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.