01 August 2017

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

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

Dear diary,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

P.S.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

P.P.S.

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

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