Archive for the ‘I Hate Writing’ Category

Rage!

May 10, 2019

A few years ago, I wrote about how Tennessee Williams’s brother refused to honor his last wish to be buried at sea.  This week, while reading Assia Wevill’s biography, I learned that Ted Hughes also refused to honor her wish to be buried in a small country cemetery in England, and for her epitaph to read, “Here lies a lover of unreason and an exile.”  But of course Hughes the SCOUNDREL had her cremated.  Okay, so he did apparently spread them in a churchyard in Kent somewhere, but that isn’t good enough!  Since there is no body to be recovered here, I suggest we erect a gravestone as a memorial.  If I were a conceptual artist I would do this.

I know it’s cliched to hate Ted Hughes but I do, I really do.

This post brought to you by someone who one night this week downed a glass of port and cried copiously about the untimely end of Shura Wevill-Hughes.

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Additions to List

April 28, 2019

Back in this post, I said there should be names for films that use either regular people to play characters much like themselves/non-professional actors exclusively or a mix of professional and non-professional actors.  Kind of like, filmic auto-fiction?  Anyway, I named a few movies that fall into this category, but I have some more to add: La Pointe Court (Agnes Varda) and Man of Aran.  I’m sure there must be a name for this type of cinema, so please, by all means, can some snobby first year film MFA student school me on this?

Henry Miller and Lawrence Durrell, Trans-Asians (Alternative Title: Ugh)

March 26, 2019

This just strikes me as the most entitled white male writer shit ever.  A TIBET OF THE MIND?!  If these guys were alive and tweeting in 2019 they’d be flayed alive.

“Thinking to have a horoscope of Durrell drawn up, [Miller] asked for details of his birth.  Told that he had lived on the borders of Tibet, close to the Forbidden Land, he was thrilled, he said, because he himself was a Chinese at heart.  Miller‘s interest soon took Durrell back to his childhood in Darjeeling, and, soon after, he discovered My Journey to Lhasa by Alexandra David-Neal, who had gone on foot to Lhasa in 1923.  It confirmed his Tibetan ‘ancestry’ and he began to cultivate his ‘Tibetan’ side, claiming he lived in a sort of Tibet of the mind.  If Miller was a Chinaman, then he himself was a Tibetan.”

Through the Dark Labyrinth: A Biography of Lawrence Durrell, Gordon Bowers

True Crime

March 21, 2019

You know how true crime is big?  Of course you do!  And true crime podcasts are the BIGGEST!  You are definitely plugged in enough to know that.  Well, while researching an article about an Amish thing, I came across this old news story, and I’m convinced it’s the next big true crime podcast subject (it’s basically a solved murder, but they’ve made well-reviewed podcasts about Charles Manson, so I don’t think knowing who did it is that much of a deterrent).  I would love to do some of the work on this, but the thing is, only some of it: pitching it, organizing interviews and travel, arranging for advertising, etc., I’d prefer someone else do.  Do you think Sarah Koenig is free?

A trailer:

The break came in 1987, when Reader’s Digest published an article about Little Boy Blue. A woman in northern Ohio, a member of an Amish community, read the story and wondered whether the mystery boy was a relative who had not been seen for several years. She contacted authorities, who, in the days before forensic DNA testing, used a fingerprint to confirm the identification.

Little Boy Blue was Danny Stutzman, a 9-year-old from Dalton, Ohio. The sheriff and Nebraska State Patrol investigator Jack Wyant furiously searched for the boy’s father, Eli Stutzman. They found him in Azle, Texas, almost two years from the date of Danny’s discovery in Nebraska.

I mean, it’s a gay Amish murder story.  Gold, Jerry!

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Privilege-O-Meter

March 7, 2019

I’m having one of those days when I’m obsessing over the fact that everyone seems so careless and self-centered––and I have those days a lot, which says more about me than it does about people––so I keep trying to do the whole “this is water” thing.  You know, the David Foster Wallace speech?  Where he talks about how you shouldn’t assume people acting like dicks are dicks because they could be dealing with something way worse than you are?  Herewith, a (long) bit of the stuff I’m talking about:

The thing is that, of course, there are totally different ways to think about these kinds of situations. In this traffic, all these vehicles stopped and idling in my way, it’s not impossible that some of these people in SUV’s have been in horrible auto accidents in the past, and now find driving so terrifying that their therapist has all but ordered them to get a huge, heavy SUV so they can feel safe enough to drive. Or that the Hummer that just cut me off is maybe being driven by a father whose little child is hurt or sick in the seat next to him, and he’s trying to get this kid to the hospital, and he’s in a bigger, more legitimate hurry than I am: it is actually I who am in HIS way.

Or I can choose to force myself to consider the likelihood that everyone else in the supermarket’s checkout line is just as bored and frustrated as I am, and that some of these people probably have harder, more tedious and painful lives than I do.

Again, please don’t think that I’m giving you moral advice, or that I’m saying you are supposed to think this way, or that anyone expects you to just automatically do it. Because it’s hard. It takes will and effort, and if you are like me, some days you won’t be able to do it, or you just flat out won’t want to.

But most days, if you’re aware enough to give yourself a choice, you can choose to look differently at this fat, dead-eyed, over-made-up lady who just screamed at her kid in the checkout line. Maybe she’s not usually like this. Maybe she’s been up three straight nights holding the hand of a husband who is dying of bone cancer. Or maybe this very lady is the low-wage clerk at the motor vehicle department, who just yesterday helped your spouse resolve a horrific, infuriating, red-tape problem through some small act of bureaucratic kindness. Of course, none of this is likely, but it’s also not impossible. It just depends what you want to consider. If you’re automatically sure that you know what reality is, and you are operating on your default setting, then you, like me, probably won’t consider possibilities that aren’t annoying and miserable. But if you really learn how to pay attention, then you will know there are other options. It will actually be within your power to experience a crowded, hot, slow, consumer-hell type situation as not only meaningful, but sacred, on fire with the same force that made the stars: love, fellowship, the mystical oneness of all things deep down.

So of course, today while I was trying to convince myself not to burn down the whole damn thing and doing my “this is water” TM mantra thing, all of a sudden it occurred to me: what if some of these people really are just dicks?  Or what if they’re not, they’re just normal people, but their lives are actually easier than mine and therefore they should be all “this is water”-ing me?  Am I still supposed to give everyone a pass for not holding the door of the bodega open for me while I try to wheel out my mammoth baby buggy with my toddler yelling inside MOMMY, MELON and my baby strapped to my chest starting to wake up and root around to suction on to me like a hungry barnacle?  Or is that millennial on her iPhone really just a lazy POS who didn’t see me struggling because she was texting about Kylie Kardashian’s lip balm?

I have an idea for the dystopic disruptors out there (I know there are a lot of you!): make some kind of program or app or something, that gives everyone a privilege rating, so that if you come into contact with someone who treats you poorly, you can just look up their number (or see it in your eyeballs or whatever Google is up to these days) and then you’ll know if you should forgive them or street fight them (or, let’s be real, just curse them in your mind).

In the words of Ken Jennings: BOOM, I just made a Black Mirror.

We Are Living in End Times Part a Million

March 3, 2019

This is sadly not fake news:

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And by “this is not fake news,” I mean these are actual things people have published and thought people would care about recently.

Being Woke Never Solved Shit

January 7, 2019

Remember when you were a child and you just read funny books about animals and you didn’t really think much of it?  But now it’s 2019 and you’re an adult and aware of things like colonialism, and then you read Babar and Curious George to your kid and you think, “Hm, the white man captures the animal from his happy jungle home and forces him to conform to societal norms he doesn’t understand, and fetishizes him or locks him up when he fails to follow the rules?  Is this just a veiled commentary on the history of white oppression in foreign territories?  Is Babar just a stand-in for Pocahontas, who was paraded throughout 17th century England as the ‘civilized savage’?  If George––human name, btw––were a person would he end up in a human zoo?  Oh, for fuck’s sake.  Liberalism is why we can’t have nice things!”

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ICYMI, it says “In the evening, after dinner, [Babar] tells the Old Lady’s friends all about his life in the great forest.”

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Curious George’s curiosity gets him fucking POACHED.

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Sure, it LOOKS innocent and fun, but the white man runs the zoo.

 

Theresa Duncan’s (Missed) Yahrtzeit

August 29, 2018

So this is truly embarrassing, but I had it in mind to write something acknowledging the 10 year anniversary of Theresa Duncan’s death, and I thought it was somewhat recent, but then I Googled it just now and saw that it was actually LAST summer.  This is what having an infant/toddler will do to you.

Anyway, I wanted to memorialize the summer of Duncan’s passing, which of course, being twenty-three at the time, I made into a commentary all about me, but obviously I’ve missed it.  And so did, it seems, everyone else: there was no gossip-y Nancy Jo Sales piece, no memorial service at Saint Mark’s Church, no biopic from Brett Easton Ellis playing at my local Alamo Drafthouse (although I’ve always thought the story was better suited for avant garde opera, no)?  There was a pretty good essay about it by a writer named Patricia Grisafi, although clearly not timed for the anniversary; there was nothing specifically mentioning the anniversary on her mother’s blog homage (blomage?) to Theresa, but then again, maybe she doesn’t mark the anniversaries the way us Jews do.

And also, maybe there weren’t those things because… there isn’t really much to say?  I’m realizing now that I don’t have anything to add to the story except that we should try not to forget these two people, or at least that I don’t think I will be able to forget these two people, which is something else entirely.  Wherever you two lovebirds are, I hope it’s sunny.

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Eulogy for an Essay

May 9, 2018
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Contact Siobhan for framing options.

Spare Me the Hallelujahs

May 3, 2018

You guys probably saw that there was a “Beyonce mass” at a church in, I believe, San Francisco.  I could Google it and confirm, but I find it too depressing, so I won’t.

Why do I find it depressing?  This is yet another example––perhaps the most damning one of all––of our culture ceding morality and expertise to celebrities.

Listen, as far as celebrities go, Beyonce is a fine one.  She donated all that money to historical black colleges for scholarships, she donates money for clean water in Burundi, she preaches female empowerment (although interestingly, often single female empowerment, over a period of time when she was coupled).  But this is also an individual who likes to symbolically claim that high fashion is radicalism (it can be radical, but it isn’t principled), and who dresses her six-year-old in Gucci.  This not someone who is qualified for the position of saint.

To be clear, I think Beyonce would dig the idea of the mass, but I don’t think she wants to be a saint.  I think in this case, a lot of it is because we project onto her.  A lot of celebrities-turned-something-elses actively portray themselves as fit for their other roles.  Cases in point: Jenny McCarthy, whose medical advice people actually took (it still boggles the mind.). Less egregiously, Tom Hanks and Sean Penn, who offer up mediocre literary offerings and then are deemed “authors.”  Of course, who could forget the leader of free world?  Celebrities are now our pediatricians, politicians, clothing designers, childcare experts, and UN ambassadors.

“You should read this great new book about the true cause of depression,” my friend texts me.  “Elton John gave it a fantastic blurb.”  My first thought: why on earth would I care what Elton John has to say on a book about depression?  When I think about who should be vetting a book on depression, the people who come to mind are doctors or cultural critics or sometimes both––Gary Greenberg, Allen Frances, Peter Kramer, Andrew Solomon, Daphne Merkin, and so on.  When I say I’m not particularly interested in what Elton has to say on the subject, she responds, “If you don’t like him, Emma Thompson also gave it a blurb.”  I don’t think she was getting my point.

Now, they are also our moral guides and our prophetic proxies.  This is truly disturbing.

Shout out to a few people who saw this coming and said DOOM: Jarrett Kobek, author of I Hate the Internet.  Here’s an excellent interview with him in which he sounds off on this topic for a long time.  My favorite part is when he says to cure ourselves of this problem, we need to start thinking of celebrity as a disease: “If we think about the conflation of celebrity and politics, we start to understand this disease’s socially debilitating effects. We’re trying to use entities which are no longer human and thus no longer contained by our social constructs to have long and pointless discussions about major social issues defined, primarily, by those constructs.”

DFW also foresaw this, in Infinite Jest among other places.

And of course, my main squeeze, George W. S. Trow: “Celebrities have an intimate life and a life in the grid of two hundred million.  For them, there is no distance between the two grids in American life.  Of all Americans, they are the most complete.”

My fellow Americans (and everyone, because let’s be honest, many other societies are following us toward certain cultural oblivion): we can do better than this.  We can see past the sheen and choose instead to look to the possibly unsexy but still better educated experts in their chosen fields.  We can elect politicians (or the otherwise qualified!), read books by writers, trust in the medical advice of our doctors, and venerate our saints.  Join me.