Not Talking About Writing - Part 2/4

» This page is PART TWO, continued from » Part One. It was split into FOUR pages in order to adhere to principles of web site optimization. Here you go...

» What Does the Catcher-in-the-Rye Catch? and Why?

Notice that the 'catcher' (in the rye) .. catches » kids .. and tries to save them from bad shit .. of which they know not .. stuff that lurks nearby.

This might be a good place to mention .. the Dozier School for Boys. Now, normally most Americans would never have heard of the name » Dozier.

Heck, I had to keep looking it up myself .. every time I wanted to mention it (such as with Florida) .. or to drop somewhere as a clarifying link.

It occurred to me .. that the reason I know that name .. is not because of the school, but because of the blood .. innocent blood .. that speaks .. that testifies .. to the point where vindication becomes necessary.

JD Salinger (1919-2010)Or we as a nation suffer for it.

» What Gives? (with The Catcher in the Rye)

What is it about Catcher in the Rye? Lani had to read it for high school. She said, "This book is really good," and let me have her copy afterwards.

"Let me see what all this commotion is about," I said.

I just checked .. and Catcher in the Rye is currently ranked #13 in Amazon sales. All sales. Of all books. Even today's best sellers. Remarkable?

The feeling you get reading Catcher in the Rye is » "Thank God there is intelligent life out there .. that gets it. That really gets it."

» GCE = Gross Conceptual Error = Dont Get It

In the Navy's Nuclear school, the worse possible letters you could get returned on an exam were » GCE (always in red letters). Gross conceptual error.

That means you dont even understand the most fundamental aspects of the concept. And if you dont understand the most fundamental aspects (.. the questions begs itself) .. what hope do you have of going any further?

I never saw anybody make it, who got a GCE. So when I think of Salinger .. I think of somebody who » gets it. (No red GCE.)

A young JD Salinger, I hear, worked in/for/with Military Intelligence .. not unlike a young Edward Snowden. He saw lots of ugly shit.

Fortunately, this ugly shit is beyond the scope of today's entry. You know how I like to keep my topics nice-n-tidy. =)

But it makes the conspiracy theorist wonder .. if maybe Salinger somehow included some coded military secrets.

Kennedy was assassinated 50 years ago this November .. so, no doubt the conspiracy theories will be circulating among the members of VFD.

A Series of Unfortunate Events (1999-2006) by Lemony Snickett» Esmé Squalor & the Mysterious Lemony Snicket

I will say however, that I did not know (until today) that the name » Esmé Squalor .. who I have been hearing so much about with the Bug ..

.. over the last year or two .. originally comes from Salinger. I have learned much from Lemony Snicket. Far more than I would ever have imagined possible.

Which is interesting .. cuz, when I think of people who 'get it' .. I think of » Lemony Snicket (and VFD).

Both the subtlety and the knock-on [ "Anybody home?" ]. I would say that episode 3/13 was probably best .. The Wide Window .. in that respect.

If you liked Catcher in the Rye, you'll looove.... No, Lemony is not Hollywood Handsome [.. like me], but momma taught me never to judge a book by its cover.

Yes, I was surprised at the part where he mentions [ in A Series of Unfortunate Events ] the theme of Anna Karenina (.. in a book "for ages 8 and up").

His degree of intellectual penetration .. in certain unmentionable areas .. I find remarkable. Actually, it's beyond mere intellect. I admit that I dont have it totally figured out.

The exact same feeling I got from Catcher in the Rye. And who knows why three people use that book to justify their psycho ideas of murder?

••• today's entry continues here below •••

Tho there appears to be no obvious connection between Salinger's work and that of Lemony. Except that there is an air of mystery about both men (VFD).

It is probably one of those ugly truths which society forces you to deny .. in order to maintain some semblance of sanity.

Lemony Snickett | A Very Private, Secretive ManWhere does this stuff come from?

The ability-to-link an individual verse (or two) of Scripture .. to an individual word contained in an HTML document ..

.. to me, this seems a powerful new technology .. no?

Allowing an author to add the weight of Scripture .. to an argument .. on a very granular basis.

A Series of Unfortunate Events is basically about how a sick fuck (named Count Olaf) tries to trick-fuck three little orphans out of their inheritance. (Yes, he's all about the money.)

Not unlike the father of the Brothers Karamazov .. a piece-of-work, himself.

» Trying to Stay Alive & Maintain a Grip on Sanity

Anyway, staying alive has always presented something of a problem for the writer. That, and trying to maintain his grip on sanity. No? You know it's true.

Regarding trying to stay alive .. notice that Cormac is also very private (.. just like JD Salinger was).

Is that the key? the secret for a writer to stay alive? So many die badly, and too often before their time.

You want names? Hemingway. Fitzgerald. Hunter Thompson. Nietzsche. Poe. Dylan Thomas. Want more?

» Quirks, Idiosyncrasies & the Game of Listening to Voices

I am not superstitious when it comes to writing .. like many other writers seem to be .. about their methods. I have however, noticed two things with myself. Call them quirks, idiosyncrasies.

First » I cannot write with my keys and/or cell phone in my pockets. Those need to come out. Tho I cannot tell you why.

Moleskine Notebook with PencilAlso » The more accessible the Moleskine is .. to write in .. the more reticent the voices.

So it becomes (or seems to become) something of a game .. and how badly you want it .. to what lengths are you you willing to go.

I am talking, to some degree, about capturing the unspeakable .. ala Wittgenstein.

And to be honest, there is a part of me that despises these types of games .. due to, well, here is where you get to use your imagination. It's all in the way that the game is devised. Either cruelty, or kindly.

Anyway, when the Moleskine is out and the pen in hand, the lips of the voice that speaks remarkable truths seems to get tight. Once the Moleskine has been closed and the elastic band set securely .. you may once again be able to re-engage.

So, on some level, it seems like you have to distract your conscious mind .. so that your unconscious can speak Distracted with mindless stuff, such as vacuuming, folding laundry, frying bacon.

I read somewhere that Spielberg gets his best ideas while driving the streets of LA (in his chauffeured limo). The distracting visuals of scenery passing by somehow put him in position to better hear this creative voice. But when your intention is to pursue the creative voice, it seems to run-n-hide.

Again, part of me does not care for these types of (hide-n-seek) games (.. for entirely valid reasons) .. which makes it feel as tho it comes from 'beyond' me. Would you term that superstitious?

When you get it, and you know that you got it .. you try to lock on, you try to stay with it, as best you can. I'm talking about after the Moleskine is open .. and you are writing and the juice is flowing. What I call » the "bobsled of creativity," which can be exhilarating but exhausting.

It's like you have to shuttle a very large thing across a long distance. The thing is a gift, but the shuttling involves you. In this paradigm, the writer is a shuttle operator. Either you to another world, or an idea (from another universe) from another world to you-the-reader. Right to your doorstep, if possible.

And sometimes, to hear the voice more clearly .. you need to clean out yuckiness from yourself. (You know what I mean.) Ideally, you're looking for a clear channel to the Creator of the Universe Himself. So, in that respect, it makes you a better (more loving) person.

It's like you have to get in position .. to hear certain things. Certain voices. And once I get the message, I am good at paraphrasing. "A natural."

» Not Talking About The Gift, Either

Much as I enjoy Mr. Phillips' book-of-quotes by Hemingway (.. and yes, mine is all marked up with underlines, bullets, bigger bullets and even a few stars and exclamation points) .. there is another book of quotes on writing that I enjoy even more ..

.. half of which contains quotes from famous writers. The other half contains (surprisingly insightful) commentary on the particular subject at hand.

So you read a page of quotes and then a page of commentary .. on one of 22 topics she bravely addresses, such as the ever-cheery » Alcohol, Drugs, Depression, Suicide (.. which begins on page 175).

Michelangelo's Creation of Adam | Sistine chapel, 1512For example, in her chapter titled 'The Gift' (chapter 2), Sophy writes »

In the privacy of their most secret hearts, most writers, artists, actors, and musicians believe that their talent is a gift.

It comes from beyond the self, crashing over them unexpectedly--with joy. It is received, therefore, with awe and humility.

Occasionally one will speak out unembarrassed by the thought of grace, except she knows that the blessing, this talent, must be treasured and nurtured, worked at, sought out .. if only she knew how.

Therefore it is not to be taken lightly, nor cast before pig's feet or held aloft to the derision of people who don't understand.

This is why many artists speak of it only among themselves, secretly, one on one, in quiet voices, fearful of losing it, grateful and awed.

Notice again, the subtle theme of » don't talk about it. And here again, we have another whole book .. talking about things that the author freely admits might very well offend the writing gods she seeks daily. Yet more irony?

She seemingly addresses this glitch by giving her book the title » For Writers Only. But on the inside she says » "Just kidding..Even lawyers are welcome." This is the same thing that Julia Cameron says in The Artist's Way (which I call the Lagunatic bible).

I can only speak for myself .. but the reason why writers feel that their writing is a GIFT .. is because » it surprises you-the-writer .. to see what comes out. "Where did *that* come from?"

Yosemite at sunset, Half DomeNot always, but enough to keep you hovering close to awe.

(Yes, sometimes I turn and glance behind me .. to see where that came from.)

Sophy begins her book with a chapter titled » Nerves, in which she introduces her "friend from California" ..

.. who had just completed a long (8 years) exhaustive memoir, and spent "thou$ands in therapy".

But chapter Two (» The Gift) is really where the book begins.

Logical, no? Her friend the neurotic is just a distraction.

Update - I have since thought about this .. and yes, I can see how you would/could start with nerves. I stand corrected.

It kinda ties into Hemingway's reason for why the writer doesnt want to talk about his/her writing » you want to let the pressure build .. until its unbearable.

See how much you can take .. before you 'crack'.

That's where the 'nerves' come in.

Some people cannot handle it .. unless everything is just so. Tho I can't imagine them as writers.

Yes, I am familiar with writer's angst. The gist of writer's angst seems to be to get you beyond the pretty, pleasant words and zero in on the marrow of life. What's really important. Whether that happens to be pretty .. or not.


» Hemingway's Gift » the Wonderful World of Russian Writers in Alpine Austria

On the topic of gifts, I can't help but be reminded of what Hemingway wrote/said .. in Moveable Feast .. in the chapter titled » Evan Shipman at the Lilas (pronounced » LEE-la).

Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821-1881)This chapter begins with Hemingway talking about how much he enjoyed reading the works of many Russian writers ..

.. such as » Turgenev, Gogol, Tolstoy, Chekhov, Dostoevsky ..

.. after Hemingway found Silvia Beach's library (in Paris). See here:

To have come on all this new world of writing, with time to read in a city like Paris where there was a way of living well and working, no matter how poor you were ..

.. was like having a GREAT TREASURE GIVEN TO YOU. You could TAKE YOU TREASURE WITH YOU when you traveled too ..

.. and in the mountains where we lived in Switzerland and Italy, until we found Schruns in the high valley in the Vorarlberg in Austria, there were always the books, so that you lived in the new world that you had found ..

.. the snow and the forests and the glaciers and their winter problems and your high shelter in the Hotel Taube in the village in the day time ..

.. and at night you could live in the other wonderful world the Russian writers were GIVING YOU. At first there were the Russians; then there were all the others. But for a long time there were the Russians.

I love that whole chapter. Hemingway's appreciation of Russian writers is one of the reasons that I am drawn to him.

This is also why I appreciate Richard Pevear and his wife Larissa .. because we have vastly improved translations compared to what Hemingway had. Constance Garnett translations make real Russians vomit, because she primly recast Russian landscapes as Victorian.

This seems like an opportune spot to pause and consider how Dostoevsky raged against the influx of Western ideas and the effect they were having on Russian society.

My point is that the dominant European culture of the time was » Victorian .. which might shed light on his soul's cry » "You won't let me be good." Because the standards were so repressive.

Bukowski's Gift » Isolation

Notice how, tucked inside this quote from Charles Bukowski, we have a short but interesting statement » isolation is the gift.

I may elaborate on this later, but for now, I just wanted to share the view of a writer and his opinion on the subject of gifts.

Oscar & the Very Hungry Dragon» Children: Gifts from God

No non-discourse about gifts would be complete without at least a passing reference to the Bug.

Did I tell you I watched him surf? .. at the Newport Beach Surf School. .. there on the Balboa peninsula ..

.. not far from the harbor. Is there a better place to learn?

But that is another story .. and I won't wanna stop once I get started. But yes, I do feel like he is a gift from God .. for many reasons.

His birth itself seems unlikely .. seeing that his mom hails from one part of the country (the mid-West) and his dad from another (the East Coast) ..

.. who met on a beach (not a bar or nightclub) in yet another part of the country (the West Coast). "Hey, didnt I see you running here last week?"

And when you feel gifted .. you naturally feel a sense of » gratitude. No matter what nasties might come.

When your time together is limited, it becomes precious. I don't know if I would have appreciated him as much .. when I was younger.

Then, he was born the DAY BEFORE my birthday. Which made his arrival seem like a gift .. a birthday present.

In fact, he was born so late in the day that, for most of the world, it was already my birthday. Is their a better birthday gift? I think not.

Yes, I was there in the delivery room (180-degree ocean view) when he was born (in Laguna Beach). I continued talking to him .. in a calm, soothing voice while they cleaned him up ..

Baloo and Mogli | The Jungle Book.. and I let him hold my pinky finger as the nurses gave him a shot (needle) of vitamin-K .. in the thigh. (Ouch.) No, he did not like that.

I kept saying (into his right ear) » "Everything's okay. It will only hurt for a sec. Daddy's here ..

.. I won't let anything bad happen to you." (Supposedly, they can recognize your voice while they are still in the womb.)

Joseph, you may recall, was the son of Jacob's old age. And he was the most appreciated, no? And his brothers hated him for it.

Cormac had a son, John, when he was 65 (who is now 15), the inspiration for, and to whom The Road is dedicated.

Cormac is like a modern day Elijah the prophet. I would like to nominate him for the Nobel Prize.

I know Cormac is not motivated by those kinds of things, but I am curious to see if he would show up to accept. (I think he would .. cuz he would bring his son along.)

Surfing. Five kids in his group. Four girls. "They're water-dogs, dad."

Already it is hard to stop (writing). Life's a trip. My son surfing already, with four surfer-girls, no less. I definitely wasnt ready for that.

Okay, I will share this one, short vignette, from this summer.

Me » "Here you go, Punkin. This is the best taco you've ever had."

The Bug » "That's what you said last time, dad. And the time before."

Me » "I know. But this one is even better."

The Bug takes a bite. His eyes pop open. "Ooh," he says, mouth full. "This *is* good."

Me » "What did I tell you? Who's your daddy?"

The Bug » "Can I have some root beer?"

Pooh & the Hundred Acre Gang with Letters & WordsI only fix a few things, but what I do make is usually yummy. After a hundred times, you start to perfect your technique.

And I have had Latinos compliment my tacos (.. as they kept shoving one after another into their faces).

I use a combo of fatty organic ground beef (New Zealand?) with a well-browned onion, chewy short-grain brown rice (Lundberg), black beans (frijoles negro) ..

.. Meat Magic (Chef Paul), sea salt, soy sauce (Eden), sharp Canadian cheddar on the best tortillas. The tortillas are actually the key.

I cook the rice and brown the onion the day before he comes .. to save time when I have him. A little grated-carrot can also make a healthy addition. Cholula works for those who need extra heat. I also like sour cream, but the Bug does not.

» Minecraft

It's for another time, but I also want to talk about Minecraft and something Isaiah said. And how the settings for "render-distance" (how far you can see in the game/world) and also for "level-of-detail" .. and how those settings affect processing power-consumption.

(This will remind me. It makes for a great metaphor, perhaps, for those of us who live in the digital age. But I won't know for sure until I actually try.)

The Bug used Minecraft to create a beautiful home-base .. two of them actually. One is made out of gold and the other is made out of something that looks like sapphire. (All by himself.)

The world these kids are growing up in .. is so different. You instinctively want to protect them. (Unless your parenting instincts are somehow broken or otherwise defective.)

I also would like to paraphrase the Putin-Obama debate .. over bombs and chemicals and other sundry nasty shit. But it is not clear how exactly I might do that.

Because it is a very serious topic. Kerry: "I told him [ Lavrov ] » 'This is no joke, motherfucker'."

And we-the-people did not fair so well the last time the topic (of dropping bombs) came up for debate.

Bob Marley (1945-1981) » Work-in-Progress

Today's entry remains a work-in-progress (WIP). Stay tuned, because ..

.. there is a LOT of stuff that we won't be talking about today. =)

Yes, this is fun .. but if it seems like you 'pay for it' in other ways. Then so. be. it.

But you don't 'pay' for it in the traditional sense of the word. Because it is very much about grace (unmerited favor).

Which is about » faith (reference). Which is about » words. Which is about » knowledge. And which should, of course, also include » corresponding actions. Which, naturally, is about » you (or you).

Which is very cloe to what the Rastafarian said (.. at t=55:45) And James. And Peter. And John. And David. And Mark. And Luke. And Paul. And Habakkuk.

Which is, pretty much, what everybody who is anybody .. has already said. (Lightbulb? Enlightenment?)

Because everybody knows .. that actions speak louder. A demonstration, no?

» Forgoing Judgment to Entertain Compassion

Hemingway not only wrote memorable novels, but he was also a life-long student of the craft.

Gandhi (1869-1948)I particularly took note of what Hemingway says about judgment.

In other words, you cannot understand an issue .. if you are limiting yourself to one perspective.

In this sense, the writer is not about right and wrong.

If you dont put yourself in the shoes of those on both sides of an issue, and feel what they feel, and see the world as they do ..

.. how can the writer ever hope to understand an issue? Any issue? Much less convey the complexity of a conundrum.

Yes, I can see that this is where I should probably mention Trayvon. But, to be honest, I am not ready right now. (Obama already spoke. He is black. Half, anyway. And others seem far more qualified than myself to speak on the matter.)

I am white. All white. But I feel for the black man. How can you not?

So (try to) put yourself in the shoes of the black man (or boy). And see if you can understand ..

.. how he might get this message » "White people think it's okay for a white dude .. to run up on an unarmed black boy .. and shoot his ass dead."

At least, in certain parts of Florida. How about this one? » "You dont belong here .. even if you might live here. And I don't much like the way you look, either."

That's gotta get old, right quick. I think that's kinda what Obama was trying to say (.. getting followed in a store) .. and still be politically correct. That's definitely up there with my favorite Obama moments. That and Newtown.

What do you think would have been the verdict .. if the jury consisted of six blacks (.. instead of six whites)? Would that have made the results any less valid? (Answer carefully.)

» Trayvon Still Dead

SkittlesTrayvon is dead. No verdict can bring him back. Seventeen is so young .. no matter what color you are.

He was unarmed. Nobody disputes that fact. He was shot dead by a white dude.

Nobody disputes that either. The person who shot him dead .. was never even charged with a crime.

Until millions of Americans said, "In what universe is that okay?"

To me, those facts are more relevant .. far more .. than that an all-white jury dismissing a white dude on trial for shooting a black dude .. not so surprising (unfortunately).

I find it challenging .. to put into words things that are not easily put into words. That's why I enjoy trying. And because an effective vocabulary is a powerful thing. The truth can have a liberating effect.

And the residue of the message that I am getting from Florida .. a message that is received way far away .. on the other side of the country .. as something of a distant echo .. from a certain, trans-judicial perspective ..

.. the essence of what you are left with .. the aftertaste, if you will ..

.. goes something like this » It was really Trayvon who was on trial (.. yes, wearing his hoodie) and they kept asking him » "Why did you do that, Trayvon? Why did jump in front of that bullet?"

I'm gonna pull a Cézanne here and leave out something from Florida. See if you can tell what I left out.

Either way, these are not the kinds of messages that we want to send .. as the leader of the free world. Because, if we are really the leader, then the free world is in trouble.

In keeping with the tenets of web site optimization, today's entry has been broken into FOUR PAGES. The next page is posted here » Not Talking About Writing - Part 3/4.

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