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Day in age

Friday 7/31/20

Just wrote something. Start to finish. Grab a little breather here. Changed the title of the story from yesterday to "Inside Leaves." One always has to think about audience. What will be most memorable to audience?

Awoke to see the Sox won, which is slightly surprising. Saw they only surrendered two runs, which is much more surprising. Didn't watch the game. Wasn't on NESN. The local broadcast does add something. Besides, I fell asleep with the Bruins game on. I lash myself forward to the point of exhaustion. Then I pass out. I try to get up early--not as early as I should have today at 4:50. I did see a highlight today of Marchand doing some dipsy-do move in front of his own net--like six feet in front of his own net--which resulted in a goal against and was annoying. Then he got hurt, I guess? His head needs to be on straight, as they say. What I did see from the Bruins was a bunch of puck-watching, but I expect they'll be all right and make a deep push. If they play their game and up to their capabilities, they can win it all. What "winning it all" means right now, I don't really know.

This latest op-ed ran in The Wall Street Journal on getting lost on purpose in the woods and encountering the truth. As usual, absolutely nothing happened. Not so much as two new Twitter followers, or anyone signing up for this journal, or the FB author page. It's always just nothing. How one person can have this much going on all of the time, across so many different areas, and be in this situation, and see these numbers, is, of course, reinforcement for my fears--are they beliefs?---that I am cursed and doomed. Obviously it's a nice piece, and it matters, and it's helpful, and it's not this asinine drooled out drivel you see so often, but it's like it doesn't exist. People are interested in and comfortable with and interested in following people like themselves, who they view as on their intellectual level or below, or, at most, slightly above. That is a huge problem here, and as of yet, I don't know how to solve it.

Here is the fifth and final episode for Beatles Month on the Songs of Note podcast, with me as the guest for the five. The big send-off is "Hey Jude," which encompasses a discussion of lullabies, the power of well-chosen verbs, the relationship between notes and colors, George Harrison's dissatisfaction, John Lennon's cruelty, and the best thirty seconds in the Beatles' discography.

Walked a quick five miles yesterday.

It's irksome when people qualify the word "unique." Don't write, "this is very unique" or anything like that. If you must qualify in such a fashion, use the word "singular," which, by a strange grammatical quirk, is permissibly qualifiable. Conan Doyle did it a lot. One of the keys to writing, to communication, is not giving people reasons to bail with your avoidable rustication and bump-making. Not in the language. You can carve them up emotionally, allowing that you get them invested, that you immerse them, but you can't displace their attention via your words. You're funneling them in. And it's different when you read something and the author has a bump when it's five pages deep, after they're earned your trust, instead of, say, in the first sentence. You cannot bump people out of your work in the first sentence, the first paragraph. You have to get them, do you know what I mean?

You can't barter with them. You can't expect them to make allowances either for you, if you screwed up, or if you're doing something that won't facilitate the funneling. I realized this in about 2006 or somewhere around then, when I was writing this piece on the writers of OBERIU for The Nation, before I was banned there. My first sentence was grammatically correct, but it already put the reader off their stride; they'd have to read it in such a way that about three-quarters through, it was necessary to return to the first portion to get their bearings again. You can't ask people to stay with you after that if that's what you're doing at the start. Read anything I write now, and it just never happens. The funneling is perpetual. Which is also what allows me to do what I do on emotional and psychological fronts. But if you qualify the word "unique" early on, I'm out. You've given me reason to leave at the level of basic language.

The best writers, the best communicators, give people the fewest reasons to leave. By that I don't mean they deal in various tepid-isms; and goodness knows that saying you don't like Led Zeppelin or you don't think all cops are evil racists or you're not keen on cats is enough here in 2020 to make people hope that you can't afford food. I'm allowing for at least theoretical saneness in a society. I think it's also true that if one speaks well, one is apt to be avoided. We measure everything now by how we think we compare to that which is around us. There's no identity, no autonomy, nothing is self-contained as what it is; it is what it is--in our view--by how it compares to that which surrounds it. That's why there is such a vogue for mediocrity. One is never threatened by a comparison to mediocrity. Being surrounded by mediocrity assuages self-doubt--which is more rampant than ever--and is a balm for ego. A fogger of the mirror, of having to look at what one is and what one is not, what one needs to work on, get better at. That look is often painful, and few people want that, and growth requires effort, and we hate effort even more than the initial look, because if they do take the look, at least they can try to cover up what they just learned with drink, drug, another random hook-up, some meaningless "likes" on Twitter and Facebook. All fixed! As they become less connected, more depressed, less of a person and more of a pose, and society sinks accordingly and in proportion. That's it right there. It's hard for me to envision anything more obvious than this, insofar as the chief theme of the age, and yet no one sees it. Seemingly.

A while ago I noticed that people are now trying to make themselves sound intelligent by writing "lo and behold," which they think is, and render as, "low and behold." I swear, I just do not belong in this world. And now I've noticed people trying to, once again, sound smart by writing "in this day and age," which they think is "in this day in age." I see it like 500 times a week presently. God we are so stupid. In this day in age. Unreal. Adults. Like doctors and lawyers. In this day in age. Good fuck is that depressing. You shouldn't even be using "in this day and age" because it's a cliche. Don't write in cliches. Never use cliches. Find your own words to say your own things.

And with that, I'm off to create another work of art. Then go for a run. Rodin's Head of Sorrow here. Obviously.


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