Fear of Writing

Why am I so afraid of a blank page? Why am I afraid of leaving my mark?

We put so much emphasis on intros that when I sit down to write I get flustered, because I forget just for a moment that writing is mostly about editing. Movie scenes are not filmed in the order of the film. The intro can be the last thing you write. And you can rewrite. You can rewrite everything a million times. You can rewrite one sentence again and again until you die of old age and you still won’t achieve perfection. Perfection is not the point of writing. It’s not the point of anything. It does not exist. The point of writing is to craft something new, to leave a mark, to say something. And I’ll never do any of that if I’m obsessed with making what I write perfect.

So I must accept the idea that I’ll always be imperfect. And that is a lovely thing, because there is always room to grow.

This is my first, roughest draft of this. I’m posting it without editing so I can allow myself to be imperfect, to appreciate the first try, to let go of my fear of writing. Too many times I have sat down to write and then slammed the laptop shut because “fuck it. I’ll never be good enough”. But that’s bullshit. I am good enough. It is good enough. Enough to be posted on a personal blog at the very least. I’m letting go of all or nothing perfectionism because fuck it, it’s only an illusion and no matter how hard you try it will never be good enough to be perfect. And that’s okay.

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Respawn (like Jesus)

I started this blog several years ago. What did I intend to do with it when I started? I honestly don’t know. It was a long time ago.

I’m older now. Not wiser necessarily, but older. The strangest thing about aging is that time speeds up. Something that happened last year might feel like it’s still news. The hours gallop away gaining more and more speed. And with speed fear grows too. Am I losing my edge? Am I wasting my time? Am I ever going to be somebody? How much time have I wasted doing nothing? And how much more will I waste until I realize I’m out of time?

So I’m starting the blog back up again. So I can keep my writing sharp and fresh. So I can have a platform for my thoughts and ideas, a jumping off point. But really, I do this  for you. So you can be amused. So you can entertain my ideas, challenge them, praise them, condemn them. Use this space to have a conversation about whatever is the topic du jour.  Because why does one write a blog unless they intend it to be read?

I’ve decided to reuse this wordpress site for my current blogging instead of starting a new blog. It’s more than the fact that I hate wasting things, even virtual, infinite things. I think this link to my past and seeing the old posts from younger me: the typos, the incorrect grammar, the sprawling nonsense that it may be– will keep me grounded, remind me where I’ve come from artistically and personally, and it’ll keep me humble.

So now I’m gonna respawn (like Jesus).

jesus-at-the-computer

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Arrogance Lurks Behind Humility

If I were to tell you that I think you treat people too well, that your words of kindness are more than they deserve, then wouldn’t that inflate your ego? But this is not the point. The point is not for you to be the bigger man; it’s for you to realize that you are casting pearls before swine, that you are sparing the rod and spoiling the damn child.
Imagine a friend comes over and in the middle of conversation he stands up, walks to the middle of the room, partially disrobes, then shits on your living room rug and promptly leaves. Would you be kind and forgiving when you see them the next day? [Only if you have dementia!] You’d at least confront the person with a loud “What the hell was that?” You ought to have them pay to clean it and mandate that a diaper must be worn whenever poop-man came for a visit, until he’s potty trained. And if the rug was sentimental or ridiculously expensive? You will be livid and might even get back at them. “I know where he lives. I’m gonna pee on his bed!”. But to brush it off so simply, to pretend it never happened, is to reward bad behavior. To let bad things go unpunished is to make them more prevalent in the world. You are enabling assholes to remain assholes, meanwhile you’re thinking you are Jesus H. Christ for being so loving and understanding, thereby inflating your ego to the point of asinine arrogance.
Conversely however, by fighting fire with fire or exchanging slashed tires for shit-stained shag we’re letting anger control ourselves and forwarding the chain of mal-intent. The idea of letting things slide is so you don’t have to be the bad guy and so that the chain ends with you. But it doesn’t end really. It just isn’t using you as the next link. But the mad mayhem that originated from the other, the rug-pooper, is still at large and perpetrates throughout their goings on until someone says “Hey, that ain’t right!” and puts their foot down. It should not be an eye for an eye, because the whole world will be blind. However one should not turn a cheek to a proverbial bitch-slap, that just makes two races of human: the eye-gouger, bitch-slapping, rug-poopers; and then the almighty saviors, the loving selfless Neanderthals, the cheek-turners.
Ill intent should be recognized and confronted reasonably judicially. To “rise above” is to put yourself on a pedestal, after all, those high-risers wouldn’t shit on your rug. It is impossible to treat others better than you would have them treat you. And that way shouldn’t be too spectacular, because without consequences without lines drawn for violations upon the self then there is no development. Beyond that, there is no longer a sense of self and therefore no sense of humanity, because self is the founding concept of human.

Too be too good or to be so bad. That’s a hummdinger

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Whatever Happened to My Rock ‘n’ Roll?

Whenever there is a movement in music, or in other arenas, it starts out strong. It’s not nearly at the height of its popularity yet, but it’s in the purest form…it has just evolved from an idea to a reality. Alternative rock was at first just that. It wasn’t pop, it wasn’t hair metal but most importantly it was not mainstream. Bands like the Pixies, The Smiths, Violent Femmes, R.E.M.,  were broadcasted on college radio stations, promoting the label “college rock”. In the 80s it was underground, it became hip, and then in the 90s it exploded. Nirvana birthed Grunge, a dirty and raw solace for teens and heroin addicts. Oasis gave rise to Britpop.

Alternative Rock demigods, The Pixies

Alternative Rock demigods, The Pixies

And suddenly the FM radio stations all over the country began to tune everyone in on the new majesty of “Alternative Rock”. But that’s just the thing. If it is alternative it cannot be on the goddamned big-joe radio stations. The name itself implies outside of the mainstream, but seeing as though the kids sure liked it the big-joe’s thought “Well, shit, we can make bank off of this.”  And they did, but they also killed it. After a few years of stations like 99.1HFS in the running, the whole style of music changed. And it usually sucked. Most of the original bands of the movement were long gone by the end of the 90s. And what came to replace them on the radio stations were sorely lacking in originality. Matchbox 20? Creed? This is what you give us to replace The Pixies!?!

Modest Mouse's "This is a Long Drive for Someone with Nothing to Think About"

However, deeper underground, there was music that was not labeled “Alternative”, although it really was emulating the appropriate definition. It was something else, maybe heavy metal, maybe post-punk, but largely what was now on college radio was called Indie rock. Modest Mouse, the early years, Belle and Sebastian, Neutral Milk Hotel, Yo La Tengo. It was good, the golden days of Indie rock.
Like Alternative, it was barely heard of at its impetus, and that was the beauty of it. Then it became hip. Not totally mainstream like Alt Rock had become, but a snobbish hip. So the rise of the Hipster came. They rose to the point where they became a sad cliche in too-tight pants. Indie music becomes a joke as Modest Mouse breaks the bank with a handful of top 40s hits. And their music showed that they had commercialized. Bands like Death Cab and Postal Service popularize and make the sound of Indie appear poppy and soft. TV shows from the WB to Fox capitalize on the new trend. Indie rock still exists, but that label, Indie and Hipster, have acquired bad connotations; the sound more known indie bands have lost their zeal. There are still great bands on independent labels, but you wouldn’t go around calling them “indie” most of the time. It’s a weak word. Probably due to the cutesy shortening?

So what’s next? What’s the next big movement in Rock and Roll that we will be seeing? Or is it true what they say–that it had really died with The Clash, and all we have now is just a ghost of the past?

But I’ve seen it. The rock that lives now. I don’t know what it is called, but the trick, it seems, to keeping rock and roll genre’s from generally getting brutally murdered by unoriginal imbeciles posing as musicians is to keep the corporate side the fuck out of it. This is Rock ‘n’ fucking Roll. This ain’t Wall St. Therein lies the fallacy, that to be a musician is to be poor and dream of one day making it rich and famous. Well, man, once you do get that big hit, you might still be able to keep your pride. But then the fat-cat labels are going to come knocking, and they don’t love the music, they love the money it makes. And so they’ll soften it, make it more accessible to everyone, take away whatever edge you might have. Then you’ll be making shittier music so the Man can make more money. AND ISN’T ROCK AND ROLL ABOUT SAYING “FUCK THE MAN!!”??
In order to mean it, you gotta say “Fuck the money.”

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Only the Good Die Young

Maybe I am young and stupid, but, I want to experience everything in life. So doesn’t this mean I have to abandon morality to take part in a large section of human activity? Stealing, con-ning, wheelin’ and dealin’…. these are all invigorating experiences. And yet they are immoral and indecent. They aren’t fair to the victims of the crime. And if I can validate doing these things, by saying “you only live once” or “it’s fun and we’re young” can’t one use the same logic to justify rape, murder etc? I don’t want rape and murder. That’s where I’m gonna have to draw the line. And maybe a few more lines before that.

Well, here’s where moral relativism saves the day. Morality is actually defined by each individual, but they tend to stay within the realm of socially dictated ethics. So, I could choose to abandon ethics entirely, creating my own morality, to explore a darker sensibility. Let’s make up a rule for my morality: It’s only bad if it ruins lives. Right? No, that sounded wrong… I can’t help it, I just feel a little guilty. It’s only bad if it hurts people? Well, ok. But that doesn’t allow us to steal and cheat. It only allows us life within common morality.
I could also forget about trying to justify my actions and just know when I do something bad, (steal, cheat, use, manipulate) it’s bad. I’ll just have to suck up being a “sinful” person and ignore the knee-jerk reaction from my Catholic bone. I’d be knowledgeable but uncaring… to an extent at least. And I can define the extent based on what I did.
How about this: I will not justify my ways but reason their existence through my vocation. I aim to become a writer, and all the experiences I have are research for such writings to come. And who cares about petty crime? right? Don’t sweat the petty, pet the sweaty! So, I guess I’ll just make up my own morality as I go along. I don’t wish to become a bad person, I’d just hate to be too good of one to notice the wild side.

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The Quest for the Great American Novel

It’s the end-all be-all for American writers; a question that is debated continuously by lit geeks: What is THE Great American novel? Well, it’s hard to say. It would be a book that perfectly captures the zeitgeist, the general way of life, the mindsets. But how does one do that with such a diverse population? The American identity has never been clearly defined. There is no general consensus on what one novel best attempts this. However, there are many lists. After perusing the internet, I have chosen a list that is thorough and representative of many aspects of American culture (shown below).
To write the next Great American Novel has always been a jejune fantasy of mine. Whatever the eventual reception might be I at least will attempt to write something that could define America loosely. In order to do this, I will travel and explore the modern US. But first I would need some history of our culture and past perspectives to understand where the modern world is immediately coming from. To do this I will read 100 books. Good thing I am not at a loss for lamps.
Below is a list. My plan is to read all of these books by December 2012, 2 and a half years from now. The ones I have already read have been crossed out. Out of this daunting feat I intend to attain insights into our cultural history, a better sense of the “American Dream” and the people that perpetuate the myth/reality, and hopefully a better grasp of the language. I will be updating my progress as I go along.

  1. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  2. Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  3. East of Eden by John Steinbeck
  4. Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  5. Raintree Country by Ross Lockridge
  6. Look Homeward, Angel by Thomas Wolfe
  7. Cathcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  8. Absalom, Absalom! By William Faulkner
  9. Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
  10. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  11. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  12. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
  13. A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
  14. Moby Dick by Herman Melville
  15. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
  16. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
  17. Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner
  18. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
  19. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
  20. Because It Is Bitter, and Because It Is My Heart by Joyce Carol Oates
  21. Sophie’s Choice by William Styron
  22. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
  23. O Pioneers! By Willa Cather
  24. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
  25. Rabbit, Run by John Updike
  26. The Adventures of Augie March by Saul Bellow
  27. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  28. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
  29. The Beautiful and the Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  30. The Great American Novel by Philip Roth
  31. The Optimist’s Daughter by Eudora Welty
  32. Let Us Now Praise Famous Men by James Agee
  33. The Moviegoer by Walker Percy
  34. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
  35. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
  36. Underworld by Don DeLillo
  37. The Assistant by Bernard Malamud
  38. All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy
  39. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
  40. A Death in the Family by James Agee
  41. The Things They Carried
  42. The Fixer by Bernard Malamud
  43. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
  44. Light in August by William Faulkner
  45. Sanctuary by William Faulkner
  46. American Pastoral by Philip Roth
  47. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
  48. Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates
  49. Beloved by Toni Morrison
  50. Songs of Solomon by Toni Morrison
  51. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  52. Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin
  53. The Shipping News by Annie Proulx
  54. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  55. House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
  56. White Noise by Don DeLillo
  57. Mao II by Don DeLillo
  58. The 42nd Parallel by John Dos Passos
  59. Manhattan Transfer by John Dos Passos
  60. The Confessions of Nat Turner by Willian Styron
  61. The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder
  62. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  63. Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
  64. Falconer by John Cheever
  65. The Wapshot Chronicle by John Cheever
  66. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
  67. Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote
  68. Going After Cacciato by Tim O’Brien
  69. Little, Big by John Crowley
  70. Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor
  71. The Violent Bear It Away by Flannery O’Connor
  72. The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
  73. The Sportswriter by Richard Ford
  74. Independence Day by Richard Ford
  75. Lush Life by Richard Price
  76. Clockers by Richard Price
  77. Jerusalem Poker by Edward Whittemore
  78. Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson
  79. A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller Jr.
  80. The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman
  81. Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
  82. The Thin Red Line by James Jones
  83. Ragtime by E. L. Doctorow
  84. The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy
  85. American Tabloid by James Ellroy
  86. Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs
  87. Native Son by Richard Wright
  88. Go Tell It On the Mountain by James Baldwin
  89. The Naked and the Dead by James Baldwin
  90. The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe
  91. The Call of the Wild by Jack London
  92. The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
  93. The Wings of the Dove by Henry James
  94. Appointment in Samarra by John O’Hara
  95. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
  96. The Hours by Michael Cunningham
  97. Omensetter’s Luck by William H. Glass
  98. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
  99. The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler
  100. All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren

I’m starting with All the King’s Men.
On your mark, Get Set, READ!

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Immigration Is Not the Problem

____It’s on the news, it’s the scuttlebutt at the water-cooler. You’ve been hearing about it everywhere: Arizona’s new immigration law. This law would allow the police to pick up anyone suspected of being an illegal immigrant, basically anyone with darker-skin, and then arrest them if they do not have proper identification. Racial profiling will inevitably ensue out of this. It ignores their human rights, but unfortunately their legal rights, are non-existent as they are not citizens.
___America was founded by immigrants (after the natives were killed off or pushed away). To be against immigration on principle is insanely hypocritical. American nativism can only logically be held by Native Americans. So, first off, get off your racist high horse, Arizona.
____The real problem of the matter isn’t that they’re coming here. It isn’t immigration. It’s the illegality. It’s that once they are here they aren’t in the system. An illegal alien can’t pay taxes, nor can they be protected by our laws. Because of illegality, they can’t argue with a pay-rate that’s below the minimum wage. So they’re being unscrupulously exploited for their labor, meanwhile the employers are getting richer and richer. Because they don’t pay taxes the schools their kids go to will be losing money by their enrollment. And when there are neighborhoods of illegal aliens bunched together in the same school zone, it tremendously hurts the schools, which are already waning as it is.
____Now, I’m not saying they should not go to school. Everyone, and I mean everyone, should get an education. I’m not saying they shouldn’t come here. I’m saying that the problem is made up by legal red tape. The idea that they are going to come here and steal all of our jobs is moronic. New jobs will be created based on the service needed for the new people living here. This is America in the 21st century. We don’t produce; we consume and serve. The more people we have to serve and consume the better off we can pretend to be.
___More immigrants can be a great asset, a morale boost, a cultural expansion. But unless they are granted legal citizenship its a burden on public institutions, and keeps them impoverished and under-educated which will lead to crime. The problem of legality has been made up by our government. We don’t need to kick anyone out. We need to let them in the system. So they can be tax-paying, law-abiding, money-loving, credit-consuming All-American pawns like the rest of us. 😉

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