Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Cityscape: New York, Church of St Luke in the Field

In a far corner of the walled garden the tallest of the trees stands shaking its pyramid of green against the rich blue of the sky. The wind rushes against it and its leaves bowl and tumble back and forth.

Ivy climbs the crumbling brickwork of a small cave-like building that could once have been a stable. The leaves hang over its entrance, the thick climbing branches stretch like fingers accross its windows.

From the beds of lush green foliage the sudden red and purple of unknown flowers spring forth. Smaller kindly looking trees lean in to offer them shade, their branches drooping like a dog's uncut fringe, as if they are hiding eyes.

The shaded bench is wet, the gardener's hose must have swung past this spot only recently. The effect is strangley tropical and allows one to imagine a lake or pool, as if these small fragments of water could be the memory of something larger.

The traffic washes by, the birds screech and chirrup. One bird stands out above all others. It whistles and repeats:

Woop! Coo coo coo coo coo

As I write, she lowers her voice as if she knew I were listening and taking this as a cue, I check my watch and make my way over to the river.

Writers 3-2: J.M.G. Le Clézio: The Vortex of Circumstances

The pine covered mountain disappeared in a flighty cloud of thick mist, enclosing the surrounding bushes and schist rocks wildly in an apparently chaotic curling and drifting wind within seconds. Eye sight became impossible beyond a few meters, disintegrating the basic notion of direction, even when walking down the hardened channel of the asphalt road I had walked down a hundred times. The wind started singing and dancing around the house, knocking on the doors, trembling the glass panes in the window frames, slamming them out of their places, rattling the shutters and hinges, breaking off every obstacle on the house. The mountain spirit remained silent during this engorging prelude, but once hidden by the full cover of its breath, the air started to rumble and grumble like a ravenous lion. At ever increasing intervals, the lethargic drumming rhythm of loud bangs could be heard in the sky, falling down like meteores, as if the wind picked up the schist rocks that had broken off the mountain skeleton, and threw at the concrete boxes that caused it to itch, immediately dying out while lingering in the air all around, absorbed by the mist again, diluted in its void, the intestines of the mountain that had turned inside out. No lightning, the sky itself had been swallowed, imploded, vanished, never existed but in the fata morgana of a temporary breach, like a gap in the weather, a glitch of lucidness that allowed for only a day a view of the coastline and the horizon.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Rolling Dice

A man grabs the wooden case of a backgammon game from the pile of boxes on the corner table. He opens it on the small wooden table where his friend is seated, and sits down himself. They place the white and red stones in their respective corners, and throw the dice. His friend collects the dice and throws again, the pieces start to hit the board with loud splashes, followed by a short silence. The conversation falls silent but for the mocking comments that accompany each move. On the small table inside the taverna two little children play cards. In the kitchen a woman pulls up her socks and straightens her dress. She picks up a booklet of cross word puzzles and a pencil. Stares at the list of hints, at the grid of randomly placed, checkered black and white squares and puts the pencil's end to her lips. With a sharp reflex her hand jumps to the paper and scribbles a word down, and she crosses the hint out with a firm stripe. At each side of a narrow, fold-able table four black men sit down to play domino, their feet pointing outward at the table's legs forming an uninterrupted eight pointed star from tow to crotch. A snake pattern of white plastic squared stones emerges on the table, under the nervous rattling of stones being shuffled in their hands. Loud voices shout over another, followed by a deep, billowing laughter. How light must they look upon life, how meaningless does their existence become, to play games and avoid any serious effort to pursue a higher dream. They fill their lives with rolling dice and forming meaningless patterns of endless silliness in these children's games; Life must bore them utterly, they must bore life. How are you doing? Good, good, but they bore me. How is he? What is he doing now? He's winning, losing maybe. Playing poker, smashing a card with a dull echo on the table as if he battles on life and death, with an expressionless stale face. There is the pride to remain stoic, what stoicism has become, to not flex a muscle, to hide the inner excitement, the crunching disappointment at the randomness of the hand being dealt, to vein control over chance in life. But it is a philosophy without sophism. I find it impossible to withhold my boredom, it gusts out, to not express remaining absolutely unstirred by this silliness. To live life to gamble on a lucky lot to fall into your hands.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Great Mediocre Novel

One day I will write a novel with ordinary protagonists and common antagonists, with a neighbor of whom we only are informed about the shape of his face but come to know nothing else, and where the only events take place on or around the corner near home or inside the living room of an apartment on the second floor, and the twists out of which the plot is constructed form a straight red thread around which the characters with their simple tics and predictable habits are build, the only actions that the characters undertake consist of the collection of their waste in their trash bin in the kitchen or the bathroom or bringing their garbage to the general red or yellow dumpster on the street corner, meeting one another casually on their way to post a bill payment or while washing their hands in the public bathroom, listening to the flushing of water from the toilet cell next to them staring at the shuffling of two pair of unknown brown leather shoes, a man reflecting on his laundry spinning in the laundromat, looking at a woman folding her colored knickers on the plastic table top, the heroine taking her clothes off before taking a bath, in the morning the day starts with a shower of lukewarm water on a cloudy day, a line of people waiting for a stranger rummaging in his purse for the exact change at the grocery store, while the fingers of the cashier run over the where the drawer of the cash register, then the plot seems to unravel, tension is building when the ATM is out of order and the protagonist has to walk half a mile for the nearest bank office in order to withdraw cash, where one sits in an office with beige desks and white walls all day watching the price of stock going up and going down again, where the main topic of conversation is the weather of that day and the coming weekend, where the critical dialog takes place during a flighty meeting where a shallow greeting is exchanged without any feelings attached, while someone walks through a red light and a car beeps its horn while everyone goes their own way, except for one blurred face staring out of the window from the third floor, drawing nobody's attention at all, with a preface thanking this and that unknown person, and finally culminating in an ending at the last line of the last page with the words 'to be continued' and three single dots.

Barbarism Begins at Home

Mrs Thatcher, show us exactly where you were when you gave the order to sink the Belgrano.

I was exactly here. This is the chair I sat in when I decided to sink the Belgrano.

How many were killed, I forget?

Oh, let me see. Between 320 and 360 I'm not sure exactly. A triumph for Britain.

And of course for yourself.

In a way. But one must understand that Britain could not look weak in the public eye.

And it was important that you not look weak too I suppose.

But the important thing was to protect our boys in the area. That is all I cared for.

Right. Although the ship was moving away from the Falklands Islands when you ordered it to be sunk. Away from 'our boys' as it were.

Thank you so much for coming.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

New York Welcomes Post-Industrial Men

Candidates MUST:

be hardworking
be a team player
be energetic
be highly motivated
have a great personality
be pleasant and efficient
have experience in fashionable, socially dynamic environments
possess a personal sense of style and hospitality
speak fluent English
be comfortable in a fast-paced environment
be able to take initiative
be passionate
have common sense
be self motivated
have excellent communication skills
be efficient at multitasking
have a good memory
be bright and motivated
be organized
be self-proficient
have a clear speaking voice
be reliable
be responsible
be computer literate
be a self starter
be well organized
be capable of handling a very busy calendar
be a pro-active problem solver
be detail-oriented
have the ability to follow instructions
have the ability to follow through on projects
show commitment to accuracy and detail
have the ability to work well independently as well as with other staff members
be dynamic and proactive
be thick skinned
have the ability to stay calm under pressure
be flexible and adaptable to change
have a “do whatever it takes mentality”
be able to work long hours
demonstrate a corporate and highly professional presence
be able to prioritize and execute multiple concurrent activities
have experience in troubleshooting technology software/hardware
have high level of interpersonal skills
be able to work quickly and accurately in a demanding environment

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Landscape 7: Concrete Living

A wall of wooden planks is erected straight upward into the air, at the oblique side of the mountain slope, in an apparent random location in the landscape, a wedge of air in between the wall and the mountain, then the dirt road, next to it, a pile of shattered limestone rocks. The planks are gray and dusty, worn and torn, covered by traces of prior usage and concrete. Near Polikarpos the top of the limestone rock of the mountain pyramid has been scraped off by the dental shovel of a bulldozer. The hill sides run out into the open sea like the barbed tail of one of Poseidon's monsters. At random locations around the island in the pristine ridged mountain range random squared boxes have been scraped and hollowed out of the massive rock. Transformed into several new shapes of popular construction the limestone has been resurected into hundreds of white washed family pensions with little balconies with white taverna chairs at the doorside, green or blue shutters, homes half under construction, never to be finished, the steel rods rusting like newly constructed ruins on the rooftops, empty skeletons in the maquis landscape devoured by the goats. A little further, leaning against the stapled rock, brown red matrices of woven steel rods, leaning against the rock, unused, along eight concrete tubes of one meter in diameter for rain water drainage. Out of the concrete ceiling, electrical wire hangs down, hastily attached dangles a light bulb without shading. A hole in the wall crumbles open, and the television cable is led loosely on the ground to where the television now temporarily stands. In the bedroom facing the south east, from where the tormenting winter rains flooded the mountain slope, black stains of mold have formed. You could paint them over with white paint when spring comes, like the rest of the house, but they would return the next season again. When it rains, the walls suck in the water, until saturated, they burst like blisters, the rain pours directly into the hall, the supporting wall that separates the kitchen and the living area, until the towels are drenched too, and the blankets, and the shoes, the suitcase. Concrete is the lego of the islands. Bridge railing and bridges, road sides, dividing walls, the staircase to the beach, roads, squares, the moles at the harbor, the dockage, the ferry landing, the ramp up the mountain, transformer houses, the hydro-electric dam, the pig stable, the water reservoirs to irrigate the olive grove, the balustrade, the balcony, the chapel, the church, the belfry.

Best Wishes, Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Dear Sir,
Thank you for your letter of April 24th, and for your response to my recent NY Times article. I also appreciate your sharing your views with me.
Best wishes,
Henry Louis Gates, Jr.


Dear Mr. Gates,
I enjoyed reading your provocative op-ed article in the NYTimes, using the insightful research by David Eltis. In addition, I wanted to add a small comment to your thesis that reparations would not be practical. This conclusion is fully based on the premise that the origin of slavery represents the damages, but I believe that the bulk of the suffering took place in the upkeep of slavery in the United States. Hence, reparations should largely be based on further research in the geographical concentration and nature of slavery in the US. I personally disagree therefor with your reconciliatory tone, justified by the ratio of practicalities.
With kind regards,

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Individualism: Part 1. An interview with Wilde, Huxley, and Rand

INT: Good evening. Tonight we are going to talk a little about individualism, the extent to which man can raise his voice above the crowd, and can come to understand his position within the world. Joining me this evening to discuss this, are three of the worlds most prolific writers and thinkers from the last 150 years; Mr Oscar Wilde, Aldous Huxley, and Ayn Rand.


Oscar, we're all individuals aren't we?

OW: Are we dear boy? How extraordinary. No, I think one could argue that Individualism can and does exist but is very much limited to the few and specifically, those who can afford it. The true individual is able to lift himself above the clamorous claims of others, to rid himself of the need to live his life for other people. There are some great men of science like Darwin for example, or poets such as Keats who have managed to stand, as Plato says, "under the shelter of the wall" and so to realise their true potential, the potential of what lives inside one, but no, sadly the vast majority of the population, of this country at least, exists in a world of unhealthy and exaggerated altruism.

INT: Are you saying altruism is bad?

AR: I want to pick up on a point here, just to answer your question briefly - yes, but more than this existing in a world of forced altruism, forced physically by a state or self imposed by religion is worse than unhealthy, it is evil. Man should exist on his own merits alone, should be an end in himself. By that I mean that man should hold the right to pursue his own happiness, that this is indeed his moral purpose in life and this being the case, that laissez-faire Capitalism is the only environment in which man can flourish as an individual human being.

AH: But I think I would take issue there insofar as Capitalism, as a backdrop to pursuing individualism, can only lead to clusters of petty dictators, lording over groups of workers in much the same way as we understand totalitarian Communist dictators to and I really don't see a difference in the structure of oppression.

AR: Free, laissez-faire Capitalism does not lead to monopolies and dictators as Communism does. Marx posited the opposite. He was wrong but we have clung to that idea as if it were gospel.

OW: Not so. Socialism, or Communism, or whatever you want to call it, ultimately leads to self-governence and freedom from any structure of power. Not only that but it frees one from property by converting it into public wealth. Property is demoralising, public wealth eradicates the vulgarity of charity - which I should say perpetuates the very core of the problem. No the key to Individualism lies in what man is, not what man has and he should be able to rise from the torpid groove which pushes him to accumulate more and more material wealth without addressing what he is truly capable of.

AR: I agree on your points of man understanding 'what he is' and 'what he is capable of'.

AH: Also, I think it's fair to say that laissez-faire capitalism can only force man to live on a global scale, further disenfranchising him and disconnecting him from the world and others immediately around him

AR: But not if you disconnect economics from the state, then it would be impossible.

AH: But it can only lead to an understanding of Individualism on one level, that is, the individual's pursuit of money...

AR: The individual's pursuit of happiness...

AH: The individual, so far as I see it, can only exist when he contributes directly to society and he can only do so once 'the crowd' is done away with. By this I mean, that majority rule on mass scale can not be accepted. With decentralization, which I strongly advocate, man works within a group - smaller and more distinctive that the crowd, his voice is heard and his voice matters. From here, from this direct contribution to the world about him he comes to believe in himself as an individual. Ms. Rand's particular brand of Individualism can only lead to Napoleans and Hitlers. I have always failed to understand why society celebrates those who trample upon others and clamber to the top of the pile.

INT: I'm afraid we have to cut to a commercial break.

OW: Oh, how vulgar.

AH: You wouldn't get this on the BBC old boy.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Writers 3-1: J.M.G. Clézio: Checkers

I look out from a window at the corner of third avenue and forty ninth street, all is unraveling, there is decay, past tense, promises not kept. The impossible feeling that I see every one and everything, it all is possible only because it is disintegrating already, the yellow cabs, venomous fruits of a tin landscape covered in lead clouds, an Indian prince his lungs already in a state of collapse behind the drive wheel, giving instructions for software customer support through a hand-held to recover a hard-drive already erased by a virus, the meter for a Mumbai wedding ticking, a wedding with an already unhappy wife with a happy lover and a deceived husband, the sky nothing more than a bumped Roman mirror, reflecting the folly image of the glass checkers board of city offices, one stone jumping over the other, the clicking on the pavement, like the stone hitting the board by force to speed the loss, of three girls in high pumps, one already moaning under the weight of an overweight, overpaid, overconfident executive, her overestimated love for the night enhanced by twelve dollar cocktails, all paid for with laughter and smiles in return, not knowing to choose from which, loveless, I choose to look away at the herd of lighted and darkened offices, guarded by security officers with intimidating badges, labels and stitches, with broken up families, not certain what to do with their lives, they too, ordering drinks, four dollar beers, one fool jumping over the other, and finish my glass of red wine, Vinsantos 2004, from Santorini, because I only drink wine from grapes grown on the ashes of vanished civilizations, dried in the sun, an unbroken genetic line of descend, but on this board no kings, no queens, no knights, no castles, we are all unnamed pieces, not even pawns, soulless, already dead before the game starts, sushi rolls on a black plastic tray with transparent cover, fake crab, avocado and cucumber, fake ginger, a Korean smile and thoughts about the family capital of twenty thousand dollars and a college fund, not even good enough for community college, but even suicide cannot evade such a shameless death of living, so I look away, but the split image of souls and bodies, false forms of truth that race up and down the thousands years old city plan of squares, is even out there, now and then, I close my eyes, and every time I skip, I blink, I miss a piece, and another wretched man is born, the first act of each new born, to tear apart his mother's vagina, and every one screaming, crying, tears flow, and a slimy miser makes an impression, for the hundred and billionth time a new unique moment, we keep believing it, and we go and drink, and fuck and fall in love, and I don't even dare to go out anymore.

Friday, June 18, 2010

On England: Lawrence Durrell

"Everyone loathes his own country and countrymen if he is any sort of artist."
Lawrence durrell in a letter to Henry Miller, 1948

Rambling Thoughts on Libraries

If Cicero is right, and a room without books is like a body without a soul, what then becomes of the city without libraries?

It is rumored that in next year's budget Mayor Bloomberg plans to reduce aid to New York's libraries by 74 million dollars. This would mean a large number of libraries, particularly those in Brooklyn and Queens would have to close. Is this important? Do we need even libraries in the digital age?

My initial argument against the 'Kindle' and the 'Nook' was that to say these new methods of reading will replace their predecessors, is to misunderstand the reader's relationship with what is being read. I felt that the Kindle reduced the act of reading to nothing more than 'here is the text, here is the reader' scenario, that it ignored everything else that makes book reading so pleasurable; the weight of the book in your hand, the smell of its pages, in short the sensuality of it. What the arguement ignores however, is that generations brought up with the Kindle could very well make the same case for the demise of 'computer book reading' should something come to replace it. The Kindle, the Nook, and their older more worldly brother 'the internet' should I think, rather than being expected to replace it, sit somewhere alongside the book. Umberto Eco argues this point in his 1994 essay 'The Future of the Book'. New technologies should not be leapt upon so readily as rendering that which goes before them irrelevant - one could argue that the experience of writing by hand differs greatly from writing with Typewriter, which in turn differs from writing with word processor. Is one better than the next? I don't think so, they just employ different methods. The author Will Self has argued, if I remember correctly, that in writing with a typewriter he is better disciplined in his writing - you can't lean on the delete key, you have to go back, re-read and re-work.

What about the library then? If books cross over to the digital world, if we can store so much information digitally, arn't they a waste of space? Yes, I think probably they are, which is sad but not too sad. Eco suggests that booksellers will evolve to offer 'made to order' books, that the encyclopeadia will disappear and that the traditional lending library will fade away. Well then the library must reavaluate its position musn't it? What does it want to offer society? How can it remain relevant? Well how about this:

A large central courtyard where people can stroll and think. Along the shaded and pillared walkways on each of its sides, people sit in groups and talk. In rooms leading off from these walkways we find rooms of computers, others are 'debate' rooms. Each night their are readings and debates. There are spaces for coffee drinkers, wine drinkers, opium eaters. There are writing rooms, both private and communal. Each night there are lectures and classes, all free to the public - free I think, so long as each person in attendance agrees to give a lecture on his or her own topic of conversation. A big human computer I suppose, or a Gymnasium.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Evil of Mother Teresa

Landscape 6: Ducking and Shaving

I drag my feet behind me, my movement is determined by my hips rotating my legs forward instead of lifting my knees up, feet down first. Time has taken on a different measure. The southern summer constitutes a different season all together. A man in his late fifties, notoriously ugly like Plato, with a fat hairy chest, a reddened scrambled face and blond straw mustache, wraps a brown towel around his waist and wriggles his swimsuit off, pulling up a pair of dry undershorts. Three Greek men, unshaven, sun glasses on their foreheads, smoke and converse, gesticulating with chins and arms, formulate a philosophy of trivia. Several people stand in the margin of the water line. Hands leaning on their hips, elbows pointing outward. The wrinkled skeleton of an old woman in black bathing suit stumbled out of the water, arms swinging theatrically as if she's walking on glass. A man with his sunglasses on, in the water up to his ankles stares at the faded horizon. Everyone lost in the reflection of the sun on the water. Only the small children run with a clear purpose into the water. A mother leans back in her beach chair, holding a mini camera constantly pointed at the water line, ready to capture the moment. The shining lean bodies of two girls glide restlessly back and forth on their towels. The jolly comments of a Cockney accent rise from the water. The city walls of Rodos follow the contours of the old harbor. My body tingles from a sticky laziness, a layer of sweaty pearls covers my forehead. I stick my hands and wrists in a fountain at the Therme cafe, cooling off my face and arms. The impression of general stagnation is everywhere. Shops close in the afternoon, ice drinks float from table to table, nourishing the only life in town. Cold blood runs, warm blood stands still, stares in everyone's eyes, body's hanging in chairs, arms affectionately holding a shoulder. I twist open a frozen bottle of water, stir a straw around a frappe and feel the stream flow down my stomach, reviving a spur of consciousness. There is no doubt that intellect dies in such tropic heat, and disappeared a long time ago. Gone are the days of Heraclitus, Protagoras, Pythagoras and sophism. What remains are the pretentious monologues of retired doctors visiting from Athens and the warm-hearted smiles of a few modest professors from Thessaloniki, all evaporating. Two thousand years of irrelevance stuffs the hot air.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Ubiquity of Trefoil

Our house was the largest house in a very small village that was located along the meandering stream of the Maas river that separated Belgium from the Netherlands. A few farms lay scattered around the market square of cobbled brick, on the east side of the market place was the neo-Gothic church and its belfry towering above the roofs of the few houses. Every full hour it rang the number of hours, every fifteen minutes a lone dull tone struck. On Saturday evening and Sunday morning the bell struck for several minutes. Our house stood on the edge of the village, at the end of a field of grain. It was the house with the swimming pool. Only a few days in the year was the water warm enough to swim. On the other side of the village lay the canal that run straight from north to south, parallel to the random twists and curves of the river that formed the official border. In the summer, when the weather permitted us to play outside, I wandered to the sluice and climbed up the steep dike on the sides of the straight canal. I would walk along the canal on the dike's concrete path until I reached the bridge at the next village. A few kilometers away I took the dirt road below leading home again. On my way my eyes were continuously fixated on the grass along the path, looking for patches of clover scattered in the grass. Every now and then I would stop and squad down, and my fingers searched for a four leafed clover in the patch. Most of the times, I did not find any and continued on along the straight canal. In the distance I could see the iron bridge across the water already. A freight ship with a load of sand, three pyramids sticking out above the deck, passed by in the opposite direction toward the sluices. When I saw the red clay tiles of our tilted roofs, I stopped searching and looked at the tilted roof, as if not to loose my way home. People said four-leafed clover was to bring good luck.

The Book of Sumerian Disquiet

Written by an unnamed assistant bookkeeper in the city of Ur

If you ask me whether I am more important than a farmer I would have to say yes. If you asked me why, I would say because I can read and write. But if you push me further on the topic my philosophies on life tend to fall apart. This is why I try not to talk to people too much and prefer to skim stones out to sea in my time off.

This afternoon after finishing my inventory of the grain store I was sent to retrieve the books from two Summers ago so that my boss could compare them. Diligently doing as I was told, I made my way out to the store room located behind the main office building. The sun was rolling accross the sky and beginning to dip slowly toward the horizon. I tried to make a mental note of its movement and colours for a fiction piece I am working on at the moment but I quite often forget life's details as I don't carry note clay.

Inside the store are rows upon rows of baskets filled with stone tablets. Most of the baskets are well labeled, at least they have been since I started, but I find people on the whole to be unreliable, and who knows if my filing system bears any resemblance to the methods assumed by the guy two years before me. The room is neat at least. I'm half proud and half terrified that the great Sumerian legacy, passed down through generations, will be the filing cabinet.

The 'fiction' I'm working on at the moment borrows a little from legend and a little from imagination. It's healthy this way I think, I don't want to pretend to be an original. There's an old story in which the Goddess of Love is the younger sister of her arch enemy the Goddess of Death. I'm trying to write a love story that runs between them, confusing the boundaries and forcing the two girls to swap positions. Will it become myth? Who knows.

Of course the filing baskets are more jumbled the further back you go. I climb to the top shelves where the Summer 3250 BC records should be. Nothing.

Whenever I'm ordered to go to a store room I very rarely expect to find what's needed and I'm very rarely disappointed. It's funny though because I wouldn't write myself off as a pessimist, I still get that tingle of possibility whenever I'm stood in the doorway - the feeling that a system has been put in place and that if I just follow the filing records to the correct date there's absolutely no reason for me not to find what I need.

I return to my boss and explain the situation to him. What do you mean you can't find the tablets? He says. I stay silent.

When he marches me back to the storeroom we find the basket of tablets marked 3250 BC in two minutes and shooting me a look which I take to mean he thinks I'm an idiot, he hands me the basket to carry back to the office. I'm reluctant to share his belief in my idiocy, I mean some people are good at finding things, others aren't. What worries me is that, if I am an idiot, I know I would draw the same conclusion and deny it. Maybe accountancy isn't for me.

In my story the love interest is going to be a fat man in his early forties. He is going to be the boss of a large firm specializing in grain shipment and I am going to kill him off.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Writers 2-1: Emil Cioran: Sleep without Meaning

'What? Excuse me, I wasn't listening,' Cioran said. An old man, his forehead in a permanent frown, his small coal-black eyes without a soul, darkened by a fear for the eternal and his gray eyebrows, wearing a shabby corduroy jacket with white collar shirt underneath, his right hand, his fingers bend in a weak fist of despair, supporting his sleep, his cheeks weighing heavy of old age, a mouth that sighs without relief, this man tapped Cioran briefly on the shoulder. 'I didn't say anything,' the old man said. 'I wasn't listening either way.' Cioran picked up a porcelain cup and sipped from the coffee. He had not been able to sleep for two days, felt mentally urged but physically exhausted at the same time, he could hardly keep his eyes open, felt restless nevertheless. Cioran was a thinker who believed. Only action leads to great ideas, he believed, but Cioran was tortured by the prospect that his efforts were going to be without meaning. Great people are shaped in a moment in time, and timing depends on intuition, coming and going without hesitation, without time for thought. What purpose lay there in a dialog for a man like Cioran, so he remained silent and reflected on this torturous body hanging down from the branches of his skeleton like Dali's melted clocks from a tree. His forehead seamlessly continued into his wavy, gray hair, combed backward, the elongated lifeline of his frown, the groove on his chin, his eye cavities in which the shadows of the world danced like flickering lights, like false ideas.

Cityscape 3: New York

So you hear a woman ask one of the guys packing yoghurts onto the shelves in the fridge section where the Pesto is.

The strange thing about this place is that the cement floor is so polished the neon lighting bounces up and everything that happens in the isles is played out again in reverse beneath your feet.

So you're watching these reverse images and thinking the paragraph above when the woman's voice cuts through asking about the pesto again.

The silence draws a line in the sand somehow and you realise life is pushing you to be the kind of person who isn't quite sure what pesto is or the sort of woman who demands it of strangers as if it's the most natural thing in the world.

Writers 1-2: Hertha Mueller: Freedom and Poverty

A wisp of cloud. Hertha could not remember the second line. She was unsure why she forgot. Was it the presence of the only two friends she could trust that could not be her friends. Was it the admission of their false friendship that she could not bear. She felt tears wanted to flow out of her, but her eyes remained dry. Tears of what, she couldn't decide. The soot mascara. The belt-less dress. The patent stocking. The Swabian smile of an SS man. The wind was dry like her eyes. Her lips did not move, perhaps out of fear of admission. Three men smoked a cigarette on the corner of the street. Hertha did not know if constant fear was terrifying. Words. Her tongue could not even move on the sound of words any more, yet the words existed. Hertha recited the poem to herself in silence. Perhaps it was the poverty that depressed her. The lack of meat. A belt. A belt to hang her self in the closet, like Lola. But all she had were words. Words like a wisp of cloud. Lola had had men like words, but men were like friends you could not have. She turned the corner, entered a court yard. Windows without eyes, only curtains like souls. Hertha sat down on a bench under the plum tree. She looked up at the square of sky above her. It was Spring, but Hertha was cold without a coat, like windows without eyes. She clasped a key in her hand, a key without a home. She missed a home, a home with a plume tree, a closet with dresses, a belt like Lola.

The Phones in Beijing

When Sarah arrived in Christchurch she walked through customs clutching the little piece of torn paper on which Dan had scrawled his number. It was early morning and the world outside the airport was slowly yawning to life beneath a wash of purple light. She made her way over to a telephone booth near the exit and ignoring the lists of numbers for local hotels shakily punched his number into the keypad. There was a pause, then a unfamiliar ring tone, and then the sound of Dan's voice:


"Dan, it's Sarah."

They had worked together in one of the English school's in Beijing. Dan, having been in the country for nearly two years, had had a better idea of how things worked, how to teach the classes, where to go drinking in the evening. She had told him that on her first day she had wandered over to the busy E. Chang'an Avenue, that she had walked aimlessly watching crowds of women carrying umbrellas against the sun. "It seemed so strange and yet so beautiful," she had told him. Clouds of colored umbrellas streaming deliberately along the sidewalks as if caught by a wind she couldn't feel.

The second day she had wandered in the same direction, cutting through a small strip of garden with little ponds filled with golden fish and tall red pagodas standing at their shores. This was more in tune with the China she had expected, more so than the highways and traffic she had seen as the taxi led her from the airport.

At some point that morning, as she moved from one sight to another she had become aware of a young girl walking to her left. "You visiting?" the girl asked when Sarah turned to look at her. She was smiling broadly, and holding her hand as a visor across the top of her eyes to shield them from the sun. Sarah said that she lived there. "Here in Beijing?" The girl said as if she didn't believe her. "Yes." Sarah replied but unconfidently. "You want me to show you some things? Look come with me." The girl took Sarah's hand and led her over to a small bridge straddling one of the ponds. She pointed to it and smiled. Sarah felt silly for having felt so wary of the girl and was even beginning to warm to her. Sarah motioned for the girl to move closer to the bridge so she could take a photo and the girl, understanding what was required of her, leapt into position and thrust two fingers into the air, an international signal for peace, but Sarah couldn't remember if she had ever seen anyone do this in real life.

After they has taken a number of photos, the girl led her out of the park and down small streets where men cycled bikes pulling large trailers behind them and stores selling unrecognizable fruits and vegetables lined the sidewalks. The girl pointed toward them as if to say 'Look, this is China'. At intervals along the street bright orange domes grew from the concrete on sleek silver stems like alien flowers. When the girls saw Sarah looking at them she waved her over to one and said "come, come." She saw that they were phone booths. Suddenly the girl tried to take the camera from Sarah's neck and Sarah lurched back as if she had been waiting for this moment to come. The girl laughed at her. "No, no. I'll take your photo." "In the phone booth?" Sarah asked. The girl nodded. Sarah handed her the camera and then stood beneath the large orange dome, the air was strangely cooler in its shade. As she held the phone to her ear and opened her mouth in a half smile, half mock conversation, the girl snapped a photo and nodded enthusiastically to say that it was good.

After she handed the camera back, the girl looked around and started suddenly as if surprised "Oh! Look here!" She took sarah by the hand and pulled her toward a store.

"Of course she wanted you to buy something" Dan said that evening as they sat in the bedroom Sarah shared with one other teacher. "She wasn't showing you anything for free. What did you buy?" Sarah reluctantly showed him the long rectangular ink drawing of a panda sat amongst bamboo cane. "The store owner also wrote my name in Chinese symbols, look." She showed him the second sheet of paper she had been given and Dan laughed.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Profile Sketch: B Traven

I had nothing to do with the strike. I told you this the first time we met, when you told me what Shine had said about me, that-by pure chance!-a strike always broke out where I was working... Well I can't help that. It's not my fault if men get dissatisfied and want something better...
From 'The Cotton Pickers'

1907 – Appears as Ret Marut in Germany.
1922 – Left Germany for England, arrested in 1923.
1924 – Arrived Mexico, lived as Traven Torsvan in Acapulco.
1947 – Appeared as Hal Croves on the set of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.
1948 – Traven Torsvan disappears following publicity.
1952 – Hal Croves emerges in Mexico City.
1957 – Married.
1969 – Died. His will gives his name as Traven Torsvan Croves.

Wikipedia: B Traven

B Traven: BBC Documentary

Friday, June 11, 2010

Writers 1-1: Hertha Mueller: Ego, Base and Superstructure

Hertha Mueller leafed through the German language manual of a rotary offset printing press. She had never seen the actual model press with her own eyes but only had an impression of the machine from the drawings in the manual. The director of the factory in accordance with a directive from the regional Securitate commissioner had assigned her to translate machine manuals for printing presses. Hertha loathed her work in the factory, even if she was placed in the offices, where she shared a room with two secretaries, one of whom was a snitch for the Securitate. Hertha instinctively felt misplaced around the smell of lubrication grease and human sweat, the boisterous rattle of machinery and the raised voices of holler and commands, all penetrating the office through the cracks, between the frames and the broken glass in the windows. She often thought of her years studying German and Romanian literature. Quietly, she sat tucked away for hours at the end of an isle between two bookshelves, in the university library. Above her the sparse light entered through a tiny broken basement window. She thought of Gretchen's release in Faust, as Mephistopheles shouts 'she is now doomed,' and as she waited for the echoes from heaven, it remained silent but for the hammering and pounding of machinery.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Death Ship: Part -3, Melicertes' Dream

An Account of Melicertes' Forgotten Dream - Taken From Unknown Sources

Image 1:
Their cousin has been living with them for thirteen years. Melicertes and his brother take her to a beach where they each begin to collect shells. As she bends toward the sand her long hair falls from her head. The sea washes in suddenly, rising above their ankles and dragging the hair out with it as it recedes. Melicertes looks in horror to his brother but he hasn't noticed.

Image 2:
His mother pacing outside the house repeating that something has gone wrong. Melicertes asks what and she says, your brother your brother - I think your father has hidden him. Melicertes doesn't understand. He turns and sees that all of the trees that once stood in their garden have been chopped down. A pack of hunting dogs race toward the house. The lead dog has a dead rabbit in its mouth and he hears his mother say, oh no they've killed him.

Image 3:
His Mother dragging him toward her red Fiat 500. Melicertes is crying. His Mother says that he has to come with her.

Image 4:
A cauldron full of boiling water. His mother is chopping onions and dropping them into the water. Melicertes asks what she is cooking and she says that he has to go to bed a seven. He says that he doesn't want to go to bed at seven. She tells him that he must because he is seven years old, when he's eight he can go to bed at eight. This seems to make sense. And then he realises that the cauldren is his bed.

Image 5:
He is in the front seat of his mother's car. He is crying and has an overwhelming feeling that he doesn't want to be there. His mother is silent. The sea rises before them. He feels that on each side of the car is a sheer drop and that they are in danger of falling at any moment.

Image 6:
He is underwater and surrounded by bubbles. He sees his mother swimming ahead of him and he tries to follow her. He worries that he is running out of air but then takes a breath and realises he can breathe. As he swims he is overtaken by a dolphin carrying a body. He swims faster to catch up to it and recognises that the body is him. The dolphin swims away into the dark of the sea.

Death Ship: Part -2

Melicertes wakes to the sight of an unknown room.

The window had been left open the night before, the curtains undrawn so that the Sun washed in on its first tides of light echoing the seawater gathered in rockpools along Limassol's shore. The light makes everything seem fresh and awake; the large wooden wardrobe, the red floortiles, the green flaking paint of the old chair.

A gentle rumble of traffic mixes with birdsong. A line of clay-brown buildings stand close against the window, falling away softly as they follow the slope of the land toward the sea. A slow road winds between them, a haze of heat plays upon its surface.

As Melicertes slips quietly out of bed he sees two other men asleep in the room. One, a boy about his own age asleep in a bed next to his, the other, a man in his mid forties, sleeping on what seems to be a pile of coats, one of them pulled across him as a cover. Melicertes remembers the boy but not the man.

He dresses quietly and leaves the room, tip-toeing the two flights of stairs, waving a good morning to the man at the reception desk. Outside He shields his eyes against the sunlight. The morning is cool and bright and as refreshing as plunging into the sea on the first day of summer. He walks along the shadowed side of a street, making his way down toward the sea. After two or three blocks the road widens to become a square. Melicertes spots a cafe with a terrace of plastic furniture and takes a seat beneath the shade of an umberella advertising Orangina. A girl in a blue and white apron brings him water and he orders a coffee. She shrugs and drifts away to wipe the other tables with a cloth.

Melicertes sips his water and tries to piece together the events of the night before. As he allows his mind to wander, to sift through its collection of pictures, he is interupted by an image he recognises as part of a dream he had woken from that morning. In the image his mother drags him toward her car, a red Fiat 500. He is maybe six years old. He is crying and refusing to get in. In his only other memory of the dream he is sat in the front seat of the car, his mother driving silently and the sea rising in front of them like a tidal wave, a wave rushing toward them as quickly as they are toward it. He hears himself scream.

The waitress brings him coffee and refills his water glass.

He remembers meeting three other boys the night before, each about his own age. He remembers walking aimlesslessly around the town. He remembers two English men trying to convince them to take a taxi to a nightclub in a neighbouring town. At some point they were sat outside a cafe not unlike this one and were each drinking Sambuca. The waitress' boyfriend appeared wearing a police uniform and began waving a gun but he can't remember whether it was to show them the gun or whether he was trying to scare them with it. They left shortly after and must have made they way back the hotel.

He drinks the last of his coffee and the waitress brings him the check. She asks if he's Greek and he says yes. He explains that he is here for work and points to the cruise ship bobbing lazily at the dock. She asks where he's from and he says Orchomenos. After looking out accross the empty square she shrugs and turns back to the cafe and this seems to end the conversation.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Landscape 5: Acropolis of Fun, Food, Fashion

The Papasotiriou bookstore located in the basement. On the top floor, under the sky light roof, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Starbucks, Pizza Fan and Goody's. Life at a profit for all. I stare through the glass windows at bodies, faces. Toddlers, their chubby mums pushing strollers, and a tray of French fries and super sized coke. Greasy, white plastic tables in a larger space, designed to absorb light. A waitress in uniform and bow tie carries away emptied out carton. A young boy in pink polo shirt stares lovingly in the sparkling eyes of his girlfriend. From the bottom shelf, I pull out the back of Hertha Muller's The Passport, almost one hundred pages. Adidas, Nike, Puma, Foot Locker. Columbia, Levis, Diesel, Nine West, Nautica, Quicksilver, Timberland, Benetton, Virgin, Zara. Vodafone, Cosmote, Wind, Germanos. Multirama, FNAC. The insignificant lavishing big brands. Identity and who we are. The small incorporating the large at bargain price. The Village Cinema's doors closed, posters advertising the heroic epic of Robin Hood. Life at the Matrix. The obesity of imagination. The standardization of multivariate data sets and the dictation of target groups and advertising channels, correlated. The mall of masses.

Oscar Wilde in New York: Part 2, Boon Island Light

Boon Island Light. The jagged teeth of rock float upon the ocean's surface, only the Light House rising from them as a hand from the deep screams a warning of light into the night's sky.

The sailors onboard The Almonbird listen to the sound of the waves brushing against the bow of their ship; like footsteps played in reverse. They keep watch for Boon Island.

Toward evening clouds begin to roll accross the sky and the wind rushes in and the waves rise.

Henderson remembered a story he had heard once in a tavern in New York. Someone stumbling up to their table with a mug of beer in his hand and saying,

"of course you boys know the story of Boon Island do you?" The men at the table didn't and so they had made room for the stranger.

"It started back in 1682 with an old ship called The Increase . Four men marooned on the island, one of them an Indian. They survived on gull's eggs until the Indian sees smoke rising from a hillside and thinks to make a fire himself. They got lucky. You don't live for long on eggs alone. In 1710 when the Nottingham Galley upturned and left her men stranded on Boon they killed and ate one another. What do you boys think about that? Would you have a go at eating one another?" They didn't like the man's wheezing laugh and they didn't think much of his horror stories.

"Mark my words; steer clear of Boon Island." He ended as if this were the punchline to a wonderfully original joke and wheezing merrily slapped each man on the back before standing to join another group at the bar.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Oscar Wilde in New York: Part 1, Corwin Ohio

Wind sweeps across the corn stumps covering the barron fields on each side of the small house. Two crows startled by something soundless and unseen explode skyward and take refuge in a leafless tree at the furthest corner of a field. We see now what has scared them; a pony and trap is running the length of a white dust track leading from the main road to the door of the house. It cuts straight through the field close to where the crows had been.

One man, a whip and a bag are riding in the trap. We see them as black shadows against the harsh white of the track.

The town of Corwin, Ohio is bleak and forgotton; a cluster of farm houses clinging to a road that runs hard and fast both into and immediately out of the town. A weather vein squeaks in circles from a barn roof. A dog looks up from the porch of the house. The door opens behind him as the trap pulls to a halt.

"Doctor Monroe?"

The Doctor takes his time on the staircase, he plants his steps with a sense of calm deliberation and seems to revel in each wheezing creak he creates.

"Is the boy in the far room?"

"Yes Doctor".

"I think you better stay downstairs."

Mrs Philips pauses for a moment on the lower step but she does as he says. She returns to the kitchen where a small fire burns. The fire is so small we hadn't seen the smoke from outside but we can imagine it now rising in thin curling fingers from the chimney.

She takes a crow's meat pie from the table and cuts into it. The crust is think and black at the edges but inside the meat is only half cooked. There's blood on the knife.

The bedroom door opens slowly and the Doctor's head appears from behind it. The boy sees a top hat, small pinching glasses locked to the high bridge of a thin nose, and large grey-white sideburns running each side of it. He breathes quickly through gritted teeth as the doctor approaches the bed.


The boy nods. The doctor asks him to focus on a spot on the ceiling and pulls back the bedcovers.

"Who did this to you?"

The boy says nothing.

"Your Mother thinks you did it yourself."

The boy moves his head to look at the wall to his left.

When the doctor enters the kitchen the pie has gone and Mrs Philips is sat at the table gazing out of the small window looking out onto the snow scortched fields. She turns to him as he places the bag upon the table top. He takes his overcoat from the back of a chair.

"You're sure he did it himself?"

"Who else would be out here? I figure he led on top of the musket and just pulled the trigger somehow. Will he be ok?"

The doctor pulls a black leather glove over his left hand.

"For now but not for long. The charge passed straight through him. I gave him something to help him sleep, let him rest a while."

Mrs Philips hangs her head.

"Since his father died he's done nothing but read these dangerous books, I can only think that's the cause - adventure stories and the like. God only knows what they do to a boy's mind."

"Are you sure no-one else could be involved?"

Framed by the window, the two crows abandon their treetop and return to the field.

"No, it's them books alright Doctor."

Landscape 4: The Hands of Georgos

The hands of Georgos rested on his knees. His body was of the Doric order, not the gracious Ionian, not the rich Corynthian. The hairs of his thick mustache hung like dry straws over his wet lips talking. He posed a rhetoric question. 'Why?' I didn't answer. In the same breath followed with certain intonation and the emphasis on 'tell,' his own reply 'I will tell you why.' It was not a question. The skin of his fingers was like dried leather browned by the sun, weathered by the southern winds that carried sand crystals from the Sahara and preserved by the salt of the sea.
'We need nothing.'
'We have everything we need.'
I tried to reverse the order of these two sentences that seemed to hold the key to kingdom.
'We have everything because we need nothing.'
Georgos reached for his can of beer that stood close to the fire. He only drank his beer hot. His hand trembled, as he stretched it out far from his body, while his back remained straight. Georgos was eighty five years old, but when he spoke, his eyes sparkled and his words spat fire.
'I am the drunkest man in town,' he boasted.
'I have tomatoes, agurki, onions, grapes, figs, olives, lemons, oranges, many trees, I have many trees.'
I was going to miss Georgos. He would live a hundred years, Georgos was a tree of a man, the muscles of his arms like twisted heather, but every year another friend died, another branch broke off. How long can a man live alone with nothing.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Death Ship: Part -1

Letter Translated from German

April 7th, 1841: Hamburg

Dear Mother

I am in Hamburg now. I came here last Monday and have taken a room on BruderStraBe. The room is small and the street a little noisy but I don't mind so much as I will only be here another three days.

I am sure that Father has told you by now that I have signed up as a cabin boy on the Ship Dorothea. I don't want you to worry too much though. The ship is bound for Venezuela and I expect to be there only a month or two at most before returning and then, well who knows, maybe I go to sea again or maybe I'll choose to settle here.

I can't tell you how much I wish the ship were headed for Greece. Imagine how happy I would be to have two months in Athens! But nevermind, the important thing is adventure and I will certainly have that. The next letter you receive from me will be sent from Caracas!

Your loving Son

Heinrich Schliemann

Unito No Mas Y Ve

Unito No Mas Y Ve from carackus on Vimeo.

Unito No Mas Y Ve, by Elsye Suquilanda (2010) carackus.blogspot.com

Drink'n'Draw 1: On Demand

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Death Ship: Part 0

He remembered a time when it was just the two of them; him and his brother.

Quiet, cloudless days in Orchomenos. He would hide for hours until a voice would cry 'Melicertes...'. Softly at first, as if his name were being tested against the wind, as if its sound alone were smoke from a Djinn's lamp promising his reappearance. He would wait until the voice came closer, trailing thin footsteps behind it. He would wait until he could hear the first notes of panic beginning to chime amongst its rythms.


And then he would leap from his hiding place to yell "LEARCHUS!" Making his poor brother scream with fright and leaving them both in fits of laughter.

One lunchtime they run home to find their mother sat at the kitchen table nervously chopping potatoes for their lunch. She tells them to wash their hands and wrings her own against her apron. As they eat she explains that their cousin is coming to live with them. For ever? They ask almost in unison. She doesn't answer. Haven't you always wanted a sister? She says. They are silent. Isn't our cousin a boy? Learchus asks. They are sent to their room.

Later that evening they hear an extra pair of feet pad quietly up the stairs and understand that their cousin has arrived.

Landscape 3: Rembetiko

All day it had rained, interrupting a hesitant summer that was late already. I pulled out a sheet of rolling paper, picked a tuft of Golden Virginia tobacco with my thumb and finger tops, and rolled a thin tsigaro. I struck the match against the box and lighted the cigarette with its flame. I inhaled a breath of relief, squeezed my left eye and looked around. The house of the community was filled to the last seat. New seats were passed along over the heads of people waiting for their drinks, cocktails in white plastic cups or cans of Mythos, at the bar, three tables covered with a white bed sheet. A half crescent of chairs was lined up on stage with microphone standards at waist length. Three socialist red curtains hung from the ceiling against the back wall, the stage lightened by six colored light bulbs, green, red, yellow, blue, yellow, red, hanging from a thick black electric cord. The pie baker walked to and fro, occupied and nervous, with a wasteful haste. The petrol man sat quietly at the far end table of the bar with the bottles of tequila and Red Label Johnny Walker. He greeted every familiar face with a broad Ikarian smile and dark frowned eyebrows. I recognized the doctor with his long pony tail, his droopy eyes, who studied the high number of cancer occurrence on the island. The room filled with smoke, leaving a hazy air of ashy smell and the tones of a lost era of open markets, crowded streets, tiny waterfront tavernas, passenger ships and refugees disembarking. The melancholic ruffling of the bouzouki, the bass of a classic guitar, the tearing of the violin and the soothing of the accordion, dancing away on the clouds of drifting mist in the early morning.

BBC Documentary on Rebetika Part 1

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Cityscape 2: New York

Steam rising from a drain at the intersection of Broadway and Grand streets. It pours north along Broadway, shrinking back like a startled animal with each passing car before starting its journey again.

They are filming in the supermarket at the corner of Mulberry and Prince. What does it mean to look at the city from the perspectve of a writer and as a filmmaker? Part of me thinks that the filmmaker is doomed to see only a fragmented world, to understand the landscape in terms of how well it can be framed and to the extent that stories can pass through it. Perhaps the Writer is better able to blur the lines between cities of the mind and cities of reality and to build bridges between them. Or perhaps not?

An empty white pickup truck parked along the side of Crosby Street. Its windows are open. Laughter from a Spanish radio station spills into the street.

Thinking about Charles Dickens and V.S Naipaul as I wander toward Prince street. Both seem to find comedy in the pettiness and triviality of everyday life. Dickens finds this heart warming and laughs with it. Naipaul, despite rendering everyday worlds lovingly, seems to laugh at it. I'm thinking specifically of Great Expectations and The Mystic Masseur.

A group on a Pizzeria tour of New York are hundled together outside Ray's Pizza. At the front of the group a boy waves Pizza menus and tells stories. People smile and laugh at his jokes, the same jokes that rise toward my window each Saturday. I know parts of his routine by heart. I find myself observing the group now as Charles Dickens, now as V. S. Naipaul.

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Frenzy, Frank

'But ... where is the frenzy, Frank, the bang, the boom, buddy, the slang, the oof, the awe, man, the puzzling pinnacle, the dithyrambic dazzle, the mind blowing wit! Where is it? I don't see it. It is missing.'

'Because I want to portray the slow digression in the opening, I wanted to introduce the daunting detail of every day, the common element in every one's life, you know, the benign, the petite, the insignificant, the ordinary.'

'Well, I can't publish it like this. You need to drag in the stranger with a hook, grab their attention with a forceful act, persuade the casual reader, create their curiosity and awaken their empathy.'

'That's exactly why I start so small. Everyone can immediately identify with the plain, the prattle of coffee on the kitchen counter at seven in the morning. It's a symbolic dripping through the filter of every day life.'

'But it doesn't distinguish the antagonist, you must create the extraordinary, the fantastic, what is special, there's nothing heroic in there now.'

'Precisely my point, the drama is hidden in every common person, the theater of life is present and enacted in every person's life, and it starts on an empty stage, the tragedy slowly unfolds, never does the reader recognize when fate takes a turn, by the hour but without notice, the big drama in life comes in the form of a subtle sadness.'

'No, no, no... I can't sell such sensitive, gay nonsense, it's too intellectual, too transgressive, if you want to sell your work, you cannot think like a playwright, think like a Hollywood director, the big picture, brother. Where is the explosive opening, the disastrous event, the fireworks, think Broadway! If no body dies, no body cares.'

Catharsis 1: Portrait of the Artist by an Italian Man

So the guy is a faggot. What do you want me to say? Yeah ok you could say he's nice but what do I care for nice. I ask him what he thinks about his team winning the Grand Prix. He don't know fuck all.

One time we are both stood by the till and he tries to ask me about the World Cup. I say, what do you know about the world cup? He don't know nothing, forget about it.

This morning I tell him he's shy. He thinks for a moment and says yes, do I think that's a negative thing? Do I think that's a negative thing? This faggot don't know nothing about the city. The city breaks you, you know? Like it makes you tough like in that film Taxi Driver. I tell him you gotta get strong like the city and he says or the city can adapt itself to me. I ask him to repeat himself 'cause I don't speak fag and then I say oh yeah, that'll be a cold day in hell, because the day New York welcomes faggots like him, forget about it.

He gets nervous around me which I like. I say don't get nervous, I don't bite, but I'm going to fire him next week so there you go, that's life.

Mid way through the day this girl comes in and he says its his girlfriend. She's nice you know like she speaks Italian and that. She says where you from and I say Sweden you know 'cause I'm funny like that. When she goes I'm confused a little and I say to him that's your girlfriend? I thought you were gay? I dunno if I ever thought he was but it makes him uncomfortable you know and I like that.

HTML Giants

Beauty lies beyond the eye
An open window to the soul
Who knows then how to bring her forth
Then knows the beauty of control

Unofficial Company Motto, written by Fabrice K. Gautier, President and Worldwide Creative Director, !Gautier LLC.

"Thank you for coming in so early." The company president said. It was icy cold in the conference room, despite the entire staff being huddled there. "I want to tell you two things"

"One. We are in the midst of a revolution. I want you to understand that this is a revolution sweeping throughout the advertising industry. It is an ugly revolution but a revolution nonetheless. We have prided ourselves for so long now on the power of poetry, on the power of beauty to strike to the core of the consumer. To elevate them. To make their purchase decisions matter. This relationship is now in flux. For every generation technologies emerge, they challenge how we perceive life, how we engage with one another. The written word is dead, I have destroyed all of my books and I urge you to do the same. The printed ad is dying, the magazine industry... Ah..."

His speech dissolved into sobs. There were many heads nodding thoughtfully around the room. The Deputy Senior Associate Group Account Manger stepped forward, resting a comforting arm upon the President's shoulders.

"This is a trying time for us all" The Deputy Senior Associate Group Account Manager continued where her president had left off.

"As an agency we intend to meet the challenges of a new world head on. When you return to your desks you will each find a questionnaire. Please fill this out and return it to me as soon as possible this morning. It is imperative that we are aware which of you is conversant in modern technologies and which of you is not. Thank you so much for your time."

The employees shuffled from the conference room and returned to their seats.

At his desk Mark studied the questionnaire that lay before him. It was a very simple 'yes' 'no' box ticking affair. Do you understand HTML, do you understand Flash, do you understand social networking. He was disappointed to find himself ticking 'no' for a large number of questions. He could operate a facebook page but he couldn't have told you how the thing was designed. He looked around at his colleagues. Each of them was staring down, a look of deep concentration fixed upon their faces. He looked particularly at the older Senior Associate Creative Directors. If new times called for new methods and new strategies, where would they fit in to all of this?

Later that afternoon, after a day of filling out purchase order forms and expense sheets, he was beckoned into the General Manager and New Business Director's office. The General Manager and New Business Director was a thin man in his early forties. It was his job to steer the ship so to speak, to oversee each of the accounts, and to generally manage. "Mark, please take a seat." He said.

Mark sat on the pilates ball that doubled up as chair. It was good for posture, but left its user bobbing in such a way that it was difficult to conduct serious conversations whilst straddled across it. It was for this reason that they had been banned from client meetings and new business pitches.

"Mark" He began. "I want you to understand that we value the work that you have done for us here."

Mark phased out.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Maslow Mystery

I preferred to say nothing. Silently, I sat at the bar, staring, thinking, ideas bouncing off the dancing horde anonymously, my thoughts, a pinball machine jittering visuals of excited pinheads forgotten in the corner, without lust, without interest, my words slammed against the obstacles of bodies, breaking on their surface. In a fraction of a second, the option of a full conversation was fast forwarded, deterring me from approaching, from participation. I had developed a second nature like a mosquito net to avoid eye contact. I hated the buzz of shallow glimpses of conversation, females tittering, males joking loudly, the drum ruffle of alternating bass and soprano, the syrinxes of silliness clamoring their staccato joys. I opened my book and read, interrupted by jotting down notes of thoughts, the mechanical and mistaken association of random impressions in my head. To actualize my self I ordered a Bloody Mary, stirred it with the celery stick and fished out the olives. Quietly I spent around an hour before I decided to leave. I had exhausted my thoughts, letting my frustration freely flow, and I didn't want to drink too much tonight. I walked home, the streets were empty, the night was unusually dark. No one noticed me, like I noticed no one. Even the most remarkable men were only noticed by their own belief they mattered. The others at most tolerate man. What a man can be, he must be, Maslow wrote. But there was nothing to be, nothing to must. Who was this Maslow but the five strata of a pyramid? Who was this man that took such notice of him self, and is this how we see our self, as the filtrate of random association on a measure of logic? When we see man, we see nothing but his shadow.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Rivers of the Underground: Cocytus

Alas, formidable river, Cocytus. Nor baptism nor deluge washed clean my soul. No interest, no profit paid my debts. Here a sinner, I am, carried by this stream of consciousness, a frozen soul. If life is treacherous, nothing so compared to Hades. What priceless joy I thought to last forever, now lifts me from these misers? The price of passage, little, I would exchange all the happiness in life. Who can say they know the currents of the Cocytus? At the center, buried to my waist, the traitors of self, at the navel of being three faces, the father, the son, and the spirit. The surface of Cocytus a mirror that reflects the image of god, the self that could have been, and the horrific eyes, most feared by all, forced to look away in eternity.

Death Ship: Part 6

Later that day the sea turns against us. In the moments after this video was taken a siren sounded, a voice urged us to return to our cabins.

For a moment I imagine the suddeness of the sea's rage is connected to the discovery of the body earlier this morning. Why should the sea care what happens onboard Le Dauphin?

Death Ship: Part 5

We had been at sea three days days when the body was found.

Having been assigned to 'clean up' duties, the lowest available, I have spent my days roaming the ship with a brush and black plastic sack. I move between the carpet layers, the carpenters, the painters. I sweep here and there. I have found two sections of the ship where I am able to hide, killing two, perhaps three hours at a time.

Spirits on board the ship are running low. The heat and sight of endless sea has made the air thick and lugubrious. It lays heavy, as another load for us workers to carry.

On a deck above the Asian men lay in the sun; smoking, sunbathing. Every so often the shrill machine gun fire of their laughter pierces through the heat and every man below imagines it to be directed at him. I miss a pile of unswept dirt, the carpet layer slices a misplaced finger against a backdrop of happiness.

For three days they have fed us nothing but rice.

We eat together; workers on one side of the canteen, non workers on the other. We sit in silence. They speak loudly in unknown voices.

They find his body half hidden behind crates in a storage room at the bottom of the ship. In his pocket they find a letter addressed to Melicertes Palaemon and so both newspaper articles had been wrong. There is a contact name and telephone number in Greece.

The discovery seals the workers into silence. Laughter still drip fed to us from the decks above. Eyes are cast up.

I overhear a Scottish carpenter say "that dead boy was one of us."

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Yoko Ono Peace Message

Thanks for following! love, yoko IMAGINE PEACE: Think PEACE, Act PEACE, Spread PEACE

dear yoko, peace is stagnation.
my friend, peace is stagnation, an end to war, imagine peace. love, yoko
i love to disturb, move on, everything flows, my imagination is driven by battling ideas. peace bores me. c
to fight is to suffer, you must elevate yourself above strive, peace, yoko.
dear yoko, you sound like a cow whose stomach is slowly digesting the same thoughts over and over. c
dear c, you sound disturbed.
yes, yes, now you understand, and loving it. now you excite me for the first time.
you run away it seems, you avoid peace, maybe you are afraid of love. if you hate, you hate your self. love your self. love yoko
afraid, not afraid, afraid, not. peace is scary for new thoughts. maybe you are just old. maybe you are tired.
my friend, dare to imagine a world of love, love is ageless. embrace peace. yoko
a world full of love, is an empty space to me, only in a world of opposites, of strive am I happy. c
maybe you never knew real love, dare to find peace, yoko
no thanks