Sunday, September 30

Sometimes you find a story, of one kind or another, all piled up in one place. I just came across one of those, digging through a moving box for scratch paper: A folder, stashed in a corner, 50 pages of incidental paperwork, notes, blurry photos printed in black and white off some Hewlett-Packard or Xerox, fragments of other peoples' manuscripts.

In a way, the particulars of these things don’t matter much. If you’re anything like me, they’re usually dull as sin, about as interesting as unsolicited accounts of someone’s weird dreams or highschool sports career. Sometimes you’ll find something that could seed a narrative outside the machinery of your head. More often, these little sheaves of documents accidentally bound together in time-and-place are just keys to the shape of a story in your own mind, one that emerges from memory as you turn over the residue of the thought that preceded it, and the significance of which, if any at all, is utterly incommunicable.


I was reading the opening pages of The Great Gatsby the other night, and it seemed to me not for the first time that the novel is a form which has been bound for much of its history by the need to justify its own existence. Let me assure you, it frequently seems to be saying, that I am telling you all this for just and decent reasons, or least let me gesture, ritualistically, at the notion of plausibility.

And the thing is that it’s never these halfassed lunges in the direction of respectability that make a novel (or a memoir, or a collection of letters) much fun to read, or make it taste anything like the truth. It’s the details, the bits of concrete happening or sensation or extraordinary thought, that sell the thing.

This is why it is justified to keep shoeboxes full of birthday cards, and why we will all be impoverished if the accidental archives that we accumulate are supplanted by electronic records with a half-life measurable in months. This is why you have to write: The stories need keys for you to find later on.

p1k3 / 2012 / 9 / 30
tags: topics/reading

Saturday, September 29

Rebecca Solnit:

One manifestation of this indiscriminate biliousness is the statement that gets aired every four years: that in presidential elections we are asked to choose the lesser of two evils. Now, this is not an analysis or an insight; it is a cliché, and a very tired one, and it often comes in the same package as the insistence that there is no difference between the candidates. You can reframe it, however, by saying: we get a choice, and not choosing at all can be tantamount in its consequences to choosing the greater of two evils.

But having marriage rights or discrimination protection or access to health care is not the lesser of two evils. If I vote for a Democrat, I do so in the hopes that fewer people will suffer, not in the belief that that option will eliminate suffering or bring us to anywhere near my goals or represent my values perfectly. Yet people are willing to use this “evils” slogan to wrap up all the infinite complexity of the fate of the Earth and everything living on it and throw it away.

I don’t love electoral politics, particularly the national variety. I generally find such elections depressing and look for real hope to the people-powered movements around the globe and subtler social and imaginative shifts toward more compassion and more creativity. Still, every four years we are asked if we want to have our foot trod upon or sawed off at the ankle without anesthetic.

The entire piece is worth reading.

p1k3 / 2012 / 9 / 29
tags: topics/politics, topics/reading

Monday, September 24

Trying to write again, it’s like trying to start an engine you’ve left alone for entire seasons. The battery’s not completely dead, and even that much is kind of astonishing, but it won’t quite turn over. You feel like maybe there’s water in the tank and it wouldn’t surprise you to find packrats nesting somewhere in under the hood.

(Is the engine in this metaphor even under a hood? Maybe it’s just an old rusty push mower, the starter cord all rotten and ready to break.)

p1k3 / 2012 / 9 / 24

Sunday, September 16


On the road home I scan the dial for hours and hours. The sickness of a fractured polity whines and crackles from every tower. A legion of monstrous follies gibber for sacrifice, veritable Elder Gods of Stupidity screaming a diseased hunger into the airwaves. Their howling acolytes already gorged on war and thievery, claws and teeth and rusty knives out all still lusting after the murder of reason itself.

p1k3 / 2012 / 9 / 16
tags: topics/radio

Monday, September 10

light enough to travel

I'm edging up sort of sideways on midnight. I'm pretty sure I can see 12am out of the corner of my eye, but I don't want to scare it away by looking directly at it. The house is a mess. There's camping gear all over the floor. I'm listening to folk music and packing, or at least I'm aware that I should be packing, for Winfield. I seem to have stalled out.

p1k3 / 2012 / 9 / 10

(just after) Wednesday, September 5


It’s been months. In fact, it’s been the better part of a year since I’ve written anything I cared about much, or at least anything that wasn’t code. I think I’ve forgotten how. I don’t even know where to start.

It’s early September. The heat has been oppressive for months, and likely will continue for days or weeks to come, but today there was that indefinable texture to the air that suggests Fall as, if not exactly present, then nevertheless an impending presence, gathering itself just beyond the edges of the current situation. It’s cooling off at night now. It rained, somewhere in there, enough that the arid Front Range seems less wasted by drought than much of the plains to the east, where the crops are pretty well dead and an entire economy stares down conditions which would more or less destroy it if they continued long enough.

Anyhow, it’s late, I’m alone in this big, echo-y, hundred year old house, mildly drunk on gin + tonic, and it seemed like a good time to check in. Hope you’re doing well, the Internet. Maybe we should hang out more often over here in the old, dusty, simple, text-and-pictures not-very-social-at-all sort of places. You know, shake out the literary impulse and let the witty minute-by-minute bids for momentary attention sort of fade into the plentiful background noise for whole minutes on end.

I dunno.

p1k3 / 2012 / 9 / 5