18 June 2009

These warm days in Seattle, this waking of a city

These warm days in Seattle, they always roll in slowly by the morning hours in a heavy haze. There are always sounds of grounds maintenance. There are always sounds of car wheels gripping warm pavement, punctuated by an accelerating motorcycle. The hum of the waking city like the drone of a heater, readying the vast room for a peoples bright-eyed presence, directed undirected wandering and lax lounging on needled grass, studded with last night’s spirited dalliances in drink.

 Move the can and see who notices. See if they forget, those who moved it to begin with.

 Another dip into worded wells. Another magazine to “catch up” with. Another way to feel in the world without being of it. Though as I read one G.C.’s letter of welcome, I began to think about personality, about business, about lives on the stage and behind the scenes. Most of the articles attempting to make sense of the economic plight—in and out of the U.S.—explore this backstage world that so many people seem to think is unrelated or completely divided from the scripted, spotlighted performance. The choices we make behind the curtain are the foundation for the ensuing performance. They are critically connected, indistinguishable. If not at first, than during times of perceived eminent rise and downfall. Because she is like this, because he is like that—with friends, lover, mother, children, home, loisir, partner. 

Even where you choose to sit on a warm day, in the city. 

Which leads me to a genius of a man who made a genius of a film about this very subject: sitting.

He pulled me from my tired lethargy with nothing more than the honesty of his voice and the images of people sitting alone and together, standing at corners, moving to a beat viewers can’t hear. Image quality circa 1980 New York City, the year it was released and the place—with style and manner and social behavior to follow.


People sit where there are places to sit” –William H Whyte


As a sociologist, Whyte studied New York’s public plazas and so produced a book and a short film about his findings. I’ve tried in vain to find a screen shot of his aforequoted finding. Applied to public places, the sentence might seem obvious—one of those simple statements met with no more than a nod or a shrug. Yet the moment the white letters appeared upon the scratchy black pull-down screen of that heavy-aired classroom, staring so many pairs of eyes head on with a subdued and unchallenging force, I thought not of the physical space represented by benches, chairs, trees and stairs. I thought of people. Of the spaces we leave in our selves and in our lives for others to occupy; of the spaces between our ideas; of the spaces in which lovers, friends, family and strangers might feel on levels both conscious and subconscious; on the times we allow for our own chairs to be moved, for our trees to provide the sought after shade on a stifling day, or the longed for protection from a windy concrete passage.

People sit where there are places to sit. Someday, little by little, I’ll amass a cacophony of voices—silent and strong— at home in the space I have to offer, refined over years of the prevailing sociological study, that is, life.

another quote, ok

"All over the world Joyce fans will gather to celebrate the extraordinary tale of an ordinary day. There will be Bloomsday breakfasts, and Bloomsday love affairs, and Bloomsday arguments and, indeed, Bloomsday grandfathers hoisting their sons, and their sons of sons, onto the shoulders of never-ending stories." -here

How about Bloomsday + One? 

16 June 2009

but a preview.

"This is the function of books — we learn how to live even if we weren’t there. Fiction gives us access to a very real history. Stories are the best democracy we have. We are allowed to become the other we never dreamed we could be.” 
- Colum McCann 

Because today is Bloomsday
And because of Saturday--Bloomsday minus two--the day upon which  I graduated from college. 
Also, because I haven't had the time to refine my thoughts from said day, to record with hoped for eloquence the ensuing experiences taking me all the way through a late and lively and lucid dinner. 
Because this, the story, is the mechanism by which people will see. 
Because this is what I hope for, to create such moving thought experiments shrouded in the well placed word. 

09 June 2009

Likely Classroom, Future Classroom

My final class as an undergraduate has passed. It was a wonderful way to leave academia, for now at least. We spoke French and I drank fresh orange juice, tasted some brioche and reminisced about Grenoble, the mafia, Paris, Corsica, Nice... Seated in a different sort of classroom this time, one with brick walls and exposed metal beams, one where we were on display, participating in a sort of staged performance that characterizes most experiences where one is perched at a table before food and drink and the premise of conversation, we did indeed converse. Two girls whom I know only as acquaintances and a professor I know however well one is able after having traveled together and lived in a place foreign to body but not to mind. I’ve only known this city as a student, which shrouds all experiences with a sense both temporary and fleeting, which has inhibited me from planting roots, from establishing lasting tactile connections along with the many intellectual ones I’ve cultivated.

And now all that remains are some words on philosophy and the ethics of emerging technology which promises to blur the lines between human and machine, some ideas about communication rights and law as per the First Amendment and, finalement, the closing revision of my ideas, thought and printed in French, about the possibility of a second revolution. With the essays finished, the attempts attempted, will come the definitive ritual of receiving a piece of paper four years in the writing, yet virtually untouched and completely unseen by its architect. The intellectual compressed into the tactile, the reason for its accompanying ceremony forgotten save for its importance as a spectator sport.  

I think I’ll wear a bright dress found in India that looks like the sky. 

I wonder if I’m leaving some sort of paradise where the only obligation—if you can so call it—is to expand my mind, to learn. I answer to myself, decide upon my schedule, reside among friends in a close community, have access to food and drink and stroll through parks on most every whim.

There must be something even better post-graduation. I’m holding out hope. I know there is. You can feel it pulling at the skirt hem or coat tails with each projection of the mind into the future, with each moment the fact of life post-academia slowly and suddenly sits next to you.

Like going to live in Paris, doing nothing more for a means of survival than working for a flea market, or a bookseller, or a flower stand. Or, closer to home, finding a small but charming apartment in which to dwell, working to live and not living to work, just balancing on the head of a pin for a while. 

03 June 2009


I might want to rethink not participating is senior streak
Suddenly the idea seems oddly empowering 

01 June 2009

Let me steep. I want to steep.

After reading a certain article in Vanity Fair, one of my indispensable and surefire sites of inspiration and energy, I’ve a few thoughts. They flow from visions of my imminent college graduation and into another oft-imagined realm of life, the one where you throw all energy into personal endeavors of the sort that moves society: at large and in small underground movements, the ones where voices are repeated outside the boundaries of peer academia and ridiculed school papers. Yes, and on this cusp of shifting life pattern comes also the penetration of technology—a ripe theme in all my courses this final quarter. Technology that sterilizes and de-authenticates human grittiness and experience and ensuing inspiration.

“You didn’t just watch a double feature but steeped like a tea bag in the contemplative dungeon atmosphere,” writes James Wolcott about the physicality of cinema houses in 1970's New York.

I’m talking about the technology which takes the place and the “steeping” out of being in the world. Less cinema house and more dvd; less hole in the wall rental store and more netflix. This is as true for film as it is true for face-to-face sociality in general. For instead, people arein their extended lives--their computers, their internet personas, their narrow vision through which they hope to overcome isolation. The dialogue comes flowing from these virtual spaces only to connect in this non-place with other such hopeful beings. More on spaces soon.

In reading a small scrap about the New Yorker, I remembered a book I have gathering dust on the shelf at my childhood home {and always home} in Portland. It was given to me—along with two other books—upon my high school graduation. This is the sort of gift I laud, the sort of offering I hope to give throughout life—the gift of inspiration, what would take lifetimes to say and experience, verbally translated onto leafs of paper. The great woman who gave these to me has since passed, and now I wish more than ever to see and thank her, Carol Anne. She was my great-aunt, my grandmother’s sister, and a vapid vixen—a one-time great beauty with red lips and slender, shapely legs. She was also an intellectual, outspoken and opinionated, yet graceful. She made up her mind and stuck to her guns. Admirable. We need more women as such.

The only book I have yet to read from her thoughtful offering is a history of the New Yorker, and so this is the first book I will begin upon exiting academia. The first book to begin the rest of my personally designed curriculum, now tailored and fashioned in the way I think all higher—and indeed, lower—education should be. Travel, questions, meditation, inspiration, pain, joy... life, in short, conscious and mindful, challenging and met by a good meal with wine and sometimes friends, sometimes family, sometimes solitude, at the end of the day.

And then to write. For whom? For those who believe in me, for Carol who encouraged me with fellow inspirators and intellectuals, for my mother, for my grandfather who was so proud of me for being no one more than I am, and who I miss so dearly, for my grandmother who has a way with words but will never remember now, for my distant father, for my two cousins so I might guide and inspire them, for my friends so I might fill and arouse in my role. For myself. For future lovers. For humans. Writing for the very sake of writing, because it heals and opens, souls and wounds. 

And just to be. 

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