/ Journal /

finally well slept. took days, but here I am. now I can work. Why has this last month and now this week of June too seemed so inefficient? April was great. I thought I’d have written War and Peace by now, the way I felt I was going. All that’s exploding are the id files. Something I’m usually proud to neglect when I’m writing. I’m 50 years old, feel smart as hell and significant as hell and I don’t know how to get anything done. Unprecedented circumstance. I have few pressing obligations but those I set myself. I have food and shelter. Good things to work on. Not the first time I’ve blown or wasted any of these. Never had them all together before. Unprecedented. No experience in trying to work on more than one story at a time. Nor any in trying both to write and sell at the same time. My stupid letter to Brockman took longer than 2 and 3 of the Model! Politics, salesmanship, that mixture of self advertisement and self abasement, and all guess work since I have no success there to base anything on. I came here to work on DB, but now Mod seems the hot chance. I’m torn between a third draft of 3 and my work on DB, now suddenly going to a fourth version of how to start.
And the damn tv, suddenly I want to see the movies 44 shows nightly at 8. If anything were really swinging with me, I wouldn’t care that McCabe and Mrs. Miller is on tonight. I don’t need to see that great movie again, not on a fuzzy UHF station in a bad reception area. I can play McC&MrsM before my mind any time I want. But passing up a chance to be again hypnotized by that flawless opening. Remembering again my first encounter with it. Long Beach? I get to the theater with not ten seconds to spare. The film starts just I’ve entered the dark and before I’ve settled myself. Holy Jesus, what is this? The first several minutes is so smooth, so evocative, so incantatory that it might as well be one take, like the first minutes of Touch of Evil. I’ve often referring to its perfection, guessing at a time for it: seven minutes. A mystical guess. Hey, I could time it! From the first shot of wet forest to his breaking the egg into his whiskey: a cadence after which I had been able to sit back or blink or swallow or take my coat off for the first time since entering.
Damn my choosing this $12 radio shack calculator over duplicating my previous radio shack $12 stop watch. Last night, I could have used it to time my 15 balls. Tonight, I could put it on the movies opening. Of course I didn’t. Who knows better than I how wasted a work of art is on the tube? Wouldn’t want to see a good movie for the first time that way. Familiar with the Mona Lisa, there’s no reason to object to a post card of it. You can see the painting in your mind with or without the postcard. No, for sure better with it. But it’s what’s in your mind that you’re seeing, not some stupid post card. Who could guess the painting from the postcard? No one. No one who’s ever lived. Not Leonardo. Except that an artist could look at a post card and create a masterpiece in his mind, and then do so, something beyond the postcard. It still wouldn’t be the Mona Lisa. Not a chance in a trillion.
Well, the reception is terrible. It’s an hour before I remember that sometimes the other UHF channel comes in clearer with the same movie. Clearer, yes. Good, no. Right away, it’s awful. Forget it. Don’t even bother to watch the opening. It will be too painful. That decision didn’t last long enough to become a decision. I could see what was left out. I began to see it almost whole. The mnemosyne was working. I could see when the screen didn’t show his gold tooth. Another, preparatory cadence. But still not one I dared breath at. In fact, it’s poor quality helped me to concentrate on Leonard Cohen’s music. That gives me a new thought about the film. Hmm, it fits right in with what I know of Robert Altman. The movie is perfectly composed and orchestrated fuzz, an opium dream, which is nevertheless mythically truthful. Altman may drink and dope his brains out all day long, but the mind that he’s doping is a mind that already knows and sees a great deal of truth. Superficially, it’s punk: kids putting on costumes that have no idea of the significance of. Ohh, brass buttons. Ouu, a swastika. Look, guys, a cross.
Religious imagery in arty movies and in much writing of novels too has long struck me as punk. Utterly empty of knowing what it’s talking about. Paul Newman in the left handed gun. So much Italian crap. Passolini. Every pimp as a christ figure. Leonard Cohen mourns, “He was just a Joseph looking for a manger.” “Giving up the holy game of poker.” Huh? References without meaning. Fuzz. You wouldn’t even call it pseudo intellectual, it’s so empty. Except that it isn’t. Not in McC&MrsM. Could Cohen know what he’s doing too? As Altman so clearly does? I don’t know about any son of god, but McCabe sure is a son of man, as he rides into the clearing to play poker, start his own saloon and whore house. The whole story of civilization in two hours. I love how the town is being built around them throughout the movie. The church too is going up. Way up. The preacher himself another stupid madman. The present saloon keeper is a man of virtue, staunch principles: “I sell booze here, I don’t tolerate no opium smoking.” Why are they all there in the first place? Why to cut down the forest, of course. Build the church, burn it down, build it again. Kill even more trees for the rebuilding.
In its way, I think McCMM is as great an imagined staging as The Cabinet of Dr Caligeri. Everything is perfect. The mist, the rain, the mud, the water, that hanging bridge, the great fur overcoats, the snow, the torn britches, that locomotive, the gold tooth, egg in the whiskey, MrsM’s little whatnots. The opium jar she fuzzes on at the end, her eye. The casting is Kurasawa brilliant. No body looks anything like the same. How can you find twenty or thirty people, group them all together, and have no body the same size or shape or significance? The most astounding thing of all may be how tolerable it is how good looking Warren Beatty is. His McCabe is great. Julie Christy is incredible at being as vulgar as she is beautiful. Unbelievable how she manages not to be beautiful all the time. Really beautiful maybe only once in the whole film, the time we first see her stoned on her hop. My god, what a smile! And she’s oped out of her skull. McC thinks she’s being nice!
And one thing I have to be eternally grateful to Channel 44 for is: (I can’t believe I missed it, and now catch it through all this fuzz) the box she first brings him and what’s in it and precisely when. Significance with hooks everywhere. McC is grousing about how much money he’s spending. MrsM walks in holding a box in the shape of a valentine. But not a two dimensional valentine. Even a greeting card there is obscene enough, but this box is a couple of inches deep and seems to be upholstered with velvet. no valentine I’ve ever seen was more perfectly what a valentine is than this box was. carried by a whore in her whore house. McC grouses, cost, cost, cost. and she gives him the box. she sure hasn’t given him any of hers. he has to pay $5, just like the others. though we also see her cooking for him. she gives him the perfect soft plush red pussy, buttocks topmost, a box, and what’s in it? money! his profit from his cost, cost, cost.
I also love the little box, the tiny treasure chest, he stuffs his five ones into at one point. Her own little box. Just the additional five and the lid doesn’t close! fantastic.
McC clearly is good at his poker for all the lack of numeracy that she exposes in him. He think the corporation’s offer is more poker and he plays it with confidence. But it’s a kind of poker he doesn’t know and isn’t good at. He doesn’t listen to MrsM. Why should he? Though she’s been right so far, so’s he. And the conglomerate kills him. MrsM owns everything, and it all goes up in smoke as they cut the forest down.
What great villains. The giant Butler and the little Dutch paint boy crazy. And Injun Joe for a third. I loved Butler’s openness at what he was. Who was this Roundtree? Never heard of him. After he’s used Roundtree to provoke a quarrel. Third kind of poker that Butler is good at and McC not at all. That man’s never killed anybody, Butler says, confident in his expertise.
I’m also grateful to Ch44 for revealing to me that McC&MrsM is so smooth that even their cuts didn’t show. I missed them, but wasn’t jarred by any gaps. I was even grateful for the commercials because once again I had been in the midst of things when it started. I cooked my new $5 shirt in the dryer, thanks to the movie. I can’t be positive that I can identify every missing piece, but all I noticed were sexual. They kept all the violence though, except that one stabbing which had also been sexual: the crazy whore in the tent in the rain in the distance. An amazing scene, witnessed from McC’s perspective looking out of the skeleton of his future saloon at the reality of his present whore house, down in the mud. A sexual hysteric stabbing a horny customer. No sound at that distance, a mime of chaos and death.
And how amazingly Shelly Duval stands out in her small role. If everybody looks different, she looks ten times different. And John Schook. And vanity in the wilderness, that guy always asking about his beard or his mustache or his sideburns and nobody ever knows what he’s talking about or cares. And of all the brilliant mumbling in all Altman’s films, this is surely the best. He outdoes Wells mumbling Shakespeare.
Amazing. You take Warren Beaty, let him be as good looking as he likes, get wonderful acting from him too, and for your climax, you cover that face completely with snow? Then freeze and cover it more? Not just a corpse, but an ice sculpture?
I’ve asserted from the beginning that McC&MrsM was one of the best films of that decade and I maintain it now. The confidence didn’t need shoring, but boy is it sure.
What I’ve never been sure of, is who’s this Leonard Cohen that Phil talked about and Nadine too, and that Altman used. As the film goes on, listing closer than ever with so much less to watch, yeah, sure, Cohen knows what he’s doing too. Not a punk, not just fuzz, but using it. My dear, it’s you who are the stranger. A mournful folk blues/ half waltz. Maybe five notes in all. Root, second, fourth, second, root. Bridge to the fifth and back down. And the guitar bending the third flat. I’d like to know: did Cohen write it for the film, or did Altman find it and use it?
Suddenly I think of Victorian complaisance. A moral to everything. Optimism. As though the human condition, or at least the civilized condition is one that can be corrected. One little thing wrong. What could Oedipus have done different? Sure, don’t kill strangers. But even if he had had himself put in a cave, like a primitive people put their king, the details would be different, but would there be no tragedy? Once the gods say you’ll be a tragic figure, caves won’t help. Not killing strangers on the road won’t help. Tragedy isn’t about improving what we are, it’s about being what we are. What did McCabe do wrong? He participated. He was born. He was alive. He tried to do well. He organized. He succeeded. The big fish gobbled by bigger. At least they sustain their own losses. McC kills all three killers.
I also love that it’s left ambiguous about McCabe being any of his legends. If anything, they seem to have been more true than not. But Butler is right. The detail of whether he had ever killed may be wrong, but he wasn’t a killer. Even after he had killed them. Even had he lived on himself. So his total was at least three, maybe four, maybe more. But he wasn’t a killer. A Butler. There’s more than one kind of poker.
The conglomerate certainly hired the right man, even though he didn’t survive this one. What’s the penalty for killing a chink? $50 fine, maximum. He drops the tray symbolizing the chinaman with the dynamite. McC picks it up!
There’s not a detail in this film that I don’t adore.
Funny thing. Yes, the drinking of the raw egg is a cadence, like the flash of the tooth, but the movie weaves right on. How would I have felt this time on the big screen? Is the length of the mastery just my attention span? If I never had to blink, would I think the movie was perfectly riveting straight through to the end? Like Ran? Please. Give us a break. Even Ikiru has blessed flaws.
a little lizard soaking up the sun on my screen, the curve of his body exquisite. Like the position of the lizard in the MC Escher graphic. the body is oblique, the head is turned down, the tail loops down and back up. The sun is lowering and the tail end now hangs almost vertically. I subdivide the sections of the creature into components: the body more straight 10 to 4, the tail base toward 5, the tail toward 6:35. The head is 8 to 2. The legs are wonderfully complex and subtle, recessed in the composition. How hard it is just to see it in two dimensions. Three, in terms of the straightening of the tail, not too much harder, but where it was earlier this morning or last night, out of sight complicated. The fourth dimension (here, our usual third) of thickness, is more or less constant at least on the fairly steady plane of the screen. To try to think in still another dimension just about impossible. But what would we learn if we could? And what could there possibly be beyond that?
I’m slipping. The last few days, I don’t know how many things came to me that I wanted to try to put here that I’ve just let drift away. Mostly thoughts about evolution. About paradox. About language, meaning. Programming. Hmm. That’s funny, one of them just came back to me. I’ll let it come here. No discipline. Very far from the impetus that made me sit down with the T just now.
OK. Interruptions. Digressions. Ho ho, Lord Byron. RE: BK’s long argument with DM (in which I have no idea what DM’s opinion has become in the last several years, it matters not, it’s still the same argument no matter who has which side, just as long as there are two or more sides. And when there are no sides, but all one uniform surface, then it also won’t matter, but differently. There’s no difference between human intelligence and AI: if the AI does the same things (which would have to include a lot of sloppy thinking and non-thinking, a lot of swallowing of paradox while being vociferous in denying it, having religions and poets who insist on paradox as the crux, but banishing it from conscious system philosophy: oh no, it’s wrong people who do that). That is because the human intelligence is an illusion.
I don’t mean that there’s no such thing as intelligence.
I don’t mean that there’s no such thing as humans having it.
I do mean that there’s no such thing as humans having it all the time. I deny that quality being uniform in myself and I would deny (by analogy, of course) any such to Einstein and to Newton.
But mainly I mean that the ease with which we call ourselves and others in our “group” human beings is as facile as the ease with which we’ve sometimes denied it to others: slaves, n-word (Bowdlerizing K. 2016 07 31), jews, communists, etc. Racism remains undefined by purpose, no set standards are possible so none are ever set down. Rather plenty are set down but never abided by. Blacks are inferior because they can’t reason, can’t do sports, don’t speak English well, are stupid, etc, etc. When these get knocked down, the racist never apologizes, never makes a public recantation (unless he’s running for office and guesses, rightly or wrongly, that that will help him). No, suddenly some other standard, untested or untestable, is being claimed. Suddenly, blacks are inferior because they do sports too damn well. If they take over the AMA, then they’ll be inferior because they’re limited to medicine. Until we’re all black and then it will be somebody else who’s black. Or the nonsense will simply reverse and we’ll have centuries of horseshit about whites. Or that contrast will disappear and it will be civilized and barbarian or old money vs. nouveau, etc.
But those are points I’ve made before; they’re not the point I’m trying to make now. Or I guess I have, but not in this connection. Human, mankind, homo sapiens … it’s not the same level of abstraction as Brian or Hilary or David. Or Angus.
A species is a thing the way banks are a thing. Neither of those things are things the way this cat or that bird or Fortune Savings Bank on 84 West in Davie are things. Or this monkey wrench. And of course this monkey wrench isn’t a thing the way Paul is a thing. And Paul isn’t a thing the way Fortune on 84 is a thing. And neither is Fortune on 84 a thing the way this bird is a thing.
The intelligence would be there or not. Better or worse. So long as you say better or worse for what. What’s the purpose? Function. Better for solving problems? Better for making money? Better for convincing others that more and more expensive hospitals killing more and more of us are good for health? Better for sacrificing literacy to conformist entertainment and still maintaining an earnest rhetoric of literacy when it comes to funding the next public school bill?
How about defining intelligence? Something actually testable. Then the AI would have it or not. Johnny would have it or not.
What kind of definition would you need for not only Johnny to have it or not, but for all mankind to have it or not? Or for all AI to have it nor not?
But of course we couldn’t define it unless we defined it so loosely, and even then with plenty of latitude to keep changing our mind, or we’d risk being excluded ourselves. If blacks are good at basketball, and Luther can’t play basketball very well, is Luther then not black? Hey, Air Jordan: you wanna be white? Miss the layup. Of course not. Because the racists would simply have shifted back to saying, see, just like I told you all along, they can’t play basketball. (especially when we don’t let em on the court. cut their hands off and they’ll have little manual dexterity)
Human beings have good eye sight. Was Helen Keller not human?
I’ve not studied biology in an academic environment since high school. But I keep hearing definitions of species as supposedly scientific. A species can mate within itself, can’t mate, passing on fertility, outside itself. How then do you prove that we are of the same species as Socrates or Sapho? I can’t mate with Sapho; she’s dead. I can’t mate with Socrates; he was a guy. They were a couple of fags. Etc. I’ve only mated with one person, with only one issue, with that left merely to the obvious that I have a connection. Now that BK is a young man, I don’t see any physical resemblance whatsoever, whereas once upon a time he was my infant twin. How do I know that I’m of the same species as Nancy Reagen. I’ve no children by her.
These questions will strike the ordinary nonquestioner and maybe most not so ordinary questioners too as perverse, but I mean it? What kind of a definition is that? Or is it that, like most good definitions, I’ve simply never heard it put right by anyone easily available in academia? Bateson’s students would of course be exceptions, so I’m not making blanket accusations. Mr Bell was an exception. The Pope can hardly take credit for Galileo.
What reason(s) do educators have for always using sloppy non-definitions when good or at least better ones are available? Mr Bell gave us good axioms, exposed what was sloppy or naive in the usual translations of Euclid, etc. That was in the 7th grade. Then in the 9th, 10th, etc., there were the teachers going right on propagating exposed wrongness. When I complained, I was simply ordered to learn it the wrong way. Good bye that. They lost me permanently after 20 minutes.
Why do the standard presentations of the notion of infinity always say “you can always add one more.” I have never once heard “multiply it by two” or “now make it an exponent of itself.” And that argument is also nonsense because you can’t always add one. Socrates ceased to be able to add one 2,500 years ago. Even while alive, can you add one while being inducted into the army? Tortured by a South American dictator?
BK/DM’s argument isn’t an argument but an error of logical typing. And that’s exactly why it’s a gut issue. Uh oh? Do you mean we’re in danger of being forced to confront what it is to be human on still another frontier? Have more of our easiness evaporated?
We’re oranges, succulent and delicious. Therefore, don’t anybody dare tell us about apples. And if you do discover them, or invent them, fine, make money, feed us with them, but don’t tell us about it.
Why, further, if philosophy had any balls, do we still hear arguments like: “such and such can never …” Everyone present should automatically know that can only be the case if everything is known. Or if such and such is a logical thing and that so and so is forbidden in that logic. Blacks can’t play basketball. So what the Detroit Pistons are doing for the NBA championship isn’t basketball. It’s the greatest whatever it is I’ve ever seen, but by definition, it isn’t basketball. Computers can’t think, therefore, mathematics isn’t thinking. Now we’ve got a lot of revision to do about why Pythagoras was so great. Ah, but that was original math. Oh, ok, so then all the math in schools isn’t thinking. Everything we’re taught has nothing to do with thinking. The actuaries at the insurance companies don’t think. They do? Where’s their original math? How could you know it’s original? How could you know it isn’t?
I don’t mean to accuse philosophy of being ball-less without quickly pointing out that my thoughts of the last I don’t know how many years, back to 1953 probably, I’ve been thinking of tv as illustrative in both commercials and filler, the regular programming, of the non-status of the English profession. It’s no accident that Brooks thought that the English teacher’s job is to say: “don’t say ain’t.” That it’s the high school drop-out’s job to tell the English teacher what they’re supposed to teach. “Tell me not to say “ain’t’.” “Tell me when I tell you to.” “Stop telling me when I say stop.” Meaning? How things mean? Exposing most of how we get along or try to or fail to as not having the meaning we declare? Oh no. That’s not your job. I’m sure that’s very important and very deep. Much too deep for an English teacher who can only say don’t say ain’t.
If we had any or wanted any force, Madison Avenue would be quickly out of business. No, of course not. Just be forced to be inventive again. There’s always a way around any restriction. So long as the restriction doesn’t really restrict. Like genocide. Crime would be seriously reduced by the elimination of people.
I should get to what I wanted to say to start with. Context. I’m slipping. I’m tired. I’m not progressing much with DB. I haven’t touched Mod. What I’ve written has been letters to Omni, MCB, Neal, ELA, Brockman. Today Brockman returns my MS. One sentence. Thanks, but I’ll pass.
No questions answered. No indication of whether any of it was read. If he only read the first paragraph or two of my cover letter, he would know that “pass” isn’t an answer to what I asked. It’s an answer to part. Only part.
So I go cut vines. Yesterday, I was crippled from it. Yet last evening I went out and did a little careful pulling. Altogether better today. But write with the energy. You so enjoyed your four hours with DB yesterday. So I am working on it. But slowly. Painfully. It’s hard.
Why? It’s the greatest ecstasy to arrive at the exhaustion, the saturation, where something like “colored leaves” or “the snake and frog” or “quicksand to the young” comes out. But I can also live without it. I can’t live without writing a bit, and thinking. But I like best to let it spill. Nobody could understand? Fuck em. I should care?
No, the careful writing is: this more than passes with me, this is great, I’ll make the effort to try to tell you.
You want sugar around it? Ok, I’ll try to spin some sugar. But sugar isn’t what the core is. Sugar is bad for you. You only want what’s bad?
I don’t make that much effort for myself. I already know much of what I mean. I see the pattern. Sure, others come out. Sure, there’s extra joy. The best. but all that effort? And it never good enough? Three readers? All professionals who can’t answer a simple couple of questions. Unlike politicians, they don’t ever have to pretend?
Plenty of artists submitted things to me and never heard from me. I didn’t tell them anything. If one of them came and punched me in the mouth, I would have understood. But if I did answer, I told them what I meant. I’m broke. I have something like that already. I only take what’s already printed. That’s art, I don’t sell art. Or I sell what’s at least half art; I don’t see that as being even 10%. Or I’d explain the whole business to them.
What’shisface, VP at Simon&Sh, said, you probably write literature. We publish some, but not very much. As little as possible really. See, and he shoves Bitch toward me, that’s what we sell. I had no quarrel with that guy. Or rather I did, but that was only because he called me into NY at my expense to tell me what he could have written in a paragraph and mailed with his own stamp. No, he wanted a freak show. A free freak show. Is this guy real? Jesus, he is. Look at him. So they’re still out there. See? That proves it. They’re immortal. We don’t have to feed them. Somehow they always come up with a stamp or with carfare if we call them. We can publish Bitch and more Bitch and there are still freaks wrestling with literature. Ten of them commit suicide. A hundred starve. Three or four might actually have been good. Might have been very good. Great. That has nothing to do with us. More spring up like mushrooms.
And that’s probably true today. It hasn’t always been so. When it is no longer so, there will be no way to call it back. We kill the whales. Or we allow the whales to die. Or the dung beetle. It makes no difference to my point. Once they’re gone, it will do no good to decide that they were valuable. That they were god incarnate. They were what would save us. They’re gone. A century’s GNP, all GNPs since the ice ages, can’t buy it back. Humpty Dumpty.
And of course it isn’t as though I expect anything different, or even want anything much different. What I want life showed me long long ago that it can’t provide. It used to. We threw it away. Gone. Freedom to participate in life without all this tonnage of human social shit heaped on as well. I don’t know whether I was eight or ten or twelve. I had to be old enough to have been in school, because it was school that stood out among the several things I was thinking, dreaming, wishing. Standing in the front yard in Rockville Centre. Looking at the grass, at the sidewalk, at the street, at the neighbors’ houses. No body around. Not visibly. Me alone, outside, a weak little kid, thinking that soon I’d have to go back to school, and wishing that I were a caveman. Not that I would have survived well as a caveman: not that little scrawny kid, weak and subject to colds and such. Maybe now I’d survive ok, but then I didn’t give myself much chance. It didn’t matter. I’d never heard of Rousseau. But there I was, very much wishing to be free of being conditioned for other people’s purposes. I had no quarrel with the lion who would eat me. That was his business. That was legitimate. What I didn’t and don’t accept as legitimate is what civilized man does. Just having the laws is what so gives it away. Hey, if you gotta write em down, and can’t figure out what they mean, finally decide that the right to bear arms means you can’t have any, then you gotta write different ones, it really means you don’t have any, right? the lawyer’s son. Being free means you gotta go to school and do what you’re told and be drafted into the army and kill whom you’re told?
You mean you don’t believe in killing your enemies? Sgt Bradley asked me. Sure, Sgt.; but so far, the only enemy I’ve got is you. He actually liked that answer. He laughed anyway.
Years later I heard that Bradley had been shot in the back by some recruit in rifle training. Shit. Truth be told, Bradley was the last professional I’d have killed. The only one I threatened. Repeatedly. Told him to keep an eye out over his shoulder after he’d threatened to throw tear gas into our tents on bivouac. Showed him a piece of elastic chord, pretending like it was a garrote. He liked that too.
But it reminds me of one of the places I’m headed. But I’m not there yet.
I have a basic existential quarrel with civilization, but no particular new one.
And I don’t quarrel with my life. That doesn’t surprise me either. In some of its details, sure. But certainly I wouldn’t want a predictable life. I’ve gone hungry and been cold (not deliberately, like on Mt Washington) a few times, but only a few. Never for long. People who haven’t been, don’t know what they’re missing. Sometimes I think I’d work better were I better equipped. air-conditioned maybe. (one problem now: my brain is basting in its own juices) But maybe I wouldn’t work at all that way. Not real work. How many people want to get themselves comfortable first and then work? How many then do any of that work at all? No telling, actually. (actually, in a way, it’s delicious that my life is or could be regarded as a prime illustration of map/territory discrepancy. Campbell writes about myth knowing only preserved myths. does he know of our virulence in destroying them? in making them still born? Aborted? does he know GB’s story of mescaline prayer?) But I doubt that it’s many.
But that’s a basic function of civilization, isn’t it? Making sure that basic information is fudged, polluted; old and wrong maps disseminated? Except those that will make us pay taxes and beat up little countries. Race again, for example. How come Jim Brown is the only person I’ve ever heard say anything sensible on the subject in public? On a tv show at all likely to be watched? It’s not secret; it’s just not repeated. Even after it’s been said.
And it isn’t that what I have to say isn’t also said over and over. Quite commonly. A part here. And a part there. Just not all together. Freddy’s Nightmares tonight, for example. But that too I’m not quite ready to mention.
Killing your enemies.
As long as they’re the group enemies. My beloved Mad Comics bio of … shoot, another name gone. Anyway, … after being born in a house he helped his father to build etc, “he distinguished himself in the Army. He single-handedly killed 12 German soldiers, blew up three bridges, and captured a German general. Unfortunately, this was in 1961. After x years in the stockade, …” Civilization no longer allows us to have enemies. Only the group’s enemies. And the group can change them like hats. Well, as I wrote BK last year or so, I sometimes feel like an idiot, letting my enemies get away. Of course, it could be argued that I’m still here too. If other people have been my enemy, I too have been theirs. or others. (I certainly don’t mean that such relationships are symmetrical) But that’s not a big concern for me. I resent having no skill in battle. So I was raised in doormat christianity by a doormat christian, livid to get her own back. I remember the letter by the Iroquois or Moheecan Chief quoted by Fiedler: thanks for the invite for some of our braves to go to you college, but no thanks. we’ve seen what your colleges can do. Our men come back unable to do such and such and no even able to kill an enemy.
Anyway, I get Brockman’s one sentence. I want to go pull vines. I had been about to anyway. Kill the vines; promote the trees. Favor one over the other. I’d love to see the Lexington land and see how my gardening helped or hurt or left no discernible mark on that wilderness. But watch out. I’m seething over the non-response. I’ll cut my leg off out there for sure. Accident prone isn’t what I want to be right now. I should cut his leg off. I wrote a letter I meant to ELA, then chickened out and didn’t mail it. Still might submit DB to them. So I wrote another which they probably think is bad enough. But they should have seen the first one.
No, I don’t think that society owes me anything. I don’t think that writers have to be given a chance. I know the nature of the market to some extent. I also know that there can be exceptions. Great literature is published. Whether mine even half succeeds in being what I want it to be is something I can have no meaningful opinion on. It mostly works for me, but then I’m the guy writing it. I have to guess what will work for you, and I haven’t met that you yet. And that you haven’t met me yet, or we have but at the wrong times. Some fragments of exceptions, of course. Those two nights with Teri and Carolyn. One or two things BK has said. Hearing Dyan’s reaction from line to line. That night twenty years ago with David’s friend, the engineer.
But I also believe in my own right to be alive while I’m alive. And that includes having reactions. If hebetude is the rewarded characteristic of bureaucrats, fine, as long as they also get sandbagged for it occasionally. Does the public have to be infinitely suffering? That time I said to that woman giving me the run around for the second time. The taxi had hit me. (Hil’s VW with her pregnant inside it) I had strained our already strained phone bill to call all the people whom she had told me to call and it had come back to her and she tried to send me around again. I said, look, I understand that you don’t have to tell me. That you don’t have to admit that you don’t have to tell me. That you can make me spend my money and money that I don’t have all day calling people who don’t have to tell me. I understand that and I accept that and I’m finished. Just answer me one very different question, as a fellow human being. For all your right not to help me, what are you going to do when I come in there with a machine gun and kill everybody in the place? She laughed and told me some bureaucratic horror story she had just experienced. And I’m a cop, she emphasized. She got the same treatment. Then she in fact did tell me how to look up the information I wanted. Try the Bronx phone book, she said. Lots of cab companies are registered there. And sure enough, that’s where they were.
OK, publishers don’t have to explain anything. They don’t advertise what they do do. But we know it mythically. We live with counter truths, alternately available at all times. We’ve got justice licked, and we all know, there’s no justice. Sure, we know everything worth knowing, nothing good is kept from us. Uh oh, an artist? If you’re any good, you’ll surely starve. That Texas girl’s mother in the seventh grade. Oh my god, so intelligent? You poor kid. Huh? Why? Intelligent people suffer. Nobody will understand you. Everybody knows that. I made some kind of argument, using Einstein as an example, that even if that were so, there had to be some offsetting compensation; that they had to have more to be happy about too. Never thought of that, she said.
Agents certainly don’t have to explain anything. You send them the stamps. They use them to mail it back to you. If they spilled coffee on it, maybe they’d explain that. Otherwise they don’t owe you nothing. Surely they accept something sometime. And an idiot ought to be able to guess what they want eventually. And if that happens also to be what the writer wants then there’s a happy marriage. Can be wonderful. Paul Hogan. The popular man. Doesn’t have to prostitute himself a whit. He likes what we like. I like it too. But I don’t want to do it. It’s already being done. Very well. By Paul Hogan. What if I liked mystery stories? Really liked them? Had always liked them?
I’ve always really like sci-fi, but mine has an adder in it. It’s not just satirical of what the rest is satirical of, it’s satirical of what are still holy cows.
You kick the jew and he’s supposed to groan quietly. You hit the ball right and it drops in the pocket. But as GB says, when you kick the dog, you don’t know what’s going to happen. Sometimes he’ll bounce off the wall. Sometimes he’ll slink away, whimpering. And sometimes he’ll turn and bite you.
Well, my unmailed letter to ELA threatened just that. Don’t count me out. If I can’t be heard from one way when I want to be heard (hell, I want to be heard on so little of what I think: it’s so little I’ve made that effort over), then there are other ways I can be heard from.
I pull vines. I surprise myself with my control. No wildness. No sprained back. Just dedicated and subtle vine pulling. Beautiful. A few of the tough ones, teased and weakened, finally came down altogether. Beautiful. I didn’t even get filthy. Leaf dust in my eyes. No more plant poison that I’m aware of. It’s a week now since my hand split open from the poison something, oozing lymph, swollen, today even bleeding a few times, but it’s drying up, the swelling gone, receding. Scar trying to form. I’m even sensible enough to quit when it’s first dark. Or almost then. So, I’m hungry. Tube and synth. Watch with one eye and a corner of attention. Eat with one hand. Pinkle with other. Inverted chords I’m into now. And how a chord is just one thing trying to become something else. Which in turn … C is G. And F. And G is F. And D minor. And E minor. A minor. D. A minor. Beautiful.
Hell, the Laker game isn’t on. Oh, that’s right. It’s tomorrow. The reception is lousy. Who cares? I leave it after random turnings. Shit, it’s military. At least it’s not cops. At least it’s a movie. A second ago there was women wrestling with the camera right up a straining coo, but I couldn’t stand more than two seconds of it. The other night. The big whore guy kills the geek in the balls. No protest from the geek. None from the ref. Audience shots of cute little thirteen year old girls and the shinny faced brothers watching the wholesome entertainment. Macho Man kisses some blond. That must have been ten seconds before I could get back to the knob. This chick is belting the other chick in the belly. Oooh, everyone goes. I didn’t even want to stare up her pussy while she was being pushed in the uterus. Even if it was staged. It can’t altogether not hurt, staged or not. And even if they didn’t touch each other. If it were done by mirrors. Old time Hollywood miss the jaw and slap your own hand hard while the guy falls back as though you’d really nailed him, still, how does it hurt the viewers? What are we doing to our souls? Fake souls too?
So it’s military. Some bunch of non-Navy misfits are allied with some aircraft carrier to use Jap Zeros to bomb some Jap carrier. Surprise, it’s your own men. Surprise, it’s not. The navy guys are all white uniforms and the other guys are the dirty dozen. The navy guys decide to dry shave the misfits. Twelve against three. My blood stated to boil. I thought the misfits should be tried as war criminals right then and there. The United States has already proved repeatedly that it should never be trusted in foreign or domestic affairs. We citizens haven’t much choice, but a foreign nation, another people, … Hell, they don’t have much choice either. We got the big bombs. Of course, we can always die. You want to know what I think? Hey, Bro, you got no more population. A few junkies. That’s it.
But boy, war criminals or not, did I want the misfits to kill the navies on the spot before their trial. They didn’t.
I got it! Take the zeros up and bomb your ally’s carrier. Surprise! Double surprise. They really are Zeros! But it’s us misfits paying you back. Course, then we’ll have no place to land. So, fuck it. It’s time to die. The japs aren’t the only ones with that ultimate vote. Take the zero up and run it right into the admiral’s window. You like the view, Admiral? Here’s a Zero in your eye. Is your uniform white now?
But the misfits have to have the Navy’s cooperation when they land. All they do is go into the Navy mess while the whites are eating and squirt them with fire extinguishers loaded up with black goo.
I once swore that I was going to go back and find Sgt Eaton, find him when he was drunk, and show him some PT. Of course, I never did. It was when he was drunk that he’d harass us extra.
I’ve gotten far away from the people I should pay back. Revenge takes energy. Energy I’ve tried to channel into writing. Why should I bother to try to make DB more appealing to more readers? I think it was great before. It was me, anyway. I might rewrite mod till I agree that it’s smoother or more readable or more perceptibly dramatic. Though I hardly see how I could make it actually more dramatic. If people can’t follow it, that’s not my fault. I’ve made it clear. Clear as it should be with its necessary ambiguities. What exactly happens at the end? I don’t know. There’s this possibility. Or this possibility. Or this …
We have a quantum physics, but we can’t have a poetry of quantum physics, because quantum physics isn’t a common language. Lots of people might like Mod if I took the physics out of it. But they’ve already got that part. The physics was why I wrote it. That’s the poetry we need. Catch 22.
But not in the future. I hope.
Maybe my revenge against Hilary is sufficient by now. I don’t have to do more. She should live a long life, if there are ever any perceptions in it. That revenge has cost me plenty. But that’s ok. That’s what revenge should cost.
I liked that tv show last week, the hard boiled “failed” lawyer explaining to the woman, his patron-client, who’s about to betray her boyfriend, the lawyer’s recipient-client. She’s using money he’s given her, or given her access to (money he stole for all I picked up from the beginning) to buy him the lawyer, but then she’s going to betray him and she feels rotten. The lawyer justifies to her his own wife’s betrayal of him. It was right for her at the time, under the circumstances. Society can’t fall apart properly if we stick together. No, honey, join the crowd. Just do him one favor: don’t tell him for a while.
Of course that species of betrayal was the least of Hilary’s crimes. She was most vicious with what she didn’t do.
Hey, those cops who aren’t interfering with the construction workers beating up those hippies who are demonstrating on Wall Street, legally, with licenses and everything, they’re innocent, right? They’re not doing nothing.
Should I blame her for saying one thing and doing the opposite? Hell, it was only our lives that were involved. Not like it was anything important. I really have to be out of my mind to be offended by a practical basket case neurotic having no more idea what their words meant than anybody else.
Especially me. What do words mean? They mean what we mean by them. The dictionary doesn’t dictate. Usage does. So if the law says we have the right to bear arms and we aren’t allowed to bear them, then that’s what having the right to bear arms means. Rewrite the dictionary. Match it to usage. Oh, sure. show that historically it might have meant something else. And that in the future in might mean something else again. And when Paul says it, it means what Paul means. And if a hundred people say it, it means a hundred different things, in so far as those people are different. And what they mean can’t be the same from nano-second to nano-second. Or … I was about to say nanonanonano-, but I don’t think the nervous system works that fast. Sub-atomic particles do. And who knows what tachyons do? Maybe even nano- is too fast. Ok, from moment to moment.
So why, when there’s so little basis for attributing high level meaning to human utterance (with, of course, all those noble exceptions that I am more and more devoted to in my life), do I still get offended by map/territory discrepancies? I believe the first statement I ever saw about them: I first read the term in GB’s M&N where he wrote: ‘forget about it, not possible in the human brain architecture.’ I have to go off and read the poor mad Count and get all excited. That’s it! That’s what we need to work on. To strive to get it as right as we can and to be humble about the limits. Make the language as good as we can. It’s still just language.
id19 cont’d
Then I want to invent a new one. Then I find out that that’s what Leibnitz also wanted. And what mathematicians eg have long tried to do. Not very well. Certainly not from the standpoint of what grace is possible in a natural language, but then consider, mathematics is like medieval latin with all its disadvantages. It’s not really a language. It’s not really spoken by anyone. And certainly not lived with day in day out for centuries and centuries, like what we speak at home and write novels in. It’s a foreign tongue to practically all its users. It’s no doubt homiest when least responsibly used. Like my father’s comments on judges’ latin. They pronounced prima facia they way they said it, and they didn’t want no fuckin latin scholar coming around to correct them.
Anyway, so I see it’s ubiquitous. And indelible. Fuck it. Go with the flow. We’re just talkin. It isn’t as though it means anything.
The idea of our killing the biosphere and ourselves with it fills me with a sense of rightness far more than fear. I feel sorry for the rest of life, but hey, what have they done about it? What could they do? Should? Get out of here.
I’m getting to some of the things I felt like saying, and now I remember some I’d have meant to include before here.
It was Henry Miller, probably Capricorn, maybe Cancer, where I first heard of soldiers shooting their own officers. Follow me, men. Bang. WWII. Then fragging come out of Nam.
Lewis at EHP was forever talking about how few soldiers aimed at the “enemy” even when the enemy was in sight. Oh, they’d shoot their weapons, but not at anybody. Well, that’s good news. Or at their own officers. A point Lewis didn’t make. Lewis would say that as though it were something that needed improving. How unreliable we are as killers. How about as killers of other people’s enemies? Enemies of convenience?
I told Sgt Bradley, I don’t want you putting me in any position where people I don’t even know would be shooting at me so that I might even want to shoot them. Sure, I might shoot back, being shot at, but it would be the US Army that put me there. Enemy pre-selected.
I’m sent to school where I’m told I’m free. I’m sent to Sunday School where I was told that I had a rather different kind of freedom. There, at least it was my parents sending me, and not the law. Well, I mean the contradiction has to be obvious to anybody. You’re sent to the school first, and then they feed you this obvious shit. Ok, I believed a lot of it. There’s no telling how much I still believe. I believed that we were the good guys in WWI and WWII. I believed that we were defending ourselves and other good things. So there’s no calculating my resentment that the society should feel that it should have to draft people, that they wouldn’t defend what needed defending on their own. My own anyway. Whatever others would or wouldn’t do, wasn’t my business exactly. But it was a personal affront against me. And I resented social services taxation. Deprives one of voluntary charity, which I believed was a virtue. I still do, where it’s serendipitous. And of course, most evil is out of sight and beyond the reach of serendipitous charity. The country club doesn’t go to the ghetto to be moved. But now I see that I sure wouldn’t have volunteered to fight in more and more or the wars, the more I learn about them. And of course, like the schools, the very fact of the draft shows up front that it’s hooey. No, we don’t have many enemies abroad. Threats, sure. Possible, to probable, invasions? Sure. We’re not the only ones civilized. Some others even more blatantly aggressive than we are? Maybe. Who would conquer us if they could? I don’t doubt it. But I don’t know that, surviving, I’d hate them any more than I hate us. If they lied less and didn’t torture me, I’d probably hate them less. Here, you. I’m Ghengis Khan, and I’m enslaving you. Fuck my ugly wife and cook my breakfast. Here. And give him a bastinado.
What, you mean you’re not telling me I’m free and want to cook your breakfast, or ought to, and that’s why you’re drafting me? Hallelujah. But you know something, chief? How am I gonna cook, if I can’t stand up? Lay off that bastinado. You want poison in your food?
Even Ghengis Khan wouldn’t want to salt every city if he were to bother to try conquering the whole world. He’d figure it out after a while. His descendants did. You kill a few and enslave the rest. You gotta let most of them live if you want to rule.
Or if he just wanted to reduce the population so that he never ran into anybody who wasn’t his own man no matter where he went, it actually might be a very good thing. He couldn’t find all of us. Might be a very good thing.
Maybe it’s the trees outback that are the invaders and not the vines. Invaded with us. Not that I even have anything against invasion. The people kill the buffalo. Tough on them. The rats kill the people. Tough on them. Then the rats have no people to make their sewers for them and they go back to being what they had been. Maybe die off altogether. Hey, you mean when there’s no more people, there’s no more sewage? Uh oh. Too late. Maybe become something else. Maybe it turns out they didn’t quite kill all of us. So what?
But a cancer of people everywhere makes me sick.
It’s funny how fractal society is. I was embarrassed to wear the uniform. I think Hilary tolerated it. Phil let entropy insult his, his brass turning as green as his teeth. But when I’m to be separated, and go to Brooklyn on the subway, to Fort Hamilton, and walk through a ghetto, the girls make sucking noises at me. Slurping and whistling. one girl was as articulate in her obscenities as any truck driver or construction worker I’ve ever heard. I don’t think any woman had ever sucked my ass out at that point in my life, but that girl made me feel it right then. (I think Becky was the first for me there.)
Maybe had I been exposed to more low class stuff, I would have better understood the appeal of letting the army humiliate you. You bend over for the army and the girls bend over for you. I missed that perception because they bent over for me without the humiliation. I resented the suspicion that it was the uniform these girls were sucking, not me. I have never been mass assaulted on the street before. No, my contacts were one on one.
Before I lose it, Ch44 showed me a juxtaposition to confirm that there’s isn’t anything that we don’t know. Whatever lies we tell ourselves one way, there’s a truth somewhere else. As long as it too is couched in lies, it can be popular. be on tv. the navy fighting the sneak attack misfits was followed by Freddy’s Nightmares. The kid has fantasies about being driven about in a limo, cushioned by chicks and holding his electric guitar. But in school he’s a misfit. To the principal’s office. The teachers are gourmets of humiliation. His parents are all for his submitting to the horseshit. college, college, college. an icon unknown to the worshipers. (i love how both parents and school (and college) are always wrong about where the money is. in fact college is one more way of keeping the sheep from it. whereas the kid has the magic sword, the electric guitar) I’m sure that we’re headed for a rip off of King’s Rage. But I’m disappointed. The kid doesn’t terrorize the school, the school continues to terrorize him. It was more a rip off of the Steppford Wives.
But the two entertainments together make a testament. Civilization and its Discontents. Trapped. Fantasy escape. The heroes bend over and jap the japs.
the army makes me think of more army stories. I did do some things I really liked. What may have been my favorite: I’m put in K company. Nato alphabet: Kilo. “Kill” to the spic first sgt. A company, given an order, was supposed to shout its company Nato word. Alpha. Bravo. Charlie. Did F company really say Foxtrot when told to march? I doubt it. It was probably just us. Maybe we were all supposed to shout KILL, and this sgt just invented that justification. Anyway, I never did. It was the first of the many orders that I refused to obey. It was hours, maybe even a day, before I got a chance, not being stampeded, to catch Sgt Bradley and say, “I didn’t obey that order, Sgt.” That’s when he first showed me that all that toughness was really pussy. No, first, if I remember the order right, there was that business about: “uh oh, you’re not going to refuse to rifle train, are you?” “No, sgt, I like to play with guns. You’re just not going to tell me who to shoot with it.” Anyway, the result of that first confrontation was: “oh well, as long as the Capt. doesn’t catch you.”
I think the Lt. was skipped. He was a faggot anyway. So I tell the Capt. That took a few days. “oh well, as long as the Major doesn’t see you.” What a bunch of pussies. (Though later I came to see the military as expert in Tai Chi, being liquid, yielding, absorbing your force) Fairly soon, I didn’t bother to point out what orders I wasn’t obeying. And in fact, there weren’t that many. I haven’t the faintest idea how consistent I was being, I was there after all, not in jail, and I don’t really care. That I made any effort at all is far more than average. I had told them at the outset that I was an objector and they didn’t care. No church behind me, the individual has no rights. Cannon fodder.
Anyway, it was autumn when I was drafted. 8 or 10 weeks of basic. ending just before Christmas. Thanksgiving day my first 24 hour pass. Christmas my first leave: 20 days. Thanksgiving with Hilary and Matisse at the Modern. Then Uncle Roy’s too somehow and back to Fort Dix.
So our first and only bivouac was in December. Cold, wet, the boots still not broken in, but the feet callused up a bit. Sgt Bradley never does throw any tear gas. I like to think I scared him off, but I doubt it. My favorite moments with the M1 were that one evening, bitter cold, of night firing. Every fifth round or so was a tracer, but I was hitting the center post of the target on just about every shot and sending a shower of sparks down the range. Just hit the figure and you wouldn’t know it. But hit the wooden post, and fireworks. I loved it. So it’s been at least 8 weeks of my not yelling Kill every few minutes. Never once.
After our rounds are used up, we’re told to go to the warm up hut. Huh? We had been forbidden the warm up huts, put there for our benefit I understood, but countermanded by the first sgt who wanted us to be Spartan while he drank hot cocoa. I’m in one of the last groups to fire, so when I get to the hut, I see a number from the company, a number of us E1s have been there for a while. It’s a Christmas party! Punch and cookies. Most of them gone before I get there. And somebody is playing music. And they’re singing! Xmas carols!
A Sgt whose name I don’t remember, which is perfectly all right with me, was drunk and leading the singing. These bastards, who’ve been harassing us, making every effort to abuse and humiliate us for 8 weeks, are now our pals. And we’re supposed to be theirs?
They’re building us up? Teaching us discipline? Horseshit. With the exception of my shoulders, which their pull-ups definitely improved over anything I had ever done myself, and maybe the biceps a little, from a few more pushups than usual, I was definitely in the worst shape I’ve ever been in in my life at a time when supposedly physically training. If they had said, take 8 weeks and show up in shape, I could have come in in much better shape. We did some PT, but very inefficiently. They wouldn’t let us eat, or digest what we managed to wolf between assaults, or sleep. Or even dress properly. 4am on the coldest night, issued jacket liners, we weren’t allowed to wear them. Why? Because we’d be running. Stand around freezing, not allowed to move much, or wear the clothing you’ve been given, and we don’t run till 7 or so. Crazy. Only one of us died from pneumonia. See, it was ok. When I was sick and had a fever of 104, they took all my clothes, gave me a little hospital shift with no rear, and made me wait all but naked outside in the back of a truck while the guy took his time to drink his coffee inside before hauling me to the hospital where they still gave me only one blanket under which … they were right, I didn’t die.
Anyway, that morning, this sgt noname is standing around drinking hot coffee of which we are allowed none. He’s slept in a heated cabin. We’ve ahem slept in our pup tents with equipment which would have been fine in summer or maybe even October. “Sgt, I’m cold,” one of the sickly E1s said. “You’re cold?” he said, righteously, the steam curling up out of his cup, “I’m cold.”
So it’s this bastard who snivels, drunk, at the top of his ugly voice, snarling the words more from sentimentality than drunkenness, “Sing `I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas’.” “KILL,” I respond, for the first and only time, at the top of my lungs. I never obeyed an order with more gusto. Controlled Psychizophrenia. Knock before entering. My literalness against them.
“Who said that? Where is he? I’ll kill him.” And the Sgt stumbled around amongst us. Was he really looking for me? I suspect he was only pretending.
Like the time the armed guard came after Brian and me when we had broken into the Guggenheim and I had stepped on a candy wrapper only moments before our tour of the office side would have been complete. Brian ducked behind the railing and I listened to my heart pounding, hearing my watch tick as well behind the thin, two arc column that Wright had designed for that side, a side unfortunately never seen by the public. We listened as the guard checked out everything fairly thoroughly as he cornered us. He must have sensed that he had us trapped. Out came the gun. I saw its shadow in his raised hand just like in a movie as he narrowed the gap. Only one more column to check, only one more curve of the railing. He stopped on the other side of my column. He stood for a few minutes. The shadow of the gun poised against the railing the whole time. Then he retreated. He knew he had found us. And he didn’t want any part of it. On the way out, we made as much noise as we liked, passed by his office where he was hiding, stuck our heads in, and thanked him for the pleasant evening.
I don’t think the Sgt really wanted to find the guy who had shouted “kill” either. Could have been a real killer, right? Who knew? What would he have done if he had known it was only me? What would it take to make me fight? I can’t be merely a coward. Not after some of the things I’ve done. Certainly not on the ski slope. Certainly not cutting off taxis on my little Yamaha. I slugged Umpleby when he took my place, a place I didn’t want, in the batting order. I was thirteenth, he was fourteenth. If the period had ended a minute sooner, we both could have avoided coming to the plate, as I would have loved to have avoided being the eighth man in the outfield. I broke my hand in five places. When was that? Seventh grade? Maybe a year later, I let Bissit talk me into ganging up on that big nebbish for the supposed offense of flirting with Torney’s girl friend? Why did I do that? Was she really Torney’s girl? I never say any other evidence of it. Had the guy really done anything? Why wasn’t Tourney handling it? I suppose we were just picking on him. Something I’ve been talked into twice, the first time even more to my shame and damage that the other. (By Rudy, when even younger)
I knocked my mother off a ladder, catching her in my arms on her way down, after she had insulted me for no good reason, the knock and the catch, the I-still-believe-correct refutation of the insult.
When Alice set me up I thought carefully about it for 24 hours and then very carefully slugged her. Something she seemed very much to appreciate when I had to go and get Ravage’s variorum Yeats back from her a few months later. (An important part of my deliberation had been that it would be obvious to her that I was making a reluctant exception, doing something against my nature. Now I doubt that that ever occurred to her. Or she would have suppressed it if it had. I also now think that the Greeks were right that you don’t know your own nature until you’re dead.)
Now there’s a proud moment of my life: she asked how I was doing, I told her a had a nice girl whom I liked, Hilary, of course, she said, “that’s good, she’s no doubt much better for you than I,” as she smiled her smile, leaned back on the couch, stuck her tit out, and gave the gentlest reminder of how her legs opened. I looked at that exquisite tan. I remembered fucking her through a whole playing and then a second of Furtwangler’s complete Tristan, holding the release till the Liebestod came round the second time, and I said, “You’re right.” And I left.
Never seen her again, though René tells me she went back to Bruce for a while and then was living with Ornette. And looking like hell. René was surprised when I told her that she had once been one of the most beautiful girls in the Village or on Morningside Heights.
And then there was the more than twice, maybe more than three times that I hit Hilary. Never hard enough. Never felt so inadequate as when I had failed to smash her skull.
Two women. What kind of a record is that for a man? Terrible. Now I remember hitting Brooks once, but that was after she was tearing my shirt having already drawn blood down my face and chest. Three women.
I’d think twice before hitting someone like Mitch, just about no matter what he had done. That’s his world. He’s as monstrous as he is ugly. It’s just not my weapon.
And words don’t seem to be either. Not if I can’t get anybody to take them even after I’ve done what I can to make them passable. Sure, everything I write is profoundly insulting to humanity. What else should it be? Insulting to dumb religious ideas too. Unfortunately, they’re the ones people hold. Or pretend to hold. Or won’t admit to the group that they don’t hold. To god? Not in my theology. My old idea: blasphemy is impossible. At worst, it’s infantile. No possible insult to anything divine.
So what weapons do I have?
Just the negative one. Hilary’s weapon. You don’t get nothing from me.
But is that really a weapon? Another old idea of mine. What if I were ambitious in the plain, old fashioned Napoleonic way? What kind of a monster might I have become? What if I had really gone into the military? I mean really. Oh sure, I don’t know shit about calculating this or that, but had I had those ambitions, I don’t doubt I would have learned. Shown a flair for those things odious or at least indifferent to me. Is that non-participation a weapon? Rather a blessing, I would think. The world is in enough trouble with the generals it has. How much more fire and brimstone might I have unleashed. I love the smell of napalm in the morning. Exterminate all the brutes.
What a stupid movie Apocalypse Now is. What a desecration, a waste of good Conrad. What did this Kurtz do that was worse or different from what the rest of us were doing? A few heads on poles? That at least has the virtue of tradition. No doubt ancient. What do bodies in bags have going for them? Oh, we just kill and cover it in plastic. Or we’ve blown them to smithereens. There are no bodies, no heads to put on poles. Ugh, how primitive. Mega death instead of a few honest victims on poles.
Bob Davis. I should have broken his knees.
I should still do something to Mitch. Sink his air boats. Hit him in the pocket book. Raise his insurance rates. How? It’s not me. Even if I really wanted to … I have no weapons. I should invent new ones. The kind Golem XIV talks of. Even more extreme than the ideas I already had for Aurora.
You stand before the judge, and while he’s sentencing you, you are silently and invisibly sterilizing him. It may be a while before he notices. He may never notice. Nevertheless. He takes your life, or some time, or some money, you take his entire future. A pocket microwave laser.
I would really be satisfied with nothing less than mind controlled rearrangement of DNA.
It also just occurs to me how poor my record is in being hit. That one time in the Si Como No. Alan’s girl had shouted some obscenity … I remember, the cat had eaten her diaphragm, and apparently she had let MacDougal Street know it. I walk in. I don’t know this girl. I’ve never even met her. And the outraged Italian from upstairs is screaming at me. I don’t know what he’s talking about. I want an apology. I follow him out of the store and up onto the sidewalk. Boom. He hits me under the jaw so hard I’m lifted up and sprawled into the aisle of the Charicature. Any other times I’ve been hit? Ever?
I can’t remember a one. But in a funny way I’m glad of that one. It didn’t hurt a bit. Could’ve hurt if anything had been damaged.
Oh, wait. Yes, in Upper Black Eddy. The camp ground owner. But he didn’t punch me. I don’t think so. He wrestled me around, banging me against things. That did damage. Damage that healed in a couple of weeks. Funny, that didn’t hurt either. It was scary, feeling the trailer shake and realizing it was my heart. But still not what I think of as hurt. Not like my teeth. I should napalm his place.
Breaking my fingers hadn’t hurt. That idiot gym teacher pulling the broken fingers out from where they had jammed up into my wrist, now that hurt. And kept on hurting.
What am I talking about that for? I wanted to remember Army stories. That’s right. It was Sgt Lyons who first treated me like army. I probably imagined vengeance against him before I ever did against Sgt Eaton. Buck Sgt Eaton. Imagine that idiot’s life. That was his career, for crisake. But then I was stationed with, or should I say under, Lyons. He even insulted Hilary once. And of course me too. “You keep bringing her around here, I’m gonna fuck her,” he said. I didn’t hit him with the bar stool, I laughed in his face. I don’t remember my exact words, but they were to the effect that he could try and fail all he wanted to. Fucking pussy. I should have left him disfigured. Or me dead. Or broken. Or something. I also don’t think I ever explained to him that I never brought her around there at all.
Any more than I brought Carmen.
Just remember the fellow dog walker who not only never had his leash on his dog, had no leash and the dog had no collar. They’d try and ticket him. “It’s not my dog,” he’d say, and walk off, the dog perfectly at heel.
Carmen, who put her hand up into my crotch as I taught her how to type with twenty people in the room. Not that I think any of them saw. I don’t know. I didn’t look. They saw in general what was going on. And they also believed her a month later when she told everyone she was a virgin. They believed anything they wanted to. And Carmen may indeed have been. I was going back up to Claremont Ave. nights while she lived in barracks. She may have been. She certainly seemed newly introduced to what come all over the skin and clothing does after a few hours. And very excited by the discovery. Hell, I was on guard duty. She could have taken her uniform off, but I couldn’t very well remove mine. She may have had absolutely the best ass of all time. And champion tits. But the pussy I never really persisted at. To my continuing regret. Though probably nothing compared to the regret I’d have if I had. Out with the shotgun. Guaranteed pregnant.
Make me come, she moaned, still resisting taking off her girdle. What a waste of that ass. No, no, I can’t. Then I’ll take it off. No, no. I can’t remember what interrupted us that time. the time in Battery Park, it was pedestrians. then the next passer by we ignored, she as much as I, as, whump, the feral fountain strikes again. That was one erotic experience that comes back to me, but as a bad memory. She was gripping my balls like a vice. Not hurting, but I was petrified. One more squeeze, the tiniest difference … So stupid me, instead of just saying, a, please ease off a bit, honey. that’s nice. I’ve got my thumb dug into her wrist, hoping to paralyze her further. The Venutian death grip.
Carmen still has the most beautiful Puerto Rican face I’ve ever seen.
Have you ever fucked any other Puerto Rican girls? Sophy asks me. Does squirting one in the eye count? I’ll kill her, she says.
Hmm, I just remembered. A connection I never made before. Years go by. I run into Sophy on Madison Ave. She’s got a show of her photographs at Chess City. We go back to 305. This time 305 has furniture. The first time I fucked her was on bare floor. Four times. My knees wouldn’t work right for days. She was so sore she wouldn’t speak to me. But now, on the couch, she doesn’t want to take her cloths off below the waist. With any other girl I’d think; period. With Sophy, who knew. She liked the dark, and this was day. So I fuck her tits. Don’t squirt in my face she says. The same word coming back at me over the years. I had never used it but that once. I had never heard it back at me but this time. Neither did I recognize it.
But that’s not an army story. I mean like my other favorite. Transferred to Camp Drum, never in an accurate personnel-to- work description, Whitehall Street actually needing me far more than Drum, but not officially, not on the paper lies the Army thrives on. Paper lies was how Whitehall Street worked. Excess personnel. To clean that Augean stable. Drum. Three of us to do what one of us could do in a couple of hours. A vacation from Whitehall Street where I couldn’t do all the work in 18 hours. The whole staff could have, if anyone but me worked with any efficiency, but they gave it all to me and I couldn’t do it in 18 hours. They’d finally let me go home with some left over. The other incompetents, they get rid of on passes. How do we get the work done? Give everybody a pass. Except Paul. Make him come in on Saturday. For what reason? To do the work. Yeah, but what excuse? Oh, I don’t know. Punish him for something. Pretend he made a mistake. Forge it if you have to.
So I haven’t taken any leave since the assigned one after basic. Saving it up. Take army standby to Europe where I’d never been. 40 days hitching around. But they wouldn’t give it to me. Emergency labor shortage at Camp Drum? Were they out of their minds. Ricky and Jake and I were ready to cover for each other. Two of us could have gone on leave and the third still have been on vacation by working there. I was the only one who had saved all of it. Oh, that’s ok, they said. You get paid for the leave time we don’t give you. $90 as compensation for not going to Europe. I guess it would have been $120.
I quote the army regulation whereby leave is regarded as a requirement for good performance. rest the body to get the most out of it, their own Calvinism. that’s true, but we need you. no, it’s not a contradiction, we have an emergency here. We have one every summer. It’s how we do things.
So the procedure is, that every station has an inspector general. whom you can expect to be some toady who sides with the administration just about no matter what. more regulations that don’t mean what they say. until suddenly one day they decide that they do, until again they don’t. well I always only met them on the normal days when they don’t. although I do think the IG at Drum got me a few days just out of charity. Hilary and I went on a little trip. Which left me with 37 days coming. Anyway, the procedure to get to the IG is to be denied through channels. Sgt, may I have my leave now? No. I told you. I know, but I need it in writing. Why do you need it in writing? I told you you can’t go. I need it for the Lieutenant. But he’ll say no also. He’ll never countermand my decision. I promise you. Still, I have to ask him.
No, says the lieutenant. Why are you asking me? the sgt already told you.
So I can ask the Capt, I say. That’s why I need it in writing.
I go to the Capt. What a sorry ass hole he was. A career man. About to retire. The apex of his career. Command of Camp Drum, year round population, 1 Capt. 1Lt, 2 or 3 sgts and a hand full of PFCs or Spec4s. Maybe there was a major somewhere. There had to be: the IG was a major. I don’t know where he went in the winter. About ten in all. Captain is this man’s highest achievement. Anyway, he is the commander, though not the highest ranking officer on the base at that time. A real sorry nerd. Gray, ashen. Failure showing all over him. Now a certain incompetence is a distinct advantage in the army even more than in ordinary life. The lifer RAs, non-com’ed, could get out of doing anything: tell them to sweep the floor, they break the broom. that showed you, didn’t it. you won’t ask them to sweep again.
This Capt. Gotta be in his early 40s, right?
But, Private, your request for leave has already been denied in writing first by your sgt, and then by my Lt. Why are you asking me?
I need it in writing.
But you know I’m just going to say no. Why are you asking?
Oh, I expect it to be denied at the lower ranks, Capt.
Well, after that, the major says no too. The IG is the top of the complaint line. The only thing beyond him, he tells me is the Red Cross, and that’s a voluntary compliance on the part of the Army. Emergencies. Death in the family.
Thank you, Major.
The red cross calls. Knatz’s mother needs him in a failing business. A couple of weeks should do it.
The major is red faced, threatening. We’re going to look into this, you scoundrel. If your mother doesn’t have an emergency, I’ll see you in the stockade.
Thank you, Major. See you in two weeks. Just in time for you people to release me to civilian life and graduate school, a month early, I might add, because of regulation xyz.
He looked like he was going to have a heart attack.
Hilary and I go climbing in the Adirondacks. With her Citroen Onze, people think we’re Bonnie and Clyde. The gas station attendant is afraid to come near. Thought we’d be toting violin cases.
I liked best to use regulations against them. One has to be careful. The army isn’t at all perfect in which regulations it keeps and which ones it follows, like we follow the constitution. You have to have a sense of which is which.
“Sgt, how long does the harassment last in basic training?”
“There is no harassment in basic training. It’s against regulation 456,” answers the 1stSgt. “Now drop and give me twenty,” adds the Sp4. “Where Sp?, it’s 4 inches of mud here.” “Right there and right now.” Screaming in his face. The guy couldn’t do 20. They left him lying there with his face in the mud. But I learned something. And right away. My memory of their terror is permanent. But their own memory of what they’re doing is very short. The guy did maybe 8 and gave out. They screamed that he’d stay there till he had finished them. He came out with another 3. Rested. Then 2. I don’t think he ever got to 20. But when it was time to move us somewhere else, they moved him too. Lying in the mud, once in it, was much easier than doing what the rest of us were doing. While he lay there, the rest of us did far more than the equivalent of 20 pushups. So, get punished. Do part, then take a vacation.
Not that I did that much. Sometimes. Get punished. “Just for that soldier, you’re not going to be allowed to be with the rest of us while we crawl under live machine gun fire. Now police up this area.” The company marched off minus me. A Sgt was left to watch me. Since we policed the place all the time and weren’t allowed to smoke or do anything else, there sure weren’t any cigarette buts in sight. After 15 minutes or so, the Sgt wandered off. I went to the PX and spent the day drinking coffee. It was the first time I had been allowed to go to the PX. Maybe I still wasn’t allowed, but I went. And had a relatively nice day of it. Had I not been punished it would have been another two weeks before I would have seen the PX for the first time. Bought a six pack and quickly learned that the other guys there weren’t drinkers. Not yet. And starved as I was, and dry those few weeks, I could hardly drink it myself.
Another time I got punished. Cold day. Guys lunching out on the cold ground. My punishment was to make and tend the fire in the officer’s club. At lunch time, I couldn’t join my fellows, but they had to feed me. So I ate in the heated club. Sitting by myself. Poor me.
But I was talking about regulations. There is one that you can’t be asked to do anything you haven’t been trained (by the Army, is understood) to do. To speak and to walk and to share to some extent generally in the culture is assumed and in fact to some extent tested before they’ll take you. That what’s-it test where the ditto machine was so bad I couldn’t recognize the tools I did know until five minutes of staring and I said oh yeah, maybe that’s a wrench. No way I was going to be able to guess many in that blur. Now the army prided itself on its gobbledygook. Hey, PFC, you PDQ got over to the CO and tell the OD that the MOS for blah blah blah. However, the army has no course in basic training on its jargon. So I would just stand there like a DOS machine that’s been spoken to in CPM. Now there’s a regulation that they can’t hit you. I wouldn’t want to test their restraint on that one too far, but test it I did, increasingly. I remember one spec4. I don’t think he ever did try English, he finally went and did whatever he wanted himself. I don’t think he ever held it against me either. I don’t think they really saw us. That was the same spec4 who first charged us on the bus, before we knew anything about not hitting or shooting or anything, screaming and frothing, and telling everybody to move, shake it, haul ass, drop and give me 10, and a chaos of orders, half of them contradictory, themselves in the way.
And we all did it, our pulses up, fear in everyone of us. Being told, warned, does no good. Not to young men who’ve never faced anything like that before. But you can’t be afraid forever. After a while you say fuck it, do your worst, only to find out that their worst is to forget all about you, to make you make the fire, to miss being shot at and have to drink coffee instead. So this same spec4 comes running out of the barracks and over to the CO and comes running back a few seconds later. “I run out without muh brass.” He comes back out a few seconds after that, pinning the brass to his collars. “How could you let me run out without muh brass?” he asks, sounding betrayed.
Huh? This storm trooper, this Nazi, wants us to help him? Thinks we’re his allies?
Sgt Bradley was the only man there I ever developed any respect for. Even a kind of admiration. He had style. If he was half as tough as he looked and acted, then he was plenty tough. And he had a good black bass, not only intelligible but stylish. He loved to count cadence. He marched us with elan.
I even enjoyed the chicken he’d play with the other sgts, all of them dipshits, even though it was our bodies he was playing chicken with. He’d march us straight at another platoon. The other Sgt wouldn’t give any halt command or anything till we were about to mash noses against each other and then just all pile up. The other sgt always slipped in a quick halt, and Bradley would calmly ToTheRear,Harch. No actual contact was ever made. Bradley never lost that chicken business once. What would have happened to them if we had all piled up. It was our bodies, but Bradley had to be known beyond the other sgts as the aggressor there.
He’d wear that dumb helmet right down across his eyes so you could never see his eyes. He’s stand an inch in front of you, rigid at attention and threaten you with grievous bodily harm, inviting you to try anything to him you wanted, his own arms and hands straight down at his side, and of course, no one dared move. I’m not a fighter, not that kind, but there were guys there who were, one of us was a prize fighter, but no one ever called Bradley that I saw, not us, and certainly not his peers.
I would have felt glad to hear of just about anybody being shot in training, especially deliberately like that sounded, except him. Dumb trainee.
Obeying orders. Sometimes I liked to annoy them by ostentatiously obeying what an order said, though it was clear enough that a different meaning was intended. Rifle training has got to be dangerous as hell even if the trainees aren’t aiming for you. The worst assignment on a regular basis has to be those poor sap sgts. who hand you the live grenade, have you pull the pin and throw it over the wall. Now that whole thing really was dumb. The live one is the first one you ever handle. They’re amazing heavy if you don’t know what to expect. Couldn’t they have given us a bit of practice throwing dummies?
Two sgts have to be there in case you drop it or it falls short and on the same side it started from. They’ve got to grab it and throw it after you’ve blown it. A lot of them die fast. Bad organization.
Anyway, they make their attempts to be well organized. Especially on the rifle range. but then they have it executed by dolts who don’t speak english.
They watch like paranoid eagles from the tower. The staff there is permanent to the range, not daily from the company, and their loud speakers keep telling the transient sgts what to do. So I hear this PR accented order: “And-when you’ve finished- firing-stand-in a designated spot-by the tower.”
The tower obviously is and should be the traffic controller. Even with their attempts at care, how many E1s get marched in front of another group just being told to shoot? And how many of these just go ahead and shoot? Hell, they’re supposed to be training us to be willing to pull the trigger on another. They don’t care about pneumonia, but they don’t like us to be shot accidentally. Good.
So it’s obvious enough to me that the sgt meant to tell us that we were to stay put when we had finished firing, that the tower would determine a safe place for us to be moved to, would announce to us what that spot was, and that we should cooperate in being moved to it.
It was clear to me where those spots might be, and that their safety would wax and wane depending on who else was firing where. So there was no safe spots, there was a rotation of safe spots.
Except I also noticed that the tower, permanently, was one relatively safe spot. So I could be perversely literal and be safe at the same time. I stopped firing and went and stood by the tower.
The PR sgt screams and screams at me. He never does understand my explanation that I was just doing what he had said. he had said a designated spot, and had then designated it: “by the tower.” I don’t know enough Spanish to know how positional a language it is, if at all. I’ll bet it is quite a bit, things throughout Europe tending away from the inflections of Latin. Maybe that Sgt would have been careless in his own language. Or maybe it was just the mentality that thinks, if it sounds wrong to me, then I’m sure to be sounding educated to them. Grammar as: what’s uncomfortable and doesn’t make sense. That seems to be the impetus behind police jargon. I even recommended he try “a spot designated by the tower.” or “to be designated by …” Knatz, helpful as always. All he knew was that he wasn’t getting anywhere with me. But also that I wasn’t being a punk or a wise ass in any way familiar to him, one which no doubt would have gotten me a punch in the nose.
There’s my lizard again. 7:30 am and out he comes for some warmth. What does he eat, insects? Does he find enough in here, or does he come and go as he pleases? Mostly he just ignores me as I ignore him. Once I made him run, assuming it was the same guy, and that was an accident on my part. Maybe they’re nearsighted. Maybe he’s used to me. I cleaned all around the place yesterday, sweeping the screens. he never budged and at last I never cleaned the screen he was on. I swept within two feet of him and he didn’t blink. He’s running around enough now. He must be hunting.
My, I have babbled on. 1200 lines since first failing to find the Lakers game. So now I’ll wait for the French open. Sanchez beat Graf yesterday. Then the Lakers this afternoon I think. Then the Westchester Open. If I can stay awake that long. Last time I tried that, I slept though the night all right, and still slept through half the day. And again couldn’t sleep till the next dawn. I wouldn’t care if I were accomplishing something. What I’m doing to DB now could be turning it into a best seller. But how the hell should I know? I’m writing to communicate to an alien species about which I know nothing and can succeed in learning nothing no matter how hard I try. I ask for information and Brockman thinks we’re playing poker. What language do these creatures speak? Just money? Like selling art? Just give me sales figures. What’s the bottom line?
Christ, am I in limbo. A mental invalid. I make it through Michael Chang’s astonishing victory, fuzz on Westchester, set the alarm for the Lakers at 3:20 and lie down. I finally hear it, high up the well, far from where I’m floating in my wonderful dark murk, so beautiful. What could I have possibly wanted to wake up for? Just the connection I’ve never succeeded in disciplining. Though I do now. Something was important. Get up, pee, get rid of that noise. Maybe you’ll remember what was important. You sure won’t think of it down here. I do. I let the other personality take over, the stupid, ineffectual one, the one who’s in charge of my interface with life. It’s quarter to four and the game hasn’t started. I’d wisely left the image on without sound. They’re interviewing Isiah Thomas. I must have drifted back. The game is on. The Lakers are leading. Magic is trying. Kareem is both missing and scoring. Getting the boards. They’re losing. Time must have passed. what do I care? I turn it off. But now I’m high up, out of, or at least over, the well. Nothing. No discipline. Can’t sleep, can’t wake up, can’t work. Marked time writing ugly gibberish, making favorite stories ugly the first time I write them, choosing the wrong time, better to forget them than to make them ugly. I don’t write to remember: I already remember; I write to ponder. And to weave a net for those elusive dream thoughts. But that’s not what I was doing yesterday, I was marking time, treading water, trying to sleep and at least partly at night. Why sleep? To be awake. To wake up and be alert. Capable. We’ll all be dead, my story will remain a mauled fragment, the understanders will come, they’ll see my fragment and see only junk. This wasn’t it. That’s not what would impress us either.
the understanders: what the hell do I mean? a consciousness with a different, improved mindset: us looking at Tycho Brahe, at Luther … one mind in a billion, or ten, or a dozen in four billion. Ah, but wouldn’t they have their own errors? Of course, I’m just looking for communication about certain of our errors, key errors. I want someone who can say: ah, another exception, not everyone was cowed by their rhetoric. Someone saw what was so obvious it was invisible.
Understanders: real people, possible people? I almost don’t care. Who knows how many there are today? Scattered. No organization. No representation. The only ways to be organized or represented preempted by the errors. Write you congressman. McCabe going to his congressman, catching some of his bullshit, going home and repeating it to MrsM. Already realizing that he was a dead man.
So what’s wrong with death? Not a thing. VanGogh’s madness was an appropriate penalty, not to VanGogh, but to his society. Don’t give em no fuckin milk.
McCabe’s situation far worse than mine. He was on the take, the top of a small pyramid. He thought he had gone far enough away for it to be his. But here comes MrsM. Watch out McC, your rep is bigger than you realize. Then San Francisco wants to take over. McC doesn’t know when to take the money and run. They want what he has, he doesn’t accept the price they want to pay, so they send the executioners. Someone is always sending the executioners. I’m sure that that’s why we are so paranoid about the soviets: we have to project our own tendencies onto others. San Francisco’s thieves will be paranoid about New York thieves as soon as transportation improves again the next step. And New York is paranoid about … flying saucers. We stole everything, now how can we hang on to it in such a world?
So they looked to kill McC. They’re not looking to kill me. The threats are semantic fire. I’m hobbled but not imprisoned. I still eat. I have more than almost anybody. Except the one more thing I need: someone to talk to. An understander.
So I have to project one into possibility: future, present but isolated from me. Or simply another state of existence. The truth is still the truth. The hardware is the hardware and the software the software whatever pennies we put in the fuse box. Sure, the person who false wires the house isn’t the one most likely to get burned down. But the burning will still occur. Unto the tenth generation. The children’s teeth are set on edge. Circularity. The society says don’t put pennies in the fuse box and penalizes anyone pointing them out. So good, let it die. Me too. What other choice do I have? Other than to put pennies in the fuse box myself. I’m not trying to pass the error on “for my own sake.” I don’t care about my sake. That isn’t my sake, if I do that.
He who sees error simply can’t commit it, unless knocked into it by something else. Lambier elbowing his own man up into the stands. What’s Isiah Thomas going to look like in another ten years?
The great ideas are always simple: Mandelbrot’s “the question improves with familiarity.” Trying to present map/territory to Phil, him dismissing it as contemptuously obvious and then performing for me a long string of precisely that error. The error everywhere, invisible in its ubiquity, a bad smell we all live with. Clean air would smell funny. It wouldn’t smell of us.
I lie there, a torus of consciousness. Carmen is with me. She came back yesterday, didn’t she? I mauled her too. Better to have left her alone. But now she’s with me. her buttocks like the Maillol Torso. She still loves to have them squeezed. Is it possible that she had been neglected in that quarter before me? I press my mouth against her lips, only now she’s Heidi. I want to tell her about Ying and Yang. You go in, I go out, my excitement is obvious, outer, visible; yours is hidden, mysterious, illusory. Could you yourself know whether it’s real? but you go in on this side and come out on that side. Ying and Yang interchange. I guess my buttocks go out too, but not like yours. when I embrace her from the rear, it’s she who fits into me. My champion dick no bigger than a clitoris as her spheres fill my emptiness.
And I drift back down. Darkness. 11:45. What happened to the Lakers? Can they have won? Could they possibly win three in a row? Do I care? If they win a fourth. Last year, just as I had decided that it was Detroit’s year, that I was glad, that it should be, LA would come back. I didn’t know who to root for. I’d still be for Detroit as the Lakers would look like they’d do it. I’d switch and so would they. I think I had adjusted back to the Lakers when it was finally all over. Sports are wonderful. They’re the errors of our epistemology made real. A completely factitious artifact which pretends to a stable hierarchy, a number one, a winner, that the flux has frozen, that something is true and permanent.
9 am this morning. late pm Paris, 92 on the court. hotter there than here. no tennis for me since I can’t remember when until yesterday. you leave a sport for a while and you don’t know who is who. oh, some of the names are the same but you don’t know the current standings. Graf as won 5 GS events in a row, sick this week. Boom, this little spaniard beats her. Never heard of her and she’s the champ and I’m glad. So who will it be among the men? Who can play clay these days? I don’t know, but … Edberg. Wonderful. I’ve seen him at the top of his game and when he’s there, he’s as good as anybody ever has been. Good. There’s somebody playing I can be for. Chang. Who? From where? He’s an American?
They run through the gauntlet by which he arrived at the finals. Beat Lendel in 5? Then survived quarters and semis? Unbelievable, how can I not hope he wins? I can’t ever be against Edberg, but I can be for this guy I never heard of.
17 years old? it’s destiny. two 17 years old win the French in 89. it’s too perfect. both shrimps.
Chang to serve. Ace! Against Edberg? What is this? A couple of breaks. Edberg finally wins one. is it charity? Charity can sting. Watch out. Good. I can never be against Edberg. Disappointed in his missing perfection, sure, but never against him. Chang: 6-1. Edberg 6-3. Fine. What the hell. I’m too tired anyway. The kid made a memorable impression, now get rid of him and I’ll go to sleep at noon after all. Long points. Deuce, deuce, deuce. Are we still in the same game? What set is it? Edberg had 11 chances to break and couldn’t cash? Is he an idiot, or is this Chang incredible? Bud Collins is changing his tune as often as I’m changing mine. Emotions see saw with the score. Tony Trabert more staunch in his favoring Chang than anybody, but everybody reading doom. Edberg winning can’t be doom. Chang climbs back. Good. A respectable loss, not just a flashy beginning. By god, he’s going to win. No, in the end, Edberg will just blast him away, but we can cheer both of them. Not a bit of it, it’s Chang who crushes Edberg. Finish, over, done with. The score board freezes. Time ends. Now we know the truth. A factitous certainty. A winner.
I’m so far gone with fatigue, but I find myself cheering and jumping anyway. Sort of like Satyjit Ray’s portrait of the postmaster’s fever. A nervous Swiss.
There’s a memory. Going to the Carnegie at noon. Seeing Pather Panchali for maybe the third time. Aparajito for the first. And Apu for the first. Cycle complete, but I can’t move. Pather Panchali again. Numb. Can’t believe I’m still enjoying it. Aparajito again. Get the shakes by the time Apu’s father dies again. Pigeons take off. Persist till death of mother and the black out of the pond. Stumble to men’s room and then from theater. Darkness. Mid evening. I’d be weak from no food, if nothing else. A marathon and a half. Clunk. I can hear grandma’s head thonk down on the tree stump. It might as well be mine. The incredible recognition. I had seen Family of Man before Pather Panchali, had known their faces all along.
What were all these “roads” in the 50s? La Strada. The decade of the poetry of poverty, the divorce of life from intelligence, the sanctity of the half-wit, the innocence of the gullible. For film what Mahler had been for music. The century of death. And we thought it was the Eisenhower generation. Sure, if you only look at the factitiously frozen. The winners. Those who almost don’t even count.
Nixon fixing the score.
But in sports, it’s wonderful. Edberg foot faulting like crazy. Four called? Chang getting breaks with some luck. Net chords are only part luck: you put the spin on it. I’ve seen them, I’ve hit them, start an inch and a half down your side of the net, climb right up and over. Or climb right up and fall back.
What was that ace? Chang has the worst serve I’ve seen since Muscles Rosewall. Uh, no. The old Ken had the worst serve of all time. But then Chang’s is deteriorating. In the first set he was spotting them. He was hitting the paint on serve and the corners on shots. Edberg has forced him back. Now his shots are landing way short. Edberg should be hammering him even more. Chang: both percentage falls and the serves are in the middle of the box. Gift wrapped.
It’s far more than serve that makes Chang remind me of Rosewall.
Suddenly I think of the Rocket too. Foot faults. Madison Square Garden. First time I ever heard one called. Didn’t even know what it was. “How many of those you been callin’, Ump?” Laver asks. Didn’t deny it. The protest only at not having been disciplined earlier. Either you let me get away with it or you don’t. But don’t start in the third set.
I love Vic Braden’s answer to foot faults. What do you do when your opponent foot faults? You tell him. And when he still foot faults? Braden walks right up to the net and serves an overhead from point blank range: smash, and up into the stands. What was that? the stunned opponent asks.
If you can do it, I can do it, you answer.
Maybe most astonishing of all: never heard of him? So what? 17? It’s happened. We all loved him? Great. But an american winning on clay. Trabert the last, 1955. This little guy. He’s got thighs like Walter Payton. I mean like Pélé. Been cramping all week. Then you remember all the killers who got killed here. MacEnroe. Connors. Monsters buried under the clay.
Borg. Killer on grass and clay alike.
Isn’t it something how the majors are played on surfaces that nobody plays on anymore? Wimbeldon should go back indoors to court tennis.
Anyway, I ahem wake up. Or begin to. Carmen with me still. Once again, remembering, preferring to remember the girls I didn’t fuck. The goal still there. Even when I remember Martha or Dyan, I remember being about to fuck them, or not knowing if I were going to fuck them, the problem, not the solution.
The signal sent. Waiting for the answer. Always having to guess. Women being best when not clear.
The totally responsive pussy almost as appalling as the totally unresponsive one.
1 o’clock before I move. thoughts drifting away:
“rational: sharing the same assumptions.” load the T and write that? why bother? bet I have already anyway. Who cares either way?
that in and out business. surely there’s something there. borders. a levee, the “edge” of the Glades. the beach, looking to sea. NM, the desert. never wrote that either. well, a little: the joke in Mod.


About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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