Archive for the ‘misery memoir mine’ Category
1) Rewatching the first season of the Sopranos (can it really have been a decade since?) and amongst all of the wonderful (and wonderfully woven) thematic threads is one that I’d forgotten. In S01E09, which is best remembered for the Uncle Junior “South of the Border” sequences, Tony and the boys decide to punish their daughter’s soccer coach when it’s discovered that he was sleeping with one of his charges. What follows is a sequence in which the males are frustrated in their plans through the reasonable intervention of several women, especially Artie Bucco’s wife (who identifies the egotism inherent in the planned action – the fact that the coach would die more than anything else for the collective satisfaction of the mobster fathers) and Jennifer Melfi, Tony’s shrink, who asks the critical question: Why is it that Tony feels that it’s his job to exact justice in every case?
2) The stage is set for the anti-climactic ending by playing the potential climax out in advance, only in small scale and in a banal setting. Artie Bucco and Tony are out for dinner, and they see a young guy wearing a baseball cap in this relatively swish restaurant. After a conversation-that-aging-white-guys-like-to-have about declining social standards and the like, Tony gets up from the table, walks over to the becapped diner, and tells him to take off the fucking hat. The kid does so, embarrassing himself in front of his girlfriend in the process.
3) I’ll admit, I have a little bit of a problem with this sort of thing myself. It’s important, I think, to draw an immediate distinction between calls-to-action that really are yours (your wife / your daughter / your son / your husband is in trouble and its up to you, and only you, to respond) and this other category of events that the Sopranos episode is highlighting.
I’ve ended up in problem after problem in life by throwing myself into frays that were not mine – always, always, on the side of “justice,” or at least what seemed just to me at the moment – it ways that might seem absolutely baffling to someone wired otherwise. They would ask me, just as I am now asking myself, “Why is it your business, business that you actually have to bring to some sort of conclusion, if for instance some young kid hits on a girl in a bar over-aggressively? Why is that your fight to fight?”
4) I don’t like spitting on the street. The other day I was walking down the road when the kid in front of me hocked up a huge one and sprayed in on the pavement. I was just about to tap him on the shoulder to ask why the fuck London seemed like him the right place to blow his brown sputum around when I realized it was one of my tutorial students from last year, one of my favorite ones. I ducked away without him seeing that I was behind him.
5) What exactly is my problem with protest? I’ve been trying to sort it out this week, obviously in the wake of the big demonstration in London on Wednesday. I hate going to them, though often have. Obviously they have to happen, but for some reason (just being honest here – perhaps in the tradition of Orwell on the sense that he could never quite overcome that poor people smelled – and hopefully in service of some larger claim) I can’t help but walk around incredibly fucked off at everyone around me. Whether self-satisfied later-day liberals or kids who don’t seem to know what they’re actually protesting, whether anarcho-thugs bent on violence for its own sake or annoying academics taking a break from skimming the New Left Review – I am an equal opportunity hater, even if – as is generally the case – I am fully on-board with the cause in question.
6) When I was in grad school, I attended one of the anti-WTO protests in New York. After I proudly reported this fact to one of my smarter and more pragmatic friends, he asked me – quite simply – what it was exactly I was protesting. I could not coherently answer.
For whatever reason of bearing or position, people don’t often ask me questions like that, questions based on an assumption that I simply am too ignorant to answer. It was an awkward 30 second exchange whose import I’ve never quite shaken.
7) I was in my office meeting with students during the early stages of the protest this Wednesday. I’d check the BBC News video feed on my computer and as things heated up at the Millbank Centre I decided that I really wanted to go down there. I mean like viscerally.
8 You really learn what it means to live in a country without a revolutionary tradition when you watch the news media – and even various student representatives – go into an absolute fucking flutter over the destruction of a rather incidental amount of property. America gets panicked about a lot of things, but christ, I can’t imagine the response to some equivalent act of group vandalism taking quite this tone and intensity. Sure, the building housing the Conservative Party HQ isn’t some random Starbucks or Gap outlet, but still….
9) The left response to the seizure of the building has been incredibly incoherent, incoherent in the guise of semi-reasonableness but really wearing the hairshirt of fear and irresolution. For instance:
Why couldn’t Solomon explain her actions? One assumes that she and the other who participated in this event actually did have reasons for doing what they did. One further assumes that she here on Newsnight she wanted to avoid falling into a trap that she presumed Paxman (and the British media in general) was laying for her, but ended up blundering into a far worse situation in the end. In refusing to answer directly, what ends up filling the gap where the reason should be is not the presumption of violent intent. It’s the presumption of stupidity, collective stupidity.
Even worse, some sort of on-message conspiratorial stupidity – which becomes the global effect when one considers many of the articles and documents written in support of the occupation. Again and again, the occupation is explained as an effect of amorphous “student frustration” – which only again begs the question of what, exactly, this act would do to assuage or ameliorate this frustration. It doesn’t get much better in things like the now infamous “Goldsmiths Lecturers Letter” (full text here):
We also wish to condemn and distance ourselves from the divisive and, in our view, counterproductive statements issued by the UCU and NUS leadership concerning the occupation of the Conservative Party HQ. The real violence in this situation relates not to a smashed window but to the destructive impact of the cuts and privatisation that will follow if tuition fees are increased and if massive reductions in HE funding are implemented.
Well OK. That’s pretty carefully worded, but ultimately says not much more than “look over there not here!,” which doesn’t really amount to a serious appraisal of the actual event that the letter is ostensibly focused on but which it ultimately skirts. As such, it opens itself even more flagrantly to the exact sort of co-optation that it ultimately and quickly suffered from. Co-optation without side-effect, as there was nothing in the statement to poison with reason those who would use it irrationally.
Again, assuredly there were reasons, even if uncomfortable ones, for entering the building. It’s my hunch that they would in fact play better than this sort of thing that we’re seeing from the left on television, in the papers, and in a series of petitions and collective letters. If occupations and the like are going to be conducted, if windows are, yes, going to break (as Solomon vaguely promises during the programme), mightn’t it be a good thing to be able to describe why in fact they are happening? The collapse of the London Eye is nothing compared to the wholesale destruction of Higher Education in the UK. The collapse of the London Eye is a deeply-felt expression of student frustration. I don’t want to talk about the collapse of the London Eye, even though I planted the charges. I want to talk about student fees. I’m afraid it didn’t play well this time, and will play even worse next time.
10) At the end of the Sopranos episode that I mentioned above, Tony actually bows to the reasonable arguments advanced and decides to call off the hit. He ends up rolling on the floor of his house, in a drink-n-valium fueled stupor, only able to say to his wife “I didn’t hurt nobody.” He’s restrained his impulses for once, thought something through for once, let the “system work” for once, and ends up an incoherently frustrated mess, basically a very large child in a semi-coherent state.
While most of us are able to step back comfortably from an endorsement of mafia-style vigilante violence of the sort dealt with there, I still think that the episode serves as a very vivid and ambiguously wired political or ethical allegory. That is to say, the crossing of ethical demand and psychological need, the complex relationship between instantaneity and process, and in particular the very complex question of impersonal involvement, even violent involvement, in the pursuit of justice of one stripe or another, are persistent ones, insoluble but worth seeing (I hope, I hope) presented vividly.
11) Why did I want so badly to go down to Millbank? Was it simply because there was the possibility of violence? Why didn’t I go down to Millbank? Well that, my friends, is a longer story than I can possibly tell here.
It’s bad form in even a vulgarly dialectical essay like this one, but I hope that you can see the aporia that’s looming over this piece.
12) Of course some of the impulse to violence in the service of justice is hardwired, written into our basic codes and structures. Interesting to think so, though. Seems an animalian holdover, something quite primitive, but on the other hand: do animals commit vigilante violence?
I suppose the question of vigilantism comes down to an issues of numbers, sets. Family – herd – neighborhood – any random victim on the street.
13) Of course it’s hardwired, but it’s also an impulse I clearly learned from my father. Such vivid memories from my childhood – the time at the baseball game when teenagers were carrying on behind us, using foul language and generally being loud, and my father…. turned around on them. A scene that I’ve been repeating my entire life, along with many others of the same, my entire life: in thought and dream and often enough action. When one is a child, a boy child enamored with his father, these scenes seemed like living allegories of bravery and abstract justice, arbitrary interventions on behalf of justice for its own sake.
Now, while some of the sheen of those moments has been retained, I increasingly want to ask – him, the him in myself – the very question that Melfi asks Tony: Why was this sort of thing his job? Why is it our job?
14) Under-interrogated psycho-social issue: What is the effect of having a father who went to war when you yourself did not? A grandfather who did while your father did not? I suppose I could ask some of my friends whose fathers served in Vietnam…. Mine was Canadian so (fortunately) missed the show. I suppose I could ask some of these friends, but would risk wandering them into the high traumas of parental alcoholism and violence that I know understand were going on behind the scenes, at night when I generally wasn’t there.
15) The numbered, thetical form that these personal-cum-political blogessays that I write often take allows for a certain halting stream of consciousness, not unlike that which is supposed to obtain during psychoanalysis, to take place. Just write what comes next, from whichever frame of reference it comes.
Of course, this tactic (tactic?) inevitably results in a document useful only as a clearing house for further thought – it is not thought itself. It is a smooth, empty concrete floor where one spills out all of the contents in the hopes that once out one might put them back together again with coherent form.
16) The hidden non-sequitur incoherence of Benjamin’s “Work of Art” essay… The madness of the ending – as an ending to that piece – despite the brilliance of the observations arriving at cinematic pace throughout…
“Fiat ars – pereat mundus”, says Fascism, and, as Marinetti admits, expects war to supply the artistic gratification of a sense perception that has been changed by technology. This is evidently the consummation of “l’art pour l’art.” Mankind, which in Homer’s time was an object of contemplation for the Olympian gods, now is one for itself. Its self-alienation has reached such a degree that it can experience its own destruction as an aesthetic pleasure of the first order. This is the situation of politics which Fascism is rendering aesthetic. Communism responds by politicizing art.
17) Theory and what it excuses: if I were to put myself back in the frame of mind that I once briefly held – during the coursework time, I suppose, of my PhD – I could allow myself to wrap this up in a theoretical aporia, a full-empty question or request for further thought that allows me to step away without solving anything out. We must interrogate the complex entanglements of personal desire and public good, personal perversity and rational action, that informs each and every act of political violence, in this context potentially liberatory political violence. I could glibly ignore the performative contradictions inherent in my piece, expecting that mystified readers would leave off the contradiction inherent in everything that they exuberantly label performativity.
Identifying knots of over-determination but doing so in a tone that seems to indicate that you are announcing a political program is something like treading water while selling slickly-packaged books to the passing tourist boats.
When you walk around with a sense that you are literary, and further that what literary means in this case is not quite perverse but perhaps something like dialectical in a rather unanchored way, you are of course rendered unfit for political position-taking, you tend toward the overreading of documents, the endless deferral of signature writing, awkward conversations with those who know better.
“But wasn’t that always the point of the dialectic? It’s unanchoredness?” you ask yourself just before you ask yourself the next question, which is whether you believe that there is such a thing as bad faith. And there you are back again, right in the middle of the not-quite-perversity that might or might not be the hallmark of the dialectic, the unanchored one.
Of course, the answer is no. You don’t believe that there is such a thing as bad faith. This is a problem. But even with a gun to your head, even if you in extremis answered that you did believe in bad faith, even if people would die because of your lie, “Yes, yes, god. Of course there is. Of course there is such a thing as bad faith! Obviously, god, of course!,” it still wouldn’t be bad faith, not in your opinion. It would only be the gun at the back of your head and a completely comprehensible human response.
Of course people save themselves. Of course they distractedly save themselves first, block off the thought of the others who will perish. You can hear the very thoughts in their heads as they do so, because they are not unfamiliar thoughts. (Not unfamiliar to anyone you want to add but stop yourself). And if others die because of it, because of the lie or the solipcism, it is not their fault, but the fault of the structures and systems that are unforgiving of lies or solipcism, that render them more deadly than they ever should be.
What sort of answer is this and to what? It’s getting humid in here so you decide for a change to think about yourself.
When one’s habits of thought, the only instrument that works in one’s trusty toolbox is a sort of vulgar Derrideanism that both survived the end of Derrideanism with a capital-D and one’s own unwillingness to get on board with Derrida to begin with, in the first place, back when that was the sort of decision one was asked to make, one is clearly left in an awkward place.
You wonder if it was Derrida at all. How could it have been? How much of his work did you actually read? You read Grammatology, Writing and Difference, the one about Hegel, the big one with paintings, the one with Blanchot in it (did you?), some of Specters, other things. What is the one with the essays? Which one has the interviews? Christ now you can’t even remember the name of the one with the signature, and whether that’s the one with Austin in it. You did meet him once, you introduced yourself. But whatever had happened had happened long before that. That was the end of the story, when whatever it was was already set in the stone of your method, your calcified method. This is only dawning on you now.
When you got your first job you should have remembered, you should have stopped and considered (this coming only now, amazingly, just now four years later) that what you call “vulgar Derrideanism” is actually and simply only quite refined but basic liberal-arts college English technique. It is what you learn to do when someone takes the time to mark your work well but ambiguously, and when you have the time and the need for approval that you ponder the ambiguities, discuss them endlessly during walks with your one-day wife. What did he mean by that? Why did he draw the question mark in the margin? What was wrong with that passage? It is what you learn to do when you are there to learn and you are taught by conscientious vulgar Wittgensteinians who haven’t read much or any Wittgenstein. They don’t need to – there are decades worth of essay prompts for them to draw on. Why bother with the foundational materials at this point when what works truly works.
Describe the process of taking a book out of Frost Library.
Describe what it’s like to hit a tennis ball.
Describe what it’s like when you read this poem.
You were rewarded when you learned to balance paradoxes, to pull the string of ambiguity without snapping it, to keep the little plastic ball bobbing just above the straw that extended upwards from your lips toward the sky. But another way to put it is that you learned perversity, sinistrality, to coin a word. Always let the left hand remodel what the right hand is doing.
Despite some reservations, they allowed you to continue working in the field. This happened again and again until you are just where you are. You do what people used to be able to do but can’t anymore. And what is that, exactly? And can you imagine hearing something like that and feeling a spurt of unreflective pride. I do what people used to be able to do but can’t anymore.
It is a relief when, as you correct your manscript, when the readers have pointed you to a passage that could use more analysis. There is nothing easier for you than more analysis. You will get to the part about the major, and absent claims of the work later.
In the afternoons, you work for an hour (two during summer) on fiction. It is no wonder why. And it is unlikely that you will ever publish a single word of it. It is no wonder why.
Today you taught. You teach very well. At least they smile when they leave. They say nice things about you, very very nice things about you, when you’re not around to hear. You get a raft of Ph.D. students, here like the last place. When you teach, someone, always a female when it happens, almost always stops to thank you for your enthusiasm. No one, none of them, are enthusiastic. You are so enthusiastic. It’s such a breath of fresh air, your enthusiasm. You are enthusiastic, it is true. You are intense – everyone tells you you are intense. You took the first paragraph of the 1802 Preface to the Lyrical Ballads and showed them at least three extremely convincing but mutally contradictory ways to make Wordsworth into a parodoxicalist, an ironist, a dupe of haunting ambient ironies, or perverse. You love the Preface to the Lyrical Ballads because almost every paragraph of it contradicts itself in its own distinct way. The science of pleasure, the real but made, metrical but natural, poetry but prose but poetry but prose. The social and historical determination of art and thought, but mere idiosyncratic intensification of the timelessly common.
Paul de Man. He was one of those people who did the sort of thing that people no longer do, but you can do. Paul de Man. You wonder if you have it in you to be Paul de Man. You wonder if they’ll let you write for the papers too.
Or…. you are Private Joker in an alternate (and perhaps more interesting, perhaps) version of Full Metal Jacket, in which after he learns to disassemble and reassemble his rifle so very well, takes all too strongly to the running joke about the eroticization of his weapon, in the climactic scene, instead of blowing away his teacher and sticking the barrel up his mouth, he instead is himself made a drill instructor on Parris Island. And in fact, rather than shifting the scene to Vietnam (that is to say London, really…), we watch as now Master Sgt. Joker brings his own sets of inductees into fully and effectively the Corps, despite the fact that the war, after Tet, isn’t going all that well. Best of all, he is cool and methodical where the first drill-instructor was bluster and joke. He is better, cooler, cleaner than his teacher.
So you acquired technique, a proficiency. But there will be no program to reskill workers with obsolescent skill sets, no federal program to subsidize engineering’s transformation into massage therapy, telecom marketing into environmentally sensitive agricultural work, financial (and other forms of) speculation into deaconry or even church sweeping. There will be no subsidy to beat croquet mallets into shovels, tuning forks into spoons that feed knives to hungry children. It is unlikely that you can do these things, unfortunately, on your own, with out a bailout.
No, you will be left with your toolbox and single tool to make do as one can despite the closure of the factory, the bakery, the plant. Piecework, odd jobs, putting out, freelancery. All while holding down your sinecure – the unemployment is elsewhere, has little to do with your job.
When all this is the case, one is likely to do no harm, but one is also almost certain to do harm in doing no good. Whether more harm than others, it’s hard to say.
All of this is so much as to say, in what can only be called (dishonestly, really, or is this too a lie) an extreme case and performance of bad faith, I should have signed the fucking letter. What the fuck is wrong with me, really?
Like David Lurie at the end of Coetzee’s Disgrace, they should put me in the backyard with a banjo with broken strings and a three-legged dog and an operata about Byron’s abandoned mistress to write. They should, but it’s too late, as I’m so already there.
Thrift stores here have become impromptu laboratories of the changing mores and attitudes in a country adjusting to newfound wealth. Young Poles here in the capital are now confident enough in their ability to buy new clothes that they at last have taken to wearing old ones. Those eking out a living on fixed incomes, especially retirees, still lack the means to do otherwise.
And so the hip and the strapped meet at secondhand stores like Tomitex, on Nowowiejska Street in downtown Warsaw.
The pronounced stigma of buying used clothes in a poor country was once a powerful deterrent for shopping — or at least admitting to shopping — at secondhand stores, known here by the derogative colloquialism lumpex, which translates as something like bum export. That stigma has been replaced among the young by a playful attitude toward vintage clothing and bargain-hunting that would not be out of place among their contemporaries in London or New York.
A subset of early memories drawn from the summerlong visits back to my mother’s home town in very rural Nova Scotia, the fishing village where she grew up focuses on visits to Frenchies, a used clothing store that at that time was a single store or maybe there were a couple but since then has branch out to become a sort of pan-maritimes chain.
(You can only imagine, or perhaps you can’t, how weirded out I was when Calvin Trillin wrote a piece about the store in the New Yorker. Gemein/Gesell gone wild! I’ve never felt so authentique in my life, so townie, organic even….)
I am quite sure that my mother wore mostly used clothing during her childhood and the few stories that I’ve heard about my father’s home growing up and clothing are troubling and not to be gone into here. But these stories happen to be the very sort of stuff that a form of therapy that would be able to work between the traditional registers of psychoanalysis and issues of class and money and ideological drip would make hay with, if such a practice properly existed. At any rate, both of my mother and father come from shitty circumstances, differently inflected but ultimately the same cocktail of alcoholic fathers, overworked mothers, nowhere locales, zero cash, and a fortunate and unlikely escape to university or vocational training in a tiny (large to them at the time!) city.
Anyway, I grew up with very real used clothing antipathy – probably of just the same sort of attitude described in the clipping from today’s NYT up top – and definitely caught from my class-shifting parents. They wore used; their son would wear – and learn to expect nothing less than, actively be disgusted by anything other than – new. I can’t remember exactly how this feeling was transmitted to me, but I am sure – especially now that I’m thinking about it in light of this article – that it was in fact transmitted, and done so by my parents rather than some sort of ambient socio-ideological vapor.
But when my mother and I would go to visit the family up in Nova Scotia, we would always make a trip or two or three to Frenchy’s over the course of the summer. You won’t be surprised to hear that these were horrible experiences for me, filled with a variety of dread that’s close to the fear and anxiety that comes of going to the doctor for an injection or the dentist for a drilling when you’re a child. I didn’t really understand wealth and poverty at that point, I wasn’t embarrassed at all. It was the visceral disgust that came of trying on clothes that had been worn by other people, that had encased other children’s bodies, caught their spills, been inextricably soiled by their skin. And it only got worse when we’d actually bring these items home, and later, perhaps the next day, I would be expected to wear them – not just for five minutes in a fitting room, but all day, straight through to my bath at night. The memories get vague at this point, start to break down, but I think at a certain point my eight or nine year-old self went into revolt, simply refused to wear the items any longer. I think, further, I have a memory of my mother conceding, likely throwing the stuff in a bag that was kept for our own clothing donations.
It felt dirty to wear the clothes. Dirty in a way that was unbearable, visceral. This is, of course, just how I’d been raised to feel.
All of this I’ve thought about, when I’ve thought about Frenchy’s, before. What I’ve never yet thought about – and what the article about Poland has led me to consider – is what exactly my mother was thinking when she took me to this place and put me through the experience of trying on and later wearing the clothes that we found there.
The hometown-girl made good in the States amidst relatives, trying to fit in with the people back home, playing along. She never dresses her son in anything but new things, normally, but it is true what the cousins and aunts keep saying, that there are great bargains to be had there, and they always outgrow everything so quickly anyway. Perhaps – probably – it never registered how deeply she’d woven this message into her son. Perhaps it came as a great shock when he refused that morning to wear any of it ever again. Quite likely, almost definitely, there was at least a passing thought that she had spoiled him – that even if she didn’t really want him wearing this sort of stuff, it wasn’t a great sign that he didn’t want to wear it. Her cousins’ kids, of course, didn’t resist. This is where there clothes came from, had always come from, whether by the standards of the village they were rich or poor. (They were all more or less poor and since these days they have only gotten poorer, disasterously so by North American standards…)
Probably she wrote his – my – behavior off as childish temper, a burst of willfulness that was unusual for me. I was a good child, vaguely angelic (but just think of what keeps the good angels good angels), and generally did everything that I was told to do. The clothes at Frenchy’s were crumpled in piles, piles dumped hourly on tables made of 4X4s. I can’t remember now whether you paid by the item or by the weight of the bag that you filled. Or perhaps on another level or even the same level, she understood. She hadn’t wanted to go along anyway. I wonder if she had bought anything for herself. If she did, I wonder what she did with it. I am very sure, absolutely sure, that she’d never have worn it.
Many of my friends, now and before, wear or wore vintage clothing. I could do, but it’s not really me. At this point, I think it’s not even really the childhood anxieties about it. At some point when I was sixteen or seventeen, suddenly this no longer really bothered me anymore. Before then I disliked wearing the handed-down uniforms that we were given on the baseball and basketball and football teams I played for. Then, suddenly, it no longer mattered. Surely it had something to do with the arrival of sex on my scene, and the very different relationship to other people’s bodies that comes of it. But still, today, it’s just not my thing. I’m one of those catholic school boys who never really gets over the uniform. Every single day, working or not working, I wear a variation on the outfit I wore during my first nine years of school. A collared shirt and a sweater, never sneakers, chinoish pants. I skip only the tie – I almost never wear one. Some of the clothes I continue to wear are older than used – shirts I got when I went to university, sweaters that are almost worn through. A long Italian wool coat I bought – my best friend bought the same sort, same day – during the last winter of high school, when I was feeling like a poet. (A colleague stopped me in the hall a month ago when I was wearing it and said that it is a “poet’s coat, you know, the sort of thing that Eliot or Lowell wore.” (I should use this story as an exemplary anecdote when I teach “The Dead” because it’s so exactly right…) Part of me was ecstatic to hear this; most of me was dreadfully embarrassed. He was, I’m sure, hazing me – I am, after all, the new guy still.
My wife pointed out today that now my mother makes her take her to fancyass but dowdy consignment stores. She’s of limited mobility, and so has to be taken places, and it’s consignment stores that she wants to go to ahead of any other place. It’s something we’ve never really understood, my wife and I, and would laugh off as just another parental absurdity. She has the money to buy what she likes as far as clothes go; why does she does she insist on sifting through the crap at these places? It is interesting and strange to think that my mother, perversely, may finally have learned to occupy the place where she lives – that she has finally forgotten Nova Scotia and Frenchy’s and wherever the clothes came from when she was a girl and before there was a Frenchy’s to visit.
Of late, but really forever though couldn’t articulate it, if I am not feeling like I am walking around in London but my fucked up head and heart are in Shitsville, Canada, I am feeling like I am walking around in Shitsville, Canada but my fucked up head and heart are in London. Either way, wherever head and heart and the rest of me are located absolutely or relatively, I have just now categorically refused to wear the semi-worn shirt from Frenchy’s, stated my refusal in no uncertain terms, even with stamping feet and tears in my eyes, but am wearing the damn thing anyway, feeling the dirt soak in through every tiny little hole.
Ah, well. This is all starting to feel a bit The Best American Essays 2008. And there’s surely a little narrative hiding in plain sight that’s prefitted for The Best American Short Stories 2009, and all that that sort of thing drearily entails. So I’d better stop before I over-epiphanize this shit. No one’s paying for it, anyway, neither by the item nor by the pound.