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sunday post: in my jesus year as of yesterday

with 10 comments

Oh my. What violent oscillations in attitude. I have no idea what’s going on and I’m trying as hard as I can not to think about it. My father called today and suggested that I could go to law school if it came to that. When I told him that I had absolutely no interest in that, he responded by suggesting an MBA.

Dear readers, I think I shall sort things out by raw force of will. I am quite something when I get focused, when all the chaff and static subsides. Watch as I double down, turn piss into lemonade, make some Jetzzeit in a selben Augenblick. Just in time delivery, with transcedence attached.

As on Friday and Saturday, I spent 14 hours in my office today. Yesterday was my birthday. Today I wrote 6000 words – that’s 20 double-spaced pages to you Americans. Mind you, 20 pages on things like Barthes’s “Introduction to the Structural Analysis of Narrative,” Badiou, Osborne on Badiou, and Franco Moretti’s “Serious Century” from the first volume of his anthology on the novel. And 20 pages that absolutely have to work. So this was some day.

You should really read “Serious Century.” Sorry Jameson, but Moretti is the top dog of our bleak time, and the only one doing interesting work. I’m pretty sure Moretti’s 20 pp. are worth more than my 300 or so.

I am growing a beard. I think I may not shave for awhile. It makes me look serious and French but also adolescent, so fuck it. It’s also going to turn into an act of passive-aggression once the department returns after the weekend. Why is he growing that weird spotty beard? He’s having a nervous breakdown, isn’t he. He might be! So I refuse to shave.

My wife reminds me that I work best under deep threat, when the pressure is highest. It was a nice thing to say and she’s basically right. Neurosis and ambient anxiety recedes. The needle on the concentration meter shoots upward. And I work. I make things turn out OK. I take decades off of my life, but it’s OK. It’s what I like to do… Love to do.

Of course, this is an adaptation to the environment that we call capitalism. Both nature / nurture originated at once, I’m sure. Massive class change doesn’t come without pain and dysfunction, but neither does it arrive without… What? An adaptation to shitty modes of life, a love of them? A visceral fucking absolute adoration of modes of life that are ultimately deeply alienating? That steal the grape from the vine? That bring the crop to harvest before its time? That sort of thing?

The best piece I’ve ever written – and you’ve seen some fragments of it on here recently – was written with a kid on the way, no other prospects than to get this or that job. The piece of course was about precarity and X.

Pieces of my soul are on the pavement outside my office. Drop off as I smoke 2 cigarettes with each smoke break, along with the bits of my lungs that I cough up. I can see them from my office window – the soul bits, the lung bits. I smoke 50 cigarettes today. Ho hum.

I become almost unconscious when I am writing well. The thought almost stops – I don’t hear its steps as it clambers up the stairs of my mind and out through the fingers to the screen. Automatonic. One of the things that I understand and in understanding appreciate about modernism is the fact that it was in favor of this sort of development, the stop of conscious thought, and generally was in favor of it for the right reasons. Those reasons being that it, consciousness, is the most ambiguous gift of modernity.

It helps to listen to music while I write. I was wishing all day that BBC Radio 3 would stop with the Remembrace Day stuff, and modernist music makes me change the station. I hate Remembrance Day – it’s English draped in more mawkish kitsch than even usual. Fucking poppies! (Don’t tell her I told you this – but last year round this time IT got a little upset when I made fun of Remembrance Day! I kid you not – she told me that I don’t understand. Poppies! And ridiculous Anglican services through the afternoon on BBC Radio 3! And people standing up in pubs with their hands over their hearts because the queen is on tv! Queens! Poppies!)

I switched to some WNYC classical channel. The music wasn’t as good, but there was ni Dieu, ni nation on there. Go figure – when America does soft left liberalism, it damn well does it right! It made me afterall!

When I was a kid and still believed in a punishing god, I walked around concerned that I was going to go to hell. I was never sure – I certainly wasn’t perfect, but neither was I all that bad. Just somewhere in between. I wonder if part of what’s gone into the recent RC de-emphasising of purgatory doesn’t have something to do with this. Given the goals of the church, keeping the flock persistently uncertain about where they’re headed (no one’s a saint, not even the saints – but no one, not even the damned, is sure of the other bit either) is useful. When you think about it, purgatory would catch almost everyone.

Precarity is like that too. Somehow.

Back to work tomorrow. 14 hours again, I’m sure of it. My nightly beer ration has been increased, and I had a nice hotdog tonight at Finsbury Park on the way home, so it’s no big thing….

Written by adswithoutproducts

November 9, 2009 at 1:09 am

10 Responses

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  1. Fathers just don’t know. But it is lovely that they try. For years, mine wanted me to join the FBI to use my language skills. The FBI. I stopped telling him that his suggestion was like telling Lee Harvey Oswald to join the secret service. “Lee, you’ve go the shooting skills!”

    As the old post-war academic system falls apart, the best thing to do is probably nothing but to do what you are doing, cause there is little chance you will outguess the economy. Put your faith in chance.

    roger

    November 9, 2009 at 2:23 am

  2. It’s not directly relevant, but that thing my Cusack-proxy tells Anthony’s Piven-proxy in this bit? It applies. Also, I may’ve sent the last email in your direction to a stranger. Did you get it or do I have some explaining to do to someone else?

    KES (a clever pseudonym)

    November 9, 2009 at 5:39 am

  3. Happy (?) birthday, fellow Scorpio? You’re being all deep and moody and dark and the whole dang stereotype they list out on the astrology charts, careful.

    Good luck, keep writing. I know you’ll do it!

    Sisyphus

    November 9, 2009 at 6:23 am

  4. Loved the praise of my homie Moretti. Did you know he’s the brother of the film director? Crazy talented family.

    Giovanni

    November 9, 2009 at 9:21 am

  5. On precarity, have you read Boltanski and Chiapello? The book is OK but I saw him give an excellent talk on it, wherein he seemed to pretty much nail the nature of “work” for everyone of my generation. Infinite mobility for finite reward.

    This year I bought a poppy for the first time in several years, and I have to say I found the poppy lady a little curt; it’s almost like she didn’t understand that this was a big moment for me, overcoming my almost-pointlessly contrarian streak and briefly joining society. But I would certainly never risk turning on any BBC media during Remembrance Sunday.

    RobDP

    November 9, 2009 at 9:38 am

  6. Roger,

    Yes.

    KES,

    Do you mean the email from awhile back, when I was angry about something else? I replied to that – did you not receive. Now I’m so confused.

    You know, at the last place, my closest confederate and I eventually had a rule that we would only talk in person / on the phone about Really Sensative Professional Matters. There’s something about that sort of message that LOVES to parapraxis itself. I.e. bitchy message about the boss, ten percent chance it goes to the boss.

    Sisyphus,

    Ah you’re one too! So you can see, celestially, where all this is coming from! Happy Bday!

    Giovanni,

    Yes – I did know about his brother… And yes whadda family… But he really is the best one going. Funny thing is that this piece of his is written sort of bloggically… I am starting to wonder sometimes if the successes and problems that I’ve had recently don’t have something to do with the blog-form becoming my base form…. More about that, I’m sure, later. But Moretti should start a blog…

    Ads

    November 9, 2009 at 9:38 am

    • is written sort of bloggically… I am starting to wonder sometimes if the successes and problems that I’ve had recently don’t have something to do with the blog-form becoming my base form….

      If you don’t want it to sound ‘bloggical’ (which sometimes is people’s best voice, and could be yours), then I don’t believe that you can break it without writing BY HAND, and I don’t even mean a David Mamet ancient typewriter, I mean with pen or pencil. Both my 1st and 3rd books (the latter to be published this coming year, probably not earlier than the summer, though) are written by hand, then transcribed to Word and edited (I think the first goes back to WordPerfect), although the 2nd was written directly onto the screen. I think it’s good, but different, and it’s definitely speedier. Since there are 4 authors in this new book, my own prose is slow and almost medieval in its rhapsodic indulgence, BUT recently the 4th author who is a real cuss of a genius wrote brilliant blog entries which are not shoved like nail-bombs into my own text, where the speed and ‘rock sound’ can make a violent contrast to my own writing. As of yesterday, the writer finally didn’t object to our using his legal name, although is a real psycho sometimes, but then that’s part of why his work is so good. MAIN POINT is that some of the ‘bloggical’ is a matter of ‘too speedy’, the medium helps you along with this, you don’t have to do enough labour. You can get brilliant speedy writing on the computer and the blogs, but it’s never going to be quite as reflective as if you force yourself to write it out by hand.

      Just sayin’, as the bloggers say, BUT…it’s true, and what Baudrillard said about this was exaggerated as usual, but I’m glad I went back to hand-writing the first draft, not least because when I do speedy writing, it’s not really as good as this 4th Bastard Writer who forms our ‘quartet’ (the other two are painters and one is more like mine, the other like the Speed Writer)–so mine is much better slow, and even if it were speedier as on the computer, it wouldn’t be as good as his, because he is one of the great ‘writing machines’. I’m lucky to have him, of course, but had to steal the work (lol–not really against his will, as when somebody stole your work, I believe I read), since he’s such a fucking pain in the ass, and more than likely to remain so. That’s why my largely anti-internet-takeover attitude (this has primarily to do with its tendency to decenter and homogenize PLACE, which it definitely is doing and this is very important to me to fight) that is sometimes pervasive in parts of this book, but which then has a beautiful contrast with these incredibly nimble nuggets of ‘pure cyberpunk’–of course, since he’s a genius writer that does make all the difference.

      But for your purposes, I definitely suggest trying to write some things by hand if you feel that SPEED is part of the problem of things sounding ‘too bloggical’. iMO that’s the case, and the speed can be what makes some bloo writing very effective (and maybe even singular–there can be nothing wrong with that being one’s best form if it is), but also prevents it from taking a more leisurely air. God knows you’re not leisurely, and probably don’t have any time, except that somehow you always seem to ‘find the time’, so give it a whirl if you think there’s anything in it for you, and then compare it with your blog-writing–because it may not be the ‘blog form’ so much as it is the medium itself, i.e., writing on Word may still not stop the speed, which could be what you want to do (I’m not sure, I do know that that’s what I wanted to do after my second book.)

      Ray Fuller

      November 9, 2009 at 5:32 pm

      • ‘which are not shoved like nail-bombs into my own text’

        should read

        which are NOW shoved like nail-bombs

        btw, there’s even a poem he wrote on here that I’m using as well at the very end of the book. You never know where you’ll find the ultimate gems.

        Ray Fuller

        November 9, 2009 at 5:37 pm

  7. Happy 33 Ads. I had my 34 on the 7th of November as well. You, me and Trotsky.

    TJ

    November 9, 2009 at 11:08 am

  8. All these scorpios…

    roger

    November 10, 2009 at 4:44 am


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