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Interview with Walter Carlos, 1/15/12

You have the same name as the famous

Yes. It’s haunted me my whole life. I didn’t invent the Moog.

OK. What did you invent?

I studied computer science in college and tried to write my own word processor. A vegan alternative to MS-Word.

Were you successful?

More successful than I’d hoped, in fact. I made a functioning program. But I never released it. It was the kind of experimental creation you might use yourself, but you wouldn’t want to force on someone else.

I feel that way about cooking sometimes — I’ll make some experimental goulash that I force down myself, but I wouldn’t dare serve to others.

That’s fascinating. Tell me more about your home cooking.

You’re being sarcastic. 

I’m sorry. Marijuana gives me insomnia, and sleep deprivation makes me hostile.

Where do you write your poems?

In a web-based blog-post text editor.

Why?

Because / of the Internet

Have you ever had sex with enjambment?

You mean have I ever had sex with a poetic technique? With a formal element of verse?

Answer the question

Brooding on bloodless bosoms, I wince into tears.

Have you ever read Brodsky?

Nope.

Have you ever read Mouthsky?

You made that up.

When I read a typo in any published text, even if it’s published online, I think of it as an excuse to stop reading.

I love hearing about your preferences. What other preferences do you have?

I was making my way to a question.

I’m so sorry for stopping you. Please, continue. Listening to you speak is exhilirating. Your mind is crystalline, adamantine, lush, tropical, gorgeous. Your face is a Jean Rhys novel.

Looks like that’s all the time we have. Thank you for “granting” me this interview.

No, come on, let’s keep going. I didn’t mean to bristle so hard. Remember the sleep-deprivation. I’ll unbridle in a sec.

“Remember the Neediest!”

Those little blurbs from the  New York Times? Yes, I love those, too. It’s an odd thing, isn’t it, to say I “love” the NYT’s space-filling public-service exhortations? Ones, I should add, that I, and I assume you, never actually act upon?

I like to think that I remember the neediest.

Do you merely remember them, or, having remembered them, do you act on your memory of the neediest—and help them?

I help them by remembering them.

How does your memory help them?

No publicity is bad publicity.

I don’t see your point.

“Remember the neediest” is an advertising campaign to get you to contribute to the charities the Times chooses. And the whole point of any ad campaign is consciousness-raising. Or consciousness-penetration. So if I remember the neediest, the campaign is successful.

You’re right that the cognitive or cultural part of advertising is essential, but you’re forgetting about the part where they want your money.

I know about that part.

“Remember the Neediest!” only works if your memory extends to a donation.

How is giving money to one of their charities “remembering”?

It’s a different sense of the word remember. It’s like, “Remember me well, / down at the old Jesuit wardrobe.”

What’s that a quote from?

It’s a famous line from a famous poem you’re pretty dense not to have heard of.

Oh. What poem?

Look it up.

The only thing that comes up is this blog post.

You got me: I made it up. Alls I mean is you can “remember” someone in more ways than just by holding them in your thoughts.

Can I “remember” someone by having sex with them?

Yes.

Can I “remember” someone by having lunch with them?

Yes.

Can I “remember” someone by taking a remedial Spanish class from them?

Yes.

Can I “remember” someone by hurting their feelings?

Yes.

Can I “remember” someone by sending them a thoughtful note?

Yes.

You know, I think it’s actually “Do not forget the neediest!” Not “Remember the neediest!”

Crap, you’re right. They might run both versions, actually.

2011 in review

“The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 20,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 7 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Afternoon Insomnia

(It’s 4:52 p.m.) I have the feeling of panicky middle of the night why can’t I get back to sleep insomnia even though it’s working (and not sleeping) that I should be doing and seemingly cannot do. I blame: Facebook. Facebook is a Crisco-covered pig always ready to run; you just open the gate and it tears out squealing and skronking and it’s at least 45 minutes until it’s back in the pen again. Another persistent feeling I have is that sitting in this chair clicking on you guys over and over again is fine as long as I’m quiet, but the moment I open up this WordPress text editor (Barbara, this just refers to the thing I use to write blogs [who is Barbara?] [She’s my fictional grandmother; all of my nonfictional grandmothers died before I was born;] [my wife has an email subscription to this blog so that even though posts aren’t technically “letters written to her,” in effect they all are, because I post them and then maybe six to twenty seconds later I hear the chime that indicates she’s got new mail (cf, Barbara, the Nora Ephron [not related to Zzac Efron — who is Zac Efron? I just Googled him, he’s something called High School Musical; I’m pretending not to know what that is, and that I didn’t notice the initially accidental second z in his name] (I realize you realize this is an absurd number of nested brackets [which is fun to write because “brackets” is the word the English use to refer to our “parentheses,” so I can maybe elegantly or pseudo-economically refer to both the brackets AND the braces (the English word for brackets) in one simultaneously ambiguous and unambiguous word] and I am simultaneously proud and embarrassed to admit that by about line twenty of all this I pasted us out of the WordPress text editor (Barbara) and into TextMate, a piece of software designed for writing code (HTML; PHP; C++; what have you) I optimistically purchased earlier this year when I was more unemployed than I am now that has the useful-to-programmers feature of making it easy to see which left-facing bracket goes with which right-facing one. So when you type a parenthesis, TextMate automatically (“automagically,” my CS TA said last semester about some dumb feature of Visual Basic, the language we used to learn the basics of Computer Science) prints two facing parens or brackets (it does the same thing with single quotation marks [and all this bracket/parenthesis/brace alternation makes me think of the way the English invert our nested quotation mark conventions, starting with the single quote and then nesting a double within that and then if you’re going double-nested reverting back to a single (to say nothing of which side of the law their commas fall on)] (I imagine if I ever did find myself in an MFA program this is the sort of “piece” that would lose me friends and create long and hateful afternoons of people deriding  and condescending and deploring me in a workshop, when really all I want to do is post this on my blog for my own sake, jazzing around having fun, high fives cool see you later, knowing that my wife will have a nicely formatted version emailed to her for her to read at her leisure only if she wants as a hopefully diverting distraction while she’s on a break from William James or Facebook or some fresh piece of health-care legislation), and sets your cursor in between the two, and if you run your cursor over one bracket it highlights its spouse, sort of the typographical equivalent of the device on many contemporary car keys that makes your car chirp when you’ve lost it in a garage) (though since I have such poor peripheral vision it can be tough to find the tiny flashing brace in this sea of type, and sometimes I can’t tell if running my cursor back and forth over a brace doesn’t result in a spousal highlight because its flashing counterpart is in one of my eyes’ degenerating “dead zones” or because I messed up and it’s a stray bracket whose spouse has been deleted (or it never had a spouse to begin with; it, like you, unmarried reader, was typed into this world as a horrible extra, a soul without a mate, cursed to wander the internet reading the self-satisfied blogs of happily married gradually blinkered midwestern acid casualties until you die, happily, well-sexed and alone, in your loft apartment surrounded by paperbacks), enclosing nothing, adding an unnecessary and syntactically confusing (though to be honest how could things get more syntactically confusing than this, which almost immediately abandoned any attempt at readerly syntactical amnesty) layer of padding, like a package wrapped with an excessive amount of tape and very irritating to open (right about here the student in my MFA workshop, in reference to the “email to my wife” line, might say, with a tea-tree-oil toothpick turning to pulp in her mouth, “I mean, is this how you treat your wife? She likes getting this sort of email from you?” and I try too strenuously (it’s no longer 4:52, we’re now post-dinner and I’ve had a beer, I no longer care about getting work done or the perils of Facebook [though I’m still happy to be here; I’m settling in]) to explain that I’m writing this for me, not for our professor or my wife but it doesn’t matter) [even with the aid of TextMate I’ve now totally lost track of the nests, and can’t bring myself to untangle this right now… Maybe I will start a Kickstarter campaign to hire a freelance copyeditor to iron this out for me, or perhaps announce a reader-contest where I send my almost entirely unread hardcover copy of Steven Moore’s 2010 alternative history of the novel (Continuum) to the third person to offer their professional services to make the syntax of this blog post perfect])) writing it down on the internet brings my thoughts into the realm of “politics,” because, I don’t know. Maybe it only makes me nervous about angry strangers reading this, and my nervousness comes from insecurity, and I’m insecure about “politics.” The ensuing paranoid fantasy usually manifests itself as this text appearing on the screen of some politically “active” sad young literary type who has recently Occupied something and then zestily coupled with another politically active and attractive young person, even though in my experience this sort of person despite their “fearsome” (to me, a Jewish American princess who tries hard to leverage compassion and thoughtful engagement into his life but constantly fails, as I imagine the zesty couplers succeed) political intelligence and engagement still tends to harbor tastes and pleasures that are totally unpolitical. Like what? Like food that’s more delicious than it needs to be (truffle oil), or jokes that don’t strike a fatal blow to the ruling elite, or literature that doesn’t do — and doesn’t try to do — same. Smoking pot, getting drunk? Indie rock. And so saying anything about my aimless click-diverted workless afternoon of privilege and leisure “reifies” (Barbara, meaning it makes real, into an object) the spoiled fermenty gas that is my consciousness and creates a permanent (though many these days argue that the internet and the servers it lives on is impermanence reified, that “digital” is synonymous with “virtual” with “evanescent,” though our [my] experience of it is that something I write on a piece of paper gets seen by no one, not even my deeply beautiful wife in the other room, or if I publish a poem (“How many / little dickless / little sparrows / swallow cocks, / swallowcocks // May I scat for u”) in Pleuperfections, a well-respected university press’s literary journal, then NO ONE WILL SEE IT, whereas this is at least going to end up in my wife’s inbox (which is of course what most Facebook activity is, messages ostensibly sent to one person that are really messages sent to everyone [which is more or less what all writing is, unless you’re really writing something private, under the kind of shadowy dangerous exigent privacy that only politics or illicit sex can create]), and will at least be read by Max Tabackman Fenton, who is my internet guru, who I hope by posting his full name here I’m ensuring that he’ll read this, since I imagine him to be the sort of person who Googles himself at least once a year (or more likely has a Google Alert for himself, or has subscribed to this blog in one of the many ingenious ways he has devised for keeping abreast of everything at once), (which is not to say he’s egotistical, because he’s not, only that he’s savvy) maybe right around the end of the year, which is tomorrow, and so might see this then.) object.

MU Triptych

Happy Cyber Tuesday.

Post-honeymoon, back in Columbia, MO.

pantera

Felt like an obese Christopher Isherwood contemplating the Panera Bread growing like a yeast infection (gah, sorry) like a fungus, what, like a milky cyst out the wounded old orifices of the old Hall Theatre. Not that I’ve lived here more than four months, but I’m entitled to my outrage on behalf of the ghosts of the old Hall Theatre. For all I know there’s an awesome poetry-in-the-prisons disco-punk freeform youth-art gym operating out of the top floor. But the bottom floor is Panera Bread. What do I have against Panera Bread? Maybe it’s a good company. Maybe I’d love their bread. Aren’t blogs built for whingeing about one’s conflicted feelings about shopping at national chains? No. If you have Giardia, you’ll be glad Panera Bread exists so you can rush into Panera Bread to use their “corporate bathroom” with extreme prejudice. You think the old powder-wigged ghosts of the old Hall Theatre would let you rush in there if it were still a stately old theater? If, fresh back from your Honeymoon in Belize with a bad case of the Giardesis, you burst through the glass-and-brass entryway in search of a place to exigently void yourself, speed-waddling toward the gleaming forty-quart urinals, because you can’t even make it all the way to a stall? This photograph might articulate my initial impression of Columbia after a few months: impressively intact vestiges of the stately old America with an easy-cheezy diahhrea-bathroom snack bar retrofitted into the lobby.

My best man gave a truly remarkable and overwhelmingly sweet and thoughtful toast that commented extensively on this very blog, and it’s made it hard for me to write anything new here since then. It also surely ensured that some of my new wife’s old aunts are now reading this and frowning and scowling and scoffing and harrumphing and winking and snarling and leering and sighing.

Sorry, aunts.

The University put a hold on my account until I could prove I didn’t have Measles Mumps or Roboprella. My mom could only find one booster shot from ’83 and my high school and 1st college had burned my records when they found out I sometimes compulsively overeat peanut butter while reading the New York Review of Books. So I had to go to the Student Health Center, pictured above, and get a booster shot today. Only partially humiliating. I am accidentally writing my Shakespeare term paper about rape.

‘h’ideo’s’v’ideo’s’

R sent me a link to dis magazine

first thought was some fashion people are high all the time, no thanks

but then I found a video on there that through some facebook integration it said Johnny was into

so I watched it

since i’m “Working from home”

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/25670401]

Ryan Trecartin isn’t listed in the credits but his fingerprints are smeared all over it

What the hell is Dis?

the video i liked was directed by @leilah_weinraub

who directed a film called Shakedown:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y5Yxp2yBgbg&feature=player_embedded]

a press release came in for the band Woods:

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/17688631″]

good entertainment

word on the street is they throw better parties than Olivia Tremor Control ever did

I just made that up

I got a job as a magazine editor again. Maybe I should start punctuating my blog posts and thinking about cultivating a learnéd persona, instead of this marijuana casualty vacation tweetsturm

the job dampened*

*I never think of “dampened” as meaning “made damp” in this context, but I guess it does. In that form I think I usually imagine something being tamped rather than damped.

my enthusiasm for going Back to School, but it’s OK.
should I take presocratic philosophy or “literary journalism” or history of doc. film or 20th-c. russian lit in translation or spanish conversation or Occupy Wall Street Studies II: Thinking about Capital

leave your comments below, unless you feel hot anger, in which case go for a jog and volunteer somewhere first

you guys ever think about race

started reading pitchfork reviews reviews again, after being reminded of its presence via the NYT (again)

that guy’s voice is addictive, makes sense why he loves Tao Lin. I bought the zine.

I sent a piece of writing that wouldn’t be out of place on this blog to prism index #2, and they printed it next to a sweet chris johanson painting. which looking at it was somehow the first time I ever made the connection between his work (messy/masterful/gorgeous semi-cartoony drawings with ab/ex brush/inkwork, at once punk and mannered, skateboards and sublime landscapes,  with wry/dry inky captions that buttress the work’s philosophical ambition) and Raymond Pettibon’s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I could’ve found better examples

Featured Readers

Today in Shakespeare there was a girl wearing a leather jacket — the classic kind. It seemed promising to me, somehow. Black leather jackets used to be signifiers of rebellion. Then they became cliches. But now they’re so cliched, so obviously not rebellious, that it takes a certain courage and recklessness to wear one outside of a community theater. After class she was good-naturedly complaining to the professor about something — she might have said her copy of Othello was stolen from her car. I imagined Camel hard packs and and empty jewel cases on the floor of her car.  I imagined that she never hangs the jacket up — at best, it gets draped across a couch, but usually gets piled atop of the rest of her clothes, books, trash, thumb drives, etc strewn across her floor. I think the leather jacket speaks to me because everyone else in the class is wearing college sweatshirts, or otherwise intensely normal clothes. Is it heinous to say that everyone in my Shakespeare class seems intensely normal? Is a leather jacket just the intensely normal uniform of the outsider? I’m sure many of these men and women have moments, if not decades, of experience that would make hair curl if I were in their shoes. The way they dress doesn’t matter.

I’ve noticed people in Missouri say “You’re good” in the context of, like, “Oh, excuse me — I didn’t mean to bump–” “You’re good.” Is there a tendency toward affable reassurance here?

Yesterday was the study session for tonight’s CS midterm. The class was optional. Seated behind me were two dudes. One guy said he had trouble studying for this “piddly freshman class” — he’s a senior chemical engineering major, was taking this class for a requirement. The rest of his classes were capstones, clay engineering (?), “really tough stuff” — he just couldn’t see himself studying for this piddly freshman test. I never got a look at either of them. Then he speculated (all this was sotto voce, basically whispered into my ear) about the professor’s breasts. How for a smaller, older woman they were pretty big and nice. He wondered if they were fake. His friend: “Dude, do you really think a mousy computer science professor who wears baggy tech-logo polo shirts tucked  into Dockers is going to have fake breasts?”

These guys spoke — mostly the first dude — through the entire duration of the study session. (Idea for new grammatical person: the first dude, e.g. “speaking in the first dude”; “this story is narrated in the First Dude.” This just means the text sounds like it is spoken by this guy sitting behind me in CS yesterday.)  I wanted to turn around to glare or say something but, you know, he sounded angry and athletic.

Today I was checking out a book at the library’s temporary circulation desk — the normal desk is currently hidden behind opaque plastic construction sheeting until the damages from the guy who broke in, shit on a table, and lit the library on fire are repaired — and as I was waiting for the student clerk to retrieve my books, I saw a guy, late twenties/early thirties, rectangular glasses, holding A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again. I thought about ways I could uncreepily speak to this man. Nothing came. Later, there was a dude sitting outside Shakespeare’s Pizza — how on earth do writers speculate about the ethnicities of strangers without sounding like unconscionable fuckheads? — drinking a beer, eating a slice, and reading Turgenev. It sounds pathetic, but I wanted to give him my card, or something. “Hey, Turgenev, a beer, 12:30 on a Tuesday. Amazing, bro. Call me sometime.” I don’t have a card. I need more friends.