Thursday, September 27, 2012

The NY Times Anxiety blog, I can relate to.  Traumatized by certain aspects of college, yes, I abandoned the idea that life was all about being happy.  Academia, as much as I felt at home, I guess I could see that the way it was going, it wouldn't really work for me, and so, yes, by definition, my life would never really be all that happy.  I am not part of the stylish regime that took over the humanities, and nor am I disposed to fit in with the micro litmus tests of science.  Paint me as the palooka that I am. Can't keep up with the latest self promoters, and of course, to even say that is absolutely horrible, stone age, and a huge sign...  that I am not as bright and astute a cultural critic.  Relegate me to the Neanderthals.  I don't deny a common brotherhood with any thinking of any sort, but it just seems, wow, things are made pretty complicated right off the bat, if you enter into the modern dialectic of post deconstructionist so that we are to question our very sexual identity.

If you've had any experience dealing with people, not just telling them from on high what they should be doing, how they should think, you'll quickly discover an entire spectroscopy of human shades, quite as if each seed of humanity produced, indeed, an entirely different and unique individual, of course.  That goes without saying.

Well, my laboratory is a neighborhood restaurant bar.  Sort of like a duck blind, but of course the blind part is instantly gone.  Yes, quickly, very quickly, you are one person, dealing with other people.  This is the water in which we swim, and yes, swimming is what we do.  It is the root of community, the root of politics, the root of tribal belonging, of neighborhood, of basically the deepest friendships you are allowed finally.

Each night, then, resembles something of a performance, on all parts, on the part of all players.  If you are in the right sort of bar the relationships are far more on the real side, even if just in passing, then the artifice.  The performance, being live, takes a lot of energy, an engagement of six hours.

And so, that scholar, fallen from the academy, dives each time into the unknown, and people come, complete strangers, people you've known for years.  A light goes on, it's live 'TV', and life is shared, as people need to share.  I am touched by what my friends from the years share with me.  Breast cancer, a coming operation followed by chemotherapy.  And when people can share, though it might not help the  bottom line directly, though it does, I can sense I'm doing something right.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The secret to life, perhaps, is obscurity.  Think of it.  How many artistic people, people sensitive to the arts, are there, first of all.  That means, let's just assume for the sake of argument, that if you achieve something in the field of arts, of an artistic nature that is somehow simply fine and good in its own right,   sensitive to life as art should be, must be, that if you make something that is art, there will not be but more than a very few out there to actually receive it, given that the other artistic people of the world will probably be engaged, engaged either in their own survival, or in the appreciation of art, or in the making of art themselves, or in simply, perhaps stupidly and haphazardly, enjoying some form of relaxation be it of mindfulness or less so of mind.  (This too, of course, is intelligent, a renewal, a grist for the mill found in random and rhythm.  Einstein knew well enough the source of his own creativity, something like goofing off and daydreaming out windows.)

And think of it again.  How much art is there now, given that there are many people on the face of the earth.  Even to catch up with the essentials of the history of art would take years, and then add on top of that the ever volcanic cascade of current art, dubious or not, satisfying the style of a time, that must be kept up with, an ever more complicated situation, increasingly complicated by the strangeness of the tastes offered through friendship.  If, say, you were to come across a person sensitive to the arts, and by some incredibly rare circumstance that one person were to read, take in, listen, comprehend, absorb some form of art you had helped create, get the culture behind it so that the great embarrassment fraught in such dealings would be minimized such so that the encounter happens on the same planet, if by some miraculous circumstance such were to happen, it would be startling and pleasant all at once.

Dear reader, so many, thousands of millions of us, and each of us is by birth entitled to making art, enjoying the creativity of life.  But what if we all, say, 5 percent of us, or 1 percent, or, put a decimal and zeroes in front and go to an even smaller group, were to write, or paint, or make music, how many of us remaining would there be to find the raised questions posed to be so deep that would warrant attention from our own individual spheres of consciousness?

But who does one have time for now?   Beethoven?  The Beatles?  A glass of wine?  Abraham Lincoln?  Kundera?  All, one shrugs, a matter of taste.  And yet, where does taste come from?  From the ghosts that inhabit the lives we lead?

But the match.  The match between, let us just say, two people.  Both artists, both in a relationship, the relationship of writing which is reading and reading which is writing, of listening that is music and music that is listening, of standing and being seen and seeing and standing in a background that is relational and of the same flesh.

Point being, that a great artist is one ready for the match and capable of maintaining the relationship, and that all he/she has created is the making of his/her own attachments back through life and into the reader who is, of course, living and quite alive and dealing with life in all its baffling frightful joyful business, tedium, satisfaction and dissatisfaction.

Our time is saved for those who are widely popular, living and dead.  They have told, are telling, the myths we need in a complete enough ever unfolding way.  They are a reference book for the living of life, and each small act of art helps us in our journeys immensely.  We could indeed jump in to the middle of the river of art, and find that which greatly sustains.  We wouldn't even need to look for anything new, not bother ourselves with the current fashions, as fashions merely repeat and reiterate and exist only to delineate a style, an in group of knowers opposed to those lagging, even though we all know basically that its the same stuff reinvented, digested, offered up in new form but, the same.

In life, we take a chance on a friend, on a reading, on an evening, on a story, on a thought, on a song, on a peek at the newspaper, or a browsing of movies offered through cable TV.  Sometimes, we connect.  Sometimes we are in the mood particular to take in, say, The Shining.  To pay attention to the living creator, to wade in, I would say that is probably an act of sainthood, high, I mean, wild and organic in the sense of nature having its own ways.

When we are all dead, then it's probably a lot easier.  "Oh, that is a good book, that one," someone will say, long after us, though we know not their future judgments.  "I like Beethoven, and Mozart, and I also like Fauré, and Stravinsky."  But yet, there is a part of us that knows, that we must send up our own little shoots, and do what little we can, even if it falls short a bit.  That is within our nature and in our will to survive, digesting life through things like words and memory.

Do we now, in our own time, have the right or the duty to create, yes, no, maybe?  Saying we do, we know it not to be taken lightly.

Something worth looking at:  "Dead Horse of Confederate Colonel; both killed at Battle of Antietam," by Alexander Gardner, a photograph belonging to the Library of Congress, and written about in
DISUNION September 24, 2012, 12:30 PM

The Dead of Antietam

Monday, September 24, 2012

Rushdie has a new book out, a memoir of his life during the world's reaction, particularly the Ayatollah's, to The Satanic Verses.  His timing isn't bad, as the US, and the West, discover anew the unpopularity of its influences in the world of the Middle East.

Kundera, writing in Testaments Betrayed, 1993:  "That is why, in this sad story, the saddest thing is not Khomeini's verdict (which proceeds from a logic that is atrocious but consistent);  rather, it is Europe's incapacity to defend and explain (explain patiently to itself and to others) that most European of arts, the art of the novel;  in other words, to explain and defend its own culture."

Is it a difference of taste in the end, a difference of habit, of 'genes'?  Is the novel a frivolity, something 'satanic' in its calling into question in the scope of its view and sensitivity?  Are complexity and the cultural criticism inherent in a novel not a habit some societies can undertake?

Is it that the West simply caught flat footed in trying to, as the work of the novel asks of us, to understand the complexities on the ground?  Has the West lost its own art, its own sensitivity, and become a victim of its crave for fashion and its own certainties?

Would we want to, could we even imagine to, live in a society that did not allow the novel, that did not allow the play of poetry, poetry in play, in a world so determined by religious law that we were not allowed the luxury of thinking of ourselves, of imagining ourselves, as individuals.  Such imagination does, after all, allow entire industries to flourish, though someone somewhere might regard such as completely 'unholy,' comedy, fine dining, the internet of information's freedom to name a few.

Does it not make for interesting literature when such worlds of different tastes collide?  Perhaps that is a subtle background point in a Tolstoy story, in particular "Prisoner of the Mountains," or in Lermontov, poetry set against repression and imprisonment.

Who knows, maybe some of the finest works were conceived by 'complete degenerates,' people like Shakespeare, far moreso than prudish finger-waggers and 'holy types of impeccable self control.'  Yes, give me the world of Chekhov flawed 'sinful' people in order to find the song of redemption so necessary to life.

Kundera bears rereading, 'The Day Panurge No Longer Makes People Laugh."

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

It's the pain, somehow vascular, in the legs, that makes the wine taste so good and soothing, if you've done an honest day's work.  Hoofing it.  A meeting of hands.  What else do we call it.  There's one of those Christian terms, I can't think of it...  Can't sleep, valerian doesn't do it, only listening to music, in my case Irish music, Sinead O'Connor singing with the Chieftains, "The Foggy Dew," or, anything MacGowan.

Writing is a symptom of wakefulness.  Irritated by not being able to sleep, you have some math to sketch out on a blackboard.  You have some growing up to write about.

Philip Roth, also found on the internet, in interview with Tina Brown, has a piece of the puzzle, and perhaps has kept the ticking distance of our lackings toward literature and literary forms.  Unless it's stunning and revelatory, salacious, maybe shameful, but true and recognizable, we don't need the parsimoniousness of the novel.  As Roth says, too many screens, television, movie, internet, and this being one of them.

And yet, and yet--the great directors, Fellini, love to say, 'and yet, and yet'--there is something Shakespearean, that strange poetic 'outing' of what must be said, the capturing of voices that hover in our heads.

To skirt upon an issue, maybe it is literary form, literary form in a sense, which we, or another, or a group, or a larger 'truth seeking nationality' would seek to defend.  And if it is literary form we are talking about, then, maybe, what seem to be greater issues can be more pleasantly discussed.  This is why Mr. Roth thinks that the world, quite clearly, will be happier when no one believes in God.  Literary form is, as always, an important, or perhaps, the most important battle ground there is.

So we see this now, as if by coincidence, in the NPR piece of Antietam, the photography of Alexander Gardner, (setting the issues of what the more thoughtful words of the day would be dedicated to.)  We see it Rushdie's new book about what it is like being a marked man of extremist.  The story of Naguib Mahfouz seems to have been forgotten at the current moment (stabbed in the neck almost fatally by a young Egyptian extremist--who then later having finally read him, humbly asked for apology.)

Shakespearean technique might finally be the point, the inclusion of all the voices, mad, sane,  clownish, regal, male, female, deep, shallow, interested, not, musical, atonal, mystic, secular, cynic, saint, cop, what have you.  Which we get now, readily, fragmented, but blitzed at us, if you will.

And we are the ones with our own gyroscopes, compasses, filters, points of interest, tastes.  Important things.  We have our own voices, and that's why, in our DNA, the writer came into being, a being that is a crystallization of what we are, what we are often enough.

Do we riot?  Is that who we are, or do we write a poem?  Can we write a book fairly honest, or is taste something different?  Or then do we misapprehend other people,  and take them to say as being more than what they really are about, which is, after all, and at the end of all days, a matter of literary form, and all that is accepted within literary (mental) forms.

Mr. Roth, for instance, might write about masturbation.  That might not be particulary to your taste, but the form might be, well, not far off from your own.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The screen of my macbook has a big picture of space, many stars, blue, depth, and a universe, one which looks like a vagina, right in the middle.  Is biology physics, or is physics biology?

Sunday, September 9, 2012

An attempt at review, on the thought-provoking nature of:

Encounter, Milan Kundera.  Harper Perennial Paperback edition, New York, 2011
The Idyll, the Daughter of Horror
(Marek Bienczyk: Tworki)

He is writing about a book, a book about a place called Tworki, 'a large psychiatric hospital,' 'toward the end of World War II.'   Kundera finds the young people depicted:

     ...modest, shy, awkward, with a naive thirst for morality and for goodness; they live their 'virginal loves,' whose jealousies and disappointments never turn into hatred, in that strange atmosphere of obstinate gentleness.

A pithy and striking passage, a comment on our times that leapt out at this reader (reminding him of the essential--or existential--condition his own book is set in.)  Kundera seems to capture a light that falls upon our own times, as we sort of wait around for what happens next, (and possibly missing the chance to do anything of note.)

Kundera's commentary, speaking personally, as a writer, captures that ever-present sadness, that sort of low-level depression that never leaves but also is never dramatic and palpable enough, never so locatable as to require 'professional treatment,' its promptings for spiritual conversion and insight pointed but similarly intangible.   Maybe this is the beauty of certain Shakespearean moments, never hitting you over the head, always existing in a kind of ambiguous situation, 'signifying nothing,' as when Hamlet mutters 'nothing is but thinking makes it so.'  Of course.  Plays' jobs are to prolong such agony.  Is there ever resolution?

And so we go on living.

To the highest mind, say, that of Buddha, that 'unsatisfactory' nature of things is exactly it.  We don't need to necessarily translate that bit of wisdom as 'suffering,' in a direct dramatic sense (though we probably are in that state too, anyway), but just that low level everyday 'what am I doing, and even asking that is not leading me to anything remotely satisfactory, what is the point of all this?'  Such a condition simply means that the sufferer is on the right track, at least in accordance with the inner logic.

I suppose we can only resolve the matter in asking for a certain recognition of such traits and expressions of that which Kundera, reading, describes above.  An understanding, sympathetic, of such 'madness.'  Is that how the world works?  Probably not, but, can we say, I wonder, that this is, at least some times, who we are?  Or, to ask it another way, where would that get us?  Do we then simply wish to go back to sleep and dream a little more until more worldly duties call upon us?  (Would that the Nazi had been so afflicted.)

Is it not a bit painful to look back on those times of youthful naivety and chaste relationship...  Why do those now seem like such utter catastrophic failures of living, haunting us in their own way?

And yet, how strangely wonderful would it be, if you could capture some of that virginal hidden kindness, like capturing a still of a helpful yoga pose's energy, or the Da Vinci diagram of the man, the human being with his arms outstretched, not sadness, not regret, but beauty?  Or, in sobriety, something akin to the strange other worldly logic of Jesus that we normal humans find ourselves occasionally good at, remarkably enough...

Anyway, to not operate with a bulldozer's sweep in such rare and delicate territory, sensitively, is a task for writer and critic today.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Brooks, who has tried to be moderate all along, and not betray his own views (conservative, deeply), or, for that matter, betray his disappointment with the views he is sympathetic to:  did not get it.  (and called the speeches of the individual candidates themselves a tie!)

Beschloss, the guy from Williams, had only to remark that the President's tack was sermon-like, as in FDR style.  I don't think he got it (though later on he betrayed a certain engagement.)

The other Presidential scholar, Richard Norton Smith, really didn't get it either, not prepared to acknowledge anything out of the ordinary had just happened.

Mark Shields did a plucky job of being 'non partisan.'  Did he get it, even as he was, if anything, too professional?

But, but, but...  It was the crowd, the crowd in the hall, the crowd on television sitting as individuals like me, even those sitting alone, who GOT IT.

And perhaps, to their credit, the news people restrained themselves, if they did get it.  Though really, one wishes otherwise.  And I am surprised that such a great moment was not so 'wow,' seized upon for what it was.  In fact, I think it really odd.  We've been waiting for such a moment, really, for a long time, as the moment was not just in passing, but fulfilled and full, a speech not in a few lines, but in full, perhaps in a form new to the art.  Edward R. Murrow, what would he have done?

But of course, journalists seem obliged to be cynical in modern times, impartial, not betraying their own personal feelings or their humanity.

The President did an absolutely excellent job on top of a real rise to the occasion of all in a convention of superb speakers and performances.  Bill Clinton, Michelle Obama, Joe Biden, Mayor Castro...

And you have waded through the conventions.  You too have seen in Tampa the great insincerity, the lack of authenticity, the agenda related mistruths of the great cynic destructive Scott Walker (whose aim to undermine a progressive liberal mindset) and his friend Paul Ryan, of the Republican National Convention this year in Tampa, the blankness of Gov. Romney with conspicuously little to say.

How proud humanity can be, that the Democrats followed in this time of great national crisis.

Mr. President, you are so right.  "You did that," you said.  "You did that," you said, meaning that it was all of us, all of us Americans, normal rank and file everyday middle class un-rich doing-it-in-the-trenches people, who finally put our foots down and said that we all need fairness as far as health insurance coverage. That's what the National health care act is about, that you can't get denied because of pre existing condition, etc.  It was and is the great national moral conscience that has stood up to keep Americans do what they do best.

"Four years ago...  you made that possible... You are the reason...why selfless soldiers won't be kicked out of the military for who they love..."

Obama offers a quote of Lincoln:  "I have been driven to my knees many times by the overwhelming conviction that was the only place to go."  And it is altogether fitting and proper that we should have that tall and folksy original almost hick American voice coming to us now from the wings of history.  For as a young man, Lincoln once fell into such a state of melancholia, so be-gloomed that his friends, so worried about him, worried that he might do something awful to himself, took him in and nursed and fretted over him, as far as to attempt the crude and awful practices of the day to try and fix his body, through bleedings, etc.  Along with taking care of him, of course.  For weeks.  Until, eventually, he got up, whether or not he had completely recovered.

Yes, things are hard.  The news we find just isn't that good, so rosy.  We must be realistic, realistic almost to the point of comprehending what the Buddha tells us about life in general, that it will indeed appear to us that there is a lot about life that will cause us malaise, that will strike us as suffering and a kind of nakedness where before we thought we had power and control over everything.  Yes, America is after all growing up as a nation, and at a certain point must realize what the nature of reality is.

And the good news is, is that perhaps we've been good, or open to this, all along.  We've been open to the facts of life being suffering for the lot of us, and so we've provided the decent things to each other, freedom, equality of creation, decency itself, education.  We've been good about things like the New Deal when the real nature of existence was before us, close in front of our eyes with hunger and want.  We've been good about setting things up like PBS where the potential of a medium is turned to the good, toward expanding our brain cells' stimulation with art and educational programs on science and history and the humanities, thus giving jobs to people who can provide that sort of educated content (rather than letting them go to waste.)

Yes, Lincoln was brought to his knees more than once in his life, through who he was, and through the horrible circumstances in which he was fated to preside over.  And the sense we are left, appropriately, of him is one of "binding up the nation's wounds..." the great line of the Second Inaugural whose opening line, "there is less occasion then there was at the first," President Obama may have had in his own head.  Indeed, belief seems to make Obama very strong, and therefore positive, seeing the good, where someone else might not be so optimistic.  "Binding up the nation's wounds," one could argue, was the act of saving the auto industry, and of the health care act, and of the beginnings of restraining the deregulations of Wall Street excesses, "playing by the rules," as the President put it.

Yes, Lincoln is the Republican we should be holding before us now, instead of the current ranks, the obstructionists McConnell, Boehner, Cantor, Ryan, the Tea Partiers, whose smug insincerities are enough to make your skin crawl.  And as in his times, we too are at war, of a sort, a war to improve the lives of rank and file Americans who find themselves no longer able to afford housing, health care, education and a secure retirement, and whose numbers are vast.  And tax cuts for the rich, just isn't going to amount to anything but outsource life as we know it, for the sake of the one percent.

One knows a beautiful thing when he/she sees it.  And in politics, in life, in all that follows, economically, nationally, beauty is, through its inspirations, truth.

I have heard the cynics singing, telling us any number of things, that national health care is a bad idea, wrong for business, that we Americans are too selfish to be 'in this together,' that 'job creators' aren't happy and will look elsewhere, that we'll never get out from under our piles of national debt under the current administration's path, etc., etc., etc.  And they are wrong.

Perhaps Michael Beschloss is not off the mark after all, if we were to consider the possibilities of the Obama and the Presidency today, to remember FDR, about what we need to provide the people of our nation.

"I propose to create a civilian conservation corps to be used in simple work...
More important, however, than the material gains will be the moral and spiritual value of such work." 

"No country, however rich, can afford the waste of its human resources.
Demoralization caused by vast unemployment is our greatest extravagance. Morally, it is the greatest menace to our social order." 

And so, does it matter that the jobs we provide are particularly defined, that 'community college' education we speak of as far as gearing up the American worker toward very specific and very competitive ends, high tech stuff, as a politician must propose.  Maybe to keep everyone up and working we don't necessarily have to look at either the education or the aims of it in such a narrow fashion.  What is so terrible about the continuing general education?

Does it all have to be high tech?  Or might we realize the hub of culture, the wine, the local produce, music, local transportation and character, art, the proposition of traditions as far as importance to the human world, as important and an integral part of the job providing economy.  The argument might be made that the economy of a country like Ireland was not well-served attempting to conform to something outside its own strengths.

A new New Deal... it doesn't sound like the worst idea at the moment.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Not only do we have the not-living-in-reality element of the writer's life, a postponement of the decisions of life, there is in the weird twilight a vicious cycle.  There is the stress of jobs, and in a restaurant, with the job of being a wine expert, the calming at the end of shifts leads to the depressive effects felt the next day, that feeling, 'why get up, why do yoga, why even get up and write,' when all you have energy for is the getting ready for work, and then the shift that comes along that night.

You need to eat, and so you have to work.  You'll never get out of the cycle.  This is the backdrop of all intellectual life, and the fact of having done it quite a few years already anyway seem to lock down the lid of it upon you.  The humidity is high today, so what's the point?  Just drag on and go get ready for wine tasting night.  The day after Labor Day will be strange, perhaps, not busy, though you never know.  We only have a few of the bottles we tasting tonight, a rehash of earlier tastings, and no one coming in to help us out tonight.  Last time the boss did this to us, of course it got very busy, lots of tourists around jumping at the idea of free wine in an unfamiliar town.  Will my coworker be hungover as he often is on Tuesday?

Time for a shower.

Monday, September 3, 2012

As with any fledgling writer, timidity arises, whenever you sit down to write.  What will they think?

I wonder, is it my job that makes me, well, sort of bitter, sort of reluctant to participate in the sorts of relationships that people seem to find normal?  Why do I find myself increasingly feigning enthusiasm at social requests, as if, like my job, I am only called upon to be a patient shrink, a good listener, and I've done enough of that all night already (and not got paid for it all that well.)  Am I finally finding that the aspects held as pleasurable don't last as such all that long?  Why would I crave reading and aloneness and the time to write as really quite sustaining?  Do I find myself trusting far fewer people, where I used to trust anyone?

Yes, it seems things go full circle.  The kid who once was very social now is... weird?  Likes his walks on his own?  What's up with that? you ask yourself.  Wasn't life supposed to be about finding the right person to be with?  Do you not trust anyone anymore with your time?  Do there really seem to be so few people who actually get it, (and they too, quiet types, not prone for the spotlight and the jolly meet-ups.)

Some people, I've come to realize, just like all that stuff, the social life.  But I'm not so sure I do.

Well, that's a literary asshole for you, not too long in the fun department.

But yet, if you make some gains toward diminishing the egotistical, maybe you begin to find that extraneous stuff just bounces off of you.  And to judge that as bad would be yet more ego talking.  I wouldn't say I don't feel sad about it all sometimes, but, it has its usefulness, particularly when what you do for a living isn't the same as the task by which you feel you really make a contribution to society and to humanity, though of course how would humanity ever repay you?  Send a check through the mail?  Humanity wouldn't blame you if, in the meanwhile, you did something to keep from hunger.

Yes, assignment:  write a book of some sort.  try not feel like a total asshole for doing so.
I have no hopes that this that follows will be anything worth writing, let alone read, but, you know, once you've started, you must go on.  After work, sitting on the leather couch looking over at the television, two duck legs cooking in the iron skillet over some onions that later will be far too crisp and carbonized.  That shitty night, everyone else gone home, and I am stuck with two parties of three, one in the front corner up by the window, Argentine?, and the other in the back.  Now they look us up on line and see that we are, officially, open 'til midnight, and it's 'oh, you wouldn't mind, we're not keeping you, if we have two bottles of wine, and what we don't finish we can take home, right?'  What skillful negotiators people are.

The legs cook, and I need to chill the wine.  Sex sells on TV, but tonight I'm happy to find Ted Kennedy on CSPAN, a documentary in his own words, flipping between that and Mountain Men, after I wore out some Survivor Man show, first in a car parked, come to a stop, in Norway winter, then to a desert of Mexico.

Exactly what I was afraid of had come, as I always know it will, on the holiday Sunday.  That stupid mix of the Sunday regular and the small groups who find it suddenly like a Saturday night so take it nice and slow and savor.  And I hold the bag.

Between now and the next shift it seems a new ceiling will arrive to the downstairs dining room, and a rubber matt floor built in to the bar upstairs to reside underneath my feet that will reside above it.  Even as the enthusiasm and honesty to feel engaged in this job grows more and more to be the full scale lie it is, a crime against potential, even as I smile and must say otherwise, even as I grow more honest, in a British way, and say, to early customers, "I'm still trying to scrape up some enthusiasm for all this."  So are we, they say, themselves.  Fair enough.

I need this time of night, some time just to get my legs back underneath me, to feel secure and not to have to look over my coworkers, to see where they are as far as their own attentions to matters at certain tables.  "Is the old man done over there?  I think they want something..."  And the kid will go over and do it, though it was I who was serious and got it organized and got the whole ball rolling this evening, and then, feeling his job is already pretty much done, the young man will come to help.  But he is, indeed, helpful, though he seems to linger over a table...  Is that what I do when answering questions about wine?

The crickets now at Labor Day have managed an even sixteenth note saw or smaller, even, anyway.  And it's five before I know it, but that's only still, when you count it, four hours of come-down time.  The last hangers on customer types, they had to kick me into that last additional cycle, when to me it was just another fucking Sunday night, and that last cycle, brave like in the Titanic, sending everyone else home, to have to work like an ant, everything back down to the kitchen, down to the plastic bag I brought my sandwich in to heat hopefully in the oven, and all the last silverware from chocolate tart and the last two cheese plates.

The skillet is rinsed out with boiling water, the onions a disappointment, but that's how a cook learns.  Maybe it's time now for a little guitar, a little Shane MacGowan, and then to bed.  My shit ass job, so tired I could barely get home on my bike, and then, oddly, still up, and tomorrow I'll be fucked up too.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Blah.  Sunday afternoon, my Monday morning...

Get up, walk with stiff legs into the kitchen, put the tea water on, taking some of yesterday's second batch out of the refrigerator.  The cat chose to stay outside last night, so I let her in, she crunches on some dry, and then I open a can, sprinkle some Metamucil on it, and put it down outside the porch where she likes to eat.  There are some dirty dishes from last night, the pan to cook last night's halibut and asparagus.  I don't know what to eat yet for breakfast.  I don't know where the vine ripe tomatoes I thought I brought yesterday went.  Did I leave them in the store?

I take an allergy pill under the tongue, one Chinese Skullcap, one Astragalus for inflammation.  The first cup of green tea is too hot.  But I feel it cleansing, helping with that feeling of overripe fruit general in my body from last night's $10 Corbieres red, an odd standout in the Chinese market's shelf, the rest being Monsieur Touton ubiquity.  Not that I really care about wine anymore.  Yes, getting liquids into the system, like a bowel movement, seems a priority.

Ragweed season, sickness, easy to forget stuff, to lose money, leave wallets behind, the checklists seem harder, take more time.  Humid, the hurricane's fingertips, also typical of this time of year in the mid Atlantic.  Stayed up late reading, a decent Saturday night, not minding being so alone reading "The Potudan River," the young couple who must learn how to deal with that blank love that has befallen them in this modern life.

And I'm writing this just to keep my mind alive.

Yes, food and tea are good.  Platonov captures the simple beauty of basics.

Miss Kitty comes in and does something in the litter box.  I bring the rubber made kitchen trash can and make a few scoops of waste.

I never start the day caring very much about, or looking forward to, the familiar faces I will see, I hate to admit.  Familiarity will, at least now it seems, make me a tacit drinking partner with these regulars, and of course, this I do not want to face at the moment, before my shower and dragging off to see what surprises I face on this Sunday eve of Labor Day.  We are closed tomorrow, and I am beyond happy about that.  Maybe at a certain time, after making things happen as far as service and coordination, I will feel that flush of needing a glass of wine, I really hope not, but at the moment I still feel ill from last night's necessary panacea.  How much energy does it take to smile at people, the old couple you know from years of Sunday nights?  It might not seem like much to you, but at the moment, the engagement takes on something of a proportion involving lies and misery, though of course we don't bring our problems into work.  "Keep a positive attitude, don't fight it, let it happen..." yes, I will try to keep motherly wisdom in mind, and maybe the shower will help.

A shower does help, hot warm water pouring over my head and back and shoulders, the body absorbing water through the skin down into the vital organs, making them less sacks of defeat.  Little airways open up in muscle and joint.  I shave, seeking out to scrape off the hair that grows on the animal's face, chin, jaw, neck, under ear, under nose, around the mouth, from the different angles of the grain.

I don't feel any more sanguine about the purpose of my job, its lackings as far as what I want to or should be doing with my middle aged life, but, the body feels a bit better.  The goings in, the comings out, feel good to the animal.

I find there is a huge amount of integrity and truth in Platonov's story here, the difficulty of opening up to that love, as between members of a couple like the young couple, Lyuba and Nikita, the strangeness inherent in the act of acceptance, the impossibility of it that could almost lead on to do something rash, as attempting to get away from it.  I find a lot of truth in that, far more so than the happy-ever-after sort of a thing fairy tale.  The great difficulty of accepting what is even natural to accept, when both parties even completely want it and find the great immediate benefits of its form of being together... or even the howling pain we carry within us, attempting to let that go as we experience this other person with us on a daily basis...  How could we do this, how could we possibly handle that--this I find a very realistic question, and one fairly resolved in a story.

A great story is the finest form of shrinking available, I would gather.

It's nice to know, or think for a minute,
that a writer's 'fictional observations' serve a purpose in this thing called life we go through, say, a realization of the great almost suicidal-provoking pain that befalls us at that vulnerable spot we love one another out of.  As if, the more love, the more great and constant pain, that look found in the eyes that Platonov renders in this story.

And I have to wonder, that for a long time we must rehearse as readers, getting bits and pieces, taking it on faith that we should read Dostoevsky.  On instinct, we know we take to what we are reading about Aloysha, etc., etc..  But, to really sense the import, to get that impossibly great tender quality of life, which we might know vaguely and passively in childhood, we are not so well trained as adults to receive, at least in the necessary modes of thinking we must handle to survive.

As mature readers we can then make insights and judge, 'now that is love as it really is.'

How long does it take us to get there, where we read on our own, from out of the expanded space of our own largely egoless wisdom?  Where we finally see not just the instinctive interest in reading, say, a story, feeling an enjoyment and somehow a betterment, but realize more fully the greatness of that story, of that moment, of that novel, that it serves a real purpose, brings a knowledge that could not have come from elsewhere.  That's how I think writing should be judged, for its wisdom, for the lesson in life that it awakens us to out of a more sentimental and simpler and partly erroneous understanding.

And this, coincidentally, or simply as a side point, to tack on, this is what can be missed in a reading, what can be missed in the reviewer's estimation, if the reviewer comes with prejudgments about what form a piece should take, knows so much about what the marketplace will take as far as 'plot' and 'dialogue' and general 'interestingness,' that the wisdom inherent in the piece is completely missed.  As debut novels are judged.  It is a subjective matter, you might find, but there is wisdom in pieces, and these pieces have the potential to be understood for the greatness, not just studied conjectures aping some acknowledged standard of great wisdom fairly grasped and represented in a clear enough manner.

We might know examples where we sense an author trying to say something that is beyond their actual development, as in the case of the juvenile who writes a piece of great good and, on the other side, great evil, or writes, through mimicry, something they have not in life and through real living understood in depth beyond their precocity.  And this may make you wonder about some  authors, maybe particularly ones who got rolling at an early age, ones who sound maybe a bit too confident, not as subtle as letting things story-like emerge without manipulation.  Life is a science, and it takes time.  It takes real actual living, not just writing classes and an inventive imagination, or a clever marketing angle.  So perhaps we do, as readers, realize that there is indeed greatness to the great standards, like Shakespeare and Tolstoy, Melville...

Or, maybe on the other hand, it isn't your taste to want Buddha wisdom, attainment of yearned for peace of mind, acceptance of great truth.  Maybe you think all that's bunk, and just want to live your own life as it happens without the need for too much thought beyond what to do for employment, where to go on vacation, an ignorant bliss in things and comforts material.  How to guides.  Entertainment by distraction, not lesson.  Well, that's simply a matter of taste, I guess.

One does not want to impose standards on readership and books and things, lest God forbid we incite a book burning.  But maybe we can discern moments of evolution, or that some books just have a lot more deep thinking put into them and can be considered more trustworthy as far as their offers of betterment, not that they would ever beat you over the head with their 'lessons.'  But, again, this is a tricky business, and maybe completely individual about who you may find insightful and trustworthy.  Depends on where you are in life, one might suppose.  For me, anyway, Platonov, he does the trick.