Chapter 1 - The Great Chain of Conversation
Carpe Diem, quod mimimum credula postero.
Eheu fugaces labuntur anni....
si sic omnes…
Quam ben vivas, refet, non quam diu.
Bis vivat qui bene vivat.
“Writing, when properly managed, (as you may be sure I think mine is) is but a different name for conversation.” - Laurence Sterne, Tristram Shandy (1759)
The end, once upon a time, was just the beginning…
November 1, 2004
The end, once upon a time, was just the beginning. This is one of those times. Sitting here, the day before the most important election in the history of the Untied States – proclaimed to be a dead heat – I am beginning to ruminate on the divergent paths each victory would unleash. The incumbent -- George III (counting Washington) -- has proven to be the most unpopular and unloved leader of the free world that the free world has ever unloved. Or if I overstate, let me pull back and say that yes, Nigeria, Singapore and Poland are in favor of the cucumbent’s re-erection, but every other country wants to flush Bush down the proverbial hog-waste lagoon of history. Fact is “the blinkered blinkard” as he is affectionately remembered, would have never reached anywhere near the popularity he now enjoys, were it not for his having “hit the trifecta” of three miserable confluences. The events of September 11, 2001 ameliorated his sinking fortunes, and for a time, Mister Bush, the cucumbent, standing firm, as cucumbents are so known and loved for, rallied America, and much of the World, to America’s side…and suddenly the World was George’s oyster.
Too bad he left New England for Texas, as he seemed to have forgotten how to properly treat an oyster. Before long, he would squander away all that incalculably important good will. All for more champagne.
"I'm the Squanderer"
Oh well I'm the type of guy who will never settle down
Where precious oil is welled, you know that I'm around
I wink 'em and I wank 'em 'cause to me they're all the same
I shock 'em and I awe 'em they don't even know my game
They call me the squanderer, yeah the squanderer
I foam around around around...
Oh well there's Flow on my left and there's Moab on my right
And Cheney is the churl that I'll be with tonight
And when he asks me which one I love the best
I tear open my shirt I got Enron on my chest
'Cause I'm the squanderer yeah the squanderer
I foam around around around...
Oh well I foam from town to town
I go through life without a care
'cause I've the cerebrum of a clown
With my two fists of lead and I'm going nowhere...
'Cause I'm the squanderer yeah the squanderer
I foam around around around my mouth
and the Media saysn't a thing...
Das Ende war einst
DER Anfang gerecht
Champagne and Freedom
Quisque me ad cenam vocarit, valeat.
Long live whoever invites me to dinner - inscription from Pompey
A man may choose many things. Some things, once chosen, negate the possibility of choosing yet other things, other paths. One may choose Champagne, do what one is told, and live the good, though bought, life. Another may say “no” to such vulgar temptations, and say “yes”, instead, to Freedom. It is ironic that said George tells the world that he is “spreading freedom” throughout the globe, where, in fact, he has no freedom to spread. Only misery, death, destruction, looting, anger, distrust. In a word, War.
But this new millennium needn’t have had such a meanborn birth. It is, in large part, a by-product of what may well be described as fascistic actions on the part of George’s, so to say, extended family…which reaches into Florida, on many fronts, and into the Supreme Court and Media…where finality and a Bush victory was assured. Bought and paid for. But the Democrats are equally to blame, since they signed off on everything, without n’er a hoot. Where are your Jeffersons, Madisons and Washintons? Where your Ben Franklins and Thomas Paynes?
Well I know the Franklins and the Paynes are. They are on their blog, somewhere clacking out the revolution.
I ruminate on what the day after might bring, and create a blog entry…
Victoire De Démocrates ! Le monde éclate dans la célébration ! La célébration, le soulagement et la bonne acclamation écartés à travers le globe, en tant que fou guerre-heureux est remplacée par les chefs raisonnables et beaux qui respectent tous les peuples.
Victoire de républicains. L'Amérique va faire la guerre avec l'Iran. Foolwells obtiennent leur Armageddon. Les millions meurent inutilement. Une poignée de costumes récoltent des bénéfices exceptionnels.
¡Triunfo De los Demócratas! ¡El mundo entra en erupción en la celebración! La celebración, la relevación y la buena aclamación separadas a través del globo, como loco guerra-feliz es substituida por los líderes sanos y hermosos que respetan a toda la gente.
Triunfo de los republicanos. América va a guerrear con Irán. Foolwells consigue su armageddon. Millones mueren innecesario. Un puñado de juegos cosecha ganancias inesperadas.
Demokrat-Gewinn! Welt bricht in der Feier aus! Die Feier, Entlastung und guter Beifall, die über der Kugel, als Krieg-glückliches Irres verbritten werden, wird von den gesunden und schönen Führern ersetzt, die alle Völker respektieren.
Republikanergewinn. Amerika geht war mit dem Iran. Foolwells erhalten ihr Armageddon. Millionen sterben unnötig. Eine Handvoll Klagen ernten unerwartete Gewinne.
Vittoria Delle Carbossimetilazioni! Il mondo erupts nella celebrazione! La celebrazione, il rilievo e la buona acclamazione sparsi attraverso il globo, come pazzo guerra-felice è sostituita dalle guide sensate e belle che rispettano tutta la gente.
Vittoria dei republicans. L'America va fare la guerra con l'Iran. Foolwells ottiene il loro armageddon. Milioni muoiono inutilmente. Una manciata di vestiti raccoglie gli utili eccezionali.
Οι δημοκράτες κερδίζουν! Ο κόσμος εκρήγνυται στον εορτασμό! Ο εορτασμός, η ανακούφιση και η καλή ευθυμία διαδίδουν σε όλη την υδρόγειο, όπως πόλεμος-ευτυχές madman αντικαθίσταται από τους λογικούς και όμορφους ηγέτες που σέβονται όλους τους λαούς.
Οι Δημοκρατικοί κερδίζουν. Η Αμερική πηγαίνει στον πόλεμο με το Ιράν. Το Foolwells παίρνει το Armageddon τους. Κύβος εκατομμυρίων needlessly. Μια χούφτα των κοστουμιών συγκεντρώνει τα κέρδη αναπάντεχου κέρδους.
Vitória Das Democratas! O mundo erupts no celebration! O celebration, o relevo e o cheer bom espalhados através do globo, como o madman guerra-feliz são substituídos pelos líderes sãos e bonitos que respeitam todos os povos.
Vitória dos republicanos. América vai guerrear com o Irã. Foolwells começa seu armageddon. Os milhões morrem needlessly. Um punhado dos ternos reap lucros de windfall.
Выигрыш Демократов! Мир извергает в торжестве! Торжество, сброс и хороший cheer распространенные через глобус, как войн-scastlivy
безумец заменены sane и красивейшими руководителями которые уважают все людей. ИЛИ... Выигрыш республиканцев. Америка идет воевать с Ираном. Foolwells получает их Армаагедона. Миллионы умирают needlessly. Пригорошня костюмов ужинает профиты ветробоя.
Democrats Win! World Erupts in Celebration!
Celebration, relief and good cheer spread across the globe, as war-happy madman is replaced by sane and beautiful leaders who respect all peoples.
Republicans win. America goes to war with Iran.
Foolwells get their Armageddon. Millions die needlessly. A handful of suits reap windfall profits.
It really has come down to this, good people. And make no mistake about it, this is the most important election in the history of the world. It is a matter of life and death. Many, many deaths. And frankly, we can't afford it. Not in blood. Not in treasure. Not in the world community.
Those who see elections as mere sport may only bet on their own team, regardless of how much damage their "team" will wreak upon the enterprise. But this would be a foolish supposition. Even deadly. And don't think blood won't blowback, if only in the subtlest ways. There will not be enough beer to drown out the sorrow of so many innocent people being slaughtered needlessly, just because you had to have your way. Your way may not be the best way.
Regardless of any stats one may concoct, this president has done wrong by America and the World, and the overwhelming majority of people who happen to not live within our borders, are deeply troubled, to put it lightly, by our having such a bellicose leader and administration. And were we to re-elect him -- arguable the worst President in American history... after dropping the man who was perhaps the most prepared man in our history -- What are they to think, except that either we are insane, perverse, or jaded . . . and lacking all good judgment?
In this election, it is not, "It's the economy, Stupid." It is "It's the World, Stupid!"
So there it is. A blog entry. Exciting isn’t it…
Well maybe “exciting” is an overstatement. So I overstate…I contain multitudes. (Forgive me, Walt, I know not what I do.)
A brief, bitchy interlude
But now we come to a good time to bitch about the actions of this goddam computer.I try to write offline, you know, so people can like call me and shit. But guess what? When I go offline, the goddam computer tries to dial out. Over and over and goddam over. I am sick of it.So what do I do? I put the wire thingy into the computer, let it dial out, handshake, all that shit, and voila! I am online again! Yippee freakin’ doo! As if I haven’t been online for far longer than should be considered safe. And yet here I am again. A technical moron, who cannot even find the button to call this thing off…to make it behave like older models I have owned. And although this one is bigger and faster…this quirk is starting to make me into a sour old man.
Okay. Good. I have gotten that off my chest. I can carry on now. But what can I do? I mean politically. At this late date. My intuition is to just disengage and let the chips fall where they may, or even june. I have, after all, written my pancreas out for years and years, free of charge, for Democratic causes. I think it is time they started paying my ass. Or at least the wallet that rests in the pocket that gently cups and cradles my ass. Maybe I should become a political consultant. Maybe I can add that to my Idea Consultant business, which I have yet to start. And speaking of which, I think it is time to call the Carolina Panthers and sell them my Idea Consulting services. I know, for a fact, that I can make them into a stronger team, if they were to only listen, and apply what I say to their team.
Strange. I was talking to a potential partner the other week about some changes I would suggest for the Panthers, and how these changes would solve their problems. And sure enough, the very problems I knew I could solve, became huge problems only days after I made the recommendations…albeit to the wrong person.
I shouldn’t be telling you this stuff, but who knows, maybe this book will become a must-read for football coaches or something. Hell, there must be a hundred of those around.
Nightscapes and Echoes
Oh good! Nightscapes is on! Now I can write with decent music competing with my wordflow. At least it is instrumental. Words really do compete. This may merely serve as an interesting (in the Strunkian sense) soundtrack. Sounds a little like the Paul Winter Consort. But I was in a more Goreckian mood. Ah well. When you are a pauper, you take what you can get. But don’t get me wrong. I love Paul Winter. “Icarus” has long been a favorite. And “The Silence of the Candle”. His work with Bob Bly and Coleman Barks performing the exquisite poetry of Sufi poet, Rumi, is also most sublime. Even though Bly sounds like a cartoon character. But alas that would compete. And I am simply NOT going to compete with Rumi. He would win. Hands down. Hands down? Hmm. Does that come from arm wrestling?
I send an Instant Message, or “IM”, to a fellow netizen:
Anonymoses: I can't leave the house until I get at least 1666
Anonymoses: ...and it's a beautiful day out.
Iddybud : you'll be glad when it's done
Anonymoses: baby steps
Anonymoses: It's really not as daunting as I had expected
Anonymoses: Just sh*tting it out, really, and apologizing all the while
Maybe I’ll go sh*t out something to help our dear Senator Edwards…who is having a little trouble here in his adopted home state. A state, I might add, that has purpling tendencies. Edwards could throw it to the blue, where it belongs.
Over the past couple of election cycles, if you haven’t been paying attention, it has become pretty standard to call Democratic-leaning states, “blue states”, and Republican-leaning states, “red states”, and to designate them thusly on the national map.
North Carolina is a red state, but there are islands of civilization dotting the landscape like wondrous, sparkling jewels, amid the moribund and deforested clay of red. Mecklenburg County, and its county seat, Charlotte, are such patches of blue. I should imagine that Asheville, Chapel Hill, the Research Triangle, Greensboro and Wilmington would also share this blueness, and maybe even Raleigh.
The reddest areas are those that harbored Eric Rudolph and Jesse Helms.
Bloggers and Doggers
I understand that a number of you do not know what I mean when I talk about blogging and bloggers, so let me tell you a little about it.
Blogging (short for “web logging”) is, quite simply, the easiest way to publish on the Internet. All the best and brightest have found there way onto blogs, and are now in the process of changing the world. Not unlike changing a diaper. There is just so much Sh*t to uncover. And if you are offended with my use of the word, “Sh*t”, let me mollify you by now referring to the happysafe nonword, “sh*t”. Five dollars please.
While the commercial, corporate media are busy waving Pompoms for Power, bloggers are mining Truth. But not just bloggers, but other good folk like Buzzflash, David Brock at Media Matters, John Byrne of Raw Story, Bob and Dave at Democrats.com, and a veritable sweet-table of webly delights for your online edification.
While writing this, I got an IM, or Instant Message, from blogmeistress, Iddybud, who says that she has just blogged about the fact the the Saudis, sure enough, lowered oil prices on the day before the election. In her blog, she shows where she had been predicting this for months. It’s just one October surprise after another. Only this is November. But just barely. Over the weekend, we had a couple of other October Surprises, namely the appearance of Osama Bin Laden in his favorite format, VHS, and some other clown who put on the checkerboard headrag and pseudoshouted histrionics at a camera for all America to fear.
But Stanislavski would not been impressed by the weak performance. I doubt it would pass “Truster” or any other lie detection software. It was, most likely, just another example of how the Bushies and the Media use fear to exploit the sheepish populoi.
But I am going to teach you how NOT to fear. Want to end Terrorism? End your fear, and you’ve ended Terrorism.
Blogging is one thing. Dogging is quite another. I’m not even sure why I’m talking about it. Maybe it is that is rhymes with blogging, and like blogging, it is a recent trend.
But what is this dogging?
Dogging is a term for a peculiar sexual practice that has taken root in England, and a few other places. It may have even swept the globe. Haven’t looked into it since the early days of its birth.
From what I gather, dogging is done this way. Or close to this way:
Park your car in some designated area. Be sure to have your good friend, Trollium Djeli, at your side, if not at your backside. On in your backside. Jeez this is embarrassing.
Then climb into the back seat of your car and remove your pants. Lying there, in the back of your car, you may now lift your legs and spread them. Before long you will be dogged…which means basically that you will be plooked by a total stranger, in that totally strange setting. Sort of the opposite of romance. Not for the faint of heart. And certainly not for those who have communicable diseases.
I am going to have to return to this topic, because I fear I have misled you. Not on purpose, so don’t get pist. Get even. No, on second thought. Get a freaking job. Why do you keep hanging around here? Can’t you see that I hate you?
Okay. Good. I have lost the squeamish. Now maybe you and I can talk intimately. We can run down and get dogged. Right now. I’ll be right over to pick you up. Just say the word and I’ll be your cumslut and your doggie. I’ll hump yer freaking brains out if you want. Hell. No one lives forever. Not even Time. Certain not Time-Warner. Not AOL Time-Warner, anyway.
Ed Cone was right though. Don’t drink and blog. And after tonight, I’ll probably take his advice. But tonight…I drink, I blog, and you will sit there and take it. And why? Because you is a pigment of my amalgamation…and you don’t even know it. But after tonight you will. And when you make this deep realization, you will realize that “Wow! My man really is worried about his word count.”
Okay. I confess. I am. So shoot me. Take me out back and aim your AK-47 at my head and make me swear to never bother you with having to be anyone’s amalgamationem pigmentibus onus.
Thirty more freaking words. And I’ve nothing to say. Nothing at all. So how am I going to fill this space with words, and not come across as simply filling up space with words? No need now. I have exceeded my daily goal. I could even start taking out words at this point. And maybe I will. Maybe I will erase the whole banana and start all over again. Couldn’t be any worse for the effort. I doubt there could ever be a work as bad as this one. Maybe I should just give up, and go back to being a bootblack. At least there I can look up the occasionally skirt. Ah the occasional skirt! I remember my first flash…
It was at Butler’s shoes. Downtown. The year was 1973. I was a senior in high school…
How to shit 50 thousand words
You may have noticed that there is very little order in what you are reading. That’s okay, coz alls I am doing is sh*tting out 50 thousand words in order to win a contest. You win by simply writing 50 thousand words. In the month of November. It’s called NaNoWriMo. Look into it. I did, and now I am finally going to get that first novel out of the way. Chances are it will suck. But I swear to you, my dear reader, that I take to heart what David Ogilvy once said regarding advertising:
You can’t bore someone into buying your product.
And I will try not to bore you into reading my novel. In fact I plan to include every interesting thing I know and have learnt over my five decades of being, to some, alive. You can fish out your pompoms now. Borrow King George’s famous legacy pompoms, if you come up dry. King George, oilman, was used to coming up dry. And now you can share in his astonishing techniques.
I can sense already that this, my first, novel, will jump from place to place. From philosophy to music to blogging to the history of sand and the state of the world, as it stands, or sits on its ass, today. Perhaps this is why I call it a blognovel…as it somewhat replicates the structure of a blog, where long form writing is quite rare. And this too shall fall fallow of massive passages that make unnecessary demands upon you, my reader, because…you frankly have better things to do. And we know this. We have done market research on you. We know that you stole that gun, and that you later stuck it under your desk, along with all the boogers you’d pick, unbeknownst of the snickering that went on behind your chicken ass back.
That said, I do hope you stick around. And if you do, I can guarantee this: You will learn valuable lessons. As will I. And you will, at times, be delighted.
And You will have a document written in and about the most important month in American history; November 2004.
Iddybud : i'm not sure where i'm going with it yet....
Anonymoses: I don't either.
Anonymoses: Current events will intrude and dictate direction
If you are wondering what these snippet conversations are, let me tell you. They are what are known as IMs, or Instant Messages. Think of it as real time, instant, mini emails. Or as an ongoing phone conversation, only using glyphs, rather than speech. Soon, with Convergence, IMs and phone conversations will merge. People will stop saying “good-bye” after each interchange. Rather, people will be able to simply talk and listen to others, using the Internet phone… and stay connected as long as they want. This is already pretty much standard operating procedure in Japan, according to NPR, or Nathan Paul Ritchie, (just kidding), all of which is part of the evolving chain of conversation.
How to shit 50 thousand words, Part 2
Back in the 80’s, in Boston, I attended the Boston Book Fair, I believe it was called. Hell, I’m tired, and look at the time. And there were some interesting folk giving talks. John Dean was there, talking about his latest book, and answering questions about Watergate and Nixon. Blount was there reading from “One fell Soup”. Avedon was there, talking about how strange it was that Conservatives tended to have thin lips. Miss Manners delighted the crowd with her Wellesley wit and charm, as she read from her new and subsequently greatest hit. (I beseech you to recall the title of this chapter) Dr. Lendon Smith was there, talking about why one should never eat pepper or ice cream. A number of other guests and speakers were also in attendance, including Robertson Davies, who talked about writing, and how one actually accomplishes it. (Or was it TC Boyle?)
Anyway, one of the two, described writing and editing in such a way as to stuck with me to this day. Particularly the writing part.
He said to consider writing to be primarily a function of the right hemisphere of the brain, and editing, the left. Many people, he said, will write a sentence, but then want to edit the sentence before moving on. This is a recipe for writer’s block, and a tremendous drag on productivity.
Instead, one might do better by allowing the right brain to completely squeeze itself out…without doing any editing. Later, when the right brain is satiated or exhausted, or maybe you just want to do a different mental activity…then, by all means, edit away.
By using this method, you not only dramatically increase productivity, you also are more likely to have “flow” in your work. It shouldn’t sound as choppy, because it really isn’t. It has nothing to do with choppy.
Put another way…sh*t the stuff out, and then rearrange the piles later.
Now consider some of the lessons from our literary heritage…
Tristram Shandy, a novel of roughly 550 pages, for example, was begun in 1759. Now 550 pages is about 220,000 words, but the author also made ample use of white space on his pages, so let’s round it out to 200,000 words comprising the bulk of what we know as Tristram Shandy. This rather bulky book is only four times 50,000. And 50,000 can be knocked out in a month’s time, even two week’s time. Faster typists would knock it out in a day or two.
Laurence Sterne spent a decade on Tristram Shandy. A decade. Ten years. Nanos could have done it in four months. Once I double my productivity rate, I want to knock out a Tristram Shandy ever two months. And this is entirely possible. In fact, the author, Laurence Sterne, may well have knocked out a novel every month, had he the tools that we now enjoy.
So don’t compare yourself with the writers of old. Not when considering productivity. Quality, yes. Quantity, no! And don’t hink that they were all that productive, even if they had written twenty novels. We should be able to write twenty novels in twenty months. And if we can, why not do it. The old masters would, if they had out technology and time. We do live longer now.
Leonardo would have Photoshop, Poser, Bryce. Mozart would have a Kurzweil, digital recorders, and would compose symphonies on the fly. Shakespeare would have playwriting software, and Preston Sturgess, screenwriting software. And because WE do…we should max them out.
50,000 words? Need ‘em today? How ‘bout yesterday?
Fellow writers should not fret over such things as numbers, but instead should rejoice that we live in an age when we can be a hundred Shakespeares, a hundred Mozarts, a hundred Leonardos.
Dream big…and write! A hundred Don Quixotes! Then Babelfish them into a dozen other languages. The word is your oyster! A necklace of pearls waiting to be born.