“I met a fellow writer – which is to say, a fellow prisoner.”

The title quote comes from a satirical diary by Mark Pritchard called, The Secret Diary of a Prisoner in the Creative Writing Gulag.  You can find it free online and it’s definitely worth a look if you’ve ever wondered what our college English professors are subjected to in the name of Talented Writing.  It will also explain to you  why your Creative Writing prof gawked at you in the hallway following your submission entitled Shit son, I drink Tabasco for fun.

Nobody likes rhyming titles.

So today my nose is unusually itchy, but I haven’t had to sneeze or anything, I just rapidly slide my right pointer back and forth across it in useless attempt to quench its itchy thirst.  I’m not quite sure where the problem stems from, but I am sure that everyone around me must think I’ve been snorting sugar packets instead of putting them in my coffee like a rational human being.

Fill it up again!  It’s tastes so sweet in my nose!

Seriously tho, stop itching.

Here’s a picture of me with my nose:

Yours truly

Yours truly

I figure you may want to be able to put a face/nose with these words so you can kick me in the shin when you see me walking by on the street.  Or, you know, if you wanted to hand me a Hamilton, or the keys to your Lotus, either way.

You may have noticed that I talk a ton of shit about my illegitimate not-quite-plagiarist freelancing job, but every so often I am lucky enough to pick up a writing project that is a joy to write.

Today was almost one of those rarities because I got to recycle a paper I had already written back in December.  All I had to do was re-work some of the intro cues and quotes and then insert an extra section with a comparison with another author and then submit that sucker for review.

The two authors?  MLK Jr. and Henry David Thoreau.  I never really thought about comparing those two before, but I was able to come up with some plausible correlations about the subversion of the powers that be.  Needless to say I didn’t get too much into specifics cuz , after all, that’s how college professors are able to make so much fun of college students.

Plus, like I said, I had already written the review of Letter from a Birmingham Jail and then I had to just compare that argument line to the ideology behind Thoreau’s Walden. Walk into the woods, simplify, come back and tell people about it, become famous, etc…

The re-worked intro took approximately a minute and half and the two pages took less than half an hour.  Gadzooks away undergraduate essay!

I finally got around to watching Philip Seymour Capote last night.  He is always incredible to watch but I found myself trying not to see him playing the character and instead trying to buy into the Tanqueray-with-a-lemon-on-the-rocks alcoholic author of In Cold Blood.  Mission accomplished, bravo, Mr. Hoffman.  I think he won an Oscar for that too.

Did anyone else get the impression that Truman wanted to bed Perry Smith?

I also felt bad for the way Nell Harper Lee was tossed to the side of anything that involved Truman even though she was at the pinnacle of her literary life.  I don’t think anybody correctly announced the title of her seminal work, what was it something about a bird? or killing a bird?  No wait, it’s about some kids who kill a bird?  Screw it, let’s listen to Truman tell us how he ripped his pants and felt the cold breeze on his ass instead.

Great friends huh?

I don’t think Truman and I would have gotten along.

We also watched As Good as it Gets.  Jack Nicholson cracked me up throughout but otherwise I thought the plot was too predictable and sappy.  I guess that’s why so many people loved it when it came out.  My favorite part was how Melvin (Nicholson’s character) had all of the CD’s labeled for particular situations on the road trip – ‘For emergency use only’ was the best, and it got rejected immediately by Helen Hunt’s character.  I now have a crush on Helen Hunt and remembered that she was the only reason I stomached Twister.  I also noticed that I’ve been calling her Holly Hunter for about the past decade.

Sorry, Helen.  Sorry, Holly.

However, when I did the Google Image search for this I saw some rather unflattering pics of M(r)s. Hunt recently.  So I have a crush on the Helen Hunt from As Good as it Gets and Twister, but not the Helen Hunt that looks like she’s 60 and a tweaker.

I never got back around to reading Cat’s Cradle because I started reading Camus’ The Fall.  I’m only like 50 pages in and so far I’m not totally committed, although I like how the whole thing takes place in an Amsterdam bar aptly called Mexico City.  Nice touch, Camus.

I’m having trouble buying into the character of the narrator because of the way he is building himself so much to set up his fall.  I guess that’s why it’s called The Fall.  That, and it is set in the Autumn.  I’m going to give it another go tonight tho, cuz Fall is my favorite season.  I also feel like I should have read Camus by now, I always hear people talking about him around literary sites on the web.  I still pronounce the -s- at the end of his name just for kicks.

I received an interesting Facebook link to an article about how computers are changing the way we think  (Thanks, Jengalyn!).

Yeah the title itself doesn’t point to anything that we don’t already know, but it pointed out what I found to be an intriguing distinction:

Word processing v. thinking – here the author Sarah Gilkin (a MIT grad when they first implemented computers there) talks about how there is a fundamental difference between the act of word processing versus the act of thinking because word processing advances at such a rapid rate and it allows quick editing in a variety of nearly instant ways.  She argues that thinking is suffering as a result always being only a click or wordtype away from spewing out whatever next comes to mind at the cost of thoughtful consideration.  She quips, “Thinking ahead is becoming an exotic activity.”

As I noted in a previous post, I am struggling with my physical notebook writing because the pace seems so slow compared to this gibberish that I can whip out in a mere matter of moments.

You see?  I would never physically write ‘mere matter of moments’ in longhand unless it was an exercise in alliteration or to prove a point of timing.

That being said, there is something timely about the flow of consciousness before going back to edit in word processing.  I normally splash out a post here without a round of revisions and I publish it without reading it over in the draft stage because I can’t catch the errors.  I need to see it in its published context to get the distance needed to pick out changes that need to be made.  On paper this is far too time and space consuming.

Most of my blog changes are stupid spelling errors or grammatical mistakes the first time through.  With the second round of revisions I am more interested in pace, tone, and style – moving paragraphs around, making terminology changes, and editing for length.  I remove most unnecessary qualifiers and ramblings, such as ‘mere matter of moments.’  But I’ll have to keep that in there now that I’ve come back to it to illustrate a point.

And this is where I come back to the word processing v. thinking dynamic.  Word processing allows and even rewards the editing process almost as much as the writing process itself.  On the other hand, pen and paper composition rewards the initial disciplined act of writing.  It’s almost as if the blank paper page expects you to know what you are going to write before you do violence to it’s inherent physical purity.  This is not the case when I type on a blank document because if what I type is skank drudgery, I can abolish that skankiness without hurting the document’s feelings.  I can begin anew with a clear conscience without having to kill a tree in the Brazilian rainforest.

But that’s another point altogether.

This is all to say, and I think this is what Gilkin was getting at, that word processing requires us to use a different kind of thinking than the old model.  It’s not that the deliberate thinking that goes into physical writing is inherently better or worse, it’s just another brand.  We are, I think, in an environment of simulation and the act of thinking/writing has become simulated through word processing.

This may be why my physical writings tend toward a more aphoristic and poetic styling while my word processing is more prosaic.  Aphorisms and poetry make up in speed and pace what word processing lacks in it’s initial depth of thought.

And yet I do not completely buy into this because my first draft word processing effectively shortcircuits my ego to slice deeper (although perhaps more jaggedly) via an expressive stream of consciousness.

This is also why these transitions are sucky and why my posts are so scatterbrained.

That and my ADD.

I have a bunch of ideas about ADD, but they should probably be saved for another day because I’m getting bored here talking in so many circles.

Let’s get some multimedia how about?

This is a such a great song by Shuggie Otis, one of the most underrated musicians in my humble opinion.  Oh, and my good friend Jaybird (who goes by greentidebluesky at YouTube) edited the video sequencing for it.  It will bring a smile to your hump day afternoon and keep you head bobbing and foot tapping.  You may even want to get up and bust a move with yo bad self:

This next image  comes from Juxtapoz art magazine – one of the best art and culture rags to be found.  The photo is by the inventive Swede photographer Thobias Faldt:

Sweet mother of gravity!

Sweet mother of gravity!

From the Juxtapoz commentary: “Like, where/why is that girl jumping and will she break her legs when she lands? These are the types of queries raised while taking in a Faldt photograph.”

Or, maybe she’s just like the hip-hopping scholar himself, who so succinctly put it, “I like to jump over shit.”

Lastly, I have some homework tonight.

I picked up a project about ‘The Guru of Relaxation.’  I’m actually gonna try to follow the instructions for once.  His holistic theory has been around (and attacked) for a long time, but it is experiencing a resurgence thanks to the clusterfuck that we all find ourselves in after 8 years of being Bushwhacked.

What you do is sit for 10-20 minutes twice a day with your eyes closed and when you exhale you repeat a single word of your choice.  I have never really got on the meditation train, and I’m not particularly stressed out, at least no more than usual, but I wanna see if this is just bunk or if I can actually sense becoming more relaxed.

My hunch is that this works more through the self-fulfilling prophecy aspect than due to the exercise itself.  I can see the inherent calming effect of being still and alone with your thoughts for a period of time, but I can also see how this might backfire on some people who only want to escape their thoughts instead of embodying them.

The kicker is that whenever you have an outside thought invade your calmness you’re simply supposed to say, ‘oh well’, and go back to focusing on your breathing and your word.

I think my word is going to be ‘yes’.  It seems self-affirming and it’s only a single syllable so that has to help, although I’m a bit concerned that I’m going to crack myself up by extending the ssss part if I get bored, but oh well I guess.

I’ll report back on my findings in the near future unless I become too relaxed to write.  What then, Sensei?

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~ by garcialoca on February 18, 2009.

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