American poetry is about identity-creds, but the only rule about them is the one Warhol declared about art: “…anything you can get away with. — http://nsfwcorp.co/3hty15
Week 4 of 52 (part 1 of 2)
I have every intention of reading the Gardian’s version of this same story, but I’m not sure that either of these takes on Assange’s infuriating inconsistencies & hypocritical approach to the world, etc require my take on them.
There are far smarter & more patient people than me to do that…
I will leave you with a fairly innocuous quote & invite you to read these two books.
I also suggest that throat punching random, blindly faithful Assange supporters will do little more than
possibly make you sleep better…
“When the Guardian & The New York Times published portions of the 68-page Swedish police report on his case, the man responcible for the largest leak of offical documents in history complained to the BBC that the Swedish prosecutors had been “deliberately, and illegally, selectively taking bits of material and giving them to newpapers.” He called it “an abuse of power” and denied any conflict wiwth WikiLeak’s practices. “We are an organization that does not promote leaking,” he said, “We’re an organization that promotes justice.”
Just for fun I thought I’d share some of the other titles I toyed with, back when I thought writing about this book was a good idea.
A small sampling:
Open secrets: WikiLeaks, War, and -OR- How watching too much Get Smart leads you to ask for a cone of silence, even as you are publishing things that will likely get good, honest people killed -or- Why Assange Can Go Fuck Himself Without A Condom -or- How fucking misguided & uninformed the Assaange fan boys reallly are -or- collateral stupidity
Week 4 (7 days late)
An aside before I begin.
I have not been sleeping well. Most of which can be blamed on my 26yro cat (who henceforth will be known only as, the Ancient One).
Most nights he has me out of bed at least 3 times before 6am, typically starting before 4am… but this is not my first bout with sleep dep. For many years as a teenager I suffered from insomnia and it was a time full of frustration & moments of magical clarity.
All of this is plausibly the only excuse I have for, whilst dealing with my most recent sleep deprivation, reading a book about people who work the nightshift & do not sleep or live like the people you & I know.
And yet, I know that my original draw to the book had little to do with my sleeplessness & everything to do with this romantic notion I have about big cities & the secret lives lives steal away whilst the rest of us sleep.
In this way, the stories contained within Nightshift NYC’s pages do not disappoint.
There are stories from cab drivers & dinner owners, LIRR workers & folks from Penn Station, all of whom see & are part of NYC’s secret other lives.
And this book makes excruciatingly clear that it is not just the people who choose to work these shifts who are different; a combination of the artificial light & the stillness dedicated to these hours work to change those who partake in them.
These people learn to exist in two worlds & oft times sleep only 3-4 hours a day, straddling between their day jobs or family & their night shifts. And strangely enough, it is their night lives that seem to be the foundation of their world views & self identification. In many ways, it is as if they were granted access to witness the rest of the world in slow motion and don’t know how (or wish) to return to a life devoid of this view.
The city breaths differently in these hours and so do the people who work them.
At the height of my insomnia, when I was 16, I traveled to Spain. In the 10 days I was there I slept very, very little; most of my time spent in the deep window wells of our hotel, watching the city. There was a feeling as if I was the only one watching over the city & if I did see someone pass below, there was a strong sense that if we were to meet during the day, that there would be something shared between us; a secret, only revealed to those willing to succumb to the city at night.
I’m not sure that this book captures that on it’s own or if I’m simply projecting. But I found myself longing for a time when my insomnia felt just a little like a passage way to a different way of seeing.
Something I was desperate for as a teenager in mourning; waiting for the cities secrets to be swept away into the bustle of the dawn.
Something I long for still.
A long time ago I wanted to grow up to be Clarice Starling.
In large part, because, well,
how rad to be that smart & sexy & totally bad ass
I’ve always taken great comfort that most people do not exhibit obvious homicidal tendencies…
I know it seems a bit morib, but really, it’s not.
It’s a truly remarkable thing that most of the time,
go throughout their life subverting the most common tendencies
and do nothing but wish horrible things upon each other
and it has given me great hope of what we are capable
that so few humans ever do end up with blood on their hand.
Which brings us to this week’s read.
Week 3 of 52:
Let the Right One In - John Ajvide Lindqvist
Translated by: Ebba Segerberg
In it’s most basic, this is a story of a child-like vampire, Eli set by a backdrop of the mundane and erily depressive Stockholm subburb. But this is really not a horror story, or at least not a typical monster tale; the most retched & monsterous characters are very, very disturbed & very much human.
In this place, where dispair is treated with the usual vices, a bloody murder & a horrific pediofile are treated as one might suspect, with police vigilence & heavy drinking; ignoring much of what is happening just below the surface.It seems similar to the townies of Twin Peaks in this way, oblivious to the dangerous developments hiding openly amoungst the muffled duldrum.
The most disgusting characters are not monsters, and to aid in the comparison, even the monsters in transition are full of introspection & budding self awareness. (There is a fantastic scene with a newly vampired victim drinking her own blood to take care of the thirst). By far the most monstrous characters are the two males opposite of the child-like vampire. Both are monsters in their own right, filled with some of the most treacherous human thoughts anyone could hold. Both would likely murder without the excuse of their love for Eli, but with this, they are freed to be justified in their terrors*.
And this is so very, very human. The ability to justify behaviors typically assigned to characters of fictional & folklore, and to make these actions not only good, but righteous is one of our more terrifying attributes. An ability that we are all, as humans, capable…
*seriously, there are some of the most upsetting & grotesque descriptions in this book - so good.
Additionally, if you haven’t seen Let the Right One In, watch it.
Watch it, now.Right now.
Week 2 of 52:
Pornografia by Witold Gombrowicz
-OR- Suck it motion picture association of america!
Translated from it’s original Polish, this book takes a look at the perhaps subtle, perhaps chokingly obvious changes to the social mores of post-war Polland.
There are moments in this prose where you are lost to the horror & find yourself longing for the two old men’s obsession with the young to culminate in all their frenzied desires - even as the plot twists you towards murderous intent, you long for the release of tensions created by their imagined & fabricated sexuality.
Few (if any) worlds I’ve encountered in either film or literature mix this kind of overt sexuality & violence together until at once, nothing but a bloody, orchestrated end will satisfy…
-apologies for the brevity of this post, house guests & hours of writing do not a good host make-
You know you’ve discovered something entirely new to you when, at 2am on a school night, you find yourself reading aloud.
(picture via the Fantastic Man)
For this, the first week of 2011, I had the uncanily difficult task of choosing what to read. My Kindle is currently stacked with no less that 3 books I’ve started and for one reason or another abandoned, 17 books that seemed like must reads at the time, & 5 newly acquired paperbacks I picked up in my New Years Day raid on Ardvarkk Books.
And although I know that there are plenty of delightful escapades awaiting me within the circuitry of my kindle, the burnt golden & black cover seemed hauntingly to taunt me from my shelf…
And so, here goes…
Week 1 of 52:
The Line Between Crime & Politics [in south america] Can Be So Fine As To Not Even Exist - Mario Domingo (lead ODHA lawyer)
There are few things as terrifying & dismissive of my relative peace then the renewed knowledge that I know shit about the world.
How it works.
Who’s in charge.
Why things happen the way they do…
I don’t know shit.
And what’s worse, is that every time I relearn this simple truth I am faced with the ever increasing knowledge that I’m not alone in my ignorance…
even people who work tirelessly & at great personal cost to themselves and the ones they love to discover the truth,
in the end, what they piece together,
what has previously transpired,
is neither simple, nor the truth.
But for those who work hard & long enough, what their endevours amount to
is historical. Retell-able in it’s cohesiveness & made augmentable by transparency’s ability to dissuade fear from the disempowered.
Which is what is brillant & terrifying about this account of the murder of Guatamalian Bishop Gerardi in 1998*.
Goldman spent the last 10 years collecting pieces of the puzzle and has presented them to us in all their horror & sordid relationships to one another; painting a picture as coherent as any could be, given what transpired both in the almost 30 years of war prior to Gerardi’s murder & the decade of state sponsered disinformation & distraction there after.
However, whatever realization of truth or history revealed by Goldman is less relavant to the future of Guatamala (and to all who seek justice against the odds) than is the resounding exhale that there is any possible resolve to the story at all. And in the case of who killed the bishop, the result is that a team of individuals toiled endlessly & fought a military junta, death threats, politically motivated murders, and assilum to gain the right to continue to find parts of the truth; to continue to write this history.
True, a few were tried & punished, but many more of the most powerful men accused & implicated in these decades of research have gone on, without challenge, to manage gangs & cartels instead of military clandestine units. Some of these same cartels are now involved in the unspeakable (mostly, because those who do speak loose their lives) atrocities going on currently in mexico & central america. And those who continue to toil away at prosecuting the intellectual masters of Bishop Gerardi’s murder, will very likely be swallowed in those new political clusterfucks.
All in the hope that others would know something different; that how things were is not how they must remain.
Mind you, there is room for celebration within Goldman’s accounts; the few have gained the right to continue to expose more pieces of what happend, not just to the Bishop, but to others who were silenced; and, ultimately, their work continues by educating & swaying popular opinion towards political reform.
But this is largely not a happy ending, nor a tale of redemption.
What Goldman really gifts us with his work is a clearer vision of the world as it is.
Fucked, riddled with lies, and waiting to be undone.
*Bishop Girardi (1922- 1998) worked on the Recovery of Historical Memory (REMHI) project, which was published just prior to his death. Part of the humanitarian effort in Guatemala to account for the tens of thousands dissapeared or murder during the civil war, ultimately leading to the framework of the 1996, UN- lead peace process.
ps- Watch Romero if you have any interest in getting a crash course in south american politics, military death squads, & the church.
Sadly, last year was
filled with distractions of all kinds [read: a total motherfucking clusterfuck] and it was not conducive to hours spent reading. Ultimately I found myself abandoning my 52x52 project, in no small part because my energies were to be spent in far less rewarding ways, but also because I found so many of the books I read to be absolute pieces of shit.
So now, with my new shiny brain & renewed commitment to avoid NYT best sellers with one word titles & shit for writing or debating skills…
it is time to loose myself in some great books & get back to writing.
Two things I’ve missed terribly.
So with out further delay:
52 weeks of books; part deux.
i am still reading (although I haven’t touched my kindle in months)
but writing has not been my focus - i will try this weekend to post a list of the books i’ve read since last I wrote…
This week I’ve been roaming about Austin, watching movies & eating fried pickles.
Time spent alone required traveling long distances and exploring a city overrun with nerds & music humpers alike - reading time at the SF Embassy was few and far between.
For better or worse, this week & 1/2 was another experiment in how much what we focus on can change how we think. I watched more films than I read, to be sure. But I was reminded of just how powerful films can be. Films open worlds in different ways than books… which is why, when care is taken, that movie adaptations can be so very amazing. What I love is how images from both mediums can be so enduring & it has been lovely to read a brillant book about a world far away from the insanity of Austin.
But enough about Austin
On the topic of reading
my advice is to get yourself a copy of Liar’s Poker.
And read it with care.
Put away your inclination to see far & distant meaning in what you read.
For these moments of “oh, that explains everything” will come to you often & without edit.
Ignore their temptation.
The urge to be convinced that you understand what is being discussed.
How this story all fits together is riveting, to be sure.
But what this book has to offer are not simple answers.
It cannot explain to you how markets are made or broken.
It can, however, open to you a new context for how people work within & around the market.
Context like that is always worth a read.