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Friday 2/19/21

* I think the email notifications for the blog should be working again. I haven't checked yet myself. [Edit: It is not fixed.]

* Yesterday was one of those days where I barely hang on. I rarely tell anyone now when I have such a day, because I know they'll ignore me. That's one of the principal themes of my life--ignoring. It comes over me, the knowledge that I could cure cancer, cure COVID, and I won't get anywhere. I'm not sure who, if anyone, understands the nature of my situation. The level of the resistance. Why that resistance is what it is. Both in publishing, and then out in the world. There's overlap, but the reasons are also separate. I know exactly why everything is playing out like this. What I don't know is how to combat that. Overcome it. Solve it. The worst thing about being hated, for me, in the way I am hated, isn't that I am hated; it's the knowledge of why I am hated. The truth that that hate does not stem from qualities that ought to generate hate. I feel like my life is not my own, that all of me is owned by others, and there is nothing I can do. What I do do, at the level I do it, and the frequency, only makes it worse. How do you carry on like that? And then all you do is work to find a solution, and keep creating, which feeds the problem. Widens the gulf. There is no letting up. There is never a single moment of joy. Of something to look forward to. However basic. "I miss my wife today, it'll be nice to see her at six." Not even the smallest things like that. There's just suffering and aloneness in a world which I understand better than anyone, and in which I seem to have no place.

* I sent the revisions for If You [ ]: Fantasy, Fabula, F**kery, Hope, back to Dzanc. The book is unlike any I've done. The others are a kind, even if they're their own kind. Dark March is a kind of book that Buried isn't that Meatheads isn't. There is overlap--quality of writing, humanness, revelations of the relational. Brackets is not any single kind. It's my Sandinista, White Album, Double Nickels on the Dime, Zen Arcade. To be honest, I don't know if you can have that much range in a book. There are common denominators--invention, level of writing and imagination, depth of human experience and life experience with which one is provided. But it virtually taunts and flouts credulity that one person could write in that many ways. And it opens with a grocery list.

* I pitched the TLS about an Ambrose Bierce ghost story idea; the NY Daily News op-ed section about a Blind Willie Johnson piece for Black History Month. Sent someone else an essay on 21st century publishing. Sent the Beatles idea to The New Yorker.

* Wrote two short stories, both for Longer on the Inside: Very Short Fictions of Infinitely Human Lives. One is called "The Transport Box," the other "Fear Is a Rocket." I guess you could say they're both about fear.

* This is from the second one: "Sylvia still called my mom Mrs. Courtstan, though we’d been together for over a year by then. She got to the kitchen before I did, as my mom bounced the mugs and broke mimosa glasses I hadn’t seen in years. 'Mrs. Courstan,' she said, 'Please don’t.' Sometimes you can feel the reach in someone’s voice. You can feel limbs in the words. Arms, mostly, but also legs, as if they, too, are needed to secure another person who writhes. 'Knock it the fuck off,' I yelled, though I knew that my voice was gelid. A wave of blue ice. Two people look at each other when they need to hurt. They’re squared off. One of them goes first, but both really go at the same time."

* This is from the first one: The kids in my neighborhood had small pets, and when they died, I took them in my transport box. My transport box was a shoebox I had covered in gold Christmas wrapping paper. You didn’t get a ton of gold at Christmas, so it stood out. I applied stickers of fawns and princesses, because I collected those, and I thought my transport box should be dignified by the pastoral and the far-away. It’s not like anyone had fawns in need of disposing, and princesses might as well have been from another age. I didn’t want to cut too close to bone. The kids near me had no dogs or cats. Their animals lived in bowls, buckets, cubes of glass. If there’d been a cat, I would have taken it. I had a policy—I didn’t turn you down. My wagon in the garage could be used in a pinch and would take the weight of a Dalmatian. “It’s part of the service,” I said to my friends.

* The way this stands right now, is the Longer on the Inside project--let's also call it a project--has produced enough material for three such books. As these works were written, so too were at least three volumes' worth of longer fiction works, one of which, I know, will be called There Is No Doubt: Storied Humanness.

* Followed-up with the BFI, regarding my pitch about Bresson's A Man Escaped, but they ignore everything from me after reversing their decision on the A Hard Day's Night book I was supposed to write. And snapping at me when I asked for clarity.

* Here is a new essay in The Smart Set on Ambrose Bierce, the anti-safe space writer.

* A woman wrote me to say she wasn't good enough for me. I get a lot of that, in the few instances someone has the courage to say anything to me.

* Watched Basil Dearden's 1961 film, Victim, about the blackmailing of homosexuals in England. Rewatched it, I should say.

* Came up with an op-ed idea for Easter, involving science fiction.

* This is Tuesday's Downtown radio segment, about Lindsay Lohan, words like "indescribable," black coffee, and a ranking of the four greatest players across the four major North American sports. I went Gretzky, Jordan, Brady, Ruth.

* The three best offensive seasons in baseball history: Babe Ruth 1921, Rogers Hornsby 1922, Barry Bonds 2004.

* I cancelled Netflix. There's nothing there. Just the formulaic, the routine, the expected. The original productions have a Netflix-paint-by-numbers quality. The service is not about entertainment--it's about killing time, because lives are largely empty, and people are too lazy to try and fill them. I would adapt something for Netflix. But I have no reason to partake of Netflix right now. It's low risk, low value programming. Outside of the Welles film, The End of the Fucking World--the first one; the second one was awful--and The Inbetweeners, I got nothing from it. I know I talked about it on the radio, but I thought very little of the Sam Cooke documentary. I never considered mentioning it in the book. I need substance. Not filler. It's just how I am.

* As I watch the NHL season play out, it is more and more irksome to me that that hockey op-ed about positive animus did not run, because that's exactly how the season is playing out. You're getting a version of playoff hockey at the quarter mark.

* Watching Elem Klimov's Come and See (1985), it's quite clear where the title comes from. Or what the title signifies. What you'll read is that it references a passage of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Yes, fine. But the greater meaning is the reference to how the film tells its story. The connection is with the subjective camera style. This film and Sergei Bondarchuk's War and Peace (1968) move the camera constantly, to degrees that no other films do. The words "come and see" function in the manner as when you take someone's hand and bring them into a room to observe whatever it is that is happening there. Come and see what war is really like. Come and see.

* Listened to Bo Diddley's second album, Go Bo Diddley (1959). "Say Man" is hilarious. It's locker room banter--the making fun kind--as a two-part talking blues. Bo Diddley was a lot more than the shave-and-a-haircut-beat thing. Also listened to an X Minus One adaptation of Murray Leinster's 1945 story, "First Contact." Not as good as its source material--different ending, too. Watched Anthony Mann's quasi-noir The Tall Target, from 1951, about an attempted assassination of Abraham Lincoln on a train with Dick Powell as the man who thwarts the attempt. Someone recently said to me that when I make it, I will need to hire security, because people--publishing people--become so obsessed with me in their hate and envy that one of them may try to kill me. Wonderful. I have thought this for some time, but it's different when someone says that to you on their own. In listening to Quadrophenia the other day, I was struck by how two of the greatest guitar solos in rock and roll history occur in back-to-back songs with "I've Had Enough" and "5:15," and they're both so short.

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