“he pretends to be enthusiastic” Thomas Mann said of his paradoxical mood on his writing, on Sunday, September 29, 1918 in his diary; I relate, tis’ that kind of Sunday night for me as well (Sunday, August 30th, 2020)

First, I wish to note that last night my mother made my day when she told me that she reads my diary blog!

You see, her and I often have in the past possessed quite differing points of view on certain fundamental matters. How strange, now knowing she may read this, for I suspect inevitable, even if only unconscious bias to impact what I say and how I say it. The same goes for my wife, my sister, a former professor and employer of mine I consider a mentor, another former employer and chief confidant; how different do I suddenly politick my words? Well, supposing I was rich! How then would I politick my words? Moreso towards a slight inclination to pander and please or would I grow blunter feeling, with such a sturdy savings and surplus, that I have nothing to lose? On the other hand, speaking of “nothing to lose”—impoverished and read some days by no one, in states of presumption that my utter failure as a writer in search of money, fame, influence, and talent was bound to remain the case for my entire life, like that stereotypical tragic starving artist—you know, like Van Gogh for example—there was such a strong sense that nothing I said was of consequence so that I could simply say whatevs. Would make no difference. No one be offended. No readers to lose. No money on the line. No motives beyond my aesthetics and perhaps testing whether or not phrasing, sharing, or omitting select passages or titles/headlines might move me from zero readers to 1+ readers. This is why I sometimes think Bob Dylan’s song “Like a Rolling Stone,” (Bob Dylan is to me what I think Goethe was for Schopenhauer, Nietzsche and Mann) despite being addressed to some woman

“People’d call, say, “Beware doll, you’re bound to fall”

“You’ve gone to the finest school all right, Miss Lonely

may actually reveal or suggest something about him… or at least, as I self reflect and see how the song could easily speak to iterations of myself (I did “dress so fin” in suit and bowtie for many years, people have warned me over the years that I was “bound to fall” (between runs for political office and attempts at “making it” as an artist… I did “used to laugh about/everybody that was hangin’ out”—how so? Maybe I never did that, per se.

There have been instances though when I criticized others for reasons that in later times made a hypocrite of me.

When I was maybe 16… at summer camp at the Mercer County Community College campus, there were two young women, maybe they were college students, and… God knows why the hell I said it, or…I don’t even recall the context in which there was some pretext to have spoken to them at all, more over…. as someone with so low a self-esteem, how I even mustered at 16 to talk at all to college girls when I could not even communicate my crush on L. beyond that I thought she was gorgeous (to which she said my personality was gorgeous to which I responded by changing the subject—even supposing she was implying that she thought I was ugly but a nice guy, if I REALLY liked her, why could I not at least commit to a full self advocacy on the matter?)—it really is beyond me! But I made fun of them for being “community college” students… “you’re not exactly at fucking Yale” I think I said, more or less. And wouldn’t ya know it but I ended up in community college and didn’t even get my bachelors until I was a few months shy of 32. So…back to the Dylan lyrics…if going to community college as opposed to far away from home can be construed as “hanging out” then I did used to “laugh about everyone that was hangin out.”

Also, during my Objectivist phase I was the poster child textbook case of a snob.

Everybody was so stupid, illogical, dependent on government, altruistic, not only unacquainted with Ayn Rand’s oh so genius philosophy but philosophy in general.   

“now you don’t seem so proud”—exactly…

“about having to be scrounging for your next meal”—I think back to Spring of 2019 when I thought I was so fine a creative writer and so smart an academic with my little 3.98 that I’d manage to get at least one offer from one university to pay my tuition, give me a stipend, and offer me a teaching assistantship.  Only to end up completely rejected by every university except my Alma Matter (which is where I most wanted to go anyway, at least) (maybe only because it was my Alma Matter and I was lucky enough to have a number of professors I love advocate for me; that is to say, not that I accuse anyone in the MFA admissions committee of offering me a place in their program—for which I am so privileged, lucky, and grateful– because of “who” wrote my “recommendations” and/or my GPA… it did cross my insecure mind … as opposed to seeing any “merit” in my writing), which, because of my intensity of disappointment, I put off, and tried to get a non-academic job, which I failed to do, and which did leave me having to “scrounge for [my] next meal.”

And so on and so on, but to the real key point I wish to make:

When you ain’t got nothing, you got nothing to lose

You’re invisible now, you’ve got no secrets to conceal

How does it feel, ah how does it feel?

To be on your own, with no direction home

Like a complete unknown, like a rolling stone

I mean, it’s true, for me at least, in both literal and figurative senses. “You’re invisible now”—like I’m a nobody…like…my ego (what little of it I managed to beforehand have) was bashed into tiny pieces of shattered glass…now nobody special and because nobody special even if I did have secrets, their being secrets made no difference…but “when you ain’t got nothing, you got nothing to lose, you’re invisible now, you’ve got no secrets to conceal”—no longer cloaked in ego I might as well have been a ghost, or without even a self, so how COULD I have any secrets if I don’t even have a “me?”…

… “like a complete unknown” …. Another voice in the wilderness… talking to myself, essentially, thus feeling free to say whatever I want, whatever I think, whatever I might even think for a time and later disavow.

In my creative writing course last night we discussed literary role models,

specifically for fiction writing as that’s the genre we’re discussing now (by the way, I do want to put on the record a burgeoning idea I have on the concept of literary genres. I find the supposition that one ought to confine one’s self—necessarily—to “just poetry” or “just fiction” or “just nonfiction” to be false binary. I believe—and I tie this to what I call “Internetism”—writing is writing, whether you wish to rhyme, break a line, daydream, or discuss empirical facts of one’s own experience and/or research. Furthermore, WHILE surely having a specific focus or specific focuses, such as the purebred “poet” or “essayist” or “fiction writer”—which in my view are more-so writing TECHNIQUES or APPROACHES than rigidly distinct GENRES– is of course fine, I imagine this 21st century of ours will be one of highly customized “hybrid” style writings. ) and I felt dismayed at my inability to hone in one fiction writer.

( to the extent which my work can be boiled down to a “genre” when it is actually mixed, I consider it a flow of prosimetrum diary. Why do I not just say poems, essays and fiction? Because pieces of writing that combine them are technically referred to as prosimetrums. What’s the difference between prosimetrum and prose poem, how can one know, and why did I pick one over the other? In a prose poem a passage conventionally mixes prose and poetry into a single thing and there is neither a fully distinct sense of poem nor prose. Whereas with a prosimetrum there are distinct separations in the piece where part of it is in verse and part is in prose. The idea isn’t to blend as to not note the difference but in fact to enjoy the beauty of the defined sense of their differences qua genre.)  

So I thought deeply on the matter of which fiction writers I consider my favorite.

(You must understand, this has been nearly as frustrating and difficult for me to decide as which genre I identify with most.)Forced to pick one fiction writer then, who do I pick?

It actually turned out, all of a sudden, to be an easy choice: Thomas Mann. (well, actually, 3 way tie: Dostoevsky, Mann, and David Foster Wallace) But how did that happen so suddenly when for so many years it was just too hard? Put side by side with other authors I love: Robert Musil, Marcel Proust, Milan Kundera, to name a few, the thought came to me that what specifically does not resonate with me with each of these aforementioned authors, when I compare them to others, is that there’s an ironic close-mindedness to them, or lack of universal point of view. (This is abstract and hard to explain. I don’t mean point of view so much in the sense of identifying what is universally true, false, good, bad, et cetera. Rather, I mean, the scope of my preferred others seem to imagine a wider reality, a wider range of considerations. Take Musil for example. On the one hand, I think philosophically he is as top notch as a novelist can get but there is always a snarkiness in the voice of the narrator and I never get a sense of the narrator thinking much beyond Western Europe. With Proust I the problem seems similar to me. Of course, both Proust and Musil, as prose stylists are indeed as fine as any. I mean, on a most technical level, there sentences, perhaps Proust ever so slightly more (and whatever little bit Musil seems to lack in the pure technicalities of prose’s potential beauty he more than makes up for with how hilarious he is. 1)But Musil is for me, too hilarious, and too hilarious with the same tone…as in, I never get the feeling quite that someone is talking seriously at all to me about how he sees the world. And if Musil by the way is too funny then Proust is too serious. Also too French. And too Aristocratic. Well, I don’t dislike that his world is so embedded in “high society” so much as it seems only high society really receives his attention. So his scope for me is too narrow. In contrast, Dostoevsky, Mann, and David Foster Wallace, in my opinion, have as wide a view as they can have. They are, we might say, “cosmopolitan?” And in Dostoevsky’s case it’s actually ironic because he had a nationalist way about him… a Russophile. BUT he was not the sort of Russophile who arrived at it anti-intellectually. Rather, in Dostoevsky, the narrators always seem to try and think as thoroughly as possible, and so abstractly.

I’ll share a brief thought that goes more into specifics a la Mann.

He has a beautiful mixture of thoroughly and vividly presented point of view, a stunning balance of concrete description and abstract philosophizations, a highly intelligent and formal manner of articulating but not with some sort of Victorian stiffness or sexlessness or condescending officialness for he will speak of orgasm

“In his address the previous Monday (dealing, as always, with love as a force conducive to illness), the psychoanalyst  had made special mention of epilepsy, which in preanalytic days had been seen variously as a holy, indeed prophetic affliction or as a sign of demonic possession, but which he described in half poetic, half ruthlessly scientific terms as the equivalent of love, an orgasm of the brain—in brief, made it sound so suspect that his audience was now forced to see Popov’s performance as an illustration of the lecture, a dissolute revelation, a mysterious scandal” (John E. Woods translation; page 294)

“Consider the marvelous symmetry of the human frame, the shoulders and the hips and the breasts as they blossom at each side of the chest, and the rips arranged in pairs, and the navel set amid the supple belly, and the dark sexual organs between the thighs!” (John E. Woods translation; page 337)

… seriousness and yet hilarious … additionally, I love how when he narrates, its empathically obvious that he is narrating a story which he is not part of in terms of the story’s content itself, but which he is moved by and interacts with in the process of his creating and developing it.

Stopped publishing daily miscellaneous diary notes…

every day is too much. Probably for you as much as for me, especially since when I take to writing spontaneously and in diary note form I can just go on and on with no concern for anything other than getting the thought down. Then let me spent at least a bit more time letting thoughts develop and then share them. Weekly seems to make sense to me. Religious leaders deliver weekly sermons. The week, and I think I wrote about this last year, the week has a poetic kind of “reflection time” period. It is neither as short as the day nor as long away as the month. Furthermore, let TOO MUCH TIME go away and you begin to lose the youthfulness of the thought just as if you don’t let enough time pass the thought is too immature perhaps to have as much development as letting a week go by. It’s not an exact science and everything I’m saying is extremely off the cuff and speculative. I am writing tonight more out of discipline even than anything else. Long day and it is the end of the day Sunday so I’m tired and a little tense.

Started course on Irish Literature. Discussed an extremely cursory look at Irish history. Most of the time I would say was spent on the nationalism in Ireland around the end of the romantic period (1850’s or so) and how awfully the Irish were treated by Brits and Protestant Americans or non Irish Americans… white and male of course, alas.

My mind felt terribly overstimulated that night. I hadn’t been in class since end of June or early July was it? Then Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday I had three hour courses I took on Zoom. Oh, I liked it, and in fact, the Wednesday night course (Irish lit.) went just over two hours, but it was probably as inundated my brain has been in some time. Zoom fatigue I read that night, is a thing.

I continued fussing throughout the week about how I wanted to frame and describe my blog—my diary project. I wanted to preserve a sense of diary (this document that more or less tracks the day to day of thoughts and enables us to see the evolution and forms of the continuity) while having more time to spend on poetry and fiction. And so I was thinking about Dostoevsky and Anzaldua who both took on literary projects concerned with combining literary genres/forms and I thought, why not, just as we have “Literary Journals” that publish works by a variety of artists, a LITERARY DIARY (again, citing Dostoevsky by the way, I’m thinking of his book A WRITER’S DIARY…and I just loved that concept….an official book of the writer simply collecting his works or her works)….yes, so a collection of works by A SINGLE AUTHOR where the purpose is not to confine it to much at all (i.e., not just a book of short stories,  or essays, or poems; let the author, actually, just write whatever she or he wants. If in the midst of working on this literary the author gets a sort of form or arrives at some sort of consistency she or he wants, perhaps that is nice. That is how I think I will do it. And then, technically, it is prosimetrum. But keeping it bound as true diary with periodic diary-note-reflections accentuates the diary-ness, thus giving us a prosimetrum diary! (Earlier before arriving at “prosimetrum diary” I experimented with “literary diary” and “cross genre diary” and “hybrid.” Cross genre seemed to be the best as in my research so far as creative writing programs that featured course work on more than one genre blended together, the term “cross genre” was most often used, by far. But “prosimetrum” was just MORE SPECIFIC and technically exact.

Mike Pence spoke at RNC this week…and Trump.

Somehow I was more disturbed by Pence…while I think his policy views are wrong and bad, there is a sense of crafted rhetoric to him that I don’t get a sense of with Trump who at times it seems struggles to get out a sentence that makes any cogent sense whatsoever!

Is Trump intellectually impaired or an evil genius? On the one hand, we’ve a plethora of reports of people saying they think Trump is “fucking moron” or idiot and he certainly does seem to be so. And yet… to suppose Trump is MERELY stupid…the problem in my mind is that where would the ambition for cruelty rise from? A lot of false assumptions? But that’s more like MIS-EDUCATED or having a mind molded in a very bad way…as opposed to a mind that doesn’t have much going on. Moreover, what is behind his emergence to be president? What string of desires? If he were an “utter moron” just how much mind could he apply to that ambition?

Much more I could say but tired.   

References   [ + ]

1. But Musil is for me, too hilarious, and too hilarious with the same tone…as in, I never get the feeling quite that someone is talking seriously at all to me about how he sees the world

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