Monday, March 19, 2007

an american pastime (pastoral?)

Dream world: An Americana class (lit & song) taught by Don DeLillo and Tom Waits, the latter at a piano, the prior at a podium. The auditorium packed with students, and I’m stuck with a broken seat, warned of its danger by my childhood nemesis, sitting beside it. "Thanks," I whisper, and perch on the floor. The lecture is amazing.

Real world, precipitating events: Falling asleep reading DeLillo, thinking about how he weaves reality into Underworld; it’s not exactly deft, that’s just the word that pairs with weave. To expand, it’s well done, but almost a cheap trick, the way the drama pulls us along not because we wonder what will happen, but because we know. The Giants will win the pennant, and the world will explode with joy and wonder and defeat, all at once. A little boy will steal a baseball, and a bomb will drop.

He wrote (all this, in 1997) about the building of the World Trade Center, the way the towers felt joined and inevitable, about a plane flying past. It’s in these scarce and scattered moments that the trick is revealed, all the more because he was unaware of it. They read as something more final, more important, more clearly implicating all of us in their collapse, than they could possibly have felt or been at the time.

TV world, an aside: I don’t follow baseball, and I never would have read the opening pages of this book this way were it not for Aaron Sorkin’s Sports Night.

Friday, March 16, 2007

research methods

I wrote briefly about Baudrillard being consumed and recreated by his own image, but someone else did it much, much better.

See here:

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

twenty three

We had a 23 hour day this week, and I can't even use that as an excuse. The thing is, I'm just not used to this. This little experiment is lending me great respect for some bloggers I already admired, the ones who create multiple posts per day, each post not just smart and insightful, but also lengthy.

Part of the problem is that I do most of my writing during the only time of day when I can't actually count it as writing, can't record it into any medium at all, the only time when both my hands are too busy to even activate a strategic tape recorder: during my daily commute. As I drive, the words move around in my head, shaping sentences, lines, and ideas that rarely ever make it to screen or paper. I'm not distracted, and I'm not engaged with anybody else's words; there's not even anyone else to talk to, so I have to work. I have to write.

I've never had a job that didn't require a significant commute, and suddenly that seems like a good thing.

Friday, March 9, 2007


A few days late, but maybe worth writing anyway; Baudrillard no longer exists. He is dead, and can no longer represent himself. His works survive, but are outnumbered by the many readings and misreadings of them, along with obituaries that stridently name-check popular films while ignoring the works themselves.

Heartbreaking, yes, but it's hard not to get the sense that he would take some certain satisfaction in the inevitable fact of his identity being subsumed to an image created by information overload, by the sheer volume of words produced by reporters and professors and even by audience-less bloggers such as myself.

Monday, March 5, 2007


It doesn't even seem possible, let alone probable. A new library is opening, but it may remain open less than six weeks. Others will close with a little less fanfare, but no less heartbreak. There's no money to keep them running.

Oh, Oregon; whatever shall we do?

Friday, March 2, 2007

one song

A white wall, two sky-blue figures, and some interesting (if oddly-laid out) copy: We are one song. The figures were holding hands, and the letters skittered across the side of the building, with strange spacing and lots of emptiness between them. Clearly, it was an ad for something, but it wasn't clear what it was for. I puzzled over it, then gradually let it fade into the scenery. When you drive by something every morning, it loses its mystery pretty quickly.

Then it changed. More figures appeared, along with a logo and more letters that filled in some of those large white spaces. We are connected and strong. Another week went by, and when I looked up this morning, the sentence had filled out even more: We are all connected and millions strong.

It's an ad for a local hospital (and yes, the colors should give away which one), and I like it. It's simple and clever, and it takes advantage of the way we tend to ignore the static highway-side scenery while we commute. That said, the sentiment seems more appropriate for arguing against privatized health care than for it; we need a more inclusive system so that this ad's message can ring true, so that we can all be connected and strong, so that healthcare is no longer a luxury limited to the lucky few.