Ktismatics

14 May 2013

Tuesday Morning Walk

Filed under: Fiction, Reflections — ktismatics @ 11:37 am

17 MAY UPDATE — Yesterday afternoon I finished writing the first draft of the book.

*****

Almost as soon as I began walking I realized that yesterday I’d gone too fast. I’d been rushing into the Apocalypse, fourteen catastrophes strung end to end: global warming, a massive meteor strike event, zones of zero gravity, the Yankees winning their sixteenth consecutive World Series… There is nothing left to be done: that was the last bead on the string. But I was going too fast, trying to finish by Thursday, behind a bit now because last Friday’s task had extended through the weekend all the way till noon yesterday. Afterward I’d had lunch, dawdled awhile trying to clear my head, gone for a run along the trail, watching the prairie dogs watching me, weaving through the cattle to the creek and back again. Then I had tried to do a whole day’s work starting at three in the afternoon. I didn’t give myself time to sink into it, just hurtled into the Apocalypse like there was no tomorrow. Or actually, like tomorrow I had to do tomorrow’s work, not the rest of today’s, if I was going to finish the whole project by Thursday.

I woke up at two this morning, something that doesn’t happen very often any more. Maybe it was the heat, the first really warm night of the spring. Maybe the afternoon’s rushed Apocalypse was coming back at me, letting me know that I’d cheated it. In that day, the prophet would warn, craggy finger pointing toward the end. And who are you, O son of man, to give it a scant three hours, just because you had to drink your glass of beer, had to fry the porterhouse and the potatoes and make the salad, just because you were fully booked for each of the three post-Apocalyptic days?

What did I read when I got up at two? The chapter in the brain science book just didn’t register. A chapter of DeLillo: I felt like I’d been there too recently, or no: that I was there most of the day every day. In Pynchon the brigadier was subjecting himself to the dominatrix: that proved best for a hot mid-May four in the morning; I could go back to sleep after that. I wrote something too, between the brain science and the DeLillo. As an ordinary Joe I don’t harbor ambitions to become something other than human — not posthuman, or transhuman, or post-traumatic zombie, or non-conscious swarm drive, or schizophrenic rhizome, or theotic transcender. I think that ordinary language does describe real things in the world rather than separating humans from the Real. I don’t see any point in accelerating into sociopathy as the expression of a protean will to power. I don’t believe that bioengineering merged with AI will spawn a new hybrid post-human species. That’s what I wrote at three a.m.

At seven I woke up for real, the Tuesday before the Thursday. While drinking my first coffee and eating a donut I came across a video of a debate between Foucault and Chomsky. This must have been in the seventies: Chomsky looked like a prototypical seventies MIT prof, a slightly nerdy corporate engineer type, while Foucault, with his shaved head and stern disposition, appeared menacing and severe. This was no debate: the headliners were talking past each other, addressing the audience in different languages about different topics, barely grazing each other. I wondered, not for the first time, if Foucault’s and Deleuze’s and Lacan’s paranoia about being boxed in by language was an artifact of being French, having been taught to write French by French teachers in French schools. In her early American years our daughter had attended what might be deemed a Chomskyan school: express yourself creatively, and the rules of grammar and spelling will take care of themselves. In France we immersed her in structure: formal instruction in parts of speech and conjugations, recitation of poems par cœur, get creative once you’ve grown accustomed to the apparatus. Some of the American parents couldn’t stand it: they had to take their kids back home, or enroll them in American international schools. Happily for our daughter the French primaire proved to be good cross-training. Now she writes Paradise Lost fan fiction.

That’s one reason why I want to be finished by Thursday: we leave on Friday to pick her up from school for the summer. Last week my wife found a poem called “Iowa City to Boulder,” by William Matthews. With that poem Matthews marked off the route, 80 to 76, as a pilgrimage trail for his readers to follow. But of course Kerouac had already made that run years before. I take most of the drive by night, Matthews wrote: I wonder if it’s true, or if the poem is a kind of short story, a flash fiction they might call it these days, semi-constrained in the poetic structure. Maybe he drove it in the daytime but decided that night driving would be more poetic. It’s free verse as far as I can tell, no predefined rhyme or meter or line length to constrain the drive. A Chomskyan poem.

But now it’s eight o’clock Tuesday morning and I’m walking past the upper pasture, watching the bull as he begins his workday, paying his morning visits to the ladies, and I’m thinking post-Apocalyptically. If I go back in time can I stage it differently? The Book of Revelation is a kind of linguistic apocalypse, a description of something that’s beyond description, signifiers flying off the signifieds, the whole structure of the language being pulled apart in the cosmic upheaval. In his ecstasy John points his craggy finger beyond that day, past the end to the new heavens and new earth. He’s left his body, left the earth, surging beyond structural constraints, embarking upon a visitation to a Deleuzian linguistic afterlife, one among perhaps a multitude of afterlives, where language is free to do whatever on earth or in heaven it desires.

So I’m thinking about going back to yesterday and sketching out an alternative end of the world. a linguistic Apocalypse that does not point beyond itself to the linguistic Millennium. A report comes in from one of the time-traveling reconnaissance agents: there’s been a catastrophic and widespread rupture between signifiers and signifieds. Now – that is in the Apocalyptic future – whenever anyone tells you anything, you have no idea what the speaker intends to convey. You can no longer assume that what people are saying corresponds in any way to events in the world, or even in the imagination – events that they’re purporting to describe in language. Plus you, the listener – you too have lost the connections. You hear the words and you understand them, but you can’t find the correspondences anymore between the nouns and the things to which they point with their craggy fingers, between the verbs and the actions. And of course in that day the recon report too becomes suspect.

But now it’s Tuesday and I’m on the clock. Yesterday was the Apocalypse, and the Friday drive to Iowa is only three days off. No looking back; let today take care of itself. I can smell the barn and I’m heading straight for it, no more distractions.

I’ve made the turn, crossing the little bridge over the drainage ditch. The electrical control box beside the bridge has been encased inside a hollow plastic boulder: is it for aesthetic purposes, or to thwart terrorists using satellite surveillance to identify targets for knocking us off the grid? There’s water flowing in the ditch for a change: snowmelt, followed by two days of rain. The grass is green and dandelions are everywhere. In a month all of this would be brown and crisp if the terrorists blew up the electrical and the sprinkler system wouldn’t run.

Next to the fake boulder a block of glass about two feet square is embedded in the ground. I don’t remember seeing it before: probably it’s part of the electrical system. There seems to be a yellowish-orange light flickering down there below the glass. I can’t make it out though, because the glass is thick, uneven in consistency, and partially opaque. Maybe it’s just a reflection from the morning sun. Walking on, I greet the old Central European man who walks his Chow Chow along this path every morning around this time, a dog that, cliché be damned, does in fact bear a striking facial resemblance to the man holding the leash.

*****

Here’s the poem:

Iowa City to Boulder, by William Matthews

I take most of the drive by night.
It’s cool and in the dark my lapsed
inspection can’t be seen.
I sing and make myself promises.

By dawn on the high plains
I’m driving tired and cagey.
Red-winged blackbirds
on the mileposts, like candle flames,
flare their wings for balance
in the blasts of truck wakes.

The dust of not sleeping
drifts in my mouth, and five or six
miles slur by uncounted.
I say I hate long-distance

drives but I love them.
The flat light stains the foothills
pale and I speed up the canyon
to sleep until the little lull
the insects take at dusk before
they say their names all night in the loud field.

And here’s the Deleuze-Chomsky debate, trilingual with English subtitles, courtesy of dmfant in a comment on the most recent Noir Realism thread:

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17 Comments »

  1. This became the writing for yesterday — the antepenultimate chapter. I’m not going back to revise the prior day’s writing: having this chapter follow it lets me preserve the old version of the Apocalypse while summarizing an alternative — multiple potential endings to the world, and presumably to the book as well. The only essential piece to the chapter, the incident that had to be included, was the bit about my seeing the square block of glass in the ground, which is the only fictional bit as.

    When editing I might add passing observations of two other features of this walk that have been important in the writing of the series. First, the stenciled iconic woman has nearly eroded completely from her square of sidewalk — the icon hangs as a pendant around Jessa the barista’s neck in the first chapter in the first book in the series. On this walk also is the mountain girdled by the railroad track that became a pivotal sighting for Bud in the next book I wrote. So this particular morning walk, and the things I see along the way, proved pivotal in writing these books. In a sense the route is receding into mythic voyage for me, taking on an aura of pilgrimage.

    Comment by ktismatics — 15 May 2013 @ 8:48 am

  2. He asked the woman at the reception desk if she had a brochure he could take with him.

    ***

    And that’s it, the last sentence of the first draft, finished at 2:30 pm, topping out at 96K words. Time to go for a run.

    Comment by ktismatics — 16 May 2013 @ 2:38 pm

  3. That’s way last week, and so much must have transpired since then! Maybe that’s how you were able to ‘soldier on’, as I note in my sublime new post, because even if I ‘want another chance to disapprove’, as Stephen Sondheim said in ‘The Ladies Who Lunch’, I definitely want to be au courant in the most toney way possible:

    http://illegaldancesofnewyorkcity.blogspot.com/2013/05/nick-land-in-2013-like-sandra-dee-in.html

    Comment by Patrick — 21 May 2013 @ 7:22 pm

  4. I’ve been to Ioway and back again, and as you see I’ve been soldiering and mustering without much substantive response over on Noir’s blog. It was curious to see the neo-reactionary team swoop in like that — your outrageous new post captures well the small flurry of feathers that ensued.

    Comment by ktismatics — 21 May 2013 @ 10:14 pm

    • I saw your exchange with Nick this morning, what you mentioned to me about the ‘two classes’ of reactionaries. I wouldn’t have even known how to respond to this sentence: “What looks thuggish from one perspective, feels inarticulately pissed off from another.” I can’t quite comprehend it, but it reminds me of Donald Rumsfeld, who said, when asked if Iraq carnage was ‘worth it’, he says “of course it is, it’s according to where you’re sitting”. Rumsfeld was a special case even for the Bushies. That magnificent museum of Mesopotamian/Babylonian/Sumerian art treasures unparallelled in the world could only seem trivial when you compared it to human casualties. But that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t have been prevented. To which Rumsfeld just said ‘Stuff happens’. Very strange that ‘rock star’ period Rummy had.

      Comment by Patrick — 22 May 2013 @ 10:13 am

      • I don’t doubt that many of the reactionaries are pissed off. The rednecks are. I saw some great bumper stickers at a gas station in Nebraska, including one that said something like “open season on illegal immigrants, no limit.” The rednecks are pissed and take it out on the Mexicans. The post-WWI Germans were pissed too. But it seems that Nick acknowledges that the religious and genetic reactionaries look thuggish from his own perspective. If he’s trying to channel their anger in more appropriate ways he might want to engage in more active critique of the racist, sexist, and homophobic strains in the movement. Either that or else dissociate from them and accelerate into the metro-techno-posthuman future without them.

        Comment by ktismatics — 22 May 2013 @ 10:35 am

  5. “But it seems that Nick acknowledges that the religious and genetic reactionaries look thuggish from his own perspective. ”

    Maybe, but as long as he just reads about them, my experience going back to Hyperstition, is that he is just fine with all the brutality you can eat and more. If he calls Krugman a ‘thug’, he may not think all sorts of ‘Cathedral-incensate’ things are worth more than a wry smile. But, I agree, he sometimes wants to seem ‘non-violent’ (I noticed that Moldbug quote at Noir yesterday for the Formalists and their desire for ‘non-violence’, which doesn’t make a grain of sense to me, they certainly can live with it easily enough.)

    “If he’s trying to channel their anger in more appropriate ways he might want to engage in more active critique of the racist, sexist, and homophobic strains in the movement”.

    But that’s not what any of it’s based on to begin with, and if he did decide these things were going to be almost universally greeted as ‘inappropriate’, it would mean an extraordinary education project, i.e., educating and enforcing behaviour and thinking modes much too subtle for the ‘common type’ of redneck to understand. Hell, Michelle Bachmann is Oxford University, in all her stupidity, compared to the ones you saw in Nebraska.

    “Either that or else dissociate from them and accelerate into the metro-techno-posthuman future without them.”

    Of course that’s the alternative he’ll take. I wouldn’t hazard a guess as to what the form will take, but I have a hard time seeing him as a pro-active but neo-reactionary Nicholas Kristoff by doing hands-on education of Deep South and Midwestern rednecks. It’s interesting, though, most of the Chinese work is done by his wife, he talks almost exclusively to English and Americans, although that Japanese of Chinese going on about Turing the other day was truly so homophobic that even Nick had to demur (ever so slightly–because the hypothesis was so stupid, that maybe ‘gay identity’ causes cultures to produce less creativity in computer science; this was an unusual case, Mr. Ferguson doing shit-talk about Keynes’s ‘short-term economic view’ somehow being related to his gayness was not really hardcore homophobia, he was just being a little trashy, but this guy was really hitting hard about undergrads how ‘love Turing for his bad ideas’, and how it made his blood pressure rise.)

    We’ll see if they do any fundraising. At this point, it still seems like Ivory Tower with a weird intolerant twist. For one thing, if they want ‘to return to a way of life before FDR’s dictatorship’, it’s curious that they think only that technocrats are worthy workers and ofter anything to a culture. It’s fucking nauseating. I’m really glad he has that bleug, though, as every new day, a lightening comes from those old bad days. There’s no getting around that he’s a kind of hypnotic person like L. Ron Hubbard. That’s what is often considered to be ‘charisma’, and it is one form of it. But just one, god knows.

    Comment by Patrick — 23 May 2013 @ 11:20 am

  6. Like you, Brassier suggests in those texts that Land hasn’t changed gears, that he is continuing the trajectory of psychotic death drive evidenced in his earlier work. You point out also a kind of sociopath-drive component that’s persisted too. It would be consistent for him to cast off the laggards as inhibitors to faster acceleration: execute 3-time misdemeanor offenders, let those without houses or health insurance die in the streets, etc. The draconian economics are bad enough even if the racist and religious useful idiots are likewise jettisoned. I see that Noir has declared a unilateral truce, though as you observed he already seemed abruptly conciliatory once the neo-reacties descended on his rant. I’ll just keep soldiering on with my empirical evidence as it suits me, though I’m going to follow your advice and not immerse myself in Moldbug and company.

    Comment by ktismatics — 23 May 2013 @ 2:36 pm

  7. When I quoted the Brassier paragraph about strategy and tactics, and then called them ‘opportunists’, I actually was thinking about the reverse even more. They don’t have any strategy at all: “but it’s no longer the glamorous kind of impersonal and seductive force that you hoped to make a compact with, it’s a much more cynical kind of libertarian capitalism”, so they seem to be ‘using you’, otherwise you’ll be a part of the ‘progressive entropy’, they are in fact very easy to use, since they are not saying much of anything worthwhile. The startup is always someone a little tired of political correctness, but being tired of that is so old hat that it’s just fun to indulge in a little of it and then split. I don’t see that they have any strategy, it’s just a bunch of related right-wing blogs that pretend they’re ‘new’ by inventing a new term ‘neo-reactionary’. I saw one of them, this ‘Nick B. Steves’, going on about how it was an ‘investment’ to be part of the paying for the diabetes of someone obese, but no return. That says a lot. I am pretty well known as not having much taste for obesity, but as for thinking curing people ‘does not have a return’, then you can say (as EST and a lot of the New Age shit does) that any one of these bloggers, who just ‘dazzle us’ with their proliferation of so many new blogs that we can hardly resist. Of course, Paul Krugman has not even mentioned Mencius Moldbug as far as I know, although he did get a big kick out of the Bitcoin thing; he may have been referring to Moldbug when he was writing some of the ‘goldbug’ articles. They could even be that, they could be anything. They regurgitate what they have voluminously read on the net, and it sounds like they can half-do economics talk, or to me it sounds like it, because I don’t know how to do it myself. I can tell some of it is accurate, but that still doesn’t seem the point.

    The ‘trajectory’, of course, and it has to keep moving, and it goes into ‘Noir’, who I have nothing else to say to since I don’t know who he is, and wrote only once because that first post was good and had all that brilliant Brassier. Nick once even told me I didn’t understand that he was ‘almost sociopathically disconnected from his fellow beings’, I have no idea why he thought that would be appealing, except he doesn’t really mind if you know he’s ‘posthuman’ or wants to be, while still having extreme privilege of humans. I used to like what he’d do because at the time his best proteges weren’t all that picaresque and colorful, and he just seemed to be playing in a fairly sophisticated way. I didn’t think Robin ever got that much more interested (or I don’t know if he did), and I also don’t know that Brassier didn’t write some of the troll stuff. I don’t care that much, although I find none of the ones who did admirable for so doing. Brassier, on the other hand, really has come up with a refinement, I don’t know where else it is, but it’s so subtle and strong at the same time, that you don’t really see a lot left when someone just wants to play a bunch of internet games, and the old professor, now casting off literally all of his old contacts (even northanger decided she had to go do some knitting overdue from Xmas, and claimed that she frequented other blogs, and there was one that had the ‘best dictator’, etc.) comes across in an internet-only impersonation of the old macho heroes of 70s gay culture. He doesn’t need Brassier any more, and would never compliment his work as Brassier has his.

    But if the strategy is to go nowhere, where this Moldbuggian nonsense is definitely going to go, then why is that not entropy? And I still see why at first I didn’t even comprehend his response to you about the neo-reacties vs. the hick rednecks, he puts it into absurd language like ‘inarticulately pissed-off’, which is juxtaposed to ‘what seems thuggish’, because I was right: It doesn’t mean anything, not anything at all. The neo-reacties have to see it as ‘thuggish’ for there to be a strategy (he excluded that they are fine with this same thuggishness, in any case this would include furious blacks as well as white rednecks who are ‘inarticulately pissed off’), not you or me or Brassier, who can see it as thuggish and not be too worried if Medicare isn’t fucked up. I don’t believe he does believe it is thuggish, just floats from one group to another, and this is the first one he’s found where, even if there’s a ‘wedge’, as you call it, the shared interests are personal profit, i.e., at least at Hyperstition there were still people for awhile that had really known Nick, then there people like me and Northanger who had never known him but were useful till he ‘came out’ all the way (at least I knew this long before she did, she said ‘what he says in comments can’t be taken literally, when he now just proves that it always could) as this extreme right-winger (you’ll notice they used to use ‘the right’ all the time, now it’s so clubbish they seem to think ‘neoreactionary’ is going to be understood everywhere, and it’s not). He does have his wife doing ‘Accelerationist Tours’ of Shanghai, so I guess that’s the one from his past that stayed faithful. Otherwise, useful for publishing his collected essays, and all these people who come to his blog say they’re reading it. So he’s sort of a success.

    He used some sort of phrase ’empirically sensitive Austrianism’ shortly after his exchange with you. I think that’s in the same category as ‘lawyerly’ is for him. I don’t think he’s serious at all about most of this, except for that ‘fury’ that Brassier talked about. In this, as in many things, he’s like L. Ron Hubbard, and these sci-fi types who are outstanding often have this desire for life to BE sci-fi. Both of these, for example, use (or used) a kind of sensitive-boy charm to convince and get sympathy when needed. Nothing they will do would surprise me, and it was interesting that Noir quoted Nick’s response to you. Empirical is not what is wanted, but rather an agreement that something wishful is true enough to be to their benefit. All that stuff about the ‘impotence’ and ‘flaccidity’ that Brassier was saying in that seminar thing a few years ago is where this project will end up, because you can’t really say things like ‘the New York Times is a club’, which is a crock of shit, esp. when it’s these Moldbuggian blogs that are a club. And one that most people don’t know about and aren’t thinking about. I find it interesting when my actual friends here me talk about both this, and much more in the past, when I’d talk about the 9/11 truthers. They’d barely been exposed to it, but both the extreme left and extreme right present themselves as if they were very authoritative, even if they claim to be small. This arrogance can even make you stop reading the NYTimes for awhile, which is unwise, because the Times, even with its occasional total lapses (Judy Miller and others) is a big important paper that everybody depends on to find out what’s going on. If they don’t want to find out what’s going on, they watch
    Fox News or read the ultra-Marxist or ultra-right blogs.

    Comment by Patrick — 24 May 2013 @ 6:46 pm

    • Written hastily, and I hate to proofread myself (I’m going to break that habit), but the part about the ‘Nick B. Steves’ saying ‘there was no return’ says everything about this group, along the lines of just throwing out people without health insurance (I thought Chinese already did just throw people out of hospitals, so that even when there’s no insurance and you can get in a U.S. ER, they’ll still bill you–that’s true, but not quite the same as throwing you on the street.) Why would there be no return if someone was treated successfully for some ailment? Because they didn’t get a few cents back from the taxes? And this talk about old people who are ‘just fed and aren’t productive’ was also this Nick B. Steves, I believe. So that’s how they think. Now I imagine some of these really do want to get so rich that they can have some of those ‘monstrous paradises’ Mike Davis was talking about, like Ted Turner’s private bison herd, or whatever. Places where there are no alarm clocks (that’s never available to anyone all the time, but there are ways to have little use for alarm clocks while still ‘producing something’). Just speculating a bit here.

      Also, Brassier’s excellent statements about how philosophy can’t be something done as ‘internet orgies’, that wouldn’t be greeted with much happiness by le cher professeur, since that’s what the latter is totally involved in.

      But this L. Ron Hubbard kind of charismatic person is often irresistible to many people, but you have to have been more sci-fi yourself for it to really continue. That’s another reason the reply to you was so tiresome: ‘Class lenses can be cognitively confining’. Well, if they ‘shouldn’t’, then you shouldn’t use them, and in some bullshit double-talk, more or less claim that you are of the higher caste, since that’s the point of all class talk. But who doesn’t want it both ways? So watch out. He sees the people who are as smart as he is, and not so bloodthirsty. I’m smart, but slow. But you’re fast, and he picks that up, so that’s why a quick strike like that was necessary.

      But everybody learns when their ‘youthful charms’ of inaccessibility aren’t worth trying to maintain anymore. This form is better now, because the ‘specialness’ is not able to keep an aura around it anymore.

      It’s a way of living on the net.

      Comment by Patrick — 24 May 2013 @ 7:05 pm

      • I STILL didn’t get that ‘obese diabetes’ thing right, or not finish it. I was trying to say that this would equally be true of any ailing one of these persons who think they are purely paying by themselves for any condition they may get, so they have a right to treatment. But very quickly, their sickness may become more important to their membership in the club (and does become so), that the fact that they had insurance becomes a minor matter. They are just as sick as the obese diabetic that Medicaid paid for, or something for. Therefore, they are mistaken to talk as though their ‘privilege’ stays intact. Maybe that’s why Kurzweil and other technological long-lasting ‘lives’ have become the thing to wish for. But they do seem to think survival just in itself is meaningful, otherwise a lot more would slip out about actual living. The kind of thing they’re focussing on requires full-time attention, so you just decide that’s a ‘fun club’ or not. Maybe it’s a certain age group who really thinks if it’s let fully loose, it can mean those ‘monstrous paradises’, or maybe the connoisseurship of survival in itself is like ‘money in itself’, not things acquired by money. Maybe the ‘happiness that comes from wealth’ is just the money. Bill Clinton did admit just enjoying power on Charlie Rose once, after leaving office he said ‘The good thing about bein’ president is you gotta lotta power’. I guess he’s the one who would say it outright. I’ve bored myself writing about this, and I think it’s worth it to no one else, but I am sure it’s because I can’t find any of it interesting anymore, including the predictability of ‘Noir’.

        Comment by Patrick — 24 May 2013 @ 7:26 pm

  8. (Immediate previous comments were removed at my authorial request.)

    Comment by Patrick — 24 May 2013 @ 7:49 pm

  9. I did some more empirical soldiering on another blog, this one having to do with a psychiatrist explaining in a videoed talk why science is killing the profession. I get the sense that my intervention was deemed annoying by the blog host, so I’m going to step off from further commentary there. I find myself a bit aimless now that I’ve finished drafting the book. I wrote part of a blog post about a week ago but never finished it. I did finish reading Mao II, which rolled fairly strongly to its conclusion, highlighted for me by a dark-humor conversation between Bill the novelist and three veterinarians at a convention, who diagnose his fatal injury thinking that they’re helping him lend realism to a novel he’s writing about someone with such an injury. Then in the last scene DeLillo shows awareness of an impulse we’re seeing in the neos. The photographer is taking shots of a terrorist in Beirut, whose translator says this: “The force of nature runs through Beirut. The atrocity is visible in every street. It is out in the open, he is saying, and it must be allowed to complete itself. It cannot be opposed, so it must be accelerated.” At least this terrorist still acknowledges it as atrocity. Although no, because he’s embracing the atrocity, like Zizek’s imagined subject embracing the trauma.

    Comment by ktismatics — 24 May 2013 @ 9:38 pm

  10. Thanks for erasing those rambling comments. They did help me discover the total vacuousness of these recent developments within some of it, which I no longer find entertaining even, esp. in light of the fact that I somehow feel I must read this painful book on Scientology. So I’ll stop reading those blogs for awhile, then check in on them in a few weeks, maybe Lawrence Wright is a real hero of a journalist, and by now I’m at least almost through the Hubbard bio, which I should have known would last well over a hundred pages. He was drunk and under the influence of many drugs while writing up ‘healing science’ for people who were ‘violent’ or ‘cowardly’ or did various ‘insane things’. He also said that Scientology would make the world sane, but that it could be made sane only by the insane. His second wife barely escaped with their child he’d kidnapped and taken to Cuba (with Richard DeMille, Cecil B.’s son, of all things, a psychologist who ‘converted’ to Scientology early on), and got on a plane running. It’s one thing like that after another.

    I’m glad you went ahead and finished with ‘Mao II’, and I noticed that I had forgotten most of it when you started reporting it. This is the kind of thing that happens to me with some books, including some I like. There may be a ‘thinness’ to them that makes me remember only fragments and images. I don’t find this true of all of DeLillo’s fiction, but I have found it true of all of Didion’s fiction, which doesn’t stick the way her non-fiction does. I have to re-read it to remember it. Probably true that I forget lots of pieces of other authors (I saw that I had forgotten some of ‘Absalom, Absalom!’ but could be easily revived on that and had not forgotten it the way I did ‘Mao II’. I may re-read it, but may not. Strangely, ‘Point Omega’ is much more memorable.

    The accelerationists never talk about it as though it might be a subdominant phenomenon, which can even make it useful. I guess they think that is not even accelerationism to them. But if it can’t ‘be opposed’, then of course it can either just continue or be accelerated, either one. But some of these atrocities can be opposed or accelerated. Just to take an isolated example, Sandy Hook would seem to be a kind of accelerationism that ‘couldn’t be stopped’ by the killer himself once he got started (same as Breivik in Norway), because you’d already condemned yourself for one thing even if it was just one. But others in the situation did opposing, saving many other lives, adults as well as children. People survived concentration camps, etc. I’m not reading any more accelerationist blogs, which won’t stop them, but it will definitely curb some of my annoyance. Naturally, their tendency was to even want to see those not very important Washington scandals accelerate, but they just don’t have it in them to do it. Accelerationism doesn’t seem to exist as a ‘philosophy’ without total destruction. There’s a creeping sense that the whole point of it is to alleviate boredom, as though there really is nothing else satisfying. Therefore, why should alcoholics or drug addicts try to stop? Isn’t it inevitable that that’s their ‘first love’, as Noel used to say, specifically about alcoholics? No, it isn’t, but I can see why some people would be attracted to it, and there are enough too-naive types around not to find easy recruits. Scientology actually works on a kind of accelerationist technique, although none of them are obvious intellectuals, so they don’t admit to the ‘collapses’, and maybe they don’t even collapse always, because they cover it up. I’m sure accelerationists do cover-ups too, but then the ‘bad things’ are happening to somebody else. And Wall Street bailouts even they have had to admit kept things somehow afloat. Krugman’s new column about Japan’s new successes is very good. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/24/opinion/krugman-japan-the-model.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=0

    The literal desire for carnage, apocalypse, collapse seems very alien to me. You obviously have to be able to see it as a personal gratification.

    Comment by Patrick — 25 May 2013 @ 9:38 am

  11. Today I finished the first edit of the book. Net, the changes added about 7,500 words. Stephen King consciously attempts to cut out about about 10% of his first draft after the first edit; my first pass typically lengthens by about 10%. But I get a sense from King that his book is already in pretty good shape at first draft; mine too. Evidently this isn’t everyone’s experience; some writers regard their first drafts as shit, requiring edit after revision after rewrite to whip it into shape. Another thing that S. King and I have in common is that we both tend to write the first draft in about 3 months. He says he writes 2,000 words a day, including weekends, so his first drafts come in at around 180K words. I’m a lot slower, so my texts are a lot shorter.

    Comment by ktismatics — 12 July 2013 @ 2:28 pm

  12. Finally last Friday I started the second edit on the most recent long fiction, working title Cavalcade. About a quarter of the way through, I’m in awe of myself. What a great fucking book. Have I ever mentioned that I’m a pretty cheerful drunk, unless somebody pisses me off?

    Comment by ktismatics — 3 October 2013 @ 7:27 pm

  13. Yesterday afternoon I finished the second edit, nearly six months after completing the first draft. As expected, it’s been hard to sink down into the book for extended stretches since we’ve moved out here near my father, who no longer knows who I am. Maybe now something else can open up.

    Comment by ktismatics — 2 November 2013 @ 7:54 am


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