Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I Hate The Way I Get When I Can't Handle Bad News

I made a passing reference to a person being turned insane in 2666, and I'd like to return to it here, as I think it's a thing worth mentioning. The main character (or at least the reader's POV) is Amalfitano, a philosophy professor who married a crazy woman that left him and their daughter without warning. She returns in the early middle portion of the book, briefly, then leaves again, leaving (we are led to believe) a book by Dieste. Amalfitano is cursed by the book (or his ex-wife's memory attached to it), paralyzed, he can't throw it away or leave it somewhere never to be found, so what he does is he puts the book on the clothesline, as if it needs to dry out.

"For a while, he didn't move, breathing with his mouth open, leaning on the horizontal bar of the clothesline. Then he went into the hut as if he were short of oxygen, and from a plastic bag...he took out three clothespins...and with them he clamped the book and hung it from one of the cords and then he went back into the house, feeling much better."

Bolano notes that the idea is Duchamp's, apparently referring to this piece. Amalfitano's daughter asks why he didn't take it down and he can't give her an answer.

Applying that to me, the private point of Subsidized Sincerity is my own book on the clothesline. I don't think anyone ever visited Eleven Names after Zach and Tom left, but I just kept writing because I thought through sheer force of my will i could keep it going. I was wrong. Looking at Subsidized Sincerity now, though, there's no comments, and I frankly don't have the heart to go looking for pageviews, because I get the feeling it's all me.

Not that comments should be a barometer for worthiness of a project, just for a measure of feedback. So at this point I'm doing it for myself. And why am I doing it? To one up Zach, somehow. Why? Because I'm childish and can't let a good project and idea just die. My barometer for that, hilariously, is number of things written for Eleven Names versus Subsidized Sincerity. We had a blow up fight once, in the middle of Eleven Names about quantity versus quality. I was quantity, he was quality. He said that if we keep putting out quality posts, people will keep coming back. (This is a good point.) I said, well, if we don't stick to a schedule, people won't come back and if that means that an update doesn't get another layer of polish, fine. There's another bite at the apple in seven days and people will know when to come back, as opposed to returning whenever they remember we exist.

That I'm committed or at least believe the endeavor to have worked when I "beat" Eleven Names on quantity, is something. I'm not sure what.

The number for Subsidized Sincerity, including this post is 22. The number for Eleven Names is 266. (Hello theme.) Hell, 266 isn't even a real number. There's at least 10 drafts in there, plus 10ish total posts in the beginning trying to figure out how the software works. Let's say 246. And that's including other people's posts on Eleven Names. My contributions, is maybe 75, maybe 100. I think, just by virtue of all the things I did when Zach and Tom stopped, I've done the bulk of Eleven Names writing.

And madness is going back to these things for the well of inspiration and not expecting it to poison me at 1 a.m. when I'm alone. Madness is going over the same things and expecting things to change. (Madness is also a band. They're quite good. But that kind of defeats the purpose of the post. Shhhh.)

Then I go to my AIM chat logs from a couple years ago (the heyday of Eleven Names, in a cruel twist of fate) and see all the things I saved with the idea that I'd come back to later on to try to improve myself. It hardly ever works like that. It's a folder filled by and large, with my failures and the things people think of me and don't tell me directly.

This is a terrible idea and also madness. It compounds my anger with the interest of more self-loathing. I should delete the entire folder, but I don't. I stew in it for a couple minutes, until I remember Brandi's transcendent sunburst in praise of irrationality or "fire under my ass": Inspiration only lasts a few rounds.

I don't nuke the folder, but I look at the folder of my disappointments and failures and I close it. I chew, with yellowed teeth, over the comment that I'm like a baby bird and I can't live on my own. They're right. Most of my best Eleven Names pieces were written because those were the one of the few things I took control of in my life. The rest, I divested myself of control over. I made terrible mistakes. (Which in theory is what college is for.) I've tried and I've failed. Miserably.

When I put it in those terms, I remembered a Samuel Becket quote, paraphrased. Try. Fail. Try again. Fail again. Fail better. (What it actually is is Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.) Reducing that, I get And where do I remember that from?

Oh, right.

The founder of Issue Oriented, my friend and editor over there, Ronen Kauffman was in a band called Even from thousands of miles away, my friends, through their work, somehow, unwittingly, take care of me. I am saved by their backwash, turning off the computer, squeezing out toothpaste from a surprisingly slender tube and going to bed with a smile on my face.

Here. Have the antidote to all the poison I took last night, a silly little video from The Wonder Years, a band I avoided because I heard they were a New Found Glory stand in. Watching this, I remember how much I liked New Found Glory years ago AND why I still love the much maligned pop-punk genre to this day.

The video has some really good spots of intertextuality (the bleeping of the word fuck, while putting the words fuck you on the screen over people's faces, and the "ding" of a smile from the terrible girl when the lyrics say the narrator expects her to be drunk when she calls. (Plus, the gang vocals of "we all say" over the chorus "my friends all say" just makes me smile.) Maybe this is peculiar to me being a guy, but there's an uplifting spirit to the video and the song that obliterates the clouds over my head.

Plus, I'm a sucker for that chorus and the "my friends help me out" vibe of the video. It's a little superficially similar to New Found Glory's video for My Friends Over You, which also took place in a wrestling ring.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.