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Sticks and bombs

Thursday 11/10/22

More thought given for my transition to podcasting. I'll have to find the time to dive headlong and figure out technical things. No one knows anything about anything. Then they bullshit about one thing. I hardly know anyone who knows anything about anything. Not really. The world is set up so that person who knows nothing talks about one thing, and that is how everything of this nature is approached. All content. A book, a podcast. Everything. I have an idea for a name. I'm not skilled with technology, but this I believe I can figure it out. What I would want is for each podcast to be a work of art. To treat it like the creation of a work of art. Just me. It's better for me to just work with me. I think of something like Welles's Filming Othello, which is mostly just him talking. But there isn't anyone like me. That's why there isn't a podcast that covers everything with expertise.


I'd like, for instance, to do an episode, say, on the worthiness of the eight candidates on the Contemporary Ballot for the the baseball Hall of Fame. (The insistent push to get Dale Murphy and Don Mattingly into the Hall is silly and needless. These are not Hall of Fame ballplayers.) Then I'd like to do an episode on Kafka's diaries and then one on the Revolver box set. The Bruins' and where they're at in the season. John Coltrane. A Christmas ghost story. An overlooked horror film. A segment on the least deserving players in the various Halls of Fame.


(As I've said, I like when everyone gets in. It never annoys me, or "cheapens" a Hall of Fame for me. It's a sport! I think it's cool when people go in. But that doesn't mean that there aren't some bad choices and players whose play doesn't warrant what the honor is supposed to represent. For instance: there is no legit reason, nothing close to a legit reason, that Kevin Lowe should be in the hockey Hall of Fame. He's the worst selection in any sport. But it's fun to talk about. Charlie Huddy was better! Huddy! And Steve Smith.)


There'd be no audience. Which isn't the same as there isn't an audience. Everything is name. Dylan's book is bad and he's a plagiarist. But enough people say they love the book because we are a completely Pavlovian society. No one thinks. No one knows what's good or what's bad. People perform their preferences for attention and/or because of the name of the person they're pretending to prefer. I don't think anyone honestly believes that anyone is good at anything, outside of sports, where there are stats, and people are terrible at knowing with sports anyway.


I was talking to a friend last night, and said this is my biggest fear. I am the only artist in the world. The only real artist. Dylan plagiarized his book in 2004, he plagiarized his Nobel speech from SparkNotes--SparkNotes! He takes twelve years to write this half-assed book? The part on the Dead was good. The rest of it? Come on. He just retells song lyrics, using second person. "You're outside a hotel, late at night. You're in California."


Are you kidding me? I had this Boomer fool tell me, "It's essential, obviously." Is it? Do you think that? Because I think you're full of shit. I think you're just saying it because of the name. What I want is a device we hook people up to that measures how much they really enjoy something. How much enjoyment is happening inside of them as they watch, read, listen. Because none of these motherfuckers with their Paris Review tote bags who pretend to like Lydia Davis books do. Stop. That needle wouldn't move at all. But this my greatest fear. Everyone who has success has it for things that have nothing to do with the work they make.


I know a guy who has health issues. I wanted to check in with him the other day, ask how he was. He's a weak guy, but not a bad guy. He's a guy who can't handle any truth at all. But not hurtful. Has a good heart. He's a good person, which isn't something I would ever say lightly. And I looked at his posts to make sure nothing had happened to him, and there he was, carrying water for people I know he thinks are assholes, who I know he doesn't really believe are good at what they do. And I think, why, man? I just couldn't send the note this time. (He appears to be doing well, physically. If something was up, I'd have written him straight away. I'll write him again later.) You're moving through the stages of life. Get straight. Get straight with yourself. Do it while you can. But this person would try and transport the ocean to the backdoors of these talentless assholes. He would know this is true. Obviously, he'd be hurt by me saying it and would pout some more, perhaps make up whatever about me that wasn't true, try and fill a bucket of low-hanging fruit that isn't there. That's how people are. Own it, understand it, face it, fix it, move forward. Simple. Starting again makes you live longer anyway. Probably the only way to get to 100. Again and again. Do it better each time. Do it so well that you start doing it every day.


It's like a sickness, though. This addiction. The need to lick and lie. If I said, "Tell me why it's good," he couldn't. If I said, "Tell me why you think it's good," he couldn't. He'd have to say words like "opinion" and "subjective," which is what ignorant people and people who are on the defensive say. On the defensive because they want to know things but don't, or they know they're not sincere and they don't have any answers. Nothing is subjective. Things are things. They are what they are for reasons. They have their autonomous thingness. It's our job to understand what that is. The closer we get to doing so, the smarter we are. The further away we are, the more stupid we are, or the more we're pretending because we were just talking out of our ass because we wanted whatever we wanted. To "hang." To look smart, cool, not totally clueless. Then we say "subjective" and "opinion," and the people who rely on these tactics are really trying to weaponize them via deflection. They're trying to make the person who knows the bad person. No one falls for it. Not even the people like them who do the same thing when they have to.


Subjectivity doesn't exist. Preference does. And that's usually going to come down to intelligence--and/or awareness--as well. You don't like Hamlet. Okay. But that's not so much as "It just wasn't for me," as it is, "I'm too dumb. Or lazy. I don't use my mind. I don't think, I don't expose myself to anything, so I haven't improved at thinking over the years, needing more and more better things than I did in the past, my brain is a muscle, but it's like a big fat flabby ass in my skull." It's you. Your deficiencies. It's not Hamlet. Opinion, meanwhile, translates to, yes, you have a right to share how stupid you are. Okay. Maybe just try and be smarter? And look, if you're someone who goes line by line with Shakespeare and wants to argue for one play over another, that's obviously not who I'm talking about. I'm not saying the big "ta-da!" work has to be this amazing thing just because of it's name. Double Indemnity is a garbage film, for instance, in which each strained, forced line has aged horribly, comically. A film with no understanding of pace, the believable ramping up of events. Believable motive. I can talk about that. That's not a "take." You think if I write 2500 words on that it's not going to sound pretty correct? You want to do your 2500 words saying it's super and put them against mine? We'll have a contest?


To be smarter, you have to be less defensive. You have to grow. Pouters can't grow. Nor angry people who know the truth but hate when the truth comes from someone else--which will be me, because everyone else is 1. Too stupid to tell and 2. Too apathetic. They don't care. I will at least care about you too much to lie to you or lie along with you, but that's really just the threshold I have as a human for other humans, so it's not even really about you in a way, it's just where I start with humans. I might not be able to stand you, or respect you, but I will care about you more in that regard and maybe more than anyone else will. I will treat you like you shouldn't suck ass, and those are worthwhile expectations for you that you deserve, whereas everyone else will expect that you do suck ass and have no other expectations for you. No standards. Coast. Be full of shit. Stand for nothing. Waste your whole life. The people around you probably don't care. They just want their needs met, in whatever way you meet some of them. That's not even a real relationship. Of any kind. Whatever the official classification is. But that's why you get along, for whatever that's worth. (This is the general "you"; relax.) Because no one holds anyone to any standard because they don't think others are worth it and because they themselves don't want much in the way of standards to hold themselves to. I found that even with little things, that don't at all compare to my big things, like when I gave up drinking, and how I run stairs every day, people hated me even more. Because I did and do those things. The discipline that takes.


It's as simple as this: people come to this journal to hate read the pages--some of them; by no means all, by no means the majority--and see how by 9 in the morning on a Saturday I've written two stories and ran 10,000 stairs and done 500 push-ups and had two things published and been up and at it, hard, since 3. That's how you get hated. But if you suck, you sit on your ass, you have no talent, then hey, people like that. It's comforting, because it's a form of a look in the mirror, and the mirror isn't casting a reflection that's shaking it's finger, saying, get up and try harder. I'm not trying to compete with you. That's silly. I'm not trying to compete with the Beatles or Shakespeare. As an artist, there is no one left for me to compete with--because of what I have become and what I create, constantly--save who and what I was yesterday. That's all that remains, and I've proven that. It's all in the work. It's in everything. But people are insecure, and again, lazy, and lacking in drive, in "want to." They are playing out a string, whatever their age is, and I'm trying to change everything. My life, the world, history going forward, if that makes sense.


We don't even hit the like button for that person. We try and punish him that way. Pathetic. But that's what people do. That's what people I know do, people I hate and try and hide that hate away and think about them as little as possible while I do what I have to do with them. That is how they get theirs back with me. It's sad, right? What loathsome beings. But that is most people. So that's a problem. Because they have each other, and they are okay with their group. I don't have a group. So I'm also the only one who gets treated this way. And it's how it is, up and down the course of every single damn day. It's the situation right now.


So I was talking to my friend about this fear, because I don't have anything but work and a mind--and a character and other things, but one gets the idea--beyond any others. Ever. And success comes from things that have nothing to do with that. It comes from shitty qualities, and surface qualities, and connections and who you're related to. Your skin color. How weak you are. How mediocre. How fucking pedestrian. How echo chamber-y you are. How ordinary and boring. How toxic, because toxic people like toxic people, and most are toxic now, and again, the expectation that you shouldn't be a toxic person, or a sniveling little passive aggressive bitch, angers people, because that person who isn't, in the extreme, the furthest extreme, is an example that the slugs and the parasites and the poisonous worms--the small things that we call people for lack of a better term--resent, so they seethe with animus and envy, and wish they could get you down on the ground with them. Not to join them, but to eat your flesh, turn you into carrion, make you rot, so you get buried under the leaves and disappear. Why do you think shitty people aren't hamstrung by being horrible?


And my friend said, "It won't matter. You are beyond all of this. It's all true. That's how the world is. But you can't apply it to you. The difference between you and anyone else, your work and any other work there has ever been, is the difference between a spear--like a stick--and an atomic bomb. Everyone is going to know. Right now, you're dealing with a lot of hateful, bitter, envious people who want to light you on fire if they could. That's just who is in your world right now, who has access to you, but this situation is not permanent."


So, whatever. I'm pretty driven right now. Blogs have been prepped. There is some stuff coming. No mercy-style. I have had it with bigots and sociopaths and cowards and incompetents and evil people. Had it.


But what were we talking about? Podcast. Yes. No one will listen at first, it'll be like seven people, but hey, that's everything right now. If this ever works out, it would be a case of going from 7 people to two million people. There's not going to be some gradual progression at this point. It's as if I was buried in the ground now, for the reasons stated above, and the reasons that have been amply covered in these pages. When I am out and seen, then everything starts. So, in the meanwhile--and I always want it to be the shortest meanwhile there is--I might as well put everything in place. Fill up another wing of the history's greatest museum, before the doors are opened and everyone can come in and say, "Holy fuck." And other things, too. "Why didn't we know about this? What happened for that to happen? Who was responsible?" That's how it will go. But right now I'm going to have seven fucking listeners, if that. That's okay. I can take it. You can take a lot when you know you're going to win. And I've already taken more than anyone else ever has.


People listen to podcasts because of the subjects, more than the content creators themselves. The subject is the show. That's something I'll have to overcome, which is something I'm always trying to overcome in life. I go against the grain of human possibility as everyone understands it. What happens is someone reads a form of my work first. If you read the jazz first, and think that this is the world's leading jazz expert--it's not close, and I have no problem saying it, because I've proved it--you are far less likely to believe that's the world's leading hockey expert. There is no drop-off. Never. Then you get to the fiction, which is really what I do and why I'm here more than anything.


People doubt what they see to the degree that they won't let themselves see it--and accept it--and often they'll respond with anger. They throw a kind of tantrum. Often, they get obsessed with me in these really toxic ways. I experience that every day. There are examples of it every day. The idea that we could read a book about Beethoven and love that book, have it change our lives, thrill us, while not knowing anything about Beethoven, caring about Beethoven, is one that is beyond just about anyone, because it's beyond all expectations. It's against the grain of human possibility. But that's what I do with nonfiction, and it's how I'd want to handle a podcast. But then you'd have someone who listens to the episode on baseball history, but sees that next time we're doing something on Concord and where Thoreau used to ramble, and they're not already interested in that, so they won't listen. But: if they officially knew me as what I plainly am, and millions of people were echoing that, they'd tune in for anything I had to say. The difference between me with a name and anyone else, is that you'd then get the good delivered. Every time. But these are all problems right now for which solutions are needed. And maybe the solution is to keep doing what I am doing, piling the water behind the wall of the dam, until eventually something gives, and then all is a matter of overrunning all.


Wrote the introduction to No Mercy When We Get There: Stories to Wreck You. That'll get you going. I was writing it and I thought, "No one writes an introduction like this," but then I thought, "That's because they can't, and that doesn't mean that you shouldn't, or that they wouldn't if they could and people will love to see it when the time comes that enough of them do. This is what people want, if someone could actually do it."


Another problem: That thing you do that is the thing that people would actually want if someone could actually do it, is what gives people like publishing people extreme hesitation, because it's not the same old shit, and they almost exclusively only deal in the same old shit. If you write something worse, that no one wants, that has no meaning for anyone, means nothing to no one, publishing people prefer that. Unless, as we've been discussing, there's a name known far and wide as a name. Then nothing matters. You can shit on the page, do the same boring crap on the page, or have the best writing ever on the page. The difference being, if you have that last one, your work would then explode. Speaking of the sticks and the bombs.


Came up with a story and began doing head work on it called "Clap-Clap" which is about bullying, but a complex story of two people in a complex relationship over an extended period of time, moving through time.


Went through the essay on Halloween III: Season of the Witch, fixed everything, made some changes, and am now all done with it and inserted the piece into And the Skin Was Gone. Also added essays on Bride of Frankenstein, William Sloane's To Walk the Night, and Howard Hawks' The Thing from Another World, and the Suspense episode, "Ghost Hunt." I have to change at least three of these, though.


Did 100 push-ups yesterday, walked three miles, ran 3000 stairs.


This AM I've been working on an essay on the 1977 British television series for children, Children of the Stones, which I'll endeavor to sell as a stand-alone and that I knew ahead of time I wanted for And the Skin Was Gone. The title of the book comes from a line in this piece. Yes, I know, funny how it's all out of order, and he has a title from a line that hadn't been written yet and he knows that's the title. The space-time continuum means very little to me, and it means nothing to me insofar as my art goes. I'm outside of that.