Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Same old script, different day

Stuck on the same film script for forty years, I am reminded of old Ezra Pound:

"For years he strove to resuscitate the dead art
Wrong from the start."

It was about a fishing trip with pals Ralph and Andy and Johnny.
All of my friends were altruists, good people and all died young.

What was my theme, me the lucky one who not only survived the somewhat dangerous Deliverance-style fishing trip, but went on to survive and prosper?

For the life of me, I could not glean a theme from the filmscript that was commissioned by the Audubon Society to do, the film script I could not complete.

Very probably, I was just out of my medium.

My intention had been to be a novelist, not a journalist, or film script writer.

I ended up being moderately successful at journalism and small luck with a novella, but I could not write for film...You need to think visually; the scenes need to be crisp, clear, and well-drawn, as in a comic book.

It was just beyond me.

But things do happen to us and it is only years later that we deduce why and how.

I am somehow a Methuselah and all my friends are dead.

All my fishing friends had teriffic jobs, marriages, children, nice homes.

I too had these things but there was somehow a difference.

I knew for sure that my mother was a witch, and immortal.

This in spite of all the science, all the religion, all the epistemology to the contrary.

There are things under heaven and hell that you can only dream of in your philosophy, old Shakespeare says somewhere.

I like to think that these things make up God.

Hedut Torah

Pequod Torah

Who dares mention all the names of the Ineffable?

One would be struck blind.

Pretty close to old Herman Melville and his Moby Dick, and the boat was named the Pequod.

Pequod Torah.

The White Whale.

All three of my fishing friends were somehow involved with their own White Whale and it seemed the Leviathan somehow turned and killed them.

The White Whale was each one's adulteries.
Nothing good comes from any adultery.

I am on this day reminded by the sad fate of once hocky adept Ti Domi and the ubiquitous MP, Belinda Stronach.

Pequod Torah
Hedut Torah

yyy

My fishing friends, though hale and hearty and and so well turned out, with their creels and flies and fishing vests--were all involved in horrid soap operas and it was only the fishing that was keeping them a little detached, a little more sane.

I was the sole monogomous guy in the group. I really did have the strength of a thousand men.
I had not yet fallen.

They had all, my three great friends, had committed adultery; they did not know the gun was loaded.
That was the theme of my film script, that adultery leads to almost unbearable pain and suffering.


But it may have been a false theme, and that may have been where the mental block came in.

On the road out of Elliott Lake, we passed a cemetary.

On one grave there was chiseled a line out of, perhaps James Joyce, out of Dubliners:

"The rain falls upon the living and the dead."

I googled Joyce.

Once you take away God, it now seems to me, you are reduced to your own cleverness, your own devices, all of this leading to personal failure and certainly pain.

But then there is also Mother Wit, Pallas Athena. God might be a woman?

She goes a different way.

But you have to be careful.

If you do not caution her, she will go Her Own Way, perhaps to your peril.

I could not finish my script because I had reached a final indissoluble antinomy.

Which simply means there are things under heaven and hell, and even in science, that we have no idea of.

Small wonder I could not complete.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Guest poem. The Loneliness of the Long Distance Black Woman


This land I wasn't born

Janet Harvey

This land I wasn’t born
My child wasn’t born here either
So we can leave, I guess we can
Will this land search for me, for alimony

This land I wasn't born is like my lover
Who hates me, wants all I have fifty, fifty
And gives me nothing in return.
No love, or act of love,
I am not happy in this union
One sided, my lover is sucking
Me dry and slowly killing me.

With toxin, un-readable labels and secret ingredients
Mental torture, and mountain of stress
If I drive a new car police fallows me
I am black, something wrong with that
This land I wasn't born is like a lover
Taking me for all I haven’t got.

Copyright 2006 Janet Harvey

Fuzzy Snoopy Dog, Keeper of the Brain

Reduced to working in a high-end furniture factory while waiting for inspiration to hit me on my Magnum Opus, I was shown the Mikita, or something like that, a high speed screwdriver, which I couldn't for the life of me, seat properly.
You have to do it at an angle, the angle of the dangle, and I was literally screwing it up--instead of down.

"We're just going to have to call you "Challenged Ivan," says the owner, realizing that I'd screwed part of my shirt into a beautiful armoir designed to look like Amish."Seems you can't teach an old dog new tricks."

Manually, incompetent, I was still the fastest mouth in town, I offer, "You can't teach an old trick new dogs."

"You dissin' us?" the owner wanted to know.

"No. Nothing. It's just that I've had every job known to man, including gigolo for big bucks...Old trick, you know."

He was fairly fast on the uptake. For a woodworker.

"Ivan, you ignorant slut," he laughed.

Well, what can you do?

Laid off at the college, I was considering carnival geeking. I mean, I'm not the most straight-laced normal guy in town, wilder at times than Richard Simmons at a Wal-Mart bonk- pant display.

"Exhibit yourself as a freak," laughs a cynical drinking buddy. "Just punch the clock in front of the cage every morning and punh out at night. Then they can see your balls going 'Orang-Utang'."

I didn't tell him I was already good at that.

Hertz Rent-a-Ukie was my second job after being more or less canned at the college for actually teaching and not hiding in the faculty room like everybody else--"Assign them self-study."

Assign them self-study? What's this, Montessori, where the kids masturbate all day?

"What do you guys do the faculty room all day...and you don't even smoke."

"We all kind of work on our collective inferiority complex."

Well, at least that was honest. Well-grounded, it seemed to me.

The department head had a project. Worked on his inferiority complex.

There was a big car dealership close to the college here at York Region, WILSON NIBBLET, big banners and streamers.

I was sorely tempted to point out that sign to my department head. Go for it, Wilson.

Don't last too long with an attitude like that.

So I played my other suit as a teacher of guitar.

It was pleasant. Damn pleasant.

In charge of twelve women, each with a guitar, sort of like a conductor bossing gorgeous cellists around, their shapely legs curved lovingly around their insturments. Trouble is, I'd drink and somedays would give them a bouquet that wasn't quite roses. Farting and tap dancing, hair afly.
Leonard Berstein would have been proud!

Just at the point where I was going to get fired again, one of my "cellists" came to me and said, "I want brainy men now. That's what I want."

Know any? I asked, trying to be helpful.

"No seriously. You're brainy. I'd like to take you to breakfast tomorrow morning."

Some breakfast.Breakfast in bed.

And then, Orang-Utan!

"You Europeans. You're such perverts. All men are perverts."

"These are not perversions, they are refinements," I explained in my best professorial tone.

"You're kind of good, but I guess you know that."

"Yeh."

Gwynnevere was beautiful. She was beautiful because she had invested twenty thousand dollars in cosmetic surgery, including a breast lift and a tummy tuck. Save for tiny marks behind her ears, there was not a mark on her. And she was beautiful now in every way. Not for me was it to say, like Henry Miller in Tropic of Cancer, "Mona had a c*nt like a valise." From what I'd seen of Princess Diana in the gym, Gwennyvere was a lot like the late and great Di, a knockout.

But Gwynnevere had to foot the bills.

"You are cool, but you are exensive," she complained one day at the Greystone, where I'd run up an $130 bar tab.

And then she had to buy me clothes. Her man had to look good. I had insisted on the lates camouflage suits including a Panama. I wasn't fooling around. I was becoming the Scarlet Pimpernell without the spy aspect.

Teaching an old trick new dogs.

Through a parallel universe, I am back at work in the furniture factory, thinking for some time about my boss' low IQ, though he was smart enough to make a living. Expecially while colour blind.

A colour blind carriage trade furniture maker, with all the subtle tones you need in the finish, the differeint grains.

And dyslexic. How he do dat? There are so many people with so many genetic anomalies--and yet they all make a living and they all do well. We the sighted, the geeks, more often than no end up as poor picaros, spear-carriers and shit-catchers in hospitals. Alan Frew, of Glass Tiger, my drinking buddy comes to mind. Hospital orderly until his band took off. And he one brainy, talented guy.

I go through another parallel universe, back to me the prof, back to realizing what astounding students the college had, and how they were so badly taught, when taught at all.. Small wonder that some students have fantasies of just one day picking up a machine gun and....

But I talk of psychopaths and not students.

Students.

We play the game called Creative Writing.

Put the character in the tightest spot he'd ever been in. His life, his marriage, his very identity is in danger. He is broke and on the verge of madness in a fleabag motel in Texas, three thousand miles away from home. His wife had just sent him a Dear John and his girlfriend has decided she doesn't want anybody else garbage, and in any event, "You are an asshole."

"I knew that," says the character.

Well. Aren't you the happy guy, Bunky.

"Suppose you are a psychiatrist," I would say to the class. Suppose you'd try to write about what's going on in this guy's mind. Supposing he were to close his eyes. Oxymoron aside, what would he see?

Nugent, the smart, imaginative guy in the class, good writer:

"I would see him in a kind of meditation. He would see the working of his own wheels, his 'computer brain", you could say.

"Over the compuer brain is Tiny Brain, lately evolved. He has Snoopy goggles and he is the pilot of this unit, this person. 'Shit. Computer Brain is going haywire,' yelps Snoopy with the goggles. Computer brain says 'Firewater good. Must have more Firewater!'

If he has any more firewater, he'll completely immobilize himself, stay stuck in that Texas motel room and will probably be picking uo by cops and thrown into a Southern jail...'Must use the joystick. Gotta steer Computer Brain out of this spiral.

Gradually, Snoopy steers computer brain onto the right course. 'Lay off the grog. Don't phone anybody drunk. You'll have a clearer head tomorrow.'

In her own odd way--and you know her--your wife is telling you that she loves you'

But Compuer Brain will not give up. 'The cigarette pack. Joe Camel. Looks like a Penis. I gotta fuck somebody'

"Later, later," Snoopy advises.

Some creative writing class, huh?

Anyway, we get it on with our ideas, we get on in our writing.

Yes. The struggle between Tiny Brain and Computer Brain.

And over at the wood shop, I am still trying to learn new tricks.

Will Tiny Brain ever overcome Computer Brain?

Tearing furniture apart.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Internet romances


Internet romances.

Sela Carsen, author of NOT QUITE DEAD (Samhein), says in her blog that she cherishes her internet friends, holding them almost equal to real people.

But there is another dimension in cyberspace, the love connection without going to the pros.
Internet relationships develop,some warm, as in the case or poetess Janet Harvey (see reproduction), or outright negative feelings as in the case of correspondent Josie, who had finally been flatly rejected in an internet relationships and she says in her blog and she doesn't like it much.

Internet relationships.

Been in one?

I am sort of in one, but the jury's still out on that one.

Enough that she is very smart, can write like a dream and has the cyber savvy, and lately a job as, I think, a web designer.

Two months ago she was flat on her fanny, apparently no place to go, and then, by some miracle, she straightened herself right out. It is me, the advice-giver who is now eyeing the dog food, and so is Fido and I don't mean cell phone.

Ah, well. We prop each other up.

What are your internet relationships like?

Ever been in an intense one?

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Roles that I play

Forced to teach business English, I was reduced to explaining to students that there once was this old Achean merchant who had no idea of where all his ships were, that all the masters were drinking while driving and so were half the slaves, that his son, Hippias was growing long hair and up to no good, that he needed a good report writer to tell him what the Hades was going on.

That, I insisted, was the granddaddy of all business reports.

Smartass in the class.

"Were those reports in Linear A or Linear B?"

"What the &^%* do you know kid? I have a tattoo of a fox hunt running all the way down my back (the stars and stripes are on my chest)--the fox hunt is in full progress, and the hounds chase him all the way up my major aperture...Take that, you little uptown asshole!"

At least that's what I felt like telling him.

Yeah, yeah, there was Linear A, which was a kind of pictorial pot-talk, a tad like Egyptian hieroglyphics and there was Linear B, closer to Classic Greek ......I had just graduated from a tech university that wasn't properly accredited and I had to go to Toronto to 'larn somthin' ; and that was why I knew some of that shit, but if a student had asked me three months beforehand, I would have answered in tulips and buttercups...Prof is a f*cking idjit.

There was an essay part to the course, and here is where the otherwise bland future MBA's could get a little creative.

ROLES THAT I PLAY

Like in the morning, I wake up to my freaking alarm clock which throw across the room and knock batteries all over the rug--playing the role of day worker.

Like in the evening, I am offering my wife all sorts of amenities and nice talk, hoping later on to play the role of lover.

Like in graduate school, buttering up the prof so you'll keep getting those straight A's and not lose your scholarship, though she knows you are a fucking idiot; playing the role of graduate student.

I thought it was a fairly frivolous assignment until I got some of the essays in. Shakespeare was mentioned, of course, as well as Killgore Trout, a character out of Kurt Vonnegut Junior, on this day of a famous space shoot, where the astronaut was given a fairly straighforward role: "Take the village idiot and shoot him up in a pressure cooker."

And as for the Greek merchantman, why, all Greek philisohy was bumfucking. "The whole is greater than the part.

Right kid?

"Now bend over."

Hey, I'm just quoting Kurt Vonnegut Jr! Serious scholarship, this.

But in all seriousness, we do play roles.

All the time.

There are so many modes we get into.

I have a clown mode (you may have noticed).

I have a serious mode, where I edit good people's poetry and some of it really reaches me, makes me weep.

I have a mode as an avant-garde musician and all the hip talk that goes around it.

What are some of the roles that you play?

What are some of the modes you get into?

I am really curious.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Last exit to Toledo

While envy may be igorance and imitation suicide, I am almost tempted to emulate the lady bloggers and all their notes as to what they did over the Labor Day Weekend.

I went to Hamilton, Ontario, which is a lot like Toledo, Ohio, a steeltown, all of which made for an almost guaranteed crappy time.

But a crappy time is sometimes an indication that you're going to write something, the hesitancy before the quantum leap. How much Hamilton is like Baltimore, say, all the attempted urban renewals, bums on the main drag; the real life is up on the Mountain, where the rich suburbanites are. My sisters are all up there. They are middleclass, have been middleclass for a long time, and old Ivan, who once aspired to avoid the middle and head straight for the upper--has suddenly f*cked up and is now the poor relation.

Oh how nice it had been to lecture under the oak trees of old Seneca College, the kids nipping and tucking at you, throwing their frisbees at the old prof, hoping he'd catch, but more likely to bean old Mr. Chips.

Gone, all gone. Nasty-uglies had taken over the administration. Empire builders. Unlettered assholes who got into the community college system without any paper. How easy for intelligent thugs to knock over dreamy, ivory tower Phd's and us Masters of F*ck All. The students got in the way of empire building and were seen as a necessary evil. A headship, that was the game."I'm going to build an empire, boy. I'lm going to build it on tone and nuance. Tone and nuance, that's the thing. Like a play. A play on words. Students can take things two ways. A smart man can make a student lose his balance. Sure, I manipulate the students. But that's only for their own good. Teach them about the world."

"I'll give you a headship!"I used to yell at my imaginary adversaries at the bar.

"Academics are slime," I am crying in my beer.

"You used to be an academic," my pal the photographer pipes up.

I came across one of the young Turks in the liquor story parking lot. "I'm not sure I should be talking to you."

"Well la-di-da. Who the fuck are you?"
"I'm gonna build me an empire boy. On tone and nuance."

Fact is, I was untenured and they had somehow gotten tenure. Something of a cabal. If you were in with the director of student affairs, you were in. Then you got your paper from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education--whatever the fuck they study. Recently, of course, OISIE got to be part of the University of Toronto...But none of the empire builders completed the courses. They went to Niagara Community College in Buffalo, or somewhere instead. No matter. Paperwork or no paperwork, once in, you were in.

It was the money that made teachers struggle thus.

A headship was $ 80,000 oldfashioned dollars a year.
Small wonder that entire courses of students would drop out, abandon the vows, quit their specialties.
Not so bad that there were empire builders at the college. Some of the course heads had been making sexual advances.

I was for the moment, safe. I had a column in the suburban Star. This gave me protection.

I gave up the column to concentrate on the teaching.

"Ah, Ivan, said the college's real academic, an MD and teacher of same. . You are now just plain Ivan. One of us."

I countered by having a novel serialized. That held them off.

But soon the huns were at the gates, the gates of Ivan's office.

I finally had enough and quit.
"Got your scalp nailed up on my wall," said one of the thugs at my going-away party."

"You quit your job?" says wife.
"Get out of my house."

Amazing how you can lose everthing overnight. Just like a poor hardworking Polack who had no idea of where he lived or among whom he moved. Then he quits his job. To be immediately grabbed by other Polacks who were sharper and faster.

Got the Polack mark again, just like all my C's at the University of Toronto.

Ah well. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Nobody had told me to succeed. I just had. Self-made man..

"You deliberately want to be a bum," canny parents are chiding.

"Social contract is $35,000 a year,"says wife.

Somebody has f*cked up my job.

Somebody is riffing my wife, the husband the last to know.

Ain't life grand, Bunky?

So you attempt one of the grand comebacks. You get a stunning girlfriend. You come back to teach nights at the college. "Ivan's back," they all say.

Ah, but if you quit your job to find out something about life, you might find out too much, wishing, in fact, you'd never gone.

The divorce settlements. Lost of home. Loss of family. Loss of sanity. Oh, is the gun ever loaded!

Don't you dare ever to leave a comfortable situation to find out something about life.

It's not worth finding out. Like me in my quest for the Gilgemesh legend through a mountain of clay tablets.
There is nothing there but poor half-gay Gilgemesh, his pal the wild man (Beetlejuice from the movie?) and some god in a pinetree who is killed for nothing while the Wild Man gets a BJ from the world's first documented hooker.

That is the story. That is the whole story.
Stick to the Talmud. You'd be better off. Those cats had lived. Really lived. Not for nothing the soothing words of psalms.

So, my Labor Day trip to Hamilton. Shat upon by my sisters. But, appreciated, of course, by my mother. The primal relationship!

My mother is more than ancient. She is FN-99-----------
F*cking near 100.

I am FN-70. F*cking near seventy.

What's poor Gilgemesh going to do?

Will try not to write anything ugly any more and work at the important things in life.

Which are literature and poetry.

"Come all you mothers, don't let your sons grow up to be cowboys."

Friday, September 01, 2006

Not to Brooklyn

Every so often, in this jaded life, somebody sends you a poem that sends you yourself halfway to the moon.

Yeah, yeah, you'd seen it all, read it all.

And then, out of the blue comes originality, truth, creativity of a high order.

Sample:

THE EXIT JUST INCHES FROM HER NOSE

She’s dancing now;
After been to hell and back.
Lashes singe from sweltering journey-
She’ve travelled . The darkest tunnels-
Embedded in forbidden furnace over treacherous hills.
Beyond purple dawns of-
multi doses of chemo tangle her eternity,
that same painful path her dad travelled to the promise land
when it was time to say, no more
no more poking, or burning my internal demons
let go, I am tired
that same tunnel her brother visualizes in his taste buds.
And so it looms:
The family fear.
many dried roses hangs bat like in the basement,
So the cards and gift baskets,
Un-open. Encouraging Words like stream;
Climbing a tower to be strong as a sea,
Wings lame yet she flies.
Higher than ever ;
What fridge winter lay hibernanat.
They all ask same question.
Who can fix all those ;

Broken doll facing upward.
on abandon fields every where.
Why cant scientist save the world-
From boiling rain, and radiated beams
With band aide power to halt .
When the exit is red and cannot hide
Just inches from your nose.

The poetess wants editing; there are things she can't see while nervously buttoning and unbuttoning her buttons of words. Ye gods, have pity on me! I am a simple blacksmith, not forging in the smithy of my sould the uncreated consciousness of my race, but, rather the fully created consciousness of the self, and, I fear a blackened and fell self.

And what good all this pounding on the anvil where someone else can just touch, here and there--and there you are, all of you. This is what you have been trying to unbutton; this is what you were trying to button. You are there, whole and clearly visible. I can see you.

Or that is the sense you get while reading Ms. X's poetry.

She came to me clear, as if in a field.
"Do you do one-on-one edits?"

I did not know what to expect. I have read some good poetry. I have read bad poetry. I have published some
mediocre poetry--does it count if it's in the yearbook of your own university?

And then in comes a brace of poems from Ms. X.

Oh my God. I have never read anything like this work.

So, out with the notepad, the candle, the yellow paper.

This is good work Ms. X has sent in.

I dare not be flip or glib.

This is stuff straight from the heart, but a heart not yet touched by me.

Hippocratic oath: Do no harm!