Archive for September, 2011


September 21, 2011

The translator and poet Richard Howard on the telephone: “It’s so good to talk to somebody who gets Barthes.”

I wouldn’t say I get Barthes, but I get how to read him: with attention to Pauses, to how a sentence opens itself up with clause upon clause, like a telescope extending itself forever, or almost forever. The copy editor I’d hired for the newly translated edition of an early, seminal Barthes work has a tin ear: she cut up all the long sentences into “proper” shorter sentences: colons and semicolons were slashed to make way for commas and periods; capitalizations, demoted to Lowercase. It’s taken me three days to go through the manuscript marking “stet.” Said Howard as I listened to him shaking his head: “I stopped looking at it halfway through.”


My father’s heart is to be operated on next week: the continual editing of the body.


Tonight I stay in Flushing, and in the morning I will accompany my parents to the doctor to help them go through pre-admissions testing. Since chewing over the status of (burgeoning) Brooklynite for the past week, I haven’t had a moment to myself; but tonight, in the company of my parents, I will read a book for the fourth time: the first time had been in awe; the second, with blue pencil; the third, a pleasurable skimming; and tonight, now, a once-more now, with red pencil in hand.


Dream tides (VII)

September 7, 2011

I believe in talking to myself, because then there is an equal desire to hear that self respond. I am my best audience, and therefore the most unreliable and uninteresting and the least informed. When the talking stops, when my responses to myself stop, perhaps that is when death occurs. I wait, patiently, for the not-breathing.


September 7, 2011

[From May 14, 2009. I don’t remember this period at all. And I clearly see her “I” now.]

Every day there is a third-person narrative of my life going through my head. There’s nothing exceptional about the narrative except for how incredibly dull it is.

Today’s example, when mulling over my dread of an appointment next week: She spends all her time dreading the next time she sees X, but when in X’s company, there is a beautiful brilliant light in the sky.

Now and then I almost hear the silent first-person narrative of somebody nearby. I pay little attention to those whose first-person narratives are set to inelegant exclamation points. That is, there are elegant ones and there are vulgar ones.

Every day she yearns for a quick affirmation from those around her. Why else would she send out something in its raw state?

The business of a city: Hesitation

September 7, 2011

The woman stands in the middle of the street. So I push her into traffic.

The business of a city (6.1)

September 7, 2011

[From July 24, 2009.]

Walking around with the camera:

  • I buy an ice cream. Guy charges me three dollars instead of the usual two-fifty. I hand him two-fifty. He says, “Okay. For you, two-fifty.”
  • “You think I don’t notice?” she asks. I know she notices. I don’t care if she notices.
  • The nephew takes pictures of posters.
  • “That’s a fancy camera!” At least ten people have said this about my camera. I am surprised. I have been assuming that everybody I know owns one, and a better one, and that I’ve just been late to the game. Then there are those who have a long history with such cameras, and who are ten years younger than me. I understand my surroundings a little better knowing who’d owned what kind of camera, when, and why.

Dream tides (VI)

September 7, 2011

[From August 10, 2009.]

The skipper of the boat could be mistaken for a tourist, so broad was he, if not for his wide-brimmed white hat and the white uniform stretched over his lumbering form. His arms, though, hung at his sides and he had a slight skip in his step. He swung the wheel around again. Again and again we turned corners. After a while I kept my eyes open for every turn, no longer afraid that the side of the boat would hit a wall. At the entrance to the highway, the toll collector chided the skipper for measuring the space incorrectly: he was to use the heels of his hands to span the width, not his fingertips. The skipper demonstrated with his fingertips, because this was what he’d been taught, but rules must have changed recently, rules he’d paid no attention to. His driving was superb. He went forward, and the toll collector, a young man—a boy, really—called after us, “Be careful, son.” Then a pair of arms hovered over my eyes. My family had found me.

And then I woke up, late for work again.

Dream tides (V)

September 5, 2011

At two a.m., as I paused in the street to read a restaurant’s menu, a boy hopped onto the back of my bike and urged me to pedal him down the block. Even as I shouted at him to get off the bike, I was smiling, because all night—all week—I had been biking my way toward just this encounter.

Dream tides (IV)

September 5, 2011

In the middle of Ghosts, César Aira drops in a ten-page essay about urban planning. The essay sits within frivolous Patri’s dream. A dream essay inside a dream. Aira breaks all narrative rules; this is magic-making at its most frivolous, at once an entertainment and a lesson.

Dream tides (III)

September 5, 2011

A few days before, my friend had mentioned that she was writing in her notebook, and I’d remembered, with some curiosity, what it was like to keep one and then thought about what it is like now not to be keeping one. The flip-book dream, then, might be a comment on how I understand the chronicling of travel, be it emotional or physical. It had been a simple construct when I’d dreamed it, the flip book, and resonates more deeply now that I’ve given it context. This narrative-making hasn’t happened with a dream since last June when, during a Vicodin haze, I saw the ocean through a glass wall as in an aquarium, its myriad sea monsters lazily rolling about and causing giant, impenetrable waves, and I’d woken up terrified, with one sentence repeated in my head: “Let us never fall asleep so as to avoid contributing to the deaths and disasters caused by the undulating, unrelenting creatures in our dreams.”


September 5, 2011

My time in the West Village is drawing to a close, and soon I will move home. I have committed myself to this new home for a year. I am ready, finally.