The Sleepiness of the Text

I found this passage from The Pleasure of the Text gratifying:

And yet, it is the very rhythm of what is read and what is not read that creates the pleasure of the great narratives: has anyone ever read Proust, Balzac, War and Peace, word for word? (Proust’s good fortune: from one reading to the next, we never skip the same passages.)

This passage, from David Owen’s NYer profile of the inventor Saul Griffith, was less cheering:

The Internet’s energy and carbon footprints now probably exceed those of air travel… perhaps by as much as a factor of two, and they are growing faster than those of almost all other human activities.

Griffith helped implement the electronic ink technology that the Kindle uses, inspired by the reams of paper he saw glutting Australia’s landfills. Now he’s working on wind power, sponsored by Google, to offset the Internet’s damage to the planet.

The iPad uses way more power than the Kindle. I guess that makes the Kindle, or other e-readers that use e-ink, the greenest (and least-pleasurable?) way to read. I guess people have been thinking about this already. I’m sleepy.

(Did anyone else find the photocollage illustration of Griffith—crazy hair, large/athletic/eccentric genius—along with a few superficial details of his life — child sports prodigy, professor-parents, MacArthur grant…—to be reminiscent of David Foster Wallace? I haven’t finished the piece yet (I hate reading reading diaries that obsess over or even mention how much of a work the writer has or hasn’t read, how sleepy the writer was while reading what he’s writing about, or how sleepy he is while writing, or where he was when he read the thing he’s writing about, or at what hour,what he was eating. In other words…) (Griffith lives in the Mission.)

And he also shares with Wallace the ability to extend his considerable what I think of as “formal” intelligence beyond its normal boundaries—to places of deeper feeling and compassion. In Wallace’s case, this meant applying (or maybe combining) a linguistic and philosophical and deductive/(mathematical?/rigor and) intelligence toward (or with) a sensitivity to suffering, sadness, pain, (art); Owen’s thesis in his profile (not that I’ve finished it) is that Griffith is the rare inventor who considers the social, political, cultural, and environmental obstacles to a problem’s solution, rather than focusing exclusively on technology.

personal webdiary

Just bought a $1 used copy of Rogue Male on the Internet based on a one-sentence zero-argument recommendation from a respected reader-colleague-friend (“Read Rogue Male!”). Found out after I placed the order (shipping from Texas cost three times as much as the book) that it was reissued in 2007 by NYRB Classics. I have had this experience before: buying or reading a book and then feeling quintuple-vindicated in my purchase/effort/enjoyment when I find out it’s received the peacock-feather-in-the-face blessings of being brought back into print by Sir Edwin Frank. ¶ I’m pointlessly quitting coffee again; yet another Day Three over here. Feeling it. ¶ Was on a vacation that merged into a camping trip followed by a jocular family emergency punctuated by a quick change of mailing address. I moved in with my girlfriend. This is a major life step. There are two arc-less stories from the past week—one about a 6 a.m. manual-transmission driving lesson, one about my dog’s violent past—that I want to tell but can’t, on the off-chance that the owner of the car I learned on, or my new landlord, watch this space for updates in my life. Hi, fellas. I’m sorry. ¶ The tube connecting my mind and the world that contains my mind has narrowed because I’ve denied it coffee. ¶ The camping trip was great but microecos precluded any attempt to “blog” it here by alerting me to the fact that our camping trip was already blogged—hard—circa 1860:

We had intended to observe Sunday, as we did not the last one, but both my companions wanted to come down to a warmer level and my rheumatism advised the same thing, so we came over the summit and on about twenty miles. The summit is about 10,300 feet; there is snow in banks for some distance, then we sink into a canyon on one of the upper branches of the Stanislaus River and follow down that. We leave the volcanic region and get into one of granite. The canyon rises in steep hills on both sides, two or three thousand feet above the river. We camped at an altitude of about six thousand feet, where it is warm and pleasant. Today, although Monday, we are having our “Sunday,” and are spending the day in washing our clothes, writing, etc. [William H. Brewer via microecos]

I’m sorry I haven’t been posting photos of my new apartment or any of the several spectacular bowel movements I’ve had these last few days. Also been meaning to post photos of my cereal bowl with wet spoon once I’ve drained it of all milk and Golden Flax Crunch; figure you guys would also want to see a few shots of my dog’s spayed genitals and maybe etc etc. ¶ I think I’ll be out of the woods regarding caffeine withdrawal by Saturday.

P.S. Ariana Reines’s Tumblr.

Plutarch Was Not a Poet

This is at least 45 percent embarrassing.

Familiar Feelings

At work on a Sunday, having been at work on a Saturday, having etc. Not complaining. Possibly burned out, but not complaining. Entire body sore. A healthy sun-baked cousin to a headache echoes hours after running 8 miles. To the ballpark and back. I’ve returned to Hal Higdon. I haven’t had coffee in about a week. This is my personal webdiary. Lack of coffee kinda kills the blog impulse. A friend “stole” a line for a story from a blog post I wrote. The story is now to be published in a university-based literary journal. When I’m finished with my copy of the journal, I will mail it to the first person who guesses (in the comments section of this post) which line she “stole” (really, she asked permission). What a megalomaniacal contest! And so on. My tone. My library. I made hummus from Bittman. I was surprised to drop a tblsp. of paprika in there. I doubled the amt of garlic and lemon called for. I am a liar. There are several blogs that report on book culture, in the US and abroad. Animals don’t think of zoos as prisons, because animals don’t know what prisons are. They don’t really think at all, in the way you’re thinking of. I waited too long to pick up my copy of Emmanuel Bove’s My Friends from the SFPL so they threw it back into the stacks. The words loaves and loathes are similar, but that doesn’t mean you should hate bread. It does mean you should never eat meat or drink alcohol or do drugs ever again. It does mean you should never pay more than $11 for a haircut. Oh not this again. Soon he’ll be asking “readers” for suggestions of books about gentrification. Soon he’ll be like Victor Bâton, “without friends, without luggage.” A friend is bored so he’s likely moving back to San Francisco. What was wrong with the farm outside Santa Cruz? Didn’t they have the internet there? I know there are lots of yoga classes, but are there any classes in the Bay Area I can take where I learn how to shapeshift? Wouldn’t mind being a dog for an afternoon. Have I ever showed you this? Hahahahaha. I hope you’re feeling better. I liked Greenberg. I hope my email full of platitudes was of some use. I hope your banana fever subsides. Dear Emily, thanks for FedExing me the granola I liked! I hope you have fun at school tomorrow

Trash Forest

There’s a T.C. Boyle story in the copy of Harper‘s in the office bathroom. Yep: this is one of those blog posts where the author writes about a short story he read serially over the course of a week of visits to the bathroom. It’s a genre on the Internet, you knew that. I haven’t even finished the story yet. It’s called “My Pain Is Worse Than Your Pain.” It’s still in the bathroom, so I don’t  have it in front of me for reference. I should wait to write this blog post until I’ve finished the story. I received two friendly acquaintance comments about this blog, positive ones, which means in this space I have to become angry and toddler-style and poo-poo all over the place in order to set it back to “Freedom of Expression” mode. If I let the happy friendly acquaintance comments make me too happy then I will get stuck permanently writing sentences like these: Gary sipped his fourth cup of coffee as he refreshed the browser window. “Sheila?!?!” he wondered. Then: “Where the Fuck is Kleist?!?!” Just kidding. Mouse over the brickette. Barbecue just kidding. Just kidding. I’ll write those sentences whether you like “me” (to) or not.  The climax of the Boyle story seems to come very close to the beginning. The story could’ve ended after two pages and I would’ve been satisfied. The story while about pain and suffering and humiliation generated a great deal of pleasure for me. There were times when I felt ecstatic reading it. I’m sorry if I’m forcing you to picture me reading Harper’s in my office bathroom. I work in a fun office where you can leave any books you want in the bathroom and no one comes up to your desk later saying, “The books in the bathroom, they make me sick to my stomach. It’s disgusting. Seeing them in there, warped from dirty water damage, forces me to imagine all of you guys individually sitting in there, chuckling over the Readings, shitting and pissing. This is a foul place.” Most of my coworkers have been made to cry at some point during their tenure. Is that true? Probably. We’re all eleven years old, and eleven-year-olds cry when they’re upset. It’s a high-pressure office, but sometimes we drink beers at our desks! I can make as many marijuana jokes as I want and I never get in trouble. A good cry, hey, it’s all part of the rich panoply, pageantry, tapestry, tapenade, papistry, I hate myself. This blog is fiction, all rights reserved, no part may be reproduced without express written permission of the author. © 2010 Goodjobbb. I don’t actually have a job, I’m not an editor of anything, despite what Google or the New York Times Paper Cuts Blogroll tells you, that was a joke, I live in Paris with my boyfriend, I am 23 years old, people often tell me I look like Selma Blair. I was surprised to see that the T.C. Boyle story went on for several more pages after the “climax.” The story is so good that its length becomes a boon. “I ordered a small pad thai to go but they gave me an entire huge lunch special what a BOON!” I read recently about this same phenomenon in Anna Karenina: the big narrative wad gets blown early, and then there are several hundred subsequent and inexplicably still-interesting pages. I read this in the introduction to Elif Batuman’s The Possessed, I think. Of course she put it much better. Nota Bene: after I finish the TC Boyle story I’m not going to come back “here” and “finish” this “blog post.” It’s already done. Writing is not rewriting any more. That ended in 1983, with the publication of Funny Fake Ekphrasis, the legendary collaborative experimental novel written by Thomas Berger and Nora Ephron. After my daughters matriculate at ‘Uni’ I’m not going to “come back here” and post photos of them in their caps and gowns. If you’d like to picture me writing (typing, really, this is hardly writing, Truman Capote on JD Kerouackinger, etc) (what) (nothing) (I hate “you”) (“fly fishing the stream of consciousness”) (MousePad SexDreams) (ScareQuotes Boat Rental, Inc) (I Am Going Blind) (FlyFishing For Cynpathy®) (“I’m Busy At Work, I Don’t Have Time To Be Typing All This™”) (Strunk & White Mix [DFA]), picture a terrified woman wearing a tunic pouring purified water into an large jar of Sun Tea.

Link to an Interesting Article About Twitter

SHOUTING INTERNET GUY: I CAN’T WAIT UNTIL EVERYONE LEAVES AND IT’S JUST ME IN THE OFFICE BLASTING STREAMING WEIRD INSTRUMENTAL HIP HOP AND MY TINY BOWL OF HONEY ROASTED CASHEWS RUNNETH OVER, WEARING A CRAZY WIG OF PAD THAI THAT FALLS INTO MY EYES, GCHATTING WITH MC PAUL BARMAN, GCHATTING with self-loathing people in New York who are not sad that JD Salinger is dead, who are not sad that Twitter wrongfully terminated a Jewish woman last night, who are not sad that a robotic cat raped a drawing of a mouse in plein air on 32nd St and Harrison in San Francisco that same night; these fuckers are unmoved by the outrageous story of all the caffeine in an unsteeped Earl Grey teabag deciding to GET HIGH USING A GRAVITY BONG, and then go back into the teabag, and then a toddler, only 3 years of old, ordered the tea from his Russian nanny, demanded tea, NANNY FETCH ME TEA, and so the Russian nanny dutifully steeped it, and served it, and the kid died, 86 years later, of natural causes. Nobody  is concerned that I’m not friends with Harmony Korine? That I have Dutch gentials with the brain of a Dane? That I sometimes dip articles from Harper’s into boiled water and watch them steep and then drink the tea while I read the leaves?

I’m glad Jessica Hopper was outraged by the new Vampire Weekend record. I think she’s a smart and funny writer. Martin Amis is, too, but that doesn’t mean JM Coetzee denies his readers the pleasure principle. I’m not fluent in Italian, French, German, or Swiss French. I’ve never brought a Swiss woman to climax. I’ve never denied the pleasure principle to JM Coetzee. He asks, and I tell. Every time. @moodygroovin is the darkest, dankest 140-character assassin on twitter. Every author who’s ever published a novel as a paperback original with FSG or Picador has at one point in print claimed that one needs to be a coffee-drinker in order to be a successful novelist, and each and every one of them is wrong. My fictional female alter ego, Beth Pails, drinks nothing but hot tea in greens and Grays and wrote a novel that Amis and Coetzee agreed could “only have been produced by the Internet and its attendant depravities.” It sold several, several copies. If I were a woman, I would have the body of a woman. Do you remember that time I paraphrased Steve Martin’s line from L.A. Story about how he would spend all day feeling himself up if he were a woman when we (you, the reader, and me, Bethany) were in seventh grade and Mrs. White was scandalized and I got in “pretty big” trouble?

One more paragraph: “I still like hip hop.” Of all your favorite living novelists under the age of 40, which do you think likes hip hop least? This is among the questions I’ll be asking tonight on a panel I’m moderating at the Garricks’ Library, 800 Valencia St, just kidding, 5:15 p.m. Appearing on the panel will be Cameron Stipené, Shellie Coup, and (I’m just kidding, 800 Valencia is the increasingly gourmet bodega on the corner) Lydia Brousserrie. $5 suggested donation. Enter through Rhea’s Deli.