I was brought up Roman Catholic (at least until I was thirteen and refused to go any further and my mother grew disenchanted herself with the Catholic Church enough to not fight me). Sunday mass and CCD at St Martins, corner of Summit and Frederick in Olde Towne Gaithersburg Maryland. Here's the thing: while I never bought, even when young, the religion, I dug the rituals. This doesn't surprise you if you know me, the most ritual driven fuck I know. See the gag in the previous sentence. This past Saturday I attended the memorial service for my friend Steven Jackson, a good guy, in a beautiful small chapel on campus, in a beautiful small ceremony full of traditional rituals, candles and stained-glass and deafening silences of communal prayer and reflection. I was blissfully crushed by it. I am the most ritual driven fuck I know.
- So, guess who I fell asleep listening to and woke up with in my head.
- Seven thousand trillion floppy disks: What’s most striking here – even more explicitly than in the case of Gordon Bell’s vision of the dullest life imaginable, lived forever – is the connection between immortality and a surveillance society described with all the tropes of the available dystopian literature. Nowadays this connection is framed a little less crudely or naively, but it survives in the efforts to master immortality by the likes of Google, whose overarching goal remains that of controlling and manipulating the majority of the world’s personal information. Your past is who you are and who you are is what the computer networks seek to acquire and reproduce with absolute fidelity, until it’s more you than the original. Hyper-text. Hyper-real.
- Because I am tablet-blocked.
- My apologies, I was going to scan a page of Rachel Shihor's typograms for you today, the book is on my bedstand, I walked out this morning without it.
- Received an email - how can I simultaneously post a Jewish writer and support Palestinian rights, asked the moron.
- Boycott sodastream. Imagine, that link in the same post as a Jewish poet's poem.
- The New Inquiry's Sunday reads.
- There will never be a new soccer stadium in DC.
- The Woman, the River, the Sand.
- Sailing in style.
- Boots, not made for walking.
Each morning he’d anoint the room’s four corners
with an arc of piss, and then—until
he was forcibly halted—beat his forehead open
on the eastern wall, the “sunrise wall,”
incanting a doggerel prayer about God
the Flower, God of the Hot Plucked Heart; and
she, if loose in the halls, would join him,
squatting in the center of the room and masturbating
with a stolen bar of soap. This isn’t why
they were sent to the madhouse: this is what
they needed to do once in the madhouse: this
is the only meaningful ritual they could fashion
there, created from the few, make-do
materials available. It isn’t wondrous strange
more than the mega-boozhwah formulaic splendor
of my sister’s wedding ten, eleven years ago:
her opulent bouquet of plastic flowers
(for the wilting pour of wattage at the photo session),
nigglingly arranged to match the real bouquet
she carried down the aisle, bloom per bloom;
the five-foot Taj Mahal of sculpted pastel sherbet;
endless “Fiddler on the Roof”; I’m sorry
now I cranked my academic sneer hauteur in place
all night. I’m sorry I didn’t lose myself
like a drunken bee in a room-sized rose,
in waltzing Auntie Sally to the lush swell
of the band. We need this thing. There’s not one
mineral in Stonehenge that our blood can’t also raise.
One dusk, one vividly contusion-color
dusk, with my fists in my pockets and
a puzzle of fish-rib clouds in the sky, I
stopped at the low-level glow of a basement window
(Hot Good Noodle Shop) and furtively looked in:
a full-grown pig was splayed on the table,
stunned but fitfully twitching, it looked as if
it had grasshoppers under its skin. A man and a woman
slit that body jaw-to-ass with an ornate knife,
and then they both scooped out a tumble
of many dozens of wasps, preserved
by the oils of living pig to a beautiful black and amber
gem-like sheen. I saw it. Did I
see it? From inside this, over their wrists
in the tripes, they carefully removed
the wooden doll of a man and the wooden doll of a woman
maybe two inches tall, a tiny lacquered sun
and matching brass coin of a moon, and then
a child’s-third-grade-version of a house
made out of pallid wax: a square of walls,
a pyramid roof, and a real smoking chimney.