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Archive for September 2009

isotypes have trouble sleeping too

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Appreciate this excellent Neurathian post on sleep troubles by Christoph Niemann at the NYT. Been having a lot of trouble in this department lately – not so much of the universal can’t get to sleep at night type but rather, and ominously, of the Old Guy wake up way too early in the morning and can’t get back type. Frustrating.

Sorry about the light blogging and even light comment returning. Of the course of a week or so, I’ve had exactly 9800 words due, split into three separate pieces. All excellent, exciting things to do. But they suck up even the reserve tank of writing juice, as well as repeated refills of my new and totally beloved french press. More to come I’m so sure.

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September 16, 2009 at 10:32 am

crisis coming in the mail now too

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Oh dear. My wife received one of these in the mail today. I guess the check bounced. The Philly Inquirer was a good paper, too.

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September 15, 2009 at 1:30 am

Posted in crisis

“is stuffed, de world, wif feeding girls”

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Even the people who know me best would guess wrong, perhaps maybe with one important exception. Given a list of books that I would most like to write something just like, people might guess Ulysses, or Portrait, Disgrace or Diary of a Bad Year. Madame Bovary would figure. Or maybe Underworld, Infinite Jest, fucking Netherland in the worst case? Others might say Postmodernism: The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. I’ve hinted that I’d like to write a new Kapital – it’s mostly a joke. Principles of Literary Criticism?

But actually, really, what I’d love to do is something like John Berryman’s The Dream Songs. I have the right disposition, I am sure of that. All of the other that goes into something like this, who knows – doubt it strongly. There’s a chance that if I prepared for my tutorials properly…  But dispositionally, sure, have that in spades. Ugh.

What an odd text. Shakespearean brilliance, that sort of line play, cut with downmarket thematics. Get a bit baffled by his virtuosic breaks, willingness to indulge himself with the short line. It’s actually the only thing in the world I willingly reread. Purchased for a strange class with BLeithauser, from what I can remember, sometime in 1998-1999. It was the first time I saw anyone use a french press, which someone recently had to reteach me how to use. The American Long Poem, was it? Just before I changed sides to the novel. Remember staying up late at that table in the kitchen (Missus? You souviens?) to write the papers for it. Wish I could remember what I wrote about, but I know it wasn’t Berryman.

Discovered the other day that #14 is hung on the wall right outside my office. Omen I missed, somehow. But how did I miss it? Perhaps because I don’t believe in omens.

Watch. Will do something strange with this blog. Why not at this late stage in the game?

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September 10, 2009 at 1:26 am

Posted in poetry


with 6 comments

Does fucking suck when someone pinches your shit and publishes well with it. Not a nice feeling. Attribution is all it would take, really. But this does confirm what several friends have told me about the person in question, and what basically I already knew.

Tempting to go line for line, but why bother. Still, makes me question the whole blog endeavor – why one places stuff out there anonymously etc. World of greying idealess shits, that much is long since clear.

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September 7, 2009 at 11:55 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

en attendant attendance

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Little help from all of you. About to start writing a piece about waiting. In particular, the sort of waiting that one does in cities. I have to move very very quickly on this piece, and it’s pretty important that I do a decent job, so…

Can you think of novelistic / poetic / graphic / filmic representations of waiting? Pastoralia like Godot doesn’t really work. I have my own set, but it’s all French, not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I’d like to have some others. Even more French ones, if that’s what it takes.

Fire away, SVP.

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September 7, 2009 at 10:50 pm

situation comedy

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In Disgrace, Coetzee writes (Lurie thinks) something like Reversals: the very stuff of bourgeois comedy after seeing a student play. Something like that anyway – my copy is at the office.

So last night I escorted my 4-year-old daughter to another kid’s birthday party, up behind Alexandra Palace. Strange, late-night affair for the 4 and 5 year old set. At moments, I laugh like I don’t normally. All good. On the way home (on the W3 bus) she editorializes against buying a VW Golf. She says that she prefers trains and buses, as cars make her sick and you have to wear a seatbelt.  Good. Settled then.

Kids to bed and I am being moderately difficult with my wife. Just moderately. She expresses a reservation about my behavior and I say Oh just wait! I have something to read to you! You read it while I was out I am sure but let me just read it to you again to ensure that the import was not lost.

And so I grab up the Guardian Review section and search through for the paragraph in James Meek’s intelligent review of Coetzee’s Summertime that was the cover piece this week. The paragraph that I had wanted to read, but never quite did, was this one:

I don’t believe Coetzee had a choice here. If he hadn’t run the risk of seeming self-indulgent, he wouldn’t have been able to capture an essential truth about “great men” – that the women who reject them in the early days are not necessarily blind to their potential. A woman who chooses not to sacrifice her life to the kind of selfish, cranky, vain, obsessive, unstable slobs who tend to become “great men” may be making a wise decision.

But I didn’t read it to her. The reason why is that when I opened up the section to the appropriate page, I found that the paragraph was underlined. That she had underlined the paragraph….. Hmmm…

And so, instead of reading it to her, I ask: It means something different for you to underline this paragraph than for me to um read it to you, doesn’t it?

She nods her head. I continue. It could, for instance mean that you thought that I was a great man and chose to put up with me anyway.


Or that, rather bleakly, you never recognized any of these things, and thus decided to stay with me.

She cuts me off: There are more options on the table than that. Those truly aren’t the only options.

And then she pointed to her notebook, the one that I’m not allowed to read, as if to suggest that the answers to all of my questions – not just the ones that I am asking but all of my questions, are to be found there, written out in ballpoint pen. But I’m not going to get to read them.

(Cue laff track. Cue Ad’s repeating the scene of picking up the paper, discovering the underlining, over and over again to at first increasing and then gradually diminishing choruses of laughter…)

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September 6, 2009 at 8:37 am

Posted in coetzee

cold in the freezer (redo)

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It is a little admitted fact, but capitalism is in fact a technology for the storage of pain. Like a freezer in England, it keep the old stuff cold and below.

What does this mean in practice? It means, for the recently ascendant, that every love comes glanced with a desolate fuck behind the only bar in town, just after closing hour and with the last girl in the room. Every job comes quick with the jobs you shouldn’t ever have, being what you are. It leads to arrogance, which is of course only the flipside of fear, rather than confidence, which only those far removed from the trauma of rising are permitted.

You will always recognise yourself in portraits of fear and disease. You will feel penniless despite your full pockets. You will feel inept despite your great successes. You will write and rewrite and develop elaborate techniques to avoid writing – mainly through recession back into what you essentially are. You will learn how to lie, because that is the only thing that this world has permitted you to do well. It has catered to your lies, at least thus far. When you tell one, it buys you another drink.

You only visited, but you will never truly leave XXX, Ontario – the mill town where you were born and weren’t born at the same time.

As with what’s left in the freezer, you will never be able to forget that there’s perfectly good stuff to eat if you’d only unlaze and thaw it out, cook it up for family dinner. You can order out, but eventually everyone’s going to have to pitch in and cook and eat the stuff that’s kept below.

(Sorry – deleted this one this morning, but now I’ve decided to add it back after just a bit of encouragement to do so. I broke some links and prolly lost pollian’s comments…)

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September 5, 2009 at 8:38 pm

Posted in Uncategorized