The Life with a Hole in it
When I throw back my head and howl
People (women mostly) say
But you've always done what you want,
You always get your own way
--A perfectly vile and foul
Inversion of all that's been.
What the old ratbags mean
Is I've never done what I don't.
So the shit in the shuttered chateau
Who does his five hundred words
Then parts out the rest of the day
Between bathing and booze and birds
Is far off as ever, but so
Is that spectacled schoolteaching sod
(Six kids, and the wife in pod,
And her parents coming to stay)...
Life is an immobile, locked,
Three-handed struggle between
Your wants, the world's for you, and (worse)
The unbeatable slow machine
That brings what you'll get. Blocked,
They strain round a hollow stasis
Of havings-to, fear, faces.
Days sift down it constantly. Years.
Leda and the Swan
by W. B. Yeats
A sudden blow: the great wings beating still
Above the staggering girl, her thighs caressed
By the dark webs, her nape caught in his bill,
He holds her helpless breast upon his breast.
How can those terrified vague fingers push
The feathered glory from her loosening thighs?
And how can body, laid in that white rush,
But feel the strange heart beating where it lies?
A shudder in the loins engenders there
The broken wall, the burning roof and tower
And Agamemnon dead.
Being so caught up,
So mastered by the brute blood of the air,
Did she put on his knowledge with his power
Before the indifferent beak could let her drop?
"They think you just get up there and sing your songs," he is saying, addressing the highway. "They think it's just a one-way deal, but it's not like that at all. Because you start out playing for people who are just like you. That's the only place you can. You play for people who comes from where you come from. They seek you out in little clubs because they understand what you're doing, so you feel like you're doing it for them. And if you go wrong in these clubs, you know it immediately. And maybe you want to go wrong. That's your option, but you know it when you do it. Then one day you're not playing for people like you anymore. You look out there, like I did tonight, and realize that you're playing for people who want to be like you, and you can't trust these people. Because to them, whatever you do, that's you and that's cool. Which would be okay except!--even though all these people want to be like you, you don't know who you are anymore, because it was the people in those little clubs that gave you that understanding in the first place. God knows where they are tonight. Sitting at home, probably. Pissed off at me. Listening to Willie Nelson records."
Waylon Jennings to Dave Hickey
"Spectators invariably align themselves with authority. They have neither the time nor the inclination to make decisions. They just love the winning side--the side with the chic building, the gaudy doctorates, and the star-studded cast. They seek out spectacles whose value is confirmed by the normative blessing of institutions and corporations. In these venues they derive sanctioned pleasure or virtue from an accredited source, and this makes them feel secure, more a part of things. Participants, on the other hand, do not like this feeling. They lose interest at the moment of accreditation, always assuming there is something better out there, something rbighter and more desireable, something more in tune with their own agendas. And they may be wrong, of course. The truth may indeed reside in the vision of full professors and corporate moguls, but true participants persist in not believing this. They continue looking.
Thus, while spectators must be lured, participants just appear, looking for that new thing--the thing they always wanted to see--or the old thing that might be seen anew--and having seen it, they seek to invest that thing with new value. They do this simply by showing up; they do it with their body language and casual conversation, with their written commentary, if they are so inclined, and their disposable income, if it falls to hand. Because participants, unlike spectators, do not covertly hate the things they desire. Participants want their views to prevail, so they lobby for the embodiment of what they lack
Maybe it's just old fashioned of me to think that young artists should bring their own stuff with them into the art world, and bring their own friends, as well, simply because democratic institutions (even frivolous ones like the art world) respond to constituencies of people, not objects. That's why I still endorse Peter Schjeldahl's advice on how to become an artist: "You move to a city. You hang out in bars. You form a gang, turn it into a scene, and turn that into a movement." Then, I would suggest when your movement hits the museum, abandon it. Your demure emblem now adorns the smooth state--resides in the domain of normative expression, its status greatly magnified and its rich social contextuality effectively sterilized. Whatever happy contingencies fluttered around it disperse, as it departs society and enters "the culture," where it must necessarily mean less, but to a lot more people. It's spectator-food, now, scholar-fodder, so you may safely stick a fork in it, tell yourself you've won, and go to your room."
"Now the standard cure for one who is sunk is to consider those in actual destitution or physical suffering - this is an all-weather beatitude for gloom in general and fairly salutory daytime advice for every one. But at three o'clock in the morning ... the cure doesn't work - and in a real dark night of the soul it is always three o'clock in the morning, day after day. At that hour the tendency is to refuse to face things as long as possible by retiring into an infantile dream - but one is continually startled out of this by various contacts with the world.
One meets these occasions as quickly and carelessly as possible and retires once more back into the dream, hoping that things will adjust themselves by some great material or spiritual bonanza. But as the withdrawal persists there is less and less chance of the bonanza - one is not waiting for the fade-out of a single sorrow, but rather being an unwilling witness of an execution, the disintegration of one's own personality ..."
F. Scott Fitzgerald
"Pasting It Together"
Wed, Dec. 12th, 2007, 02:24 am
A BREAK FOR ADVERTISERS
1. You Know Coke
[An intermission, a scene change, a lull in the fun, a musical interlude.]
[No frills. AN OFFICIAL REPRESENTATIVE walks out. He's you. Or maybe like that guy you know. He's part of the crowd. He sits or stands casually.]
AN OFFICIAL REPRESENTATIVE
Hey, I’m...I’m here to tell you about Coca Cola or, you know, Coke. I’m gonna tell you about Coke. This is my pitch for Coke, to you, the consumer in what I think is a reasonably thoughtful way. I'm not being paid, necessarily, for any of this. I'm just here to let you know how I feel. And if you'll give me a moment of your time, I think I've got a lot to say.
It's, uh, it’s good, is the thing. Not good for you, though and I feel obligated--uh, I have to stress that. It’s full of corn syrup unless you buy the ones in the glass bottles which, you know, they actually, they actually still sell. At my local bodega, for instance. Those have real sugar in them. But even then, it’s not good for you for sure. I think I read something about how people who drink even just one soda a day – and that’s any soda, the competition and subsidies included, even the clear stuff – just one soda a day sucks some obscene amount of minerals or vitamins or life force out of your bones by the time you’re sixty and things on your inside start falling out of the sky.
So it’s for sometimes. It’s for hamburgers and potato chips and hot dogs and...pizza. Jesus, what else would you drink with pizza? Juice? Water? Milk? Milk and pizza? That’s so much dairy. But look, here’s the other thing: It’s not about freedom. Drinking Coke isn’t about liberty and love and savoring memories and first kisses or even just childhood in general or, please, really, it’s not about love. Or God. Or being cool. Nobody cares what soda you drink. I mean, actually, at the moment, it is probably not cool at all to drink soda. Any kind of soda. Unless you’re seven. And if you’re seven, I apologize if that sounded condescending, because I can remember what it’s like to be seven and it’s not easy and sometimes people do care what kind of soda you drink, but it changes so quick, kiddo, it’ll be Sunkist by next week. You know what was cool when I was your age? Surge. And I bet you don’t even remember that. That was a fine Coca-Cola product that nobody thinks is cool anymore. Not even your friends.
No, the only drink that people judge you by is alcohol, assuming you and the people in your peer group consume it, and it’s a tricky form of cool, booze is. It’s got very clear gender lines and a long history to it. There’s more history remaining in the consumption of alcohol than maybe any other activity or facet of American life. Baseball, maybe. Sports is all about statistics and record-keeping so...
Coke isn’t baseball. But neither is Pepsi. Pepsi isn’t Football or anything like that, either. But what Coke is, and this is really what I’ve been trying to get at and you’ll excuse me if it’s taken a minute because the Coca Cola company has a lot of psychic weight with you and with me and with all of us, with everyone who’s still alive now, you know? – Coke is good. It’s very good, even. It’s delicious. It is better than Pepsi and it is better than all of that bargain bin Mickey Mouse house brand cola stuff. It’s not exactly refreshing, it’s a little thick for that, but it is crisp and cold and tastes like nothing else. It’s a little weird. It’s caramel flavored, I think, technically, which is weird. Right? But it works and that’s fine by me. But also, you know, don’t deprive yourself of the taste. Don’t buy that watered down diet stuff. Any of it, okay? Because if you’re on a diet, you shouldn’t be drinking soda. Let’s face it. That’s not a diet at all. And it tastes terrible and it’s full of that stuff that I know you read that article about how it gives rats cancer and rats have been very conclusive as of late, from what I hear. So don’t get too fancy. Cherry Coke, okay, maybe. I get it, it’s a classic, maybe even Vanilla. But nothing too busy. Don’t muss the cleanness of the flavor. It’s Coke, you know? It tastes like Coke. And that's what you want. Don’t make it taste like other things. It’s Coke, it’s great, go pour yourself a tall glass if you’ve got a two liter sitting around, hopefully in the fridge because, y'know, that stuff goes flat so quick, or pop a can if you’re into aluminum and sip it straight out without a straw because people who tell you that rats run around on the tops of soda cans in warehouses have too much time on their hands. These are the same people who scrapbook. Don’t listen to them. Straws are for suckers. Dig in. Enjoy the metal on your lips. It’s not just presentational. It flavors your beverage.
So: Coke. It’s good. Coke is good. Drink it because it’s good. You’ll enjoy it. Don’t worry about it, okay? Relax. It's, like, Coke, right? Right. So relax.
A Poet at Twenty
Images leap with him from branch to branch. His eyes
brighten, his head cocks, he pauses under a green bough,
And when I see him I want to hide him somewhere.
The other wood is past the hill. But he will enter it, and find the particular maple. He will walk through the door of the
maple, and his arms will pull out of their sockets, and the blood will bubble from his mouth, his ears, his penis, and his
nostrils. His body will rot. His body will dry in ropey tatters. Maybe he will grow his body again, three years later. Maybe
There is nothing to do, to keep this from happening.
It occurs to me that the greatest gentleness would put a bullet into his bright eye. And when I look in his eye, it is not
his eye that I see.
"Through most of modern history, “sublimation” was possible: at the expense of expressing only a small portion of oneself, that small portion could be expressed intensely. But sublimation depends on a reasonable tempo to history. If the collective life of a generation has moved too quickly, the “past” by which particular men and women of that generation may function is not, let us say, thirty years old, but relatively a hundred or two hundred years old. And so the nervous system is overstressed beyond the possibility of such compromises as sublimation, especially since the stable middle-class values so prerequisite to sublimation have been virtually destroyed in our time, at least as nourishing values free of confusion or doubt. In such a crisis of accelerated historical tempo and deteriorated values, neurosis tends to be replaced by psychopathy, and the success of psychoanalysis (which even ten years ago gave promise of becoming a direct major force) diminishes because of its inbuilt and characteristic incapacity to handle patients more complex, more experienced, or more adventurous than the analyst himself. In practice, psychoanalysis has by now become all too often no more than a psychic blood-letting. The patient is not so much changed as aged, and the infantile fantasies which he is encouraged to express are condemned to exhaust themselves against the analyst’s non-responsive reactions. The result for all too many patients is a diminution, a “tranquilizing” of their most interesting qualities and vices. The patient is indeed not so much altered as worn out—less bad, less good, less bright, less willful, less destructive, less creative. He is thus able to conform to that contradictory and unbearable society which first created his neurosis. He can conform to what he loathes because he no longer has the passion to feel loathing so intensely.
If you goof (the ugliest word in Hip), if you lapse back into being a frightened stupid child, or if you flip, if you lose your control, reveal the buried weaker more feminine part of your nature, then it is more difficult to swing the next time, your ear is less alive, your bad and energy-wasting habits are further confirmed, you are farther away from being with it. But to be with it is to have grace, is to be closer to the secrets of that inner unconscious life which will nourish you if you can hear it, for you are then nearer to that God which every hipster believes is located in the senses of his body, that trapped, mutilated and nonetheless megalomaniacal God who is It, who is energy, life, sex, force, the Yoga’s prana, the Reichian’s orgone, Lawrence’s “blood,” Hemingway’s “good,” the Shavian life-force; “It”; God; not the God of the churches but the unachievable whisper of mystery within the sex, the paradise of limitless energy and perception just beyond the next wave of the next orgasm."
Norman MailerThe White Negro
“You’ve made your bed, now lie in it”
is a concept lost on those of us with unmade beds,
who lack even the smallest daily rituals,
I washed the fitted sheet on Wednesday,
I don’t know where it is now.
I sleep on an old, naked mattress,
older than me.
It lasted until this week
when the cat began to dig a hole
in the gray gut fluff
so it would have a place to hide.
I lie here all day, never looking out a window
or turning on a light
and pretend I’m the world’s fattest man
trapped inside myself
everything out of reach.
Sun, Oct. 7th, 2007, 03:00 pm
"One must try to come up with new, unrecognizable techniques that won’t resemble any previous ones, so as to avoid silly ridicule. One should build one’s own world that would allow no comparisons and for which there would be no previous measures of judgment which must be new, like the technique.
No one must realize that the author is worthless, that he’s an abnormal, inferior type, that, like a worm writhes and slithers to keep alive.
No one must ever catch him being naïve. Everything must appear perfect, based on rules that are unknown, and, therefore, not judgeable.
Like a crazy man, yes, like a crazy man.
Glass on glass, because I’m unable to correct anything. And no one must realize this. A brush stroke on one pane corrects without spoiling the one painted before on another glass pane.
But nobody must believe it’s the expedience of an incapable, of an impotent. Not at all. It must seem like a firm decision, resolute, high and almost domineering. No one must know that a stroke comes out well by chance, by chance and trembling. That as soon as a brush stroke comes out well, as if by miracle, it must be protected right away and sheltered as in a shrine.
But no one must notice that the artist is a poor, trembling idiot, a half-ass who lives by chance and risk, dishonored like a child and has reduced his life to the silly melancholy of one who lives degraded by the impression of something lost forever."
Pier Paolo Pasolini
Sun, Sep. 23rd, 2007, 02:52 pm
"Today's child is growing up absurd, because he lives in two worlds and neither of them inclines him to grow up. Growing up––that is our new work, and it is total."
"The poet, the artist, the sleuth––whoever sharpens our perception tends to be antisocial; rarely "well-adjusted," he cannot go along with currents and trends. A strange bond often exists among anti-social types in their power to see environments as they really are."
"Professionalism is environmental. Amateurism is anti-environmental. Professionalism merges the individual into patterns of total environment. Amateurism seeks the development of the total awareness of the individual and the critical awareness of the groundrules of society. The amateur can afford to lose...the "expert" is the man who stays put."
The Medium is the Massage
"Has Faith in Groups: You know, that's what I hate: when you start talking like this, like you just pull in these things from the shit you read, and you haven't thought it out for yourself, no bearing on the world around us, and totally unoriginal.
Based on Authoritative Sources: Okay, great. Personal attacks now, is that it? I thought we were beyond that.
Has Faith in Groups: It's like you just pasted together these bits and pieces from your "authoritative sources." I don't know. I'm beginning to suspect there's nothing really in there.
Based on Authoritative Sources: Suspect? You're beginning to suspect? Oh, that's rich, that's really rich. So what? At least what is there, is based on good sources."