Tuesday, September 19, 2023

You Should Write Down Your Dreams Then Destroy What You Wrote

When I was ten or eleven I discovered the trick of randomly opening a novel I'm about to start somewhere near the middle and reading a paragraph out of context so that when I come across it in the normal course of the novel a wave of deja vu washes over me (L can vouch that I do this since I taught her the trick early in our relationship and she still does this also to this day). It's worked twice this calendar year, both Cormac McCarthy novels, the new one, *The Passenger,* and later *Suttree.* I started the trick on at least two dozen other novels this year but failed each and every one of them long before I encountered the random paragraph

I like to blame my eyes rather than me for my downhill inability to read much less engage a novel (and, uh-ohing in the distance, poetry too), and it's true my vision's much weaker than once, and my eyes tire me towards a nap after fifteen minutes of reading (I can't read in bed any more, it's hopeless), and I like to blame my age (and Summer past's covid) for my diminished and foggier by the day memory, and I like to blame the clusterfuckers for my self-protective reduction in overall damn towards all but me and mine, and all deserve their proportions of blame in my resistance to and simmering ambivalence towards reading, but I recognize the same symptoms towards the typed word I felt when I lost any and all urge to watch moving images on a screen twenty years ago when my eyes were good and I was young, a complete evaporation of desire to sit and watch, which is all that reading feels like to me now

Music has never sounded better to me. I still write in journal everyday, look forward to it. I hike with L every chance I get. I changed my disc bag to all DX plastic all less than 165 grams and tweaked my mechanics (it only took 25 years to figure out this basic trick to increasing body torque) and am determined to play at least once a week (Seneca, in the pouring rain with Dr Z this past Sunday, front nine 29, middle nine 30, back nine 27, pins mixed, never done that before). I think about any one painting I make more than I ever did a poem I made. I will finish *In Search of Lost Time* (the only thing I want to read right now though in fits and starts, I'm almost through "Guermantes Way," I like to blame Proust for my inability to read anyone else (but McCarthy, though I'm so done with him now)). I am not unhappy, in fact now and then I'm happy, how can I stop feeling an utter complete moral failure I not only can't finish novels now, I don't even want to start them?

Click through, it has a bad word in the title but is great song
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Ben Lerner

You are afraid to be touched because
and that’s a reasonable fear, a woman once
brushed past me in the aisle
or stairs, I’ve repressed the encounter
in amber, she said, and I was destroyed
And in the second dream she was holding the dog
back from a mourning dove and over us
the sky had what I can only describe as
exposed beams, and she said if he does
get a bird, a squirrel, he doesn’t snap the neck
or worry it, just stares at me because
holds it in the mouth, the tension between
what he has been taught and what he feels
and the word for that gap is

The vain travail. It’s the one poem I’ve
by heart, she said, the way the magician
the way the uncle finds the coin in your ear
or you’ve been holding the card this whole time
She can make you feel like a missing
word, she can smooth back your hair
and say there is all this new research about
influence, how you need to be influenced by me
In the third dream, your daughter brings
an offering in her jaws to the bed
You should be in analysis or volunteer more
You are afraid to be touched because
at the shelter. Fourth dream, fifth dream
something happened you can’t remember

until you recite it, they say “by heart”
but it’s actually lodged
here, she said, touching my neck
above the collar, and here and here
Because you are the dog and the dove
Lady and hart, the patron and system
of patronage, the tension between
us could be useful for your work, could hold
you back from the mourning
until the poem goes amber in the mouth
and speech floweth over the stone, end quote
You should write down your dreams
then destroy what you wrote, interesting
use of “exposed”


  1. 1/speaking of good-sounding music - yesterday at youtube i came across allison young - both solo and in her collaboration with guitarist josh turner - now recording as a duo under the name "the bygones"

    here they do "stardust"


    as the name implies, they do old music - music my mother would know - the centenary of my mother's birth is next year - allison's clothing, hairstyle etc is obviously intentionally nostalgic, as well

    2/speaking of "all this new research on influence", as lerner's poem does, reminds me of a couple of things

    2.1/from decades ago, a colleague of mine was assigning cialdini's book influence: the psychology of persuasionto her master of public health students

    she told me the young students were distressed by reading it - it vividly showed them that, as poet max ehrmann had pointed out decades earlier, the world is full of trickery

    from wikipedia: Cialdini['s] 1984 book ... was based on three "undercover" years applying for and training at used car dealerships, fund-raising organizations, and telemarketing firms to observe real-life situations of persuasion. He found that influence is based on six key principles: reciprocity, commitment and consistency, social proof, authority, liking, scarcity. In 2016 he proposed a seventh principle. He called it the unity principle. The more we identify ourselves with others, the more we are influenced by these others.

    2.2/ yesterday i watched a zoom presentation to the american association for the club of rome
    William Rees: Techno-Industrial Society is Inherently Unsustainable 17 Jun 2021

    one point in the discussion was the difficulty of linking knowledge to behavior - a discussant from africa pointed at that teenagers in africa - ages 13, 15 - know all about how HIV is transmitted - but that knowledge is not relevant at the time of exposure - instead, their feelings take over

    how, then, even if we could persuade the world at large of the reality of ecological overshoot [of which climate change is one consequence] and the unavoidable necessity of sitting down to a banquet of consequences, can we make the necessary changes in the way we live?

    rees states "we are not a rational species" - and that it will probably require the societal equivalent of "hitting bottom" before serious efforts are made - society might have to be put on a war-time footing - will that be done? will it work? one wonders

    3/truly, as robert louis stevenson pointed out, the world is full of such a number of things

    1. 1/William Rees explores the nature of humanity’s relationship with energy and the ecosphere, and reaches the unsettling conclusion that a population ‘correction’ is in the offing.


      2/al gore is rather more optimistic than rees about the chance of an energy transition preventing a collapse of modern techno-industrial society - one never knows when something surprising might happen

      3/on youtube last night i watched the "everybody's got something to hide" features about various members of the dutch beatles tribute band "the analogues" - their first acquaintance with beatles music, their musical careers, their day jobs if any, how the project came together

      4/missus charley is visiting her niece's family in minnesota, which includes a seven year old boy - meanwhile a grandnephew of my own is soon to be born in panama, if all goes well - into this house we're born - into this world we're thrown - riders on the storm

      5/a solo piano performance by george winston of the song by morrison/densmore/manzarek/krieger just quoted is at


  2. data scientist hannah ritchie gives a TED talk in her charming scottish accent


    she offers this vision of hope - "the first sustainable generation" - as a potentiality, not an inevitability, but she has all kinds of data to present indicating that some things are getting better

    her book on the topic, to be published 9 january 2024, is described by margaret atwood as "truly essential" - the blurb at amazon states

    Not the End of the World: How We Can Be the First Generation to Build a Sustainable Planet

    Feeling anxious, powerless, or confused about the future of our planet? This book will transform how you see our biggest environmental problems – and how we can solve them.

    It’s become common to tell kids that they’re going to die from climate change. We are constantly bombarded by doomsday headlines that tell us the soil won’t be able to support crops, fish will vanish from our oceans, and that we should reconsider having children.

    But in this bold, radically hopeful book, data scientist Hannah Ritchie argues that if we zoom out, a very different picture emerges. In fact, the data shows we’ve made so much progress on these problems that we could be on track to achieve true sustainability for the first time in human history. Did you know that carbon emissions per capita are actually down, deforestation peaked back in the 1980s, the air we breathe now is vastly improved from centuries ago, and more people died from natural disasters a hundred years ago?

    Packed with the latest research, practical guidance, and enlightening graphics, this book will make you rethink almost everything you’ve been told about the environment. Not the End of the World will give you the tools to understand our current crisis and make lifestyle changes that actually have an impact. Hannah cuts through the noise by outlining what works, what doesn’t, and what we urgently need to focus on so we can leave a sustainable planet for future generations.

    These problems are big. But they are solvable. We are not doomed. We can build a better future for everyone. Let’s turn that opportunity into reality.