Archive for the ‘I Hate Writing’ Category

Eulogy for an Essay

May 9, 2018
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Contact Siobhan for framing options.

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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.

Similes

March 6, 2018

So I started an homage to great similes elsewhere (cough cough).  This one below is too long for me to incorporate there, but is still excellent, for so many reasons.

Yeshua’s kingdom apparently exists in ever-changing resemblances. He does not say what it is, only what it is like. It’s like a tiny seed. Like something inside you. Like a pearl you’d give everything to possess. Like wheat growing among weeds. Like the camel climbing through the needle’s eye. Like the way the world looks to children. Like a servant making good use of the master’s money. Like getting a day’s pay for an hour’s work. Like a crooked magistrate, who has fixed the case in your favor. Like a narrow gate, a difficult road, a lamp on a stand. Like a wedding party. Like a wedding party where all the original guests have been disinvited and replaced by random passers-by. Like yeast in dough. Like a treasure, like a harvest, like a door that opens whenever you knock. Or like a door you have to bang on for hours in the middle of the night until a grumpy neighbor wakes up and lends you a loaf. The kingdom is––whatever all those likenesses have in common. The kingdom, he seems to be saying, is something that can only be glimpsed in comparisons, because the world contains no actual example of it. And yet the world glints and winks and shines everywhere with the possibility of it.

~Francis Spufford , Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense

 

Bluelight Live

December 26, 2017

So I’m in a weird phase in my life, and one of the things I’m doing to entertain (err, distract) myself is explore odd corners of the Internet.  By far the most exciting site I’ve explored is Bluelight, a well established (but new to me) hub of information for drug users of all stripes. I’ve spent a bunch of time this evening reading blow-by-blows of “precipitated withdrawals” (the more you know!), recommendations of what benzos to take when suffering night terrors, and “eye alignment issues on meth.”  The most exciting post I’ve come across, though, is the below, titled “Have I ruined my amphetamines???” and written by a user who goes by the handle speedyhousewife.  I read it aloud to my husband in a posh British accent, which made me think that perhaps there should be some performance called “Bluelight Live,” a la Letters Live.  Who’s with me?

***

Hello everybody here, what a fabulous resource you have here. I’m not sure of all the proper terminology for everything so please do excuse me for any errors. I also do not know anyone else who uses this, nor does anyone other than the seller know that I use it, so I have no one to ask and Google didn’t help me much at all.

I live in Hampshire in England and i have been secretly taking what I know to be called Speed for about 5 years. It usually comes in a mildly smelly pure white sticky paste, sometimes a bit grainy, wrapped in plastic. It’s about the same size as a small butt plug! I was initially told by the seller to put it in the freezer and cut off what I need, but it tastes nasty, so I have always opened it up, spread it on a silicone board and left it in the airing cupboard to dry out. Once dry the next day, I flex it off the board and whizz it into a powder in a food processor. Then I divide it into 50 cigarette papers for easier swallowing. Always been fine, never been a problem, it has always been pure white and mildly smelly.

2 days ago, I bought some and shoved it in my bag without looking. I arrived home and realised that the house wasnt empty, so in a panic, i shoved it in the gas meter cupboard outside overnight. It was a very cold night and i was panicked so i still didnt actually look at it. The next morning, i opened the gas cupboard and the smell was VILE, I wondered if I had a gas leak! I took out the speed and the smell was coming from that, it was nasty and it was a creamy yellow colour! I spread it on my board, but it wasn’t spreading easily. It also made me feel sick because of the smell * I do have extremely heightened sense of smell for the last 3 years though *. I left it to dry over night and it hasn’t dried well, still quite sticky and the smell is still awful. I’m scared to use it.

Has anybody ever known anything like this? Or could it have reacted whilst hidden in the gas cupboard, either to the gas or the cold night? Will this make the speed dangerous to take? Am I being paranoid and irrational? Is variation in colour and smell normal?

I cannot ask the seller as we have no contact at all to protect my secret. I hide the funds in the secret location at the same time every month and the following day I return to collect it. What should I do? I won’t be able to get anymore for 1 month and I only have 2 days left from my previous supply.

Just in case this isn’t actually called Speed, the effects of it are super increased energy, excess sweating, increased motivation, no appetite, sometimes irrational thoughts and crazy ideas (both good and bad), fast talking too much, increased productivity, reduced judgement when shopping (I.e, likely to massively overspend), feeling of invincibility (I.e, attempting tasks that wouldn’t normally be considered for an untrained late 40s 4ft10 woman, like building a summerhouse from scratch, chasing a burglar for 2 miles on foot and roofing repairs) and sexual rampancy. I dont know how much this is in weight that i buy, but it is much much much much cheaper than a months supply of cocaine. Previous threads I have read have not mentioned any prices of things so I haven’t quoted the price to avoid flouting any rules.

The effects hit in 20-30 mins, and usually last from 7.20am-5pm. Once worn off, there is ravenous hunger and occasional emotional sensitivity, but nothing else really, does not affect sleep that night unless a second amount is taken at 5pm. When not able to take for 2 or3 days, major paranoia kicks in, but that might just be my mind and nothing to do with the speed. If it’s not speed, I’d love to know what it might be as I’m really paranoid that I won’t be able to get this if my seller ceases trading. But it was speed I initially asked for.

Thank you so much for reading and for any help! Middle class bitch here with no other help available!

The Problem

December 25, 2017

This is an essay about the Problem. You don’t know about The Problem? You should be ashamed, but only a little. You see, lots of people don’t know about The Problem. That’s why I’m writing this––to raise awareness about The Problem, and to de-stigmatize The Problem. There is enormous stigma around breaking the stigma around the Problem, too, but let’s start with the basics.

How big is The Problem? Massive. Catastrophic. Pervasive. Doctors call it an epidemic. Bureaucrats call it a drain on the system. Poets use the flowery “scourge.” You can’t catch It, exactly, but you can “develop” It in any thousands of ways. For example: you can have a life experience, of any nature, that triggers It. Or you could inherit It from your parents. Maybe It appears suddenly after a bout of the common cold, or you just hate your job so much, the Problem arises. All possibilities. The Problem, after all, is many things, including but not limited to psychological, biological, phenomenological, eschatological, and paleological, not to mention scatological and agrostological.

 

Now I’m going to say something that will make it sound like we have a very good idea of causation, but it will really be more about correlation. Try to ignore this sleight of hand, and think about the human face of the Problem instead. Who is affected by the Problem? Everyone. Grandmothers; middle-aged white men, though they often suffer in silence; teenagers, disproportionately; even babies (human babies, kittens, owlets, and the infants of various endangered species.) Many people may pretend not to be touched by The Problem, but they are, in one way or another. They just don’t know it yet.

 

Celebrities! So many celebrities have the Problem. They’re announcing in droves. They’re railing against the stigma during press junkets. They’re so brave. Not only do they struggle with the Problem and Its many facets, they have the courage to admit it in public. We should all be more like them!

 

But you would like numbers, yes? Statistics. Data. We have so much data about the problem, you wouldn’t even believe. How’s this for scary: 33.23% of those who suffer from the Problem experience some degree of discomfort 89% of the time. Or this: in the past two-and-a-half decades, the number of people reporting symptoms that resemble those described by people who have at some point struggled with the Problem has risen by 231%. Or, finally, get a load of this: teenagers with the Problem are 67 times more likely to have other problems. (What other problems, you wonder? Don’t ask; for now, we need to focus on THE Problem. Triage is simply not an option.) Studies show that further studies are needed to measure the true impact of the problem, although we suspect it is yuge.

 

What do we need from you? Well, money, ideally. You cannot possibly combat a problem the size of the Problem without funds. But we know not everyone has to spare and frankly, we’re not all in agreement as to what we would do with your money if we had it. Instead, we propose the following: talking about the Problem, verbally or digitally, but certainly obsessively. We like to call this “starting a dialogue,” which studies show is viewed as 22% more effective than “waging verbal warfare” or “pestering innocent bystanders.” If talking isn’t your thing, you can click––click every link that leads to an article that raises awareness about the Problem, or click “like” (or even “love” or “feverishly adore” or “could just DIE over,” if said options are available) on any post on any venue that is accompanied by a hashtag related to the Problem.

 

And what if that, too, won’t work? You don’t have a computer or full use of your pointer finger, not to even mention the assertiveness to strike up conversations with strangers or coffers full enough to donate to a cause, however worthy it might be? Then this is all we can request: now that we’ve opened your eyes to the Problem, you continue to think about It in some manner, forever. We believe the knowledge of It should remain omnipresent, like white noise, as you go about your days. We need you to emote about It. How you should feel? Here are your options: guilty, despondent, weepy, helpless, enraged, vaguely disturbed, fearful, tense. Which, ironically enough, describes exactly how those who have the Problem feel all the time. That, and that alone, should comfort you.

(For George W. S. Trow)

A Prayer

November 28, 2017
Dear God, I am so discouraged about my work.  I have the feeling of discouragement that is.  I realize I don’t know what I realize.  Please help me dear God to be a good writer and to get something else accepted.  That is so far from what I deserve, of course, that I am naturally struck with the nerve of it.  Contrition in me is largely imperfect.  I don’t know if I’ve ever been sorry for a sin because it hurt You.  That kind of contrition is better than none but it is selfish.  To have the other kind, it is necessary to have knowledge, faith extraordinary.  All boils down to grace, I suppose.  Again asking God to help us be sorry for having hurt Him.  I am afraid of pain and I suppose that is what we have to have to get grace.  Give me the courage to stand the pain to get the grace.  Oh, Lord.  Help me with this life that seems so treacherous, so disappointing.
— Flannery O’Connor, A Prayer Journal

Putting My Career Up To a Vote

August 30, 2017

What would make a better biting provocative essay: “Against Therapy” or “Against Oprah”?

Burn Down the Future, Part XXVCICX

August 29, 2017

I think I’ve mentioned to y’all before how much I loathe Gmail’s new “suggested responses”––humans are so lazy and uncreative, I guess, that they need to be able to press one button instead of the thirteen it takes to write, “Great, thanks!”––so it pleases me enormously when I manage to have an exchange Gmail cannot fathom.  Yesterday, for example, I sent my friend an article about a woman with Munchausen’s by Proxy whose proxy was her cocker spaniel, and she responded, “Yeah, I’ve heard of this before, mostly in old ladies.”  And Gmail said I should be responding, “Cool!” or “Thanks for the tip!”

A Typical Exchange

August 23, 2017

Me: I might need you to come home early on Monday night because I might be on that radio show about self-esteem.

Husband (scoffing): What are you going to say, that you don’t have any and you don’t believe in the concept?

Me: … maybe.

The Unrated

August 14, 2017

This is probably the longest I’ve gone without blogging in years.  But in my defense, I was in Provence watching bullfights (true story!) and dealing with a teething four-month-old. I’m kind of a boring bougie asshole, aren’t I?

But no matter.  For whatever it’s worth, I’ve thought a lot about blogging, but lacked the resources (good WiFi, a moment to myself during which I’ve had use of both hands) to do it.  Most of the things I’ve considered noting down are lost to the sands of time, but I do remember this one: while in France, I read Chuck Klosterman’s book But What If We’re Wrong? Thinking About the Present As If It Were the Past, which is oodles of fun, especially if you’re a contrarian who hates the present as much as I do.  Anyway, here was one nugget I found enjoyable to contemplate.  He’s talking about which writers might be posthumously wrenched from an obscurity which is a byproduct of their marginal social position:

“The uncomfortable, omnipresent reality within any conversation about representation is that the most underrepresented subcultures are the ones that don’t even enter into the conversation.  They are, by definition, impossible to quantify.  They are groups of people whom––right now, in the present tense––it is still acceptable to dislike or discount or ignore.  They are groups who are not seen as needing protection or support, which makes them vulnerable to ridicule and attack.  Who are they?  As already stated in this paragraph, I am in no position to say.  If I try, I can only be wrong.  Any argument in their favor is an argument against my premise.

Still, the history of ideas tells us that there are many collections of current humans we do not currently humanize.  They exist.  So find them right now, inside your own head: Imagine a certain kind of person or a political faction or a religious sect or a sexual orientation or a social group you have no ethical problem disliking, to the point where you could safely ridicule it in public without fear of censure.

Whatever you imagined is the potential identity of the Contemporary Kafka.  And if your fabricated answer seems especially improbable, it just means you might actually be close.”

When I read this, I thought to myself (perhaps because I’m not creative), “I can’t think of any groups the mainstream reading public”––which tends to be socio-politically liberal––”would easily discount.  All the identifications previously considered aberrant or abhorrent or both are now trumpeted throughout the land.  There might not be any more openly derided––”

And then it hit me: Scientologists.  MIC DROP.  I’m done.