Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Not actually an enemy of the people, but my own personal enemy. One of this person's stated goals in life is my downfall. They are not (in my opinion) a nice person, someone you do not take home to meet the mum and dad. This person is adroit at creating problems for me that would make the Riemann's hypothesis look like a breeze. Entangling alliances are this person's meat and drink. They (it could be a he, it could be a she, it could be a dog) are a right honour less bastard. Everyday since we became sworn enemies (we had a little ceremony with a high tea afterwards, it was very nice wish you had been there) oh so many years ago, this person has caused be untold (at least until now) amounts of grief. Every half way decent plan I manage to come up with, this person is there to foil. They are like Boris and Natasha from Rocky and Bullwinkle except that they are remarkably competent. So maybe I am more like Boris and they are Rocky. Damn and blast all my plans turning to dust gets old after a while. I really have to wonder at this person's ability for and stamina at causing my ruin on a daily basis. They are amazing, better than a magic act. Making the Statue of Liberty disappear would be child's play for this person, if, of course, they were not so focused at bringing about my ruination. The problems this person creates can not be solved by listening to some Dave Ramsey seminar, they are profound problems that are going to take a crane, and a construction crew several days to sort out. I am certainly incapable of keeping up with the pace. I am always about three problems behind, and those I can only half way sort out before the next calamity strikes. It is like a train wreck in a tornado that a plane lands on top of in the middle of an earthquake. Just too many things are going batty at the same time. It is more than I can bear. I am of too delicate of a constitution for all of these cluster fucks. I wish that an apology, where I a big enough person to offer one, could solve this grudge, but it can not. No amount of "I'm sorries," is going to make this person into anything but what they are already. I know not to implore them for mercy, not to beg them for forgiveness, and not to appeal to their softer side. They do not have a softer side, and truth be told, I prefer it that way. If you are going to have an enemy, not that I recommend it, you might as well have a dedicated one. After all, you have to appreciate this person's dedication to their art, even while your wheat fields are burning merrily away. They are like the love child of Genghis Khan and Ming the Merciless, not a pleasant person that you would invite over for you weekly games of canasta. Though I am not quite powerless before this disaster laden juggernaut, I do not have much more than a cardboard sword and shield with which to "keep it close, so that it is not such a blowout." This is the depressing part of it all, knowing I do not stand much of a chance, but being tossed in there anyway because I at least have to give it a shot. Who knows maybe the person will laugh at my misery so hard that they choke to death. Here's hoping.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
I have mentioned this author before, and I can not recommend him enough. He is Sandor Marai, and he is fan-fucking-tastic. Reading him is a lesson in humiliation. Even in translation (he wrote in Hungarian, and mine is a bit rusty), he makes sentences that make you want to cry. He weaves a paragraph like a magic spell, and lures you into his world, the Hungary of the 1930's, 40's, and early 50's with astounding ease. I generally read very quickly, and I read a lot. I just read about three pages of his "latest" book; THE REBELS, and had to put it down because it is so good I don't want to finish it. Also, reading it has "inspired" this blog post. I have not read enough of the book yet to get a good sense of the story, but right now I do not care. It is not the story, but the way he recounts everyday things like a conversation between a cobbler and a new graduated military cadet. It is sickeningly good. It is so good that you forget to breathe. It is better than chocolate coated sex with Nicole Kidman. Not that I would know mind you, and I might be exaggerating a bit. You could not give this book to young, aspiring writers, it would make them give up in despair, and become ditch diggers. It is truly a work of art. It makes me want to delete everything I have ever written, and hid my head in shame. I have been told I write well by a few people whose opinion I trust, and grudgingly I took that compliment as a sign of progress in my intellectual development. Maybe, just maybe, I do write fairly well, and am not churning out complete mindless drivel after all, but reading Marai is like a kick in the crotch. On my best days with the help of a hundred editors, and Shakespeare himself I could not write something half as good. It is a lesson in humility, and a painful one at that. It is amazing how he takes something as simple as words, and turns them into something transcendent. It is almost scary when you read it. It is like he says to his reader "here is my genius, here is my soul, here is my art, enjoy it you unworthy bastards." I feel like I am in an art class, and I have just drawn a pretty acceptable stick figure complete with stick pet, and stick children, and the bastard next to me just did the Mona Lisa. How, for fuck's sake, am I ever going to compete with that? Of course the truth is I can not, and I would be a fool to try. After all, a man has got to know his limitations. Just like I am not going to challenge Michael Jordan to a slam dunk contest, or take on Albert Pujols in a home run derby. I might as well learn to fly while I am at it, I will have just as much luck with that as I would with trying to write like this guy. I highly recommend staggering to the nearest bookstore, or library and finding everything this guy has ever written that has been translated. He almost makes me want to learn Hungarian because most of his stuff has not been translated, and the wait is painful. I guess I should thank the dead bastard for showing me that progress or not, I am not worthy of holding his pen. That is a hard lesson to take, and sure a lot of authors give me the same feeling. However, there are a lot of books that you read, and have to think "how in the blue fuck did that dross get published." That will not be the case with Marai, you will more likely think like I do "how in the blue fuck can I ever write again without feeling like a midget standing next to the Jolly Green Giant?"
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
I am a trained professional. Not particularly in the job I am presently holding down, but in other things. Perhaps one thing in particular. I am no Thierry Henry by any stretch of the imagination, but I am able to hold my own amongst other similarly professionals. Sometimes I even manage to be the last one standing. Sometimes not so much. The problem is that I expect a lot of others, and sometimes that leads to misunderstandings. My theory is that if I can do it, it can't be that difficult, and others should be able to do it as well. I guess that is unfair to both myself, and to the other people. I should probably realize that maybe I do have a modicum of talent that other people do not possess, and not expect so much from other people. That is a huge problem of mine. I have extremely high standards for certain things, and do not tolerate it well when people do not meet them. The hypocrisy of it all is that I seriously doubt that I would be able to meet my own standards. The nerve of me! How dare I set the bar so high (for other people) that I myself would not be able to clear it. It is not a pretty part of my overall makeup, and I am far from proud of it. However, it seems that I am unable to stop myself from doing it. I suppose that admitting you have a problem is the first step, but this is a deep rooted issue that I do not expect to conquer quickly. The sad part is that I have latterly been exposed to other, better trained, professionals in this particular field. It is not like I am the top of the pyramid. However, I hope that I did not turn in a performance that humiliated myself too much, and that is the problem I have. I expect a level of semi-competence, and when the other person does clear the first hurdle, I have little sympathy. The disappointment I feel is palpable, and I do not attempt to hide it. I am not especially good at verbalizing it, but it is like the 900 pound gorilla in the room, everyone knows it is there. I still have the occasional "off night" myself, but I try to limit the damage as much as possible by isolating myself as quickly as possible. Certainly no one, myself included, is prefect, but I try not to expect perfection. Just do what you are trained to do, what you say you can do, what people expect you do, and everything should be fine. No drama, no crying like a school girl, and no obviously stupid moves. Any "talent" that I posses can be attributed to the fact that I had some excellent teachers, and I paid attention to them when they taught. I was far from the star pupil, but I was at least able to learn enough to hold my own. I have no students, and I offer no teachings on how to "be like Mike." I just want a similar performance from other people to match my own. On the other hand, if I do detect that you are about to go off the rails as it were, and I offer my advice or opinion on how to steady the ship, please do not ignore my advice. That will just make me angry and sad. We all go around the twist from time to time, but for pity's sake if someone is tossing you a life jacket, or offering you advice on how to keep from sinking take it. Clearly, this is an issue that I have had in the past, and does not appear to be sorting itself out soon. However, perhaps this little post has helped put some perspective on the problem, and shone a little light on my own contribution to these train wrecks. Maybe next time every one will have those Windsor knots tied properly, and everything will come off perfectly.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
"Gads this is so boring." That was the message flashing across my screen, as a certain pal of mine expressed their feeling about whatever activity they were doing at the time. This led me to thinking about how much of our lives is boring. How many times a day do you say "God, I am bored?" or "this is so dull." Maybe if you are fucking supermodels on a pile of money the thought never enters your head (either one). Or maybe you do not stop to think about it because your day is so full of excitement that you never get bored. I suspect that for large amount of people boredom does creep into this petty pace from day to day. Then what happens? Do you rush out and play in traffic for the adrenaline rush?, or do you just struggle to stay awake for the rest of the work day until you can go home and snore away the afternoon good and proper? Then ponder how much time you actually waste on any given day. The argument can be made that right now as I am typing this I am wasting time. If not mine then someone else's. Maybe someone will waste their time reading it as well. A school of thought exists that says that only immature minds get bored. I am certainly guilty of having an immature almost childish mind. So perhaps that is my problem. In theory I should be able to engage my mind in some activity (perhaps even do some actual work) that would fight off the boredom monster. All this time wasting can not be good for you. We only have a certain amount of time on this mortal coil, and wasting it seems to rise to a criminal level. I have been reminded of this in the last day by the death of a colleague of mine. Fuck that he was more than a colleague he was a friend. He was bulletproof, or so I thought, and when he got sick (leukemia) most of us thought he would pull through. Sadly, he did not, and he was only about 11 years older than I am. I am fairly certain that if you totaled it all up I may have wasted, or been bitching about being bored for 11 years of my life. That is also sad. I wish I could say that I have been inspired by his passing into a Carpe Diem! attitude. However, that is probably not so either. I am so hungover from toasting his life for about eight hours last night that I feel like death eating a cracker. I did not know him well enough to know how much of his life he may have felt he wasted, or if he ever got bored, but as the group of his friends of which I am proud to be a member struggle with our grief, and mourn him, I would think that he got the most out of his time on the planet. Being bored, or pissing away my time now seems just a bit more senseless. Days go by, and life (for some of us) drags on, but time seems just a bit more important. Of course he would not be impressed by this maudlin moment I am having, and would tell me to get my head out of my ass, and do some work for a fucking change, and he would be right. One of his closest friends put it best in stating that "he would have said something like this." "I got leukemia, it is a deadly fucking disease, and I died." "What is so hard to understand about that?" Certainly not hard to understand, but one motherfucker of a concept to deal with. I suppose in some respects I should thank him because he has solved one problem for me at least for now. Grief is anything but fucking boring.
Monday, April 13, 2009
Hemingway wrote a story titled "Hills like White Elephants" in which a man and a woman have a discussion about one thing, but are really talking about something completely different. White Elephants have had a bit of a bum rap since then. All sorts of images are used in the story, and the hills along side the Ebro river (where the story takes place), are used as a metaphor. They could be interpreted to stand for a woman's breasts, or a woman's extended belly during pregnancy. In the story the woman is pregnant, and the man is trying to talk her into getting an abortion. Children are the white elephants in question, and the man wants nothing to do with having one. Of course not a whole lot of this is made particularly clear in the text, some knuckle head of a critic had to sort all the deep meaning out for us great unwashed. Sylvia Plath wrote a poem in which she compared herself to a house, it was also about being pregnant. Once again not obvious from the text. This led me to thinking about literary critics, and their place in the world. What if just for shit and giggles, good, old Ernest did merely stop at that train station by the Ebro one day, and think "damn those hills look like white elephants." Nothing else, just a story about some hills that remind me of white elephants, and I will place them in some vapid story about abortion just to see if I can "work them in." I have experienced this a couple of times in my own "writings." Some of my more intelligent, or less drunk readers sometimes ask me about a blog post, and credit me with far too much metaphoric ability. Sometimes a blanket is just merely a blanket, nothing else. No deep philosophical meaning, no great analogy meaning I had a cold, and distant mother during my childhood, and just want to be held. It would be a great larf if Faulkner, Poe, or Flaubert somewhere in literary heaven or hell, are sitting around laughing themselves stupid about how their stories are being used to mean something entirely different from what they themselves meant when they wrote it. What if "The Fall of the House of Usher" was about some poor carpentry that Poe had to endure, and pay for while building an outhouse? Here we are generation up generation of students who have had all this "deep meaning" crap shoved down our throat, when it is possible that some of these stories mean nothing more than what they appear to mean on the surface. All those pretentious bastards who sip Merlot, and disclaim about how Hawthorne symbolises Yankee ingenuity would be shocked out of their Ann Taylor knickers. Of course an alternative theory is that the critics got it exactly wrong. Perhaps all this time white elephants stood for man's inhumanity to man, and the operation mentioned in the story was to have her tonsils removed. That would be a laugh riot as well. The author in all his earnestness meaning one specific thing, and it getting misinterpreted to mean something entirely different. What a sad fate for any author. To be forever identified with one idea when what you really meant was the exact opposite. Like being shot out of a cannon, and realizing that some goofy bastard forgot to set up the safety net. Of course this takes the piss out of all of our icons. Can we really live with the idea that Ernest was just taking the piss out of us by writing about hills? Nah, let's not knock them off the pedestal that we have carefully placed them upon. Better to put the gloss we need on them, than to know that perhaps like Anais Nin they were writing porn for a dollar a page because they just fucking needed the money.
Wednesday, April 08, 2009
Anger is the one thing that I seem to have an abundance of. Ask people who know me, and they will tell you that I seem to have an anger grudge against large portions of the world at large. I wish I could say that was not true, but it is. I have enough anger to make the 12 Angry Men seem like kittens playing with a ball of yarn. Generally speaking my anger is over with quickly. I finally get enough of it built up inside of me, and I blow it off. Quickly, suddenly, and with any real damage done. Screaming a few curse words is quite cathartic, and good for the bowels. In fact, I am rather angry right now. The keyboard is replacing the throat of the person(s) I am at which I am angry. Rather to type it out than to wring their neck(s) like a chicken. Maybe this way only feelings get hurt. Not that I am overly concerned about too many people's feelings, my own included. Hopefully, this beer, and perhaps the next two will calm the anger I feel welling up in my heart like an ink stain spreading out over paper. If not, well then I guess I will have to finish the six pack, and hope for the best. In spite of published reports I have no problem managing my anger, and directing my anger can be quite productive. There exists a theory that if you make me particularly mad, you get the best out of me. I can not really deny that either. At times, my anger has been the driving force behind some of my best ideas/work. Sad, but true, it sometimes take getting me pissed off in order to get a reaction out of me. Not something to be overly proud of, but there it is. My anger is not the anger of injustice. No one has been so evil to me that I feel as if I have been hard done by. I am not a victim of some massive conspiracy to keep me "down," and in my place. It is just that I do not suffer fools. I used to say that I did not suffer fools gladly, but as I get older I am beginning to think that I should leave off the gladly part entirely. My anger is not that type of anger. Mine is the slow burn type of anger that is set off by people doing things I consider exceptionally stupid or annoying. It is a subjective kind of anger, and it does smack of "who the hell made you the god of deciding stupid or annoying." Well, in this case, I did. After all, it is my anger I am talking about, and I think I should be the one deciding when to let it loose. Generally it blows over like a summer rainstorm, but every once in a great while it festers like an infected wound. Luckily for me, it does not turn to hate. I have found that hating someone/thing generally only is bad for the person doing the hating. It is much better for the soul to let the anger out, and try to direct it as well as possible. Notice I said generally there are people/things, besides Tottenham, that make my eyes narrow, and my blood pressure rise. They are few and far between, but they do exist. There are grudges that I bear, and no real amount of deep breathing will help. These grudges are like a warm, familiar blanket that I can rely on for warmth, and wrap myself in on cold days. In fact, I do not want to lose, or manage my anger. Some days it is the only thing that keeps me from falling into despair. My anger is not to be confused with rage. It is an entirely different animal. Sort of like the difference between having an affair with a married person, and just fucking them. More subtle, more complex, and in some respects, more dangerous. Rage is like morning dew, a few hours of sunshine and lollipops will make it all go away. Anger is like permafrost. The sun may come out, the birds may be singing, and spring may have sprung, but anger is still there grimly holding on to whatever niche it can. My anger is easily misinterpreted, do not mistake it for caring. I am a proud, card carrying, misanthrope (see MSS below) and, do not confuse my anger for me actually caring about the human race. It is quite easy to be angry at someone/thing and, still not be overly concerned if that person/thing exists. The sheer number of people and things in the universe assure that if I am not angry at you/it, there are innumerable other people/things to raise my ire. Some misguided souls actually think it is fun to get my anger stirred up. They consider it some sort of (blood) sport, a bit like bear baiting. It is not a particularly good idea. I am not some "bad man" whom you should not dare to fuck with, but I do not forget things like that. Have your fun now, but rest assured someday, somewhere, and somehow my revenge will be shoved, none too politely down your throat. This is not a threat, it is not posturing, and it is not said with any evil intent. It is merely a fact, part and parcel of who I am as a person. Perhaps it is not the most pleasant personality trait, nor do I wear it like a badge of honour, but there it is.