfeiting its status as Christian. But the worst part about this perpetual conflict that the “Christian” countries partake in is that it beguiles me into wasting my time writing trash like the present paragraph. Cursed be logical reasoning, for leading me astray. I will put enmity between thee and poetry, and between thy ways and her ways; she shall emboss thy facts, and thou shalt blight her truth.

Now, where was I, before this entry fell into a state of sin? Oh yes, Horace. In Satire X of Book 1, he speaks on the craft of composing blog posts; here’s his advice:

It is not enough to make your audience grin with laughter — though even in that there is some merit. You need terseness, that the thought may extend yet not become entangled in verbiage that weighs upon wearied ears. You also need a style now grave, often gay, in keeping with the rôle, now of orator or poet, at times of the wit, who holds his strength in check and husbands it with wisdom.

This sort of puts me to shame. I only say “sort of” because I have no true shame: about whether this diary I’m writing is classic or claptrap, I don’t give a fig. I only care about the quality of my books, which are already all published; this weblog can go to heck in a handbag, for all I care. (Now I’m lured into a free-association: Gucci makes handbags, Lucifer bears light; therefore the pronoun Guccifer, which more than a few modern cyber-pirates have employed as a stage name, means “radiant purse”; so it must have a wealth of coins inside, or gold ingots, or treasure that glows like the briefcase in the movie Pulp Fiction (1994) – and I deliberately avoid using the term “hacker” here, because I fear that the future will not understand its meaning; and I don’t want to bring the whole entry to a halt while I type “noun: (1) a person who uses computers to gain unauthorized access to data; synonym: keylogger; (2) a thing that cuts roughly”; for, as Horace says, a blog’s author needs to possess the virtue of super-succinctness, so that his digressions can run on without getting bogged down in pleonasms that annoy a persnickety readership; and I yearn to make this blog classic.) My faux-shame stems from the fact that I do not believe I live up to such standards. So let me appraise my labor specifically: Does it do more than make the reader “grin with laughter”? Yes it does: it delves into the secrets of life and death; that’s why I talked above about the personality of subatomic particles—I deal often with the very large and the very small, because it is my desire to escape this current place, this prosaic house of existence, which is very middling, all-too-mortal sized, a claustrophobic lockup for a spirit who wants to jag to and fro thru possibility.

And does my blogging style possess the required “terseness”? Again, yes. Does my thought “extend”? Check. Yet, while lengthening out, does it (my articulation, the thought’s composition) avoid becoming “entangled in verbiage that weighs upon wearied ears.” No, usually not. But that’s OK; I’m still learning. Please be patient, Jove isn’t finished with me yet.

Is my style “now grave, often gay”? Most definitely. One moment, you’ll be weeping because I told you a sad story about how my neighbor smashed his motorcycle into a deer, and the next moment you’ll burst into laughter when I…

Actually, no I don’t believe my levity works well here—I think it’s ultimately a blemish—that’s why I’m so frequently down on my jokey tendencies: I don’t think I can err by blotting them all. And I need to remember to keep my language simple, to tell about my life and opinions straightforwardly. Listen to the surrounding world, and give my impressions earnestly. Stop being a smart aleck.

Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better. [Ecclesiasstes 7:3]

So, henceforth, regarding jokes: when in doubt, strike ’em out. And keep your language plain; remember the Earth, remember William Wordsworth. You will not miss euphuism, dear Bryan; besides, you already enjoyed committing all indiscretions, or as Horace calls them “fancy-pants monkeyshines,” when you wrote your life-work, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2

Lastly, in keeping with my rôle (the word is French, hence the circumflex), “now of orator or poet, at times of the wit,” do I “hold my strength in check and husband it with wisdom”? Honestly I don’t think so—yesterday I quoted Vidal’s citation of Santayana, about the “curiously American” phenomenon of an “incapacity for education… united with great inner vitality”: this, I think, explains my personal defect.

The pure products of America
go crazy—

Those famous, brief lines begin XVIII from Spring and All by William Carlos Williams. But as much as I’d like to “husband my strength with wisdom,” I’m not really sold on the idea of “holding it in check”—it brings to mind another notorious Proverb of Hell, from William Blake: “Prudence is a rich ugly old maid courted by Incapacity.” And also to end my retort of Horace’s taunting, there’s this nice avowal that occurs just a couple pages later in the aforementioned wildbook of WCW:

Why should I go further than I am able? Is it not enough for you that I am perfect?

As I admitted above about his odes, I also planned to quote much more from his satires here, but after this wrestling engagement with Horace’s Blog Doctrine, I’m plum tuckered out. Winning does that to a fellow. So I’ll limp away now.

And as he passed over Penuel the sun rose upon him, and he halted upon his thigh. [Genesis 32:31]

P.S.

Here is the last of the raps from the batch of tracks that I’ve been uploading of late—this completes the album. I’ll put the full thing on YouTube and also at Bandcamp’s demorap headquarters ASAP.

https://bryanray444.tumblr.com/post/166268605046/waterproof-pantyhose-is-an-uninspired-rap-demo

12 October 2017

Carping about modern wrongness & then quoting an ancient ode-builder

Dear diary,

I can’t get over it: we’re living in a nightmare of repetition. Didn’t William Wordsworth witness the French Revolution occur in his time? Didn’t he even write about it in his Prelude? Didn’t the upheaval look promising before it turned ugly? And wasn’t that just prior to 1800, so now it’s more than two full centuries later? And Jesus either returned to our world unnoticed or is hastening toward us still (perhaps there was a hang-up in heaven which delayed him); because he couldn’t have been a no-show: I won’t allow it.

NOTE. Beryl is a transparent pale green, blue, or yellow mineral consisting of a silicate of beryllium and aluminum.

I lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a certain man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold of Uphaz: His body also was like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in colour to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude.

Then said he unto me, Fear not; for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words. But the prince of the kingdom of X withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, one of the chief princes came to help me. Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days.

That’s from the biblical book of Daniel, ch. 10 (5–6; 12–14), with the pronouns removed, because I wanted to concentrate on the fact of being confronted by a body of beryl with news from the future, and proper names only get in the way: they housebreak the weirdness. It is my desire to wonder so intensely that dents get inflicted upon the fabric of possibility, and the event of an ultra-dimensional imp appearing to aid us earthlings becomes inevitable.

But what did the stranger say would happen after France had its flirtation with the unspeakable? Did not the “Y2K Millennium Bug” cause all the computing devices to malfunction at the turn of the century? For none of the electronic processors could understand the concept of 999 becoming 1000? Is that why wealth inequality is so amusing today? Robots forgot to manufacture their human masters to be able to change their own intellectual program? Is this the same fatal blunder that humankind committed by inventing GOD? For an artist is made in her own artwork’s likeness and image.

Now here are a couple facts that I found on a web page about the history of U.S. voting rights:

  • 1776: Declaration of Independence; only people who own land can vote.
  • 1856: All white men can now vote; property ownership no longer a requirement.
  • 1920: Right to vote extended to women.
  • 1965: Voting Rights Act aims to prevent the Constitution from preventing African Americans from voting.
  • 1971: Voting age lowered to equal the draft age.
  • 2000: A federal court decides that the nearly 4.1 million US citizens who reside in US territories including Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa and the US Virgin Islands, cannot vote.

Now here’s an excerpt from the book that I have been reading this afternoon, Gore Vidal’s Hollywood: a novel of America in the 1920s.

Although Caroline’s teeth were set on edge by all political rhetoric, the reverent intoning of the national nonsense-word “democracy” most irritated her. The much-admired Harvard professor George Santayana, now retired and withdrawn to Europe, had noted the curiously American faculty for absolute belief in the absolutely untrue as well as the curiously American inability to detect a contradiction because, as he had written, an “incapacity for education, when united with great inner vitality, is one root of idealism.” That was it—American idealism, the most unbearable aspect of these people. For the first time in years, Caroline wanted to escape, go back to France, or on to Timbuctoo, anywhere that these canting folk were not.

That’s from chapter five (p. 170); I quoted it here at the beginning because a diary entry has to start somewhere.

You know what? I bet I’m developing a manic-depressive disorder. For I was very sad while writing the last couple entries, but today I am very happy. However, on second thought, maybe I am flaw-free after all, because my change of mood is reasonable (as long as one can connect the dots of cause-and-effect, one is considered healthy and normal) – the reason I grew happy is as follows:

My superego just gave me permission to leave off reading the tome Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign. I trudged thru the first couple paragraphs, and then I lifted myself up by the lapels and shook myself out of my stupor. I don’t need to know any more about this last election. In fact, I’m very close to abandoning Vidal’s “Narratives of Empire” series, but I keep with it, because every time I think I know enough about the U.S.A.’s embarrassing history, I turn the page and Vidal surprises me with new insight. Plus, I have only one volume left, out of seven total. As I said before, Vidal’s series is astonishingly rewarding; it’s just that I get tired of hearing so much unfairness, badness, wrongness, while I’m unable to effect any change for the better. Or at least I don’t yet understand what course is available; the situation feels hopeless. I mean, once you awake to the awful truth, you can either cower in your kennel, as I prefer to do, and watch hell expand, OR you can become an activist and promptly get slain. Or worse, imprisoned and abused. To me, those latter fates are worse than death. And I’m not currently ready to face any of these ends. I don’t know if it’s my “calling” to endure being crushed fighting for humanity. At least I don’t think that any avenue that has an established precedent is the one for me: I’m only in favor of what has never yet been accomplished. The impossible. There is nothing new under the sun? Not so: I AM perpetually new. The paradise that I envision for this world has not been imagined by anyone else before me. You will not believe all the beautiful things that I have in store for us all. And they will come true.

But I can tell that when I emerge from this current political fever that has sapped me, I will never want to hear about politics again. It won’t be like my affair with film: When I was fresh out of high school, I began watching movies: I screened everything I could get my hands on, and I read many books on cinema: criticism, interviews with directors, etc. But then a few years later I stopped watching films entirely. I didn’t see any movies for a broad swath of time. At long last, this film-fast broke when I met my sweetheart; for then I wanted to share all my most-loved movies with her. So we screened more than seven trillion photo-plays during our courtship. It was bliss.

But I wish that the movie world would allow me to make films of my own. I have a limitless flood of ideas, and they’re all very interesting.

But once I quit politics, I’ll never go back. And I don’t want to be president yet, so don’t vote for me. Wait till I’m dead. Then make me the first dead president who isn’t money.

*

I must thank my man Montaigne for tuning my man Powers on to Horace, for Powers in turn has turned me on to Horace: I finished reading his Odes just now, and since I have nothing better to do, I’ll quote some of the snippets I noted. But first, let me acknowledge that I found a good translation – you can tell that a rendering is choice when it feels alive. As if an insect were to show up and writhe before you voluntarily, without your having to pin it down on a corkboard. A good translation feels lucky. If you get a bad or merely literal translation, it’s like beholding the mounted corpse of a once-wild beast, instead of the living creature bounding freely through its natural environs. Greek: taxis (arrangement) + derma (skin). Taxidermy: the arrangement of skin. By the way, once I’m president, I want you to display my cadaver proudly in your mansion. In the living room, by the silver lamp. And do not dust me. If you think that having an itch under your forearm’s cast is an annoyance, you should try expiring and then being stuffed and dusted. ...Anyway, I found this translation of Horace by James Michie, and I really like it:

Actually I have so many passages that I loved—for legal proof of which, see the above receipt—that I’ll just share one or two of them, lest this entry become a repeat of my Tranströmer debacle, which ruined the eyesight of sixteen percent of my readership. (Plus I have a meeting with my boss in a quarter of an hour.) Let’s see how many I can paste here before time sucks:

That's from Book I, Ode XI. Note that bough rhymes with now.

That's from Book I, Ode XIX. Note that is kinda rhymes with -pice. (I'm not trying to be sarcastic: I really did, only this moment, come to the realization that these sample verses, thus removed from their context as part of a formal poem, lack any obvious indication that they were composed as rhyming couplets. Nonetheless, the strength of these quotations is in their wisdom. And I love the idea of lust possessing a precipice from which one slips: that seems right; we fall in love, we fall in lust.)

That's from Book I, Ode XVI. I cannot get enough of Prometheus. The origins of mankind. The idea of a fatal flaw, but one that we would not want to see "fixed". (I even watched that stupid movie from the Alien franchise just because they titled it Prometheus. But I far prefer Aeschylus or Shelley.) —Yet by the cross of the mouse foot, egad! I must sleep faster...

That's from Book I, Ode XXXI. I'm sorry because the dude does not deserve more attention and compliments from the likes of me but this simple stanza reminded me of David Lynch. I hope that if I myself have the misfortune of living a long life, I possess good health, sound mind, a stylish grip on my hideousness, and one plain lyre (read: electronic drum machine).

Ods bodikin! I barely got through the fragments of the first book, for I also xeroxed full odes that I loved, but I didn't dare offer them up to this entry, for fear that my poor blog would suffer a poetry overdose. I saved copies of favorites from all four books, but I'll have to post the remainder later...

P.S.

Not to be confused with my full-length, ten-part masterwork The Fireman Tape, here is a single from the new batch of tracks that I’ve been uploading lately in these Chip Log postscripts—it’s called “Plastic Fireman” (I don’t know why I wrote so many smash hits about this profession):

https://bryanray444.tumblr.com/post/166198050841/plastic-fireman-is-an-uninspired-rap-demo-track

10 October 2017

What I tell you three times is true.

Photo of the top of the back of a book. Note the absence of interest. Note the abundance of interest.

Dear diary,

Brace yourself for a boring post, because this’ll be one. And when I say dull I mean dull like nice people are dull. Nice and safe.

Yesterday I awoke with allergies: scratchy watery eyes and nonstop sneezing. Don’t most people have allergy attacks in the summertime, when it’s hot and all sorts of new growth are…? Anyway, I get my allergies during the first COLD days of autumn. Probably I’m allergic to death and decay.

So I took a pill. Two pills. Anti-allergy medicine. Its package claims it’ll make the taker drowsy, and it does not lie. I spent the whole rest of the day feeling like I needed to sleep but couldn’t; because the thing about drug-induced drowsiness is that it…

I don’t know anything about drug-induced drowsiness. I just hate losing a day to an overactive immune system. (Did I phrase that correctly? I am not yet a doctor.) And then when I complain like this, I begin to feel guilty; I question myself: Shouldn’t I be thankful that my immune system works so well, rather than whining about its occasional overreaction? And the answer is: NO! everything should be made easy and perfect and harmonious. Thankfully my mind is still robust enough to answer its own self-inquiry with a…

And the day before, we rode our bikes to some parks. We bought lunch at an eatery, which is unusual for us—normally we bring our own homemade meals; but this time we didn’t plan well. My sweetheart said, “There’s this diner that I’ve been wanting to try: it looks really good, like a mom-and-pop sandwich place.” So I said OK; and when we got there, it proved to be an knockoff fast-food burger joint.

*

The joy must be in the making of the thing, whatever it is; otherwise you’ll only dig yourself deeper into debt – not dollar-debt but soul-debt (nothing is got for nothing, and it takes energy to create even lousy diary entries) (plus, keep in mind that I have no clue what I’m talking about) – and the creditor is your former self who is unavailable ever after to beg for a reduction in payments…

What I’m trying to say is that the external reward will never come, O underground artist. (I’m thundering at myself again.) If you’re not enjoying writing this claptrap, then stop—it’s that simple: for nobody will ever care more than you…

Some days I believe in this ship log, and some days it seems a dead end. I love typing on keys, I love drawing with a pen, I love talking; so those are the reasons I keep composing entries here, and sharing visual abstractions, and uploading rap tracks. Isn’t that pathetic, tho? What should an old man do with his time? The answer is to start an orphanage and spend the majority of the daylight hours praying on your knees, preferably on a hard, wooden floor so that the weight of your body impresses grooves into the floorboards over time: this way you’ll have an actual, physical abnormality to exhibit on Judgment Day, when the new-improved Jesus lightnings forth to nitpick. You can point to your worn wooden grooves and say: Look at that, Christ—there’s hard evidence of my righteousness; so you better unlock the gates of that fast-food funhouse…

When uninspired, I always descend into jokery. But the idea that fast-food franchises populate paradise was indeed put forward by a deacon from my old church during a casual conversation. By the way, when I call the church “mine” I only mean that I attended it: I did not own the majority shares of stock in it—only God can do THAT; that’s why churches serve the Christian Deity, who is their bottom line (I’m only kidding again; the church’s bottom line is the root of all evil). This Baptist church of mine had a program called “soul winning,” where every Thursday evening believers would go out in two-person teams to knock on doors and “spread the gospel of Christ.” I don’t know why they chose Thursday to do this. And it’s really the gospel of Paul, not… Never mind—I can’t let myself wax critical, otherwise this entry’ll never end. (By the way, didn’t I tell you all this in a previous post? I feel like I’m repeating myself again. If so, it’ll be interesting to see how my accounts match up—it’ll be a good proof of how avidly I fabricate, how masterfully I help to “improve” the truth.)

So after an hour of pitching our evangelical product door-to-door, Mr. Deacon drove us to his favorite burger joint. He loved this joint. He looked me in the eyes and said with cold sincerity: Don’t you think for a minute that there won’t be fast food joints in Heaven; because Heaven contains all the good things that everyone likes, and I like these burgers, so they will undoubtedly exist in heaven to eat.

But I started one of those paragraphs above with the words “When uninspired”—I just want to correct a potential misconception: I don’t believe in inspiration; I just use the phrase because it’s convenient.

This will not fit here, but I need to quote a passage from the Second Manifesto of Surrealism because its author André Breton had words to say on the same topic (inspiration). We encountered this section just two days ago, at our daily session of public-park readings-aloud, so I consider it a sign. For the LORD speaks to us in clunky ways that make us cock our head and squint, as though we’re trying to decipher illegible handwriting.

Surrealism demands that those who possess the “precious faculty” we are referring to, bend their efforts toward studying in this light the most complex mechanism of all, “inspiration,” and, from the moment they cease thinking of it as something sacred, however confident they are of its extraordinary virtue, they dream only of making it shed its final ties, or even—something no one had ever dared conceive of—of making it submit to them. There is no point in resorting to subtleties on this point; we all know well enough what inspiration is. There is no way of mistaking it; it is what has provided for the supreme needs of expression in every time and clime. It is commonly said that it is either present or it is not, and if it is absent, nothing of what, by way of comparison, is suggested by the human cleverness that interest, discursive intelligence, and the talent acquired by dint of hard work obliterate, can make up for it. We can easily recognize it by that total possession of our mind which, at rare intervals, prevents our being, for every problem posed, the plaything of one rational solution rather than some other equally rational solution, by that sort of short circuit it creates between a given idea and a respondent idea (written, for example). Just as in the physical world, a short circuit occurs when the two “poles” of a machine are joined by a conductor of little or no resistance. In poetry and in painting, Surrealism has done everything it can and more to increase these short circuits. It believes, and it will never believe in anything more wholeheartedly, in reproducing artificially this ideal moment when man, in the grips of a particular emotion, is suddenly seized by this something “stronger than himself” which projects him, in self-defense, into immortality.

I never really want to be anywhere, up or down, for any span, mortal or immortal; I never really want to contribute anything to any realm, lasting or ephemeral; sometimes I get lost in what I’m working on, because I kind of like it, but there’s always a percentage of annoyance that accompanies each act: so it seems wrong to say that anything I do, even if I feel mostly happy while doing it, and even if I am satisfied with the result, was ever inspired. But the difference between the non-inspiration of this diary entry that I am writing at present, compared with the lack of inspiration that I’d normally label “God-breathed” is this: I don’t even have hope for this entry; it’s like a child that the parent abandons before it is born.

Pre-birth. That makes me think of the abortion debate. To be upfront, I’m firmly on the side that they call “pro-choice.” But I like the debate for abstract reasons; I mean: I’m fascinated that there’s an argument at all, since the issue seems a complete no-brainer to me; but I’m even more fascinated by the fact that neither side of the argument ever sinks below a certain level of decorum when articulating their view. Everyone becomes a politician. Careful, careful! (Words are so much more important than deeds.) This game of prude-speak affects me the way that whatever killed the cat affected the cat. I’m saying it makes me want to sink low… do some dumpster-diving…

Pro-life and pro-choice. Everyone wants to have the prefix “pro” inside their name. No one wants to be called ANTI-anything. Well I’m anti-everything.

  • If the child was brought to term, I say that that child should have been aborted: you might as well give up on them before they develop—let them live in poverty; reroute their prospective happiness to the ultra rich.
  • And if a child was aborted, I say that that child was intended by fate to be the universal despot; and it’s because that spirit’s fleshly appearance was cancelled that this world remains semi-functional.

No, I am against that last point. I like the first point, about the soul that made it into this world alive being therefore consigned to poverty, it is good that their portion be allocated to the upper class; but I renounce the second point: I can’t tolerate the notion that any abortion was wrong. That’s how pro-choice I am. When people shout at me “Hey anti-lifer, you hypocrite, how would you like it if your mother had aborted YOU!?” And they think they’ve got me on the ropes with this one, they think they’ve cornered me and that I’ll confess that their stance is righteous and mine is “of the Devil” because I must be as ignorant as they are about the secret of eternal life that nature keeps hidden in broad daylight. But instead I say: I would have LOVED if my mother had aborted me, because then I wouldn’t have had to endure this broken world; for decades I would have been enjoying a more perfect union of friendship in a more perfect dimension of love.

Why died I not from the womb? Why did I not give up the ghost when I came out of the belly? …For now I should have lain still and been quiet, I should have slept: then had I been at rest… as an hidden untimely birth I had not been; as infants which never saw light. There the wicked cease from troubling; and there the weary be at rest. There the prisoners rest together; they hear not the voice of the oppressor. The small and great are there; and the servant is free from his master. [Job 3:11–19]

Even better: if my grandmother had aborted all her children. Or if the ape that gave birth to the first human being had aborted that miracle. Because the place where aborted children go is a fantastic pleasure-land. It’s much better than Christian Heaven. There are no burger joints.

Don’t you hate when you’re writing along in your paragraph and then you stumble upon a phrase that seems proper to end the thing? It looks so self-satisfied, so clever. It’s like a shot in a movie that is framed in accordance with the so-called rule of thirds. This would be desirable if you were trying to please the audience, but if the goal is instead to unearth your most despicable aspects, it’s a nuisance to have a decent ending appear. Out of nowhere, so unexpectedly, like a gift from God. It makes you want to repeat the perfect phrase in a less proper context, to punish it for being born so lucky. There are no burger joints.

Once an author starts wrestling with her words, she loses me. Criticizing your composition right in front of us, your readership – this is like parents arguing in front of their offspring, broaching the intention to divorce right in front of their children’s eyes. An author should always pretend that everything’s going on just fine behind the scenes, that every word and phrase that she decides to write is correct and replete with intention. Nothing is left to chance. There are no burger joints.

P.S.

Here’s another rap track that I recorded more than a decade ago which I recently got around to uploading online. The beasts of futurity will remember me more for these raps than for my literary writings, just as the present knows my prior existence more for its childlike doodling than for its ornithological sketch-work.

https://bryanray444.tumblr.com/post/166090671671/syrup-forest-is-an-uninspired-rap-demo-track

05 October 2017

Expending fear by writing too much

(Again the lines are mine and my sweetheart colored them.)

Dear diary,

I’m in super-fear mode. This is some of the worst anxiety I’ve ever had. No single, specific reason; everything just feels terrifying, like there’s electric ice in the air. And chaos in my veins. We as individuals have a lot of unfinished business that keeps stress neck-high, there is no end in sight; plus the general state of employment in the U.S., and the hype surrounding health care, inequality, etc.—the country itself, the citizenry seems like it’s simmering, simmering, and will soon come to a boil.

*

I wrote that first paragraph and paused, then after a couple days I tried to pick up where I left off, and immediately I got called away by chores and problems; so now I’m returning again in a wholly different mindset: still nervous but no longer plagued with uber-terror; so I’ll just let the rest of this entry be tau. Or if not tau then upsilon.

I hate the suicide problem. I am not referring to an actual spike in rates of occurrence, tho maybe I should be; I mean that it is hard to philosophize about the subject: if you speak about it with anything but disapproval, some goodhearted person will panic and assume that you need help—that you yourself are suicidal. The idea is that simply talking about the act is an indication that you’re contemplating that act. And I would like to go beyond mere talk; I would like to wax lyrical, ascend into praise...

I love life so much, I love all its potentials.

Now, to force a derailment so as to avoid ending up in Hyperborea, I will copy some phrases from the bio section of people’s Blue Rose accounts:

  • I’m an online influencer
  • Digital Nomad
  • Supplying hair professionals throughout the UK
  • Art in your inbox!
  • Mum to two. Huge fan of Disney. Twits are my own.
  • Natural Skincare Remedy Maker and I Follow Jesus
  • Feminist, NOT a multi-culturalist.
  • Housewife, interests watching tv, books
  • 20 years in business
  • Liberals r destroying the world & have lost their minds
  • bit of a geek
  • love playing pool

It’s been rainy the last couple days. Low-hanging clouds form a grey ceiling over the land. The air is cool. No sun, thank god. Flocks of ducks and geese are floating on the thin green surface of a local pond, and my sweetheart and I are nearby on a wooden bench reading in a book of poetry. The mood of the outside matches the mood of the poem. For an instant, all is perfect.

But on Saturday morning, we had to rent another van. There was a one-day-only recycling jamboree in our county; they sent out a flyer listing household items such as hazardous waste and furniture that citizens could drop off at Gabella Street for a nominal fee. Now, since I published a book named after that locale, we felt that it was incumbent upon us to participate in the festivities; so we searched our apartment thoroughly for recyclables, and yet we could find no hazardous waste besides our food which is poison, but, since we still need to eat that, we therefore changed our focus to furniture and ultimately opted to discard our two sofas. These sofas are cream white with grey stripes; I inherited them from my roommate about twenty years ago; I hated them since the day that they were born—both the sofas and my roommate—they’re ugly and cumbersome, plus their stuffing is leaking.

So, in order to fit both items of furniture in the van, we had to stack one atop the other and pray that they don’t accidentally procreate. I am not joking about having to stack the sofas, for the van’s orifice truly was too narrow to allow the free passage of etc… But I AM joking about the potential for nonliving objects to engender progeny. Furniture manufactured by Lord Yahweh is guaranteed to remain inanimate. (That’s also a joke: see Genesis, ch. 3.)

So then we had to go to a giant palace and buy new furniture.

On the way to the palace, I looked out of my passenger-side window and saw that corporations have attached enormous hotels, made entirely of silver and glass, to the Mall of America. (I haven’t traveled out here in a really long time.) Gorgeously armored, vast, mechanical parasites.

So we arrived at the palace, which is located near the Great Mall, and the first thing my sweetheart did (she’s the driver, because I dislike driving our chariot) is try to park in a place that is not for parking. A parking spot is oblong, to accommodate the girth of your chariot’s horsepower; whereas this place was triangular: all it could billet is maybe one small snail. So we had to pull out and repark. And I teased my sweetheart for this. But then I felt bad for teasing her because she cried.

But what I’m trying to get at is this: We found a very cheap item to replace our old sofas, both of which passed away on Saturday; so we noted the product number and then navigated sixty thousand escalators to get to Floor One, where the goods are stored. And we found our package and hoisted it onto our carriage. (The store offers free use of metal carriages, for transporting goods.)

Now the reason that I refer to this new purchase as a “very cheap item” rather than a “sofa” or “love seat” is as follows. It is cheap, meaning both inexpensive and of poor quality. And I added the adverb very because it is, in truth, extremely cheap. (I use all words properly; I always find the best words for the job; that’s why I am a scribe rather than, say, a drywall repairperson.) And lastly, despite the fact that this item is technically labelled as furniture, I call the item simply item, for the same reason that the ancients referred to Yahweh Elohim as “the LORD God.”

What we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence.

That’s verse 7 from Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. Also note its motto, from Ferdinand Kürnberger:

. . . and whatever a man knows, whatever is not mere rumbling and roaring that he has heard, can be said in three words.

So, back at the palace, we hefted our very cheap item upon a metal carriage; then we shuffled over to our place in line. Despite being within a universe-sized purgatorio of furniture, when it comes to fulfilling the actual transaction, where cash changes hands, you still gotta wait in a stock-still queue with the luckless. That’s the Rulers’ decree. So we found the line, took our place, and slouched with the others. And we slouched there and slouched there. My point is that it took a long time to get checked out. And I am more than usually impatient and paranoid, especially around crowds of people who are all standing silently & staring straight ahead like extras in a sci-fi movie about the bliss of immortality. And then when we finally did get to the express-pay counter, the cashier simply beeped his laser gun at our big box and told us the price. Then we paid up and left. (Why did it take so long for all the other customers, yet, when our turn came, we were done in two seconds?)

But there’s a final detail of this story that you absolutely need to understand. We parked our chariot at sea level; and the checkout counters are a single flight of stairs above the earth. But none of this is labeled or apparent to the unsuspecting infidel. So after one leaves the checkout, one is confronted with the sight of an elevator. So we stepped inside with our metal carriage, and my sweetheart pressed the button labeled “1”; then the doors closed, and we waited. But I did not feel that familiar sensation of being hastened hellward by ambivalent forces. That’s a feeling that I normally dislike, but, now that it didn’t occur, I realize that it’s even worse to feel totally balanced inside of an elevator, which is to say, inert; for the seconds begin to tick by like hours, when you grasp that this stability means the compartment is not moving. So, trying not to panic, I said to my sweetheart: “Maybe we’re remaining frozen because you pressed ‘1’ and, since the level we’re on right now is perhaps the First Floor, the elevator thinks it’s already done its job. Try pressing the ‘G’ button; for it might consider the parking level as Ground.” And so she pressed “G,” and this worked, and we got home safely.

*

All these videos to watch online. Breaking-news videos, humorous videos, interviews, performances, historical speeches…

And what about cinema? An elegant theater with red curtains that are drawn to the side when the mystery is scheduled to appear; and the mystery is a filmstrip beamed from a projector upon a screen that appears sky-high, and the soundtrack booms…

I wonder how much all this streaming video of today will matter to futurity, if the black-and-white talkies and the cinemascope blah-blah-blah of yesteryear matter little today…

Remember silent film? Is it right to say that silent film is a specialty department nowadays, that it’s a section of art that is cared for by only a handful of specialists? Or am I wrong to suppose that? Are there masses of silent-film fanatics out there in the shadows—a silent majority?

Since nobody’s answering my questions, because I’m only talking to myself, because I’m the only one here, I’ll stick with my first presumption: that silent film is a sort of “dead language,” relatively speaking, among audiovisual formats. (I say this with teardrops brimming mine eyes, by the way, because I am one of the happy few silent-film lovers still in existence – tho far from an expert, I’m a genuine dumbshow idolator.) So if silent film is dead, what killed it? Wouldn’t we say that sound killed the silents? And if a technological innovation can eradicate an entire population of art, then what do we think will happen to all the talkies, the black-and-white classics, the cinemascope and technicolor blah-blah-blahs, the stuff of the recent past, and the stuff of today... even the online streaming videos... even the video games and virtual reality horseblinkers...?

My guess is that it’s all going down. In flames. Some newfangled contraption will emerge from the abyss, incorporating ALL of the innovations above: the motion pictures of the silent era, the sound of the talkie, the monochrome of the glorious, the color of the techni-, the interaction of arcade games, the touchscreen of the diner menu, the rapidly navigable research trove of the Internet (or whatever its strength is) plus super-deific not-virtual-but-ultra reality... etc.

And when this next technology arrives, all the old stuff, which means everything we know and love, will instantly be rendered obsolete. It’ll all be forgotten. Not even specialists will bother to archive this profusion of artwork that our generation labored to create. And the upstart technology will appear as if everything that the churches are always promising actually came true. And it’ll cost just a little more than anyone can afford, so you must bow under the yoke of debt to obtain your bliss. And it’ll be named some annoying, infantile nonsense word like Sping or PRORC.

*

On a joyful side-note, I just received a notification that my request is ready to be picked up at the library; so I went and retrieved it: The Odes of Horace – ah, this is a good omen: upon glancing just now at the translator James Michie’s preface, I alighted upon this sentence, which holds an arcane significance re the above:

It is better that Horace should be “done down” into English than that he should be undone by the gradual disappearance of Latin as part of our culture.

*

Also in between asterisks I read some books at the park with my sunny-side soul-mate, and this excerpt from André Breton’s Second Manifesto of Surrealism stood out to me – it is a sign!

People pretend not to pay too much attention to the fact that the logical mechanism of the sentence alone reveals itself to be increasingly powerless to provoke the emotive shock in man which really makes his life meaningful. By comparison, the products of this spontaneous, or more spontaneous, direct or more direct, activity, such as those which Surrealism offers him in ever-increasing numbers in the form of books, paintings, and film, are products which he looked at dumbfounded at first, but which he now surrounds himself with, and begins, more or less timidly, to rely on to shake up his settled ways of thinking. I know: this man is not yet every man, and we have to allow him time to become so.

*

As I write this, I realize the U.S. has suffered another mega blood­bath. And another and another. And the future will look on our latest disaster, whatever it is, with the same blank wonder that we experience when we contemplate the tragedies of the past. The volcano that leveled a town in the blink of an eye. The flood that slew the globe’s whole population; except it buoyed up and saved the top tenth of one percent, in a makeshift ark.

Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and killed them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem?

—as Saint Luke has his Jesus ask his mob. (13:4)

I’m trying to say that the horrors of this age, the present, our “now,” are every jot as important as they feel to us; but I recognize that I myself am guilty of empathizing less with the suffering gods of the past than with the people of the present, so I deduce that the apes to come will, by the same token, lack the oomph to care for us infra-futurists.

So now we know that our art shall be ignored and forgotten, and no one will shed any tears for our age’s suffering. We live in a transitory epoch, another Medieval Period.

Or not? For what if the publicly funded research scientists fail to invent any sufficiently groundbreaking neo-technology, so the private corporations have nothing to steal and market; thereby leaving this present age’s books, paintings, movies, etc., intact, unvanquished; and our forms, genres, and traditions thus remain intelligible to futurity, which is to say, relative and attractive to the subsequent eras?

Yes, I believe that those artists who dare to invest their energies in timeworn forms during this Age of Electronic Everything, despite the thanklessness of the present climate, will hit fame’s jackpot. Because the harebrained ephemera-machine is running out of fuel: it’s slowing down, not speeding up. Remember when every breaking dawn would arrive bearing another fresh social network to fall into? And the youngest preteens would be using the zaniest new fad-site that not even the hippest tweenagers had heard of! Nobody could keep up with the changing of the fashions: it was like observing those subatomic particles that pop in and out of existence in mere fractions of nanoseconds, and they live near the rim of a black hole. You can’t even measure the unit of duration that constitutes their lifetime. They’re so small that they split thru quarks like the Red Sea. And they’re faster than the bolt of hope that invented the devil. But they’re the opposite of everlasting: because that’s better, although mortals can’t grasp why. They enter the world and exit in the same instant, almost. They leave us wanting more. They don’t stick around long enough to develop a cult following, or even to get un-named by a god-made mud-man. Never overstaying their welcome. They’re off, before you know it, into unknown realms where shy particles go, without the benefit of a Christian burial.

*

Anyway, movies were on my mind because I recently endured a great bout of sadness which I tried to lift by aiming my attention at a few of my favorite artists; so I watched a couple videos of interviews with…

I don’t want to state their names, because they already garner way too much attention. I just want to say that the idea worked, for it improved my mood; but it also backfired because it made me sad in totally different ways. I hate hearing tales about the success of risky artists, because I’m a risky artist who hasn’t succeeded. So there’s a modicum of jealousy at the core of my aggravation. Also the disclosure of what piece of the grand puzzle eventually “clicked” to send this rude boy onto the mainstream’s radar is, without fail, maddening, because the source of galvanization is always pure luck; the perfect-time-&-place combo is just a McGuffin: never talent, never genius, never “hard work” (whatever the fuck that means)—but always unicorns, always rainbows.

It’s like that scene in The Straight Story (1999) where the car hits a deer (I’m paraphrasing from memory); then the driver gets out and, after a litany of complaints, cries something like “Worst of all, I love deer!” — so:

Worst of all, I love unicorns and rainbows. (Why do you insist on making me curse your nonexistence!)

*

I realize this entry is not of a piece with itself: it should be broken into many little entries. But I would rather get rid of all this text at once; then twitch my mantle and proceed to darker woods.

Plus some of the themes and subjects of this too-big-to-fail blog post recur in ways that benefit from being part of such a comprehensive fill-in-the-blank. It’s like a symphony of multiple movements; a suite of many gorgeous compositions. In short, it’s a masterpiece.

*

Here’s one of the signs that your apostolate may have come down with a mild form of capitalism. If you notice this symptom:

Twelve out of every six disciples have anxiety and depression.

And I mean acute, debilitating. Why do doctors prescribe drugs to treat these things? The reason that people are out of their minds with fear and sadness is that today’s social system is a certified torture chamber.

Sorry, I didn’t intend to sink into truth-telling. It’s just that, after the story about buying the furniture, and then the free association about the fate of modern artists, which really chaps my hide... —It won’t happen again, I promise.

Now I look down and see the quote that the publisher put on the back of the softcover of Calvin Tomkins’ The Afternoon Interviews, which was sitting in front of me because I was reading it, because that’s what you do with books, you read them—is that so wrong?

“Fifty years ago we were pariahs. A young girl’s parents would never let her marry an artist.”
—Marcel Duchamp

This makes me think: Why did my helpmate’s parents let her soul marry mine? Yet now I recall that they withheld their permission: that’s why we eloped. And although we’re on cordial terms with them at present, and even though they live just blocks away, we never see my sweetheart’s parents – they’re living their church life, and we’re panting the art life. But in one of those aforesaid interviews (not Tomkins-Duchamp but the chat with the unnamed filmmaker that I screened via hi-def choppy video online), it was mentioned (I don’t know if this is true but I suspect it is) that Jacques Tati endured much misery from poverty before his death, and none of his friends or admirers came to his aid. And, of course, more examples abound of artists of all types enduring similar indignities. I think of Oscar Wilde; I think of X, Y, and Z... I think of Alpha-Omega.

My point is that it doesn’t matter if you make genius contributions to your country’s culture: your country WILL allow you to expire in misery; and, once you’re dead, your countrymen WILL turn a hefty profit from your creations. So if you’re smart, you’ll demand that ALL of your artworks be blotted upon your decease. For, who knows: At least one of your testament’s executors might obey.

Think of the impression that would be made upon you by the news that some one you know had committed the crime, say, of murder or theft, or been guilty of some act of cruelty or deception; and compare it with your feelings when you hear that he has met a voluntary death. While in the one case a lively sense of indignation and extreme resentment will be aroused, and you will call loudly for punishment or revenge, in the other you will be moved to grief and sympathy; and mingled with your thoughts will be admiration for his courage, rather than the moral disapproval which follows upon a wicked action.

Those are the words of Arthur Schopenhauer, from his prize-winning essay “On Suicide” (I don’t really know if it won any prizes, but that’s my impression of how the man tends to speak of his own work—and let me stress that I am charmed by this tendency), which, in the collection that I am holding now in my hand, is found in the section called “Essays on Pessimism.” And what follows are some words that Police Captain Andy improvises (because he misplaced his prepared speech) at the funeral of Officer Sunshine, in the film Wrong Cops (2013):

Simon William Shine, also known as Sunshine, took his own life into his hands. And as I speak to you now, his tormented soul is most certainly on its way to Hell, since, as we all know, anyone who goes against God’s will ends up in Hell.

Now, that notion from Schopenhauer: admiration for the courage of the suicide – does that ring true for you? It does for me: that’s how I’ve always felt. Someone tells me, “Did you hear? Monsieur So-So killed himself!” And my first thought is always, “Good for Monsieur So-So.” But it’s not because I dislike the fellow, or that I want as many lives as possible to draw to a close; no, it’s rather that I believe that life is unstoppable and limitless, and that to perform the act of self-slaughter only closes a chapter of mutation within the greater goings-on of transcendent otherness. And life should be bliss; and if it’s not, then the self should try to translate what is undesirable into a new tongue; but if this latter task proves too tedious, then bon voyage and au revoir: till we meet again, I wish thee many happy returns; goodbye—and hail! my Fancy.

And if you have a boring job, then quit it! It’s better to live a brief but happy life as a vagabond than to labor all the time and die in misery.

And if your folks are mean, then leave them! Wouldn’t you rather live as a freelance orphan than to slouch through yucky days with two bad parents?

And if life itself seems lousy, turn away! I myself would rather leave everything behind and become a creature in some fresh newfangled galaxy, far beyond the outermost reaches of thought, than to suffer a long and grumpy life on earth. Because, as they say: “When you’re dead, you turn into a book; and who will want to read your story?”

Those are the words of Sarah the sorceress, who is obviously an improved version of Jesus the khristos, from my own award-winning novel Rumors of Sarah, which I describe as a mistranslation of St. Mark’s gospel.

So the Nazarene died, and St. Mark turned him into a book, and I myself read his story. What comes after this afterlife? The story gets embellished during retelling. For evolutionary processes give rise to biodiversity at every level of organization: from molecules to species and even as high as literary showboats. Look how the secular Iago became the sacred Satan, when John Milton reworked the villain from Shakespeare’s Othello. Or how Shakespeare himself progressed from sacred to sacreder, when he refashioned Lord Yahweh into King Lear. (I steal these last ideas from Harold Bloom; and the quote below is from Blake’s Marriage of Heaven and Hell.) For:

Any man of mechanical talents may from the writings of Paracelsus or Jacob Behmen, produce ten thousand volumes of equal value with Swedenborg’s; and from those of Dante or Shakespeare, an infinite number.

But when he has done this, let him not say that he knows better than his master, for he only holds a candle in sunshine.

The reason this entry has gone quote-heavy is that I don’t know how to end it: I haven’t been satisfied with anything I’ve said along the way, and I keep thinking I’ll strike upon a…

Let me just tell about these damned fruit flies and then call it quits:

*

Yesterday and today we’ve noticed a few fruit flies in our apartment. It’s been months since we last had a sighting—I remember this, because I was worried that we’d develop an epidemic; thankfully that never happened. Yet now they’re back. Not many, but a few. So we researched how to get rid of them. We were told to fill a small dish with apple cider vinegar and then cover it with plastic wrap, and poke holes in the wrap: this will imprison the flies. So of course we didn’t have any apple cider vinegar in the house, but we did have red wine vinegar and balsamic vinegar; so I thought, it’s worth a shot; so I make a couple of traps: one with each of the two types of incorrect vinegar.

But we didn’t catch anything the whole first day. Plus my sweetheart came home from the store with some apple cider vinegar, just like the instructions said to use. So I poured out the old traps into the toilet, and set out two new traps with the right kind of bait. And right away, I noticed a fruit fly land on the rim of one of the glasses. But the thing just stayed there on the rim and didn’t go into the holes. So I assumed that the holes were too small. So I disposed of the plastic properly in the trash and tried something different—there was one alternative way to set the trap: the instructions explained that instead of using the plastic wrap, you could mix in a couple drops of liquid dish soap, so that the flies would not be able to stand on the surface of the vinegar but instead get sucked in and drown like the romantic poet Shelley.

So I set them up like so. Then after some minutes passed, I went to check the traps, to see if I’d caught anything. But they were empty. So I concluded that my whole earthly existence had been worthless and that I would never amount to anything. So I went into the bathroom to slit my wrists—yet, lo: down in the toilet bowl I espied a fruit fly floating dead upon the water. It was because I had poured out the other incorrect vinegars there earlier. So this fortunate vista literally saved my life.

Then I went back upstairs to celebrate by drinking a glass of water. On the way to the sink, I passed the garbage—and behold: down there among the refuse was a trio of fruit flies! climbing ecstatically over the discarded plastic wrap. So I quickly sealed up the bag and took out the trash. (NOTE: the “official” traps have yet to work.)

P.S.

I still haven’t found a reason to stop uploading my old rap demos – the uselessness of the act makes me want to keep committing it. But it’s been a while since I posted an entry here on this public-private diary-journal-shiplog, so this time I have not one but TWO tracks to share; the lesser one is called “Alien Lettuce People” – I just linked its title to the post that has the sound – and here’s the other one, called “Dead Angel”:

https://bryanray444.tumblr.com/post/165913437356/dead-angel-is-an-uninspired-rap-demo-track-that

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