Tentative, ah, Rumblings

Just update every day. On a topic. I guess. I want to write an essay every week, that’s productive and in a way safe. I mean that I can refine my craft, but a little bit removed so that you don’t have to see the results immediately and think things like “huh” “what” or “this is really terrible, André”. Of course this assumes a “you”, there really isn’t a “you” for the blog and maybe I should work on that as well but how does a person do that in a way that’s not conniving, petty, or mean? Promotion just seems ugly to me at this point, I guess. This isn’t really worth promoting, you know? It’s just a thing. I shouldn’t even think in those terms, ever really.

BESIDES THE FACT IT IS ON THE BACK OF THAT LAST LITTLE BOOK I MADE HI IF YOU CAME HERE FROM THAT, SORRY IF EVERYTHING IS CONFUSING.

This past election Chester Brown ran for the Libertarian party and defended his government grants with “Well, if I don’t take them someone else well, and it’s better that they go to me.” And in that sentiment were two ideas, wrapped up:

  • That he deserves the grant, because he is good and works hard.
  • That he deserves the grant because it could potentially go to someone who doesn’t work hard, or is not good.

Should I think in similar terms? Or start to? To me it just seems so mercenary.

But it does remind me of something one of my uncles (and I have many) said about my mom’s artwork and how he always thought she should be doing a better job of promotion. And maybe she still should, but I think she has improved in that regard. Related is the fact that her work has settled in a style that is “good” and that I think is “accurate”, does that mean I just don’t feel “settled” in that aspect? But her situation at 22 was much different than my situation now. But why would I even bring it up if I felt “complete” or “whole” artistically?

This post and the post below come from an interview with James Kochalka where he says that American Elf is a great way to structure his day, and to always remain thinking creatively. How he feels bad if he hasn’t made anything, because creating is a huge part of his self-worth. That’s also true for me. I do write usually. I need to get back to writing every day. Even if I don’t necessarily feel like working on what I am working on, I need to write a minimum amount of words. I need to stop worrying about things like what certain people will say. Maybe I need to update this every day too, so I can see what I’ve done and am doing. With at least one entry of substance, or that I am proud of, or that I like, per day.

I’m suddenly reminded of an essay Haruki Murakami wrote about writing for the New Yorker. I could find it for you but you could find it for yourself just as easily. Search “Haruki Murakami” “running” and “New Yorker”.

One thing that I am working on is making writing simpler so that it flows easier from point to point. I have a tendency to hold certain crucial details in my head, which works well for prose poetry but not very well when you are working on a long novel and what is in your head at specific points during the writing changes from day-to-day. I really think that for something short (a comic, a poem, a short story) you can keep the art inside and do a good job, but for longer things you have to focus on telling your story simply and making sure that it is a story, and that it is coherent, and the rest will fall into place. It’s interesting because I think four or five years ago I was good for plot, but I really had to work on style and technique, and now that I’m at plot again it is coming back to me, but slowly, because I spent a long time in the ghetto.

Some days you have to walk slowly. Consciously. Metering down, existing in a moment that is not quick-movement from point to point, an entire hummingbird-eye day. Some days you have to make little noise. Contain constant, enduring, rhythm. Listen to the pattern of life. Watch flurries of motion adjust their shoulder straps and clack in-and-out of your field of view. Be a happy inconvenience.

Calm down and arrange your thoughts in a pattern removed from “buckshot”. You are not the wide mouth of a shotgun. You are not a clicked and constantly fluctuating image. You are not an image. You are a reactive creature describing the world through its sensory input. Through interpretations of raw data, as well as implications and interpretations of raw data obtained from other sources. As well as implications of implications; hronir which constantly ascend to and descend from the apex of the eleventh degree.

Your thoughts are made of other thoughts. Your thoughts move to the tune of your body. Your ideas scale up or down based upon the status or “being” of your self. Slow down, at moments, to increase the scope and quality of your ideas. You cannot rely solely on “genius”, which is a highly malleable, unreliable, and reactive force. You must have some grounding in your intellectual self. You must fight to maintain that grounding, whatever the circumstances of your life.

My left hand is stuffed into my front jacket pocket, like Napoleon suffering from some kind of cold-active gout. For some reason the action causes me to sit up straight, and I feel as if I am riding a horse. My jacket is nine years old, a relic; worn because it is convenient (my most convenient) for bicycling.

I fiddle with the right pocket zipper at stoplights, but it’s stuck fast. Aside from the stuck zipper, there’s really nothing else wrong with the jacket. I’ve owned it since grade eight, and my thirteen-year-old self would be glad to know that Ripzone is such a good brand. It’s the last piece of clothing from that company I own, the second-last being an old t-shirt frayed everywhere but the collar, which is what I wore it for. It’s a look that’s in, but not when the rest of the shirt is in rags. At least, that’s what Lisa might have told me before she threw it out, though I’m positive she never qualified such a statement with a remark about how it could have at all, ever, been considered fashionable.

Ellleeeecccctttttiiioooonnnnn!

On the morning radio, a university student with a cocky edge to his voice reminds me too much of a frat boy: he’s intelligent but pretends that he isn’t to impress his friends, who are also being interviewed.

Why didn’t you vote?

“The election SUCKS, all of the candidates SUCK, their platforms SUCK. Why should I vote if the whole thing SUCKS?”

Are you ashamed that you didn’t vote?

“YEAH, I mean, my parents wanted me to vote but. Fuck, I don’t care. I guess it just didn’t mean that much to me.”

Later, an opinion voiced by a political student activist who hasn’t voted in the past two elections and says there are more important ways to make yourself heard… more important than the most symbolic and direct?

“I just… don’t see what the point is. I’ve voted before, it didn’t really… do anything for me. I think there are, ah, other ways you can be involved in the political process… I didn’t feel anything when I voted.”

What did you expect, a warm tingling? A clarion call? Why does voting have to do anything directly for you? When was it written that all action necessarily has to provoke some kind of stimulation? And why is the concept of stimulation so often mixed up with “mental sedation”?

High school André, why don’t you die? And why are you such a common archetype? This generation is disappointing, so far.

Canzine

October 26th I will be at Canzine. It is my hope that I will have two short “zine-like objects” to sell. One will be 16 pages long. One will be 32 pages long (if it exists). I am mostly typing this post to bump the last from the top. Also, because it is exciting. I am excited, because I think it will be fun to have items printed and arranged on a table. I have never done anything like this before!


A detailed entry on the Canadian election.


A humourous, satirical take on family politics and our first “Thanksgiving weekend” as husband and wife.


An update on the writing of my novel. Which is being written in a more conventional style than I would have first employed.

“Data is secondary at the moment, unfortunately.”

So interesting that wild fluctuations of abstract concepts are being followed as if they are real things! I don’t mean to say this to be smarmy, or to provoke reaction… but in a world whose outlines seem to be made of “fact” and where men and women drink and eat “fact”, that a metaphysical system, tracing its movements in peaks and valleys on an exterior, two-dimensional plain, could captivate to the extent that it has, as well as inform our mode of living, and stir the hearts of otherwise cold and unthinking men to fevers of blind and all-encompassing emotion… it’s startling.

stop it everyone just stop it

I am an avant-garde

I woke up in the morning and told my friend Robert that I am an avant-garde

He asked what an “avant-garde” is

So I pushed him down a well

I am the dictator of a red planet

The red planet is avant-garde

Everyone on the red planet rides a white bicycle

They do that because it makes me laugh

When I see someone riding a white bicycle

On a red planet that is avant-garde

It feels like I am eating cherries

I ask Sue, my assistant, to fetch me some in a bowl

She replies that it is impossible to do so

I ask her “why”

In addition to that I am angry

Perhaps my fist clenches and I smash it on the table

She says that because the whole planet is avant-garde

It has no momentum or reality beyond my plain narration

And the concept “a bowl of cherries” does not exist

Because it was not already explicitly described

I lean back in my chair and cry

My tears taste like grapefruit

[All] those who value reason, liberty, and justice… are captivated by Russell’s vision of “the world that we must seek,”

a world in which the creative spirit is alive, in which life is an adventure full of joy and hope, based rather upon the impulse to construct rather than the desire to retain what we possess or to seize what is possessed by others. It must be a world in which affection has free play, in which love is purged of the instinct for domination, in which cruelty and envy have been dispelled by happiness and the unfettered development of all the instincts that build up life and fill it with mental delights.
-Noam Chomsky quoting Bertrand Russell’s Proposed Roads to Freedom


As if to illustrate the tentative, half-sketched nature of my last post, as I left the hospital I informed a woman that she’d dropped her spreading knife on the way to the elevator, and the woman, who seemed to be thirty-some years old, frowned at me as if I was deliberately interrupting or declaring her uncool in front of her friends. Being non-judgmental is probably the easiest part, and you have to maintain that under attack from differing philosophies and withering scorn. Who knows what Byzantine social relationships and backwards personalities flower amidst the tandem bureaucratic and professional classes of the hospital? I’ve seen my fair share of bizarre.

A week or two ago I came into the hospital under the dying power of an electronic door. I did not push the button, though I have many times in the past. Likewise I’ve had many opportunities to hold the door open myself, physically, for those who might have had to use the electronic door otherwise. So I probably should have felt more secure when I was attacked on my way in, slipping through the receding crack, panting and clothed in my bicycle gear. The attack came from a middle-aged, angry man: tall, taut, and bundled up into premature wrinkles, carrying a lunchbox in his left hand. I do not know if he was a parent to a patient, or a doctor.

“Handicap use only,” he scowled, as if I had pushed someone out of the way, as if I was gloating about it. As if I smiled and high-fived an intern on the way in. He was moving fast, escaping retaliation, possibly escaping his own vehemence, and the only answer I had time to give him was a perturbed and sarcastic “Thanks”.

Though very quickly I was told by several sources not to worry about it, that the man was probably just having a terrible day that had nothing to do with me, I still felt disturbed. It knawed and chewed at my neurosis. Briefly, and several times throughout the day, I re-enacted the episode in my head and chased the man down, confronting him as if that was any kind of solution. As if it would do anything but add another mean or lonely chapter to the tale. Realistically, what more could I have done? I let the man know that what he’d said was insulting, was there really room for anything else?

The reality of the situation is that I was feeling a little under-the-weather myself, dragged down by various things: a bland, repetitive job; unpromising responses from the writing program; an apartment in desperate need of at least a weekend of cleaning. Those situations have all since improved, and it’s probably no surprise that I feel markedly better.

I don’t know exactly what I’m proposing. It might be an attempt at a kind of insurance for frustration. Maybe it’s just a tool for climbing out of a pit or a rut and deciding: this is how I feel, this is why I feel, this is what I have to do. I am not in pits often, or as often, as I have in the past. I am extremely fortunate to have found Lisa, and one of the things I am most grateful for is our open communication… and maybe this alone is more important than some of the things I am “proposing”. I am not really proposing anything. I’m exploring methods of reacting more causally to life.

Don’t ask Lisa to corroborate this: I’ve been making the effort to be calm and nonjudgmental in most things. I don’t mean to lose all sense of standards and decency. Only to try and “accept” the world in unselfish ways. That doesn’t mean that I don’t wish things might change. That doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t be willing to do some changing. I just mean that there should be nothing angry about “being”, and nothing necessarily “angry” in reactions to being.

Anger is a vent sometimes. In that way it’s probably healthy, if it doesn’t cross certain lines… and it can also be used to fuel creative activity. But maybe you can train yourself to the point where anger becomes less and less of an emotional need. Even in the face of irrational behaviour and thinking. I guess that’s kind of my experiment. I’m sure it’s been done before many, many times.

That’s nonsense in reaction to some words by Noam Chomsky, quoting Bertrand Russell. I have to go to the source and come up with a complete post. But that’s where it comes from, anyway. It is (their words) something that should be believed, and when the effort is made it is calming.


Something unrelated I would also like to quote but lack: Borges and his terse, tangential, reaction to the statement “a poet must be a poem”. I provide you with an original paraphrase. A poet must be a poem in the same way that an architect must be a building, a politician a law, a pilot a flight?

I’m concerned about art and its presentation, and its association with people or ideas that can be marketed successfully. A poem does not need a poet to be a poem, but does a poet need to be a poem?

Maybe only when the level of fame and competency of the poet are both “low”, maybe not. This is something I’ve been considering. I’ll get back to you, maybe.