Friday, August 25, 2017

the man on the street corner sings

The table went yesterday. The sofa is going today. The lamps are going Saturday. The house is emptying out.

Four years. We’ve raised Adam here. We’ve grown used to the ocean. We’ve developed a taste for certain restaurants. We’ve got our routines.

I have my novel. Four years of writing it here. I’m wrapping it up – oh fateful words! The manuscript is trailed by miles of sleepless nights, the worry that nobody will read it. I have a picture of myself as a homeless man, shouting my Tourette-driven monologue to nobody at two o’clock in the morning.
And I think of Flaubert. Who else?

Flaubert was a crybaby. Every sentence in Madame Bovary elicited cries and whimpers from the sofa. Every punctuation mark.

We know this because Flaubert was also a graphomaniac. While writing his novel, he wrote letters to his friends and lovers – particularly to his lover Louise Colet – going to great lengths to describe what he was doing.

Most of the letters of writers are about anything but what they are doing. What they are doing is the office work. Even Kafka, whose ideas about writing are summed up by the writing machine in The Penal Colony, wrote much more about the work he did at the Workers Compensation Bureau that he worked in than he wrote about writing, say, The Trial.
Though Flaubert pretended that writing was one long tooth ache, he actually enjoyed himself very much. He set up problems and he figured them out. He played chess against the whole of French literature, and Don Quixote. He daydreamed. He wet dreamed. The cries from the sofa were richly enjoyed. He had to share them.

I understand. To find ever more indirections to the spot marked with an x on your mental map is the most fun. As Adam would say, it’s more fun than anything that’s fun. The problem with my long tooth ache, I realize, looking back over the pages, is that the problems may be bigger than my solutions.

This is only when I am blue. When I think that this will never be read. When I’m out on that street corner at two in the morning going fuck fuck f-f-f-fuck!

Really, they ought to publish some edition of Madame Bovary with those letters. And something about poor Louise Colet, the recipient of most of them, a writer herself who had the misfortune to get her writing advice from a whale. Not that she even wanted it – she wanted a little cuddling, a little sex.

Madame Bovary got that. Flaubert and Louise Colet between them created the parable of modernist  dissatisfaction. And we can’t get away from it and back to the happy times before. Never that bliss again.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Good job Sol y Luna!

 Last night Adam started crying on the couch. I asked him what’s up? And he told me that the eclipse was going to burn out his eyes. I reassured him that they were going to be taking care of him in his school. He asked me if there is ever ever going to be another eclipse, and I said probably.
He said bad. His new thing is to say bad after he receives any bit of news he doesn’t like.
Today, I asked his teacher, and she said don’t worry. We aren’t going to take the kids outside this morning. We are going into the gym!
Of course, these are the times that try kids’ souls, and turn them into scientists or people who fear dragons might eat up the sky. I am afraid we are falling in the latter category.
I did try to explain the pinhole in the box thing. This was a popular little device when I was a kid. That was a long time ago, when an empty cereal box held the charms of adventure – which has long been erased by media. I’d lament this, but I have to admit that emptying the cereal box meant the ingestion of many disgusting cereals – lab created stuff that was affixed to some poor pummeled and bleached grain. The dentist’s accountant’s friend.
I didn’t buy the glasses, and not having a showbox handy, I watched people watch the eclipse. It was like they were equipped for a three D movie, with the goofy plastic frames. It was fun to see. Natural events in the city – a breeze, clouds, a blooming tree, squirrels carrying nuts, etc. – don’t often pull people out onto the sidewalk, which is a shame. Here in Santa Monica – a phrase I am only going to be able to use for one more week, about! – you do have that persistently rocking puddle, the Pacific, at the end of the street. Personally, I prefer the full moon.
Adam was of good courage as he marched into school. His days are full of change. I have to remember, too, that the ration of himself today to his total days is only 1 to 1400, whereas my ratio is something like 1 to 70,000. The days dull a bit, seem less intense, and then of course Adam’s neural network is exploding, and mine is slowly imploding. I’m eager to get back to France, but then I realize there is going to be a couple of hardass weeks there, until we are settled in.

Hope all had a good eclipse. I’m hoisting one tonight to both the moon and the sun gods – good job, gals and guys!

olivier blanchard and the free lunch: a comedy of errors

  The neolib economist Oliver Blanchard tweeted a very funny comedy bit, in which he played the part of “social democrat”. And he wrote: “As...