May 30, 2003

Assorted Notes
My farmer's tan is coming along and my hair is lightening to a blond for the sun.

Seraphim has been doing some excellent blogging. The man is on, when he wants to be.

That thing lurching around the North Olympic Peninsula was me learning to drive a clutch. I have bought a pick-up truck. It is a forestry vehicle with low miles that runs well and is the ugiest color green ever discovered. Should take me across the country a couple of times without worries.

I think I've come a long way in unerstanding why I am without a home in modern politics.

Going to California is an excellent song.

Blogging seems to be light in my circles which is forcing me to branch out into tangential circles. That's what comes of haveing student friends, I guess. Summer gets to many of them.
Resistance to Blogging
Some corners of the world aren't taking so swimingly to blogging. Or at least corners of corners resist. Poets and those interested in poetics have produced some excellent blogs--I link three--and have a nice circle going.

But others resist. There seems to be some general prejudice but also some fear of the medium. Which I, someone who thinks the medium should be respected and explored as the medium, find peculiar.

May 27, 2003

Ezra: il miglior fabbro
ezra



Where wine flag catches the sunset
Sparse chimneys smoke in the cross light

Zippy and the juxtopositions
I think this morning's 'Zippy' was the first meta-comic I've ever read.

Zippy is the cartoon strip by Bill Griffith that's started as an underground comic in the 60s and continues as a pepetual retro juxtopositions with pomo as Zippy (the pinhead) wanders the land being a little freaked out on America and talking to inanimate objects. Bill

Today's strip: Panel one: A giant number 1 under a tree with Zippy saying "Intro.". Panel two: A number 2. Zippy: "set-up." Panel three: A number 3. In the distance a sign post. "Conflict" says Zippy. Panel four: Zippy has moved all the way to the froeground, between us and the giant 4. Looking over his shouder at us he says "Punchline!"

I laughed. It was as good as the joke that follows the formula in a strange "meta-meta w/ irony" way.

Delightfully intertextul, subtextual and metatextual.

May 26, 2003

Language of Faith Banal
"The language of Christendom, said Walker Percy, is worn out. He had high hopes that it would be revived by Christian novelists who could use the fallout of postmodernity (in his terminology: numbed consumers, hopeless autocrats) to point towards the heavenly kingdom. Percy was Catholic, but had he listened to the evangelicals he would have found that a new language had already been birthed: one consistent with the kind of evangelical belief that declares, that champions, that celebrates and thrusts hands in the air and claps and sways and knows for sure that it is Christian. But this would not have solved his problem; it would have intensified it, because the new evangelical language, in its sing-shouted confidence, was stillborn."
Dancing after dust bunnies down rabbit holes, I worry, believing.

May 24, 2003

Man\ line\ tree
If there is a word opposite plunge, the 50-year-old fir tree was doing that into the sky. It was a healthy thing standing over the neighborhood in the mist of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

This one had made the mistake of running its roots under a house and now the tree was coming down. When the wind blew the house would wiggle and tremor. On some days windows on one side of the house wouldn’t shut and on other days it was the windows on the other side that wouldn’t.

The ground was tense as the tree curled its long toes into the earth.

The trunk quivered as my boss, spurs biting bark and wood, arched back against the rope securing his waist to the tree and dropped another heavy branch.

I stood below. Lineman. The rope running through my hands curved up, tightening. It pulled up, around a branch serving as fulcrum, and dropped into a knot ‘round the belly of the limb, cut and swinging free from the tree. I leaned backwards on the line, making it support me and holding steady the heavy branch, lushly green with spring’s sap and needle.

It hung above me, heavy.

Slowly I loosened my grip, intending on easing the branch to the ground. The line slid, speeding and burning, biting and ripping into the palms of my glove, tearing across my arm. Fingers feeling heat of friction, the limb tumbled, needles shaking. My thoughts formed two centers: heat and rope.

Gripping, I slowed the plummet but only slowed it and the limb hit the ground cracking and smashing.

Releasing the rope I waved my hands. “Arrhhhhaaa!” My glove palms showed a line of leather frayed by heat. The fingers were half-way into holes. Across my arm, where the rope wrapped from behind me into my hands, was a curving red welt that reminded me, for no plain reason, of snakes.

“It wasn’t this hard before,” I said to myself, but I can’t remember how, exactly, I lowered the branch slowly to the ground. “Before” was the summer before I entered college, when I worked with a tree company eight or nine months and learned the job of a lineman, along with art of pruning. Most of the time I had been dragging branches around for $12.50 and hour, but I had learned those two acts I considered skills.

And now I seemed to have forgotten the one.

“It should be natural. My body should remember without a description,” I said. “Damn. And that hurt too.”

I thought the phrase ‘like a bike,’ but then castigated it as a cheap cliché and condemned the beggardly expression to a corner.

The tree shook as my boss released another limb from the trunk with his saw. The tension of the earth beneath us eased as the roots relaxed, the tree’s weight lessening. I leaned backwards tightening the line in it’s run through my hands, to the tree, over a limb and into the knot around the swinging sappy stub-end of the branch.

My hands moved. I looked, surprised, and they moved. First the right, then the left: hand over hand slowly letting the limb lower to the ground. The unreleased rope, always secure in one hand or the other, lost all its wild fury.

“Huh,” I said, and the rope was silent.

White chips and dust scattered through the air, sprinkling confetti smelling of Christmas and swirling like a snow globe down.

May 23, 2003

Mozart Laughed
Purgitorial Paying for the Sins of One's Time

On this plain we saw an old gentleman of a worthy aspect, with a long beard, who drearily led a large following of some ten thousand men in black. He had a melancholy and hopeless air; and Mozart said:

“Look, there’s Brahms. He is striving for redemption, but it will take him all his time.”

I realized that the thousands of men in black were the players of all those notes and parts in his scores which according to divine judgment were superfluous.

“Too thickly orchestrated, too much material wasted,” Mozart said with a nod.

And thereupon we saw Richard Wagner at the head of a host just as vast, and felt the pressure of those thousands as they clung and closed upon him. Him, too, we watched as he dragged himself along with slow and sad step.

“In my young days,” I remarked sadly, “these two musicians passed as the most extreme contrasts conceivable.”

Mozart laughed.

“Yes, that is always the way. Such contrasts, seen from a little distance, always tend to show their increasing similarity. Thick orchestration was in any case neither Wagner’s nor Brahms’ personal failing. It was a fault of their time.”

“What? And have they got to pay for it so dearly?” I cried in protest.

“Naturally. The law must take its course. Until they have paid the debt of their time it cannot be known whether anything personal to themselves is left over to stand to their credit.”

“But they can’t either of them help it!”

“Of course not. They cannot help it either that Adam ate the apple. But they have to pay for it all the same.”

“But that is frightful.”

“Certainly. Life is always frightful. We cannot help it and are responsible all the same. One’s born and at once one is guilty. You must have had a remarkable sort of religious education if you did not know that….”
 --Herman Hesse in Steppenwolfe
Reading a book that approaches directly that which I had felt recessed, I become excited and uncontrollably grab for a pen to scrawl across the delighting page with circles, lines, brackets, squares and parenthesis.

And so I go mad in declaring my presence, declaring against the page, against the text.

May 20, 2003

Reading in the Street
I am waiting for Jeff. We had lunch together at a pub down the street and I’m spending time—I wouldn’t call it wasting time—browsing the philosophy and literature sections of one of the U. district's used bookstores. I laugh at the juxtaposition of philosophy and true crime at the end of the shelf, and move on to consider the linguistics shelves.

Buying Conrad’s Heart of Darkness for $1 at Magnum books during a weekend with Jeff in Seattle, I wander outside. It’s a warm day with all the accessories—sunshine and a street fair on the Ave.

I walk down the block in a walk that I always describe as “wander,” listen to what must be the worst carnival act on the west coast, admire some traditional hats being sewn as I watch, and wander back in the direction of the bookstore, thinking perhaps Jeff will have returned from his errand.

It’s a good day and I had a good lunch and it’s the first time I’ve spent with Jeff since Christmas and I want to laugh at the carnival/county fair/craft fair that is this milling thing on the street, so I sit down, back against a brick wall feeling warm through my shirt.

I pull out Heart of Darkness and begin to read, smoking slowly and absorbing Seattle.

Marlow sat cross-legged right aft, leaning against the mizzen-mast. He had sunken cheeks, a yellow complexion, a straight back, an ascetic aspect, and, with his arms dropped, the palms of hands outward, resembled an idol.

“Hey.”
“Have a seat,” I tell Jeff, “the bricks are warm and the street is fine.”
“What’re you reading?”
“Joseph Conrad,” I say.
He grins.
“We’re gonna be here a while and I didn’t bring a book. Let me run grab something quick.”
“Alright, I’ll be here.”

He came back shortly, after what he described as a “bookstore blitz” with a history of Greece and something about Charlemagne. He sat, and we read and smoked, interrupting the rite with conversation. The kinda conversation that makes one incredibly scintillatingly fascinating, or the dullest of boring, depending on the point of view.

“The interesting thing about the sociology of street fairs…,” Jeff begins.

“The thing about irony is, I could never learn it from the definitions,” I say. “I read half-a-dozen definitions of irony and they never made any sense. Now I get it and when I talk about irony I sound like some Zen lunatic going ‘Irony is like a grin’…”

“But if a politician speaks about art, he’s attempting to co-opt it. We wouldn’t let some politician take Eliot…,” he says.

“‘ “And this also,” said Marlow suddenly, “has been one of the dark places of the earth.”…to him the meaning of an episode was not on the inside like a kernal but outside, eveloping…,’” I read.

And on like that. Which is to say it was like our entire friendship. The intellectual is the personal, and we’re not really sure what other people talk about. For years, with us, is has been one great conversation sprawling across the landscape, looping in and out in the synthesis of the esoteric.

Jeff interrupts the act.

“We need a sign,” he said. “Will read and talk for money!”

I laugh.

“Give me your hat.” And I throw in a handful of change and leave it sitting on the sidewalk in front of us.

“This is art,” he say.

“A performance. An existential act of intelligence in presence,” I say.

We laugh, easy with our own insanity, and went back to reading.

May 19, 2003

Neocons without a definition
Conservatives of the post-New York Intellectual Straussian Jewish pro-war Imperal-America anti-Communist former-Trotskyite-and-kept-moving-right tax-cutting Regeanites without a Kirkian or Burkean attention to tradition, culture and eternal contracts, the formost of them writing for the Weekly Standard, the new version of National Review, and created National Review Online stripe.

As soon as anyone stumble's across the definition of Neoconservative, please contact the mothership. They can't seem to find it.
Ted Joans Lives
I am not familiar with the work of the recently passed on Beat poet Ted Joans, and miss him for not having known of him. I suppose he is the straggling end of the era.
I will not take a national politician seriously until I find one who can speak of aesthetics and holds an intelligent relationship between politics and art.
Afghan Press
Editors in Afghanistan are being threatened, questioned, shadowed and intimidated for operating free presses. The journalists, according to the news piece, are resolute, holding firm to the freedom of the press.

"'We will keep publishing and printing newspapers until they set fire to our office, or the government puts us in prison,' said Sistany, the Aftab editor."

This story also shows up a serious and disturbing corruption the government there.
Gargantuan in Failure
I would have been upset, but that I had really low expectations that were solidly met.

I was a mixed fan of the first film, believing it to have a basic flaw in the philosophy of the premise (never asking the question of "what is 'real'?"), though I enjoyed it and consider it on of the defining films of the decade. I had, however, hopes the secod film mght mak me a fan.

This review at the New Yorker is a dazzling review or the atrocity:

On the hodge-podge of the philosophy:
"It would have been nice if some of that complexity, or any complexity, had made its way into the sequel. But—to get to the bad news—“Matrix Reloaded” is, unlike the first film, a conventional comic-book movie, in places a campy conventional comic-book movie, and in places a ludicrously campy conventional comic-book movie."

The sillyness of that underground city:
"Like every good-guy citadel in every science-fiction movie ever made, Zion is peopled by stern-jawed uniformed men who say things like “And what if you’re wrong, God damn it, what then?” and “Are you doubting my command, Captain?”"

Summig up the betrayal of The Matrix in The Matrix Reoaded:
"For anyone who was transfixed by the first movie, watching the new one is a little like being unplugged from the Matrix: What was I experiencing all that time? Could it have been . . . all a dream?"

The freeway scene:
So "unbound by any rules except the rule of Now He’ll Jump Off That Fast-Moving Thing Onto the Next Fast-Moving Thing that they are tedious to watch."

I would only add three comments to his review. 1) The philosophy reminds me of community college students with a penchant for philosophy: They've read too much to be nicely dumb and normal and too little to be interestingly intelligent. 2) The word to describe this film is gargantuan, and (being the oppsite of "epic") that is not a compliment. 3) This films shows a complete lack of understand of almost all aspects of culture.

May 17, 2003

Endless Witness
Metzger is poking at the philosophy of film, talking about "the most influential cinematographer," the message of a film ("I don't think film should have a message; I don't think it can avoid having one.") and his own direction into film, a direction I deeply respect and, given another life, would consider.

He also gives a few excellent links, including this article on Andre Bazin.

May 16, 2003

The Great Bibliophile
In a review of Philipp Blom's To Have and to Hold: An Intimate History of Collectors and Collecting, I came upon this paragraph:

"Blom profiles lesser-known collectrs such as 19th-century bibliophile Sir Thomas Phillipps, whose home, money ad time were consumed byu the pursuit of 'one copy of every book in the world.' At Phillipps's death, the Bibliotheca Phillippica is estimated to have included 77,000 books and manuscripts."

Which makes this 19th-century bloke a saint in the religion of bibliophilia, methinks. 77,000! One of every book in the world! I am a haunter of used bookstores, and am known to be an addict and make pilgramages for bookstores, but wow! Some place the number even higher, at say 100,000 or 150,000. He is believed to have had the worlds greatest private library and the story of the collection and dispersion of his books is contained in five volumes. I wonder if they just dominated his home, or if it took a second house. Aparently the quest banckrupted him and drove his family into debt.

With books as my first vice, I pay serious homage to St. Thomas Phillipps of the books.

*makes the sign of the book*
She eats that kiwi as if she's pregnant.
I wonder if he knows.
I Hear Heidegger Laughing
Moving through the wasteland that is medieval philosophy, I found myself joining the forces of the scary people: The Ones Who Doubted, The Ones Who Laughed at Reason.

Nominalists, Skeptics and Mystics. These prefigures of postmodernism--didn't Heidegger turn to Meister Eckhart ?--all seem to rhyme with my move away from Rationalism, my deconstruction of the Enlightenment cart blurring with the Christian horse. While the mystics tend away from the phenomenolgy I find needful, they stake a claim past certainty. Finding no outside, no place from where the world could be moved by the folcrum of mind, no knowledge absolute, they accepted.

Nominalists, Skeptics and Mystics were broadly blown off and explained away by appeals to presuppositions of Reason and Aristotle. Reading Augustine's argument against skeptics, I heard Heidegger laughing.

"So much the worse for reason!"

For reason will not let us ask the questions which are always already asking, let us move beyond it and let us not attempt this circumfrance of God by Aristotle and logic. It took a long time to realize that the three great doctrines of Christianity are paradoxes: Trinity, Incarnation, Resurrection. All bending reason and defying the reductionism of Aristotle.

Hearing the prattle of the medievals--and knowing I have prattled like that--I doubt. And in doubting I move to away from the abstraction of essences, embracing the scary nominalists. Stop talking about forms, give me life.

Laughing at the Medievals in the middle of class is not a good way of endearng oneself to the proffesor, however. Claiming this is your attempt at the immortal laughter of the postmodernists seems to be of no use.

May 15, 2003

Mixed Matrix feelings
The Seattle P-I, in this morning's review of The Matrix, which I will see in Seattle on Friday, says the philosohy of the film (including an extended discussion of chaos theory and determinism, they say) was very complicated and over the head of the reviewer.

Which has me excited.

Time Magazine reports that The Matrix is informed by such diverse sources as Hesse, Homer, and Gnosticism and seems suprised that the director-brothers Wachowski have read such things and have such "erudition."

Which is depressing, I think.
Those glorious years
What follows is a conversation between my little brothers Stephen, 6, and Luke, 3, as transcribed by my sister.
Steve--holding his neon green calculator to his ear after dialing says "Hi, where are the bad guys?"

Luke--with his neon blue cell (calculator) in his husky voice whispers "I don't know." He gestures with a shrug across the kitchen to Steve.

In a conspiratory voice Steve asks, "Well, where are you?"

Luke's imagination is giving out, so Steve holds the phone away from his ear and whispers to Luke "Parker town."

They both get back into character, and Luke says "Parker Town."

"Dude, that's a dangerous place."

"It's okay, my mom is here."

Steve sighs, and asks practically "Luke, do you have your gun loaded?"
Goin' broke in style
Part of an ongoing series of a weird legend...

1) Threw my last nickle into a pond in the Smithsonin Art Museum. Was later given egg roles for dinner by a delivery man.
2) The weekend I thought I was going to get kicked out of college for lack of funds, I spent my last $7 on pipe tobacco (because might as well smoke).
3) Spent last three dollars on Hesse's Glass Bead Game, skipping two meals on the way home since I was broke.
Death by Explanation
Never explain - your reader is as smart as you.
(And other rules for the poet.)

May 14, 2003

The Art Itself
Sometimes, in the metablogging and the meta-metablogging, it is overlooked that blogging is an art of its own. All of the analogies fail on some level in that, being analogies, they point not to blogging but to things blogging is like, but is not. Blogging is like many things, certainly, but it is increasingly a style and a genre or art in itself.

This is to say that I am a blogger before I am any of those comparable things.
Postmodern parking lots, and other stories of Sarah Jones
adventures and misadventures
Miss Sarah J. is real. I saw her in Minneapolis. She has adventures of the same type and genre as those described in her blog, unbelievable though they may be. I have confirmed her reports that she is a bad liar, leading this person to believe that her stories are true. At least in the main.

She has an amazing ability to get abducted by interesting people, no sense of direction whatsoever, good-luck except when she needs it, and I forget what the last one was.

She spoke of space time warps in the landmarks and architecture of the twin cities region. And I believe she spoke the truth, but I am drinking wine that she gave me so I may be suspect. If you are passing through Minnesota, I highly recommend looking her up. She can probably get you lost too.
***
the perils of postmodern parking lots
After escaping a mob of apparently homeless men milling around in what looked like a soup line without soup and after laughing off a cheap scam artist, Sarah found her way to the Greyhound station, where she began to wander around squinting at people.

“Sarah,” I said.
“Oh. That’s you.”
“Right.”

I got off the bus, (:::OFF THE BUS:::, as Tom Wolfe said in Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test) letting it go on without me to Seattle, and went to spend a little time with the famous “sarah j.” We wandered to her car and drove further downtown, looking for someplace to eat.

“I’m really bad at directions, but I don’t need directions because I always luck out. It doesn’t matter, I always luck out and end up exactly where I’m supposed to.
“That’s probably why I’ve never learned my way around Minneapolis, because I always luck out.” We pulled into a parking garage, and, seeing we are both identified by (the gargantuan and ugly mouthful) ‘directionallychallenged,’ we decided to note the names of the corner. The bus station was on 9th and Hawthorne and the parking lot was on 7th and Marquette, which is said mar –KET.

Postmodernism came up over dinner, which wasn’t really surprising. Between Anglicanism and literature. No, actually it came up with Anglicanism and literature, but we talked about it for a little while. I spoke of the relationship between semiotics and the debate over icons. She talked about the literary style of postmodernism and it’s reflection of our generation, a generation which is so decentered one would properly place quotation marks around the word.

“Even the style,” she said, “it reflects the way we see today.”

After dinner, wandering around that city in the rain looking at architecture, we came across a strange little building. Stuck between two sky-scrappers of office buildings stood this little faux Jeffersonian building, complete with four columns of plastic.

“What is this?” I demanded. “This looks like something that was just forgotten.”
“Yeah. But it’s too new.”

We moved in to check, and the building got stranger. The whole thing was increasingly strange. The building was empty, except for a pile of roles of carpet “that could be body bags.” We distinctly had the feeling of having stumbled. I suggested an accidental meeting of undercover crime, she made the comment about bodies and opposed a theory of space-time warps.

“Yes,” I said. “Actually that’s not a bad theory.”
“It happens to me all the time,” she said.

After my tour, being drenched pretty nicely and failing to talk our way to the top of “the tallest building between Chicago and Seattle," we decided to return to the car and call it an evening. Then we lost it. Couldn’t figure out which direction 7th was, so we walked to 3rd where the city kind of petered out, and then we walked back.

“It’s your fault,” she said. “I would have lucked-out and gone the right way.”
“Ahhhh. Probably. Yeah.”

We found 7th, and by now I was really wet. Sarah had an umbrella and a coat, but I was walking about in a flannel jacket picked to ride the greyhound and now I was wet. Soaked. It started out as a nice Seattle drizzle, but now it was drenching.

This corner, this corner we had chosen, seemed to be the center of parking in the state. There was a garage on each of the four corners and a few half a block away. We couldn’t remember which one it was, and checking all of them we didn’t find the car.

“Where was it?”
“I don’t remember.”
“Y’know, I don’t even remember the car,” I said.

When we passed the man getting his dreadlocks done for the second time, Sarah started blaming it on postmodernism. I said I though it was the space-time warp, but she was sure it was the postmodernism. And it’s her city.

Every parking lot looked familiar, every entrance looked like the one, almost. At the fourth one, we started laughing.

“Um. What street is this?”
“Uhh. LaSalle.”
“LaSalle? What are we doing on LaSalle? Where’s Marquette?”
“It was here.”
“Crazy postmodernism.”
“Not even sure where Marquette is. I bet Marquette and LaSalle knew each other.”
“Evil bastards.”
“Shall we go this way?”
“Yeah.”

By now, the hilarity was moving into meta-hilarity.

We found Marquette, a few blocks away from suddenly-LaSalle-corner and had to check two more looking-exactly-like-every-other-Minneapolis-parking-lot.

“I think it’s the one with the burnt out R,” she said.
“Yeah. It’s probably a sign. Divine revelation by the burnt-out R."

Crossing the last street, rain drenched, to the lot with the burnt out R, we laughed and recognized this lot as more like the one we parked in than the others.

“In the film version,” I said, “we’ll be run over by Ginsberg’s taxi cab of absolute reality as we finally reach the parking lot, which is the outside.”
“In the film version?” she said, laughing harder.

“Yeah, it’ll be postmodern that way.”
***
to cross
Bowing over my Irish hamburger in some Minnesota pub, I crossed myself. Sarah smiled. She said something I either have forgotten of didn’t hear. It was to the end of “I dig this crossing oneself.” And then she crossed herself. She didn’t know how to form her hands—it was something that wasn’t Orthodox or Catholic. Her hand dipped violently in the move to the left shoulder and hung, not knowing how to finish. It was unpracticed and delightfully wild.
You are here.
On the Sidewalk in Chicago
“HEY-HOM-EY!”

He bellowed the three syllables at me, asleep on the sidewalk in Chicago outside the Greyhound station.

“Yessir,” I said. Awaking from a sound sleep—my bag under my head and my knees tucked over my backpack—I sat up and gave the response I used to give to my father after oversleeping.

“Do ya have your ticket?”

“Yessir.”

There are many things a uniform does for a man. Wearing one, he looks brave, strong, noble and a host of other big and abstract words that make me uncomfortable. One of those things is make him look really tall. Especially when one is lying on the sidewalk.
Rising from my seat on the concrete, I thought “this cop isn’t as tall as he looked from the ground.”

“You have a ticket?” He growls in his on-the-street voice. Three steps behind him stood his blonde back-up with a scowl.

“Yeah.” I dug out the folded thing from my pocket.

“Aight,” he says, “be careful.”

Yeah, I think, no one wants to wake this big ole white guy off the sidewalk but a cop with back-up.

Returning to my bags on the cement, I read the opening of Crime and Punishment.

May 13, 2003

On Free Verse
If I cared what people said about my poetry, would I write it? Obviously not. Do I think it's good? That would be silly. Do I think it's interesting? It might be. And that's all I ask.

So there.

May 9, 2003

Farewell dear friends and gentle readers, I will return in a few days after I ride the dog to the edge of the world.
Pixar: Finding Nemo
Showing that kids films donÂ’t have to be dominated by the cheesy, the lame, the hackneyed, Pixar is turning out what looks to be an excellent and well-turned piece of film: Finding Nemo.

All three trailers display the wit and maturity that served to make Toy Story, Toy Story 2, A Bugs Life and especially Monsters Inc. the best of childrens fare and still fine cinema. With excellent stories and detailed craftsmanship, the art of Pixar has been astounding and high quality.

While I enjoyed all of these films, Monsters Inc. reached my list of top films: not the normal achievement for someone used to watching art films, inde films, and foreign films. Something like the soon-to-be-released (and watched by me) The Man on the Train is much more typical fare for me than a story about monster's and closets. Yet this delightful children's film was something I really appreciated.

No sensible person watching the animation of Sully's blue hair blowing all over in the snow while watching Monsters Inc didn't know we'd reached a new height in animation and art ostensibly pitched at children.

If for no other reason, I would praise Pixar for the return of the short, something they've played with delightfully. The For the Birds Birds short at the beginning of Monsters Inc. is hilarious, brilliant and enjoyable. Geri's Game is a lovely little piece that takes a simple joke and runs with it beautifully. geri

Looking at Finding Nemo, one has to scratch oneÂ’s head. I mean, fish are hard to anthropomorphize. They donÂ’t even have hands and DisneyÂ’s underwater adventure was awfully cheesy. Now Pixar wants brave the underwater with the story of a Dad trying to find his son in the vastness of the ocean.

And besides: A Dad? As a hero? Wow.

The fish look great. The humor looks funny. The story looks solid without going too mushy. The turtles and the birds in the trailers look delightful. The only question is can I afford tickets for all my brothers by opening day?
Sometimes, when talking to my good friend Jeff, I hope they assign us the same room for crazy old men.
Plans, loosely
So I'm leaving Hillsdale Friday afternoon, after a philosophy jam at Dr. Jim Stephens’ house with all the usual culprits including Dr. Peter Blum (who I am going to pester for a philosophy of language class) Metzger, Bethany Boyd, and my future roomie Stephen Slater (rightly known to some as The Apostat). I’m leaving by greyhound in Jackson (graciously drive to the station by one of the guys at The Beat). Saturday morning I should be rolling into St. Paul where I’ll ditch my bus for a greasy spoon breakfast with Sarah J. I will return to the dog and reschedule my route after the St. Paul meeting, heading ever westward. If I’m spending more than three minutes in Spokane I’m gonna call Tim Eaton and maybe he’ll come to the station to chill for a bit. I’ll arrive in Seattle at an as-yet-unknown-time and be picked up by my sister, probably. Once home, going to see Jeff Nelson is, as always, top priority.

And yeah, I wrote this partially for the links.

My main reading task is Crime and Punishment, though I may (again) tackle Ulysses as well.

May 7, 2003

I want to see Seattle again.
Devils with Hats
Premonition.
Rumors of comings.
Two words to the telegram.

Waiting, he sat.
Still Buddha-mountain.
Fat, cross-legged in peace hearing

Devils with hats,
Dancing in parade.
Cheap beer with floats and streamers.

Little party of destruction.
Manifestations
Of the losing

End. Smiling he
Drank with the demons
And sent them again to hell

Sitting he sat
Laughing immortal,
Because the mountain is fine.
Writing about Dan
I'm simply trying to understand why my best friend killed himself.
And why the thought to do so myself never occurred to me.


The best blog I've read in weeks has been Elsewhere, where Gary Sullivan is recalling his friend Dan in bits, slivers, abstractions and anecdotes. He's been writing about Dan for some time and it reads like a series. Each new piece is silently destructivly explosive.
And no the moon ain't romantic
It's intimidating as hell
And some guy's trying to sell
Me a watch
And so I'll meet you at the
Bottom of a bottle of
Bargain Scotch.
--Tom Waits, Bad Liver And A Broken Heart

May 5, 2003

Top five ways I know it’s mid-finals:
Seraphim ran lists like this for the last two or three finals weeks, but with his failure to do so (the guy’s graduating) I’ve taken up the slack. And because I’m supposed to be studying Latin.

1) Every ashtray is full and all the girls are wearing sweat pants.
2) I wrote my parents a letter that read: “Dear Dad and Mom, I’m quitting school and going to join a Brazilian circus. For two reasons. 1) School is too stressful. 2) I’ve always wanted one of those little clown cars."
3) Most of us can’t complete sentences. Why include a verb when life ends tomorrow with that final that’s gonna ruins everything?
4) One suspects sarcasm when Saga Steve wishes a nice day.
5) Brushing one’s teeth is done as a distraction from studies.
Synecdoche:
A figure by which a more comprehensive term is used for a less comprehensive or vice versâ. Examples: Using "steel" to mean "sword;" using "law" to mean "police officer."

(Not infrequently misexplained.)

May 4, 2003

Something Tangential
"Hello. Greyhound?"
"Yes. I’m calling to ask why am I not Reformed."
"Well, I think it has something to do with busses."
"Un huh."
"Right. I understand."
"It might."
"Well, I'm thinking about the Reformed and God and busses, and thinking there's probably an interesting connection that will tell me something I almost knew but didn't, and I can't think of it."
"Like something I forgot, but should remember."
"Right. Yeah I heard that God rides the bus too, but I think it's more than that."
"Un huh."
"I know. I’m sorry."
"Can… can I talk to your supervisor? Thank you."
"Hello sir. Thanks."
"Yes. I was wondering if you could tell me why am I not Reformed, because I’m thinking there’s an interesting connection that I can’t remember."
"It might have something to do with Keroauc. I’m not sure, but that could be the thing connecting them."
"Maybe."
"Yeah. I realize this is a long shot."
"I don’t think so. No. I’m pretty sure I’m fine thank you."
"Right. I understand."
"I don’t know what. I’m not even sure why it’s bothering me."
"Look I realize this is unusual but could you try to help me? I mean, this is what Greyhound is all about—right?—interesting connections that will tell one something one almost knew but didn't, and can't think of."
"Well, right. That and cheap transportation."
"You don’t know?"
"Right."
"No, I hear you. I understand."
"I really think there’s something, something common between them. I can almost remember it."
"Something tangential."
"Right. Un huh."
"I’m sorry, sorry to bother you."
The unsaid.

The subtext.

The language speaking us.

May 2, 2003

No Worries, and other signs of a great language
Sometimes, I find I’m essentially liberal, opposing the old-fuddies who want things to stay the same, whining about the Gomorrah-slide of change. This is especially true when it comes to language. Language changes, and I love language more for changing.

Dale Keiger is complaining about a new phrase, “No worries.” Apparently this new “atrocity” is taking the place the once-black-turtle-neck-phrase/“atrocity” of “no problem,” which has been co-opted by the uncool people.

His entire tone is one of wishing for the good old days of conservatism and politeness. I read expecting him to break into cries of “What happened to the eternal contract when we used to say ‘You’re welcome’!” (But maybe that’s because I’ve been at Hillsdale College too long.) Keiger thinks the phrase is entirely unpolite and, in a way, inauthentic, for being new. “No worries” is a fashion, a fad, a passing bit of rebellion that attributes to the long decline of the English language. It’s the end of communicatability brought on by the proles, the young-and-attempting-to-be-hip who wait tables and talk about art. He scowls at the self-elected elite who talk about existentialism and inde music.

I laugh. “No worries” is a strange phrase: new, out there, funny and usable. The evolution of culture and language is a good thing. It’s not bastardization but growth. We can hearken back to no absolute English standard, and “no worries” is a fine development. I think I’ll take it up myself. It’s a polite phrase, and in the classic breezy-American style of taking charge. As I say in my comment, it reads like the New Yorker’s “fuggedaboudit.” It’s a magnanimous gesture, a wave that says you don’t have to worry because you’re being taken care of by someone competently in control.

This is Steve McQueen in a Nazi concentration camp. This is polite with the generosity of the Godfather.

This is the crazy and lovably unpredictable language that brought you “okay,” “felon,” “ain’t,” “yonder,” “hip,” and “jazz.”

Language changes. Stop this flustering about it. It’s uncertain and it’s shifting and that’s what makes it living, breathing and always interesting.

No worries!
While Writing About Anselm's Ontological Proof
So if you meet me
Have some courtesy
Have some sympathy, and some taste
(whoo whoo)
Use all your well-learned politesse (whoo whoo)
Or I'll lay your (whoo whoo) soul to waste, (whoo whoo), um yeah
--Rolling Stones, Sympathy for the Devil

May 1, 2003

Seattle to lose Paper
Seattle is facing a battle between the two papers, the Times and the P-I, that threatens to reduce it to a one-paper town. At home I read the P-I; when I'm in Seattle I vary which one I pick up. They're both good papers and I hope there's a way to keep both of them, but this is one of the last two-town papers and I don't have much faith it can happen.
Old European Warrior-Statesmen Style
I don't know if the late Croatian Janko Bobetko was a hero or a war criminal, I only know what I read about him in the obituary today, but this man was a really cool looking old man. He has the Winston Churchill look--that sort of old European warrior-statesman look--but with Bobetko it's fiercer and tougher.

This man's face reminded me of my sister's reveiw at hearing Tom Waits, "This music makes me want a double chin." If only I could look like this fat old man and talk like Tom Waits sings.
St. Anselm’s Sandwiches
There always come those points where you consider cashing out of college. The stress, the pressure, the papers, the exams, finals week: they’re enough to make one wonder why one didn’t just stick with that construction job. At least then you’d have pocket money.

The temptation comes to drop it and just leave, do something interesting and a little crazy. One of my fellow editors told us he’s working on a farm after he graduates and just wants to work and read. The overwhelming response of fellow students—and even some faculty—was jealousy. “Dang it!” we say, “why is college getting in the way of our education?” and then we talk about how the things we’ve learned mostly happened outside of class at really strange hours.

Thus is college.

My favorite fantasies are dropping everything and driving to Mexico and starting up an all night café and coffee house, with smoking and a used book store. I’d actually have a blast doing the second and can honestly conceive of myself doing it, even though it’s not what I normally think I want to do.

At the same time, one realizes at certain moments that the liberal arts of college improve one’s life, even in these drop-it-all-and-do-something-cool-and-crazy schemes. Like today, I’m reading up on St. Anselm and his ontological argument and the medieval disagreements over intensive and extensive infinities, and come across this counter-Anselmian argument:

"If Anselm can define God to be that-than-which-a-greater-cannot-be-thought and prove that He exists by that definition, then what is to stop someone from using a similar form to define Y as that-than-which-a-greater-X-cannot-be-thought? If there can be a greatest thing that necessarily exists, then why can there not be a greatest elk, book, fig tree, or island that necessarily exists?"

My though, immediately, was about a sandwich? The most-most-excellent sandwich. That’d be a really good sandwich. The best. Like, Dagwood’s can’t even compare because this is an intensively infinitely good sandwich. And then I started drooling. Man. What a sandwich!

So now I’m dropping the medieval paper to open an all-night café named St. Anselm’s Sandwiches and we’ll advertise with the motto: The Sandwich-than-which-no-Greater-can-be-Conceived!

So I guess my education was worthwhile after all.
Subversion of the Command
Sitting alone, discarded in the Student Center on the table without an ashtray, a blue post-it note sticks with the ink message: "Money for breakfast! (I want change?)"

And I'm strangely distracted wondering about that question mark.