Wednesday, December 27, 2006
An almost -acquainance of mine--very almost--Marshall McLuhan, says the machine changes the person working at it. Like irrevocably.
I have been changed by the computer.
Like a character in a sci-fi pulp novel, I am enmeshed in Mr. Boole's invention and and now, robot-like, aware of
To dig out the best porn sites and see lovely young girls ingesting enormous salamis?
Ah, always the devil in the machine.
You strive for clarity, accuracy, an antidote for boredom--and you end up with girls eating from Subway.
Hey Erik, resident connoisseur of the fine arts, I need a little help with this!
Snippet of a tape running through my head. "Dr. McLuhan. I have read all your books on media. I go to school with your lovely daughter, Mary. Is it possible, is it just possible that I could interview you someday soon for The Daily Ryersonian?"
How aware that Dr. McLuhan:
"It is August now, Ivan.Wouldn't it be better to interview me in September, when school starts?"
...I had hoped to get the article done, sophomore that I was, ready to be printed in the very first issue of the Ryersonian that semester. Ah, what a bird dog one was in those days. How much fun it had been to peer through the plexiglass of the print shop and see you picture and byline cascading down the rollers.
In those days I still had the" boogie cut", the hair upswept on either side, the ducktail, a slightly older Fonz among the tweedy, neatly parted college set of kids.
I was working towards my purpose, which was greatest author in Canada, and a school like Ryerson gave you instant publishing and all that came with it. Right man in right place at the right time. And hanging with Mary McLuhan.
Actually, there is a story that goes with Mary McLuhan. For some reason, maybe because of the famous father,
we'd tease and torment her a little bit. This happens a lot with women of exquisite beauty and pedigree placed for some reason in what was then the sweathog university of Ryerson. There was this resentment of aristocracy,even meritocracy.
Fact was, the U of T boys were doing the same thing with Marshall McLuhan--they knew all the ways to torment a genius--and they would say things like "Marshall, are you going over to my place tonight to offer more of your imponderable theories? I haven't the faintest notion of what in hell you're talking about."
This to the man who knew all about media and its effects, who predicted the internet, almost down to its last detail and who invented the term "global village".
My editor at the Star:
"Yeah, Marshall came over the other night. I haven't the foggies idea of what he is talking about."
Well, now we have found out.
Marhall McLuhand was talking about right now, that the medium is the message, there is no message at all, and we are all wrapped up in this cyberspace thing and hardly any new thing is said at all.
Part of it is the switch from handwritten manuscripts and typescripts--in those days we took care, indented, made huge dummy runs at stores before setting them down in cold stone--like the old alumni of the Alexandrine Library.
Now you can ratscrabble anything at all and all the world knows it, and so what.
But what in hell is ones purpose?
Published at Ryerson was too easy (This is not the case today, where Ryerson is as hard to get into as an Ivy League university, and entrance to creative writing is by good manuscript only ); the real world is much harder, and in fact, you'd have much better luck at having gone to Old Victoria College, and not Ryerson, where all the sweathogs used to go.
So while I achieved what appeared to by solid success at Ryerson with my short stories and poems, it was a false success, guaranteed publishing on strength of ambition alone. Still, it was nice to be published in three magazines, all Ryerson-related.
Ah, and now, once again, one is out in the real world, of being published where it counts, and after forty years I am hardly at the place where I first began.
I think it was Jeff Mitchell, who often writes into this blog, who twigged me onto the Hunter S. Thompson quote:
"When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro."
Well, one is definitely weird. And the going is getting weirder and weirder.
First step: Get some general purpose xerox paper.
Second step: A high quality pencil.
Third step: Scribble like a madman. You might yet winnow something out of it.
But successful people finish things.
I must put up the concluding chapters of The Black Icon, which was what the game may have been all about in the first place.
My unofficial therapist and drinking buddy after I'd left my wife to be the famous novelist--and failed miserably:
"You couldn't write a decent thing after you'd completed The Black Icon.
If you weren't any good you wouldn't have gone crazy.
Ah, well. Small comfort.
Thanks, E.A. Monroe for the insight, part of which I drew from your description of the nice man at your Christmas party, the genius who had broken down, gone off his meds and became a chain smoker.
I am not a genius. That I know. But I smoke, that I have in common at least with your friend, the genius who had broken down.
But there is always some woman (muse?) who somehow inpires me to write like a madman.
I am writing like a madman.