Max is helping me make a new webpage and it feels diffuse and wrong (to say nothing of totally self-indulgent in this time when America is dying, but then again it was probably dying before, but not as spectacularly) and I’m pretty sure this webpage will soon redirect to andrewleland.org and the only people seeing this ¶ will be RSS subscribers to goodjobbbbbbbbb: the online journal of SUCCESS, so if you subscribe to this blog in RSS you need to know that this blog is going dark and its dark goings on will continue “apace” at the aptly titled andrewleland.org, so if you’re one of the few people who enjoy the broth of the mind, who sip and sup from that elderly trough, then you’ll please now follow me back through the untrammeled deglazed glade of pre-Drumpf hoarfrost to andrewleland.org, back where the ceramic pavingstones etc etc etc etc etc etc
update: it costs money to have the site automatically redirect, apparently, so this post will stand like a tombstone until something actually dies
LINDA: Yeah, I’m having fun researching it. The fake
DOCTOR: Hang on that’s the second time you’ve said “fake.” I think it’s become a tic. What do you really mean? Instead of fake, think of a more genuine, a more authentic
LINDA: [Seething] Why say both genuine andauthentic? Is there a difference between the two that requires you to use both words?
DOCTOR: [With dignity and reserve] I merely used both words for emphasis.
LINDA: I’m sorry. My worst enemy had a baby last night. I just got the email announcement.
DOCTOR: It’s OK. I know you’re going through a lot.
LINDA: You mean my eyes.
DOCTOR: Yeah. Do you want to talk about your eyes?
LINDA: OK. They’re fucked.
DOCTOR: Ha. How are they fucked?
LINDA: I was taking Acetazolamide
DOCTOR: —a generic of Diamox, a standard diuretic used for glaucoma patients —
LINDA: —and also commonly prescribed for cystoid macular edema, which I have.
DOCTOR: A swelling in the retina. Which is itself a common complication of retinitis pigmentosa (RP).
LINDA: Yup. The RP is the main event — that’s the degenerative retinal condition that’s inexorably eating my vision from the outside in
DOCTOR: At your diagnosis, at the Jules Stein Eye Institute at UCLA, when you were a teenager, I asked if you could see stars. You said no, and I knew it was RP.
LINDA: You asked if I could see stars in the night sky. It felt a little creepy. That you knew I couldn’t see stars. like you’d asked me, “Do you have a fantasy of being reborn as Frank Whaley’s character in Career Opportunities (1991), locked in an after-hours Target, rollerskating and making out with Jennifer Connolly for eternity?”
And I was like…”uh, yeah. No, I can’t see stars.”
DOCTOR: RP often first gets diagnosed in teenagers as night blindness.
LINDA: That movie (and, let’s be real, Jennifer Connelly) made a strong impression on me when I first saw it. I was probably 11.
DOCTOR: What made you think you had RP?
LINDA: It must have been… I don’t know. 2000, 2001. People were already Googling their ailments by then. Or, I guess, Yahoo!ing their ailments.
DOCTOR: Webcrawling across their pain.
LINDA: Ha. That phrase
DOCTOR: I just thought of it! I love riffing with you!
LINDA: Ha. That phrase reminds me of Chris Burden’s TV Ad, where it says “through the night softly.” he bought a TV spot on national television
DOCTOR: He’s the performance artist famous for the piece where he crucified himself to a Volkswagen.
LINDA: Right so he bought a TV spot on national TV where it shows him crawling through glass with his hands tied behind his back and then it says throughthe nightsoftly
All this talk of my night blindness, kind of reminds me of this Chris Burden piece.
DOCTOR: Was it that painful?
LINDA: not at all. I mean that’s the thing unless you count walking into things (which hurts) or feeling sad or worrying you’ve passed it on to your son
DOCTOR: RP is genetically marked in some people but many with the condition have no record of it in their bloodline
LINDA: But it’s not painful. The Burden connection is more about the way I went through the world at night, and now the way I increasingly do during the day. Softly, at pains. But also something about the way that Burden has uhhh burdened himself with this difficulty himself. he’s not being tortured — he’s going through the night softly for an artistic reason.
DOCTOR: Cut that pun but my question is why do you think of the blindness as self-imposed?
LINDA: More that i have to perform it, that blindness becomes a sort of performance art. The cane really creates that feeling: when I unfold my cane, with a flourish, the social situation is transformed so fast it’s like Chris Burden just walked into a room and started doing one of his pieces. Of course I’m exaggerating
DOCTOR: At the time of your diagnosis you still drove a car
LINDA: I still drove back then — even at night! Kind of unbelievable to me now. At first it was really only noticeable when I was likerunning through the woods with my drug-friends after dark
DOCTOR: But over the years…
LINDA: It’s gradually degenerated. Anyway I was living in NYC for a year recently
DOCTOR: You were in that one-woman show on Broadway.
DOCTOR: That got great reviews, didn’t it?
LINDA: Uh, it was a finalist for the Pulitzer. Yeah, we did well.
DOCTOR: What was it about?
LINDA: I adapted Dwight MacDonald’s Against the American Grain and sort of did a mashup with that and “The Star-Spangled Banner”
DOCTOR: “Amber waves of grain”
LINDA: Right and there was also a thread about brainwaves
DOCTOR: “grain waves”
LINDA: Yep and one of the characters was the lovable fascist Walter Starkie whose autobiography was called The Waveless Plain
DOCTOR: I thought it was a one-woman show. “Characters”?
LINDA: And I performed the whole thing in a Lieder style inspired by Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau who Roland Barthes writes about in “The Grain of the Voice,” his wonderful essay on the linguistics of sound.
Fischer-Dieskau’s recordings are played at loud volume at various times throughout the piece
DOCTOR: Wait didn’t you say it was a one-woman show?
LINDA: It took a lot out of me. Also Terry Eagleton has a book of essays called Against the Grain and he’s a character in it and so is an eagle that my mom made out of felt and I did the whole thing buried up to my waist in raw barley
DOCTOR: But so you said you stopped taking the Diamox?
LINDA: The Acetazolamide.
LINDA: Well I was taking it because I had the swelling in my macula and that was fucking with my central vision
DOCTOR: you also have cataracts
LINDA: which are super treatable but I don’t want to fuck with surgery until it’s absolutely necessary because my vision is like a little scrap of parchment that I have been carrying with me through the wilderness
DOCTOR: the wilderness of, say, Cormac McCarthy’s The Road
LINDA: Sure. Or maybe a YA adventure book à la Hatchet
LINDA: And I think of someone with otherwise healthy eyes getting cataract surgery they’re worried but also if something goes wrong there’s a lot more…uh… parchment left over for them even in a worst-case scenario
DOCTOR: Whereas you have just this tattered soft decaying square that you’ve worried over and sweated through and pissed on and so on through the King Lear style Tempests
LINDA: seriously, the literary references here are a bit much what is going on
DOCTOR: I dunno just feeling my oats
LINDA: right so I’m understandably wary of laying my precious little square of fabric out on the operating table. so when I’m living in NYC i finally decide to go see a retinal specialist which i haven’t been to for years because I figured what’s the point there is no treatment for RP
DOCTOR: At least not for someone with as much vision as you have left but recent developments such as the Argus 2, an artificial retina
LINDA: Right sure but I’m a few years out from needing one of those and it just recently became commercially available and anyway the specialist on Gramercy Park looked at my eyes and was like jesus I don’t know how you get around — i had folded up my cane when i arrived so he didn’t know i used one? — and told me I was legally blind and could collect disability and then said the good news is you have this swelling which we can treat with Diamox. So I’ve been on that for a year or so and the only side effect I noticed was that it makes beer and most carbonated beverages taste bad
DOCTOR: which is a shame because you love craft beer!
LINDA: yeah, woe is me. but then i started having tinnitus. which for a person who’s gradually but inexorably going blind tinnitus is really fucking scary. because I was just imagining myself once i’d lost all my vision, sitting there in the dark with my family nearby reading books that i’d only know the titles of if I asked them and not being able to quite make out what they’re saying because of the painfully loud ringing in my ears
LINDA: and then one day i was re-googling my ailments and remembered that tinnitus is a listed side-effect of the drug
LINDA: so I stopped taking it right away and then really quickly and dramatically my vision went to shit. like a new level of shit. it took about a week off the acetazolamide, and suddenly reading got really hard. as did moving around, even familiar places. chances of knocking over my son went up by 40 percent. asking if anybody had seen the thing sitting on the table in front of me became a daily thing.
LINDA: so anyway i found an alternative treatment which i’m trying but i’ve only been on it like 2 weeks and I’m not sure if it’s working yet or not
[group of students wearing shirts that say Jesus Gave me Tinnitus applaud inaudibly]
[group of highly politicized roll-carts roll by, somewhat audibly, as if of their own volition. As though they are operating under their own control. Sentient roll-carts? Some blue, some black, some brown, some green. The roll carts do not have eyes, though they be sentient. Aye]
and so as a lunch-time option, I will suggest, it is of vital importance that snacks be “factored into the equation.”
[A tropical fish, who had been gazing with deep inattention at the square of linoleum floor framed by his idly hanging flippers, now slowly and deliberately looks up at the speaker. His attention has been piqued. What’s this about lunch? Snacks? ]
A snack isn’t what we make it. Even if it is we who have made the snacks. I’ll often make a snack for myself, mid-afternoon, as though a dog left alone at home had the ability to open the fridge, unscrew bottles, spread nut-butters with nut-butter knives…
[Avery pink fish is lost in her own reverie. She imagines a chocolate laborador, left home alone, unscrewing a jar of peanut butter, dipping in a long blunt knife, and spreading the peanut butter across three saltine crackers. It is, needless to say, an erotic fantasy. The fish is transmuted into a feline. The feline is transmuted into an unopened tin of sardines. The tin opens itself, with a great deal of volition, and begins snacking upon itself, heartily, its lips — such as they are — smacking.]
And so women. And so men. And so students of the region, who are gathered and fed and assembled and educated here, under these eaves, under this aegis, be-chancelled by this bewitching chancellor–
[The Chancellor, whose name is R. Bowen Loftin, gathers himself up in a great mawkish burst of plumage, then shits himself into a garbage pail; exeunt.]
And so, at the outset, or in conclusion, the class of 1999 now leads you, seniors, graduating class of 2016, into blinkered victory. I hope you’re OK. I hope you all inherit a great deal of money and then squander your inheritance on graduate education and activism and travel and charity. And love. Squander everything for love, my children. Because love is the most pragmatic tool you can wield in the economy into which you’re graduating. And I needn’t remind you that all of your love is concentrated in your genitals.
[A cool cat swiffs itself across the linoleum, wiping it clean but leaving a trail of black hairs]
CAL: An hour of sleep.
HERA: I’m changing my major. From philosophy to social justice.
CAL: Social justice is a major?
HERA: What I mean is, I’m dropping out of college to become an activist.
HERA: Because reading Henry James all day isn’t helping address income inequality in this country.
CAL: Neither is writing angry blogposts about income inequality. Or standing on the streetcorner arguing with Republicans about income inequality.
HERA: It’s better than nothing. And also you are cynical. Political change in America is possible. People change their minds.
CAL: No they don’t.
HERA: Be serious.
CAL: I am being serious!
HERA: Well, I have to finish cooking and then I need to do some online banking.
CAL: Can I help?
CAL: OK. Let me know if you need help.
HERA: I will.
CAL: Thanks. OK.
HERA: All right.
CAL: See you soon?
HERA: [Does not answer. Performs several online banking tasks. Cooks an arpeggio of salad. Fantasizes about a field mouse turning on a hot spit. Fantasizes about being Cal’s waitress at a fancy restaurant she also owns and is the head chef for. She hands him the menu, her hair in adorable sweaty strands adorning her face. Cal looks down at the menu and reads, half to himself, “Roasted Field Mouse.” Their eyes meet. This is love. This is scintillation. This is mutual attraction. This is Vermont in the 1980s.]
CAL: [Approaches a donut. Purchases it. Eats it in half-furtive bites from his open jacket pocket. Looks down to see he has paws. Big blue CGI family-friendly bear-paws. He has had five hours of sleep. He is perennially, perpetually “on deadline.” He will tell people he’s “on deadline” even if by that he means he needs to go to the pharmacy by this evening or else he’ll be unable to pick up his prescription without re-ordering it.]
[Cal once helped name a craft beer. It’s called PawPrint Blue Stout. He often orders it when he drinks at the Lathe.]
LATER THAT NIGHT, AT THE LATHE
CAL: [His voice thick with the foamy syrup of a fresh PawPrint Blue Stout]: I got five hours of sleep last night.
B: Do you mean you’re curious when it’s too late? Or you’re curious when it’s too late?
B: Calm down. We have an audience [Gestures to the audience.]
A: [Gestures to B’s gesturing]
B: Mocking me?
A: Mocking you?
B: Aleatoric birdsong
A: Harpsichord deathmonk
B: [Holds her tongue]
A: [Peacefully abides within a privileged suffering]
B: [Blows another imaginary deadline]
A: [Participates in careless riffing]
B: [Subscribes to a community newspaper with at least one racist reporter]
A: [Eats a great deal of Japanese bean-crackers]
B: [Watches Daniel Radcliffe rap a Blackalicious song on Jimmy Fallon on YouTube]
A: [Hurts himself with a mental needle]
B: [Farms out some stuff to a Little League of refreshment-and-freelancers]
A: What was your question during the Q&A?
B: I asked if a certain compound phrase the short-fiction writer used in her story was hyphenated
A: Cos you were trying to picture the phrase, how it was printed?
B: It changed the meaning for me, whether it was hyphenated or not
A: What was the phrase? How did a hyphen change its meaning?
B: Well OK It didn’t change it dramatically. Or… even … like… semantically. It was more of an aesthetic thing.
A: Like a blind guy at the opera who wants to know what color are the buttons on the Colonel’s vest
B: Exactly so
A: —B, the colonel’s buttons were orange
B: What sort of orange?
A: Brass— in a child’s imagination
B: Why does a child’s imagination turn brass orange?
A: The child has never seen brass, but the child does have a sense for what brass is, kinda generally, and so his imagination bronzes it
B: Bronzes the brass?
A: The brass is bronzed by the child’s imagination
B: Talking to you feels like passing a school of eels and neckties and their hybrid offspring through an eternal dishwasher: loading it up, running it, sitting near its quiet warmth during the dry cycle, unloading, beginning again with the fresh neckties and eels and their hybrid offspring, loading them in, draping them over the rack, pouring in the detergent, starting it up, sitting down, sliding over during the dry cycle, over and on and on and over again and on. Is what speaking with you today and most days feels like
A: Oh B, My dick is limpid
B: u mean limp?
A: No, limpid, which means “totally clear, un-dark”
DARREN: yes. a fine reminder that self-deprecation can sound 100 times more self-involved than self-aggrandizement
KARREN: or you mean that self-deprecation can just be another form of self-aggrandizement
DARREN: that’s a finer way to put it
KARREN: do we like these Deep Noodles?
DARREN: I’ve never tried them
[tosses the Deep Noodles with nonchalance into the brimming cart]
[a loud trust-fund punk song begins playing on the supermarket stereo]
KARREN: but Baker was sharp and charming in that interview
DARREN: i know. it was just when they were talking about the Pulitzer that it bummed me out
KARREN: what if I’m more interested in writing dialogue that’s read on the page than I am writing something that’ll be performed?
DARREN: watching tv or film, the only time i’m conscious of the writing is after the fact. i only think “that was well written” once it’s over. as opposed to obviously reading a novel or a poem where every sentence is another opportunity to evaluate — and consciously appreciate — the writing
KARREN: sure because the writing is submerged in film or tv or theater — you have so much else to evaluate first — the performance, the images, the sound
DARREN: why don’t more people publish novels in dialogue?
KARREN: Because they have to feed their families.
[Throws a vegan suckling pig shrink-wrapped in hot-pink plastic into the cart, which buckles and implodes]
WHY DO SO MANY MENNONITE FAMILIES SHOP AT NATURAL GROCERS?
SERIOUS INQUIRY; PLEASE ANSWER IN THE COMMENTS
WOKE EARLY OF MY OWN ACCORD. BABY-RELATED BUT I COULDA FALLEN BACK ASLEEP IF I COULDA
THE ONLY THING MORE “SELF-INVOLVED” THAN BLOGGING ABOUT THE MINUTIA OF YOUR LIFE
IS GENTLY ANONYMOUSING — ANONYMYZING — ANONDYNE DYNASTY METASTAZING — OCCLUDING THE DETAILS OF MY OWN LIFE AS IF ANYONE CARES
EMPTIED THE DISHWASHER, CHECKED OUT THE 6 AM CST FACEBOOK FEED
BEEN A WHILE SINCE I’VE BLOGGED YOU, GIRL
FOR THE NEXT WEEK AND A HALF AT LEAST I’M AN ADJUNCT PROFESSOR OF JOURNALISM AT THE UNIVERSITY OF OCCLUDED!!!!
I’VE GOT CLASS IN 20 MINUTES
IF A STOODENT GOOGLES ME THEY FIND THIS BLOGPOST
WHEN I FIRST STARTED THINKING ABOUT TRYING TO “BE A TEACHER” I PASSWORD PROTECTED THIS BLOG
BUT THEN JUSTIN — HIS ACTUAL, REAL NAME — EMAILED ME SWEETLY DEMANDING I TAKE OFF THE PASSWORD
AND NOW I AM MANY MONTHS BEHIND IN OWING JUSTIN AN IN-DEPTH EMAIL ABOUT AN “OCCLUDED PROJECT”
BUT I SORTA DOUBT HE’S GONNA SEE THIS,
PLUS I “LIKED” SOME OF HIS RECENT GOOD NEWS ON FB, THAT PROBABLY BOUGHT ME ANOTHER WEEK, RIGHT?
THERE WAS SOMETHING ELSE
I’M HERE IN MY SHARED OFFICE AT THE OCCLUDED U
NICE VIEW OF ELM STREET. A BIT OF PEACE PARK
TODAY IN CLASS WE’RE SKYPING WITH A RADICAL YOUNG JOURNALIST WHOSE ACQUAINTANCE I’VE MADE
HE’S AN EDITOR AT OCCLUDED NAME OF MAGAZINE, CURRENTLY ENJOYING A SURGE IN RESPECTABILITY OR AT LEAST MORE PPL TAKING IT SERIOUSLY DUE TO HBO SERIES AND SPIKE IN INTL INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM
I KNOW NOTHING ABOUT JOURNALISM, BUT I AM A FAIRLY ACCOMPLISHED STAND UP COMEDIAN, SO TEACHING WORKS OUT FINE
AROUND 6:30 THE HUMAN INFANT WOKE UP, I STRAPPED HIM TO MY THORAX AND WE TOOK THE DOG TO THE PARK, THE GRASS WAS BE-SOAKED IN DEW
AN OVERFRIENDLY A.M. BIKER SAID HELLO IN AN AGGRESSIVE WAY, SORT OF LIKE “HEY WHY IS IT I WHO MUST BE THE FIRST TO SAY HELLO?” MY RESPONSE WOULD HAVE BEEN, “I HAVE A DEGENERATIVE RETINAL CONDITION AND DIDN’T SEE YOU, YOU OVERFRIENDLY LEATHER-SKINNED MEGA-DAD”
BEEN READING A BIT OF CAROL DEPPE’S THE RESILIENT GARDENER, THINKING ABOUT PLANTING SOME RESILIENT VEGETABLES IN THE OLD BACK YARD
LAST NIGHT THE MISSUS AND I HAD A GOOD LAUGH RE A PASSAGE IN THE BOOK I READ ALOUD TO HER, WHEREIN DEPPE WAS RECOMMENDING TO THE READER A BOOK BY JARED DIAMOND ABOUT CATASTROPHE THAT INFORMED HER CHAPTER ON CATASTROPHE AND CLIMATE CHANGE, I AM PARAPHRASING BUT DEPPE WAS LIKE “LIKE MOST GREAT BOOKS THAT COVER A BROAD RANGE OF HUMAN HISTORY THIS BOOK IS VERY HARD TO SUMMARIZE, IN FACT IT’S INDESCRIBABLE” — I’M NOT DOING IT JUSTICE BUT SUCH A POWERFUL BOOK RECOMMENDATION ACCOMPANIED BY A SUBLIME CONFESSION OF the failure of language, it made us laff.
Should probably head over to class now, guys. I realized I should be supplementing the steady stream of nonsense stream of consciousness I fill the baby’s ears with more useful language acquisition naming time, like “TREE” and “DOG” , so my internal monologue is now infantalized and externalized; “the doggie is shitting in the woods; dogs love to shit in the woods; do you love that doggie? the doggie loves to chase the ball”