Monday, October 29, 2007

Tom the Dancing Bug

Augustine of Hippo

Do not ask what truth is. For mists of corporeal images and clouds of phantasms will rise forthwith and confuse the clarity that flared up in you in a first impulse when I said: 'truth.' When the word 'truth' is spoken, remain if you can in the first impulse which struck you as a flash of lightning. But you cannot. You fall back into this world of familiar, earthly things.
-De Trinitate

Saturday, October 27, 2007

If Rumsfeld Were Gay

I read with heart-bursting joy tempered by deep skepticism that there's just a slight chance Donald Rumsfeld could be arrested for ordering torture while he's in France this weekend.
As Rummy would say:
Do I wish I were getting fucked up the ass right now? Sure. Would I like to be blasting a hot load down some muscle-stud's throat? Of course. Would I rather be eating out that same muscle-stud's hole while he fucks some daddy's-boy twink senseless? It goes without saying. But it's not a perfect world, and sometimes instead of getting the filthy, kinky, gayer-than-gay sex you really want, you find that your only choice is to initiate hapless, incredibly ill-conceived and breath-takingly reckless military adventures that ruin the lives of millions, destroy both the credibility and the future prospects for security of the United States, and benefit no one but your overfed, grotesquely self-satisfied cronies. If the American people want to call that poor judgment, we'll just have to agree to disagree.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Monday, October 22, 2007

Why I Have Not Written Any of My Books

I am incredibly jealous of Marcel Benabou's title, but the book itself I found flat and kind of empty. And maybe that's postmodernism, contemporary writing, poststructuralist takes on literature, and/or Frenchness all in a nutshell.
I am constantly subject to this conflict--more than conflict, internal antagonism, rivenness--between my two modes. Benabou really writes about intellectual activities in critical terms, and after a lot of interesting, self-reflecting turns of thought, writes exclusively about reason, critical analyses. But to me it seems like this is intellectualization, rationalization, avoidance of issues that are psychological and in fact founded in unreason rather than reason. It is something of a cliche to point out that artists and critics can spin out a lovely surface and even claim that there is nothing but surface, theorize endlessly about the death of the metaphor of depth, precisely in order to avoid the fact that depth is invoked merely as a metaphor for something that is empirically real (if anyway we actually try to account for human behavior) and that it is that something really real that one theorizes in order to avoid. (If I could show that Freud's notion of an "unconscious" is ultimately flawed and unsatisfying, that is not to say that reflecting upon childhood, family dynamics, and personal symbolism becomes useless.)
Because I can write well--not in a note on a blog, to be sure, but elsewhere, when I refine phrases and get interested in patterns of metaphor--I've always felt stuck between the pursuit of artifice as a means to "get at something"--to find that playing with the language makes something pretty or sublime that reveals ideas I didn't know I had (on the one hand) and (on the other) blurting out an almost-spontaneous rant that turns out to articulate just where I'm standing, or what I'm feeling, about something that's really important to me. (I'm thinking of "I stopped writing poetry" and "No Title" especially; there's a lot of irony and adopting of characters in them but they're basically improvs that allowed a lot of stuff to come out, as opposed to "poems" I made by starting with and fooling with language.)
I don't feel like I have to come down on one side of this, cause I've sort of embraced my schizoid position generally, but my heart seems to be with the rants, and perhaps more importantly, they seem to energize me and get me working, and after all, I might be saying that when my mind and my heart seem to be in conflict, yes, it's very nice to integrate the two, but if I have to choose I'd go with the heart, and after all, even my reason tells me to be mistrustful of reason if my heart does not.

Stories I have notes for and haven't written-
The Juniper Tree
Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man
Further Researches of Dr. Praetorius
Old Man (Little Acorn)
Brian's Dream
I Will Hold You
Come As You Are

Also: Jonah
That's a lot to be backed up on.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Young Frankenstein is the funniest piece of comic musical theater I've ever seen. In adapting it to the stage, they've made some very canny choices: First, as the film was in black and white, the stage production adopts the conventions of the comic revue circa 1934, when the story is set. So there's a kind of Marx Brothers tone to everything (in fact, Frederick Frankenstein's entrance is sort of like Groucho Marx's in Horsefeathers). Second, they sort of deal with much of the audience knowing the best lines by setting them cleverly within the context of musical numbers. You wouldn't think that Frau Blucher's "He Vas My Boyfriend!" could be spun into a great comic aria, but it works amazingly well. Third, the same is done with stage design and other conventions: the show plunders the whole vocabulary of classic designs for musicals the way the film did with Hollywood mise-en -scene--anyone who's looked at Young Frankenstein closely sees immediately why Mel Brooks championed David Lynch and The Elephant Man--and essentially every musical number is a variation upon a showstopper in another, classic show--including the Gilbert & Sullivan comic operetta Ruddigore. And maybe you don't like Will and Grace, but Megan Mullally is fucking brilliant--and you'll be hearing this in reviews in a week or so, so let me be the first to mention: she's channeling Charles Busch in Die, Mommy, Die, the latest in a long line of distinguished performances by biologically female entertainers as drag queens.
So yes, it's very, very good, and I'll be surprised if it doesn't run for eleventy-hundred years. If there isn't a strike this week, that is.
So not everybody here is into musical comedy, but it's kind of my equivalent of serial killer/tribal rock band/Japanese porn. (As Jake Shears once said, "Judy Garland is my heavy metal.") We had every Broadway cast album in my house when I was a kid, and I knew all the lyrics. And I obsessively reread the New-Yorker, Algonquin-table humorists, and loved borscht-belt comics. When I got "serious"--starting with Thoreau, Buddhism, Marxism, then, God help us, symbolist French poetry--in my teens, I left it all behind. Sometime in my thirties, I realized that my inner voice was closer to Ethel Merman and Buddy Hackett than to Verlaine and Rimbaud. That's just the kind of hairpin I am.
Although come to think of it, I do think that's why the South Park movie is so brilliant, and why Johnny Knoxville feels so close to Rip Taylor and John Waters--and why the brilliant finale of Jackass Two is a musical number Mel Brooks must have pissed his pants over (though he'd probably say that at his age, he pisses his pants over very movie he sees).

Monday, October 08, 2007

Note: That Asperger's represents some kind of mutation that's actually evolutionarily healthy. The survival value of a failure of empathy, so humans can finally make rational decisions unclouded by emotion.
(I haven't gotten around to reading The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time because Bob Smith's novel came out. But it's next on the list.)
This week starting on the chapter on interdisciplinary courses on dreaming, which means collecting every note on the topic I've ever written.
In Humanities, The Bacchae, Leviticus, then on to The Tempest. In Dream Screen, from Freud to Jung by way of Mark Blechner and Ernest Hartmann, Forbidden Planet and Living in Oblivion.