I Know I Left It Here Somewhere . . .

No discernible pattern

Rae Bryant on the Marie Calloway/"Adrien Brody"/Tao Lin Cringefest

This (along with Roxane Gay’s take at HTMLGiant) is probably the best thing I’ve read about the whole mess. Certainly the most literate and objective. Which is a relief, because now I can declare myself officially through with this depressing little object lesson.

And can I just add that Stephen Elliott’s insistence on seeing Marie Calloway as some sort of hapless victim to a “predatory” older writer is … bizarre at best? Does Elliott really ascribe so little autonomy or power to women? Is it inconceivable to him that a young, pretty woman might ply her youth and prettiness in her own arguably just as predatory (if not more so!) pursuits?

2 years ago -

Mabel, shoes, funeral

A few things well worth your time, well worth it, I say.

Tim Dicks has 3 new verbal funnies up at Uncanny Valley, and they are perfect. Seriously, don’t you think they are perfect, especially the last one? It surprised me into wanting to cry. I’ve read it several times, trying to work out whether it should make me feel so sad.

Joe Berkowitz and Joanna Neborsky have a new "My Superpower is Being Alone Forever" on The Awl, and it is just as brilliant as the last one. When I posted a link to the last one on my Facebook page, concerned friends seemed to think I was depressed. Totally beside the point! I was simply offering it as an example of excellence on the Internets! The fact that Berkowitz’s submersion in crushing loneliness and lovelessness perfectly mirrors my own is irrelevant here!

Writers and their books. Everybody loves Chekhov. It’s the law!

Bad Advice

Here is quite possibly the worst article about business practices that I have ever read. It is breathtakingly stupid. Really. I want bad things to happen to its tone-deaf authors—ideally they would be fired by their own bullshit “innovation” consultancy company for causing a monstrous image problem best summarized as “you made us look like major-league assholes.”

Man, I bet these guys killed during the tech bubbles… .

2 years ago -

Weiss: Do you still suffer from it [insomnia]?

Cioran: A lot less. But that was a precise period, about six or seven years, when my whole perspective on the world changed. I think it’s a very important problem. It happens like this: normally someone who goes to bed and sleeps all night almost begins a new life the next day. It’s not simply another day, it’s another life. And so, he can undertake things, he can manifest himself, he has a present, a future, and so on. But for someone who doesn’t sleep, from the time of going to bed at night to waking up in the morning it’s all continuous, there’s no interruption. Which means there is no suppression of consciousness. It all revolves around that. So, instead of starting a new life, at eight in the morning you’re like you were at eight the evening before. The nightmare continues uninterrupted in a way, and in the morning, start what? Since there’s no difference from the night before. That new life doesn’t exist. The whole day is a trial, it’s the continuity of the trial. Well, while everyone rushes toward the future, you are on the outside. So, when that’s stretched out for months and years, it causes your sense of things, your conception of life, to be forcibly changed. You do not see what future to look toward, because you don’t have any future. And I really consider that the most terrible, most unsettling, in short, the principal experience of my life. There’s also the fact that you are alone with yourself. In the middle of the night, everyone’s asleep, you are the only one who is awake. Right away I’m not a part of humanity, I live in another world…

An interview with E.M. Cioran from Jason Weiss’s book Writing at Risk: Interviews in Paris with Uncommon Writers, excerpted at the always-excellent 50 Watts.

Adventures in Literalism

Hemmed in by towering stacks of proofs and reviews, behind on crucial deadline schedules, I nevertheless could no longer ignore the ominous rumblings and crampings that had driven me to the women’s room this morning. Hunched up on a too-short toilet in silent agony, results were uncertain, precarious—something was up, time was clearly going to have to be taken—and I muttered to myself, “I don’t have time for this shit.” Then I smirked and said out loud, “No, literally, I don’t have time for this particular shit.”

And yes, to answer the schoolboy in us all, it all came out okay.

Here’s how I know for sure that I’m growing old. I don’t have it in me to express how I feel and how I don’t feel about Bin Laden’s death, and I don’t have it in me to explain it to anyone. Nor do I want to. It’s not that I don’t think it matters—it’s that I know it wouldn’t matter. People are reacting, just feeling, just looking for a group of people who will say, “me too!” and that’s fine, that’s what they’ll do. I’m not there (I don’t know where I am), and I don’t need to be commenting from the sidelines. But I have to draw back, because I’m flinching and muttering and feeling a despair and an isolation that may or may not be rational but that certainly isn’t enlightening.

I watched the president’s address live last night. Later, I woke from a bad dream, unremembered now, with a great gasp and a feeling that my heart had stopped beating. I laid there and waited for the cramping pain in my chest to subside, and then I thought to myself, “I’m going to need some good CDs for the car.” Today, instead of the usual news, I listened to Miles Davis and Cannonball Adderley. Tomorrow I’ll probably give brother Nat a spin. And something else, something I can sing with. And a few days from now, or maybe weeks, I’ll start looking at Facebook and Twitter again. Maybe that’s cowardice? I don’t know. I’ll let you know if I figure it out.

Jiri Trnka, illustration for Andersen’s Fairy Tales, 1959, courtesy of the brilliant-on-a-daily-basis 50 Watts

Jiri Trnka, illustration for Andersen’s Fairy Tales, 1959, courtesy of the brilliant-on-a-daily-basis 50 Watts

If I Hate This Book, What Does That Say About Me?

I’m surprised.

Generally, I like memoir (despite all the hullabaloo lately for and against*). Not as much as I tend to like well-written biography, but still. It’s all right by me.

So I’m unsettled by the immediate dislike, and not just dislike, but revulsion, I feel upon starting Lidia Yuknavitch’s The Chronology of Water. I read a few pages and thought, “Oh, wow. What is my problem? I hate this. I HATE this.” So I thought maybe it would be better if I didn’t start with the nakedly manipulative opening and came back to that after I read some other pages further in. Nope. No good. Still hating it. My initial reaction, which so far is holding up, was, “I’m on to you, lady. I know what you’re trying to do here, and I’m not falling for it.” I mean, damn. What kind of bitch has that sort of reaction to an opening sequence featuring a stillborn daughter? The kind of bitch I am, I guess.

I don’t trust this sort of extreme reaction in myself. Something about this book repulses me, which means this might be more about me than about the book. So I’m going to have to examine that before I try to articulate my thoughts.

But not tonight, because seriously, it’s making me feel foul. Which means I need to find something else to read in the tub tonight… .

*I want to take a bath and go to bed, so I’m not going to rummage around and find the links to said hullabaloo.

Links (and quotes therefrom)

Embattled Public Radio by Bill McKibben

As usual, Ira Glass, host of the remarkable This American Life, put it best. As he told the public radio program On The Media, NPR should have defended its newscast: “I feel like public radio should address this directly, because I think anybody who listens to our stations understands that what they’re hearing is mainstream media reporting,” Glass said. “We have nothing to fear from a discussion of what is the news coverage we’re doing. As somebody who works in public radio, it is killing me that people on the right are going around trying to basically rebrand us, saying that it’s biased news, it’s left wing news, when I feel like anybody who listens to the shows knows that it’s not. And we are not fighting back, we are not saying anything back. I find it completely annoying, and I don’t understand it.”

The King in Yellow — a new album from The Dead Milkmen (wait, what?)

I just don’t get Norah Jones …

Brian Leli writes Quickly: A Letter to My Current Self

Dear Brian, Goddamn you are angry. Sweet Jesus, man, you are mad at the whole world. And more so at yourself. But why? Why? I mean, I know why. But before all of this, why?

and Quickly: A Letter in Reponse to My Former Current Self

You are angry at all the books you will never read or understand. At all the foreign soil you will never walk on. You are angry at the slow and tedious days. And at all the wasted time that they engender. You are angry at the things you are willing to die for, because they just aren’t that interested in you. You are angry because of all the years you’ve spent trying to figure out something that changes by the day, by the minute. Anyway, don’t ever lose this. You’re going to need it. Thanks. Brian

For the Record

Yes, I will pay for the New York Times. I will pay for quality. And if the Senate loses their damn minds (to paraphrase Charles Barkley) and makes me pay more for NPR, I’ll pay more for NPR.

Also, I’m all in favor of paying writers for their goddamn work. And yeah, I’m less likely to trust anything I read that was written for free.

I mean, Jesus—have you tried to read HuffPo? With the too-rare exception, it’s laughably awful.