There is much I must get to--a full accounting of this week--which I will not be able to in this entry. I have had another historically unique week of composition. The works I am creating now, their invention, their quantity, how formidable they are as lasting creations, the depths of creativity with which they are imbued, are like nothing there has ever been. And it's every day. Thwack. Another. Thwack. Another. Thwack. Another. And each and every one, at this point, I will pit against any work of art ever created by anyone. I will confidently pit. But will it ever matter? Could it ever matter soon? But right now I just wanted to touch on a hallway meeting from yesterday. I came home from the cafe with an awful migraine--I was dizzy on my feet--and shortly thereafter Emma texted asking if I had chocolate. When I replied in the affirmative, she asked if I would convene with her on the stairs.
I would not think many children have this child's sweet tooth. It's prodigious. Sometimes when I am at the CVS purchasing the exciting things I buy--salt packets for my nasal rinse, Melatonin so I can sleep, garlic pills for cholesterol (I endeavor to be proactive), milk thistle (which I still provide my liver to make up for the years of copious drinking; my bad, L.)--I will get candy when it is on sale to keep for Emma. I gave her a big hug--something I am trying to be better at (with her; I still recoil at the idea of hugging most people; firm handshake--yes!; friendly wave--you got it!; fist bump--I'm sporty!; knowing nod--let's pretend we're bounty hunters in a Western pursuing the same quarry but we respect each other!)--and down we then sat on the stairs so that we could plan what she has made up her mind will be a Halloween viewing party.
I gave her three mini Kit Kats and three Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, which she inhaled in like a minute, then asked for more. I noticed that she saved two of the Cups for last, so I asked her if this was a best for last thing, and she said, no, she tries to eat everything as quickly as possible, and it is a matter of what she gets her hands on first and nothing more. I see. That settled that. The Kit Kats I bought because the package said they glowed in the dark for Halloween, but we were not sure if this was the candy itself--which seemed unlikely--or just the packaging, which would definitely be underwhelming. I cupped the candy in my hands while she looked through my fingers to see if we could crack the mystery, but as I told her, it was probably not like the candy was doused in phosphorescence. It was just the wrapper. Bummer. Then we watched a number of trailers on her phone for The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), Horror of Dracula (1958), Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943), The Blob (1958). Naturally, one cannot play the trailer for The Blob without then introducing someone to the Blob's theme song--stalwart readers of these pages can send me a quick note of gratitude if you wish--so I did that as well.
She received her mid-term report card, which she fetched to show me. Emma is helping a number of other children with their homework. (Including her new girlfriend.) This arts school is not like other high schools. I think there's less work outside of school. That can lead to bad habits, or--and this is the direction in which I am trying to guide her--that can be freeing to truly learn, to make the most of your time in the best way to learn in the now and be better served for the future. To get better at writing, for one thing. She needs not to coast, which she can do, because of her natural intelligence, which would be a waste for her to do. The other day she asked me if boys at her age were really that disgusting and horny and all of the time, and I said that whatever you have heard is an understatement. She responds by saying, "Are you sure? Because I could definitely see that being more of a you thing when you were that age," and I countered by saying that while maybe that was indeed true, nonetheless, this was true as well. This prompts, "So if a hot girl hugged you--leaving aside your feelings on hugs, which I imagine were similar at the time--you would have creamed yourself? Because a boy hugged me today. Was there cream?"
Fortunately, the coffee I was nursing was black.
Ah. The conversations I have outside of the Starbucks, sitting with a puggle and the precocious mid-teen I mentor. There are not many times I allow myself this concession, but in those moments, when I try to provide what information I can, while getting myself out of some tricky bits, I will say in my mind, "Sir, you are a good dude. And with all that is being done to you, all of the hate the people of your industry have for you, you're a good dude, still." I actually handled that well. I think I would be a really good parent. My friend John would have, I have no doubt, fled the scene upon being asked such a question. Out the door. Likely ending up at Dunkin' Donuts for a calming large iced coffee, where he would call me saying, "You won't believe what just happened." One realizes that a major component is how well one communicates. Your language skills. There is also an art to what you leave out, while also presenting truths. But not leaving out anything that limits the absorption of those truths.
Lately with the stories I have been writing, I have been commanding prose and meaning by what I leave out. I am creating certain geometrical realities of absence, mathematical realities of absence that tap into ineluctabilities of probability. This person is here. This is what has become of their body. You're not told exactly why they are there, why this became of their body. But what could it be? It can only be A, B, C. What is the difference if it's C or A? Then you read along. The math--which arises from words, the narrative--takes you in directions. It angles your journey as reader. My words are doing work. Yeoman's work. But my spaces, my absences, are doing major work, too. I have figured out the last possibilities of narrative-making here in 2019. That is where my journey has brought me. A journey that began when I was three, that accelerated at different times. With Dark March and The Anglerfish Comedy Troupe, with "Fitty," with the stories of this autumn.
You can tell me to write a story about anything. A pencil. From anything, at this point, I can make a work of art that goes beyond any other. I can do it at absolute will. Another thing has occurred: a reader is going to know what I know. Simply by my performance with the work. How I play the work, if you will. What exists in my mind, by extension and embodiment of my performance, which will encode all of this, is going to exist in theirs. If I say one thing in a story, but not something else--the manner in which a character is looking out a window, say--this will be something I do not need to say because the other parts of the story, the particular word choices, the tonal qualities, other details, are going to impart this knowledge, stamp it upon a reader's mind, run it before their mind's eye. This is bloody new. I have not been at this place before. It's a form of mental transference at the level of a soul; not a conjoining of souls, but a connecting of them. The fist bump if you will. It should be tremendously exciting, it should be a passionate joy to awake every morning and create and get that to the people, but it is even worse, knowing that an industry will not let this come out, and that it wants me dead. Actually dead. I am sure that if given the option to press a button and end my life, these people would do it.
Yet another horrible Joyce Carol Oates story in The New Yorker, I see. JCO: just blow your nose on a tissue, see how many places will publish it. That would be amusing. You'd have the same batting average. Those vapid exclamation point constructions. That's her stand-in for voice, for being clever, for wit. Irony. All of her bad, go-to moves. Her substitutes for having anything to actually say. Glib, lazy, substance-less, zero invention, like she's cashing in on a long career by typing a lot now. Absolutely meaningless work, lauded (well, it's not even lauded at this point; it's just shoved through, stamped for publication, a fait accompli, the status quo, something you have to do, like pay your taxes, you have to publish her drivel and pretend it is super duper awesome by dint of it being in your pages) by a dying industry that blames the world for its death--when it does take its fingers out of its ears, and hands from its eyes--and is solely responsible for killing itself. John again chiming in yesterday, during a break in his Yom Kippur services, that if The New Yorker ran "Fitty," aspects of the world would change, and also lives would be saved via gun legislation, and people would have a completely new definition of how powerful a reading experience could be, which I don't doubt is true. But that scarcely seems germane, at the moment. I've written three stories as good as "Fitty" this week. But it is the nature of that story.
Anyway. We move on.
I gave Emma a copy of one of the three new short stories from this week, titled "O." Not the letter O. The shape of a circle. The title of the story is a shape. I will discuss that story--it is nuts--in an entry in a day or two. She needs to create a narrative kind of shoe box piece of art for her English class, with cut-outs and collage, so I introduced her to Joseph Cornell's boxes, then sent her a link later. It's nice to be able to introduce someone to Joseph Cornell and Horror of Dracula. An original one-sheet for Horror of Dracula hung in the Rockport house I am fighting to get back. It is in storage now under the earth, waiting for me to get out of this hell I am in.