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What art is

Friday 3/18/22

I think I am going to try and get right today and be ready to fight harder than ever come tomorrow morning.


I was talking to someone on the phone last night, and they were doing an impression of me. I'd never heard anyone do an impression of me. At first they were pretending they were one of these talentless loser writers, in Brooklyn, off to Yaddo, doing the melodramatic pretentious voice about how they birthed--because that's how these people talk--their first "microfiction" in seven years. Because really, we're talking tools. If you live in Brooklyn and you're not a tool, relax. I'm not talking about you. You know if you're a tool. Most people in publishing know that about themselves, despite their lack of self-awareness. It's the gnawing, ceaseless, underpinning voice that haunts their days and nights. The knowledge they cannot get away from, no matter how hard they try. It's one of the many reasons why they are unstable, like Raluca Albu and sociopaths like her such as her crony Katie Raissian. It's why almost all of them detest themselves. And why it becomes necessary to detest me more than anyone they could ever detest. And this person said, "You're the greatest artist who has ever lived, and after knowing you for twenty-five years, I still pinch myself that I can just call you whenever. And it's not even enough to say greatest artist ever, because it's so much more, and it's not like there's some measurable gap between you and whoever is next. I feel like I should have to think, 'I can't bother him, he's creating, he needs time, no one can disturb him.' But in reality, I will call you, you'll casually answer, I'll ask what you're done, you'll say you ran 10,000 stairs and finished a book and went to the symphony and wrote three pieces and now you're watching the Patriots game and we'll talk some more and you'll say something about coming up with seven new stories and I'll ask when you did that and you'll say when you were watching the first half while telling me the kind of defensive schemes the Patriots are using. And then you have these total frauds who want you to die. To suffer as much as possible."


He did a bunch of it in my voice, which made me laugh. Because it is all true. You have to laugh if you are going to keep going; the laughter is not a comment on your pain, or indication that it is not absolute; the laughter is a comment on your strength. We talked about what happened the other day with that woman, and this guy says to me, "These people think you are the worst person in the world, because you are infinitely better than they are. Imagine if that was David Remnick and that woman came over to him? You think an evil asshole like that would have helped her? He would have started shrieking, like a seventh grade girl, 'get away! Get away! Get away!' And you're the bad guy to these sick monsters. You. And you know what? That you did what you did, which is of zero surprise to anyone who knows you, and what we all expect, is why so many people--and everyone in your industry, just about--hate you as much as they can hate and why they would never do anything or allow anything to be done to move you forward or give you a crumb of what you deserve unless they had no choice whatsoever. Because not only are you that artist, you are that person. But it is going to change. Every last thing here will change. You are going to win this. We are going to be sitting in one of your houses at some point, and we will type in Remnick's name on Google, and the first thing that will come up, and all he will ever subsequently be know for, is how he behaved towards you. I read 'Hush Little' last night..."


I have not heard from that woman, incidentally. She had been using my phone, of course, to talk to the person from the center and to contact her case manager. I actually texted him this morning. I don't want to intrude, obviously, and you are no one's savior. It's like with the greatest art. Do you know what the greatest art does? What it is about? The greatest art reveals things beyond us, which are indicative of what is inside of us. Do you know what I mean? It creates a vantage point we otherwise don't have, of something revealed in a way it wouldn't have been otherwise. Clears away the bracken. The darkness. It illuminates a tableaux such that we can see what we otherwise wouldn't see. It doesn't pop a pill in us that magically changes us. No. What the greatest art does is it puts us in a position. A relational position. We are now here, that is right there. It reveals. It gives us the front row chair. Our highly personalized front row chair. A chair that seems made just for that one person, which in reality is made for everyone, though it always feels like it is their chair above all. Okay? And the best art puts us in that chair, with that illumined tableaux in front of us. Surrounding us. It gets you there to see. And it makes it possible for you to see, and to feel what you see. After that, it's on you. You've been situated, and something has been rendered a certain, infinitely precise way, so that you could be given. I mean that last phrase as I have written it: So that you could be given.


Art can impact and change us like nothing can. And art takes all forms. Love is an art, friendship is an art, just as "Fitty" is an art and is a work of the purest love and the purest friendship. There is nothing--and by nothing, I mean there is not a single exception by anyone else to what I am about to say--that is produced right now by anyone else in publishing that is art. Art can save, but if the person who has been placed in the chair, in front of the tableaux, is riddled with hate, with fear, with agenda, with jealousy, and is intent on self-sabotage, of never progressing--as it typically goes with the publishing person, or the troll, or the individual who will never be an individual--then they will leave that scene and, yes, despite being that way, the art will remain with them, because great art always stays with us; but it will not do all that it can do; that takes something from the person. And with that little something, comes so much that is precious, beautiful, necessary, and, above all, human.


If someone asks you what art is, you tell them that. It is art that creates the clearest tableaux, and provides the best seat for the beholding--the seeing and the feeling. Our interactions may possess a degree of what I am talking about. You are not going to save anyone, but you can help with the positioning and the tableaux, and thus be a part of the saving, which is to say, the building. This is what is meant by being your brother's keeper. The seat. The tableaux. But the greatest keeper of all, really, is art, because it is everything that is human revealed, and given to us, in a manner which nothing else is, and cannot be. And it sure as hell isn't some shitty ass story in the The Baffler published by some bigoted tool like J.W. McCormack because it was written by one his bigoted tool cronies. Is it, Mr. McCormack?


I ran 3000 stairs yesterday, which was actually surprising, because I was just exhausted, as much as I have been in recent months, from so many epic days in a row of asking so much of myself, and the toe was throbbing. But somehow I ended up in the workout clothes and back at the stairs. It hurt with each step, so that is why I am giving it today so that it doesn't affect me moving forward. Watched Kentucky get knocked off last night. Aiming to finish a couple books over the weekend, among other things. Listened to Echo and the Bunnymen's 1983 performance at the Royal Albert Hall. Hard-charging.


I think I will go to the cafe now and have a hot coffee. Will make a list of what to focus on doing this weekend. I am off of my feet today, or trying to be so. The toe problem persists, I'm taking too much Advil. I looked up turf toe, and I don't think it's that. I don't know what it is. Perhaps tomorrow if I work hard enough in the AM I can go to the Harvard Art Museums and then to the Brattle for a screening of Guess Who's Coming to Dinner? Tomorrow is the ten-year anniversary of the most evil creature I've ever known--and I know evil--doing what she did. The ultimate act of betrayal. I was talking to someone the other day about how I feel about this creature of hell. They didn't know how I could talk so calmly. In one regard. I told them how I do not have the luxury of being able to conduct myself how I feel, and to speak through my feelings. One will note with this journal that everything is clear-eyed. It is presented as a series of truths. Emotion does not enter into what I say about these people. I provide nothing which can be used against me. I provide nothing which would ever allow a third party looking in to find fault with me instead of someone like a Raluca Albu. The make the case against themselves. I don't go down to their level. And it all comes plain. They don't want anyone to know. If you behaved like that, would you? But that's what allows this to go on--silence. That's how they get away with it. And that's not going to happen.


I give you nothing that you can use and say, "well, he said this, he's out of control," etc. I don't have that luxury of being human in that regard. This is all about getting where I am going. And part of that involves, and will involve upon arrival, completely ending these people by showing the world what they are. It's a presentation. Stacked with truths. I will not give in and not behave as anyone else would behave. Someone else would be mowing people down. Their rage would have overwhelmed them, and it might have crushed them. No one else could function, having had these atrocities done to them.


But as for this person of whom I speak, whom I had trusted with my very life at her prodding: There's something beyond hate that occupies a realm far removed from mere animus. Even total animus. It's like with a flame, and it's so hot that it's white. Well, this is many gradations of color and post-color after whiteness. It is so extreme so as to be invisible in some ways; conversational ways. That is, one can be composed and answer a question one might be asked about the person in question. For we are talking a deed done to someone, as a complete set-up, with no indication that it could ever happen, meticulously planned, as something worse than anything. Murder. You name it. Such was the nature of that singular betrayal. But what is that realm for me? What is that place like? I will tell you. It's a place of knowledge. Of total awareness of what was done and what it means; not just in my life, but in the schema of humanity, of being human--or not being human. And with that knowledge there is something that transcends hate, or post-hate, which does not mean when hate is over; it means something beyond; and that is duty. I answer to duty. When I put up various things on here, about these people in publishing, it's not because I wish to; there's little I'd rather have to do. It's because the choice has been removed, and if I am to allow them to do what they do, and say nothing, I am making an immoral decision that compromises who I am as a person, and the person I believe I should be. I compromise the character of my very soul. I cannot do that. So I do things I would rather never do. These people took it here--a Remnick, a Scott Stossel, a Christopher Beha, an Ann Hulbert, an Emily Stokes, a Patrick Ryan, a Luke Neima, a Sy Safransky, and on and on and on--and they took any choice from me, if I was to retain my humanity. And self-respect. You will not take that from me. You can be God, you can be the Devil, and I will not let you take that from me. And so too does the knowledge matter that you have art at a level no one has come close to. You don't hope this, you don't wish it, you don't kind of think it; you know it, as will anyone who comes to the work fairly. There are no comparisons to be made. And you owe what you do to that work, and that work's best chance to do what it was made for, which is something the world needs. I will be stronger than you on that point, even if you are some supernal overlord who has the cosmos themselves in your veins, and I will not give in, nor will I ultimately lose to that person, their clique, their sinecure, their industry. It also just so happens that for me to get where I am going, to get my work to the world, to change this world, I have to hold these people accountable. Publicly. They took it here. I had no other choice, after decades of trying everything there is for it not to come to this point. Because I am not a confrontational man. And I have so much to do and create every day, every second of every day, because I never stop, without having to contend with this vat of dead souls and excrement incarnate. But if I don't deal with the vat, what I create is not going to gain egress from the dungeon these people would forever confine it to, and get out into the light and the world with an honest chance.


So, that's the publishing example. This other person is something else. I have complete cognizance of the nature of the evil; the depth of the evil; but I understand the resulting hate I should have as a theoretical construct which stems from my recognition and understanding of the evil; I recognize that hate and post-hate as an appropriate reaction and feeling; but I also refuse to let anyone charr my soul with actual hate, no matter how much they deserve to hated. I will rise above the evil of a billion solar systems, if need be; no one will take me from me. And that is ultimately why I am going to win, and change this world to the good more than anyone ever has. In my knowledge of myself, and my complete awareness of what I do as an artist, and the level I do that art, in its endlessly teeming range, I have my faith in my outcome. Some people have faith in God. I have faith in my outcome. And anyone who knows the story--and the world will know the story, in full, in time, in the book I am writing about what happened--it's hardly an exaggeration to say there's never been a betrayal like it. Judas, upon signing up for her master class, would have found himself overwhelmed inside of three minutes, and begged out.


And so on tenth anniversary of that day--and I won't even mention it on here tomorrow, because it doesn't deserve it--and all that it put in motion, I intend to be working harder than ever, to make sure I get where I am going and can then do what I need to do from that position.


Sound the mantra: matchless art, total focus, no mercy when we get there.


***


Later now. Went to the Starbucks. Listened to A Hard Day's Night and The Kink Kontroversy. Worked on three stories in my head--"Find Us," "Jokes," and "Up the Sea." The problem with creating like I do and am always able to do is that no matter how hard I work, and how much time I put in, I don't make a dent in the pile. There are simply an endless amount of works. It's weird because the completed projects and stories stack up, but I never feel like anything gets done, in a way, because it's never a case of, "Okay, finally finished that, what should be next," after a period of time. There's no in-between. It's everything going at once. Then starting more things as everything is going, and as that's happening, some things get finished, but, again, it never feels like the tree has been entirely converted into logs and that's it. I'm always in the forest. There's no denuding. Also, my situation and what these people have done to me means I must try everything at once. I have to write every kind of writing at once, every kind of book at once, because I don't know what it is that is going to finally change this situation. I have to come here and tend to this journal. When you're writing everything at once, you're working an immeasurably amount harder than you would be working to get everything done in the same amount of time as if you were working on one thing exclusively. For example, There Is No Doubt: Storied Humanness, needs to be finished quickly. I don't have any books slotted to come out right now. I need to place about ten books--fast. That means completed books, books in progress, books that are pages and a proposal. But I can't just finish There Is No Doubt. I have to finish it--again, quickly--while doing everything else, but as though I was very fast and working on There Is No Doubt alone. And that's how it is with everything. At once. I had an excerpt run recently of a new book of mine in a high circulation place. I haven't even mentioned the book, because it's depressing. I didn't mention the excerpt. When everything is stacked against you, you have no chance. That's just how it is right now for me. The book will have its chance later. So, in the meanwhile, I don't waste time or energy on that which I can't control right now, that is what it is. But I did look on Twitter, and I saw that the press didn't even share the excerpt. Which is exactly what I expected. In truth, me checking was a perfunctory exercise, just to make sure. The excerpt was in, as I said, a big place. A prominent place. (By the same token, the press also didn't share the very prominent op-ed I had come out yesterday; furthermore, when I shared it on Twitter, they didn't hit the like button. My own publisher. They wouldn't do that with anyone else. And here, it's what happens every time.)


Now, none of their other authors would have had such an excerpt. I should not be at this press. I am at it because of the situation I am in. They have no interest in doing anything by my books, on their behalf, or on behalf of me, as an author, because we come back to the Thoreau issue of greatness. They will plug anything and everything by lousy writers. We're talking like a blog post. They'll plug that. But for my stuff--my actual big stuff--they won't do anything. Again, because it's me. I've accepted this. Again, it just is what it is. I mention it in these pages, because this is a thorough work, this journal; and it is important that I be thorough. I'll put the thing up on my own Twitter eventually, reluctantly, because I'll see how no one hits the like button because, yet again, it's me. Parallelism. People only wish to support people like themselves. On their level. Until a giant mass of people is supporting that person not on their level, and then it's fine, because it feels less personal; there's a buffer, so they don't worry about how they come across to me. Which is always in people's head. People are terrified of me. Always have been. They freeze up completely because of my mind and they think I'm just so beyond them and they don't want me to think they're stupid, trying too hard, not clever enough, etc. So they play it safe and do nothing, which ends up making everything far worse. Crickets and cobwebs. As a long-standing friend of mine said this week, "It's like talking to God about his abilities. What do you say? 'Nice going on the fourth day, man, keep it up!' It's just easier to say nothing to you for people, and then just lie and give fake compliments to everyone else, because that's how it works."


I haven't even put anything up about the new book on Instagram. I won't tag the press. There is a set of rules for me, and a set of rules for everyone else. Unfortunately, I have to try and go along to get along, because I have no one else. I am certainly polite, I am certainly professional, but I am dealing with someone who just doesn't get it. And I have to keep trying to deal with them, for now. Smile on my face. But for my general well being, it's important for me to leave out any interaction save that which is vital--that is, can get more books out. That is a huge part of the plan here: get as many of these books out as fast as possible. I have this specific plan which would be a kind of publication event, which you could not do with any other writer, and it's this awesome, a bravura, take that and behold!, and ballsy, and daring, and as impressive as all hell idea, that is also so defiantly cool, but I know--or I strongly suspect--that they'd never understand that plan. Which is so easy to execute. The thing is, you can't treat me like other writers, because I'm not other writers. Other writers are often talentless academics who drool out a boring book every seven years that says exactly what their other books say. Or people handed something solely because of gender and skin color. There is a ceiling there, and it is low. It's no different than the floor. What you have to say with me right now is, "right, this is the current situation, I get it, I took the time to understand it, but there is no ceiling, and look at these works, this art, this range, this artist, this persona, this thinker, this master on the radio, this unique person in history, who inspires, who can do everything. We have the association with him, and we always will. That can serve us for the duration of the time that we are a company. When he's off doing his huge things, when he is beyond the hold of these people, we can say we were right there, we put out masterpieces A through K before selling them to a bigger company." That association never goes away. Someone else said to me, about the publisher, that they think I'm a genius. Because they were talking to them. Eh. They don't get it. First of all, the genius thing is silly in a way. That's a cute notion to me, in terms of where I am now, what I am. I am so far beyond that. Calling me a genius at this point is really no more on the mark than calling me an idiot. I am exaggerating some, but the point holds. There have been lots of geniuses. This is different. I know when someone gets something, too. And I know when someone is by-the-book. Of the industry. That doesn't mean you're a bad person. It just means things are cookie-cutter and there is a lack of vision. I need someone with vision, or someone who is at least sagacious enough to give me my head and let me take the lead. The cost is low, the potential reward is boundless. Someone who can see beyond the same old same old of how things are done. News flash: how things are done isn't working. No one reads anymore. Publishing is dying. It's all going away. I am the antidote. I am the answer. I am what is going to come. So, when you have a chance to put out a book, or two, or five, for cheap, because a historical artist was, for a time, in a historical model of hell and is thus available to you, and those books are all so wildly different from each other, ride the fucking horse and do it. Do as many of them as you can. My time is going to come, and so is yours. You won't be able to afford me after. But I will be loyal to you throughout the rest of my career, and talk up the association, and respect it, and let it be known what it meant to me, on account of you having displayed some vision.


As I was writing this I was pitching. Got something about Billie Holiday assigned for later in the year. Inspected the toe as well. All blistered around the bottom of the nail. But a sensitive blister where the skin is still living and you can't really lance it. I tried--hesitatingly--after heating up this one pin I've owned for like a decade, but it was the same as sticking it into sore skin, so I stopped that. I am scared of sharp things. High things, hot things, sharp things. The high things one might be surprising, given all of the time I spend on stairs and in obelisks, but I am deathly afraid of heights.


On the radio next week I'll discuss the strange, eleventh hour pitching career of Hall of Fame slugger Jimmie Foxx, Jamie T's "Alicia Quays"--which I rate as the best song of this century--on its fifteenth anniversary, an unreleased Beatles session tape which is quite hilarious of an overdub session for "Think For Yourself," and "Desilva."