“The Man has a branch office in each of our brains, his corporate emblem is a white albatross, each local rep has a cover known as the Ego, and their mission in this world is Bad Shit.”
― Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow
“The nights are filled with explosion and motor transport, and wind that brings them up over the downs a last smack of the sea. Day begins with a hot cup and a cigarette over a little table with a weak leg that Roger has repaired, provisionally, with brown twine. There’s never much talk but touches and looks, smiles together, curses for parting. It is marginal, hungry, chilly – most times they’re too paranoid to risk a fire – but it’s something they want to keep, so much that to keep it they will take on more than propaganda has ever asked them for. They are in love. Fuck the war.”
― Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow
All I know is that to me
You look like you’re having fun
Open up your lovin’ arms
Watch out here I come
You spin me right round, baby
Right round like a record, baby
Right round round round
—-Dead or Alive, You Spin Me Round
Oblique Strategy: What wouldn’t you do?
I remember getting sick at a carnival. The rides can’t be designed to do anything but make you sick, really. The fear doesn’t come, like it does in a huge roller coaster at a big theme park, from the stretching of the bounds of physics. The fear comes from the rickety old equipment, dripping grease, and the dirty meth addict running the ride. You assume he put the thing together, did the safety checks.
The smell of a small carnival – popcorn, rancid grease, and ozone. The sound of the rides, the screaming of kids, the pops of the rifles shooting at paper targets.
It is all a relic of a bygone age. A carnival – I think it’s a predecessor to the video game, without the score. The lights, the sounds, the movement… everything just slightly surreal. I’m surprised that there are any left.
I think I need to try and track one down.
“Every generation laughs at the old fashions, but follows religiously the new.”
—- Henry David Thoreau, Walden
Oblique Strategy: Remove specifics and convert to ambiguities
A young millennial couple – they live in Uptown, of course. Took an Uber to where I was ( I rode the train and then walked… should have brought my bike).
They seem nice enough.
When I was their age, we were into patched jeans. You would buy a pair of jeans and then sandpaper them until they had the proper holes. The patches were cut from old pairs of jeans and had to be hand-stitched, with big crude looping sutures in a contrasting color of heavy thread, usually yellow. I guess it was all a throw-back… and homage to our simpler ancestors, who lived in a simpler time. Iron-on patches were, of course, no good. I couldn’t sew worth beans, and my stitching was wildly uneven… which was perfect.
Over several years, for the month of June, I wrote about a short story that was available online each day of the month…. It seemed like a good idea at the time. My blog readership fell precipitously and nobody seemed to give a damn about what I was doing – which was a surprising amount of work.
Because of this result, I’m going to do it again this year – In September this time… because it is September.
Today’s story, for day 7 – Why Don’t You Dance?, by Raymond Carver
Read it online here:
Why Don’t You Dance?, by Raymond Carver
He considered this as he sipped the whiskey.
—-Raymond Carver, Why Don’t You Dance?
If I could write like anyone, I would want to write like Raymond Chandler.
His stories are a revelation to me. His characters real, with flaws and good points, – with the flaws winning out in the balance by quite a bit.
What I like the best is the way he leaves stuff out. He doesn’t tell us everything, only what’s important. In today’s story, he doesn’t tell us how or why everything has come to the state it is, because that isn’t important. He doesn’t even tell us what happened… because that isn’t important.
He does tell us that they drank, and that they drank too much, and that they danced, and that the records were crappy.
Because that is what is important.
Interview with Raymond Carver:
But what made you want to write?
The only explanation I can give you is that my dad told me lots of stories about himself when he was a kid, and about his dad and his grandfather. His grandfather had fought in the Civil War. He fought for both sides! He was a turncoat. When the South began losing the war, he crossed over to the North and began fighting for the Union forces. My dad laughed when he told this story. He didn’t see anything wrong with it, and I guess I didn’t either. Anyway, my dad would tell me stories, anecdotes really, no moral to them, about tramping around in the woods, or else riding the rails and having to look out for railroad bulls. I loved his company and loved to listen to him tell me these stories.
—-Raymond Carver, from the Paris Review
“We should meet in another life, we should meet in air, me and you.”
― Sylvia Plath
“We never love anyone. What we love is the idea we have of someone. It’s our own concept—our own selves—that we love.”
—- Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet
John (thinking to himself) There is nothing to take a picture of around here, especially with this camera. I can’t believe she gave me this thing, it’s got a crop sensor, every pro I’ve read about uses a full frame. And it’s red! What real photographer uses a red camera? Black is so much more professional. All these flowers? Might as well be a tourist with an old IPhone. All those awful colors. A real photographer wants dark and gritty. That’s what’s cool now.
I can’t believe how much it cost to park at this place. We could have stayed home and watched house flipping shows. The weather is so bad, overcast and cold. Who wants to be outside on a terrible day like this.
Jane (thinking to herself) He hasn’t looked at me all day, really looked. I gave him that camera, worked overtime for months to save enough for it. You’d think he’d take a picture of me. I’m wearing my Uggs – he loves it when I wear my Uggs… at least when I wear only my Uggs. Maybe that’s it. And my red scarf, the one that my aunt knitted for me. Wouldn’t it go well with the colorful flowers?
The flowers are so beautiful, especially all the tulips. They remind me of home.
I had hoped this would be a special trip. All he wants to do is to watch other people fix up houses on the television. And the weather is so beautiful, no burning Texas sun and it’s nice and cool. Who can resist a day like today?