Nothing to be done…

So I haven't written much here over the last year. There was a time when I was very nearly obsessed with the "project" that was and is "The Hoover Hog." I thought it had "groove and meaning," to paraphrase Frankie Valli (or Barry Gibb, if you're a stickler). I imagined it would be a good thing to play fast and loose with fire, and that I was somehow going to cut it just right. Or that was the only-ever-vague aspiration. Being out of step seemed like an outgroup advantage. Being honest seemed like a neat trick. Being more or less alone seemed like a cozy redoubt.

One problem that has been called to my attention is that I'm really not a very good writer. I suppose this wouldn't matter were it not for the fact that I half-secretly want to write well, and frankly (unreasonably) in a state of sustained inspiration — which is what all of the manuals advise against.

One of my greatest pleasures in life is to read at a local bar after work. I make time for this and during such time I can feel my mind alight with pinprick insight. I make connections and jot down precious thoughts on a napkin or a notepad that I will later discard. I return to the book of the moment and I feel myself being transported into a smooth electric hum that gives way to useless idiot excitement when I step out for a smoke. I make plans and resolutions. Nothing ever comes of it. Or nothing much. After six or seven beers, my thoughts begin to cloud. Returning home, the intensity fades. Perhaps I start something that I will soon abandon. Just as likely, I will fume over such ordinary constraints that beset every human path. I've had the same day job for over fifteen years and lately it feels like I'm on borrowed time. I seldom talk with anyone at work. When I do, it's in the stilted manner of professional decorum. Time drags, and I feel — irrationally and egotistically — like a hostage.

I'm still convinced that it is a valuable thing, at least for some of us, to engage "dangerous" ideas. Over the years I like to think I've drawn up — or appropriated — a few useful heuristics that elevate fetish to craft. I am mindful of epistemic limits. I spot hoaxes early. I see religion in the strangest nooks. I attach asterisks to everything, and I vouchsafe my own nagging biases under files labeled "aesthetics" and "sacred residue."  I've also learned to break down stories. The trouble with this is that you may eventually turn your attention to the really big stories, until everything is broken. Sarah Perry, perhaps in oblique revision of Camus, claims that what's then left is "epilogue." I suppose that's the backdrop for everything Beckett ever wrote. And it's the deadpan rejoinder to every hollow pronouncement celebrating the grandeur of a scientific worldview. Yet it's what remains. What we're left with. It won't sustain a civilization, but that's none of my business.

I'm 44 years old. I insist that's too old for new plans. It's not too old, however, for some measure of refinement and resolution. In 2014 I resolved to "go vegan" (fuck you), mostly for the hell of it but also, I admit, because I care very much about animal welfare. I made exceptions for holidays. I was soon surprised at how easy it was, at how I felt the same (I expected to feel a worsening of some specific kind). My suspicion of dietary politics has sharpened as a result. There's so much moral residue in this area, which is very curious. I even have a theory about why. Perhaps I'll share it with you at another time. I'm sure it's wrong. Most theories are.

Anyway, what I've done over the past few years is I have published books. I attach a great deal of (surely illusory) importance to this endeavor, and this I fully suspect this will continue. I think I'm a better editor than I am a writer. I just need to get up earlier. So there's one resolution of a manageable variety: Keep doing that shit. Try to do it well, and in a way that honors the work of those writers who have been so kind and generous to allow me to publish there words and ideas. There's good stuff in the queue. You'll see.

The other thing, fuck it, is to write. In the spirit of experiment, I mean to simply let go of such writerly bugs that have proven uselessly debilitating and just get on with it. I'm going to try to put something up here at least weekly, without overmuch attention to form or structure or even thematic consistency, to give in to a the simple curiosity of seeing where it leads. So this space may become a journal. Expect stories, reflections, false starts, stream-of-conscous drivel, minor confessions, bad writing, worse jokes, typos. The idea that I've been mulling is simply to retoggle the source of so much banked frustration, to see if it can be made, in some inconsequential way, liberating. It's selfish of me, I know.

Wish me luck. Thanks for reading.

Memento mori.

4 thoughts on “Nothing to be done…

  1. I thought you were a good writer and an inspiration for me when I discovered your site, but what did I know? I had some rather terrible judgment at the time.
    I’ve also been light on blogging, and it’s not for lack of free time. I feel like I have less to say, and not even much motivation for highlighting interesting things I read (which was mostly what I was doing on the blog).
    It’s customary to snark at the idea of people following through on New Years resolutions, but you’ve actually gotten projects like 9BB off the ground. Just writings things and putting them up sounds comparatively trivial. Although I still have a couple book reviews unfinished after more than a couple years.

  2. “…I’m really not a very good writer…”
    In any case, I’m glad you’ll be continuing to update; I thought this would be a swansong post, at first. Here’s to more of those prospective 9BB releases passing through the presses, too!

  3. The more literary products that I force myself to consume, the more I find that only “bad writing” and “false starts” risk saying anything truly dangerous. It is only the authors with the courage to write awkwardly who dare to say anything new.

  4. What I’ve learned from observing an ex-boyfriend is that the only way to get to writing is to accept at a profound level the fact that you are going to look like a stupid asshole from time to time. No way around it.

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