Thursday, May 26, 2011



Jared Schickling to me

Just reading up on this health bill that passed this morning. What a crock of shit. Of course it ain't just Obama -- but he has a job to do -- he's a piece of shit. What a fucking let down. I've had this feeling for some months now. But this seals the deal. He seriously thinks he's doing the good work. What a pretentious fuck.

Chuck Richardson to Jared

I agree with your…remarks. I haven't bothered reading up on it because regardless of what's passed, it won't be executed. The Congress has to fund it. It won't take effect until 2013-14, and if Obama's a one-termer and we have a Republican President, it will all be meaningless. Nothing good's going to happen in this country until after the coming unavoidable revolution or civil war. The ruling class is deeply divided between the coercers and the bribers. The bribers [Democrats] will end up winning something that doesn't look like victory. It's a miserable mess and I refuse to look at the details of the health bill because I believe the whole thing is a meaningless sideshow and distraction, an ugly spectacle that's also a dangerous gamble, because something will happen that might turn the mob against both parties, rather than it siding with one or the other.

The most interesting thing to watch right now is the Tea Bag movement, as it morphs from an idiotic FoxNews creation of the right wing, to shrill libertarianism [not really human, but actually corporate] and now it seems to be increasingly and truly populist [notice the progression into something increasingly serious and dangerous to the status quo]. When intellectuals begin joining their fight, watch out. Also watch for its name to change as splinter groups form and unite in various ways. It's out of this movement a third party will emerge by 2012 that might take over and at the very least become as permanent an entity as Democrats and Republicans, which in an ideal world would become the Democratic Republicans [I won't even guess on a TeaBag ideology other than it might be something "new" in the world, as in non-existent today]. Lots of things can happen. Health care's only a large ugly tree we're passing on the highway. One thing I'm rather certain of, if I live to be 70, I doubt we'll have this federal government with this Constitution. It will be something else. It will still be called America the way England's been called England and France has been called France for hundreds of years despite their forms of government. There's no way the federal government will survive the first half of this century because of what it's doing to itself [and its inability to do anything meaningful re: global warming], which is pretty much what it's making everyone else do to themselves. It's a sick cycle--pun intended--that's going to kill off these fuckers and lots of good people before it's done. Very sad and quite literally tragic...yet I fear necessary. Hubris must play itself out...

The smartest and angriest people will win in the end, but at what cost and for how long [not very, I imagine]?

Note: I believe ethics is a necessary ingredient in intelligence...I sense a debate, but let's not now. I'm way too busy.

I thought you were going to leave me alone, fucker? LOL

Jared Schickling to me

No argument. And so much for leaving you alone. We're on autopilot I think after all that back and forth so no need to respond. Do your work. But no argument. I get the sense the Dems just need to get something through and claim all the little meaningless inane details as progressive reforms while the big picture is anything but. And 13-14 I'd be surprised if Republicans didn't put up a stink about mandatory coverage and claim that victory. the whole thing stinks cuz now there's a precedent, hc industry knows it can strong arm this administration. the future's cut off. reform's not possible (took 40 more years for ussr once it started recognizing that). Anyway off to clean.

Chuck Richardson to Jared

i'm trying to empathize with obama and think about what it is about him that does make him different, and that's his demeanor and long term approach. he's on an 8-year plan and i'll judge him then. he's not bush. the democrats are not the republicans. the republicans march in goosestep with each other. democrats, like us, will argue over what the meaning of the word "is" is, or was or might be, and at which juncture...the republicans end the debate, their minds being numbed...mostly i worry about Obama's need to be "popular" with people in every group, which makes him rather naive about each group's majority...if there is such a thing as a "majority." which leads to my concern about Obama's relationship to the ruling class. In actuality, the power of the president is very limited, and if a president is to use what power s/he has wisely they have to be able to perceive, read and negotiate the seams in the ruling class. This is very hard for someone with Obama's background, easier for someone like Bill Clinton, impossible for Jimmy Carter, Johnson was the recent best among the Democrats, Kennedy actually being the embodiment of a particular seam with a familial axe to grind is therefore disqualified. The best President we've had at negotiating the seams [political, economic, social, religious, sexual, etc.] across the spectrum of ruling class clans was, of course, Ronald Reagan. Reagan understood power in America better than anyone since FDR. Nixon comes in fourth. Jimmy Carter and W. understood it the least [of the presidents in my lifetime].

I worry that Obama's more naive than audacious. I also worry that he hates confrontation to the point he can be bullied [infuriates me, but my better self knows I wanted the President with the least body bags ultimately attached, and Obama's passive Spock-like demeanor may be appropriate to the situation and/strategy...I worry that Obama and the Democrats don't recognize that corporations/Wall Street and the Republican Party are bigger threats to American well-being than al Qaeda, the Soviet Union, the Red Chinese, Hugo Chavez and Castro could ever be, and wage a serious effort to drive a stake through their heart. The American right wing must be flat out defeated. But Obama’s a defender of the free market as he must be since he was sworn to uphold the Constitution [considering all the precedents like corporate personhood…although there’s nothing about the “free market” in the Constitution, I know…corporatists weaseled that in there via Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad]. And this worries me. I want him to be the kind of president who invites people with views like mine to share them with him in private in the white house so he can consider them and be very aware of the possibility that something might happen between the masses and the system and he will need to behave in "extra-constitutional" fashion to reduce the effects and collateral damage of the necessary strife and keep it from escalating into all-out combat by reducing the necessity of that option. How else will he know how to be on the right side of history? He's a great ape [like the rest of us] who needs to be aware when there's a serious problem among the monkies, because when they get really pissed everything under their trees will be carpeted with shit forcing the silverback below to move on. Obama should edit and re-craft their ideas, knowing that their aims are correct but their methods will fail. And that's the thing...what's Obama's actual method? Is there a method to the madness? Is he giving his opponents the rope he's going to hang them with, figuratively speaking? If everything gets totally fucked up will he, like Clinton in the 96 budget showdown when the government stopped operating, be able to rally the country to his side to defeat those who fucked it up? All this stuff isn't about health care so much as it's part of a series of moves in a chess game between the two major wings of the corporate ruling class, who need to keep raising the national credit limit to keep playing.

Then again, perhaps not. The big shit's going to happen whether I have a health care plan on paper or not.

Ok, i repeated “ruling class" several times. Check out this documentary by Lewis Lapham when you have an hour. I think it sums it up as quickly and as simply as anything I've seen or read on the subject [Roger & Me is better but much longer, this is short]--in essence, the true political problem every nation faces is how to populate its ruling class with the best people for both the society of humans and ecology of natural resources [material sustainability]--it all comes down to what we are to do with "success," the ways we measure "success," and the kinds of success we actually want to experience, rather than McMansions in gated communities…a less somber more playful elite, who carry no burdens, only light...

Jared Schickling to me

thanks for the link. you're probably right. i'm sure he's got plans. i'm not convinced of his commitment to climate health. copenhagen seems disappointing. i remember reading somewhere a while a back how violent crime rates go down during recessions. i don't know -- as if misery loves company and the poor chill on this one. i told you so or something. i wonder about domestic abuse rates among the ruling class, or employee abuse in their offices and factories (broadly), both evade such recording. (the latter point would seem to complicate the my initial one.) up all night. off to bed.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Conversation About “Zero’s Blooming Excursion” [& Whatnot], Finale(?)

Re: The Blurbs
Chuck Richardson to jared

I attached the notes I took instead of writing my blog entry. I now want to let this book sink in for the achievement it is. I'll write something short about it, teasing readers, right before it comes out then a review right after. Good god, man. This is your first real book. And it's a doozy. After work I'm going to stop at the Diamond and buy someone a beer and toast you. Then go home and go to bed.

I prefer the ones in bold, perhaps the first one best. The choice is yours. Feel free to re-write them, mash them together, whatever...just get my approval before you put my name on it. We're not only on the same page with this one now, but the same letter. Yet I think I'm still saying it's capitalized while you say it's not. Fucker! At least we agree it's a vowel, right?

1. Zero’s Blooming Excursion seems a trans-bifurcation of voice...some cacophonous unity of symbols—visual, aural, intellectual—collaborating in the emergence of something deeply spiritual: The awakened human mind dealing with the chaos, projecting the Arabesque patterns of its own movements. Schickling’s book is a brilliant success.
2. Zero’s Blooming Excursion seems sets within sets becoming texts within texts, differing fonts joining together via familiar lines and groupings that now seem alien or other-worldly—inhuman or transhuman—in the way they're seamed together.
3. If one is to be literate in the realm of Zero’s Blooming Excursion’s merged pineal glands, one must make sense of its seams...It's as much a painting to make sense of [the repeated Chagall] or puzzle to construct [the chemistry and mathematics] as a poem to read...It's a critifiction seducing its reader into numerous re-reads, each one producing different patterns and forms of pleasure…Schickling's book is the very embodiment of Calvino’s ideal of multiplicity..
4. Zero’s Blooming Excursion uses the space on the page as a painting of words, and as the pages accumulate so does the sense that a real, albeit esoteric, that is highly personal, which is to say…spiritual…narrative is taking shape...
5. Zero’s Blooming Excursion is a myth making a psychology of Itself in poetic, fictional and critical terms...seeking a form of salvation by salvaging the world via diverse means of constructive nihilism…
6. Zero’s Blooming Excursion’s bizarro science, invisibility cloaking, mathematics, chemistry, strange symbols, numerology, Kabbala, lots of trivial news and obscure data [like patent backgrounds]...all add up to a paranoid yet valid approach to the cosmos which seems to subvert or counter its own overt nihilism. Jared Schickling’s poetic brilliance shines throughout.
7. Zero’s Blooming Excursion’s an ecopoetic manifesto that comes with an instruction manual for anyone knew to Schickling’s fascinating worlds…and who isn’t? Yet.
8. Zero's Blooming Excursion seams redemptive nihilism to the emptiness of lost space...dead "socia"...a dead friend, breathing life into a dying place…

jared schickling to me

this will work! i like the first one. though i might take some things from the some others to add. have to think on it. certainly i'll send it your way afterward. thanks.

Chuck Richardson to jared

Good. You better not drop my "fable." They're refined pieces of a puzzle that naturally fit together. And it helps the reader the way Ziggy's letter does in Smoke. It truly amps everything else in the book. To call "the book" poetry seems inadequate. I'll just refer to it as "the book."

Now leave me alone! LOL. Cheers!

jared schickling to me

Yes, I'll leave you alone now. Thanks for showing up to work!

Saturday, May 14, 2011


NOTE: The first part of this correspondence is “E-Mails/Jared Schickling #3,” posted below. I would’ve changed the title, but my Blogger Edit Layout won’t seem to allow it. Anyway, I’ve begun posting excerpts of my correspondence with Jared because I’ve discovered that we say some of our best things this way…off the cuff, freely without concern that you would eventually have access to it. So you’re something of a voyeur after the fact, dear reader. And what you have in these correspondences is, in some cases, better than the fiction or poetry myself or Jared may have composed that particular day. I also think superior writers might find it amusing that Jared and me worry about such stupid things. Our peers may find our thoughts entertaining, and our few “students” may find these e-mails stimulating and helpful to their sincerest efforts in the” language arts.” Cheers to all, boos to none. Unless it’s booze…with Peace!

Chuck Richardson to Jared Schickling:

I had intended to write up a draft today of my general views re: Zero's Blooming Excursion in the hope of finding a few possible blurbs, but I ended up researching XXXXXX for nine hours instead. I'm writing…XXXXXX's fictional biography, sort of. I'm setting the bar very high. I spent most of the day copying and pasting samples of 1920s' writing so I can begin feeling the period [I'm going to relate somehow the horrifying circumstances of her birth and the obstetrician's malpractice--too much silver nitrate in the eyes, blinding her in one eye and severely scarring the other--today she'd be a millionaire...a comment derivative of a 1920s ideal, which was derivative of] in terms of language. I'm also scrutinizing advertizing, the economy, global situation, etc. & et al. Once that's all sunk in to a point that the first sentence pops out, I'll be on my way. But I see myself researching for a few days. I'll be following the same method 11 more times covering the periods of her 83-year life [pretty much the personal story of the 20th century and turn of the 21st]. It's possibly going to be told in the third person objective from a narrator who knows she's dead in her chair...she's experiencing her life eternally recurring in an apparently random order...this is the only chapter written in the past tense because the subject has entered the past tense...while this is going on, there's knocking on the door. She lived alone, her successful writer son having moved away and taken the animals with him... Obviously, I'm very wrapped up...This is something I'll want her to read, so you know the pressure I'm feeling.

That said, I'll have something on Zero for you within a week. And hopefully it will be right and I'll post a public version of it on my blog and at NHR if they want it. Good exposure for you and it's an interesting conversation on the very subject I'm struggling with regarding my colleagues' much of it seems informed by an entropy that they seem to refuse to fully wrestle with [I'll be more specific later]...and as I said, I have the same level of admiration and disappointment for Cohen's Heaven of Others that I do Zero's Blooming Excursion [a kind of Romanticism I might like except for the "hero's" being a "protagonist" of a "nil" sort...]

That said my disappointment's minor and a matter of taste and I'm open to the idea I might be wrong about your aesthetic decision...the way I'm open to the idea Obama might be a genius in consciously pissing off everybody...don't Americans deserve and need to be pissed off at Americans before anything gets straightened out? Maybe there's a method to his and your's just that the coolness of the whole approach tweaks me...the apparent refusal to get relatively dirty and smartly fight to the end...and the fact that, despite the hope for change and nihilistic tendencies, there's an element of maintenance about to keep things going...or to conserve something while things keep going...except the poem. It's a very good poem and I want it to go further, then have a fable of sorts transitioning into the essay. Really explode the forms. It would be an uncategorizable must read. We slap the term "poetry" on it as a catch-all that you prefer over "fiction," which is OK because it would actually be neither one or nonfiction...I see your potential, the book's may not yet be time for it to kinetically expend itself in the "market." You're building a bomb and I say there's room for more TNT, plastique, nitro, etc. Go Nucular! Advance your stategeries a few more goosesteps, brother, and humankind might perceive itself evolving into the "next" human...and actually feel the part of something continuous rather than its mere ending in close conjunction with its own, or stopping, of something...

I'm too vague. Never mind. I know you feel you're done with it, Geoffrey's about to start work on it and it would be asking too much at this point to delay it, and you're probably right with regards to the aesthetics, being a more refined and sophisticated chap than me by nature. I like my women to mud wrestle. I'd also say compared to the other contemporary work I've been reading, Zero achieves a heartfelt complexity with a precision I haven't seen. It makes me think of no one or nothing else but your weeping and laughing genius. So don't let my criticism get you down. Just tell me to fuck off if you feel like it. You're "the poet Jared Schickling" for chrissakes.

I'll have something for you in a week rather than a day. Molasses.

On Sat, Dec 19, 2009 at 11:27 PM, jared schickling wrote:

Hey Chuck,

Started writing this yesterday and then figured I'd come back. I'm sick thanks to Mollie and spent the past nine hours getting our reading series junk in order. After a day of grading. But it's a load off the back. Anyway. Continue composing message --

That's fine and understandable -- doing your own work today -- I spent *all* of today grading. Glad that's over. The course and its papers are predictable at this point. More or less plowed through 600 pages of freshman writing. As the semester's over I don't need to comment, just have a look and mark it. Some of em caught my attention.

And I'll risk irritating you -- by suggesting a second read before you begin writing about what's unsatisfactory or insufficient in Zero's.

"the personal story of the 20th century and turn of the 21st": Zero's is the personal story of one's most recent history -- that being, a text to be read -- told from the outside, the bird's eye, cloaked in the form of a person. One suspects this by recognizing the multiple poems within poems, spilling into each other -- consistently a given construct is deconstructed by the context in which it’s occurring, and the thing deconstructed on the other hand deconstructs the initial deconstructor. And out of this entropy a threshold is reached at which point a new organizational principle emerges -- always larger than whatever human. This happens formally -- voices colliding, obviously -- but other ways too. In each case the multiplicity of tongues creates one readable poem, and within that one can trace any number of threads, different poems -- follow one font by itself, another by itself, or both together. They'll say different things -- complimentary, antagonistic -- read clusters as separate, or take the flying leap across charged (not empty) space to find the syntaxes and cadences ordering parts and wholes. In all cases read left right up down and all around. This fragmentary unity leaves the place to be...

And I bring this up because there is no protagonist, contrary to your suggestion. There is a place -- that's all -- and a human experience within that, only part -- a necessary thing to write because, so it seems to me, the place will always only be understand in this dimension by its human author (or reader). The text itself, which might usurp that role (both roles), remains forever a human production. The human is the frame through which you see -- anything else sounds to me like lip service.

I'm more curious about the ways we're stupid than any intelligence

I also find it necessary because otherwise, without giving the poem over to another's poem, a given character turns unfairly used by the text, a limited dimensional representation. i.e., no longer alive. A slave to the author's needs -- it seems to me easier to write about the thing than to write the thing. And I'll repeat something said in a previous email, death as death is not possible in any true sense until...the text, in order to accurately be, must find a way to give itself over to that which is other than "my" intention, my imagined text. Neither will this be any kind of death, and is utterly human, this imaginative potential.

"Advance your stategeries a few more goosesteps, brother, and humankind might perceive itself evolving into the "next" human...and actually feel the part of something continuous rather than its mere ending in close conjunction with its own..." The thing is, I'm not interested in escaping "this." The "this" is always already continuous and part of something larger. Zero's is concerned with helping us see this, It. And I feel it does this. The human being within it is merely one cog within Its by which we might notice it -- and in turn the elsewhere of it. Not central in the sense of importance...but central in the sense of what one has to go on, mine of data, bag of Its alleles. I was always more partial to Akhmatova and Mandelstam and their acmeism than Blok and their symbolism -- the latter arguing art must reject its precursors to imagine something new while the former arguing that's precisely the problem, future hypomnesia. Where has postmodernism gotten us? We're still waiting for the Big Machine, old Panopticon and Disciplinary Mechanism, capable of absorbing all contradictions, to simply run its course. The symbolists were little dandies of the Bolsheviks for a while, while the acmeists were killed, exiled, families arrested etc, all that wonderful stuff. Why? Why is Myung Mi Kim paid so well? David Foster Wallace? Federman? Across the board, why is postmodern art that doubts the imagination and its potential so well rewarded? Art that writes Its (and others') colonies? Not for me. I hate machines. The thing about the Carcasses is they're dead. Hence their nowhere -- which would be their biggest problem.

I also am not interested in escaping "this" because by paying attention to "this," and empathizing with it, one is more prone to understand that in the supermarket it's wise to make wiser consumer choices. Just one example.

The thing about Zero's is it's an eco-poetry, with "ecology" broadly understood (note the broad referential vectors of "they" in the epigraph, the only time [sic see epigraph] in the ms the word is used -- and note the seldom, consciously used word "it," the resistance to Its objectification -- possessives becoming the intimacy of Its simultaneous presence and absence). It's not romantic, insofar as it does nothing more than see and *hear* the mind's play as environmental phenomena. As derivative, a site-specific charge. The poem (not the fiction -- fiction sounds to me more purely Its staged production) is where the "he" is located and across scale, Its/his own synonym and antonym, simultaneously. The poem is always undoing itself; the he within it is always other than itself. Shit, we're not even sure if he is alive in this thing. Whatever "new" human we'd like to see, that's already "us."

If you decide on a second read, use the attached. In light of our conversations I've added a footnote here and there, but most importantly focused its mythic dimensions with some grand insertions. What I'm after can't be well enough understood before this draft. I think you know it well enough for some blurb, but I'm suspicious otherwise when I begin to hear about a "protagonist." If you're reading it in such terms, well...I've attached the prospective cover image, "pagoda." It's an accurate depiction.

None of this is to suggest the poem is finished. All of it fails. That's the beauty of it and a bit of the point.

Date: Sun, 20 Dec 2009 10:15:01 -0500
Subject: Re: zero
From: Chuck Richardson
To: Jared Schickling

Jared, believe me, I'm going to give Zero several readings. And I already have read it a second time and then gone over it and referring to it, etc. Our e-mail correspondence, prior to this response, totals 5,729 words, filling 11 single spaced pages. I can say without equivocation I totally get you and where you're coming from. I wouldn't change a thing that's there. I would simply add a fable between Reger and the essay to further "bloom" the form. "Zero's" form of sense--sensibility--or absence thereof--seams a necessary "fiction."

I see ZBE as a flower that hasn't quite fully bloomed. The excitement is not knowing whether it actually has or not because every flower's different. You'll see this in greater detail in a day or two once I've straightened everything out in my head enough to adequately share the confusion, which is aesthetically pleasurable so far. Zero's Blooming Excursion is already a very good book because it's put my mind to work willingly and pleasurably on the ramifications of what appears to be happening on the page.

This is an utterly brilliant book so far and you're going to have several blurbs to choose from, all of which will sound hyperbolic but won't be, as I'm going to try and lay out my reading as lucidly and calmly as possible without too many details. You don't need the details. My fundamental opinion is that Zero requires something in the fable form to serve as a transition mechanism between "Reger" and the essay. The shift as it is seems unnecessarily harsh and reduces the pleasure. I like getting slapped with an essay, just not until after I've orgasmed. The essay's a post-coital cuddle or cigarette and I haven't got off yet. You're a selfish bastard for lighting up and spooning now. I'll be less crude in a day or two once I've gone over all my notes and our lengthy correspondence one more time. I would say Zero has the potential to truly expand the literary debate of what we can do in the face of our death and global deterioration from the human perspective. Right now it's a very meaningful contribution. You, Jared Schickling, are capable of more...just a little.

If you don't write the fable, perhaps I will...I'll take Kafka past Zero in an effort to find out that last thing...then let the reader take it from there. My duty is to go as far as I can...humankind benefits from Prometheus and Icarus, etc. & et al.


On Sun, Dec 20, 2009 at 12:10 PM, Jared Schickling wrote:

Well now that you've lubed me up...and I do see where you're coming from. My thoughts re the essay as it's currently placed, something along the lines of, the reader is inclined after the first section to start seeing people, and focusing on that, perhaps lulled into forgetting the place-ness even of these people, at which point the essay redirects our attention. More or less. A fable, or something, could provide all the stuff you're suggesting. Thing is, at this point, I'm freakin empty. The end of my ind. study with DBQ took dumped as I dropped everything to slave over this thing. Luckily he's supportive. And with all this reading series and job app crap to deal with over the break I'm not sure I'll find the time or the ideas to make anything happen. There is a poem excluded from the ms that might get re-worked into prose and deal with the necessary things. I don't know. Babbling. Federman hit the nail on the head with you...[being dangerous].

And ps congrats on the Artvoice promotion. That's sure to sell some books. It looks like Buffalo's experiencing a second literary birth, and importantly, outside of the official channels. I swear I just miss everything. Dammit.

Date: Sun, 20 Dec 2009 12:39:04 -0500
Subject: Re: zero
From: Chuck Richardson
To: Jared Schickling

First, please re-work the deleted piece. Add something...some mechanism that isn't so rude...The ArtVoice promotion wasn't about me, didn't mention me [did it?], just BV and Starcherone, putting BV on top with the term "SubPop." I'll have to re-read it and see if I saw my name. I don't think I did, but I sometimes forget I'm me...

and i feel for you, my friend. you're definitely going through a crunch time. hopefully you both will land something nice in WNY and we'll start being a physical community again. shit's really happening here, i think. and, for better or worse, it's home...i relate.

On Sun, Dec 20, 2009 at 12:47 PM, jared schickling wrote:

The author asks Geoffrey to recommend some books -- he recommends yours and I think the cover image is there --

Date: Sun, 20 Dec 2009 13:06:05 -0500
Subject: Re: zero
From: Chuck Richardson
To: Jared Schickling

Jesus Christ. I didn't scroll all the way down. It looked different and I assumed it was ads. I'll have to pick up a print version and see if it's in there. Very cool. I'm returning to XXXXXX at 4:30 p.m. I got a lot and nothing done the last nine days. The research for the novel keeps blooming and taking up more and more time and somewhere in January Geoffrey's sending me the galleys for So It Seams. The less time I spend on the job, the busier I get. I'm taking the rest of the day off from this and tomorrow will write something up on Zero. You'll get your blurbs. The gist of my blog version will be the similar way you and Cohen seem to face peak everything, revealing, perhaps, a hint of how your generation of artists and intellectuals are to likely rationalize the very dramatic events of your life times, which may be occurring at the peak of something called "humankind's life time." There's a confident affirmation in being able to say no--or is it actually an uncertain denial/negation/nihilism also--or just sheer exhaustion, "we are old?"--to various aspects of it, living to fight another day, living to refuse to fight again today, etc. I don't know. But what a magnificent struggle. Personally, it gives me some hope for everything...because there seem valid men doing apparently valid things.

On Mon, Dec 21, 2009 at 2:58 AM, Jared Schickling wrote:

You sound really well in these past few emails. It's more than music to my ears. Our conversations have been helpful. I'm having a celebration Pabst. Ask me tomorrow and maybe I've changed my mind, "fable," before the essay. attached. the bestiality of it prevents it from being called a parable. i'd like to think the arc now has that wad blowing effect you were talking about -- still not knowing what the final word is. or has to be. i don't know. Don't feel that you have to get to anything with this right away. When you feel like it. Though it might be easier with all the fresh back and forth. I don't know. I saw Orson Welles's version of The Trial last night, so here's this thing.

I hear you about winding up with less time the more you have. That's the problem with this mfa thing. But in this case i ain't kidding anybody it's a total luxury.

Chuck Richardson to Jared Schickling

You bastard! I was going to write the blurb and blog stuff today, but will hold off. I guess I deserve that. But seriously, I'm going to look at it right away and get back to you. I'm already thrilled. The fact is a "fable" just has to happen at the end of a process. You dream it. You get high, party, have a good long conversation over Pabst with someone who doesn't give a hoot about Romanticism and ecopoetics, and you get in the mood and then all of a sudden BAM! the mind crystallizes something for you out of the flames, and there it is and you wonder what the fuck. It leaves things simultaneously open and have the exact mess you were looking for...what you needed to see for yourself...

I'd also like to say I loathe "escape." Going through the valley of nails is suicide. The poem begins with a suicided friend as a doorway. The fun about writing is you can "do" things there you should and can never do in actuality. I don't understand how it works, but I got my driver's license. Everything I "know" "I" "know" from having dealt with it in my head and on the page. And I didn't have any help and had nowhere to turn but the Swamps and Thoreau and Melville and O'Connor. The only time in my writing life that I experienced writer's block was December 1999 to about October 2001. The towers coming down loosened me up, got me feeling again. And I got off the meds. Right now I'm feeling and writing a great deal. No writer's block. It all just pours out of me despite, or because of, my sadness of late. My sister's pug got hit by a car and killed the other day. Her picture on the Christmas card is on the refrigerator…Death rips me apart. I wage all out war against Thanatos and its forces. I plunge through the valley of nails screaming fuck you! and swinging my fists every single day because I decided if I wasn't going to commit suicide, if I was going to live, I was going to strike a blow for God almighty, whatever the fuck that might be. And now I'm typing. Tears. I'm not better, but perhaps the best I've ever been. My dreams have fallen into such syncronicity with my waking life thanks to my writing that I dreamed lucidly last night that the cover of Smoke was in Artvoice. I've a feeling that 2010 could be the year I finally feel I won a fucking round. Hopefully by next year at this time you and I will be sitting on our respective stools in our corner, sharing a joint, planning how to take the belts away from whatever bastards have them...and by any means necessary because we're playing for keeps.

OK. Enough of that shit. I'm going to read your fable and then try to come up with a few blurbs. I need to finish this now because I'm going to be increasingly busy for the next few months...especially the next two…

Anyway. You're the man. I'm done moaning.


Chuck Richardson to jared

Just read it. Perfect. That piece has found its home...the absolutely correct and natural transition--not a "mechanism" [you should know by now I'm not at all Cartesian, so why you brought that up...]

First we have the larva, then the pupa, then the apparent emergence of the metamorphosed being, and then the placement of "criticism" that is "death." A naturally "progressive cycle" with all of its chaotic messiness and bifurcations, blooming into those things that do end up seeming to "mean" something, where we're running for a moment with the spirit informing things before it outpaces us and moves on, leaving only the essay behind [everyone's fascinated by a corpse] inconclusive autopsy used for the "education of morticians" instead, perhaps?

Anyway, you did it. You can drink something nicer than Pabst now. Go ahead...Send me the bill.

Friday, May 13, 2011

New Issue of Eccolinguistics!

Featuring poems by Joel Chace, Brad Vogler, the barbarian poet of Lostport—Marc Pietrzyskowski; a collage from Steve Dalachinsky that seems a visual fit for this issue’s theme, an excerpt from Angela Hume’s SECOND STORY OF YOUR BODY; a couple of outstanding anonymous pieces—A PLAGUE UPON THE VINEYARD Hack butts and hand-written letter dated July 24, 2004; plus this, one of my three prosey contributions, Bob Dylan Dream #...

i was surprised to read both in huxley and someplace else, which i don't remember, about the rarity of lucid i remember the second place, a book called "personal mythology." both claim that few people have lucid dreams in which they can "consciously" act. personally, i'm somewhat skeptical about that, though when i tell people i can do this they tend to look at me as if i were insane or lying, so maybe there's some truth in it. it's rare for me in the sense that it comes and goes. however, right now it just keeps happening every single night. i think perhaps taking two pills of xanax at bedtime helps. if i don't take them, i still have the dreams, but they tend to be very very disturbing. with the xanax, they're amazing. for instance last night i found myself sitting with friends in lawn chairs configured as a horse shoe facing the neighbor's tool shed in the middle of the night. and who was at my right hand side? bob dylan. we talked about our families and how much pain they caused us. he said he coped with it all by touring, and i said i wished i could go on tour and he said i should join him. i said i had to do some things around the house first, finish up a project and he said keep in touch and join him when i can. the next thing i know i'm driving my car at a high rate of speed, but blinded by orange light with white lights whizzing by each side of me as if i were driving into traffic. i keep trying to slam on the brakes but there's no pedals on the floor. all i can do is go straight and hope for the best. when i regain my vision i'm at a university campus that's a hybrid between u.b. and a shopping mall. i can hear dylan playing at the campus stadium but have no sense of direction and can't find the place. everytime i ask somebody for directions they say follow the sound of the music. and i'm not walking, i'm running. in every direction. finally, i'm back in my car at night and pull into a motel 6 [buick 6?]. i go into one of the rooms and it's crowded with friendly strangers who all seem to know me. then dylan comes out of the bathroom and covers himself with a blanket as if playing hide and seek, laughing like crazy. we sit down together in the middle of the room, everyone circling around us, and are about to sing a duet of Tomorrow's Such A Long Time, and I wake up. i went to bed at 10 p.m. and woke up at 7:30 a.m. it's been this way almost every night for at least a month...8-10 hours of miraculous sleep with lucid dreaming. i've never felt my head so clear. also, my movement in all the dreams, disturbing and not, is generally counterclockwise and i've been having lots of discussions with the my father and a dear, dear friend kevin henning who died of cancer in 2002 who i sang-recorded an album of my poetry with, which is now, unfortunately, long gone...

Monday, May 9, 2011

E-Mails/Jared Schickling #3

Jared Schickling to me:
Dec 14, 2009

When you have a moment, attached is the ms. I was hoping you'd blurb it. Only if you're moved to.

Me to Jared Schickling
Dec 14, 2009

Will do. When do you need the blurb by?

Jared Schickling to me
Dec 14, 2009

No rush. If you can get to it in a month, that'd work. And longer would probably work too. I think Geoffrey's got a number of things before he gets to mine.

I'd recommend printing it, unfortunately. There are variations in the font easy to make out on paper but tough on a screen. But either way....

Me to Jared Schickling
Dec 15, 2009

I'll print it out. Was going to do it that way anyway. To seriously read something I need to see it on the page literally. Computer screens are too small and incompatible with the eyes.

I decided to turn down a couple so-called writing offers from XXXXX and the XXXXX. The pay was ridiculously low and it was obviously geared for someone looking for exposure not money. I got exposure and neither of these outlets would be very dignified for me. But nonetheless, XXXXX, a '75 DeSales grad and friend of Ted Pelton, is looking over my writing samples, etc., and she edits XXXXX. That's a monthly and if she wanted to throw me $50 to $100 a month for five to 10 hours of copy writing a month, or something, that'd be sweet.

I'm also not going to make too much of a fuss at XXXX. Just take the new position and be quiet. They're not bright people--management/union--and I'll be finished with that outfit all together, one way or another, by the end of 2010. In the meantime, I'm loving the time off. The novel's truly blooming. Here's the title that's sticking: Objective 13: A Ziggy Fumar Manifesto. I'm not saying anything else about it other than it will be the piece I was born to write and will probably not need to write anymore when it's done...unless I feel there's yet a better way for it to be said...though I think I'll be reaching my limits with this one. I already feel myself somewhat slipping in the mental short term memory...increasing fugue states as if my waking life were a low-grade acid trip and my dreams, my REM sleep, an equally lucid adventure...could I be going insane? Dementia? Whether I am or not, Objective 13 will be the necessary achievement to hunt down my birth mother and say see? See what you gave up? To look at my mother now and say thank-you, see what your patience and kindness has wrought? And also, a great deal of I told you so. This is the one. It's all collapsing into simple arabesque patterns thanks to the simple method of the writing and its autobiographical nature. Enough said.

I'll begin work on the blurb today. I'm thinking of asking you to blurb So It Seams because I still don't really know that many people. I'm also going to ask Goro Takano and Bennett Lovett-Graff. I'll ask Geoffrey if he can think of someone else, the way he asked me for Goro. I also imagine he might put something from the reviews of Smoke on the back cover. I don't know. I hate this part of it. I enjoy the opportunity to blurb and closely read unpublished texts, but I don't like thinking about who to ask. Asking isn't bad, just thinking about it is...

If you're interested, I attached an excerpt from Objective 13. These are all real people. I haven't changed the names yet. Tomorrow I start a similar section about my mother.

The only thing I'll say is that I keep thinking of the way Italo Calvino approached his Invisible Cities and the way Robbe-Grillet examined objects in his dimension in Jealousy and The Labrynth. A later draft edited and commented on by Ziggy Fumar will contain a manifesto without agenda. Ziggy will be a recursion of the narrator and it will be up to the reader--Marco Polo's Kublah Kahn or Scheherezade's king--who will compose the final draft...or 13th objective, to close the hoop of the spirit's text. You'll see. It's going to work. It's going to be pleasure inducing...or I've wasted my life in the most amusing way.

Jared Schickling to me
Dec 16, 2009

ps and regarding the edits -

thanks for all your patience and no pressure. With those edits we have a final draft.

Me to Jared Schickling
Dec 16, 2009

OK. I read through this thing last night and the edits this morning. I'm simply going to type out my handwritten notes for whatever they're worth. I imagine my blurb will emerge from our discussion.


1. Like Dura, Zero refuses to be organized into a singular matrix or web, locating Itself in various fonts and forms of writing.

2. Zero un-travels, un-locates and un-relocates on a blooming excursion.

3. Reading Zero requires constant translation and re-translation, which is to say cursion and re-cursion...

4. p. 12, 21: Zero lingering on [me] as an object that's a combination of phallus and window. I'm flattered and touched, and moved by the footnote at bottom of p. 21.

5. p. 62--"Let the old dwarf stutter"--"we leak"--much improved placement; works in a way worthy of your talent, which is huge and tender...reminiscent of Whitman.

6.Merging with the Socia's pineal gland...The whole [of Zero] is a transbifurcation of voice...a cacophonous unity of symbols--visual, aural, intellectual--collaborating in the emergence of something deeply spiritual--The awakened human mind making sense of the chaos...THE MIND IS AN ARABESQUE ONE MUST RELEASE TO PERCEIVE.

7. Zero's Blooming Excursion is, in part, a literature of negation...nihilism seams a fundamental entropy...a natural law...death.

8. Whom is the "they" who "loved address/of new men year"...?

9. Begins with a negating enigma that takes off via the salvation of 10 deleted lines [a "complete set?"]...

10. OK. Right off the bat I'm mystified...struggling to figure out a way to read Zero from the start...p. 3 seems almost heiroglyphic...something seems to be going on re: sets within sets...then the name of our dearly departed, suicided friend...It's as if we're entering another of a negated, suicided ego named Zero--the intentional black hole, the necessary absence].

11. Zero is the text's strange attraction to a kind of suicide/nihilism.

12. This is quite literally an end-time apocalypse...a near death revelation.

13. p. 5: Could be a message to Pat, the p. 6 becomes a portal with a footnote...a threshold that feels like Beckett's Lost Ones.

14. p. 7: MERGER OF THE PINEAL GLANDS. A whole new room or world...I'm expecting a land of the enigmatic, esoteric narrative seems to be taking shape--Zero's psychomythology in the face of death?...That it's composed by joining two minds/souls together across the life/death divide via the part of the brain controlling waking and sleeping patterns and seasonal fluctuations of brainwaves, etc. & et al, which, according to the Surrealist Battaille reveal a blind spot in Western philosophy...the theosophist Madame Blavatsky spoke of an esoteric pineal gland and HP Lovecraft's "From Beyond" deals with a machine that stimulates the PG allowing subjects to perceive alternate realities...

15. Is Zero like Orpheus chasing Eurydice [suicided/suiciding/annihilated humankind] to the Underworld?

16. Sets within sets become texts within texts of different fonts joined together via familiar lines and groupings yet alien or other-worldly--inhuman or transhuman--in the way they're seamed together. If one is to be literate in the realm of merged pineal glands one must make sense of the seams...It's as much a painting to make sene of [the repeated Chagall] or puzzle to construct [the chemistry and mathematics] as a poem to read...It's a poem that's forcing the reader to write the final draft.

17. Aural punning like "ears quoi" adds to the almost meaningful, yet still annihilative chaos...

18. Humankind seems killed off by mathematics and chemistry.

19. The redacted parts can be viewed as stand-ins for Zero. Every time you see a redaction, fill it in with Zero and it makes a shifting sensibility...

20.The lined-through parts seem visible stages, or mid-scales of awareness pushed aside...each pineal gland seems to operate with its own font...

21. p. 24--"I dominate this space." "I"=Zero's delusion of transcendence...

22. Uses the space on the page as a painting of words, and as the pages accumulate so does the sense that a real, albeit esoteric, that is highly personal, narrative is taking place...this is quite literally a myth making a psychology of Itself in poetic and fictional terms...

23. Seeking a kind of salvation/salvaging through nihilism...

24. Every word bleeds into the next, defamiliarizing them as objects, allowing the reader to feel them as subjects instead--worlds blocked in by sheer data of a single pivotal year in the life of the re-dacted Zero...

25. pp. 35-6--Beautiful. The rhythms of the whole piece boil down into concise poetic form, and yet it's not Zero stitching the senses together...

26. Bizarro science, invisibility cloaking, mathematics, chemistry, strange symbols, numerology/Kabbala, lots of trivial news and obscure data [like patent backgrounds]...all adding up to a paranoiac approach to the cosmos that seems to subvert or counter Its own overt nihilism...Zero also seems a bit sentimental, as if he were re-couping what Pat Lowther rejected with his suicide and what humankind seems to be rejecting with its own...a psychopathically rational materialism hinging on superstition...

27. Shares a similar joy of ironically sending up technical jargon, much the way I do marketing in So It Seams...language can be hilariously mocked...have fun goddamnit!

28. p. 49--Excellent definition and placement of Hinge.

29. p. 50--Now it get's really political with the Lt's body coming home and a reporter capitalizing on it with a feature story for which he wins a Pulitzer--told as footnote--Zero's trying to stay out of the reader's face--sure, go ahead, just read the "poems" my dear...

30. p. 51--Interesting use of images like thought clouds...the hearts and Chagall very moving personally...this is, in a way. a love poem to the people and animals and flora and things you love, yet it's paradoxically nihilistic...or is it? Beginning to salvage something spiritual from the suicided/suiciding wreckage called "humankind."

31. And then the sheer bifurcated music seaming language at top of page can literally see and breathe the weaving coaxis esemplasizing...

32. The repetition of the Chagall image of the green man a kind of mantra, repeated over and over--Zero projecting himself out of the poem and into the painting...Possibility and the Village, p. 52--entering a climax the way one might enter an event horizon.

33. OU and Socia--partner, companion--salvaging what Pat suicided on p. 61

34. p. essay on the objectification of ecocriticism?

35. Focus on the non-human...recuperating the "primordial experience" by conceptualizing it in non-linguistic symbols...regard for and valuation of dream symbols--The Symbology of Silence--"The verbal record of an interactive encounter in the world...where Nature retains its autonomy."

36. This is an ecopoetic manifesto that comes with an instruction manual for how to read it.

37. pp. 65-6--Derrida--literature of negation, Zero, nihilism to differance & arabesque via language as an alchemical membrane...or, perhaps, falling into the grotesque of Baudrillard's "hallucinatory hyperreality."

38. For me, the essay seems to suggest you quit poetry for criticism, as if the ladder was more adequate to the task at hand. It seems a further descent, formally speaking into nihilism without having salvaged what it originally hoped for...Orpheus fails to recoup Eurydice...this would be a tragedy but Zero has no hubris [at least not as of this reading]...By including an essay at the end you seem to negate your original intent of poetic apocalypse...sort of the way Joshua Cohen falls short by not sending Jonathan through the Valley of seems a limit you didn't's the textual parallel of Pat's suicide, of humankind's surrender to consumption/commodification...Is that what you actually want? It seems to me you were getting somewhere then stopped.


Nonetheless, this is a brilliant book and my mind could change about the essay over time. It throws me for a loop. Don't get me a wrong, it's a very informative, excellent piece for what it is...i just wonder if it will be as well received placed there as it might elsewhere, and if it doesn't somehow diminish the experience...then again, it helps the reader read the first part...perhaps if you finished the first part and kept the essay?

I really don't know what I'm talking about. You're today's cowboy genius, not me. Great work.

Jared Schickling to me
Dec 16, 2009

Thanks for the insightful read. I'm uncomfortable with "nihilism" -- though, I won't disagree with your read -- I didn't notice a direct noticing of the time line, the chronicle (less narrative), 1996-2006, and the "events" marked at stages ("ten to cover," beginning with an enlistment in first section, 2003 invasion in second half of second section, and a return in the third -- all told from these shores, or from a bird's eye view either over these shores or of a self-aware surreality that derives from its roots in these shores -- re-read the poem "3rd person 2003" in light of the war -- after finding what's at stake, or not, ask, what survives? "No return address." In the sense that the "he" possibly doesn't, the he of the third section must necessarily be some ghost. That's one possible read). There are two characters, confused and complicated and clarified and over again along the way, he and she -- the book doesn't so much tell the story as speak about the story, in order to find the story, by being the things contained inside and outside the story, the things that won't let what "he" (and she) wants just be. I'm not even sure what he "wants" is present in any finally discernible way -- more of a settling -- and, then thinking of "he" as an aspect of "the poem" which is talking about itself -- for domesticity and "love" and that baby which is or is not born -- as if, such things are grounding, last ditch efforts at finding something worth it, perhaps good, uncontaminatable by virtue of its undergirding makeup or facts, whose manifestation doesn't really believe this either. What persists, maybe, is the force of this, the energy, the vectors of a human life -- but which nonetheless leave the actual lives behind (closer to birth), or ahead (closer to death), forlorn lying etc. This in a way necessitates the essay -- which I hope forces a re-read based on new information in terms of what's been constructed. The human dimension of the poetry is also a nonhuman dimension, being other to itself. It's mythical aspects and allusions -- I think it boils down to Apollo stealing Iris's caduceus and passing it on to Hermes for his gift of eloquence and skill at the lute -- Hermes is rewarded for his lying and thieving. And Hermes is messenger between human and gods, god of poetry, the role granted by Apollo, who stole it from Iris (first part of second section, also notice the direct engagement with third-wave feminism --- allusions and engagements saturate this thing -- I don't think it's necessary to pick up on all these, but where they are grasped, it adds layers of reading, particularly in the way quotes are contextualized and re-worked and mangled). Iris carried a ewer dipped in the river Styx which she used to put to sleep those who perjure themselves. I love the etymology of "iris"....

Me to Jared Schickling
Dec 16, 2009

That's all very hard to digest. I don't read that stuff in your poem. Well, sort of. And the essay at the end can make sense and may grow on me [though as I said before it's an excellent stand-alone piece]. However, due to the poetry/poem itself, and what the reader's going to read on any given page, I think you have to accept a certain misprision, a creative misreading/misinterpretation/misrepresentation of the text on my part [which composes my palate with my prior knowledge of you the way a poet might misread Yeats to achieve a Yeatsian level of poetry for herself--I can't help trying to read Jared Schickling as well as Zero's Blooming Excursion, to read Dylan's lyrics the way I might hear Bob sing them], for the reader to find a way into the text for herself.

This stuff you mention may all be very important to you, but the reader might pick up on "a" repetition or allusion, just not "the" repetition or allusion. Perhaps they will pick their own, things you weren't aware of that your subconscious nonetheless projected there, waiting for someone--you, perhaps--to read/see/bear witness to...

When you name Pat Lowther in the beginning, the average reader will be non-plussed, just a name. When I read it I instantly click to suicide, a suicide caused by humankind's suiciding that has shaken us in a variety of ways. So I look for a recuperation because that's what it--the whole poem--seems to be...almost.

Theoretically, I think the intentional fallacy is itself a fallacy on my end [best not ignore what I know about you and just focus on the text alone...otherwise I'd probably be lost]. My cultivating an ignorance of your intentions is easily "annihilated" due to the power of your language in light of our relationship. I'm trapped into reading certain things certain ways.

And by nihilism, I don't necessarily mean it in a negative sense, but simply in the existential sense of God being dead--the old ways of making sense no longer work--meaning we're free to make sense of the chaos as we will, and that your brand of nihilism is ecopoetic-ethical in that it refuses to cultivate an ignorance of that chaos in favor of some delusional form of happiness...focusing on a re-distributed material environment in search of some sort of literary or linguistic consensus.

Keep responding...perhaps explain a little how the poet named Zero is not Orpheus but Hermes, told as if to a bright-eyed child...seriously. What are you doing, Daddy?

Finally, that we're even writing about something one of us has written on this level seems to signify, at least to me, that the text has achieved its aim of provocative, intellectual stimulation. In other words, I can't really ask for more from a book [other than you follow my advice, trudging through the Valley of Nails, completing the first part]...or is it a sense of incompletion you're after...?

This is a very good book.

Jared Schickling to me
Dec 16, 2009

"misprision" -- right. I was just curious that the timeline wasn't mentioned in your notes. perhaps it was and i missed it....

i'll have to think more about Zero Orpheus Hermes -- hmmmmmm ---

i really do appreciate your honest and spot-on read -

I'm curious though, and I know you already said, but I guess I need maybe other words to put alongside what you already said -- in what way doesn't the essay fit in? The poem was "abandoned" for the essay, suggesting that the essay isn't part of the same work, but different and antithetical and therefore doesn't fit? If so, how so, all over again?

From me to Jared Schickling
Dec 16, 2009

Yes, I was aware of the timeline but focusing on different aspects. The fact I read it as a narrative implies a timeline...narrative necessitates time and vice versa...I was really reading it in sync with A Heaven of just seemed to fall in that way for some reason...all the contemporary fiction I've been reading deals with loss in various ways...but your "heaven" seems the recuperation of a chaotically inhuman natural world...a nihilism that isn't actually a loss a but spiritual-cognitive gain...there's a hero's journey in Zero's Blooming Excursion [love love love the title by the way, love saying it], but not quite. I see Zero--the narrator/poem--as plumbing another realm within or without this one [again that sets within sets thing I sensed], chasing after that which has died or gone elsewhere like a missing cat...slipped away between the seams and cracks of one's consciousness...our tears being the splash of its wet entrance into the beyond, dampened by our impotent memory...

In my view it's not so much that the essay doesn't fit, in fact it's probably necessary to extend the method and metaphor into the book's architecture, so we have a variety of fonts and styles, footnotes, poems, and yes, an essay [ever think of adding a piece of short fiction? a fable, perhaps?]. It's just that the "poem" proper doesn't seem to go far enough for me. Of course Pat and the dead can't be recuperated into this realm the way we would like them to be...we miss them...but the actual emotion of missing hasn't been fully explored in the poem, though Zero does go all out to give it shape by layers upon layers of testimony as to what it isn't or what it seems to be, almost...I'm looking for the "poem" to come to an utterly mystifying point of simplicity beyond which no human being can imagine that points to, in Jeffers' words, the "transhuman sublime," the inhuman point beyond that makes humanness necessary. Does that make sense?

Jesus Christ, if I were a gormande, and you a chef, you'd cut my throat with your favorite fillet knife about now, and if you didn't cut my voice box, I'd criticize your stroke and dare you to try again...

And please, I'm going to write something about all this, probably more than once, so take the time and think about, and then explain to me in simple English, how Zero is Hermes not Orpheus...then I may retort, or not, on how you're wrong that he's Orpheus, or how I'm right that he's Orpheus...or some exasperating words of such nature...

LOL. Wish you were here. We'd smoke a fatty and celebrate your most excellent work. Bravo, my friend.

Jared Schickling to me
Dec 17, 2009

To be honest, Orpheus never crossed my mind. But I think you're right -- insofar as Hermes is a further abstraction of the idea of Orpheus. And vice-versa. I'm not sure Hermes and Orpheus are that separate. Though, of course, they are. Anyway here are some notes on how I'm navigating your question...


Orpheus founds Apollo's cult, the oracular god who in one of his roles brings plague and misfortune. Hymns sung to Apollo are "paeans," while a "peon" was a Spanish someone who travels by foot instead of horse, and describes a laborer with little control over his and her work conditions. "Pawn's" etymology.

Orpheus is one of Apollo's sons. Strabo, a veritable ecological anthropologist in his geographies, early historian, emphasizes Orpheus's mortality and explains he used his skills for money, gathered followers and power and dies as a result of it:

Here lived Orpheus, the Ciconian, it is said -- a wizard who at first collected money from his music, together with his soothsaying and his celebration of the orgies connected with the mystic initiatory rites, but soon afterwards thought himself worthy of still greater things and procured for himself a throng of followers and power. Some, of course, received him willingly, but others, since they suspected a plot and violence, combined against him and killed him.

In his version, Apollo was courting the laughing muse Thalia when he met Orpheus, grew fond, gave him a lyre and taught him to play it (an instrument learned from Hermes, see below). In Strabo's version, Apollo silently (or audibly, depending how you look at it) brings misfortune upon Orpheus, who also worships chthonic Demeter. Strabo uses a word to describe Orpheus meaning "charlatan."

Put Strabo's early treatment of the myth next to the advent of democratic values in ancient Greece (see below), that the popularity of the lyric evolves into the popularity of the tragedy...

In versions earlier than Virgil, (such as Strabo's, though the Eurydice tale is not there) Orpheus is presented only with an apparition of Eurydice. He is punished for being a coward, for resisting the true death that would actually return him to his wife -- which is to say, his muse, and a false one we should remember, who is invoked as such only upon her disappearance, upon Orpheus's own loss, the one to whom his sad, most famous music is played. He is punished twice for his cowardice. When he re-enters the living world the apparition vanishes and the trick exposed, and he learns "what" was dead remains so. In some versions he is then the first to name Apollo (thus he "founds Apollo's cult") and one morning when going to the mountaintop to worship, he neglects his ablutions to his previous patron Dionysus, and the Maenads tear him apart, his second punishment.

Who or what ruins lyrical Orpheus, conspires against him? Why does he himself, eventually, by the time of Virgil, ruin the chance of his dead wife's / born muse's actually returning to flesh and earth? How does tragedy appropriate the lyric?

Note the homophonic lyre / liar...


Apollo is also the god of healing -- of music and the lyre, of battle and victory -- Roman soldiers sung paeans on the march. Because of Orpheus, Rome could know Apollo.

Aeschylus identifies Maia with Gaia, Maia being Hermes's mother ("Orpheus worships chthonic Demeter"), Zeus his father. Hermes: guide to the underworld, messenger of the gods (bridge between gods and men), master of the lyre. "Hermeneutics": art of interpreting hidden meanings. Hermes was born before Dionysus. Inventor of fire, he parallels Prometheus; in Aeschylus, Hermes visits Prometheus on the mountainside with a message, and matter-of-factly, smugly, urges him to repent. He is a trickster. God of boundaries. Note he is a "guide" to those already dead.

God of thieves, the night he was born he slipped away and stole his elder brother Apollo's immortal herd of cattle. He chose two ("Hermes Logios" becomes Plato's god of persuasion), killed them, and divided them into 12 parts -- 11 corresponding to the number of Olympian gods, the remainder set aside for himself. This establishes a new sacrificial ritual among men -- which required transgression, breaking of taboo, cosmic theft, in order to do so. He hid the rest of the herd in a cave and covered his tracks.

Apollo somehow knew what had happened -- he visits Maia, who defends her son Hermes, but Zeus intervenes and sides with Apollo (dad's a son of a bitch). Hermes, suspecting he'd be found out, had killed a tortoise and strung its shell prior to Apollo's arrival. In the midst of arguing, Hermes strums this original lyre, a strung hollow shell, and seduces Apollo -- Hermes keeps the cattle in exchange for the lyre. Hermes is granted a servile, peon (Hermes's winged *feet*) position on Olympus. Later Apollo gives Hermes the caduceus in exchange for a flute.

Note some of Hermes offspring, all chimeric and related to fertility: Pan, Hermaphroditus, Eros, Priapus, Fortuna. And the prince of thieves, Lone Wolf Autolycus. Note that by breaking taboo, in which lying and eloquence and seduction are involved, a new covenant between the gods and men is established. Note the "immortal herd" receives a new shepherd. Note his promotion to a regime post and its nature. Note the new peon, an addition to the Olympian regime, across the invoking lips of men, brings a new "paean."


Note the homophones "lyre" and "liar." And note how the "lyre" reached Orpheus's hands. Apollo, oracular bringer of plague and healing -- sometimes at the same time as the case may be -- is the stitch joining them -- who is himself the thief of all that was Iris -- the locus of the myth and its knowledge shifts thus from the eye to the ear -- Iris brings "sleep" from the river Styx, closed eyelids, to those who perjure themselves. Put this development next to the flourishing of literary arts, always to be performed, in ancient Greece. Note the decay of ancient Greece, the advent of tragedy, the spurning of epic and the preservation of lyric, the invention of oratory and rhetoric, and Rome's embrace of all things Greek.

It's not possible to flesh out all the details. Part of the problem and value of myth seems to lie in that it adapts. In how it adapts. In the case of the Greeks, ex-change between Orpheus, Hermes, and Apollo seemingly represents in part an ongoing navigation of representing the nature of music and poetry, two things the west took time to divorce, and which were part and parcel to the advent of history as a discipline -- myth and the births and doings of the gods were once our literal "history." "His story." The mind was a living being whose attributes were to be understood in the same terms as bodily doings -- hence the anthropomorphizing of the perceivable immortal. The myths correspond to your comments about truth not feeling good, nor intending to. In ZERO's, the poem would be something like the Hermes of an Orpheus, wise and unwise to Apollo, the true seducer yet unconscious in that role.

Me to Jared Schickling
Dec 17, 2009

Duly “noted.”

Jared Schickling to me
Dec 17, 2009

Don't be turned off by all the "note." Was talking to myself more or less

Me to Jared Schickling
Dec 17, 2009

I know. Note that it was fucking annoying and how I felt like tweaking you. Note when I'll have a much more detailed response [in a day or two]. Note what you said was instructive, and useful. Note that what I write will be something of a rough preliminary first draft of a preview. Note how it will eventually be something on NHR, at least. Note how I imagine out of this response, the drafts of several blurbs will emerge. Note why I'll then brush them up and give you a multiple choice, as I did Goro. Please note that my private review will likely rake you over the coals a bit on a specific point, which I hope you'll note I'm going to belabor. Note my public review will be that the reader should brace herself for an odyssey beyond Eliot's Wasteland upon a magic carpet woven of symbols we can only seem to note due to their hermeneutical nature...Please note that one will be absolutely as sincere as the other. Note how you deserve nothing less...LOL!!! ;)

All writers are liars, etc. & et al...

Saturday, May 7, 2011

E-Mails/Jared Schickling #2

Jared Schickling to me

Hey Chuck,

Sorry I've been so out of it lately. It's that time of year and since i've been writing my brains out, learning a little what beckett means the siege in the room, all the expected things piling up, some more facts to take care of, so that when i'm not writing my work i've been switching to autopilot and thus unfit for cluttering your inbox. plus XXXXXX coming wednesday for the first time is the expected things to complete two weeks in advance. one unfortunate, i'm completely divorced from XXXXX and XXX -- not technically, but literally, and i'm happy that everyone's seemingly happy with the arrangement. if i could stay on as sporadic partaker, that'd work. the other night i gave a reading, our tri-annual reading. crowd of about 200. without blowing my own horn -- i've seen a recording, i don't know what they're talking about -- it seems to have been a success. so i'm calm today. our third snow.

but i wanted to send you this keats i'm reading. seems a little closer to home, sort of end-stage romanticism proper, keats an expressed atheist, as i read it, which seems only in the way blake was an atheist, not atheism, verb not noun (but a modifier)

To G. and G. Keats, 1819

"I have been reading lately two very different books Robertson's America and Voltaire's Siecle De Louis xiv It is like walking arm and arm between Pizarro and the great-little Monarch. In How lamentable a case do we see the great body of the people in both instances: in the first, where Man might seem to inherit quiet of Mind from unsophisticated senses; from uncontamination of civilisation; and especially from their being as it were estranged from the mutual helps of Society and its mutual injuries--and thereby more immediately under the Protection of Providence--even there they had mortal pains to bear as bad; or even worse than Bailiffs, Debts and Poverties of civilised Life--The whole appears to resolve into this--that Man is originally 'a poor forked creature' subject to the same mischances as the beasts of the forest, destined to hardships and disquietude of some kind or other. If he improves by degrees his bodily accommodations and comforts--at each stage, at each accent there are waiting for him a fresh set of annoyances--he is mortal and there is still a heaven with its Stars above his head. The most interesting question that can come before us is, How far by the persevering endeavours of a seldom appearing Socrates Mankind may be made happy--I can imagine such happiness carried to an extreme--but what must it end in?--Death--and who could in such a case bear with death--the whole troubles of life which are now frittered away in a series of years, would then be accumulated for the last days of a being who instead of hailing its approach, would leave this world as Eve left Paradise--But in truth I do not at all believe in this sort of perfectibility--the nature of the world will not admit of it--the inhabitants of the world will correspond to itself--Let the fish philosophise the ice away from the Rivers in winter time and they shall be at continual play in the tepid delight of summer. Look at the Poles and at the sands of Africa, Whirlpools and volcanoes--Let men exterminate them and I will say that they may arrive at earthly Happiness--The point at which Man may arrive is as far as the parallel state in inanimate nature and no further--"

Jared Schickling to me

MIT Uses Social Networking to Win [DARPA-sponsored] High-Tech Scavenger Hunt

Chuck Richardson to Jared

It's always stunning to me how blatantly stupid smart people can be, especially if they're getting paid. Not one of these MIT scientists or associates even considered where the money was coming from and how the research would be used by the entity funding it. The level of stupidity is nauseating. And these are "smart" people. Yesterday I read the literacy rate in Afghanistan is under 10 percent. If that's true, what's really possible there? It's all a fucking sham and the "educated" function as Kool-Aid engineers, nothing else. The comments at the end are really disturbing, at least the two that were there when I read this.

Chuck Richardson to Jared

Nietzsche’s statement that “God is dead” seems the very essence of nihilism, or the belief in no-thing-ness, only the mental essence of something referred to as “existence.” The void, however, is not meaningless, the black hole of death does not usurp the spirit, it does not snuff out awareness…though it indeed does try to do these things, it actually creates our shared “event horizon.” The void is Wile E. Coyote, the sometimes comical sword of Damocles subverting our very situation at every moment…until “we” as someone inevitably get up and walk away, full from our meal…We’re not dead yet…Shit doesn’t always happen, but it will. The limit my imagination may arrive at seems recursive to the imagined limits of the things it imagines, and can go no further…Perfection is irrelevant as a conscious aim because it’s beyond imagination, nothing anyone can imagine is perfect, which is to say universal and standard and unending…Who the fuck wants that anyway?...The words of any language will correspond with the words of that language only…and if everyone’s language is like a fingerprint—experienced as touch, formed from the inside-out—no word I use will correspond with any word you use absolutely…it’s a leap of faith on our part that we both see the same black letters on white background…and we must at least agree there’s a consistency of pattern allowing for the agreement of terms…but what if....every time we enter into the illusion we share something in common we become neo-Adams and new-Eve’s re-entering the imaginary Eden of our faith-based mutual understanding, the closest thing we can agree on in terms of “happiness?” Until death do us part heightens the illusion and heightens the happiness…for “us”…and so fucking what, actually? But, then again, why the fuck not? Is one alternative better than another? Says who? Says what? Isn’t there more than one alternative, one alternative or other person actually speaking themselves? For starters, I don’t think it necessarily takes a Socrates to have the kind of conversation that can create a thrilling enough illusion of shared meaning to call it happiness. Anyone with a gift of gab, sex appeal, money, good food, weed, anything you want…can be a Socrates. Socrates is Santa Claus, knowing who’s naughty and nice [and you are always nice], etc., and at some point we gotta kill him because he’s corrupting our chirren, and killing him like killing the Buddha is a gateway to enlightenment and presumably greater happiness, or higher dimension thereof…

The inner chaos of anyone worthy of happiness gives birth to dancing stars…Who will find the limits of their imagination? Those who are grief-stricken and truly happy for it? Who’s worthy of happiness? Consider this from William Blake’s notes written on the pages of the Four Zoas:

Christ’s Crucifix shall be made an excuse for Executing Criminals.

Till thou dost injure the distrest

Thou shalt never have peace within thy breast.

The Christian Religion teaches that No Man is Indifferent to you, but that every one is Either your friend or your enemy; he must necessarily be the one or the other, And that he will be equally profitable both ways if you treat him as he deserves.

Unorganiz’d Innocence: An Impossibility.

Innocence dwells with Wisdom, but never with [uncultivated, Chuck presumes] Ignorance.

I would suggest that, echoing Blake, those who innocently cultivate the proper Ignorance, treating themselves and others as they actually deserve, heaping further injury upon the sources of pain, the undeserving speakers of happy talk who strive after happiness, who will always have a use for the term “happy” in their lexicon, are truly happy because they need not insist on their being happy anymore than they would insist on being unhappy. Truly happy people need not speak of happiness, much less bother pursuing it. A country that idealizes the “pursuit of happiness” is informed by ideologies of profound sadness, where a “negro”* can be counted 3/5 human…Those who pursue happiness are pathetic; therefore, the American is a pathetic ideal.

Bottom line: If you’re happy you deserve it clap your hands…

*“Negro” has an evolving etymology…in the sixties feminist said woman was the new nigger… “negro” today might mean all poor people, everyone middle class and under, all organic as opposed to corporate “human beings.” The ideal human is inhuman, or incorporate…a “good corporate citizen.”

Jared Schickling to me

I think you misread Keats's use of "happy" -- and that, replace Socrates with Beckett -- but that's ok. And I think too what you say about death must only apply to the living. "Whereof...thereof one must be silent." Everything said about or to death has lived on this side of it. If it's a void, it is so as its (our) concept, but seems in point of fact more an all-extensive barrier as any life would be. One can't adequately mean death while living.

I've been thinking through the movement through romanticism through modernism through postmodernism. And I don't see much difference at heart -- the difference is in the treatment of terms -- which accounts then for the differing poem. Romantic imagination = perception squaring off with cognition, the use of one's medium and the perceived world to speak/understand a self within that world. Its limit to know one's limit. The modern and postmodern imagination inhabits the same thing, asks the same question -- perception squaring off with cognition -- but here the cognitive side of the argument turns more purely constructed, social, *cultural,* economic, political etc. Increasingly in time, the cognitive takes center-stage, and correspondingly, the "without" replaces the "within," as the question is necessarily historicized/feminized/economized etc. "this" becoming "that" -- very different from "that" becoming "this." The purely former seems to me as error-prone as the purely latter romantic, ideal, individual transcendental (note the irony -- "that" becoming "this"). I mean, I'm a colony? As a desirable aesthetic, or rather, life, philosophy? Whom would that serve? Recognitions never precluded resistances. Emily Dickinson, when asked for a photo from a friend, explained she never had one. The romantic attention, mostly lacking in mirrors, in its best forms was deeply other-oriented, a less bubbly, more severe conception of the I, because it was at liberty to speak of growth and life, not compelled to shrinkage and death. Happiness, here, is as inevitable as you say it is.

Chuck Richardson to Jared

Holy shit. You're going to have a lot to say in about 3 to 6 months. That e-mail sounded like one of those blizzard balls, you pickem up and shake them and the snow flies all over inside until it settles. You're really riled up and that's sweet. I didn't misread Keats' use of happy, either. And I didn't replace Socrates with Beckett. Let the snow settle. You're grading too many undergrad moron papers with fun distracting ideas swirling in your head. I'm presuming much, perhaps...but any more than you?

Jared Schickling to me

I'd like to say I've found a lot to say the past few weeks!!!! If not, fuckin A, I'll just burn the manuscript. If nothing else I simply can't help defending this stuff I'm reading and taking to. I think I might live in the 19th century for a while. Mind you, various ideas are of course by now problematic, seen for what they turn out to be, fruit from the tree -- but reading it clues me in to what that means, how also the common reading may or may not be wrong or ignoring certain things, and besides, shit, this stuff is rich, more clearly rich and of depths lacking in most contemporary writing. Adds folds in yr brain. I enjoy the way the ideas happen in the work. Anyway. It'd be like if I started poking and prodding your Beckett -- the other Chuck stands up.

Chuck Richardson to Jared

you always have interesting things to say. and lately i sense big things are going on in your mind...the grappling with it is only just beginning. And I agree with you one-hundred percent about the 19th century. When I think what the "average" human mind in America would have contained back then and imagine what it contains now, I see anything but progress [just compare the literacy and penmanship of soldiers' letters home]. Technology has had an inversive effect to its intents. We have less time, less freedom, less well-being. It's not saving but destroying the world. And since you are where you are, I'm hopeful at some point, when you're finally ready to go fucking nuts and get all John Brown and shit, you'll pick up Thoreau. And read all of it. Then start the journals. One of these days I'm going to Walden where they have the mss of his journals in a library and i'm going to study them. The experts I respect most claim this is the true treasure trove of Thoreau's genius. No one I've read truly stands up to the totality of his achievement. Einstein comes to mind, but he became really popular really fast. Thoreau's beyond that because he bears witness to the esoteric in material terms like no one else I've come across. Beckett, Melville, Whitman, Flannery O'Connor, Hawthorne, Kafka, Nabakov, Hesse, Marquez, Borges, Kerouac, Burroughs, Ginsberg, Huxley...the list goes on of people who bear witness to the esoteric in material terms very well. But Thoreau gets the most across, in my opinion. All these folks are better writers than Thoreau, but none have a more transcendent original language that seems other than or beyond human in its function. In other words, one doesn't read Thoreau to find out how a human being should behave so much as how humans actually behave within their cosmic situation. Thoreau isn't self-help or a guide book of any sort. It's an odyssey through life into the recognition that you and I are not fundamentally human, or even fundamentally earthlings, as the stuff we are made of is stardust...The truth is not meant to make human beings feel good. In fact, truth has no intention at insists on nothing, including non-insistence. Of course, Thoreau didn't know that stuff about stardust as a scientific fact, but intuited it as an essential and necessary human reality in light of the big picture as he witnessed it, according to the language he let pass through him...

I'm rambling, but I'm psyched that you're going where you're going.

What do you mean by "It'd be like if I started poking and prodding your Beckett -- the other Chuck stands up."? Sometimes you really stump me.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

E-Mails/Jared Schickling #1

jared schickling to me

Eliot Weinberger—Statement for “poetry is news” conference—February 2003

Chuck Richardson to jared

I agree with 90 percent of that. Particularly intriguing is the idea that the next youth movement will be characterized by iconoclastic asceticism. I hope so. It seems to me the best form of resistance is to do more than say "no," but actually be "no." [Beano. I made a joke!] It's a form of civil disobedience. But rather than protesting in the streets, breaking the law, pies in face, etc., it would be far more effective if people simply came to the realization that they would prefer not to do these things, would prefer not to be good Americans, devout Christians, disciplined soldiers, worshipped everyday heroes, et al. Every opportunity to do something traditional that Americans and peoples in empires throughout history have always done--get married, pay taxes, raise a family, do good works, obey, disobey, see themselves as citizens and subjects and members of something, et al--one might simply say "I would prefer not to." The system would rapidly collapse if enough of the right people--those who feel like it--said "no." And I'm not talking about Atlas shrugging as Ayn Rand would put it...More like apes simply tiring of all the rules and going off to pick fleas from each other in peace. This, of course, entails cultivating the proper form[s] of ignorance. We idealize the cultivation of knowledge and ignore the cultivation of ignorance. We never discuss what we choose to ignore, though every human being alive must choose to ignore most data if it's to function and get through the day. And of course, it takes a great deal of courage to cultivate enlightened ignorance, a great deal of fear to be ignorantly interested [if nothing matters, if "God" is dead, if we're randomly evolved beings, the pursuit of knowledge seems an effort to deny that and therefore the ultimate in delusional behavior]. Knowledge as the emergency of fear is the worst kind of ignorance because it's not cultivated. The emergency of a properly cultivated ignorance provides a sweet form of knowledge allowing the self to function smoothly amid all the meaninglessness. We're essentially meaning machines that ignore the nature of our ignorance and suffer greatly for it. And the greater the suffering the harder it is to ignore.

That was a good essay and it's got me thinking. I'm open to a bit of argument. I left a great deal unsaid. It could develop into a kind of manifesto in simple English. Thanks.

jared schickling to me

Knowledge as your using it here reminds me of capital. Which as we've heard, can be a strange thing, laying golden eggs. If the pursuit of knowledge becomes the pursuit of capital, then I can see how we'd transition absolutely into ignorance. But knowledge, as knowledge, seems not only possible but desirable. Its pursuit not always "delusional." (I'm not sure we're completely "randomly evolved" either -- certain developments look entirely reasonable -- though a reasonable process might hatch from random ones, so random ones might from reasonable ones, as reason requires, perhaps dictates, such uncontrollable excess --

But what you're suggesting is a kind of knowledge that's valuable in the first place --

"Knowledge as the emergency of fear is the worst kind of ignorance because it's not cultivated. The emergency of a properly cultivated ignorance provides a sweet form of knowledge allowing the self to function smoothly amid all the meaninglessness."

Unless, one has reason to fear, in which case the "sweet" of knowledge "allowing the self to function smoothly" is a more potent ignorance? Does the reason to fear disappear? Does fear impede or pave ones way -- likewise any other emotion?

What are the evolutionary currencies of fear, love, ignorance, knowledge, meaning, imagination? IS everything meaningless, or is meaning an inherent part of the process wherever meaning occurs? What kind of animal, parasite, farmer is meaning (remembering memes)? Does it have a face?

Chuck Richardson to jared

hey. i'm pasting the stuff below into a word file with the intent of addressing everything with as much brevity as possible. it will take as long as it takes, because as usual your questions are somewhat tangential to where I'm going but definitely in the same direction. i'll send it to you when i'm finished and you can expand on it if you wish. it's a conversation that will end when it ends and when it's over we have the option of publishing it, saving it, or forgetting about it. it'll be up to us. i feel a need to try and flat out just say some things to put the fiction into a larger context. that's what i liked about the link you sent, which basically says extraordinary times require extraordinary measures, and writers are not excluded from this. it's our fundamental responsibility to try and boil it down into a language our brothers and sisters can digest willingly. and that's a huge fucking challenge. it's not an artistic challenge. it's an eco-political-economic one that's embedded itself in our psychology. in my opinion, however, one must first graduate from artistic challenges to have the necessary mental sophistication and proper level of physical skill to cope with and adapt to the complexities of the presently conceived eco-political-economic crises of perceptions...if that makes sense. i'm trying. i'll add this to the file mentioned above.

jared schickling to me

That sounds like a plan. I like the idea of being part of some critical-prose-become what it may statement on art and commitments and practice and whatever else you decide to talk about. I like it particularly in that I'll (as I'm reading what you're proposing) be given limited fragments and chunks and thoughts to consider, my comments more or less fuel for the larger thinking you'll be doing.

The piece I sent was linked to from a recent interview with Kent Johnson at the Argotist. It's worth a read, if for nothing else Johnson's impressive life. It's curious to me that those Nicaraguan poetry workshops haven't been studied very closely. Out of a bunch of "uneducated" worker groups reading and writing poetry -- activities beneath, in service to, larger material plights -- we have 4 or 5 translated anthologies rivaling any American poetry anthology, in my opinion (I've two on my shelf).

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Synopses of Smoke and So It Seams for Potential Film-Makers

A friend of mine with some film industry connections asked me the other day for brief synopses of my two novels and how I might see them translated to film, because she'd like to pitch them to her friends. At first, I was stymied. I hadn't thought of them as films at all while writing. But financial "desperation" rendered these results.

I'm sharing these "sales pitches" because I believe they're the best short descriptions for the novels I've come up with yet. I also highly recommend the films mentioned. It now occurs to me I may have also mentioned Akiro Kurosawa's Rashomon when talking about Smoke. Perhaps my friend will see this post and add it to the synopsis below.


Dear ------:

A two sentence synopsis and a vision for the film[s]. Here goes [I know I fail spectacularly at brevity]:

Smoke: Compassion for paranoid authority, compassion for paranoid anarchy, compassion for the paranoia-driven mysterious incidents defining all. A post-9/11 trauma dramatizing the frayed tribalism of a country gone berserk with a certain terrifying humor [I laughed out loud in the movie theater when Christ--in Mel Gibson's ridiculous passion movie, is being nailed to the cross by bumbling idiotic Romans as the over-the-top ignorantly evil San Hedrin bear witness--cries out "Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do;" the Romans in the scene don't seem to know how to nail him to a cross nor Gibson know how to film such a movie, hilarious, unintentionally ironic, and you should have seen the dirty looks I got for laughing when others were crying]. The closest films to a possible Smoke adaptation I've seen might be Pi and A Serious Man. However, the cinematography of Pi is closer to what I imagine, and the unanswerable questions of A Serious Man might be closest theme-wise.

So It Seams: "It" seems the Atman. "Seams" derives from sutra-suture and tantra, "to weave." It depicts a between space not unlike the Bardo Thodol's bardo plane, how the diversity of things are joined together and mysteriously inter-relate. Abundant sex is a necessary element in the way the Kama Sutra is necessary to certain kinds of spiritual enlightenment. It skewers [pun intended] ideology, theology and isms in general. Like Smoke, it raises more questions than it answers. It depicts The Mystery of Consciousness with, I hope, a great deal of humor. It reveals the impotence of technology and machines. It shows the necessity of literature as opposed to film. It actualizes the fiction of everything. The end is not the end. The "So" preceding "It" means there's a reason, but as in Smoke, the cause to the effect is mysterious. By "Atman" I mean the self; one's truest nature; the indestructible life drop at our core which is that element of the universal soul in-forming all things. A cosmic intra-relatedness manifesting itself to us as inter-relatedness. As a film, it's difficult to find comparisons. Perhaps Wim Wenders' "Until the End of the World" on acid...a David Lynch re-make. It would take an odd genius to translate it to cinema.

Among my favorite film-makers, the ones whose visions seem closest to mine in these particular cases, are the Coen brothers and Darren Aronofsky...maybe David Lynch, too. Someone capable of pulling off comic terror in a medium that parodizes itself.

I hope that helps. It's not easy summing up fiction in terms of film when film was the farthest thing from my mind when writing them. It's only the financial pressure and a desire to survive that's pushing this forward. The film-makers would have to be brave and generous souls to undertake either project.

Anyway, I hope this helps...and thank-you from the bottom of my heart. Things will work out for us one way or the other. Keep the faith.