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Posts Tagged ‘blogging’

Fountain

I learned tonight that I don’t always have the resources or the capability to be a sturdy human being when the world chips away at me. Friends yelled at me. Work shat on me. Some crazy white trash ho in a Pinto (I didn’t even think those things were around anymore) kept screaming “Bitch!” at me in the parking lot of McDonald’s. The swine flu is driving me insane. One f’ing toddler, living is squalor, some where down near the Mexican border is dead and the world is resurrecting their face masks from back during the Avian flu. The word “pandemic” is sweeping the blogworld. I’m losing confidence in myself. These antibiotics are depressing me. And I can’t have sex for six more days.

What’s a girl to do?

The good news is, CG is engaged, or shall I say Wuffle-lump and Lover- nugget are officially engaged as per her announcement on facebook today. Probably done over the phone or in facebook chat. Probably haphazardly. Like he blurted out “I kinda feel like taking the next step.” While she concluded, “marriage?” Which ultimately led to being “engaged.” Folks, theirs is a four month relationship. Not even. Three weekends together that I know of, since Christmas. Do you even get engaged in your 40’s after three drama-driven weekends unless you’re a diner waitress in South Jersey trying to get rid of your current ten-miles-of-bad-road boyfriend with something else? WTF. As Delores, my cleaning lady would say, “don’t let me get my strut on.”

I’m bitter. It’s the antibiotics. It’s not me. But I wonder sometimes if, in all fairness, I have some worldly right to pass such harsh judgment on people I don’t even know. Who cares! Right? I mean, do morals need to be applied to facebook? These are the philosophical questions I seem to be unable to answer at the end of the day. What’s more is that I realize I am getting more involved in a virtual world, unhitched over the surreal. Not what is real, but rather a “representation” of what is real.

So, I start to read actual, real magazines and books to combat all this “virtual” stuff. An article on the Kindle, for example, from ADBUSTERS magazine caught my attention:

“The trouble with abstract thought is that the concepts we play with in our minds often become preferred to the real upon which these concepts were originally based. As soon as we draw a picture, or take a photograph, of a bird we often no longer care whether the bird continues to exist. The picture is, in our visual society, superior to the chirping bird. This trait of our world-view leads to a despairing and paradoxical situation where our cultural storehouse of symbols, imagery, art and concepts increases in direct proportion to the death of our planet, living beings, other world views, beautiful landscapes, etc. [emphasis mine]. ” –Melt Your Kindle, by Micah White (Adbusters Magazine).

Simultaneously, an artist friend of mine out in San Francisco was working on a design project on the life of Marcel Duchamp and I was able to appropriate this blurb of his life, circa 1923: “his [Duchamp’s] legacy includes the insight that art can be about ideas instead of worldly things.”

It sounds so positive on the one hand, and so nihilistic on the other. So, which is it? Is it a good thing that all that we think and feel can be absent of actual, worldly things, or is the very nature of abstract thought destroying us a la Dawkins’ memes?

As CG’s status goes from “in a relationship” (March 28) to “engaged” (April 30), I can’t help but wonder if she recognizes that she and her “smoochy-bear” only exist in the very narrowest sense. That their love isn’t so much love as a representation of love. And that I (as distant and as virtually unknown to her as I am) am a big part of her virtual engagement. Not only am I a witness. I am also taking the components and pieces of her engagement information and I am reconfiguring them. I am re-presenting them to you, which makes me a large part of her life, real or otherwise.

Understand this: I barely know this woman. I think we went to high school together. That’s about it. But today, shortly after she announced she was engaged (to which someone responded: “to who?”), she posted a computer-generated picture of what her and her fiance’s baby would look like IF they had one. Talk about creepy. Just imagine a picture of some baby with CG’s haggard, forty-year-old face morphed with Smoochy Bear’s weather-beaten, I’ve-spent-a-lifetime-suckin’-down-whisky looks. Cute, huh? But, whatever. They named it “Chris” and just like we used to carry around an egg in Home Economics class, they can virtually burp this thing and change its poopy diapers and hope to god that their computers don’t crash.

But I wonder if Marcel Duchamp saw all this sur-reality coming. I really doubt it. Heck, he was concerned with chocolate grinders and urinals (the “Fountain” by the way, according to a panel of 500 top artists, was named the most influential artwork of our times.”). And what about Magritte? I always loved his painting of a pipe and underneath it are the famous words, “Ceci n’est pas une pipe,” this is not a pipe.

But it is a pipe, isn’t it?

No. It’s a representation of a pipe.

But CG and Smoochy Bear are engaged to married, aren’t they?

No. They are a representation of two people engaged to be married.

And so, you see the dilemma and the freedom with which I carry this argument. On the one hand, I am writing judgmental things about people I barely know. On the other, I am merely only judging a representation of those people, in which case, I am not so much a judge as I am a “critic.” An art critic, if you will. If, indeed, you consider a urinal or the sloppy love story of two recovering alcoholics “art.”

In light of all that, I suppose I shouldn’t complain about the ho in the Pinto, the antibiotics or the no sex stuff. Those are real. Those are really real facets of my life. They are to be appreciated much like the bird chirping outside my window, the beauty of the earth’s landscape, and the slow, imperceptible sweep of swine flu making its way through the world in a cough or a sneeze.

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So, anyway—all of my old comics have come back from the ‘90s to haunt me, and some of them are pretty awesome. I’m looking forward to re-reading Martian Manhunter: American Secrets—thought I’m not sure what I was quite thinking when I bought the Marvel 2099 series (Marvel Superheroes in the year 2099) sequence, except that that the foil covers aren’t quite as cool as they were. But comics are a lot like blogs—these endless new iterations in what is a fundamentally disposable medium, and the networks are endless. I stopped reading comics because it gets too expensive—the narratives are always crossing over into other and you end up being unable to keep anything straight. Also, like blogs, the same discoveries kept being made. Every 10 years, DC seems to reset its universe to great fanfare, only for it to creep back into the same problems (an excess of parallel dimensions, an excess of melodramatic loose ends, an excess of reinvented heroes). Blogs have that same, oh, yes, you just noticed what Baudrillard was saying 10 years ago, and now you’re presenting it as your own idea, which it is, but still, I don’t have time for you. It’s like listening to high school students discuss theology, or really deep problems, like how whether we can know that what we call “blue” is seen the same by everyone (answer: we can’t know) or whether or not we can think without language (answer: not really). Re-reading my comics is a bit like rehashing Hemingway short stories, or going through a photo album. Everyone has the same pictures—there are a limited number of poses a human being can strike without being in an Annie Liebowitz shoot—but these are mine. There’s a limited number of melodramatic situations any given hero can encounter, but these are in my personal archive, so they’re fun to revisit.

In the meantime, can anyone tell me why Rateyourprofessor won’t take down a page from a university where I haven’t taught in 4 years? I keep asking, but they sort of ignore me or tell me they’ll look into it and then never look into it. It’s not really helping anyone decide whether or not to take my class—which is their excuse for creating their nasty little universe of vitriol, venom and effusion. And yes, the top three reviews are 5’s all across the board, but it’s just annoying. When people google me, I don’t want the fourth hit to be teaching evaluations. It’s like finding my tax returns or my dental records.  I love teaching, but it’s very much tailored to the individual or the class– as far as my public persona is concerned, I’d like to stick with my poems and essays.

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NaPoWriMo

Hey folks, I’ve been on up the river in the Texas Hill Country for days, far from any laptops or even electricity. I have a sunburn.

It is April, and that means National Poetry Month, and that means that poetry bloggers everywhere are joining Maureen Thorson in NaPoWriMo.

The better part of a decade ago, Maureen started publishing a poem a day on her blog for the entire National Poetry Month of April.

You can find out more about NaPoWriMo (and even join in) at http://www.reenhead.com/mole/mole.php.

You can read my NaPoWriMoems at shaferhall.com.

Happy poeming!
You

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I’m writing this blog from Dallas, Texas.  I’ve been on the road touring with Hermit Thrushes (I play guitar) since Friday, March 13th.  So far so good.  We had shows all the way down to Austin from Philadelphia, plus an in-studio radio set with KXUA and a newspaper interview in the Fayetteville Flyer, both in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  Also, a highlight for me:  a shout-out in Magnet, one of my favorite music magazines.

We’ve been traveling in a big retired retirement home bus that runs on diesel (we’re working on using veggie oil).  To offset some of the costs, we took four extra people on the way down — Elizabeth Devlin, an autoharp player; Cheryl Nguyen, a violinist/violist who is doubling as our merchandise seller; Greg Sandler, who is possibly making a video documentary about this trip; and Gater, a guy from West Virginia who was moving to Austin.  Elizabeth, Greg, and Cheryl are still with us on the way back.  We also just picked up Danielle, on her way to Fayetteville.

The man who made mostly all of this happen is Sam Tremble, a PBQ editor from Philadelphia.  He has a gift of finding people who are making things happen and convincing them to let the band do something, anything.  He’s also been blogging about this trip in Philadelphia’s Citypaper.

Two bands worth checking out that we’ve played with so far:  Invisible Hand and Quiet Hooves.  Quiet Hooves, from Athens, Georgia is what I think of when I think of Athens music — bands like Neutral Milk Hotel, Beulah, Circulatory System (who I’ve just been told is coming out with another album August 4th), Olivia Tremor Control, A Hawk and a Hacksaw, and Major Organ and the Adding Machine.  Oh, I could go on for a while about Athens bands.  Circulatory System is one of my favorite albums.

We still have about one week left in the tour.  We’re playing in the same places we hit on the way down.  Hopefully the bus will get back to Philadelphia in one piece.  I’ll have more hyperlinks next week, I promise.

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