Tuesday, July 30, 2013
I felt I had to interrupt everything to say “Happy Birthday!” to William Gass, a great American author.
That’s because William Gass turns eighty-nine today. Obviously it’s not every day that a man turns eighty-nine. It’s only one day that he does. And that day, in the case of the great William Gass, is today.
What can you say about William Gass? Plenty, I guess. The more you knew about him would help how much you could say. What I know is at least a few hundred Henry Wadsworth words worth. He was born on this date in the year such-and-such, eighty-nine years ago, so you do the math if you like, and he’s still alive, thank god, as of today, July 30th, 2013, so far as I know (I shake my fist in the air, metaphorically speaking, and say “So stay alive and don’t make a liar of me William Gass)!
He’s the author of a veritable cavalcade1 of great books, some of which I’ve read or been meaning to read, read and forgotten, or half-understood, or put down in the middle of, books such as “The Heart of the Heart of the Heart of the Heart of It,” “Middle C,” which is about pianos and Hitler and something else, “The Tunnel” which is also about Hitler and other things, more books, too, there’s a short one, for instance, all about the color blue (I look forward to the day, may it come soon, because at 89 everything is pretty much now or never, when he writes one about mauve!), and other books on top of those about writing and literature and language and why its so important to read and write, important for the “culture” and important for you too, and, well, stuff like that.
William Gass. Not enough is said about him on a day-to-day basis and you might be itching to understand why.
I can shed no light on this matter. Or very little light. Or a light so scanty it’s not much to see by.
He’s never sent a piece of mail-art, for instance, not that I known of, not to me personally, not that I’ve ever gotten anyway, but that shouldn’t stop us from saying happy birthday to the man. I’m sure he’s mailed stuff, lots of stuff, bills and whatnot, just try and get through this world without doing that, I dare you, manuscripts to his publisher and agent, no doubt he’s mailed. He’s been in the postal system, let’s just say that!
If you have any mail-art he’s sent to you I invite you, pending his permission, of course, to post it. I invite him to send me some, too, if he’s so inclined. My slot is always open to him (I didn’t mean that the way it sounded!!!) and I suggest we all send him a piece of something or other, whatever you can spare a stamp on. He’s worth it!
He’s won some awards here and there. I forgot, or neglected to mention that until now, or didn’t know about. I think he won a National Book Award somewhere along the line. Or maybe two. Who’s counting? No Pulitzers, though. No Nobel Prizes. No Man Booker Prizes, not that I know of, not that he’s not worthy. He’s been nominated for stuff he didn’t win, I’m sure. Who remembers the names of the winners? Who remembers much of anything nowadays? Not me! I say, “Their freaking loss, William Gass!”
Anyway, let’s all raise a frothy head from whatever depths of our own private personal despair even, raise them up, these heads, these knobs of flesh, bleary-eyed, tear-stained, or whatever, uncomprehending as they may be, to Mr. William Gass, today, on this his 89th birthday, and let us give a cheer in as cheerful a voice as we can muster, each to his own mustering of conscience, and say “Happy Birthday William Gass!”
1. [cav·al·cade noun \ˌka-vəl-ˈkād, ˈka-vəl-ˌ\ 1: a : a procession of riders or carriages b : a procession of vehicles or ships 2: a dramatic sequence or procession ] –Merriam Webster Online Dictionary
Posted by mw at 3:10 PM
Monday, July 29, 2013
Dr. Promilla Bazmatti Coen, Head of the Pataphysical Research Division here at the Red Ignatz Society was kind enough to forward me these notes for her current work-in-progress: an upcoming entry to the society’s Pataphysical Dictionary. This entry "P is for Pigeon" was inspired by a piece of recent mail art we’ve received, which, incidentally, inspired my own hand-painted "pigeon envelope" posted on 27 July. Here is an excerpt from Dr. Coen’s dense, inscrutable, but more or less, partially illuminating article.
P is for Pigeon
Dr. Promilla Bazmatti Coen
Alfred Jarry Chair of Pataphysical Research
Imaginative History Division
RED IGNATZ SOCIETY
…the pigeon is one of the world’s most mysterious birds, its origins unclear and not entirely consistent with known theories of evolution; it may be of extraterrestrial origin. Infamous for its uncanny powers of psychic persuasion and its ability to predict future events, it has been utilized since the beginning of the nuclear age by quantum physicists in determining wave-particle fluctuations and remains the most reliable known method of determining such fluctuations in and out of the laboratory. For years prior the pigeon's distinctive head-bob was an ornithological mystery. It was Erwin Schrodinger who at last solved the enigma. The pigeon, he determined, is simply observing: particle-wave, particle-wave. Shrodinger famously quipped to his fellow scientists, "Is the cat alive or dead? At any given moment, only the damn bird knows for sure."
The fissionable material in one pigeon is enough to obliterate a city the size of Amarillo and did, in fact, do so on April 12, 1961, though a duplicate Amarillo was built a few miles away in preparation to disguise this catastrophe from the public. The pigeon is known to trigger aneurysms and seizures in epileptics and other similarly susceptible individuals at distances of up to two-hundred-seventy-five yards and there is credible evidence that this was the method used in several (failed) attempts orchestrated by Laventry Beria (unsubstantiated) on the life of Josef Stalin before he died, ostensibly of a stroke, in 1953.
The pigeon’s affinity for statues has been well-known since the days of the earliest pharaohs and thus it’s designation as the “stone bird” whose origin is the moon (see G.I. Gurdjieff). As such, the pigeon has always been considered a funerary bird, a messenger between the living and the dead, and recordings of its distinctive cooing played back at variable speeds have revealed instances of what are today considered genuine communications with the deceased. In popular culture, the bird has often been portrayed in film as a favorite of boxers (ie. Marlon Brando in “On the Waterfront”) who are depicted as cultivating them in tender moments housed in homemade rooftop coops and this has led to real-life boxers such as Mike Tyson doing the same, keeping pigeons as a hobby. In literature there is ample evidence to suggest that it was the pigeon, not the raven, that was the true subject of Poe’s most famous poem. Dr. H.A. Palynsomowitz suggests the substitution of the raven for the pigeon was intentionally meant to mislead and Poe was under dire telepathic orders from the bird itself to do so. Still the poet left hints as to the true identity of the “bird of ill-omen.” Aside from intertextual clues too specialized to go into here, Dr. Palynsomowitz notes that one can find the letters necessary to spell the word “pigeon” in the name Edgar Allan Poe, a statistical anomaly. The missing “i” Dr. Palynsomowitz argues—to what degree of persuasiveness I leave it to the reader to decide—can be assumed for who else would be writing the poem than I, Edgar Allan Poe. See also: “The Purloined Letter,” which Dr. Palynsomowitz suggests can be both a missive, but also, quite literally, a letter in the alphabet, in this case, that missing “i.” Is it really beyond the pale of possibility, as Dr. Palynsomowitz argues, to accept the fact that it was a pigeon, not Poe himself, who wrote all the works, poems and tales, previously attributed to Poe and that Poe himself merely took telepathic dictation from the bird. The evidence we are inclined to conclude is mounting, if not yet conclusive. (We could go on but leave the interested reader to pursue the matter further by consulting Dr. Palynsomowitz’s work directly. Unfortunately, it still awaits translation into English.) Pigeon racing continues to be a popular underground sport to this day with the birds flying distances of several thousand miles or more and wagers as large as several million dollars on a single race not uncommon. Human sacrifices have been known to be offered to increase a bird’s racing prowess. Of course, it hardly bears re-mentioning that the so-called “homing pigeon’ was the first military drone and it is now established knowledge that several pigeons were used to target Hitler’s bunker and may, in fact, be the cause of the final demoralization that convinced the Fuhrer to commit suicide, if not killing him outright.
Posted by mw at 5:08 PM
Sunday, July 28, 2013
Saturday, July 27, 2013
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
Friday, July 19, 2013
manifesto 376Why do we agree to write the way they want us to write when they exclude us from their discourse?
Why do we agree to think along the linear, narrative lines they impose on reality when they give us no place in that reality?
Why do I continue to use question marks after these sentences when they aren’t questions at all?
Why do we agree to live in their world when that world is filled with violence, hatred, intolerance, greed, war, exploitation and suppression—when they turn the considerable power of their disdain upon us whenever we make our existence known.
Why do I continue to hit the backspace key. To spell the way they taught me to, using the syntax that was drilled into me.
Why do we use their dictionaries for definitions when we don’t find in it an entry anywhere that properly defines us.
Why do we seek acceptance from the unacceptable.
What makes us stand in line. What makes us accept the “choice” between either/or.
What makes us.
What makes us agree that a story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. That my name is such-and-such. That I was born so-and-so on this or that date.
Why do I agree to such madness.
I don’t believe a word of it why do I pretend that I do
Who’s served, not me.
Why don’t I be what I am. What is there to lose when there is nothing to gain by being what you’re not. Or is there something to gain. Do you want what there is to gain by being what you’re not. Is the world they’ve made that wonderful or is the only one you dare to believe in because they seem to have all the oxygen.
Why do I still feel stung at their rejection when they’ve never accepted me. Why do I still seek their acceptance when it would be nothing but proof that I’ve succeeded in rejecting myself.
Why don’t I be myself as if I had any choice but I do have a choice that’s just the thing there is a choice to be made the hardest choice of all to be made must be made every day every moment and on it everything depends
Posted by mw at 8:34 PM