Aug 30, 2003

Attempted dancing
Trying to say everything in a sentence, and failing.
Trying to hear the song over the clatter and chatter.
Trying to see the love in his brown eyes, but only finding depth.
Trying to feel the rain, but only knowing it's there.

Hearing him say what he was supposed to say.
Saying the words that lent contrast, sweetening by distinction.
Seeing him delight in her snore.
Feeling the line down the pavement.
For a faded rose
Will I be the one that you save?
I love when it showers
But no one puts flowers
On a flower's grave
        - Tom Waits
A good article on New Urbanism and Christianity, via Gideon Strauss: Receiving Community

Aug 29, 2003

Don Quixote I
Can the myth be extricated from the Rationalism/Romanticism debate of Cervantes? Can the myth be retold in the Modernism/ Post Modernism form? Can the importance of myth be reestablished with the retelling and retracing of this myth of a dreamer?

Don Quixote II
Did he have to believe the myths were “real” where real was Reason and Science? Could Quixote have known he was mad, and rejected the basis on which such a judgment was made? Could Quixote have poured another glass of La Mancha wine and laughed at his own madness?

Don Quixote III
Speaking the word “Sancho,” I nod at the little man who doesn’t stand besides me, since I’m not really Mr. Quixote.
SOCIOLOGY OF KNOWLEDGE, he wrote on the blackboard.
“What we find is that all three of these words are problematic.”
He stepped back, smiling with complete delight to have found a philosophical problem with “of.”

Aug 28, 2003


I think I'll become a roadie
Yesterday I was told that Caputo and Plantinga will be coming to Hillsdale next fall and am totally psyched about it. Especially Caputo, since I'm currently the senior continental philosophy student here and the after-lecture party is always just sitting down at a prof's house and talking.

Aug 27, 2003

Praying salvation doesn’t come
So in my first few days at Hillsdale, with the whole rush of freshman filling the place and trying to look like they fit in and buying too much stuff at Wal Mart, I’ve met a total of three freshmen. That’s not even a fair count because one of them was a friend of mine’s little brother who I’ve met before. So, two freshmen.

Maybe at a big school this would be typical, but here you know pretty much everyone, at least by face, and the first days of school include this massive number of introductions. I guess I tend to think that the ones I’m gonna know, the few I’m gonna know, will emerge later as time goes on and as they come into some circle of mine.

Part of it too is that I don’t want to ask them what they’re majoring in and where they’re from and why they’re here. And I don’t want to be asked those questions.

And this seems to reflect the concerns some have expressed about my anti-social tendencies, my speed in writing people off, my inability to communicate on a normal human level. (All of this yoked with insanity and filed under “growl”).

I don’t want to ask those questions because they’ve already been asked and how’s the weather and the hope of art in those questions is gone— because to ask those questions are to throw flowers in the garbage— because I frantically want to achieve art and philosophy and these questions are not there.

And I’m forced back upon my questions:
        She said, “You should tone down the madness,” but isn’t the madness all I have?
        If being unwhole drives art, do I want to be whole?
        (If love could save me from the need for art, would I want love?)
        Why is my every confession cribbed and couched?
        Why is the attempt to achieve art and philosophy frantic?
        Could I have chosen anything else, and would I have?

Aug 26, 2003

Faces half shown
Then they learned it wasn't brilliance, that they had, but being driven by demons.

And that was better.

And they were not afraid to be monsters.
And they were not afraid to be monsters.
And they were not afraid to be monsters.
And they were not afraid to be monsters.
And they were not afraid to be monsters.
Garver gives us the history of the structuralists, poststructuralists and deconstructionists.

Aug 25, 2003

"The reasons he frustrates you end up being reasons you like him so much..."
My sister has written a tribute to me.

Aug 23, 2003

Elvis eats elephant ribs here!
and other mad tales of the road
I’m here. There are books everywhere. My bookshelf and chair still need to be moved in from the truck. I did manage to finagle my way from the dorm’s smallest room to the only one with a new carpet. The work has already begun, and I’ve had to meetings with editors and heard one complaint about the collegian since 9 a.m.

But I’m here.

I drove the whole thing in a mad 2,376 miles in an under-three-day stretch. I beat the time of the Greyhound, which is remarkable when you note they drive day and night. I assume that’s because I didn’t make any detours for bus stops, didn’t sleep that much or stop that much, and drove 80 mph the whole way.

Which means I’m a lot like my dad, who I first got to know as a person in a cross-country move where he earned the nickname “Iron Man” because he’d always be ready to keep driving.

I, however, drank more coffee in those three days than he’ll ever drink. Finishing off Neraska, coming into Fargo where I slept for 4 hours, I realized I hadn’t had any conversations in two days, excepting ones with myself.

Some things I didn’t expect to see:
          Gen. Custer’s ghost bumming a cigarette.

          Sinclar Lewis’ house in the town he described in Mainstreet. In a bizarre twist, they forgave him for writing bad things about them ‘cause now they were famous.

          Signs that say “Scenic View.”

          References to mountain men I haven’t thought about since I was 13 or 14.

          A 15-year-old telling some adult that if we don’t nuke all the Arabs we’ll soon be paying $10 a gallon for gas.

          No hitchhikers going east.

          The Badlands.

Some things I concocted to entertain myself:
          A dark comedy about a self-styled stick-up artist who claims to have “put the bad in the Badlands,” but still can’t get the state to issue him a historical marker. Depressed, he grows out his hair and sits on top of one of those funny little hills for a long time.

          An alternate version of the Doors’ “Hello I Love You, Won’t You Tell Me Your Name” where the guy falls in love but never actually says hello and doesn’t find out her name.

          A full-scale elephant-commercialization project, established in Montana. Including changing city names using the word “buffalo” to “elephant” (Elephant Jump, Elephant Gap and Elephant Anne are all right along I-90) and an extensive Montana-style advertising campaign (Elvis eats elephant ribs here!).

Aug 20, 2003

I’m leaving in the morning, driving the 2,376 mile road back to Hillsdale. I’ll be in Hillsdale this weekend and should be blogging again by Monday or Tuesday.

Saying goodbyes, my mother and my priest have both expressed feelings that it’ll be a while before I return. Which could be true; it’s hard to say.

It has been an odd summer. I got a lot of reading done and had a number of worthwhile adventures and accomplishments, but found myself lonely and quietly depressed. I’m without a hometown, having moved a lot growing up, and the attractions of Sequim were few for me and have lessened in the last year.

Which isn’t to say I’m excited about the return to Hillsdale. Last year was rough – being overworked, stressed and having a pretty active group of enemies – and this year looks to be more so. I working to smoothing things out, but still expect a growly year. Still, it’s not a possibility to avoid this little hades, as it is the best thing I can be doing: and except for the accessories (too much work, stress and enemies) it’s what I want to be doing.

So I return, not sure what it means to be leaving and not sure what I’m walking into.
“What is that feeling when you’re driving away from people and they receed on the plain till you see their specks dispersing?—it’s the too-huge world vaunting us, and it’s good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.” – Jack Kerouac

I expect to be fine, granting a few growls, strange acts of existentialism, personal readings of philosophy and poetry, and other assorted ravings. Rolling with the beating isn’t easy, but I can roll - maybe roundhouse a good one – and the rounds are timed.

It’s enough, goddammit, it's enough.
My gray monster snorts, moving about a little. Then, settling down again, rests chin on paws before the hearth.
Names Come November
A longer poem of mine, posted on the papers page. An excerpt:

I fell in love with the woman
Who said my name
And it wasn’t narcisstic
Except in that easy way
Of smiling when you hear
Your name in a poem,
Of smiling
At your face in a mirror,
Of smiling at the one you love for sheer love
And putting her name
In a poem.
I fell in love with the woman
Saying my name.
I turned around but she never said it again
I think maybe she forgot
                        forgot the syllables
                        forgot how
                        forgot ___my name

And it was a drizzly November in my soul, or
It would have been, but
November couldn’t come
Come November
November couldn’t come
You can’t ask directions to a soul without a name.

Aug 19, 2003

The long work of a Sanskrit dictionary
For three generations, they have compiled and argued, agonized and transcribed — toiling in monastic tedium to turn an intricate 44-letter language into six volumes, so far, of word after long-forgotten word.
(Via Open Brackets)
Everyone would have to call you captain
A play in three short acts
Two friends meet at the end of summer in a little harbor town on the Strait of San Juan de Fuca, they’re driving the streets looking for someplace.

Act I, A real dive
Jeff: What we need is a waterfront bar.
Dan: Yeah.
Jeff: A place that serves hamburgers and beer with maybe a smoking section.
Dan: Right. I’ve never been here except for the ferry so we’ll just see what we find.
Jeff: There’s a café.
Dan: Huh. Looks a little expensive.
Jeff: Like they only drink old French wine.
Dan: The outdoor tables have tablecloths
Jeff: That’s not going to work.
Dan: Anytime a café or a coffee shop has curtains you know it’s not right.
Jeff: Yeah. There’s a sports bar.
Dan: Was that an observation or a judgment?
Jeff: A judgment.
Dan: That’s what it sounded like.
Jeff: We want to find a real dive.

Act II, Harbor fight
Jeff: The problem here is all these boats are actually yachts. This isn’t a real harbor; this is too upscale.
Dan: Too Bobo.
Jeff: What?
Dan: Bourgeois Bohemian
Jeff: What was the word you used?
Dan: Bobo. We want some boon-docks, some working seamen off a freighter.
Jeff: Yeah. A real waterfront bar.
Dan: A real waterfront. Of course, if we did find a dock-side bar wouldn’t we be required to get in a brawl.
Dan: I mean that’s the story, right? “I was down on the docks drinking with my good buddy and we got in this fight…”

Act III: Tugboat captain
Dan: I never liked yachts.
Jeff: No.
Dan: You know what would be cool to have though? A tugboat.
Jeff: That’s good. It’d have to be a classic one.
Dan: Not like fancy, but an old wood one painted red.
Jeff: And you’d sit on the deck smoking cigars and you’d dock next to these silly yachts.
Dan: You’d only drink rum.
Jeff: Like Captain Haddock.
Dan: Or Captain Nemo.
Jeff: Everyone would have to call you captain.
Dan: And you’d stop in ports and go to the real dives with a good buddy and have a drink.

Aug 17, 2003

Expecting Rain
Waking up to the feeling of forgetting, empty of that thing I was trying to forget and, now, having forgotten, wondering what it was, wanting it back because at least it was mine, unforgotten.

Aug 16, 2003

Starbucks: coffee and the world
Michael Jennings with two interesting posts on Starbucks and cafes in general: how the Anglo world doesn't get cafes; how Starbucks saved England for coffee. (via City Comfort, who also shows us the first Starbucks in Pike Place Market.)

Aug 14, 2003

Fulltime Killer endings
There are films with alternate endings (Seven) and films with dual endings written into the film (Jakob the Liar), but Fulltime Killer, a Jonnie To and Wai Ka Fai film, goes beyond either of these with an ending, a meta ending, and a meta-meta ending.

I'm not sure that's right though. There's an ending, an alternate ending, an ending about both of those endings, a scene subverting that and then the rolling of the credits. Go watch the film.

In doing this, the narrative brings in the authorship and the author's role in the narrative. The author having a part in the film is a little typical, but these two directors pull it off differently: hinting at it early with a typwriter, bringing it into full view late in the story, allowing it to consume the story and then return to the background, and then up again to give and question its endings.

It makes for a particularly postmodern film, and is accompanied by a full postmodern play. The film has a long list of film references, some blatantly mentioned (Leon, Crying Freeman), others referenced without a name (Deserado) and others given tribute (Clockwork Orange, Matrix). The film also references a video game and has a sometimes contradictory juxtaposition of music.

The Village Voice said that with this movie "Hong Kong action gets its art cred back," and I suspect that's what the Guardian reviewer meant too when he asked if the the "Hong Kong action industry have a thousand films like this," for we are given the beauty and the gore, the pan and the stare that we find in, say, a John Woo film. Still, this "story of two killers with different ideas" is a film with different ideas, and below the surface of Hong Kong mobs and kung fu gun fights, this film is a thing apart.
Dreams of dieing
Having seen four of Jake Gyllenhaal's films, I have to say I like this guy. He's a good actor with a keen sense of the mad.

Aug 12, 2003

Like ink blots or whores
"A metaphor is something unexplained - like a place in a map that says after this is desert. A shorthand to admit the unknown."

"But the sky is an elephant."

"It was the first appearance of the Logos that said, "The Public be damned," by which he did not mean that they did not matter of he wanted to be crucified by them, but that he did not have a word to say to them. This was surrealism."

"We are all alone and we do not need poetry to tell us how alone we are."

"Like the first seagull that ever ate a fish."
              - Jack Spicer
Continuing East and West
The Anglicans-claiming-orthodoxy IM discussion with J. A. Cook has generated some interesting responses, including:

An observation about Hillsdalean brain-capacity with an illustiation of the same.

A lengthy e-mail on the validity of Western Orthodoxy from the Anglo-Catholic son-of-a-priest and Hillsdalean Peter Geromel, that I'm posting on the papers site.

Aug 10, 2003

East and West
J. A. Cook and I had a long talk about the division between the Anglicans and the Eastern Orthodox, which he has now posted here. He did a good job at setting out the Greek position on Orthodoxy and I continued the Western Orthodox flail at the systematic arrogance we find there. No new ecumenicism was reached, of course, but it was a good hashing out.

Interesting points:
The Eastern Orthodox claim that the great heresies were historically different in the East, being repelled and never succumbed to. This seems to be the claim on which the entire issue turns.

The Eastern Orthodox deny the possibility of any division of the Church, and thus there could never be an ecumenical movement nor a reunification, by the very definition of "church." This is the belief behind their use of loaded jargon and prejudiced history that I call Ortho-Speak and forms the wall we Western Orthodox can’t really talk past.

The Greek Orthodox want to define an Orthodox Church as one with an unbroken line of faithful bishops, and refuse to believe that such exists in England. We agree with that demand and that standard but are always confounded and frustrated when a "faithful bishop" and the "orthodox faith" is defined not by the Creeds or the Councils or even the first 1000 years of the Church (as an Anglican answers the definitional question of the true church) but by the practices of Constantinople.

Surprisingly, the Anglicans agree with the Eastern Orthodox on the filioque clause. It was added to the creed by a Spanish council and is not part the original creed, yet it is wholly orthodox in content and was added by the Spanish Christians as a rejection of their heretical Arianism. The Holy Spirit does proceed through the Son. Cook says that the issue with the filioque isn’t in doctrine but in the politics of Rome.

Cook admits that "the English Church in the 900's was very much not identical to the Greek Church, and yet it was fully Orthodox" something I've never heard the EO grant and something I have heard them question. ("Augustine was a backwater fellow and wasn’t fully orthodox;" "the liturgical differences of the West—sculptures, Ash Wednesday, central crucifixes, rosaries—are signs of their decadence and heresy;" "west=bad;" etc. etc.)

For all the tangled twists and for all the warts of a late night debate over religion, check out the conversation.
St. George and Derrida: my problem and my answer, a problem still and an answer already.

My summing and my definition.

Aug 9, 2003

Stain of honor
Brown rings of coffee staining paper as the symbol of work conjoined with art, of the artistic life, of madness fired by coffee.
Chicago style
The new revision of the Chicago Manual of Style sounds to be a drastically improved and quite usable version. I mostly use AP myself, it is more universal in acceptance and I loathed some of the things the Chicago people are now changing, but would be happy to give Chicago another look.

(Hint: login to the NYT site with the Strauss-inspired key name "newspaperlogin" and password "123456".)

Aug 8, 2003

Preparing for school
Growling exercises.
Things that go boom
Whatever you think of Time Magazine's piece on Howard Dean, calling blogs the "jungle drums of the internet" was just cool.

Aug 7, 2003

Pomo explained
J. Garver gives a good introduction to postmodern thought in his review of the latest Modern Reformation, including a consideration of the rejection of "objective truth," radical situatedness putting us "adrift on the sea of 'knowledge' without compass and without shore," questions about reading with the "death of the author," and outlining the collapse of the metanarrative.

Aug 6, 2003

Wishing for sidewalks
I have only a cursory knowledge of New Urbanism and I haven't gotten my hands on this book - Sidewalks in the Kingdom - but the ideas capture me, fitting my Wendell Berry-argarian-leanings-evolved-into-urbanism thoughs.

More here when I actually get a copy and read the book...

Aug 5, 2003

Art of urban spaces
If one finds urban art/street art an interesting, entertaining or possibly worthwhile project, then check out the Wooster Collective I especially liked this poster, this city scape and the most recent Los Angeles set.

Following links, I have to say I'm always blown away by great photography and love humanity shots in urban settings. These urban pics are bowling me over: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.
St. Mary’s prayers, Houdini’s hands, and a barman who always understands

I’ve been having a quietly gray month, resulting from loneliness, worries and dread. It hasn't been anything terrifically horrible of anything monstrous. If my depression is a monster, it’s a gentle monster lying in front of the fireplace.

Reading of these two operatic failures—and if losing a career plan or a girl isn’t operatic then it should be—I find these stories sadly and happily typical of my friends.

"I don't think I'm going to make it," said Prizio of his film career, which sums it up for all of us in that mellowly bitter truth.

Metzger, in a situation I’ve been pretty familiar with, was shut down after asking a girl out a quote from an esoteric Hong Kong art flick. If that’s not definitional for my crowd, there is no definition. That and the search for an "attractive Christian girl who reads Continental Philosophy and have excellent taste in movies."

It’s sad for obvious reasons but happy, still, because it was the only way and because these memories will be well kept and because the sad parts of life are appreciated as life. These stories are classic and unique and go far to define what I think of when I refer to "us."

Failure is sweet in ways that victory never is: failure has the swing of slow jazz and melancholy of soft blues, the feeling of feeling sad and the looking at the worst, the nod to the happy past and the quiet smile of knowing you’ll be okay.

Aug 2, 2003

Blow Man! Blow!
Last night Val, Dad and I made it over to Centrum's Port Townsend Blue's fest. The whole thing was great - it's always great to see music where a tapping foot acts as an instrument and live Blues music is fantastic.

Wiggins Especially awesome was Phil Wiggins, of the piedmont-playing Blues duo Cephas and Wiggins. This guy rocked the mouth organ. It was insane the things he could do with that harmonica. He played the harmonica like a jazzman, showing off and dancing and making the little instrument do everything. Rocking to Wiggins' harmonica, I was thinking of Keroauc in my favorite description of jazz and my favorite Beat passage:

"Out we jumped in the warm, mad night, hearing a wild tenorman bawling horn across the way, going "EE-YAH EE-YAH! EE-YAH!" and hands clapping to the beat and folks yelling, "Go, go, go!" Dean was already racing across the street with his thumb in the air, yelling, "Blow, man, blow!" A bunch of colored men in Saturday-night suits were whooping it up in front. It was a sawdust saloon with a small bandstand on which the fellows huddled with their hats on, blowing over people’s heads, a crazy place; crazy floppy women wandered around sometimes in their bathrobes, bottles clanked in alleys. In back of the joint in a dark corridor beyond the splattered toilets scores of men and women stood against the wall drinking wine-spodiodi and spitting at the stars – wine and whisky. The behatted tenorman was blowing at the peak of a wonderfully satisfactory free idea, a rising and falling riff that went from "EE-yah!" to a crazier "EE-de-lee-yah!" and blasted along to the rolling crash of butt-scarred drums hammered by a big brutal Negro with a bullneck who didn’t give a damn about anything but punishing his busted tubs, crash, rattle-ti-boom, crash. Uproars of music and the tenorman had it and everybody knew he had it. Dean was clutching his head in the crowd, and it was a mad crowd. They were all urging that tenorman to hold it and keep it with cries and wild eyes, and he was raising himself from a crouch and going down again with his horn, looping it up in a clear cry above the furor. A six-foot skinny Negro woman was rolling her bones at the man’s hornbell, and he just jabbed it at her, "Ee! ee! ee!" "

C & W play like they've been doing it for a million years - harmonic and guitar, voice and tapping feet, Cephus and Wiggins - intertwining and blending, stepping into solos and back into the duo. They recieved a standing ovation at the close of the show, and the paid for every clap with an their deftly played music and exquisit stage presence, evoking all the Blues nuances of two guys chilling on the front porch, wearing straw hats and playing the blues.
Scanning the page for a period, a place to re-enter.
When the Collars were Blue
And then, sitting there, I realize there are social classes and I'm wearing a blue collar and feel connected to dump truck drivers and factory workers and all those sweatymen and greasy men.

Then I find myself embarrassed to hear the flashing lights and honking horn of a car alarm being set, car alarm setting one back into the syrofoam-wrap of suburbia, where they think you choose to drive old cars for some weird reason.

And then I drink my coffee black and talk to the trucker next to us and sympathize with the tow truck driver about working on cold days while I leaf through the newspaper at 5 a.m. and the big guys she thinks are scary laugh at something.

Then I know that I know these people and pushed dozens of cars off the highway and replaced starters when it was freezing and worked in dirt for a lot of years, worked all sorts of jobs with these men and sat down over lunch pails and water jugs and cigarettes and known them.

I understand the blue jeans of Springsteen and why the Blues were what they were - there are social classes and you can't really change yours - and I realize that I didn't really realize that some people would have to be snobbish to say the Stone's words about drinking to the hard working people/ to the lowly of birth/rag taggy people/ the salt of the earth and certainly couldn't have thought of singing about waiting for a factory girl.

I'm not a socialist and don't like class warfare and think most of the honoring of the poor is foolish and ignorant, but every so often I realize I'm still wearing work boots and driving a dirty truck. It's not that I have anything against the rich, for to be working class is to be by turns envious of the rich and doggedly proud you're not.

Aug 1, 2003

"Write often, write upon a thousand themes, rather than long at a time, not trying to turn too many feeble somersaults in the air,--and so come down upon your head at last. Antaeus-like, be not long absent from the ground. Those sentences are good and well discharged which are like so many little resiliences from the spring floor of our life,--a distinct fruit and kernel itself, springing from terra firma. Let there be as many distinct plants as the soil and the light can sustain. Take as many bounds in a day as possible. Sentences uttered with your back to the wall. "
           --Henry David Thoreau