now I am famished for peace
now I watch a 90 year old movie to
witness dead people talking singing
riding horses samsara
I’ve been walking the border of sleep to find you
dreaming around the circumference of
a hole in the ground
the bravest thing sometimes is
how the morning is greeted
fight for the money or
fight for the soul the saying goes
but another goal is to
fight for neither
Titles are below; you can read the list, complete with McCaffery’s brief thoughts on each, at LitLine (excerpting from American Book Review, Volume 20, Issue 6, September/October 1999).
1. Pale Fire, Vladimir Nabokov, 1962.
2. Ulysses, James Joyce, 1922.
3. Gravity’s Rainbow, Thomas Pynchon, 1973.
4. The Public Burning, Robert Coover, 1977.
5. The Sound and the Fury, William Faulkner, 1929.
6. Trilogy (Molloy , Malone Dies , The Unnamable ), Samuel Beckett.
7. The Making of Americans, Gertrude Stein, 1925.
8. Nova Trilogy (The Soft Machine , Nova Express , The Ticket that Exploded, ), William S. Burroughs.
9. Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov, 1955.
10. Finnegans Wake, James Joyce, 1941.
11. Take It or Leave It, Raymond Federman, 1975.
12. Beloved, Toni Morrison, 1986.
13. Going Native, Stephen Wright, 1994. READ MORE >
Sometimes in my dreams I am blessed with the true-length arms of a man, and I am proud of my arms, and sun shines upon them. I’m also usually younger. My face is taut, my teeth well lined, my hair is black as ever it was, and there is fidget in my step, because I am youth with potential. There is no ache in my hips. No murders replay in imagination.
When I’m awake I catch a smell, and there’s a throat slit in mental vision. A gut split. My blade through a spine. The first kill was in self-defense. A young friend of Welder’s taunted me toward duel. He gaped at my arms. Hollered guttural things. Kicked dirt in my face. Drew his sword.
“You’re hideous,” he said “And now I’ll disappear you.”
I might have had my sword two years then. I had taken it into a thicket of mesquite in the park near the river, and I had practiced chipping at branches, slashing low limbs free from the trees, but I had never had anything come at me in turn. My father used to work with Welder on how a sword should be held, on how an enemy should be approached. They had names for the moves they made. One thing was called an appel. It wasn’t a move with a sword. They’d mash a foot on the ground to distract their opponents. In theory the opponents would hear the noise and their attention would draw away from the next move, and then they might lunge, holding their swords out and level with their shoulders, just shy of arm fully extended, and take a wide stride at their opponent, essentially stepping into a stab.
So much of how they fought was with their legs, but I didn’t care for their style. You have to stay loose on your feet, in my opinion. Less postured. Ready to move in all directions. There was so much rigidity in their methods. Or, maybe I’m lazy. I didn’t want to take the time to learn. I think, for a while, I just assumed that only the proud cared to get good at it. I was so angry at my arms and the world, my father, brother, and mother, that I sort of hoped to be bad. Perhaps someone would take offense at me and make me nothing—a sack of skin with bones and blood in it, less blood than needed, and no air in its lungs. But, somehow, I thrived. And when Welder’s friend drew his sword and stood stern postured with his blade at me and his face smart with rage, I heard his foot mash the floor, drew my short sword, stepped back, brushed his blade aside as he lunged, and drove my sword twice into his face. It split open in both spots, and blood covered his white skin in gushes, blood near black, and his eyes widened as he dropped to his knees, grabbed his face and began flailing. I hadn’t thought of them while it happened, but he had friends with him. I can’t remember how many, but they looked scared of me when they saw I’d bested their friend, and they didn’t know if they could go to him, to hold him as he bled out, but when I sheathed my sword, he fell face down, and one of them picked him up, turned him over, and laid him on his lap, telling him lies as he died. I think the boy was seventeen. He’s probably my favorite kill.
But in my dreams those moments often cease to be. There is music gently somewhere. Perhaps there is a party. It’s for me, and there is cake. Light, soft as lullabies, bleeds in from a window. Balloons hover. Candles are lit. People sing my name. I hold my arms above me. There is a ceiling, but my hands are far from it. There’s my mother, but her breath is just plain sweet, not Sweet- Jane sweet, and she holds me to her. Maybe she says, “You make your mother and father proud,” and maybe my father says, “You’re my favorite son,” and Welder says, “I wish I looked as much like Dad as you do,” and then perhaps Edie, the young Edie, the Edie of the first time ever I saw her, dances toward me shyly with her hands held behind her. “I brought you a present,” she tells me, “I picked it out special.” And she produces a small box, wrapped in paper with a bow, “I’ll open it later,” I tell her, “Right now we should dance.” And then the rest of them will disappear, the way dreamt things often do, and we’d be in a small space all our own, nobody in sight of us, and we’d hold each other and move with a music that would speak to our souls, and in unison, and with grace. We’d be together.
Dear stunning axe, the sad Alexander, the scores
of life, the life that will probably be, the life
of the biggest thoughts, to have found the pizza
faultless, to have noted, in the mountains, the fitting
thing about being in the mountains, that you feel
upheld, the 99th part of 100, only lonely in the house,
on the street, through the turnstiles, in the stadium,
the held beer and the beer that is in the cup holder,
the I am thinking about the suits of the travelers,
prodigious coffee, enraptured pop, the guitars
that sound like bubbles and the ones that sound
like lasers, the I have met trees, two or three
times, that made me cry, sad about injustice, sad
about environment, by all means, gravely, with great
concern, without being flip, the I am trying to be
honorable, to be all right again, to overlook
when I am at an overlook and at no other time,
the I have accepted it, I of the friendlier memories,
I of the best love to your mother, I met her, she
liked me, the young man, the polite, the I am writing
that there may be a pencil rubbing, some borders
to the epoch, the foghorn I heard, the breakfast,
the here I am, hours early, as always, mid-winter,
pelagic, the tyrannosaurus of popularity, the burgeoning
truth arrived at upon further consideration, a diamond
cutting the blank, blank, blank, much as we might
choose to skip over it, the part of life that is bracketed
off, sorry how sudden, sorry and sorrier, quiet
to greet you, quiet as an airport when life is over.
One thing I can recommend without even needing a kickback is coconut milk ice cream. It’s pretty easy to make on your own, it’s good if you don’t eat dairy for whyever, some companies that make it have hilarious videos of their hippie-ass founders on their websites, and one time on the phone with Comcast I actually bonded with the person from Comcast over it, over coconut milk ice cream. Another thing I can recommend is Coconut #15, the newest issue of an online poetry magazine, which is back after a hiatus. Way back in 2005, I used to get Coconut mixed up with Shampoo, so now you know whether you would ever want to take a shower with me.
I don’t get Coconut #15 mixed up with anything, which is because the old old old universe is shaped like a saddle. And also because my love for you is not a coin operated washer/drier or that type of orgasm (Spectateur, -trice, n) that watches you, as if from above. Instead I am a vibration as hard as a living creature, and I am always on the lookout for officers of light. Instead I keep finding ”history” in mornings and quotation marks. The prisoners keep hitchhiking and waving soap box guns. You keep puking in your mother’s mouth, which doesn’t help Dorothea any, because she already expects all the witches. Galaxy-sheep can count every time they’ve cried in a hole in the wall piano bar. They know they don’t need to count anything to know that everyone’s a hero or fooled you. Imagine sleeping in a canoe or as a toy whale in a gutter. Now imagine everybody as a feather on a child with a bird’s head. If that feels annoying, let your eyes wander to water. Try to understand those kids who hide in abandoned refrigerators and want shoulder blades to replace knives. If you are lucky you’ll be able to see the turnip fields from here, glowing and torpedoed from the rain. You’ll see yourself downing your fourth energy drink and hating how not tired you are. People who play video games don’t sleep. People who don’t sleep watch commercials. Don’t comfort it out in the middle there. We will absorb these rules like a saltbath. We check out the list of demands and it’s filled with things we like but never used to like. In what you once famously referred to as my earlier, bullshit life, the clock on the bed and the white horse sad as the island both failed to tell me what time it is because time is a mirror made wrong. How many times have you wandered beneath the dark only to emerge into darker? I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my cloud to understand anything. You tell yourself your bones are too fat to fly and a tree tells you otherwise. The tree tells you it was beautiful to hold boys who wanted to make girlfriends out of paper or stones, and the fiddlehead fern—with gunshots of light in the leaves?—it high-fives you in your face.
“I was thinking – to keep your left hand going – after I die – why not then – just pretend I’m still around…” — Excerpts from Dear Dawn: Wuornos in Her Own Words
On Thursday, we talked about Dear Dawn: Wuornos in Her Own Words, a collection of letters that Aileen Wuornos wrote from prison to her childhood friend Dawn Botskins. As a follow up to that post, which includes a conversation between editors Lisa Kester and Daphne Gottlieb, we’d like to show you some of the letters in the book. Our selection spans from the early 90s to the early 00s. Enjoy.
“Can you remember time!” Do you remember the fight me an greasy haired Penny Dole and I had at the front steps of troy Union Grade School . . . Do you remember when Lori, + Ducky got in that car accident . . . Do you remember a guy with real long jet black hair. Named “Black sheep” at the high school.? Well one day. Him and I went under neath a stair well near the new section they built that had swinging doors that head outside. Once you hit the bottom of the steps. Well he had a 4 finger lid of “Acapolco Gold” . . . we went under there to roll a big one and smoke it there. We heard footsteps coming down. But we figured that was just another kid on his way out to somewheres. So we finished rolling it. And started to lite it. And Low and Behold. It was the Principle. He looked at us both and said “Report to my office now” . . . . . Black sheep. Gave me the lid. And he started up the stairs. I said to the Principle. Bullshit! I aint reportin now where. Matter of fact. I quit school. Right now. He said. Then you get off of these school grounds right now wuornos. And if I ever see you on them again Ill call the police. You understand. ha ha ha! I walked out the double doors with the pot. And that was the day I quit school. What was really strange was that the principle knew I wasn’t living at home. But in the woods. I guess he admired me, for having the guts to still go to school, as a runaway, and living in the woods near your house. A trip huh!
Well last page. Gotta close er up. Take Care Dawn . . . I’m still surviven. A little crazy but still comin through. 4-now Love Lee
November 18th, 2012 / 2:46 pm
Gleaming with the inconsequential, my constant interest in the literature of the obscure grows. Meanwhile, we all shrink and decay into our modern selves, over-popularing each other’s realities with endless nonsense records of our existence. People seem to disappear into websites. The litany of modern life. The digital record: always forgotten but never gone. The Internet is a hyper-intensification of my impulse to explore the absurdly irrelevant, the abjectly marginal. Everything on the internet just sticks around like a bar friend, drunk at a house party. A funny costume from the 90s and there hyperlinks you won’t touch. Sweaty skin under the light in the living room in a bad photo from the time before good digital cameras. 2.1 megapixels. The web content is profoundly un-useful. It fades into this extreme distance from relevance, but yet never totally decays. This is the asymptote of doom literature, the heating-up of total irralvence, in a context of viral-seeking buzzworthiness. The 0 views, 0 comments culture that I seek, very nearly condences on one particular commerce site.
My aunt’s backside. – Haymaking frolics. – Romance and sentiment. – My father dies. – A wet dream. – My letch for a little one. – Funking consequences. – Nelly consents. – Fred looks on. – A saucy valet. – Low-class fucksters. READ MORE >
November 12th, 2012 / 5:20 am
Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading this week is an excerpt from Sam Pink‘s forthcoming novel, Rontel, which is coming Valentine’s Day 2013 in print form from Lazy Fascist Press (kudos to Cameron Pierce!), as well as in a digital edition via Electric Literature. EL has also posted an animation of one of the sentences:
I found the excerpt hilarious and enjoyable and good. Sam is one of my favorite authors. I assume a lot of people who come to this site already love Sam Pink or suck, but if you don’t know him, he is a very clever author, darkly comic with some other thing going on.
Some excerpts from the excerpt:
Viva Sam Pink!
i’m a wolf, my criminal background says it all, fuck sheep. i eat them.
When I went to the warm hole there was no left up down right.
no need for ‘great longing’ when we are already the ocean we just need to remember.
what the fuck are you talking about srsly
thinking of turning my back porch into an “asian bath house” now…paper lanters bamboo curtains…candles lit…whos with me? lol :)
So he’s saying eat my body and live forever.
that buddha looks like my wife…
The Pleiadian star system is in fact our core essence, our ancestral home.
Is it wierd if I wack off to this ?
God is _________fill in the blank!!!!!
2012 marks the beginning of a global Golden Age of Peace and Oneness. Please check my channel for more.
so like crouching tiger hidden dragon sword fight to the death or some memoirs of a geisha type shit…
my true self is stillllll innocent…i think i am not and telll others I am anything but innocent but i realise now that i am in fact a child…
Satan is very happy with you
The ancient art of the annual report. A book written to ensure investors that their money is safe, that work is being done, profits cleared, America marches forward to the beating of motion of the Invisible Hand of capital. Whether you’re a non-profit, a .EDU, a religious organization, or a major bank, everything is smooth and calm between these pages baby. It’a all less relevant now of course – investors need daily information, not yearly. But there is still something very nice about the idea of an annual report. The plot is always the same, the characters are mild, their decreasing quality of life is the small repetitive tragedy. These are the stories that organizations want to believe about themselves. I believe them.
well) here’s looking at ourselves
two solids in(all
solution(of course you must shake well)
indolently dreaming puzzling
over that one
oh just thinking it over
(at that just supposing
we had met and just
but you know
supposing we READ MORE >
This is probably just me, but I keep misreading the title as, ‘The Sugar Frosted Nutshack.’ Feels like my brain is trying to auto-correct, ‘Sugar’ and, ‘Sack’ into, ‘Sugar Shack.’
Nutsack. READ MORE >
I remember the first time I thought a guy was hot. It was an ad in The Saturday Evening Post, a really American magazine and there he was, tall and blonde with his suit jacket slung over his shoulder like Sinatra and he was says into the camera Hey Mom and Dad can I have $20,000 for college. And that seemed like an enormous amount of money at that time and I knew my family wasn’t going to help me do anything like that – especially since I was considered dumb but I tore the page out of the post and stuck it on my wall. I figured it would appear to be about my absurd dreams of going to college but I knew it was about that guy. And my brother knew as well. My brother was a chubby guy named Edward who lived across the hall. I’ve met Edward Field since then who is a poet and he has made the name okay but in my family both my fat brother and that sadistic bastard uncle Ed both marked the name as anything but good. I mean I don’t know why I hate my brother so much since he was my first lover if I may be so perverse. I guess it’s because despite his devotion to sucking my cock when we were kids he didn’t actually want to be perverted. He wanted to be dad which he is today but I remember what his glee looked like when disgustingly for the first time I got off. He would come into my bedroom in the morning and I would pretend. Pretending seemed to be what befitted the baby brother. I was ten when our game began. First he’d play with my nipples which made me both crazy and sick because I thought he wouldn’t do this if we had any sisters so he’s making me like a girl but that’s when my boner would begin so I knew I was sick too. Kind of like him. But the look on his face when he took my tiny cock in his mouth was really bad like he was eating bad food. It was just like he was ashamed by what a pervert he was and of course the fact that he made himself sick was what made it okay for me. To be quiet, to softly groan, to put the pillow over my mouth so I wouldn’t make noise and mom wouldn’t come up and afterwards I got paid. He’d throw seventy-five cents on my bed or sometimes only fifty like we were in some western but in the movies cause on teevee they never went that far. Sometimes we went really far. It seemed to me at the time. If Mom went shopping on Saturday morning he’d be right there in my room and he’d be sniffing my asshole and licking it like a dog and once in a while shoving a finger in with the help of some Vaseline. READ MORE >
(if you are not Utopia but just happen to have picked this up out of the sea, first, thanks for doing so, you’re being a responsible nautical citizen, because you never know if it will simply say HELP or DEAR DAD, RUM-RUNNERS KIDNAPPED ME AND I WOULD RATHER STAY WITH THEM THAN WITH YOU. AND, NO, IT ISN’T A “SEX THING.” LOVE, CASSIE P.S. I EXPECT TO KEEP RECEIVING MY ALLOWANCE, HOWEVER or I HAVE FOUND ATLANTIS AND SHOULD THE PORTAL REMAIN OPEN, IT WILL NOT ONLY BE AQUATIC ARCHITECTURE THAT WILL ARISE IN A SEETHING FOETOR BUT THE DEEP ONES THEMSELVES, BANISHED FROM SURFACE AND SIGHT BEFORE OUR TIME, AND ALREADY THE HIDEOUS, THROATY CALL OF Y’HA-NTHLEI BOOMS GURGLING FROM THE LEAGUES BELOW, I BEG OF YOU, DESTROY THE ELDER TRIDENT, DESTROY IT NOW, CAST IT INTO FIRE, OR IT WILL BE TOO LATE FOR US ALL BECAUSE THEY WILL WANT TO INTERMARRY AND HAVE KIDS AND THINGS WILL GET REALLY FISHY AND TERRIBLE, I’M NOT BEING RACIST, I’M JUST SAYING LOOK AT INNSMOUTH, THE ECONOMY NEVER RECOVERED, FIRST THEY TOOK ALL THE JOBS AND THEN THEY MOVED BACK TO THE SEA AND LEFT THOSE BUSINESSES HIGH AND DRY, AND WHO WAS LEFT TO CLEAN UP THE MESS, I’M JUST SAYING YOU KNOW WHAT THOSE PEOPLE ARE LIKE, I MEAN YOU KNOW and second you have no business reading this, prithee give it to its intended reader and keep your dripping nose out of the business of two distanced hearts)
READ MORE >
Two men sit in a booth at a bar.
One’s a little older than the other.
The older one says: “Have you ever heard of a man named Bartolomé de Las Casas?”
The other says: “I don’t think so.”
“Dominican monk named Bartolomé de Las Casas, writing in the sixteenth century, Bartolomé de Las Casas. Okay. No. He was Spanish. He came over to see the New World. And he was totally and immediately fucking horrified by what he saw the soldiers and the conquistadors doing and so he just went right to the notebook and tried to record as many of the atrocities as he could? Just knee-jerk This is what I can do. Someone needs to remember this. Someone needs to see it and remember it and bear witness. READ MORE >
I had a week off. I decided to leave Germany. I booked plane tickets. I packed a bag. In the bag I put six pairs of underwear, six pairs of socks, five tshirts, one sweater, one button-down shirt, a pair of gym shorts, a pair of long underwear, a copy of The Angel Esmeralda: Nine Stories, a copy of The Year of Magical Thinking, and a copy of Miami, a Flip videocamera, my passport, my cell phone, a 2 oz. bottle of hand sanitizer, my toothbrush, a bottle of vitamins, a bottle of zinc supplement, a cup, and a hefty amount of Konsyl psyllium fiber supplement. I was going to Scandinavia.
I didn’t know much about Scandinavia, other than that it was socialist, expensive, and cold. A couple years earlier I’d been published in a short-run magazine called Gustaf, and had limited contact with its editor Audun Mortensen. We’d met briefly in New York and emailed infrequently since then. When I contacted him upon moving to Berlin, he told me he’d been living with his girlfriend, another writer, Victoria Durnak, in Stockholm. He encouraged me to visit and said I could stay with them in their two-room apartment. I asked if he knew anywhere to stay in Oslo, and he seemed not to. I posted on my Facebook asking if I knew anyone in Oslo who wanted to host me for two nights. A few days later I received an email from Kenneth Pettersen, a poet who I’d never talked to as far as I could remember, but somehow seemed a constant in the internet literary scene. A month later I arrived in Rygge, took an hour bus ride through the gray Norwegian countryside, half asleep and flipping through DeLillo stories.
Upon entering Oslo, the scenery changed dramatically. Cranes hung across the sky, like the entire city was under construction. There were buildings coming up everywhere, skyscrapers looming over the damp clouds and foggy ocean. Kenneth met me at a subway station, which took me longer to find than it should’ve, after I paid the equivalent of $40 for a 48-hour pass, after I paid the equivalent of $30 for the bus from the airport. He took me to his apartment, which was a room with half of a kitchen and a bathroom with heated tiles. I had trouble keeping my eyes open and we made small talk, mostly about literature and blogs. He took me to a bar, where I bought a $40 fish and chips and Aass beer. I said something about how I didn’t understand how the money worked and he mentioned wages. He said he worked at a kindergarten.
We drank our beer, then another, and another. There was some sort of a event happening at the bar, hosting an airline company, and a pilot sat in the corner of the room, getting progressively drunker, while his slicked back hair changed directions. He was sweating in a sports coat, tie, jeans. People were silent, drinking from pitchers and then all of a sudden very loud and laughing and then silent again. The bar served Sam Adams and Brooklyn Lager.
To criticize is only to establish that a concept vanishes when it is thrust into a new milieu, losing some of its components, or acquiring others that transform it. But those who criticize without creating, those who are content to defend the vanished concept without being able to give it the forces it needs to return to life, are the plague of philosophy.
There is such force in those unhinged works of Hölderlin, Kleist, Rimbaud, Mallarmé, Kafka, Michaux, Pessoa, Artaud, and many English and American novelists, from Melville to Lawrence or Miller, in which the reader discovers admiringly that they have written the novel of Spinozism. To be sure, they do not produce a syntheses of art and philosophy. They branch out and do not stop branching out. They are hybrid geniuses who neither erase nor cover over differences in kind, but, on the contrary, use all the resources of their “athleticism” to install themselves within this very difference, like acrobats torn apart in a perpetual show of strength.
If philosophy is paradoxical by nature, this is not because it sides with the least plausible opinion or because it maintains contradictory opinions but rather because it uses sentences of a standard language to express something that does not belong to the order of opinion or even of the proposition.
Philosophy thus lives in a permanent crisis. The plane takes effect through shocks, concepts proceed in bursts, and personae by spasms.
We do not lack communcation. On the contrary, we have too much of it. We lack creation. We lack resistance to the present. READ MORE >