Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Semantic vortices, musings, and doppelgangers

I haven’t written for a while. My reading has slowed down too but that is because I am reading meatier texts. I should be reminded that writing is far more stimulating than not writing more often.

When I first started sitting in on a literary theory class taught by Professor Philippian, he explained that theory must be thought of as tools with which we can understand the text. Each of these tools, used correctly, will bring out a different understanding of the text. A reader could use the same tool to search every text just as a can opener or a chainsaw could be used to open a can it is just that some theories are better suited for a text than others. At the same time I see the problem of the man with a hammer who sees everything as a nail because it seems to me that literary theories are mostly a way to state your foremost bias as a reader.

From the beginning I wanted there to be a sort of swiss army tool; a literary theory that doesn’t set one bias over another in the reading and understanding of a text but exposes all biases and can thus search for understanding in a more holistic manner. The problem with this is that not all people contain all biases so there will automatically be preferential treatment toward one or another venue of comprehension and no one person can possibly grasp all of his own biases. And if, in some amazing happening, a reader could look at a text from every possible angle with every possible bias, writing or speaking of that understanding would last forever. And if it was trimmed down to a digestible size it would just as absurd as attempting to say every word I am going to say today in one second; the result would be an incomprehensible yalp. The impossibility of a functioning swiss army tool doesn’t detract from my desire for one but requires me to search all the harder for this fantastic absurdity.

When we came to Deconstructuralism (also called poststructuralism), I was at first quite put off by the school of thought. Deridda starts his essay with “Perhaps” and constantly speaks in such ephemeral doublespeak that there is no possible way to find any definitive meaning in the essay. I don’t know why I didn’t like the essay at first; I guess I momentarily forgot how much I love absurdity.

I have been thinking more and more about Deconstructuralism and have come to realize that it is a sort of swiss army tool. Deconstructuralism takes a reading of the text down to the meaning of words but says that words only have meaning in relationship or context to other words. When meaning is broken down this far the author, the reader, history, belief, and language all have a say in what the inherent meaning of a text is and are all fallible because communication is inherently flawed. Deconstructuralism is a great humbler of critics because it will always call foul on any critic who claims authority over knowledge. Not because it claims to be right (which would, of course, be a paradox) but because everyone is wrong in that we can never be totally right. Deconstructuralists are kind of kooky because they can never say anything definitive beyond you are wrong because you are only partially right.

This seems to be a rejection of any metanarrative and revulsion to absolute truth but I disagree. Deconstructualists are driven to a constant rejection and embrace of ideas because partial truth is never sufficient. They are driven by a search for absolute truth even though the fallibility of language renders all efforts to quantify Truth incomplete thus allowing them to question critics while accepting their ideas.

Maybe I simply like Deconstructuralist criticism because it can agree with my own feelings that absolute truth exists but at the same time is unquantifiable in human language thus making it incomprehensible and untenable in the current human reality of a finite realm, and since it can not be grasped because it is beyond human ability of conception, in the same way, it does not exist in a human language defined world. Or maybe I just like it because I love semantic vortexes and infinite play of language in interpretation (here I am not talking only about texts but about all communication everywhere).

Now that I have got my absurdity out for the day let’s turn to a more serious matter. I googled myself the other day. Simply typing “kooy” into the search engine did not render the results I had hoped for though I did find out that there was a musician named Peter Kooy who is apparently popular in some circle or another and that my last name was originally spelled Kooij (Grandpa always said that there was once a j in our name).

What I was really searching for was an answer to the question of how important was my blog in the realm of my self as defined by a Google search. When I typed in my full name I got better results though not quite as good as I hoped for. The first result was a hit from The second was Andrew Kooy on facebook. The third was my myspace page. Finally, in the fourth place I found Kooy to the World.

My first reaction was: “Fucking myspace. Sure that profile has existed longer but my blog is far more interesting than myspace.” My second reaction was: “Wait! Facebook? I don’t use facebook. Did somebody set up a facebook page on my behalf?” And in an attempt to catch the lousy bastard I clicked on the link to see what “my” facebook had to say about me. I wish that someone had simply set up a false account for me but the truth is far more insidious. I have a doppelganger.

The doppelganger Andrew Kooy currently resides in Toronto, Ontario and has many Dutch friends, lots of Vander-something names. As doppelgangers originate in Germany I am sure that he followed a linguistic route to track me down. Dutch is an offshoot of German so of course he went to the Netherlands, fell in love with the myth of Kooy, and immigrated (just like my ancestors) to Canada. There I am sure he is honing his skills of subterfuge so that he may destroy me, feast on my soul, and take my place in society when he finally confronts me. Luckily I know that I am my doppelganger’s goppeldanger and have skills I too must hone if I am to prevail. Fear and tremble Andrew Kooy. I, your nemesis, know of your existence and will not stop until I taste of your destruction.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

A Taste of Redding: Part 3

My first experience of “pint night” at Carnegie’s is one I hope to never forget (I would say that I will never forget it but there is always the possibilty of senility or brain damage). My friends had spoken of the wonders of pint night for some time. I always wanted to go, but it occurs on Wednesday nights and my friends were usually busy. Finally, some time in the fall a couple of years ago, my friend Scott gave me a call and we journeyed together to Carnegie’s.

The pub was crowded. The line for beer ended at the front door and there were no tables open when we entered. We waited in line, figuring that by the time we got our beer, a spot would open up for us.

Pint night, in my opinion, is a very good idea. It goes like this: To enter into pint night you first buy a pint glass tattooed with the decal of a brewery of your choice (that is, if the brewery of your choice is on tap and they have not run out of glasses from said brewery). The cost of the pint glass is six dollars which includes your first pint. Each pint after this is only two dollars so if you drink four pints you will only be paying three dollars per pint and you have a glass to keep. Carnegie’s only has about a half dozen beers on tap but they are good beer and you can change your preference each time you fill up so I deem pint night to be a good, economic choice for midweek beer enjoyment.

While we stood in line we didn’t speak much. As I said before, the pub was crowded and I don’t like having conversations publicly. Usually I try to move away from everyone if I am even to answer my cell phone. I wanted to wait until we were seated, just another part of the crowd. Waiting in line always makes me feel as if I am on stage, as if everyone is watching me, waiting to see if I will remain patient or become exasperated. Overhearing conversations while in line or in close proximity to a line is not a deviation from the norm by being nosy or “listening in” on another’s conversation; it is a right of the bored.

The line moved slowly. Not many people filed in behind us and by the time we had halved the distance to the bar there were only four people trailing us, first two women, and then two young men. As we neared the bar I noticed that the four middle aged customers sitting directly at the bar were not partaking in pint night but were imbibing wine. I scowled internally as they flaunted their excess by circumventing the excellent deal of bargain beer. I filed them away as philistine lushes due to the caliber of wine they were drinking as well as the slurred timber and public volume of their conversation.

As we edged ever closer to the front of the queue, one of the men at the bar turned around and attempted to focus with the particular effort forced by inebriation on the words printed on the sweatshirt of the young man behind us in line.

“You ever been there,” the older man said.

“What? You mean here?” the younger man replied, pointing at the words on his sweatshirt that advertised some casino in Ferndale, California. “Yea, that’s where I bought the sweatshirt.”

“Oh,” said the old man, seeming to deflate for a moment before expanding with joyous confession, “I fucked a sheep there once!”

I turned away from the man and looked at Scott with wide eyes in an attempt to ask “Is this really happening?” without uttering a word.

“Yea, me and four of my buddies went down there and fucked a sheep, but I went first; no sloppy seconds for me!”

“Uh, okay” the young man replied. How do you respond to such an oddly exuberant confession of bestiality?

I attempted to contain my shocked laughter. The older man turned around, paid his bill, and left with his friends before we got our first beer.

“Did he just say that he ‘fucked a sheep there once’?” I asked without attempting to hide the incredulity in my voice.

“I think so” the young man spouted in the midst of his own unbelieving laughter.

“Who does that?” I asked Scott as we stepped up to begin pint night.

As he took out his wallet to show is ID to the barkeep he clapped me on the shoulder and said without reserve or need to contain the laughter in his voice, “Welcome to Redding, man.”

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Guess who's employed. . .

Yea, that's right. I got a job.

I am writing articles for a magazine. . . Some of my stories were bought by a publishing company and I have recieved an advance to write "A Dirt Kid's Cookbook: You don't have to eat shit just because you aren't getting paid shit". . . I am delusional and sometimes talk to my cat about philisophical matters. . . I have sold out and am a loan advisor for Simpson University's adult education programs. . . I am an ass.

My job is in the afternoon and evenings which is nice because I tend to do most of my writing between seven in the morning and noon. I am excited because there is no possible way for my new job atmosphere to be as dysfunctional as my last job. Plus I get paid more.

I bought a pink tie which I will wear to my first day of work. I will ride my bike to work even when it is raining and cold because I like the rain and cold and because my car has a gasoline leak (as well as an oil leak, a transmission fluid leak, and a water leak not to mention the bad breaks and leaky tire).

Since I have too much time, I have become a horrible steward of it. I hope that I will become a bit more focused.

I don't know why I am writing in short sentences, a stuccotto voice of direct ideas. It makes me feel like I am writing on a typewriter for some reason.

Also, I am going to insert one of my past writings into this post because it is short and though I wrote it over a month ago, it reminds me of my current thoughts.

Day Screw You: September 3, 2008

What? I skipped from day three to screw you? Yea, that’s because I didn’t write for a few days except to write up some book summaries (I hope to eventually review all of the books I own, but that sounds too noble I HAVE NO EXCUSE). I am a lazy piece of shit, not working so I could write but then not writing because I got lazy. What the fuck is wrong with me, sabotaging my weird ideal. Maybe I will have to start posting these as blogs, then paying people to read them and harangue me when I get lazy.

Anyway, the plans. I am not writing any stories. I have various stories I tell but have never written down, many are of my childhood but these things get collected as you go. I kind of want to start with some of the more recent stories, ones I might call “A Taste of Redding.” These are weird happenings that I feel truly typify the Redding experience. Maybe if I got those out I could start clearing out all the other junk stories I have stored in my mind and someday build a figurative colossal story machine robot (sorry, sometimes the coffee hits me weirdly about now and my mind is a bit of jumbly jittery nonsense).
Also, I am going to start posting the "Taste of Redding" stories. I only have a couple of them written thus far but I find them funny and interesting. They are numbered with the most recent one as first but shouldn't be read by their numerical order. I hope that you find them at least somewhat interesting, funny, and offensive.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

An observational story about birds that ends in a fantasy

Day 3: August 27, 2008
I flew a homing pigeon out hell’s kitchen window
Left an SOS infested bottled nestled in his grip. . .
. . . I observed him fly ten feet then drop the bottle to the devils

It is strange the things that make you write or not write. I am committed to seeing this experiment through and continue writing every day but I was considering putting off my morning writing to see how evening writing suited me. I, however, lost the desire to continue reading and the pigeons got me thinking.

I am not all that interested in birds or the idea of flying, which I feel might be some of the reason why various people find birds so intriguing. Growing up in a fairly agrarian society I was raised with a familiarity of wild animals and, in my youth, could tell you the type of a bird (local ones mostly) from sight or sound and was capable of finding the nest of many of the most cunning camouflage artists.

My family used to raise pheasants. There were stacked round incubators that were the size and shape of the dryers people use to make homemade beef jerky or fruit leather only more industrial looking as they were made of unadorned metal. Farmers would bring us eggs that they collected as they harvested fields, upsetting the pheasant’s natural nests. We would place them in the incubator, rotating the eggs so they all got sufficient heat. I was very young at this time and loved watching the eggs hatch. It amazed me how a being could remain in such a compact space for so long before deciding to peck its way out, stretch out its neck, feet, and wing stubs, and wobble around its brethren who decided to remain indoors for the day. I was told that these little birds needed to get themselves out of their shells. The struggle was necessary for some reason; maybe it was to make them grateful for their freedom. But I am not that interested in birds, how would I know? I was impatient, though, and sometimes I would help them.

After they hatched, we would transfer the chicks to a low profile metal apparatus that included a trough for feed and a removable bottom tray so we could empty out the poop. These rectangle mini coops seemed to be able to hold about 100 chicks, and I always kind of wanted to let all the chicks roam free in my little room. My mom would come to get me up after a nap and I would be sitting on the floor and chicks would cover every surface. I would be playing chicks and blocks, chicks and Johnny Appleseed Ball (the tintinabulous bobbling orb of my childhood), chicks and that weird homemade bunny rabbit game I never knew the rules to or purpose of. But I was too young and did not yet have the strength or dexterity to open the cages.

When the pheasants grew too large for our little coops, a man would come, pick them up, and take them to open air pens I could see from the road every time we went into town. These pens were long and domed by netting, surrounded by chain linked fence so they coyotes would not eat them. The pheasants would remain here until they grew to adulthood and were released just in time for hunting season. Coasties and local hunters would come for a pancake breakfast that was held in the community hall across the street the morning of hunting season. I always hated getting up at four to help cook.

I never thought any of this was weird. That we would spend time preserving wildlife so that it could get shot was something I never questioned. Maybe this nurturing of the species so that its death could function as sport fomented my adolescent pastime of tormenting the pheasant’s varied winged cousins.

We stopped raising pheasants when I was still young. I am not sure why, we still had incubators in the garage when I was in high school, but I think we stopped raising the little buggers when I was about eight (I just called my mother and found out that the reason we stopped raising pheasants was because nearly all the pheasants were eaten by coyotes as soon as they were released into the wild and apparently that meant that our efforts were meaningless so we ceased them).

Though we had no more pheasants, I remained interested in eggs and their transformation into birds, and my love of climbing trees allowed me continuing opportunities of observation. I would collect baby birds that had fallen from their nests not yet ready to achieve flight. They would hop and flap and offer a diverting challenge to capture but I usually prevailed before the cats would and I would make toilet paper nests and feed them mushed up worm in an attempt to nurture them until they were ready to fly ( I even saved a baby duck we later named Bilbo from our cat, Solomon. We kept that duck for quite a while but it fell off of the deck and was eaten by cats in the end). My mom was always telling me that I would get ticks or fleas or something (bird flu didn’t exist back then) but she would usually allow my doomed attempts. Doomed because every single one of the birds died. All, that is, except one. The last bird I tried to save stayed alive for four days before I tried to see if it could fly. It was a little windy and I figured that a breeze would help the little orphan so I tossed it into the air. It took off, flew across the yard, and landed in our pine tree. I was very pleased with my success and excited that my foster bird had decided to live so close to me. I hoped that it would remember and trust me, that I could go outside with some bird seed whenever I pleased and it would fly over and land on my hand. Other birds would learn from that one and soon I would be the bird master and eventually beast master; able to call all sorts of animals forth with my inescapable will and animal magnetism.

Looking back, this idea is utterly ridiculous for more than the obvious reasons. You see, I killed the bird’s mother. My friends and I were often killing birds with rocks, BB guns, or sling shots. I remember shooting birds once on my friend’s farm. I hit a big fat robin in the neck with a BB. It plummeted from the tree and flopped around, spraying us with what little blood it had in its body. I began to feel slightly bad, not because I had hit my intended target, but because of the spectacle of its suffering. So I stomped on it. Not at first due to its erratic flopping, but I got it eventually.

This bird’s mother, however, I ended using my slingshot. I did not raise the birdling because I felt bad for killing its mother because, actually, I knew that the bird had a chick in her nest, and I had not attempted to raise a bird for a while, and I was bored. I suppose that this makes me sound like a sick child, a serial killer in training. But we all play god as children, I guess it’s just lucky for us all that I stopped after my first success.

My family more readily remembers the tortures I inflicted on my sister’s parakeets. There was one named Sergeant Sprite, or Captain Sprite, or some martial rank Sprite, or was it Plasmodesmodda, I can’t remember exactly anymore. And I didn’t really torture them, I think harass is a more appropriate word. Anyway I took that parakeet out of the cage and placed him on my snare drum; I wanted to see how he would react. I banged on the drum and he took off. It was pretty much the reaction I expected. I didn’t, however, expect him to fly out of the open window to disappear forever. I got into a lot of trouble for that. I bet if I brought this story up to my sister she would remember the name as well as yell at me for losing her bird.

Oh, I haven’t even gotten to the reason I started writing: the pigeons around my apartment and how they reminded me about the fantasies I would have on the walk to work of killing geese.

I never knew that there were pigeons in Redding until I moved to my new apartment. It still seems a bit preposterous to me that they are able to survive here; I wouldn’t have thought they could live in this climate. As the scorched bones of summer’s greedy maw envelope northern California and the air feels so hot that my lungs seem thoroughly bronzed and ready for a swimsuit contest, it seems to me that fluffy sky rats would be prime candidates for spontaneous combustion. Not only do they live here but it is evidenced by the peck holes and feathers in my screen as well as the frantic cell phone message I received from my wife last week about pigeons attacking our apartment, that these birds have some sort of vendetta against our bedroom window.

Aside from that, I do not believe that these birds are quite right (mentally, that is). Every morning as I sit on my deck reading or writing, all of the pigeons will leap from the rooftop, fly about a hundred yards away over the next building, then fly back and re-perch on my apartment’s roof. They do this every twenty minutes all morning. Nor do the coo beatifically as recorded in poetry or remembered from past experiences. The feral gurgles they emit put me in mind of the insane mutterings of a gang of escaped mental patients. That and their banal peregrinations reek of an institutionalized exercise routine. I imagine them all repeating the call of their warden, mimicking his tone and mannerisms, “Okay boys, once around the yard. That’s enough lollygagging, again you lazy bums.” I suppose that the ruined screen on our window would be proof enough for most people that these birds are crazy but I like to have my theories validated by multiple sources.

Another thing that strikes me is that whenever these birds take flight and are just about to turn back, two or three of the birds continue flying past the next apartment complex and further until they are barely visible to me. It’s as if these few pigeons remember that they are birds and their domain is the sky. For a moment they remember freedom and adventure before they falter and panic because they also remember that they are part of a flock. They wing back in a frightened flurry, consoling themselves in community. Unable to convey their epiphany for fear that in exercising this one freedom they will shatter the flock, destroying what means to be what they are.

Oh yea, and the geese. Every morning on my way to work I would walk by a whole bunch of geese. There were always two groups of them, and they were always in the same general area each morning.

The first group consisted of about fifteen to thirty adult geese. They located themselves on or around a dock in the river. Sometimes they were on the sidewalk. Sometimes they were in the water. Generally they projected an air of apathy toward my morning constitutional.

The second group had only five to seven adult geese and at least fifteen young geese ranging in age from new-hatched to adolescent. The young geese would shuffle with panic and leap into the river as I walked by while the adults hissed and postured making me feel penitent for interrupting their morning routine. This group I called “the kiddie swim class” and the first I called “the adult swim class.”

This job I was walking to everyday, as I have said before, I hated with about as much passion as I could muster for any other thing in life. And, after a time, my mind began chronicling a more interesting reality to cope with the soul crushing boredom of actual reality.

I imagined spending my hard earned money on memorabilia purchased from eBay: perhaps the katana from Kill Bill or maybe a replica elfin blade from Lord of the Rings. As I neared the dock of the adult swim class I would drop my bag, draw my sword, and rush into the water. My face a mask of berserker rage, I so wildly abandoning my humanity that even the geese, grown fat and docile, accustomed to the leavened sacrifices of normal people, would not be able to react to the unholy chaos of a man breaking free from the nine to fiver’s hell. Cleaving left, then right I would become drenched in the shower of blood and turmoil of flapping headless geese. But then again, those blades are never sharp. None the less, my wild flailing would be rewarded with the satisfying thwack as I connect with their expressive necks, mocking flight as their boneless trajectory lands them on the sidewalk, the dock. The only blood being the small pools that will collect by their beaks after I am gone. I will leap as Grendal among Beowulf’s clansmen, ending their civilization, ruining hearth and home in my unabashed lust for destruction. They will have no hero. Their panicked attempts at flight will only give me a better angle

The kayaker about to launch his boat will have been the first to notice. The cyclist will stop and stare. The elderly couple will be unable to look away. Not even when his wife faints will the man turn from the ruin, his hand still holding onto hers, no longer forming a v, but a straight line pointing toward the goose corpse that has cushioned her fall.

I will step from the water, pick up my bag, and walk to work. I will, once again disturb the kiddie swim class. I will be chided for this but I will be merciful. Besides, I am well sated and have, for now, exorcised that demon. And I must hurry, lest they miss me back in data entry hell.

The police will question the witnesses. One will say that I leapt from the bushes shouting imprecations and brandishing a stick. Another will swear I came up from the water and used my bare hands. Yet another won’t be able to control their sobs long enough for a statement. Everyone will ask why a person would do such a thing. No one will have seen where I went. When faced with actions that completely reject that which is normally recognized as human, their minds will reject the possibility of my humanity and thus they will be incapable of recalling my face.

I will be safe. The police will question our office since we are so close to the river trail. My coworkers will mention that I take that way to work every morning and I will honestly say that I saw nothing. It was a different man who incited such rebellion against humanity’s norms. It was no human but a demon of unactualized potential that completed that avian holocaust. But there will be that unnoticed sword I will not be able to account to myself for. I will write it off as a particular of the peculiar amnesia that comes with the mind numbing work of a soul crushing job and I will be safe. I will be sane enough to survive work another day, and crazy enough to punch the clock again tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Fresh out of Geppetto's Woodwork Asylum

Day 2 August 26, 2008

Technology attempted to waylay my decision to write today, the computer restarted three times before it decided to stay on. My morning reading has focused my mind on writing and depression as well as how these two things are inseparable for me. My drive to understand my depression is a drive to understand my self. Thoughts are far too ephemeral and easily forgotten and thus do not suite me in this search. And so I must chronicle my strains so I may look back and say “so that is what I thought back then, does it still apply?” and “I touched on a truth their but now have a new understanding of it and can possibly verbalize it in a more meaningful way.”

Today I am a bit depressed. It is not the common “blue” feeling of life getting a little too overwhelming, nor is it the dank gray miasma of debilitating depression that saps my will to live and makes me lay down and think thoughts of melting into the floor and remaining motionless forever. Today I feel the smoldering embers of passion ready to burst into flame but afraid of what will be consumed. It is not the lack of emotion, which usually accompanies my depression, but the seething of all emotions which threatens to overwhelm me. I’ll see the ruined carcass of a raccoon in the road and start to cry. I’ll see a child spouting gibberish to his mother listening with half an ear and weep for the possibilities and hope. I imagine that I feel everything and want to tell everyone but know that I will be unable to speak. I will point and say “Look. See.” and you will say “yes, that is a dead raccoon” and “that child is annoying” and I will scream inside pleading with my mind to open up and communicate what I see. But the chemicals that interpret what I see do not know the chemicals that allow me to speak so I must observe in frustrated silence. I feel as if I am aware of all the possibilities. Possibilities and possibilities and possibilities. I have forgotten my skin at home and am bombarded by the fact that pain and beauty are intrinsically linked. Knowing that beauty has been refined by pain, tempered by sorrow, I can’t help but look at a gnarled tree, a transient wino, an immolated landscape and feel hatred, pity, and love. It’s a sort of jealousy, I suppose, as I attempt to absorb all the pain, seeking my own apocalypse so that I too may be refined, so that I too may be beautiful.

I believe that I have uncovered for you another of my flaws: a penchant for the dramatic bordering on melodrama. This insight, though, might also simply be a defensive mechanism allowing me to write off that which I feel so that I don’t truly have to engage in my emotions, which is probably just the part of me shaped by society to believe that men should do rather than feel.

Ah, but I started this out by stating that I wished to write about depression and writing. I guess this just goes to show that while these two things are linked within me, I can not always speak of them in the same breath.

I do not believe that it is possible to write an autobiography. I am not saying that it is impossible to write about one’s self, but as the self is always changing, when one recounts his own history, one is actually recounting the history of varying selves. I love telling stories of my experiences. I say “I did this”, “I said this”, or “I thought that” but it is not current Andrew that had any part but as observer and story teller. 17 year old Andrew looked at and felt things as a 17 year old. 25 year old Andrew is retelling the story with 8 years of details coloring the experience. He has forgotten some details, feels others are unimportant, and embellishes the story with details that may not have existed. There is as much fiction as non-fiction in my tales because the fallibility of the mind and the fact of growth emboss history with myth.

We all have albums of pictures of ourselves. We all look at old group photos and immediately seek ourselves out in the picture. This does not stem solely from narcissistic voyeurism: a desire to look at the past and lust after our younger bodies, fresher minds, and simpler dreams, or to take the opportunity to pat ourselves on the back saying “I was so young and stupid back then. Good job me for growing up.” I think that we are also often trying to prove our existence in this or that reality. I was a part of that team, I hiked this path when I was young, I drank that drink and hung out with those people. I digress from writing about writing to writing about pictures because in finishing “Life After God” I read of Coupland’s experience of taking a picture of and for a group of blind people who were out for a walk. His observations were of people who had faith in a sense that they did not take part in. I wonder what they will do with the photograph. They will never see it. They will never show their friends and say “There’s me. I can’t believe I thought that hairstyle was cool.” They will never sit alone and allow the photograph to conjure erstwhile sighs of the idyllic past. I imagine that when they show their friends the picture, inside they will be saying “Aha. See. I exist in your reality of a world with sight. I am in a world with vision even though I may never truly know what that means. The evidence is irrefutable (or so I am told), this picture validates my visible existence. I am an image even when you are not there to see me, even though I can never see myself.”

I also wonder at the action of taking a picture of blind people, for the blind people themselves. It seems a futile act, recording history for people in a medium they will never perceive. I do not want to become an author of illiteracy for the illiterate, speaking of and seeking out truth when all I have and will perceive are lies. I must try to write of my reality even though I am mired in it and can’t begin to actually perceive it because someday hindsight and retrospection might allow me to glimpse what I am seeking through writing. I have to believe that my awkward attempts to touch truth, to communicate will someday make sense to me, to others. In one sense I see myself as the photographer knowing that I must continue to take pictures of the blind, for the blind so that I, as a sighted observer, may remind the blind of a snapshot of their past so they may recount the experience (even if the sheen of details have been worn smooth by time). And as a blind man myself, I require that snapshot so that the sighted can glimpse my history in spite of my perceptions and so I may harbor hope that I may some day join those with vision and know what it meant to exist.

Side note: I write of writing here and I can’t help but wonder at the futility of the task. When will I cease to write of writing and simply write? Am I using my semantic meanderings as a stall tactic? If I talk of speaking but never open my mouth otherwise, have I really said anything?

Monday, September 29, 2008

Let's just pretend that the last week never happened.

I was very sick this past week. It is not a good excuse but I did absolutely nothing last week because I was ill.

We got a kitten this weekend. He is a needy little bugger and makes it a bit difficult to type as he seems jealous of the keyboard's attention, attacking the keyboard and my hands equally in his search for attention. I have named him Rorschach, fulfilling my two requirements for the naming of pets: first, the name should be a real name and second, the name should have some sort of literary significance.

He is black and white spotted like the inkblots of the famed Hermann Rorschach (thus named after a real person), but I thought of the name in reference to the character from the graphic novel The Watchmen. In that novel, Rorschach has a mask that displays an ever changing inkblot (aiding him by possibly displaying the fears of the criminals he antagonizes as well as distorting the reader's perception of him as he is seen as an insane vagrant, vigilante, masked criminal, and possibly the only true hero in the novel (and, by the way The Watchmen is an amazing novel and I recommend it to all of you, especially those who would never deign to pick up a "comic book" because it is not serious or substantial reading. This is truly a very well written novel and should be studied if only for its destruction of the preconceived ideas about the form of the novel and its defiance of that which is appropriate for the "comic" genre). Also, this cat is thoroughly insane.

He reminds me of my nephew in his pre-language infancy. When petted, he flaps his front paws in wordless enjoyment just as Orion waved his hands about while perched in his high chair being fed.

I finally started reading East of Eden. I want to devour it but I am also afraid as if it is devouring me. It scares me because it is so far beyond anything I could ever write, it scares me because I can't absorb his passion and style like I usually do with everything I read. I love the dialogue partly because it is the most obvious fictional aspect of this book. The conversations are too honest, the brothers, Adam and Charles, are too true. They speak their naked observations with too much self actualization behind their words for the conversations to actually exist outside of fiction. This, however, is also one of the reasons why I think this book is so well acclaimed. We read the words of realization and probing dialogue and want to become the speaker. The characters are, at times, sick and neurotic, twisted and driven by wholly selfish impulses but we wish that in spite of our flaws we could speak with such clarity and confidently verbalize in the romantic garb of self actualization. But then again I am only about a sixth of the way into the book so I am sure that my opinions and observations will grow as I read on.

Finally, if I lapse again into silence feel free to harangue me in any way you choose.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The first of the past

Day 1: August 25, 2008
Goodbye Blue Monday

Sometimes in the morning I feel as if I am still drunk. Not after a night of heavy drinking as the haze of inebriation clings and clouds, slowing movements and slurring thoughts. I had two beers last night without the driving force of slight intoxication as a goal, I was simply hot and I wanted to share. In the morning, without a schedule, I find myself forgetting who I am, where I am. Perhaps it is an early onset of senility but it lends itself to an odd introspection. I wonder who and why I am and there is an extended moment of disequilibrium as I worry that I am still asleep.

Today is my first day of unemployment. Self inflicted as I quit my job without another job lined up. I constantly wonder if I am an idiot but I would not have survived much longer at my old job. No English major who loves language and literature should ever attempt a career in data entry. It is interesting for a moment, communicating through numbers, income, expense. The only words written are names and businesses and sometimes a brief explanation to further clarity; communicating meaning using only numbers, organizing the chaos of facts. It was intriguing at first, as if I was learning and creating a new language, but the unbearable weight of an inactive mind begins to hurt after a time.

A mind-numbing office job will teach you that you have a soul.

Every day after work I was exhausted. It was not a physical fatigue as I had been sitting at a desk all day. I have spent most of my life doing physical labor and though I would end every day tired and sore, there was energy in the excitement of freedom and hope in the possibility of an evening full of actions of my own choosing. I may be over-exaggerating the pleasures of physical labor and waxing romantic as most are wont to do of the past, I think I usually just went home and had a couple of drinks while watching TV or playing video games or some such nonsense until I felt like falling asleep, but at least when you labor physically, you sleep well.

Neither was I mentally tired. I usually had one ear tuned to NPR while I woodenly entered datum, simply to maintain my sanity. The ladies at work always thought that I had music coming to me on my headphone and I was not about to disillusion them. They were very conservative republican types who view the type of informative world news I enjoy as liberal drivel and I would probably not have been allowed to listen if they had known what I was tuning in to.

Anyway, utter exhaustion without physical or mental fatigue proved to me that I had a soul, and that my job was killing it. Also, I knew that I had to quit when I realized that the greatest passion at that point in my life was the passionate hatred for my job (not to mention that they are currently getting severely audited by the federal government, and my moral opposition to some of the practices and procedures). I am not one to often be called emotionally healthy but even I could see that my situation must change.

And so today is the first day of my self inflicted exile from the working population. No more of the 9 to 5er’s anthemic woes. Fuck you Dolly Parton, earning fame through the catchy statement of fact as capitalism ossifies hopes and dreams in the stale necessity of monetary success. Sorry, it’s not your fault. I am full of bile.

My hope is to write, reversing the atrophy built up by my laziness and apathetic misuse of my own soul. I do not plan to start a blog, seeking validation in publication (also it must be noted that I am A: Chickenshit and B: Driven by a desire to reject that which is obviously popular, which is probably just an excuse based on a fear that my words will simply add to the sea of impotent vitriol and talentless passion. Also, I do not have internet). This is not to say that I will never post these. I believe that if the most beautiful poem ever created was destroyed unread, it would be devoid of all beauty and if the most insightful truth ever thought of went uncommunicated it would be utterly meaningless. Thus, writing to an audience of zero is as masturbatory as prolifically publishing incessant nonsense. Moreover, I am vain and believe that I am a fairly decent writer and my narcissism desires affirmation.

I do not want to state a goal for myself beyond writing, lest I open myself to the possibility of failure (or, to be honest, the even more terrifying possibility of success). I want to want to write. Perhaps for catharsis, perhaps because I believe that I glimpse a scintilla of Truth you can’t access and in exorcising my own reality I will be allowed to create and communicate that truth to you.

Thus I enter the wilderness, attempting to glut myself on the locusts and wild honey of the stories I have gathered often recited, never written, clothed in the skins of wild thoughts, living off the fat of my past.

The abrupt vista of possibilities threatens to send me into a catatonic rage, so to stave off hopelessness and depression, I will do my chores: Go to the DMV for new tabs and to register to vote, go to the post office to change our mailing address, go to Les Schwab and get my tire fixed, go to the old apartment to clean it so we can get our deposit back, and finally, look for a new job because I am too afraid to simply write.

Addendum of actual happenings Day 1:

Woke up around 7 am watched wife get ready for first day of class.

7:30 am made coffee set ottoman on deck, used empty cooler as desk. Wished I had a camera, beautiful picture: coffee, mug, press pot, book, cigarettes, etc.

7:45-8:30 am read half of “Life after God” excellent read, gave me the perfect balance of melancholic introspection to write (not too depressed, not too excited about life to hinder reflections)

8:30-10:45 am wrote though the last 45 minutes or so very little written: too much caffeine and not quite enough drive.

11:00-12:00 Fixed bike while heating up a burrito. Very difficult to fix bike as hands were shaking with far too much caffeine.

12:00-3:00 rode bike to post office then to DMV. Crashed on the way to DMV. Awkward crash, did a sort of belly flop over the handlebars. Managed to scrape both the palm of my left hand and road rash the back of my left forearm. Not sure how I managed that. Deep tissue bruise/ serious Charlie horse in left thigh. Leg very sore, feel a little gimpy but was mostly just embarrassed at my unskilled dismount. Picked up a new tire from bike shop and headed home.

3:41 Current time, had two messages from old job they can’t find anything, implied that I took some files with me. Called back and left message. Made myself a gorby, we didn’t have any cups so I used an old soda bottle from my car. Pleasant. Now must clean.

Now that I have joined the rest of society, I am sure that I will mearly discover that I exist.

Oh shit. I've started a blog.

I am terrified. I guess I am a bit excited too. It is sort of like the feeling I would imagine accompanies picking a fight I am probably going to lose, but there is the slight chance that I might win, and getting the shit beat out of myself is an accomplishment of sorts. Also I am full of shit and getting some of it beat out of me sounds cathartic.

Three days less than one month ago I quit my job. "You quit your job with no other job lined up in an abysmal job market. That sounds like the very soul of stupidity." I agree. My intention was to read a lot and write every day. The reality is that though I did read voraciously, I barely wrote every other day. I did write something I truly appreciate and believe is fairly good but honestly, ONE WHOLE MONTH AND ONLY ONE THING WRITTEN THAT I CONSIDER GOOD. WHAT THE FUCK WAS I THINKING?

I know that I have been awarded a unique opportunity. My wife has a salaried job which earns more than double what we were making when she was student teaching and I was the sole earner. In fact, she was the one who suggested that I quit the job that was killing me (though my soul had been screaming for release for quite some time (I am continually surprised, though as she surprises me daily I should probably begin to expect it, at the amazing reality of healthy relationship. How was she able to verbalize and make possible that which I was completely unable to consciously grasp?).). I have an amazing amazing wife.

I have waited until now to start a blog because I did not want to have a reason behind my writing except to write. I did not want to become a slave to affirmation. I did not want an audience. I did not want to succeed (uh, i probably mean fail, but my pessimism can only accept success as delayed failure so it is really all the same to me). I have, however, become a mite delusional. I believe that it is a side affect of the lack of normal daily interaction known as "a job". Or maybe it is because my writing is so inherently masochistically narcissistic that I have found myself to have created an internal hell to replace the nine to five one I have so recently escaped (see, that right there is a product of this particular insanity. I have no idea what I meant by this paragraph.).

Anyway (oh and by the way I find that I often begin paragraphs with "anyway" I think that I am either attempting to convey my absent mindedness or am lazy and can think of no better transition than anyway), I decided, at the onset, to eventually post that which I have written. It turns out that "eventually" happens to fall on "right now" this year. Hopefully I will continue to write. I will intersperse the old with the new and since I have come to fear my written word I hope that I will succeed in the new category. Otherwise, this blog will be short lived (by the way keep your eyes out for day three; that is the thing I wrote which I actually love. If you don't like it, I will survive he said with an obvious need for affirmation. . .).

I would like to take a moment to briefly describe the situation I find myself in as I write this (not existentially or anything simply what I was doing before I started up the computer because it is odd enough to be notable). I am sitting in my garage drinking crappy beer alone (oh for the times of drinking great beer with friends) and working on some new sculptures. I am wrapping a baby cabbage patch doll with cellophane and subsequently with clear tape in order to create hundreds of ephemeral baby shells which I will then secrete (or maybe secret or maybe both) about the town in a blatant act of guerrilla art.