Friday, January 30, 2009

Re-Membering Imagination, Evolution & Play

I’m keeping this week’s comments short because I injured my arm yesterday and it hurts to type. It seems just a muscle injury and will hopefully improve over the next few days. We’ll see.

I have two post-its at eye level here at my computer of which I failed to cite the source, so I don’t know where they came from. This may, of course, have also been true at the moment of the post-it writing. I might be the source of these words or I might be the parrot of them or something in-between.

Does it really matter and if so why? To what end?

These are the post-it notes:

"I have more imagination than intelligence, and everything I know is imagined."

"The poet of the inexpungible guilt felt by human beings."

I think somebody else said the first one in the third person about someone else and I liked it so I converted it to first person to describe me to myself for possible insertion into something elsewhere [as now seams relative to then, somewhat].

And I think that second one was somehow related to Roberto Bolano, something I’d read somewhere and took verbatim, falsely expecting to remember the source. It is the words’ delectability that for me produces something of a madeleine moment, somehow conjuring up a prepubescent glow, a black and white tv screen on a cozy Sunday morning with some angry preacher spewing about the mercy of Jesus upon the souls of the wicked…the glory of loving thy enemy. It seems to be in the way the sentence’s prosody gravitates toward “felt” as its main expression. And the term “inexpungible guilt” seems downright Jainist in its killing-eating sensitivity and sentience. As a boy on those Sunday mornings I felt a love of God being a love of all things—prey and predator alike. Flash to evening and, again, warm cozy feelings. Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. Dad popping popcorn in the popcorn popper. When I read that post-it, I’m a little boy again because I don’t find myself reading those types of statements, much less making them myself anymore. Then I begin thinking…

If this post-it applies to Bolano as I think it might, it may be in the way his narrative voice—at least through The Part About the Critics and the beginning of The Part About Amalfitano—almost echoes, replicates or recurses a prosecutorial voice in laying out a highly rational and nuanced indictment against sophisticated and perhaps even legalized criminals before a grand jury of readers who are being asked to feel the alleged charges being thrown at the defendants. Bolano seems to be prosecuting the big boys and girls of the global intelligentsia for their personal failures to improve the world in any meaningful way, or at least not cause it net harm in the end, from a human perspective, of course. It seems the more successful individual humans become relative to other humans, at least in their own mind, the more material harm they do to earthlings in general. A certain insensitivity seems necessary to justify their material gain by debiting their energy and minds to leverage unjust systems in their personal favor, and in this I’m reading a distinctly “American”—North, South, Latin, Anglo, African—apocalypse, re-writing in a more even-handed tone John’s overtly symbolic rant against global mercantilism in The Book of Revelations [as I presume to interpret my variously interpreted copies of it for myself, of course]. In Bolano, we are not mystified by this apocalyptic rant but seduced into its feeling of invisible dead ends.

Yet I don’t know. I’m only about 20 percent through the novel. My day job and my writing keep me away from 2666 more than I’d like, leaving me to imagine reading it more than actually doing so. Perhaps this injury will change that ratio for the next few days. Due to pain, I will have fun.

There’s a bright side to every sorrow…

And so this is why I write fiction rather than attempting some form of actual scholarship. I have something of an attention deficit disorder when it comes to who says what when where amid the gathering yet chaotically flowing minutiae [like hearing multiple rumors from multiple sources with complex, multiple agendas]. I’m far more stricken by the general flow of elements—the rumors’ overriding and overlapping themes forming the textual murmur—to care if that log bounced off those particular rocks upstream. I can imagine it probably did relative to my experience and that’s good enough for me. I’m not seeking ideologies or material formulas that are physically applicable, I’m not building bridges or skyscrapers or designing Wall Street software. I’m only dealing in useful fictions…useful to my thinking about my feelings and keeping them in their place. I have no desire to conduct social experiments to see if any of my imagined shit is true in the actual sense or not. I imagine it’s not and that seems true enough for me.

Go with the flow…Don’t dictate it, especially if you can’t dance.

Play seems to me a much overlooked aspect of evolutionary theories. What is it exactly that impels Life to defy for a time the second law of thermodynamics, to forego entropy for awhile in the emergency of order? It must involve pleasure. It’s got to be fun. Why else bother? What keeps us from committing mass suicide…or are we? And if we are killing ourselves, what does that mean? What effect does that have on human being? Why do we care? Do we…actually?

A playful imagination overcomes the enabling obstacle of the hypersensitive person’s inextinguishable sense of guilt. It’s the air beneath the crow’s beating black wings, enabling its flight and enhancing its perception as an emergence from crisis mode, a means to escape the present situation via some kind of cognitive expansion that seems at the very least liberating, if not evolutionary. Or so it seams that way in my mind at the moment…

Didn’t Pound say something about “artists” being the “antennae of the race?”

Is it time for the pan-American intelligentsia, if such an entity could imaginably exist, to playfully confront its guilt—both collectively and personally—to save itself from its reflexive behaviors before it’s too late? Does it matter? Is it worth the energy? Would it be useful to the human mind? What exactly might be considered useful? Why?

Mind might seam the emotional fallout from imagination in many forms. One must play to be happy. Art is a time and place where this kind of mind justifies its expenditure of matter and energy to itself in a way that produces a pleasurable sensation. Or maybe not.

I wrote more than I expected. My imagination reduced my pain. And I can’t help but think the way I’m feeling that the billions of living organisms comprising me haven’t somehow benefitted from this nonsense too.

It seems actuality really is mind in matter energetically sensed…a feeling evolutionary thought re-membering playful imaginings of…


This week’s interesting stuff:

A devastating take down of a well-regarded member of the New York intelligentsia by some word wizard barbarian whose dad works as a reporter for NBC news [this beast also has Buffalo roots]:

Flat N All That
MATT TAIBBI takes on porn-stached New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman’s greenish ways.

Even better was this gem from one of Friedman’s latest columns: “The fighting, death and destruction in Gaza is painful to watch. But it’s all too familiar. It’s the latest version of the longest-running play in the modern Middle East, which, if I were to give it a title, would be called: “Who owns this hotel? Can the Jews have a room? And shouldn’t we blow up the bar and replace it with a mosque?” There are many serious questions one could ask about this passage, but the one that leaped out at me was this: In the “title” of that long-running play, is it supposed to be the same person asking all three of those questions? If so, does that person suffer from multiple personality disorder?


It’s Written All Over Your Face, a Science News article that begins:

Eye candy might more appropriately be called brain candy. Seeing a pretty face is like eating a piece of oh-so-sweet chocolate — for the brain, if not for the stomach. In fact, attractive faces activate the same reward circuitry in the brain as food, drugs and money. For humans, there is something captivating and unforgettable about the arrangement of two balls, a point and a horizontal slit on the front of the head.


How Not to Write A Novel, rather funny actually, especially when you read it replacing all the periods with question marks and speak through your nose interrogating some aspiring author like Stewie Griffin on The Family Guy, who Wikipedia describes as “a diabolical infant of ambiguous sexual orientation who has adult mannerisms and speaks fluently with an affected upper-class English accent and stereotypical archvillain phrases.[6]” One scene from the show in particular pops into mind, where Stewie, sitting on the family sofa with Brian, the family dog, who “is highly anthropomorphized, walks on two legs, drinks Martinis, smokes cigarettes and engages in human conversation, though he is still considered a pet in many respects,” quizzes Brian about how the novel the dog is allegedly writing is going. Consider these two paragraphs turned into such questions and its rather hilarious and raises questions about how Family Guy and such criticism is perhaps relative to one another:

Typically, the plot of a good novel begins by introducing a sympathetic character who wrestles with a thorny problem. As the plot thickens, the character strains every resource to solve the problem, while shocking developments and startling new information help or hinder her on the way. Painful inner conflicts drive her onward but sometimes also paralyse her at a moment of truth. She finally overcomes the problem in a way that takes the reader by surprise, but in retrospect seems both elegant and inevitable.

The plot of a typical unpublished novel introduces a protagonist, then introduces her mother, father, three brothers and her cat, giving each a long scene in which they exhibit their typical behaviors one after another. This is followed by scenes in which they interact with each other in different combinations, meanwhile driving restlessly to restaurants, bars, and each other's homes, all of which is described in detail.

Read more at:

If I could be dictator for a week and during that time rule with an iron fist, these are the people I’d persecute. Pretty soon, somewhere around noon on day six, the last of us would most likely disappear…

Let’s talk European: Sign and Sight at

From typewriter to bookstore:

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