Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Poem (I am not a Nature Freak)


She crept the forest plain

Muscles rotating like giant Wheels

Amber locks Matted From Life

Eyes to Us Lazily Subdued

Shells Like Red Rockets

Fully Loaded and Glistening From the Sweat of Anticipation

Two Men

Impeccably Clean Fatigues

The Younger’s First Pair

By A Stream

Water frigid

Paw Producing Currents

like Speedboats

She Paws Unaware

His Shoulder sore

From Awkward Technique

Father Stares Proudly

Birds Flee Spontaneously

He Takes picture of Him

By First KILL

He Smiles

While Missing The Point

He’s never seen him

So Pleased

Standing so Prominent

From Perspective of bended Knees

He Has To Go GET Something

“To Transport the carcass”

He says

“Keep a eye on IT”

And leaves.

Boy stands proud

Before the Kill

Feeling A Little Lonely

The shotgun

Feels heavier.

A tree snaps

And HE Twists

Hoping Not Miss

One second

Of A Moment

Like This.

His eyes casting down

As he Fills up the Wholes

Killing One more is his only Goal

A roar like an engine

Young Boy, Feeling Like A SOUL Stealer

A second Later

A Father blasted FROM A FOUR WHEELER.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Thoughts on Stephen King's "Cell"

*Spoiler Alert. This blog reveals key story points.

So I just got done reading Stephen King’s “Cell”, and I really enjoyed this book (as I enjoy most King). There are a few qualities which attract me to King’s stories again and again. The first thing is what I would label the “meta-fictional” qualities of the writing. I became such an avid fan after reading the entire “Dark Tower” series, and its interrelated texts. The inter-textuality of his works makes it so interesting. Certain themes and symbols are given multiple embodiments, which allow the reader a deeper “relationship” with these things. The meta-fictional qaulities project the work into reality, sucking the reader into the tale in the process.

It is a bold and interesting move to assume another writer’s symbols, or objects in one’s own work. Clearly, and King has stated himself, the tower of King’s “Dark Tower” is based on the Barad-dur, the base of the Eye of Sauron, in Tolkien’s “Lord of the Ring”. Now I won’t ruin the end of the “Dark Tower”, but it is sufficient to say that by the end of that series “King’s tower” is unique and its own. I often reflect what is the ultimate purpose, and affect of this shared symbolism?

I know from my reading that this appeal to other works is not a device unique to King, but an act done by other writers and poets. I think of T.S. Eliot in this regard, which raises an interesting point. What makes the assumption of another person’s work good? I mean it is easy to imagine some hack assuming another text’s creation in a cheap, whorish way. Obviously it is a matter or authorial ability and intent.

The tower symbol pops up in “Cell”, towards the end of the book at the fair-grounds, in the parachute drop tower, which has a blinking red light on top. What are we to make of this recurrent symbol? Why is it always the scene of climax in these stories?

“Cell” begins right in the action, from the perspective of Clayton Riddell, a graphic novelist who has just got his “big break”. He is walking the streets of Boston when a zombie infection begins, passed through of course cellular phones. “The Pulse” as the event is called is never properly explain, one of my “frustrations” with the book. The pulse is blamed on a group of terrorist who have somehow have infected cell phones. Intentionally or not, this raised the question in my mind is King mocking the Western “go-to” explanation of terrorism. At other places in the novel, gossip is shown as unreliable and comes from antagonistic elements.

As always, the reader of a novel brings their own predispositions. I certainly could be accused of reading too much into literature. I reject this accusation whole heartedly and I don’t like its malign implications. To me the type of reductive readings which the accusation would promote is a significant force in the zombification of modern peoples, more dangerous than the pulse.

This leads me to consider the moral or ideological position of King’s work, specifically in the “Cell”. The basic feeling one gets in this text is that we’re all screwed. This is a feeling which permeates much of King’s work. I almost want to label this attitude as “conservative”, meaning that the past is seen as superior to the present, or future.

Included in this thought is the problem of protagonist vs. antagonist. To put it simply, the distinction between the two vanishes in King’s work. With King, we always become attached to the protagonist characters, but ultimately we become very uncomfortable with this relationship. Often the person we thought was our hero becomes a villain. This upsets and offers a paradoxical morality. What I wonder is it symptomatic of a larger moral, ideological, paradox which exists at the present time in our culture? Have we lost our heroes? Here’s a large quote which influenced my perspective:

His last thought before sleep took him was that maybe in the long run, the phoners would have been better. Yes, they had been born in violence and in horror, but birth was usually difficult, often violent, and sometimes horrible. Once they had begun flocking and mind-melding, the violence had subsided. So far as he knew, they hadn’t actually made war on the normies, unless one considered forcible conversion an act of war; the reprisals following the destruction of their flocks had been gruesome but perfectly understandable. If left alone, they might eventually have turned out better custodians of the earth than so-called normies. They certainly wouldn’t have been falling all over themselves to buy gas guzzling SUVs, not with their levitation skills (or with their rather primitive consumer appetites, for that matter). Hell, even their taste in music had been improving at the end. (342)

Here Clayton is forced to consider the ambiguity in the situation, compounded and perhaps founded in the fact that his son Johnny, is currently a phoner and his future remains uncertain. What I like to ponder and find more interesting is, what does this expose about King’s psyche himself? Further, and most important what does it say about our own individual psyches, or a collective psyche, more generally?

I have studied Nietzsche and just recently started reading “Thus Spoke Zarathustra”. In many ways I find ideas from him are finding an allegory in “Cell”. We can understand that to some degree, from the passage above. Here I am seeing a connection between Nietzsche’s concept of the Ubermensch and King’s phoners. The comparison is not forced, as Nietzsche found the source of this “super-man” in our primordial urges as people. I am reminded here of a specific passage from Zarathustra:

Truly man is a polluted stream. One must be a sea to receive a polluted stream without becoming impure.

Behold, I teach you the Ubermensch: he is that sea; in him your great contempt can be submerged. (10)

For this me this recalls the figure of the zombie. The zombie becomes a vessel by which us non-superman can project our own “failures”, failures, to use King’s concept, which are of the “normies” who are unable to rise above societal pressures and to bask in the revelation of our “true self”.

I want to end this with a personal anecdote, which I often recall when reading King. I was around nine years old and my mother said something gossipy about the son of one her friends. She explained that her friend’s son had been getting into a lot of trouble, and gasp, had been reading a lot of Stephen King.

I remember even at that time reflecting, and I didn’t think of it as exactly in these terms, that the author was being made into a scapegoat. Even then I reflected, maybe it is because of his lack of a stable Father, or because of his carousing Mother, that he acts out.

At that point, I had not read any King, but looking back now I trust my observations even more. There is a profound philosophy in the works of King and to see it as mere horror renders us one step closer to zombies. Ugh, I have barely scratched the surface of my thoughts here, but it was fun never the less. I would love to do a more thorough research project on these concepts, among many others. At the least, I hope I have provided some evidence that within King’s work there is a profound social commentary taking place.

*Note. My Nietzsche quote comes from the Barnes & Noble Edition of "Thus Spoke Zarathustra"

Friday, January 8, 2010

Some old stuff

I was looking through some of my old writing. This is one thing I found, which got my heart going. It is always nice to find little treats you wrote for yourself, that you had forgotten. It is like somone else wrote it. Forgive the Amateur.

"A Rant On the Verge of Breathing"

When I do a push up do I push myself up,
or the world down?
Is there a snowflake with the face a of a leprechaun,
or a rain drop in the shape of a fetus?
Image worlds within kernels
Fractal pattern mastery
I thought you said this conversation was over.
Are these words fragments or vibrations?
Words don’t matter
Syntax doesn’t pattern
be blinded
Word picture.

How can you say that you know
When you still think in three dimensions
There is an infinite regress
And your vomit wouldn’t matter
Transformed into a bouquet
Of white roses
I wonder where the red went
Master meandering to reaches
Onward necessarily
Stealing the substance of pixilation
Mutt seeing black and white
An owl sees in Technicolor
A Blind man sees through his nose
A deaf man through the pores
How does a dead man sense?
Sensing absolutely
Existing in a continuum
Creatio ex nil
-2 times -2
Equals an opportunity.

I stand on a plane
Of rippling green grass
Surrounded by the tenebris
In principium Deus Creavit

I stand on the wave of the firmament
Dog with his head out the window
Tongue massaging the air
Dad said Dog
Should get off the Fucking
Master’s lap.
I found worlds
Within this embrace
That darkness in my eyes
Never seemed so light
My arms never held so tight
With less might
I pull away as does the tear
From the gap of fears
I wonder why I came to this place
Realizing that it is my own face
Which provides the container for this path
Which was, what walked
by more feet than mine
Littered with the debris of journey
Half hearted
And misguided attempts
On the celestial high-way
I remain seated
While this thing fucking moves

The grooves of near-by asteroids
Creating new hair styles
And soothing vibrations
Which titillate my biggest organ
Find the end to this maze
Of finger tips
Have to find the start of the pattern

A child wakes up
Remnants of dream consciousness
What is your expectation
Dining car of the caboose
Scrap from a U.N. envoy
I can’t tell my Pepsi from my Piss
Pepsid, Lucem, Bilal
Cursed by draught
And no one’s rain dancing
I saw the trees dance
The sway and embraced
Playing Petrachan love games
I laughed
While you masturbated
With images glorified in your Pineal gland
Like your liver
And your snot
Does your soul need a tissue?
Your hair grows faster when you’re thinking
A dead person’s hair grows slowly
Judgement day
Would there be lines
get boring
And where would the lawyers be
Would the public defenders be any good?
I was held down by Demons and raped
I know Satan’s real
I was anointed
Meam lingaum audere audet.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Arguing about words with Atheists!

Video where Dillahunty Advocates "Linguistic Absolutism"

This is my letter to Matt Dillahunty of "The Atheist Experience". Above is a link to the video, where I believe Matt makes the argument of "Linguistic Absolutism" (somewhere around 14:00 in) which I disagree with. Let me know your ideas.

To Matt Dillahunty

A Critique of “Linguistic Absolutism”

What I wanted to write you about is something I have heard you say repeatedly on the show. You often argue that people need to stay within fixed boundaries linguistically. You find something particularly offensive when people begin to say “God is X, Y, Z, etc”. I am going to label this position an ideology of “Linguistic Absolutism”. I emphasize ideology, because the claim that one ought not use, in your understanding “wishy-washy words”, is a by-product of your ideological alignment towards “Scientific Rationalism”.

To me, this perspective is just inherently false. There is a long academic tradition of Linguistic history which argues the contrary. Language is not a static thing, but a transforming dialectical thing. To borrow concepts from Ferdinand Saussure, you are making the mistake of perceiving a concrete relationship between the “signifier” and the “signified”. There is not and cannot be an absolutist relationship between these things. What you push is a linguistic unitary imperative, which ignores the intrinsic centrifugal forces within language too. This idea of the “centripetal vs. the centrifugal” forces, present throughout the evolution of language, is elaborated by thinker Mikhail M. Bakhtin in his essay “Discourse in the Novel”.

To use Kantian terms, we say “words” do not represent things in themselves. Your “unitary imperative” necessarily implies this is false. Bakhtin explains the issue nicely:

A common unitary language is a system of linguistic norms. But these norms do not constitute an abstract imperative: they are rather the generative forces of linguistic life, forces that struggled to overcome the heteroglossia of language, forces that unite and centralize verbal-ideological thought... (emphasis added)

What I am observing is you are offering your own ideological thrust to the process of developing “linguistic norms”. The mistake I feel your making is imagining and proposing that there is indeed, an “abstract imperative” towards this unified language, which there is not. The unification is just the opposite coin of the chaos behind language. We can understand this on a simple grammatical level. Any given word is a construction of syllables. These syllables are distinct parts which are unified into a whole. So language at its most fundamental level is a “pure” act of interpretation.

It seems to me you either want to destroy poetic and metaphoric sense all together, or denigrate it to the position of something like an “imaginative result”, basically something akin to mental illness. I think this ignores the powerful poetic content of language and its force in our lives. This leads you to believe things are just stories, which ignores the word’s own power in shaping ideological thought.

The practical implication of all this is that even if you could somehow flip a switch right now and make everyone an atheist, using a very rigid and agreed upon scientific dialect. Still, it would remain near impossible to remove the spiritual, theistic, and religious foundations of language, which exist at the unconscious level. This is probably obvious to you in your life in innumerable ways. Literally it seems that we are unable to think outside the words of religion. It seems you want to fight this be appealing to a “Linguistic Absolutism”, but even if we could construct there is some imperative to adopt this strategy, it would never work because the two forces in language (centripetal vs. centrifugal) would always be present, evading meaning and interpretation. This ultimately leads to metaphoric, figurative language, being employed when defining religious and transcendental experiences.

To end by restating this all simply one more time, if someone says “I see god in everything” this statement should not be rejected on the ground that it conflates, and distorts, the words presented. As it merely is an attempt by the person to define their own concepts and language.

Work Referenced:

1.The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism”, pg 1198