This afternoon, on the 1 train, I had what John Cheever once called a eureka moment. I was thinking about my play, making a list of possible reasons why a character was acting a certain way, and suddenly it all came together, I understood who he was and what he really wanted me to say. I had been forcing him to be one thing, and all this time he had been fighting me, treating me with contempt, as Pinter warned a recalcitrant character would. And I understood why Cheever said there were moments when he wanted to run out and shout his discovery to the world. I wanted to grab every person on the street and madly yell, He loved his sister! He really loved her! I couldn't focus on anything else. I went to the gym, but didn't feel like working out. In the end I skipped all my chores and rushed back home and worked on the play again. I worked on it continuously and only stopped now. It is nearly 11 PM. And I am so exhausted, and grateful, and happy. I want to write till the day I die.
Friday, February 27, 2009
All that I can I can be
All that I am I can see
All that is mine is in my hands
So to myself I call
There's somewhere else I should be
There's someone else I can't see
There's something more I can find
It's only up to me
I'm gonna clean up my earth
And build a heaven on the ground
Not something distant and unfound
But something real to me
--Paul Weller, "Brand New Start"
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
The Spaniards came and cut open
the black heart of Hispaniola,
yet you survived it all,
it was you alone who survived.
The blood of martyrs fed dictators’ families
for several generations,
yet you alone survived.
Your mother survived loneliness and poetry,
and in the poverty where she raised you
your life was rich with music,
and so you, too, survived.
You survived your beautiful youth,
when nothing so beautiful lives so long.
You had feet to dance with
and hands to hold and none of this
was ever enough, no words sufficed,
the future was a hollow furnace where all things burned.
And that, too, you would survive.
There was Paris and Salzburg
and the Lower East Side.
There were nights when you thought
you knew, and suddenly
the universe was wide open,
but all this was a dream,
a dream that you survived.
You are here, at last,
and you are close, so close: I gaze in disbelief
at the marvel of you. I, too,
have lived this long.
I have traveled this far to reach you.
Monday, February 16, 2009
1. H.P. Lovecraft: The Thing on the Doorstep and Other Weird Tales
2. Spinoza: On the Improvement of the Understanding
3. Umberto Eco: Kant and the Platypus: Essays on Language and Cognition
4. Haruki Murakami: The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
5. Harold Pinter: The Proust Screenplay
6. Nikolai Gogol: Collected Tales
7. John Steinbeck: East of Eden
8. Bartolome de las Casas: A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies
9. Cabeza de Vaca: Adventures in the Unknown Interior of America
10. Pier Paolo Pasolini: Roman Nights and Other Stories
Sunday, February 15, 2009
this might be any street
on any ordinary night
and yet i feel the vapors rising
out of human gutters,
i can almost cup it in my hands
and i totter with half my eye trained
on a vague somnambulist flicker.
the open-eyed groping ignites my lust for effacement.
while i walk i feel the sorry scraps of shadows falling.
tonight i feel myself propped up
by the steady lunar rain.
i asked that i be shuttered out
to consummate this brief catharsis.
--Diana T. Gamalinda, 1959-1978
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
At the age of eighteen, Bartolome de las Casas first witnesses the genocide of the natives of America. It’s not known whether this experience led him to the faith, but he would soon become a lay cleric and devote all his life defending the rights of these people. Like Paul, he is struck down—not by the voice of God, but of the text, specifically Ecclesiasticus: “The bread of the needy is their life, and he who defraudeth him thereof is a man of blood.” Outraged by the atrocities, he predicts that God would punish Spain for the suffering of the Americas. At fifty, he publishes the massive History of the Indies detailing the horrors of the conquest. But he himself forbids the printing of the manuscript until forty years after his death, and only if it served the interests of both the Americas and Spain. At that time, Spain, besieged by the Protestants and the Turks, would not tolerate anything remotely disloyal to the empire. De las Casas’ history would not see print until 1875—more than three centuries later. Less than two decades after that, with the secession of Puerto Rico, Cuba, and the Philippines, the last fragments of the empire would disappear. The ineffable power of the text has been released; de las Casas’ 300-year old prediction has finally come true.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
I have a particular relationship with the words I put down on paper and the characters which emerge from them which no one else can share with me. And perhaps that's why I remain bewildered by praise and really quite indifferent to insult. -- Harold Pinter.
Monday, February 9, 2009
No matter what the band does, they outshine anything within radiant distance. Last night's performance of Radiohead at the Grammys--with the USC Trojan Marching Band--was no less than phenomenal, and made every other performer next to them seem, well, so last century. And who better to introduce the band than fellow uber-intellectual Gwyneth Paltrow, the unofficial spokesperson for geek chic?
Friday, February 6, 2009
The past life of immigrants is annulled. Before it was the warrant of arrest, now it is intellectual experience that is declared non-transferable and impossible to naturalize. Anything that cannot be reified, counted or measured ceases to exist. Not satisfied with this, reification spreads to its own opposite, the life that cannot be directly actualized--anything that lives on merely as thought or recollection. For this a special rubric has been invented. It is called "background" and appears on the questionnaire as an appendix, after sex, age and profession. To complete its violation, life is dragged along on the triumphal procession of statisticians. Even the past is no longer safe from the present, whose remembrance of it consigns it a second time to oblivion. -- Theodor Adorno.
Thursday, February 5, 2009
Whenever I hear from my buddy Fidel, it's always a beautiful day no matter if it's below zero out there. I don't want to embarrass him by quoting his message, but anyway, he says a friend of ours gave a talk on poetry and science in his science and society class and read Zero Gravity, although Fidel wished he had read it himself, as he loves "the cavernous sounds of words" etc. Fidel speaks poetry so effortlessly. He says he's planning an STS (Science, Technology and Society) reader and wants to include an excerpt from the talk and the poem. Thanks, Fidel. I would love to hear you read my work someday. I bet you'd make it sound like the music of the spheres. And being included in a reader on science, technology and society is so awesome. It's awesome to know there's always somebody who gets it.