Seen those commercials for the Halloween costume stores, those companies that sign short-term leases at favorable rates for empty storefronts from near-bankrupt commercial real estate brokers? The first child doesn't appear until the tenth, eleventh second. Carnival as sanctioned transgression is old, but increases in opportunities and intensity are indicative our overlords are preparing us for increased Lenten penance.
No one talks about Bakhtin anymore, so institutionalized, so celebrated, so prevalent is carnival it's like oxygen. Who is more useful to the elites than Jon Stewart? Than NFL football, Glenn Beck's reality show and tent-revival? It's everywhere big, it's everywhere small. This shitty blog, for instance. Yours.
- Useful idiot on useful idiocy.
- I hearby claim trademark on the word idiocracy.
- UPDATE! We're fucked.
- The infantile state.
- UPDATE! Hegel on Wall Street.
- Blame whom?
- UPDATE! The Liberal elite.
- Hillary! (And yes this is bait for you, C, but the idea that Clinton would pursue policies different than Obama is wrong; his presidency is a justification and (they hope) valedictory success of Clinton policies. If you want to argue that she might have been better implementing those policies, that's a different and more interesting question. xoxo.)
- On the above.
- The world is Obama's killbox.
- Which doesn't mean fucksticks aren't fucksticks.
- UPDATE! Speaking of fucksticks, Ben Wetmore, which I post because the fuckstick's last name means something treasured as an ancient feud against fucksticks to exactly two of you.
- Was CNN waiting for an excuse to fire Rick Sanchez?
- Guns, restaurants.
- More chocolate laxative: on Zizek.
- Let a thousand hot-dog carts bloom.
- UPDATE! Class and pet ownership.
- Who the fuck uses sillyass Star Trek allusions?
- Seven deadly teacher stamps.
- Hilltop and the Common App. (Planet has narrowed it down to ten schools, all of which use the common app.)
- Seven keys to college readiness.
- MOCO punked.
- Edison/Wheaton update.
- Ambulance fees!
- Babs less popular, has commanding lead.
- Nobel announcement is this Thursday.
- Thomas Wolfe was born 110 years ago yesterday. Haven't read in decades, but when I was 20, Look Homeward, Angel stunned and amazed me. Wolfe is for the young.
- Whatever happened to modernism?
- Has any author's reputation fallen faster than Dostoyevsky's? I haven't read any since rereading Demons (in the Pevear/Volokhonsky translation) x-years ago, but when looking for something else in my bookshelves a couple of weeks ago I opened Karamazov to a random page and read for three minutes and I can't imagine myself desiring to read Dostoyevsky again. Dostoyevsky is for the young.
- Bakhtin, of course, is as famous, if not more, for his work on Dostoyevsky than for his theories on carnival.
- Serendipitously, two days before seeing the above link about Dostoyevsky, I read this about Coetzee's novel about Dostoyevsky circa writing Demons. I remember reading the Coetzee, though I remember nothing about the novel.
- UPDATE! New Roth reviewed by Kakutani, which means the review is useless, but Nobel announced this Thursday, he used to get mentions. I used to feel obliged to read each new Roth, did so through his late 1990s trilogy-of-sorts, but no longer do. Maybe it's because if Wolfe and Dostoyevsky are for the young, Roth is for the old, but respecting an author is different than liking an author.
- He loves modernist fiction. Serendipitously, of that list, which I saw first yesterday afternoon: last week I mailed The Tunnel to a friend (who it turns out has already read it, but I needed a CD jewel-box), this morning I mailed JR to a friend, two days ago I noted Wallace Stevens birthday here, and five days ago I linked to posts re: Blood Meridian.
- Biblioklept is still on a Blood Meridian spree. Go.
- I'm not familiar with Steve Stern. Good thing I have access to a university library's stacks.
- More Lennon at 70.
- Carnival of the animals.
- UPDATE! I'd never heard this Kate Bush cover until five minutes ago. The original is the opening track of one of my favorite albums ever. Love love love.
- New Neil Young. Underwhelmed so far. With Lanois producing, I guess I thought it'd be, what, more atmospheric? Well, that's on me. More listens needed, though I do like the new one down below poem.
- UPDATE! Spent the morning with it. Growing on me. Angry World.
THE DOGMichael Ryan
The neighbors’ baby died age one month
so they’re off to Big Sur “to celebrate her life”
and I stupidly agreed to feed their dog—
a twelve year old wire-haired mix, half blind,
half dead itself, its gum lines receded to a rictus grin.
What was I supposed to say when the husband asked?
“Your baby’s dead, but I can’t be bothered.
I don’t really know you. Ask someone else.
I don’t like your dog. I think it’s hideous.
What if it dies while you’re away?
I’m supposed to call and tell you that?
I don’t want to touch it.
What if your misfortune is contagious?”
But I said “Be glad to,” and he embraced me,
this Kurt or Kirk, I’m not even sure which.
“Siobhan”—that’s his wife—“can’t stand to kennel her,”
he sobbed into my shoulder, his eye rims moistening
behind his clownish owlish oversized glasses
he knocked askew against my clavicle.
It startled me so much I couldn’t guess
who “her” referred to until I got he meant the dog.
All her’s: the dead baby, the wife, and now the dog.
I don’t like the dog. It stinks. It needs a bath.
Who washes a dog during a month like that?
But I’ll be damned if I’m going to do it—
dried dogshit or worse matted in hair
the color and texture of rusted wire
caked with rotted moldy drywall.
The dog howls all day—and I mean all day—
as if these were the feelings left inside the house.
From outside all month the house had been silent
except the one time early on the paramedics came
so the neighborhood knew a disaster was happening.
I never doubted for a moment there was wailing inside,
including the baby’s, which must have been constant.
But the dog didn’t howl until everyone was gone.
Siobhan has to be forty-something—
They supposedly did a doula water birth at home,
her husband assisting, no doctor, no amnio,
no genetic testing—I think they belong
to some megachurch where the pastor
the size of a fish stick from the bleacher seats
projects fifty feet high with his bleached teeth
and they sing-along upbeat Christian music
ten thousand strong, as loudly as they can.
“To celebrate her life”: the pastor’s phrase, I bet.
If that helps them bear it, fine.
All I know is I have their dog to deal with.
One thing I’m not doing besides wash it
is walk it, so I called a franchised service
that sent a Belarusian with a crescent nose stud
(God knows what his story is)
who rang my doorbell after half an hour.
“I can’t walk dog,” he said. “It won’t go.
It won’t leave house. I think it sick.
You better take it to vet.” So I did.
Again I picked one from the phonebook,
who charged me eighty bucks to find a loose tooth,
although he offered a thousand dollars worth of tests.
“The dog is old,” he said. Oh. Thanks.
Then I tried at home pretending the dog was mine,
actually petting it (a bit) and talking in goofy baby tones
while giving liver chips and buddy biscuits and playing fetch,
but, while I napped, it scratched off the front door paint
and started gnawing its way out.
After I gated it back in the neighbors’ kitchen
with its blanket and bowls and dried bull pizzle,
it began howling again, which is what it’s doing now.
Maybe there’s something in the house still.
Maybe tiny syringes and bandages upstairs
the dog smells. It would be too odd to go up there
where the baby was, into the baby’s room,
with the neighbors’ hopes there as furniture,
pink bunny or smiley angel or kiddie Bible wallpaper.
It would be like being inside their privacy,
their intimacy, their monthlong nightmare.
Maybe I have to call them after all.
I hate to call them—they should have peace
to grieve enough to live again in a house
that no matter what they believe or understand
will never be for one moment as they thought.
I don’t know what else to do but call them.
Their dog—their ugly old dog—is howling for them
and will not stop.