Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Information for the People

So big news out there to all of you that don't actually know me (which right now I assume is very few (if any) of you, but I am hoping there will be more mysterious strangers reading this page in the near future): I am having a child and that right soon. My girlfriend (fiance) is due in April and so, indeed, whenever I have been referring to "me and mine" I have meant "this brand new crazy family". The family is not the reason I need a job, if that is what you are wondering, or if what it may have seemed that I have implied (childcare is expensive in New York, but so is everything). So. Just to clarify. Just to get it out there. Just to let the world know.

passion; or, the harmony of the spheres

It get's hard at times (easier now because I've been relaxing all night with icy cold gin while helping out with thanksgiving prep [it seems that all my amazing cheffing skills are in no way related to traditional thanksgiving dishes - and now you know.]) admitting my longing for the written word. It really is, or becomes after withdrawals, a longing. There is a need to write, to create, even to create long, drawn out, terrible, meaningless shit (which I hope that I don't do, but being only the mildly arrogant sort, I cannot claim - and of course I am always fishing for compliments). And then there is this job search. Given the situation and the need to have enough money to provide for me and mine (increasingly difficult in the city) I am continually placed in a situation where I must needs decide between taking a "job" or finding a "career." Because the difference is just as easy as the scare quotes. But it is not quite, or not exactly that.

The problem is multifaceted, but at least one way of looking at it is this: the times they are a-changing. Pekka Himanen argues that the world is beginning (at least) to take on "hacker" ethics re: doing what you love. Beginning. Perhaps. And there in lies the difficulty. Because as the world is beginning to adjust to telepresence, alternate scheduling, and all the rest of it, those of us in position to benefit from being able to do what we love, but too scared or too unable to actually escape from the bonds of our "regular jobs" or our "working for the weekend"/"paying the rent" are left looking out at what could be, what is, what should be ours, but isn't. And that hurts even more than the outliers taking what what we dream of. Becuase this is something that we know we deserve, that we really "should" be doing and yet due to market conditions, fear, and everything else that can/does/will go wrong we are left huddled, glued to our televisions, locked into our commutes, and just tired of it all.

I have dreams. I am afraid that I will never accomplish them (and not because of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression; or not just). I am afraid that I will never be granted that rarest of rare opportunities to achive my dreams/my goals/my plans for my creative future. And goddamn it, but I hate that I seem so well adapted to drudgery.

Here's to hoping the job search ends up working out for the best...

Monday, November 24, 2008

I have come to be annihilated. I have come to start anew.

The story of the phoenix is not just a story of rebirth, of renewal, of the first birth or the second, but of continual rebirth, of the cycle of life and death and meaning. It is not that the phoenix is given over to the flame but once. It is a continual death, the "impossible possibility" of my death, over and again. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. This is relevant not so much in the reincarnation after physical death bit, I'll not get into that here. But rather in respect to the process of living, of renewal in life and relating to this "brave new world that has such people in't."

Just because nothing is new under the sun, just because our stories have all been told does not mean that we have reached the end of history (if this is the end of history and the pinnacle of mankind, dear god, give me my money back), that we can relax and take it easy ("it's all been done before"/"there's nothing you can do that can't be done"). We have grown complacent, and I, at least, feel I must needs change ere it comes too late. And not just the complacency, not just the sitting and letting happen, but more so in those things that I (we) choose to do with what little time we have.

[It is the continual desire for self-discovery, for making in one's own image, for making one's own image. For collaborative self-creation and self-definition. Because no longer are we bound by time and space and physics to our own shells, to our own little corners of our own little rooms, or even while so bound, we are unbound, having found fire and shared it with all of mankind. That would be the idealism of it anyway. The whole "do what you love to the best of your ability, with those you love, where you love to be" &c. It would be nice. And while a virtual possibility, I remain unconvinced. Life is not just about rebirth and renewal, and the death of the spirit, the continual dying of the body and soul, is as much a part as anything. Here we are sitting on the verge of such power and possibility and what do most of us do when we go into work? So much of it means so little, is of so little value, and so detached from what minuscule amount of value that it may provide as to render that void, meaningless to us in our cubes, in our collars. Workers of the World Unite! Nothing You Lose Will Matter! The revolution is always late. Look at it this way, how many of us actually expect any of our dreams to come true?]

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Top 5

An idea came to me this morning while riding along on the train looking at all the folks around me and noting with what can best be regarded as knowing disappointment that, though many of them were, in fact, reading, most of those that were reading were reading terrible, useless trash books or one of the many dailies not worth their newsprint. And this got me to thinking. While I regard reading to be an inherent good, I don't know that I would considered reading anything better than reading nothing. It depends on what one is doing instead. On the subway they tend to be fucking around with their cell/ipod, sleeping, or staring off into space. But the wider issue remains. Is reading a terrible work of the most slapdash fiction (or fanfic, or some other manner of unedited doggerel) better than watching a good film? Is it better than watching a mindless film? Or reality tv? And while these questions are at best open-ended and more important for the thinking they inspire than the answers they request, it got me to another point: is anything we are doing re: media in America (at least large scale and popularity-wise) 'good'? Thus, the Top 5.

Currently on The New York Times Bestseller List (as of 11/14/08):
1. Divine Justice, by David Baldacci.
2. Salvation in Death, by J. D. Robb.
3. Swallowing Darkness, by Laurell K. Hamilton.
4. The Gate House, by Nelson DeMille.
5. Extreme Measures, by Vince Flynn.
(via The New York Times)

Currently On Billboard (week of 11/22/08):
1. "Live Your Life", T.I. feat. Rihanna
2. "Whatever You Like", T.I.
3. "Hot N Cold", Katy Perry
4. "Heartless", Kanye West
5. "If I Were A Boy", Beyonce
(via Billboard Hot 100)

Currently at the Box Office (weekend of Nov. 14, 2008):
1. Quantum of Solace
2. Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa
3. Role Models
4. High School Musical 3: Senior Year
5. Changeling

Currently on Television (week of Nov. 3, 2008):
1. 60 Minutes (CBS)
2. CSI (CBS)
3. Dancing with the Stars (ABC)
4. NBC Sunday Night Football (NBC)
5. Dancing with the Stars Results (ABC)
(thanks to Nielsen)

I would have put in a Top 5 of Video Games, but I can't find a comprehensive list of the best-selling titles in the U.S. Market.

Having now compiled theses lists, what indeed do I intend to do? I have read none of the listed books, seen none of the listed movies or TV episodes, heard none of the listed songs. It would be more than presumptuous to write them all off immediately. And I certainly don't have the time/money/desire to actually look into all of them. I suppose I could compare best-selling lists to critical review lists and see how they match up. My estimation is that most of them would not match up quite as well. And it is not like I put my full faith in the critics, either. So I guess it was more of something to do to pass the time. This is what is popular in America, now. And, given that of all the listed items I only desire to see two of the movies, I think that the most useful information gathered this morning was how far away from best-selling lists my tastes tend to fall. But I already knew that.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Don't Sit So Close To Me

You know what really grinds my gears ...

The other day I was riding the subway, as I and at least 3 other people in this city do on a regular basis. I got on the subway and lo and behold, to my utter delight, there were open seats. As we all shuffled on and off the car, I found that indeed, I would be able to sit without even having to race past some old lady and snipe the chair out from under her.

To clarify, this was one of those brand spanking new R160 trains (one of which rolled past me today while I was waiting only to announce via signs in 5 languages that this one was being "tested" and thus not taking on passengers - and this right after I saw the train before it pull out of the station as I was walking down to the platform). So this train has that long row of seats on either side with the bar running up the middle dividing it into two neat sections that fit 3 normally sized people relatively comfortably.

Anyway, I got on the train and found that the two remaining seats were on either side of a youngish girl. Figuring she would slide over when I sat down, I took the seat closest to the door. She didn't slide. No one took the other open seat next to her but she still didn't slide. She didn't slide over to the middle leaving the open seat between us. She didn't slide over somewhat leaving empty space between us and allowing both of us to spread out in a more comfortable manner. No. She just stayed where she was, with a wide open space right next to her, cramping my style.

But what could I do. I wasn't about to stand up. It's a fairly long ride and even if it hadn't been, I prefer sitting when it is an option. I couldn't shove her over or tap her on the shoulder and exclaim, "Excuse me, miss, but would you stop invading my personal space." What, indeed, could I do but grit my teeth and bear the indignity while attempting to comprehend why so many people fail to understand the subtleties of public transit etiquette.

Now, she wasn't an unattractive lady, and had I been looking to rub up on a stranger on a train perhaps I would not have been so put off. Though the glazed eyes and bored expression as she sifted through the track listing on her ipod might have diminished the thrill. And it's not that I mind sitting next to strangers or sitting that close to strangers when the train is full. In fact, once someone a couple stops later filled that empty seat, I felt much more comfortable with the situation, if still confused about the motivations of said bored girl.

The situation, like this post, ended with an anticlimactic bang, and I got of the train still perplexed and then got around, several days later to writing about it. Basically, I don't know why she, and so many others on so many other occasions, do not understand that strangers do not want to be that close to them unless they have to be (and that they should be suspect of any stranger that does). When seats open up, you spread out, you give people their space. And you sure as fuck don't fall asleep on them. I would perhaps be remiss in not claiming that "maybe this is just my opinion" and allowing that "some people might have no concept of personal space, and that's ok". So maybe this is just my opinion. But I doubt it. And it's not ok.

passing back over the origin; an archeology


Let's put it this way. I have been terrible at blogging. Posts have gone up rarely and with no continuity. Commentary was not provided. Intellectual links were not made. Yes, I did want this to be a vehicle primarily for pieces of short fiction, but that has proven itself insufficient. Not wanting this to be my third failed blog I have resolved to do something. Hopefully it will stick.

Given that I am going to be writing a master's thesis on blogging, I figure the best thing I can do for insights that won't necessarily come via research is to learn by doing. So even if no one reads or comments on this page to give credence to my claims about blogs as a medium and an explication of writing unbound by the codex, perhaps a tangential benefit. "Maybe it's something really cool that I don't even know about" (Frank "the Tank" Ricard).

I suppose we shall see. And at least I can go ahead and give myself permission to use the site as a venue for rants and other misguided attempts at cleverness that had thus far been excluded due to their not being "serious fiction writing".