If I Really Wanted to Feel Happy I’d Feel Happy Already
by Jordan Castro
Civil Coping Mechanisms, 2014
162 pages / $13.95 buy from Amazon
1. This book and it being read by me results in me saying that Jordan Castro is like a really cool stand-up comedian sometimes.
2. A thoughtful, off-beat, occasionally philosophical stand-up comedian who plays to small audiences of people who are ‘in the know’ but could sell out bigger shows but perhaps wouldn’t want too but might think about it a little bit but wouldn’t want too.
3. The title is another one of those fucking ace, long titles isn’t it. Have you read it (see above)? Good isn’t it. Becoming something of a tradition isn’t it – the long, good, title.
4. Castro is…no, no I’m not going to call him that. Not going to just call him by his surname like they do in reviews. It feels a bit like a teacher talking about a pupil or a factory owner (A factory owner? Fuck! What century am I in?) talking about a worker in a slightly patronising way. So, yeah. Jordan Castro is a fan of circular reasoning, it pops up throughout the book. He gets all circulus in probando (Wikipedia) on our ass all the time.
5. Or maybe he’s not a fan of circular reasoning. Maybe these things trap him and impede his life like they do with all of our lives and he finds it’s best to try and write about them to circumvent this trap slightly and if we read him we can slightly circumvent our own circular traps. Just slightly. I don’t think he’s trying to write a miracle cure.
6. This book isn’t a miracle cure. Never believe in miracle cures. They don’t exist. They’re all scams. This book isn’t a scam. This book is upfront about things, about everything that’s going on in the minutiae of everyday life. It’s not a miracle cure but it might help. Plus it’s really funny and entertaining too, which helps.
7. The tale of a character named ‘Sarah’ that starts on p.95 is the tale of everyone nowadays who is under 40 and many over 40 and soon everyone in the western world and later everyone in every other type of world (this latter depends on a few things that are currently, to put it politely, ‘in flux’ in global affairs) but they won’t all be named Sarah.
8. In this one:’got a lot of allergies/been thinking about literature/for maybe five hours’, he’s secretly thinking about the sounds of words at the end of lines like an old fashioned poet but is hiding it even though he’s made it really subtle and really good.
9. Pages 115-119 make me realise that social media is so bedded-in in America that people really do view it as part of their real identity and really do agonise about what statuses they type and how they’ll be perceived and how many ‘Likes’, ‘Comments’, ‘Notes’ or whatever it will/should get in a way that is only really just starting to happen in the UK and in a way which sometimes depresses them.
10. I read somewhere in an interview with Noah Cicero (it could’ve been from ages ago, he might have changed his opinion by now, I don’t know. Anyway, he’s entitled to his opinion) that he didn’t really rate David Foster Wallace as being too much to do with Alt-Lit type of stuff but point number 9 makes me want everyone to read this essay by David Foster Wallace on television and then for someone else, someone who is still alive, and someone who, like me, doesn’t have to work full-time to re-write that essay, updating it for today’s social media landscape and for us all to see how prescient it was in the first place.
11. There’s an ‘AOL Instant Messenger’ poem in this book or a poem about ‘AOL Instant Messenger’ and it’s part of a sub-genre of Alt-Lit that likes to mention antique technology. By antique technology I don’t mean the kind of stuff that was popular in Douglas Coupland’s Microserfs (which is now positively prehistoric) but stuff like MSN that has only fairly recently become a bit obsolete. This is a trend continued in another book ‘Matt Meets Vik’ by the same publisher and which mentions Nokia mobile phones.
12. “i said i actually feel like i might be really intelligent somewhere
inside of me but like it was lost a long time ago”
See points 7, 9 and 10 (this review).
13. I like how Jordan Castro just gives up on lines. The technical name for this is aposiopesis but it just reminds me of Guided by Voices songs on Bee Thousand, it reminds me of
14. There are haikus in this book. They’re mostly the right amount of syllables so see point 8.
15. These haikus are actually really good. Nobody usually likes haikus because they usually involve the sea and mountains and shit like that and nobody really lives near the sea or near mountains, not properly anyway, not in that old ancient haiku way, so these are just about ordinary everyday things and not about the mountains or the sea and therefore are haikus that are worth reading.
16. The last piece in this book is called ‘Philosophy Poem’ and it is TLDR.
17. No. I am joking. I read it. It ties the book together somehow. It takes alot of definitions from Dictionary.com which is, after all, where definitions come from. It reminds me of this thing I read the other day on Buzzfeed which teaches structuralism and post-structuralism through the concept of hipster beards, you can read that here. It’s really good.
18. All the titles of all the pieces in this book are struck through like strikethrough text and I love strikethrough text anyway because I always like to somehow destroy whatever I write in some way but I like the strikethroughs in this book more because they seem to be almost hand-drawn or something or maybe it’s a strikethrough font that is sort of meant to seem struck through by hand.
19. The writer is quite an ethical guy by the looks of it or more interestingly it would be better to say he struggles with trying to live some kind of ethical life in Late-Capitalism as all liberal-minded people do in the western world. Why not read this book and struggle along with him?
20. The little creature on Michael Seidlinger’s cover for this book would’ve put me in mind of Woody Allen’s anxious sperm that didn’t want to be fired out of someone’s penis in the second part of Woody Allen’s ‘Everything You Wanted To Know About Sex’ film from the seventies but it doesn’t have glasses on and seems oddly serene, so maybe not.
21. Now, I’m taken with the idea that the voice in this book is emanating from that little singular sperm like creature that adorns the front cover so serenely.
22. Now, I’m thinking that the voice in this book means that Jordan Castro is a skinny guy, one of those skinny guys. I’ve never seen a picture of him. Is Jordan Castro one of those skinny guys? Or is he a really big guy but with a really skinny voice?
23. If he was a really big guy with a skinny voice would this be ‘free indirect style’?
24. I’ve just Googled photos of Jordan Castro. I think he is a skinny guy. I Googled ‘Jordan Castro wiki’ and Google wanted me to mean Jason Castro (baseball player) or Jason Castro (singer). I have no idea who these people are.
25. The book trailer for this book is cool. It has corny advertising type images from the 80s by the looks of it and haunting music and abstract bits. It’s just 55 seconds. I like that.
Richard Brammer is the author of three books ‘MDMA and Menthol Cigarettes’, ‘Public Dick Punk 83′ and ‘Cult Boyfriend’ that are all available from Amazon here but isn’t the author of the German version of the book about Adobe Publishing Suite and nor is he the author of ‘Cuckoos of the World’. Or just get his free PDFs from Richard Brammer is Unwell.