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Friday 5/10/19

Man. I'm pretty artistically diversified this morning. I wrote an op-ed on how no athletes should be invited to the White House, for reasons having nothing to do with politics. I'm about to sell an op-ed to this country's highest circulation newspaper. They just want me to make it a little shorter and add a couple examples. That piece is about how the NHL is the least class-oriented professional sports league, which is why the NHL playoffs are the best thing in all of sports. I will just tease the newly composed op-ed, which I think I will also make into something longer now.

The brouhaha with the Sox was that a lot of white players went to the White House, and a lot of players of color did not. Cue the most predictable response in the history of the 21st century from The Atlantic’s Jemele Hill, who can do all of one thing in this life, and that is bait the race hook. The Red Sox’ white players should have done right by their POC teammates and not gone, etc. If Hill were a calculator, only the division button would work.

Nice. Really nice. And I just like this paragraph a lot, from the Maupassant/writing/painting essay, which I am proofing now, and will send to my editor momentarily:

This third person narrator sees this corner of the world—the world’s museum—as a painting. Certain colors function better with other colors. They bolster each other’s coloristic identities. Other times, the reverse is true, colors slouching into each other, losing definition, forsaking identity. Van Gogh understood this, which is why you can argue that his letters were more painterly than his paintings. I view him as a painting writer, rather than a writing painter, but clearly in his artistic worldview these two ostensibly disparate pursuits inevitably informed each other, because both had a common principle concern: the evincing of narrative, via the emergence of feelings—both for characters and viewers—within a story of coloristic gradations and shadings. Words can have an architectural quality, as readily as Van Gogh’s Yellow House; paint can have an auditory quality, in that you all but hear the crickets chirping in the the low-lying grass of the wheat field, when they are not drowned out by the squawks of passing crows overhead.

That's just different level. I find such richness in every paragraph, every sentence. I can read them over and over again, as if they were not done by me, but they exist, and I'm going to experience them as a reader, too. I remember one time, when I was a teenager, I was listening to Beatles for Sale. And I listened to it, and immediately I listened again. And then I said, okay, time to go, but then I hit play once more, and I just sat there, unable to tear myself away, listening to it. Even though I've done it, sometimes it will feel like I didn't, like what I'm reading was done by someone else or just always existed, and I'll get caught, and I'll just read it a bunch and even I can't help but experience it that way. Miserable as I am right now. And depressed by the quality of my own work, as I remain in place, or life gets worse because of the work.

I just wrote this for the nightmare essay.

Do you ever wonder where the term “nightmare” itself comes from? Henry Fuseli’s 1781 painting, The Nightmare, is nicely—which is to say, disturbingly—illustrative of the folkloric concept of a bad night of sleep. A woman in white—her sheer raiments giving her a human-ghost aspect, as if she has been sartorially prepped for the beyond—has all but melted atop a fainting couch. She flows, she eddies, her limbs drip over all sides. Her head lolls over the pillow portion, the top of her cranium just above the floor, her lips parted. We have the sense that even though she is unconscious, her breathe is stentorian, raspy, and comes at a price, which is why she is breathing through her mouth. Of course, she has a certain problem: atop her chest is a part simian-looking, part-demonic looking, visitor of terror, an incubus, who also possesses a smug, satiated look upon its face. This entity, this nether-being, has clearly just done something to this woman. The creature is called a Mare, and what a Mare does is arrive while you sleep, hop atop your chest, and ride you, as it were, beating your sides, boxing your head, thumping your kidneys. This is the source of your nightmare, this nocturnal riding. And clearly by the look of Fuseli’s Mare, these beings liked to get their money’s worth. If the Mare component were not already high enough, Fuseli also provides the head of an actual horse—a mare—as a kind of visual pun, in the middle ground, with no apparent body, though we can’t say for certain if said head is floating there, as the rest of the central portion of the painting is devoured by darkness, another pun, this time on the rapacity of the nightmare itself. Even light is overpowered and consumed by the bad dream. But the horse has the expression of a naughty little voyeur upon its face, one that is about to release its ejaculate, and it clearly has been enjoying what the Mare had just done. The Mare itself looks out of the painting and at the viewer—right through the viewer—as if to say, “You want to go next?”

I should probably walk and climb. I will have this voice that pipes up in my head, as it just did, saying things like, "I'd like to see some nice production from you this weekend." The directives are always about creating more, finishing quickly what has already been started, finishing it well, but getting it done, so as to make more. Always more. Like that work of art has to be finished by the end of the hour and the next started. This doesn't make much sense. If it was a deadline, and the issue had to get to the printer's, that makes sense. But it's not. Even I do not understand the driving need for the pace. Is it because I have an infinite amount of works of art in me, so it is best to do as many as possible while I can? I don't know. It's like a form of faith, that I not only listen to this voice, I follow its directives. Does it have some inkling or understanding or knowledge of what is in store for me? And it wants me to be ready, knows that it will behoove me to have a mountain of art ready to move? Again, though, it's that theme of anguish, of having the great works pile up, with no place for them to go and be properly situated and promoted, for personal reasons stemming from virtues rather than, say, being a murderer. Sometimes I will have this step-back moment, just for a few seconds, where I will stop and look at this situation as though I were out of my own body and being, and think, "This is very strange. This is so far beyond strange. This has never happened before. This is historically unique. This situation you are in. Look at the novelty of it. The chances must be several trillion to one, and yet, it has occurred, it is occurring. How long can it hold like this? And what would you have to be to have this be the way a group of people felt the need to treat you?" That last part says a lot. I don't need reinforcement of what I know I am, but if I did, that, paradoxically, would do it. You have to be something there has not been to engender that. Sometimes I feel like I am part of a very great mystery, and I am waiting to have the solution revealed as to what this was, what the point of the lead-up was. There has to be some point to this in a larger whole.

It is funny. This week I have written a personal essay of romantic deceit, taken that essay and made a shorter piece from it, discussed cinema on the radio, composed a new short story about a family and three snakes, written an essay on jazz and cinema, completed a piece on painting and writing, published a piece on how we talk in the same phrases in The Washington Post, done edits on a piece about a film noir novel, written an op-ed on sports and the White House, placed a hockey op-ed, worked on a personal essay about the relationship between nightmares and writing. And yet, I feel like I have done nothing. This does not account for the hundreds of letters I have sent out, sending out the new book, writing radio producers, updating the website, doing these journal entries. It's kind of messed up, isn't it?

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