Archive for ‘conversations’

May 4th, 2015

Your Own, Personal, Failure

Me: You think Daily Dot’ll write back1?
MP: Probably not. And I’ll count it against them. It’s social ineptitude. What are they, twelve?

Me: Yes. Not only are they butthurt and without a clue of what to say, but it’d take too much time and effort to try.
MP: They don’t know what to say? This is why they’re children, adults are those who know what to say. And what is it they don’t know what to say about? That they fucked up. This is the most banal thing there is, it’s the bread and butter of life, you fucked something up!

Me: No. To them it’s the most horrible thing there is, which they thankfully never have to face.
MP: But they do. They fuck up.

Me: Nope.
MP: Why not?

Me: Because their mother loves them.
MP: Well then the mother obviously fucked something up. What is she, Jesus?

Me: Yeah. She died on the cross-stitch.

Fail fast. Fail hard. Call it, examine it, make it as plain as possible. Not only to yourself, but to everyone that failure touched, and to any of your betters who will listen. Get it out of your system and clean yourself up. You are potty-trained, aren’t you?

***

  1. An email MP sent to the “editors” of some “online news” crapsalad, after a woman that wishes to be a writer begrudingly ventured into “journalism” ostensibly to pay for that day’s soymilk. Journalism being an actual field, it’s plainly obvious when the unskilled halfassedly don its cap. Hint: you’ll have to actually talk to people; news isn’t the product of a sole observer’s digestive tract. []
September 26th, 2014

If at first you don’t succeed, scoop it into the garbage and ask how many cups of stupid you threw in there.

I made a failed cake yesterday. I loathe few things more than failed foodstuffs, but like most anything, they require a bit of failure now and then to season a person into sanity. It was a pineapple upside-down cake, and while a specific procedural error led to the failure, the real cause of the soupy, inedible (but still quite deliciously fragrant, because fuck me) disaster that flowed out of my pan was a momentary preference for not thinking.

In general I don’t use recipes when cooking, though only yesterday did I really understand why. Inasmuch as a recipe presents itself as a complete set of instructions and a material rider, it offers a replacement for thinking, if you’re prone to succumbing to that sort of thing. So a recipe for pineapple upside-down cake that calls for fresh fruit and doesn’t mention the need to wring the juice from the cut pieces nor to evaporate extra juice with a long, slow, caramel-covered sauna over low flame is a recipe for sludge –similar to the substance occupying the space between your ears as you mindlessly list-check and step yourself along.

Here’s version one, in all its abortive glory:
bad cake

The conversation upon opening the springform went something like this:

Person Promised Cake: “So…how many cups of water did you put in here?”
Me: “…water?! There’s no water.”
PPC: “You put some water in here. Some liquid with water in it.”
Me: “Uh, well the caramel had like a tablespoon of cognac in it…the batter had around four.”
PPC: “Nah, you put like a cup of water in here.”

I was incredulous and combative until the virgin pineapple was finally dragged on stage. This’d be another symptom of eschewing thinking for the instructions. It didn’t call for a cup of water, I didn’t just randomly throw uncalled for things in, obviously I didn’t put a cup, a whole cup, even, of water in there! Except I did, because the poor pineapple is simply going to do what it does without a care for what should be or what someone else assumed it’d do.

It’s not that cooking can’t be learned in the presence of recipes, just as it’s not true that math can’t be done with calculators. The problem is that relying on such things to do one’s thinking for oneself is a quick ticket to amorphous mush, of whatever kind follows from the inputs. I never knew what the fuck I was doing with basic math until I stopped using calculators and did things in my head, and I only learned how to cook well when I became actively engaged in making new things, which absolutely as a first step requires thinking. Faking understanding with tools may go unpunished for a while, especially in an environment marked by mickey mouse tests and tasters and “scores” that reflect what should be rather than what is. Math, cake, or anything else, though –it’ll fall apart at some point, and the more you seek to find fault with the tools rather than with yourself, the worse it’ll be.

Here’s version two, which landed upside down cake firmly in my repertoire:
good cake

It’s a banal accomplishment in the grand scheme of things, but served as an important reminder of the wasteful stupidity of tuning out, and of the pernicious poison of poorly-chosen submission.

January 19th, 2012

The Time is Implicit

The order comes mid-afternoon, as I’m curled in bed reading a pulp novel that’s become addictive mostly for the familiarity of the prose and regular opportunities to inwardly roll my eyes at the book’s wholly unbelievable characters. When it comes, the order produces a sound, more familiar than the contents of the book and so dominant in my cache of daily stimuli it sets off uncontrollable physical reactions. My heart speeds up perceptibly, climbs a few inches upward, threatening the base of my throat.

Ba-dum!

It’s my messenger program, pumping sound from behind the wall of my bedroom. Have to get up. Finish this page first. I read a few paragraphs, not really absorbing the meaning of any of the words, my head reminding me every other second that I have to get up. So I do.

On the screen, the order waits. How long has it been waiting? A few minutes. A pang of guilt. This could have just been a greeting, but it’s not, and now precious time has lapsed. There’s a phone number, and I’m to call it and reserve a table for four people, for tomorrow.

“For what time?” I ask.

“The time is implicit!”

I parse the response. It gives the impression of a foreign object in an otherwise understandable world of words. What the fuck does that mean? Without any conscious effort, I’ve already decided that the table I’m reserving is located at a restaurant, and that the reservation is for eating. The host will want to know what time the reservation is for. They’re going to ask me, in a language in which I usually have to ask for two or three repetitions to get the jist of what’s being said. I get the idea I should reply with either “evening” or “eight” when the question comes. This seems wholly inadequate, and I think about how this will probably end in disaster tomorrow. I hate this shit, hate how often and how thoroughly things do not make sense. This is taking too long. I call.

On the phone, a single ring followed by vague sounds of construction work. A grumbly, half-audible voice says, “Da.” For a second I wonder if the voice is speaking to someone else. I ask if the man speaks English. No.

I recite the little schpiel I’ve scribbled in my notebook to help me not blank out in panic while trying to speak Romanian. I want to reserve a table for tomorrow night.

A response comes, containing “it can’t be done” followed by a train of complete nonsense. I ask for a repetition. It comes again, thankfully a little slower. It can’t be done because the place is full already. Okay, thanks.

There was no question of time. “The time is implicit” makes perfect sense, and I feel a little ridiculous for having spent so much energy on it.

I remember, from back in the days of public schooling, the particular evil of standardized tests. Multiple-choice questions would occasionally contain an answer that said there wasn’t enough information in the question to correctly solve the given problem. I’d always gravitate towards this choice; more information always seemed to be needed, whether it was an actual piece of content relevant to the problem or some aspect of the question’s wording. In life, the idea that more information is needed to act is always available. It may be a tempting choice, but it isn’t the right one nearly as often as the mind would like.

August 15th, 2011

Content Will Find a Way

The other day, I was presented with a poem selected for its style (after Lewis Carroll), but evidently not its mechanical aptitude. So after being asked if I’d like to try “fixing” the poem’s rhythm, I took a stab at it, sparking the following conversation between my master and myself:

him: Now publish it an’ link to [the blog where said poem was posted].
me: Well…
me: May I talk to you about that first?
him: Sure
me: I do not wish to publish this on my blog. My blog is not a venue for rhythm correction.
him: Why not?
me: Because I want it to be for thoughts and themes and ideas, not for editing. I want my posts to be complete pieces, and I am not interested in writing a complete piece about this poem. I just wanted to point out that the rhythm had been ruined, and when you asked if I wanted to fix it I thought it might be fun.
him: Aite. Not like you have to, but I don’t think your narrowness is really good for you.
me: Noted.
him: I mean, I thought you believed in open minds and all that.
me: Open minds. That doesn’t mean I want my blog to be the kitchen sink.
him: There is no difference I can discern between you not wanting to publish an idea of yours that is in fact complete because it doesn’t conform to some arbitrary and ill-conceived standards of puffery
him: And the attitude of some person that insists you must bow to allah this way.
me: The person who insists on bowing is applying his narrowness to someone else.
him: So are you.
me: To whom am I applying this narrowness other than myself?
him: Yourself.
me: I am other than myself?
him: Why not?
him: You should be as fair to yourself as you’d be to some other.
me: I am not trying to build something with some other.
him: If a company owned by the government owes taxes, it pays those taxes.
him: Just so, you.
me: Well this is a very interesting argument, but functionally I am different from other people because I can do/make things with myself differently than I can with other people.
him: Yes. But you shouldn’t allow that to jip you.
me: So I should assume that any brick I see or possible brick-shaped thing I might happen to come across should go into my building, just because I came across it?
me: I should have no plan and no standards, in other words?
him: Open mind. You should consider it, yes.
me: So as not to be jipped?
me: Okay. I was pretty sure I had already considered it, but in the interest of exercise, let’s see.
him: Consideration, for the record
him: Is fairly arguing the point of both sides.
me: I believe the side of “publish it” has been fairly argued.
me: Do you think otherwise?
him: I dunno.
him: Depends on the objections that are risen. But basically, it stands on the theory it should be published because it is something that you did.
me: Okay, let’s see. It’s there, it’s writing, it could be entertaining, it could be good. It could serve even as a backstop for reflecting on my own skills or interest in the future, if nothing else. It could also attract some traffic, and help me be more involved with some other blogger people.
me: Fair?
him: I think mine controls the issue.
me: Should I post audio files of my farts?
him: If you had good ones.
him: Why not?
me: Yeah. We fundamentally differ in what we think a blog is for. I’ll concede the definition to you of course, but that doesn’t change how I want to use/present mine. I’ll call the blog something else though if you think it’s necessary, so as not to confuse things.
him: I’m just saying calling the blog anything else is an exercise in allahthiswayness.
me: In the same way you not wearing bluejeans is allahthiswayness.
him: Indeed.
me: Well, I have no problem with certain abstainments.
him: Hehe ok.
him: Now it has been fairly argued.
me: Cool.

While I still have no particular inclination to post the altered poem, it struck me that the conversation was something that easily falls into my idea of what I’d like to have published here. And the irony of finding something to show in the midst of arguing against showing a thing satisfies my conviction that life’s cream often rises to the surface in unexpected places, in unexpected concentrations.