April 30, 2008 § Leave a comment

DECONTAMINATION, PART TWO

When a job ends that I don’t like, self rises up, unobstructed and pulled loose from whatever algae-covered rocks or ocean floor deitrus held it in place.

The less I give to a job, the more it seems I do, even if I don’t want to, even and especially if all I give to it is my forced time. I break down and sink, overwhelmed at the edges, the water pulling down and away.

I live, blind like a mole rat, like a feeler-creature attached to a rock, with a wide, great mouth pointing up to the sky. Shaken by the current, by small eddies; worried by changes in pressure and taking big gulps of water when upset.

When it ends, I float up. I regain some semblance of a steering mechanism. I tie down the ropes which were allowed to float loose. The past two months haven’t exactly been terrible, but it always gets worse with time. And like a man lost on his own campaign, I begin to cringe and cry for my home-self. I stagger over dunes and plod thoughtlessly through dense underbrush, maps covered in a fugue-mind-fog.
 
 

I did the dishes, the long stacks (we’ve been eating out). I sat down and read, sat down and read, the last time that was was when? Two weeks ago, an article about the end of the world? I got a jump on writing, on working out what I want to say at home, not at work and confused. I didn’t sit down and try to distract. I didn’t turn on that Genesis machine. I didn’t fall asleep when my wife did, just because. I didn’t use the excuse: too tired. As I rode home I thought of all of the things I can, could, will and would do.

I look forward to doing my work, it’s almost done. I look forward to what I hate, because it’s almost done, and after I can go.

April 29, 2008 § 3 Comments

DECONTAMINATION

I’ve been reading too much Raymi. It’s really– it’s like having an exclamation mark pointed directly at your eye. It’s like being in an echo chamber, except the echoes are colours, and they cycle twelve hundred times in one day. It’s– hard to explain. I don’t explain it right. I’m almost blogged out, as you can see. That’s what this post is about. That I go there, with a soft mind, let myself be warped, be warped and post this, is about the best evidence I have.

This is from there:

Chloe: I just start to feel soft
the one time i had an full time office job I got fat and soft
and cranky

That’s what it’s like, working full time. In a job you don’t like. That’s not– you, it’s not you, you do it, but you don’t give to it in a whole way, because you don’t want to or have to. But you come home tired, and you are tired the next day, and at night you want to sleep with your wife, and you don’t have time for anything else, and that’s all. You can make time for other things. But you don’t, always. Not really, consistently.

I have two jobs and one is just about to end. I can’t wait. When my second job ends, I will be working three days. It will be enough. I’ll have the extra time, that I know I need. I’ll pick up the slack at the house, do walkarounds, do more routinely my creative things. I know one job works and is best, for me, I knew that, one small job, I got cornered into this second one, it’s almost done, I laugh: yes!

I was thinking on the ride home, yesterday: I don’t want to be that fat, sad man at gatherings. The one with the egg shape. The small, delicate hands. Stuck in a corner of a booth, drinking his drink. Saying, with apologies, “I don’t really like my job, it’s just something I… do.” Leaning in to understand his soft face, thin voice.

April 29, 2008 § Leave a comment

JAZZ

Walking down University. Looking for the music, catching it in your ears when your head is tilted just so. Not constructing– not walking, ‘magic-making’, not trying to find (not: “life is beautiful, I find beauty in the oddest things”) but the sounds building together, an accident, coming in such a way that you think you heard what you didn’t, what you piece together later as you look around. The loud bleat of a saxophone, first note, coming from an affronted car. Soft squeals, the tires on a certain polished spot on the road, the assent. Flags clacking against their poles, in the wind, the rhythm that you heard.

April 29, 2008 § 3 Comments

OPPORTUNITY

It’s good to know that, with the threat of a global food crisis, the rich are still getting richer, pretty much everywhere.

Swonk [chief economist of Mesirow Financial] called it the “biggest inequality since the Great Depression.”

“Not only are the rich getting richer, there are more of them, and those who are rich are getting incredibly rich, sort of a winner-takes-all,” she said.

This can only be a good thing for the likes of mega-elites. When the world’s population boils down like tree sap (with enough people remaining to carry the titans on their backs) there will be more development opportunities than ever, I expect.

The part that I like best about the lives of these robber-barons, I guess, is their low accountability. When you’re worth three billion dollars, like John Paulson is, fifteen million dollars is just a drop in the bucket. It’s really nothing, and beyond obscene that it’s considered an acceptable level of donation back to those you, most likely, made your money off of (not from). It’s just considered a high number because the vast majority of people couldn’t make that much money in one hundred lifetimes, let alone make enough of it so that they could consider giving it away. You’re basically given (especially with tax-breaks and grey-area money managing you can afford to take advantage of) a free pass out of society.

The funny part about it is, of course, that the regular person (in the West, at least, right now, I mean) isn’t that poorly off. Right now, it’s a much different situation than in the depression. The most exploited peoples are in distant factories, cordoned off. We can afford the basic necessities, and most people can “afford” a lot more. The interesting part about this is that not many people seem content with what they have. And I know, I know, you’ve heard this before, but it’s true. The idea of something more is all-consuming.

Maybe that’s a basic facet of humanity. But the people on the ground floor have forgotten how to control it, and those at the top have become better at exploiting it than ever before.

Not just in terms of– it’s not just because there is always a shiny new iPhone on the horizon, or a faster game console system, or whatever. It’s because, for the most part, we let ourselves be taken advantage of, we give ourselves wholly to support our mode of living, and then, in our free time, we’re so beat that we give our mind and our breathing space up as well. We don’t want to work just for more stuff, but for the breathing space, the mind-place we never have to enjoy what we’ve already got.

It’s interesting because the people who have the least grip on reality, who perpetuate the very system they try to escape, are probably the biggest slaves. The only difference between the Paulsons of the world and the Paul Smiths is the fact that one group has the illusion of control. A free ticket “out” of the rat race, while remaining the most invested in it.

I had a history teacher once who told me that the year he worked in a factory was the worst of his entire life. He worked long shifts, hard (to get the work done, because a factory never stops or slows down) only to make enough money to come home and fall asleep in his bed. There was no room for anything but passive activity because he’d given away his entire self. But the job, he explained, paid well.

You can’t get more passive than watching television. You can’t get more brain-dead than eating, watching, and self-medicated spending.

The point is that we’ve lost our priorities. To the point where even for an extremely low-paying job, filling up the coffers of someone else, who doesn’t do the work, who is already rich, you are expected to give one hundred and ten percent. Your requests for off-schedule time are denied, your concessions for school, family life, or religion ignored. But harsh treatment because it’s even worse for those above. Show me a salaried retail-store-manager, who comes in on his weekends, who works late at night, who is there when his very young employees (by instinct, as expected, knowing priorities better than most) flake out, and I’ll show you somebody who is already (inside) halfway-dead.

To afford what you think you need, to keep you in a mind where you look at shiny things and think you can afford, you are worked hard and dragged behind, tied to the cart. Your self gets sold down. You are as unthinking as they expect you to be. You are a serf, and you can’t think because of what you do, and you do your work, but you don’t understand, and the upper-tiers look down because what are you, besides an animal? What are you besides a revenue-building, field-plowing machine?

It’s funny as much as things change, the more they stay the same. I can only think that the impending food crisis, the mounting debts, the inflation, the speculating, will have some kind of ill-effect. But when you’re brain-dead and poor, you might, at least, try to change how you live.

April 29, 2008 § Leave a comment

YOUR BALLS ARE THE WORST BALLS

Bits of crumbled paper, some naked flakes, some rolled in N.’s hands into twists, scatter around his hands, plate, and drink. He’s not looking at the table. His hands move without see. It’s dark outside. The light tracks in, when a car passes or twists into turn.

R.’s watching him. N. doesn’t see. I want N. to stop. I want to put my hands on his hands and tell him that what he’s doing is wrong. R.’s eyes track N.’s hands. I bet R. is thinking the same thing.

I turn to R. I say what I think.

Some kind of sexual disfunctioning.

R. laughs. N., across the table says stop, it’s not that. It’s not that at all, he says.

–What is it then?

–I just can’t get a, well. This is automatic. You guys are assholes if you think it’s anything else.

–That’s fine.

–I’m just, I can’t see inside my own brain sometimes, you know?

–Okay.

I twist a straw into a triangle-sized football and flick it into N.’s head. He laughs in his way, puts it aside. I pick it up and toss it again. It hits its arc, crashes into his forehead. He puts it into his pocket. Tries to make a kind of joke. It’s—I don’t laugh, R. doesn’t laugh, it’s not really funny. N. hasn’t been very funny, recently.

I lean back. I put my arm on the windowsill. I tap at the wood framing the glass.

–I’m hungry.

–This place sucks. We’re all hungry.

N. perks up.

–It does suck, says N. This place is the most blowinest blow job in all of history.

I look up, tap the glass.

–What the fuck? says R.

N. shrugs. It was a joke.

–You’re a joke, I say.

–Your mom gives the most blowinest blow jobs, says R. I laugh and agree.

April 28, 2008 § Leave a comment

A call from the other side of the world. Garbled and coming from some centre ether cord. Pulled down from a high cloud.

His name is t-e-d Ted, he says. My basement’s overflowing, my carpet filling up like a sponge, contaminated ground water.

–I don’t really have time for this, Ted.

–That’s fine. But I just wanted to tell you about a special offer, just for preferred customers.

The inserted pause at the end of Ted’s speech is mine. I look down at my feet and they’re as wet as they’re going to get. I pull up a chair, take off my socks. Over the course of the conversation I pick wet lint from in-between each toe. Ted continues, but he never really asked for permission not to stop.

Ted takes the Service Charge off. He lowers my Monthly Fees. I don’t quite understand. I don’t know– why? What have I done, I don’t get. Some other provider? Fees upon fees? Maybe, or maybe less, but why? I’ve been paying my bill every month, they placed me in some kind of ‘preferred suckers list’, I can feel it.
 
 

My head kind of, my eyes. I’m a, ah uh, oh, my head and my eyes pull together, taut as a rope, the cord stretches. Something tingles at the base of my skull, near the neck.

I’m on the phone with Ted.

The phone’s overflowing and spilling onto the floor. I’m on the phone with Ted, and his talk is curling out of the phone in thick gelatin chunks, wrapping around my neck and dripping onto the floor.
 
 

Ted? Ted, where are you-?

–Let’s just connect you into the system. Let’s, we’re connecting you into– it’s sort of like an answering machine, is that okay André? It’s just like an answering machine, you’ll understand. I have to enter my I.D., that’s first, then it will ask me some questions, which I answer. You just listen. I can give you my I.D. here, right now. Do you have a pencil and paper ready? It’s 27232; that’s for me, Ted. The computer will ask that and I’ll put it in. Then there are questions for you, first you say your name, that’s André Bxbxn. Say it just like that, ok? Then it asks you yes or no questions, that’s all. Pay close attention to what it says, ok? When it asks you to press pound, I press pound. Got it?

–I know this is weird, but just for my own curiosity, that’s all- where are you from, Ted? What country, or city, I mean? Can you tell me? Is that allowed?
 
 

Silence as he connects and the other side beeps in. Wherever he’s from, Ted is a busy man. Do you got that? Is that okay?
 
 

Ok. Let me tell you two things. You’re born the same year I was born. You were born in the same year I was, except I was born September 13th. So you’re older five months less nine days, that’s right? And I have a brother named André, isn’t that nice?

–Yes, it is sort of nice. It is sort of– Ted? Where are you from? Ted? My head burns out, right now, I don’t fully understand which provider, are the fees in addition or instead? Ted? I can’t complete my… thoughts, just answer the question. Where are you from, Ted?

Ok. I will explain it all to you. I will give you the answers. I will explain it all to you in a way that you understand. I like your questions, you are a sharp man.

April 24, 2008 § 4 Comments

THE SCROLL

“That isn’t writing; it’s typing.”
Truman Capote, on the three week composition of On The Road.

When Kerouac sat down to write On The Road, he stuck eight mammoth sheets of paper into his typewriter, taping them together as he went. Legend has it that he dropped the completed scroll, all one hundred and twenty feet of it, onto his publisher’s desk when he was done. Legend has it that was it.

Now the whole world unfurls on an ever-expanding block of text three-and-a-half inches wide. What Kerouac sold, with the idea of the roll, was the illusion of immediacy. A line running straight into Kerouac’s drug-addled, caffeinated head. A direct experience.

Never mind that he lived with his mother, drank nothing stronger than tea while composing the roll, and worked on On the Road for years before and after the its composing. He hid behind the curtain and sold the first genuine illusion of immediacy, an advertised hot-link to his head.

Never mind that most blogs, too, are penned in similarly unassuming positions. In basements, backyards by the sprinkler, and blue-lit rooms. By regular people latched onto an obsession or need. Posting carefully composed images and ideas of their personality—their thoughts too, sure, their “happenings”—but groomed in just such a way. To suggest that the image seen is the natural person. The natural person responding in the immediate way that they would.

Spell-checked. Planned and worked out all day, but posted with a time-stamp in that same ever-expanding roll, the suggestion of endless—the immediate inside-head—the careful composing read as straight, unadulterated thought by those who need the mutual buying in, the sharing of illusions.

Kerouac said that many people who met him in person, or who tracked him down looking to drink, found him, at best, disappointing. My guess is that conceit applies to most of us in the puffed-up blogosphere as well. How can you live up to the frozen images, posted in succession (over multicellular, energetical-ameoba background), posed in mid-air? How can you beat the head-scrambling heart-racing prose that you pen, alone, head-point pop-gun? How can you live up to the endlessly witty, unknowable snarkster who posts three lines of text (falling apart upon inspection), each word establishing its own trend?

Where Am I?

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