Disaster doesn’t “strike.”
It waits until we find it.
We hold banisters
To keep from floating off—
We commit television interviews.
Somehow, we are sucked into that cabal
As part of a vague promise,
lurching forward until we’re
Incarnated in our own vicious dreams.
The debate tonight was an inspiring experience for me, and I have found it, maybe out of a sense of perversity, to be a largely uninspiring period of time. It’s been so long that I’ve heard any public issue addressed in a reasonable, honest way, that when it happens I want to slap my hands and thank whoever is responsible for having the simple courage to say what is true.
This is the most important lesson to be learned. That it is possible to say things that are true, and that anybody can say them. Truth has its contexts, and it has its nuances, and neither the world of politics and business-the macro world-nor the even larger and more finely nuanced world of personal life-the micro world-can be helped by anything but a fire to accomplish something good.
The problem with saying something like that is that you, the reader, and myself, the writer, both immediately question ourselves, saying “Is that naïve? Do I have any fire to accomplish something good?”
You create effects of quality in all moments of your life. You experience the world-its breakups, its defeats, its sunrises and snowfalls-as good and bad. This simple acknowledgment, of the universality of complicated experience, signifies in any of us willing to step forward a fire to accomplish good.
Maayan told me about seeking “balance” in the visual design of her magazine. Continue reading
Posted in Amnesia, Barack Obama, Buddhism, Costa Rican Jungle, Crazy Ideas, Democrats, Faustian Pacts, Freedom of Religion, General Relativity, imaginary landscapes, Infinity, Manifestos, Mighty Mekong, Nature, New York City, Paradoxes, Please, Political Philosophy, Politics, Qualia, Quiet Elation, Smells, Sunrise, The Good and The Bad, The Power of the Powerless, The Spectacle, theory, Vertigo, Vietnam, What is Meaning?
A couple weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending with fellow No Record Press bloggers Dave Feinstein and Sarah Todd a reading by Keith Gessen and Charles Bock at New York’s Bowery Poetry Club. Dave and I met at the next-door Irish bar in time for happy hour and made it just that. The bartender briefly lost my credit card, resulting in a round of Jameson on the house.
We made it next door and paid our seven dollars. Then, like a drunken sorority girl studying in Milan, I bought nearly everything in sight (thanks for the loan, Maayan!). The difficulty and expense of obtaining books in Manila had prohibited me from taking advantage of the MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK RELEASE OF THE YEAR, which was something of a player in the earlier drama posted here, The Spectacle of Keith Gessen and Emily Gould (and Part II). In addition to All The Sad Young Literary Men, I also picked up the n+1 booklet “What We Should Have Known”, which promises to tell me about what I should have known six years ago: that I’m seven years behind the curve and never again to be in front of the eight ball. Continue reading
Posted in All The Sad Young Literary Men, Benjamin Kunkel, books, Coffee, Concentric Circles, Keith Gessen, n+1, originality, Politics, Relationships, theory, To Read, What Is Art?
Day five of the hike was an early morning scramble from Pingew to Sagada. We walked back into Sagada triumphantly.
Posted in Abra Province, Crazy Ideas, Filipinos Are Some of the Friendliest People, Food, imaginary landscapes, No More Diesel Exhaust, Politics, Rice Terraces, sagada, Travelogue, Trekking
On day three, we went from Taleb to Baclingayan, which is a short five-hour journey up and down mountains (just like every other day!). We stopped at Kasiniyan River so that Moros could catch a spear full of fish for lunch.
Posted in Abra Province, Crazy Ideas, Filipinos Are Some of the Friendliest People, No More Diesel Exhaust, Politics, Rice Terraces, Smells, Sounds, Sunset, Travelogue, Trekking
Day one we set out at 6 a.m. for Taleb, Abra Province.
Posted in Abra Province, Filipinos Are Some of the Friendliest People, Food, imaginary landscapes, Politics, Quiet Elation, Rice Terraces, sagada, Taleb, Travelogue, Trekking
When I went to see Gypsy the other night, I kept thinking that Rose–played with bulldozing, starry-eyed aplomb by Patti Lupone–reminded me of someone. I couldn’t quite place it until the last scene of the first act, in which Rose learns that her daughter Dainty June, on whom she’s pinned all her dreams of vaudeville stardom, has eloped. Rose’s boyfriend Herbie and daughter Louise suggest, with empathy along with obvious relief, that it may be time for Rose to throw in the towel and accept that fame is never going to happen: settle down, build a home, stop trying to force the whole world to fit in an impossible mold.
If there’s a single theme that persists throughout all five seasons of The Wire, easily one of the best dramas of this decade and the last, it’s that the good guys and the bad guys are all playing the same game: The Game, which to nearly everyone in The Wire is synonymous with “life.” In this game, good guys and bad guys are flip sides of the same coin. Sometimes the good guys are bad guys, and sometimes the bad guys are good. The Wire doesn’t have a monopoly on this theme; hell, the central psychological draw of The Sopranos was the fact that despite the killing, adultery, etc., you, despite yourself, actually felt sympathy for Tony Soprano sometimes. But The Wire’s compelling twist has something The Sopranos, which focused on psychomachia and not The Game, hardly touched. The Wire takes it a step further: the good guys are complicit in keeping the bad guys around. Without the bad guys slinging on street corners in West Baltimore, you have no heroic police work. There’s a mostly tacit pact between good and evil in the world. At bottom, The Wire is about Faustian pacts. The Wire is about the deal. (Warning: Discussion of plot lines and the final episode ahead.) Continue reading
I write about what I’m reading, and the last couple of months — despite my highbrow writings on deconstruction, the politics and sex of the hyphen, Frank O’Hara, Frederick Seidel, and n+1′s Keith Gessen and Gawker alum Emily Gould — I’ve been floating between Gawker, Above the Law, Facebook, and Every Day Should Be Saturday, a smart college football blog. Manila is twelve hours ahead of the east coast, so every morning I wake up to day’s worth of posts on each. (And then you start clicking on links inside links and you get so deep in the internet that you wonder why you are thinking of buying a non-stick skillet for $100.)
But I tell you what. I’ve added Jezebel to my morning round up. A recent NYTimes article paints Jezebel as a girly version of Gawker or, as Jezebel editors put it, a cure for “glossy insecurity factories” — i.e. magazines such as Cosmo, Elle, and their ilk. The article goes on to describe some of the cattiness and cliqueishness that goes on at Jezebel, even though, in the end, according to the article, everyone is friends. (I’m not really too sure what the newsworthiness of the article is, but the NYTimes has slid away from that anyway.) Continue reading
I’m a poet.
But I don’t read much poetry, other than what I read here at No Record’s blog. I used to read more. You know, some of the classics. In high school. I grew up typing my father’s poems, so I’ve read those. I’ve read some more or less contemporary poets as well, mostly the big names and laureates. (Sarah would kick my ass in a poetry who’s-who contest.) So when I say that Frederick Seidel’s Ooga-Booga is the best book of poetry this decade, you can decide for yourself what exactly that’s worth.
I haven’t been this excited about a book of poetry since discovering Frank O’Hara’s Lunch Poems a decade ago. I was rummaging through some old Gary Snyder books last year in DC’s summer; I heard about Seidel’s new book. Continue reading