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Whirligig

Sunday 3/17/19

New New York Daily News op-ed on the Irish and why you should appropriate other cultures. New Daily Beast piece on J.P. Donleavy's A Fairy Tale of New York as the ultimate St. Patrick's Day novel. New JazzTimes feature on Nat King Cole. Picked up work writing about F. Scott Fitzgerald's "May Day" for The Daily Beast, then reread the story. Composed a brand new short story this morning--#5 on the year and #13 since the summer--called "Linesman." 920 words. Opening paragraph:


Leaning down to cracked face but not too close to feel puff of death on cheeks. Raddled breath. Imploring eyes. You are going where you deserve to go. There won’t be love there either. Standing up and walking out. Didn’t know if he could live with the guilt.


Walked three miles, climbed the Monument three times, both yesterday and today. Got tickets to Spiritualized at the Wilbur, the Brattle's annual three hour screening of Saturday morning cartoons from the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, and Boston Ballet's Coppelia. Note to Kimball for what we will discuss on Tuesday:


Want to do something on Tuesday on how easy people are on themselves? I believe we control how smart we will be. How evolved we will be. With the former, it's different with me, as there was something given from elsewhere. But I believe, more or less, that everyone else makes a decision, to strive, or else to get away with as little as possible. They are the enforcers of a standard or a would-be standard; not society. And people are very lax with themselves. They don't have the driving furnace. I don't think there are very many total morons who are born that way and very many smart people born that way. I think you control your stupidity. No one in my life taught me anything. I learned nothing in college. True, I had the ability to start with, but I elected, and elect, to know as much as possible. We have no standards for ourselves. We just want to get by, not to excel. That's a decision people make. A defeatist decision. When everyone makes it, because there is no rallying contrast, we get the society we have now. Things are getting worse. That's not me being an old man on the lawn of a property I don't own. Have you read Revolution in the Head? It's a very good Beatles book by Ian MacDonald, a smart guy who, sadly, offed himself. He discusses in an afterword how society has been downturning intellectually and psychologically since the 1960s. That there was real invention in art then, in rock, in jazz, and classical--you would get honest to goodness surprises in a song by Lennon and McCartney, Davies, Townshend, for example--and then those surprises went away. You got formula and repetition. This is real. This isn't some era I was a part of I want to go back to. All is getting worse. Art is far worse. Art is borderline nonexistent. That's part of the problem of my situation. I don't believe there's ever been an artist to touch me, and our greatest artist is alive now in this era, like they are some weird time traveler dropped in somewhere out of sequence. This isn't just about publishing opening doors for me--which publishing is not going to do--but about why I must change large swaths of Western culture. That begins with publishing, but it's also more. I think if anyone can do it, I can. But we are talking about reversing very real trends that have become status quos. At the same time, and as a result of the winnowing back, people practice deconnection. If you were on the open dating market right now, you'd probably have different things you were looking for than what I am looking for, which would be somewhat easier for you. But you would have a devil of a time. You'd find it torture. And if you did it for a few years, you'd actually be able to chart how people were getting worse, more terrified, better at calling their desire to render themselves totally alone something else. You'd also see that no one knows anything about anything. So what do you do if you care about art? Ideas? Do you just have to remake yourself to be able to be with morons, be with a moron, who knows nothing about anything? To keep this funny, I'd give a recent example of that from a dating app--it's fascinating and depressing, to cite a person's words there, as proof that they're just saying something and they have no idea what it means--and this amazing five minute date I had with someone who promised to get me into the steeple of the Old North Church. It's a little set piece I have--people will laugh their asses off. As for the app person: she remarked to me that it was impossible to learn anything about someone from something they wrote. Then she added she was a huge reader, and would rather read a book than messages. You see what I mean? What do you do with someone like this, who is about the best you get, because they actually spell most words correctly. What do you do? Do you overlook it? Do you say something? I inquired, then, if it was not possible to know anything of Thoreau upon reading his journals, or Van Gogh upon reading his letters. You could also, of course, ask why they bother to read, or what they think prose art is. Or can do. When we read War and Peace, we might not learn who Tolstoy is, but we learn who his characters are, and that is the same; you're learning who a person is. Truly is. What do you think happened? She erased me. It's always the same when you raise a fair point back. You get erased, reported, or a comment about you being sexist is made. There are no exceptions. I emailed you a new story. It is very short, in one way, and very long in others. I think it is unique, certainly, and very powerful. You will note that as the sentences move forward, they almost sort of move backwards as well, with this wicking motion. Meanwhile, to the left of this note I am writing you, I see someone bragging on Facebook--same person with the "Precarity" Believer essay I referenced on the blog--about how three of her "language-based kinetic sculptures" are featured in the new issue of a magazine. These fucking people, Kimball. "A series of semi-private rituals summon the ego to a digital analog pyre, lit by the female gaze." Not a single fucking drop of talent between the entire lot of them. And this is 99% of what it is, this feminist shit.


Long hard day. "May Day" is a long story, too. Fifty pages. I still don't think Fitzgerald knew how to end it. It's inchoate. With wonderful touches in places. It's an ambitious plot, which he doesn't quite pull of. He relies too much on coincidence in the end, and the closing suicide comes out of nowhere. Where it succeeds is in its human understanding in motivations and person-to-person interaction and internal reaction. But it's not integrated like, say, "Winter Dreams," which is perfect. Then tonight Emma and I went to Starbucks to chat and she took this photo. She does an underbite and gives the thumbs up. This is her go-to move, and has become one of our running jokes.