These high school kids whose lives people are trying to destroy are emblematic victims of the "clutch at the first thing that suits your agenda of toxicity" human bacterium strand so prevalent now. I encountered that story, and I have a pretty good understanding of how media works. You'd think I would, wouldn't you? The media is not interested in presenting you with truth. It's not about finding the truth. Not usually. There aren't that many competent people in it--there are not many competent people at all anywhere, presently--with an outsized devotion to truth.
They usually want back claps, and they want to secure back claps with the minimum amount of effort. The path of least resistance for the praise-accretion of the least sincerity. Flood the path. (For them, it's not about legitimacy of achievement, it's about perceived social media-based achievement, which is to say, simulation rather than actualization. Consequently, people whose existence and professional existence is ordered around this construct of simulacrum have a pathological hatred of the achiever of the legitimate, especially when that achievement has happened without their say-so, and despite their crony-centric circle of closed arms. The more legit the achievement, the greater the hate, the greater the effort to block, to not allow advancement; the greater the genius, the more extreme the antipathy, and in so following with the greater the productivity, the greater the expertise; more hate if the person is self-made, more hate right now if they are a white male, more hate if they are an athletic-looking straight white male.) They also like to play hero via a grandstanding form of moral arbitration. Now, these kids could be little monsters. But I saw that story, and I thought, I bet there's more video. I'll check that out. And I saw the Native American fellow, and I thought two things. Firstly, I thought he must have known real hell on earth and did right by his country with his service. I also thought that he sounded like a number of con men I know. He was too pat. He was too ready to go. He had done the words before, he had prepped them before. This sought-for-stage was an intended destination.
I have written in these pages of the ex-con at the Starbucks who salutes me. I'm not disinclined to like him. He's articulate. (This is something that will personally put you more in favor with me. It won't put so much as a single strand of hair, let alone a scale, over my eyes as to your moral and intellectual make-up, but given how so many people now are worse with English than people for whom it is a second language, you will score a secondary assist with me if you can talk or write reasonably well. My plumber is better with words than most people in publishing. That is one reason I like him.) He carries out his business, such as it is, on his phone, leaving people long voicemails--people he really wants to take a meeting with him--and he speaks in the patois of the liar. The seller. With nothing to sell. Now he's trying to run for some kind of office. He wants to get "quahogs" with the mayor ("a fellow brother of the AA," as he said yesterday). You see what the seller does? They're using a word like that for a kind of grandstanding that they think you won't pick up on. You normally won't. People are not that attuned to the motivic nuance of words. But I hear this man speak, and I'm not surprised he's had trouble with the law and the repeated stints in jail, and I come to think it's likely his crimes were of the scam variety, rather than him beating someone down with a tire iron.
I could be wrong. But it took me all of six seconds before I encountered video that refuted a lot of what the Native American said. It took me thirty seconds before I realized that the kid in the photo may have done nothing wrong. He may have shown restraint that most adults would not have shown. He may have done nothing that I wouldn't have done. Or maybe he did. But I saw nothing to implicate him in what people claim to wish him dead over now (how far gone must you be to lack the self-awareness to imply that you are morally superior while you are wishing someone be murdered, beaten, raped?). Beyond, what, his apparel? I don't discuss my political affiliations or absence of them, usually. I am an artist. I am a cogitator. My political party is that of the truth, and were I to run for office on behalf of my party--which is really what I do, in a sense, one could say--my constituency is humanity. With the sins we daily commit and commit against each other (and especially against ourselves, ultimately, by what our choices cost us elsewhere), and commit against the truth, whatever you wear is going to be the most benign thing you likely do, the thing indicative of absolutely nothing in terms of your true character.
I have friends who race to not so much as judge, but reshare, as it were, an agenda. They are smarter than their behavior indicates. They, as we say, "ought to know better." Intellectually, they would understand this. But they would still persist in what they do. Why? Why can't we help ourselves? Why is it harder to help ourselves? They're not interested in what actually happened. In theory they are, in terms of their overall moral fiber they are, but there is a disconnect between theory and fiber and how they comport themselves, especially online.
Here's something I can tell you about truth. It's not hardly ever that first thing you think it is. It's not the second third. It's not the third. It's not the fourth. You see something beyond that, and that's not it either, but it steers your deductive reason, and your powers of observation, towards one thing that starts to emerge as the truth. The smarter the person--and the greater artist--the more direct that progression is. The less intervals. But for most people, this is highly intervalic, if they are even trying to locate the truth, which happens less and less now. But we dispense with the intervals now, because life has become, and morals have become, an impulse buy in the checkout at the Whole Foods. We want what we want when we want it. What these people don't realize--and again, they can be friends of mine--is that they are doing the same thing that people without any moral fiber are doing. They are as dangerous. They are as bad for the whole. Or they can be. You must be mindful to forgive these people their faults, as best you can. A good person is hard to find. But it's hard not to wish that they'd work on this, that there was some way they could have the knowledge imparted to them such that they'd wish to work on it. Flaws are part of the package, though, aren't they?
I have a friend who read "Pillow Drift" yesterday. They communicated to me how much better it is than anything being published and awarded right now, things I know, of course, and that the only reason for someone to not do right by it is because they hate me personally. Which, of course, I know. And that it should be a film. Which, of course, I also know, and have remarked in these pages. It would be--and it will be, I think--an all-time work of cinema, especially if I get to do the screenplay and direct it. I watched Bird Box yesterday. That is an entirely mediocre work. It's not moving, it's not entertaining, it's not scary. It's akin to a made-for-TV horror film from the early 1990s with a bigger budget. "Pillow Drift" would be the most successful film Netflix has done. But my friend, who also woke me up at two in the morning with a phone call because they had sat up deep into the night reading the other new ones, "Mission Brick Candy," "Qui Qui Ri Qui," and "That Night," and had to have their excitement register and noted, has also been on mind because he's in New York right now, having driven there from DC for the long weekend, to take care of his mom. She had hip replacement surgery last week. His father is also dealing with some health issues. I met his mother just once. I was in my early twenties. And I joked yesterday with my friend, when asking after his mother's health, that he should not remind her of the words she uttered two decades ago that have haunted me ever since. She didn't say them to me. She said them to my friend. She said that part of my life was always going to be much harder than other people's, on account of my mind, which would be beyond theirs and anyone's. I have thought about those lines so much. I have thought, well, you get where you're going with your work, you change this world through your work and what you are, you have your audience, your recognition, your wealth, you meet that one amazing person whom you hope is out there, you're with her, you have your friends, your art, the art of others whom you actually respect and lose yourself in, you have your house in Rockport, you have other residences, you destroy this industry, you get people reading again, you no longer deal with blacklisters and bigots and you just compose, invent, explode, live, reap and what more could you want, and that is possible. I think that. I know that. But I also know that what my friend's mother said was true. I live it.
I have been laid up for several days. On Friday I hurt my back. I ran nine miles on Saturday anyway. It really started hurting on mile seven or so, but I kept going. The nipple situation was slightly remedied with gobs of Vaseline. And obviously my how-sexy-can-a-person-be situation was suavely remedied and shot forward with the preceding sentence. Maybe this year I will have a date. Good grief. Anyway, yesterday I could barely move. It's a little better today.
I will be writing about Jackie Robinson for The Wall Street Journal. That should be good. Tomorrow on Downtown I wish to discuss play. Play as a concept. Play as a concept for adults. A rare quality presently, a great need. As a child, I was always playing. That could be outside, inventing games in the woods, hiding buckets of acorns behind New England forest stone walls for fights we were always talking about having, with great stakes to them, which, of course, never did, because we were playing, and when you play, sometimes set-up is the payoff. I'd throw myself into garage doors during sessions of street hockey, pretending I was a Bruin and we were deep in the NHL playoffs, and I had to take this hit for the team to make a crucial centering pass, which, remarkably, I was able to send to myself, after I jumped from being Ray Bourque to Barry Pederson. Games inside served to broaden an imagination that could roam in such a way that the indoors could be the outdoors and vice versa. Games of Oregon Trail and King's Quest. I might as well have been dealing with a problematic wagon wheel on a fillet of road atop a craggy chasm, or coming upon a maiden in need of help in a glen. In grammar school I'd compose stories in my head on the bus, in part because I wished to get them right, and also because I'd be done formally writing them before the rest of the class had finished theirs, and then I could go to the back of the classroom, to play some more--to read Peanuts comics or Jack London novels. And I play as an adult to keep going, to keep myself from offing myself during this horrible time period. No run is just a run. I'm playing games in my head--word games, games of association--or kicking every third pine cone with the goal of getting it up in the air over the curb as I run, or stepping on every crack between the concrete blocks underfoot, or on every crack. Through play we become better at finding the truth I mentioned above. It makes your mind better, if you will, at sitting down and keeps its legs straight and touching its toes. Flexible. It makes your mind lissome.
I feel bad for my friend Howard, a big Saints fan, who is rightfully upset over how that game played out yesterday. Would have been nice to see our respective teams in Super Bowl battle.
And now to prep for battle at the Starbucks. I had forgotten that people are off today. Will read, make notes, think, and listen to Sarah Vaughan and Schubert's late string quartets. I also want to hear the 1967 Blue Cheer demos that just came out, and I have a yen for early Arthur Alexander. When the Beatles covered Arthur Alexander songs in Hamburg, their goal was to make everyone in the place pound their beer glasses in time to the beat.