Archive for the ‘You will choke on your average mediocre fucking life’ Category

Anaïs Nin November: Elect the process of becoming

November 6, 2012


via.

Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death.

(Anaïs Nin. D. H. Lawrence : An Unprofessional Study. 1932.)

This is a challenge breathtaking in scope. Wanting to change is so much easier than actually having the courage of the deed. I think it is a thing that happens by degrees, so that you look at yourself one day and realize you are totally different than the person you had been six months or a year or a decade ago. Where we elect the state of stasis and suffer that kind of death is where we mistake sameness for security, security for happiness, happiness for living. I wanted for very long to stay hidden, because I thought there was safety in that.


Ibid.

It is not just about a rut. It’s more like a trench, and the longer you stay in it, the more likely you’ll be hit by a Howitzer if you try darting topside. You have to climb with calculation, sometimes big leaps to get over a tough, deeply rooted, scrabbly stretch, sometimes taking ages of care to navigate your foot to a safe path. I have no idea what waits at the top. It might not be happiness. But how much better to see the whole field and enter the battle than to cower at the bottom of the trench?

To elect to “become” is to elect to risk. Risk is frightening because, whether it pays off in your estimation or disappoints you horribly, it guarantees one certain result: change.

Movie Moment: Remember, remember

November 5, 2012

“Remember, remember.” It’s that day again. Tomorrow in my country is an election day. Since my country is very bossy, this will affect many other nations as well.

I have no idea which way the election will go. I gave up a decade ago on thinking I could understand people. I have no predictions for the outcome of this election, but I have my hopes. A motif in this film is the immutability of ideas: ideas are bulletproof, indestructible.

Are they, though?

I think they are entirely personal and held inside: no one and nothing is knowable. There is no way to trust that what someone says is what they’re really thinking, nor that anyone will do what they say they are going to. I know what I want to see happen in my country and in my life, but my doubts about those things are ebbing the spontaneity and passion from me, and I hate that, and it confuses me, and I don’t want it to be so. I once had a zeal for politics unmatched by almost anyone I know, and I still follow closely what goes on, but I feel like I’ve been burned over and over, like it’s scar tissue on scar tissue, and there are all these layers of dead hard flesh between the outside and my core.

I haven’t stopped caring. I haven’t stopped wanting to change the world and my own self, but I’ve stopped believing I can be touched or healed by what someone says, promises, proclaims to think or plans to do. I’m afraid that this is reflective of not just my political opinions and doings, but my approach to more interpersonal functions. And I don’t want that. I need to get back that optimism. It’s like I’m so sure of being broken that I throw myself off the shelf so at least it’s my own idea when I’m shattered on the floor. How is that consolation? I’m still in pieces. I don’t want to be bulletproof: I just don’t want to be glass.

This too. Man, if Pirate Bay goes down, my life is over. How fucking shallow am I? Such the molotov-lobbing anarchist, me. “I just want to download Walking Dead.” Waah, waah, waah — I don’t know how to love properly and I like illegally freeloading free loads of downloads. Spoiled and purposeless little shit.

Anaïs Nin November: Always at least two women

November 3, 2012


via.

There were always in me two women at least,
one woman desperate and bewildered,
who felt she was drowning, and another
who would leap into a scene, as upon a stage,


via.

conceal her true emotions because they
were weaknesses, helplessness, despair,
and present to the world only a smile,
an eagerness, curiosity, enthusiasm, interest.

Ouch. That drew blood. I’m not sure I have the guts to keep doing this month. But I’m going to try.

Anaïs Nin November: Daily Batman — Always punished

November 2, 2012


All those who try to unveil the mysteries always have tragic lives.

At the end they are always punished.


(“The Mohican.” Under A Glass Jar, 1944.)

Anaïs Nin November: Inaugural edition feat. harsh self-audits

November 1, 2012


Well, hell and goddamn, a month for the O.G. navel-gazer. It’s difficult not to admire a woman who lived with such spontaneity combined with introspection, a kind of fearless but reflective courage uncharacteristic of the time. Kind of a startling oversight that this Anaïs Nin November hasn’t happened yet. Perhaps she is too good of an example of the merciless self-audit, and I become shamed by my own inability to look unflinching in to the abyss the way she did. Or the sex talk. Does that make me uncomfortable? Not sure. If it does, like, okay, but why all the breasts and vaginas then, if the talky talk is a problem? Where are my lines?

So… Sorry? Spilled milk. And impetus for improvement.

Here we go: first entry in Anaïs Nin November.


Via modfetish on the tumblr.

What I like best about myself is my audacity,
my courage. The ways I have found to be true to
myself without causing too much pain or damage.


Ibid.

What I hate so much is my vanity, my need to shine,
my need of applause and my sentimentality.


Ibid.

I would like to be harder. I cannot make a joke, make fun
of anyone, without feeling regrets.

I can’t relate to any of this because I’m perfect and I adore myself. What is this bitch on about? Excuse me now, I have dust in my eyes and I don’t want to talk about it.

Retread — Burroughs Month: Thanksgiving Prayer

November 24, 2011


“To John Dillinger and hope he is still alive.
Thanksgiving Day. November 28, 1986.”

Thanks for the wild turkey and
the passenger pigeons, destined
to be shat out through wholesome
American guts.

Thanks for a continent to despoil
and poison.


Thanks for Indians to provide a
modicum of challenge and
danger.

Thanks for vast herds of bison to
kill and skin leaving the
carcasses to rot.

Thanks for bounties on wolves
and coyotes.


Thanks for the American dream,
To vulgarize and to falsify until
the bare lies shine through.

Thanks for the KKK.

For nigger-killin’ lawmen,
feelin’ their notches.


For decent church-goin’ women,
with their mean, pinched, bitter,
evil faces.

Thanks for “Kill a Queer for
Christ” stickers.

Thanks for laboratory AIDS.

Thanks for Prohibition and the
war against drugs.


Thanks for a country where
nobody’s allowed to mind their
own business.

Thanks for a nation of finks.

Yes, thanks for all the
memories — all right let’s see
your arms!


You always were a headache and
you always were a bore.

Thanks for the last and greatest
betrayal of the last and greatest
of human dreams.

I do not believe it is as hopeless as all that. This year, I am incredibly thankful to be alive at all, let alone to live where I do with the people I love. I understand Mr. Burroughs’ criticisms, I just think that we must keep caring and trying to win out against the sense of defeat and cynicism, and maybe then the dream can still be saved. I don’t believe people are inherently bad; I believe the opposite, and I won’t get discouraged and filled with bitterness toward all of humanity just because of the publicized exploits and outrages of the bad apples in our barrel. I believe that for each one of the headlines that sends people in to despair over the state of the world, there are a thousand unreported little kindnesses and gestures of love and connection.

And world peace. I know. I get cheesey. I’m just feeling very happy and free and alive.




Almost all photos via Square America.







This post originally appeared on November 26, 2010.

Just Another Auden October: A force more dreadful than we can imagine

October 30, 2011



‘Lead us not into temptation and evil for our sake.’
They will come all right, don’t worry; probably in a form
That we do not expect, and certainly with a force
More dreadful than we can imagine.

(W.H. Auden, For the Time Being; A Christmas Oratorio, 1942).

Liberated Negative Space o’ the Day: Textual healing, “We are the dreamers of dreams” edition

October 29, 2011


via.

(Arthur William O’Shaughnessy.)

Flashback Friday — Just Another Auden October: Autumn Song

October 28, 2011

This entry originally appeared on October 20, 2010 at 9:19 am.


Photographed by mjagiellicz on the d.a.

Now the leaves are falling fast,
Nurse’s flowers will not last,
Nurses to their graves are gone,
But the prams go rolling on.


Photographed by bittersea on the d.a.

Whispering neighbors left and right
Daunt us from our true delight,
Able hands are forced to freeze
Derelict on lonely knees.


Photographed by leenaraven on the d.a.

Close behind us on our track,
Dead in hundreds cry Alack,
Arms raised stiffly to reprove
In false attitudes of love.


Photographed by cookiemonstah on the d.a.

Scrawny through a plundered wood,
Trolls run scolding for their food,
Owl and nightingale are dumb,
And the angel will not come.


Photographed by redribboninyourhair on the d.a.

Clear, unscalable, ahead
Rise the Mountains of Instead,
From whose cold, cascading streams
None may drink except in dreams.

(Auden, W.H. “VI.:Autumn Song.” Twelve Songs. March 1936.)

If ever there were a view on which to turn your back à la Gertrude Stein, a sweeping vista of the Mountains of Instead would be the one. No going back. Too late. Prams rolling on. Breathtaking strong tide of inevitability that takes all the water with it and leaves you and your petty fears and dreams dragging in the dust.

Time is stolen from us in such tiny ways — although I guess it is scarcely a theft when you never lock the door or look out the window to see if there is a shadow waiting for you to turn your back, as if all you possess are invincible by dint of being yours — and we use landmark occasions to mark the loss, but we only once in a while really look at what momentous and yet totally miniscule shit comprises what is destined to be our one and only, short history.

This Autumn was already weighing as heavily on me as last year. Now all I feel like I can handle doing is to take a hot bath and climb back beneath the covers (you see what I mean about aiding in our own robbery by time?). Thanks a lot, Auden. I guess what scares me most about it is does it always steal up on you? Does it just sneak up and you turn around and cry out, “Oh, not yet. It can’t be time yet. I’m not finished. I thought I would have more time.”


Photographed by disco_ball on the d.a.

Is there any way to escape that, that moment of realization, that punch in the gut when the waste, all the time you wasted suddenly comes rushing up around you so you can’t even breathe? Your life is over and you’re not ready because you thought you could always keep backsliding, that there would be special accounting for prodigal, last minute, golden you, who always slid in under the wire, who always got a second chance if you smiled big enough when you asked. There is no talking or charming or dodging your way out of final reckoning, and no method by which I can imagine escaping the horror of that realization, and you finally turn around and see the Mountains of Instead. You made them that tall. What do you do about the regret which will follow. Is there a way to soften that blow?

I don’t think there is. I can make vows about viewing this poem as a cautionary tale, and shine you on about how I plan on avoiding such a fate by making every moment count, and on and on until the sun goes supernova, but a plucky attitude does not lower the Mountains of Instead even an inch. No changing the past. No erasing regrets. That is just some fucked up shit right there.

Daily Batman: Ink-blots

October 26, 2011


via.

But, my dear man, reality is only a Rorschach ink-blot, you know.

(Alan Watts, The Nature of Consciousness.)

Liberated Negative Space o’ the Day: Be Careful or Else

October 25, 2011

Just Another Auden October: The dreadful wood of conscious evil

October 23, 2011


“Ritual Dance” by Aëla Labbé.

Alone, alone, about the dreadful wood
Of conscious evil runs a lost mankind,
Dreading to find its Father.

(W.H. Auden, For the Time Being: A Christmas Oratorio. 1941-2.)

Just Another Auden October: This great society is going smash

October 22, 2011


Photographed by bagnino on the da.

This great society is going smash;
They cannot fool us with how fast they go,
How much they cost each other and the gods.
A culture is no better than its woods.

(W.H. Auden, Bucolics II: “Woods.” 1952. 51-54)

Flashback Friday: Just Another Auden October, Harrow the house of the dead edition

October 21, 2011

This post originally appeared on at October 27, 2010 at 8:45 a.m.


Photographed by Mieke Willems.

Prohibit sharply the rehearsed response
And gradually correct the coward’s stance. …
Harrow the house of the dead; look shining at
New styles of architecture, a change of heart.

(W.H. Auden, “Petition.”)

Like that bird, for instance — do you think he woke up knowing he’d get to perch on a pert ass today? I expect not: I expect he thought it would be just another day, the same as all the others he has lived.

I guess what I’m suggesting is that, as Auden petitions, it is worthwhile to defy the lessons of experience, throw caution to the wind, and look with a hopeful heart for the unexpected and unpredictable new. How to completely go about doing that I am less certain of, but I know that it must be worth trying.

Just Another Auden October: Composed of Eros and of dust, show an affirming flame — ft. photography by Andre de Dienes

October 20, 2011



Defenseless under the night,
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,


Ironic points of light,
Flash out wherever the Just,
Exchange their messages:


May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair



Show an affirming flame.

(W.H. Auden, “Sept. 1, 1939.” Another Time, 1940.)

All photographs by Andre de Dienes.

The date in the poem’s title refers, of course, to the invasion of Poland by Hitler’s Wehrmacht … or does it refer with remarkably prescient precedence to my birthday?

No. It refers to the other thing.

Daily Batman: the irretrievably lost world inside

October 19, 2011



The deep pain that is felt at the death of every friendly soul arises from the feeling that there is in every individual something which is inexpressible, peculiar to him alone, and is, therefore, absolutely and irretrievably lost.

(Schopenhauer.)

I’ve been mourning the loss of a very close childhood friend. She was very literally the first friend I ever had. Because we moved quite far apart, in the last several years, our contact has been social networking and phone calls on each other’s birthdays (my lucky number, 22, is owing to her birthday of February 22nd). I do have to give her a wry thumbs-up because it was very clever to die of breast cancer in October so that we’d all remember every year to donate and walk and light candles and the like, but I can’t say I have been much of a fan of the actual passing.


In any man who dies there dies with him
his first snow and kiss and fight….
Not people die but worlds die in them.

(Yevgeny Yevtushenko, People.)

My friend had time to say goodbye to her sons, her husband, her sister and her parents, and to all of the rest of us who loved her. But what I have been struggling with is the loss of that world inside her: a world whose first gasps I was lucky enough to share with her, a world whose confident, feet-found orbit was still only just beginning. I feel so bitter and helpless about it. I didn’t realize how badly I’d been repressing it until I went to her funeral at our old church several hours away (alone, which was a terrible mistake). I didn’t weep or make a spectacle, but I didn’t stop crying. It was like I couldn’t.

Afterward, a very nice, very short woman came up and began gently asking me about my friend, and I explained that we’d known each other since we were very, very young, and had even gone to school together off and on. Turns out the woman was one of my kindergarten teachers. The nice one. Still nice, after all these years. I’ll explain that another day.

The point is — horrible. Bitterness. Anger. Grief. But not so much anger that I wish to assuage it by some sort of strike back; that would not at all comfort me, because I’m not down to facts just yet. I’m not ready to slap on a pink-ribboned tank top and run any marathons to make things better for others, because I don’t give a shit about all that yet. That is for sure.

I feel like a lost and selfish monster, surrounded by all this breast cancer awareness promotional material and not even up to the point of resentment of the disease; ergo, mystified by the idea of embracing that activism to trump my grief. I don’t like to feel that way. And I like to do all kinds of charity malarkey. I really do. I’ve donated this month already in the name of another friend’s mother, who beat it two years ago.

But this new thing — I am just not ready to even think of my friend’s death in terms of what killed her. That seems objective to the point of frightening. But I should strive for it? Right? How do you get to there?

Just another Auden October: Apocalypse yesterday

October 19, 2011


via.

The stars are dead; the animals will not look:
We are left alone with our day, and the time is short and
History to the defeated
May say Alas but cannot help or pardon.

(W. H. Auden, “Spain.” 90-93. 1937. )

Anything that men make will shake apart*. Eventually the feats of engineering and machinery humanity has wrought will fall to ruin, maybe sooner than later. Running will be no good: depend on it.


Photograph of Auden’s typewriter via swarthmore.

This poem was first published as “Spain” in 1937. Auden included it in his 1940 anthology Another Time as “Spain 1937” but later disavowed the poem’s political and apocalyptic tone, saying that he never really believed what he’d written, but wrote it because he thought it would be “rhetorically effective.” According to the late Frank Kermode, Auden hated most of all the above, which is the final stanza of “Spain”/”Spain 1937.”

I like it.




*(Except plutonium rods. I admit that those are going to take a really long time to shake apart. Way to fucking go, everybody.)

Just Another Auden October: Faith in humanity

October 4, 2011


Koyaanisqatsi (Godfrey Reggio, 1982). Previously discussed here during E.E. Cummings month.

May it not be that, just as we have to have faith in Him, God has to have faith in us and, considering the history of the human race so far, may it not be that “faith” is even more difficult for Him than it is for us?

(W.H. Auden, “God”. A Certain World, 1970.)

Liberated Negative Space o’ the Day: Yuppie hogs

October 3, 2011


via.

Fair trade tea and organic crumpets, how ungentrific.

But, wait — does this not constitute a RECLAIMED sign? How now, yuppie hipsters?

Daily Batman: The worst of my faults … a profound duplicity of me

September 30, 2011


Photograph by Sylvain Norget.

The worst of my faults was a certain impatient gaiety of disposition, such as has made the happiness of many, but such as I found it hard to reconcile with my imperious desire to carry my head high, and wear a more than commonly grave countenance before the public. Hence it came about that I concealed my pleasures; and that when I reached years of reflection, and began to look round me and take stock of my progress and position in the world, I stood already committed to a profound duplicity of me.

(Robert Louis Stevenson. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. 1886. p. 81.)