Thursday, May 26, 2005

In a recent post by Kevin Drum - in which he listed 5 books that he hadn't been able to finish - many of the commenters mentioned Gravity's Rainbow as something they couldn't finish, a doorstop, impossible to read, etc.
I recently ran across a copy of Bookforum that featured a bunch of writers' take on Pynchon, lo these many years after he shook everything up with Gravity's Rainbow. Reading their comments, I was reminded how shattered I was by reading the book. It, more than any other book I ever read with the possible exception of Time Out of Joint by PK Dick, actually changed my brain. I mean, it was like LSD in the sense that "you'd never be the way you were before." You couldn't go back, you were changed forever.

I was so taken by it that I built rockets - here's a bad foto of my 2-stage V2 rocket - painted black - my schwartzraketen - fired over the houses of Anchorage AK in the mid 70s. A thing of beauty. No one else was ever the same, either.

Somewhere along the line I read recently - again - of Stanley Milgram's work on authority and conscience. If you're not familiar with it, please look it up. Briefly, he showed that most people will cause harm to others if they're ordered to by an authority. That's most. Don't know if anyone has used this in connection with torture and abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan, but it certainly looks germane. People will do things that their conscience tells them they shouldn't if someone who appears to be an authority tells them to. It really seems to be beyond belief, and yet study after study confirms the results. It says a lot about who we humans are. Or what.

One lesson? Pick your authority wisely, or not at all. Douglass Truth -- the original, I'm just a low-level iteration -- proved to me once and for all that there are no authorities. Something shocking and frightening to almost everyone when they first learn it. If you find yourself in need of an authority, just concentrate your mind on Douglass Truth's sublime equanimity, as shown below. He won't mind - he won't even notice! And you'll learn, eventually, that you can only trust yourself.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Also via The Revealer, a fantastic piece on Sol Star, the Jewish "I've been called worse by better" store-owner on Deadwood, my favorite show.
From The Revealer a good piece by Jeff Sharlet on a NYT puff-piece on Rick Santorum. How can reporting in major media be so bad?

Friday, May 20, 2005

I just read an article in the New Yorker about meth, internet, sex, and death in the gay community. Not good news. Put it on the shelf, now about to break, with the other tomes about oodles and oodles of unnecessary suffering and death. The article left me wondering why people are so self-destructive, and in this regard gays are no different than anyone else, with the exception of certain style issues, as one might expect. But the article left me feeling something else. Something left out. We talk about everything up to the moment of death, and then the curtain is pulled, and it is no longer polite to talk about it. Unless someone brings up infantile notions of heaven and hell. What happens when we die? Does anyone know? Is it important?

Our culture has this one great blind spot that occludes all others: our unwillingness to face death, and our reluctance to learn about How To Die, or to even know that there might be such knowledge. We joke about it all the time, but when the coffin door slams down, we may wish we'd learned a little more about it when we could have. In the meantime, here on the surface of our beloved little mudball, we're all driven completely crazy by this lack of basic self-knowledge, by this tremendous occlusion, this vast river we call Denial. And it is this, I think, that paradoxically allows us to be so violent, so ready to inflict death upon others.



Who - or what - is this guy; does he, by any chance, look familiar?
I started advertising on America Blog - the ad will show up sometime in the next few days. Some blogs are getting incredible numbers of readers, along with the ad rates that go with it. If I were in the newspaper business I'd be reading Dan Gilmore and trying to figure out a new strategy...

Had a nice conversation with Paul yesterday about seeing buying and selling as a potentially spiritual transaction. Dangerous area, but anything that can be used or viewed in a spiritual context is equally able to be used in a materialistic fashion...
There's a Zen proverb - the teacher exhorting his students to be "as white doves on snow..." that is, fit in, or at least appear to do so.

So how would you hide in a totally commercial society?

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

nice listening - sort of like Blade Runner crossed with Twin Peaks. Sara Ayers. Reminded me of the space change certain music can make... like the time I walked around Taipei on a Friday night, listening to Mozart's Requiem on a Walkman...

Monday, May 16, 2005

Events of the day remind me too often of Atlas Shrugged. I think a lot of writers are precogs - whether they know it or not - and I think Ayn Rand was definitely channeling a future. She just got a few of the flavors wrong, is all, cause of her background in Russia... But her picture of the United States failing is remarkably similar to what I see going on all around. The most salient thing is the appointment of people based on ideology and not competence and experience. That same cluelessness to how things actually work. One of the bad guys in A.S. is irritated when he can't get grapefruit juice cause the trains don't work cause all the competent people have left... but now things fail not because they decided to go on strike, that's not in their nature, but because they're forced out by ideologues. The so-called reconstruction of Iraq is a perfect example. There's a quote somewhere - I think it's Feith - telling someone he's not qualified for a job in the reconstruction cause he speaks Arabic. uh huh. Sounds like Ellsworth Toohey (tho I think I got the wrong book there) is at work. But here in our world it's not stinkin liberals who've done all this with their looney altruism, it's so-called conservatives (who aren't conservative at all, read Eisenhower, Goldwater, any o those real dudes) of the day who just assume that things will continue to work even with fools running... reliable, ideologically sound fools.

If James Kunstler is right, then we'll be needing all the help we can get, but it might be all gone. But locked out, not on strike.

I hope William Kunstler ain't right - and I'm getting more and more hopeful all the time.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

opening and reception last night for me, Paul Graubard, and Robert Andrew Parker at the Outsiders Art Gallery in Cornwall Bridge, CT



here's Paul Graubard with some of his work:



here's one of Robert Andrew Parker's works looking at mine:

Monday, May 09, 2005

I'm working on a new performance/book piece called Death As A Salesman. Our civilization (so-called) is based on business, so Mr. or Mrs. Death will most likely appear to us and work with us in the form of a Salesman. What could be more appropriate?

Civilization is a "business model". And that business model doesn't take into account our own personal deaths. It takes into account death as an insurance issue, or a demographic or military number, but not at all the issues that face each of us in our own personal end time. And that's no accident; if we were more aware of our own mortality and the real - most definitely real, really really real - outcomes that we could modify by our own behavior, we wouldn't act as our business culture needs us to, i.e. thoughtlessly. I think that's not very clear, but that's why I need a performance and/or a book to present it; I can't do a haiku on why facing our death is important. The most important.

BTW, Dorothy will be doing the actual performance. I am much too shy.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

watermelon art - via boingboing

Friday, May 06, 2005

I saw Orson Welles's F Is for Fake last night. Can't recommend it highly enough. Nothing like it out there. Welles's voice is like really good booze. Trickery, trickery. Kind of highbrow take on what Philip K. Dick spent his whole life exploring: what is real, and how do we know? In Dick's Man in the High Castle, an antique forger ponders: what makes an antique real and collectible? Subtle wa or is it in our imagination? It's a special case version of the entire question of communication, really: how much of what is communicated out there and real, and how much do we construct? Anyway, watch the movie. Great fun. Netflix has it.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

The original version of I Am A Dog is being published by Boleaf Books - should be back from printer this week. Update: is back from printer. click the link to buy.