Disruptive Juxtaposition

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Dancing on the ceiling,

while down here there's an abundance, a surplus, a fecund wealth of rage. This morning, as most mornings, I was assisted from my slumber with the sometimes pitter-pattering, sometimes gymnast’s-dismount-sounding booms of the family that lives over my head. This morning, however, was different in that the booms did not, and have yet to, diminish. A few possibilities as to what the tripartite triple-rhythm of squeaks and thumps could mean:

o a three-step jumping jack;
o a rigorous bout of sex, but then the “ONE-TWO-THREE [pause]” rhythm to the din doesn’t make sense, because why the pause? What kind of coitus has a rest beat?
o a regular Romper Room of tots obeying the massed, Sun-Yung-Moonish orders of Barney or the Teletubbies to scamper at random with much glee.

Upshot of all of this is that it’s hard indeed to write a poem. Its effect on the writing of fiction is TBA.

& calls with emotionally-gone-awry tenors from recently-ex girlfriends in the AM, well, that’s another bad thing entirely.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Tri-image correspondence, the novel as pie, $3 pints of awesome

Wrote a poem called “Heights” combining the multiple-plane stacking effect of landing corridors over major airports, the architecture of my grandparents’ house, and the inescapable sounds of children scampering overhead here in my new Brooklyn home. It’s enough to make a fellow sure he’s right when he says kids irk him. Someday this attitude re: children will change. Today is not that day.

Wrote 2K words today, actually, and these attended to the main character Richard Moodie. (Oh, and it was pointed out to me that Richard might be the long form for Rick, in which case the writer Rick Moody and his relative fame will mean renaming my central character. Them’s the breaks.) & today was exciting as well because I’m beginning to set actual events into motion rather than just setting up. Exposition and history is fun, but I fear sometimes that I’m so attracted to it because it is the easiest way to write fiction and remain lyrical. Writing immediate scene—dialogue and actual activity—such that one remains true to the POV is one thing; writing POV-faithful immediate scene AND doing so in a lyrical way is another very different thing, it seems to me. While this is a potential problem for me as a writer—I’ve always struggled to make my fiction show and not tell, because telling for me verges on the natural—I am aware of it. I think I can counter it. I’m encouraged that I’m beginning to fill out the tasty middle of this big pie of a novel, even though I think the crust is the easier part to make, even from scratch.

These matters weighed nothing on my mind this afternoon; I wrote at a bar & café deal on 7th Ave. here in Brooklyn, downing one $3 pint of Brooklyn Brown Ale as fast as I could to try and get another one before, at 5 p.m., they wouldn’t be $3 anymore. I succeeded, barely. There was a golden retriever there beside me the color of old faded paperback edges who belonged to a Paul and Jamie-looking couple having an early meal. (Remember them, Paul and Jamie? NBC, Monday nights? Maybe 10 years ago?) He looked at me, I looked at him. His tail started up in anticipation of attention. I did what I could without petting him. Why do I get dogs? I really get them.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Post-lunch pre-work sloth

Wrote a wretched poem just now, around 1:30 pm. I didn’t write one this morning because I was keen on getting to the novel. Which is as bare-bones an example as the matter could ask for, the matter being: To what extent do simultaneous projects of poetry and fiction interfere with each other? I have only so many hours per day to dedicate to real output. I have a years-long dedication to writing 1 poem per day. (These are often bad, and friends have pointed out to me that this process can undermine the process of poetry and even rob me of the joy in writing it. For various reasons, I disagree, and try to stick to the schedule regardless, sometimes writing 2 per day if possible and then keeping to that schedule until I’ve “caught up.” Whatever this says about me psychologically is a matter I just can’t get into now.) I also have a more recently established goal, and corresponding dedication to meet said goal, to write 1K words / day for the novel.

My question is of course a non-question. There is nothing preventing one from working in both mediums save the extent of one’s energies, the ability to enact one’s twin ambitions. I know that poetry is the work of the morning; it always has been, for me; I’ve written my best work between the hours of 6 and 7 am, waking up way before everyone else, shhing the Best Dogs in the World Whitman and Suzi as I punched the prepared coffeemaker into fragrant life and pushing their snouts away from me as I did my crunches to pass the time until coffee. Then, coffee’d, I’d go upstairs and write poems, good ones, I thought, coming more often per week than they do now, in the light of two small candles that were of intrinically-good angle for poem-writing, as they were those little 1.5 inch high candles that give off fine light when you keep them close to what you’re working on. I only need to get back to that routine, and set up a similar, subseqent system for the Novel.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Coasters, Hints of Lime, Infinite Jest and related strife, an album endorsement in passing

I just did one smart thing and one dangerous thing. The former was to craft a coaster out of remaindered pennies—I have had no coaster for the vodka crans with which I’ve been unwinding, evenings. Jury’s out on whether or not the condensation which is the coaster’s reason for being will sidle down between the money. The dangerous thing was to sit down for some journaling and blogging with an opened bag of Tostitos-brand torilla chips, with a Hint of Lime. These chips rate highly on my snack list. It’s a party in my mouth, and everyone’s etc. Only Pizza Goldfish best them, and I can’t find Pizza Goldfish anywhere anymore, save in that Flavor Blasted variety which is not the same thing at all. But I will keep one eye apiece on both the condensation and the chip-consumption, not that you care, but this is more a two-item Things to Remember list for myself, it seems, anyway.

David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest looms ever larger in my consciousness, it occupies a greater and greater chunk of brainpower. Which isn’t to say that it’s difficult to read. It is, simply, a delight. This alone sets it far apart from Gravity’s Rainbow, which I read in fits and starts for something close to nine months, it was that much of a trudge. And comparisons of IJ to GR are not unfounded. They have similar, blurbworthy scopes; they are Tolstoyan in their ranging, here-now-there breadth, which breadth (in Tolstoy’s case anyway) I always likened to the Finger of God coming down at whim to prod and investigate the moral scruples and evolving struggles of His choicest mortal women and men. DFW’s chief difference from Pynchon, however, is his readibility. This statement will make some casual readers I can think of (Khai) gasp. For DFW does not fit the typical definition of “readable.” Sentences ramble on down the page like overflooded streams, and yet remain grammatically intact, somehow. Footnotes abound. Euphemisms abound, and often are referred back to with out re-catching up the reader (i.e. use of “map” for face and “Unit” for male genitalia, which usage of DFW’s itself, realize, mimics the street argot of certain precincts of Boston’s drug-user population and tennis academy adepts).

Fuck are these chips good.

Reading and processing this book while trying—no, while actually writing, not trying, for one must remember Yoda re: the fact that "there is no try[ing]"—to write Good Ground (title subject to change) is a daunting thing. As I read I’m often trying to anticipate where Wallace is next headed, or in other words asking myself the question Where would I go with this, if I had to stop reading here, if nothing beyond this period existed, and had to take the narrative somewhere logical but unexpected and some manner of thrilling? The fact that I never envision what DFW has hasn’t been the source of my reading-IJ-related trepidation, not quite. For who could so envision? The whole experience of reading IJ, rather, makes my inner doubter smack his forehead and say How fucking creative that is! Skill aside, you must give W., and Pynchon and Gaddis and the other maligns purveyors of postmodern tomes, due credit, if not for their skill as actual writers then at least for their roles / achievements as plotters, architects, and inventors of absurdities and prescients, sci-fi-quality extrapolations of the culture’s vector.

Some of the best chips are those that are just this side of too-big-for-your-mouth, chips for which you have to hyperextend the muscles of the jaw, chips that have curled over on themselves prior to the bake period of their factory births and so have impressive height in addition to width and height. These chips once entered into the mouth and bitten down upon splinter into a panoply of tasty fragments that deliver to different parts of the mouth simultaneously sensations of salt and Hint of Lime that in their aggregate and like I said simultaneous nature just floor me.

For the record: My Morning Jacket’s new album Z is worthy of purchase. No matter your tastes or habits. It’ll do you good.

So yeah. Work on the novel proceeds at the pace of about 1K words / day. I haven’t been getting into the character or place of the primary setting yet though, which is Eastern Long Island, and I fear that getting caught up in backstory will provide the foregrounding for the actual present happenings that who knows when I’ll get to? I think I’ll need to very deliberately sit down very soon and begin to set in motion the actual what’s-happening-now plot, without which the novel is not. Meantime, Food Bed Gospel goes through its fourthish draft, in anticipation of its first official contest, which I’ve decided’ll be a contest with an 11/30 deadline. Soon my baby leaves the nest. There comes a point at which you have to say I raised you best as I know how, now get out there and (suddenly I’m Robin Williams’s John Keating) make your life extraordinary.