Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Hey everybody, I've got the cable internet at my home now (downloading new Kanye West and Wolf Parade records as I type- as a sidenote, that new Broken Social Scene record is indeed really good) but I wrote up a blog post on Monday, which can now be posted.

want to talk about writing, as writing is something I'm interested in. That first sentence isn't a well-written one, and neither is this one. It's too self-aware a beginning. Any sixth grade English teacher will tell you that starting off with that kind of declaration of intent is a bad idea. And they're right, which is why I tend not to do it in my actual writing-writing, the non-blog stuff. Which is a venue where I generally tend to avoid discussing writing, as it seems too autobiographical, not veiled enough. I view the blog as the best place to put stuff like this, the direct thoughts, the declarations of intents, and the insertion of real anecdotes as they happened.
I'm kind of hoping that the whole blogging thing for today's young writers ends up being a good thing for the future of their work, as the blogging will provide a venue for autobiography and ill-informed political opinions and so their actual fiction writing will be freed up for any weirdness and insight they may have. There is the possibility that the blogging will just encourage their solipsism and self-indulgence though, and they'll write books written in the half-assed style I'm writing now. The fact that there are books being published that are nothing but collections of blog entries probably suggests the latter, more negative possibility is the one that will come true.
There's a new Kurt Vonnegut book out, which I didn't know until today. It's kind of bloggy, actually. It's his thoughts on this current political situation, and there's advice and stuff. He doesn't have a blog, so he writes these kind of books. It's kind of repetitive- there's stuff he says in there that he said as recently as in Timequake, and probably numerous times before that. These things are forgivable from Vonnegut for a number of reasons. One is that he doesn't have a blog. The other is that he's an old man, and should be allowed to repeat himself. Also, he has a voice people want to hear. I would read his blog, but he wrote this book instead, so I read that, for free, in a bookstore. Kurt Vonnegut's basically the kind of grandfather I'd want to have. I am certain I'm not alone in this sentiment. But a man can only have so many grandchildren, and so he writes, and fulfills much the same purpose for a lot of people. And according to his memoirs, he's not much of a hugger, and not one for saying "I love you" to his children. This is not to say he's emotionally distant, but rather to say that for the people like me, the ones for whom he is but an imagined grandfather, so what if he is? Art and media gets to serve as family for the emotionally distant. Kurt Vonnegut's one of Jon Stewart's favorites. Jon Stewart's another imagined family member of mine. And I'm fairly emotionally distant, you know? I'm not saying media's all I need, but it helps enough. I mention this kind of stuff because it's for reasons like this that I want to write. In the new Vonnegut book, Man Without A Country, he talks about how creating art makes the world a better more human place, and as such is a good thing to do. To this I say yes, although he gives more allowance for bad art. Which I guess is acceptable for him to say, as a man who is a grandfather to so many people. Best to be supportive in a position such as that.
Then I looked at Jonathan Lethem's book of essays, The Disappointment Artist. I had looked at it before, but I thought I'd use this as an introduction to talking about Lethem's The Fortress Of Solitude, which I read in something like three days, but was unmoved by. Reading the essays I find a lot of stuff with which I'm familiar. Not through first-hand experience, but through writing of other people. Lethem's got the tastes of many other writers, including more than a few music critics. He doesn't really seem to have particularly interesting life experiences. There's nothing that sets him apart, really. He's just a pretty average dude. And The Fortress Of Solitude reads like a book that any number of people could've written. However, that doesn't necessarily include myself. Although it comes close. I haven't lived the stuff he's lived, although that is not to say his life was more interesting. He had artistic parents and came of age in the seventies. That's what makes him different, basically, although that says very little. He's lived a lot of stuff I've read about, basically. That's not to say he was there in the shit, just that he was less removed from it. Like he was really into the Talking Heads. He was not in the band. I don't even really like the Talking Heads, but I've heard a lot of talk of their importance. Basically, The Fortress Of Solitude feels like a book that have of my brain could've written. The part that hasn't had experiences, but has just read stuff. It could've then extrapolated a book based on a handful of concepts of that which makes up a great American novel. There's no spark of the maniacal in The Fortress Of Solitude. And for me, there wasn't even really a shock of recognition which is so key to good writing. It was more of a dull bath of recognition, like talking to a long-time friend or something similar. The only shocks occurred in the prescence of stuff I didn't recognize, a handful of moments that didn't feel real. The most notable of these would be when the two best friends start to jerk each other off. Basically I came at the book from a weird place. Paul Hornschemeier, a cartoonist who's coloring an upcoming Omega The Unknown comic that Lethem's writing, said in an interview that Lethem's one of his favorite writers, (along with Kurt Vonnegut and Kelly Link) but sometimes he's not weird enough. I haven't read enough of Lethem's stuff to know how weird he can be, and I don't necessarily know how Hornschemeier meant the word weird. But I can imagine how that would happen, basically.
Anyway, now for an anecdote and political opinions.
I saw Richard Simmons on CNN. Last night, as the scroll-feed told me that William Rehnquist was dead. I was saying "Oh shit." And the reason Richard Simmons was on CNN, talking to Larry King, was about another kind of oh-shit type of occurence, that being the hurricane which ripped New Orleans the fuck apart. I talked to my mom yesterday, and the hurricane came up. She seemed wrong about a lot of stuff, her perception of the events. She was aware of the thing about FEMA predicting a hurricane hitting New Orleans as well as a terrorist attack on New York City, so I guess that's made the mainstream media. Although that the Bush administration kind of told FEMA to fuck off and shut up was news to her. These predictions that FEMA made were presented as being two of the top three most likely disasters to occur. I've talked to a handful of people about this fact, and a lot of them knew it already. No one knows what the third one was, and neither do I. We all want to know. I imagine it was the concept of peak oil and the moment when we're all shit out of luck when it comes to transport and the economy. But that's not as direct people-getting-killed so it probably wasn't that. My mom has gone on mission trips to Jackson, Mississippi. No one in Jackson was killed by the hurricane. My mom found it interesting, that in Jackson, where there's a ministry she knows about, nothing bad happened, but in New Orleans, all hell broke loose. I just had to say "Mom, no," as a response to that, over and over again, telling her to stop thinking like that, and then pointing out that her conception of the south is extremely limited and narrow (a point she denied but I mean come the fuck on) and that stuff like geography really should be taken into account- like the fact that New Orleans is a city that exists below sea level. But that's just a digression from my point. My point was Richard Simmons, who was on CNN because he's from New Orleans. And Richard Simmons said, in regards to his city and what has happened there, and I quote, "The south will rise again."

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