Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Emails Without A Home


I am envious of the image. He told me only the barest details on how it was created. There is no point in relaying those here. It is a glass dry plate. The birdbath I am familiar with, having seen it in his yard now for many years. I once did some landscaping, mostly weeding, for him when I needed money or needed to get away. I forget now. I flew down from New York and spent the days weeding flower beds, drinking whiskey in the evenings. 

A photograph like this takes on some metaphysical dimensions once the mind begins to come to terms with it. It is the mystic in us which causes us to ascribe those qualities to the facts of photography, I believe. It is an art form that works along like the mind. Better in some ways, reminiscent of the sense of memory in others. As if the mind could produce an image and remain focused on it in stillness, the way the manifest mind can not allow. There is a reduction of scope with images. This makes contending with them sometimes easier than it can be when done internally. The inner world is difficult without end. We hold so much there. So many unhunted whales of white, each ephemeral and growing. 

Our little postcards of sentiment seek chutes, waterfalls, pathways, and hooks to the outside world where they might connect or collide with the actual. Escapes that make much sense in the moment, the way in which music seems to reach where things tangible can not.


Tuesday, May 29, 2018

"As one great furnace flamed"

I've never had such contradictory feelings about expressing myself before. I used to take a determined pride in it, knowing that it was right, no matter if there were wrongs generously mixed in. Taking a break from writing here has caused me to realize (more so than before) that writing contains a deeply therapeutic component. It can, I should say. That recognition felt has caused me to not want it to be about that, though. With everything there emerges some new ambivalence with which to tussle. I'm not sure if I can be the one to stop it. It's as if I'm past the zenith of an acid trip and I find myself babbling a series of confused truths, but can not find a way within myself to stop, to shut off the stream of consciousness.  To silence the newly freed hobgoblins. 

My head has been filled with noisy garbage since I stopped writing. All of the nonsense that piles itself up in the washrooms of my mind normally finds its way out here, for good or ill. My bike rides have been constipated realizations that I depend on being able to arrange the world in such a way that my response to it will seem superior to its own predicament. At its best it's a persuasive trick of rhetorical writing. But I know it's what I'm doing, so it doesn't have much power over me. After I've won the arguments in my head I know that I am no better for it.

At its worst it is a middle-aged man railing against the perceived faults of the present, my heart filling with fears of and for the future. So much for therapy. 

I miss documenting the mundane occurrences of my life, though. Without some sense of reflection on my own experience then all of life blends together and becomes dull, even rote. Living life isn't dull, reflecting upon it from a distance makes it seem so. Everything melds together to become less than tale-worthy. Writing in the present is an attempt to control the past. Photography, an attempt to preserve its specific form. My current life is rich with experience, though it is oftenest of the domestic kind - comical in its ubiquity. There are times that playing with my son in a pool or at the park can seem like a miracle of grace and beauty, honey dropping from the heavens, though viewed from a distance it might only seem to be a mildly pleasant mirage. There is little difference between flying a kite and seeing a kite flying.

I've stopped posting these to Facebook. That was a part of my problem, I believe. Whether you want it to, or believe it to be, it is just a lame seeking of validation. My best pieces are ignored, or so I felt. The pieces that received the most encouragement were when I was expressing the dullest and most pedestrian thoughts.

I began reading two new books this weekend. The first, a collection of short stories by Gerald Murnane. I should maybe not reveal this here, because what I thought of most when reading this story was that I wished to try and imitate his style. I had not yet finished reading the first story in the collection when I ordered a copy of the book for CS. Such was my strong, and perhaps premature, impression of what the writer was doing. I felt the way that one does when they discover something new and of great quality - an intellectual excitement, a secret that requires some effort to share.

I remember feeling similarly about Henry Miller long ago, when I first read Tropic of Cancer, so there will always be some inherent limitation to feelings.

There are people in my life that can not stand it when I suggest that feelings are not the most important and vital part of being a human. Some claim that it is the only thing that matters. I offer to leave them alone with a child for a year and see if they still feel that feelings are the dominant attribute of happy humanity, and if so, why do we all try to correct the presumably errant feelings of others. There is no end to the mysticism of emotion.

The other book was Snow Country by Kawabata. It is a novel told in the style of a haiku, through the contrasting of images and events. It is one of those books that can be read a single page at a time, over long periods, as an invitation to a recurring dream. Events are shrouded in apparitions of time, they can not be touched. There is a sensation when reading the book that the author is telling you one of your own forgotten dreams.

It's what I do now - try to read good books. Life is short, there is so much of it that has already faded. Images that become overexposed by time, an attic of disinterested ghosts.

My life has become moderate through circumstance only. It feels sustainable now, where it used to stumble with an passionately marked uncertainty. People worried about my instability but did little to encourage stability. Excesses of all kinds were encouraged until they became unending folly. It is a dangerous place to be for one who never wanted to be anything more than the best class clown that he could be. They do not offer degrees in advanced clownism. The job market eschews the independently irreverent, no matter what they may claim. People expect you to be a very good dad first, a funny dad third or later in the list, if at all. People will suffer an entertaining and impudent youth, though they become vague when ever pressed to define the moment at which such youth should end.

Everybody seems to have children for the wrong reasons, if they have any at all. Filled with a lifetime of irrational expectations, for themselves and of their progeny, they stumble towards an imaginary horizon, far beyond the goal posts where no scores are ever tabulated, none recorded. The answer to the question of why we do it is equal in emptiness to why others do not. 

Why is it so difficult to assemble those things that really matter in life and to dwell among them only? I am referring to certain landscapes, persons, beasts, books, rooms, meteorological conditions, fruits. 

- James Salter

That comes to all; but torture without end
Still urges, and a fiery deluge, fed
With ever-burning sulphur unconsumed:
Such place eternal justice had prepared
For those rebellious, here their prison ordained
In utter darkness, and their portion set
As far removed from God and light of heaven
As from the center thrice to th'utmost pole.

- Milton, Paradise Lost


Saturday, May 19, 2018

The tunnel at the end of the light

(unknown artist, but not unloved)

Yes, of course, I am juvenile. The temptation to make masturbation jokes when the film's subject in incest must be too great for me. Going to see Chinatown on Monday night were two hours and ten minutes of cinematic paradise for an old aging film lover like myself. There is nothing quite like orchestrated light bouncing off the silver screen. Rachel and I discussed a drive-in movie theater project. We are currently seeking investors. 

I have started writing emails again. Since this site was predicated on the idea that people don't write, read, or bother responding to emails anymore, I have been writing them again. It's been nice and I have connected with a few old friends in different ways. 

My one continuing email correspondent - the Scottish anarchist from the Netherlands - has not had one written by me yet, so maybe I should avoid advertising my failures in that regard here, but what the fuck... as with most all things I am always exaggerating. I've only written a few emails, mostly in response to a birthday invite I sent out for Florida in November. I'll be turning 50, so I sent out a save-the-date. 

My birthday is in October but there were scheduling conflicts with one invitee who will probably end up not being an attendee. It's the way of things - the most difficult people at the onset of any event's planning are most often the ones who do not attend. I am kidding. She is a very crazy woman, yes, but nothing if not genuine in her commitments. 

People are always fictionalizing people, writers even more so. People have an unhealthy obsession with the idea of objective reality. Few people have disrupted this notion as much as Trump, for good or ill. He is not only impervious to the idea of objective truth, he also seems insusceptible to his own impressions of sustained personal subjectivity.  

So, if you want an email then write me one. I'll write back. I have put some creative effort into a few of them. Writing for individuals is different. It's not nearly as easy to make jack-off jokes towards the subject of incest. It requires intense and uninvited use of personal resources, and the requirement that the reader can not opt to escape.

No, I can of course write about other uncomfortable subjects, also. Just give me an idea of what bothers you most deeply and I'll give it some thought. 

(The mighty John Huston, and Jack)


Tuesday, May 15, 2018


(Jack and Faye)

There was a screening of it last night, here in Sonoma, at the historic Sebastiani theater. I was there of course, with buttons and bells on. Or rather, with wine and roses. The film is an absolute miracle - everyone deserves one of those from time to time - each scene more fascinating and beautiful than the last, or fraught and terrible, each turn of phrase more clever than the one that preceded it, each witticism delivered as if conversations of that kind just occur naturally, and in perpetuity. 

I had forgotten that this was the film where I stole the line, as little as possible, when Nicholson's character was asked what he did in Chinatown. I have been using it as a rebuff to the question, What do you do for a living? for several years now.

Now, I suspect I know what you're likely thinking: but Polanski is a celebrated child rapist... Harsh words which are technically true - he is celebrated and the charges are still pending. He famously fled the country when it was discovered that the judge secretly planned to not honor the plea deal to which he had previously agreed. He was going to sentence Polanski to 50 years in prison. Had he not fled the country the case might have been thrown out because of this lapse in judicious behavior. Some have demanded that this be done in absentia, on Polanski's behalf, though I do not believe such a thing is allowed when the defendant has fled from the grip of justice.

Some of the film-watching mob have insisted upon a renewed hatred of the filmmaker, recently succeeding in having him expelled from the Academy of Motion Pictures. The esteemed Academy's ethical concerns seem to have caught up with them somewhat since they awarded him with Best Director about a decade and a half ago, for The Pianist.

The law does not offer many smiles for the fugitive. It also does not allow minors to grant sexual consent. I was at the screening partially to express my objections. I tried to masturbate at one point, in protest, though I was afraid that my actions might somehow be misinterpreted. When you resort to onanism as a form of objection it is all too easily misunderstood by the plebs, patricians, poets, and police alike. Or, that has been my experience with the many pleasures of such public protest. I was simply trying to have my demands met. 

I am not here to moralize today, least of all with jokes about self-stimulation of genitals. It should also be clear to all by now that I am no legal scholar. My knowledge of criminal law has mostly arrived ex post facto, as they say in the faraway Latin lands. Rome, they say that there, I think. All sentences eventually lead to Rome, or consulerent.


Thursday, May 10, 2018

"Everything I've Ever Wanted"

(Pic by Rhys)

I wanted to post a recent picture of myself - taken by my son - so that I will not disappear soon and forever from this universe.

I look happy. Somehow, I've accomplished this simple antithetical lifelong fact with a nose that might make others so deeply unsatisfied

Too large for my face; too small to last.

And it goes so slowly on
Everything I've ever wanted
Tell me what's wrong?

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

"There goes another novelty"

(self-corporate, Balzac)

A strange thing happened when I stopped posting here. Well, I suppose it is not that strange, or perhaps not at all: I also stopped scanning film or dealing with most of my digital images. There are three packages from Photoworks in SF waiting to be scanned. They sit on my kitchen table, untouched, waiting for me to set aside some time to deal with them. I am usually so eager to see the images, to get them scanned, to share them here and elsewhere, hoping that Paris Hilton will one day like me, or one of those Kardashcam women, the ones with those big, round juicy butts

Over the last two weeks there were things that had occurred to me, sensations that I wished to attempt to relay here. They are all gone now. The desire to go back to sleep is all that remains. I won't, but I'll want to and wish to and dream towards, as the day gets up and gallops away.

I lost more than just the daily writing. It is apparently wrapped up with my interest in photography. My vanity requires at least two art forms to be adequately scaffolded, in preparation for the eventual hanging. 

I once became involved in a conversation/argument in which I maintained that all art was self-involved. I stepped back my argument a bit, but I was never entirely sure if I was wrong. Most all contemporary or modern art that I have experienced deeply involves the self, otherwise it would not exist. None of it is for all, but rather only for others.

Yes, I am living in a charmed little bubble, one in which I am contented and pleasantly in love with a woman that I have loved secretly or openly for decades. I suppose that the desire, or need, to share exists even within contentedness. It can be therapeutic to write; perhaps it only seems that way. It does something to me, to interact with myself verbally, to take some pleasure in it and yet see more clearly the shape and magnitude of my own inner obstacles. I make them seem clear only so that I might better ridicule them, as if that helps me transcend their power over me. 

Do not believe that I believe everything that I pretend to believe, either. What sort of monster do you think I am. It is only partial reaction to the polemics of the social media sphere. The love of argument meets departure from fact. 

I was curious how my life would be different without daily writing and I'm not sure that it is. Or, not very much - I had more free time in the mornings, I was less occupied with other things, was able maybe to focus more on work before the boy wakes up, or to just lie in bed and watch tv in relative peace and seclusion. Though, I stopped framing the world. Or, at least insomuch as I do so for the purpose of relaying things here. All for a personal blog - nearly ten years of my life. Maybe I have an unhealthy mind, or one that relies on a nearly perpetual outpouring of noise. Of course I am enamored with myself. It is what nearly everybody suggests you should do, until you do. 

Love My Way, and  all of that. 

They just want to steal us all, 
and take us all apart, 
but not in... 

I follow where my blinds go. 

That song, and those remembered lyrics, made me think of this:

The details of my life are quite inconsequential. 

I don't know. I look around me and I see varying degrees of neuroses everywhere. People either learn to live with it or they struggle and scrape and demand towards others. Help is ever elsewhere, always on the way, never arriving. 

I do not wish to suggest that love completes me, but my happiness over the last year has ruined my ability to write well, or in a way that satisfies me. I'm not sure if my best writing is what I like the most. Nobody should discuss their own creations. It is vain and wrong for the reader, eventually, if not sooner. 

People seem to spend a fair bit of their emotional and intellectual energy just trying to be and feel and seem okay. Some insist they are, others act surprised that you are not but, you know... those ladies doth protest too much, methinks. 

Love is satisfying. Why must it annihilate every dissatisfaction it finds?