Author Archive

moar quotes from a wallace acolyte

From “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again” [Harper’s, January 1996]. That’s a real link by the way. You can click it and it will take you exactly where you would want to go given the context. It’s a little late for April Fool’s jokes anyways, huh?

Death and Frank Conroy notwithstanding, we’re maybe in a position now to appreciate the falsehood at the dark heart of the Celebrity Cruises brochure. For this – the promise to sate the part of me that always and only wants – is the central fantasy the brochure is selling. The thing to notice is that the real fantasy here isn’t that this promise will be kept but that such a promise is keepable at all. This is a big one, this lie. (It might well be The Big One, come to think of it.)

And of course I want to believe it; I want to believe that maybe this ultimate fantasy vacation will be enough pampering, that this time the luxury and pleasure will be so completely and faultlessly administered that my infantile part will be sated at last. But the infantile part of me is, by its very nature and essence, insatiable. In fact, its whole raison d’etre consists of its insatiability. In response to any environment of extraordinary gratification and pampering, the insatiable-infant part of me will simply adjust its desires upward until it once again levels out at its homeostasis of terrible dissatisfaction.

And sure enough, after a few days of delight and then adjustment on the m.v. Zenith (which no pseudojournalistic wag could avoid rechristening the Nadir), the Pamper-swaddled part of me that wants is now back, and with a vengeance. By Wednesday, I’m acutely conscious of the fact that the AC vent in my cabin hisses (loudly), and that although I can turn off the reggae Muzak coming out of the speaker in the cabin I cannot turn off the even louder ceiling-speaker out in the 10-Port hall.

~David Foster Wallace


you’re locked in here with me

“I heard a joke once: Man goes to doctor. Says he’s depressed. Says life is harsh and cruel. Says he feels all alone in a threatening world. Doctor says, ‘Treatment is simple. The great clown Pagliacci is in town tonight. Go see him. That should pick you up.’ Man bursts into tears. Says, ‘But doctor… I am Pagliacci.’ Good joke. Everybody laugh. Roll on snare drum. Curtains.”

Who watches the Watchmen? I just did. Old pun – cue rimshot.

I read the Roger Ebert review – the man is the best reviewer alive, hands down – and he had in his diction a sub rosa befuddlement. Like there was something(s) he saw in the movie that really didn’t (don’t) make sense. A salient point – something Ebert always catapults to orbit towards the end of his review – didn’t seem to emerge. It was as if he had just been shot at.

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quotes from a wallace acolyte

“When they were introduced, he made a witticism, hoping to be liked. She laughed extremely hard, hoping to be liked. Then each drove home alone, staring straight ahead, with the very same twist to their faces. The man who’d introduced them didn’t much like either of them, though he acted as if he did – anxious as he was to preserve good relations at all times. One never knew, after all, now did one?”

I’d really rather have had no pageviews at all, rather than to see this downward-and-further-downward decline. But, since my output is victim to neglect, here’s some more Wallace. Nice days, all of you.

N.B. New quotes will be appearing here semi-regularly. Keep in touch.

“It now lately sometimes seemed like a kind of black miracle to me that people could actually care deeply about a subject or pursuit, and could go on caring this way for years on end. Could dedicate their entire lives to it. It seemed admirable and at the same time pathetic. We are all dying to give our lives away to something, maybe. God or Satan, politics or grammar, topology or philately -the object seemed incidental to this will to give oneself away, utterly. To games or needles, to some other person. Something pathetic about it. A flight-from in the form of a plunging into.”

Well, love, but you know the idiom ‘not yourself’ – ‘He’s not himself today,’ for example,” crooking and uncrooking fingers to form quotes on either side of what she says, which Mario adores. “There are, apparently, persons who are deeply afraid of their own emotions, particularly the painful ones. Grief, regret, sadness. Sadness especially, perhaps. Dolores describes these persons as afraid of obliteration, emotional engulfment. As if something truly and thoroughly felt would have no end or bottom. Would become infinite and engulf them.” (p. 765)

They have shifted into a sexual mode. Her lids flutter; his close. There’s a concentrated tactile languor. She is left-handed. It is not about consolation. They start the thing with each other’s buttons. It is not about conquest or forced capture. It is not about glands or instincts of the split-second shiver and clench of leaving yourself; nor about love or about whose love you deep-down desire, by whom you feel betrayed. Not and never love, which kills what needs it… rather about hope, an immense, wide-as-the-sky hope of finding… a something the same that will propitiate hope…that there is now inside her a vividness vacuumed of all but his name.” (P.566)

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I Wrote This #19: The Puddles By Evening

Ref. a word of caution, note #1. Poems do make appearances. Until I start composing anew I’m just going to occasionally drop my lyrical skillz from back in the day on ya. I’m probably at #30, now, or the next one would be. So this was written when I was 63% gestated, poetically speaking.

This is what you're wondering. I know it is.

it’s morning, you know
we could
paint a still life with our impotent fingers
or cook eggs with every
spice in the drawer
we could
dig holes in the front yard,
bury treasures in front of
button-down commuters get
smashingly drunk forget
where we put them dig
them up and be convincingly surprised.

we could pretend our hands are
virgin hands our
eyes new canvases and record
like nude Rembrandts
the embarassing details
we could make a creek of
pillows from one
side of the house to another
roll the entire length of it naked and
end up tangled in each other when they
run out

There is a whole day ahead of us, a whole world ahead of us –
a world of misery separated from us by
firecracker smoke, by cannonsmoke.

We have the house to ourselves
we could duct tape cardboard to the
exterior and pretend its one big
refrigerator box we could
jettison old ball mice and fat computer monitors
into the driveway erect
a campfire in the living room and
imagine that we have rebelled against something
fittingly awful, the modern world scowling at
our rusticity we could
make a tincan telephone that connects the entire
cul-de-sac and dress up smart and
sell it as charmingly as Ma Bell door-to-door

But our refined brains think two things:
sex again, handcuffed to maturity, or sleep.
What a world. What a longing.
What our age must suggest.
What an excuse: your starched reputation.
What courage could come from your bleached conscience.
How lovely to be trapped.

recall an adage about chickens and their immature ova

” The patients are frequently visible at [VA Alzheimer’s rest home] #4’s windows… They give everyone at Ennet House the howling fantods. One ancient retired Air Force nurse does nothing but scream “Help!”for hours at a time from a second-story window. Since the Ennet House residents are drilled in a Boston-AA recovery program that places great emphasis on “Asking for Help” the retired shrieking nurse is the object of a certain grim amusement sometimes. Not six weeks ago, a huge stolen HELP WANTED sign was found attached to #4’s siding right below the retired shrieking nurse’s window.”

I am mostly done with this book. Praise Jaysus.

David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest is a fucking tome. And I mean that in the best way possible.

I won’t brag about the length (it’s very long), or the depth (total. snob. lit.). But I am a marginally well-adjusted U.S. adult male, and I’m going to need to make a last will and testament before I am 3/4 finished. If only because seeing those footnotes when I turn the last page will drive me to suicide.ยน

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back for seconds

And now my fur has turned to skin
And I’ve been quickly ushered in
To a world that, I confess, I do not know
But I still dream of running careless through the snow…

The weather is lovely here. Cloudless merciful skies from peak to escarpment. I think this means we’re next in line for an earthquake.

Eliciting strange looks abroad, though: I have not nearly enough collared shirts to cover up this mysterious hickey and I smell like Roman Polanski’s shower. Is it wholly normal to wear a love-bite like a victor’s laurel? Regardless, this is what I am doing. Let us not conjecture on its origin.

Totes skipping ENGL305 – Shakespeare and his Age and taking a nap, because I have a deep-seated fear that if I fall asleep in ENGL305 Shakespeare and His Age, I may wake up as/next-to Shakespeare. In his age. I blame all the absurd Connecticut-Yankee time travel in my Saturday morning cartoons.

It can't possibly be safe for a baby to time travel. Even with friends.

Unattended infants? Next issue: The Rugrats Files – Pre-Cambrian Alert.*rimshot*

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and once again, from the top

“…I too with my soul and body,
We, a curious trio, picking, wandering on our way,
Through these shores amid the shadows, with the apparitions
Pioneers! O pioneers!”

It staggers the mind. I’m doing another one of these things. But I spend so much time on WordPress-y sites and comment face-anonymously so much I might as well unveil the man of mystery, right? So here we go again: because writing unpretentiously and forthrightly has long been a strong suit of mine.

The Author Makes a Grand Appearance
What may be of interest to you: currently making a tough slog through David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest. This may occupy some of my forthcoming post-ivity. Or all, if it’s as infinite as the title suggests.

More content of potential interest: you’re reading the digression of an amateur poet. Some of that material may also precipitate from solution.

That’s probably the sum of it. Hack poetry and stream-of-consciousness-what-I’m-doing-now blabber hardly fit for Twitter. Also, don’t be shocked if cute animals make a semi-weekly appearance.

Anteaters. They keep it lively.

Just kidding. The author doubts you’ll ever see this initial post but, if you do, stick along for the ride, and enjoy. For as long as it lasts.