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n. infantile pattern of suckle-swallow movement in which the tongue is placed between incisor teeth or between alveolar ridges during initial stage of swallowing (if persistent can lead to various dental abnormalities) v. [content removed due to Bush campaign to clean up the internet] n. act of nyah-nyah v. pursuing with relentless abandon the need to masticate and thrust the world into every bodily incarnation in order to transform it, via the act of salivation, into nutritive agency
Thursday, September 27, 2007
we had to do a collage, 10" x 40" or the equivalent, rather silly but I enjoy the artificial aspect
never-ending, haven't you heard?
So here is a 'draft' of the Never-Ending book that I made for my Artist's Book class. The goal of the project for me was to figure out the form a bit, and to create a story to fit the form - one that had no proper beginning nor end, a kind of eternal circulating story.
The end result was a little disheartening, I think because I had to produce 15 copies in a week. It took me two days to figure the form, one day to write the story, one day to figure out the image I wanted to use, two days to get it set up in Photoshop (I tried other programs first), and a day to print, fold, cut and mark. In that time, my personal computer went to the computer store (where it still awaits redemption from its sticky "n" key), and so I had to figure out how to check out a Mac laptop from school, use it, and as I hoped, hook it up to my printer. But the hooking up to my printer didn't work so well, so I had to go to Kinkos to print, which costs an arm and a leg. This resulted in the difficulty that I couldn't do the two or three mock-ups I would have preferred to have done, and so there ended up being one huge mistake, and three smaller flaws...
The huge mistake was a repetition of text that made it so the story isn't properly circular. The smaller flaws were 1) printing the image upside down in relation to the text (but it's mostly shadows so not such a big deal), 2) forgetting to add the colophon to the print (who cares?), and 3) not being able to take note that the drop-shadow on the garamond font doesn't look so grand at such a small scale, and in fact makes it look blurred and illegible. The other thing I might have changed would have been to thin the text so it could be larger and more inviting to read. I would also think about making the text circular instead of blocky.
Nonetheless, the idea was exciting for me, and has spawned other possible never-ending story ideas. Here're some pics of the most flawed version (I left the less flawed versions at school and so couldn't photograph them today...):
Thursday, September 20, 2007
The systems they’ve come up with they call “constraints,” or rules they set for themselves before the production of a piece. In the manifestos I’ve read so far, the OuLiPians point out how language-use is already based on constraints, such as the clause or sentence, or in poetry—forms such as sonnets, haiku, and so forth. Because of this, OuLiPians claim that to follow the idea of “freedom” or “going with the muses” in writing is to become slave to the rules we have internalized and play out within our thoughts with or without our consent. Paradoxically, they seem to feel that using constraints brings about a consciousness of choice, an awareness of action, that in the end replicates free will.
One example of a work that uses constraints is a novel (by Perec) that entirely does away with the seemingly necessary vowel “e”. That is, not an “e” to be found in the entire book. Another example of a constraint is “N+7,” a system that takes every noun and replaces it with the seventh noun found after it in a dictionary of choice.
Yep, so I’m sitting-in on a class about this stuff. Auditing it, I guess, with the agreement that I do all the work and don’t use my nonstatus as a reason for not showing up, if not on time, at least then in a timely manner. Since the teacher is Beth Nugent, my favorite mentor, the phrase “timely manner” is certainly debatable.
For our first assignment, we had to write down a random animal that comes to mind.
I’ll give you time.
Now that you’ve done that, for five minutes, write a description of that animal using none of the vowels to be found in the animal’s name.
As per my luck, I thought of “sea lion”:
Why lusts thy tummy, lump?See. Fun.
Why munch musty guts?
Now for my second assignment, using a constraint of my choice, and a line from three of the photocopied favorite texts provided by the other students in the class and myself:
1.Can you guess my constraint? (Or in this case, the two constraints).
The female person or animal being discussed, or last mentioned, even then carried or had on the body or about the person as a covering, support, ornament, or the like, her cosmetics for the face or some part of it, and the unusual or extreme paleness—as from fear, ill health, or death—of the front part of her head, from the forehead to the chin, brought into existence by shaping, or changing, either of the two fleshy pairs or folds forming the margins of the mouth (in the primary color at one extreme end of the visible spectrum, an effect of light with a wavelength between 610 and 780 nm), appeared to the eye as specified: made by human skill and fastened in position by thrusting a point or end into something.
Any of various plants belonging to the genus Tulipa, of the lily family, having lance-shaped leaves and large, showy, cup-shaped or bell-shaped flowers in a variety of colors (in the primary color at one extreme end of the visible spectrum, an effect of light with a wavelength between 610 and 780 nm)
having life, being alive, not dead, into their end of life
having a sudden rise of emotion or excitement with a not tamed or domesticated pure color of a clear sky
The permanent upright constructions having a length much greater than the thickness and presenting a continuous surface except where pierced by doors, windows, etc., were coated, covered, or decorated with a substance comprised of solid coloring matter suspended in a liquid medium—in the pure color of a clear sky; and a pure or nearly pure, extremely hard form of carbon crystallized in the isometric system (in a bright, metallic yellow color, sometimes tending toward brown) and a piece of furniture often with shelves and drawers for holding articles of table service were located toward the rear.
See. Fun. And one of the important points of emphasis for OuLiPo is that it seeks the creation of "potential" in language, not the production of great literature. A humble and generous idea, no?
Oh, and my friend cc told me that for my birthday, I should ‘break-up’ with school. She said it would be a nice gift to myself.
Each year she adds a new knot to the pile of knots she has been making, and the nets she helps along are, each year, newly marked by a particular system, an additional knot that somehow denotes her passage through time, the small signs of her individual existence. Beyond the making of knots, Esther is nearly unknowable; it would be difficult to describe her thought patterns, the realizations she comes by, the reactions she has to any action that has occurred between the two points of time marked by her fourth-month journey into the making of knots.
This is the persistence of her desire: nothing occurs in her life but what she makes, and truthfully, what she makes rather poorly. She has turned an eye to the quality of what she makes, because, simply put, it is what she is capable of making, and nobody has the judgment on that.
Each year, when she arrives, she finds that the nets have fallen even further apart. This universal truth behind nets makes most of the other fishermen in the bay run out and buy new net, if not every year, then at least every other year. Because their nets are fresh and glisten smartly as they slide out of the water—and also due to the fishermen’s ingenuity in placement, effort, and experimentation—they actually catch sufficient fish to pay for the nets they discard nearly every year.
Mostly they burn their old nets in a pile down on the beach, and the smell of burning line has a certain acrid potency they might label success. Perhaps they stand around with the dwindling fire, poking a beach stick into the center of the plastic to twist the congealing fluid into a new shape. This, they think to themselves, was once something I used to sustain my life. They have a beer in one hand, their eyes squint, and their hips slant akimbo to the pebbles lining the beach.
Esther, on the other hand, makes knots. When she first started this job, which was to be thrilling and impractical (having begun as more of a daydream than something she and her business partners could imagine actually doing), they had no idea what constituted a mending knot. As their nets fell further and further in disarray that first summer—as they were hit by sharks and sea lions, or as they managed to catch and drag on the rocks near the shore—they became desperate and experimented with knots they felt sure would work, but never did. Finally, a last-timer took pity when she came across the bay for a visit, and showed Esther, Chris, and Lilah the very basic knot used for mending.
To successfully make this knot, Esther holds her hand underneath the mesh she’s trying to heal. The open end of the thread is pinched against the bottom vee of the mesh, and her pointing finger juts out to hold one loop of thread away from the net. This—so she can wrap the thread once around both sides of the mesh, and once around one side of the mesh, and then pull down. Granted, it seems very complicated, as do most systems when you consider how mathematics and images are the languages we’ve built to describe most intricate ritual, but there is a point sometimes to expressing in words the motions we make that may seem very complicated, but in the end, are very simple.
This is a simple knot, and Esther can perform it in three seconds, which is why she, Chris, and Lilah are rather undeterred when they find out that this simple knot often pulls out under pressure. In the water, a fish may strain against one of these mendings, and the strain might be sufficient to let it swim away, whereupon it will run off, if lucky, to a stream where it will spout DNA and then die. If you look at mends as you pull them into the boat, they are amusing things; clearly out of place in the order. Mostly they are too short or too long, and they twist the net into strange articulations and junctures. They create warp, as do all scars, and sometimes the warp is confusing enough for the fish to startle it into the net further down, but sometimes the warp pulls apart, and the fish often seem to know about this possibility. Maybe they don’t though, and simply give it a go.
In order to make the knot work and hold its strange place in the scheme, Esther and Chris experiment with different additions to keep it going. The second year, they add a granny knot to the end, then one to the beginning, before deploying the mending knot, which helps everything hold out against the strain. The next year, they get pots of glue and place a dab on each knot once it’s finished. This is the end of Chris’s experimentation, and she remains satisfied that at least one more summer has been purchased through endeavor. Lilah, on the other hand, was never interested in mending to start with, and so is satisfied, in general, by what solutions may be come by through looking the other way.
After this, there are other years, and a new knot added each time. Jesse, who started as crew and one of Chris’s daughters, comes back after five years and finds mends like viral outgrowths along the warp of ancient net that gets dragged out, time and summer again, for more knot-making, and less fishing, and yet again some knots.
Their skiff flips upside down for the third time, and everything is lost at the bottom of the cove until Jesse and Kelly dive and retrieve some of it. Esther adds a half-hitch to the one mesh side, and then a half-hitch to the other. Chris and Lilah stop fishing, and try to convince Esther to sell, but she refuses and Chris only speaks to her irregularly. Another half-hitch. Esther pays for her niece to go to college, but within three months, she gets kicked out due to meth use. Esther places another granny knot in the center of the ritual, then removes it, then tries it again. The outboard dies a horrible belching death, and so Esther buys another one but forgets to bolt it down and when a wave comes, it lifts it off the end and five-thousand dollars sinks to the ocean floor. She tries a clove hitch, but it makes no sense at all. The prices on fish drop too, and Esther decides she’s too old to have a child, even an adopted one. She ends with a double half-hitch and a double granny, and does away with the glue as a sign of weakness.
Jesse watches Esther covertly. Last year, Jesse’s knots were monitored and Esther told her when she was doing it wrong; Jesse could swear Esther changed her mind about knot morality even more frequently than once a summer. Jesse does not care about knots like Esther does; she recognizes this, and is only slightly convinced of her failing, because she is dreaming of new nets, because she wishes the mesh were wider than 4.5 inches across, because she sees the amount of fish they are probably letting go via warp. Jesse also sees the way Esther looks at the knots, and she won’t let Esther monitor her anymore.
Because Esther looks at the knots like the other fishermen look at melting line. Their faces get soft and gentle, wistful almost—the gentle blankness of their minds, not like empty slates, but like sieves in that exact moment before something more is poured through. They are so quiet, those knots; Esther starts with a granny, then a granny in the vee of the mesh, then a half-hitch, then the simple mending knot, then another half-hitch, then the stretch across the tear, another granny knot, another half-hitch, another mending-knot, another half-hitch, a second half-hitch, and finally a granny before Esther lifts up her scissors with her line-damaged hands, and snips the end of the thread.
Friday, September 14, 2007
One. Like most people (I suspect), I do not remember my first birthday. In fact, I remember very little from this year. What I do remember is eating cat food. Watching the feet and legs go by, and then shuffling over to the cat bowl and scooping out its illicit cuisine. If nothing else, the year is not a complete waste, as I well remember its flavor-- delicate, like stale pretzels rolled in paprika after baking.
Two-Four. Ah, the glory years, such nostalgia for what goes unmarked. Except on the fourth birthday, I have to contend with a sister.
Five. On my fifth birthday, I have a party, and when we go outside to play soccer in the yard, I trip over the yellow and orange-striped ball and fall headfirst into the concrete drainspout at the northwest corner of our house. My friends run off as I gather my bleeding face and stumble around to the back patio where I pass out at the screen-door as soon as I manage to open it. When I wake up, I am on couch in the Red Room, the couch where I liked to look at my mother’s feet and think how old and cracked they seemed. My friends are clustered around me, and I have an ice-pack pressed to my nose. Apparently, I have broken the nose, and blackened my eye as well. There are so many people looking at me, a good birthday.
Six-Eight. These are, by and large, uneventful birthdays. Although we do get to roll peanuts along the green carpeted floor with our noses, and I am allowed to invite the two neighborhood boys whom my mom had banned from my friendship because they had locked me in their shed one afternoon and left me there until I touched their penises (mother was not aware of the whole story; she only knew she called and I did not come home). It is good to spend time with them again.
Nine. We have moved to a new neighborhood, and I do not know anyone, banned or not, to invite.
Ten. We have moved again, and also my parents have divorced. I am resentful to have to spend a birthday with my father, the difficult parent, even though we go to the top of a mountain and he brings a cake with us. I do not want his girlfriend to witness my aging.
Eleven. We have moved again, but this time I have my mother.
Twelve. One of my friends throws a fit at the party, and says nobody pays attention to her. I walk with her around the asphalt track used by the jr. high students, and listen quietly.
Thirteen-Fourteen. I have an overbite like a beaver’s wet dream in all the photos, but what I remember is screaming when my sister wants to watch the scary movies with us at night. I tell her she isn’t allowed to be there, and a friend protests, saying how cute my sister is. My mother later calls me upstairs and tells me it’s not right to deny someone else participation. My sister later bans me from her birthday parties altogether, although she does let me hang out with her friend who is too scared to watch the movies with them. I am so shamed by my mother’s words that I do not even protest.
Fifteen. I don’t remember if I had one last party in that house, but I did carve my initials in the southwest corner of my bedroom closet. Later that year, we stay in a house that is perched on the top of a hill so steep we have to sled down to the car in the morning. It is still dark as we slide down, and still dark as we climb back up. And so when I lose my watch, it proves impossible to find-- until the day we leave for a new temporary house, when I find the watch crushed under our car wheel in the snow. Still ticking.
Sixteen. My mother is stuck out of town because it is snowing and she can’t drive her skiff through the storm. So her friend, who is small and thin from her hysterectomy, throws my sweet sixteen. Mother has pre-arranged for a bouquet of sixteen yellow roses to be delivered to me, and I cry afterwards because she isn’t there. The refrain “and never been kissed” keeps passing through my head, but I have my driver’s license three days later, after a harrowing drive, in a borrowed car, through the rural Alaskan streets, with the parking break on (I notice this just before we return to the DMV, and pretend to crank the parking lever up when we hit the parking lot. Apparently the deception goes undetected).
Seventeen. We have moved again.
Eighteen. My mother drives down with my sister to visit me at college. I greet them in the parking lot near the rugby field, and I am excited to see how my mother will react to my purple hair. “How bright!” she says as she passes her fingers through it, and a week later I get a nose ring to show her exactly what bright means.
Nineteen. For my nineteenth, I throw an ice-cream-cake-and-Aliens-trilogy party at the new house I share with four friends. I make the ice-cream cakes myself and they are intensely sloppy, but everyone approves of the chocolate-chip mint. Even my friends who don’t like Aliens show up. I prevent them from eating only one slice of the cake, which I tuck away in the freezer for the girl I like who said she might come later. I eat the slice later in the week, for very particular reasons.
Twenty. I am in Russia for my twentieth birthday, and by luck and chance, it is my host-mother’s fortieth birthday on the same day. Her entire extended family drives in from Moscow, and they make a meal to curl the teeth off a dog’s hind leg. There is one entre that looks like clear jello, only with meat swimming around in it and fat congealed at the top. I am thankful to be a vegetarian. I allow her family to press a number of vodka shots on me, but am petrified they will ask me to say a toast when the only toast I know in Russian has already been said. They don’t ask me to say a toast, but later my host-mother’s brother corners me in the kitchen and hounds me on my Russian, which is dreadful, which he tells me, which I already know but nonetheless feel defensive about. A day later, my friends throw another party for me at a Georgian woman’s house. Her daughter, Armene, who has long black hair she wears draped halfway down her back, bakes me a five-layer cake with whipped cream between the layers. Jennifer, Armene, Big John and I drink plenty of vodka and glut ourselves on cake, right after I blow out the singular candle. I later refer to this birthday as The Birthday With Three Parties. I have no idea what the third party was, unless it was the cucumber-sauce dinner prepared for me by the Turkish boy who later presses me to have sex with him.
Twenty-One. It’s your ruddy twenty-first! Of course, as I am back in the States, I am grateful to finally have access to clubs, and booze, and seedy milieus in general. So I take my new girlfriend, Sarah, and roommates Zack, Cameron, and Matt, and we head out on the town. The first bar is lowbrow and honky, the lights like a cigarette filter. The second bar is highbrow and out of my league (I try to pick up my drink with my pinky finger extended). The third place is a notorious dancehouse grind in downtown Portland, and although the first room is too grindy, the second room proves to have ample space and a pleasant ‘tronic mix. I have no recollection of driving home.
Twenty-Two. There is a small celebration in the House-We-Rented-For-Two-Months. It’s quiet, but before I go out with Sarah, we get in a fight because I don’t like what she is wearing and when she asks for my opinion, I am honest. We nearly break up, but I cry.
Twenty-Three. Sarah and I are in rushing madly, as we are just about to leave the country on a trip abroad for a year. But we let my mother throw a party with the guest list entirely composed of her friends. I know everyone, but think it an odd birthday party. Sarah makes me a cake, which I don’t remember, but later that year, for her birthday, I make a cake entirely under her direction, and it is pure chocolate with a rose-cream filling in the center, and three sprigs of lavender on the top. When we lift the lid, a chocolate rose lavender scent entropies through the Italian kitchen, and I am briefly jealous that my birthday did not smell like this.
Twenty-four. We are back from Europe, and I am depressed and clueless. Sarah drives up from Portland, where she is attending classes at community college so she can attend the grad program she has chosen. She makes me a cake, but I do not remember how it smells. My mother throws another party with her friends, only this time it makes me realize how much I miss having friends besides Sarah.
Twenty-five. A very big blank. It is entirely gone. What I do know is that I am with Sarah, and I am no longer in love with her. I do love her and do not know what to do. Later in the year, for my sister’s birthday, I buy her a ticket to fly down and visit me in San Francisco. It is a greedy gift, as I want nothing more for her birthday than for me to see her. We buy bags of oranges in the Mission District, and go dancing at a queer bar. My new girlfriend, Rosario, refuses to talk to me for a day for not paying sufficient attention to her during this time, and I am embarrassed for my sister to witness me begging. But I do it anyway.
Twenty-six. I attend a meeting for a new grad program I am in. It is a teaching meeting, as I am to be a new teacher. I’m too shy and nervous to tell anyone it’s my birthday, and when I go home, it is just my mother, her boyfriend Chuck, my grandparents, my sister, and her boyfriend. It is a gentle celebration, and I am startled to notice that I have hives from being so nervous about the new program I am starting. Rosario calls and I am also startled by the sensation that I don’t want to talk to her.
Twenty-seven. I mark the passage of this birthday in the hammock I have strung out on my back patio, but I wake and spend the morning crying in my studio apartment. The day is sunny with clouds and a blue sky outside, and after I am done crying, I take three of my plants and separate them out, repot them, and then take the new pots over to four of my friends’ apartments, where I leave them on the doorstep. After this, I feel better, but not so much better that I pick up my phone. I feel guilty for being resentful that none of my friends planned to go out with me for beers, and I wonder secretly if my plants were a celebration of new births, or a reproach.
Twenty-eight. I cry the whole day. Later, I go out for Indian food with my mother, Chuck, my friend Camille, and her boyfriend (who does not like me). I am utterly miserable, and when I go home, I am relieved that I can continue crying. This weeping is partially due to the dinner I had a night prior, also in celebration of my birthday, with Elizabeth, the girl who I loved like a horse whipped to slather, also the girl who started up with my friend directly after breaking up with me. We got into a disagreement partway through the meal because in the course of conversation, I tell her I am able to be friends with her because I pity her (“Pity” is perhaps not the right word to use. “Feel compassion” or “Forgive her moral ineptitude due to parental mismanagement” might have been more appropriate, but the distillation is remarkable similar). In defense of her right to not be pitied, Elizabeth tells me the honest truth, not hitherto mentioned, that she does not feel that she has done anything wrong. I am certain I should leave at this point, but cannot as we have carpooled and my car is back at her place. I instead let her pick up the bill, and cry in her car on the way back to my car. At her apartment, I want to just say goodbye and drive away, but I also want her to change somehow, so we sit in her car while I yell at her. At some point she says, “do you think I’ve never thought of simply walking away from you as well?” and I wonder what she means by that. As soon as I drive away I start crying again, mourning equally the fact that I am still in love with her, and that I hadn’t hitchhiked home from the sushi bar. I continue this well past my birthday.
Twenty-nine. I mark this passage in a hammock as well. It is thunderstorming in Chicago, and I am pleased to be outside, inside it. Rosario calls me and I talk to her from my hammock. She empties recriminations on me, and they are untrue enough that I tell her not to call me back until she is ready to play nice. She calls me three months later and we become tentative friends. In the morning, I drag myself to my room and sleep solidly, and then get up and make myself an omelet. I am content, though not happy, and spend the day with the contentedness to be in a new place, far away, starting over again. I go to the store to buy a wine bottle for a gathering later, and as I am walking, Elizabeth calls. I choose not to answer her call, sure that this day needs to be different. I call her back two days later of course, an ordinary day, and she tells me her new lover is our former professor, upon whom a friend of mine and I had a bet regarding which grad student she would hook up with. Never having presumed, I guess I lost the bet, but I don’t tell Elizabeth this. It is the last conversation I have with her. Later on the evening of my birthday, I attend a party that is not in honor of me. It is a perfect party, and at one point, people play with this electronic device that shocks the person who does not release their grip fast enough. I do not play the game (certain I'd lose), but enjoy watching people deal with electricity. I finally tell the host that it’s my birthday, near the end of his party, and he gives me two shots in addition to the liquor I’ve already consumed. I walk drunk with a stranger for miles and talk endlessly to her, until she hops in a cab and makes her way home. I search for a subway for an hour longer, stopping at one point to pee in an alley. The subway is closed when I arrive, and it is the wrong subway anyhow, so I catch a cab and when he drops me off, the driver tries to make-out with me, but I duck away. Instead, I walk home and am sick when I get there. But safe.
Thirty. I say Fuck It. I fly my best friend out to spend the weekend with me, and we explore as many places as we can. We eat so many meals, and on my birthday, I throw a party and invite new friends who come and eat even more with us. Sarah, Ellen, and Benjamin call from Germany and sing Happy Birthday to my voicemail. I ride a Ferris Wheel the next day, and the skyline looks as big as it gets.
Thirty-one. Next week, I will get up in the morning for my Saturday class, and sit and enjoy it with my phone turned off. I will turn on the phone after class and talk to my mother. I will go out dancing in the evening, and feel as old as a newborn, young like a language. It will be a normal day, but I will remember it later.
Zero. This is the day I am born. I can’t recall it, but my mother assures me there is pain involved, and also the world churning like great map marked over another map marked over another story marked over another event marked over another lie marked... And So Forth.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
the animal you requested
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
notes from The Stupidio
So, I feel like it's been a really long time since I put up a good long decent post; thus I promised myself a bit of time (an hour?) to sit down and write... in between photoshopping and figuring out how to do book things, and in general, sequestering myself in my new studio to "get something done."
Oh yeah. My New Studio. Well, one of the deals that's supposed to make this school (SAIC) kinda cool is that it's an interdisciplinary school, and although you are accepted into particular departments, you can take whatever classes you want, in any department, without anybody giving you any flak, or having to fill out a bajillion forms. Another of the other deals that's supposed to help convince people to come to this school and spend lots and lots of money for a few years is the availability of resources such as printers, cameras, video- and sound- editing machinery, sound booths, printing technology, free access to the museum, and so forth... including studios.
Most of the studios are rather like little dens etched into the substructure between the different classroom floors. The fibers department has a few nice studios knocking around in one of the upper floors, and there are a few other "special" studios with things such as windows and ventilation and space, but most of the studios are tiny and damp/dark. But they are still studios: spaces away from home to sit down and work, to spread out lots of stuff and not worry about having to clean it up afterwards because it's going to get clomped by your big feet in the morning when you stumble blindly out of bed and land in whatever the freshest pile is, places to build the aura of "working artist" within and to put up strategies on the walls and take them down according to temporary whim.
But to spend a small, small time whining... the Writing Department at SAIC stands out above all departments as some kind of testament to how writers are strung along by... something... that eludes me. Pretty much up to this point, SAIC has gotten away with allowing the writing students the following resources: one free printer in a shared computer lab (that's always full), a little bit of $ for printing b/w-print at the Service Bureau (if it's for a class), two open-tab gatherings a year, one publication of graduating students' work.
Yeah, in addition to a few good teachers who don't even get paid all that well, those are the resources $35,000 a year will get you in the Writing Department at SAIC.
As might have been expected, there's been some rumbling the past few years, and there's a sense among the writers that we have a right to expect a little more bang for our buck. As every other studio-student at this school is given a studio space, the idea has been coming around that perhaps we shouldn't be exempt from this boon, which up to now, has been nearly-completely nixed on the basis that "nobody needs space to type on a computer." But part of the problem is that, well, actually, people *do* need space to type on a computer, and the other part of the problem is that, as this is a school that hypothetically encourages interdisciplinary work, we might not simply be typing on a computer.
The partial result of denying writing students studios has been to discourage them from taking classes in other fields, which means there's less mixing between writing and other artistic fields than might be expected, or would certainly be productive (for example, film and sound and graphic design all heavily rely on writing to produce content for production, but the number of students from those departments in our classes is minimal, and not too many writing students go to film production).
The good news is that this is finally changing, and the grumbling has gone a great ways. As a writing student, you now need to fill out of a request form that indicates how you will be using the space for something "beyond" writing. Which is what I did... And now I have a studio, which I share with another student in the writing department.
It's one of those spaces with lots of potential that I hope to tap into soon, but so far, I've been unable to get my shit downtown, although I'm doing my best to rectify that this week. There's plenty of wall space, a small thin window that opens up into the inner courtyard of this building, two large desks, a long table, and floor space as well. Because AH and I were willing to share a space, we got a slightly better one, not one of the complete dens, just a halfway-den that AH dubbed "The Stupidio," which is what I call it too, now that I have one.
Now that I gratefully have one. A resource fought for, and finally made available in this, my last of semesters.
Yes, this is my last semester in school. In school period fullstop, that's it kiddo, because I'm done and very done with being a student. I don't feel like one anymore... not that I'm done learning, but that I'm done being underneath. I feel like learning from equals, mutually, as friends and without any strange power structure around me anymore.
Last semester got a little weird towards the end, with the whole new-teachers hiring process and the squabbling mess the department got into about the direction(s) we could take. One of the professors got very bitchy and mean and vocal about other professors, and students as well, and right at a time when a few difficulties hit us. It felt low, all of it felt low, and I decided to stay out of the writing department this semester, even though I still love many of the people there.
I also just wanted to use my time to finish exploring books and visual-textual mixing.
And so, both my classes this semester are in the undergraduate print department - one is Artists Books, and the other is Digital Input-Output, which involves spending lots of time with Photoshop, Illustrater, and InDesign, and talking about how to print a variety of materials (like buttons, posters, cakes, and of course books).
Both of my advisors, on the other hand, are in the writing program, and so I think this will be the mix that I need to make something. Yes, maybe to make a few things. To write something.
Which is what I want to do.
But I've been in a bit of torpor since coming back from AK, feeling very lazy, very slow, struggling to focus my mind on the tasks at hand, struggling to focus on anything at all, and well, honestly, re-negotiating for myself why I care.
why I care.
I'm feeling a bit like I don't. I know I should. I can list a bunch of reasons why I might. But I think I've just spent too much time this summer lonely, and the only person I really hung out with very much was the girl I liked, who sent me a text-message when I got back from AK, in lieu of talking to me about the course her life had taken.
When life becomes a series of pauses between gnarly electronic communications, it makes me question the purpose behind writing... when what I would like is speech, when what I'd like is movement, when what I'd like would be to live within the chimeric entity of a Chicago subway connecting gillnet site to gillnet site. But it hasn't felt too possible lately.
It's not that I've been sad really. Because I've been visiting with all my friends... especially LH, who is fabulous in extreme and makes me excited for art. No, it's not really being sad; it's more of trying to figure out the precise, exact reason for each new muscle I'm going to have to grow.
Soon I will post a link to a book-making technique I learned yesterday, which I'm going to use for the first book project due next week (15 editions of a book!)... the so-called "Never-Ending Book."
Thursday, September 06, 2007
fractions, thinking thesis
Here's a bit:
The red bumps could be compared to each little pebble on an individual raspberry, only they’ve been unknitted from their thimble collective and spread about your legs with red juicy fingers, but then left there to rot.Here's a quote from Lispector's Stream of Life, which I didn't get too far in, like most books that touch me.
“I like you just the way you are,” my girlfriend was fond of saying. And it was true, very much. But it isn’t the way people “are” that girlfriends notice; it’s how they imagine or dream up your future allotment of genetic predisposition. That is to say, my girlfriend had a kind soul, a really kind soul, and she was good at finding that in everyone: the good we carry around, curling like some bloodied fetus inside us. And of course, they imagine and they just might be right, that without the right nutrients and elements available, you might just go and abort that fetus if they don’t manage to get their allotment of support in there. So, my girlfriend saw my budding goodness, and yes, she loved me just the way I was—pregnant with goodness—but so too did my next girlfriend love me for the mean streak I had, those chisel-tongued criticisms I spat at the backs of each and every person who came close enough to make me panic.
I have a blister on the back of my foot, sniff.
And I sing an hallelujah to the air, just as the bird does. And my song is no one's. But there's no passion suffered in pain and in love that's not followed by an hallelujah.Here's a quote or two from Calvino's Invisible Cities, which was my best read of the summer and everyone should read it, and it should be read out loud, bit by bit each night and then left to dream.
Marco Polo imagined answering (or Kublai Khan imagined his answer) that the more one was lost in unfamiliar quarters of distant cities, the more one understood the other cities he had crossed to arrive there; and he retraced the stages of his journeys, and he came to know the port from which he had set sail, and the familiar places of his youth, and the surroundings of home, and a little square of Venice where he gamboled as a child.I need a printer, I need to print out.
At this point Kublai Khan interrupted him or imagined interrupting him, or Marco Polo imagined himself interrupted, with a question such as: "You advance always with your head turned back?" or "Is what you see always behind you?" or rather, "Does your journey take place only in the past?"
All this so that Marco Polo could explain or imagine explaining or be imagined explaining or succeed finally in explaining to himself that what he sought was always something lying ahead, and even if it was a matter of the past it was a past that changed gradually as he advanced on his journey, because the traveler's past changes according to the route he has followed: not the immediate past, that is, to which each day that goes by adds a day, but the more remote past.
"Journeys to relive your past?" was the Khan's question at this point, a question which could also have bee formulated: "Journeys to recover your future?"
And Marco's answer was: "Elsewhere is a negative mirror..."
But what enhanced for Kublai every event or piece of news reported by his inarticulate informer was the space that remained around it, a void not filled with words. The descriptions of cities Marco Polo visited had this virtue: you could wander through them in thought, become lost, stop and enjoy the cool air, or run off.
I realized I had to free myself from the images which in the past had announced to me the things I sought: only then would I succeed in understanding the language of Hypatia... True, also in Hypatia the day will come when my only desire will be to leave. I know I must not go down to the harbor then, but climb the citadel's highest pinnacle and wait for a ship to go by up there. But will it ever go by? There is no language without deceit.
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
how it goes
listening to this, liking it, yup:
It aint no use to sit and wonder why, babe
It dont matter, anyhow
An it aint no use to sit and wonder why, babe
If you dont know by now
When your rooster crows at the break of dawn
Look out your window and Ill be gone
Youre the reason Im travlin on
Dont think twice, its all right
It aint no use in turnin on your light, babe
That light I never knowed
An it aint no use in turnin on your light, babe
Im on the dark side of the road
Still I wish there was somethin you would do or say
To try and make me change my mind and stay
We never did too much talkin anyway
So dont think twice, its all right
It aint no use in callin out my name, gal
Like you never did before
It aint no use in callin out my name, gal
I cant hear you any more
Im a-thinkin and a-wondrin all the way down the road
I once loved a woman, a child Im told
I give her my heart but she wanted my soul
But dont think twice, its all right
Im walkin down that long, lonesome road, babe
Where Im bound, I cant tell
But goodbyes too good a word, gal
So Ill just say fare thee well
I aint sayin you treated me unkind
You could have done better but I dont mind
You just kinda wasted my precious time
But dont think twice, its all right
been thinkin about alaska and how to answer that Question (which even I ask): "How Was It?" um. thus looked back to last year for the response and felt it was appropriate, so here you go.
of course, there's new things to add on, new musings, and a sticky "n" key to negotiate which means finding words that lack n, as much as possible.
i met people this summer, i felt lands green brown old with young nostalgia start over start end over start finish and dive down to cut the rope tangled in someone else's propeller, start, curious, again. for the first time, i felt included in the fishing community and i don't know what i did to make this change, especially since i went up with the idea that this was the last time, and i came back with the idea that i could never leave it. what exactly happened in the inbetween?
to temporarily avoid the question, here are some pictures. i like them.
every summer i invite the crew to offer up their particular Getting Onboard Technique. it's my favorite day. i'd like to ask everyone in the bay, if only i knew them better. it's always informative. so, here's the crew.
just to be clear, i think this the most beautiful thing. a most beautiful thing in a world full of tube feet extending, settling, redeciding, and lifting again. beginning via choice and with only a day at sea at hand, and no judgements taking.
every person pictured above is a failure. we are all failures. i am at times the biggest failure among them, prideful. i am at times the least, being humble. every one of us a failure, an extreme light, a beauty tipped by the light of possible sadness, rejection, love, sound hummed in tune with the sense that we rip breathing palpating and bleeding from the skin of water and thrust with muscle snap towards the aluminum ending i share with a needle point, my grandmothers, my heroes, all.
granted, i have more to say.
and here's my roomie talking about the culinary creations of our Sunday Celebration of fishdom, including the quiche i am very proud of...