03 January 2017

Wrote when down about six, yea, seven things

Before I begin my complaints, here is a photo of Mrs. Calley’s sister turning her back to a wooden effigy.

And below is a juxtaposition of a couple of images: Mrs. Calley drew a pencil sketch of her sister, using the above photo as model; and I myself tried to copy the flag-waver from the same picture.

And what follows is my public-private diary entry. It has nothing to do with the images above; as usual, those are purely obligatory. I resent that all online writing must be accompanied by PICS! — that’s why the visuals of this weblog are occasionally up to par.

Dear diary,

I think people are right for not organizing. Why should people organize? Whatever you earn from organizing comes at the price of further organizing: you must remain vigilant. That’s a bad deal; it’s better to nosedive. The willingness to fail is a type of patience.

I was going to add: And patience is the heart of all the virtues. But I’m not sure about that. Do virtues exist? The question seems similar to this one: Does beauty exist? I say that both virtue and beauty are in the eye of the beholder, as are their opposites: vice and ugliness. What a bore.

O hack employees of the industry, dream for me. That’s what people are begging when they dedicate hours and days to watch TV serials. Or they could also be begging: Live for me. Because you see people on the screen walking around while you yourself remain still; and you hear the actors engaging in conversation while you keep quiet.

Too much passivity.

Those souls whose fleshly departure got snapshotted by lava (or I should say body-casted) when their hometown’s volcano erupted – did these lucky ducks like life more than modern day bloggers do? I wish that mummies and fossils could lecture more clearly.

FREE ADVICE: Weep in the shower; then no one will know. (The streams of water will camouflage your teardrops.)

Blog is short for weblog. The abbreviation always wins, because most tongues are lazy. And acronyms are popular nowadays. I personally favor the longer form of most names and labels… I value ornateness and elaboration… also strangeness, the un-homelike: unheimlich.

Are you old enough to remember when blogging was the brand new fad? Everyone wanted to tell the world about their night on the town; also about their boss, their latest car repair, their political opinions, and their house-pet’s hairstyle. But when the newfangled social networks got invented, everybody stopped mid-sentence and herded thataway. I myself, having missed the original blog-rush, got my start in microblogging; now known as The Facebook (O people of tomorrow, please tell me this sounds alien to you). But I soon grew upset with the convenience of their “smart” automation, and so I emigrated to the old country. Now I hate it all. I hate the web, I hate blogs, I hate weblogging; if anything good ever happens in my life, the first thing that I’ll do is stop posting here.

Have you ever seen a group of hard laborers shackled together with thick, metal chains? Ask one of those workers how they’re doing. If the fellow answers, “I’m sad about this job,” then prescribe him antidepressants. To dislike one’s work is abnormal.

As a gift, one of her contrabassoon students gave my sweetheart a crystal bowl filled with old-fashioned candies. They are hard like gems and colorful: some have red swirls, some have yellow, orange, and green stripes; some have little pictures of evergreen trees. And they taste good too: peppermint or various fruit flavors. I’ve found that if I double my dose of these candies, I can make it thru almost ten minutes without much complaining. So tell God I said thanks, next time you pray.

But I think I figured out what’s so annoying about my neighbors. Twenty times daily, when they return home from their foolishness, they kick off their cross-country skis at the doorway, and each ski clatters against their hardwood floor; and then they trundle into the kitchen with their boots on, and they stomp when they walk, and each boot has metal cleats on the bottom, so this adds to the racket; then, to clean them, they knock their boots against our shared wall, which makes a sound like a crowbar bashing the boards of a coffin.

Yes, when I spoke of “organizing” at the beginning of this entry, I was thinking of miners. [By the way, this entry’s title gives a nod to a verse (6:16) from the biblical book of Proverbs: “These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him…”] Here’s the first paragraph from the first chapter of the first part of Thomas Piketty’s Capital:

On August 16, 2012, the South African police intervened in a labor conflict between workers at the Marikana platinum near Johannesburg and the mine’s owners: the stockholders of Lonmin, Inc., based in London. Police fired on the strikers with live ammunition. Thirty-four miners were killed.1 As often in such strikes, the conflict primarily concerned wages: the miners had asked for a doubling of their wage from 500 to 1,000 euros a month. After the tragic loss of life, the company finally proposed a monthly raise of 75 euros.2

It seems that owners are always killing workers, but workers never kill owners. Is my assessment correct? or is there something I’m not understanding?

I was angry yesterday because I couldn’t stop obsessing over the Christmas insults that I had to endure this year. “For me the man that is proud and feels how it stings to be slighted…” (from Song of Myself, sec. 7) In the moment, when it’s happening, I grin and bear it; but once it’s over, the echoes of foul play clutter my memory. Now I’m overwhelmed with the ape-instinct of wanting to get even.

To me belongeth vengeance and recompence; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste.

That’s from the song that Moses speaks in the book of Deuteronomy (32:35). It is good to remind myself not to bother seeking revenge – don’t sink to the LORD’s level.

And here’s how to win at chess in a single move:

  • Tip over your king.

(For me, winning = escaping from having to play.)

What would I most like to change about the holidays? I wish people in general were more mentally adventurous. Both of our families – mine and my sweetheart’s – are self-styled Christians who bolster their faith by shutting out all thought that might present a challenge. And after any item of awful news, they hasten to add an acknowledgement of God’s great plan. …But this shouldn’t bother me; it’s a waste of time even to bring it up.

I wish my post-Xmas impression were one of having gained wisdom, or of having been restored by familial love; instead I feel like I’ve been exposed to spiritual viruses, bacteria, and toxins that I need to flush from my system: I need to unlearn whatever it was that these recent events taught me.

Democrats. Republicans.

A random gripe for the surveillance capitalists: When will it be MY turn to lead the party? I’ll throw a fit if I’m not next on the list.

Seriously, yesterday was bad. Nothing appealed to me: not writing, not reading. All I could do was lie down and let the hatred buzz through my veins…

The dog who is so angry he cannot move. He cannot eat. He cannot sleep. He can just barely growl. …Bound so tightly with tension and anger, he approaches the state of rigor mortis.

That’s the intro that appears before the first panel of each strip, from David Lynch’s newspaper comic The Angriest Dog in the World, which he made for the L.A. Reader every week for almost a decade. Lynch’s dog was the only being I could relate to yesterday:

(His speech bubble reads “G r r r r r r r r r.”)

It took a long time for my mood to lift – the badness dominated my entire day. Only when I woke this morning did I feel enough counter-mood from forgetfulness’s side of the farce to move on.

Whitman always helps, too. I shouldn’t overlook what I recalled of his words. This passage from “Song of Myself” (sec. 43) came to my mind once the storm had passed; which, by the way, is my only complaint: that I remembered it post- rather than pre-catastrophe. But that’s not Walt’s fault.

To recall this improves even my freshly salubrious mindset, because Whitman’s wisdom spotlights the cause of my hang-up; and it’s a type of healing simply to be able to identify the problem. I was worried about the future: “what is untried and afterward.” Yet now the answering sentiment alone gives me strength; it does not need scientific proof, because the imagination is a chameleon. It suffices to hear that the future “cannot fail”—“not a single one can it fail.” That’s all I ask for: the same chance as any other…

I left off at that ellipsis to go and fetch a quote, thinking that I knew where I was headed; but now, in shame, I realize that my plan for finishing this entry contradicts Whitman’s optimism above. I guess that the instant I attain the slightest hope, my priority becomes to repossess my despair. I was going to give some lines (stanza IV) from Robert Browning’s “Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came”; here’s my note-to-self:

Just words but good enough: all will pass – re: Childe Roland, to fall with the rest.


M.P. Powers said...

There needs to be a machine invented that converts anger into art. I'm sick of doing it the old analog way. Nice essay, B. And I am with you, as I'm sure you know, about FB. It's not in my nature not to detest that place. Instagram's only slightly better... if you remember to keep your horse blinders on most the time, which I'm pretty good about.

Bryan Ray said...

Ah thanks again man, always great to hear from you! Yeah, build that machine and we'll be TOO prolific: the angriest dogs in the world!! I think a lot about the fact that, among our shared literary heroes, most of them wrote before the advent of instant media: even before radio. Tho I'm not an all-out Luddite, most days it's hard not to see that as a luxury. ...Yeah, and I'm equal parts resentful and at peace with FB and the other networks; I really just wish I were important enough to have a media team of my own: a posse of interns to do all the online stuff for me. ...& I like Instagram: it's nice, easy, minimal, comfortable - I love seeing your pics & captions there - I'm still limited to just liking/commenting; and I know what I gotta do to be able to actually POST there from my laptop, but I keep getting sidetracked from installing the damn software, cuz when it comes to that kind of thing I'm zero-energy. But I'll take another stab at it now... at least till my mad dog fire my stoic one out!

M.P. Powers said...

One thing everyone should consider before joining any social media network is that by doing so you're going to piss away thousands of hours elsewhere, maybe even doing something productive. On the other hand, you might garner some 'likes' and comments and perhaps even praise, which will puff you up for a few seconds now and again, until you realize for one reason or other it was all superficial, i.e. 'sound and fury, signifying nothing.' Anyway, that's been my experience. Which isn't to say there aren't a few shining lights and kindred spirits in the old virtual dumping grounds. Our verbindung (connection), as the good folk here in Deutschland like to say, is a testament to that. So it can't be a complete waste! BTW, I hope you liked Celine. Journey is his best book. Not too impressed with the others I've read. Gonna have to check out Monsieur Jarry based on yr rec. First tho am attempting Kafka auf Deutsch.

Bryan Ray said...

I totally share your opinions, both con and pro, about “the old virtual dumping grounds.” Sometimes I feel like I’ve developed a genuine allergy to computer interfaces. But even as annoying as it is to have to restrict oneself to these geek-fashioned posting formats, the badness is far outweighed by the goodness of friendship.

Yes, and Celine’s Journey was beyond my highest expectations. Which is saying something, because my expectations were sky-high! for the only assessment I knew of was your own, and you spoke of it as the best novel of last century. I was skeptical going into it, but now that I’ve read it, I agree wholeheartedly that Journey deserves that level of praise: the book has something miraculous about it. I kept thinking that I must have stumbled upon a really fine translation, because the writing is so ALIVE. I have an alternate old blog that I now use as a quotation diary to copy passages from whatever books I’m reading – I keep it mostly for quick reference, for future citations (they’re easy to retrieve: I just add a slash to the blog address and the word “tagged” and then another slash and a name, for instance “Celine”, like so: https://bryanray444.tumblr.com/tagged/Celine) – where I accumulated a lengthy screen-scroll of Journey clippings.

Yeah and regarding this being his best book: that makes sense to me – I can’t imagine someone being able to REPEAT this degree of success. It’s the type of artwork that only happens when all the stars AND the planets AND the satellites align with the monolith.

One small note on Jarry. If you check out his work and like it, of course I’ll feel lucky; but I shy away from telling any fellow writer what to read, let alone you who are obviously in sync with the greats already. Certain books or authors seem right to recommend, because they’re universal (Shakespeare, Whitman, the King James Bible, Montaigne, the Athenian dramatists), and then other works I fall in love with for reasons that I suspect are less surely “transferrable,” more personal: that’s what Alfred Jarry is for me; he appeals to my bias for strangeness, for loose wildness, for the exuberant-to-the-point-of-being-nearly-obscure. That’s an acquired taste perhaps, which not everyone shares (I’m not sure how “far gone” you are, and so I’m erring on the side of over-caution). Without hesitation I’d say Kafka is more important (he’s holy scripture to me), so, perusing his work, you’re already in the best presence possible, especially since you add that phrase “auf Deutsch”! ...But, if you’re still interested in checking out Jarry after all my hem-haw caveats, then I’ll say, for whatever it’s worth, that my favorite of his varied works is the posthumously published ‘neo-scientific novel’ (which I read in Simon Watson Taylor’s translation) called Exploits and Opinions of Doctor Faustroll, Pataphysician.


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