Monday, January 21, 2008

And The Oscar Goes To...

Hello. Wow. For some reason, standing here tonight before you, under the harsh glare of these stage lights, I now suddenly want to talk about my life these days. My hum-drum daily routines. About observing the old rotting rainwet wood of ruined houses, warped and peeling paint, the burgundy flakes chipping off and washing down the sidewalk, if there really were a sidewalk, if the world truly does exist, because sometimes when I’m walking, say on a pluvial Monday afternoon of umbrellas and tenebrous skies and the mooing of fog horns calling out their sad and stentorian cries, and almost getting run over by large trucks while I’m crossing the street on a green light, sometimes I look down and there is really no street there under my shoes, no plashing tap of my feet there at all, just the smoky distance of time padding in the mush of a vacuum where nothing can ever occur, and I am kind of free there for the timeless moment, which really is no moment because to have a moment of any substance you must also have time, and there is no time, just a slight budding hunch of something without substance or form creeping along the darkest borders of consciousness, like the feeble cloudy semblance of emotional transmogrifications and other piecemeal ideas of happening, things that always seem right on the cusp of happening, but never do. I stare at stop signs, the water dripping down the loudly red aluminum of their crisp and sharp flat faces and plopping slowly onto the ground, the steely glinting ways of their poles stuck like stakes into the concrete, creating gloomy shadows that look like popsicle sticks with circles of paper cut-out heads on their tops slanting and distorted by the angle of the light shaping them, stop signs that don’t work as cars slow down some and then keep going. I sit in not-so-sad cafes without ballads or music of any sort playing, watching distressed and harried faces hurrying by with purpose and a disquieting speciousness, in relentless pursuit of numismatic and unattainable things, bleary transitory and meaningless compensations for getting through another day, wearing shop-worn expressions of stale tremulous defeat, a fa├žade of content masquerading as liveliness in the atmosphere’s distillation of consumerism-as-culture shrouding these timid souls trapped in the cages of their myopia, duped into a perceived uniqueness where all change just makes them more the same. I am embarrassed of my ineffectual and inefficient modes of communication, the dry well of my personal lexicon unable to sustain even the most meager conversation. So I sit in parks, uncomfortably aloof on sodden benches of despair. I watch people walking their dogs. I see old men in tatterdemalion suits of ancient styles wander by unaware, lost in the bare rooms of gutted mansions where their memories used to live, throwing crumbs to pigeons, shifty anachronisms weighted down by senility and the desuetude of their senescence, their lapels holding the wilted remains of dead roses. I close my eyes and smile. I feel the rain start up again. It collects in the depressions of my face, gathers and forms tiny pools in the corners of my eyes and runs down my cheeks in wild rivulets like tears. It is soothing and all is right with the world. As I stand here before you, holding this oddly shaped, tin and copper statuette of gold-plated britannium standing on a black metal base, this brave and fastidious looking knight rendered in Art Deco style and holding this toy-soldier crusader’s sword, standing on a nickel-sized reel of film. As I stand here at this podium, giving this impromptu and unexpected speech, my voice filling up space into the farthest recesses and great caverns of this auditorium, a winner, though maybe to some an undeserved one, of this award of merit, I can’t think of a damn thing to say. Not because I am incapable of making speeches, and thanking people, and feeling grateful and all that other sentimental and namby-pamby jibber jabber. But because I have seen long faces with even longer scars of memories staring off into emptiness not two inches from my own face on crowded subway trains, because I have been abused by venomous tongues of insidious and malicious intent, because I could sell this award back to The Academy for a buck, because I have shopped in supermarkets at 3 a.m. and have seen those who stumble by lost in darkness under bright lights, and because I have lived as a human being in this frenzied world of consumerism, of consume or be consumed, of inveterate desiring and constant, one-after-the-other ephemeral gratifications, of unreal expectations and expensive clothes and insipid entertainment and self-centered egoism and, yes, I admit also, sad-eyed mules of men, and the pipe-dreamed hallucinations of grandeur by a deluded populace raised on television and high-fructose corn syrup. I have lived with the sad sound of waves crashing fecklessly against both sides of an oblivious continent for too long. And now I am tired. Good night.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

the other half of the last part of a random conversation

…(garbled sounds like a tape recorder being dropped or muffled by something, little toboggans of grunts and sighing types of things followed by this--with the other half of the conversation being removed at the request of the speaker, who shall remain anonymous and voiceless for legal reasons)
That’s just the thing. You hit that goddamn proverbial nail right on the fucking head. I don’t want somebody selling their idea of inspiration to me. Some discounted afflatus of questionable value. Something that will most certainly not lift my spirits or throw me into some kind of fucking creative tizzy or something, um, similar? Less than real? Well, kind of just a momentary loss of satisfaction with the world going on around me. Disaffection. So, that’s kind of what I’m saying, you know, when people start asking about favorites. What the hell am I supposed to say? My favorite movie? Book? How the hell can I answer that question? How can I even begin? Make a fucking list? Fuck you. I can’t make a fucking list. My top ten favorite…whatever. It’s ridiculous. You just can’t make these comparisons between things that have like all these subtle variations in texture and strain, and all these varying accounts and interpretations and years and years of, use? Life? Something like that. Things take on their own life outside of whatever the original creator instilled them with or breathed into them. I mean, of course, right? But, also every person who comes to these things with their own mind, well, all those, whatever, thousands, maybe millions of people, well, they not only make their own judgments and maybe mistaken observations about these things, but they, I believe, all add something to the thing they are observing. They turn it into something new every time their minds try to wrap around it. They each form their own warped image of the thing, some kind of MacGuffin of the mind, when their eyes perceive the thing and send all these various signals to the mind which then in turn tries to make sense of it all using the contents of its stored history of knowledge, all of its experience, which of course varies from person to person, if only speciously in some cases, it all still matters a lot. And everything in that mind is always in flux. All there is to know is change, change, and more change. Nothing just is. All these objects are just mutating forms that our brains try to make into concrete things so we can assimilate them into our consciousness and access them more readily when we need them, making memories and so on. No work of art is ever the same as it was the last time you looked at it. You’ve changed. Your brain has changed. You are different. All these other myriad things have happened to you since the last time you tried to make sense of this inchoate and marvelously mutating thing, that really has no “thingness” at all. The way we remember a movie being is never the way that movie really was. Sometimes we just see what we want to see. Sometimes our memory forms false things to fill gaps. And our emotions of course come into play, whatever it was that we were going through or feeling at the time, that hinders our perception. We bring all of our stupid little opinions with us, all of our a priori conceptions of how things are, when that, of course, is most definitely not the way things are. What is real to us is just a sort of tempered and solidified mass of images that we sculpt with our brains. So, let me give you a dumb exempli gratis of this. I’ve read ________ a bunch of times. Like twenty or more. And every time I read it, my mind being in a completely different place from the previous times I’ve read it, I feel like it is a new book to me, a profoundly different experience, and everything I go through while I’m reading it is also very different. Now, I’m not saying that this is because the author has created such a profound work of brilliance that can be interpreted in so many ways. It’s actually a rather simple book. I don’t think the author was trying to do anything spectacular. He was probably just trying to write a decent story, and maybe he even failed at that. It wasn’t a very popular book. Yeah. It went out of print a long time ago, didn’t it? Thirty years? I thought so. So you see? It is me that brings this complexity to it, this grand gallop of my imagination if you will. And everything changes every time I read it. The book no longer belongs to the author. It takes on a life of its own. A raison d'etre it makes for itself. I know that sounds trite, but it’s damn true in this case, and in all cases I would argue. There is no objective “thing” anymore. It’s all part of the collective mass, the ever-expanding ether of the whole. I think all art does this same thing. The artist can try to do things to make people see things in a certain way, but it just won’t work. Everyone is going to see that piece of art in their own way and it will be a completely different thing to everybody. Maybe it won’t even exist for some people. They will just block it out. But whatever happens, it will surely not exist as the mere symbol or whatever the fuck it was that the artist made it up to be. It will just be an always transmogrifying slice of each person’s mind, of their unconscious desires and dreams and all that other folderol. Nothing really exists anyway. That’s the whole point I guess. The world you exist in is the world you make for yourself. You could be trapped inside a box in total darkness, completely deprived of your normal sensations and ways of being, and you would still be able, eventually, to make your own world to exist in. What other life do you have besides the life of your mind? You might want to use that old drop-a-rock-on-your-foot argument, but that’s bullshit. Pain is only a product of the mind. People with CIPA can’t feel pain because their brains are all fouled-up and won’t register the sensation of it. Hot and cold won’t even register. They can’t sweat. Smart people call that anhidrosis. Things will still damage them, but they won’t notice it. The brain can also register pain where there is none, where there is not even a body part anymore, as any amputee will tell you. We can also trick our brains into all kinds of things. Hallucinations, dreams, etcetera. There is a world inside the world inside the world inside a grain of sand. There are even endless worlds beyond that. No. I don’t want to go into the physics of it, but, as I can tell from your arrangement of facial muscles, a slight yet noticeable tensing of your zygomatics there, you know what I mean. So, in answer to your question, I do not have a favorite movie or a favorite book. I feel like Neruda’s fish trapped inside the wind. It’s that whole what-you-shall-assume-I-shall-assume thing. What? Whitman I think. It’s not something, obviously, that I agree with. Your question is just way too vast. I mean, over the course of human history how many books have been written? Millions? Billions? And what about all the ones that were never published, or only sold a handful of copies? Maybe there is a book that was never written that I would have really liked a lot. Or a movie that was never made, only dreamed up inside somebody’s head who later that day got hit by a bus and died without ever telling anybody about their idea. I guess your question needs some type of parameters. Like say, if you asked me what my favorite movie of 1940 was. Or maybe what my favorite Academy Award winner for Best Picture was from the years 1941-1945. But even then, shit, it is just too confusing. There is too much involved, and all this cerebration gets dull and stressful after a bit. What? Oh. My favorite color is green. I thought you knew that.