29 April 2009
Did you know that a spiral galaxy, skillfully thrown with a whip of the wrist, can take your head clean off? I often imagine committing murder, and not just with vast astronomical entities. It's relaxing to know you can kill someone if you really want to. Stab them repeatedly. Everyone is capable of murder. This ability is a birthright, like getting a library card. There is a murderer for every victim, it's the dating service with a perfect record of matches. I've imagined very vividly being murdered as well. Someone usually bursts in, I'm usually killed in my DOMICILE, often by someone known to me, in accordance with known statistics. When I imagine killing someone it happens in all kinds of places but never in my RESIDENCE. I suppose my home is reserved for my own murder in a way. As if only one bad thing is allowed to happen in any given house. In movies people learn about the terrible event that happened in their house decades ago, an unspeakable crime or whatever, and that explains the thing happening now, the haunting or what have you, and they always accept that explanation without further inquiry, as if another even more horrible event couldn't have happened even earlier. There's always something even worse if you look farther back in time, something even more monstrous, as astronomers and psychiatrists well know. When I moved into my last apartment in San Francisco I was told the previous resident had died, and I immediately wondered how many people had died in that apartment over the decades, and where they'd died, in what crumpled postures, with what grimaces or frozen attitudes. Naturally I wondered whether I'd be one of them, it's the first thing anyone thinks when they move into a new place. Obviously I didn't die there and now that I've moved away it's certain I never will, which just means I am free to kill someone there, by pushing him or her out one of the large eighth-floor casement windows that conveniently open out.
24 April 2009
21 April 2009
I had a dream in which I was sitting in a wing chair, a rather ridiculous, grandmotherish wing chair, not like the notorious wing chair in the Thomas Bernhard novel Woodcutters, that's probably the best wing chair in any novel ever, not that I've done a comprehensive survey of wing chairs in western literature. It might have been like the Woodcutters wing chair, how unalike can any two wing chairs be after all, but I don't know if Bernhard even described that wing chair, it's been so long since I read that book, not that that matters since I forget everything I read within minutes of reading it. I can reply to someone, with a straight face, "I don't remember, I finished that book twenty minutes ago." Anyway, in my dream I'm sitting in this wing chair, odd enough as it is since wing chairs are not part of my life at all, and I don't remember much about the room but there were people milling about, wing chair sort of people, people in tweed sport jackets holding cocktails, murmuring to one another, when a man in a very expensive looking suit, I'm no expert on men's suits but I know a beautiful tailored suit when I see one, this man with an instant degree of presence, even gravitas, because of the suit he's wearing and because he has a well-scrubbed, meticulously maintained, pore-excavated Patrick Bateman look about him, sits down right in front of me, sits right down on this pouffe, this dainty little stool or ottoman that matches the wing chair in spinsterish ridiculousness. He sits down on this very feminine little pouffe, his legs spread apart in a rather sexually brazen or simian fashion, his forearms resting on his thighs, like he's about to pick up a dumbbell and do a set of biceps curls, or is about to fit me for a new pair of shoes, and the incongruities and messed up signals are just piling on top of one another to the point where all you can do is be amused, and he leans forward with this simian weightlifting shoe-selling bearing and tells me that my bee fees were not received, that this business of the bee fees should not be taken lightly or treated as unimportant, that if he does not bring this money back then I will be asked to come up with a quantity of horse paint in addition to the bee fees, did I fully appreciate the gravity of the situation, etc. etc., and the carnal threat of his posture becomes a subtle but unmistakable threat of violence, which of course to my way of thinking are pretty much the same thing. And of course I have no idea who he is or what bee fees or horse paint are, neither the me of my dream nor the dreaming me have a clue, we're both utterly baffled. And here's the best part, I love this hackneyed little cinematic detail: After he leaves, the people around me start murmuring again, or rather the volume of their murmuring returns to its previous level, and the music too, the idle plinking of an unseen piano, and only then do I realize how quiet the scene had gotten when the man had spoken to me.
20 April 2009
19 April 2009
I'm no fan of the sun, or sunny days, or daytime of any kind for that matter, but the first sunny days of spring have always been especially troublesome, not because I loathe sunlight in some kind of goth affectation, I am a member of my species after all and not a vampire, not counting my tendency toward emotional vampirism which is another subject entirely, but because temperamentally I seem to default to a kind of knee-jerk contrarianism, which is useful at times and at other times most definitely not so helpful. When spring comes and everywhere the streets and porches and all available urban green space are populated with grinning sun worshipping morons, wandering in that familiar squinting stupor, I have the instinct to find fault with nature not only in the form of nuclear fusion but in its regrettable habit of demanding compensation for its electromagnetic largesse by lopping twenty points off everyone's IQ, mostly targeting people who didn't have a single point to spare to begin with. There's also something tribal and atavistic about the whole thing, it sometimes feels like our relationship with the sun hasn't evolved one bit despite centuries of scientific understanding, not to mention the advancement of knowledge concerning the dangers of overexposure. I mean look at all we now know about the hazards of tanning, the epidemic of skin cancer, and yet every health spa and "fitness center" has tanning booths as if that's not a potentially fatal mixed message at all. Imagine the sort of person who uses a tanning bed. No one who uses a tanning bed could possibly have anything to add to my life in any way. Whatever meager endowment of common sense people have is dropped along with articles of clothing in the race to the beach and not picked up again till after Labor Day. They position themselves under the blazing sun like lizards draped on outcroppings, with the mentality of lizards, and in time they'll have the skin of lizards too.
15 April 2009
14 April 2009
Of course I feel better now, just as I predicted. I am manipulating the mammalian brain with old school technique, tried and true. Of course it doesn't last, I have to do it all the time, several times a week. But it helps. I'm also going to give this meditation thing a serious go, I will become a master manipulator not only of the brain but of the breath. Tonight I'm reading The Death of Ivan Ilyich, which also includes "The Forged Coupon," upon which Bresson based L'Argent. Gary has some images up on his blog from Daniel Schmid's La Paloma (with Ingrid Caven) so I might watch that tonight too. I got it from a bootleg site some time ago. I answered an ad on Craigslist from someone trying to start a weekly film club, and it's relatively near my house. I need to get out more, have some human contact. I don't know if I'll be able to really do it but answering the ad was a step. Tomorrow (today) we're going to see Junior Boys at the Doug Fir. On his blog, Gary Indiana reprints an essay about La Paloma that's also included in his recent stunning collection Utopia's Debris. There's a paragraph near the end which has always struck me as saying something that I need to hear, and saying it perfectly:
I like Daniel Schmid’s idea that we are all private radio stations transmitting on our own frequencies, sometimes audible to each other, sometimes not. Personally, few blue-ribbon cultural products occupy my consciousness with anything like the force of my own imagination or experience, and those that do, like La Paloma, seldom belong to the upper reaches of any established canon. I am indifferent to any argument that a "greater" work should affect me more profoundly, or that there exists a legitimate authority to declare one thing "major" and another "minor." In the end we have only our experiences and we feel them with the particularity of monadic creatures.
13 April 2009
Intense loneliness today. It's not such a bad thing, I mean just because I admit it doesn't make it interesting. There are worse things to feel. There's no depth to my loneliness, it's just a weak habit of mind, it lacks ennobling chiaroscuro. Later I'll dutifully go to the gym and go through my ridiculous routine, I've gone so many times and it still feels silly, it's unlikely I'll ever get used to it. The middle of the night, no one around, a lone figure panting for breath. But for hours after I get home I feel pleasantly blank, my mind is just so wonderfully inert. That's when I really recharge my batteries, forget sleep, sleep does nothing for me, it takes me forever to fall asleep no matter how tired I am, as I'm drifting off I wonder if I'll ever wake up, I stare at the dog's sleeping face and think is this the last thing I see (you can't do much better than that, admittedly) and my dreams are usually disturbing, or disquieting, probably related to my anxiety in my final waking moments. You can't have these insane anxiety levels, these death fears and life fears, and expect to have calm dreams. What a relief it is to get out of bed, I never linger in that horrible place. I wake up and I'm surprised to be drawing air, a functional organism, one of nature's charming mechanical gewgaws, a couple of deep inhalations and I'm waddling out the door toward who knows what.
Nell [without lowering her voice]: Nothing is funnier than unhappiness, I grant you that. But—
Nag [shocked]: Oh!
Nell: Yes, yes, it's the most comical thing in the world. And we laugh, we laugh, with a will, in the beginning. But it's always the same thing. Yes, it's like the funny story we have heard too often, we still find it funny, but we don't laugh any more.
12 April 2009
Despondent, downhearted, then I saw a documentary about the Andes and there were some spectacled bears and dancing flamingoes and a cloud forest and an eerie salt pan. I have made a fool of myself yet again and it feels like it might be time to change. What a clown I can be. I miss people who will never come even part way back and after a certain point it's pitiful to even hope. I might like to be a spectacled bear. They can climb the tallest trees in Peru, and of course there are the spectacles. But then there's the whole animal thing, I'm pretty attached to self-awareness, who knows why. The allure of something like Facebook is the promise of "reconnecting" with people you knew in the past but of course it's almost completely illusory, no one has any intention of reconnecting with anybody and in fact wouldn't even know how if they wanted to, and for that matter to reconnect you have to have been connected in some way that isn't completely trivial and that's probably an illusion too. For most people, the life they have right this minute is all the life they can pay attention to and want to pay attention to, unless they are single and desperate for a partner, in which case they have all the time in the world and will think about you even more than you think about yourself. The spectacled bear is pretty much a loner, the voiceover narration explained. He doesn't get too excited one way or the other when he runs into other spectacled bears. I read a Robert Pogue Harrison book called The Dominion of the Dead and would like to read his Forests: The Shadow of Civilization. He's a Dante scholar and quotes a lot of Dante, so I might profit by reading Dante before I read any more of his books. The thing is, the spectacled bear looks like he reads Dante. Probably a majority of randomly selected strangers, given pictures of me and a spectacled bear, would say the spectacled bear is more likely to read or to have read Dante. The voiceover narration said that Paddington Bear, "from darkest Peru," must have been a spectacled bear. The Paddington Bear books were my first favorite books. I tried for years to like marmalade because of Paddington Bear. I did better with the hard stare.
10 April 2009
Keeping my cat from vomiting is my occupation. I discard strategies, try new ones. I find myself imploring food to stay inside him for the time being. I spoon it out and say to it, Now I don't want to see you again for a whole day. Sam is old, approximately 13. I got him from the shelter in '97 and the vet there estimated he was around a year old. His body didn't begin to betray him till recently, one alimentary sorrow after another. You wouldn't think a cat could stand that many enemas. He can still scramble up to his high carpeted perch though. He's puked in every room of the house multiple times. I should ask the neighbors if they'd let Sam puke in their house. They'd say no and I'd say, Suit yourself, but he's not going to live forever.
When I lived alone I had the most amazing conversations with Sam, across a range of topics. Now I have people around and Sam's a little slow on the uptake so it's not the same. When Sam dies all the horrible secrets I told him will adhere to me again and I will need to commit murder to finally discharge them.
08 April 2009
In All About Eve, Karen Richards tells Eve Harrington that as a playwright's wife, she, Karen, is "the lowest form of celebrity." This was in 1950, decades before the internet, so of course Karen could not possibly have realized just how many lower forms of celebrity would eventually become discernible in the fetid depths of our "sweet cesspool," as George Sanders famously put it in his suicide note. The extremely sensitive celebrity detection apparatus recently evolved in the human neocortex can sniff out levels of renown only microscopically higher than one's own, thus triggering the human envy gland to squirt its reassuringly familiar chemical secretions into the bloodstream. In other words sometimes I find myself so enraged by the trivia that passes for online news that I have to scream into a pillow I keep handy for just such nocturnal shrieking. George Sanders's brother, Tom Conway, said something relevant in I Walked with a Zombie but I forgot the exact wording. It was in the boat scene at the beginning, assuming there was a boat scene. Maybe it was some other scene, or wasn't relevant, or some other character said it, or it was some other movie entirely. Maybe I said it in my movie and forgot.
03 April 2009
I can't wait to test my new resolve to refrain from pointless regrets. I'm excited about it, bursting with confidence, which is rare for me. I just need something to happen that might in the past have filled me with regret so that I can feel myself not having any regrets. I need a missed opportunity, due to cowardice say, or a bad decision, something. I feel good about this but it's too abstract. I feel a strong urge to fuck something up for real, make a total mess of it, so I can observe myself not wallowing, feel myself moving on, letting go. I never shrug the right way, my shrugs are pouty and negative, defeatist shrugs, I'm ready to shrug in a baggage-shedding way, the good shrug. Unfortunately I'm doing everything right these days.
If I sneak up on my mouth words will startle out but I'm not always sure which words. If I know for certain which words they might not come out but they're still words, not ideas of words or potential words but real words, as real as if spoken. They ascend close enough to take on dimensionality, the surface features of testimony. They might thrash a bit, get dinged. Then thwarted they recede and sink. It's a kind of swallowing. My tongue is sporting if scrotal and I prefer bland foods and flat beverages. I have functional teeth, a generous uvula, a hard palate of no distinction that I can feel although I am prepared to implicate it in my strangulated bleats. There isn't that much else to know about me mouthwise. It doesn't have to be interesting to be a mouth, unless I were speaking from the mouth of a cave or a river. My sister had mouth cancer so I am afraid I will get it too since mine's been nothing but trouble from day one.
02 April 2009
01 April 2009
I watched Forbidden Games but I found the beginning difficult to sit through, where the little girl wanders the countryside carrying her dying/dead dog. Then later the tone switches back and forth uncomfortably between lacerating pathos and slapstick humor. I was probably just bent out of shape by that twitching dog at the beginning. How did they get it to convulse like that? It bothered me. Is it idiotic to be bothered by it, fifty years later? I'm asking you. I have the same question about Au Hasard Balthazar. I am prepared to love both films if someone can please get me to think about the animal abuse issue in a way that would make it possible. My thinking is probably incoherent, it wouldn't be the first time.
I got a surprising email yesterday, a very complimentary note regarding things I'd posted on my old site. It seemed too good to be true, but I checked and April Fools' Day was still hours away. My perspicacious admirer, clearly an individual of uncommon discernment, mentioned things I'd written that I'd completely forgotten about. How clever I used to be. It's probably ludicrous how gratifying I found it. I'm afraid my reply was just a tad overwrought, but the internet has made me very confused about what constitutes an emotionally appropriate response to anything, to the point where the expression of any human feeling seems grandiloquent.
In other news, my jaw still hurts a little. I'm thinking a touch of bruxism. Or TMJ, or TMD, whatever it's called. I'm maybe a bruxer. Another pissant little complaint to add to my collection, my symptoms of bad thinking and bad feeling. Sometimes the sensation goes up my left cheek into the side of my head. I hate having a central nervous system. Meditation is looking like a good idea.