Tuesday, August 2, 2011

But the Vampire Who Makes Us Behave Ordains That We Amuse Ourselves with What She Doles Out to Us, or That We Be Otherwise More Entertaining

Serendipitously, yesterday's comments turned to Gaddis sparked by Richard's discovery Lord Google had restored his voice, and when JR was brought into the conversation I added it to my reading list which at this moment is this:

  1. (finish) The Recognitions
  2. George Mills
  3. The Tunnel
  4. JR

I've read all these novels at least once (The Recognitions, The Tunnel), JR twice (it's the beer-through-you-nose funniest novel ever, you'll never read anything else like it), and I wrote a masters thesis on Elkin, I've read George Mills. It occurred to me, I haven't read any novel since finishing The Kindly Ones that I hadn't read at least once before. Four Harington's. On the plane trip to England Ishiguro's Remains of the Day, on the plane back Wright's Amalgamation Polka

I read The Recognitions twenty-two years ago. I was thirty. It was 1989, the Berlin Wall had just fallen, I was a vastly different fool then than I am now. I'm a vastly different fool now than I was three years ago. I find myself remembering reacting the first time to a line, a discussion, a set piece in the novels I've reread, surprised and pleased how different my catch now from catch then, then comparing.

It's freaking fascinating. All I want to read are the novels I read that helped me apprehend the world at earlier stages of my life. The gap between me at twenty and me at forty-nine is smaller than the gap between me at forty-nine and me at fifty-two. I trust the novels; I'm fucked-up. I'm thankful this is still how I apprehend and orient. Here's the daily Gaddis (no promises I'll do this with JR, btw):

The moment of evening loss is suggested in restricted portions of the sky which only suggest infinity, and that such an intimacy is possible when something rises from inside, to be skewered on the peaks or continue to rise untrammeled: a desperate moment for those with nowhere to go, the ones who lose their balance when they look up, passing on all sides here, invited nowhere, enjoying neither drink nor those they drink with but suddenly desolated, glancing up, stepping down from the curb alone, to seek anywhere (having forgot to make a date for "cocktails," asylum of glass, brittle words, olives from across the sea, and chromium) a place to escape this transition from day to night: a grotesque time of loneliness, for what has been sought is almost visible, and requires, perhaps, no more than a priest to bring it forth.

American Extremists - Hearing deficit

  • An obamapologist makes his case: Since the day Obama was elected (indeed, even before he was elected!) I’ve detected what I believe to be a completely unrealistic, emotion-driven faith among his hard-core supporters that he was different from other politicians -- that he could somehow overcome the political constraints and institutional barriers that have limited the power of all his presidential predecessors. I saw it in the debate regarding Guantanamo, military commissions, the public option, Afghanistan, extending the Bush tax hikes and now this. This sentiment was perhaps never more manifest than in the fervent belief among some that he was playing a "deep" game during these negotiations, maneuvering to a position where he could cut the Gordian knot of budget impasse with a master stroke (14th amendment anyone?). And in this latest occurrence, when he failed to fulfill these outlandish expectations, his erstwhile supporters proceeded to blame it on a character defect -- a lack of fortitude, an absence of courage, or perhaps simple political naivety.
  • An obamapologist makes his case: Let me get this straight. The President kept revenues on the table, did not touch the sunset provisions in the Bush tax cuts, ensured that military cuts keep the GOP honest, protected Medicare by adding in only provider cuts in the trigger, made the reduction apparently enough to stave off a debt downgrade, got the debt ceiling raised, wounded Boehner by demonstrating to the world that he is controlled by the Tea Party caucus, took out the requirement that a BBA be passed and sent to the states and got the extension through 2012? What exactly is wrong with this deal? 
  • An obamapologist makes his case: I have no doubt that Barack Obama wants to do right by the country, and that he genuinely believes giving in to every Republican demand (and then some) is his only play. But to me, the debt deal proves once and for all that Obama lacks the courage to lead effectively. The evidence resides not just in his policies, but in his words. To put it bluntly: every time Obama opens his mouth, what comes out is a bloodless, abstract drone. The central failure of his presidency has been one of rhetoric. In the interest of appearing reasonable, he comes across as feckless and pliant, a weak man who can't (or won't) speak in the urgent moral terms his historical moment demands
  • Blaming the blogosphere, or: YFWP ombudman is an assclown.
  • A view of America from Holland.
  • Martin O'Motherfucker.
  • Poor taxes up in Maryland!
  • Frances claimed the mass-market The Recognitions, so it's gone.
  • Cooling card.
  • Dancing with friends.
  • Ashbery's translation of Rimbaud.
  • Hey, look what I found on the new book truck yesterday!


Arthur Rimbaud

Translated by John Ashbery

Is it possible that She will have me pardoned for my continually squelched ambitions, - that an affluent end is compensations enough for the ages of poverty,  - that a day's success can luss us to sleep, forgetting the shame of our fatal ineptitude.
     (O palms! diamond! - Love, strength! - higher than all joy and glory! - of every kind everywhere, - Demon, god,  - Young age of this being; me!)
     That accidents of scientific magic and movements of social brotherhood are to be cherished as the progressive restitution of our first freedom?....
     But the Vampire who makes us behave ordains that we amuse ourselves with what she doles out to us, or that we be otherwise more entertaining.
     To roll with one's wounds, through the wearying air and the sea; with physical torment, through the silence of murderous water and air; with tortures that laugh, in their heinously stormy silence.


  1. Won't visit America? At least not every Dutchman is a pussy. I can't wait until Obama's second term when he kung-fus all his opponents with 72-dimensional ninjitsu!

  2. How about "Opologist"? It's easier to read and say.

    "Democrats will lose now. But they can win later." is still make me laugh (sadly).

  3. the Dumptruck is one of my favorite songs ever! I praise thee!

    I was 32 when I read The Recognitions; read JR and A Frolic... at 31, Carpenter's Gothic at 33.

    And I'm far different now, from 32, as well.

  4. (the first; Back Where I Belong)

    For The Country is my fave Dumptruck album.

  5. Dumptruck brings back lots of memories of Boston bands. From Mission of Burma to Bobby Sullivan's 7 League Boots, and all the Mark Sandman bands in between.

  6. So you'll support my primary challenge to Van Hollen, then?

    Think carefully.

  7. Have you cleared this with Hans?

    Wait for tomorrow's post when I detail my political activism yesterday.

  8. @Landru You know they'd interview ALL of your family don't you? Do you think we could all get a shot of the Famous Pottery?

  9. I bet a bajillion dollars Hans would've voted for that crap. Pussy.

    And Sasha, I support and embrace all of my family's pottery. I've nothing to be ashamed of.

  10. I'll be looking forward to the blonde, blue-eyed Van Hollen's advertising in the oh so Jewish parts of MoCo.

  11. I'll pose with the She-Nurse's pottery and still beat his lame bent-over-for-leadership ass.