CORNISH, NH—In this big dramatic production that didn't do anyone any good (and was pretty embarrassing, really, if you think about it), thousands upon thousands of phonies across the country mourned the death of author J.D. Salinger, who was 91 years old for crying out loud. "He had a real impact on the literary world and on millions of readers," said hot-shot English professor David Clarke, who is just like the rest of them, and even works at one of those crumby schools that rich people send their kids to so they don't have to look at them for four years. "There will never be another voice like his." Which is exactly the lousy kind of goddamn thing that people say, because really it could mean lots of things, or nothing at all even, and it's just a perfect example of why you should never tell anybody anything.On the one hand, it's terrible to lose two greats on the same day. On the other hand, as long as you've got to leave this life, why not go hand-in-hand, temporally speaking, with another luminary? I'm fascinated with these accidental pairings: Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett. Zinn and Salinger. Who else?
Friday, January 29, 2010
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Once there were an artist and an inventor.I originally wrote it to be read out loud, so on the page it is a brisk read. If you want more, here's where you can get this Avery 5, which also contains Steve Almond* and Claire Hero, in whose company I have not been since 1989, when we were in eighth grade together in Northfield, MN. True! I have no idea if she remembers me, but her name is caught forever for no reason in my memory, which has a remarkable retention of useless pre-millennial trivia and arcana and alarmingly vast gaps ever after. (I want to blame the brain-destroying recalled aerosol grout sealer I bought from Home Depot when I tiled my bathroom floor. But it's really probably the internet.)
The artist and the inventor live together in the first floor of a building that used to be a saloon in the 1800s and now has been painted dark blue with purple and red trim so it looks like a saloon in a traveling carnival. They are right up next to the sidewalk, and the inventor is always drawing the curtains shut and the artist is always opening them. The artist needs light. The inventor needs privacy. In other words, they are deeply in love. But both of them are a little bit more in love with the artist.
(*Here is Steve Almond deconstructing Toto's "Africa" at the Tin House tenth-anniversary reading in Portland last summer. I was there and it slew me.)
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
36. Goethe describes blue as a lively color, but one devoid of gladness. "It may be said to disturb rather than enliven." Is to be in love with blue, then, to be in love with a disturbance? Or is the love itself the disturbance? And what kind of madness is it anyway, to be in love with something constitutionally incapable of loving you back?And later:
37. Are you sure--one would like to ask--that it cannot love you back?
38. For no one really knows what color is, where it is, even whether it is. (Can it die? Does it have a heart?) Think of a honeybee, for instance, flying into the folds of a poppy: it sees a gaping violet mouth, where we see an orange flower and assume that it's orange, that we're normal.
193. I will admit, however, upon considering the matter further, that writing does do something to one's memory--that at times it can have the effect of an album of childhood photographs, in which each image replaces the memory it aimed to preserve. Perhaps this is why I am avoiding writing about too many specific blue things--I don't want to displace my memories of them, nor embalm them, nor exalt them. In fact, I think I would like it best if my writing could empty me further of them, so that I might become a better vessel for new blue things.
... 195. Does an album of written thoughts perform a similar displacement, or replacement, of the "original" thoughts themselves? (Please don't start protesting here that there are no thoughts outside of language, which is like telling someone that her colored dreams are, in fact, colorless.)...