I’m reading an article by a noted essayist/polemicist who is complaining about contemporary fiction. I love it when they do that! A certain book, he says, is full of ponderous sentences about how a certain part of a certain city “produces inequality, poverty, differential health outcomes, and other social metrics taken straight from the generally accepted web content dad.” I understand generally accepted web content dad to be a sly way of referring to Wikipedia. Isn’t it apt? How cleverly this essayist/polemicist can turn a phrase! Why can’t I write like that?
Then it’s time to go to San Francisco and get a quart of vanilla ice cream for R., a quart of espresso ice cream for me, which will somehow stay frozen in my backpack the whole way home.
If I’ve gotten nothing else from my long sojourn with the English Romantics, I now have this Wordsworth-plus-America-the-band mashup as a permanent tenant in my head:
Like to a pagan suckled
In a creed outworn,
In the distance hear the laughter
Of the last unicorn—
Hardcover books, nicely made, came from the printer on a wooden shipping pallet, which I got to keep. Perhaps every time I write a book I’m going to get a free pallet? I had the great privilege of signing them all, biking them around to where they belonged, setting up a little ship station in the basement. The official publication date will be May 1 (they think?), but for the time being it’s done with and the worst case from here is that nothing happens. Which I find a fairly advantageous state of affairs.
Maybe "Make Me a Pallet On Your Floor" can chase the worms from your ears?
Never Reread Your Own Book
The thought of my continuing loneliness was unbearable, and yet I had managed to exchange sympathetic letters with those of like mind—some contacted via fairly tenuous connections—who would discuss my trifling tales and other matters with me; but I was merely amusing myself with fictions, finding solace for my idleness in foolish words. Aware of my own insignificance, I had at least managed for the time being to avoid anything that might have been considered shameful or unbecoming; yet here I was, tasting the bitterness of life to the full.
I tried reading the Tale again, but it did not seem to be the same as before and I was disappointed. Those with whom I had discussed things of mutual interest—how vain and frivolous they must find me now, I thought; and then, ashamed that I could even contemplate such a remark, I found it difficult to write to them.
The Diary of Lady Murasaki, tr. Richard Bowring
That is AMAZING.
Fame, fame, fatal fame
I am happy to tell you that Metameat Slides was chosen for the 2018 Best of Iowa City Awards in the category of Business Services. The Best of Iowa City Award was created to acknowledge the best businesses in our community.
That’s very generous of you, correspondent impersonating a computer impersonating capitalism via the comment box. It’s the little things.
does that come with a cash award
When I take out my contact lenses and put on my nerd glasses they fog up on the inside, because I’m lit, because I’m a fucking minotaur.
and then you take out your handkerchief and give them a good ole sunset rubdown
October, phantom summer. Air clear as an iPhone screen and a hot dry wind blowing yellow leaves around. It’s not right. The devil’s out riding.
When I was a kid my mathematician uncle gave me a book on number theory, which I never got far into, but took a lesson from the first chapter: “Consider the set of U.S. Senators who have two heads. Consider the set of real numbers which are equal to the square root of -1. These two sets are the same: ∅, the empty set.”
Well I wonder.
It was snowing outside and I was dead. Only R. could see me. She wasn’t sad; when people thought she was alone, we were together as we’d always been. Other adults came over to the house, talked, laughed, put up Christmas decorations, looked through me. I realized that R. would now be subject to their decisions, and that as time went on I’d be ever less able to help her.
I got sleepy on lunch break and sat in the sun. Everything was quiet and all the cups and bowls around me started to look like Velázquez cups and bowls.
The bus stop at night is nicer than the BART station at night: side-street bus stop, nothing much happening. Crickets, bright traffic signals. The last dusk faded plum. The trees spread in their realm. Because the street is closer the sky seems closer likewise, and parts of the world slip right past, uncordoned. The last patrons leaving the library. People stopping to clean their windshields at the ancient Chevron.
The Silt Sermon
I’m 40, and glad about it! Went to Redwood Regional Park above Oakland. The outer rim trail is broad, bright, hot, lousy with professional (?) dog walkers doing their best to trot along at the hub of an asterisk of leashes. If you take the broken path downward you end up at a narrow, deep-cut streambed, dry in this parched season of my birth except for a few silty pools. I look for fish sleeping out the summer but can’t find any. Ferns, madrones, chickadees at work in the pines.
It’s cool down here, but enough sunlight cuts through to remind you of the heat above. When you try to take a picture it comes out seared white.
Now and then a bike goes past, or people walking in pairs. The older ones don’t have anything to say. The younger ones all seem to have grievances.
(—and I was really pissed, that she’d reach out to a donor in that way, someone who’s invested so much...)
(—maybe parents think that’s an intuitive way to put it, but it’s not intuitive at all, it’s not like, I don’t want to see you...)
I’ve felt that too, the sense that the forest must have a use, and that use must be to get square with whatever is outside the forest. I don’t have to do it now. I’m 40.
After the people go by, the birds restate their themes. Jays of course, and ravens, smaller calls I’m not sure about. Droning bugs, airplanes way up. The underlying rope weave, meant to hold the soil in place, is exposed and fraying.
Coming out of the canyon I pull out my phone, find some welcome email and the news that my birthday gift from Jerry Brown is his signature on SB 100.
Paradise is conceivable, but only tangible at—well—a tangent point. No one abides there.