Saturday, November 25, 2006


In the Idea Stream

This Thanksgiving I walked through a park with Matthew Wenger and talked about how much we like to write and why, and for whom and by whom, and about what and for what. We said that writing makes us feel centered: as though we lived. Or at least that we had experienced Life. We decided that for now we want to be able to write about ourselves; or rather, that we want to be able to bring our selves to life on paper. To give our becoming (from past to future) a sense of being (in the present). Maybe at some point we’ll be able to bring other characters to Life, or update our distant past in the present, but for now we just want to live today.

We thought about the tension between the arrogance involved in thinking people would be interested in the (ostentatious) words we put together and the vulnerability in baring our thoughts on our (modest) everyday existence to the world. We thought about the way it is nice to write without punctuation in a conscious stream at times; and how it is nice to write in subtle layers of metaphor and realism in other times. We thought about how we are read by those we know, those with whom we have cultivated deep relations; and how we are read differently by those who know those we know, those who don’t know us immediately.

We talked about the beauty of words clashing and rhyming with other words. The beauty of sounds is produced by the way they resound. The way colors are mixed and melded by words of different temperature and temperament. We talked about beauty such as this as native to human experience; how when we reach for (and touch?) the sublime we are reaching for Truth and Life. Matthew thought that becoming aware of this beauty was for him an affirmation of a being created; that is, God created beauty and us (with an awareness of it) and that by cultivating this consciousness Matthew subsequently becomes aware of the rightness of his Lived experience. I thought this beauty is what happens when we become aware of our potential for Pure Being and how I liked Matthew’s way of thinking too and he said he liked mine as well, but we had to stop talking because we came to the end of the trail and our wives were once again by our sides.

All this happened while walking through a sun filtered forest, kicking leaves while Lyric tripped over roots on a quiet afternoon in Ohio.

Thursday, November 16, 2006


The following is a guest editorial by the Mrs.

So my DH (deranged hipster) is very busy tonight and doesn’t have time to write; hence I consider it my duty as a help-meet (or “help-me” as reported by a Kent Stater journalist doing a story on an anabaptisty sort of group) to step in and shoulder the burden. I’m afraid I won’t offer any new words, expressions or philosophical treatises (passes around the Kleenex box) but Darren should be back at it next week.

Instead, I will write about facing the masses with new glasses. Yes, as Darren walked to his eye appointment across the hall, I made a series of rotary motions with my fingers around my eyes (a motion that would have meant “you retard” if made at the side of the head, but in this case meant “I need glasses”). I am really not a glasses type of person, but it seems I have mild farsightedness and astigmatism (a diagnosis procured without faking poor results like I did at age eleven with little to no success).

I recently heard an interview with the author of “Men Should Make Passes at Girls Who Wear Glasses.” The whole concept is really exciting and potentially revolutionary for me. Because of the implication that men do NOT currently make random passes at girls who wear glasses. So even though I don’t technically have to wear the glasses except while reading and driving, they might as well be super-glued onto my nose when walking down these mean streets.

Then there’s the whole process of choosing a frame. I tried on a dozen or so. All of which made me look too catty or matronly or dorky. They even had slews of those big round Carla Kauffman glasses – that’s what we always called them. Carla if you’re out there, my apologies, I acknowledge that you have probably had nothing of the sort for a decade or so. And if it’s any consolation to Carla, I chose a pair that will guarantee future generations great senses of humour.

“What do you think about tinted lenses?” Darren asks.
“Oh my goodness, that’s sooo 80’s,” I say.
“But John Lennon wore tinted lenses,” he proclaims as if the fact would leave me no choice but to cheerlead him into taking the big step.
I pause.
“But did John Lennon have pink tinted or blue tinted?”

Now I pose the question to you. Do you think optimistic people are suckers for rose-tinted lenses and pessimistic ones for blue? But John wasn’t exactly a pessimist now was he? I mean, just listen to Imagine and Happy Christmas. But I’ve always been a little freaked out that he was assassinated on December 8, 1980 (which is my birth year and Bethanie’s birth date). Which might mean that Darren will be assassinated! Gasp. But I always thought it would be a heart attack because that’s what his uncle Clovis did when he moved to NYC with his young wife (who had arthritis just like me). What colour of lenses do you think superstitious people get?

“But do you think any one will take me seriously if I have tinted lenses?”

I for one will never ever take anything he says seriously if muttered from below the blue. But he got them anyway - so I envision many fun, happy times ahead.

Thursday, November 09, 2006


Encounters with other animals

Last night on my ride home I saw a pale white moth fluttering around the fluorescent lights in the far corner of the middle car of the A train. There was a man in a foppish black hat and trench coat standing against the sliding doors nearest the moth until the train stopped at 125th street. He was unconscious of the moth. But they looked good together. I can’t see a dignified black man get off the train under Harlem without thinking about Ralph Ellison on his invisible way to his basement of iridescent bulbs.

I almost got hit by the rat that lives in the train station at 200th street. I yelped like my father-in-law (who I like to imitate privately) and yanked up my foot, which made the back-glancing nervous man, who (via his position in space) had corralled the rat unwittingly my way, glance at me again.

It gets dangerous at night, after dark. Homeless men who practice psychosis in a New York sort of way might pile very battered bags next to your seat. If you’re a classy woman of middle-age their scentless sight might penetrate your practiced oblivion stare, breaking the nowhere mask into a grimace and a lurching step away. A lurching step accented by the sound of iron being scraped into a scream; a scream which contains so much metal that it tastes according to Don Delillo “like a toy you put in your mouth when you are little.”

This morning a gray haired woman armed with Ziploc baggies searched the ground in front of the glass doors I was guarding for birds that might have unwittingly killed themselves by flying into their reflections. She picked up the body of a sparrow and carefully sealed it in plastic. She yelled through the (in)visible pane, “Did you see it fly into the glass?” I yelled back, “No! I must have been looking the other way.”

A man was stabbed to death on 200th street last week.

Saturday, November 04, 2006


New Words and Expressions

Capital. Derived from the word chattel, capital like chattel is an article of personal property or alternatively a slave. A chattel is treated as personal property rather than real property regardless of whether it is movable or immovable; that is, when the labor of (an)other or a (m)other becomes a commodity owned by virtue of some investment, “what people do” becomes the private property of the owner (rather than the real property of the person doing the labor). What should be the proper relationship of working humans?

Classy. “Taste classifies, and it classifies the classifier”—Bourdieu. To be classy is to be stylish, to have panache, to be graceful rather than be possessing of the state of inelegance, inferiority, plainness. It seems to me that we all posses class; the difference in our classiness is reliant on the positionality of our class. Why should the term classy be reserved only for the highest classes? Why is it that we must seek placement in the highest classes in order to achieve gracefulness?

Civilization. Reporter: What do you think of Western civilization? Ghandi: It would be a good idea. Civilization often refers to a sort of cultural or intellectual refinement; good taste. Seems like the people who are less than classy are less than civilized.

Fiction. Derived from the Latin word fingere, fiction according to James Clifford is defined as “something made or fashioned” rather than something that is opposed to truth. It suggests the partiality of cultural and historical truths, but not that they are untrue. Rather, (in the absence of perfect information) it implies that nearly all accounting of reality is a fiction, a version, something made up out of truth.

Rival. According to Michael Spector rival comes to us from the Latin rivalis “one taking from the stream of another.” A rivalry than is essentially the fight for life between two subjects. Water throughout history has been near the center of most conflicts. It continues to cause rivalry in parts of the world. Does life need to be fraught with competition. Is it possible to live in a world where there are no winners and losers? Can’t our supply and our love for each other outstrip our demands?