"I've detected, at least in
my imagination, the voice of a modern-day, virtual Stein providing a
basic melody in the clamor of online journalism."
or various reasons, mostly a narcissistic desire to read about myself in the third person, I found myself reading the Journal of JEL, by Eric Lawson, the oft-mentioned Orson in recent journals written by Javina. (Hey guys: why even bother with pseudonyms after I write something like that?) In amongst the many convoluted phrases is a reference to me (which I have coloured red):
I've detected, at least in
my imagination, the voice of a modern-day, virtual Stein providing a
basic melody in the clamor of online journalism. One journalist, who is
what might be called a "naive" talent, suddenly recognizes the value of
detail, while remaining, apparently, ignorant of the corresponding value
of nuance; another, similarly naive and talented, suddenly acknowledges
the desirability of transcending the times, while remaining clueless as to
what is entailed by doing so. My too-fertile imagination produces,
behind these most probably randomly influenced voices, a strong clear
mind, suggesting what can't be avoided to them, telling them their
weaknesses by detailing their strengths.
I've studied this paragraph for far longer than I'd be willing to admit trying to determine to what extent I am being insulted versus how much I'm being praised. And I'm no further along than I was before I started. There is so little concrete here to hook on to, to ground the ambiguous logic, that it becomes essentially meaningless. My effort was time wasted. Here is a list of what sense I can make of this paragraph, with my comments in bold face:
I'm arrogant, and I believe I have a powerful imagination, but I would never have the stomach to say such a thing in my journal.
- The overall tone of this paragraph (and the journal as a whole) is simultaneously patronizing and arrogant. This is what you get when you label others "naive talent" while labeling yourself "too [insert positive attribute here]" (more on that in a bit). Such an attitude alienates readers, or else it entertains them in a way that is not complimentary to your reputation.
- The essentially non-sequitur reference to [Gertrude] Stein comes on the heels of an unrelated reference to Alice B. Toklas, Stein's lesbian lover. It's entirely up to the reader to be aware that the Stein being referred to is Gertrude. I would have never done this; I feel it is appallingly arrogant to make such assumptions about what specific knowledge the reader brings to the text. To deliberately elude those unfamiliar with the life and writings of Gertrude Stein is silly. When all else fails in the clarity of your own writing, resort to hypertext. Beyond that, we are never told what specifically about the clamor of online journals is reminiscent of Stein. I'd like to know.
- We are never told what exactly is entailed by transcending the times. Oh master, show me the way to enlightenment.
- Eric considers his imagination "too fertile." I'm arrogant, and I believe I have a powerful imagination, but I would never have the stomach to say such a thing in my journal.
- I bottom out on the rest of the last sentence. It's utterly meaningless. Perhaps it would make a good Guided by Voices lyric.
I'm not saying there's anything necessarily wrong with Eric or his writing, only that I need more from it than he gives me. If his intent is poetry, he might actually be doing a good job, although I'm not too sure. I think I'm a reasonably intelligent person (if not "too intelligent"), and yet I feel completely cut off from this stuff. In my humble opinion, if you have something to say, the best way to get the word out is to formulate your opinions in as clear a fashion as possible.
I also forwarded the email to a "firstname.lastname@example.org" but it turns out that there isn't even any domain named ins.gov. It's a pity
Alan of Heinovision had a similar reaction to Eric's writing.
I get the feeling that, in person, Eric is a bombastic, ludicrous personality, impossible to talk to and less possible to live with. Perhaps this isn't the case. Javina has stuck with him for quite some time, and she seems like the kind who would clash with such a person.
uring the night I received a threatening email from a email@example.com. It had originated from one of the UVA computer labs, directly after the person from the same IP address had been reading my latest musings. This had to be Rory, probably in a drunken state. I take such matters seriously, though, so I posted the email on a new musings front page, complete with a sensational headline "Alien Threatens Musings" and a ridiculous picture of what Rory-Leah intimacy might look like on an alien world.
I also forwarded the email to a "firstname.lastname@example.org" but it turns out that there isn't even any domain named ins.gov. It's a pity.
Later in the day, Rory actually showed up on my porch to talk about this situation and to attempt to deny that he'd written the email. He said the email address wasn't even his. But if you do a search in Altavista for "robotrabbit," the only hits you get are to seven of Rory's pages. Apparently my reference to the Immigration and Naturalization Service had him scared. I told him he was in a weak position in this country and that he was in no position to be making threats. He wanted to talk more, but I didn't. Any reduction in the extent to which Rory is my enemy only increases the extent of the damage he can inflict upon me. That's a lesson he's taught me time and time again. And unlike most people, I actually learn from the mistakes of others.
Any reduction in the extent to which Rory is my enemy only increases the extent of the damage he can inflict upon me.
Deya paid me rent money and I cashed a paycheck, and that gave me almost enough to cover this month's rent. I went in my Dodge Dart to get groceries, go to the bank and pay the rent. As of today, my inspection sticker is expired, so I was driving back ways to avoid police. They have watchful eyes on the first day of a month.
atthew Hart came by and managed to scrape together enough money to pay rent. It was a big-ass wad of twenties. He told me that the New Orleans trip had cost him and Angela $1400 between them. I have no idea where all that money could have possibly been spent; they weren't in Atlantic City, you know. But tearing up hotel rooms is not the best way to keep travel expenses down.
Later on, Matthew came back with Angela's 13 year old little brother. They hung out with me in my room, and I showed them the little tricks that my computer can do, as well as things like my now-classic Theresa animation. I must come across as an odd character to a 13 year old. I live in a room piled high with mostly marginal (but visually impressive) computer junk, and I can make computers do amazing things with the tap of a few keys and the click of a mouse. The kid asked if I was into computers when I was his age. "When I was your age, they didn't have computers," I explained. He was very surprised to learn I was almost 30 years old. "You don't look it," he said reassuringly. Thirteen year olds have good social skills.
The little brother asked if I was into computers when I was his age. "When I was your age, they didn't have computers," I explained.
n the news this evening is the tragic tale of some pissed-off high school kid gunning down a group of classmates as they gathered in group prayer at his public school in Kentucky. What do I have to say about this? Well, I grew up in a disturbingly religious rural backwater. Despite the Supreme Court, there was organized prayer in my public school. I hated it passionately, since it had the effect of emphasizing my difference from the others. And having your differences emphasized is not a good way to begin the process of socializing in a new school environment. I never considered shooting any of my holier-than-thou classmates, several of whom tried for a time to "show me the way." Indeed, I became friends with most of them. Religious people, even lunatic fundamentalists, are not especially obnoxious on a personal level. The only people I have ever wanted to shoot have been obnoxious bullies and tough guys.
There are, however, some extremely obnoxious institutions that have the characteristics of a bully. It doesn't sound to me like the private prayer group was such an institution. I'd probably make a few jokes about kids who feel the need to pray just to get through the day, and that would be the end of it. But how about the bullying institutions, such as high school football and its adjuncts, homecoming and compulsory pep rallies? What kind of pep can you have when you're forced to go? My high school had compulsory pep rallies, and I always chose instead to sit in the office. The pep rallies, you see, always reminded me of Hitler propaganda films and other dumbheaded fascist things. If I'd had the inclination to commit mass murder (as the troubled lad in the Kentucky High School apparently had), I would have marched into one of those pep rallies with guns ablazing.
The pep rallies, you see, always reminded me of Hitler propaganda films and other dumbheaded fascist things.
That's another reason I love Nirvana so much. Their video for "Smells Like Teen Spirit" perfectly deconstructed the horrible pep rally institution.
I'm not surprised, by the way, to discover that the young Kentucky gunman was a good student. Naturally, authorities want to try him as an adult and go for the death penalty, without bothering to know the pain that drove him this far.
Read some good stuff from Jon Katz about those disgusting septuplets and the appalling job the media did covering their birth.
On that note, an aphorism: think before you cheer.