Monday, November 06, 2006

first post from my mac

Listening to some Sun Ra and letting the night slip away. I don’t think I’ve watched television in weeks now. I don’t know what happened, but now there is all this time. I don’t know what to do with all that free time. Perry plays Wow and I sort of putter around in the solitude of the night until things wrap up and we part our separate ways to sleep. But it’s clear that it’s not horrifying. It just seems strange. Like we are in Purgatory. Waiting for a train that will come soon. On that train it will take people to all these places. Some far and other just around the corner. As we wait we smoke and chat. We sip wine and beer and let the sun fade out as a dying cancer on an old man’s thumb. When the break is done, the time in-between will be the most cherished, and all around we will mutter where did it go? What happened to that train station? I knew that waiting was…and we’d find no more words but just that same sun now steadily climbing in a noon-time sky.


We rode along,
On shores of gold sand
With your beautiful face,
Those long black strands of hair.
That dipped and covered your face.

When we were tired we shook ourselves,
And let the sun tell us when to rest.
When we smiled it was the end of time,
When the day stopped we smiled and felt the waves and breeze of the salty air.

On that golden sand,
We made images of trees and flowers,
That shone in the afternoon sky,
And when we had to leave,
I didn’t care.
I didn’t mind because you were still there,
And all those moments that made it…
They made us part.
With that sparkling shore.


Sometimes when I’m watching people look at each other I see their faces and recognize that same face in someone else. Because the interaction was the same. The intent was similar or almost identical, so what I’m doing is recognizing the meaning behind the lips, or smile, or eyes—downcast and dark brown. It produces huge bouts of nostalgia. It sits funny inside of me. Like it wont happen again but I’m viewing as a stranger. When he sits alone and faces the end of the day. He recognizes in himself how small a man he was. He is a small man and he drinks champagne and chews on ice until they throw him his clothes in the tiny cell.

This is not the life he had planned out. When he was a boy he imagined riding on trains until he died. With a beautiful woman that made ham sandwiches and she smiled as she sipped clear mountain water. Cold. It was refreshing. But he was not there. Instead the stars were overhead and in the interminable moments. He could be caught holding his breath as if the guns would somehow stop.

But when the men took their positions at the firing line and they remarked that he was a pitiful man. In a sorry state. That he should convict himself and take the revolver. This was a waste of time one soldier commented and the other man agreed. They took hits from a snifter, then blew smokes rings from clove cigarettes as the Marshall read out loud the sentence.

He closed his eyes and told himself he did not want to see the ends of their guns. That the champagne had been delicious, but he remembered it had been bitter, and ended up not lying to himself this time. In the end he only wished for the quiet breaths of the train. Passing along the smooth rail as a silent bullet. And those same fragments of metal. They had been removed from a Russian railroad years later and been formed into long shells, caught him in the gut and he bled to death on the cold night ground. His body bathed in white moonlight, and the end of his life was nothing but a series of exclamations that another traitor was dead. That the people could sleep soundly in the night. When the mortician came in the morning he found half a body. Most of it was stripped bare by ants and scavenger owls. He prayed and threw some holy water before striking a match and burning the rest.

It had occurred to him right before he died that Tolstoy had been right. That man continued to survive as an ever-present idea of the human condition. That love, and courage, anger, and remorse were merely dead souls clinging on. Feeding those who were alive. And in that way the Great Russian author claimed immortality for a race that needed it so badly.

But when he died he only felt cold and remarked once again how bitter the champagne had been.


The time is now 7:40. It feels static. There is nothing. When Hemingway wrote he removed and stripped the character to a set of actions. Invoking a white space where the reader intended to fill that space in, inferring what was never said. He is rejecting the old world view. One in which, only led to a war that showed the terrible cruelty in mankind. Hemingway asks himself, what is there now but the end. With nothing but the capacity for evil, what have the old ways taught us but how to wage war with the world. He communicated this, in his work, and went about trying to discover how man can face these sad truths with a form of dignity. So it is immanent, that when we read this author’s work, we strive to move past his woman hating and simple use of description to the ideas he leaves off the page. When he talks of suicide, his characters almost always fail. Why would this be the case? Is he not hoping to end the pain of these miserable creatures?

These men, are not merely sad and wretched, they are fighting against nature. They are trying to assume a higher plane, where they mean something. When he writes he talks of this nothing as an enemy. Like a bullfighter facing the bull. It is unknown whether he speaks in complete metaphor, but unlike the Structuralists, we may assume the ideas we wish to form, create a moral compass for ourselves. They fail in killing themselves. To become examples of a losing fight, but not giving up until the very moment that we must.

It brings us back to the white space. Hemingway, in all his power, is creating a question for the reader to answer. He wants this reader to assume a role of responsibility, and think for themselves, what is my purpose? When faced with a character that finds himself struggling with his place in a burnt out world, we look at our world and question the foundations with which we stand on. In his attempts, he strips past the romantic and pretty to a very core foundation. It is like looking at the skeleton of a sabertooth, or the blueprints of a home. He does not want to write any more than that. If he does, he falls within the parameters of the old. And it is most certainly not his goal to teach ways that have failed mankind.

So Hemingway poses us the question of meaning. The same question that Camus and Sartre, that all the French Existentialists asked. Where does human meaning lie? What does that make the human condition? Are we tragic, are we courageous in this end, where we will never win? And the answer is never given. It is decided by the reader to fill in the blank trees and rivers, the answers and conclusion to conflicts, to fashion an answer, or at least a weapon to fight the problem.

Hemingway’s solution is to write. In fact, Camus himself states that there are 4 different solutions.

1. There is the hedonist. Who exists to blank out the problem with pleasure.
2. There is the actor. Who does not exist as a solid human, and lives as changing characters. He has no form to face the problem.
3. There is the leader. The one who assumes control. To take those under him and create his own meaning through leadership. The God complex.
4. There is the artist. Who fights this nothing by his own creation. A slap in the face towards that nothing.

So we see, here, that there are structures that perhaps bind man. That we are all one of those things. Regardless of whether this is true, they offer a choice for those not knowing that such a choice existed. Whether each one is ‘good’ or not is hard to judge. It is then the task of man to create a structure he himself holds strongly too while at the same time regarding humanity through a moralist stance. Perhaps it is too much to ask though, and it may be that this nothing has, over time, broken down man’s will. It merely predicts our end simply by existing. And defeats the thing that continues to survive us. Our morality.

Which is the point of what Hemingway is doing at his core. Through everything, these people do not fail morally, and thus Hemingway, in his white space, creates a feeling that even in great sadness, we cannot fail to become less than who we are. Even in the face of death, we are good people.

welcome to neptune, welcome to space, welcome to the world of jazz


Anonymous said...

you got a mac?

Julian LaBounty said...

yeah. free from darlene. i got her a new macbook like yours so she said i could have her old powerbook. postin' pics.