Mar 31, 2003

The BBC isn't nearly as skeptical about the war as Fox is jazzed about it.
Postmodernism
As I understand it, the primary thought of those who have moved through the Englightenment and Modernism is the idea that the world is more complicated than our human structures for dealing with this world and, actually, for the mind of man.

This seems a reliable depiction of poststructuralism and deconstructionism, directly, but also of the anti-reductionism of phenomenology. This is the rejection of the tradition of violent simplifications. These human structures which have insisted on a violent simplification--including science, language, logic, bianary systems of thought, propositional statements, metanarratives--are ones we must, finally, rejct.

This gives rise to the need to speak in paradoxes and subversions, to speak in strange ways accepting mystery and our finitude.

The first reaction to the accpetance of this is depresion and frustration that the all-encompasing silent place isn't out there, waiting for one's personal synthesis. But postmodernism's idea an acceptance that moves past the cynicism of a crushed idealism. To truly accept this is to accept it, laughing, as the peculiarity of this human condition and to delight in these limitations.

Posts of interest on pomo:
Metzger attacking Sproul and self-referntial incoherence claims.
Berek on the deconstruction of binaries.
Sam Nicholsen on his "rejection" of pomo.
Me on Derrida at Toronto
Me on referntial totality
About Me!
Seraphim has mentioned my nomination to the Scribe's Weblog Award and listed a few thoughts on my blog.

Strange as it is, I agree with all of his comments and laughed at them. I especially enjoyed #2: "It is as The Collegian, our dear newspaper, mistress and the bane of our GPAs: it has some misspellings, some strange things, but, in the end, people read it—and keep coming back (why is not clear!)."

True, true. Which means, I suppose, that if Seraphim is a curmudgeon about me than I am too.

Ahhh. This endorses why my approach has been to write for myself--with misspellings, strange things, readable content--and let whatever happens happen without any worry on my part. At this point I have a regular readership that's smaller than people think it is and I'm having a lot of fun.
This is a link to Seraphim, which is promised to make mine a much better blog.

Mar 28, 2003

Conscience is but a word that cowards use,
Devised at first to keep the strong in awe:
Our strong arms be our conscience, swords our law!
March on, join bravely, let us to it pell-mell,
If not to heaven, then hand in hand to hell.
--Richard III, Act V, iii


See my seminar paper on Shakespeare's Richard III and his a role as tyrant in the transtion between England's fuedal and modern monarchies.
Pictures of Peter


peter1

Peter Stanford Silliman on the day of his birth with his father, Cliff.


peter2


Joshua Andrew with his new little brother.

Literarily Blogging
I've been nominated as the best Narrative/Poetry Based Weblog in the first Scribe's Weblog Award.

If you, gentle readers, don't all go vote for me immediately I will stop blogging for a whole day and hold my breath for a really long time.
Step One: Start
Step Two: Finish

There are only two parts of any writing that concern me: the thesis and the deadline.

A thesis is like a gift of divine grace, being the point where I know what is going to be written and the place from where the rest of the writing will easily flow. The deadline—if we wanted to continue the analogy, Judgment Day—promises an end to procrastination, ensures completion and grants one the adrenaline needed to write.

With a thesis and a deadline, I can write anything.
Reporting in the Fog
The BBC is reporting that some of the especially poor invasion reporting is due to the combination of rolling television coverage and the "fog of war."

One of the results of this may be the shake-up of the journalism order and the re-assertion of the reporting basics--be skeptical.

At least I hope so.

Mar 27, 2003

Birth
A new sibling was born in my family last night. Peter Stanford Silliman is the eighth child and the seventh son born to my parents, Cliff and Jenny. He weighed in at over 11 pounds after four to five hours of labor, according to my sister's call this morning.

Everyone is fine and happy and I'll have pictures of the newest Silliman up soon.

Mar 26, 2003

Objecting to the Chinese Room
I've posted my latest Philosophy of Mind paper over at my mostly defunct papers page. I thought this paper, Do I have Understanding? Searching for an understanding beyond the functional was particularly subversive and fun to write.

It's not everyday that you get assigned a paper where you attempt to show you have no understanding and in passing suggest that your prof. has none either.
Is poetry worthwhile?
Jonathan Mayhew writes on self-doubt and project-doubt, which reminds me, specifically, of my uncle's comment when speaking of his soon-to-be published 1,000+ page poem entitled The Alphabet, that he was more interested in poetry than in poems.

Raid on the Inarticulate
Trying to learn to use words, and every attempt
Is a wholly new start, and a different kind of failure
Because one has only learnt to get the better of words
For the thing one no longer has to say, or the way in which
One is no longer disposed to say it. And so each venture
Is a new beginning, a raid on the inarticulate"
--T.S. Eliot
But then, of course, no one seems to know if I'm a conservative any more and I've got less of an answer to that question than anyone else.
Right Flank
Seeing the conservative movement split over war in that harsh style of inter-party and inter-movement fights, has me both comforted and concerned.

I mean, I'm glad there is some concern and that conservatives aren't all marching off to imperialism but I'm not thrilled to be agreeing with people such as Pat Buchanan on anything.

Mar 25, 2003

"So why the reporter's urge to be near that carnage? I can only tell you that after a reporter has tasted the war experience and acknowledged to himself that many of the reasons he gets gratification from it are narcissistic, he may still discover deeper reasons for keeping at it. This may sound corny, even naive, but a reporter can come honestly to believe in the importance of delivering the full face of war—families decimated, bent refugees walking in endless streams, children orphaned, uplifting acts of honor and friendship, unspeakable acts of cruelty and depravity, bravery, betrayal, human lives saved by Samaritans, human beings lying in pieces from explosive projectiles. People should have to look upon all of that."

Go read Sydnay Schanberg's great article on the atraction of war reporting in the Voice.
Evil Men
In opposing the ad hoc of U.S. foreign policy from every major political party, I've spoken of evil and the role we are supposed to play.

If we are to be an imperial force for moral reasons (Solzhenitsyn's argument, for example) then we have to know how we're going to deal with every murderous dictator, and what qualifies one as a murderrous dictator. If we are only to engage for 'national interests' then we have to define what qualifies as a national interests.

The obvious cases showing we aren't interested in any sort of consistancy is North Korea (a nation run by a dictator who will be able to strike my home with nuclear weapons by this summer), and maybe Cuba and China. Ongoing news of genocide in Sudan brings the horror of evil men and our strange, ignorant and arrogant foreign policy into sharp focus, again.

The Washington Post called this "possibly the greatest humanitarian disaster on Earth." Millions (specifically Christians and other non-Muslims) have died and the oil fields are playing a large role in the ongoing terror.

On any measure, this is an international situation that should be something registering as a concern, and isn't.

Analysis of the Sudan genocide:
Nat Hentoff
Terius
Philosophers with Horns
This piece on Richard Rorty by Simon Blackburn is interesting for its content and for its style. I laughed at Blackburns acceptance of such words and phrases as "startling," "sneers," "intoxicated by the scale" and ewspecially "an old dialectical dance which has now gone out of fashion."

Rorty (interesting to me because he is one of the few significant living postmodern philosophers and also because he was my professor's professor) comes across here as specifically American, similar to pragmatism. Blackburn also curiously uses Anglicanism as an example of the Rorty methodology of turning, disenchanted, a universal rejection of the central notions around them.

Mar 24, 2003

The only Oscar news I wanted to see:
Cinematographer Conrad L. Hall was honored posthumously for his haunting photography in "The Road to Perdition." Hall, a three-time Oscar winner, died in January.
fragmentations in lying confessions
"What’s the common theme?" she asks, and there is no answer.

I tell her not to ask. I wish she would listen but she wants a grand confession.

Writing as a confession is no new metaphor. It's no new declaration, no inspiration, no revelation. Every writer from Augustine to Red Smith knew that to write was to confess, to lay oneself out in hope of redemption.

Some even admitted they didn’t.

I break the broken glass at my feet. The only truth is in fragments

I confess the fuzzy dice, the $1.75 beer, the paper bag, the black hair, the red tie, the BB gun and the .45 Llama. That nickel. A pause. Rose. Something. Our Father. White van. In the parking lot. Radio Static. not for their significance, significance, for being human.

One true sentence, he said. But it’s all fragments. My sentences lie. I can never climb out of my sentence. Because I’m hiding from the grand confession. Shrinking withdrawal by deception.

The blinking curser tells me I’m damned. There is no confession. My confession subverts itself, not confessing. My lie is a lie that lies to everyone, but to itself mostly. Like the Underground Man, I'm probably lying. And that's not the truth, because of spite.

And the lies are confessions. It's all there. I confessed what I didn’t say and hid from the 'it all.' Misdirection by gesticulation. Confessed. Lying.

And I said it.

Maybe.
If You Can Apocalypse
The women on the BBC screeches about the end.
Is it the end of the end, or the beginning? I'm not sure and
She seems confused. The interviewers accent never breaks
Or questions.

She was an Italian girl, which explained the black curls.
A Commie hunter in 1997, in the summer in California.
We needed the day of judgment. History is simpler with Davy Crockett.
But villains are better.
If you can--Apocalypse.
THE END
Was exciting. . . was coming. . . was hope. . . was it. Wasn’t.
And then it had passed.
I suggested we join the conspiracy. Because of life, I said.
It wasn’t supposed to sound futile. She dug a hole to thwart them.

My roommate's copy of "The Medical Effects of Nuclear War"
Sits on the floor amid the rubble
After spring break, while some women screeches on the radio.

Mar 22, 2003

Art in Toledo
Walking around the Toledo Museum of Art last night for what must be the fourth of fifth time this year, I was thinking about how impressed I am with this little museum.

It's a small thing, in a blue-collar Midwestern town noone expects to be a leader of the arts. This is a town of industry and machinery and farming, not the arts. Yet the museum there has a fine representation of different eras and regularly pulls in exhibits from Detroit and Chicago.

I enjoyed the Met and the Guggenheim in New York, they are obviously what a museum aspires to be.

I liked the Smithsonian, though it tends to be a little scattered and unconcentrated. The SAM is a disappointingly poor museum (though there may be something to the construction of the place I entirely missed) with an occasionally excellent exhibit. The Portland Art Museum is small, though decent. I'm still looking to visit the Chicago and Detroit museums.

Part of the reason I've come to love the little Toledo museum is because my low expectations were really suprised. I've also been pleased because I've enjoyed their Modern and Medieval Religious exhibits. My two favorite art eras--yeah, I know they're not normally both appreciated and are supposed to be in conflict and all that--are interesting represented in Toledo.

They're had a display of medieval religious work for a while and it's recently been extended to June. devotion I love the way these works--wood sculptures, stone sculptures, paintings--are paradoxically individual and anonymous. Each depiction is suprisingly unique and one never knows what the next St. Andrew, St. Christopher, Crucifixion or Madonna is going to look like, yet they are always St. Andrews, St. Christophers, Crucifixions and Madonnas. The rampant individualism is bond within a frame that is universal and repetative and communal.

I love their Modern Art collection, because it's always shockingly quirky. There Moidern art section contains a fair representation but has a variety forcing the display into strange shapes. The abstract sits next to the pop which sits next to the photo realistic. Getting into the viewing experience of it, the juxtoposition is always strange, paradoxical and subversivly postmodern.

It's a crazy little place that I've really enjoyed and come to love in the last year.

Good News: Ohio's museum's a getting more money.
The Ambiguous Abundance of Fascists
Notice how everyone's a Fascist these days?

Bush, Osama, Saddam, the protestors, Islam, capitalist nations, Republicans...

If anyone were to actually claim this title--become the self-proclaimed Fascist--it would be much more interesting and much less like children's insults.

None of us, of course, know a bloody thing about Fascism as a theory instead of an insult. We know all but nothing of Benito Mussolini or Francisco Franco. We just know fascists are bad, against all that is good and deserve the worst punishment.

Still, at least we're not making fools of ourselves by yelling "Nazi." "Fascist" is better than the "Nazi" slander that tused to fly, because it's less silly. Some of these people could actually be fascists. But, most of us can tell you what a Nazi looks like but have never seen a Fascist.

Was there even a war in Italy in 1945? What have Spain and Italy got to do with it? When's the last time you saw a Fascist in a movie?

Meanwhile, I'm off to read some biographies of Franco and Mussolini and some histories of Spanish and Italian Fascism.

Fascism: A system of government marked by centralization of authority under a dictator, stringent socioeconomic controls, suppression of the opposition through terror and censorship, and typically a policy of belligerent nationalism and racism.

Mar 21, 2003

"You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you." Leon Trotsky

Following the Invasion
I didn't support the war on Iraq, and don't now.

I find it frustrating that the United States has nothing resembling a consistant approach to foreign policy. I find it confusing that we are morally responsible for some evil men, because they are evil, and not others. I find it disgusting that the War on Terror has been co-opted. I find it depressing that 42 percent of Americans think Hussein was directly responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks, despite all lack of evidence.

During the last war on Iraq, my parents were the only ones who didn't fly an American flag and my Dad kept a tally of the Iraqi dead.

In general, I wish I didn't have to pay attention to it all. I'm not that interested in politics, anymore, mostly seeing it as too simplistic. I don't define myself politically. In the last few days, paying but passing attention seems to have become an impossible task for anyone actually engaged with the world.

So I'm back--frustrated and depressed, but back.

Here's a few links to blogs in Iraq:
Kevin Sites
Salam Pax
L. T. Smash

Besides the bloggers, I turn to newspapers. The television news should largely be avoided, having all sorts of problems and sloppiness that comes with the medium.
Best of the Best Net Comics
In the spirit of spring break and relaxing, and because I'm feeling good after it rained today, I offer a selection of the best of Sinfest, that classy, stylish, keen and hilarious net comic.

Review of existence

The Devil being cool.

God as a crutch

The recent rise of musicals

Retro fashion

The classic, an exchange between God and the Devil
Dictators Against News
Cuba and China have recently jailed journalists, showing once again their stance against the free exchange of idea and their opposition to news.

Mar 19, 2003

And the war begins.

Mar 17, 2003

How could we interpret the authorial intent of Beethoven when he experienced his music as vibrations through the floor and we experience it as sound?
Great Irish Whining
"The Scots were real men. They didn’t complain about the hardships of life. There were stoic the definition of stoic," he said.

"My clan has a motto that says 'Learn to Suffer,'" he said. "That the Scot grit. We don’t whine like other little nations."

"What are you talking about?" I asked. "I'm Irish and the greatest thing about the Irish is that they whine. Myths, songs, revolutions, beer—it is all excellent whining. They whine with style. That’s what’s so great about it all.

“Forget stoicism, learn to whine with style. That’s what makes a people great."
To Saint Pat
In honor of St. Patrick, the Irish, and my Irish blood, I continue the tradition of posting some great Irish music on St. Pat's.

Foggy Dew
'Twas down the glen one Easter morn
To a city fair rode I.
When Ireland's line of marching men
In squadrons passed me by.
No pipe did hum, no battle drum
Did sound its dread tattoo
But the Angelus bell o'er the Liffey's swell
Rang out in the foggy dew.

Right proudly high over Dublin town
They flung out a flag of war.
'Twas better to die 'neath an Irish sky
Than at Suvla or Sud el Bar.
And from the plains of Royal Meath
Strong men came hurrying through;
While Britannia's sons with their long-range guns
Sailed in through the foggy dew.

Oh, the night fell black and the rifles crack
Made "Perfidious Albion" reel
'Mid the leaden rail, seven tongues of flame
Did shine o'er the lines of steel
By each shining blade, a prayer was said
That to Ireland her sons be true
And when morning broke still the war flag shook
Out its fold in the Foggy Dew.

'Twas England bade our Wild Geese go
That small nations might be free
But their lonely graves are by Suvla's waves
or the fringe of the grey North Sea
Oh had they died by Pearse's side,
or had fought with Cathal Brugha
Their graves we'd keep where the Fenians sleep,
'neath the shroud of the Foggy Dew.

But the bravest fell, and the requiem bell
Rang mournfully and clear
For those who died that Eastertide
In the springing of the year
And the world did gaze, with deep amaze,
At those fearless men and true
Who bore the fight that freedom's light
Might shine through the Foggy Dew.

Ah, back through the glen I rode again,
And my heart with grief was sore
For I parted then with valiant men
Whom I never shall see more
But to and fro in my dreams I go
And I'd kneel and pray for you
For slavery fled, O glorious dead,
When you fell in the Foggy Dew.
 

Mar 15, 2003

Spring Break
My break has begun--I've just ended an 8 hour take home exam on Medieval Philosophy--and now I plan to sit down, sleep, cook my own food, write and read for ten days. Ahhhh. Now if only we'd have a spring...
G.W. and the Church
The Pope, the Eastern Orthodox Patriarchs and Anglican Archbishop Williams have come out against the war on Iraq. Indeed most denominations and Christian leaders of all stripes and sizes have condemned it.

In fact, the only Christian religious body to favor the war are the Southern Baptists.

If George Bush is a Christian, and I believe he is, why has he shown no respect or deferenc to the Church in any formulation?

Mar 14, 2003

Pi
It should be noted that today is pi day, being 3.14. At 1.59 celebrations will begin at the S.F. Exploratorium.

This is also Einstein's birthday. Celebrate accordingly.

Update: Google goes nuts for Einstein.

Mar 13, 2003

Death and Books
The existential experience of facing mortality while looking at one's bookshelf is one I have all the time and one I wouldn't get rid of. It is an experience I refuse to exchange for some rented canon, to turn in for some "Read all the Great Books--in the Princeton Edition!" experience.
Partial Birth Abortion looks like it will be banned before the year is over. Thank God.

Mar 11, 2003

In Other Signs of the Apocalypse
National Review Online comes out with two pieces that defend the French--on the same day. They're talking about French movies, but conservative bashing of French cinema is a long tradition. And tradition is what conservatives are all about.

This is amazing in so many ways.

Watch for Jonah Goldberg to implode within two days.

Mar 10, 2003

Mario Savio, Berkley, Speech, Christopher Hitchens and Me
Christopher Hitchens has written an interesting piece on Berkely and the Free Speach Movement for the Times Literary Supplement.

Mario Savio was held up as a hero, by my father when I was a child. My uncle had some involvement in the protests that followed Savio's demonstration. In my education about modern politics and society, the steps in Berkely that are now named after Savio served as a center. My opposition to all forms of censorship and my current place in journalism probably stem in part from Savio and the FSM.

I share some of Hitchens concerns about the directions these things have taken, though I'm entirely with Hitch on this piece. The continuation of the FSM, in bulk, seems to be a lame or perverted thing, not worthy of the name or the bravery of Savio.

Mar 9, 2003

The rumors and reports of the Pulitzer winners are out and making the rounds.

I'm not in the running, it seems.
Looking for the Uncanonized Canon
Questions of what should and shouldn't be in the required list of reading for the educated are always interesting. Among those attempting a liberal education this is often debated and lists are drawn and disagreed upon.

I find questions of if there should be a canon, a list, even more interesting. The claim that such lists are fascist, at least methodologically, disturbs me. I don't have an immediate response to the charge. It is true that the talk of those listing the works is talk of the pure aesthetic and its connection to the political and religious systems of our world. This talk—seen in the best students and professors—is nearly identical to the talk of Ezra Pound when he talked of ascension of literature to the Cantos and Italian Fascism.

I do not have a firm grasp on the critique, but my response is to argue for the shifting and always unfinished canon. In the end, I’m working for a fluidity that keeps this question from being answered. The finalization and solidification of the list is to claim the end of literature and to claim a utopia—intellectually and thus also in political, religious and economic systems—that I fundamentally object to.

Any canon worth being a canon will perpetually shift and sift. The works considered great will change, growing with extension of research and refining with the number to choose from.

I will not assent to any canon that is fixed in time or number. Any canon worth reference will not claim a permanent fixed state, granting new works be added as time continues.

I’ve argued for a canon, at least the informal one we students have among us, to include the modern and the liberal. Seraphim and I clashed last spring about the inclusion of Jack Kerouac and recently I have decried those who have not read Allen Ginsberg. As a reader of any length knows I am often defending the modern artists (Jackson Pollok, Andres Serrano) and philosophers (e.g. Derrida).

This is subversive with implicit claim that the moderns speak valuably and an undeclared defense of intellectual progress. As the postmodern cartoon, Cat and Girl says, this is just a new canon. It’s not different than the last one except that it has a few modifications. Its still a canon.

Maybe this is a problem.

My tendency is to think we live in the world created by the old work and occupied by the new, thus we ought to fluidly work with and read both.

But considering the contradiction I am asking for—the paradox of a canon not canonized—I can understand the objections and the frustrations.
Thinking About the Coming War
Remember the good old days--like back in the 90s when Clinton was president--when to be Conservative meant to distrust government?

Mar 8, 2003

Mel Gibson's The Passion seems to be going well and is being slotted for Easter 2004. It looks to be moving, bloody and bold.
'What's there ain't the real thing'
A Salvador Dali painting of the crucifixtion was stolen from it's location in a New York jail on Rikers Island.

Appraised at $175,000 in 1985 and said to be worth three times that today, the painting hung in the men's jail for 40 years under armed gaurd and until it was heisted was apparently lifted during an unusual midnight fire drill. A guard is now suspected of pulling the drill as cover for the theft, but denies any knowledge of the theft.

The Dali was replced with a poor copy stapled to the wall in its place--guards noticed the missing frame first. Neither report mentions any identification of the artist of the attempted duplication.

The kicker is that the copy is being displayed until further notice.

Mar 7, 2003

Opinionizing for Sen. Edwards
In the latest edition of my paper I am defending Sen. John Edwards and his campaign as a hope for a sensible opposition and a relevant liberralism.

I don't know how likely either of those are, but I think both are needed pretty badly and Edwards has this opportunity if he plays the game right.

Even if you think this is silliness, check out the cartoon running with the piece.

Update:Apparently the White House has been thinking similar things. According to The New Republic, Rove and Co. have been working to squeeze Edwards early.

Mar 5, 2003

From the latest newsletter for the greatest bookstore in the English speaking world:

Attention, please: Would the lowercase i that has been separated from its dot report to the information desk at once. Your dot is fine, just a little scared.

Mar 3, 2003

Playing 'Oliver' with Chalmers in Who's Who in Hell
By Daniel Silliman
Collegian News Editor

Daniel Linnell has a life-long attraction to maps.

He has a collection that includes every area he’s lived in and, when feeling unsettled or peevish, he pulls out a map and scans his world as it appears in the order of straight lines, green patches, ordered grids. Linnell, the main
character in Robert Chalmers’ novel Who’s Who in Hell, is caught in the details and has no overarching order. A combination of British black humor and tales of commitment and relationships, Who’s Who in Hell leaves the reader caught in the same quandary as Linnell. Chalmers’ has an attention for little things that is surprising and delightful for all 360 pages. He just doesn’t have a plot or a plan, and many of the best parts seem disconnected from the rest of the text.

There is little to propel one through the book. The plot is a shifting and unplanned thing. I began reading this book because it was about obituaries and obituary writers—an interesting subculture and a curious cast. This gives the book its witty title and its original blush of genius.

The book is the tale of Wittington, your classic British journalist who makes a name and achieves success by being
heartless and yellow. We meet the cast of the dead and the soon-to-be-dead that have their obituaries written. In a project to array the damned we meet the scoundrels of world.

But these do not coalesse into a story, as one would expect of a novel. The world of the obituaries touches the plot only passingly. It soon becomes a story about an odd British café, a place of haphazard décor and odd rules. Then it’s a story about a British-American love, and we meet Jasper the Kansas catfish. Then it’s a story of life reassessed, and it’s the story of Daniel and his son Jack.

And so the story moves without direction. We read the details but never know where we are going or where we came from. We have the details and the characters, but can’t grasp any solid sense of the whole.

The characters have a game called ‘Oliver.’ In the game, one person proposes a trait and another guesses the person. Playing the game intermittently, the characters seek to sum up and explain each other with the ordering of some sweeping assessment. Yet the words—damned, generous, unfaithful—all fall cheap and lacking.

The characters fail, but only seem to know this in a way that makes them uncomfortable without startling them. Their knowledge of the failure exists in a way that crushes them slowly as they play a child’s game named, in one unique particular without a reason anyone can recall, Oliver.

The author, his book and the characters are caught in the dilemma of the relationship between the details and the order. They are caught between a world of specifics and the meaning of the whole; between the tangle of details and the order of generalizations.

Chalmers is an author walking down a street without a map. He knows the street as an observant man who inhabits the street, but has never seen it uncluttered. He knows there is some order, but can only give directions based on the street-sweeper and the sleeping dog on the corner. He’s a writer obsessed with details but he has no plan, no view of the whole.

The book is exciting by the page—articulate specifics and fine vignettes lead one to experientially know the described—and heavy in the whole. Other reviews have expressed frustration as the themes and plots shift from counseling the mad, to finding a home in an eclectic café, to chronicling the dead, to an extended story of relational struggles. Chalmers’ is as entangled in the details as his characters.

He is the man who tells you to turn when you pass the sleeping dog with the dirty brown fur. He writes with excellent attention to hands, tattoos and speech patterns. He writes of particulars with precision and yet emptily strikes at the general.

Chalmers’ work is a fine execution of human life without any feeling for themes or movements humanity. Sorting through a mass of exquisite details I find I am playing Oliver with the book, and coming up either cheap or empty.

Revised version
For my "educated" friends who say "Ginsberg?"
I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix,
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to thestarry dynamo in the machinery of night,
who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat up smoking in the supernatural darkness of cold-water fiats 'doating across the tops of cities contemplating jazz,
who bared their brains to Heaven under the El and saw Mohammedan angels staggering on tenement roofs illuminated
And Hallelujah Amen Inc.
In Toledo reading the names off the churches as we drive down the streets, we find The Church of the Living God, Pillar and Ground of Truth, Purchased by His own Blood, Inc.

I threaten to storm inside to ask why the Holy Ghost has been left off the sign. Surely Through the Power of the Holy Ghost could have been added. What? It made the name too long?

Mar 2, 2003

Reading the Russians
Glancing through a list of "Great Books" I'm suprised to find I'm more familiar with Russian literature than any other group of non-English work. Of course my reading of English literature is quite broad but after that I seem to have gone to Russia.

I don't know why, but I have. I've read bits of Brodsky, Solzhenitsyn, Andreyev, Turgenev, Tolstoy, Chekhov, Dostoevsky, and Pushkin. But all the lists of Spanish, Italian, French, and German--not to speak of Indian or Arabic, say--are rather poor.

I can only be glad I'm not going to be called before a committee for this.
Going that Way
Maybe it was because everyone was going there. Maybe it was because they slow down to read his sign. Maybe they just did it for the hell of it.

All he knew was that hitching rides was easier when displaying a cardboard sign reading Perdition, a place that wasn't on the roadmap, than it was when it read Phoenix, Chicago, or San Francisco.