Archive for December, 2012


December 16, 2012

… but what else is there to think of, this rainy Sunday?

A Refusal to Mourn the Death, by Fire, of a Child in London

Never until the mankind making

Bird beast and flower

Fathering and all humbling darkness

Tells with silence the last light breaking

And the still hour

Is come of the sea tumbling in harness

And I must enter again the round

Zion of the water bead

And the synagogue of the ear of corn

Shall I let pray the shadow of a sound

Or sow my salt seed

In the least valley of sackcloth to mourn

The majesty and burning of the child’s death.

I shall not murder

The mankind of her going with a grave truth

Nor blaspheme down the stations of the breath

With any further

Elegy of innocence and youth.

Deep with the first dead lies London’s daughter,

Robed in the long friends,

The grains beyond age, the dark veins of her mother,

Secret by the unmourning water

Of the riding Thames.

After the first death, there is no other.

— Dylan Thomas

Sadly Jesting

December 15, 2012

“I also began to read David Foster Wallace’s thousand-page dystopian novel Infinite Jest, because a pompous professor had once been horrified that I hadn’t read it yet.  With a dictionary in hand, I read through the novel, stopping every other word or so to find a definition.  I kept a running file of all the words that I needed to define from the book.  The words I picked are obtuse to me even now, but they are also strangely illuminating:

effete (adj.): no longer fertile; having lost character, strength or vitality; marked by weakness or decadence

Teratogenic (adj.): of, relating to, or causing development malformations

Lazarette (noun): sick room

Despite this studious attention to vocabulary, when people asked me what the book was about, I’d have to confess, ‘I have no idea.'”

–– Susannah Cahalan, Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness


December 12, 2012

You have a nightmare about standing awkwardly outside the offices of Tablet and watching Jonah Lehrer (weird) and Rachel Shukert typing away in their big open workspace.

Me, Wishing I Were Unhappy Hipsters

December 12, 2012
Actual photo of my stoop.  That slipper was there for days.  In the rain.

Actual photo of my stoop. That slipper was there for days. In the rain.

Mordechai Youngman-de Villeneuve was so angry at Daddy #2 for not giving him chia seeds with his morning Chobani that he flung his shearling slipper out of the carriage during his morning walk.  It landed on the column outside a brownstone on a less fashionable Brooklyn block, and there if remained a monument to his discontent.

A Good Story Outline

December 11, 2012

From the article about Laurie Simmons, best known now as Lena Dunham’s mother, in The New Yorker:

“When [art school] was over, [Simmons] went to visit two Great Neck friends who were living on a communal farm near Roscoe, New York.  ‘One of them had just figured out that she was gay.  She was leaving the commune, and she told me to take care of Eric, her former boyfriend.  So I did.  He became my boyfriend.’  They went to Europe together.  In Amsterdam, they picked up a used Citroen 2CV and set out for Afghanistan, a hippie mecca.  Simmons began keeping a diary on this trip, and she also documented it with her 35 mm Yashica.  They were driving through Turkey, sleeping and cooking in the back of the car, when the heat became so overwhelming that they turned back, sold the car, and returned to the upstate commune, where they broke up.”

Seriously, someone should write a short story based on this in which the two characters become subtly militant toward one another as the heat rises, and right before they fall off a cliff of a really malevolent folie a deux, they have a moment of clarity and realize they must head back for civilization.  Julia Loktev can direct the film version.  Who’s on board?  I’ll pay you one sandwich.

Technology Love

December 11, 2012

So I had to email something to myself, and Gmail marked the conversation as “Important mainly because of the people in the conversation.”  Aw, thank you, Gmail!  You’re so validating.


December 10, 2012

Unless you live in the Rockaways/Breezy Point, Coney Island, or Staten Island, today is the last official day that you can use Hurricane Sandy as an excuse for something.*  Sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings.

*Maybe Brighton, if you’re right on the water/elderly.

Shell Headphones

December 10, 2012

I saw a print at the Park Avenue Armory show this year of a hipster lady wearing these, and now I know that you can buy them for yourself!  Can you hear the ocean in them always?  Experiment: wear on the subway and see how people react.

Unfortunately they're kind of expensive for things that are virtually useless.

Unfortunately they’re kind of expensive for things that are virtually useless.

An Old Letter

December 9, 2012

The impetus for writing this letter was reading somewhere the Marina made her protegees do grueling tasks such as “separate sesame seeds from rice.”  The activity sounding cathartic to me, and I immediately wanted in.  Marina never got back to me, but I still hold out hope that five years from now, as I’m simultaneously cradling my new baby and washing dishes and cursing the horrors of domesticity, I will hear my phone beep and see that an email has come in from this address, and all it will say is, “It’s time.”  When it happens, I’ll be ready.  (Some of the writing below is sloppy –– I was oh-so-young eight months ago –– but I still like my performance art ideas!)

To: Marina Abramovic

Subject: No Subject

Dear Ms. Abramovic,

I suppose it sounds trite to say I’m a huge fan, I deeply admire your work, etc. etc., but then again, just because something is a cliche doesn’t mean it is false.  But that sounds trite, too.  So, just know all this, as you read on…

My friend (I hope she would not object to that label) JT gave me your email after I inquired about your effort to start a performance art school-cum-performance space in Hudson, New York, in the next year/year and a half or so.  It was unclear from the pieces I read whether this space was intended to be used mostly for teaching/practicing or mostly for performing, but if there will be workshops or classes that occur there, I wanted to put myself high on the wait list for attendance (I’m sure there’s a wait list already.)  Writer is my vocation and visual art my avocation, and I have been slowly coming to terms, recently, with my desire to explore performance art.  My writing has always nudged up against the boundaries of performance –– it is as directly engaging as it can be, attempts to actively change thought patterns in both me and the reader, and tries in ways to mirror things as they are occurring in me in the present.  Recently I began to feverishly write poems that describe various performance pieces of which I have conceived.  I have two fully formed in my mind, and those will meet your requirement of being at least six hours.  I’m happy to outline them (on second thought, I may only have one that’s solid enough) if you want more information.  Okay, here goes: I would like to, on stage, preferably in a grand concert space, retype famous classics of literature (think War and Peace) without respite.  The urge to do this –– and it does feel like an urge, something incessant and bodily  –– comes from my love of the sound of typing, and the feeling that the keyboard is the only instrument I play (I type very quickly, and sometimes feel like I reach a kind of transient, autistic state while doing so.)  I have a ridiculous fantasy of a world tour –– me, rewriting the longest tomes in the world’s most beautiful concert halls like the Sydney Opera House or the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires, stumbling off hours, days, weeks later and collapsing, exhausted despite not having moved much.  (How long do you imagine it would take to retype, for example, Infinite Jest or Anna Karenina?)  All performances –– hours and hours of tap-tap-tap –– available for purchase afterwards on iTunes.

The other ideas I have at the moment are less performance art and more performative public works; for example, I want to send a crew of people out into the subway stations to hand out copies of Ernest Becker’s The Denial of Death a la Jehovah’s Witnesses or Messianic Jews.  I do think it would be very helpful for everyone to think, at least once a day, that he/she will die.

But I can always come up with new ideas.

Perhaps naivete, or the lack of self-awareness that this blind email speaks to, will make me seem a viable candidate for such study.  If you would keep me in mind, I would be so grateful.



Sometimes Wedding Season Is Worth It…

December 8, 2012

… to get an STD (save the date) like this:

YES I will attend.

YES I will attend.