My Writing

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Diary of a Mad Old Man

I recently finished a book I greatly enjoyed and admired, Diary of a Mad Old Man by Junichiro Tanizaki, the Howard Hibbett translation. It's the first book I've read by Tanizaki. I purchased The Key concurrently and will read that and probably more by him.

Most of the book is informal diary entries of an old man, Utsugi, who has very shitty health, knows he is near death, and is only enlivened by his lust for his daughter-in-law, Satsuko. 

Utsugi is desperate for any kind of erotic interaction with Satsuko and she exploits this, milking him for expensive gifts in return for little favors like the chance to kiss her feet, neck, and other parts of her body. Any time this happens his blood pressure goes up, threatening his health. 

The book was hilarious and enjoyable to me. I often love things written in someone's speaking voice, and I especially love when the tone is informal and somehow shows the speaker's personality. It draws me to the character and also makes me think about living and speaking--how one does things, how one views things, and how one talks about it.

There was something funny and engaging to me about the bleakness of the narrator's life and how matter-of-fact he is about his physical deterioration, his coming death, and his pervy lust for Satsuko. By the end of the book I felt moved as well, as his death and the sadness of his situation started to feel more somber to me, less of a joke. 

The shortness and immediacy of the diary entries made it easy to read and created narrative energy, I felt. 

Here are some parts I liked:

"Since I have no particular reason to keep on living, sometimes I think I would be happier if a woman like Oden turned up to kill me. Rather than endure the pain of these half-dead arms and legs of mine, maybe I could get it over and at the same time see how it feels to be brutally murdered."

"August 13

Again today, at around 3 p.m., I had my little erotic thriller. But today my eyes didn't become red. My blood pressure seems normal too. A slight disappointment. Something is lacking unless my eyes get bloodshot and my blood pressure goes over 200."

"I wouldn't mind being injured if that would bring Satsuko pleasure, and a mortal injury would be all the better. Yet to think of being trampled to death, not by her but by her dog..."

"If my tears the other had suggested madness, what of today's? This time they were quite unexpected. I have Satsuko's taste for shocking people, and I think crying is shameful for a man; yet in fact I am easily moved to tears--they come at the merest trifle. That is something I have always tried to conceal. Ever since I was young I have enjoyed playing the villain; I am constantly saying spiteful things to my wife, for instance, but as soon as she begins sniffling I lose my nerve. And so I have done my best to keep her from knowing my weakness. In other words, even though I am sentimental and given to tears--as virtuous as that may sound--my true nature is perverse and cold-hearted in the extreme. That is the kind of man I am; and still when an innocent child suddenly shows me such affection I can't keep my glasses dry."

Monday, August 20, 2012

If you're feeling spiritless

If you're feeling spiritless, let me tell you, this blog post right here, when you get done reading it, I really think if you read it through, it won't make you feel any better.

Part of Speech:adjective
Synonyms:apatheticblah*, blue*, brokencast down,
dopey, downdown in the dumps, down in the
mouth, downcast, downhearted, draggy, drippy,
droopy, dullenervatedflat tire, flat*,inanimate
languishing, languorous, lifelesslimp,listlesslow
melancholic, melancholymopy,slothful, subdued
unmoved, zero*

I feel better when I do things.

I've been writing things for a novel. So far it feels like throat-clearing, prologue stuff.

Things I wrote that probably won't actually be in the novel:

This novel could be described as "like The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, but no stroke." And the protagonist is just some twenty-five-year-old shithead.  


The little boy with the special-edition DVD with director's commentary. The little boy with favorite sections of the Sunday New York Times

My last day at the nonprofit we went bowling. It was fun enough, I guess, in a bleak, shitty sort of way.

I'm almost finished reading The Possibility of an Island by Michel Houellebecq. It conveys a very depressing worldview, just like all of his books.
"I have told you already I do not give a single fuck."

I'm intrigued by his prose style, how he does paragraphs; there are a lot of semicolons, but sometimes he uses commas instead, he creates run-ons. His writing feels liberated, free, but purposeful.

There was a small, maybe 2-paragraph section on a page that recounts the narrator finding his dog dead in a snowbank or something following the suicide of his lover (this dog had been the one nice thing in his life following the suicide), and it was such a great piece of writing all on its own, that one little section; I read it  again, but slowly.

Next I'm going to read The Key and Diary of a Mad Old Man by Junichiro Tanizaki. Henry Miller was into Tanizaki, he mentions him in this sweet footage of him in a bathrobe explaining all the stuff on the walls of his bathroom in Big Sur.

Looking at Artists' Lives on Wikipedia
Oscar Wilde was editor of The Woman's World magazine for a while--I read about it here--it was fairly progressive/highbrow--he had an office and an assistant editor--he'd come and go as he pleased--he wrote The Picture of Dorian Gray and several famous essays during that time, composed when he'd leave his office to go out to a cafe.
"Swaggie, lol..."

I love Marcel Duchamp's final artwork, Étant donnés. His life is interesting to me, Duchamp. "The illuminating gas."

Just typed up a paragraph entitled "My life story" and deleted it. 

Just got asked to be interviewed in a kitchen for a new web TV show. 

A thing by me is in the next Shabby Doll House. It's called "Fantasy."

I'm in the process of conducting interviews with Heiko Julién and with Richard Chiem.

I think it'd be fun if we got a big ridiculous comment section going somewhere, like on a Melissa Broder HTMLGIANT post or something. Or not.

Rachel and I watched this documentary called The Bridge about people jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. Was kind of depressing but not as depressing as I anticipated. People jump off the Golden Gate Bridge a lot, it is the #1 suicide spot, I believe. Most people die instantly on impact.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

v fucked up: an interview with omar de col

me: Omar, why are u doing videos of you smoking? who do u think u are a role model for children
omar: tbh i don't even believe in smoking
me: 2pac said he;s not a role model bc "a role is something you play and a model is something you make, and i'm not fake."
as u can see, that rhymes
omar: if children speak english they won't understand french, so that can be interesting if u are able to understand portugese
or something
me: this is going well
i feel like u just said something deep and i didnt get it
what the fuck are u on about omar
omar: wel if u look at the history of the thing
then it's true
me: lol
omar: just look at the facts
me: when i examine the record, it becomes clear
omar: no no
me: lol
omar: the record is for playing music
i am talking about historical documents
u feel me
me: yea...i "feel u," omar
omar: lie
good and evil
is 'and'
u feel me?
me: trying to think of an abusive nonsequitur
omar: ok
so if u flip it
then it becomes a completely different things
for example
yesterday i was walking on the road
to talk to the locals
and u know what they always say?
they talk about jobs dissapearing
and frankly
i can understand their point
me: Do you care about like "literary culture" or would you rather just look at cute girls' facebooks/twitters?
this is a dumb and obvious q i just realized
omar: for me
it can be an interesting debate
for example
is there a culture
what is a cute girl
these are questions that are also debatable
so it can take a v long time
for example
do u believe in culture stephen
me: no
Hey Omar
what's your favorite Blink song
omar: ok that is very interesting to some people
maybe not me
me: this is a great performance so far bravo
whats your favorite blink song
omar: blink 182?
me: yea
omar: oh ok
me: was just thinking: this interview will just make all the girls like u more
nothing else will be accomplished
ur so selfish
omar: the one where they talk about the small things
me: shitty choice
omar: well ok
that is your opinion
me: lol
omar: and i will defend to the death your right to have it
me: who cut your hair
didja self-cut
omar: thank you
me: lol
omar: i wanted to talk about this 
me: lol
omar: u mentioned it in the pre-interview
i went to this barber
who is chinese
and she calls me 'handsome boy'
which is something i like
very interesting sidebar
she is very good
at making me feel comfortable
me: ever listen to handsome boy modeling school
are they...are they somehow the same band...
omar: because she doesn't speak english
me: as...we are scientists...
omar: i'm not sure what you're talking about
me: english makes u nervous?
omar: but i'm glad u are listening to different kinds of music

me: what should a girl do if she has u over
or a boy
omar: to answer your first question
english doesn't make me nervous
to answer your second question
i would need you to go into more detail
me: how have u met girls
didja ever meet a girl at camp
on a bus
in a garage
in a field
in a meadow
ata pub
omar: mostly the girls meet me
i think
me: rest stop
is that so
omar: yes
it depends where i am
in that situation
me: wherever u are, there they meet u
omar: no no
now u are twisting my word
when a girl meets me
or i meet a girl, as u put it
it is by chance
for example
i once knew a girl
because she hung around with my flat mate
and i stayed in my room
while they drank in the common area
to seem mysterious
and also
because i was shy
at some point
i went to sit with them
and we made eye contact
then as she was leaving i asked for her email
and spoke to her on msn
me: you DO seem mysterious
omar: messenger
idk about that
as you can see
i have a twitter, tumblr and used to have facebook
and am available on gchat
can u see those
me: what would it take for u to go back on facebook for good
as it were
omar: well
to be honest
since u asked the question
i am going to answer it
me: exciting
omar: i have secretly been activating fb
mostly to view pix of girls
someone said to me yesterday
after i mentioned that i deactivated fb
that i will be back on it within a week
so i feel if i turn it on again
'for good'
i will seem like a lil bitch
and i care what ppl think
it is one of my flaws
what can i say though, i am human
we all have our flaws
u feel me?
me: i wonder sometimes...if u think abt the feelings of others..
i do wonder that...
omar: well
that is an interesting point
v metaphysical
have u read the philosophy?
me: no i havent read it
have u seen "a dangerous method"
omar: no
me: me neither
omar: i would rather stay on topic
me: it looked good tho
omar: hold on
lets finish what u started
me: can one tho remain on topic
omar: u haven't deactivated fb
am i right in saying that?
me: you have said so
omar: ok
so i will assume that is true
since u wont give me a straight answer
do u consider the feelings of ppl who want u to deactivate fb?
me: lol

me: When are u coming to amerika
omar: awp '13
me: cool
u heard it here first
omar: oh
ha ha
me: u can meet elaine
thank god
omar: are we breaking the 4th wall now
me: it's broke
omar: ok
me: can u take some sexie fotos to accompany this interview
seeing as i cant peruse ur fbook pix
cause ur a selfish prick
omar: do you remember when i made my point about u not deactivating fb?
me: just go in photobooth for a while
what else should i deactivate
omar: i don't have photobooth
i'll take a pic i guess
me: thank you
omar: lol
are we still in the interview
me: yes
omar: ok
is there anything else u would like me to talk about?
me: idk like
probably my initial thots are dispensable now
something abt literature
omar: ok
well lately i have been reading lydia davis
i read the first story
me: whaddya think of her
omar: then i fell asleep in the sun
me: perfect
omar: but i liked the first one
me: u ever read salinger
omar: no
i don't have time for him
me: "just before the war with the eskimos"
he doesnt have time for u
omar: yes
he's dead
me: no hes not
omar: yes he is
me: n-o
omar: it was in the news
me: anyway what else u up to
his body's decomposed yea
omar: i am in the process of completing some stories
me: cool
omar: and writing some peoms
for a ebook or chapbook or something else
me: cool
omar: called 'idk, idc'
me: will u finally appear in a lit mag
not that it matters
or will u release in collections exclusively
omar: i don't have any interest really in being in a lit mag
apart from pop serial
me: atta boy
omar: LOL
me: i feel u
at last
i feel u
omar: lol

me: i dont even use linked in
why do ppl keep trying to add me
what are they gonna get a job or something
whens the last time u had a gf
omar: i always worry i am missing opportunities on that
by not accepting friend req
me: lets get down to what can only be described as brass tacks
omar: last time i had a gf
me: who was ur last gf
omar: was
in 2008 maybe
me: who was she
howd u meet
omar: very interesting question
me: yes
omar: we met in my flat
at uni
me: what was the occasion
omar: i think she was just hanging out with my flat mates
and i would stay in my room
me: to be mysterious
omar: yes
by mysterious though
i mean
mysterious to me
me: antisocial
omar: well
not really
asocial maybe
me: so ur trying to bedevil yourself with ur own mysterious ways
omar: no
i just dont understand myself
me: o
yes yea
omar: u feel me
me: yea
omar: v fucked up
me: its alright omar
so howd u meet then
she came into ur room
or did u emerge
omar: i emerged at some point
me: yes
omar: to cook bacon
our kitchen and common room were attached
one big room
and then because they were there
me: full of bacon bitches
omar: and i had finished cooking the bacon
i felt peer pressured
into sitting with them
so i did that
me: did u offer her a slice
omar: no
it was in a sandwich
me: o i see
omar: i made eye contact with her at some point
didn't talk to her
maybe said a few things during the conversation to be involved
me: describe the eye contact
omar: like
me: was it furtive or...lingering
omar: i had the sandwich in my mouth
biting down
and like
me: lol
omar: looking around
and our eyes met
then i looked away
because i felt scared
me: =)
omar: later when she was leaving
i think i said i'd walk her back to her flat
me: just off the eye contact
omar: and then i asked her for her email at her door when saying good night
me: nice
her email
sounds nice
is there anything else u'd like to add, omar
omar: no