Thursday, March 8, 2012

today vs. this day

When the point in time in which we find ourselves is referred to as “today”, to my mind it is two words. There is the day, 24 hours. The space of time that we all agree constitutes a unit, 365 of them a year, usually. The other part, the prefix, seems to refer to almost an infinitive, turning the noun into a kind of verb. Today. As in, this space that I’m in at this moment in time is the day, of all other days, that I can’t touch or see or maybe I vaguely remember them, is the day in which there will be actions. I will do this, I will do that.

To a Buddhist mind or perhaps an existential-type, this is an ideal way of thinking about a day. It is a word that is absolutely in the present, meant to encapsulate not just the series of actions you will perform in a span of 24 agreed upon hours, but also all the other actions that will be done in this moment by other folks. This is a fine way of thinking about it, I think.

However, to me, the Buddhist mind (which is something I don’t really subscribe to, it’s a bit too lotus-y for me) is fundamentally (and this is the one thing I have taken from this philosophy) about balance. And while I do believe it is important to live in the moment, it’s just as important to think about the future.

I suffer from crippling ADD. I am now, after a wild stint in which I was not exactly myself, terrified and paranoid of drugs (I feel panicky now when I drink a Red Bull, or too much coffee too quickly). So, I won’t be getting any prescription Adderall anytime soon. I have to figure a natural way to curb this awful impulse to digest and consume and experience as much as possible, today.

I believe that the words we use have a subliminal effect on us that none of us really think about on a daily basis. We don’t spend a lot of time thinking about what the words we say really mean. There are things in different languages that don’t translate in English and vice versa, and every culture is just a bit alien, hanging out with them, sharing stories, there are things that just don’t come across. I see this correlation as directly related to the sounds we make, the shape of the words and their rabbit-hole meanings.

Therefore, to me, one of the problems of my ADD, besides the internet and music videos, are the words that I use. “Today” is one of them. When I read books I am overwhelmingly frightened of the time I could be spending consuming other things, experiencing. When I’m writing (coaxing the fish to the top of the water, trying to grab them, the fish scattering, finally accepting the nature of things, throwing the dynamite in the water, the fish floating up, dead, but easy to grab…this is the way writing is, you only ever get that original pure thought on paper once it’s dead and translatable into code) I feel similar anxiety, because shouldn’t I be doing something, rather than typing symbols on a screen?

I’ll try to change the language that I use on a daily basis. Balance it out more. “This day” instead of “today”. Acknowledging that the day exists, but also that it is one of several days, already a concrete part of a malleable and ghostly future, a brick in the service of a building with plans written in some kind of quantum language only understood by the reptile brain, or the overbrain, but never the brain that we converse with on a daily basis.

“This day”, a day that I can spend doing one or two things in service of an abstract future thing, in addition to little things that need the now, that I’m already preprogrammed to do and therefore need no coercion. Balance.

Friday, December 23, 2011

best of all time

Today I posted a Facebook status update that said, "I feel like saying something inspirational. I'm the best writer of all time. There we go, I'm feeling inspired already." I was nervous before I hit "post" because, even though it's clearly a joke, people tend to get really defensive and oversensitive whenever people praise themselves. So far the joke was met with, well, not really anything at all. A couple funny comments, a couple likes. But it really got me thinking.

Why do we hate people who love themselves or their work? I listen to mostly hip-hop, where bragadoccio is essential. Some of my favorite writers are super-high on themselves. James Ellroy routinely refers to himself as awesome. Bolano was totally up his own ass. But why does this bug folks?

If I say, "James Ellroy is the best writer of all time", you might very well disagree with me, but you would realize as it a subjective statement and certainly you wouldn't get your feathers ruffled. Now, if I said, "I am the best"...

In a sense I understand the "hater" label, because it is just hating. It's irritation at someone else's self-confidence. How can you dislike the fact that someone truly loves what they've done? Or that they'd prefer it to something else? If they've stayed true to themselves, then their art is the essence of them, ergo of course they think it's the best.

So, go ahead. Look in the mirror, and say it. "I'm the best writer of all time." I won't hate you for it. But I do disagree.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Lddre thoughts

A little writing on writing: downside of beasting through and marathon finishing LDDRE is the increase in smoking. I had this conversation with Cody Goodfellow: you stop, smoke, and when you come back the scene is there. Also I realized the strangeness increases with how distanced I am from a character. In BTTWL, all the characters deal with weird shit, because I have no idea how Russians think. In this book there's a kid, a woman and a deeply evil man, and all of them are written in a magical realist way, because they are people I don't understand, or want to understand. Third, I added a subplot about two brothers who find a body in a river about three weeks ago. Today, after reading a recommendation online, I checked out 'Suttree', a McCarthy novel I have overlooked. It begins with a man fishing. He sees a dead man being pulled from the river. It is written more beautifully than I ever could. The Universe both checking my ego and giving me an atta boy, I think.  

Sunday, November 27, 2011

goddammit obama

You're about to get a big helping of moderately informed ranting, so tuck in.

My understanding of the Tea Party is that they were frustrated racists with no polite way to express their distaste for a black president. They felt they were losing "their" country. So they took to protesting. Which is great. You can do that. They were ideologically loose until they had that one banner under which to fight: NO OBAMACARE. While their protest made no sense and actually worked against their best interest, they bitched. Because you can't just say, "I don't like his face, nor the faces of the citizens who voted for him." It was very McCarthy, their adoption of the word "socialism."

Obama caved to their demands because their astroturf ideals were manufactured by the corporations that bought his presidency. He met them halfway. I was always waiting for the boom to drop, for Obama to simply say, "I understand you, but this is why I was elected."

He didn't. Always the diplomat, he played both sides and reached a compromise that left no one happy.

The Occupy movement was similar to the Tea Party only in that it had no clear manifesto. Soon it became clear, however, that like the Tea Party's "Obamacare", the Occupiers had a banner they could bongo under: fix the fucking banks. "We're tired of being screwed by giant, irresponsible banks." Pretty simple.

So you'd think maybe we'd get some kind of half-assed compromise like Obama did with the Tea Partiers. Nope. We get tear gas and secret mayoral meetings, where nervous men in suits decide how violent they can be without looking bad. We get nothing. So far, at least. Obama met the crazies more than halfway, and he has met the Occupiers not at all.

I am ashamed. I'm wearing my Obama t-shirt today because it's comfortable, one of my favorites. But every time I wear it I get really fucking mad. Because he is failing, has failed. He's a corporate puppet in a different way, but he's still got strings.

It frustrates me that he'll still get my vote in 2012, because who the fuck else am I going to vote for?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

BTTWL Wins the Wonderland Award for Best Novel!!!

"By the Time We Leave Here, We'll Be Friends" has won the Wonderland Award for Best Novel at Bizarrocon. I am ecstatic. Two years is a long time to write a small book. Over the course of those two years I put my soul into this thing. To see it honored in this way is truly amazing. I am so fucking happy, my face hurts from smiling. Thank you to everyone who voted, and to everyone who's taken the time to read it. I love all of you.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Win A Free Copy of BTTWL!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

By The Time We Leave Here, We'll Be Friends by J. David Osborne

By The Time We Leave Here, We'll Be Friends

by J. David Osborne

Giveaway ends December 16, 2011.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Thoughts On My Third Viewing of 'Drive'


The Driver is a sociopath who thinks that he's in his own movie. That life is a movie. I know a guy like this. This guy has awarded himself the role of the rogue who doesn't conform to social mores. This is frustrating to deal with at times because of its disingenuousness, though any annoyance you give off is in a sense playing into this guy's role that he's created for himself, because of course you're upset, he's the rogue who doesn't conform to social mores. 

It makes sense that Irene falls for The Driver. While not a sociopath, she is definitely introverted and quiet, like The Driver. No one else in the film takes as long to speak as those two (recall the scene when the police are speaking to Irene re: the death of Standard, when the cop says 'Can you...answer the question?').

All of the music in the film is being played in real time by The Driver. The love song fades when he shuts his door, the operatic song disappears with his car when he drives past Nino.

The Driver wears gloves every time he kills someone, except twice. The first is in the elevator, when the murder is witnessed by Irene. This scene signals their end, the real world clashing violently with the world he has in his head. The second is when he and Bernie stab each other, a scene shot in the shadows, the most 'realistic' killing of the film. You can see the gloves in his shadow's back pocket. He has re-entered the real world, his fantasy has not turned out the way he wished (Irene didn't fall in love with a murderer). The Bernie killing is preceded by the Nino killing, a scene in which he's wearing his mask from his stuntman job. This is the peak of his fantasy. He is the 'Real Hero' of the song. This of course juxtaposed with the fact that his mask is rubber. When the song plays again, at the end, he actually is both the hero (as he did, after all, save Irene and her child) and a real human being (the fantasy is over, he's not playing a character in a film anymore).

New layers every time.