“Since the late 18th century, and in plain sight, the entire world has been quite violently molded into one expansive international market and playground for the European bourgeoisie. Nation states have increasingly come to exist solely for the benefit of the markets which function through them, developing vast apparatuses of population management, security technologies, and militarized police forces, which serve the needs of production here and repression there.” — Jarrod Shanahan, “I Want to Believe”
Month: August 2013
Most of the people who get shot in Chicago
don’t die of their gunshot wounds.
Gunshot wounds are always painful,
usually almost immediately.
Incoming rounds puncture skin, tear into muscle,
rupture organs and even break bones.
They can blind, deafen, maim, disfigure, cripple for life.
As many as a dozen people
may be shot in Chicago on any given day.
“Most people’s lives are a direct reflection of the expectations of their peer group. Whoever you spend time with, that’s who you become.” – Anthony Robbins, “Get the Edge”
Telephone pole in the alley sports a poster–
rats have been sighted nearby. Poison
has been buried. Keep your pets away.
Keep your children away. No digging!
In an emergency, call for help and pray.
“Research shows, and any observant person can see, that gender variation falls on a continuum from very masculine to very feminine, and that most of us fall somewhere in between. Such labels would be rendered obsolete if we were to accept all manner of tree-climbing and truck-playing behavior in girls and doll-playing and dress-up behavior in boys as healthy explorations of self. It is the same with sex: Alfred Kinsey’s research revealed a continuum of sexual preference, from exclusively heterosexual to exclusively homosexual, with most people falling somewhere along it. Society’s intolerance of ambiguity forces us to define ourselves as straight or gay, masculine or feminine; nature abhors such dichotomies. Acceptance of this fact of human complexity, with all its wonder and fascination, would obviate the need to narrowly determine gender.” – Michael C. Quadland, “Boys and Girls”
The old woman of the shoreline
sits in her wheelchair in the sand.
I am leaving soon, she says.
I am leaving in two or three days.
I’ll not be back.
We’re having a party, she tells the young man of her dreams.
Everyone will be there, you must be there.
I can’t come, he says. He kneels in the sand at her feet,
touches her leg, wonders if she can feel his touch.
I have a previous engagement, he says.
Her eyes are blue, though it’s said by some they once were brown.
She takes his hand. He whispers to her.
“The gradual post-war transformation of this country into an outright plutocracy is a development that few have failed to notice, and that has no champions other than the few who benefit directly from it. To sit and watch those high insiders always cash out with impunity is pretty galling to the citizens of a democracy, however much they think they’ve gotten used to it. And to the national multitude of window-shoppers, whether at the mall or watching their TVs, the full-time advertising is another, complementary provocation.” — Mark Crispin Miller, “Hard Sell”
The maidens of the lake are at work.
The sun rises behind them,
the sky clear of all but blue and gulls.
The maidens ceaselessly dump tub after tub
of lake water on the beach.
The water is green where they work,
the sun shining through it as it pours out
onto the pebbles and the sand.
Farther out, the water is blue.
The maidens rinse the beach.
“A simple question: why do so few characters in fiction ever read books? Let’s assume that these characters do have the ability to read, and to read something more than love letters or legal documents or diaries. Why do their authors so rarely have them reading fiction or philosophy?
“We know that many of the characters have gone to college, even such universities as Harvard and Yale. And yet they never read? Or, if they do, they never talk about their reading with others?
“And here we live, God help us, in the ongoing age of realism. Granted, such writers as Raymond Carver and Frederick Barthelme preferred to make their characters sit in front of TVs. But might they not also pick up the occasional book? And might they not—just once—mention their reading to another character? Wife? Husband? Girlfriend?
“Apparently not. Even professors in fiction do not read, though this could in fact be an accurate reflection of real professors. (Why is it that professors, and especially English professors, read so little? Ah, because they are always so busy! Almost as busy as librarians, who also have no time for reading.)” — Anne Burke, “Thinking in Fiction”
People keep warning me about the winters up here.
Oh, the winters…, they say.
Just wait till the winter.
My wife, I asked her (she’s from here),
What is it with the winters?
You people make human sacrifices to the ice gods?
Just you wait, she said.
Just you wait, desert rat–
your tail’s going to snap right off.
Demonstration of the gender constrictions immanent in languageDemonstration of the gender constrictions immanent in language
“In matters of art, more than elsewhere, it is hardly possible to avoid seeming to confuse what one has not distinguished, or to separate what one does distinguish. Everything is given as a whole and the philosopher perforce must distinguish what art itself might try to render all at once. That is his trade. The friends of art do not need the philosopher to tell them that one can create beauty out of almost nothing, or lay before her an enormous amount of the most opulent materials and that, at times, the same artist does both successively, or dreams of doing so. There is not a single art which does not use other arts as materials without the least concern for the purity of essence which the philosopher must strive to extract because ‘quiddity’ is the primary if not the ultimate object of his concern. The artist is free; no one is authorized to prescribe rules for him, nor impose upon him limits. The artist alone knows what he wants to do, and although the work almost always falls short of the desired end, partial success or failure are the only conceivable sanctions of his work. They come too late to affect it, and they are so uncertain that it is very difficult to say something intelligible about them.” — Etienne Gilson, Forms and Substances in the Arts (trans. Attonasio; emphasis in original)
The smell from the fire escape today is root beer.
Broken glass litters the sidewalks atop the breakwater.
In one direction the lake goes on forever.
The screaming woman is quiet now, she sleeps.
The morning sun shines on her blinded bedroom window, she sleeps.
In her sleep she never screams, though she moans and begs.
She never tells her dreams.
“The true way to be deceived is to think oneself more knowing than others.” – Francois Duc De La Rochefoucauld, Reflections (trans. Bund & Friswell)
People in Chicago are not full of shit.
In New York they’re full of authentic shit
real, hardened, know-your-shit shit.
In the Southwest they’re full of blustery shit
gassy, hot, noisy shit.
In Chicago, no, it’s strictly business. No shit.
No time or point for it.
I am in Chicago but I’m still full of shit.
“The blemishes of the mind, like those of the face, increase by age.” – Francois Duc De La Rochefoucauld, Reflections (trans. Bund & Friswell)
I’m not a very nice person.
As a person I am not very nice.
The diary I kept while I was in my teens
shows me a person I don’t know
and don’t want to know
and he was the source of me.
He was a little shit.
A petty thief
molester of girls
he called it love.
He was never thrashed
within an inch of his life.
“To understand matters rightly we should understand their details, and as that knowledge is almost infinite, our knowledge is always superficial and imperfect.” – Francois Duc De La Rochefoucauld, Reflections (trans. Bund & Friswell)
That woman screams.
Behind this window
that woman screams.
This window opens over the alley back of the building.
It opens and that woman screams.
She goes to the lake and listens to the lake.
No one hears her scream at the lake.
Reality is looking for a job.
The money won’t last.
This idyll won’t last.
The northeast breeze rolls the waves onto the beach.
Where the sun reflects from the water, I cannot look.
What fresh heaven is this?
The green flag means the lifeguard is on duty.
The lifeguard sits in a rowboat a few yards off the beach. She wears sunglasses and watches the children splashing in the shallows.
She steadies the rowboat with its oars. It is work. She is young and thin and very tanned.
Children hold hands along the beach. They stand in a line and jump over the crests of small waves coming in.
On a bench in the park just above the beach, a boy writes in a notebook.
I am new here.
I am new here.
A half-block east of my new home is Lake Michigan. I sat beside the lake for a short while this morning. The sun sparkled off the waves. The breeze was up. The waves hit the breakwater and receded, hit the breakwater and receded.
Chicago. Downtown, in the Loop. I’m at Caribou Coffee at the corner of S. Wabash and something. An excruciatingly hot and menacingly full cup of tasty coffee is at hand. My first job interview was within the past hour. It went well enough, but no slam-dunk.
Much of what I could write now would be trivial and self-indulgent. Susan is to meet me here soon and at that point, if not earlier, this will end.
The LC Penske was a grand ship, a delight and at time a challenge to pilot to safe harbor. I am glad the voyage is over. I do not recommend a similar endeavor be undertaken by anyone, for there is no one I dislike enough to wish them subject to such.
The cargo is all off-loaded and will take what seems at this point to be the shy side of forever to unpack and properly arrange. The cats are hiding under the bed in their new home–or at least they were when I left to come downtown–and they have ventured out a couple times to take a quick look around before scampering back into hiding.
Susan is not here yet, but enough of this for now.
Bloomington, Illinois — This morning much like yesterday. Awake before 4:00, lying in bed till after 5:00, thinking (with eyes closed this time). Much to do today and tomorrow, much to get right. Sail the great yellow Penske land-caravel into Chicago and dock at the alleyway behind the building which harbors my new home which I haven’t yet seen beyond in the floor plan and what I could see of the exterior and the neighborhood in Google Maps Street View (I walked that whole neighborhood a few weeks ago in Google Maps Street View). Meet with building management and get the keys (I should call them first and confirm I’m coming; I should keep their number close at hand for easy access; I should keep Eric’s number with it (I called him yesterday and left a message, told him our arrival is nigh, we will see him there, he need call only if he won’t be able to be there)). Remain on the bridge of the LC Penske while my crew off-loads its cargo (but I should secure promise and payment of overnight docking facilities at the rumored gas station quay a block from the new home, and I should diesel up; the truck must be dropped off across town Saturday morning and must have a full tank; and I should diesel up here in Bloomington before departure, it’s likely to be less expensive than in Chicago). And I should double-check my maps, make a couple quick sketches and some notes regarding today’s arrival and tomorrow’s expedition by El down the famed Red Line to the legendary Loop for the afternoon job interview (3:00 p.m., can not be late). Oh, and I should make sure I know my route to the Penske delivery berth, truck’s due there by 9:00 tomorrow morning, should not be late.
Time to shower and dress and pop downstairs for breakfast (could use some coffee, there’s none here in the room). Not a great many things to do, but all must be done and must be done right.