Archive for December, 2009

Speaking of Isak Dinesen…

December 28, 2009

This photo is called "Heart of Darkness (The Swamp)" and Peter Beard took it.


December 27, 2009

So yeah, your favorite pretentious asshole has fallen under the spell of JERSEY SHORE…because, cmon, everyone knows the raunchiest reality shows are the best insight into American culture!

Plus, also , the fact that this dude named his abs THE SITUATION obviously reminds me of DeBord! And that makes it FUNNIER!

Quote Numero Uno:

Everybody at the Shore definitely knows The Situation. As far as I know, everybody loves The Situation, and if you don’t love The Situation, I’m gonna make you love The Situation.

Does anyone think he knows who Guy DeBord is?  Probably not, because we’re all smart folk here, but regardless, it’s still funny to replace abs with existential Situation and vice versa…HOURS OF FUN!!!

Update: Was a little tipsy when I wrote that.  Corrected a bit.  The foundation, however, remains rock solid.

The Holidays Are Creepy

December 26, 2009

Text from an Unknown Number (Central Los Angeles), at 8:48 PM on Christmas Day: Jesus loves you unconditionally.

Me, at 8:53 PM: So I can do…anything?!

Unknown in Los Angeles, 8:57 : Yep!  Unless you’re gay, then you’re unlovable.

Me, 8:58: Kickass.

Me, 9:08: BTW, who is this?  I got a new phone…

Unknown in Los Angeles, 9:20: Jesus.

Me, 9:22: Oh great, your direct line!  Fuck praying, I’m calling you every time there’s a bump in the road.

Half Past Midnight, The Sequel

December 24, 2009

The poet has insomnia. What should she read to help her sleep?

A) The Golden Notebook, by Doris Lessing

B) Gertrude Stein

C) Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

D) The Bible by God

Model Crush

December 21, 2009

I kind of have a crush on this Dutch model Lara Stone, who is contextually bodacious and has a pretty badass gap in her front teeth.  Also, I read something funny about her in Vogue this month:

“Stone’s career is a case study in the unlikely.  She was a teenager with an attitude problem on a family trip to Paris when she was scouted by an agent in the Metro.  ‘I was,’ she says, ‘the typical angry teenager.’  Asked what her interests were back then, she draws a blank.  ‘Cigarettes,’ she finally admits.”

You're so pretty, Lara!

Fucking Brilliant

December 19, 2009

From the 2009 Darwin Awards…someone make a short film of this…

4. After stopping for drinks at an illegal bar, a Zimbabwean bus driver found that the 20 mental patients he was supposed to be transporting from Harare to Bulawayo had escaped. Not wanting to admit his incompetence, the driver went to a nearby bus stop and offered everyone waiting there a free ride. He then delivered the passengers to the mental hospital, telling the staff that the patients were very excitable and prone to bizarre fantasies. The deception wasn’t discovered for 3 days.


December 18, 2009

DC you are amazing! (The person, not the place)

A Public Service Announcement

December 16, 2009


Hello dear subjects!

This is the Universal Director of Rationale here.  Many of you have expressed to me recently that you are oftentimes confused or anxious as to whether a not a social outing is technically a “date.”  So, we’re cementing the following part of the definition to put everyone’s mind at rest:

If someone asks you to out to do something and then pays for you(r food, beverages, movie ticket, transportation, etc.) it is automatically a date.

Any possible specifications to be debated on by the Committee of Rationale and added accordingly.  As always, questions/comments/concerns can be directed to the UDR’s secretary, Juan Carlos.

Sleep well, lovelies!



“New” DFW!

December 15, 2009

…in The New Yorker!

Fiction. Yeah. Sure.

“My surfeit of religious interest also had to do with the frequency and tenor of the “voices” I regularly heard as a child (meaning up until roughly age thirteen, as I recall it). The major reason that I was never frightened about the voices or worried about what “hearing voices” indicated about my possible mental health involved the fact that the childhood “voices” (there were two of them, each distinct in timbre and personality) never spoke of anything that wasn’t good, happy, and reassuring. I will mention these voices only in passing, because they are both not directly vital to this and also very hard to describe or convey adequately to anyone else. I should emphasize that, although “make-believe” and “invisible friends” are customary parts of childhood, these voices were—or appeared to me as—entirely real and autonomous phenomena, unlike the voices of any “real” adults in my experience, and with manners of speech and accent that nothing in my childhood experience had exposed me to or prepared me in any way to “make up” or combine from outside sources. (I realized just now that another reason that I do not propose to discuss these childhood “voices” at length is that I tend to fall into attempts to argue that the voices were “real,” when in fact it is a matter of indifference to me whether they were truly “real” or not or whether any other person can be forced to admit that they were not “hallucinations” or “fantasies.” Indeed, one of the voices’ favorite topics consisted in their assuring me that it was of no importance whether I believed they were “real” or simply parts of myself, since—as one of the voices in particular liked to stress—there was nothing in the whole world as “real” as I was. I should concede that in some ways I regarded—or “counted on”—the voices as another set of parents (meaning, I think, that I loved them and trusted them and yet respected or “revered” them: in short, I was not their equal), and yet also as fellow-children: meaning that I had no doubt that they and I lived in the very same world and that they “understood” me in a way that biological adults were incapable of.) (Probably one reason that I fall automatically into the urge to “argue for” the voices’ “reality” is that my “real” parents, though they were wholly tolerant of my believing in the voices, obviously viewed them as the same sort of “invisible friend” fantasies I mentioned above.)”

~ DFW, All That

Read This!

December 15, 2009

I’m so tired lately…tired with a capital T, life-tired, so I haven’t been able to write things specific to this venue…but an old mentor, a lovely and talented woman, told me this was good, so I give you this, as a paltry holiday gift…pay it forward.  Spread it liberally.  Fuck copyrights and plagiarism.  I’m sure someone’s said all this already anyway…

Review of The Writing Life, by Annie Dillard

The concept of instructive texts or handbooks runs the gamut from the totally inane and worthless to the simple, straightforward didactic.  On the former end we have Sex for Dummies, or any text that seeks to teach how you to do something that is biologically intuitive (imagine, Breathing for Idiots!)  Nearby is Rhonda Byrnes’ The Secret, and the myriad other works that show you how you can be happy all the time and get what you want by expending little-to-no effort.  On the latter end, we find step-by-step books, recipe books, exercise methods, etc., texts which involve less metaphysical output and more purely temporal effort and investment.  And then in the middle is the murky area, the place where we find the books that try to teach us those things that involve equal amounts of faith and perseverance, of luck and talent, of passion and detachment.  These are the books in which the writer wishes to teach, or impart wisdom regarding, artistic endeavors: painting, photography, sculpture, music, writing, and parenting.  (She says without a hint of sarcasm.)  The people who author these books-in-the-middle best take a position from which they can both denigrate their chore (as small, meaningless, and simple) and revere it (as all-encompassing, essential and mystifying.)  They must do this because they must know, and in turn be able tell the reader, that their success and authority comes from two places: the smallness of their chore, the banality of it, the scheduling and discipline and eschewing of the more sparkly things in life in favor of work work work, and the grandness of it, the talent that has, in a sense, been bestowed upon them by God.  Without finding such balance, the writer is likely to adopt a tone either too passive or too aggressive, and in either case, will alienate the reader.  Annie Dillard finds such a balance in her book The Writing Life. She does not alienate the reader, though she keeps him at arm’s length.  She inspires awe for many reasons.
The first thing one will notice about Dillard’s book is that it is a slip of a thing, a mere 111 pages, the perfect length for something so calm and meditative.  Any shorter and it would have lacked conclusion; any longer and the reader might be lulled to slumber.  It is also, one will notice upon beginning, certainly not a chronological narrative, though it becomes increasingly more so toward the end.  Dillard begins with small passages about the writing life, the terror of it, the boredom of it, interspersed with short, poignant anecdotes from her personal life and musings on the failures and successes of literature itself, mostly the failures.  She talks about the concept of a schedule, describes the habits of other masters and how even the most prolific differ in what they need.  She equates the work-in-progress to a febrile creature, something sickly and desperate, something you must tend to.  The unfinished piece is seen as something flawed, overly sensitive and liable to combust; a sputtering, fat moth, for example, or a person on the edge of death.  She talks about Chasidic wisdom, about the moment of peril between the invocation of God and the asking for his forgiveness.  As the book moves forward, she describes in detail her life in silent, lonely places: a pine-shed-cum-study on Cape Cod, an isolated island off of the coast of Washington, the silent nights of dark libraries and abandoned university buildings.  She struggles to write on the island, which I envision as all mist and wooden oars, to write and to chop wood, until the wisdom is bestowed upon her in a dream.  “Aim past the wood, aim through the wood; aim for the chopping block.”  Each subsequent chapter seems to be more subjectively unified and at the end you realize they were all leading up toward Chapter Seven, which is almost entirely focused on the character of David Rahm, a stunt pilot Dillard met and flew with out in Washington state.  It is in this chapter that the reader should realize that Dillard has built us up for this ride with Rahm; she has prepared us for taking flight, for the barrel rolling and the nausea-inducing dip a wee bit close to the snowy mountain tops, by giving us the spiritual strength for it.  She has told us, in so many subtle ways, ways only understood retroactively, perhaps, about the danger of walking on the edge, about how it may amount to nothing, about how it may feel unpleasant in the moment, but that you must go on, you must “give it, give it all, give it now.”  Learn from me, she has said, and from the great ones, and from the Rabbis and the inchworm and the painters and the dreams.  “Aim past the wood…aim for the chopping block.”
A very interesting thing about this personal work is that while there are parts of it aimed at a very particular audience –– that of writers –– Dillard never makes it explicitly clear that she’s instructing the would-be bard or journalist.  When she is speaking directly to them/us, it is usually a seamless narration, something done on the sly, so you barely realize she’s giving you advice or encouragement as a writer.  Often time, when constructing a metaphor for writing a book, she puts the reader in the “you” position of the writer.  “You climb a long ladder until you can see over the roof, or over the clouds.  You are-writing a book.”  She hands out small pieces of advice to the writer-reader but is rarely overly sure of herself or her process; her suggestions seem just that, kind acts of benevolence on her part.  One of the most striking and direct things she offers the reader is advice to give writer friends discouraged with their pace of work.  This small piece gives the reader the sense of being cherished as an equal (for I know you will have to comfort your colleagues about this problem, she says) and yet also instructed as a pupil, by a master.  The fact that the text as a whole isn’t shouted at the writer-as-reader (How to Write a Book in Seven Steps!) leaves it open, though, to people who perhaps don’t have the urge to pick up those tools she describes at the opening.  It is not E.M. Forster’s Aspects of the Novel, something that might read as too dry or too specific for the lay person.  The Writing Life can also be read as a glimpse into the existence of another.  Dillard takes us into her world, as simultaneously serene and turbulent as the sea, and shows us what it’s like to live there.
What makes Dillard’s quietude bearable is her wit and its acuity.  It is not something she wields often, as it has the power to devastate the more sensitive at heart, but it is a welcome relief from what often reads as melancholy soliloquy.   She does not want the reader to harbor delusions about the life of a writer, the futility of the operation as a whole, the long days and nights of no-sound, but she isn’t about to entomb us without humor.  In fact, for someone whose tone is so often gentle and smooth, Dillard can bite, and does so fiercely.  “Few sights are so absurd as that of an inchworm leading its dimwit life,” she writes.  Or, when discussing the advantages of writing long works, Dillard philosophizes, “It is no less difficult to write sentences in a recipe than sentences in Moby-Dick.  So you might as well write Moby-Dick.”
Dillard shows us what she goes through in the name of writing, what we go through for it, something that many of us, including her, actively despise: the humor-as-defense, the distracted, lonely mornings at the seaside, finding the edge, spinning, becoming nauseated with mental energy, obsessed, lost.  Adrift, forced to use only our hearts and our prayers to keep us afloat.  She shows us that, and then at the end, without explicitly doing so, she shows us that we’ve been doing it the whole time.  Even in moments of sleep, we have been there, in what the Chasids call tveykos, which means we have lost ourselves in “a transcendent state of cleaving to God.”  We are brave, always, holding our breath for the last magnificent trick, for the crash.  By reminding us of this, the fear and the fact that we are overcoming it, always, she gives us further courage, courage to go and hack away at a sentence, dissect a thought, structure a foundation.  She has given that to me, and off I go, all the while aiming at the chopping block, not the wood.