the classified ads
are full of work you could have done with
a lifetime of sorting it out
a man of genius says Coleridge
on a country quarrel
would have settled the matter in five minutes
that's the trouble says Virginia
it is improperly taught
this language of ours
I have a friend who says the knots and twists of Aboriginal painting fascinate him, yet he’s never gone to the Aboriginal art museum in town, the largest private collection on display in the country, if not the world. As for me, I’m basically vegetarian, but for weeks I’ve been hankering for a medium-rare hamburger. Daniil Kharms concluded that the path to immortality consists of one rule only: continually do that which you don’t feel like doing. To make it easier for beginners, this could be paraphrased as
The Puzzle of Suburbia
In "Understanding Epistemology, Part Three: Justify Yourself," Duncan Pritchard nicely articulates knowledge as based on a belief structure (The Philosopher’s Magazine: 28 (2004): 83-85). What I found most interesting in his presentation was that the belief structure itself seems to parallel another type of structure, namely architecture. The house most fitting this architecture is, of course, the courtroom. However, while Pritchard presents a geometry of space, he does not encounter knowledge as a build-out taking place in space and time. To do so would be to describe epistemology not as a single ground, but as a landscape, a region, a continent, a world, … .
Riding the roller coaster over and over.
The drunk uncle sure to bring financial ruin.
Gratuitous use of the topological trope: "Moebius strip."
In short, philosophy as history. That is to ask, does our knowledge ever have a single foundation, or is it as multiple as history? For such epistemology that does not make these considerations negates knowledge as a construct of history where the actual grounds of knowledge are much more like bricolage than blueprint. And beliefs too are like bricolage
Therapy for John Candy as the dweeb security guard. Jelly-of-the-month club. No bonus.
Briefly, let’s discuss knowledge outside the structure of belief, justification, and certainty. While these terms depict a particular architecture for epistemology as the grounds for knowledge, they only give us a geometry of floor and ceiling and condition us to understand knowledge as stacking, and in these terms, everything stacked needs something to be stacked upon. The ground of knowledge then becomes a question of firstness--the foundation needs a foundation. Of course, in these terms too, the foundation needs to be sturdy.
Kidnapping the boss, wrapping him in a bow, delivering him to the host.
Cornell West, he’s the best!
Perhaps the argument for knowledge here is merely analogical in the sense that it makes us at home in a physical universe where parallel conditions apply: for example, National Lampoon’s Vacation series—even if the children are not played by the same actors, and we are never really sure where the children—or the family for that matter— are in their development. On vacation, the family is, however, at the point of breakdown because it has to function as an institution and take over the role of other, time-consuming institutions. The TV turned off—the headphones on tight.
Family vacation—the anxiety, the big fun, the let-down. Vacation, I dare say, its own institution—an institution outside school or work, an institution that requires us to negotiate truth: family.
Two solid weeks of meeting the relatives.
Forgetting the dog and leaving it tied to the bumper.
Finding Aunt Edna dead.
Finding the cat in one Christmas box, jello in another.
The dog, Snots.
Sitting the corpse in a rocker on the porch and leaving a note on the corpse.
Sometimes I take a great deal of license in segues for my segues are not necessarily analogical, and analogy implies that my narrative logic is not simply associative , that it has more than a tangential structure, that the parallels I assert are somehow valid.
Harry Bailey now George Bailey, father as drunk uncle, a.k.a. Clark Griswald as Jason, Jason? –chainsaws off the faulty knob on the staircase.
Fantasizing Christie Brinkley.
Fantasizing the lingerie model.
Families absent of their governors are like steering wheels spinning wildly—a 360 degree whip of the wheel just to turn right. Driving through, the city abandoned except for, from the perspective of the middle-class family, the wrong class of people. The city—an occasional public space. An occasional demonstration, an occasional riot. Mostly though, peace and quit. People going to work, people going about their business.
Is it true? They do not live here. The dangerous people are just hanging out. The dangerous people have no home—no home in the suburbs.
Married with Children as Not the Cosbys. Polyester. Closed for repairs.
We do not want to be dangerous people—is that the point of A Raisin in the Sun?
Not Kathleen Turner as a neighbor. Archie Bunker.
Trying a game show stint—a slight name change, off to Europe.
City government. A committee, a behind-the-scenes something. In the usual historical sense, the city is the polis, the body politic. But what happens when the city is but a ghost town? Everybody—meaning everybody that counts—goes home, and home is in the suburbs. When people no longer dwell in their polis? Who then governs? Even in the
suburbs, the polis once had a center called Main Street. But Main Street gave way to the intersection, the mall. Where is the place of government? Is it as invisible as home ownership? The 1950s chronicled by David Halberstam.
Winslow Homer/Homer Winslow. Mr. Winslow on Family Matters. Homer.
The Beastie Boys/Baudrillard.
What about those who have returned to the city for entertainment? Vacation—in the near vicinity, Bedford Falls. But it does not all go to pot. Yet in It’s a Wonderful Life is not the point that the city without the suburbs—i.e., home ownership—turns librarians to prostitutes?
Christie Brinkley keeps smiling, and Clark Griswald fumbles all over himself.
Beverly D’Angelo plays a Doris Day re-do. Russ with a prostitute. Divine intervention. Parents. Children.
Having held a BB gun on a Wally World security guard, Clark Griswald has an explanation for his crime. The Golden Rule—we came all the way to Wally World only to find it closed. We suffered death, threat of prosecution, near financial ruin. Mr. Wally, we are not dangerous people; we only wanted to ride your rides.
"These people are terrorists"
"Would you do what I have done, Mr. Wally?"
The answer is no.
The dinner prayer: Play ball!
The Other, a Sister
He had a sister, him, this man in a bed watching the shadows blacken like catfish in jamaican sun.
And in eyesight mostly going blind, his chest unbreathing in unbreath, he watched that sister fall and trip up his stairs, stumbling in vacant unease. But here she was, the only one left, so that he felt dizzy and harsh. Her, his sister, trampling trudging through the gray outside and the wind or the lack of wind, either way in the sunset, sitting in a chair next to this Other, closer to the dusk.
This until the double of his vision was a sister covered in butterflies and an Other shaded in darkness and multitudes. Monarch skin and she sat watching him, her hands palms to knees, her mouth a thin stretch of unmoving. Unweeping. The butterfly wings flickering and stained, light wavering. And when they calmed and rested they were hands held in prayer, a vigil or a destination, for him and his unbreathing chest, a dying man and his sister’s whispery wings.
And underneath it the noise of the Other, streaming through. The quiet humming silence that the Other projected, protects, filtering it through him and his sister. Sitting near her, leaning into her, inhaling the scent of still living. This Other, wanting something else. This Other, waiting on his sister. This man in the dying bed, this man crying without tears, holding onto the disconnect, fingers on a bloodline string.
Her, his sister, moving away and back down the stairs, like a fish straightening down the river.
Dream Where I Was a Blackbird
before this there was fire and
something burned out of me
then rising from the ashes
my arms beating the air
I started soaring over rooftops
pulling in patterns the shingles
made with my sharpened eyes
before flying high above the trees
feeling the same way I always did
like I was inside my old body
but in my mind I knew and
when I opened my mouth
wanting to speak
the sound emerging made the people
turn their heads to look
hands help up before them
shielding their eyes from
the burning rays of the sun
Marc Jacobs in Reverie on How Timing is Everything
as when he breathed in all of New York City at that very moment heroin chic billowed and lurched through all the blocks south of 14th Street--
wheeling like an errant Macy's float--
a float knocking down pregnant mothers and formerly good teens while slamming lawyers hard against lampposts--
and he and his shame would walk to the corner of Second and Fourth--
back when Second and Fourth was a real place with real desperation--
back when Second and Fourth was not the Thomas Kinkade painter of light desperation that can be bought by those mall walkers, walking all over the Mall of America--
which now walks and lurches all over Manhattan--
My mother called me up the morning after I vomited at my cousin Maggie's wedding to explain to me why I couldn't get a man: I had no compassion, never thought about anyone besides myself.
I didn't think she was using the word right and went into the living room for the dictionary, causing the phone to static and her to hang up.
The C section was missing. I went to the library, straight to the OED. I sat down back of the reference section next to a sleep-eyed boy whose blond hair swooped along his ears' tops like the splintering bristles of miniature brooms. He was reading anime porn swathed in Details.
Matt lived at home, said he was scared of the dark, scared of McDonald's and stacks of dollar bills. I spat into his sweet corn hair, called him Matty in bed like a girl. I made him sneak in his bare feet over the hard wood's creaks to show me snapshots, narrate his childhood spent tucked into the cradle of his mother's arm.
I told my mother I thought about Matt, who wasn't myself, considered myself cured. She said I wasn't thinking of Matt but the red-haired girl. Another story of the blonde girl and the red haired. I stopped the story short, supplied the moral myself: the blonde girl thought of what other people needed from her; the red haired, what she needed from them. It wasn't the same.
I'd call Matt up at his mother's at two, three, tell him I couldn't sleep for thinking about him fucking me. His mother answered two weeks in, forbade me to see him. I wouldn't even wait for him to speak—just start: You're on top of me, behind me, I'm on top of you.
I thought about Matt's mealy hands, his grainy small smiles squirreled in uneven stacks next to the TV, waited cattycorner his house for his mother to back her bright white station wagon into the cul-de-sac. I cut the lights, asked him who he was thinking about.
He wasn't listening. He was listening for the sounds of his mother's tires sliding asphalt to gravel.
My mother called me to tell me to call my aunt Maria, whose husband had left her for a petite brunette named a flower.
She called back to call me unempathetic.
I went to the ice cream parlor, feeling sorry for cows, and bought myself a sugar cone with laundry quarters. I slipped on a dripping I'd missed with my tongue, grabbed the thigh of a scrawny pale boy with a white mark under his eye on my way down.
Mark helped me off the floor, told me how his mother used to beat him, how he watched cartoons and political roundtables with the sound down, how he hadn't been touched since the car accident that killed his mother.
He'd had his own place since he was sixteen, wide blank air-conditioned rooms. Naked, I demanded he hit me. I wanted to be bruised, fucked up, but he'd just lie on his stomach on his bed and whimper. I had to do everything.
I told my mother people wouldn't show me what their lives were like. She said everyone's lives were the same: the blonde remembers her experiences and understands others feel those same emotions in similar situations; the red-haired girl doesn't think anyone has feelings like her. She's always the only one.
I asked Mark to get in his grey hatchback and drive me to his mother to see what she thought. She lived fifty freeway miles south, in the dank vermicular grub. Mark rubbed his fingers over the marble, his scooped-out last name, cried with his hands in his ears.
But she didn't talk, and I didn't either.
My mother called me to tell me her neighbor needed to borrow the pearls her mother had given me for a second wedding. I said I was wearing them to an international art film. She said I didn't trust anyone or anything.
I went to the bank to deposit my grandmother's weekly grocery check, left my purse on the island counter right next to the tallest boy in the room.
Luke caught up to me in line, caught my arm, pulled me halfway to his chest. The pink straw of my bag was biting into his palm.
I told him I could buy us food so he stopped by the gas station on the way back to his place. He ran in to buy us hotdogs already in the buns and milk thick with the scent of bananas. He brought back my change, pressed the cold coins into the cup of my hand hard.
His place was decorated up like he wanted to be able to call it a pad, posters under glass, twisted-up lamps, his mother's silver-framed photo on the mantle that hung from an un-fireplaced wall. As soon as I pushed him down onto his bean bag, he screamed out he loved me.
I told my mother people couldn't be trusted, that they lied to get what they wanted. She said people do what they do and believe what they believe for a reason. I told her we were agreeing with each other: the blonde and the red haired into a morally ambiguous strawberry. She disagreed.
While I was pushing down on his wrists with concentration and my whole weight, Luke announced he was looking for a plain life, the kind that came with a plain brown-haired girl and an unspecified brown-haired dog, was going to start attending non-denominational church on a semi-regular basis.
I bought a can of blue hair spray. It made my hair match the hair of his mother on the mantle.
My mother called me up just to say I didn't get it, didn't want to be happy.
I told her I didn't.
I went downstairs to gather my mail from its little tin home. A pierced boy, barely closer to six feet than five, came closer down the street, kicking the front and rear right tires of every car pulled to the curb.
He told me he never listened to his mother, never flossed or opened greeting cards. My hand slicked, the Cosmo my mother had gift-subscribed me slipping in a rush onto my bare feet. I knocked it off one foot with the other, stepped over it, and pulled John into my blue backseat.
His twin bed swam with socks and sour t-shirts, stank. When the phone rang, he didn't answer it.
I told my mother I wasn't listening to any more stories. She said the stories rang true.
John didn't vacuum either, rocks and knock-off cereal o's and origamied business cards nipping, nibbling my feet. He held my hands above my head, held my elbows, hips, knees. I held my hand over his mouth, pinched his nose when he snored. He kicked me in his sleep, oblivious to the tight meow of the phone ringing and kicking in the other room.
And this is the story I told my mother: I don't want to be happy.
This is a mart of Saturday
mart to buy roots and roots
that appear to be skinned eye-less fishes
white cold and naked.
And some betel-leaves.
And some asters.
Leg askance on leg
foot-fingers hooked to foot-fingers
toe to toe
let us eat our ice-cream
or strike a bharat-natyam pose
with knee up
and scoops of pudding in our hands.