Monday, September 15, 2008

Quotes of enduring beauty that have inspired me to no known end from my fallen mentor







"Fiction is what it is like to be a fucking human being." Interview with Larry McCaffery.


"--and then you're in serious trouble, very serious trouble, and you know it, finally, dead serious trouble, because this substance you thought was your one true friend, that you gave up all for, gladly, for so long gave you relief from your pain of the Losses you love of that relief caused, your mother and lover and God your compadre, has finally removed its smiley-faced mask to reveal centerless eyes and a raving maw , and canines down to here, its the Face In The Floor, the grinning root-white face of your own nightmares, and the face is your own face in the mirror , now, its you..." Infinite jest




"I had a teacher I liked who used to say good fiction's job is to comfort the disturb and disturb the comfortable. I guess a big serious part of serious fiction's purpose is to give the reader, who like all of us is sort of marooned in her own skull, to give her imaginative access to other selves. Since an ineluctable part of a human self is suffering, part of what we humans come to art for is an experience of suffering, necessarily a vicarious experience, more like a generalization of suffering. Does this make sense? We all suffer alone in the real world; true empathy is impossible. But if a piece of fiction can allow us imaginatively to identify with characters pain, we might then also more easily conceive of others identifying with our own. This is nourishing and redemptive; we become less alone inside. It might just be that simple." Interview with Larry Mccaffery



"Fiction writers as a species tend to be oglers. They tend to lurk and to stare, The minute fiction writers stop moving, they start lurking, and stare. They are born watchers. they are viewers. They are the ones in the subway about whose nonchalant stare there is something creepy, somehow. Almost predatory. This is because human situations are writers' food. Fiction writers watch other human sort of the way gapers slow down for car wrecks; they covet a vision of themselves as witnesses."

-Supposedly fun thing I'll never do again.



DFW's 'millenium' comments from December 1999, Rolling Stone "Such as thing as truth":


"We're all-- especially those of us who are educated and have read a lot and have watched TV critically-- in a very self-conscious and sort of worldly and sophisticated time, but also a time when we seem terribly afraid of other people's reactions to us and very desperate to control how people interpret us. Everyone is extremely conscious of manipulating how they come off in the media; they want to structure what they say so that the reader or audience will interpret it in the way that is most favorable to them. What's interesting to me is that this isn't all that new. This was the project of the Sophists in Athens, and this is what Socrates and Plato thought was so completely evil. The Sophists had this idea: Forget this idea of what's true or not-- what you want to do is rhetoric; you want to be able to persuade the audience and have the audience think you're smart and cool. And Socrates and Plato, basically their whole idea is, 'Bullshit. There is such a thing as truth, and it's not all just how to say what you say so that you get a good job or get laid, or whatever it is people think they want.'"






What do you think is uniquely magical about fiction?


"Oh, Lordy, that could take a whole day! Well, the first line of attack for that question is that there is this existential loneliness in the real world. I don't know what you're thinking or what it's like inside you and you don't know what it's like inside me. In fiction I think we can leap over that wall itself in a certain way. But that's just the first level, because the idea of mental or emotional intimacy with a character is a delusion or a contrivance that's set up through art by the writer. There's another level that a piece of fiction is a conversation. There's a relationship set up between the reader and the writer that's very strange and very complicated and hard to talk about. A really great piece of fiction for me may or may not take me away and make me forget that I'm sitting in a chair. There's real commercial stuff can do that, and a riveting plot can do that, but it doesn't make me feel less lonely.


There's a kind of Ah-ha! Somebody at least for a moment feels about something or sees something the way that I do. It doesn't happen all the time. It's these brief flashes or flames, but I get that sometimes. I feel unalone -- intellectually, emotionally, spiritually. I feel human and unalone and that I'm in a deep, significant conversation with another consciousness in fiction and poetry in a way that I don't with other art."

Interview with Laura Miller








"Victory for the Forces of Democratic Freedom!!!"





"'Don, I'm perfect. I'm so beautiful I drive anyone with a fucking nervous system out of their fucking mind.Once they've seen me they can't think of anything else and don't want to look at anything else and stop carrying out normal responsibilities and believe that if they can only have me right there with them at all times everything will be alright. Everything. Like I'm the solution to their deep slavering need to be jowl to cheek with perfection.'

'Now with the sarcasm.'

'I am so beautiful I am deformed.'"

-Infinte Jest







"So what I did was, I went home for a term, planning to play solitaire and stare out my window, whatever you do in a crisis and all of a sudden I found myself writing fiction. My only real experience with fun writing had been on a campus magazine with mark Costello, the guy I later wrote signifying rappers with. But I had experience chasing the click, from all the time spent with proofs. At some point in my reading and writing that fall I discovered the click existed in literature too. It was real lucky that just when I stopped being able to get the click from math logic I started to be able to get it from fiction. The first fictional clicks I discovered where in Donald Bartheleme's, "The Balloon" and in parts of the first story I ever wrote, which has been in my trunk since I finished it. I don't know whether I have much natural talent going for me fiction wise, but I know I can hear the click when there's a click. In Don Delillo's stuff, for example, almost line by line I can hear the click. It may be the only way to describe writers I love. I hear the click in most Nabokov. In Donne, Hopkins, Larkin. In Puig and Cortazar. Puig clicks like a fucking Geiger counter. And none of these people write prose as pretty as Updike, and yet I don't hear the click in Updike."

Interview with Larry McCaffery.


Q.

-brief interviews with hideous men


"THE MAN WHO KNOWS HIS LIMITATIONS HAS NONE."

--IJ


Girlfriend Stops Reading David Foster Wallace Breakup Letter At Page 20 --the onion




"'Moms?'

'Yes?'

'Can I ask you a thing?'

'Please do. I am right here with my attention completely focused on you."

'How can you tell if somebody's sad?"

-IJ



"It felt like a sun in his head.....It occured to him that if he died everybody would still exist and go home and eat and X their wife and go to sleep."
--IJ


WAGGLING



"And I've found the really tricky discipline to writing is trying to play without getting overcome by by insecurity or vanity or ego. Showing the reader that you are smart or talented or whatever, trying to be liked, integrity issues aside, this stuff just doesn't have enough motivational calories to carry you in the long haul. You've got to discipline yourself that talk out the part of you that loves the thing, loves what you're working on. Maybe that just plain loves."
















"'I'm not afraid of how this sounds to you. I'm not embarrassed now. But if you could understand, had I--could you see how there was no way I could let her go after this? Why I felt his apical sadness and fear at the thought of her getting her bag and sandals and new age blanket and leaving and laughing when I clutched the hem and begged her not to leave and said I loved her and closing the door gently and going off barefoot down the hall and never seeing her again? Why it didn't matter if she was fluffy or not terribly bright? Nothing else mattered. She had all my attention now. I'd fallen in love with her. I believed she could save me. I know how this sounds, trust me. I know your type and I know what you're bound to ask. Ask it now. This is your chance. I felt she could save me I said. Ask me now. Say it. I stand here naked before you. Judge me, you chilly cunt. You dyke, you bitch, cooze, slut, gash, Happy now? All borne out? Be happy. I don't care. I knew she could. I knew I loved. End of Story.'"
--Brief Interviews with Hideous Men

Thursday, September 04, 2008

A shadowed swan song recollection of summer daze gone past

This past Summer convened with the blossoming of bed bugs in lieu of May flowers. Since I took a somewhat bohemian vow when I embraced my vocation as a writer towards all things materialistic with the exception of certain East Coast microbreweries I always anticipate early May when affluent rich as fuck Bradley students in the process of seasonally abandoning campus jettison posh remnants of their living quarters in the back arms of nearby alleyways. And how I was clicking my heels together in a jig of good fortune the night I found a mattress the size of a small aircraft (don't ask where I was sleeping before) next to the dumpster behind St. Marks school as if God himself had sent down manna from mattress heaven in the form of a commodious comfortable cloud and how it took me (shit) what seemed like hours to lug the rectangular comforter up into the den of my apartment, boasting about my good fortune, feeling that it would be like fucking on a cloud only to wake up the next morning with my body coated in an itchy sea of pecked boils--rashes that would contaminate both my body and my apartment for the entire summer, coercing me into tossing three additional mattresses one love seat plus my couch overboard into the whistling desolation of the streets.

Again, now in the genesis of another golden autumn, please, don't ask where I'm sleeping.


It was the summer where my hair, after four year hiatus correlating exactly with the second BUSH reign of terror finally returned to me. The summer where I could feel the feral tendrils of my auburn dreads leaking down into the slope of my neck in a drizzling display of fibers and dyslexic bangs-- an unkempt shower curtain shrouding the mounds of my shoulders like a helmet. The summer where I woke up on the Indian shore lip of morning, exhausted from too many late night shifts. Summer is the season where the squint of light returns to me in alchemical shades of copper. Spangles of light stretching out in geometrical arms and translucent pillars of sunshine ricocheting in my morning apartment beckoning me into another day fraught with the possibility of dreams as the needle of daylight sews the fabric of reality together in clouds and shadows--the silhouette steeple of St. Marks church across the street bowing in noontime reverence like a shadowy baton, as if christening me into knightdom as I awake into the annex of another day of feeling and sight and experience on this planetary greenhouse harboring life.

It was the summer where I awoke the morning of the Preakness stakes and found Esmeralda pounding on my backdoor, her fists curved into the size of a primies head, pummeling like a gavel, finding her spirit next to me as we stalked the avenues of the Uplands, jouncing an errant tennis ball between us like a yo-yo serving as a makeshift metronome between the beat and cadences of our conversation; a sun culled from some other world.

It was the summer where my beloved WhiteSox monopolized the entire summer (with the exception of two days in August) in first place. The summer where I hit the old ball park-the ball park that visits me weekly in the nest of dreams-- again with my brother John. The game where Crede hit two home runs and Quentin and Dye continued to astound. The game where, watching the replay later on that night in the 'burbs, you could hear the gruff dynamics of my voice echoing through the concourse of Comiskey park every time Crede stepped up to the deciding shelter of that plate known as home, the mantra of my voice caroling out the chorus of "Go Jo-Jo!!!" amidst the din of the crowd. Nothing beats a day at the old ballpark, even if it is (shit) six-fifty for a beer.

The summer where I ran seven miles on my birthday--arching over the amplified hills of Bradley park, the xeroxed silhouette of my body sprouting into the banner of early July at dusk as I escaped the manicured security of the park, flailed my limbs down nostalgic arteries of Heading avenue (the emotional champs-elysses of formative mettle), sailing down the strip of Sterling avenue harnessing my body around Madison golf course, stampeding over the mossy dips of my former cross country course before I found myself down town, lost in the neon configuration of celebrational chandeliers strewn across the beauty of a mid summers electric orchestration of freedom.


The summer where I woke up with the purring feminine warmth of her body next to mine on my birthday with my cell phone wildly vibrating to hear my best friends voice, John (we share the same date of birth) informing me that he is in town and to rouse my hungover ass into consciousness and lets have breakfast at steak and shake, adhering to the immortal Dave and John HOD maxim of "Nothing beats takin' a shit inside Steak-n-Shake."




The summer where I went weeks emotionally engrossed by the film INTO THE WILD (could not stop fucking watching it for the life of me) the summer of the VOICE and and Odyssey 2012.

The summer where I again found myself living it up in the hip affluence of Des Moines with my Classy Bro david Thomspson, smoking cigars, sipping from a pricey bottle of 17 year old Belvanie sherry cask scotch which he salvaged uncorked for my arrival. Nothing like hanging out with a dear brother and reminiscing and projecting about the inscrutable joy and mystery that surely is to come in the dual resounding narratives of our twin lives.


The summer where I became addicted to weeds, chiming out the theme song like bad karaoke whenever we are out and the ticky-tacky girls with SUV's and credit cards and bleached teeth and blond highlights and a soul the size of a tampon who all dress all the same simply become too much to stomach.

The summer Of Barrack Obama (nuff said--if you choose not to vote try living in a third world country for a week with no toilet paper and contaminated water before realizing just how truly spoiled you are).



The summer of the Olympics where I fantasied making out with Nastia Lukin ("I want to get Nasty with Nastia", challenging Michael Phelps to a case race (8 gold medals my ass skinny boy drink up!!!) fantasizing about finding the Olympic champion facedown in a Kiddie pool littered with bobbing aluminum cylinders before making galvanizing shadow puppets with Usian Bolt.



The summer of the girl with the swaying red hair Charlie Brown--the woman whose eyes are so green they look as if the British isles surrendered its whimsical beauty and charm into the socket of a snow globe every time she blinks offering the planet an emerald orb of dizzying spring green. It was the same woman I ogled behind the Starbucks counter inside Barnes and Nobles five years ago. The woman who still remembered me ferrying my satchel fraught with manuscripts as I trounced into the cafe sometimes four times a day, requesting my Venti pick spilling trite witticisms through the trumpet of my lips in a simple endeavor to watch the wings of her lips ascend into smiley stratospheres of bliss. The woman whom I (inexplicably) gave a congratulatory bottle of wine to when I heard news of her engagement.


The woman who, exactly two months to this date I met once again. I was waiting at an ATM in campus town, pissed that the portly lady in front of me was taking what seemed like eons to make a simple deposit. As I was walking home I heard the carol of her voice beckoning me into shades of recognition.

The woman who thanked me for the bottle of wine, saying that she drank the entire bottle in one sitting the night her husband asked her for a divorce.


It is the summer of smoking cigarettes with this streaming red-haired mermaid one Miss Tara on my back porch, staring into the wild celestial pebbles of the stars overhead the two of us, naked, drinking our newly acquired favorite summer libation Pimms Cup ("Pimms you from behind, baby,"), as the inscrutable hazy eye-lided mystery of the earth tank-topped in the third season of the calendar year, the barometer of the planet aching into heavy streaks of horizontal lavender dissipating into the parallelogram of the west into the blanket of night.



Tara and I who are drinkers. Tara and I who every time we hit the town almost invariably find ourselves enveloped in a swirling vortex of voices and inspiration--recruiting a cavalcade of joyous flesh to accompany us into the laughter and openness of the night. The couple we met in the black bear lounge at Jumers who we partied with the entire night. The husband who remembered me from high school but I have no clue of having ever met before. The summer of hanging out in Bars that give you an empty beer can so that you can clandestinely ash out your smoke when the cops comb through. The old lady who own the bar that let us smoke cigarettes, telling us that "just have a can," as she leaves and tops reel up like drapes, debauchery, sadness, nostalgia, lost joy.

Smiles.


Tara who saw a ghost of a woman standing behind me in my apartment the morning we left for Turkey run.


Nights with tatenda. Jamie. Ut. Hanging out at Gormans until four in the morning with Gilbert on free pizza night. Meeting Josh with tara the night of the Allstar game and hearing that there was a writer in Peoria who was already Published in McSweeny's. Getting into an argument with the cool guy at Mike's tap because I can't fucking stand dave eggers.


Secluding myself in a computer lab for a week on campus and writing short stories about fat mermaids who are also lonely.


The two weeks i locked myself in my apartment and felt that I had some weird inexplicable bond with Jim Morrison watching Oliver Sones, THE DOORS incessantly, trying to wedge open some metaphysical portal via perusing the Theosophical medications of mankind, hoping to slop a verbal welcome matt on the entrance to a new day of philosophical panderings and motivational manna with the sole intention of feeding those minds who are hungry one sentence at a time.


The pyrotechnics of poetic passion exhibited at Will's once a month poetry reading. The pink-haired poet who read our runes while snorting a variety of crushed anti-depressants. Anna with the beautiful smile fraught with enough poetic potential to fuel an impending Pulitzer prize committee into forging a medal as luminous as her smile. Listening with resonating awe to the ocean of melodious light emanating in syncopated acapella from daniel Severance, singing about summer time and other folk music, wondering where the scope of his voice is derived from: like a portly patti Lebelle chutes down the red carpeting of his palette--a voice simply culled from some other world, maybe even channeled from a not to distant heaven.

The laughter. The craziness. Stanzi's birthday keg where we straddled around the keg of beer like a hearth in the bottom of college apartments and listened to the free styling crazy snaps of the street a boy Blaise B, always a pleasure brother.


The working class crowd at the Brass Bull: Wes who drowns vials of Jager all night and always dissipates into the early am hours without saying goodbye. Craig, whose humor is matched only by the size of his heart. "A tad shallow today," "Executive meeting troops--where's the Jager? Meeting adjourned." Emaciated Garreth who is hung like a black man and deaf in one ear so he always sounds irritable and loud. Jimbo the village drunk who spends his pension smoking weed and getting drunk all day. Jimbo who doesn't talk to anyone but came up to me immediately and struck a conversation.


Jimbo who had something happen to him in Nam he doesn't like to talk about.


Or the old man whose skin was the color of venison gravy and who wore a john deere cap and trousers that looked like they were purchased a few weeks prior to Watergate. The old man who drank cheap one dollar draught beer at the bar by himself adding a pinch of salt into the carbonated beverage stationed in front of his chin like a Eucharist waiting to be indulged. The old man who had been drinking too much since his wife got sick. The old man who smoked cheap Vanilla flavored cigarillos because with the other cigarettes, "you just can't taste the flavor." The old man who was all by himself and started talking to me in German. The old man who Tara grabbed and took out to the dance floor and began to lovingly dance with. The old man who smiled when he was on the dance floor with Tara, holding her close as if he was trying not to let go of something that was slipping away from him.

The old man who lost his wife two days later from the date Tara held him on the dance floor and made him happy.

The old man whose wife tara concedes, could have been the apparition she spotted in my bedroom.


The summer of coming home late (how I always manage to traipse around the arteries of this town with PBR in tow and not get pulled over I'll never know) and waking up early, pouring numerous vats of caffeine and tatters and eggs down our hatch at Zims, our new favorite haunt...but somehow still ambling under the illuminated planets of the street lamps dotting moss avenue, feeling like a rock star with my long tresses tickling the back of my shoulders, a beer in one hand, a beautiful girl in the other and all around me, eternity, eternity sliced into a sprinkle of seconds, the usurped confetti of minutes and hours, the realization that you are FUCKING here, that as long as you are here you are immortal (even in shitty times, even when you are naked and drunk and no one gives a fuck about you) the fact that we are here, on this planet, in this curtain of time, as one vibrating pulsating orb of consciousness, thinking these thoughts as you grasp the infield of her hand shouting at the symphony of overhead stars, singing to her the overture of summer as they hatch from your chest in chirps of elation, the soundtrack of time, telling her that you will love her two times baby, that you will love her simply twice today.




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