Friday, December 31, 2004

Not a year in review

But it is a week in review, or maybe this piddling vacation in review. Contrary to popular belief, it was not a self-induced alcoholic haze, there were no vomitting communiopns with toilets, and the run-ins with the law were quite muted.

For the third time in two days my shirtsleeves are wiping puddles of beer off this table. It's the same bar all over again; I saw people from last night. We acknowledged each other but steered clear, understanding that pursuing the fact that we were alkies would undermine our secret striving effort for "something more", as they say. Eventually, intoxicants turn lower brain functions on autopilot and I become in essence a high-end digital camera for the rest of the night: hour walking in the cold now, and not one goddamned windswept white plain!

...blood vessels on the retina engorged.

...careeening humvee on a side street.

...warm spells, cold spells, all visualized in infrared.

...dreams of apartments and wall-length mirrors.

...friendly faces tracing arabesques in the sky with their dancing.

Consider: "when in doubt, Old Testament hellfire ranting will never lead you astray. Good to keep in mind for the next year."

Soon, we shall be getting back to form. There is no choice. I look forward to it.

Monday, December 27, 2004

High tide

It's not high tide, is it? No, it's a fucking tidal wave come to carry off your house, your resort, and your youngest daughters. It also carried off boats, Hindus bathing as part of a ritual, fishermen, tourists in bermuda shorts, sunbathers, government bureaucrats with canteens full of whiskey along with their bureaucracies. I think it's pretty obvious I'm talking about that earthquake yesterday, the strongest in 40 years. That's pretty significant.

It's not really the human tragedy I want to focus on, even if as of right now it stands at 23,000 dead. (The numbers keep getting revised upward every few hours, and I don't expect they'll top out anytime soon.) Human population growth will replace those people in a few hours at most. (If you're a reincarnation believer, it will dump the majority of them in squalid third-world countries.) The real problem is this is just the kind of thing that shakes people's faith in God. The argument from natural disasters is pretty solid. As a counterargument, I would not be surprised if the American government made an earthquake machine, which would collapse at least the earthquake aspect of natual disasters to human agency, for which free will can account for pretty readily. This paragraph has been too heavily influenced by bad action movies, in particular one involving Steven Segal on a train.

Consider: "the earthquake was so powerful that it slightly disrupted the Earth's rotation. In essence, it is messing with time. The cumulative effects of a minor hiccup in rotation might not be visible until thousands of years in the future. Who knows? This could mean that dawn is at 9 p.m. for Torontonians 20,000 years from now. If we live that long."

Friday, December 24, 2004

Two paragraphs

Walked down the street yesterday, thought the situation ripe for sentence fragments. Huge blankets of snow were tucking the city in; I can't imagine a single violent crime of passion being comitted during the quiet spell of a snowstorm (dreaming, I know). It was a blender of flakes flying around the halo of a streetlight. I threw snowballs at the buildings across the street, failing to hit any. Any higher and the street will get swallowed and all our efforts will end, but the ice will preserve them for the benefit of future generations of archeologists looking for a dissertation. Right now nature is slapping me in the eyeball; I am cold but I pay no attention to it, evidently not an evolutionarily stable strategy. Madmen and muscle-bound neanderthals bash me in the skull and I want to go to sleep but cannot because I'm dead and rising up into the sky. Santa smiles from out of the abyss in my skull at the strangers crowding at me; they do double-takes. It's all tobbogans down twisting paths and frozen on the lake. The moon is a hexagon on the droplets on my glasses.

I wake up. I'm not dead, I'm on a bus which is stalled on a street like a skating rink. Drunk I scrawl something to myself to read in the morning: "keep the apocalyptic instinct alive". Manage to stick a blog entry together from wine and pretentious and dark and alone. Manage to alienate reader in under 500 words.

Consider: "Two rams butting horns with too much testosterone in them / Two homeys beefin' with some X in 'em."

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Hilltop trailer madness

Today a friend told me that I seemed unusually angry at the world, unusually disgusted wiht human ignorance, and I thought he was wrong, but as of right now I'm reconsidering that. A simple look at the news today proved him right and me very inflamable. Let me see how much anger I can summon.

Just now I read that the Israeli Settlers in the West Bank (8,000 people living among 1.3 million Palestinians) compared Sharon's pullout plan (the one reasonable thing I've seen him do) to the Holocaust. They have a plan to start wearing yellow stars as a protest symbol. I don't think there is enough bile I can pour on that comparison, no metaphor to adequately capture the extent of my revulsion at how low they've sunk, to bastardize a still-recent, still-fresh event for the ideological gain of a very small number of fringe nutcases. The majority of the quarter-million Holocaust survivors in Israel condemned the comparison, but I have to pile my own comments, because not doing nothing may result in some acid refulx and a very unhappy night of screaming to my parents as they smile and nod and back away. These people; when they go back to Israel (and they will go back, like it or not) are they facing furnaces? Will they be packed into trains like sub-par cattle, like vegetables--cheek to cheek, anaerobically? Will their children be split from them because they're not exploitable for forced labour for the IDF? Do they face nonexistent rations and slow burning starvation that will turn them into lanky, leathery ghosts trusting of nothing, twitching at everyhting? Do the settlers face sexual humiliation for their ultra-religious daughters? Do they face no-ethics medical experimentation: low-pressure simulations, paralysis and slow death, infection with unimaginably virulent diseases, dissection without anaesthetic? Are they on the list to get gassed with pesticide long enough to feel a moment of the sheerest fucking terror, of clawing over others, tooth and limb for the door, of evacuatng their bowels before they die, before the clean-up crews come to dispose of them like cockroaches? Are they going to be machine-gunned and buried in ditches, some still alive, some babies still crying, tohught not worth a bullet? Are they going to be tied together and shot to save bullets? Are they going to be forced to march until their feet are worn to the bone--to the fucking bone, and even gangrene has no time to set on the flesh before it's stripped away? Will they suffer with every disease we know, crammed 1000-fold beyond capacity? Will soldiers throw their babies in the air to use as target practice? If not, they need to shut the fuck up. I'm losing it just thinking about their smirking as they shit in the mouths of every dead Jew (and other) 59 years ago. Fuck the fucking fuckers. I wish this language offered me stronger fucking expletives. Holocaust-guilt works against just about anyone but other Jews. Moving 8,000 people will probably present no problem; it will not, indeed can not result in overcrowding anywhere in Israel; they can form their own tiny town if thye wish. Their vehement opposition to the pullot (the only practical move) is an example of religion gone wrong somewhere down its pea-brained, bigoted, utterly intolerant, faux-learned path. If you invoke the Holocaust, do not do so lightly, And this, for every brain but your maggot-infested fundamentalist one, is a light fucking invocation. Kindly shut the fuck up and stop exploiting one of the worst tragedies of human conduct. If the dead lived on, as they sadly do not, the six million plus Holocaust spirits (plus tens of millions of other victims of actual oppression and mad brutality) would all have their respective hexes and rages to pour on these douchebags. That comes out to about 10,000 angry ghosts against one nutcase fundamentalist trailer-living, hilltop-occupying petulant God-freak. Fuck. The bile is still here. My writing therapy failed.

Consider: "Odin is also pissed at these ignorant motherfuckers. You bet your ass there will be thunderstorms in the eastern mediterranean tonight. It's a good thing Shiva's busy with the situation in Kashmir."

The brutalist aesthetic

Reading Allen Ginsberg always affects me more profoundly than reading any other poet. Maybe it's familiarity, maybe it's the subject matter, maybe the playfulness. But today, much like he did whan he stayed up all night listeining to the Ray Charles Blues, I wept, realizing how we suffer. I don't know why more people aren't turned on this fellow. He is accessible and much deeper than it appears on first read. He did much for the children of the sixties, so if you approve of that kind of stuff, you should take a look. I'd post a link but I've lost my linky button, so no dice. If I were to write a rambling poem about sunflowers and locomotives, I'd be laughed out of the academy (so it's a good thing I'm not in the academy for literary things), but he was one of the first, who suffered in a mental institution so we could wear flowers in our hair and bang our saucepans on locomotives. Here was a man who led the first, and possibly only, mass be-in, where, I imagine, one showed up and, well, just was. They also liked Buddhism and chanting OM a lot. He went to India to find opium dens, enraged communists in Czechoslovakia, worked with the Clash and Pink Floyd, did his part to piss off the religious right. And then he became a professor and died.

Anyway, nobody makes me realize how we suffer like this man, who died recently, so recently that I might have heard of him before his death, but did not and regret it. Older poets are too stylized, and more recent poets are too brutalist about the reality of everything and the poetry of details, much like the general architectural philosophy of Robarts Library. I don't even want to start with abstract poetry and why it's wrong to consider it. Shakespeare loses me every time he invokes a high-faluting human sentiment that I fell I can justify skepticism about; Bukowski is the exact opposite: I know he is a real human, but there is no yeast in his bread; there is no soft inside which I crave, only a deeply tanned leathery face and a mirthless scowl. Eliot was too obsessed with image; Pound was a fascist; all the socialist realists were like Bukowski except sprinkled with bullshit. Too many other poets are self-important. At times I want to confound the whole poetic enterprise, but then I remeber who I am; I'm just a science student. They laugh at my amateurish dabbling and dismiss my comments with stony tutorial silences. I know there are other poets out there, but they don't add to my string of sentences, and time is limited. There is a short story in there somewhere. Anyone who calls themselves just a opet should for the most part be shot. I can't believe I harbor such resentment against a subject I so dearly love. I suppose that's what passion does: it opens the doors to hatred and love and despair and impatience, everything but calmness and a feeling of completeness.

I'd appreciate any referrals to what people consider their favourite poets and/or poems.

I will do a rare thing and have the quote at the end link up with the rest of the entry.

Consider: "Poor dead flower? when did you forget you were a flower? when did you look at your skin and decide you were an impotent dirty old locomotive? the ghost of a locomotive? the specter and shade of a once powerful mad American locomotive? / You were never no locomotive, Sunflower, you were a sunflower!"

Monday, December 20, 2004

The unavoidably solipsistic entry

A while back, I was walking down a familiar street, returning home after a day of studying or shopping or drinking wine or some excellently enterprising combination of the three, when I stopped by a lawn next to the Fitzgerald Building (or at least I think that was it). I was struck by a hammer of remembrance, a little wooden ridged mallet to tenderize my high-strung brain. This was the lawn! The lawn where I lay down with the closest thing to a "partner" (in that modern genderless mode) I ever had during an outing early in December. As I recall, we were resting from wandering the downtown or some such thing. I got to thinking. How long ago was that? Coming up on two years. How had I forgotten it? It was a pleasant and minimally awkward experience, one that I should have retained even after the "non-acrimonious", unofficial, perfectly ambiguous event resembling a break-up that I had no right to be angry over. Maybe it had something to do with the few months of ambiguous, formless, angry impotence over this non-"relationship"-ending non-event. But, as I said, it was a pleasant memory. We lay on the grass for some reason and talked about something for a few minutes and attracted brief glances from a few passers-by. And I felt contented, like I had finally accomplished something useful, above and beyond just talk. So why didn't I hold onto that? I do now.

The next time I mouth off at bullshit social mores, I should make sure I've seen the practical neccessity of such prescriptions. My next relationship will not be held in quotes, nor will it be modified by adjectives and dreams for freedom and openness, as if I know better than almost everyone else. I don't; I never did. There will be plenty of room for ambiguity and irony and delicious playfulness within the box constructed from the standard mish-mash of "romantic" scripts and schemas. And a solid box can contain a lot more than one with gaping holes punched in it, even if these holes look like pretty dragons and goats and pigs and stars and fractals.

Stolen Quote: "the entire point of slogans like "support our troops" is that they don't mean anything. No person would go against the troops. These slogans are there to distract attention from the substantial question: "do you support our policy?" That's the question you're not allowed to talk about."

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Short shrift

I slept for eleven hours last night. In wondering why, I realized that I'm a borderline-workaholic. Now that my exams are done, I have no whip at my back, and as a result there is no purposeful striving in my actions. Similarly, the rest that I can now partake in for about eleven hours a night is not a rest from anything, and becomes mediocrified. I tried to solve this problem by signing up to volunteer, but it will be at least a few weeks before I can start. So, what do I do? I tried writing, but this leisure is a net over my body. And when I am constrained, I am uninspired. I tried drinking, but that interrupts my rest; and I need a minmum of rest, otherwise everything flies apart. I realize I'm rather picky, but that is a luxury afforded to me in the next few weeks.

Consider: "you never get wise, you only get older. And what is wisdom but age and experience?"

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Allegory the first

Well-watered with rage, the creator and destroyer strides in her garden. She looks at the ancient roots of his chestnut tree, the knotted and gnarled mess ripping up his soil, the gnarled mess so adept at soaking up the snowfalls of a hundred winters, adept at giving shade to copulating squirrels, coolness to the field-labourers in the plantation, bark to bored children, and inspiration to the poet staring out the window of the glorious white plantation-house.

She walks through all this unseen, her robes flailing metaphysically around her, laying a finger here and there, nodding benevolently or shaking her head distractedly. Today Shiva--creator and destroyer, who would drown the phenomenal plane in the hot fires of her fury while weeping over her own sins--is in a rotten mood. Millennia of creation have not amounted to more than this, no more than a tree striving for height and the little squirrel scuttling greedily up its branches searching for nuts that have not ripened, that struggle to hide from tearing little claws. The mighty chestnut is no more than a passing curiosity to the men working the fields, and to the children it does not stand out as particularly considerable. The sun bathes the scene with mottled patches of light, but for what? For whom? This same sun is scourging the labourer's back and is an unwelcome intrusion on the alcoholic slee pof our poet.

Her own sleep has been fitful in recent days, as she has fought with the question that most trees, squirrels and dare not ask for fear of jeopardizing their neat process of existence. If only they could know the philosopher-gods have the same problems! The question ran around her mind like that critter ran around the tree trunk when the child wanted to throw rocks at it, except this question managed to climb its way into infinity and, finding no answer, languish and disturb her mood: "why is there anything at all?".

Consider: "when we have nothing definite to say, we try to trap the archangel of the soul between two visual images, even if we're not religious. It sometimes works for me, but I fear the opinion of the not-me."

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

The Balkan fuse

Not to overgeneralize, but my experience with people from the Balkans has led me inevitably to conclude that their tempers flare at the slightest provocation. I don't think I'm immune, either. Today we got into a discussion over gay marriage, and my parents managed to push all my buttons. By the end, I was frothing at the mouth and screaming at the top of my lungs.

I can tolerate baseless bigotry from my grandparents; after all, they were raised in a situation I know nothing about, but my parents are always eager to point out the thread of continuity between their childhood and mine. So when they say things to the effect that "they [homosexuals] have been burned and beaten throughout history, and that's how it's supposed to be" I have no recourse to rational argument. Maybe I've seen one too many internet flamewars, but I really don't know how to respond to that. And then they pull out the "you have to accept that other people have opinions different from your own" speech, as if that makes me obligated to bowl over and respect their point of view. There is some shit I will not eat. Some opinions are so stupid in retrospect that one wonders how supposedly rational human beings ever justified it to themsleves. I am rapidly losing faith with the collective human ability to solve any problem through discussion. I can't even get through my lunch without having to put up with obstructively ignorant views. I realize this last paragraph is nothing but an insubstantial ad hominem attack, but when it comes to the issue of gay marriage, I don't see what the controversy is.

There is an even more complicating factor: I have no idea what marriage is supposed to mean to people in this day and age (in an extralegal sense). With liberal divorce laws, marriage vows literally mean nothing; they are non-binding and have the force of two people in a long-term relationsip saying "barring any unforeseen developments, I will stay with you".

Over a year has passed since the gay marriage "controversy" started, and I have not seen one persuasive argument against it. All the letters in the papers and pundits appeal to "traditional values" or "nature". What? Tradition, as in the ones where a hundred years ago women couldn't vote and being homosexual was a crime and interracial couples couldn't marry, or the one where white folk threw rocks at little black children trying to enter a recently desegregated school? What? Nature? By that logic, we should all give up or computers and homes and gas lines and go back to wandering the savannahs of Africa. Not to mention that there is homosex in nature and the annying little fact that notning like marriage exists in nature.

Well, at least in this case, death is on the side of the "progressive" element. Old fogies will die and the survivors will be relegated to the minority, just as most of Jim Crow's buddies are now in the cold, hard ground (in contrast to the aerial burials they gave to many blacks). God, some people disgust me. And the sad thing is that they considered themsleves good people; most of them probably were good in other aspects of their lives. But I would still unapologetically throw them in jail. Not that anyone's letting me.

Maybe tomorrow I will try to change my parents' views. Then the day after that, I'll stop racial profiling. And then, after my last exam, maybe I can get the Pope to slam-dance with an intersex godless Arab terrorist. By the end of the week, there should be a diamond statue of me in Gaza City and dancing children bearing palm leaves to lay on my path as I enter Jeruasalem on a donkey.

Consider: "[they] let themselves be fucked in the ass by saintly motorcyclists, and screamed with joy; [they] wallowed on the grass of public parks, scattering their semen to whoever come who may..." (not that anyone has read this far)

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Filling the empty head

Outside, a perfect snowfall is raging. It is like little pieces of cloud are touching down on the ground. Like invisible little angels or satyrs are throwing snowballs indiscriminately, relying on the law of averages to hit everyone and everything moving outside. And where am I? I'm inside studying for biochemistry; with regards to the spectacle outside, I am an empty-head; snow is a passing fancy, but cold hard carbon compounds are calling me much more clamorously. I have to fill this head with their nougaty goodness.

Except, I wasn't aware that my head needed any more filling. I thought all the other "stuff" I've been subjected to will do. But apparently that is not the case.

I apologize for every entry being about studying, but that is all that exists now. I've determined to be hardcore this week. That, of course, is an exaggeration. I've lost dozens of hours this weekend. But I'm getting to that scarily obsessive state. For example: the last two nights, the themes of my dreams were quite obviously derivatives of what I was studying.

The one other thing that happened was an excursion to the mall; I now have a very expensive, but hopefully indefinitely durable, winter jacket. The only problem was that an animal had to die for it. I wallowed in my hypocrisy, then came to terms with it. I think in this way, I can truly feel thankful for the warmth it will provide me, much like the First Nations people, except in my watered-down, cynical way. Besides, the poor creature was probably killed for its meat.

Consider: "the sadness that comes out of nowhere, prompted by a perusal of childhood photographs or mementos. The sadness the is directionles; that spreads and penetrates everything for a short while. There is a stuffed elephant that always prompts this for me; it takes me back to the welfare days when it was my escape from the yelling in the next room."

Thursday, December 09, 2004


If I were a young child I could take all the books piled on this table and construct myself a city; the huge volumes would become the unshakeable iron foundations laid down by Italian immigrants and expanded on by Native American skywalkers in order to send these monoliths soaring into the clouds. The narrow streets would have little shreds of paper representing bustling businessmen, hot-dog cart operators, paperboys in those classic early 20th-century hats now appropriated by hipsters; those shreds would be boarding buses or private shreds stretched to look like buses but smaller. I'd have to imagine a subway system under all this, because I can't very well dig little holes into the desk. I'd get thrown out the twelfth floor of the library. Toward the edges of the table would be my other sheets, laid out in strips to form beaches in the mind, with little shapeless crumpled beach umbrellas and little shapeless fat sunbathers. Each of the beaches would be named after what is written on the paper: Penicillin Beach, PDH Complex Beach, Murein Recycling Pathway Beach, Illegible Scrawl Beach. But back to the towers: these spires would be topped off with huge hat domes and pen and pencil antennae; I could even lay out the books such that ledges could form so the tourist shreds of paper, in the big city for the first time, could take the elevators inside and look down from these observation decks. What would they see? The grand sweep of the commercial canyons, little self-contained bubbles partitioned by the brown wooden streets; above them the great light of the several dozen alternating-current halogen suns in stark perpetual midday glare, the spines of the edges of the buildings spelling out their contents in towering letters: "Barons, Brokers and Buyers", "Modernization of the Indian Sugar Industry", "Modern Organic Chemistry" stretching out for blocks on end. Little paper helicopters whirring overhead, held aloft by the hand of me, lording over what I would have created were I not so throughly tamed and institutionalized and uninteresting.

Consider: "cake."

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

And (s)he sang freedom songs

It has been a long day, and I fell to wondering where any of this biochemistry-oriented skull-fuck cramming I'm undertaking right now is going. What will be the role of biochemistry and biotechnology two hundred years from now? One possibility is that we'll collectively revert to a simpler time as the present society collapses and its technocratic superstructure takes its final bow, not having enough knowledge trapped inside human skulls and massless internet databases to sustain its spastic lumbering. Then again, the more likely possibility is that the creature will survive because of the massive survival potential of its massless internet databases and the fact that (ideally) a biochemist can blend into the general populace will allow the body of knowledge to propagate itself past the collapse of any particular society or way of life. In the future we might have our science thrown back at us in unrecognizable ways; we might revere it as the godhead, we might bow down to our overlords of metallic paste and circuits and DNA and protein and cartilage, huge monstrosities of unauthorized experimental that managed to escape our very sophisitcated cages and turned their desire to live into a necessity of dominance. And my job might be to polish and maitain that beast at the threat to my life. It is one possibility among countless others.

The more I learn, the more I wonder how we can help, and the more I realize the terrifying potential of our sin-against-nature technology. The best I can do is ask to be let in to the inside of that particular club.

Any endeavor is only as ethical as the people that participate in it. And I wouldn't trust my colleagues. I don't trust the people watching my colleagues; I don't trust the system housed in gigantic grey buildings; I don't trust the clicking machines and the maliciously whirling centrifuges and the gels and microarrays that will stare back at me mournfully.

Consider: "we gave up on writing with a point at its moment of highest potential, when everyone could have effortlessly churned out manuscripts of self-actialization. But we rejected it as flaky. Something tells me we'll do the exact same thing with the redemptive power of science; mark my words, masses of people will reject the "nihilism" or materialist explanations even as they provide them with free livers and a quality of life undreamed of by people living even twenty years ago."

Monday, December 06, 2004


"If everything that happens is miraculous, then nothing is miraculous." That is a very true statement. I need some form of yardstick to asess quality, otherwise I'm lost to not being able to make reasonable judgements of what is worth recording or recounting and what should remain in my endless head. That said, I think people are really fooling themselves when they talk about taste and our ability to discriminate. Everyone agrees that we should withhold judgement until we have sufficient evidence for our claim that "this is good" or "this is fun" or "this is not very interesting". Unfortunately in the bewilderingly vast majority of cases, we don't have that evidence or expertise, whatever that means. So stop silently judging everyone; I can practically guarantee you don't have the means to do so effectively; I certainly don't, but I don't hold myself up as the ideal. It seems to me every time someone makes a sweeping generalization or makes their personal preferences based on some untenable metaphysical construct ("art", "truth", etc.) they are in essence sticking out their noses to be smacked by whoever is listening; the smackage is too rare an occurrence, sadly. We ought to give up the whole sordid mess. For example: my music is just a bunch of notes in a musician's repertiore of mechanical movements, my literature is just a bunch of words, my so-called sophistication is on the same level as a couple going around a neighbourhood nervously introducing themselves, my ideals essentially the same as the dreams that everyone else has (except theirs are sensibly contained to their bedrooms and bathrooms). I'm willing to make this one generalization: that no-one is as unique as they think they are. I will not even start on the hypocrisy of individualistic countercultures; that's a train wreck that's been gawked at by enough people. Not that I think I'm not repeateing what has already been thought enough times to put a student hyped in Red Bull and espresso beans to sleep; I'm just lazy and tired.

What prompted this storm of bile and pity was an article I was reading for my Women's Studies. This was the first truly stupid article I read; the author was making pretty lame arguments on a subject with which she seemed only marginally acquainted; this subject just happened to be my specialty, so I felt insulted. It boiled down to saying, "but you see, this sentence only talked about MEN and not WOMEN!! Therefore it is iased and sexist and [insert scary looking big word that is essentially meaningless]". This set the whole Women's Studies project in doubt; I've been accepting a lot of questionable stuff on faith, but can I? Is liberal propaganda any easier to swallow than any other kind? I may not be special, but I'm certainly not mindless.

Notice how the two paragraphs contradict each other? Good.

Consider: "if you're running into contradictions everywhere, it means you're clinging too hard to the empty nutshell of the "meanings" and 'definitions" of your (or someone else's) words. Take a fun little linguistic romp, and the whole mess will make a little more sense. But just a little."

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Writing for myself again

This latest story is not working out as I had hoped. Our female protagonist has stumbled on a nest of self-satisfaction and peace after what were turbulent times (which I have to fill in retroactively); she would rather sit and read a good novel in a coffee shop than tear her hair out and kick her myriad childhood dolls across the barren linoleum floor, or something like that. The real problem with this story is it lacks the mountian of effort put into it that might force me to not throw it away.

I've never boon of the school of thought that supports fiction writing as an outline-filled, reflective procedure. Maybe I'm just undisciplined, but I've always wanted to be smacked in the face by an idea so compelling that I'd run home or wherever there is a writing apparatus, skip classes, ignore phone calls, forget to eat and drink and sleep and bathe, weear my fingers down to nubs on non-ergonomic typewriters, hyped up on pep pills night after night watching the manuscript coming to life, developing like a zygote in a million different ways, spilling down page after page and triumph after triumph. That is what I've romanticized writing as, not as a mechanical appending of plot points and character arcs, but as a mandala: starting from that focused kernel and imposing itself on the field of perception. That kind of writing has the elements of the preconscious: a kind of flow through the writer rather than from the writer; the kind of spontaneity that combines what is loosest and freest and unstructured in prose and most whimsical and imaginative and evocative in poetry.

It may be hokey, as I realize, but that kind of state is a goal of mine, to be attained at least a few times in life. I've tried to help my hyper-inspired state along: with nights of drinking and night-walking, trips as spontaneous as possible, long meandering bicycle rides, wall-climbing, long meandering conversations, experience of slums and banks and trees, snow and fog and back-breaking labour. It has not come to full fruition, but if it does, if my mind can yield up to me feverish dream imagery for days at a time, I will be able to say that my existence had some (however torturously small) purpose: to take what existence has soaked into me and, in the words of Allen Ginsberg, "[trap] the archangel of the soul between two visual images and [join] the elemental verbs and set the noun and dash of consciousness together jumping with sensation of Pater Omnipotens Aeterna Deus".

Consider: "every new human came from a bottleneck where two madly sophistcated complexes trillions of cells in number pulled their combined resources into making one cell. I have trained myself to realize that I am not special, which is certainly true on the cosmic and societal level. But the study of Biology always re-affirms my appreciation of my immensity."

Friday, December 03, 2004

Taking flight for the first time

These next few weeks are hell weeks; I'm sure every student that is or was can agree with me. Because of our multiple hell weeks, there is not much living that goes on, and hence not very much inspiration. It's amazing I can string together a sentence. That's actually not true; I study by stringing together elaborate sentences.

Regardless, there is no inspiration; these sentences might be going down the crapper. I will have to resort to remniscing about my strange childhood which seems so physically and mentally separated from the person that child has become.

The first time I flew on a plane was, to say the least, not under the happiest of circumstances. We had been waiting for about six hours to board. The flight was deyaled, you see, because the airport was under attack by either the governemnt or the anti-government forces, or maybe some paramilitary group; it was hard to tell in those days, and I was seven years old. Eventually we were taken outside and had to make a run for a huge cargo plane while directionless gunfire sounded off to the distance; or maybe it was close; I could not tell. The cargo on the plane today was people: old women with babushkas crying, clutching the baskets which contained all their belongings; shrewd, cynical urbanites talking politics and lamenting their foresight and the failings of man; my mother who had never thought life could come down crashing so hard to the sound of gunfire, artillery and wwailing sirens; soldier children herding the civilian rabble; old men with honeyed moths and fists full of money; and me, looking out the window, for the first time seeing the clouds from above. I kenw them all bakc then: cirrus, cumulus, stratus; my prefixes weren't quite up to scratch, but that would change. It was a beautiful, well-lit afternoon and I had a window spot on the long crammed bench. I like to think sometimes that this story is symbolic.

Consider: "the solstice comes at the beginning of winter. The most bitterly cold winter days and the darkest winter days, while each suck out human spirit in their own paiful ways, never coincide."

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

A river on a copper wire

I have discovered the wonder of intenet radio. I just sat there, tuning out and letting the machine carry my mind to wherever it so chose. How would I explain this to someone from yesteryear? How to recapitulate the seemingly chaotic but oddly linear progress of the transformation of society, to our mad saturation in all conceivable types of information? How do you make someone realize that sixty years ago, the best and brightest minds could not design a processor one millionth as powerful as what I'm sitting in front of now? How would those minds at their apex react to this device that I use in semi-ignorance?

Our minds have changed; our memory capacity is shiftng, being outsourced to silicon chips; our attention is looser, more rambling, more skittish. Our capacity for learning has not changed as far as I know, but the demands placed on us have. Will we continue in this fasion, ending up in an alienating dystopia of information saturation and general madness as images play on the backs of our eyelids as we sleep, or will the reactionaries triumph and humankind withdraw back to the cloistered churches with sheets over our eyes, bowed prostrate and prone to knee pain? Elaborately crafted sentences aside, I haven't the slightest clue where all "this" will go, but I'm content to let it feed my imagination fro a little while. God knows it is beset by the actual a little too much.

Consider: "the universe is an energy slide and we are all going down it. It would be easier if the purpose of our existence weren't to claw our way back to the top. To Mother and to the end of all stuggle."

If there were ever a time that I needed a walk, this would be it.

Tales of the old country, part 1

I must have been eight years old when I sallied forth with my friends onto the old military base.

I should back up a bit. You need to understand that this was eastern Europe in the early 1990s. There was a war going on, and though it was not waged where I lived, its mentality seemed to seep into every layer of society. Store attendants were surly and unhelpful, wives and husbands fought until it beat through the thin walls of our old dilapidated refugee house, school teachers were even less tolerant of failure, and even us innocent little kids began to take up the sad facts of grownup stupidity. My brother nad I sometimes played "Serbs and Muslims", a game with all the connotations of "Cowboys and Indians". The neighbourhood kids would form intensely territorial bands. I remember our street was partitioned at a specific house, a border on which we kept intense watch from a pile of bricks that served, of course, as a fort.

On this particular day, the band decided to have a foray onto another block. As luck would have it, we ran into a group very much like ours. After some perfunctory rock-throwing and name-calling, we diseangaged and went through a hole in a fence we had discovered; this left us in the barren grounds of a base of the People's National Army, or something like that. We wnadered for a bit and we decided to leave; as we were about to jump the fence (we had moved quite bit from the hole), we were frozen by the shout of a sentry. This shout paralyzed us. A fully armed soldier came up and began to insult us. I can say without shame that we all categorically broke down crying, for you see there was a blue building in the distance that we were all convinced was a gas chamber. We might have been begging for our lives, I don't remember. Eventually the soldier let us go, but not without harsh words we could not repeat to our mothers.

In retrospect, it was probably just a young draftee on a power trip, but at that moment he was the Holy Trinity in the flesh; he held all the options of the rest of my life--or so we had conceived it. I never want another human being to affect me like that again.

Stolen Quote, Equivocated Slightly: "One of the most beautiful things we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of much true art and all science. The person who can no longer pause--even for a little while--to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; their eyes are closed."