Stream of Consciousness Theatre presents: Pride

When I’m faced with writer’s block I frequently turn to a classic mode of writing “Stream of Consciousness” to help process what I’m looking to say or to say what I want sans auto-judgment and being Pride Month(1) and with St Louis Pride just passed it felt like a good time to present my first SoCT post.

I discovered this style years ago when reading a wiki page about Finnegans Wake for which I’m pretty sure I was following up a lead in my on-and-off again House of Leaves analysis project(2) and again I ran across it when I met a friend of a friend over facebook (we never met in real life but we spent lots and lots of time talking in the year 2010, he was one of the few writer friends I’ve managed to make a connection with, unfortunately it wasn’t quite over our mutual enjoyment of language rather it was a bonding over a woman(3).  However he used to write these really long (1000+ word) SoCT soliloquies that were a real joy to read. Most of the time.

Then I got into a situation this spring where I was reading both Mrs. Dalloway and Infinite Jest at the same time and I got a real taste for the past and present of the style.  For those of you who haven’t read Mrs. Dalloway: it’s a challenge.  Its a story about a lady, Mrs. Dalloway, planning to throw a party and the general going ons of her day.  The fun part is that Woolf jumps from narration to internal monologue to a new pov character to a different part of town and back and back again without paragraph breaks or other indicators to tell the reader “HEY I’M CHANGING GEARS NOW”.  On the other hand Infinite Jest is much more clear with formatting choices but it has its fun too with its 100 or so pages of footnotes and subsidized time both act as deeply disengaging elements to the story, if I remember right DFW mentioned he liked using these elements to keep the reader just one the outside of the story like a frequent reminder that the reader is engaging in a story that is uneven and sometimes non-linear similarly to how stories form in life rather than a polished beginning to end narrative that can be consumed with a lack of discernment challenging the reader to question what the story is about which I began to interpret less like DFW challenging the reader and more DFW asking the reader for help to discover the actual meaning of the story.  Whether it was a story about the pursuit of happiness in America or an examination of consumer culture or a eco-political statement about how we as a species handle pleasure.

I really don’t have a good conclusion for this one this week folks.  However I do have a few  announcements:

If you liked this remember to subscribe and share.  If you have book recommendations, feelings (strong or weak, your choice) on Stream of Consciousness style, or just want to tell me about the really strange thing your cat did this weekend, please leave a comment.  I really enjoy audience participation and look forward to reading and replying to your comments.  Thanks and remember: Never be afraid to have pride in who and what you are.

-Fin

Footnotes & Errata:

  1. Etymologically speaking, June is an interesting month to be Pride since it comes from the word “lunonis” meaning “of June” in reference to the Roman Goddess Juno who is mother protector of community, youth, vigour, combat, &c.
  2. Of those who know about the project, I am still working on it albeit slowly still no ETA on completion though.  However the major setbacks of that project have been addressed (women, whiskey, and worries).
  3. These sort of “heartbreak bro-mance” relationships seem to be a common thread over the years with me.  At least three guys I’ve made friends with was due to the mutual acquaintance of a woman whom has broken both of our hearts to different degrees.  None of these relationships have lasted longer than a year.  Just like the rest of my relationships.  How do I relationship?

Picture source: Dream Theater – Train of Thought

Nine Stories by J.D. Salinger

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First order of business, I must apologize.  I got over ambitious (a common theme in my plan making process) and about 2 months before going live with this blog and about a month before finishing Infinite Jest I thought “I believe I will write a 5 part literary analysis of Infinite Jest as my first article series”.  Such a nice thought.  However after finishing the book two weeks ago, I’ve been left…stunned and a little disturbed.  Infinite Jest is a big story.  There’s nothing small about it.  The story is so big even DFW admits “the story can’t fully be made sense of” and “does resolve, but it resolves… outside of the right frame of the picture. You can get a pretty good idea, I think, of what happens” which even if you believe the author is dead(1) (too soon?) this is still extremely intimidating.  These intimidation factors aside, there are plenty and plenty of reviews written by people who are actually read(2) regularly and to top it there are books and books on analysis written on this book.  This being said, I’m going to step back and take some time since there’s not much likely I’m going to write that hasn’t been thought-said-written several times over.  So there’s no agenda on when, basically just when I have time and interest (I’ve already began re reading the book) and I’ll try to do something special to make my predictably unoriginal ideas more worth experiencing.

…and now for something completely different.

Nine Stories by J.D. Salinger

Nine Stories is a collection of short stories (SPOILER ALERT: There’s nine of the stories) by, the generally hated by high school students because Catcher in the Rye (I liked it then and now but I’ve always been kinda odd in my age group), J.D. Salinger.  Salinger opens up with a rather famous koan “We know the sound of two hands clapping. But what is the sound of one hand clapping?”  Each story sets up a relatively domestic scene: A beach vacation, a couple of girl friends enjoying an afternoon drink, a friend calling for some emotional support, just to juxtapose that with a startling ending.  Some endings are disturbing, some are strange.

Overall the book can be read in an afternoon however as is the genius of a good short story is that there is much more to the story than just a shocking ending.  Each story captures small moments artfully and depict characters much bigger than can fit on a few pages but if extrapolated further may loose some of their significance.

This was my first Salinger book since Catcher and I deeply enjoyed it and look forward to rereading it.

Nine Stories gets 4 power crazy celebrity game show executive producer J.D. Salingers out of 5.

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Footnotes & Errata:

  1. The French essay “The Death of the Author” by Roland Barthes, not to be confused with the conspiracy that DFW is still alive writing under a new nom de guerre in order to escape the weight of IJ.
  2. I do recognize the few (it might actually be only three of you atm) of you who do read my stuff and FSM bless you and I love you and please keep reading. Thank you!

Images from Bojack Horseman Season 2 Episode 10 “Yes and”

Cultural Acclimation (Picture Essays)

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In an effort to prepare myself mentally for living in a new country, England (1), I’ve decided it would be best to learn the metric system and to begin familiarizing myself with tea brewing techniques which can be extremely temperamental.

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handy me*trick

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Cold Brewing

Footnotnes:

(1) 103 days until my plane leaves, 1st October at 4.20pm (tee-hee).

Running

They tell me my great grandfather, on my father’s side, was a great runner. Ran everyday until he died at the age of 86. He was also a preacher.  Big legacy to inherit.  His son, my grandfather, wasn’t a runner and went to theology school but ended up in iron work.  His son, my father, renounced Christianity but not religion and rand for small periods of time but prefering the water.

My religion is pratical and reluctant. My running habit is a re-occuring theme.  In elementary school my events in track and field were always the sprints. 100m, 400m.  Middle school I nearly got suspended for running in the halls, climaxed with running into, on accident, Mrs. Robinson(1) and bowling her over.  High school I ran track and cross country.  Slow in both.  My yearly mile run for the fitness test styed the same from 5th grade on: 7m25s +/- 10s.

2010 I began running again in Bluebird Park.  That was when I first expeirenced a running high.  Couldn’t smoke, trying not to drink (too much), heart broken.  It was a good time to run.

2015 so rueful and energetic.  I discovered the super gym UMSL had just finished in time for my first term.  I began running again and timing my self.  I reached a two mile in 14m22s giving me a 7m11s miles at 27 years old.

2016 I began running in Forest Park and made a goal of running the 6.8 mile loop.  Ive done it in 50 minutees giving me 7m21s miles.

Buddahism has been a running theme in my spiritual history. My parents gott me a zen tarot card set as a kid, the book “The Tao of Sex” was always floating around, my dad kept a copy of the “I Ching”, and through my independent spiritual studies as a youngster I taught my self how to meditate and make space in the mind.  Now I’ve joined Refuge Recovery and am learning the three jewels, the four truths, and the eight fold path.

I learned from an essay “Mr. Greengenes” that boys most clearly inherrit their father’s traits because of our Y chromosone.  “Clearly” may not be the most precise word, maybe the traits we inherit are more like a running joke than a blue print to understand our fathers.

Footnotes:
1. A large, long not fat, lady.  5’11” maybe 6′.  She was taller than most teachers.

Stay tuned! Up coming later today is a review and brief analysis of Infinite Jest and next up in my review que is “Nine Stories by J.D. Salinger”.  SPOILER ALERT: So far (I’ve read the first 5) its an excellent anthology.

The Fork

I’m often fascinated with tiny details.  Today I’m paying homage to the noble origins of the eating fork.

First, a poem:

“Fork” by Charles Simic

This strange thing must have crept
Right out of hell.
It resembles a bird’s foot
Worn around the cannibal’s neck.

As you hold it in your hand,
As you stab with it into a piece of meat,
It is possible to imagine the rest of the bird:
Its head which like your fist
Is large, bald, beakless, and blind.

In language the fork had made a minor impression which has reflected its evolution.

“Fork in the road” ForkinRoad1

Muppet movie aside, this phrase represents a time when the young fork only had 2 prongs, more resembling its older brother the pitch fork.

Later when the fork became more commonly used, at least by nobility, the hand became known as “the poor man’s fork” as the utensil evolved to include more prongs and the resemblance to the hand became more apparent.  This would evolve into the phrase “fork it over”.

More recently the small city Forks, Washington became quite famous being the location of the surprisingly popular sparkling vampire series Twilight.

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The fork in new, hip, and way in vogue or at least until a new utensil takes rise.

Next week, I will be posting weekly on Mondays and about once or twice a month with a book review (maybe analysis too, interest and time pending). That being said, my first book review/analysis will be the hilarious, disturbing, and generally unnerving  Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace.

If you have strong feelings on the fork or are excited for Infinite Jest or just want to express how much time you’ve wasted reading this and want to make me aware of that, please feel free to leave comments below.