Archive for the ‘meta’ Category
The NYT publishes a weekly book review on Sunday. I receive an email version Friday night. I look at it, then grumble about things. Week in week out. When I do, my wife tells me to calm down and concentrate on doing good work. Finally I agree and read something else as BBC News scrolls through world-wide disorder and narratives of piracy – ransom or escape, failied escape and suitcases of unmarked hundred dollar bills. I immerse myself in something – say, James Wood’s piece on Orwell in the current New Yorker. Time passes. Then my wife says, “Yeah, it says here that she got a $300,000 advance for that thing.”
“What are, what? What are you looking at?,” I respond. She has my laptop on her lap. I hadn’t noticed.
She doesn’t answer, but a few minutes later she says, “She’s reading tonight on Court Street.”
“Where does it, what, where does it say that?”
“On her personal website.”
“What are you reading? What?”
“She’s probably four years, five years older than we are. And it’s her first.”
“Um, we’re OK then. We’re right on schedule, right?”
“I bet she doesn’t have two kids.”
We will have a second child, likely, within a week’s time. I’m guessing before the weekend is up, but who knows. She has a manscript (my wife, not the second child – but the child is apparently going to be middle-named in part after one of the two founders of the Redstockings – and no, the name in question is not going to be Shulamith. Life is so fucking strange at times, you have no idea, Jesus….) and I plan to have two of those, an academic one and a not-academic one, by the end of the summer. Manuscripts, I mean, not kids. I have no idea what the kids will do for a living though I have a sense that the first will end up an academic, and thus enter into frames of trouble with her dad that will cost her shrink bills, if I’m not very, very careful. But it’ll be OK, trust me.
OK. I worked on something all summer, every day. As I said before, Starbucks, Tottenham Court Road, 3-5 pm. Everyday. I am dissatisfied with it, and so it has died. Or been killed. It was to be a sort of novel, a novel composed of single page tearouts from “other novels,” chronicling something like the soon to arrive decline and fall of the nation of my birth. Whatever. I’m going to start something new. Eventually. Maybe tonight. Probably not tonight but maybe tomorrow.
But here, for your edification and entertainment, are the first 25 pages of the thing. Maybe I’ll post more later – we’ll see. Yes, the blank pages are intentional. That’s just the point. And some of it already seems a bit anachronistic, given the (fuckit, yay!) even more rapid descent of things than I expected.
But the general themes are adswithoutproductsy. So here it is:
I have these nights, and this is one of them, where I slip accidentally on a webpage and fall into a giant vat of NYC self-promotional art sleeze, NYC PR hucksterism, the NYC lolitoliterary-complex, and the like. Somebody ’08 is coming up in the scene, a coital-merger has occured between the It-Girl Novelist and the Recently Disgraced Celebrity Blogger, or some semi-celebrity’s kid is tearing shit up with his band out of St. Ann’s School, Bklyn Heights.
There’s a lot to be said for the town, of course. If you asked me nicely I’d probably buy an Arsenal jersey, get killed converting my remaining cash on hand back into the peso del norte, and head on back to Brooklyn. And I’m sure that part of the affective difference between the two places is personal, in that I simply don’t know as many people here (mostly I know kind and wonderful bloggers actually) and so I can’t spend as much time coveting my neighbors’ effortless and totally unwarranted success.
But there is a way that NYC, a few weeks after you sign your lease, requires that you remain doubled over in existential/intestinal agony for the rest of your time there, chanting to yourself I’m already 31 and though I’m an assistant professor at a fancy school my novel has not come out, has not yet even been written. I have no agent, without an agent I cannot sell my novel. Without my novel, I am unloved, there will be no film of my novel, and without that I might as well never have left north jersey. I’m fucking 31!!!! I’ll be 32 in three months!!!!
Seriously, I’m not kidding. That’s just what it’s like. And remember, people there don’t drink the way they do in London, so there’s really no cure except for therapy, which usually only makes things worse. Self-reflection is sort of, you know, a big part of the problem in the first place. The only thing that might help is when it dawns on you that everyone is miserable just the same way. But that epiphany usually only comes when just as the Israeli rookie mobsters have dragged the last box of books out to the van bound for parts unknown and full of people who want to move back to NYC. Like you, as soon as you get there. So even when I moved out of the big city and lived for a little bit in a rusting late bastion of pure-hearted (well…) avant gardism, the New York Observer would arrive every week, and with it a nearly automatic little flashback of self-hatred and resentiment. And then I’d moan for the rest of the day about where we were living. And then again the next day, and so on, until the next pink copy of the paper arrived to start the cycle again.
Luckily, in the depths of it tonight, I happened to have on hand today’s copy of the chubby, record-collecting Guardian, full to the brim with unattractive middle-aged people complaining about the Olympics, the price of milk at Tesco, and the slow decline of ITV, whatever that is. Ah, London. I’m not sure why it is that my coworkers at my quite highly ranked department seem so sane and egoless compared even to the thunderous mediocrities at the state U I left behind, let alone the hothouse freaks that you’d find at a place like Columbia. They do pretty fabulous things, but they also, like teach and mark papers. They make sure I do my work, but they avoid, you know, gratuitously insulting me or body-slams-by-rank because I’m young and new. How weird is that? The chubby Guardian lets my wife write for CIF, whereas the NYT is to focused on its world-historical mission as the Raper of Pecker’d to let anyone who doesn’t work for a DLC-approved think tank or oil company lobbying firm write book reviews, let alone opinion pieces.
So luckily, on all fronts, the Guardian is here to save the day. (If only it wasn’t so fucking boring! Ah but that’s just the point!) Unluckily, I sat down and wrote this bitchy post, which shows that the cure remains a long way off. I think there’s an Andrew Marr documentary on my Sky + box somewhere that would maybe do the trick…
Fuck. I can’t believe I wasted an hour on this when these little town blues could be melting away…
[Eds note: This post represents such bad form that I’ve just now come on to delete it. But, I dunno. I won’t. This is a sickness or health type of relationship that we’re in, dear readers… Bear with me… I’m already feeling better. You could probably leave comments about what an asshole I am and it’d accelerate the healing process… Go ahead, you know you want to… I mean, I could have at least made all this resolve into some sort of point, at least… The sweet mercies of the performative, ah….)
So I’ve just had my best day ever for hits. This is in, well, some five years of blogging. Thanks, Jane, for the link – that helped. It also helps that I remain, somehow, one of the goto sites for banana images on google, which makes up another 78 touches. But aside from that, there are more of you checking this blog than ever before.
Now, look. I’m not asking for cash or even amazon clickthru revenue. What I am asking for, if you could, is for you to leave a comment under this post telling us roughly who you are, where you are, what you do for a living, and anything else you think relevant. Why? I spend a lot of time coming up with this stuff, in the summer several hours a day before I start work on my monograph (still, god, I’m still doing this….), grad papers that remain to be marked, the novel(s) I mentioned a few posts ago. It’s sort of shameful in these circles to admit it, but I take my hitcount fairly seriously, and am all the more likely to write here when I feel that I’m being read. Since moving to wordpress.com, I no longer have a snazzy hitcounter that can fill me in on the whereabouts and sometimes university affiliation of my readers – all I get is the raw number. So, it follows, anonymous comments will not be tracked down to their owners – I simply have no way of doing this now. Comment is free on AWP, as it were…
So, if you enjoy reading this site and you’ve been lurking without commenting (just fine by the way) take the big splurge and leave me a note in the comments telling me, no names necessary unless you’re desperate to say, who you are, whatever way you’d like to define that.
(If you’re someone that I already know reads this blog, there’s no need for you to participate in the great AWP delurk either… This is just for the silent majority….)
comment tel individu est affecté par le cours des années de la vie, d’une part, et par l’idée qu’il se faire, d’autre part, du rapport sexuel. Ce sont là, bien entendu toutes recherches que la légèrté commune et l’hypocrisie sociale rendent pratiquement impossible de façon suivie. Ainsi se perd la dernière chance que nous ayons de disposer, en matière de subjectivité, de documents vivants de quelque prix.
– Andre Breton, Les vases commuicants.
A few thoughts / bloodclots:
1) It is so difficult to discern whether the question du rapport sexuel still figures in the way that it does above as a centerpiece of wider issues in life and politics and art. It has become difficult any longer to fully subscribe to our traditional paring of the inner and the outer, the psychological and the material, the sexual and the economic, so much more difficult. On the one hand, perhaps we have become slightly more self-reflexive about our modes of working, and their relationship to the issues at hand. In short, it seems fucking murderously solipsistic to ogle our own desiring parts in a world in which X and Y and Z are the case. On the other hand, the current cast of the world, administered by an encompassing liberalism that generally, if begrudgingly, will allow the expression of personal preferences so long as they do not enter into a set of privileged realms, off-the table issues, such as economic organization, the necessity of infilling of the commons, and the like.
Everything tells us (conspires to tell us? sure, that’s the question) that our old methodological principles, principles inherited at least from Breton and his band, are now out of date. Thus we open the veins, then, to let the blood out of the work, out of the thought. I can almost precisely date when I drew the blade across my wrist – it was in 2004, I think. Maybe 2003. After that, the bodies that have entered and will enter the work have been and will be solely those broken by work and by hunger – we will leave those crisped with desire (fulfilled, unfilled, blocked or starting to flow) on the storeracks of the dying retailers of ideas.
2) But one cannot fail to note that once the blood’s been let out, once we’ve shunted the inner life onto siderails, we have more and more difficulty waking ourselves to our work. It is sad – it feels like an inevitable outcome that, if we were heroic, and if we had heroic readers, we could find it in ourselves to work through this. We would ascend, ascetically, into the trees in the woods, into the garrets at the fringes of town. We would keep the television off, and makes plans every night about what work would best serve the greater good the next morning at the office.
We would, in short, become practitioners of the schoolboy Catholicism that, honestly, brought us into this business in the first place. We would don the cassock, we would ascend the altar, and we would monotone homilies that flutter in and out of the classical languages. We would mortify the flesh by ignoring it, we would shut the eyes when tempted by inefficient deployments of human energies. We would resolve – and urge others to repeat the resolution – to find higher, more pure forms of beauty, simpler ones appropriate to a world that had rationalized sin and death out of the fold.
3) But if we evaded this fate, if we reversed on ourselves and our tendencies, what could we do that would be other than more window-dressing and distraction, one more ad for the ad without products, the bad kind, the kind that in seeming to sell nothing, in truth sells everything and sells it straight through to the bone? The minute we start, we have hit the ice and we slide, it seems. It seems inevitable. There is no way around it.
4) There are times – actually, nearly all the time – that I wish that I had never revealed my identity to anyone at all, and thus that this blog could putter along anonymously, sifting my life for the contradictions, for the rusted dialectical bits. I could probe the local intensities for promise without feeling like, damn it, if I am going to do it, it had better come out to the foreordained answer. If it were not me here, I could be less self-conscious, less strangely-professional. I currently allow myself only grammatically infelicity and unpopular political positions that I don’t even have the energy to cross the road to sign for.
5) If it weren’t me you were reading, I could write you something we’d both like to read. And the fact that this is (isn’t?) the case perhaps underscores the persistence of the issue that I’m trying (and failing) to describe in this post.
Well, there goes the summery part of summer for me. News neither good nor bad, neutral I guess shading OK, but bringing a sluice-stream of work, and now my semi-idle tapping away at various projects (and this blog) is, as of immediately, severely curtailed. I wish I could bring myself to post on matters personal/professional, but it’s bad form.
A few years ago, when I started my first job, the slightly-senior guy who was the pointman in hiring me (and with whom I didn’t get along at all, as he thought that he could, like, be my dad because of this) had us over for dinner, and my wife took our babe upstairs for boob-dinner and saw, next to their bed, his side of the bed, this giant stack of academic monographs. HUP, PUP, CUP, OUP, CUP, CUP just like that. Like fifteen of them in a column. Bedtime reading, presumably. We come back to this image so frequently, the bathos and pathos of it. I have to read monographs now because I’ve been told to, and I’m feeling none too chipper about this. Even ancient I.A. Richards books are better than these. And, truthfully, I’ll blame no one if they don’t read mine.
We really need to get this academic publishing issue worked out, don’t we?
Anyway, less / more blogging to follow. You know how it goes. Both probably. Internet at home tomorrow, which means I’ll also have less time to drink Tesco-brand wine (just “Australian” – can’t be any more specific than that?) in the evenings and watch videos on freeview.
Written by adswithoutproducts
June 26, 2008 at 11:13 am
Posted in meta
I am almost exactly right here. Mere steps away. So if posting is light, or you’ve written me and I’m slow, or there are blog comments waiting for response, you now know exactly why.
Written by adswithoutproducts
September 15, 2007 at 8:03 pm
Posted in meta