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.