February 16, 2012

Let's Play...Why's My Bookbag or E-Reader Equivalent So Heavy?

Yesterday I started out with a good dollop of my latest novel, "Leaving the Atocha Station" by Ben Lerner. The protagonist is a liar and a schmutz, so there's that irritation, but the language is oft lyrical.

Found a book in the employee business library, "What Would Ben Stein Do?" by Stein and checked it out. He's big on work, that's for sure. Says it builds character, is a "God-given gift" that makes us happy. I dunno. I think he puts a little too much emphasis on money and work. He quotes Ben Franklin quoting Samuel Johnson saying the best things in times of adversity: "an old wife, an old dog, and ready money." Hey what about faith? But the guy can't write an uninteresting paragraph, though it be plain-spun knowledge. He talks about how unhappy the rich are, and I thought of Whitney Houston. Apparently they get caught up in comparing themselves to other rich people and think they don't have enough. "If you are happy, then you are rich, not the other way around," says Stein. He's a good writer in that he seems to write platitudinally, but interestingly nevertheless.

Drinking an Old Rasputin Imperial Stout while reading. Hello! Like drinking liquid liquorish. It's a muscular wake-up call, a Russian Orthodox liturgy of a brew: a lotta smells and bells. Also read more of the absorbing "Weekends at Bellevue" book. Perhaps it will paint a different picture than "One Flew Over" did.

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From a Whitney Houston-related article:
I once heard drug addiction described as nostalgia. Chasing the perfection and the abandon of that first time.
And another:
The tragedy here — in addition to the loss of a talent and the apparent illness of a once-healthy woman — is the way that loss and illness have sucked dry our well of respect for someone who made an artistic and social impact.


Excerpt from poem in Mark Doty's "Fire to Fire":
Cold April and the neighbor girl —our plumber’s daughter—
comes up the wet street from the harbor carrying, in a nest she’s made
of her pink parka, a loon. It’s so sick, she says when I ask.

Foolish kid, does she think she can keep this emissary of air?
Is it trust or illness that allows the head —sleek tulip—to bow
on its bent stem across her arm?


From "Leaving the Atocha Station" by Ben Lerner:
It often occurred to me that my upbringing would have been changed beyond all recognition if kissing had been common; such a dispersion of the erotic into general social circulation would have had unpredictable effects...in Spain I was guilty of abusing the kissing thing, or of at least investing it with a libidinal charge it wasn’t supposed to contain, and when you were drunk or high and foreign, you could reasonably slip up and catch the corner of the mouth.

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It was early dusk by the time we reached the cathedral, and in a Spanish cathedral it always felt like dusk, dull gold and gray stone and indeterminate distances, so I had the feeling less of going indoors than of entering a differently structured but nonetheless exterior space.

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This is what I felt, if it wasn’t what I thought, as I smoked and listened to the rain on the roof and turned the pages and smelled the wet stone smell of Madrid through the windows I kept cracked.

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I wondered if the incommensurability of language and experience was new, if my experience of my experience issued from a damaged life of pornography and privilege, if there were happy ages when the starry sky was the map of all possible paths, or if this division of experience into what could not be named and what could not be lived just was experience, for all people for all time.

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And if we never slept together or otherwise “realized” our relationship, I would leave Spain with this gorgeous possibility intact, and in my memory could always ponder the relationship I might have had in the flattering light of the subjunctive.

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When we reached the colonnade, we sat on the cool steps not far from a circle of drummers and she began to roll a spliff. I looked at her and she was aureate in the failing light and humming something to go with the drums and the prospect of her not being at least a little in love with me was crushing.

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