Thursday, February 28, 2013

28 February 2013

          Had a rambling one-sided conversation with a writer friend today which consisted primarily of me dumping my anxieties and fears on her. She gave good advice the whole time, parried me finally by directing me to McSweeny's collection of recollections of DFW after his death. It shut me up. Had never read it before. Amazing how something can at once motivate so strongly and destroy one's ambitions, reading about this man who is towering, genius, bewlidering and yet so mundane. All these people who experienced him. It's similar to reading the gospels in a way, all these view points with their intersection points and yet each touches on different aspects of the same legendary person, which contradict and argue and glorify and bring to base. Wrote 1500 words so far today , feeling a little uninspired but working through it (or at least trying to...) She also pointed my to a transcription of a Zadie Smith talk, some 9 points of writing a novel which did that magical thing for me: gave something I thought I knew (such ignorance in thinking this) a greater depth. Smith talks about this point where the novel consumes you, becomes your world, a point where you can write down vast amounts of the novel and not even notice it. Have not found this point yet but I'm hoping it comes, it sounds pretty fucking rad.
       Difficult to work in the house, roommate working on a loud project just next door and the place so small that the noise permeates. Also temporal difficulties: just arrived back from Madison yesterday (schedule was ruined there, time zones and snow and a different bed) and girlfriend arrives tomorrow which will throw a loop into things. Signed up for duotrope in hopes that it will help me find journals to potentially submit things too. Have never understood lit journals, very few are attractive to me, all others seem affected or uninteresting or generic is that makes sense. Not sure who subscribes to the small ones (or the big ones for that matter) how they stay afloat, if anyone actually reads them. They seem more like tokens (oh so-and-so has been published in fishguts review and snarge and blark) but no one actually read these things, enjoys these things. Just like they are these blind boxes which act as a social ladder or career booster, a place to work but not actually gain anything of substance.
            I have decided I want my writing to focus on the question of "what is the best way to live, to spend our time". Even though I don't necessarily want to work in science again I'd like to apply the frame work of scientific work to writing. Like this: a scientist starts with a question, looks at all the past literature, research and work on the question that he or she may find then adds their own little piece to the puzzle. It is placing one's self in a continuum, becoming part of something greater in this sense that attracts me. I like this especially because, even if what you do it not ground breaking, world changing et c. you may influence others in the future, your little key or bit or jump can build someone else's research or work or whatever and they can point to you and say 'yeah, they helped me' I want to gather around me a group of writers whom I admire, who I can take little bits here and there that I find pleasing and effective and transcendent and combine them in new and interesting and genuine ways to create something even greater. To exploit the synergy. I don't think, by any means, that I would be the first person to do this (of course every one does this in their own way) but I want to admit it, revel in it, focus on it and work on the strengths of this particular process.

27 February 2013

I like this trend of surreal children’s shows over the past 40 or so years. It seems an adequate place for the final and canonical resting place for the legacy of Dali and Magritte and Bunuel. One’s childhood should be surreal or, said better, childhood is, by its very nature, surreal and the art we give to children should match it. Peewee’s play house, many of the cartoon network series, often the Disney movies, starting (I’m sure and sorry to relate) with Alice way back when. The surreal seems to derive from the learning process of childhood, the trail and error, the weeding out of laws of reality until the most ‘low-energy’ are found. The ignorance of the hard and fast laws which take time to determine and that funny period beforehand where they seem to not apply. A shame really that we are not able (without of course the aid of drugs) to slip into our previous ignorance, the pre-learned period the preaware period. How much fun (enlightening even) it would be to be able to see the world through broken laws, to learn the world all over again through ignorant eyes. To revert to that childish surreality we once had for a minute, an hour, a day, a second just so htat we may. Then to watch Le Chien Andalou or the Saragossa Manuscript and see a little bit of out natural world, our natural vision in it Of course we may do this, we may emulate it on our own. It is fun, for a while t revert to this state as we sometimes may, but there is always the objective reality lurking in the background, calling us from the distance like the hunter’s bleating horn, the trains plaintive cry. I am heeeere it says, and we sigh. What a way to escape, to the pre-rational, as if rationality is a muscle that we work with and exhaust and must replenish by resting it through disuse. If only one could let rationale atrophy, let it sit in rest for days, immobilize it so that it shrinks and thins and then stays that way, unable to lift the weights we had before and thus never able to return to its original tone and forever we wallow in the surreal, in animals and objects which speak and vast barren landscapes with no horizon which represent our lives and yet which stretch before us wildly.  And children even do not respect, do not appreciate (do not challenge) the surreal meal we feed them, they lap it up and take it as given and maybe laugh but most likely sit staring in bored disbelief. To watch these as an adult may be an enjoyable event, other times it can be horrifying or grotesque or nauseating for us. What is the problem with it? Is it the return to childhood? The regression to that strange, faraway, ignorant, unformed state? Is it a dissonance  An unmatching between what we see on the screen and what we know? It these works, these shows and movies and sometimes books were taken seriously how would they stand against the surrealists, magical realists, and bizarros of today? Would Disney sit with Abe?  Herman with Marquez?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

26 February 2013

Madison is a barren hell-hole, its redeeming qualities are few and far between. On a city bus, the woman tells her daughter to shut up when she starts to make a noise. She’s not even crying very loud and the bus is fairly empty. The landscape is barren and flat and freezing cold. Both my hands go numb waiting for the bus. The people are kind but it takes so much more than kindness as far as I am concerned, kindness a requisite but not fulfilling trait. They can be forgetful (the bus driver passes by a stop even when the lever has been pulled, the light turned on). They are homogeneous and pudgy and don’t seem to think too hard before they talk. Of course I have to wonder what they think of me the “coastie” I must seem cold and unkind and brusque.
Being here, where I see no opportunity, a place I have never even thought of before, a place that seems apart from the world and unknown I am able to consider myself as a separate unit as well. I am able to see myself to a certain extent in an objective way when outside of me environment. My goals, my flaws, they become stark to me outside of my usual environment. Being at the school, with its ‘history’ and brick walls and such, its jars of plants and research posters on the basement walls which may be read by no one, it allows me to assess academia, my potential place in it. Academia seems almst as empty and narcissistic as writing did a few years ago, when I began my transition from writing to science. Funny how that change can occur, how I can switch so fully into science then, right when I should begin to make a career of it, I can switch back to writing and science can seem so unattractive. The prospect of writing grants (essentially for a living) is so terribly unattractive to me that it dissuades me from the ‘discovery’ of science.
I feel so totally out of the world, so disaffected with society. It sounds so stupid and cliché but I see so few (read: vanishingly small) avenues for my interests. My shit memory, my disinterest in interacting with people, my apathy toward achieving goals in groups. At least one of these three will keeps me from getting and keeping a job in pretty much any environment and field. If I didn’t like to eat good food and live in a decent spot I might just live in a squat somewhere and write FTW and anarchy symbols on everything and not do much else and the world would not miss me.

Q: What is my place in the world, what does it need me for?
A: The world does not need you, you are nothing to it. On a frozen plain your body could lay, rotting, and there would be no loss.

Monday, February 25, 2013

25 February 2013

Just broke 40,000 words today which hopefully places me at halfway finished with the first draft. Mark Gluth suggested I compile a list of attributes of other works which I admire and would like to work into my own piece. This is what I came up with.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

19 February 2013

Wrote 2000 words today by noon. Feel good about output, concerned plot may be moving faster than page count can support. Need to find a way to 'slow down' my wriitng without resorting to absurdly long descriptions, useless dialogue, unimportant plot elements.

20 February 2012

   Wrote 1000 words today, threw away at least 500 words. Not sure whether all points of the story grab attention. Not sure how to change this. Having troubled with tenses as well, often find myself beginning a chapter in past tense and shifting to present tense. Then realize what I am doing and go back and change the tense back. Takes some time. Still worried at how fast the plot is developing. Have stopped writing short stories recently since i began working on BA. Not a lot of ideas for short stories at this point, seems like a good thing to work on. Used ctrl-F on the word 'seems' in my manuscript, turns out i use the word once every other page on average which is probably something I will need to change at some point. wondering if the (few) math references will throw people off, cause revulsion. thought it would be easier to make-up fake math terms, worried now that some terms may have real world use. not sure anyone will or would care about this.maybe they will, who knows. Wish I could find a way to 'beef up' the story, lines or plots or anyhting to add that will give the story substance, to bring it more to life. It is very difficult to put work in and not have any idea how anyone but myself will find the book.

Monday, February 18, 2013

17 February 2013

        Wrote 1200+ words today, 'Jeff at the professor's' and some editing. Threw away a lot though (had to). Wondering if fleshing out BA is necessary/good. Want to play off of mysteriousness of the field, keep it as much in the dark as possible. Explained whole plot as I have it in mind to a friend the other day. There is no worse feedback to give someone than 'it sounds good' though it helps to have time to remember the overarching plot and get a way from minor details for a little while. Read 'a gently but rigorous introduction to surreal numbers' on sunday. Found it very helpful in fleshing out parts of BA and knowing what to stay away from. Found a number of correllates in the systems, hope that doesn't come back to bite me. Applied for unemployment today, see what happens with that. Finding concepts, or rather knowing where to go next is becoming dicey, that feeling that I have no ideas until the last second when I start writing is eternally frightening. Feel like if I find it hard to come up with ideas today where will I be in two weeks? two months? Interested to see if there is any response to the excerpt in signed.

Feel worried at times that the characters do not stay 'consistent'. They have definitely solid personalities in my mind but at times they can change in tone, behavior etc. Not sure of how big a problem this could be, not sure if anyone would notice or if this could just be attributed to 'development'  or whatever. Not sure who this book will appeal to, want to say fans of DFW, Bolano, Calvino (maybe) and maaaaaybe some alt-lit writers, but then they probably wouldn't like it. Feel like it is too much realism to the folks that are interested in fantastic elements and too fantastic to those interested in realistic elements. Probably just not good enough for those interested in quality elements haha...

Changed title today. Been thinking about it for a week or so but felt Basic Analysis (in all it's mysterious, banal elevated terpitude) is more attractive and appropriate while leaving 'City on a Hill' or "A City on a Hill" or "As a City upon a Hill' as the title of part one. Should I even keep the distinction into parts? Seems that is declasse at this point or could I ride it back up, surf it to popularity or something?

ugh...what the fuck am I even doing...

the madman

            There is a madman behind this stoic face. I am lucky enough to keep him down at all times, keep him in a prison within me. He has urges to run into a graveyard in the middle of the night, to scream out at the stars and tear his clothes and scream and tear and scream and tear until he falls into a sobbing heap on the soil. He says he knows nothing of this world and wants to charge around in his ignorance, to while and tumble in his lack of knowledge, in his fear of man made things. His revulsion at paperwork and forms and phone call systems. He tells me he wants to find himself on a deep steppe, alone, away and away from civilization and it trappings, to find the silent gods that dwell there. He says he wants to find the lost rites of the earth and its knowing graces. I tell him there is nothing there, that the steppe is cold, the gods are dead, the rites are...imaginary. He won't listen. I go by, day by day with him in me, behind my face and within my ears and he is screaming at every stop sign and weeping at every sick woman and vomiting, vomiting at the sounds of the world. He says that every manmade thing is an illusion which we put up around ourselves, the bars of our cages built from papier mache and which we bang our heads against day in and day out and which we rail against and he says 'look! look! you made this, you made this' and I say 'quiet, you are being so loud, we are in a public place, terhe is no need for that here' and he quiets and it burns within him, his manic knowledge, his worthless wisdom.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

14 February 2013

     Writing lots of dialogue today. All of it is awful, will need to rewrite most if not all of it, at least a few times. Sounds 'pulpy' and overdramatic.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

13 February 2013

    A friend got out of jail yesterday, he spent the night and most of today here. He's probably one of the most intelligent people I've have ever met in my life, though he does some pretty stupid shit to get himself put into jail. Because of an offhand remark he was placed in the psych wing so he told us a little about the torture that is solitary confinement 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

12 February 2013

      I edited my manuscript for close to seven hours today. Not even bragging, I finished a first edit of the first part and it wasn't even that difficult. It was difficult sure cutting and being forced to own up to my mistakes (mere slips of fingers, but also ignorance etc.), but sitting there, for that long not getting distracted was a breeze. The time didn't fly by but it moved, and I edited and I felt totally focused and engaged. Plus I acquired a few hundred words in the process. Realized my font was at 13.5 and not 12 so, after fixing that, I'm close to 97 pages. I think I worry about my output and page count too much.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

City on a Hill (Steven to the Institute)

   He had brought a book but found it impossible to read with the stream of green and flashing gold that ran past. Reflecting back he unequivocally decided that there wasn't summer like this in Delaware.

Monday, February 4, 2013

City on a hill (the professor)

 The room had reached complete silence and Jeff had nothing written on his page. It had been almost an hour and nothing had come to him.