Thursday, February 27

who has ears hear

  • Low tonight at Sokol Underground in Omaha.
  • Eric Johnson, who I know nothing about, tomorrow at the Lied.
  • 1% Productions look to have a lot of good stuff lined up in the next month or so - The Sea and Cake, Godspeed You Black Emperor, Songs: Ohia, and Idlewild are all either good or people have lied to me.
  • Alison Krauss in Sioux City in April.
  • Queens of the Stone Age and the RHCP in Omaha in May.

Wednesday, February 26

What an infinitive is and how to split one.

[frost, window latch]

And why you would want to: To really see, to slowly burn, may never come, to finally be.

tuesday, february 25

rat

Monday, February 24

So I drove home for the first time in a month. I pretended to have reasons, but really I just felt the impulse and gave in. Others did the same. I saw my cousin Kylie, drank beer with Jeremy and Nate, had the 4 AM conversation that always comes down or back or sideways from alcohol, government and game theory to knowledge, God, and alcohol.

I came back late this afternoon, stopping on the way to fumble with line numbered BASIC. A former teacher(of mine)'s kid is trying to control a robotic arm for one of those science project schemes you sense is too complicated by half. I wish him luck. He's brighter than me, and eventually it will probably work.

It was strange to step back into that world, the weird highschool technology and science class one where most all the effort is spent on incidental details. Not that much has changed since then, excepting my perspective.

It's well after 1:00 now, and I need to write pages that say something about the Benedictine Rule. I read it earlier tonight, the Rule - it's short, and if my eyes glazed a little and I skimmed the sections on the Divine Office, then it was easy enough to blame fatigue and caffeine. I don't know when to read how many Psalms in what order, but I think I have the gist of things.

This is my opening bit:

The Rule of Benedict and the writings contained in Helen Waddell's The Desert Fathers convey approaches to the monastic life that differ radically in form, yet share a set of values: Contemplation, silence, withdrawal, and self-denial.

And that's almost all I've written, so far.

more: home utr

monday

and the front page of the new york times says

The fresh outpouring of antiwar sentiment may not be enough to dissuade Mr. Bush or his advisers from their resolute preparations for war. But the sheer number of protesters offers a potent message that any rush to war may have political consequences for nations that support Mr. Bush's march into the Tigris and Euphrates valleys.

reminding me i meant to say things here
and maybe i'd better, before i leave this idle
so as not to leave loose ends untied

i guess what it comes down to
is that uncertainties and all i'm opposed to this war
and i think it matters

and it may be a while again
i hope all your lives are brilliant, meantime.

Saturday, February 15

thrift store tape tray

Grab a handful of cassettes and pay a couple bucks. Suzanne Vega, days of open Hand. The Verve, "A : On Your Own, B : I See The Door, Both Tracks Both Sides."

I have seen things that I can't explain,
Lookin' through the window pane
Open your eyes and let me in
Don't go to think that I don't care

And I realize I really dig the Verve. Which I guess I knew all along, but it's good to be reminded of these things.

patrice pike

Specifically, this show is really worth a listen.

But I know we can try
So I say come on let's just
tear down the wreckage
Build it new one day at a time

Thursday, February 13

afternoon, rewritten a few days later

My own reasons for having said little, except in passing, about the any-day-now war are not Brent's, but there are days I understand the feeling. In a way that I'm still working out, I still disagree with his conclusions.

Webloggers, journallers, the guy wearing a t-shirt that says "NOT MY PRESIDENT", people with Bush-Cheney bumper stickers and little flags on plastic sticks fluttering insanely in the slipstreams of their Chrysler Town & Country minivans, self-appointed guardians of peace arguing in coffeeshops, and I - the truth is, we mostly don't know what is really going on. If we pretend otherwise, we are at best lying to ourselves and at worst to everyone who might believe us.

But what if we didn't pretend we knew the whole truth, and what if we acknowledged that we make decisions anyway based on all kinds of things that don't always make sense, and what if we never accepted the lie that someone else really does know it all and it would be best just to go along for the ride?

Maybe that's the only distinction I claim between myself and the rest; that I'm willing to admit that I don't know in any final sense - and no longer willing to be completely silenced, or cede my right to learn more to anyone's political alignment or ideology.

Brent writes:

But I read a lot of strong anti-war blog entries today, and I was slapped in the face by a statement Wil Wheaton wrote on his journal: "We are marching directly into a war, though there is massive public resistance to it." ...

Let's examine Wil's claim. Most Americans support the war, as of February 9th (so say the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and The Wall Street Journal). Is that support cautious? Yes, as it should be. But the Bush administration is not exactly alone in its opinion on this.

This is a true statement, but it is not an examination, let alone a refutation, of Wil's claim. For reasonable values of "massive", there is a massive public resistance to a war with Iraq. Whatever its motives, coherence, or organization, it exists. By the same token, if Wil's implying that the whole of the American public doesn't want a war, he's wrong. People raising both points are largely talking past one another.

There is an eternal tendency among those who write or speak about public things to invoke the will of the people; to assume that the people, who ever they really mean by that, share their beliefs, and that this justifies and lends force to those beliefs.

Well, bullshit. They don't, and it doesn't.

I'm through saying "we". I am not the government of the United States of America. I am not the American People, the anti-war movement, the 18-25 demographic, the Church, the Fans, Academia, Science, the Arts, the Right Wing or the Left.

Yes, what I'm going to say here in the coming days might be masturbatory. Why pretend otherwise? I'm not contributing one iota to a public debate, if such a thing is really going on. Nothing that I say will measurably influence the exercise of power. This may be part of a public forum, but it is mostly something else. It is mostly something I write a little because I want to, and a few of my friends read because they are my friends.

That's the point. If I'm not just faking clever, then this is a small way to speak when something more than silence is called for, even if what I say carries no further than you, reading this right now. Isn't that enough to make a start?

And now I'm done with meta-commentary.

early AM

Sitting here, I'm looking
at an angle out across the gray bartop
watching cars slip in trafficlight modulated streams
past the front-door glass.

Over there, two guitars and a djembe
rattle twang and patter.
I think of all the people
I would rather be with right now than here,
the indifferent and the hopeful and the concerned,
and string these words together in my head.

Later, I'm not expecting anything transcendant
maybe that's not the word for what I get,
but listen:

You need to hear Patrice Pike.

Maybe because she has an amazing voice,
and some words that are worthy of it.

Maybe because she does that funky mouth-jam thing,
doobidadooskibidadoo.

But surely because they drove all day from Austin,
and because she sang like that anyway
for fifteen people at midnight
between a Wednesday and a Thursday in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Wednesday, February 12

Thank you, Kurt Vonnegut.

Tuesday, February 11

more: notebook

Friday, February 7

Life is too short for moderate enthusiasms.

Apropos of which,

  • What Eric has to say about Ben Folds and Suzanne Vega, because I agree sometimes, and because my only story about a Suzanne Vega song is simultaneously too painful and too trivial to tell.
  • The War on Silence issue 419, because glenn mcdonald is a great writer.

Tuesday, February 4

and an answer or two

I think academic writing sucks for many reasons, but the big ones are obvious enough. Sturgeon's Law always applies, and the remaining 10% is still predictably bogged down in artificial precision, an inability to say anything directly, and a pretense to objectivity.

If this sounds arrogant, read that as "my academic writing". These are things I'm more unhappy to be responsible for than to find elsewhere – I can *ignore* what other people write.

The fake precision and the indirectness might be the same thing. People write as if using more words and qualifying all of them means saying more. People also write as if they need to tell you first what they're going to tell you, how they're going to tell it, and why. Then they follow up with an explanation of what they told you. What they forget is to actually say anything in between.

The fake objectivity is trickier. You're not supposed to say "I". Sometimes there are sound reasons for that, but it gives us phrases like 'it would not be unreasonable to believe' and 'it may be argued that' where 'i think or 'maybe' cut a lot closer to the truth. It makes saying "I don't know" downright impossible.

I've learned more from the essays of Kenneth Rexroth than from all the textbooks and scholarly articles I have ever read, combined.

Rexroth's essays are flawed. They contain mistakes and biases and all kinds of sweeping, unsupported generalizations. Depending on your perspective, they either assume a vast universe of shared knowledge or engage in machine-gun namechecking. But they sure as hell are not exercises in impersonal complication of things incompletely understood. They say things.

early a.m. rhetorical questions

ever look around
and realize you're not quite on the roll you thought you were?
did you wonder why?
was the answer not what you wanted,
and did you understand it anyway?

why are
"what i should be doing"
words that mean something to almost everyone
who's worth talking to?

why is academic writing
a thousand times harder than a letter to a friend
and a thousand times less interesting?

why not listen to things we lost in the fire
again, and fall asleep?

more: fiction

Monday, February 3

Today, it snowed so heavy you couldn't see much past the front steps. I love that.

more: thomas

Sunday, February 2

There was an entry here, and then I copied a file to the wrong place and obliterated it. These things happen.

This might be a good time to point out that stuff in a blue box like this one (if I haven't decided to change the color by the time you're reading this) indicates a kind of retroactive continuity. The idea being that, as long as it's marked clearly, it's acceptable for me to run around this little chronology scattering new and temporally ambiguous text like some kind of anachronistic verbal packrat.

I should find some way to indicate a retcon when the background color just won't cut it.

saturday, february 1

it shames me that the first thing i thought
when i heard "has lost contact with the space shuttle columbia" was

nail in the coffin

maybe that came thirty years ago
i know NASA has done good work
since somebody decided the moon was far enough
but the stars are still there
and we aren't getting any closer to them

i know it costs

sometimes it costs fireballs in the sky
scattered wreckage
and somebody's kids,
outside the reach of things like
our sympathies are with the families of the brave men and women
knowing a hell of a lot of pain and confusion

what's it buying?