February 25th, 2012 / 12:30 pm

Fishkind’s Unretraction

It is a beautiful Saturday. Granted, it could be a little warmer, but I can’t really complain. I mean, I can complain, and I will, but that’s my prerogative, n’est-ce pas? I feel like shit. Am I allowed to feel like shit? I don’t feel like shit anymore. I can deduce that this shit-feeling came from my use of French, meant to be a quip. I can’t do that without apology. Consider this my retraction. I must retract a lot of things if I’m ever going to get back to baseline. I don’t know what that means.

I was awoken by my girlfriend’s cell phone at 5am, buzzing in the first email of the rest of her life. Her mother nervous about her brother getting stitches in a racquetball accident around 11pm last night. My girlfriend proceeded to text her brother, who also, inexplicably, was up and aware of this email, a chain of events stemming from his own personal world of hurt, literally, as he claims to have been hit by a racquet at such speed and flection as to have caused serious damage to his… skin? I don’t know why people get stitches. What I want to know is at what level of intensity of a wound does one leave the Band-Aids and peroxide at the wayside and shuffle down to the hospital on a Friday night. Maybe I’ve needed stitches in the past, maybe I haven’t. There’s a story my mother used to tell about my slicing my hand on some glass as a baby and getting “butterfly stitches.” And to me, that sounds worse than real stitches—perhaps implemented only to doctor the lacerations inflicted by a butterfly knife.

Awoken again, about 45 minutes later, her mother was calling, asking about details of the injury. My girlfriend says on the phone she has been asleep, a questionable remark, but what do I know being subject to that very plea. Her mother spoke softly about something I had lost, drifting away again into submission. The phone was placed again on the beside table, to go off again in a few hours.

We went to bed early last night. After cocktails and pizza with my sister and brother-in-law. My girlfriend had finished a long day, testing patients for a memory-based psychology experiment, which I wish I could outline for you, but I’m scientifically obligated to sustain the enigma, lest one of you participate in said study, or otherwise try to steal the idea and publish before my dear girlfriend. That would be wrong. That aside, I don’t even have any details to divulge, as I will likely be engaging in the tests myself at some point. Presumably over spring break, when I will be dog-sitting where else but the Upper West Side and working on a twelve to fifteen page paper on Gravity’s Rainbow. There’s nothing I can say to you now on that work that hasn’t been said before. That is, what can be said at all about anything anyway. The book is long, tedious, sometimes very funny and fast-moving, but here I am saying it all again. With 124 pages remaining, I remain intact, at least to some degree, not as paranoid yet as my fictional counterparts.

But to the dinner with my sister and brother-in-law. My girlfriend, yes, she was there of course, extremely tired, moping down the street, helped me find the bar. I will admit I can completely shut down when searching for something in the rain. Oh, and was it raining, and even worse, the forecast called for that torrential downpour to end just 45 minutes after we were leaving so there I was forced to bring an umbrella and then subsequently forced to carry it around the rest of the evening with no use but an accessory of my always-be-preparedness. The bar, described by New York Magazine—one of the only magazines in the country turning a profit, my brother-in-law informed me at the booth just minutes later—as “swanky,” was located within and sort of behind a second-floor Japanese restaurant in the East Village. It took us longer than I’m willing to comfortably write about to find the place, but we did, and we were seated rather quickly, considering my siblings had been waiting for us for a bit. We were provided a map of deeply complicated drinks. Apple-and-cinnamon-infused ryes, milk-blended bourbons, smoke-treated glasses. I don’t need to go into details, you know the place. The place you can’t afford and wouldn’t know about and won’t go to without someone else picking up the tab. Well, they did. There’s only one bartender, and two barbacks, and they’re all Japanese, and they have a terrible-sounding award winning drink based with two kinds of Bacardi. They looked like actors, or gangsters, my girlfriend said.

Discussion at the table was about my employment and my enjoyment, and other things I’m sure, but landed most directly on the necessity of where to go next. For food. We’d thrown around a couple of ideas via email: ramen, Puerto-Rican. We decided, in person, as a group, on pizza. Then came the choice for pizza. Where’s the best pizza in New York? Well, Brooklyn, but we didn’t want to go there. Many names floated around but Luzzo’s was the winner, and we went there, and we ate pizza, and then (I’ll just wrap this part of the story up) we went home, to our separate homes. In fact two of us did not go home: 1) my brother-in-law decided to go drinking the East Village with some old fraternity friends; 2) I went to my girlfriend’s home.

We slept quickly, but not immediately, as young couples do or don’t do what they are expected to do. We did. And at 9am I was awoken for a third time by the sound of my girlfriend’s cell phone (again) alarm. She muddled around the apartment. Oh, actually, if you don’t mind, I’d like to take this time to point out that this is actually the fourth time I woke up because before any of those cell phone impediments, there was a roommate-coming-home-in-the-middle-of-the-night experience. I didn’t mind that much truly, though I was jarred to feel I was rather hot under all those covers. I like my girlfriend’s roommate and so she gets a pass on this one. And so then, back to the present of the fourth shake-to-consciousness, my girlfriend complains for a little while about having to go into work and I complain for a little while about having nothing to do today, and I drink some water and sit on the toilet and off she goes.

I sat upright in her bed looking at my iPhone until there is nothing left to look at on my iPhone. I considered the things I wanted: 1) the new Eileen Myles book(s); 2) to skateboard in an environment around 65 degrees Fahrenheit; 3) to eat an expensive breakfast of high quality organic foods; 4) to go to a museum with an exhibit I have never seen but can be sure I will like; 4) to be rid of the haunting Ariana Reines reading I’d seen days earlier; 5) to retract, to retract everything I’ve ever done or said or thought or written down and gain some… thing. To be able to start over, maybe die and be reborn and live the same life and then retract again. A past professor of philosophy of mine, in a lecture on Nietzsche, once said he would rather live his life over exactly as it is repeatedly forever than ever die, and there was something about actualization in there. No, this is not an apology for blogging, or a defence of bloggy. I can’t take things back, and so I’d rather pour it forward into the public sphere of judgment and anger, which I know so well, like the pink paste of a batch of raw McDonald’s chicken nuggets. It was then that I got dressed, gathered up my things, including that useless piece of shit umbrella, and walked out of the apartment, out of the building, into the sun, and it was beautiful, but could’ve been a little warmer.

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  1. adamhump

      I think I know this bar.. is it near St. Marks?

  2. David Fishkind


  3. Michael J. Martin

      I dig this. You do not come off as an asshole at all. But, “There’s nothing I can say to you now on that work that hasn’t been said before.”

      Then just quit. What is the point of doing something if you feel you’re only being derivative of other works/thoughts before? I’m working on this screenplay that is taking forever to gestate because I don’t want to completely do a ‘Driver’, which is tell a similar story/trope,  but tell it in a slanted way which makes it my own. I want it to be pretty much  new all around, except for the shoes, or maybe new all around except for the t-shirt because people say, “That outfit was great but the shoes suck and the shoes make the outfit”. Probably because its either the 1st thing people see or the last. The inbetween is the thread. Either adopt a new mode of thinking that forces less limitations upon you, or quit.

  4. deadgod

      Here’s a thing about retraction, the phantom limb of regret.  In July, when it’s a thousand fucking degrees and you can’t tell whether you’re sweating or swimming, you might wish it were a little cooler.  If you know that day when it’s cool, and this day when it’s hot – if you embrace both each day and your complaint each day – , that’s (I think) what Eternal Return means.

      I think that, in Nietzsche’s line of thought, it doesn’t matter if death is oblivion; Nietzsche is talking about will.  This deathward life is still the Real Thing.  Living as though is what becoming has–not of being, but rather–of becoming.

  5. M. Kitchell

      1) what was so haunting about the Ariana Reines reading that you want to be rid of it?

      2) http://youtu.be/TfRD9fZjdtM

  6. Jimmy Chen

      david, i imagine you as the ghost narrator of a more mature salinger character in some zenned out hope chest manuscript grasping on to innocence in good clothing. your tone is remarkable.

  7. Anonymous
  8. David Fishkind

      thank you jimmy

  9. David Fishkind

      seems you’ve answered your own question

  10. M. Kitchell


  11. M. Kitchell

      kind of a dick response to a legitimate question

  12. Frank Tas, the Raptor

      Darch is kind of a dork so you know be ready

  13. David Fishkind

      i’m sorry you thought my response was ‘dick’-ish. that was not my intention. while i was making a joke, mostly comparing the nature of the reading i attended to the youtube video you posted (i know you did not intend for those 2 reflect one another, i understand the ‘my boyfriend’/’my girlfriend’ thing and i can see how maybe you felt it was your responsibility to point out how many times i’d written ‘my girlfriend’ and i was aware of it, but there really was no better way to say it in the piece), i don’t think it’s my responsibility to answer everyone’s questions just because there is a comments section. if i chose never to answer your questions perhaps you would not have gotten so annoyed and commented three times looking for some payoff as to why i’m ‘haunted’ by ariana reines’ reading last wednesday night at housing works and want to be rid of the experience. maybe even this article would haunt you, never giving you entirely what you asked of it. that would be cool. but because you’ve been so adamant in your desire to know why oh why could i have been so affected by said reading, i will now give you an answer. it is in fact similar to the youtube video you posted. after sitting through three readers, who were all fine and typically what i expect in an event such as this, ms. reines cames to the stage and rambled vacantly about how she was a poet, talking off the stage at some of the readers and asking them off-based personal questions, then insisting the audience chime in during her reading, then saying she was trying to get drunk right then, before even approaching literature. she spoke kind of like an adolescent or even just like a spoiled rich child, though her work did invariably point out that she was poor and a poet and liked to fuck poor artists only, etc. she had some piece which depicted nature in which she was in a field or something, complaining to her dad (‘the sun’) about not having enough fun or purpose or money or something. it seemed lazy and vapid. she kept saying a variation of ‘doesn’t anyone from the audience have anything to say’ and clearly nobody did, though were i drunk maybe i would’ve yelled something mean. it was an egregious experience for me, and when my friends and i left, i expressed my contempt. but to that they said she’d seemed sexy and funny, which is exactly what she is trying to be. her persona and her poems seemed to have this air of ‘my parents won’t even take me seriously at nearly age 30 because i’m so weird and eccentric!!! [pouts lip… giggles… takes a shot of bacardi]. so that is why the reading haunts me and why i want to be so rid of it. i was playing solitaire on my phone by the end. i respected the curator and the majority of the readers and poetry in general, and i was left confused and anxious knowing that reines is really in many ways what this internal public sphere of literary consumers wants. i hated it a lot.

  14. Cremistress

      if this was a publicity stunt, looks like it failed. amusing, nevertheless.

  15. David Fishkind

      i am not interested in publicity stunts. i only responded that way because i felt annoyed with m. kitchell and had a lot of time in that particular moment of annoyance

  16. Cremistress

      oh okay. i meant it was so over the top it looked like she had written it. lol.

  17. M. Kitchell

      we use “haunted” completely differently, otherwise i probably wouldn’t have asked

  18. M. Kitchell

      it’s ok, i’m annoyed by you most of the time

  19. David Fishkind

      True Wit is Nature to advantage dress’d / What oft was thought, but ne’er so well express’d

  20. Mike James

      I havent commented on a blog in two months. Crazy.

      I think that quote is either Chaucer, Wordsworth, or Shakespeare. My sequence of guesses:

      1) Wordsworth
      2) Chaucer
      3) Shakespeare

  21. David Fishkind

      it’s pope