Thursday, December 27, 2007

Dancing on Fly Ash the Book is Now an Amazon Kindle Edition

For those of you who didn't know, I co-wrote a blog called Dancing on Fly Ash for two years with Matt Bell, where we each wrote a story in one hundred words or less. After the first year we chose what we felt were the best microfictions we'd written (some were not so great, as DoFA was mostly a fun exercise in discipline) and published the collection as a paperback. Tod Goldberg wrote a good review of the book for Las Vegas City Life.

While the paperback is no longer available, a free PDF download of the book is available at Matt's website, where almost the entire archive of over 280 stories can also be found. And, now, finally, the book is available as an Amazon Kindle Edition.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Savor

Sometimes when my nose is stuffed and I can't breathe, I vow to savor my clear nasal passages when they are clear again.

My custom Yahoo! radio station plays a heavy rotation of Dave Matthews Band and Pete Yorn. That's okay. I like Chick Corea and Cheech and Chong, too.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Here's Something

Dang it all if I amn't enjoying this blog called soberhealerbreatherzen. I know nothing about the author of this blog, but to me it's like reading installments of James Joyce's postmodern post-AA novel. Even the labels below the posts are excellent. I almost don't want to say anything lest my illusory frame for reading be dismantled, but I also think that I should not keep it a secret, either. I am risking something right now.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Intention and Actuality, or What I Was Going to Do and What I Really Did

I was going to begin this post by saying that things are a little too smarty-pantsy around here and then proceed to rattle off (or more likely copy and paste) some really fun dick and fart jokes, and then I was going to hide, just below the bottom of most computer screens, a really dry article or dissertation on the causation debate covering the years 1637-1739, and maybe some definitions of obscure words, too. But I decided against that and opted to go expository and save everyone a little time. It's the holidays.

Friday, December 14, 2007

A Few Thoughts on the Documentary Zizek!

This will in no way be a systematic or even a coherent critique or review. Such incentive to read something is rare, so enjoy.

Chris Higgs was right when he said I was in for another treat with Zizek!.
It is rare for me to watch something and then want to start from the beginning again when it is finished.
This occured with Zizek!.

Slavoj Zizek is funny.
I would like to hang out with him.
The fact that these are the first items on the list supports Zizek's apprehension that his hilarity has been a double-edged sword for his work reaching its public and being taken as seriously as he would like.
Still, I think that his work is entertaining helps him get and keep the reader's attention.
Being Zizek's son would be great and terrible as a child, but as a 27 year old man who enjoys theory and philosophy and nit-picking commercials it would be brilliant.
Of course, this would probably only be true if I could remain in the detached position of the viewer and he as the character who is always throwing around interesting philosophical tidbits and making vulgar jokes, always entertaining.
This is something that can only take place in fiction.
I think I am going to make this take place in fiction soon.

The documentary is fascinating for both the ideas and concepts and the character of Slavoj Zizek.

By the end of this post, we will all be tired of reading the name Zizek.

I admire Zizek's honesty, his desire for honesty. I don't think he believes in the illusion of absolute honesty, but people being as honest as they can with each other. When he is watching and talking about a video of Lacan giving a made-for-TV lecture, details like Lacan's forced hand gestures and affected way of speaking nag at Zizek as though he feels he is being duped even if the concepts and ideas being presented are insightful lenses through which to analyse the world.

I laughed as Zizek picked apart the Lacan video. I do this with everything on TV: sitcoms, movies, and especially commercials. I am fascinated by the semiotics of advertising. One example is the wide use of the coffee cup as a prop in commercials. To me it seems to signify leisure, comfort, rest, and most of all security. Now my blood pressure goes up a little when I see someone in an advertisement cuddling with their coffee cup and smiling with comfort and contentment. This is why I watch TV alone most of the time. I am not entirely sure where my hypersensitive class-consciousness came from, either, but it is easily provoked and irritated. And yet I still get caught up in the game. I live in a state called Comfortable Dissatisfaction, and it encompasses the captitalist world.

Zizek gets irritated by the facade one puts forth when dealing with the world, with society, with others, and how human interaction operates on a superficial level.
I do not know how human interaction can become a deeply meaningful engagement every time between everyone. I don't think I would even want that. I enjoy the time I spend in my head. Nabakov's novel Invitation to a Beheading deals with this.

I know I am simplifying Zizek's ideas even after they have already been simplified for the documentary.

In the extras on the DVD, Zizek is sitting in a movie theater. He talks about how he analyzes films (phonetically, he says feelums, lisping the s's between his molars). Sometimes he will read something about a film and begin developing a theory, but then he will not see the actual film because he knows it will mess up his theory. I think that honesty is admirable.

I think Zizek might agree that in a society where we pretend that the transgressive is the norm and the shocking is the expected, that there is really no need to sugar coat or censor honesty like he exhibited about his film theories. I infer this from his comments about how thinkers/writers like Derrida and Judith Butler cannot state something without a string of qualifications and quotation marks like flies on death before they can feel acquitted of presupposition, while in the end they are saying the same thing as one who will call "a bottle of tea a bottle of tea." (I'm quoting here, not qualifying).

I enjoy how Zizek engages the world with irony and sarcasm. I like when he is standing by the poster of Stalin hung ironically to greet whomever comes into his apartment with the hope of driving them back out. It is here that Zizek explains his sarcasm as the form of sarcasm beneath which he is really serious.

Zizek has a keen eye for the paradoxes inherent in the psychology of capitalism.

Zizek talks about how all these leftists attend his lectures in hope of hearing some great new wisdom, hoping to gain intellectual fodder, obtaining some direction, some formula for what they ought to be doing politically, seeking spiritual guidance, etc, etc, which sounds a lot like when people go to the tent revivals looking for some spiritual awakening or revelation from the latest super-evangelist. Zizek seems saddened and irritated by this, and uses his irony and sarcasm to return the question to the seeker. I think he is not happy that the left is just as populated with sheep as any other position in the ideological spectrum.

I like that in one scene Zizek is flanked by toilets as he talks to the camera. In another scene he is philosophizing in bed.
Zizek is fascinated on many levels by the concept of chocolate laxatives.
Since Zizek seems to sweat a lot, I now feel better about my sweat-prone condition, too. (I wrote these lines in an attempt to lighten the pontification above. Also: I have spelled analyze two different ways in this post.)

Zizek is comfortable in the camera's eye. He performs well, and is honest about it being a performance even if in the end he does not like the superficiality.

I think next I will watch Zizek's The Pervert's Guide to Cinema, about which there is an article by Jim Cocola online at n+1.

Since the advent of science, philosophy is now a genre of fiction.

I liked Zizek! a lot. I recommend it to everyone.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Some Things that Will Remain Vague Until They Become Clear to Me













































































Yes, down here. I was thinking about what to write and trying not to be false about it. But I am doing it anyway as you have already seen. I am using the excuse that I cannot help it. So, fine.
Really engaging with the real everyday concrete world makes my eyes hum.
Sometimes my vision focuses so sharply that I can almost see through trees and cinder blocks and automobiles; but still never human beings.
My eyes involuntarily avert from the human face.
Imagining myself as the object of the gaze of another makes my heart beat furiously so I can hear my heartbeat on my own breath.
My dog has a lot of extra skin, so I often call him Dermis instead of his actual name. And sometimes he answers by looking at me.
I wonder if I wonder too much.
Laughter is also viewed as a sign of madness.
Today I am going to watch a film about Slavoj Zizek. Yesterday I watched and liked very much a film by Jean-Luc Godard. I watched it because Christopher Higgs mentioned it on his blog, where he posts about all kinds of films and artists and etc. I really enjoy Chris's blog. And soon I am going to watch every David Lynch film I can find, such as: Lost Highway, Fire Walk With Me, and the Twin Peaks series. I am excited to watch those things. I like the Lost Highway soundtrack a lot. I am open to suggestions. Please suggest things.
The average temperature here is going to be around 30 degrees all week, getting down into the low 20's at night. I hate the cold.
I put up some Christmas decorations yesterday: a small fiber optic tree, a munchkin-sized snowman wearing a floppy red hat and other clothes, and a long lighted garland type deal along the steps coming into the living room. I did not feel stupid or angry while doing this.
When I drive at dusk, when the sun has gone down and the horizon is still a little orange and yellow and blue, I look at the bare trees in sharp contrast against the sky and I imagine that the trees are bronchioles and we live inside a lung.
While googling "parts of a lung" I found the following paragraph, which is an abstract for an article entitled "Acoustic Properties of the Human Chest" in a scholarly journal called Acoustical Physics, and it struck me as a fine example of how technical language can be beautiful.

Abstract: A cross-spectral method for determining the longitudinal velocity of sound in the tissues of a human chest in vivo is proposed and substantiated. The method is based on the detection of a percussion stroke by two acoustic sensors positioned over opposite parts of a lung. Statistical estimates are obtained for the longitudinal velocity of sound in chest tissues (the middle part of the right lung) from a group of three men (40–47 years old) without any evident lung disorders in the frequency ranges of 80–130, 170–290, and 350–500 Hz. The adequacy of the double-resonance acoustic model of the human respiratory tract, which combines the resonance of the air volume in the human chest and the wave resonances of the bronchial tree as a narrow pipe, is experimentally verified.
__________
Translated from Akusticheski Zhurnal, Vol. 51, No. 4, 2005, pp. 483–487.
Original Russian Text Copyright © 2005 by Korenbaum, Tagil’tsev.


I often find philosophical language full of music and beauty. In his book entitled The Step Not Beyond, Maurice Blanchot describes the self as a "canonic abbreviation." That phrase is still with me.
I think that my state of mind today will find beauty in almost anything.
Snow is not falling right now.
Tomorrow will be different.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Re: Blake Butler's Blog Post Entitled "I WATCH MATLOCK WHEN I EAT LUNCH"

Blake Butler just wrote a great blog post entitled I WATCH MATLOCK WHEN I EAT LUNCH. And because I do not want to foul up what he has going there (even though someone will soon or already has), which spills over into the comments section, I am writing my comment to his post here. This post of mine is the comment I would but am not leaving on Blake Butler's blog.

I was going to leave a comment on his blog that said: "I'm sorry to ruin what you have going here, but I just wanted to tell you that this is a great post, and the comments thing is a lot of fun. I wasn't going to soil this for you, but I did. It's what I do."

But I did not. This post is my comment.

Quote

"I should beg Mr Horace's pardon; - for in writing what I have set about, I shall confine myself neither to his rules, nor to any man's rules that ever lived." --Laurence Sterne, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy

Sunday, December 9, 2007

New Reviews at NewPages

Last week: fresh reviews at NewPages. Good read. Subscribe. Help a child out of a well.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Shameless Lions

I had the great honor this past week to discover that J.D. Riso had chosen my blog for this award. I haven't read any of Riso's fiction or travel writing that isn't visceral, evocative, and descending into some deep pit of the human condition. So, like I said, I am honored that she thought my schizophrenic blog was worthy of anything but a cozy canvas jacket and a soft-walled room.



I lifted the text below from J.D.'s site:

About the Award:
Seamus Kearney of Shameless Words believes in powerful writing, and, he believes that it can be and is, found in many places, on the internet. This award was developed by him to put forth that belief and to encourage writers to roar.

From his site:
“Those people I’ve given this award to are encouraged to post it on their own blogs; list three things they believe are necessary for good, powerful writing; and then pass the award on to the five blogs they want to honour, who in turn pass it on to five others, etc etc. Let’s send a roar through the blogosphere!”

Now, here are the rules and examples as found at their original home: Please read them. You may also pick up the code for your award by following this link to The Shameless Lions Writing Circle.

Okay, here are the criteria, admittedly arbitrary, chosen by the judge, the Arbiter, me:

1) Originality. Ironically, hypocritically even, I think J.D. nailed that one so I'm using it, too.

2) Honesty. Maybe not that you never say things you don't mean, or mean differently than how what you said could be superficially interpreted, but also that you can say that you check Statcounter at least fifty times a day, sometimes only minutes after you last checked, because, who knows, someone may have popped in. So, yeah, honesty, however you want to qualify it, is good.

3) Sarcasm. Fermented irony. This is sometimes mistaken for being an asshole. But I think Roland Barthes wrote it best: "What I claim is to live to the full the contradiction of my time, which may well make sarcasm the condition of truth."

And, my fellow Shameless Lions are:

1) Blake Butler: I think people who read Blake Butler's words have this growing feeling of being in the virtual presence of something important, something big. His words cut your head off so smoothly that everything keeps working until you move away and your head tips a little, and you realize your body is now only a shelf. That's how I feel anyway.

2) CM Evans: Here is a man of many talents. Besides being the cartoons editor for Opium Magazine, CM maintains many blogs, one where he publishes my favorite cartoons ever, another with his poetry and short fiction, and yet another featuring his collage artwork.

3) Tod Goldberg: Even with pressing multi-book deadlines, Tod finds time to blog for truth, justice, and outing fucktards wherever they may hide, especially when they hide out in the open as readers and producers of Parade Magazine, that glossly little weekly paper that is shredding the moral fiber of America one stupid question at a time. The real Homeland Security lives here.

4) Pete Anderson: Whether it's music, literature, writing, movies, politics, whatever, Pete blogs often, well, and with taste. And he always has a reason for saying he likes or doesn't like something. Besides his blog, Pete's fiction is published in many fine venues around the internet.

5) Richard Lawrence Cohen: Sure, he's been on hiatus from his blog for a few months, but Richard has blogged consistently his insightful fiction and compelling journalism from the inner-life. Hopefully he returns to the blogosphere soon, but until then there's always his generous archive to hold us over.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Line Rehearsal Dinner

Right now I am dismantling your eyes from the inside out.
You could take my shoes if you wanted to.
I ran a batch of vomit through my Coffeemate this morning and it tasted remarkably like a McCafe specialty coffee.
I was happy once.
My ability to speak decays more every day alongside a thriving need to express.
Sometimes my mind breaks and collapses into itself.
Sometimes is equal to or greater than always.
Mathematics causes feces to drain from my tear ducts, which stains my eyes, which is why I am taking yours apart and plundering and purloining the pieces.
I don't care if you
Ten days ago I won an everlasting life on Wheel of Fortune for solving a puzzle in the Before & After category. I gave it to a crippled child in the audience and that was when the crowd turned against me.
I can never get the lines and images quite right.
The hearse broke down halfway to the cemetery. When the other hearse arrived the coffin was transferred and the procession continued on to the burial site.
I knew a girl with lick lips, and teeth like pieces of gum, but not chiclets; Bubble Tape, I think it was.
Moot points aren't really points is what I'm thinking. Sort of like a pointed baseball. It's really the force of it that cuts your skin, not how sharp it is.
It's not supposed to make sense; sometimes getting a reaction, evoking something is enough.
I was just informed not to be abstract because some people are offended by abstract thinking and speaking, and using abstractions or even the word abstraction is a bigoted act of meanful hate-spirited violence against concretion as well as lovers and practitioners thereof.

SCENE ONE: PAMPLONA, SPAIN


MATADOR

Please accept this gift, a souvenir.


HEMINGWAY

Bullshit is bullshit is bullshit.


[Or something like that]

I heat oil in a pan and drop dead flies from the window sills in and watch them hiss and pop and hiss, and I pretend they are special dancing flies that are happy I am home again.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

If You Want to Rule the World, Buy a Cadillac

For the nth time today I saw two commercials advertising the new Cadillac Something or Other. Here is what I learned from those commercials:

You will become a god if you buy and drive a new Cadillac.
Jesus would not drive a Cadillac, He would be a Cadillac, but not like a Transformer because just being the car would satisfy Him.
All the hip Forbes 500 deities are driving Cadillacs.
You will become one of the master class if you own a Cadillac.
A Cadillac will increase your virility ten trillion fold.
Your penis will grow nineteen feet if you own a new Cadillac.
(Of course, this applies to all genders.)
Everyone will know how important you are if you drive a new Cadillac.
Driving a new Cadillac will prove how much money you own.
Buying a new Cadillac will increase your knowledge, IQ, and social power by at least four hundred billion points.
The rights to a lost manuscript by Michel Foucault entitled Cadillac Cars: Historical Convergence of Psycho-Socio-Sexual Power have been obtained by Cadillac for revision and release in the Spring of 2009.
Cadillacs always seem to be traveling through the city at the speed of light, which is faster than other cars.
With your dashboard navigation system you will always know where you're going on the Lost Highway.
Even J.G. Ballard could not depict the amount of sexual pleasure your new Cadillac will provide.
Your new Cadillac will come equiped with tires, seats, a gas pedal, a steering wheel, and many chromium surfaces.
The tinted windows can be rolled down to allow others to see you sneering from your new Cadillac.
You will love, more than your own life, just saying the word Cadillac.
Cadillac cars are shiny.

After considering the information I have extrapolated from the commercials I saw today, and since I do not own enough money to purchase a new Cadillac, I have decided to accept donations via Paypal. I will take all donors for a ride in my new Cadillac. Just don't touch the radio. Thank you, every one.