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Sunday, November 29, 2015
Friday, November 27, 2015
Wednesday, November 25, 2015
Friday, November 20, 2015
Thursday, November 19, 2015
For some reason this morning I have been thinking about that time General David Petraeus got caught having an affair with his biographer and how that is one of the most narcissistic things I have ever heard of.
And that has gotten me wondering what that pillow talk was like, in the middle of a war zone, conceivably in a big field tent, with that desert wind howling on through the night outside. And that is when I realized that there are no good asymetrical warfare sexual innuendos! How can that be?! Our misadventures in Iraq and Afghanistan provided us with a plethora of fantastic new jargon (Green Zone, IED, Oh-dark-30, red-on-red) but try as I might (and I have been trying mightily), none of it is funny! I mean, “cockpit” and “foxhole” are barely even innuendo, but how do you find the humor in the term “non-sectarian violence”? I guess “the Surge” has some potential, as does “the Sunni Awakening”, but I think using that last one as some kind of sexual innuendo might be racist (???), most certainly it would be culturally insensitive, so maybe let’s nix that one, I guess.
“Bunker Buster” is funny, but that term has been around since the at least the 1990s. Probably there is some crude potential in “KC-10” (the McDonnell Douglas KC-10 aerial refuelling plane that has a long phallic refuelling “flying boom” sticking out its back end) but that is (figuratively) a bit of a stretch.
“GWOT” (Global War on Terrorism) is fun to say (try it right now! “G-WOT”!), and although it sounds a lot like “g-spot”, I can’t conceive of any situation in which “GWOT” would be an appropriate thing to say. And not for nothing, can I just say that it is the collective opinion of the editors here at Standardkink that we should all take g-spots very seriously and not be flippant at all on the topic.
“Axis of Evil” seems like it should be funny, right? But what would be its practical application? Maybe some sort of very specific group-sex activity? As in, “I was in an Axis of Evil last weekend”, but I just don’t think that is going to catch on.
Do you see what I am saying here? None of this is funny. That is very depressing to me because I so deeply love the potential of language. I guess it is true what they say, there is nothing funny about war.
As part of a failed November Nanowrimo project, I have been writing this weird series of kind of ekphrastic vignettes about pictures a person (who lives my fantasy life) might have in their phone. The post below is what that person might recall about Mark Rothko. Sort of. This is very first-drafty, cut me some slack.
This is a picture of Mark Rothko’s “Light Red Over Black” from 1957.
A red canvas and a light red rectangular smear hovering above a squarish black smudge floating over a more shadowy black brick.
This is one of my favorite things.
What can not be visually or abstractly or virtually understood - what thus far defies the digital reinterpretation of our physical reality - is the experience of being in the presence of a Rothko.
His canvases are huge.
18 feet tall, I think. 11 feet wide.
Each one painted on canvas made from the bleached hide of the last living specimen of an all but extinct species. A singular animal hunted across nocturne steppes in the dead of winter, stalked, killed, skinned just to this end. The blood still pumping warm through the heart, collected for pigments.
In every museum in front of every Rothko there is a bench because to be in the looming presence of a Rothko is to be cowered and the bench allows one the option to sit rather than kneel.
At the Tate Modern in London there is an entire room of them.
Ordinarily this is not permitted. Just as suspects are separated by police before questioning; just as the most irrepressible of prisoners are kept in a solitary confinement; just as the most powerful versions of gods are segregated into separate monotheisms; just as competing densities of gravity are stored on entirely separate planets; so too are Rothkos usually kept far apart.
It is for this reason that he never delivered on his 1958 contract to produce an entire series of his dark totems to the Four Seasons Restaurant in the Seagram Building in Midtown Manhattan.
He painted them, but then distributed them far and wide, to the Kawamura Memorial Museum in Sakura Japan, to the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in the nation-state of LA, to the underground Houston Texas bunker of the Rothko Chapel, and to the Tate Modern in London.
The thing which is most important for a witch doctor to know, is how much black magic is too much.
But the Tate Modern, in its enthusiasm to collect as many of the monoliths as possible, installed an active noise control system in its Rothko Room, using anti-noise wavelengths licensed from the city of Taos New Mexico to cancel the ultra low-frequency hum emitted by the paintings, which had been correlatively linked to mass hysteria and also - conversely - to a debilitatingly deep, unremitting existential solemnity.
The room is quite large, or perhaps not. In a Danielewskian happenstance, no two people have ever measured the dimensions of the room similarly. Most agree that the room is vaguely rectangular in shape. That it has a slatted wood floor of burnished yellow pine cut from trees so young that the cutting itself was considered very nearly obscene. Most agree that the room is dim, held in perpetual shadow, an unending dusk, but for the slim dry glow around the paintings themselves, which are not artificially illuminated.
Most agree that despite the fact the ceilings appear rather low, they must actually be quite high, as all Rothkos are 27 feet tall, 13 feet across, and 2 feet thick.
The room is what a Bronte would describe as glum.
Given the sound canceling capabilities of the room, it is completely silent. Should two patrons find themselves in the room at the same time - which has never happened - they would hear nothing, least of all the accelerated beating of their own hearts, as the vibrations up through their bones would instantly be countermanded by the negative silence of the motion activated sound transceivers embedded in the ceilings, the floors, the walls.
This is the room I will go to when I die.
I have no spiritual reason to believe this, but I believe that when we die we go - alone - to a quiet and lonely and empty and eerily beautiful place.
For someone else I imagine this may be a golden midwest field of grain bending preternaturally in the not-quite-silent but unhearable breeze. For someone, I imagine, this might be an oak panelled room decorated with the stuffed heads of dead animal's; antlers and those obsidian black plastic eyes taxidermists use because light glints off of them in just the right ways. For someone, I imagine, it will be the observation deck of the Empire State Building looking down into a completely motionless Manhattan. This is what all of those shots of sun-dappled blades of grass are about in The Thin Red Line.
This is the room I will go to when I die.
Wednesday, November 18, 2015
Sunday, November 15, 2015
I’m not suggesting that you actually read this article by Neil Shea, as it is like 5,000 words too long, but it does contain this paragraph, which I quite like:
I came to understand the Instagram experience, with its constant flow of images and text boxes, presented an alternative story geometry that demanded from me new things. Shorter stories, sure, but also the app asks for a deeper consideration of photographs and the rich, nuanced ways that words and pictures work together. Over time I realized that beneath the selfie surface, Instagram provided a powerful, unexpected, and mostly underutilized storytelling tool.
The Andy Warholian concept of ‘ironic celebrity’ is ultimately a flawed one because it treats celebrity itself as if it is something which contains nuanced gradations, which it does not; it subsumes them. The ironic celebrity, accurately described, will always actually be: Celebrity, ironic.
That’s the only reason you’ve ever heard of a conceptual artist from Pittsburgh who was born 87 years ago. Not because he was profound, but because he was famous. And even if he did actually believe his life to be an elaborate piece of performance art, he still cashed the checks. Doing it with a sneer or a smirk doesn’t change the fact. Keep in mind that when he died he was working on a commission for Mercedes-Benz, which now sits in their corporate art collection.
I’m not sneering at Andy, but sometimes I have trouble thinking about him without rolling my eyes.
Friday, November 13, 2015
Thursday, November 12, 2015
I have a few minutes right now and I was thinking about all of the minutes I don’t have to do things like write to you and so I thought that it would be fitting to tell you about all of the things I have not been working on lately, because of how few minutes I have.
But first: a caveat.
As much as I like to bitch and moan, life is not particularly hard right now, just busy.
Okay, now that that is out of the way, here is what I have not been working on:
- A 50,000 word Nanowrimo novel. I managed to get about 8,000 words in before I ran out of time. I have yet to run out of ideas or desire. At this point in the month I should be up to 20,0004. I am not. And I’m feeling pretty bad about that. But I will be done with the semester in about 4 weeks, so maybe then …
- Editing the collection of poetry I wrote over the summer. You got to read many of the first drafts RIGHT HERE on this very blog (sorry about that BTW) and I was midway through revising them when my semester started and I ran out of minutes. Right now it is 107 pages of poetry and almost none of it is any good, but I am hoping to get back to it and finish it soon. If you have never attempted to write a collection of poetry, you totally should! Nothing makes you feel like you have no idea what the fuck you are doing quite like it. I want very much to return to it because despite the fact it is a deeply flawed 107 pages, I think it really has a voice and an ethos to it that articulates my feelings about poetry; basically that we should all aspire to be one part Bukowski and one part a non-reptilian form of human being. But I will be done with the semester in about 4 weeks, so maybe then …
- A chapbook of poetry that I started writing about a year ago. It is poetry about economics and capitalism in particular. As you might imagine about poetry in dialogue with macroeconomics, it is a real hootenanny of a thing. It is about 30 pages and when it is done I will be able to submit it out to contests and such, but I need to get it down to its fighting weight first and I just have not had the minutes. But I will be done with the semester in about 4 weeks, so maybe then …
- Letters! So many letters. I am trying not to make a big deal about it (in advance of having my heart broken), but I am in the process of the applying to MFA creative writing programs and that requires writing a ton of letters (1 or 2 for each school). These are “personal statements” or “personal histories” or “letters of intent” or “artist statements” and each one is a little different. I have about 7 more to write. I will be working on these this weekend, so stay tuned for updates about that. This application process has been about a year in the making for me but I still feel like I should have spent more time thinking about it more deeply, however I just don’t have the minutes. But I will be done with the semester in about 4 weeks, so maybe then …
- A photo book. This is a totally stupid idea that I have, but hear me out! The combination of an iphone 6 camera and Instagram has convinced me that I am fantastic at taking pictures of stuff and so I want to put together a print-on-demand book of photos using the website Blurb and which can be sold on Amazon. This will also be a way for me to experiment with this kind of self-publishing. I really need to sit down and gather up all of the photos I have and to start sorting through them. So far I have not had enough minutes to do this. But I will be done with the semester in about 4 weeks, so maybe then …
- A screenplay. For something like 6 or 7 years I have been tinkering with a screenplay about Jesus (but funny) and I really feel like what I need to do is just lock myself in a room for 3 weeks and just write the damn thing. Unfortunately I have not had 3 free weeks. But I will be done with the semester in about 4 weeks, so maybe then …
- A collection of stories. For reasons too byzantine to go into here, the Master’s program I am in does not allow Master's candidates to write a Master's thesis (it’s dumb). However next semester I will be taking a “culminating experience” class that will require I produce a “mini-thesis”, however it is my intent to produce a “full-blown motherfucking Master’s thesis” and just call it a “mini-thesis”. I am going to use it as an excuse to create the kind of super weird collection that I have always wanted to and which everyone has always told me not to. The kind of collection where a 30-page story about D. B. Cooper is sandwiched in between a 126 word fragment about Fyodor Dostoyevsky meeting Ted Kaczynski and a story told entirely in postcards (all of those are things I have already written, BTW). So far I have only been able to think about it in the form of scribbles in the margins of my notebook. But I will be done with the semester in about 4 weeks, so maybe then …
- My perfectly small and beautiful novel. This is the book I have been wanting to write my whole life. Small. Sweet. Smart. Shocking. Funny. Odd. Somehow I have never figured out how to turn those ingredients into a recipe. But I will be done with the semester in about 4 weeks, so maybe then …
Wednesday, November 11, 2015
As part of a (somewhat conceptual) project I’m working on for one of my classes, I am right now compiling all of my various rejection letters from various journals and publications. Below are the most recent ones, all from this year.
I have actually had a lot of success publishing in little journals and magazines and websites, but despite that I am still feeling my spirit dip as I sit here reading over these. I just want to sobbingly raise my hands up to the sky and scream, “WHHHYYYYYY??? WHY TIN HOUSE? WHY?”
Whatever. They will publish me eventually. They all will. [Insert maniacal laugh which trails off awkwardly, leaving me sitting here in my apartment alone but for my cat, who doesn’t care either way.]
Dear James Bezerra,
Thank you for submitting your work to Fugue. We appreciate the opportunity to review new material and have given your submission careful consideration. Unfortunately, we must pass. We wish you the best of luck placing this story elsewhere, and hope that you will try us again in the future.
Thank you for sending us "About Her. About Me.." Thank you, also, for your patience in waiting to hear back from us. Unfortunately, we must pass at this time.
Best of luck placing your work elsewhere.
Tin House Editors
Dear James Bezerra:
You are receiving this detailed note because your story was a finalist for publication. While we will not be publishing this story, I want you to know that I greatly enjoyed the prose style of this piece, and found that it suited the narrative perfectly. However, ultimately, I did not feel this was a story of myth or legend. Please read my Editor’s Note, http://ficklemuses.com/2015/07/21/fiction-submissions/, and continue to submit works to Fickle Muses.
Fiction Editor, Fickle Muses
Dear James Bezerra:
We've closely read your submission, and we're writing to say that unfortunately it didn't work for us, so we'll have to say no. We get a lot of submissions and can only use a fraction of them, so please understand that this No most likely means "Not Quite the Right Fit," not "No Good."
Thanks for thinking of DIAGRAM as a possible home for your work.
Thank you for your submission to Two Hawks Quarterly. We enjoyed the opportunity to read your work, but unfortunately we will not be able to use it in our forthcoming issue.
Thank you for considering us, and we welcome the opportunity to see more of your work.
Editor, Two Hawks Quarterly
Dear James Bezerra,
Thank you for submitting your work "Hamlet and the Pirates." We regret that we are unable to publish it.
Your work has received careful consideration. Unfortunately, the large number of submissions prevents us from commenting on many worthy manuscripts.
We very much appreciate your interest in The Kenyon Review.
Thank you for submitting your work to Crack the Spine. While we very much enjoyed reviewing your work, we are unable to accept it for publication at this time. We wish you the best of luck in placing this piece elsewhere. Please continue to send us your submissions, as we hope to make a stronger connection with your work in the future.
Crack the Spine
Dear James Bezerra:
Thank you for sending us "When Meeting an Interesting Woman". We appreciate the chance to read your work. Unfortunately, it does not suit our upcoming issue. Best of luck in placing this writing elsewhere.
the Gigantic Sequins editors
Thank you for sending your fiction to us. Although we appreciate the chance to read your piece, we are going to pass.
Thank you again for your patience during our editorial process. Best of luck in placing this work.
Danny Goodman & Laura Brown
fwriction : review
Dear James Bezerra:
Thank you for your submission of Subgame Perfect Equilibrium to Ploughshares. Although we will not be publishing your work at this time and are sorry to disappoint you, please be assured that your submission was read carefully by editors and trained screeners. Our reasons for not accepting particular submissions are varied and often have more to do with the shape of our recent acquisitions and upcoming issues than with the quality of writing we receive. Thank you again for the opportunity to consider your work, and we regret any delay in our response to you. We hope you'll continue to read and submit to Ploughshares.
The Editors of Ploughshares
Dear James Bezerra,
Thank you for your interest in Extract(s). We have been pleasantly overwhelmed by the response to our call for submissions. We thank you for the opportunity to review "Improvements in Telegraphy," but we regret we must pass on it at this time. We hope you will continue to read our daily posts.
Thank you again, and best of luck in your writing endeavors.
Jenn & Chris
Thank you for sending us "12 Needles." We enjoyed reading it, yet feel it is an unfinished piece. There seems to be much more to explore and reveal to readers. Namely, what is the reason for the induced memory loss? What trauma had the narrator suffered that would prompt him to such a disturbing procedure? Furthermore, Sheeler and the Giant are ostensibly villainous/malicious forces, yet their characterization and purpose are not sufficiently fleshed out. Overall, your story has enormous potential; consider the deliberate "holes" you want to preserve for suspense, plot, and theme versus impediments to readers' understanding.
We hope you'll resend it if you do decide to rewrite this piece. As it stands, we are unable to accept it for our next issue. You're also welcome to send other work as we were impressed by your writing.
Saturday, November 7, 2015
Friday, November 6, 2015
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Thursday, November 5, 2015
Wednesday, November 4, 2015
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