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things that decay, things that rust

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modified from the original text [Apr. 20th, 2012|10:32 pm]
things that decay, things that rust
The art of losing;
filled with the intent
to be lost

Accept the fluster
the hour badly spent.
The art of losing

losing farther, losing faster:
where it was you meant
will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch.
three beloved houses went.
The art of losing.

I lost two cities,
two rivers, a continent.
I miss them,

(the joking voice, a gesture
I love)
not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!)
linkholler at me, yo

(no subject) [Jan. 1st, 2011|09:51 pm]
things that decay, things that rust
So I like New Year's resolutions. It's a good annual opportunity to think about self-improvement. And you know, even if the initial burst of January effort fades and fails, I like to think a person ends up a little bit further ahead than they had been previously.

Anyway, I didn't do any formal resolutions last year, but I have a few this year. Except I don't intend the year to start until January 10. My resolutions are kind of not terribly conducive to fun, you see, and I want to enjoy the rest of my time off.

1.) No alcohol. At all. I don't intend this to be a forever thing, or even necessarily a 2011 thing. But I want to save money and I want to be healthier -- cutting out drink is an easy to way make huge progress on both fronts (I'll probably save at least $100 a month, if not more). Also, over the last few months I've been finding myself bending to the social pressure to drink on evenings when I hadn't intended to. This is not a good sign. I want to exert control partially to demonstrate to myself that I am capable of doing so.

2.) Severely limit refined carbs / sugar. This doesn't just mean chocolate and other sugary treats. It also means pasta, bread, etc. I say "severely limit" because I know if I try to cut them out completely it won't be successful. This will mean preparing most of my meals at home (tupperware, get ready) and being smart about making them. Lots of vegetables, lots of lean protein. I've got a good gym routine going and I intend to maintain/intensify that. I've come to realize, at this point, that it's my diet that's holding me back from having the kind of body I want to have. I'm turning 28 this year and it'll only get more difficult to achieve that goal in the years to come.

3.) Stop procrastinating. If I have something to do, I have to kill the thought process that starts "I'll do that [soon/tomorrow/later]." This is especially important for responding to emails, but also important for doing household chores. I am not particularly conscious of my day to day life; I need to fold laundry when it comes out of the dryer and put things back where they belong when I'm done using them and so forth.

4.) Stop sleeping with my laptop within reach of my bed. It keeps me up later than I want to be, and it invariably eats 30-120 minutes (2 hours!) of every morning. Having my laptop as part of my bedtime/waking processes is probably the biggest negative impact on my productivity, and the fact that I'm not as productive as I want to be is a major source of unhappiness for me.

5.) Make a weekly timetable and stick to it. Use Google Calender. When I make an appointment I just trust myself to remember it. This is dangerous. It hasn't caused a big problem for me yet, but I know it's only a matter of time before I plain forget something very important. Plus, time management will be really important this year, and this'll make that management a lot easier.

6.) Send out a piece of writing once every two weeks. I have such a backlog at this point, and I am so bad at putting my stuff out there. It's amazing 2010 was the success it was, considering that. But it was a success, and I want to build on that momentum. That means I need to make it happen.
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(no subject) [Nov. 19th, 2010|09:47 pm]
things that decay, things that rust
"I don't sit in judgement of my characters. They live their lives, I live mine." - Mavis Gallant
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thoughts about aging [Sep. 24th, 2010|01:31 pm]
things that decay, things that rust
Thinking about aging and death.

The figure from Greek myth who aged but did not die first comes to mind. It is a common fairytale 'trick,' a variation on the trope of wish fulfillment that brings not joy but pain and downfall to the wisher : when you ask for immortality, be sure to ask for freedom from the process of aging as well. The pitiful voice asking to die that Eliot quotes at the start of the wasteland, or the shriveled Ursula in 100 Years of Solitude, blind, nearly deaf, a powerful matriarch reduced to infantile impotence, no larger than a fetus when she dies at an impossibly old age.

But then, what is aging? This is what I am asking myself. If to age without dying is pitiful, a kind of infinity, ever diminishing but never extinguishing, the desired state of immortality turned into a nauseous fever dream from which the dreamer cannot wake into death . . . then what is life without aging? I am immediately reminded of another fairytale standby: Peter Pan. I do not mean the sunny Disney vision, but Barrie's original text where, I think, Pan's monstrosity is too near the surface, too little of subtext and too much of text, for us to think it is meant to be missed.

Peter Pan is an eternal being, but he never ages. Near the end of the novel he returns to visit a grown-up Wendy, who has left Neverland and now has a young daughter of her own. Peter Pan's memory is fitfully, unspecific, untrustworthy. Wendy asks about Pan's former nemesis, Hook, who had been dispatched via crocodile (or was it alligator?) at the climax of the novel -- and Peter Pan cannot remember who Captain Hook is. Wendy provides some context, and he dismisses the subject, simply saying that he forgets them after he has killed them. Rather than an important accomplishment, a triumph that gives color and meaning to the life that follows, Peter Pan becomes quite simply an unthinking killing machine, moving from nemesis to nemesis. This is because to age is to remember -- it is the accruing of meaning and understanding.

But I have diverged. In my first paragraph I spoke of aging as a purely physical thing -- the abject who never die, who are on a trajectory of infinite degrade. In the second, I tried to envision an eternal life free from aging, and my exemplar is not only ageless but also disturbingly mindless, or, more correctly, memory-less. To establish these are counterpoints I must admit that the infinitely increasing decrepitude of those-who-age-but-do-not-die must be matched by a similar infinitely increasing understanding, knowledge, and memory. The physical diminishing and the mental expansion would, in theory, meet at their infinities, producing a point both infinitely small and infinitely knowing where a person had been -- in short, aging might then be the slow deification of the human, cut quite short by death, but remaining the beginnings of a long, terrifying process.

But this is not so. There are a lot of problems with equating mental development with physical decline; not the least of which is that a cartesian mind-body dualism is necessary to even consider this inverse relationship. Mind and body inter-relate, and many experience aging not only as a physical diminishing, but also as a mental or cognitive diminishing. I had two grandmothers; one kept her mind but was made immobile by arthritis, the other remained more or less mobile but spent the last portion of her life in an increasing miasma of dementia. The neat relationship I've traced above doesn't work at all.
linkholler at me, yo

excerpt from 'Mankind,' circa 1470 [Aug. 18th, 2010|10:49 pm]
things that decay, things that rust
NOWADAYS. I prey yow hertyly, worschyppull clerke,
To haue þis Englysch mad in Laten:
"I haue etun a dyschfull of curdys,
Ande I haue schetun yowr mowth full of turdys."
Now opyn yowr sachell wyth Laten wordys
Ande sey me þis in clerycall manere!
Also I haue a wyf, her name ys Rachell;
Betuyx her and me was a gret batell;
Ande fayn of yow I wolde here tell
Who was þe most master.

NOUGHT. Thy wyf Rachell, I dare ley twenti lyse.

NOWADAYS. Who spake to þe, foll? þou art not wyse!
Go and do þat longyth to þin offyce:
Osculare fundamentum!

NOUGHT. Lo, master, lo, here ys a pardon bely-mett.
Yt ys grawntyde of Pope Pokett,
Yf ye wyll putt yowr nose in hys wyffys sockett,
Ye xall haue forty days of pardon.

MERCY. Thys ydyll language ye xall repent.
Out of þis place I wolde ye went.

link1 ephemeral webscrawl|holler at me, yo

(no subject) [Aug. 18th, 2010|09:21 pm]
things that decay, things that rust
This is a more up-to-date and likely more readable version of 'what I have read for my comprehensive exams.' 6 days to go before the first one!

A long list of novels, plays, poetry, and non-fiction, vaguely chronologically arranged. These live in my brain now.Collapse )

60 textual units. 60!
linkholler at me, yo

(no subject) [Aug. 4th, 2010|11:19 pm]
things that decay, things that rust
What have I read for my comprehensive exam? Here follows the list of what I've read. Texts in italics are ones I read previously in my life which I have not re-read, but which I have reviewed/will review.

List One: Old English to Early ModernCollapse )

List II: 18th, 19th, 20th CenturiesCollapse )
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(no subject) [Aug. 3rd, 2010|02:15 am]
things that decay, things that rust
In a lot of my dreams I am a disembodied presence, usually identifying more strongly with one of the dream 'characters,' even perhaps exerting some influence over that character's actions, but ultimately watching events unfold from that position of disembodied watcher. Probably it comes from a brain trained in watching television, movies, and video-games. I doubt this is unusual.

But it came up in a twitter-conversation today and I wanted to see if people had talked about it. I googled the phrase "in my dreams I am disembodied" and, as a phrase, Google returns zero results. Is that really a unique phrase? Am I the first person to really utter it on the searchable internet?

It makes me want to write a song using it as a lyric. That could work. It's not a bad lyric per se. Kinda clunky. But the concept of not-there-ness in a dream wants me to do something creative with it and a story probably wouldn't work (aren't all short stories kind of like that? I am intensely personally involved with the little miniature world I'm making and the people in it, but I am not actually in that world of the story).

Studying for comps continues apace. Nearly done Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman and I am not sure how it wants me to feel. The proceedings are pathetic and I guess I am supposed to sympathize with Willie, whose inherited systems of masculinity and the American Dream are crumbling around him, leaving him a psychological free-agent who floats between memories fond-and-regretful and the remains of his present life even as it continues to disintegrate around him. Maybe I'm callous but the idea of a brash athletic masculinity and a 'classical' capitalism that includes space for notions like honour, the ideas Willie's yoked to, are, well, bad ones. Maybe bad is not the word to use here. Ideologically alien and threatening? I'm not saying the designed obsolence and suburban sprawl and all-things-are-commodities ethos and fucking American whipped cheese (stomach-churning notion) are great, but I guess some part of me does prefer them to the preceeding order that Willie represents/clings to. I mean, his nephew and Uncle, the cautious unathletic bookworms who he despised previously and who are presently more successful than him -- I identify more with them, I guess. Even as, at the same time, I do find myself sympathizing with the desire to strike out on the land, hew wood and draw water far away from malignant overgrown urban spaces. But then, Willie didn't do that, he put his trust in the firm and in the city, and he wants his son to do the same, doesn't want him to live free and happy in the west. All this vainglory he has is poison. Maybe the play is all about negotiating a masculine space in a rapidly evolving post-industrial society.

I should get away from the idea of sympathies and where mine lie because that is less useful to what I need to do with these texts. But it is how I am thinking about this one right now.

I learned today that what I thought were rare visual hallucinations brought on by flourescent lights, stress, and sleep deprivation are actually ocular migraines. I used to get moderately bad garden variety migraines (mind even 'moderately bad' migraines will flatten you for the rest of the day) regularly, but I assumed they stopped around age 16 because, well, the headaches stopped happening. Ocular migraines are the visual distortion aspect without necessarily being accompanied by a headache (I generally do feel weak and sick when these happen) -- I wonder if they are actually a continuation of the migraines I used to get? The weird thing is, visual distortions weren't something that accompanied my old migraines (although god was I light-sensitive; a glowing digital clock was agony in an otherwise black room)

The best visual representation I've found for what it looks like to me is this: Artist's representationCollapse ) Like that except the jagged spiral is vibrating or shimmering or shuddering very rapidly. I remember the first time I experienced it, I was very worried that perhaps my retina had torn or partially detached or something.
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(no subject) [Jul. 31st, 2010|06:33 am]
things that decay, things that rust
Today I got myself a thesis supervisor and learned I've lost 6.5 of the ~15 lbs I gained last semester.

Studying for comprehensive exams continues apace. I am afraid they will eat me alive.
linkholler at me, yo

thoughts [Jul. 13th, 2010|12:13 am]
things that decay, things that rust
Finished Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Liked the first third best. Found Stephen Dedalus as an undergraduate kind of irritating, perhaps because I resemble him in certain ways? Seeing himself in SD is probably something most intellectual men in their twenties do, though, especially if they have pretensions of being writers or artists. In any case, I liked him as a vehicle of narrative focalization before he started being all self-aware of his deep-felt impressions of the world. Just because I can see myself in him doesn't mean I like what I see.

On the whole I think Mrs. Dalloway better captured my imagination (I am contrasting the two texts because they're the ones I need to think about for my upcoming comprehensive exam). For all SD's being "supersaturated" in the religion he disbelieves in, Catholicism, I find something very individualistic and, well, protestant about the self-society dyad Joyce builds into Portrait. I think it entirely fitting that Dedalus paraphrases Milton's Satan near the end, when he has resolved to leave Ireland in search of the ultimate freedom of self-expression. Mrs. Dalloway, with its selves-that-extend-beyond-the-borders-of-self, with society offering a hope of immortality now that religion's hope of the same can no longer be believed in, strikes me as the more Catholic-flavoured vision. Mrs. Dalloway is not about self-expression at all, it is about inter-being.
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