Wednesday, December 20, 2006

For the End of the Year.


It's been quite a couple of months, these.

I'm not referring to the whole year. The second semester of my first year in the program was rough, and for the last month I was hopelessly behind in homework and reading. A trip to Chicago and visit from my brother seemed to prime a successful summer, but a lot was taken away in the three-month long war with the B.B.s. Many movies were watched, and there were some modest accomplishments.

But the last four months, and specifically beginning sometime in October have been a throwback to my glory days in 1996-1997, 2000-2001, and 2004-2005. Seems too frequent to be reasonable, but I won't complain if things continue to go well.

So here I am... I've revised or drafted nine stories as well as the first four chapters of Euphemism, and am primed to launch a major novel revision and research project for my theses. The last week, briefly, has been insane all-nighters and almost all-nighters, critiquing twelve submissions, reading three books and writing papers on them. But the final class parties were delicious. I've unwisely been "pushing it" these past couple days, and (predictably and) abruptly got quite sick last night, so I hope I make a speedy recovery from that. But friends and family, darkness and wind, sickness and insomnia, good music, good coffee, and plenty of writing.

Doesn't it sound like it's going to be an absolutely marvelous winter?

I'll catch you in 2007.

With love,



Three holidays, two songs, and one wish, all for you.


Happy Hanukkah.

Star of Wonder, by Sufjan Stevens.

I call you from the comet's cradle/
I found you trembling by yourself.
When the night falls lightly on your right-wing shoulder,
wonderful know-it-all, slightly, where the night gets colder.
Oh, conscience, Where will you carry me?
I found you, star of terrifying effigies
When the night falls I carry myself to the fortress
of your glorious cause. Oh, I may seek your fortress
When the night falls, we see the star of wonder.
Wonderful night falls. We see you. We see you.
I see the stars coming down there to the yard.
Coming down there to my heart.

Merry Christmas.

The Last Song, by the Smashing Pumpkins.

This is the last song.
This is the last song I'll sing for you.
This is the last song.
This is the last song I can give you.
The roaring city sleeps, metal fingers clutching dirty sheets,
and no one comes for free in this place where the angels sleep.
This is the last song.
My eyes are open wonder to this.
As you hold the secrets, I count the minutes off so perfectly.
The shards of broken glass sing the strains of a sad old tune.
We've made it at last but what we had is lost inside our past.
This is the last song.

Could you find away across me, to forgive and forget me,
to appease and relent me, to deceive and detect me,
to understand and release me to the dawn?

This is the last song.

Merry Christmas.


D.V. by Diana Vreeland.


As you’ve probably gathered from my email, I still haven’t finished the book. Although I think I’ve over halfway through if everything I read from the beginning and near the end is counted. At any rate, I’m disappointed that this is the one book I’ve evidently dropped the ball with, because I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read and think that was a class discussion I would’ve been quite involved in.

Among the things I remember coming up frequently in that discussion was the observation that D.V. was "superficial." People ended up making arguments in favor of the book beginning, "she’s very superficial, but," and then there was a somewhat smaller group that was just saying "she’s very superficial." I disagree with both groups.

I like the word superficial... I use it a lot, including in this class. The word’s Latin history is very straightforward, super meaning above and ficial being a surface. The word, then, stripped of its pejorative connotations constrains the modified object to the surface or exterior (in whatever sense the context provides). At the same time the word reflexively implies an alternative to the surface; something that is not the surface. This other substance can either be present or absent, defined or undefined, and connected or disconnected from whatever lies beneath. The word is useful, then, because it easily allows a complexity that the alternative words "form" and "content" do not handle very well in practice. Superficial is useful for making distinctions, but it is not so easily trapped in false dichotomies.

Even though we didn’t discuss this in class, I do think that most of the references people made utilized the word superficial in this broad sense. By describing D.V. as superficial, one asserts that nothing is hidden in the text, that what we notice is what there is to examine about the text. Those arguing against the book on this basis would then make the argument that it is soulless. Those arguing in support of the book would say something to the effect that superficiality creates a complexity in omitted dialogue. For example, many people spoke of the loneliness and tragedy of the piece. In Vreeland’s energy, they would argue, there is a repudiation of decay and banality, but in her superficiality, this repudiation becomes a little desperate. This is the complexity of the piece.

I can get on board with much of the second argument. I sensed what I thought seemed to be a real reluctance to talk extensively about life’s horrors, and the decisiveness of the maitre d’s suicide near the end, or in a less melodramatic sense, the simple fact of leaving a place and a group of people forever did seem to result from a genuine reluctance to engage these subjects. At least to engage them in a published memoir.

What I disagree with, however, is the restrictiveness of the verdict. There is a huge difference between saying that "D.V. is superficial" and stating that "the superficial characteristics of D.V. suggest a denial." I think the first view, which almost everyone who spoke somewhat largely seems to result from a bias going into the book. I think that there’s a bias in favor of darkness – I think that most writers in our program (and perhaps in general) associate happiness as simplicity and lack of interest or rigor. I think that (certainly in prose, and very likely in poetry) there is also a preference for complexity, and this most frequently comes out in the form of thematic and interpersonal conflict; both sides of an issue will have to negotiate a compromised, less accessible position to get what they wish. I certainly think there’s a bias against the "fashion world," simply because we’re steeped in images of Hollywood aloofness, or anorexic models, or ridiculous extravagance, and so on. Finally, there might even be a bias against the style of writing. These images of the horses on the Upper East Side and trips to Wyoming and St. Petersburg are evocative, but they don’t linger. Vreeland frenetically changes subjects, and as soon as she’s evoked a detail, she shoos it off the page.

I’ve gotten a little theoretical here. To pull it back little to my main point, fashion as described in D.V. is elbow deep in all sorts of complex and pertinent issues. From the very beginning Vreeland is describing the changing class structures of the first half of the 20th century. She discusses these issues primarily from the perspective of fashion and high society. But she also incorporates her sense of history, politics, and technology. She talks about growing up, forming a sense of place, forming a sense of loyalty, first to people that maintain contact, even though setting changes. She goes on to extrapolate the importance of loyalty to concepts. When she describes her parting from Buffalo Bill she writes "I can still remember standing with my sister at the back of the train with tears pouring down out faces, waving…" (24). This moment cannot escape complexity held against her impressions of Paris and New York, and even Albany where "everyone was older than us," (33).

I agree that the style and purpose of D.V. suggests a loneliness or uncertainty that Vreeland is unwilling to wrestle with within the text itself. But I wouldn’t stop there. As a book with a prominent and extravagant surface, D.V. is sumptuously superficial. The surface, however, is only the beginning.


Necrus 27, 29.


The Ziggurat of Ur.

Are you traveling for the holidays this year? And if so, where are you going? Who will you be seeing?


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Well, here's your reminder.


So here, in full, is the email I received yesterday from the Democratic Party.

Dear Connor,
Majority Parties kickoff

If there's one thing I want every Democrat to remember as we head into the New Year and into a fast-approaching presidential election, it is this: we are the majority. I don't mean just that Democrats have a majority in the House and the Senate, or the majority of governors in the states.

Democrats like you are the majority in America.

The 2006 election was a crystal clear answer to the question, "Where do Americans stand?" Every single incumbent Democrat was re-elected, and scores more Democrats beat Republican challengers everywhere.

It's up to you to help remind every Democrat that we are the majority, and we will fight for the principles and promises we made in this election. If you can host a Majority Party during the first week of January, you can help set the context for the new year.

Your party doesn't need to have a slideshow and agenda. The point of these parties is social -- to bring Democrats together to celebrate change and send the message to the media and the Republicans that we know we are the majority in America.

You can make your New Year's Eve party a Majority Party, you can bring people together the night of January 4th to celebrate the new Democratic Congress, or you can plan your event for the weekend of the 6th -- it's up to you.

Planning your event is simple and easy using our online events tool, and we'll make sure you have supporting materials about what the Democratic majority means for our country. Get started with your party here:

One election may be over, but our work building the Democratic Party must continue to intensify. Your 50-state strategy field organizers and other staff continue to organize in the field in every state. There will be elections in major cities as early as the spring, and three states have important races for governor in November 2007.

Even with our success, elections are not mandates. Elections are power being loaned to politicians for a period of time. It's what we do, not what we say that matters. The voters of this country loaned the Democrats their power, now it's our job to earn it again in 2008 and deliver a Democratic President of the United States and a Democratic Congress that can deliver progress in America.

Every one of us has the responsibility to keep organizing in order to make good on the promises we made in 2006.

We promised a new kind of politics -- a party of leaders focused on real solutions, a party with a human face in every single community across America.

You are that face, and our strength of our party and our cause depends on your willingness to step up in your own community.

There will be a lot of work over the next two years, but hosting a Majority Party should be one of the easiest and most fun. Create your own in our online events system now:

Politics isn't the nonsense you hear on right-wing radio or the cable news channels.

Politics is what you make of it in your own community. It's the relationship you have with another volunteer, it's the conversation you have with your neighbor, it's the effort you put in to beating back cynicism and helping people believe that we can make change and solve real problems.

Sure, we all celebrated our victories in November.

But in January, as a newly-elected Democratic majority takes office in Washington and in state capitals across the country, we will celebrate something more important than winning a single election: the ability to change our country for the better.

I hope you will be a part of it.

Thank you,

Tom McMahon
Executive Director
Democratic National Committee

And here's a link to their thing:


Reluctant Gravities, by Rosemarie Waldrop.


It's an interesting coincidence this week that I wrote you some comments on postmodernism, in which the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle prominently features, and then we read (what most would consider an indisputably postmodern work) Reluctant Gravities, which involves the same phenomena.

Part of my angle on this thing is that I briefly majored in Physics in College, and I intended to specialize in Theoretical Cosmology. It was the math that defeated me. Today, my litmus test for any writer taking on cosmology is their interpretation of Universal expansion. Writers seem obsessed with the "Big Crunch" scenario and describe it to this day as a sort of certainty. But the Big Crunch was always the least likely prognosis and was disproven outright around the time Reluctant Gravities was published. Current cosmological thought is that the universe expands at an accelerating rate and will eventually suffer a radical form of heat death. The word "radical" is key here. It means that even if a particle cannot move at a speed greater than light, space itself can expand at such this fast. In the extreme, extreme future (long after the stars and galaxies have burnt out, and even black holes have evaporated) space will expand so rapidly that actual photons will be isolated. They will not be able to communicate with each other, meaning that light itself will cease to exist.

At any rate, Rosemarie Waldrop has been more rigorous in her allusion to and incorporation of cosmology than any other fictional or poetic writer I've encountered. This book seemed written not only with an awareness of but subscription to heat death.

I wish I had as fine an understanding of Waldrop herself. In Shelley Jackson's class last semester we read A Form / Of Taking / It All, and at the end I had very little to contribute in class because I had understood the piece very poorly. I think I fared somewhat better this time. Not only was I able to connect with the Astrophysical discussion, but I've had a good semester of avant-garde poetry to gear up, and I also knew what to expect. Also, the shape of the collection was a useful tool.

I've noticed that many of the pieces we've read this semester have a very clear, symmetrical shape, even if the content itself is ambiguous and difficult to contextualize. This was true to the greatest extent with Brock-Broido, but Carson, Hejinian, Mullen, and Palmer all have played with the shape of their pieces to suggest certain cues that may be missing in the narrative, and often this symmetry of choice goes as deep and as far as the stanza. Waldrop has taken this to a new level. There are six sections, each divided into four Conversations (numbered) "on" a particular topic. Within each section there is a general topical premise: I, spatial orientation; II, objective via vectors; III, insurmountable distance; IV, sense and exchange; V, temporal orientation; and VI, temporal shift. Each Conversation consists of four prose poetic paragraphs (which may or may not be collages; I couldn't decide), the first two of which were on an odd-numbered page, the second two on the following even-numbered page. Between the six Conversations were five Interludes, consisting of a song (first page, odd), a two-page meditation, and another song (fourth page, even). The whole piece kicks off with a three page Prologue ("Two Voices"), which brings the total number by Prologue plus Interludes to six. The total number of sections is therefore twelve, including a total of twenty-four Conversations. The effect of this arrangement is also that each Conversation is intact even if it were a single page ripped from the book, and any Conversation, Interlude, or section could be removed without overlap. This is unquestionably the most extensively organized piece we've read.

Reading the structure against scientific inquiry that is a constant backdrop throughout the book, a case could perhaps be made that such balance and symmetry is meant to suggest the fine-tuning of physical properties that must occur if matter is to interact in any form whatsoever. Some Physics friends of mine have speculated that for every universe capable of sustaining life, for example, there are likely millions or billions of unstable counterparts. That is, it is the precise balance of matter and energy that enables a controlled expansion for a time without immediate collapse. Or, perhaps, Waldrop just thought this was a cool structure to work with.

What does seem explicitly intended however is an examination of language in conjunction with these properties of physics. To put the idea more aggressively, what do these cosmological discoveries mean for the substance and use of language? Such an inquiry is borne out both in the structure (such as the topics of conversation and their arrangement), and line-by-line: "The galaxies avoid collapsing onto each other by virtue of their recessional motion, he says," (44). Later, she writes:

We want to believe a focus on light clarifies, if at the price of harshness. But a century of looking through the ultimate keyhole has leached the revelation from under covers and drawn blinds. Now all we've got is a bald mountain. (79)

If the reference here is what I think it is; that inflation theory, or acceleration of expansion leads to darkness by heat death, then I disagree with her conclusion (that "all we've got is a bald mountain.") Inflation theory requires the establishment of physical properties at the moment of the Big Bang, and this, at least metaphysically, implies the possibility of other universes. More, while I agree with the Publishers Weekly review claims that "where many American poets flee scientific realism for bodily or religious transcendence, Waldrop's work plays intellect off against itself, appealing to chaos theory, non-Euclidian geometry and contemporary cosmology, in order to undermine ordinary ideas about language, truth and logic," I'm still pretty hazy on the rigor and reach of that goal. "Undermining" can take many forms, and this piece was too dense to reckon with intentionality and argument in such detail on a single read.

Ultimately, while I did have limited access to the collection through Cosmology and very clear structure, I've felt with both Waldrop pieces I've read, as I did with Brock-Broido, that the act of reading is much like prayer. It's too easy to fall into the rhythm, and without perfect clarity and concentration in the moment the words just become automatic utterances. I don't think that this is a liability in the writing itself, but it is an additional obstacle for a reader to overcome.


Necrus 26, 29.


"Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It's the transition that's troublesome."
- Isaac Asimov

What is outside the nearest window?


Monday, December 18, 2006

Necrus 25, 29.


- TODAY - is the Misa de Aguinaldo.
- HAPPY BIRTHDAY - Lots of celebrities.

- NEWS OF THE WEEK - Rare dolphin extinct, researcher says.

Who have you not envied this week?


Friday, December 15, 2006

The New School. Phase One.


So Phase 1 of Connor's MFA program has just been concluded. It consisted of the first three of my four semesters. During this time I took 4 credits each semester from a Writing Workshop and a Literature Seminar.

The first semester, I took Helen Schulman's workshop, and Jeffery Renard Allen's literature seminar, Shadow Narration. I also took Frederic Tuten's noncredit Saturday seminar on Innovative Prose.
The second semester, I took David Gates' workshop, and Shelley Jackson's seminar, Nonlinearity and Structural Play in the Novel. I also took Frederic Tuten's literature seminar again, as well as Sharon Mesmer's seminar On Prose Poetry and Stephen Wright's seminar Gravity's Rainbow.
The third semester, I took Darcey Steinke's workshop, and Mark Bibbins' seminar, Myself and Strangers. I also took Emily Fox Gordon's weekend seminar on The Meander, and Max Blagg's seminar on Literature in New York in the 1970s.

What I read for class:
Nelson Algren, Chicago: City on the Make
Djuna Barnes, Nightwood
Djuna Barnes, Ryder
Donald Barthelme, The Dead Father
David Bradley, The Cheneyville Incident
Lucie Brock-Broido, The Master Letters
William Burroughs, Naked Lunch
Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities
Anne Carson, Plainwater
Anton Chekhov, Peasants and Other Stories
E.E. Cummings, 1x1
Don DeLillo, Mao II
Mavis Gallant, Paris Stories
Lyn Hejinian, The Fatalist
Kazuo Ishiguro, A Pale View of the Hills
Clarice Lispector, The Hour of the Sun
David Markson, This is Not a Novel
David Markson, Wittgenstein's Mistress
Harryette Mullen, Sleeping with the Dictionary
Vladimir Nabokov, Pale Fire
Flann O'Brien, The Third Policeman
Frank O'Hara, Selected Poems
Michael Palmer, Sun
Ron Palmer, Logicalogics
Fernando Pessoa, Fernando Pessoa & Co.
Claudia Rankine, Don't Let Me Be Lonely
Alain Robbe-Grillet, La Maison de Rendezvous
W.G. Sebald, The Emigrants
Laurence Sterne, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman
Alice B. Toklas, The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook
Rosemary Waldrop, A Form / Of Taking / It All
Rosemary Waldrop, Reluctant Gravities

What I haven't read yet (ie. haven't started and/or haven't finished):
Andre Breton, Nadja
Julio Cortàzar, Hopskotch
Marcel Proust, Swann's Way
Thomas Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow
Raymond Queneau, Witch Grass
Severo Sarduy, Cobra
Elizabeth Smart, By Grand Central Station I Sat Down And Wept
Gilbert Sorrentino, Gold Fools
Gertrude Stein, Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas
Diana Vreeland, D.V.

I also was assigned a number of stories and excerpts photocopies. I have read about half of this. My intention is to read the material I've missed in the upcoming years (I set aside two months each year to play catch up on reading... for the next couple years, this time will be dominated by missed assignments from New School).

There were also a number of other books I read during this time I read on recommendation, to acquaint me with my teachers' work, or as pertinent to Urbantasm, Euphemism, Hungry Rats, or the Gothic Funk Movement.

Jeffery Renard Allen, Rails Under my Back (in progress)
Aronson, Wilson, Akert, Social Psychology (in progress)
Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey
William Beckford, Vathek
Mark Bibbins, Sky Lounge
The Bible: Apocrypha (in progress)
Max Brooks, The Zombie Survival Guide
Catechism of the Catholic Church (in progress)
Chicago Liturgical Press, At Home with the Word 2006
Chicago Liturgical Press, At HOme with the Word 2007
William S. Crowe, Lumberjack
William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury
John W. Fitzmaurice, The Shanty Boy
Neil Gaiman, Neverwhere
David Gates, Jernigan
Shelley Jackson, The Melancholy of Anatomy
Ziva Kunda, Social Cognition
Galloway, Labarca, Visiòn y Voz (in progress)
Ginkgo Press, Enamelized: Graffiti Worldwide
Jeffrey Hatcher, The Art and Craft of Playwriting (in progress)
Honour, Fleming, The Visual Arts: A History (in progress)
Matthew Lewis, The Monk
William H. McNeill, A History of Western Civilization: A Handbook (in progress)
Harold Schechter, The Serial Killer Files (in progress)
Chester Starr, A History of the Ancient World (in progress)
Darcey Steinke, Jesus Saves
Frederic Tuten, The Adventures of Mao on the Long March
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Player Piano
Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse

I try to have an inclusive understanding of literautre, and I liked almost every title I read.

* * * * *

There was only one book I despised:

Don DeLillo, Mao II.

Although I am told I should give some of his other titles a chance.

* * * * *

Books that I found/am finding to be particular transcendent/beautiful/worthwhile:

Jeffery Renard Allen, Rails Under my Back
Djuna Barnes, Ryder
David Bradley, The Cheneyville Incident
Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities
Anne Carson, Plainwater
William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury
Clarice Lispector, The Hour of the Sun
Thomas Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow
Laurence Sterne, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman
Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse

* * * * *

Books that I believe have a special relevance to Gothic Funk:

Jeffery Renard Allen, Rails Under my Back
Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey
Djuna Barnes, Ryder
William Beckford, Vathek
David Bradley, The Cheneyville Incident
Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities
Anne Carson, Plainwater
William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury
Shelley Jackson, The Melancholy of Anatomy
Matthew Lewis, The Monk
Clarice Lispector, The Hour of the Sun
Thomas Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow
Severo Sarduy, Cobra
Rosemary Waldrop, Reluctant Gravities
Diana Vreeland, D.V.

I realize that the last two lists closely resemble each other. This is because the evolving notion of Gothic Funk is increasingly the criteria I use to evaluate a piece of work as relevant to the present and future. I need to be careful not to allow this project to make me too close-minded about literature, though, as I said, I enjoyed almost every book I read. At any rate, To the Lighthouse is one of the most ethereal, carefully written, and spiritual books I've ever encountered... it does not engage fully enough in paradox and oscillation I believe to be directly relevant to Gothic Funk.

On the other side of the divide, Northanger Abbey, Vathek, and The Monk are not only great examples of early English Gothic, but also of the contradictions the genre exhibited from the beginning. With the exception of the Jane Austen, however, they're not very well crafted, and even Northanger suffers from a sort of narrowness of vision. The Melancholy of Anatomy is really just one of the most trippy things I've read that still manages a baseline of coherance. It is at no point dull. Cobra is fun to analyze, if not so much to read. D.V. struck many of my classmates as superficial, but I disagree in every possible way with this assessment. I'm going to post a critique on it in the next few days. Rosemary Waldrop would probably not consider herself to be Gothic Funk (were someone to introduce her to the idea). I disagree. I also think her writing is fandabulous in Reluctant Gravities

My purpose in this post is threefold.

#1 is to provide a record for myself of what I have accomplished at this point, and what I have missed.

#2. is to assess my New School experience as against Here Is No Why (my master plan).
  1. I have to be able to write with transcendent power and beauty.

  2. I have to have enough publishing acumen to see that work in print.

  3. I also have an interest in art as a social enterprise, and as such I have to be able to translate my work and objectives into a community.

This is, oversimplified, what I am up against right now.

  1. New School has been very useful so far. This is because my writing was subjected to a level of scrutiny it has not received until now. This is because I have developed a better critical eye through the amount of reading I have done. This is because I have developed a better sense of literature in general through the range of reading I have done.

  2. New School has been somewhat useful so far. I have seen and heard much about the publishing industry, and the risks and liabilities involved with different approaches. On a base level, much of it just comes down to schmoozing, which I am horrible at. Although some people (instructors, etc.) have found my schmoozing ineptitude anywhere from charming to encouraging. I still view it as a net liability that New School can neither amend nor negotiate for me.

  3. New School has been pretty close to useless to me so far. Gothic Funk is a collosal flop in New York so far. On one level this may be because I have not aggressively promoted the idea. I believe it is also because I am at two automatic disadvantages... one is that I am more interested in art itself than in critical theory, and that I still have a very limited vocabulary to make the arguments I want to make. On the other hand, those who are willing and able to have such conversations with me, usually have opinions that are not in sync with mine. From a literary standpoint, postmodernism is still the accepted avant garde. "Sentimentality" is an unambiguous put-down when used in class.
    To push the point a little further (and further into vagueness), there are three possibilities, all most likely present in proportions I cannot determine: 1) I am wrong about some things, 2) I am unable to effectively express somethings, and 3) people are unwilling to consider some things.
    But I really think the fundamental point is that both literary theory and the publishing industry as shackled to a dying presmise... conjectural style in the first case and marketing and distribution tactics in the second. Artistic movements are more successful in other media at this point in time. Which is why I think that if when Gothic Funk really launches itself, it will be understood as primarily a performative, musical, and theatrical movement, and only tangentially as literature. Which is why I have to learn more about music and cultivate my DJ connections. And so on.

#3. is to brag. Because the last fifteen months have been freakin' hard and I've earned bragging rights on my own blog.

The last week was quite wild and also somewhat transcendent. On Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday nights I got by with three or four hours of sleep. I wrote twelve critiques, two papers, and read two books and numerous articles. It was a sort of high in a way, and probably a little unhealthy, drinking coffee all morning, having two or three beers after class, then coming home and drinking more coffee to stay up all night typing. Thank god this is a twice a year thing now, because I can't handle this diurnal and chemical chaos as well as I could when I was twenty-one.

At any rate, we had our final workshop on Tuesday night at Darcey's house in Windsor Terrace. It was a quiet neighborhood by Prospect Park and I was amazed that it was actually a house. There was wine and jerk chicken that she prepared. We each brough a snack or a drink to share, and she was very proud to take us on a tour of the house, which actually made me somewhat envious. Windsor Terrace is the only part of New York that actually does resembles Chicago (though Inwood feels like Chicago), and her house was the sort of Bungalow that I know Jess and I want some day, somewhere in the midwest, with a back yard, study space, trees and room for a garden. The next night, almost the next moment in my head, I was exhausted at Mark apartment. This was quite different. He lived in Chelsea, and his place had a balcony with views of the apartment mid-rises up close, and the fog-sheathed Empire State Building in the distance. It felt as far from Chicago as I've ever been. As far from Flint too. The next night I went to the final reading and party of the semester, and Jess met me there, though I thought she'd be heading right home. Pizza and wine. Plenty of people to talk to. When we got back, we watched the last episode of Rome on DVD, which was wrenching. And tonight we have four parties to go to. Four. Next week we're going home for the holidays.

The point I guess being that when things are really ticking along, when you're at a point when the rungs fit perfectly together and the sense of forward momentum is great enough that the implied wind makes you dizzy, the temptation to not look from side to side and realize where you are is greater than ever. That, itself, is more than a little vague, so I'll say it different. I recognize what an incredible year I've been having.


Well, here we are.


Right here.

Bear in mind that this is raw, unfiltered data. The effect of the computer, for example, is huge, and who knew about bottled water in 1980?


Necrus 22, 29.


- HAPPY BIRTHDAY - Sitting Bull and Freeman Dyson.


But how do you really feel about Disco?


Thursday, December 14, 2006

Logicalogics, by Ronald Palmer.


I think this syllabus is unreasonably biased toward people with the last name Palmer.

Logicalogics was a fun way to go out. It strikingly reminded me of the sort of work I saw working on my high school's literary magazine. I realize that has to come off as a pretty dubious compliment, but it's only meant as positive. Obviously, the spoiler here is the level of craft; in the sense that Palmer knows very well what he's doing, and most high school students don't (I certainly didn't). This important distinction aside, what strikes me as common to both sets is the directness of emotional vectors and an openness in experimentation.

These statements deserve some clarification. Every text we've read has been "experimental," in varying degrees and contexts. To a lesser extent, many texts have been charged with an emotional translucence: Claudia Rankine, E. E. Cummings, Diana Vreeland, and so on. One of the things that was interesting in the work submitted by high schoolers is first that experimentation does not appear to be hierarchically sorted as it does by older writers. If I am going to choose to experiment with a poem or a story, for example, I might act on an inspiration for a draft, but in revision I am very soon considering in a more discrete, abstract way the intent and effects of whatever variation I've introduced. Ironically (and almost with chagrin), I suspect that Ronald Palmer is doing the same thing… the fact that this collection took a decade to assemble, and his consideration of physical space, balance, rhyme, and meter can only suggest that things are very closely considered indeed. There's something inexplicable and almost deceptive, then, in the conspicuous and seemingly spontaneous idiosyncracies in Logicalogics.

Part of his, I think, is simply a matter of flair. The frequent use of colons ("Their fears: then jump up to reinvent the world for us:" (18)), occasional bolding and italicizing of text ("All entries must hook the mind into a question." (23)), and almost constant interruption of words mid-utterance ("Don't get hysteric: al: beit eso: teric:" (34)) are not only very visual choices, but on first glance, they have the appearance of chaos. The same could be said of the liberal use of blank space, but between stanzas and paragraphs and between individual sentences and words, the unusual shape of the book, the texture of the paper, and even the seamless way that poems proceed unannounced from the dedication and acknowledgments, as if these were poems themselves. On a deeper level, the free play between sex (as seen in Sex Addicts: In Love: "I lick it like a steady job: like a tedious pig: like a studious slob." (56)), metaphysics ("I have failed at being: falsely ecto: morphic." (56), "So let me dine: on Wittgen:Steinian color: logic" (57)), literature ("I picture Foucault's bald head: with a lyrical halo:" (56)), and politics ("In 1978: / when I was twelve: my body became a game of logic // with a patent." (57)) seems equally extemporaneous. As a result, Palmer's experimentation feels improvised and a little wild.

The directness of emotional vectors is equally apparent. As with experimentation, I felt that in reading high school submissions one common feature was a measure of unself-consciousness in exhibiting emotion, Logicalogics arrives at a similar effect, perhaps by coming from a very different direction. Quite simply, I just think that Palmer was restrained in use of irony. Certainly, both joking ("75: Co: lons: for A: R: Am: mons" (2)) and sarcasm ("(O holographic ideal world!)" (31)) are common. However, both are clearly positioned at points within a poem as a device, whereas each poem has its own emotional signature, some providing evidence on nearly every line: ("Maybe we should pause this: till I move to the city: / Till we stir in the nitty gritty: with Pity me: Pit me: / Now you gotta trust me: (Your body's so easy to free!) / And I'm counting hour: by hour: beyond the logic of power: / Where every berry: gripes: then re-ripens to sour." (19)).

For me, the cumulative association of Logicalogics with poetry I haven't read since I was eighteen was quite emphatic and precise. It's interesting to me, then, that I didn't have the additional handicap of associating the book with the weaknesses I expect from inexperienced writers. More than avoiding the trap, Logicalogics was refreshing, in that it reminded me of what interested me in poetry in the first place.


Necrus 21, 29.


I am happy to announce that I've evidently survived the semester.

- DECEMBER - is jingle bells month.
- HAPPY BIRTHDAY - Nostrodamus, Tycho Brahe, Patty Duke. And Lindsay!

Flashlight Museum.

Now, what's the longest you've ever slept, uninterrupted?


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Necrus 20, 29.


Cannot post today. The semester is out to destroy. And will be over tonight. Then I will sleep. Sweet sleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep.

What's the longest you ever stayed awake?


Tuesday, December 12, 2006




Necrus 19, 29.


- DECEMBER - Is U.N. World Aids Awareness month.
- TODAY - is La Virgen De Guadalupe.
- HAPPY BIRTHDAY - Gustave Flaubert and Frank Sinatra. And Buffy!

"Our ignorance of history makes us libel our own times. People have always been like this."
- Gustave Flaubert

Okay, then, who is your favorite ancient Greek?


Monday, December 11, 2006

Don't Let Me Be Lonely, by Claudia Rankine.


Well. What a depressing book to read over the Thanksgiving holiday!

Although, while it was depressing, it wasn't precisely discouraging. This contradiction was one of the most fascinating aspects of this piece to me… that while the subject matter was not only somber, but entropically somber (ie. our brains are controlled by drugs dispensed by evil and all-powerful pharmaceutical companies, and so on, so what is the point of even getting out of bed, much less resistance), it rarely left me in a shitty mood. Some of this may have been due to being in a good mood generally, but I do think there was something pertinent in the work itself. I found myself comparing it a lot with Don DeLillo's Mao II. While Mao II deals with anonymity in the context of writers and dictators, the sense of universal victimization was very similar. In the case of Mao II, I was so exasperated by the end (because do we really need so much help merely to continue feeling bleak?) that I literally threw the book. I'm intrigued then, by what could have made Don't Let Me Be Lonley so palatable, enjoyable even, when it seems to follow a similar course and reach similar conclusions.

And immediate possibility is the visual look of the piece. The cover was slightly off-putting, in that an elongated shape and colorful image are offset by the obvious Photoshop insertion of the title. Not only do the words lack the graininess and light effects of, say, the clouds and sunflowers, but the angle is offset slightly from that of the billboard. I later wondered if this was an intentional "mistake."
With this sole exception, the physical presentation is meticulous. While poems are not identified, or even decisively set apart, there is an implied division in the form of eighteen static-filled television screens. This is in keeping with one of the predominant themes of the piece; loneliness and insomnia. Inasmuch as there is a strong sense of human absence from most of these poems, Rankine does evoke a sense of companionship from the television in her frequent bouts of insomnia.
There were also many images. They all had an immediate relationship to their place in the book. For example, photos of Diallo and Byrd accompany references to their murders, and the description of Mr. Tool’s artificial heart is alongside a diagram of the apparatus. Even when the references are at their most deceptive, Rankine is quick to point out the idiosyncrasy in the endnotes. An example of this is the screenshot that accompanies an evocation of The Wild Bunch. Since both represent Westerns, it is easy to assume that the screenshot is from The Wild Bunch. It is not, but Rankine admits this openly.

The piece is also very open about itself thematically. Insomnia, pharmaceutical companies, drugs, health problems, political turmoil, and racism all intersect frequently. Often the actual encounters are almost identical, or at least the sleepy way Rankine describes them causes differences to blur. The Diallo and Byrd accounts are one example of this; while their settings and circumstances, and even the cause and nature of the crime itself may differ significantly, the narrative seems to drive toward similarities. Here the emphasis falls on the fact that a individual black man was murdered by many white men through excessive, sensational, and even grotesque use of force. But more subtle examples include her multiple references to her sister’s attempts to negotiate an insurance claim regarding her deceased family. There is no conveyance of the amount of time that has passed between these encounters, or on the sister’s progress or lack thereof.

This all seems relevant to me in helping to understand why I enjoyed this book. Whereas Mao II took up a debater’s position that activity is self-defeating, and set about building an argument about unaccountability to prove its point, Don’t Let Me Be Lonely doesn’t attempt to put forth an argument at all. Or if it does, the argument is so submerged beneath layers of sleep deprivation and disorientation that it never mounts a frontal assault upon a reader. In these words, it may seem hard to believe that this could possibly be “a good thing,” but I am convinced that it is. First, given the lack of a irreducible argument, the language itself is very robust and forceful, as are the images invoked:

What do I care about the liver? I could have told her it is because the word live hides within it. Or we might have been able to do something with the fact that the liver is the largest single internal organ next to the soul, which looms large though it is hidden. (54)

Second, because the terms of the piece seem to be set down by a narrator struggling against insomnia and sickness herself, as opposed to a narrator imposing this condition upon a helpless reader, the piece not only avoids intentional hostility, but what hostility remains is organic and integral to the book’s universe.

Finally, I have to say that I thought there were moments of beauty in here, and while they stayed true to the atmosphere of the piece as a whole, only appearing vaguely and momentarily, and sometimes without narrative recognition, they make this a three-dimensional piece. In other words, despite the omnipresence of inertia and horror, there is at least an illusion of something else:

In a taxi speeding uptown on the West Side Highway, I let my thoughts drift below the surface of the Hudson until it finally occurs to me that feelings fill the gaps created by the indirectness of experience. (89)


Necrus 18, 29.


- DECEMBER - is Universal Human Rights month.

The New York Times: Joy, and Violence, at Death of Pinochet.

What is the Bluest Blue you ever Blued?


Friday, December 08, 2006

Immaculate Conception today.


Isn't that just about the creepiest religious picture ever? I found it on a Catholic Greeting Card site, and I'm assuming that it therefore have been originally created prior to the Great Schism of the 11th century... Catholic churches were not allowed to create icons of this sort for the following eight hundred years (and even today, their use is restricted to Catholic churches of the Eastern rites.)

The image is intended to represent the immaculate conception of Jesus within an immaculate Mary. Today is a feast day of celebrating the latter status, which is also one of the most controversial Catholic doctrines to other Christian churches. In 1854 Pope Pius proclaimed:

The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin.

To paraphrase my mother, once we've come to a psychological understanding of God, everything else is relatively easy; reconciling the first is more difficult than anything that will follow. Along these lines, and reading the Bible as a story, it is not difficult to find both cause and method for the Immaculate Conception. The cause is that, as the literal and housing for Jesus, Mary is a temple in the literal sense. In fact, given her literal role in the life of Jesus and her more metaphorical (if also direct) relationship to the church, as well as the Eucharist, it is probably more fitting to say that churches are representation of Mary. As such, and given the Bible's emphasis on spiritual cleanliness and purity, it is easy to justify why God would want an immaculate conception in the first place. If Christ, who is described as "like unto us in all things but sin," is to be born of a human, than it is in keeping with the "without sin" part that his mother ought to be free of original sin. This is significant not just because it provides an explanation, but because the explanation is elegant. It has simplicity.

Along these lines, there is also an easy explanation for "method," which is that Mary was created as Adam and Eve were created. They embraced sin by disobeying God and eating from the Tree of Knowledge. Along these lines, Mary faced the same option when approached by the angel Gabriel. "Behold, the handmaid of the Lord. Be it done unto me according to your will," is an act obedience that contrasts with the disobedience of Adam and Eve. And here we have not only an elegant explanation, but one which helps to justify, in a more general sense, the reason for the Church's special veneration for Mary, and also a contextualization for the divinity and humanity of Jesus Christ: Mary is not special because she was a decent person in the right place at the right time. Mary is special because she had a singular, unprecedented oppotunity, in which God had placed great confidence through long preparation, and through free will, seized the opportunity for the benefit of others. There is nothing in this situation to suggest divinity, in the sense that Catholics are accused of "worshipping Mary," but everything also suggests that Mary ought to be set apart from the rest of humanity. She is, along the lines of Abraham, Moses, and the prophets, one who entered into special communion with God. She is unique among them because of the intimacy of her communion.


Necrus 15, 29.


- DECEMBER - is Gift Wrap month.
- TODAY - is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception and Bodhi Day.
- HAPPY BIRTHDAY - Horace, Mary Queen of Scots, Diego Rivera, James Thurber, Jim Morrison, and Kim Basinger.


Who do you most admire from the days of the late Roman Republic? (If your memory is rusty, you might consider Horace, Crassus, Pompey, Julius Caesar, Octavian, Octavia, Cicero, Cato the Younger, Mark Antony, Cleopatra, Cassius, Brutus, Sevilia, or Calpurnia.)


Thursday, December 07, 2006

December, 1991.


This was our second year living in Flushing Township. I remember this month pretty vividly, actually. It kicked off with the inaugural performance of the Flushing Junior High School Drama Club's production of The Wizard of Oz, and I played the wizard. This was my first time in a "serious" play, where I would have to memorize lines and appear onstage in front of an audience of some hundreds of friends and family. Moreover, I was in love with the space itself; the stage was a procenium at the back of the gym, and it was built with the money that Flushing's early jump made in the 1920s. Still, it had aged and was never scrupulously maintained, and now the space (both gym and stage) had the feel of a place where, say, basketball had been invented... and then the space was forgotten.

This bascially was the beginning of my obsession/interest with theater.

I was also really into the Gothic that year, since I had recently bought the Ravenloft Dungeons & Dragons setting, predicated on a world of gothic horror with such thinly veiled allusions as Modenheim's Monster and Count Strahd von Zarovich... though my favorite villain was the lich, Azalin. This purchase had just barely anticipated Nintendo's release of Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse, which is easily in the top 25 video games I've ever played. I rented the game sporadically throughout November but didn't actually beat it until December, and it was almost Christmas by the time I beat the game with Sypha Belnades. Imagine my surprise when... !

All this was over and through the backdrop of my family showing real discretion, visiting three tree farms before finally choosing a Christmas tree. The shadow that the tree made in our living room, and then the huge light when it had been decorated. I probably helped to decorate for awhile, then went to play some more Castlevania. Although I know that I visited with friends from time to time, for the most part I remember being with my family at my house and reading Fantasy books. On Christmas, my brother got the video game Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland but that was also the year that I discovered my mother's springerly cookies and Swedish meatballs. They had probably been around for years, but that was the year they finally caught me.

Where were you in December, 1991?


Necrus 14, 29.


- DECEMBER - is celebrating month.
- HAPPY BIRTHDAY - Willa Cather, Noam Chomsky, and Tom Waits.

Trust me. It both is and isn't what you think.

What specialty porn enterprise could you get behind?


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

December, 2003.


I lived in McKinley Park in Chicago and temped at Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation as a file clerk with the Department of Neurosurgery. About one-third of my income went toward rent and another quarter toward the engagement ring I'd put on layaway for Jessica. She didn't know of course. And I was also in the midst of preparations for the Nocturnal's ill-fated production of Shelley's Cenci... a case in which a year of preparation went in a show that was eventually only a half-hour long, featuring none of its original cast.

But in December there was still hope.

I remember dwelling on the darkness and cold outside (it was a cold winter), and not being bothered by it.

I had to work the week following Christmas, and Jessica joined me in Chicago for New Years. We spent that evening at a rowdy bar in the Ukranian Village.

Not the most eventful December, though, on the whole.

Where were you in December, 2003?


Necrus 13, 29.


- DECEMBER - is Stress Free Family Holidays Month. (Okay. I don't buy that for a moment.)
- TODAY - is St. Nicholas day.
- HAPPY BIRTHDAY - Ira Gershwin and Macy Gray.

A lich.

If your life was to be a genre novel, how would you describe it?


Tuesday, December 05, 2006




After the most recent of the papers I've submitted to my Literature Seminar (which I've posted here) on Michael Palmer's Sun, my seminar tearcher Mark Bibbins said he'd be interested in hearing what my beef with postmodernism is. I've written a short statement on this, and will hand it in at class tomorrow.

Here it is if anyone is interested.

EDIT: Revised 12/6/06.

I really should be more careful to qualify my criticism of postmodernism, particularly because it is a lack of qualification that I find so objectionable. I don't unconditionally hate pomo writing, and I find that a lot of actual artists who might be considered postmodern (Anne Carson was one, Thomas Pynchon is another, and this, actually, is a lot of my interest in hip hop and electronic music) don't conform to the sterotypes and misclassifications that I find to be such an issue.

But I do find Pomo theory objectionable on a critical level. I've only read a limited amount on this, but it seems that the very best writers on the subject (Sontag, Benjamin) are still forced to make monstrously huge assumptions in support of their claims and many respected writers (Lacan, Foucault, Adorno) end up getting away with arguments that aren't really rigorous at all.

I do feel that postmodernism was a necessary step in the progression of the arts in society, but that the valid concepts put forward by postmodernism are no longer at the forefront of critical theory, and we should be modifying them more drastically, more rigorously, and into a more engaging and productive form.

To be more specific:

1) Literary criticism presents itself as a science of sorts, but I do believe in a basic continuum between "hard" and "soft" science. This doesn't mean that hard science isn't a very subjective, messy thing that can be used in all sorts of -ist ways (eg. Tuskegee, AIDS, etc.) but there are advantages. There most obvious of these are in the conspicuous need for and number of empirical and literal measurements... there are relatively discrete objects to measure, and objectivity becomes a matter of perspective and impartiality, but not so much definition. Clearly math is the most perfect in this regard, followed by physics and chemistries of various sorts, where there are empirical elements but in a somewhat abstracted, elemental form. Then the life and earth sciences, where the terms are increasingly complicated. The "soft sciences," psychology, sociology, social psychology, history, are much more subjective and problematic because they lack these discrete measurements, and also because there is more incentive to impose preconceived notions which are inescapable themselves. But at least relevant questions seem to suggest themselves: why did this group migrate at this time? What did population x or y have to gain from pasturing as opposed to trade? And so on. Literary criticism cannot even benefit from this level of organization.

So I view with great suspicion any claim in literary criticim to scientific rigor, and unfortunately the field is even less rigorous than is necessary. For example, there have been many wonderful developments in Social and Cognitive psychology in the last thirty years, going so far to challenge the Western notion of "self" in a way that is much more elastic and accessible than Lacan's mumbo-jumbo about "lack" and whatnot. Very careful measurments and studies have been made of how infants come to develop basic language skills, communicate, behave in isolation, recognize themselves, recognize others, and interact with objects and the environment. But in the arts, everyone prefers to talk about Freud and Lacan. Why? Everything they've said has either been disproven or improved upon. It's like arguing that the sun is massive and quoting Ptolemy to prove it. Doesn't Einstein or even Copernicus make the better argument, deeper, more implicatory, more sophisticated? And not to cut on Ptolemy, because he proved that the planets moved systematically, no mean feat (just as Freud powerfully demonstrated the power of the subconscious).

This is Big Point of Contention #1. Postmodernism, the argument that is allegedly at the vanguard of artistic experimentation, clings to arguments up to and over a hundred years old. I don't find that very progressive.

2) Demography compounds this effect institutionally... in America especially (I cannot speak for Europe or other parts of the world) postmodernism has become the experimental art status quo to an extent in academia. At least at the University of Chicago and New School I have found this to be the case... certainly, department heads are more conservative, and a lot of experimentation seems also closely linked to Modernist projects. But the established "edgy" is postmodernism. Yet because of #1, the idea is so outlandish and dated that it can't expand into *out* of academia. Even indiginous cultures and "Eastern" POVs supposedly liberated in deconstructive readings, etc., don't seem to hold much stock in arguments as conceived by 19th and 20th century European philosophers and revolutionaries.

I don't think one has to be a populist (though I am one) to see that it is unhealthy for a progressive artistic movement to be on the retreat. The risk is supposed to be selling out because the idea is too sexy, not sulking in a corner (or classroom) because nobody wants to come out and play. That's Big Point of Contention #2.

3) I think that these particular dead ends are politically deadly. Of course it's impossible to actually measure consequence, and it's always tempting to think that one's own activity is especially relevant or important. But I do wonder to what extent academic/artistic stagnation is responsible for our current mess. On the one hand the conservative America has catchy phrases like "New American Century," and the broader neocon message promotes a vision of unity and vigor that is unfortunately as catchy as it is misleading and pedantic. This is a sort of "preserve the union" vs. "free the slaves" dilemma. The motto of the literary left ends up being along the lines of "communication is futile." So besides the fact that the logic is flawed, it's not even a particularly attractive flaw.

4) The logic *is* flawed. One of the most interesting moments I've had in the last year was an article (I forget who) supporting deconstruction with a description of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. Specifically, the argument went that since the HUP proved that nothing was certain, the same must go for meaning and language. I was surprised such a flawed argument could be respectably published. The HUP is one of the most elegant ambiguities ever: it states that one can never know the momentum and position of an electron, because at that scale any observation alters the phenomena... that participation in the observation distorts the measurement. This is transparently relevant to the deconstruction argument, because you could possibly make the argument that uncertainty is cumulative, from particles on up. The error is here: it *is* possible however to measure *either* positon or momentum, and it is *also* possible assess the likelihood of one position/momentum by compromising evaluation of the other. In sum, you *can* measure things, but everything comes at a price.

This seems to be a natural companion to rational discretion in accepting postmodern theory. While writers and scholars have done much in the last century to show just how biased and unstable a narrative can be, it is foolish to ignore the empirical utility of language, as well as the fact that not only does language grow in complexity and sophistication over time, but in fact communication and community are more developed in higher animals. Language is not, then, inherently unstable. It is subject to distortion, and unacknowledged distortion is very dangerous.

On several times postmodernism has (in its very name) been described to me as the endpoint of artistic evolution, in the sense that all subsequent schools will have to concede its critical rubric. This has always struck me as extremely arrogant. But hopefully from my comments in class I've come across as open-minded. I really hope to be committed to art that pushes the envelope, and right now I think that requires molting and shedding the skin of postmodern arguments that have really been around for a half-century now. I'm looking for new development that places more weight on alternation and oscillation than what seem like the simpler, more naive Pomo aesthetic, which seems to dwell in repetition and regression. Or, to put it a little differently, true irony that is nevertheless conditional, true sentimentality that is nevertheless self-conscious, and formal experimentation that exploits the greatest range of prosodic and narrative possiblity.

Some friends and I have started some experiments along these lines, we're calling Gothic Funk. It's still pretty gross and grimy and tiny, but it's been a lot of fun and I'm kind of obsessed with it now. We have a website: (parties #2 and #7 look the most spectacular).


Necrus 12, 29.


- DECEMBER - is Drunk Driving prevention month.
- HAPPY BIRTHDAY - Walt Disney and Little Richard.

"When the wind blows from the East, 'tis not fit out for man nor beast."
- Anonymous

Who do you hate to love?


Monday, December 04, 2006

Necrus 11, 29.


- DECEMBER - is cookie cutters month.

- NEWS OF THE WEEK - Supertyphoon leaves 804 Dead, Missing in the Philippines.

Who do you love to hate?


Friday, December 01, 2006

How Hard I Rock.


While I didn't finish the project as I conceived it (this is going to end up being a 150,000 word thing in the end I suspect), I did reach the 50,000 words necessary to claim victory.

I've updated the project website. You can read more about The First Third here.


December, 2001.


I was living with Ben Buckley in a shithole apartment in East Humboldt Park, Chicago. While the roaches had not yet become the problem they would later on, the radiators weren't reliable. We'd stopped going up on the roof. My writing was suffering in general, but I kept the spirit alive by working on Harry Potter fan fiction. I worked at the Northwestern Memorial Hospital through Advanced Resources, doing an assortment of moving, organizing, sorting, and filing tasks. I liked this assignment, though. It was quiet, the walls were labyrinthine, adn there was always free coffee and Lipton Cup O'soup in the break room. Even though it was, without doubt, visually the dreariest place I've ever worked, and there were politics at the time among my coworkers, I'll never be able to really see it as a negative time.

Perhaps that's because at the end of the month, after Jess had gone home, things opened up with hope briefly. Ben left and let me use his car. On one Saturday I drove up to Edgewater and met Curt C. for a long conversation at Kopi Cafe. There was something pristine in the air afterwards, and I walked south to Foster, east to Broadway. I spent some time online at the Edgewater branch of the library, and continued north to the little cinema on Sheridan just north of Devon. I saw the Harry Potter movie for the second time. I went to a party in the neighborhood thrown by Sarah Y. and Becca. It ended up being one of the last times I saw some certain people from UT, but I ended up crashing for the night and heading down to Hyde Park for RCIA the next day.

The trip back to Michigan for Christmas was another adventure. I got off to a muderously late start and the traffic was death on the expressways. So I didn't take the expressway. I drove on State Street until it ended at 130th street, and discovered Chatham and Roseland and other neighborhoods I'd read about but never spent any time in. I finally merged onto I-90, switched to I-94, and got home sometime well after midnight. I spent time with my family that week, but I also drove around with Sam and Emerson. We went partying for a night in Detroit. The next week, I'd catch a ride down to Ohio to spend New Years with Jessica's family.

Where were you in December, 2001?


Necrus 8, 28.


- DECEMBER - is the Birthday of Bingo month. (What?)
- TODAY - is World AIDS day.
- HAPPY BIRTHDAY - To mom! Also, Bette Midler and Woody Allen.


But why did s/he do it?


Birthstone: Lapis Lazuli.

Flower: Poinsettia.

Virtue: Control of speech.