Tag Archives: 2016

I’ve taken it into my own work, my own written world, world of my writings

OK, back at 9:02 after … reading NYTimes.com review (by Jennifer Senior(?)) of new Megan Kelly book. Well, I’m back. I didn’t feel great last night—overtired, a little anxious—so I went to sleep at 8. No SNL—though Dave Chapelle hosted and I read review this morn and M showed me last night as we were going to bed about 2 a clip of Kate McKinnon as Hillary playing some of Len Cohen’s “Hallelujah”—poignant.

And I noticed in my Nov. 2010 journal yesterday, in which I spent just a short time reading, some comments about some National Geographic show about people who claim to be Jesus. And I’ve long thought that my references to, descriptions of pop culture, especially TV shows, were kinda merely for the record. But last night I had a thought that maybe my writing about these things transmutes them—it’s no long just a piece of culture out there in the world. I’ve taken it into my own work, my own written world, world of my writings.

[From journal of Sun., 13 Nov. 2016, Journal 239, page 189]

Write in the summer about calm things

My overall thought was: continue the advance on many fronts (try many things), and also just sit down and start typing in a variety of materials: old pocket pages, random journals—significant journals, notes from In-School, etc. Once it’s typed in, it could be blogged, but more importantly, it could be included in a book or books. I mean, maybe don’t plan too much out. But do get engaged with the text.

And maybe don’t fret too much right now (or at any time when you’re not engaged in editing) what to do to get to a book or books. Maybe I truly don’t have many ideas when I’m not teaching. Maybe my summer-mind doesn’t confront as many problems (with teaching, with texts I teach, with writing, with students, and with colleagues), so there’s not as much to write. Of course, even now, as soon as I write that, I’m thinking.

(I hear the insecty “chucking” sound—repeated—insecty like a cicada—of a sprinkler over at S___haus.)

Text mom to find exact dates of Minnesota trip. I’ll go text her now. I did and am back at 8:10.

I’m thinking, after writing the above, that conflict/problems don’t always need to be what writing is about (though maybe I was saying above that conflict gives rise to new ideas). I ought to be able to write in the summer about calm things. Descriptions, observations—the summer journals could be more expansive than school-year ones.

[From journal of Sabado, 24 Junio 2017, Journal 253, page 162-4]

Seeing this little thread here reminds me that I made this book by hand back in Illinois

Seeing this little thread here [in the fold between pages 176-177] reminds me that I made this book by hand back in Illinois and now here it is, in a place where I could toss it into waters of the Gulf of Mexico—and that’s not deep, unless maybe it is, in that it’s surprising sometimes how quickly I (and my handmade books) can move—at 70 miles, 75, 80 miles per hour down the interstate. (About 8:15, M texted me. I texted back that she could meet me, or I her.) And yet, of course, it’s never all that surprising, because I am where I find myself, where I find myself when I wake—awake—to the present moment, when I become self-conscious, or just conscious of surroundings, which surroundings I kinda become less conscious of as I get engaged in writing.

Maybe the taller woman isn’t a mom but is another daughter?

A woman shows up carrying a bike helmet (“shows up”—sh!t, verbs remain inadequate, you know?).

Damn, it is nice to look north and see the bay (?)—near the Quietwater Beach—and the Marina, to the west and northwest, all the elevated bridge on which, over which we drove to get here. There was a $1 toll once we got to this island (M said bring her back vanilla latte—I asked for another 20 minutes.) Woman with bike helmet is back and is sitting outside with a book and maybe a journal.

[From journal of Tues., 21 June 2016, at Drowsy Poet cafe, Pensacola Beach, Fla., Journal 230, page 176-7]

M called me a documentarian in recent days

M called me a documentarian in recent days. That’s an identity I don’t think I would’ve wanted to accept/embrace in past years, but now, with an expansive idea of “documentarian,” I think that might be a useful way for me to think of who I am as a writer and what my writings are. I don’t spend a lot of time imagining things and writing them down. Instead, I’m writing down things that really happened (or so it seemed to me), things that I really think—so honesty matters (more than style, perhaps).

I don’t yet have some grand theory of Harper Lee. I wondered what she did with her life past To Kill. M said I’d have to read a biography of her before theorizing usefully. I don’t need to make claims about things I don’t know. I’m speculating about that. But I can post what I see, what my new photos are. (I’d considered posting some pics of their displays, but maybe don’t do that. Or maybe you can show those pics of the Lee house. We’ll see—but my point is (my point is always on the move, like a compass needle in a confused person’s hand. (Eh, that analogy is trying a little too hard.))

From journal of Weds., 29 June 2016, Journal 230, pages 428-30]

Shape itself is no thing


Patterns repeat–what about nonpatterns?

My metaphors are all elephants. From Exquisite Corpse selections. 15 March 2015.

Shape itself is no thing. 12 March 2016.

[From Journal 188]

Writing from my experience to those who are younger

Back at 8:38 with eggs + rice + cheese. And I may not have much Will to Do today, either. Ah, well.

Maybe I write in clichés, or at least sometimes I use these pre-fab phrases. Eh, I’m not gonna fret about it. The Slate guy may have a point, that when writing is familiar, we can merely skim it. Yet, that’s also efficient, eh? We can be new, make new texts that are quite novel, and slow readers down so much that they give up—ha!

But I kinda like this idea about writing from my experience to those who are younger. I mean, no, I don’t want to condescend, but I’m also reminded of how I learned things from alternative mags and non-bestseller books, like Four Arguments for Elimination of TV, and whatever mag article it was where I read the idea that the NYTimes’ Corrections section makes it seem like everything else in the Times was correct. I recall that being a new perspective-giving idea back when I was in college, maybe already at Daily Illini (that’s what I picture, that central spot in newsroom where NYT sometimes ended up). And I also am thinking of that recent thing at AVClub where a dude said he learned something from a political statement made by a certain band he liked as a kid.

(Woof, I turned off S.A.D. light and noticed how overcast this day is.)

And my own blog post about editing away context to make a text interesting— that strikes me now as a unique thought, and as something I would’ve enjoyed reading at age 20 or so.

[From journal of Sun., 31 Jan. 2016, Journal 221, page 14-5]

5:55 a.m. flip-phone time

5:55 a.m. flip-phone time—which seems a minute ahead of my smart phone’s stated time.

Damn, I felt pretty good yesterday, but then I started to feel that old weariness, and by 9 last night, I was almost painfully tired, eager to go to bed, etc. Ah, well. I did talk 45 minutes or so with [an administrator at my school] about the discussion from Friday, and also a little about my background and his. He taught … in a program (for emotionally disordered kids) where there was no punishment. Kids were allowed to walk out, etc. He said he got some respect as a man. The women took more abuse from the kids, he said.

And, I’m still not clear how to get the test written, but I’m trying to be good here, trying to go along. I do respect [this administrator]—he’s a smart, caring dude, he’s thoughtful—great qualities in [an administrator].

And, yeah—another half-inch to inch of fluffy snow. I pushed the driveway after getting back from dog walk to Blackhawk Park. We saw four deer running into and back out of (from the new Glacier Road curve) Fawn Ridge [subdivision].

And I seemed to point them out to Sam—then he seemed to see them. I was loving, appreciating, my dog last night—how he may not always be with me, which is tough to say, and maybe not the healthiest way to look at a loved one.

[From journal of Weds., 17 Feb. 2016, Journal 222, page 50]

Accomplishments are dead things, whereas possibility & capacity are aspects of the living being

Writers are people who can/could write in many different ways, who could make various types of works—who could potentially make any statement. But that’s in contrast to judging an artist by what he does say, has said—could write vs. did write.  How those writers, how the easy thing is to celebrate those writers whose works we admire, rather than appreciating a writer’s capacity. I’m not sure if there’s more to this. Maybe in that position I took that says that the culture appreciate accomplishments more than capacity because capacity can’t be seen or judged. Though, of course, accomplishments are dead things, whereas possibility & capacity are aspects of the living being, the living human person.

… I walked down in Oregon. So many old buildings—two signs on Route 2 for “Historical Ruby Nash House” (approximate quote) and “Historical Conover Square” (approximate quote)—and the brick buildings, with boarded-over upstairs windows. And now here I am writing about that place—writing about a place can start to create a mythology of a place, like H___ telling me last week that he’d gone to the McD (in Oregon), one I’d talked about in class.

6 March 2016, Oregon Coliseum detail

I stopped by Coliseum building to take pics of the fruit on the vines—grapes?—and details of the building—a white-framed window, two utility boxes near SW corner, south side. I took an “establishing shot,” too—but there are details there—details bring attention in to the particular, less than the mythic, I think.

[From journal of Mon., 7 March 2016, Journal 223, page 175-7]

If I were dead sitting in the front seat of my car, I couldn’t open the door

If I were dead sitting in the front seat of my car, I couldn’t open the door.

This I thought yesterday while sitting in the front eat of my car, eating lunch— and I noticed how my left hand was only a few inches from the door handle-latch, but it would be impossible for me to open it—an unbridgeable gulf. There’s no way to move my hand once I’m dead—there’s also no will to move my hand once I’m dead (unless some other person has the will to move my hand).

And the answer to this point could be: Duh. Of course if you’re dead, you couldn’t do things—that’s pretty much the definition of being dead.

And yet—or maybe, and further—once you’re dead, there is no “you” any more— it’s just a pile of meat and bones that was what you, the former you, animated, inhabited, moved. But even these words feel false—as if the soul, the mind, the whatever, were some puppeteer to the body puppet, when it’s likely that the body gives rise to the mind. I said “likely,” a weird hedge on my part. Science would say the body—its structures, its chemistry—gives rise to mind, even if we don’t know how yet.

But on the walk, not nearly so cold as yesterday, but there is an unpleasantly strong wind out of So-SoWest. And I can’t recall what exactly—oh, I was wondering about why there’s not a lot of wind when it’s super cold—that maybe wind is a sign of a changing weather situation. But once the worst of the cold (for now) is here, it’s gonna settle—it has arrived.

Anyway, I was thinking of a causal relationship—wind is low when it’s super cold because there’s no new front moving in. Then I thought, “you could think of it that way,” which statement implies that such a theory, if useful, may not be accurate. Well, of course it’s not, because the cold and the wind don’t think in terms of causes—they don’t “think” at all, of course. I suspect we use causal thinking a lot when we teach science (in most classrooms—maybe, hopefully, not all). We humans like, or tend to think in terms of, causes—but causes, of course, are abstract.

[From journal of Tues. 20 Dec. 2016, Journal 242, page 29-30]

‘But there are other options’

“But there are other options if you hate typical politicians or want to tell the establishment to go to hell, so why aren’t they similarly averse to Trump?”— Conor Friedersdorf, TheAtlantic.com, 20 May 2016, in an article titled “The Deep Cynicism of Trump’s Rape Accusation”

This quote seems to have the tone/tenor of many articles I’ve seen lately by rational, reasonable people, both “left-leaning” and David Brooks (and a few other conservatives) who seem desperate…in their pleas to appeal to Trump voters. But after talking to Trump fans (so M says) D__ & M___ last night, I wonder if a better response for now—6 months ahead of an election that already is nasty (Trump calling Bill Clinton a rapist this week) and promises to get worse —is to drop out of the conversation, stop reading. The Trump fans don’t seem to be rational, so they aren’t subject to persuasion.

[From journal of Sat., 21 May 2016, Journal 227, page 178]