Monday, November 30, 2015

I can’t be on Facebook because of my desire to humiliate myself. Were you ever on Myspace or Facebook or Twitter? Or did you never go there?
I love that you own the desire to humiliate yourself, even if you eventually had to back away from it. You know I never did those things that you mention, those online things, nor have I ever been tempted to, not even for a nanosecond. These days it seems like one is making a big statement by saying that, but since I barely know what they are or how they work — they’ve just kind of passed me by — it isn’t something I think about very often. And since there’s so much built-in obsolescence, I often feel like it all comes out in the wash — i.e., I never knew what Myspace was, and now it seems no one else knows either.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

epigraph to Penelope Fitzgerald's letters

Will dich im Traum nicht stören,
Wär schad’ um deine Ruh’,
Sollst meinen Tritt nicht hören –
Sacht, sacht die Türe zu!
Ich schreibe nur im Gehen
An’s Tor noch gute Nacht,
Damit du mögest sehen,
An dich hab’ ich gedacht.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

* (My Internet is so slow, I cannot download images, you will have to google the two Durer images, compare and contrast. My above neighbors got Optimum to come by because their Internet is so slow too. Oh mine is too, it's really slow, I tell my neighbor, a Goldin-esque photographer who wears in the late fall this striped poncho I always vocally admire.  You should get it fixed, she tells me. But I realize that I like the slow, I am liking the slow, I am liking not knowing everything, not reading everything, not being able to link to everything. The link Sheila sends me today, the article everyone is circling, I don't want to read it, I don't want to respond to everything, I don't want to read responses to responses to responses. This blog is fast, I worry over how unmediated these words are. Yet these are notes towards notes, this is not anything yet. Is it fast because I know it will be read? The slower is to write for invisible readers, the slower is to write for ghosts? For that is always who I want to write for, I want to write for ghosts, for the already dead, for those on the margins, the outsiders, the losers and the suicides, and then my living elective affinities. Lately I write for David Wojnarowicz and Nella Larsen and  Herve Guibert and Robert Walser and WG Sebald and Bolano and Theresa Hak Kyung Cha and Clarice Lispector and Ludwig Wittgenstein and Enrique Villa-Matas and Louise Brooks, I write for the quitters and the Bartlebys and the queer bachelors and the feminine monsters, I write for Bhanu Kapil and Sofia Samatar and Danielle Dutton and Clutch Fleischmann and Sheila Heti and Douglas Martin and Jenny Zhang and Azareen van der Vliet and Suzanne Scanlon and Amina Cain and Pam Lu, and out of  love and envy for the work of Renee Gladman and Claudia Rankine and Valeria Luiselli and Lydia Davis,  I would never write for Jonathan Franzen or Philip Roth. We must be able to elect our elective affinities and not have them elected for us - I am so tired of reviews or essays naming the same group of white women writers, sometimes that writer whose name uncannily resembles mine cringingly included, as the ones breaking boundaries or being applauded for subverting autobiography, even though I of course intensely admire many of these writers often named. However, I could  write an essay over the terrible specter of Susan Sontag, who I do feel I pander towards, I so want her to write an essay about me, my eventual and hoped for luminous opacity, why in every book I'm reading does Sontag or William Gass write the introduction? I am in constant conversation with them, it's oppressive,but I cannot help but think almost everything they say feels right, they are my professors, I who had none, no writing mentors, no workshop environments. I also feel every time I discover a writer, say in translation, Sontag has always discovered them. Another point to explore later on: Why does almost every straight white male writer always bring up Susan Sontag to me? They always want to know what I think of her, or talk about me with her, or reference her constantly, maybe they just bring up Sontag to everyone, I don't know. There are some people I have no desire to discuss Susan Sontag with.) 

I Am the Daughter of Winfried Georg Sebald
There is no reward for being the good girl. There is no moment when the universe sends you a note saying, "Because you are thin and quiet and helpful and don't take up space, here is your solid gold house." There is just you, waiting for this and, when it doesn't come, deciding that it's because you won't deserve your reward until you're even thinner, or until you stop ever asking for what you want, because you did that like three times in the last year and clearly need to be punished for your appalling selfishness. The good-girl reward never shows up. (In the case of things like raises, the reward will only show up if you ask for it, which is why silent martyrdom is self-sabotaging.) People far more selfish and thoughtless than you will always seem to be doing better, and no, it's not fair, but you have to stop doing anything that you are only doing in the hopes of getting a gold star or you will drive yourself insane. If you do something stereotypically good-girl-ish because it's genuinely something you like to do, rock on. But pay enough attention to your own motivations to know the difference.

Speaking of differences, telling yourself, "The house needs to be clean," versus telling yourself, "I want the house to be cleaner," can change entirely your attitude about housework. At least it did for me, this morning. Also helpful: thinking about standing in front of Anubis' scales with various other women and having him say, "Okay, the only thing I'm putting in this scale is whether you kept your house spotless, and anyone who didn't gets eaten by the crocodile demon," and even the crocodile demon saying OH COME ON.

- Burning My Study

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

'Might Boredom Be My Form of Hysteria?'

It seems correct I think that having not logged into Blogger for something like 2 years I have either forgotten how to use it or the medium itself has forgotten how to be used - it seems only right to attempt to write in such an ephemeral and outmoded form, since that is the only thing that holds my interest nowadays - is it a failure, is it going to drift away, has it gotten so small to be on the verge of disappearance... To blog is seemingly not at ALL like riding a bike - I have completely forgotten how this works. This sense of the private in public. I have forgotten what it's like to have readers. Have I been asleep for two years? Have I written anything? How am I somehow still here?


I think I have clung so much to Bartleby lately because it is a story of antagonism to professionalism and New York, it is the New York no, the refusal of concepts of success and industriousness, of participating. And that Bartleby refuses to tell anything about himself, which is a desire of mine, (the dream to write a book about nothing, as Sofia writes me). And that Melville, I read online, wrote it after the failure of his most recent book, its dismissal in the press, and so I like to think of it as a portrait of a failed writer as well. Last week there was the big reading of Melville's Moby Dick at the Whitney, I was asked once to do it when I moved here, and I said no, because I said, I have never read the book, which I'd like to, perhaps when I retire soon to a farmhouse in Massachusetts, since moving here I am asked often to do events, of some character or another, usually interviewing authors, usually involving my gender and its various discontents, and my strategy is usually to say no to everything, and then occasionally, say yes, and for the ones I say yes to I dread and drag my feet and usually cancel at the last minute, but sometimes show up and am quite competent and professional, although sometimes like Barthes bored and paralyzed at the panel, while the next day I wilt all day to attempt to restore any semblance of my self. Luckily since I say no to everything I'm usually not asked to do much anymore, even though I live in Brooklyn I've never been asked to do the festival, here, I found myself complaining to Sheila about this this summer and she responded, quite rightly, that if I was asked I would say no, and would be irritated. But as I was waiting for my daily identical bagel order at the cafe just now, jittery from a morning of too much coffee and a surprising burst of writing, I mused to myself that there should be some sort of alternate public reading of Melville's shorter, other work, only nobodies should be asked to do it, it will be sponsored by no one, everyone will cancel at the last minute or not show up because of nerves, we will not be able to locate a space except at the back of a bookstore that doesn't carry our books, we will all refuse to read or somehow sabotage the performance, there will be no one in the audience.  Really, since no one will read, and no one will attend, it's best, really, at this point and time, to just indefinitely cancel it.


I love how outmoded the blog has become, how nostalgic and quixotic this meandering long-form. I like that this is so long that no one will read it. The same conversation where John asked me if I had read Bartleby, I told him my favorite discovery of yesterday, was writing the word "digressions," and thinking instead "depressions," and I wonder how that would look as a form - a "depression," a kind of digression, sinking deeper and deeper, would I have found then, the ultimate melancholy form.

- I am the Daughter of Winfried Georg Sebald

Monday, November 23, 2015

Sunday, November 22, 2015

“Here I am!” shouted the desert, loud with life, for there was still life in it, waiting, stored like seed. “Here I am. Did you forget me? Forget me despite your dreams of the sun and the rain and the antique tribes who roamed me one with their herds and their weird ways? You, who moaned and whined, covering metal-tape with cries and yearning, you, you effete thalldrap. Now’s your chance to prove you can do more than sit on your tail complaining and drinking sapphire wine with your tears of self-pity. Come, come and do battle with me, come and fight me. I’m more than a match for you. I’ll devour you if I can, but I’ll do it cleanly and openly, not with words and dark little tanks in Limbo. Don’t be afraid of human death and human age. I’ve see it all, and I know it. It’s just dust blown over the rocks. Look at me, how dead and old I seem, and yet, watch me grow, watch me live. Come on. Come and find me. I’m waiting.”

- Tanith Lee

Saturday, November 21, 2015

what doesn't kill us makes us stranger

We watched Jessica Jones from 6 PM yesterday to just about 5 PM today (with time out for food, sleep, ahem other activities and 10-15 minutes when Netflix froze in the middle of the finale) and DAMN, it was amazing. I don't know when I've seen a better show. I think I liked every single minute of this and Agent Carter and Mad Max Fury Road. I've been really happy with a lot of TV and movies (this, Gone Girl, Ex Machina, Dark Matter) and it's really nice, after a long while of feeling out of step with critical and popular darlings (Mad Men, Game of Thrones, Hannibal, Age of Ultron, Interstellar, Foxcatcher, Birdman, American Sniper) to get that big hit of loving something again. Burning through that was like reading a great book, getting all swept up.

(There's a shot at a pivotal moment in "AKA Take A Bloody Number" where Jessica jumps down from a balcony onto a moodily blue-and-purple-lit stage and lands in that characteristic action heroine pose of knees deeply bent and feet planted, and it is I swear to God nearly a shot for shot remake of a famous moment from the second episode ever of Buffy that used to end the opening credits (this one). (Later credits had a kind of variant where she's looking up and holding an axe.) It's like this huge signal that Jess is now going to KICK ASS, and I actually yelled something like, "That's Buffy! She's Buffy!" even though Trish is in a lot of ways more like Buffy, more consistently. I would be really surprised if that doesn't get pointed out on the DVD as a deliberate homage. There are some other similarities, but that was pretty amazing.)

(I told a dear friend "no fucking lie, this show is like 'Faith and Buffy 2.0 with bonus Gunn if Whedon hadn't fucked it up and the two of them really were the most important things in each others' lives'.")

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Warren Zevon - My Shit's Fucked Up (Live on Later)

anti-depression playlist

The M.V.P.'S - Turnin' My Heartbeat Up
Shirley Ellis - Soul Time
The Younghearts - A Little Togetherness (featuring the Northern Soul film dance club)
Four Tops - Standing in the Shadows of Love
Four Tops - Sugar Pie Honey Bunch
Four Tops - Reach Out I'll Be There (someone needs to do a Sam Wilson fanvid to this song)
Chris Clark - Do I Love You
The Combinations - Whatcha Gonna Do
Frank Wilson - Do I Love You
Sugar Pie DeSanto - Soulful Dress
Sugar Pie DeSanto - Git Back
Aretha Franklin - Think (The Blues Brothers Version)
Tiny Topsy - Just a Little Bit

(How sad am I? I sat there and played Frank singing Do I Love You via UTU like FIVE TIMES last night to motivate myself before I could get up off the sofa and take my medz. No. Really. FIVE TIMES. Christ almighty.)

Goes along with anti-depression breakfast: poached eggs on whole-wheat toast spread with hummus, sauteed fresh pineapple and red bell pepper, coffee with milk.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

books read in November 2015

Fiction is in red. Date of first publication in (parentheses).

106. Poison, Susan Fromberg Schaeffer (2006)
107. Tea From An Empty Cup, Pat Cadigan (1998)
108. How Music Got Free: The End of an Industry, the Turn of the Century, and the Patient Zero of Piracy, Stephen Witt (2015)
109. The Poisoner's Handbook, Deborah Blum (2010)
110. Bryant & May: London's Glory, Christopher Fowler (2015)
111. The Argonauts, Maggie Nelson (2015) (choked with theory)

all 2015 booklist posts

Friday, November 6, 2015

random Twitter pretty

Sunday, November 1, 2015

First mistake on page nine, "White Light/White Heat....only had three chords" - "White Light/White Heat" has five chords.

Ahhh, music snobs, I fucking love you.

(I saw Lou perform that live at Bumbershoot in 2002. It was FUCKING AWESOME. What you can't hear is all of us screaming "WHITE LIGHT" and "WHITE HEAT" during the refrains.)

Pass Thru Fire

The exact line is “ . . . Pass thru Fire licking at your lips. . . .” My other favorite line is “ . . . there’s a door up ahead not a wall.” There are many favorite lines of mine that run through the album “Magic and Loss.” It was originally intended to be about Magic, real magic, the ability to make oneself disappear. I had heard stories of magicians in Mexico with strange powers. I thought if I put out songs about magic they would get in touch with me and tell me their secrets. After all, people are always telling me their secrets, and I often put them in song as though they happened to me. Unfortunately two friends died of a virulent cancer within one year of each other while I was writing and so “Magic” became “Magic and Loss.” I wished for a magical way to deal with grief and disappearance. I wanted to create a music that helped with loss. It seemed we are always starting over, given a chance to deal with things again.

- Lou Reed, Pass Thru Fire

Saturday, October 24, 2015

But while the war in Iraq is widely accepted to have been a disastrous mistake, another crucial event during the George W. Bush administration has long been considered unfit for political discussion: President Bush’s conduct, in the face of numerous warnings of a major terrorist plot, in the months leading up to September 11, 2001.

The general consensus seems to have been that the 9/11 attacks were so horrible, so tragic, that to even suggest that the president at the time might bear any responsibility for not taking enough action to try to prevent them is to play “politics,” and to upset the public. And so we had a bipartisan commission examine the event and write a report; we built memorials at the spots where the Twin Towers had come down and the Pentagon was attacked; and that was to be that. And then along came Donald Trump, to whom “political correctness” is a relic of an antiquated, stuffy, political system he’s determined to overwhelm. In an interview on October 16, he violated the longstanding taboo by saying, “When you talk about George Bush—I mean, say what you want, the World Trade Center came down during his time.”
Trump’s comments set up a back and forth between him and Jeb Bush—who, as Trump undoubtedly anticipated, can’t let a blow against him by the frontrunner go by without response—but the real point is that with a simple declaration by Trump, there it was: the subject of George W. Bush’s handling of the warnings about the 9/11 attacks was out there.

Friday, October 23, 2015

And again, this is all part of consensual sex, the kind that is supposed to be women’s feminist reward. There’s a whole other level of confusion around the smudgy margins when it comes to experiences like the one I had at college 20 years ago. It was an encounter that today’s activists might call “rape”; which feminist hobgoblin Katie Roiphe, whose anti-rape-activist screed The Morning After was then all the rage, would have called “bad sex”; and which I understood at the time to be not atypical of much of the sex available to my undergraduate peers: drunk, brief, rough, debatably agreed upon, and not one bit pleasurable. It was an encounter to which I consented for complicated reasons, and in which my body participated but I felt wholly absent.
“A lot of sex feels like this,” Gattuso wrote in May, after her popular Crimson columns drew the attention of Feministing, a website at which she has since become a contributor. “Sex where we don’t matter. Where we may as well not be there. Sex where we don’t say no, because we don’t want to say no, sex where we say yes even, when we’re even into it, but where we fear … that if we did say no, or if we don’t like the pressure on our necks or the way they touch us, it wouldn’t matter. It wouldn’t count, because we don’t count.”

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

....and sticks to you

Being stuck in the middle is a big responsibility. We are the sole conduit for the Millennials to communicate with the Boomers. Basically, we know it all! That is a huge responsibility! Think about it for a minute. I can not only locate a book on Amazon that I want to read and then proceed to download it and read it digitally, but I also can find that same book using the Dewey Decimal System. I am really great at taking pictures with my phone and then backing them up on the Cloud for future use. I can also use a slide projector and an overhead projector, and I still have my first camera, a Polaroid....a huge benefit that my generation has over both the Boomers and the Millennials is our ability to see both sides, and then act accordingly. We are like glue holding this mess together. 
- via

This is too fucking chirpy and cutesy for me to embrace fully, but yeah: Gen X is the true sandwich generation.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

"Beyond the Veil," Henry Vaughan (1622-1695)

They are all gone into the world of light!
  And I alone sit lingering here;
Their very memory is fair and bright,
          And my sad thoughts doth clear.
It glows and glitters in my cloudy breast,        
  Like stars upon some gloomy grove,
Or those faint beams in which this hill is drest,
          After the sun’s remove.
I see them walking in an air of glory,
  Whose light doth trample on my days;        
My days, which are at best but dull and hoary,
          Mere glimmerings and decays.
O holy Hope, and high Humility,
  High as the heavens above!
These are your walks, and you have showed them me,        
          To kindle my cold love.
Dear, beauteous Death! the jewel of the just,
  Shining nowhere but in the dark,
What mysteries do lie beyond thy dust,
          Could Man outlook that mark!        
He that hath found some fledged bird’s nest, may know
  At first sight, if the bird be flown;
But what fair well or grove he sings in now,
          That is to him unknown.
And yet, as Angels in some brighter dreams        
  Call to the soul when man doth sleep,
So some strange thoughts transcend our wonted themes,
          And into glory peep.
If a star were confined into a tomb,
  Her captive flames must needs burn there;        
But when the hand that locked her up, gives room,
          She’ll shine through all the sphere.
O Father of eternal life, and all
  Created glories under Thee!
Resume Thy spirit from this world of thrall        
          Into true liberty.
Either disperse these mists, which blot and fill
  My perspective still, as they pass;
Or else remove me hence unto that hill
          Where I shall need no glass.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015