A long time ago I first started scribbling these manic, opinionated, and far too confessional screeds out to my small fragment of the world. I was young. I still saw the future. I had yet to become frozen in time, a forlorn look backwards to all those wasted years. I dreamed, still, of worldly success: fame, and high regard, a shitload of money and time enough to spend all of my time on these one-after-another passion projects I was churning out.
Whatever success means to you, one can never be made complete. There is still some untamed ambition to the work ethic. I was younger, it was timely, and I didn’t ever see a reason for me to stop. Hell, I read enough, I tell myself. I know good from shit. I read high school English papers for almost seven years, if I include time spent student-teaching, and performing service over my 30+ hours of practicum. I could recognize a kid with talent rustling lightning back onto the otherwise stunted, or bored, or uninteresting, or indifferent, or stupid, or arrogant, or scared, or self-doubting, or finally starting to come into their own
I thought I was pretty good, and I was comparing myself to my radically diverse idols. Of course I wanted to be like them, but sometimes you learn to form your own language. There are very few writers capable of pulling this off–Joyce comes to mind. Proust–even in translation, or Nabokov in any language. Of course there are also the proud radio transmitters of static–big, bold writers. They suffer the sin of overwriting. What they want to try and have us do is compare the glory of William Faulkner, with the sad defeat of Ernest Hemingway.
Faulkner wrote in a blaze! His drunken passion could flower over into great, dark stretches and some genuinely horrifying stuff. And of course he was funny–Faulkner is funny! You kind of shake your head in a disgusted way, spit something brown out of your mouth in a glop, and then let out a self-deprecating chuckle.
Hemingway is all crushed dreams and gloom. Hemingway is about the failure of heroes and dying young. In Hemingway everything is a disappointed effort–those grand noble goals, the way our youth can come and change the world–!
Faulkner was passion, a laser beam focus picking apart all the scabs that can undermine a person far more imaginative than a proud, archetypal loser like Hemingway. In Faulkner they don’t want to fail. Hemingway is all self-pity. Faulkner is a grand fuck you to the world. Papa Hemingway, the ole sea capt’n, can only shrug, trying to stay interested.
I don’t want to transform this one any more than it already is into some graduate English 684, or whatever, where literary essay writing is meant to be perfected for future publication in academic journals. . .(do you notice how even mentioning this flattens out the language–I went from ‘the proud radio transmitters of static’ to ‘literary essay writing is meant to be perfected for future publication in academic journals.’) All I want to claim is that there is madness in such stream-of-consciousness exercises.
That’s what they were, that long time ago when I began ‘recording editorial history.’ This title has been a signpost throughout my life, wandering and raging from one interest to another until everything is lost and the whole world is at its end.
Because that’s what writing is for me–the playing of God. I can of course write a story and script a play, or something. A poem about whatever the fuck I want. But it is also a game that we play very much in public, testing the limits of our convictions to see how angry, or unhappy we believe we have made another person. Of course all of those people are already angry and unhappy or else they wouldn’t be calling someone a fucking moron on Twitter (twitter.com; https://twitter.com/asphlex; @asphlex).
The word game is all about reaction. We’ll never truly know, but you can develop a pretty good idea of the sorts of things that provoke other people. And people are provoked in numerous directions, the primary being sarcasm, cynicism, condescension, anger and being genuinely offended. But there are all sorts of crazy ways some of these anonymous people will respond to the most curious provocations.
I want to relate a brief anecdote, hardly very interesting and so it allows a ‘guest star,’ James Woods, formerly successful actor.
James Woods has banned me on twitter. Yes, I know. This is hardly an accomplishment. I am certainly not boasting. This is just a fact. It happened. Neither of us knows the other–we’ve never met–and my only knowledge of him was having been a in a number of movies I quite enjoyed, from The Onion Field and Videodrome (“Here’s to the new flesh!”), through the prime artistic years of a handsome and talented man’s past. Everybody has pretty much always said that James Woods is an asshole. Of course I don’t know this. I’ve heard this, even from a few people who claimed to have met him. This was the smarmy Roy Cohn in the late eighties HBO film about him. He showed up in Oliver Stone movies after Salvador, a number of them that I recall. He had a nice sized role in Nixon. He was a fine actor.
Now, in his 70s, this guy not too many people have ever had a positive thing to say about other than praising his work ethic, he doesn’t show up in movies too much any longer. His career has fallen on pretty low times. Oh, he’ll always get work as long as he gets to voice bad guys for Disney or Warner Brothers, or if someone needs a still recognizable crank to exaggerate himself on TV, whether the news or something frivolous like iCarly–security guard #2–. He gets to do some video game voice work too, because he always did have that nasty, vicious voice. His last fine acting, I recall, was in the Showtime program Ray Donovan–a much better than I’d expected crime show about painful moral clarity among degenerates. Woods played some horrible, brutal Boston bad guy who has a whole sordid past with Ray Donovon’s father in the show, Jon Voight–another born-again right guy. Mobster, gangster, gang wars, criminality and murder later and James Woods had what I hope is not a final high note career credit to a very talented man.
But he’s taken, now, to banning nobodies like me–someone every bit as mean as he is, and far more capable of cruelty, I’d guess. But word games are magic because I am only a vision there, a random voice of prophecy interfering with someone’s rant and saying things so horrible that one shouldn’t blame the once successful man for not even wanting to accidentally stumble across another hurtful splatter from some crazy fan.
I will never understand why people take shit like this so damn seriously? We need thicker skins. Say what you want about me. I don’t care. I don’t care enough, perhaps that’s it. You don’t win friends. You make them.
And in honor of this revisiting of a former trope of my life–the racing stream-of-consciousness lingual calisthenics and hoop jumping–talking about random things in an effort to tie everything back together and make a shape, a geometrical pattern that shows me the shape of words–in honor of this I will repeat another long-gone figment from my furious past–this piece will be published without the slightest bit of editing (other than spelling–that just looks cheap)–