I’m not a Buddhist. I’m not religious. I’m not even spiritual. (Which is something I think agnostics* feel compelled to claim at parties–what’s that supposed to mean? “Nope, not really into God qua God, like, but I did have that really mystical experience at Burning Man, and also there was that time I let that Italian guy who was training to be a massage therapist align my chakras…” Or does it mean you believe in fairies and UFOs?) I have a bunch of Jack Kornfield mp3s and one time I met Noah Levine. That’s as close as I get. (I also have the Oxford Annotated Bible and the Louvin Brothers box set. Dilettante religiosity.)
Whatever. Believe what you want as long as it doesn’t involve waving a sign or killing anybody.** Or disagreeing with me.
Yesterday I was going through page after page of random scribblings in the default meetings/grocery lists/pithy or petty thoughts/quotes I will appropriate for the purpose of self-aggrandizement and I found this:
You can never will the truth to appear because the very act is based on a complete misunderstanding of the truth.
This is definitely not something I would ever come up with. It’s this Zen practitioner Brad Warner. There’s this Buddhist concept that I will not adequately explain because I’m lazy, called kensho, which is defined by some as “seeing into one’s nature.” I like this quote–it’s insightful. (Doesn’t it dovetail nicely with my fortune cookie the other day: “A man must be true to himself, even if that self is frightening and strange”? That is a fucking challenge, I see now.)
So, despite the impossibility of pinning Truth down, here are a few Truths for Thursday, September 24. Drivetime Three-for-Thursday Truths!
Things that irritate me:
- Junkies. Why are there so many junkies here all of a sudden? There are way more of them than a couple years ago, right? No? Possibly this is confirmation bias, since I keep ending up in neighborhoods with methadone clinics. Either way, they irritate me with their sidewalk scrums and their shambolic antics and their nonstop arguing and–goddammit–the ID card pouches around their necks. Please, God, don’t ever let me get to the point where I’m reduced to carrying all my important documents and cash around my neck. Is that it? Am I projecting? Do I fear the man I am to become?
- This week’s banana supply: OVERRIPE.
- And on a totally serious note: This poor woman was arrested in an altered state and released in the middle of the night with no transportation or ID. Then she went missing. Where is she? How come Annie Le made it into the LA Times but Mitrice Richardson’s disappearance isn’t in the NYT?
On a happier note, we have roughly 70 green tomatoes on the plants we brought inside. Beat the clock, tomato friends! And we have the Urinals, Don’t Make Me Kill Again. Ciao.
*I am not agnostic. Existential nihilist, baby!
**Actually, I have no objection to the death of my enemies, so gimme a call if you’d like that list.
On October 18, fresh from my Midwest tour*, I will be reading at The Tank.
An evening of intense voices in fiction and literary-themed burlesque**
Coordinated and hosted by the one and only Russ Marshalek, featuring Elise Blackwell (SC), Collin Kelley (GA), Katie Kitamura (NYC), Sarah Rainone (NYC), …and me (YOUR BUTT).
Plus, performances by Storybook Burlesque.
NB: Although I have no fear or shame I will not have little propellers on.
*Actually, only St. Louis. Tell me where you went to high school and I’ll give you a shout out at the Tank!
**A phrase you’ve never before heard me tout, I can assure you.
Wow there sure are a lot of dishes to be done! What the hell have I been doing with my time this week if I haven’t been blogging? (Nothing good, that’s for damn sure.)
What a beautiful weekend. The light’s somewhat magical the way the last rays break between the monstrous and artless high-rises and I’m almost starting to enjoy the persistent odor from the apartment below, which is a combo of tomato sauce and cigarette smoke (which is surprisingly irritating when you’re not enveloped in it daily, isn’t that funny?). I cooked food, did computery things, saw friends from out of town, and brought the tomato plants inside so that I might slow their inevitable decline. There are six or seven blossoms between the three of them–at this rate, we might have tomatoes by December.
I found a fortune from a cookie I ate at the China Chalet (hard C, soft C) a few years ago, truly the best fortune ever: “A man must be true to himself, even if that self is frightening and strange.”
Speaking of which, I also watched this video, which is the most fucking amazing thing ever:
Perhaps you haven’t yet read this entertaining story (found over at Metafilter, in a thread which is at least as interesting as the piece itself) from the Independent earlier on this week: Masters of illusion: The great management consultancy swindle:
The savvier consultants and their clients understand that the basis of the business is not technological but anthropological – and that this is not always a bad thing. Among human beings, it turns out, the perception of expertise, however unfounded, can sometimes be used to good purpose. As the shamans who poison chickens and the soothsayers who read entrails have long demonstrated, sometimes it is more important to build a consensus around a good decision than to make the best possible decision; sometimes it is more useful to believe that a decision is sanctioned by a higher authority than to acknowledge that it rests on mere conjecture; and sometimes it is better to make a truly random choice than to continue to follow the predictable inclinations of one’s established prejudices. Consultants, following in the footsteps of their pagan forebears, understand that they must adopt the holy mien of a priestly caste.
Other interesting things I read include Zombieology, from this month’s Lost magazine:
Other television projects of mine might see fruition, but Babylon Fields is, sadly, gone forever — 20th Century Fox owns it, lock, stock and barrel, not only for “all eternity” (according to the contract I signed), but also everywhere “within the known universe,” meaning that if someone wanted to film a new version of Babylon Fields on Mars, the studio could and would sue them. That is, of course, unless they pay for turnaround, the full cost of the dumped pilot, somewhere in the neighborhood of seven million dollars. Outside of “the known universe,” however — in, say, a parallel dimension where the Nazis won WWII — presumably remake rights are free and clear.
Also, Jack Shafer’s typically prickly (yet oh-so-lovable) take on the Annie Le murder:
Had the Le murder happened at, say, Oklahoma State University, you’d have to bribe the night editor of the New York Times with a case of scotch and Hasty Pudding tickets to get him to run a one-inch wire story. Hell, a Stanford murder wouldn’t warrant this sort of coverage!
As for me, personally? I have yet to write much of interest these days, but according to the registrar I apparently graduated with a 3.92 GPA without realizing it–talk about a Great Swindle, folks.
In addition to updating this blog, there are other things I also procrastinate doing. I collect pre-1950s group portrait photos (some might say compulsively). (One of these days, maybe, I’ll get around to digitizing them. Some of them are kinda large though.) Sometimes I’m lucky and they come framed, but often the best ones turn up in an ancient shoebox at a tag sale.
Many of them have been hanging out, time immemorial, in my desk drawers, because they’re unframed. And so they shall remain until I get around to ordering frames online. So then I can cover all four of our living room walls with them. And every night we can be stared at by 1,000 eyes while we eat dinner.
Part of what’s keeping me from ordering these frames is that there’s some sort of unfathomable method when it comes to frame measurement. And math is hard! So yeah, I’ve had these guys bookmarked for years, and someone on AskMetafilter asked about them the other day, and thus I was once again reminded of what a moron I am.
They’ve updated the site, however, and have gone so far as to produce a cartoon music video where a nice lady sings a song about how to measure for frames:
It’s like Left Banke meets Magnetic Fields meets Schoolhouse Rock. I wish everything difficult could be explained in a cartoon music video.
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