"Extinction: the great equalizer."
You're out of coffee, and your life is a lie.
"Technology was supposed to bring us forward - remember Bill Clinton's 'bridge to the twenty-first century' slogan and all the heady utopian promises about democracy and egalitarianism and a voice for everyone and economic magic and everything being free as in terms of liberty as well as in price? Fourteen years into that century, it looks a lot like the nineteenth. The economic divide has widened, and the ostentatiousness of the ultra-elite is a sneer at the rising desperation of most of the rest of the human beings on earth. Democracy in the United States has been undermined by corporate power, and that loss is augmented by the loss of privacy inflicted on us by the surveillance state and with help from the tech sector. Amazon is intent on bringing the publishing industry to its knees; journalism, the great watchdog of the nineteenth century, has been bled almost to death by the internet." -from The Octopus and Its Grandchildren
By Rebecca Solnit/ Harpers
"The state is not something which can be destroyed by a revolution, but is a condition, a certain relationship between human beings, a mode of human behavior; we destroy it by contracting other relationships, by behaving differently." -Gustav Lander
"Heroes are just people who have run out of choices." -Edelstein/Tokyo vice
"Meeting is merely the beginning of separation." -Japan
"Many of his works have almost no plot as such, but instead tend to focus on one situation after another. When he does try to use a story plot, as in East of Eden, the novel becomes very labored and one has the feeling constantly that he is following a plot reluctantly and that what he really wants to say has very little to do with a sequence of cause and effect, an evolving pattern of events that build to a climax and resolution. He didn't think that way. He was unable to see situations as having resolutions. To him, life and the difficulties of life were ongoing (as witness for example, the ending of The Grapes of Wrath.) Therefore, most of his novels aren't novels in the traditional sense so much as collections of scenes or sketches."
*Cup of Gold: a life of Sir Henry Morgan, Buccaneer, with occasional reference to history.*
Always crowd the limit. And also if you have time, try your hand on a melodrama, something wild and mysterious and unexpected.
Why do men like me want sons? It must be because they hope in the poor beaten souls that these new men, who are of their blood, will do the things they were not strong enough nor brave enough to do. It is rather like another chance with life; like a new bag of coins at a table of luck after your fortune is gone, but it will be - so very lonely without him.
You are a little boy. You want the moon to drink from as a golden cup; and so, it is very likely that you will become a great man - if only you remain a little child. All the world's great have been little boys who wanted the moon.
That is greater horror to an old man than death - to be forgotten.
All girls and women hoarded something they never spoke of.
Scene:pg23 "the windows..."
His whole life had been a hunger for ideas - any ideas - the creation of them, then to hurl them on an astonished world. They would go bounding, like stones started down a long hill, awakening and avalanche of admiration.
...the thought is on me that battle and tactics - that is, successful tactics - are nothing more than glorified trickery... the war is really won by the man who sits back, like one cheating at cards, and confounds his enemy with his trickery... Such a man would only have to shun what was expected of him.
He never let any man the least hold on him, nor insight into his motives and means and abilities and shortcomings. Since most men did not believe in themselves, they could not believe in one they understood to be like themselves.
I think I am sorry because of your lost light; because the brave, brutal child in you is dead - the boastful child who mocked and thought his mockery shook the throne of God; the confident child who graciously permitted the world to accompany him through space...
The builder of your cathedral is forgotten even now, but I, who burned it, may be remembered for a hundred years or so, And that may mean something or other about mankind.
The most human of all human traits is inconsistency.
There are five layers in this book, the reader will find as many as he can and he won't find any more than he has in himself.
And fear the time when the strikes stop while the great owners live - for every little beaten strike is proof that the step is being taken... And this you can know - fear the the time when Manself will not suffer and die for a concept, for this one quality is the foundation of Manself, and this one quality is man, distinctive in the universe.
Credit makes enemies, let's be friends.
In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage.
We're a violent people... maybe it's true that we are all descended from the restless, the nervous, the criminals, the arguers and brawlers, but also the brave and independent and generous. If our ancestors had not been that, they would have stayed in their home plots in the other world and starved over the squeezed-out soil...
...We all have the heritage, no matter what old land our fathers left. All colors and blends of Americans have somewhat the same tendencies. It's a breed - selected out by accident. And so we're overbrave and overfearful - we're kind and cruel as children. We're overfriendly and at the same time frightened of strangers. We boast and are impressed. We're oversentimental and realistic. We are mundane and materialistic - and do you know of any other nation that acts for ideals? We eat too much. We have no taste, no sense of proportion. We throw our energy about like waste. In the old lands they say of us that we go from barbarism to decadence without having an intervening culture. Can it be that our critics have not the key or the language of our culture?
Whenever a person wants reassurance he tells a friend to think what he wants to be true. It's like asking a waiter what's good tonight.
'It set him free, ' said Lee, 'It gave him the right to be a man, separate from every other man.'
'All great and precious things are lonely.'
'What is that word again?'
'Timshel - thou mayest.'
Act out being alive, like a play. And after a while, a long while, it will be true.
We have only one story. All novels, all poetry, are built on the never-ending contest in ourselves of good and evil. And it occurs to me that evil must constantly respawn, while good, while virtue, is immortal. Vice has always a new fresh young face, while virtue is venerable as nothing else in the world is.
As with many people, Charles, who could not talk, wrote with fullness. He set down his loneliness and his perplexities, and he put on paper many things he did not know about himself.
...dedication, prologue, argument, apology, epilogue, and perhaps epitaph all in one:
The craft or art of writing is the clumsy attempt to find symbols for the wordlessness.
Now that I have everything, we shall see if I have anything.
Everyone wants to have a family. Maybe I can create a universal family living next to a universal neighbor.
I feel that sometimes when I am writing I am very near to a kind of unconsciousness. Then time does change its manner and minutes disappear into the cloud of time which is one thing, having only one duration. I have thought that if we could put off our duration-preoccupied minds, it might be that time has no duration at all. Then all history and all pre-history might indeed be one durationless flash like an exploding star, eternal and without duration. So, we move on. My mind blasted just then with an idea so comely, like a girl, so very sweet and dear that I will put her aside for the book. Oh! she is lovely, this idea.
Sometimes I am impatient with those who think themselves kind when their only thought is to preserve themselves from the discomfort of observed pain.
You can boast about anything if it's all you have. Maybe the less you have, the more you are required to boast.
I don't suppose writing consists in anything more than doing it.
I don;t understand why some days are wide open and others closed off, some days smile and others have thin slitted eyes and others still are days which worry. And it does not seem to be me but the day itself. It has a nature of its own quite separate from all other days. And this is one of mild worry - not about anything. I goes casting about for something for worry. It can always settle on money and usually does.
Ch13 pt1 (all) creativity/individualism/motivation
Oh, strawberries will never taste so good again, and the thighs of women have lost their clutch!
Uisquebaugh - it's an Irish word - whiskey, water of life - and so it is.
I don't know where being a servant came into disrepute. It is the refuge of a philosopher, the food of the lazy, and, properly carried out, it is a position of power, even of love. I can't understand why more intelligent people don't take it as a career - learn to do it well and reap its benefits.
If one were properly to perform a difficult and subtle art, he should first inspect the end to be achieved and then, once he had accepted the end as desirable, he should forget about it completely and concentrate solely on the means.
A man, his whole life, matches himself against pay. And how, if it's my whole life's work to find my worth, can you, sad man, write me down instant in a ledger?
When a man says he does not want to speak of something he usually means he can think of nothing else.
And, of course, people are interested only in themselves. If a story is not about the hearer he will not listen. And I here make a rule - a great and lasting story is about everyone or it will not last. The strange and foreign is not interesting - only the deeply personal and familiar.
Maybe you're playing a part on a great stage with only yourself as audience.
And I feel that I am a man. And I feel that a man is a very important thing - maybe more important than a star. This is not theology. I have no bent toward gods. But I have a new love for that glittering instrument, the human soul. It is a lovely and unique thing in the universe. It is always attacked and never destroyed - because 'Thou Mayest.'
I like pretty girls very much but I am old enough now so that I don't have to associate with them. And that's a relief.
Plans are real things and not experience. A rich life is rich in plans. If they don't come off, they are still a little bit realized. If they do, they may be disappointing. That's why a trip described becomes better the greater the time between the trip and the telling. I believe too that if you can know a man's plans, you know more about him than you can in any other way. Plans are daydreaming and this is an absolute measure of a man.
It was not laziness if it was a rich man. Only the poor were lazy. Just as only the poor were ignorant. A rich man who didn't know anything was spoiled or independent.
...the inexorable logic of women, which is overwhelming even, or perhaps especially, when it is wrong.
There's no springboard to philanthropy like a bad conscience.
And here interpolated - it's so hard to remember how you die or when. An eyebrow raised or a whisper - they may be it; or a night mottled with splashed light until powder-driven lead finds your secret and lets out the fluid in you.
Intelligent people live their lives as nearly on a level as possible - try to be good, don't worry if they aren't, hold to such opinions as are comforting and reassuring and throw out those which are not. And in the fullness of their days they die with none of the tearing pain of failure because having tried nothing they have not failed. These people are much more intelligent than the fools who rip themselves to pieces on nonsense.
I think perhaps I am one of those lucky mortals whose work and whose life are the same thing. It is rare and fortunate.
Money's easy to make if it's money you want. But with a few exceptions people don't want money. They want luxury and they want love and they want admiration.
Not a book working toward an ending or purpose. Rather, it's about seeing carefully and without preconceived notions.
And perhaps that might be the way to write this book - to open the page and to let the stories crawl in by themselves.
Through the windows he could see Mack and the boys sitting on the pipes in the vacant lot, dangling their feet in the mallow weeds and taking the sun while they discoursed slowly and philosophically of matters of interest but of no importance.
No one has studied the psychology of a dying party. It may be raging, howling, boiling, and then a fever sets in and a little silence and then quickly quickly it is gone, the guests go home or go to sleep or wander away to some other affair and they leave a dead body.
There's nothing like that first taste of beer.
It has always seemed strange to me, the things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honestly, understanding and feeling are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self-interest are the traits of success. And while men admire the quality of the first they love the produce of the second.
Where does discontent start? You are warm enough, but you shiver. You are fed, yet hunger gnaws you. You have been loved, but your yearning wanders in new fields. And to prod all these there's time, the bastard Time. The end of life is now not so terribly far away - you can see it the way you see the finish when you come into the stretch - and your mind says, "Have I worked enough? Have I eaten enough? Have I loved enough?" All of these, of course, are the foundations of man's greatest curse, and perhaps his greatest glory. "What has my life meant so far? and what can it mean in the time left to me?" And now you're coming to the wicked, poisoned dart: "What have I contributed in the Great Ledger? What am I worth?" And this isn't vanity or ambition. Men seem to be born with a debt they can never pay no matter how hard they try. It piles up ahead of them. Man owes something to man. If he ignores the debt it poisons him, and if he tries to make payments the debt only increases, and the quality of his gift is the measure of the man.
Thought is the evasion of feeling.
This is the greatest mystery of the human mind - the inductive leap. Everything falls into place, irrelevancies relate, dissonance becomes harmony, and nonsense wears a crown of meaning. But the clarifying leap springs from the rich soil of confusion, and the leaper is not unfamiliar with pain.
Man has solved his problems; Predators he has removed from the Earth; heat and cold he has turned aside; communicable disease he has practically eliminated. The old live on, the young do not die. The best wars cannot even balance the birthrate. There was a time when a small army could cut a population in half in a year. Starvation, typhus, plague, tuberculosis, were trusty weapons. A scratch with a spear point meant infection and death. Do you know what the incidence of death from battle wounds is today? One percent. A hundred years ago it was eighty percent. The population grows and the productivity of the Earth decreases. In a foreseeable future we shall be smothered by our own numbers. Only birth control could save us, and that is one thing mankind is never going to practice ... It is a cosmic joke. Preoccupation with survival has set the stage for extinction.
A bull-bitch tom-wallager.
Of all our murky inventions, guilt is at once the most devious, the most comic, the most painful. Was it planted by the group, pressure of the tribe to keep the potentially dangerous individual off-balance? Is it set in the psychotissue, watered and cultivated by ductless glands? Is guilt the unconscious device by which a man cries for attention in an unperceiving world, or can it be that the final human pleasure is pain? Whatever its origin, we scream like cats in copulation, wolf-bay the moon, whip ourselves with the exquisite thorns of contempt, and generally have a hell of a good time at it.
No man really knows about other human beings. The best he can do is suppose that they are like himself.
*Sea of Cortez*
Ch.14: 'non-teleological thinking'
It would be good to live in a perpetual state of leave-taking, never to go nor to stay, but to remain suspended in that golden emotion of love and longing; to be missed without being gone; to be loved without satiety. How beautiful one is and how desirable; for in a few moments one will have ceased to exist.
It seems good to mark and to remember for a little while the place where a man died. This is his one whole lonely act in all his life. In every other thing, even in his birth, he is bound close to others, but the moment of his dying is his own ... The unmarked cross and the secret light are his; almost a reflection of the last piercing loneliness that comes into a dying mans eyes.
Probably when our species developed the trick of memory and with it the counterbalancing projection called 'the future,' this shock-absorber, hope, had to be included in the series, else the species would have destroyed itself in despair. For if ever any man were deeply and unconsciously sure that his future would be no better than his past, he might deeply wish to cease to live.
It is a rule in paleontology that ornamentation and complication precede extinction. And our mutation, of which the assembly line, the collective farm, the mechanized army, and the mass-production of food are all evidences or even symptoms, might well correspond to the thickening armor of the great reptiles - a tendency that can end only in extinction.
For in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, the trait of hope still controls the future, and man, not a species, but a triumphant race, will approach perfection, and, finally tearing himself free, will march up the stars and take his place where, because of his power and virtue, he belongs: on the right hand of the (√∞-1). From which majestic seat he will direct with pure intelligence the ordering of the universe. And perhaps when that occurs - when our species progresses toward extinction or marches into the forehead of God - there will be certain degenerate groups left behind, say, the Indians of Lower California, in the shadows of the rocks or sitting motionless in the dugout canoes. They will remain to sun themselves, to eat and starve and sleep and reproduce. Now they have many legends as hazy and magical as the mirage. Perhaps then they will have another concerning a great and godlike race that flew away in four-motored bombers to the accompaniment of exploding bombs, the voice of God calling them home.
One can think of the attached and dominant human who has captured the place, the property, and the security. He dominates his area. To protect it, he has police who know him and are dependent on him for a living. He is protected by good clothing, good horses, and good food. He is protected even against illness ... One would say that he is safe, that he would have many children, and that his seed would in a short time litter the world. But in his fight for dominance he has pushed out others of his species who were not so fit to dominate, and perhaps these have become wanderers, improperly clothed, ill fed, having no security and no fixed base. These should really perish, but the reverse seems true. The dominant human, in his security, grows soft and fearful. He spends a great part of his time in protecting himself. Far from reproducing rapidly, he has fewer children, and the ones he does have are ill protected inside themselves because so thoroughly protected from without. The lean and hungry grow strong, and the strongest of them are selected out. Having nothing to lose and all to gain, these selected hungry and rapacious ones develop attack rather than defense techniques, and become strong in them, so that one day the dominant man is eliminated and the strong and hungry wanderer takes his place ... And the routine is repeated.
Man might be described fairly adequately, if simply, as a two-legged paradox. He has never become accustomed to the tragic miracle of consciousness. Perhaps, as has been suggested, his species is not set, has not jelled, but is still in a state of becoming, bound by his physical memories to a past of struggle and survival, limited in his futures by the uneasiness of thought and consciousness.
Boredom arises not so often from too little to think about, as from too much, and none of it clear nor clean nor simple.
How can such a process have become a shame and a sin? Only in laziness can one achieve a state of contemplation which is a balancing of values, a weighing of oneself against the world and the world against itself. A busy man cannot find time for such balancing. We do not think a lazy man can commit murders, nor great thefts, nor lead a mob. He would be more likely to think about it and laugh. And a nation of lazy contemplative men would be incapable of fighting a war unless their very laziness were attacked. Wars are the activity of busy-ness.
But to the race in general, alcohol has been an anodyne, a warmer of the soul, a strengthener of muscle and spirit. It has given courage to cowards and has made very ugly people attractive.
Food is hard to get, and a man lives inward, closely related to time; a cousin of the sun, at feud with storm and sickness.
There is a stretch of coast country below Monterey which affects all sensitive people profoundly, and if they try to describe their feeling they almost always do so in musical terms, in the language of symphonic music.
There is no mob like a group of well-drilled soldiers when they have thrown off their discipline. And there is no lostness like that which comes to man when a perfect and certain pattern has dissolved about him. There is no hater like one who has greatly loved.
Thus, a valid painter, letting color and line, observed, sift into his eyes, up the nerve trunks, and mix well with his experience before it flows down his hand to the canvas, has made his painting say, 'it might be so.' Perhaps his critic, being not so honest and not so wise, will say, 'it is not so. the picture is damned.' If this critic could say, 'it is not so with me, but that might be because my mind and experience are not identical with those of the painter,' that critic would be the better critic for it, just as the painter is a better painter for knowing he himself is in the pigment.
On Ricketts: He would say that nearly everything that can happen to people not only does happen but has happened for a million years. 'Therefore,' he would say, 'for for everything that can happen there is a channel or mechanism in the human to take care of it - a channel worn down in prehistory and transmitted in the genes.
After the bare requisites to living and reproducing, man wants most to leave some record of himself, a proof, perhaps, that he has really existed. He leaves his proof on wood, on stone, or on the lives of people. This deep desire exists in everyone, from the boy who writes dirty words in a public toilet to the Buddah who etches his image in the race mind. Life is so unreal. I think that we seriously doubt that we exist and go about trying to prove that we do.
*Benson on Steinbeck*
A writer out of loneliness is trying to communicate like a distant star sending signals. He isn't telling or teaching or ordering. Rather he seeks to establish a relationship of meaning, of feeling, of observing. We are lonesome animals ... It is so hard to be clear. Only a fool is willfully obscure... -JS
He identified the intellectual as a self-promoter who sacrificed truth and feeling to the advancement of his own reputation. -JB/JS
Throughout his career he had his secrets ... He felt that art should be a mystery, and that mystery should not be diluted or dissipated by outside discussion or explanation.
...Western American experience as a special window by which he could lead us to rediscover man's identity in respect to his environment ... If he had labeled himself at this point in his career, he probably would have called himself a 'symbolist.' -JB/JS
He has decided to focus on creation, rather than on himself as creator, concentrating on function rather than on ends. -JB/JS
In the long run what seemed most important to him was that he try different kinds of things, even if he had to acknowledge later that the attempts had failed. -JB/JS
Throughout his years, he gave nearly as much attention to the search for a way to live as he did to the continuing search for a way to write, and it may be that his writing suffered for it. -JB/JS
You'll never get out clear no matter which way you go. A man going on living gets frayed and he drags little tatters and rags of things behind him all the rest of his life and his suit is never new after he has worn it a little. -JS
I should like to hold you in image ... You would then be the focusing point, the courts, the jury. -JS
...he had learned to rather than address his work to a faceless reader, he would write his books to someone he knew. -JB/JS
...like Kafka's hunger artist, he must come to know that his art is his life, regardless of outside understanding or approval - his art defines him, and while the pursuit of his art may be the easiest thing in the world, it is also the hardest. -JB/JS
Please comment on the 'moment of wander,' that creative moment at which an author conceives and gives birth to a novel. John replied that for him, the moment was a result of approximately three years of research and thinking about a book, which gradually built up in his head like a 'tone,' and could only be purged by putting it down in writing.
...collection of photos... was designed to distill the spirit of America and it's people, to show Americans at work and at play, at repose and in action, and to picture all the various characteristic component parts of the land, East and West, North and South, urban, suburban, and rural... = 'America & Americans'
*In days to come
an unknown man
will come to your bedside
in the cold twilight hours.
This man will carry an old work hammer
and stand above you while you sleep.
He will watch you.
He will wait as you slowly rise
out of your sleeping state.
As your mind surfaces
with your daily wash of
the genesis of your spirit -
You'll see the silver radiance
of the day through your eyelids.
And your mind will flutter back
to the waking world.
And you'll probably feel good about being back.
And slowly, gently,
like with the movement of snails,
or a blooming flower -
barely perceptible -
your eyes will open a little.
And the man with the hammer will see
your eyes shine out
of the dark.
And there will be no thought, no comprehension -
it will be a simple shock of chemical-induced panic -
a helpless jolt of terror.
For a single frame.
And then the hammer will come down
between your eyeballs.
And it will return to dark and your face will fall in
like creme brûlée.
*not really, it's just a poem that's meant to illustrate how lucky we are to be alive through the use of dark metaphor and stuff.
"Q: Are you an optimist or a pessimist?
"A: It's too late for pessimism."
"Ocean is more ancient than the mountains, and freighted with the memories and the dreams of time." -HP Lovecraft.
Come Back to Us Navarro Bowman Hare Krishna Beauregard. -wsh140921
If I were a smart man
I'd marry a pretty girl
buy a nice big television.
on Sunday mornings I'd make a big hot breakfast
put whiskey in my coffee
the wife would ignore me
let me have 'my time.'
I'd watch football all day
on my nice big television and
drink a lot of beer.
at the end of the day I'd
see that there's no satisfaction in it.
I'd go to bed resentful
missing days like this.
Art & Fear:
-When your only tool is a hammer, so the saying goes, everything looks like a nail. Imagination and execution take their rightful common ground in possible acts: paintable pictures, danceable steps, playable notes. Your growth as an artist is a growth toward fully realizable works - works that become real in full illumination of all that you know. Including all that you know. Including all that you know about yourself.
Indecisiveness, lack of creative vision and direction is resulted from a constant anxiety and lack of ability to make decisions day to day. Indecisiveness on what to have for breakfast doesn't make artistic mindfulness any easier. The trick is to shoot for the satisfaction, pleasure, and expectation of another in mind. I excel in my laboring life at swallowing my tongue, putting my head down, and 'serving' others; Why then not 'serve' my creative energies to others? Along with all the other energies I regularly give away for cheap? -wsh
"There's a kind of man that when he can't have what he wants he won't take the next best thing but the worst he can find." -C.McCarthy
We humans sure do enjoy a lot of unearned privilege when compared to other species. One can argue that it is befitting of the 'dominant species,' but I for one know I did not put out much an effort or struggle of any kind to earn my membership in the human race. Did you? -wsh
"He had the drunkard's detachment and observed his own discomfort from afar." -Cook. Wake In Fright
Me and my nation against the world, me and my clan against the nation, me and my family against the clan, me and my brother against the family, me against my brother."
'If 2014 were a woman, she'd be that one bad lay you immediately regret and quickly forget about.' -Abe Barrera
Classical music doesn't scream for your attention, it will get to you without trying hard to do so.
'Procrastination: the art of deliberately ruining your life for no apparent reason.'
The best part of waking up, is not folgers in your cup; rather it is the the slow, creeping, dreadful panic as you realize you control nothing.
There have been many Will Shakespeare throughout history, the one we know got lucky, as all successful creatives do. Creative 'genius' is no different than a man who plays the same lottery numbers everyday for his entire life. It's all about perseverance.
The 'one-summer syndrome': the exciting feeling of first starting to play around and flirt with a woman, the realization of mutual attraction and light-hearted playfulness, the anticipation of what she'll look like undressed.
The cool ocean breeze played a simple song over the lip of a half drunk bottle of beer, and the final sliver of the setting sun made a frown.
It takes a very lazy person to dedicate so much attention to simply being healthy.
When one lives alone, the only person to let down is oneself, but it's also the only person who can help.
Suburbia: Where men run out of gas.
Where do dreams and goals fall short despite much hard work? The digestive system.
Write because you have an obligation to do so, shoot because you have an obligation to do so, live because you have an obligation to do so.
How nice it would be, to live a life of constant movement, to exist in a perpetual state of leaving and arriving. Washing up in truck-stops, eating by campfire, a well mannered dog as sole companion. Taking freelance jobs, shooting stock, scavenging 'vintage-repurposables' to sell at profit in the cities. Working banquets for an evening, paid in cash and gone by morning. Anywhere with wifi would be an office. Mail would go directly to a PO Box, to be collected a few times annually. Any material evidence of a life outside of the pickup and the road would be locked away in an quiet storage unit in a quiet town with a modern day treasure map left behind to a proper inheritor. The truck would be a land-cabin and rest-stops and the American landscape would be a vast dining hall.
Damn this marchly march of marches, always marching upon us.
Defining what one wants is the true struggle; if one is lucky enough to do so, the acquisition comes naturally.
The secret to happiness? Low expectations and a regular series of small victories.
There's those who think they deserve everything, and those who know they deserve nothing.
Poetry: a silly, embarrassing, and very useful activity.
Anything resembling an interesting life is brought about by forced actions and a game of make-believe.
What if Bukowski had had a smartphone? What if his despair and loneliness had been quenched and alleviated via social media posts? What if his poetry had gone out in the form of late-night drunken text messages? He probably would have scratched his itch and gone to sleep, thinking himself satisfied, and woke to embarrassment and gone on to work. With the online stage that's always open with an unseen audience in the shadows, he'd of had no reason to escape to his paper pad and write freely and with the gamble and desperation that made him known today. The world wide web has hurt our ingenuity - softened our predatory instincts as artists.
Wong is one of my favorite people because he challenges me without using words. Wong is nature.
School was wrong. Photography isn't about 'storytelling.' Closest form of art to PG is poetry; PG is about conveying a feeling, sentiment, emotion through metaphor and symbolism. It is not meant to tell or inform, its purpose is to ask a question and to provoke an solution.
Time to dry out. The juggernaut of daily drink makes each day darker and each drink stiffer and the body weaker until you lose all defense against something really bad happening. Blindly molesting a coworker, wandering around a church in the middle of night, vomiting in a park, driving home with eyes focused on the rearview mirror - these are not jovial drinking antics, they are harbingers of disaster.
A cozy home, inviting friends and family for the weekend, watching the big game, celebrating christmas - A life on the road, sleeping in truckstops and pastures.
Working too much, a lot of dough in the bank, getting married and having a son - Working out excessively for no other purpose than fucking 23 year olds - Staying in San Francisco, enjoying the beautiful view of the Pacific ocean - Buying a simple house, vanishing in the mountains - Renting a cheap place near the coast for Dad, so he can be comfortable - Going back to school, majoring in something ridiculous and beautiful like fine art and literature - Sweeping floors in a woodshop for minimum wage, learning to make furniture -Publishing a monograph, showing in galleries - Shooting fodder for corporate advertisements - Seeing the whole country, finishing all the projects never started - Making amends and making love with all the ex's - Erasing all evidence of all the ex's forever - Getting out of debt - Playing the ponies - Buying a motorcycle - Learning to ride a motorcycle - Earning respect - Getting everyone to say, 'Good Job, Shane' - Seeing nothing but good light - Sobering up and having a good reason to fall off the wagon - Getting my mother back - Learning something new about her - Screaming - Committing to something true - Showing you something.
I grew up less than 30 miles from the Pacific Ocean. My hometown sits on the edge of a desert valley that stretches for hundreds of miles east. We were cut off from the sea by a coastal range that formed the western wall of our town, as if the settlers had been chased across the dry, rolling desert and finally dug in with their backs to the mountains. It did not happen that way however, the truth is the town grew and prospered because of travelers going north and south between San Francisco and Los Angeles. A 20 minute drive through the narrow mountain roads would bring the peace of the cool coast, but the people of that town learned to bear and live with the hot, dry air that would blow in from the dirt and scrub of the eastern valley. It was hot about 9 months of the year, but it was always dry. The winter brought a dry, deep freeze that would ache and stiffen bones and joints and build a thick pressure in the skull. When fortune would bring rain, the rain would come down tepid and dusty and smelling of alkaline. Nothing stayed wet for long. The rain would let up and soon mist would rise as the parched earth and thick air drank all trace of moisture. It's the heat that's remembered - the angry, penetrating, blinding heat. The heat that slows productivity and lucid thought. The heat that makes AC repairmen and pool cleaners good money. My parents could afford to run the AC all day, but not to dig a pool. That heat makes those who spend much time in it just give up, and focus on the next moment of relief - be it an air-conditioned building, a cold beer, a splash of water from a dirty sink. My dad drove a big, hot, dirty tractor-trailer with no AC. He hauled dirt, gravel, and asphalt through the summers. He would come home after a 12 hour day - stinking of sweat, dust, and grease - and despite the relief of our cool, dark home and an ice-cold Bud-Light - I remember the mean look of resentment in his eyes and the way he'd drag himself around like a beat dog whose embarrassment outweighs any sort of physical pain.
I know I deserve nothing, but I do owe something to her, and them. I must get good enough to pass something on.
We'll be remembered as a generation of list-makers. A generation of fools, raised to believe our fair share is coming due. We're all going to die alone in a empty with a big to-do list taped to the wall.
velleity |vəˈlēətē, ve-|
noun (pl. velleities) formal
a wish or inclination not strong enough to lead to action.
I miss Death Valley, and can't keep my mind from the place, won't wash the place off my truck. The place is unplugged and when there you are untrackable. You're either outside of the world, or deep within it, whichever way you choose to look at it. Detached from love and hate. Death Valley fosters no emotion other than the hard emotion of endurance and clarity like animals feel.
There was an afternoon in June when the weather was pleasant and the windows were open and the music was too loud and you ran out of beer as the sun set and there wasn't a single cloud out on the horizon and the light of the end of that day was lovely and all was clean and smelled like fresh laundry and you sent out flirtations and invitations to pretty ladies some of whom you know and some you do not and you didn't care much of not one of them responded to you because the world was quiet and the music was loud and the corner store was open and there was a big steak thawing downstairs.
Work hard your whole life, refine yourself as a man, love others and graciously be loved, have something to show for yourself, be proud and admired - in the it's the same as that of an unknown animal or a faceless citizen in a far away unknown nation. We all go down alone, sad, unfulfilled, and cheated. With the exception of very few: kings, conquerers, icons, and saints - none will know immortality. The lucky few may be spoken of and hold some influence for a generation or two.
The average American worker dedicates ~50 hrs per week to their labor. Precious hours in the evenings are spent consuming bad food in an exhausted, sedentary state while being fed commercials that are spliced up by television programing of the lowest common denominator. The conscious-minded waiter does not live this way. A waiter's work week averages 25 hrs per week. Substance abuse runs slightly higher in the waiter's profession compared to other, more 'respectable' fields, but in the service industry there is more time left for physical and mental recovery, health and exercise, wellness, self-education, and creative pursuits. There is also no restriction on how much holiday leave the waiter can take in a calendar year. The financially-conscious waiter can live a life richer in leisure and personal-growth than that of his more 'respectable' laboring contemporaries. Full-time, professional workers will never find the time to lay in a park for hours on end on a regular basis. Time is the true bank balance.
When free time is abundant, it - like any other commodity, and time is the valuable commodity there is, - becomes a luxury to be used freely and without much regard. One must treat time as a prized commodity to be doled out frugally and with an accurate count. Perhaps this is why the homeless and destitute remain in their states of being - too much free time provides too easily the excuse of putting off until the 'time is right.' And by 'homeless and destitute,' 'non-producing artists' can easily be implied as well.
It will be fine and we will be fine and we will have a fine time together.
A complex of superiority is an ingrained instinct in the human mind. The meek and humble carry a deep sense of moral superiority, even if it is genuine - especially if it is genuine. All men know that no other knows what he knows, sees the world as he can, struggles as he does. The very practice of humility gives the humble man the most entitled empowerment and pride of all - it is never difficult for a self-defined humble man to cast judgment or seek praise for his grace above all others.
Defining oneself as an artist in and of itself is delusional, therefore means of production, vision, and legacy must be equally delusional and the delusion must be celebrated.
To be out of it. To put down our shovels to stop digging our own graves. To live in moving castles and fly over unmapped terrain. What have we done to ourselves? How do we get back to being human?
When asked, 'How was your day?' we will quickly and instinctively tally up key occurrences into 'good and bad' and the leading group will define the day as: good, or bad. This same rule can apply to years and eventually a lifetime. If one can manage to fit enough true, good experiences into the humming drone of modern life, when the day of demise comes, he'll truly be able to say 'It's been a nice day.'
All work all the time so we can hurry up and spend our labor on overpriced fatty food and camaraderie at the bottom of a pint glass, sending out burned up energy and love off to faceless creatures, we pay our daily ransom to keep the telephone quiet and to avoid truly working.
A pickup truck dragging a camper across the land. The Starship Enterprise gone renegade on the American interstate highway system: seeking new life and new civilizations, boldly going wherever the fuck pleases me.
Woke up hungover.
Woke with the fear.
Unable to tell left from right.
Outside was Indian Summer and the only decisiveness, the need for exposure and oxygen.
Ignoring the second guessings,
as well as the third and fourth,
and with a full tank of juice,
Rubber and Asphalt were allowed to do their thing.
Drove through lonely places with lovely names:
Lucas Valley, Nicasio, The Pepper Mill Saloon, Olema, the village of Lagunitas
and San Geronimo.
'San Geronimo:' a beautiful name for a town.
And Pt. Reyes, and a beach who's name is forgotten but here will be known as
The clear water touched the sand gently
and there on the sand was a dried carcass of a young sunfish undisturbed.
The beach was mine and mine alone for an hour
and as I left a fisherman relieved me of my watch over the quiet stretch of sea.
On the road out a large herd of Tule Elk was seen.
A few impressive males howled and postured and locked racks.
The ancient beasts lived and fought and loved and died out of time with the city less than an hour to the south.
They lived on protected land, untouched for a million years,
with the Pacific Ocean laid out below them.
A little while later on my cell reception kicked in and I was informed of a fine from my loan company and my rent was being raised.
The following night my truck window was broken out while I was at work.
Education over depression. Cohesiveness over anxiety.
The wheel of destitute must come off the axle.
It's been years, and freedom no closer.
Most days can't leave the house, haven't used the telephone in weeks.
Senses must be sharpened. Educate, identify, and execute.
These periods, this vast period, can't sustain a life.
A course of action is required.
An open line of communication - to everyone, to anyone.
Every good idea - any good idea, should be pursued.
Return to a life of learning.
Enter an age of enlightenment, of intense self-education.
Keep notes, test yourself.
brave new ground.
And grow stronger.
Improve on the former self and share all of it along the way.
Don't let the blues hinder the process.
Use the blues as part of the process.
Fuck what's dealt.
Play it through.
Go all in.
And don't flinch.
Anxiety: A state of incoordination that results in mental paralysis.
Nothing coordinates, nothing flows, nothing fits together. Step 3 will not logically follow steps 1 & 2. It will unfold as step 1,2,1,4,2,3,7,5,2... None of this makes any damn sense, and neither does an anxious lifestyle.
Steinbeck said that when pursuing a goal, it's the best practice to clearly envision the end results once, and then to completely put that vision out of mind and focus entirely on the means and Joey Ramone said 'I just wanna have something to do.'
It's Game 6 of the World Series again and once again unmarried middle-aged men walk the streets dumb-drunk and angry and eat cold pizza and drink chocolate milk and send text messages to those they love and when the neglected loved ones neglect these men in turn, they then text the ones they think they may have a slim chance of fucking and of course they still go neglected, and they then retire home with nothing wet save the pathetic hope that a baseball team can win a title tomorrow and that team's title may give these men another day of feeling as though they have a cock between their legs.
Will there be another president that actually rises above the bullshit and the rhetoric and lies? The party line, the standard practice of empty soundbites and slow trodden policies that do nothing to directly help normal people; and a singular focus on obeying their corporate masters? In our life, will we bear witness to a 'true' leader of the nation? A true revolutionary? A true New-Thinker? I doubt we will. Our political leadership is stuck with overgrown children, egomaniacs who've been given what they want since birth. Power-junkies with no empathy for anyone other than those who can reward more power. Election season depresses me. Everyone celebrates party victories. Measures passed or struck down as if any of it represents any kind of relevant, lasting, positive change. Standard operating procedure continues on unchanged - then the show is repeated a few years later - never is the big picture, the problem, the real disaster upon the people acknowledged or confronted. Our leaders are pigs who deserve to die - all of those current and past. Therein lays the beauty of the architecture of our government: We live under a corporate regime. The real tyrants are not public, and the acting 'yes men' are all so much copies of one another that when they're rotated out every few years, they and their acts are quickly forgotten. Even if the masses found the nerve to revolt, they wouldn't know who to target. Democracy is a sham and a perfect show. Monarchs and unelected dictators are visible and constant. These leaders are in it for the long-term and if they abuse their people too far, eventually they will hang for it. Whereas our massive term-based bureaucracy allows our politicians to regularly abuse the people and quickly fade away to anonymity. Ending the ability of corrupt politicians to fade away and their actions go forgotten is the first step to true reform of our government.
To match mad belligerence with personal passion is counter-productive and self defeating. In the service industry the means of income comes from wicked trickery that quickly fills the wallet with green. What's even more rewarding than this is the people you will meet working in the service industry. Relationships are uncommitted and short-sighted. Colleagues come and go and show up and get left behind and only rarely does anyone make much of a fuss over it. A restaurant/bar staff after hours can be a beautiful thing - there's no pretense of any kind of importance or longevity, it does embody being in the moment of things. A lot of characters laughing, with a wide array of histories, with similar traits consisting of lack of any motivation, delusional expectations, chemical dependencies; and of course sharing the same outright hatred of the general public. A man's true battle and measure has always been and will always be against himself. He grows up thinking there's a mark to meet, a line to finish at. No man reaches this mark. A man will measure himself in dollars, in offspring, in blood, or in the merits of other men. A man will allow himself to be imposed upon - imposed and ordered about by parents, wives, employers, peers, the media, the church, ancestors, bloodlines, the government, and so on - he will allow himself to be told how to measure himself and by how much. The true measure of a man - his humanity - can only depend on a self-appointed set of rules. All he truly needs to accomplish is vanquishing the weaker version of his own self. There is no never-ending party, no bottomless tank of gas, there's no more free rounds on the house, and there's no one left to pat you on the back for looking cute. It's time to answer, it's time to do those proud who backed you, it;s time to be a man. The fantasy isn't dead, but the expectation of it falling into your lap is. Serving, boozing, waiting to be handed inspiration-success-admiration; not a good plan. The dream can live, but it's high time for a new approach. New Years is tomorrow. A lot is changing. Ten years ago I moved to San Francisco. I was running away from a lot of sadness and confusion. Quitting school, Mom's death, uncertainty and fear. I came to The City to hide out. Surely at the time I would've said I was coming to 'work on my art' but it was really to hide out and party and survive and use the excuse of survival and poverty to evade all responsibility and a true calling. It's not pretty, nor respectable, nor admirable, but it's true and I've learned to honor truth in life. I truly love San Francisco. I've had so many good memories. Even the lousy periods I look upon with a silly fondness. I've met true characters of life, some lifelong friends, and perhaps the mother of my kids. I learned to love the game of baseball. I learned that a crazy woman inviting you to bed can change everything. I learned to drink whiskey. I learned birds of a feather really do what the saying says they do. I learned that living 10 miles from a close friend can be the same as 1000 miles. I learned that selfishness is simple human nature and should not be looked down upon. I learned that having a daily view of the sea should never be taken for granted. When looked back on, my decade in San Francisco will be remembered with a sad fondness, with the typical regret of squandered opportunity that's so obvious with the clarity of hindsight. The quiet optimist would say it was all part of the process; that while the ego may not have been satisfied, I still learned, gained insight, and left stronger than I arrived.
Some days just go down the pisser and they're no good for nothing good and they culminate in a sad, fitful, forced 12 hour sleep and the best to be hoped for is to wake the following morning, not with any troubles alleviated nor any sort of fresh revelation, but with a simple stubbornness to use the rising sun as an unforgiving cleanse of the sad bullshit of yesterday - to persevere and press forward in spite of the loathing and fear. And the good face, and the strong shoulder goes against the wind. And this will be done, many times, in many cycles. And that, my son, may just be all this life comes down to.
Leaving China Beach, I found a dying seagull. The bird was on its back in the sand, breathing deeply and slowly. It rhythmically moved its wings and legs in a slow way that made it look like a mechanical dancing puppet fed with nickels. The day's setting sun was among the finest in a long line of sunsets on that ancient beach and the bird was dying on its own time. I considered cutting the gull's throat or twisting its neck to receive it of its obvious discomfort. Its beady black eyes eyes looked at me and I felt sad for it; presumedly the bird chose to end its days on this quiet beach, a peaceful place familiar and comforting to the mind of a seagull. And now, in its last moments, it had to look upon a Man, no doubt at least giving an instinctive fear and quite possibly annoyance and hatred. As I turned to leave the thing, a woman and her child joined my audience of the dying bird. She described the scene as 'beautiful,' and I abruptly wished her a nice evening and quickly moved away. How selfish to find the death throes of a little flying animal 'beautiful.' This bird, its own life was just as important to itself as mine is to my own perception. In the bird's mind, the sun rose and set for it alone and the wide universe circled it alone, and the whole long line of strong seagulls, stretching back for eon, culminated in the creation of of him, and he struggled hard and fierce to simply see another day. And on that evening he finally lost the fight and laid down to surrender to the only world he ever knew to be a true one: the clean sand and surf and the setting sun. And the poor damn thing, in its final moments, was intruded upon by beasts it never understood. None, man nor beast, deserve anything in this world except for the right to pass away in Peace.
"Baseball is a hard game, Love it hard and it will love you back hard. Try to play it easy, and the first thing you know, there you are on the outside looking in, wondering what went wrong." -Pete Rose
There's a story to be told about my Dad. Specifically, one his cars when he was kid. In those days a young man could save up for a few months, buy a beater, get a lot of fun out of it, and leave it abandoned in a dry riverbed after a night of hard partying. This story can only take place in that period of time, with vehicles of nowadays either being 'classics' or a serious financial investment. There may however be a modern equivalent: fuel, and the relatively easy acquisition of fuel, and the ability to still hit the open road, leapfrogging from gas station to gas station. These days are even numbered, and the next generation may not see the subculture of 'ramblers' that have always had a place in the narrative of America.
The raw, dangerous, mysterious West.
Will the next generation ever experience 'The Road?'
The open landscape?
The beckoning horizon?
The guidance of Sun and Moon?
A man wants to move forward with the North Star off his shoulder, sleep under the Milky Way, and ward off creatures of the night as a wild one himself.
He wants to Ramble, with a face wind-chapped and burnt, with a small pack of provisions, resting at the oasis' of our age: truck stops and koas;
or dropping in to see a very old friend - who won't quite know how to receive this strange creature playing this strange game from another age.
We forget we are a western-nation bred of the spirit of the pioneer. We're a restless people whose forefathers went west, and kept going. The ones that got as far as Kentucky, Chicago, St Louis, Texas, or any other land east of the Sierras; they all quit. The native Californian was bred of the ones who made it to edge of the world, any farther and they'd drown.
There still must be a frontier to be conquered by common people.
Walking the roads of our youth
Through the land of our childhood, our home, and our truth
Be near me, guide me, always stay beside me
So I can be free
Let’s roam this place, familiar and vast
Our playground of green frames our past
We were wanderers
When every place was fenceless
And time was endless
Our ways were always the same
Calm my demons and walk with me, my brother
Until our roads lead us away from each other
And if your heart’s full of sorrow, keep walking
And promise me from heart to chest to never let your memories die
I will always be alive and by your side
In your mind
There is a stretch of Highway 37 between Vallejo and San Rafael that is a beautiful place, gorgeous delta where gods may walk and fish may bite. - WS
"My contest is only with myself: to do it right, with power and force and delight and gamble. Otherwise, forget it." -Bukowski
"Life could be good at times but sometimes some of that was up to us." - Bukowski
"The world has no name, The names of the cerros and the sierras and the deserts exist only on maps. We name them that we do not lose our way. Yet it was because the way was lost to us already that we have made these names. The world cannot be lost. We are the ones. And it is because these names and these coordinates are our own naming that they cannot save us. They cannot find us the way again." C. McCarthy
To the woman I thought I loved:
I'd like to reach out to you
It'd be lovely to call you
while I drive home from work.
But I won't.
Instead I will listen to experts
talk of profiles
of young white men
who are apt to shoot children
And I'll watch the lights of a city pass over
and feel the asphalt pass under.
I'd like to reach out to you.
It'd be lovely to have you here.
We could listen to this song.
Instead, I'm writing
"Come down off your cross, we can use the wood." - Waits
How much meaning in that word.
And how empty of a word.
How many men have tormented themselves over that word?
Beat their heads against walls and tore their hearts out in vain?
How many sleepless nights,
and anxious mornings
have been caused by this word?
How many lives squandered
because of this grand-notion of
Men build palaces that don't exist.
Men spend their best years climbing peaks that are not there.
They toss behind love, life, and laughter along the way.
The palace can never be completed.
The mountain never summited.
And still men see it.
It is a hard thing to turn away from.
On clear days, when the clouds part,
the palace is there.
This is the burden men carry.
There is no answer here.
And the harder one seeks one,
the higher the summit.
The Road-Trip can be an allegory for the creative-process, in that there is no end/exit/conclusion. At the 'end' of the 'trip' one finds himself right back where started, with nothing gained but the experience of the doing of the thing. This still does not make the journey futile or without value.
Use the Road. Burn some Gas.
Once the journey has begun, it becomes very impractical to turn around. Conventional wisdom is inclined to say that once started off, one has to see it through, to the end.
But again, there is no end. One ends up back where he started, with a few things learned, and the journey goes on, in one way or another.
So, when a man makes the tragic first move of seeing himself as an 'artist,' and committing to the creative-process, he is committing to a trek that will never conclude; at least with any sense of peace or accomplishment. All there is is the journey, and that is what must be appreciated and celebrated.
"The next day, Magellan gave the order to weigh anchor. The ships fired a salvo of cannon that reverberated among the splendid dark green mountains, gray ravines, and azure glaciers of the strait, and the armada set sail once again, heading west, always west."
Channel-Surfing: (inadvertent advertisement for Epson)
The internet has picked off the survivors the television left behind.
The prediction of our youth said that television and cable networks would suck the creativity, energy, and thoughtfulness from the whole generation; turning us into a mass of voluntary media-dependent zombies. The TV front was a success, but not entirely effective: enter the internet offensive.
The internet, social media, mobile media-consuming engines in our pockets.
Rapidly changing content, thousands of updates a day, all of this tailored to personal tastes and preferences. This is key: because the user can make the experience 'his' and only see what he wants, filtering out the fodder, he can convince himself that this is education, enlightenment, expansion of his mental grasp on the world.
This is a delusion.
The user finds himself at the monitor, with an odd sense of proud entitlement. He is fortunate to have such a limitless stock of information to reach out and scoop up: what is queued for today?
*NASA has discovered an Earth-sized planet may have h2o...
*a favored sports team's star player has an injury...
*a 24 year old grad student from a prestigious college has produced a body or photographs that cause a moment of pause... The photos are very 'safe' and have been manipulated, but are admittedly interesting, aesthetically pleasing, and show a fine sense of organization, confidence, and online-marketing know-how.
He spends an extra minute or two, a generous amount of attention in the context of web browsing, to contemplate and study the images. He even puts out the effort to click a few extra buttons to forward the photographer's homepage off to his media-savvy designer friend; to which sometime over the next two days, the designer friend may glance at the link, may actually click on it, may peruse the photos, and may even reply back "pretty cool!"
...The user at his computer does this, and tells himself he is using the web as a tool for his own education, and for cultural fulfillment. An unfortunate effect of the infinite supply of information on the web is our passive determination to consume all of it.
We don't take the time to read something if it is longer than a paragraph or two, when we find something of interest we don't expand on it. We don't contemplate the thing, we don't ask more questions, or find what surrounds and supports the thing.
We find creative work that causes a pause, we don't consider why we paused, what triggered it, who the artist is, what the intention is, or how the method and vision can relate to our own life and work.
A tool as powerful as the internet could have made the human race more intelligent and insightful than the most esteemed scholars of our history, instead it's spawned a whole new generation of spoiled children seeking instant gratification and ADD is becoming a socially accepted norm.
We should all be aware. We should browse with a sense of focus, purpose, responsibility, and acuteness.
Anything less is no more noble than channel surfing.
"Settling (down)" or "The Whore"
There's an idea that there's always some goal. And the goal is always far away and unclear. But to give up on this mystery has never been acceptable.
Hard work towards an unknown goal proves to be damn hard, and this damn hard work results in feelings of hopelessness and apathy, and the carelessness turns to depression and anxiety, and all the resulting frustration turns to a slow burning rage, and if the burn can't be vented it's usually drowned. And it's in the drowning that we will ask 'why?'
"Why, if I would just let this woman love me, and accept what I can do with what I have, why, maybe I'd be a happy man. If I would just settle down, and stop waiting for the mysterious goal to reveal itself, why, that sounds awful nice. Just settle down, relax, forget feeling like you owe something, that there's something to prove. Forget the burn. Enjoy a restful life, don't worry about the goal anymore."
It's unjust, and it's unfair. That old goal will still be out there in the dark, only then it's louder, and farther away - stronger. Mocking and cursing - whoring herself out for a man who isn't yet born.
"1224" (the old darkness)
You'll be tested.
a long-ago love will ask you to come and lay down for the night
you'll resist. You'll decline in a respectful manner
you'll feign being rational practical
you'll resist she'll ask you again
and when you hear it in her voice, and she begs for you
the struggle is over and she'll have you
you'll say this is truth
your guts will say your true love begs you
but there'll be another truth
and anothers guts as there always is
you'll have a woman 300 miles away
and it will be xmas eve and she'll be missing you terribly
she'll be missing you terribly and sad you're not there
and you'll lie to her and say good night on the phone
you'll drive through your old town where you'll grow up
and the only familiar thing will be the old darkness
and you'll drive on toward the old dark love
she won't come to the door or answer the phone
you'll knock and you'll call and it'll be quiet
and it's going to confuse you and you're going to think this is all a clever test of character and you'll consider this heavily and weigh yourself against me.
You'll drive back, lay on my couch, and fall asleep wondering who you are
in the morning she will call and apologize and explain that she'd had too much and passed out and didn't hear the knocking and Merry Christmas
and it won't matter wether you believe her or not.
The following morning you'll wake up next to her and it will be lovely.
It's a shame Folgers didn't go with their first choice of showtune: 'The best part of waking up, is the slow terror, realizing you control nothing!'
This time is different. If any should make it to old age without being poisoned by our food, taken by suicide, or being locked away in debtor's prison, what shall the age be looked back upon as? Will it be golden? Or dark? What sort of nostalgia can possibly come of these years? Will our war be regarded as a 'Great' one? Will it even be seen as 'ours?' Will our struggle be a respected one? Or pitied? It seems as though the Depression of the 1930's is seen as a heroic sacrifice made by that generation for a country to change greatly; perhaps our depression will be seen the same, though it's hard to believe it. It seems as though our masters have us right where they want us and show no sign of letting up. There is no national identity anymore, no collectiveness. A tribal mentality is coming on, we are falling toward a new dark age of modern feudalism where serfs carry debts for life to unseen lords in high towers with the power to take away all a man can ever scratch up for his own. History will see us as a sacrificed people, kept in check as product whose sole function of consuming intangibles is fueled by a dream of our past like a sorry carrot on a stick. We will keep grinding, a believing the stories of rags and riches and bootstraps and we will not be admired. We will be remembered as the tinder for the inferno that is coming.
I've always loved a wedding. The anticipation, the positive anxiety, the chaotic euphoria of the big day. It's like being on drugs. Troubles are thrown out, worries are stashed away for the day, and consequences are damned. The day is about unchecked jubilation, perhaps even moreso for the guests and party than for the couple themselves. And for the starring couple, it's a beautiful moment - it is THE beautiful moment of their entire lives. It is the day that will be remembered all the way to the end. It is the moment of pure, undoubting, optimism for all that lays ahead. And tomorrow, or a little later, the natural qualms and resentments of true love may again simmer, but on this day, on the alter in front of all the beloved, proclaiming vows, dancing, laughing, toasting - the devoted pair will feel a stronger love than has ever been felt by any wedded pair in time. They know this, together, they know they will defy any challenge that the world can bring on. In this moment, on this day, they are pure, they are true, and a photograph can be made of this moment that is love in it's cleanest, simplest form.
It's always right below the surface, at times it shows itself, briefly. There's no name, no definition. It's an alignment of common ground, a mindful cohesiveness, a shared emotion in the air. It happens on a warm spring day when everyone has the day off and they all look at it all a little more idealistically; more lighthearted. Troubles and obligations are put off until tomorrow. Camaraderie runs strong, jokes come easy, abstract mysteries are studied with natural clarity. It's a challenge to offend or take offense. Every song is the right song and a pleasant fog of innocent intoxication gets to everyone's head. The sun takes its time on setting and the stars show some extra effort. Gas and drink come cheap and food is fresh and light on the stomach. Friendship and joyous experience is an effortless priority. Tasks handle themselves. There are no intrusions - all stimuli is constructive and endearing.
"Hunger is the best seasoning" - Follett
There's those who never stop telling themselves they deserve it all - and there's those who remind themselves daily that they deserves nothing.
Most men live and die never knowing what it is they truly wanted. Defining what you want is the mysterious struggle. If perseverance allows you to see your desire, to put a word to it, the acquisition will come naturally.
Luck is often disguised as a lot of hard work.
"The Cost of Living in March"
"Me and my nation against the world.
Me and my clan against the nation.
Me and my family against the clan.
Me and my brother against the family.
Me against my brother."
On The Valley of Death:
On the way in, I'd remind myself that it would get prettier still, and fight the urge to pull over, shoot the hell out of what I saw and find the quick route home.
It's quiet land. That impressed the most, absolute quiet.
High-Desert. The word carries a dark, big connotation to it.
After the last couple hundred miles in the evening cooled enough to shut off the AC and lower the windows, and the smell was of a cleanliness that comes from eons of scorching heat. An Earthy-heat, if you like.
I found a place to pull a ways off the road to catch the sunset over the massive valley below. The sun was bright red and lowered onto pitch-black mountains and the valley was stark white with mean red canyon walls. It was all deadly, a terrifying land it must have been for the pioneers.
That night I camped on an ancient shore of a long-dead river valley. I lit a fire and drank warm beer under the stars wearing nothing but boots.
At midnight the temperature held at over 100 and the hot breeze fed the small fire I had burning.
I downed the last of a hot beer, threw a pair of jeans on for protection against the crawling critters of the night, and walked out into the desert beyond the reach of the crackling campfire. I pitched up the tripod and shot the stars from the valley floor in a savage manner, knowing the morning would burn.
Woke restlessly before sunrise. Despite rising regularly throughout the night to drink and bathe from a water jug, my mouth and throat felt as dry as if I hadn't hydrated in days. The temperature one can prepare for, but the thirst and water absorption is a shock. Water is greedily chugged in any manner set loose, within one's own cells even. You can drink and drink and still feel it's not enough, it's easy to imagine going mad in a desert, quickly drinking your precious supply away in a dangerous span of time. The desert teaches one a true respect of any quantity of water that not many in the 1st world ever seem to have.
The cells of my body were competing with all on the exterior, turning myself into equal organism of the unforgiving surroundings. Faucets trickled slow and hot and closely monitored by half-dead lizards. Flies and wasps stake out toilet bowls. When I'd urinate onto the scorched earth, ants would suddenly rush from beneath it to quickly gather a few drops of piss before it dried in moments.
The heat I had fortified my mind and body for, it was the brutal dryness and fleetness of hydration that kept me restless and got me moving at the beautiful hour of the morning.
I got up early and started covering ground while it was still comfortable to run with the windows down.
By noon I'd decided to escape Death Valley.
I wanted to leave by a different route than I'd entered.
Reaching northbound route 355 by main roads requires crossing into Nevada and looping wide around the entire north-east part of the valley. I studied a map at a ranger station and found a long, winding dirt road that cut off from main road toward the north end of the valley, Lone Pine Rd.
The junction was remote enough that simply driving up to scout it would have been impractical, it was far out of the way and broke off an already remote dead-end stretch of broken asphalt. I topped off the tank at the station for $6/gallon, got a coffee, kicked the tires, and drove north.
I never learned to properly read a map. I can orientate, I can recognize routes and landmarks, but I've admittedly never learned to accurately use the distance-scale on a map. When I came to the end of Scotty's Castle Rd. and drove off into the desert and mountains that Lone Pine Rd. would take me, the pair of signs "pavement ends" and "no services - 75miles" gave me some grave concern.
I checked my phone - no service, same at it had been for the last couple days in the valley. Ahead of me lay 75 miles of rough road and switchbacks, no cell reception, no reason to assume I'd encounter another vehicle, with a few gallons of water, half a cup of still-hot coffee, a bag of nuts, in a truck only a few months off the assembly line, in 110degrees, through one of the deadliest landscapes on the planet.
I slowly took to the trail. I was weary of damaging my new truck, blowing an improperly fitted hose, or some bastard of a rock laying at the right angle to blow a tire. I soon realized however that the careful clambering and jarring maneuvers around every stone that appeared half-menacing would keep me out there for hours and after speeding up, also saw that on rough road, speed = a smoother ride. Soon I was flying along at 40mph with a white cloud of hot desert dust fixed behind me. My palms sweating and my eyes constantly working over the trail ahead, I scanned for the one rock or gulch that would blow a tire and send me flying into a hellish nightmare.
It was a raw feeling. A simple feeling of goal, path, force, risk, and resistance. The beautiful, brutal reality of total detachment. No support aside from my own head and the dependable engineering of Toyota trucks.
Man and Machine.
As a teenager I'd speed through town at night in a low-riding Buick built like a tank, and it brought back the sense of this, man and machine, riding fast and reckless atop a pile of steel and glass and simply because we are lucky enough to risk ourselves in such a splendid way.
I wish I could have seen us from above, these were the days before personal drones, speeding along the barren desert floor, leaving the angry cloud behind, no other living sign of the world within a hundred miles. I'm sure it was beautiful.
A primal scream came a few times, a result of true Fun and excitement that I hadn't felt in as long as I could remember, the type of sensation which can't be expressed any more poignantly than through a scream.
I climbed out of Death Valley via a route that may not have been the wisest to take. It was 2.5 hours before I saw another vehicle, back on pavement, just shy of route 395 in Inyo County, in the shadows of the Eastern Sierras.
Back home in San Francisco, looking over the city, all the right-angles and boxed confinements we insist on putting ourselves down inside of. All of us alone but always connected. That's the new comfort, we do the things and repeat the habits; we find comforts and simple pleasures but always wedged in with the obligation and hated necessities of modern living. To feel an excitement and pureness of life that when you have no other choice but to scream like an animal: that is what has been taken away.
It's cold out here at Ocean Beach, and foggy, and wet. Water here is cocky enough to build up on surfaces and linger in puddles. I still feel the heat of the Valley in my burnt arms and chapped lips though - and the burn gives a pleasure. The truck remains covered in the dust of Death Valley. I lied and said it's too cold to wash it - I just enjoy the way it looks, and as long as it carries the dirt on it I feel tied to Lone Pine Rd.
I came home via Yosemite. I attempted to take some photos but quickly gave up such foolishness. Ansel did it and did it better than any will and to dress up and play Ansel feels childish and offensive. Yosemite is off the charts the way a supermodel is. One can admire her, and have a fantasy; but to hold that, to try to photograph that justly, is pretentious and shameful. Ansel must have had some balls.
* Fun - real Fun. We feel that Fun as kids, and then grow up, and learn to fall in line and no one has any real Fun anymore. Our fun comes from consumption or from other's approvals. Advice: hit the the dirt roads, either solo, or with a very like-minded companion.
The Natural Process:
Education, insight, formulation, and creation will only work right when it is all a part of a true Natural Process. Natural, in the sense of being driven by one's true course. Good or bad, honorable or degrading, epic or insignificant. Our day to day and blur of years all contribute to the True process.
What we forget, what we lack, our regrets, and our failures - they are just as relevant and useful as our most cherished memories and blessings, our proudest achievements.
"Human Beings are works in progress who mistakenly think they're finished."
"I'm only interested in two kinds of people, those who can entertain me, and those who can advance my career." -Ingrid Bergman
"Capa's greatest legacy is not an institution, nor a medal, not the inspirational example he set. It is, as with any photographer, his photographs. 'During his short time on earth he lived and loved a great deal,' Cornell wrote in April 1999 o his brother, 'What he left behind is the story of his unique voyage and a visual testimony affirming his own faith in humankind's capacity to endure and occasionally to overcome.'" -Cornell Capa/ Alex Kershaw
with old cars, especially when you buy them second-
hand and drive them for many years
a love affair is inevitable:
you even learn to
accept their little
the leaking water pump
the failing plugs
the rusted throttle arm
the reluctant carburetor
the oily engine
the dead clock
the frozen speedometer and
you also learn all the tricks to
keep the love affair alive:
how to slam the glove compartment so that
it will stay closed,
how to slap the headlight with an open palm
in order to have
how many times to pump the gas pedal
and how long to wait before
touching the starter,
and you overlook each burn hole in the
and each spring
poking through the fabric.
your car has been in and out of
has been ticketed for various
no turn signals, missing
brake light, broken tail lights, bad
exhaust and so forth
but in spite of everything
you knew you were in good hands,
there was never an accident, the
old car moved you from one place to
- the poor man's miracle.
so when that last breakdown did occur,
when the valves quit,
when the tired pistons
cracked, or the
crankshaft failed and
you sold it for
- you then had to watch it carted
from the back of the tow truck
as if it had no
the bald rear tires
the cracked back window and
the twisted license plate
were the last things you
saw, and it
as it some woman you loved very
and lived with
year after year
and now you
"The Screw Game" -Bukowski
one of the terrible things is
being in bed
night after night
with a woman you no longer
want to screw.
they get old, they don't look very good
anymore - they even tend to
so, in bed, you turn sometimes,
your foot touches hers -
god, awful! -
and the night is out there
beyond the curtains
sealing you together
and in the morning you go to the
bathroom, pass in the hall, talk,
say odd things; eggs fry, motors
but sitting across
you have 2 strangers
jamming toast into mouths
burning the sullen head and gut with
In 10 million places in America
it is the same -
stale lives propped against each
and no place to
you get in the car
and you drive to work
and there are more strangers there, most of them
wives and husbands of somebody
else, and besides the guillotine of work, they
flirt and joke and pinch, sometimes tend to
work off a quick screw somewhere -
they can't do it at home -
the drive back home
waiting for Christmas or Labor Day or
"oh, yes" -Bukowski
there are worse things than
but it often takes decades
to realize this
and most often
when you do
it's too late
and there's nothing worse
the problem never was the Democratic
System, the problem is
THE HUMANITIES -wsh
Some years back while I was attending San Francisco City College
taking any course I could get into simply to defer student loan payments
I took a course titled 'Humanities 1A'
taught by Professor Hendrikson,
he liked to be go by Dennis.
He was and is among the memorable of educators I've sat through.
I admired his thinking.
He got off on culture and Art.
His syllabus was erratic.
His course learned me Coltrane and Mahler
the beautiful composition of Raging Bull
and the optimism of the Brooklyn Bridge.
I looked forward to going to class
and I still wish I'd said hello to a quiet pale girl in a blue dress.
Some months back he came in while I was working.
I shook his hand and said I'd been a student of his.
He put on a show of excitement and politely pretended to remember me.
He was dining with a young demure chinese girl.
she too said he was a former student.
He'd had a row with the Cancer and retired.
Then he launched into a some nonsense about buddhism and it was ok.
It was good to see the silly bastard again
eyes lighting up when he finds an ear to take a piss in.
I brought him and his companion their meal.
He drank gin followed by white wine.
His companion stuck to water.
He paid up tipped well and I wished him well.
He asked for my number
said he enjoys talking to younger students.
Sure I figured he's good for a few drinks at least.
Gave him my number and website.
I'm a photographer I told him
I'd like you to see my art.
I meant it.
That was some months ago.
Old Dennis is full of shit
and I love him all the more for it.
We don't all share the same world.
We each have our own world with our own code.
Things often will exist outside of this world and won't resemble reality.
Trying to walk outside this world is an intrusion into something ugly.
The commute is stuffy and contaminated and back home the curtains are shut and there's little comfort other than sleep.
140825 - Style
What is style? Style is knowing the rules: Space, Form, Line, Weight, Visual-Path, Value, Decisive Moment - and applying/discarding set rules in an intentional manner across the entire of one's body of work.
Wether it be editorial, portraiture, weddings, still-lifes, nature, architecture, landscapes, autos, erotica, street, sports, snapshots, etc... if the artist decisively applies the same Set Of Rules to all his work, a True style will emerge.
Style is deciding upon a certain set of aesthetic rules, and then deliberately applying the same rules to all genres in a consistent manner.
Wether blatant or subtle, the same rules will always be utilized.
One of the great fears among a life of great fears, perhaps the last great fear, is the fear of being no longer useful. We find a role in life, and we do that to the best of our ability for as long as that ability is there. But all of us will someday hit a point where we no longer are able to do that thing that we define ourselves by doing. And more than the fear of aging, more than the fear of death, this is the fear that looms; the loss of self. The self that is the self we imagined we were our whole lives. But we were never that self, not really, we were only a series of selves, living one role, and then leaving it for another. And all the time convincing ourselves that there was no change, that we were always the same person, living the same life, one arc to a finish, not the stutter-step improvisation that is our actual lives. Worry less about the person you once were, or the person you dream you someday will be. Worry about the person you are now. Or, don't even worry. Just BE THAT PERSON. Be the best version of that person you can be. Be a better version than any of the other versions in any of the many parallel universes. -Cecil Baldwin
140829 - The Ballad of Slayer-Girl.
In a sudden and ungraceful manner I quit my job today.
Some would say in a dishonorable manner with minimal notice and salted.
And as is the custom I will be cursed and judged.
I'll be known a bum an asshole inconsiderate.
"What of the company's notice?" they'll cry "the boss deserves his proper notice!"
This obtuse custom this silly rule exists in our tired working culture
that says a worker has an obligation to give an inadequate employer 14 more days of service with no regard to the benefit to the worker in doing so.
Employment is an even mutual agreement between two parties
in which one party provides labor service time
and the other compensates this offering with money.
There is no favor of a personal nature involved in the agreement.
It is a simple arrangement as old as the civilized world.
An employer may decide a worker is no longer of value to the company
or is detrimental to the productivity of the workplace itself.
The employer will terminate the agreement
usually abruptly and without any allowance of 14 days more of an income.
Society accepts this as a reasonable behavior to the conduct of business.
When the worker initiates the termination however
making the choice to cease selling his services to the company
then it is not seen as reasonable it is seen as disgraceful dishonorable and shameful.
And this is ethically unjust.
This is a clear indication of the favor society puts on the Company over the Worker.
The job was a bad job
and I had to let it go
it's nothing personal
it's just business
sometimes a Worker is forced to make a tough decision
for the better good of his immediate interests.
There's characters from the morning bus commute who will be missed.
There was Chinese Woman With The Nice Legs.
And Sleeping Chinese Man With The Hat That Barely Stays On.
And Happy Old Man Who Waves At The Bus Driver From Across The Street.
And Pretty Black Girl Who Works In Japantown And Smells Great.
And Miserable White Lady With The Steelers Jacket Blue Hair And Appears To Be In Pain.
I'll miss Slayer-Girl.
Slayer-Girl with her long brown hair she looked half Native-American and clean.
She'd get on at 3rd Avenue and get off at Powell.
She wore a Slayer hoodie and walked quickly from the bus stop
like she was always running late
and I loved watching her go.
The ugliness we see in others is always the reflected self-hatred of ourselves.
Thoughts from a Stone Bench in Venice
"I sit on this bench and look at the sea and the freaks and the lovers. I need new eyes a new mouth new pillows, a new woman. every old stud with half an eye in his head loves to charm and ride a new young calf. when I think of womenless men mowing their Saturday lawns and playing football, baseball, basketball with their sons I feel like vomiting into the far horizon. the family stinks of Christ and the American Stock Exchange. the family stinks of safety and numbness and Thanksgiving turkeys. the family stinks of airless packed automobiles driving through redwood forests. I need new eyes a new woman new ankles a new voice new betrayals I don’t want a long funeral procession when I die. I want to move on without weight or obligation. I want just the sullen darkness I want a tomb like this night now: me here undiluted -- solid, cranky, immaculate. I hold fast to me. that’s all there is."
prior page torn out.)
...me. It's the one area I have to demand I be able to hang on to. Anything else, I will compromise and adapt and be a good man to you but there's the neurotic 'artist' in me that I can not abandon that will require times that I will need to retreat into myself and have some secrets and get angry, depressed, or dumb-happy for no apparent reason at all. If you can accept this and support this effort - this life-effort - then my love for you you will never waiver and my loyalty and appreciation will be absolute.
"For each event is revealed to us only at the surrender of every alternate course...
All knowledge is a borrowing and every fact a debt" -Cormac McCarthy
141116 - Thanksgiving memories
Buying a pint of bourbon at 10am on the way to work.
A conscious decision of self-abuse to eat lunch at Taco Bell on the way in.
A sad scene.
A Taco-Bell/Kentucky Fried Chicken combo store.
A line to the door.
This is a thing, I thought, people detached from family and unloved and alone - fighting the festivity, stuck working on this old fine holiday - sadistically feeding the fear with burrito supremes and chalupas.
It actually cheered up me a little.
The line of people - overweight, dirty, vacant. Defeated in appearance, but not so; to be defeated, one must enter the fight, and these people never even knew there was one.
The Gods wrote them off non-combatants from the beginning.
These poor slugs were getting the KFC Thanksgiving specials:
ready-made fried turkey, potatoes-gravy, rolls, 2 liter bottle of soda -
all boxed up and carried away in a plastic bag.
I've broken hearts without looking away, I killed my dog with my own hands, I watched cancer drag out the death of my mother for years.
And that scene in the Kentucky Fried Chicken on Thanksgiving day was sad.
Found a taco bar and had a couple beers and ate Thanksgiving carnitas, drank a little of the whiskey in alley around the corner from work, called my mother's sister - and she didn't even mention her name.
I went to work.
I served Thanksgiving prix-fix to wealthy patrons who pay to consume a holiday prepared and served by workers who hate them.
It's hard to say which group deserves the pity.
April 22, 1958
57 Perry Street
New York City
You ask advice: ah, what a very human and very dangerous thing to do! For to
give advice to a man who asks what to do with his life implies something very
close to egomania. To presume to point a man to the right and ultimate goal — to
point with a trembling finger in the RIGHT direction is something only a fool
would take upon himself.
I am not a fool, but I respect your sincerity in asking my advice. I ask you though,
in listening to what I say, to remember that all advice can only be a product of the
man who gives it. What is truth to one may be disaster to another. I do not see life
through your eyes, nor you through mine. If I were to attempt to give you specific
advice, it would be too much like the blind leading the blind.
“To be, or not to be: that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of
troubles … ” (Shakespeare)
And indeed, that IS the question: whether to float with the tide, or to swim for a
goal. It is a choice we must all make consciously or unconsciously at one time in
our lives. So few people understand this! Think of any decision you’ve ever made
which had a bearing on your future: I may be wrong, but I don’t see how it could
have been anything but a choice however indirect — between the two things I’ve
mentioned: the floating or the swimming.
But why not float if you have no goal? That is another question. It is
unquestionably better to enjoy the floating than to swim in uncertainty. So how
does a man find a goal? Not a castle in the stars, but a real and tangible thing.
How can a man be sure he’s not after the “big rock candy mountain,” the enticing
sugarcandy goal that has little taste and no substance?
The answer — and, in a sense, the tragedy of life — is that we seek to understand
the goal and not the man. We set up a goal which demands of us certain things:
and we do these things. We adjust to the demands of a concept which CANNOT
be valid. When you were young, let us say that you wanted to be a fireman. I feel
reasonably safe in saying that you no longer want to be a fireman. Why? Because
your perspective has changed. It’s not the fireman who has changed, but you.
Every man is the sum total of his reactions to experience. As your experiences
differ and multiply, you become a different man, and hence your perspective
changes. This goes on and on. Every reaction is a learning process; every
significant experience alters your perspective.
So it would seem foolish, would it not, to adjust our lives to the demands of a goal
we see from a different angle every day? How could we ever hope to accomplish
anything other than galloping neurosis?
The answer, then, must not deal with goals at all, or not with tangible goals,
anyway. It would take reams of paper to develop this subject to fulfillment. God
only knows how many books have been written on “the meaning of man” and that
sort of thing, and god only knows how many people have pondered the subject. (I
use the term “god only knows” purely as an expression.) There’s very little sense
in my trying to give it up to you in the proverbial nutshell, because I’m the first to
admit my absolute lack of qualifications for reducing the meaning of life to one or
I’m going to steer clear of the word
“existentialism,” but you might keep it in
mind as a key of sorts. You might also try
something called “Being and Nothingness”
by JeanPaul Sartre, and another little
thing called “Existentialism: From
Dostoyevsky to Sartre.” These are merely
suggestions. If you’re genuinely satisfied
with what you are and what you’re doing,
then give those books a wide berth. (Let
sleeping dogs lie.) But back to the answer.
As I said, to put our faith in tangible goals
would seem to be, at best, unwise. So we
do not strive to be firemen, we do not
strive to be bankers, nor policemen, nor doctors.WE STRIVE TO BE
But don’t misunderstand me. I don’t mean that we can’t BE firemen, bankers, or
doctors — but that we must make the goal conform to the individual, rather than
make the individual conform to the goal. In every man, heredity and environment
have combined to produce a creature of certain abilities and desires — including a
deeply ingrained need to function in such a way that his life will be
MEANINGFUL. A man has to BE something; he has to matter.
As I see it then, the formula runs something like this: a man must choose a path
which will let his ABILITIES function at maximum efficiency toward the
gratification of his DESIRES. In doing this, he is fulfilling a need (giving himself
identity by functioning in a set pattern toward a set goal), he avoids frustrating
his potential (choosing a path which puts no limit on his self development), and
he avoids the terror of seeing his goal wilt or lose its charm as he draws closer to it
(rather than bending himself to meet the demands of that which he seeks, he has
bent his goal to conform to his own abilities and desires).
In short, he has not dedicated his life to reaching a predefined goal, but he has
rather chosen a way of life he KNOWS he will enjoy. The goal is absolutely
secondary: it is the functioning toward the goal which is important. And it seems
almost ridiculous to say that a man MUST function in a pattern of his own
choosing; for to let another man define your own goals is to give up one of the
most meaningful aspects of life — the definitive act of will which makes a man an
Let’s assume that you think you have a choice of eight paths to follow (all predefined
paths, of course). And let’s assume that you can’t see any real purpose in
any of the eight. THEN — and here is the essence of all I’ve said — you MUST
FIND A NINTH PATH.
Naturally, it isn’t as easy as it sounds. You’ve lived a relatively narrow life, a
vertical rather than a horizontal existence. So it isn’t any too difficult to
understand why you seem to feel the way you do. But a man who procrastinates in
his CHOOSING will inevitably have his choice made for him by circumstance.
So if you now number yourself among the disenchanted, then you have no choice
but to accept things as they are, or to seriously seek something else. But beware of
looking for goals: look for a way of life. Decide how you want to live and then see
what you can do to make a living WITHIN that way of life. But you say, “I don’t
know where to look; I don’t know what to look for.”
And there’s the crux. Is it worth giving up what I have to look for something
better? I don’t know — is it? Who can make that decision but you? But even by
DECIDING TO LOOK, you go a long way toward making the choice.
If I don’t call this to a halt, I’m going to find myself writing a book. I hope it’s not
as confusing as it looks at first glance. Keep in mind, of course, that this is MY
WAY of looking at things. I happen to think that it’s pretty generally applicable,
but you may not. Each of us has to create our own credo — this merely happens to
If any part of it doesn’t seem to make sense, by all means call it to my attention.
I’m not trying to send you out “on the road” in search of Valhalla, but merely
pointing out that it is not necessary to accept the choices handed down to you by
life as you know it. There is more to it than that — no one HAS to do something he
doesn’t want to do for the rest of his life. But then again, if that’s what you wind
up doing, by all means convince yourself that you HAD to do it. You’ll have lots of
And that’s it for now. Until I hear from you again, I remain,
The man who believes that the secrets of the world are forever hidden lives in mystery and fear. Superstition will drag him down. The rain will erode the deeds of his life. But the man who sets himself the task of singling out the thread of order from the tapestry will by the decision alone have taken charge of the world and it is only by such taking charge that he will effect a way to dictate the terms of his own fate.
For each fire is all fires, the first fire and the last ever to be.
What joins men together is not the sharing of bread, but the sharing of enemies.
A man seeks his own destiny and no other. Will or nil. Any man who could discover his own fate and elect therefore some opposite course could only come at last to that selfsame reckoning at the same appointed time, for each man's destiny is as large as the world he inhabits and contains within all opposites as well. The desert upon which so many have been broken is vast and calls for largeness of heart, but it is also ultimately empty. It is hard, it is barren. Its very nature is stone.
The true character of a man gone - his ethos, inner-workings, desires will be found in buried text messages browser history/bookmarks, in lost conversations with the unsavory folk whom will never be known to those most closely affect by the passing.
It's the secret, unspoken corners of life that show the truest character of a man. -WS
by Louis Jenkins
They no longer sleep quite as well as they did
when they were younger. He lies awake thinking
of things that happened years ago, turning
uncomfortably from time to time, pulling on the
blankets. She worries about money. First one
and then the other is awake during the night,
in shifts as if keeping watch, though they can’t
see very much in the dark and it’s quiet. They
are sentries at some outpost, an abandoned fort
somewhere in the middle of the Great Plains
where only the wind is a regular visitor. Each
stands guard in the wilderness of an imagined
life in which the other sleeps untroubled.
"The Couple" by Louis Jenkins from Before You Know It. © Will O’ Wisp Books, 2009.
All the time you've pissed away and continue on the same - waiting for something to happen with-out yourself. Waiting around to die.
A Quilt - A Vacation Alone
A man wished to take a little trip.
He worked hard and rarely took much time off.
He planned and cleared the time off at work - nothing much, five days, not much more than a long weekend.
When his requested time came through, he couldn't keep his thoughts straight as he sat in traffic on the freeway, staring at the taillights of a BMW for ninety minutes and three miles.
He got home and kissed his lady and told her of his upcoming days off.
His loving lady scrambled to see if she could get the time off too - to see about hotel rates and travel deals.
The man stopped her.
And it wasn't easy.
He had to tell her - that he was going to be taking this time alone.
And his lady was hurt, confused, and upset.
'Why shouldn't we go together? It's been so long since we've gone out of town together."
And the man didn't have the heart to tell her that he wanted to be away from her for a little while. And not just her, but the decorations of the house - the television she watches every night - the music she plays in her car - the workplace stories - the love lives of her friends - the forced ritual of living around her.
The man wanted to be away from their shared bed. With its pillows too soft and bedding too heavy and stuffy. Where either he felt cramped and forced off the edge neglected, ignored, and lonely.
The man wanted to sleep alone again - just for a few days.
He wanted to roll up in his old quilt his grandmother had made long ago. The quilt he'd dragged around his whole life. The quilt his mother used to spread out on the lawn of some forgotten house and let the man as a baby crawl around on it, trying to leave the edges and being caught and turned back the other way.
The quilt he'd be wrapped in when he'd stay home sick from school and drink milkshakes and watch Picard and Data all day.
The quilt he took to apartments and crashpads where he'd roll up in it and worry about decisions of the past and results in the future.
The quilt the man spent uncountable, forgotten nights in, stoned, drunk, daring death to
The man fucked and made love inside that quilt.
Every girl who'd give herself up in that quilt was sharing in the essence and aroma of each other.
The quilt had been farted, bled, drooled, and come in.
Prior to that, it was used for Independence Day picnics on the sand by the Pacific Ocean.
Years later, the man would also take the quilt camping in conjunction and in place of a sleeping bag.
The quilt was laid down in oak tree leaves in the smoke of campfires and allowed to be encroached upon by the creepy crawlies of the night.
The quilt was thrown in the backseats and beds of pickup trucks along with spent ammunition and empty whiskey bottles.
The quilt was put together by the man's grandmother while chain-smoking cigarettes and slurping black coffee.
The quilt doesn't often get washed.
The quilt carries around the smell of a life lived - nothing extraordinary, a simple, normal type of life of a certain type of man who would care about holding onto something such as a quilt.
And this man wanted to go away for a few days and sleep in this quilt again. He wanted to drive about with no agenda.
No place to be except home in a few days to his lady.
And she couldn't see it.
She saw a man who was supposed to be devoted to her abandoning her. Leaving her to do unknown, suspicious acts. Look upon sights unevaluated by her and unverified and
therefore unreal and childish and silly and without merit.
At night she wraps herself in the quilt while she watches television and gets high, unaware of the lineage she's taking part in.
The quilt is legacy. It's rebellion and foundation - a hedonistic sacrament.
It's the heart of the matter and all who wrap themselves within wrap up in the heart - wretched and true.
"I need to live in New York. It's the cave of the sleeping sharks:
They used to think that sharks didn’t sleep, but it turns out they found a cave off the coast of Mexico where the sharks found a current, and they just turn their heads toward the current and the oxygen comes to them.
That's what New York's like: The oxygen comes to you."
-Steve Earle. Mother Jones 150422
Happiness is irrelevant without security.
"A man is a success who wakes in the morning and lays to sleep at night and in between does whatever he wants." -Zimmerman
"We were neither what we were nor what we would become at the destination."
The satisfaction of the traveling man. He is transitional, in a state of passage, undefinable by his past or future - simply a traveler.
These nights, I sleep to the sound of low-flying helicopters.
In the morning, the dog snores deep and low
and I think it’s the foghorn blowing back in San Francisco.
At night, when I finish my shift - done working with actors
who serve other actors, I leave the pretty faces behind and
get back in the dirty truck and take the long way home through
bright busy streets and breath in deep the smell of in-and-out burger carried on the wind.
You try to run an errand here -
go to a repair shop, or get a sandwich for lunch -
and you hand your keys over to a parking attendant
who moves your seat and mirrors around.
Went camping on the Carrizo with Tierney.
Nice time. Good to be out of LA.
Camping will always have the effect of stretching the time out. Feels longer than it is. Three days/two nights can feel like a week and that's the beauty of the thing - it's an easy way for a poor man to maximize his time for maximum benefit.
It's the lack of stimulus - no computer, minimal cell service, no TV. As stimuli slows down, so does time and when one is forced to focus the mind inward and on natural things like the habits of birds at certain times of day and the cycle of the sun and moon and avoiding getting stuck on washed-out backroads, one's entire physical body and perception of the world slow down a little too.
Tierney says that camping is the closest grown men can get to reliving what summer vacation was like as children.
The last morning the alarm was set in order to shoot the predawn over the valley.
I woke bitterly cold and sore from the hard ground. And I woke to discover my camera, my ten year old camera, bought with Mother's meager life insurance, broken. Physically broken, the internal mirror rattling loose. Heartbroken.
The only photo missed that day was another gutless picture that's been shot to death.
Canon will fix the camera for free, 4 week turnaround. In the month the camera is gone, it allows time to think straight and true about what I intend to do with that camera when it returns.
The rifted valley of the Carrizo is beautiful - the lost time tracked in the foothills, the massive crack in the Earth courtesy of St. Andreas, the massive potential of life should the rains return, red-tails sounding overhead.
I got off work late.
Later than expected.
Due to a delirious old jew making me stay open.
I get out hungry.
Buy a six pack of beer and grab a couple tacos
at Cactus Taqueria on Vine near Melrose.
I wait my turn in line behind clowns and sirens.
I sit on the tailgate of the truck in the parking lot
and eat tacos and drink beer,
And watch the Hollywood traffic go by.
I get on the 101 North,
find a jazz radio station
and drive back to the girlfriend's apartment
Seeing lines in the freeway traffic
and weaving in and out like a real L-A-Asshole.
The moon shines bright and I drive real fast while the jazz plays real slow.
Back at the apartment - drink a few more beers - write a dumb poem - wash up -
and go to bed.
The pretty moments are fleeting and you got to look hard to see them.
"The 'Present' is an abstraction.
A Beach: the sand is the past
the water is the future
the ever-changing line
where the two meet
is the 'present.'
Men want to see a definable
There is no line,
just water and sand.
lack of order or predictability, gradual decline into disorder.
entropy is the only quantity in the physical sciences that requires a particular direction of time.
Therefore, the only true observable measure of universal time, may be of things falling apart.
I wish I could remember every little
silly thing I ever read that made me
feel a little better about the
time to come:
There's a story somewhere -
about a motherless child,
raised wild by a wild father
until someone shows the man
the broken heart
he didn't know he had.
I ran out of Los Angeles.
Ran out on an angry beauty.
And as I sit here by the window,
drinking burnt coffee,
and trying to find a joy in words again,
I reckon I'm still on the run.
Royals are tied with the Mets, game 1
4-4. World Series 2015
I've got Martin on one hand
and a bait shop on the other
Ate a steak
Drank some wine
That's called something to do.
But baseball on the radio softens the cut
of a life spent waiting out
minutes of the night.
And it's still 4-4.
Wore a costume for Halloween.
In a crowd of sexy cats
television show characters
and the occasional
I was truly a fright to behold:
black head to toe -
cape worn backward and tied at the waist.
In the cape went the little treats
from strangers in the night.
Wore a mask with a sinister, welcoming smile
and false eyeballs -
I flew about - trading sacrificial beasts
away for shining tithings
and the tithings melted down into a dark potion
that make it as though the night never happened.
It was the scariest costume in town.
How does it end?
With uncombed hair and bleeding fingernails?
With a thousand poems locked away
on out-dated hard-drives?
unreal, binary, and a lousy daydream -
with a lifetime no more significant than
a morning spent hitting snooze for an hour -
for four hundred thousand hours.
Does it end with a silly offering?
A work produced by digging up change
from under the driver's seat
and paid for with tax returns?
A work produced in shame
and handed off with an apology -
as if she is doing you a favor.
Accomplished men -
Proud men -
Finished men -
They must all be fucking crazy men.
And perhaps that there is it.
I burned my hand at work -
that tender bitch of a space between the thumb and pointer finger.
I wrap it up each day
and the bastard won't heal.
The daily activity
- make it slow to heal.
Friday the 13th of November - 2015.
I write now in the in the early hours
by the window, drinking the coffee, hearing the news of the world.
And it's a nice indulgence.
In a few hours I'll don my blacks,
head out to do thankless labor,
with no pride, no passion,
and only one outcome.
I met Dad for dinner last night.
Two bites in and my chest tightened up -
couldn't breath or swallow.
Caused a scene
and scared the old man.
Wish I could see a doctor,
and receive the bad news.
the continual condition:
all up and down the avenues
the people are in pain;
they sleep in pain, they awaken
even the buildings are in pain,
the flowers are in pain
and there is nothing
pain sits, pain floats, pain
the music is bad
and the love
and the script
in this place now
as I type this
or as you read this
in your place now.
let's have some fun:
there will always be people who say, let's go on a boat or
let's go to Argentina or let's go to a movie or let's go to a
tennis match or let's visit my sister
or how about a picnic?
I don't understand any of this
because to me
just walking across the room is like walking through flames
the first strange face I see each day
adds a knot to my stomach
I don't have the time because
I haven't paid the gas bill
or checked the air in my tires
one of my teeth is aching (on the left side)
and I've received several letters in the mail from crazies
and there's a notice form the government about a tax matter
and I need an oil change (and my car needs one too).
there's a fellow down the street and he just sits on his porch.
there are people who just sit a lifetime with unblinking eyes.
these could be the wise ones.
I am not one of the wise ones.
I even fight dragon in the dungeons of my sleep.
so if you want to send me to an early hell
then force me to spend an entire day at Disneyland.
we tend to like these artists
who starved or went mad or killed themselves
and were discovered afterwards.
it happens often
because great talent is usually fifty to
one hundred years ahead of its
most of those acclaimed in their
are mediocre performers.
of course, this is common knowledge,
so common that many of those who are not
recognized in their time
believe that this is a sign of their own true
and countless wives, children, relatives,
friends and bystanders
because of this illusion.
to laugh truly is to continue anyhow.
squeeze out that extra poem unless it arrives by
this is that extra poem and it's not arriving by
so I don't expect it to
I am using this poem to fill in space as I drink
my last glass of wine
it has been a satisfactory night: I viewed an
excellent boxing match
powdered the cats for flea
answered two letters
wrote four poems.
some nights I write ten poems
answer six letters
but in all things
the ideal is a gentle
now this glass of wine is almost
I watch the cars peeling off the freeway
contentment between agonies is the elixir
the glass of wine is now empty.
this flag not fondly waving:
1. as freighters large as city blocks pull slowly into the harbor under my window
I think of all the hopeful writers who finally were told to
sit down and forget it...
2. while your woman shops for a blouse you drink coffee in the shopping center restaurant surrounded by clerks
on a break
complaining about their irritated lives
while you remember visiting a dying John Fante
in a hospital room
and how his fingers on the sheet were
white like lilies
as the nurse came in
cracking a little joke.
3. you notice the
paw prints of a cat
on the hood of your car
like a ghost walked there
only to find the cat later
curled up on the backseat
looking up at you and past
you and through you.
4. parts of a former time, parts of a lost place,
watching an old James Cagney movie,
never having really like Cagney
this warm impossible
as once again he struts before you
in black and white,
cocky, bluffing, obnoxious and
5. In World War 1 newsreels
(shown many years later
in our high school civics class)
to make the Scots in their
more acceptable to Americans
the propagandists called them
"The Ladies From Hell."
but I never liked them
when I was a boy
because they had knobby knees
and I was afraid their skirts
might fly up.
also I never saw them win
although I am sure
6. now it's computers and more computers
and soon everybody will have one,
3-year-olds will have computers
and everybody will know everything
about everybody else
long before they meet them
and so they won't want to meet them.
nobody will want to meet anybody
else ever again
and everybody will be
like I am now.
7. she took me to Valentino's tomb.
She wanted to steal flowers
from Valentino's tomb
but there weren't any
so she walked me around
to the other tombs.
it was shady in there
like leopard's breath
and she found a tomb with a
fresh supply of flowers
and she quickly dropped them
into her purse
along with her pills and cigarettes
and we walked out
of the tombs
and sat down on a memorial bench
to a dead actor
who used to fuck
and we lit our cigarettes.
8. the Gays have not only come out of the
closet, but they have managed somehow to put us in it.
9. well, you copulate and you copulate.
you leave this one's place and you
go to that one's place
and you compare
and the contents of
and always it means
leaving and then
coming back again
and it means
manipulating this one
against that one.
and you copulate and you
copulate until your
ears drop off and your
teeth fall out
and you know that
will you ever again be jealous
of any so-called "ladies'
except those who
get paid for what
you must do for nothing.
10. my lawyer told me that
Abe Lincoln really did
some malicious things,
some almost illegal
and self-serving things,
and then my lawyer
went on to describe
some of them.
I was there to see him
and then he dropped the
Lincoln thing on me
about Lincoln, it didn't
history never interested
11. I think of my first whore
and how good her legs
as she sat
across from me
in the bedroom (that was
also my front room and
and I knew then
before anything could happen
that it would never be
neon lights blinking through
the window of
my 4th floor hotel
room that was
paid-up one week
I liked what I had
I poured the whiskey tall
for both of us
and we drank and
and then looking away,
talking worldly superior
(she was my
my long life has always been
only this and no
a fine madness:
so many of my brain cells eaten away by
as I sit here drinking now,
all of my drinking companions dead,
I scratch my belly and dream of the
I drink alone now.
I drink with myself and for myself.
I drink to my life and to my death.
my thirst is still not satisfied.
I light another cigarette, turn the
bottle slowly, admire its gorgeous
a fine companion.
years have passed like this.
what else could I have done
and done so well?
I have consumed more drink than the first
one hundred men you will pass
on the street
or meet in the madhouse.
I scratch my belly and dream of the
I have joined the great drunks of
LiPo, Toulouse-Loutrec, Crane, Faulkner.
I have been selected
but by whom?
I stop now, lift the bottle, swallow a
impossible for me to think that
some have actually stopped and
it saddens me.
they are dry, dull, safe.
I scratch my belly and dream of the
the world is full for me and I am
I drink this last one for all of you
and to me.
it is very late now, a lone
dog howls in the
and I am as young as
the fire that still
151120 - WS
For many years I lived shabbily.
Sleeping in cold rooms, drinking excessively,
doing bad drugs, having bad sexual relations,
not eating well, not exercising.
Sitting out on fire escapes -
smoking cigarettes, drinking whiskey -
in the damp wind and fog -
laughing at the stars.
The city of San Francisco despite all the filth,
all the congested human nastiness -
exotic chinese flus that ride
the Muni with the windows shut tight
and heaters running -
and the shit on the sidewalks,
on the rare warm days you'd walk and know
you were inhaling gallons of urine -
cooking and carried in the springtime wind.
The City itself -
the soil and landfill beneath -
more and more filth -
200 years of garbage, disease, death.
Still, I managed to stay healthy.
Not much more than a runny nose over the course of a decade.
Los Angeles. With the fumes in the air,
the daily anxiety
the daily hatred
and the absence of anything resembling sleep
- my body stayed healthy, even while my
psyche fell apart.
And now in the town of SLO.
this little town with no definition,
a Californian slacker-town.
I've lived in this false eden for
not two months now.
Been sick with flu twice -
can't digest food -
joints ache -
move like an old man.
I eat reasonably, no smoking, no drugs,
cut back on beer, sleep well -
I even run a heater at night.
And my body fights me,
calls me out -
for thinking it's time to be easy -
for assuming I deserve peace and comfort.
I guess I miss the filth.
Miss living restlessly and hard.
I guess I won't stay for long.
An ugly word of advise on middle-aged dating:
A woman -
nasty with her ugly eyes,
waiting for the next big dick to bend over
and let her sit down on it like the princess
she was always told she'd be.
Vile with sticky, cracked, painted lips -
lips that look like a crumbling wall of an old bar.
The hairy upper lip, the fuzzy cheeks, the bony feet -
jammed into ridiculous shoes, neither seductive or functional,
as useful as the varicosed stems stuck into them.
The ruddy skin,
pimples, red nose, thin lips, flat ass, smelly cunt, calloused knees.
The automated way she'll suck cock with no passion and with yet a flawless result.
She drinks beer and vodka - smokes cigarettes, fucks for pain pills,
sleeps late and eats cake for breakfast.
Curses mothers and lusts for fathers.
She only sees herself the way she thinks others see her.
She carries disease and misery.
She feeds on Love and Truth, fattens herself on it -
and then flushes it away.
She's hunting you down.
Stay Free. Stay Strong. Show No Mercy -
for you shall receive none.
I forgot these nights
along the western edge of the U - S of
In the stretch of land
south of San Francisco and
north of Los Angeles and
west of the Great Central Valley.
This little-big stretch of territory known as the
I forgot the weather of winter -
a deep-cold that gets down into your bones and turns your ears to glass
and cars won't start
and children won't rise
and dogs die overnight in icy-dry riverbeds.
The grass crunches underfoot and oak trees creak and sag under the
Stars shine twice as bright and the air is held still.
These nights - hasty decisions are made -
love is made by kids and futures are defined in dark cars parked by the cold Pacific.
I'd like to go to France.
For many years I would deny this.
But in my newly-fitted middle-agedness, I now would like to see Paris.
And as long as I make it to France, well -
I might as well have a look-around the place.
I'd like to sit in a shabby cafe,
smile at French girls, speak American to French dogs, sip on wine,
and toast my mother with a beauty with some beauty who doesn't know why this strange Californian cries when he laughs.
I'd like to see the art - all of it.
All the pictures I know referenced by 20th century American writers.
I want to see those pictures with no explanation.
I'd like to stumble though the avenues of the ancient city along the streets of revolutions, beheadings, invading empires.
I'd wander the streets and try to see what Cartier-Bresson saw -
with a clean-happy eye - and a 21st century American tongue -
and a dark joy.
I'd find a tavern with an old bottle of mean bourbon inside -
and toast my father.
A weekend in the City -
Out-drinking an old friend and sending him home sloppy to the wife.
Stop off at the old job to say hello and to passively brag that I can do so.
A tip of the cap to the rich lonely wino who watches games til the very end.
Kiss on the cheek to Thai beauties behind the old bar.
Back to the old hood to see about a pretty young thing.
Two days in bed -
Drinking, making love, watching football, coffee, croissants, and whiskey -
Served up from an overeager housemate while we laid naked and stinking of sex.
Late in the day we put on pants and got take-out bbq - I drove she paid.
Returned, undressed, ate ribs in bed, fucked, took a nap.
In the morning we kissed goodbye and I took the backdoor out of town -
with no glance back to anything resembling a cable-car, bridge, or a past life-lived.
Sentimentality is ugly masochism and does nothing but feed a broken heart.
The Great Highway is lonely and cold and the Great Pacific is barely seen though the fog and it passes judgment with a dark brooding sneer and it's wise not to look it direct and you always drive too fast and stand on the throttle when the light goes to yellow and it's always on the way out of something and it's always sad.
When it comes to work, as in labor-for-wage, a man should not bitch.
A self-respecting man, and a good worker alike, will either suck it up or walk.
No one likes a bellyacher but everyone respects a worker who tells the boss to
If a job is worth bitching about, then it is worth quitting; and if the misgiving isn't worth quitting over, then running your mouth does nothing.
Too many anymore - workers and bosses both - forget it's a always a two-way mutual agreement.
The boss is the customer of the worker.
The worker sells his time, know-how, and skill-set to the boss;
and may therefore pull the product when business is no longer wanted.
From the kitchen window -
709 Leff - corner of Broad - roughly 7am:
The topmost point of madonna mountain (alex madonna was a thieving son of a bitch)
gets the first pink pop of the rising sun.
For a few minutes the mountain looks like the massive breast
of a young woman lying on her back
and shot on negative transparency.
And maybe there's some sort of perverted analogy to be made here:
of this town being a young woman -
lying back -
waiting to be fucked or photographed.
But that isn't the point.
When the new day's light hits that peak it puts my mind to mountains.
There's one with a snaking paved road that ends in a parking lot
and holds up an iconic tower that resembles a weapon.
Mornings were spent up there -
drunk, cocaine hangovers, dirty -
seeing the city wake up below.
Feeling like a twisted god in a 6-cylindered chariot.
And the ominous tower beaming out signals.
And there was another -
A broad-black mountain with a deep cut
and hidden within it an eye that can see into other galaxies.
This mountain was forty minutes outside of Hell
and it was quiet and cool up there.
I pulled over one day to pick wildflowers in vain for a love I already knew was gone.
"Modern philosophers and scientists have used their minds to dismiss the mind.
Ignoring the logical contradiction in doing so, they reject, or at least place disabling restrictions upon, the idea that we are free to think.
The mind is no longer the originator of ideas, the shaper of personal destinies, or the impartial judge of behavior.
It is merely a piece of software written by random, unthinking, evolutionary processes - class consciousness, sexual yearnings, parental abuse, environmental conditioning, genetic programming, and other deterministic influences prior to the individual or beyond his control.
...Are we really free in our doing if we are not free in our thinking?"
no leaders, please
invent yourself and then reinvent yourself,
don't swim in the same slough.
invent yourself and then reinvent yourself
stay out of the clutches of mediocrity.
change your tone and shape so often that they can
reinvigorate yourself and
accept what is
but only on the terms that you have invented
and reinvent your life because you must;
it is your life and
and the present
belong only to
and we find ourselves
listening for a beep from the cellphone
yet not caring whether it does or not
sleeping in late
drinking jim for breakfast
laundry, a game of pool alone, beers
a twelve dollar sandwich, surrounded by children
in university t-shirts and flip-flops
an old record
and a nap
and back to work -
and the phone stays quiet.
Buying pleasure at eight bucks a pop.
Last night, on US-101N, on the way to King city - somewhere around San Ardo,
a lone pair of headlights caught up to the rearview mirror.
And it wasn't hard to see a dark driver
leaning on the pedal
closing the distance
mile by mile
minute by minute
giving a sporting warning by headlight
to allow for a run.
But there's only one road
and one way North
and the tank will go dry.
160311 - On Cruelty
It's the same old song - something can't be right when even the fantasy involves solitude and a slow suicide.
More often, the simplicity of just not waking up in the morning sounds like a fortunate happening.
Selfish - but how would I know?
The gut doesn't hold food and the mind doesn't hold drink and the heart has no capacity any longer for all the feelings that come from this kind of living.
Even the decision of self-destruction carries along with it intolerable debts and burdens - a man no longer can even make the choice to check out without first clearing it with the bosses.
Debts must be paid off, accords settled up, letters written, possessions accounted for, messages saved and others burned - it's quite the ordeal for one to responsibly kill himself it seems.
And it shouldn't need to go this way, my conventional social-conditioning says. But why not? How many have done this before who desperately tried to reason their way out?
Everyone would be ok - except for Dad, of course - and for his sake, I will put this off as well - put off the final chore in the same way I put off all else in life.
160322 The Last Time
And another one has gone.
another pretty face, another pair of lovely eyes that look at you as though she'd been waiting her whole life to find you -
And for a couple days she leads you to truly believe that the whole damn thing is going to be ok after all.
And all the past failures, all the tears and apologies that came before - that they were all worth it. Just for her.
And now she's gone, like the rest - to be added to the ugly collection of beautiful failures.
Scores of them
blotted out by high-impact
of glass and steel.
Their unchanged, organic, perfect lives
They never see it coming.
And we curse their lives passing with ours -
desecrate their remains,
so we may see what's coming
and postpone our own fate.
Richard Pryor said
"If I stop - I'll die."
And then he stopped.
And then he died.
When writing depressing poetry
becomes so intolerable
and so fucking boring
but the fear persists
what the fuck
else is there to do?
A photograph isn't much
different then a shitty
And no one looks at a picture
'the guy that took that is miserable.'
- 'an asshole, maybe,
but he's doing
At times you'll just sit and watch the rain,
grateful for the relief it brings.
And you'll dream of death and brotherhood,
you'll dream of survival and judgment and determination,
you'll dream of truth and fear.
It's easy to say that there's nothing left to be said.
Not true. There's always something else to say - it just never always has to matter.
Now let me give you the benefit of my experience in facing 400 pages of blank stock—the appalling stuff that must be filled. I know that no one really wants the benefit of anyone’s experience which is probably why it is so freely offered. But the following are some of the things I have had to do to keep from going nuts.
1. Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish. Lose track of the 400 pages and write just one page for each day; it helps. Then when it gets finished, you are always surprised.
2. Write freely and as rapidly as possible and throw the whole thing on paper. Never correct or rewrite until the whole thing is down. Rewrite in process is usually found to be an excuse for not going on. It also interferes with flow and rhythm which can only come from a kind of unconscious association with the material.
3. Forget your generalized audience. In the first place, the nameless, faceless audience will scare you to death and in the second place, unlike the theatre, it doesn’t exist. In writing, your audience is one single reader. I have found that sometimes it helps to pick out one person—a real person you know, or an imagined person and write to that one.
4. If a scene or a section gets the better of you and you still think you want it—bypass it and go on. When you have finished the whole you can come back to it and then you may find that the reason it gave trouble is because it didn’t belong there.
5. Beware of a scene that becomes too dear to you, dearer than the rest. It will usually be found that it is out of drawing.
6. If you are using dialogue—say it aloud as you write it. Only then will it have the sound of speech.
Steinbeck—From a letter to Robert Wallsten,
"Truth is ever to be found in simplicity, and not in the multiplicity and confusion of things."
-Sir Isaac Newton
And so herein a new journal begins.
Trouble comes to us all in the future,
like empty bottles to be trashed, we will
all be cashed in for our determined worth.
Fantasies of war, of broken-down systems,
fallen states; an end to the entitled
notion of security and progress.
These things until now have been dirty reads;
books, movies of apocalypse - in the
same genre of starships, monsters, gods, and
dragons. It may soon be the painful truth.
And one year from now - when turning back to
page one, what will be missed? and what laughed at?
A year used to seem like a long way off -
Anymore, it's just as easy to say
give it a year - I'll do it in a year..
"You build on failure - you use it as a stepping stone." -John Cash
Means to an end!..Photography is not the goal; it is the tool we use to reach the goal - some form of artistic expression that uses photography, but not about Photography.
"Love is an Act, not a sentiment."
Not only is the camera simply a tool, but so is photography itself.
The same as how a writer uses a pen and paper to create a Book, but even still, the book is merely a device in which to carry a message.
Don't think about "Photography" as the end, but what it is you want to make, using photography.
"He filled notebooks upon notebooks with ideas he was afraid to try."
"Mastery is built on long periods of practice without tangible results - which lead to bursts of improvement - which then give way to steady, deliberate practice once again"
"We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office." -Aesop
It's a show folks!
And for the show to go on
the producer must be allowed to Work!
No one wants to see behind the curtain;
No one especially wants to live behind it.
My mother was born in the Ides of March.
Like Caesar, she was betrayed without mercy.
Caesar however, had it coming to him.
The seer told Caesar on his way to the assassination "The Ides have come, but they are not yet gone."
Things fall apart. How'd we come to be this way?
A generation of suckers. We'll be sucked dry til we snap and take a few of the bastards with us as we lay down and let our light finally be let out of our innards in a final moment of ugly, tragic glory - the only glory we'll ever be allowed to know.
We just want peace. We want to feel what it's like to not have to savor little moments, and to know the future is a better place. We want to sleep without shielding our minds from reality.
The fear is many will not know this peace.
Anger is an energy. All energy can be used for creation.
Dumb, stubborn, optimistic determination may be the most important instinct for our species - coupled with self-awareness and consciousness, it's this brute forward-momentum that has kept man from eradicating himself long ago.
The tribe-instinct is to persevere - the individual's rational conclusion however is to cut one's own throat.
The appeal of bachelorhood is the simplicity, obviously. It has nothing to with womanizing. I'm convinced all men do not actually care for "the sporting life," it's far too much work - no, the simple predictability is the only appeal of bachelorhood.
As miserable and lonely as a son of a bitch may become - there's such a peace in being able to come home, lock the door behind you, and control all.
It's the uneasy, volatile nature of a woman's reactions to seemingly simple matters that drive married men mad to the point that they stay late at work, create chores and errands out of thin air, and beat their fists on the walls at night.
We build castles and return to the comfort of caves.
Don't make "Photographs"; Use a camera to make pictures of what you want to know more about. Remember that all people really want to do is talk and hear about themselves.
Dreams used to involve being rich, powerful, and admired - traveling the world, living in mansions with attendants and a fleet of vehicles - commanding empires from high towers - owning the spotlight on stage and screen - giving speeches - receiving accolades.
Nowadays, I wouldn't have it.
Given the opportunity to live out a fantasy, it wouldn't even be in this world. I'd live in a world where the lights have gone out and the flags have all burned and the land has gone quiet.
It'd be a life lived in a simple shelter. I'd rather live in a cave in the hills or a shack on the shore of some river if it meant I never had to answer another phonecall or listen to another asshole speak with my best interests in mind.
Being wealthy no longer seems as fun as simply being allowed some peace.
Covered in rat piss
thinking about poor decisions from 20
breaking them 10 minutes later
throwing away unopened mail
thinking about union jobs
jobs that turn you 55 overnight
wondering what's on tv tonight
posing for pictures
to look at for a few minutes
It's hard to know that under different circumstances
if a turn in the the course of history had gone left instead of right
you would've been a pretty impressive figure
maybe even great
To feel the potential
the dormant energy to go beyond what's allowed to you
is the root cause of the murderous fear that is eating the men of the nation alive.
Action over Explanation
A Good life should be interesting, simple, and controlled.
Love told a lie.
at work, driving, thinking,
feeling he missed her
and loved her
and looked forward to seeing her soon.
And it'd happen - and the picture
would come apart.
And he'd feel the old fear
and the nasty immobilization that came
when he was around her.
And he'd try
to laugh, to smile, to love, to become aroused,
to relax, and give her the joy
she longed for.
Something always stopped it;
like a blanket or an allergy -
it was a physical impairment.
So he would lie - say he had to work
and then go park near the sea and breath easy
and think and read and write
and cheat on her with solitude and peace and beauty.
He'd see young women, and rather than fantasy he'd think of himself at that age -
strong and free -
and wonder how it all went this way,
and whether it could have been helped.
When I hear Blow Up Your TV play on the radio
I wonder if it was this complicated for my Granddad back in Oklahoma.
Surely he also lost sleep over debt, disgusting politics, terror from abroad, distrust of his neighbors, alienation from the friends he used to call brothers, trouble from thew wife, pressure to do more
I wonder if we'd relate to one-another;
if he'd "get" it today.
I wonder if anything ever really changes.
Or if it's just the same damn thing every man's felt since Adam.
Is The Fear the Motivator?
Is the Human Condition driven by Fear and Pressure and a Lost Love?
Where does meaning come from?
From a role we play?
From what we produce?
How we're presented?
How others define us?
What happens to a generation without meaning?
Without causes or paths or missions?
I've wanted meaning my whole life.
I want a mission more than anything.
I want to care about something.
Idealism dies and gets blown away.
And when all you ever invested in was hopes and dreams,
you're not left with much in the end.
That's what we are feeling;
it's the emptiness that's left over when you outgrow hope.
Every man is guilty of something.
As soon as he acknowledges that - he can then see who his father really was,
and why he did what he had to do.
Always loved to tell you that "the center will not hold"...
Well my friend, it brings me great pleasure to let you know that the center has dropped out from under my ass!
Sorry I haven't been in touch -
it's been hard-
the time isn't there -
a lot has changed.
There isn't the time I used to be able to sink down into anymore.
Gone are the days when I'd fade out into somewhere else and become a piece of music and pour it all out onto these pages with you at my side.
I miss ya buddy
and I'm sorry to leave you behind.
I'll try to fill you in on where I've been...
I went away to a place dark and lonely
in both the figurative and the literal sense.
Left behind all the simple folk and pleasures that bring the gratifying Peace.
I fear I might not see them again.
I fear the procession of my demise has begun.
I feel nothing, Jim...
I'm soulless, loveless, passionless
I've got no self-respect
and no hope.
I'm simply hanging on -
pretending to be the old guy you knew.
The guy that stayed back in California.
He's still lingering around in the minds and the banter of those who wish him well.
No matter what this imposter tells you,
don't listen to him.
don't return his texts.
don't read his words.
no need to avoid his art since he doesn't even try anymore.
...he went and sold it all!
He traded his spirit and freedom for the dollar scratcher of life!
He's deserved this, of course.
A thousand poor decisions will lead most men to this or worse.
Jim, you know better than to believe in karma, right?
Good women die young because they were once happy little simple country girls who liked to swim in an aqueduct in the summertime, finding joy wherever it could be found.
Good men bust their ass their whole life and never get to ring the bell -
never get to find a moment's peace, just keep grinding down into the end.
Good kids try to do right, try to find a way to put a piece into the puzzle, only to be rewarded with a punch to the head every morning when they open their eyes.
I deserve it all!
The pain! the bullshit! the Fear!
This is what I've provided.
I never used to write to you...
I wrote to another, a young man I dreamt would one day find this all interesting, maybe...
But I don't know about that now.
You've always been there for me, Jim.
Thanks for everything.
You're the only peace I have left.
I think I may have been writing to you all along.