Thursday, October 29, 2009


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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

"Dreams with Sharp Teeth" (Documentary on Harlan Ellison).

I'm not recommending this, although if you have any interest
in the guy or in outsized writer-personalities in general, you'll
likely get a kick out of it. I'm not a fan of him or his over-the-top
writing, but the film does humanize him, unexpectedly for me. I'd
looked forward to a portrait of a completely toxic obnoxious narcissist,
but I was sort of charmed by the cat. His rage seemed mostly transparent,
in a good way, and reminiscent of a stand-up comedian whose schtick
is rant against The Man. I hope I have his energy when I'm 73.

One funny part: Harlan's in the middle of an anti-TV rant and
he's telling the story of when he and his wife were watching
the Weakest Link, a game show. The female contestant is asked
a question about the film version of Lawrence of Arabia. The
clue is the letter "S" and the correct answer is Omar Sharif.
The woman's answer is "Naomi Campbell." So Harlan got a kick out
of this, how the answer was utterly nonsensical, how Naomi Campbell
doesnt even have an "s" in it, etc.
What Harlan didnt catch was that the contestant obviously thought
"Lawrence of Arabia" was a clothing designer, as in
"Valentino of Beverly Hills." Hence, the first model that came to
mind: "Naomi Campbell."

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

4 More Mystical Secrets of Writing.

6. Writing is focused daydreaming. Not focused,
but paying attention to the daydreaming
as it happens. As opposed to normal daydreaming
which is not paid attention to by the daydreamer.
Writing is observed daydreaming where the observer is
the daydreamer.

7. Don't worry about writing. You know what worrying
about something is. Writing is not worrying. If it
is a worry, it is not writing. If you are writing
and you are worrying, don't stop writing, merely stop
worrying. Do you worry about other things that you
enjoy while you're doing them? Try the same approach.
Everything you were told about writing in school was
a lie; it is the source of all your worrying about writing.

8. Written words are a blend of matter and time. They
issue from the brain and senses and writing instrument.
This happens in time. They immediately begin to change,
to evolve, like sea creatures emerging onto land for the
first time, as does the one who expressed them, as does
all matter in time. Time immediately begins to change
the meaning of the words and the condition of the instrument
and the perception and skill and intention of the writer,
strengthening and eroding at once, mystifying and clarifying.
In other words, it is impossible to control all of the fluid
variables that go into writing a sentence, grocery list, or
novel. Only when you see the utter uncontrolability
of everything to do with writing can you begin to relax and
waken and shape what it is you want and have to say and
daydream without worry and with perfect attention, "perfect"
meaning "alert, fluid, canny, innocent, practical, wondering,
and vigilant as a whale-watcher in the vegetable garden in the

9. The other day I thought it was Lincoln Day, and by coincidence
I had a t-shirt on that said, "I care not much for a man's religion
whose dog and cat are not the better for it." - Abraham Lincoln
I said to a person I didn't know very well, "I put this shirt
on without thinking what day it was." He read the saying and said,
"What day is it?" "Lincoln Day," I said. He said, "No, it's not,
it's Columbus Day." He was quite right, and I had made a number of
mistakes that were astonishing to him and intriguing to me. Both
states of mind are good to be in when writing.

10. I have the door open. It's raining for the first time in many
months. That is the cause of the above.

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Monday, October 12, 2009

Moby Dick, Twittered.


"Call me Ishmael. Some years ago -- never mind how long precisely -- having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen, and regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off -- then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball. With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship. There is nothing surprising in this. If they but knew it, almost all men in their degree, some time or other, cherish very nearly the same feelings towards the ocean with me."


"Broke, nothing to do, went sailing. Good 4 me. Depressed, pissed, want 2 kill you or me, I go 2 sea. You want 2, 2, admit it. Ishmael."

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Sometimes I find a single solitary ant wandering the kitchen counter.

I assume he is a scout looking for food
to go back and tell his nest about.
I put him outside on the porch & wonder:
Does he spend the rest of his days a wandering nomad?
Does he join the nest that lives inside the porch?
Do they let him join or drive him out or worse?
Does he find his way back to his original nest?

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Thursday, October 1, 2009

On Not Sitting in the Garden ...

Again, from my most favorite quote well:
Quotes for Gardeners

Sitting in your garden is a feat to be worked at with unflagging
determination and single-mindedness -- for what gardener worth
his salt sits down? I am deeply committed to sitting in the garden.
-Mirabel Osler

Have you ever noticed how few sitting places you find in private gardens?
How seldom the versatility and importance of benches is considered? True
gardeners, with their peerless taste, dexterity and inspired planting,
never stop.... To sit is almost an offence, a sign of depravity and an
outrage towards every felicitous refinement that has gone into making a garden.
-Mirabel Osler

I found a wonderful small blue wooden chair, perfect for the garden.
I imagined myself stopping now & then & sitting to cool the sweat,
admire my handiwork, make contemplative decisions about what to do
& not to do next, and I've never sat in it once. Never sitting
in such a perfect chair for the garden makes it seem like the gardener
is a frantic entity who cannot stop for a moment of peace, but in fact
the industry, the business of gardening is nothing but peace, from entrance
to last light.
- Me

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Teach Me, Your Bitterness, How Not To Grow Old.

An interview with Gore Vidal.

I began to read this thinking about where I agreed & disagreed
politically with old outrageous Gore, but by the end
nothing seemed to matter to me but his overwhelming willful nasty
unhappiness. Whether he could have helped how he turned out or
not, I step back and learn from him, not about politics or art,
but spiritually. Yes, he's our Gore, and I guess I'm glad he's there
& still at it, but I'm glad I'm not him & that I don't want to be
like him. Through your hatred, do you truly become the enemy you hate?
Right or wrong, what a miserably unwise & mean old man.

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