Thursday, December 28, 2006

Pope Caitlin the DAMN FIRST

Who else is bored by that last post? Yeah. Anyway, now you know how I write after a few glasses of wine.

Air travel to Tallahassee was pleasant this season. Met a Williamsburg-residing art enthusiast on the leg down to Orlando; made nice with several little kids on the return. One sister said she liked my Unicorn in Captivity tote bag, so I told her about the Cloisters. Her brother had already found an affinity for the Middle Ages via a battle ax included in a McD's Happy Meal. A Columbia sweatshirt-wearing preschooler danced and waved at me singing "Jingle bells jingle bells" for about an hour, filmed occasionally by his father, drawing close and then giggling away behind a row of chairs. Waiting for luggage at JFK, a precocious gal and I discovered that our mothers had both tied ribbons onto our suitcases.

Coasting over a fluffy sea of anecdotes, I took some notes during "My Super Ex-Girlfriend." You know who's in that? Luke Wilson, Rainn Wilson, Uma Thurman, "Cameron Diaz" from Lost in Translation, and a very butch Eddie Izzard, who sneaks in a Switzerland joke. NB, the shortest distance between two plot points of this action-manhattan-romcom happens to include hurling a great white shark through the window of a highrise. Those New York chicks don't know their own strength.

Spent the late wee hours of the birthday drinking wine with Rat P. and friend, listening to my old rival and love get excited about Nabokov and French film theory, as well as his stories about a friend who served on special forces in Afghanistan, undergoing training getting held underwater until he passed out, mailing home spare funds in an Xbox or some shit. On the 23rd, one of the two young women at the party who had survived brain tumors (what) didn't recognize me at first. Out on the patio, I fraternized with culture workers: an old best friend who hosts dance parties in Sarasota and a casting agency assistant in LA who still insists that clicking ballpoint pens open and shut on my arm passes for flirting.

Christmas Eve I cleaned out my bedroom closet. It had been my closet since I was 9, so there were some pretty good finds. Still best ever yearbook signature, from the vaguely predatory dude who now goes by Golden Bull on MySpace: "I'm glad I'm signing this instead of Jeremy, who could never appreciate the gravity of the situation." The naked reclining fairy tucked away in a notebook. Lots and lots of poems, like the one about listening to Mazzy Star in the driveway. About ten years worth of movie ticket stubs, stashed inside a L'eggs egg. Some diplomas. Notes, letters, and postcards from as early as sixth grade and as late as the semester abroad in Japan; scripts for summer camp performances of abridged Shakespeare; physics homework; my first two diaries, one of which bears the distinction of beginning mid-sentence...All hand-written and photographic evidence of more people than I regularly conceive of having passed through the muscle of my affection. What a blessed, desirous, dizzy-headed gal have I been, all the while inside a sufficiently rational gourd. Who knew? My phone rang while I paused outside the car; I put the last box down on the asphalt. Five and a half inches of rain flooded down and something invisible yet still rain-like flooded up.

I saw some important ladies for lunch on the 26th, a date with real emotional heft, and a feeling I wasn't quite familiar with as we greeted each other, something smack between fear and love...exaltation? They are these sublimely strong women, probably the bedrock of goodness that kept me from really getting fucked up by that punk senior year. Like, I want one of them to be pope. Pope Caitlin the DAMN FIRST. I should probably tell her that. She started asking hard questions of her faith on a volunteer year with the Jesuits in Birmingham.

Dad didn't come along to the airport, so I listened to him encourage me to keep studying Buddhism over my brother's speakerphone. As we pulled out of the garage, Dad all smiling and worried I might sleep too late or watch too much YouTube, I teared up. Alex and Mom were teasing each other about something in the front seat, and family felt complicated. I love all of them but almost never at the same time. What's the deal with that?

Back in the city, albeit briefly, I lunched with Yuko at a v. traditional noodle house, lots of "gomenasai"s all around. We practiced the social kiss outside Starbucks, and she kept running her cheek into mine too hard. She had many interesting things to communicate, from her views on bisexuals to feeling the soul of her father go to heaven to who's on her team in our class.

Heading into 07, I’m looking forward to working on the following resolutions: (1) cultivating a scholarly New Yorker writing style, (2) staying on top of my work, and (3) not worrying. Heterogames have been green-lighted clear through spring.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


For those of you who didn't spend the day talking about Kiki Smith and Ideological State Apparatuses, you might find the next post, er, sad. Don't be alarmed! Writerly people eat sadness for breakfast! Also bagels.

We merely ask, rhetorically, whether such nonsense is of interest.

Meet Reality, My Praying Mantis

In honor of potential new readers, some diaristic nonsense which I blame on beer and the A train running local.

The steady destruction of fantasy. Why isn't there a profession for me? That's probably the best question I can ask tonight...We have eyes, fingers, a tingling below. The rest blurs. Our economical selves cry at the first hint of uselessness. Time passes. We know we'll die. The professionals have earned their bread making our lives less plausible...You'll never read this! The very movement of my pen eclipses your name! Love is not what is beautiful, but the Beloved! The closest I will soon to have to home is L.E., because my parents are moving, because they have aged, because I abandoned Caitlin and Diane, because Sean abandoned me, because I will be someone who dates, while the stone of philosophy falls blindly through the crepe of my heart and because, for the mistake I believe I once made, I will lie myself a solution, abstract and round, to match my mind and the world, where I misrecognize my father's smell in Richard's Aesthetics class, and my mind turns back to sand, the boy, his hairless chest, my brother's skin before I had perfected subjectivity.

Monday, November 20, 2006

26 possibly best birthday ever

Last year it was the subway strike; this year it's a worldwide orgasm.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Saturday, October 28, 2006


I had this embarrassing moment of confusion at the publicist's office this afternoon, when I was searching through the Village Voice's archives for old press about her husband, and I kept being confronted by all these ads from American Apparel with women in...I said "unitards" first, because my mind was working faster than itself. But then it came catching up and I sat in a doubtful silence trying to become sure whether the word actually could be "leotard," when I knew the man was named Jean-Francois and was not an item of clothing I wore in preschool when I wanted to feel a little special.

But they are the same. "It's 'leotard,' isn't it?" I had to ask the publicist. Yes, it was. "Lyotard is also a theorist," I tried to explain, and she laughed, though I knew I had irrevocably exposed myself as Not a Normal Human Being, a person able to be stopped mid-sentence by a homophone.

Bravo Christgau: "Eclectic neoclassicism versus childhood-oriented avant-primitivism as global warming swamps our history." And of course I love me some references to JClo.

All that's new around here are some skinny pants and the temperature of the rain.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

I live for the noise

Noise definitely one of those words that sounds ridiculous upon close inspection/repetition.

This post isn't actually about noise. We're not sure what it's about yet. In the title we refer to the burgeoning self-awareness of our dependence on little tokens of success, including Rightness and Male Attention, to make us happy.

Having, over the course of the past ten days, written an article, a response paper, a five page paper, a ten page paper, and discussion notes, as well as editing someone else's article, reading The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, some Kristeva, most of Ways of Seeing, and four pages of Simmel, I have granted myself permission to still be in my pajamas at 3:30 in the afternoon. Soon I shall shave and go to a li'l magazine launch, and then mebbe hear Seigneur Pepper Grinder talk about how to read fiction, and then return to the life of the tippety-tappety, in which we extol the virtues of up and coming music presenters in the greater Philadelphia region.

Repetition is definitely worth thinking about. On a mundane level, we notice how temporarily repetitious circumstances guide our responses: having busted two hair ties in the past week, I conclude that I need a hair cut. Squirming around with the laptop on my lap keeps pulling the powercord, which wouldn't be a problem, except the battery is bad. Two Wednesday evenings in a row waiting under a canopy with someone for the rain to slacken leads the mind, not necessarily to any conclusion, but to the expectation of one. It sets us in motion.

They say the profundity in Warhol's films, such as Haircut, consists in his resensitization to experience in time of the viewer. The films are long and boring; nothing much happens; but in that boringness the smallest action is rescaled as interesting. Minds make their conversation out of events of any size; all that's required is an emergence from a background. In quiet periods of meditation, a cough or sneeze tends to ripple small actions through other people in the room: a shift, a rustle, a sniff.

And perhaps what I really want to know is whether there is any kind of human causality *other* than this minor scatter of affect. Each person absorbs even the most major event through the senses and their mental equivalent (mind is the sixth sense organ in Buddhism), in the form of an intrusion or insistence that he or she can appropriate. Negative emotion seems often (always) to take the form of a sort of friction caused the process of appropriation; the churn and flake of what hasn't yet yielded to transparency. Positive emotion, that which sings with ease of knowledge, use. The deep metaphor of consonance and dissonance.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Friday, September 01, 2006


Repeatedly demanding "WHY DO YOU CARE???" of the fellow grad-sters in a debate about hipsters and pomo was not the best approach to winning the argument.

Still I feel it was a good question.

I better get to that Sontag exhibit on Sunday. She and I hold hands in the slatted dark of "barely closeted moral[ism]." Favorite sentence so far: "A sensibility is almost, but not quite, ineffable."

Around here we are considering the effects of emotional interference on thinking, the well-oiled machine of this baseball town, and "The Unicorn in Captivity," which is one of several luscious and gut-boggling tapestries in the unicorn room of the Cloisters. I want there to be a sign over the door: "Post-little girls, beware your imaginary."

Friday, June 16, 2006

Runs in the family

Thanks very much for all of this. Actually I had been looking to find the Japanese chanting version of the Kannon Gyo. Very interesting translation of the "Identity".* "Do not judge by any standards" wonderfully puts that distinctively buddhist injunction or admonition I've always admired. The Faith Mind Verses include a line something like: The burdensome practice of judging should finally be abandoned at once. Does it not seem that something is immediately-at-hand and requires no name?


*Hyperlinks mine.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


via RealPlayer

The Beach Boys personified the California spirit with their harmonious pop.

Brian Wilson is widely heralded as a mad genius.

Brian Wilson is deaf in one ear, reportedly due to being repeatedly beaten by his father.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Interdisciplinary dolphin

Ange Mlinko, from a review of her book Starred Wire, at the Believer:

“Never mind the student loans that went for poetry, reimbursing itself with itself,” she instructs: “When curves of supply rose from the banquette, you were the cause of yourself, not the correlation or the echo of the forms that hugged themselves to end; but broke the surface, like an interdisciplinary dolphin.”

We also thank her for "The vending machine in the rose garden." We are creeping, creeping toward understanding what criticism is. These days, theory qua symmetry, direct relations, inverse relations, are all the rage.

From memory now: He thought that in the beauty of the world were hid a secret. He thought that its heart beat at some terrible cost and that in this headlong deficit the blood of multitudes might ultimately be exacted for the vision of a single flower.

I've been collecting moments. Friday morning, a bolt of lightning that woke me from, seemingly, across the street. Friday afternoon, at the National Arts Journalism Conference reception, the saccharine kiss of flattery after an organizer's sotto voce comment on my being pretty (surely there's a French idiom for this?). Saturday morning, walking down 12th street between Planned Parenthood and about forty pro-lifers in the middle of a Hail Mary. Saturday afternoon, a full rainbow outside Lincoln Tunnel. Saturday night, when I was so happy and dancing so hard I actually didn't care, for a second, what anyone thought. Sunday morning before sleep at 4am struggling to type. Sunday afternoon when I clinched a room in Brooklyn, if I want it. Monday morning when I woke up at 4am and wondered why I felt so comfortable, so at home. Because it's quiet, I realized.

When I learn how to connect all this I'll really have something. Way to go Ester. I can't link to Ross's text message, but way to go him, too. I have to admit that my concept of happiness these days is doing EXACTLY WHAT I WANT. I have a feeling that will eventually change, but I'm going to enjoy my self-absorption while it lasts. It could be years!

Friday, April 28, 2006

Since you asked

I'll be moving to New York in the fall.

This article, which takes as its subject reality TV and the 'producer' of Paris Hilton's porn tape, will be of interest to those who aren't sure that postmodernism is necessary or relevant. Note that this guy is seriously trying to get a show produced called "American Cannibal." Maybe we really should pitch "Choose Who Lives."

Goaded by an email, I picked up Judith Butler's Gender Trouble last night for the first time since junior year. It still takes me about 15 minutes to read one of her pages -- and I haven't even gotten to the psychoanalysis stuff -- but she's ringing more bells than she used to. In fact, I had the feeling of "I know this," while reading the opening pages of her critique of "compulsory heterosexuality and phallogocentrism." I put that in quotes not because I'm not convinced of these things' actuality, but because those are her exact words.

It occured to me while reading, and this is a thought that I've had at least once before, that Buddhists might do well to consider reformulating their critique of the self as critique of the subject. If contemporary philosophy's main project is to problematize Descartes and his legacy of atomic individualism, then they are lining up very nicely with the Buddhist critique of earlier Upanishadic wisdom on the unified self. It's all more complicated than this, I realize, but am I wrong?

I chased a Zen dude down the street the other day. I was sitting on my stoop enjoying the brilliant Sunday afternoon, when I saw this bald-headed dude walking with someone else across the street. He was wearing a black colarless tie shirt, black pants, black sandals, and socks. It was a no-brainer. He lives in South Philly. He gave me a hug.

Today I was covering the reception desk when someone in the office walked to the elevators with a guest, talking in hushed tones about their children. The guest mentioned her kid's "night terrors," which had only lasted about a month, apparently, but had this kid screaming at night, sitting up in bed, talking, eyes open, but asleep. Which made me think about children, the endless fictions of their innocence, and the intensity of finding one's way in the world. Our minds, even from the beginning, are filled with horror.

Steven Merrit racist? Guitars stolen in Philly?

Friday, April 14, 2006

But soon again

There's another big riot.

Believe it or not, I've started two posts over the course of this surprisingly long hiatus, but I wasn't happy with either. That said, I have been questioning this whole blog endeavor. I have recently noticed that writing, for me, is primarily a means of saying things that I don't somehow feel able or permitted to say otherwise, both an opportunity for more art and more honesty than goes on humdrum during the day. Blogs seem best purposed as a slightly heightened form of everyday communication -- so is it really worth it? At this moment, the answer seems to be yes. Mebbe that's all there is to it.

First off, as I promised to ??? a while ago, here's a link to my Gubaidulina piece on Sequenza21. I've been draggin' my feet ('Dragon! That's a majestic beast!') on writing something for NewMusicBox, but soon maybe you'll get to read something about the American Composers Orchestra, ACF's SoundExchange with Pauline Oliveros, and/or the Princeton Laptop Orchestra, although mainstream Philly media actually seems to be holding it down. Electro-acoustic represent.

While I've been not writing articles, I have been writing some poems and trying to decide what to do with my life. Candidates include the Art Criticism and Writing MFA at the School of Visual Arts (linked in Hero Worship, below) and a work practice apprenticeship at Green Gulch Farm, on the Pacific in Marin County. Gosh darnit, that's pretty.

I just spent about 24 hours in NYC, visiting the Million Poems Show, chuckling at the banter among three of my e-faves, which, if you've clicked on anything from this blog, you've probably already clicked on a least once. So they were all onstage, talking to each other. Clover read some of his poems -- which are excellent; I've read them -- and the dudes played some guitar, and I received both a compliment and an offer post-show that made me very very happy. Jim gave no indication of recognizing me, but that's cool. After, dinner with m, crashing out on his couch (mui comfy), sleeping in, missing sitting at FL (though, m, I think that if it is in fact near the meeting house you want, you can just take the L some stops down?). When I ordered egg salad at a very cute hippy-type cafe near the subway stop, the guy behind the counter accused me of having seen What's Up, Tiger Lily? Maybe I should do that tonight.

From there, I went to the Whitney Biennial, where I didn't really have enough time but found myself really enjoying pretty much everything I saw. Which I guess means I either really should be a critic or really shouldn't. I'm definitely not clever enough yet to get what's going on without the audio tour's help. But then the sense comes easily enough. Today what sticks most in my mind is a room with a projector projecting a window-type light onto the floor, in which there hangs a confusing but delicate, Large Glass-esque, shape, occasionally with silhouettes of bodies tumbling down from the sky (?). And a bluish purple cloud on the far wall, oblique shapes slowly rising through. Very meditative. But really, it was all fantastic.

In one room, also using the audio tour, was, I'm positive, Jeremy Sisto. I did not know his name. Together we looked at a medium-sized rock that had colored string wrapped around it and angling up to the opposite corner overhead. On my way out of the museum, I heard, "Hey! There's [the fire boss]!" It was the Pew Culture staff. "Are you on a field trip?" they asked me. "I'm on my own field trip," I replied.

I visited Melissa at SVA and then hopped the subway to Port Authority. Peter Pan showed us Mr. Deeds, and the little girl in the seat behind me asserted, "I just love this bus."

Then back in Philly, sweet and sour "chicken," hell meeting henry, and a kiss on the cheek that, apparently, became a choir of angels. On my face. Dig. It was a little scratchy.

So that's a lot of detail. I read something about detail somewhere today. I had kind of hoped that I would go up to the city and come back feeling like, "Thank goodness I'm not going there!" But I don't have that feeling. I almost had that feeling, but then equally there was this feeling of wanting to go and learn and see what I could make of myself without feeling crazy or sad. Unfortunately (strange sentence), it was a good day. Bad days I tend to want to sort of hunker down into spirit, find that center where pain mostly transforms, doesn't sicken, burns with that psychically clean energy of perception.

I may be able to defer after all, which could be the answer. Spend a year out on the coast in what I refer privately to as my Advanced Course, then revisit the question. I did have the pretty interesting realization yesterday or today that I don't often use theory to think (props on this insight to Ken Sharpe). Well, I might use its form, but I'm not sure I use the content of anyone else's theories. Do I? Anyone have evidence of this? Occasionally, the shortest route to explain something does seem to be, you know, incredulity toward metanarratives, or the face/demand of the other, or the free-floating play of signs. That sort of thing. I was thinking recently of the moment I first understood the sign, saw it -- sitting in Weinstein's class listening to him talk about Proust. It was like, "KerPOW!!!!" So the ideas are at work/play in my thought. Wait: here is something new: thinking is much more condensed than the language that is it's expression, or explanation. So when you understand something, it's not much like rehearsing something you've read in your head. You may want to recover that explanation, or you may not. So maybe I think of myself as not much using the theory I've learned because when I think to myself I don't need all that language, and when I speak I usually find it ultimately easier to use my own words, rather than Derridoh's or Fucko's or whosever. Not that I'm claiming to understand a lot of their thinking, but what you do understand gets internalized in an interesting way. Like how you need to and can respond to your friend quickly when she asks you what you think of her outfit.

Do you see why I haven't been doing this so often? In the meantime, everyone read Air Guitar: Essays on Art and Democracy by Dave Hickey. If you think about being a monk you should also read The Seven Storey Montain: An Autobiography of Faith by Thomas Merton.

Friday, January 27, 2006


I know this is old news, but I just want to share with you "RE: Your Job is at stake," an email sent to me yesterday by one Ronald Quintana:

cosy some blackstone it airdrop it parachute , charta it gaffe or obstetric not electrolysis try crime or catchword try cattlemen the wreckage see image see captive the nation in horseflesh the bluejacket try manageable be astrophysical see lady it's boorish in weber some spongy some conformance not norma it's upsurge or jilt a drag may diagnostic a electorate it caret in morpheme ! fit or dishwater try

That, and the complimentary "A Fine Display of Mummery" TimeCycle calendar, brightened the crap out of my day.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The Year of Puking Silk

This is one of my all-time favorite phrases ever used by my elderly, bohemian ex-roommate, Alan, to describe my life and behavior at the time. "Pure loosey goosey stuff," he added.

As M put it last night, "These are truly the garbage years."

It's not meaninglessness (let alone prowesslessnesslessness), but it is mistake after mistake, crying fit after crying fit. At lunch I counted 7 instances in the past 14 months of getting the shit kicked out of me and/or kicking the shit out of myself. Metaphorically speaking, but, as Mom affirmed, "Emotional pain is the worst."

In short, I've been dumped. "Torpedoed again, eh?" -- my favorite line from A Hard Day's Night (cf. John in the bathtub) -- came to me early, lying in bed Sunday night. I'm considering a Torpedoed Again Salon for the Valentine's Eve, the night when all the bitter ghoulies are afoot.

My goal for going to Tallahassee over T-giving this year was not to have an existential crisis in anyone's kitchen...I think my goal for rest of the year will be to not get broken up with again. I believe in my ability to achieve this goal. America I'm putting my queer shoulder to the wheel. Celibacy is fine. I could never decide if "I Am A Rock" was ironic or not, anyway.

I wrote to this guy a pretty good line I think:
"i'm considering an elaborate application for future dating applicants, including writing samples on buddhist metaphysics and ethics, eros v. agape, and rufus wainwright lyrics. also, in 500-1000 words, 'why i want to go out with [the fire boss].' and a pennsylvania cultural data profile for good measure."

The point is, this was a very good try, at least on my part, but it's time to wise up. M made a few very helpful points:

(1) It's opportunity that gets us in trouble.
Who can resist the suddenly open door? I had endless fantasies about secret passageways as a kid, and this weakness should not surprise me. Ex nihilo, possibility. The irruption. Bets are off, and that tantalizing scent of Something Happening. So we shouldn't be blamed. But I've gotten hooked too many times now not to start sniffing more suspiciously at the bait. Also, this is a very good reason not to keep yourself in a position that makes you unhappy. You'll take riskier escapes. Fine line between bravery and stupidity.

Note: a commentary on one of the Buddha's discourses that I read last night pointed out that escape from a truly dangerous situation is the smartest response there is.

(2) "Looks like you just got the wrong guy."
Talking to M helped me remember all the conversations we had about styles of being in relationships, how important they are. M, and I think the guy who just exited, are both used to being "obsessive" in their relationships, being consumed with them. Whatever the style is, I guess it isn't mine. This is the best explanation I can come up with for not meeting the mysterious Love Criteria. My current theory is that these styles of loving are bound up in our more general worldviews (shocking, I know), and that, yo, maybe even the most passionate secularists will not grep my crazy contemplative devotion. Forget the Rufus lyrics: What is most real? I want to ask people.

Thank you for your time.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Ciallis spam

cannot help but remind me of e.e. cumming's "may i feel said he":

cummings: (cccome?said he
spam: - Haarder e-rectiiions

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Hero worship

Margaret Atwood reviews Trickster Makes This World.

Thomas McEvilley runs a graduate program in Art Criticism and Writing.

"Even assholes in straight jackets with midget visions can make great music....and in that 'somehow' lies all the ineffable that subtends the idea of art, the shape of which the critics scamble to show like every day."

My mom got a book from my dad for Christmas that shows the homes of various American writers, concluding with the humble abode of Walt Whitman in Camden, across the street from a prison. The narrative about Whitman claims that, at his funeral, he was remembered not as a poet, but as a philosopher. I think what that means is that everyone who knew the man understood that his writing was an expression of his larger life, larger conviction, his spirit and soul; rather than his life being defined by what he wrote. Whitman is like Love, as Diotima explains to Socrates, recounted in the Symposium: bastard child of plenty and poverty. Child giving it up for America and all its beautiful boys.

I don't know how to choose an object of study. Things are like dust. We play with them; we fight.

Not even the philosophers know what philosophy is.