Saw that Joe Morgan died yesterday. WAR absolutely loved Joe Morgan. He did a lot of things well--just about everything in the game of baseball--but wasn't necessarily a top twenty player in any one thing. You could certainly say that he was the best player on the 1975 Reds, and you could argue that that Reds team was one of the three best in baseball history, along with the 1927 Yankees and the 1930 Philadelphia Athletics. You look at that Reds team, and it's almost surprising that the Red Sox pushed them to seven games--and minus Jim Rice, no less. Morgan got the big Game Seven hit in the top of the ninth--so this was at Fenway--with two-outs to drive in the go-ahead run. The game is tied at that point, and you have to figure that if the Red Sox head to the bottom of the ninth with the game even, they have the a great shot of winning that World Series. I always feel like the home team has a huge advantage with a last at-bat in hand, like in the bottom of the ninth or extra innings. What Morgan was best at, I'd say, was not making outs, which is the focus of today's offensive game--well, after home runs. I do think the game is far less entertaining now. The home run obsession has something to do with it. That starting pitchers are gone after four or five innings has something to do with it. And the shift is huge. When a ball is put in play, there's a good chance it goes into the teeth of the shift. You have less station-to-station baseball as a result. You see rockets come off the bat, and you don't get that sensation that you once did, where you think, "that's a hit!" because chances are it's taking a one-hop route to the shortstop who is on the second base side of the bag. It's never discussed, but you want to make baseball better, put some rules in place for shifts. Hockey has off-sides, right? It's a bit like that. You can't just hang out around the other team's goal while the puck is in your end, screaming "load my weapon," any time a teammate touches the puck way back down ice.
With a brace of Hall of Famers dying recently, one sees various posts that included doctored graphics from Field of Dreams, where the player who has passed is walking into a cornfield. This is so creepy to me, and not in the preferred eldritch manner of Halloween or ghost stories or things I like. First of all, Field of Dreams was terrible. Maudlin, half-baked, inchoate. It's a teenager's idea of a great sports movie, just like Shawshank Redemption is a pretend cinephile's idea of a thoughtful piece of cinema. They're what the drunken fifty-year-old man-child lectures you on at a family Christmas party, and you know you could name any keystone work of cinema and they'd have a blank expression on their face. It is fine to like these things. It's different to make certain claims for them. But the idea that Bob Gibson or Joe Morgan now get to play baseball in the corn field in the sky, and grown men post these images--which I guess are called memes?--disturbs me. Like, do you really think like that? And also: You should check out some better films.
Having said that, there really aren't that many great sports films. I'd say Buster Keaton's College and Robert Rossen's Body and Soul are the best. James Wong Howe shot the latter. He was also behind the camera for The Thin Man and Mark of the Vampire. I don't know that any horror film looks better than Mark of the Vampire--it's a film you want to hang on the wall at MoMA.
Having just written like 120 stories whose protagonists and/or narrators are women, I am tempted to take a dozen of them, put them in a book, use a female pseudonym, say I am an agender asexual from Decatur, and send the book around. Why not? Becomes a big hit, and I say, see, look what massive bigots you find in publishing, and besides that, I told you all it was going to happen in the blog, if you were paying attention to that which was actually worth paying attention to. I already have the name and the email address to go along with it. I write female characters better than anyone ever has. Mothers, daughters, girls. I can inhabit anything or anyone at this point. I can become them. I can have them become me. We go inside of each other. Even when I am, technically, creating them. I am technically creating them, but they are so real that they might as well be out there. They are more real than if they were out there. That is the true rub of great art. It's never discussed. But that is what you are after.
It is mid-October and it is cool and it is raining and gray out, and these are the days that most make me wish to be back in Rockport. The plan is simple--get my house back, get a place on the Cape, renovate this apartment for a spot in the city, and there's me done. I actually saw a listing for a place in Sandwich that was double the size of my house in Rockport, for less of the cost, and the home dated to the 1700s, had a pond, was beautiful. I need to get past these people. I need to reach the world. I don't even necessarily need to be with anyone at any point. Just have my places, my peace, everything set up as I wish, and create my work knowing that it will go out into the world and can do what it is meant to do. Of course, if that is happening, I'll be meeting a better pool of people than having to slum it with this sub-literate dating app crowd, and that may well take care of itself. And I won't have to explain who I am to anyone. They can know a goodly amount of that going on. Right now, I can't even answer basic questions. At least, not the way people wish me to. To understand something fully often means that you can't answer a query about that something in six words. Someone will ask, "What kind of writing do you do?" I can't even answer that, can I? Or, "What kind of writing do you like to do the most?" Which is so presumptive, and it's how a simple person thinks. Do you think Beethoven liked to write music? Do you think he thought, "hmmm, this is my favorite kind of music to write"? Probably not, right? It doesn't work that way. It does for other people, and it would be for a person like whomever is asking me this stock, mindless question. And it would be one thing if it was just stock and mindless, but it is a question loaded with expectations for what my answer should be. So, do I lie? Then what is the point? Just so I can know someone? Fuck someone? That's not going to sustain me. I need some measure of greatness. I need depth and brilliance and someone dynamic. For just about anything. I need someone unlike anyone anyone that person knows has ever known. Who is also not crazy, which is a rarity especially now when you meet someone of any depth. They're different, so they're also usually unstable because they don't have that conglomerate that other people do, and unlike a Beethoven, they're not some genius who could cut their own path out of a mountain and maintain purpose and clarity of vision. They're still a lay person.
I awoke with Liszt's piano transliteration of Danse Macabre in my head. I listen to this and think that, like Robert Johnson, Liszt must have had huge hands, as in long-fingered hands. Note how much swing there is in this playing. Liszt was fairly jazzy. It's also a kind of sonic pointilism. Liszt made the "dance" feel more waltz like than Saint-Saens had--a waltz is inherently spooky. I think it's the threes, and that they're often in a minor key. They're the most processional of dances--a march is not a dance--but they also seem to advance without really advancing. That gives them the ghost-like quality.
I saw someone say on a dating app that they never stop learning, and if they won the lottery, they'd go to college for the rest of their lives. Why? I learned nothing in college. Not a single thing about film, music, literature, art, dance, ideas. Not a single thing about how to write well. I saw stale minds, I was told things that were incorrect--even factually incorrect--and lots of petty people who could not write or think, and who were hunkered down in an incestuous, hidebound community. I saw arrogance, pettiness. But no one taught me about Fitzgerald, or Beethoven, or Welles. I taught me. I taught myself everything. And I also went out and lived. What is college for when it comes to the art? What do you need it for? Sure, if you had some amazing, unique teacher. But when does that happen? They'd likely have to be there under strange circumstances, a fluke, not because it was their status quo. You'd need them for what? To create a list of things you should partake of? You can't do that on your own? It's easier than ever--you use Google. Type in, I don't know, "Modernistic Russian literature." Pretty easy, no? Then you read. And think. What are you missing? Classroom discussion? That's normally people talking out of their asses anyway. And people who don't know, who aren't going to know. They're there for other reasons. To get the piece of paper. To go through the motions of learning. This isn't how you learn. People don't know it, so they just assume. Like the person who wrote me the other day asking if I was a Harvard professor, because they thought I was really smart. It's a lazy, false equivalency. It's never inspected or vetted, there isn't unbiased experiental access to such a person or people. In other words, no critical thinking is applied. If that's how you operate, nothing is going to matter anyway. I'd wager that even now I learn far more every single day than anyone ever has in four years of college. There is literally not a second of the day I am not learning. It's just me. Anyone has access to what I have access to. Go read some selections from Thoreau's Journals. Listen to a Mozart symphony. A live Rolling Stones recording from 1969. Read some Keats sonnets. Watch Out of the Past. Listen to an interview with Orson Welles on YouTube. You can do that in a single morning. I don't know, 6 to 11. Read some entries here. One morning, and you're a much smarter person. How simple is that? And it's free. Though I would like to start subscription access for these pages. It's too much to give away for nothing, but so it stands at the moment. I used to have professors take me into their office and talk down their noses to me. You could practically see the hubris dripping off of them, and also the fear. They struck me as scared people. Scared of light and what it would show. Scared if their one rote way was not the only way, or even a way, let alone the best way, or a worthwhile one. And I'd sit there and listen to them tell me how I was not allowed to do what I did in writing, lecture me on rules, what I could and could not do. I'd think to myself, "I can see why you'd think that, being a talentless, fuck wad fossil yourself." So scared. And needing to control. A need for power at the pettiest of levels. And I'd also think "grow up." Having said that, take a class with me. We'll learn. It'll be a kind of living.
And of course there are exceptions. I know four good professors.
Something to think about: Orson Welles had never directed a film when he gets to Hollywood. Or not a proper film that wasn't akin to just having a bash, amateur style. He meets Gregg Toland, perhaps the best cinematographer ever. Toland wants to work with this guy, which baffles Welles, so he asks why, and Toland says because Welles is new, he won't think in terms of rules, what you can and can't do. They can go for it. Over a weekend, Toland teaches Welles everything he knows about the camera. And Welles is like, "You can learn it in a couple days." Now, this is a cheat, because you can learn it if you're Welles, but not really someone else, but the point holds. Do you see how much this approach and attitude matter? They make so much possible for the mind. Welles respected Toland because he didn't turn it into this holier-than-thou exclusionary bullshit. Which is what you get a lot of in academia and publishing, even as it's crap that is being pushed. It's all about talking the game, rather than a reality. Toland dealt in the reality, Welles learned, and they made Citizen Kane. Better way to go, no? Certainly better than pretending some shit bag writer whose work you can't understand a word of is brilliant or whatever lie is being flung about because that's what the people who are killing off reading say. Of course, if you're one of these people and dependent on that system--for who knows what; cheap, fake validation, most likely; a desperate attempt to avoid the truths that kill--you have a vested interest in maintaining it. Reality--and light--will be your mortal enemy and represent your greatest fears. They make you no more, because you're really nothing to begin with, or at all. And they will reveal that. That's also a large part of what being a so-called "literary citizen" really means within the publishing system. Roughly translated, help me lie to myself.
It's later now. I am exhausted. I composed many thousands of words, and they are excellent. I should finish a book tomorrow. I need to be done, just grind through the day, get it off my desk. I am so stressed, I've let some people done, but this will hopefully take a little pressure off me. I came up with an idea for a major short story that I've been working through throughout the door. Going to be a big one. I know I have something special. And here's tonight's segment on Downtown, which was decent--a discussion about 1931's Dracula and Frankenstein, the starting points for American cinematic horror.
And just to finish where we began with baseball, today is the sixtieth anniversary of the greatest home run in MLB history, one swatted by Bill Mazeroski in the bottom of the ninth to lead the Pirates over the Yankees in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series. The Yankees destroyed that Bucs team in the aggregate across the series, but they don't give out championships for that. Mazeroski was, in my view, the finest defensive second baseman in baseball history, and one of the ten or so best fielders, period. He deserves his spot in the Hall of Fame, which is usually much grumbled about. Bing Crosby, a part-owner the Pirates, had the game filmed, and a copy was eventually discovered. It's riveting, beautiful baseball. Here's the full audio broadcast.