Sunday, October 28, 2007

Overbabylonia

Seth,

Before getting back to our Zeno’s paradox-type enrichment/demolishing of daily life, I wanted to pause for a second, lift my head up, shake, and take a minute to savor the great wet dog smell of other people. One of the strange things about writing online being, amazingly enough, that both strangers and loved ones can read your shit and then have an opinion of it, and that there’s nothing you can do about it. Bizarre, right? The desk drawer where I used to stash my aborted masterpieces is getting so lonely that I can hear it mewing at night like a lamb at pasture…


The Fascination of the Fucked Up and Brilliant Uncle is a known quantity in the world, despite its mysteriousness. But why the uncle? Why not (and wouldn’t this be about a hundred times more cosmically fair) the father? Why not Barak Obama, who seems to me like he’s probably a fun enough uncle but a lousy father? Tolstoy? Steven Spielberg?

My own uncle has become more and more important to me as I've gotten older, and especially so since his sister died two and a half years ago. As a kid I remember him as kind of a shit…a lovable shit, but a shit nonetheless. He and my mom argued whenever they met, there was tension, I mean they had a whole childhood’s worth of issues that I have no idea about and never will probably.

One afternoon we ate lunch together at Red Lobster; at a certain point I asked to go to the bathroom, where I peed, washed my hands, and then stared calmly at my face in the mirror. My face, which at that point I decided looked nothing like either my mom’s or my uncle's, and which therefore was completely innocent, spotless, uncconected with their problems. I had been sent to this planet to observe and record and would be whisked back up to my home planet upon my eighteenth birthday. So I spent the rest of the meal watching the shrimp scampy fly from behind the dumb waiter.

(Actually, that last part never happened and never would happen: my family is Scotch-Irish and would literally walk the Red Lobster plank before they’d let even a single slice of lemon garnish go to waste.)

Fifteen years later the mothership still hasn't circled, and I've become at least partially convinced that there are things you can’t escape. To be honest, I've become fascinated with the things you can’t escape. Family being one of the big ones. My soul is a battlefield where my father, mother, and whatever other ancestors might want to show up fight for supremacy, and there are unfortunately no dumb waiters to hide behind.

This preamble is getting kind of ridiculous, so I’ll speed it up. My uncle, who visits me every once in a while but whose permanent whereabouts have been unknown to us for some time (some say Indian reservation, some Hawaii, or prison, but I have insider information that points to Shanghai and a small but lucrative expatriate video rental business) has begun sending me emails about this blog. Interesting emails. To say that his angle of access is unique is understating it – I mean this is the guy who, I am not kidding, used to read my brother and I a page of Finnegan’s Wake while we were taking our nightly bath. Given that both of us kids had to fit in a single bathtub for that arrangement to work out, I’d say that our combined ages at that point were probably not even in the double digits.

Anyway, here’s Screwtape on your last entry, blogging, and the State of the Soul:

“i dug seth's recent gristlogue on 7thdraft and kept mulling what we were in disco about on the pierrepont street couch: writing for an 'audience' v. the interior madness & conflict we keep to ourselves, & only capture 'diaretically' in an effort to explain said incongruities TO ourselves (a losing proposition, mostly)

for instance in the 'journal' version he woulda done that poor girl in the office. right in the ass, bent over the copier, her moans barely stifled as a stack of corporate balance sheets are spit out to the rythym of his thrusts... [sorry, but we all know this is closer to the psychic truth than any 'reality' could be!]

it woulda been : "how could i do this to my wife whom i love??" -kinda schtick, ---the counterintuitive acting against our own best interests we all know & love so well its become the practical fabric of our existence; part of every story, every film...

then it occurred to me, you - you & this particular associate, par example - may simply be too good-hearted as people to pull this off. you may simply lack the type of mean-spirited, selfish, & abusive instincts required to entertain an audience riddled with covert pathologies & obsessions

for instance i would never tell ANYONE but my diary something like: "women should be routinely cornholed until they drop", etc. - a horrible, rotten thought indeedy - and yet one proffered only 1/2 in jest, since its amazing to me how many times i find myself drifting down that burnt brown dirt road...

its the core misanthropy you're missing, lad...

and then the killer: "WHY IS EVERYONE SO FUCKED UP AND WOUNDED?"

wow, now THAT, that is at the very heart of the matter, isnt it. when you get right down to it & stop lying & running....it stunned me right off the side of my chair. wowwowwow....oww-wow. brilliant.

actually once on the screen porch in Berkley several years ago i broached this very subject with a friend, and she told me almost exactly the same thing. shocked the shit outta me then & it still does. my point? you knew i was dragging you along towards one?

well i laid the groundwerk with you & el last time at clark's, non?? did you see it rearing its ugly head then? or did my overbabylonia only cloud it up?

OK>>lets reverse engineer this pudding for a moment. in other words, the psychic landscape may not be a function of unintended 'bad' consequences, as if we didnt want to be so detached from & hostile towards one another deep down but QUITE TO THE CONTRARY - what if its....

-----------------------> TRAUMATOPHILIA???"

6 comments:

Seth said...

Josh: Weirdly, this morning, before I even knew your uncle, I woke up and wrote him the story posted above.

I think we need a new blog detailing your uncle's response to 7th Draft.

Tommy said...

Fellas, my uncle once made me and my cousin put our hands on the couch, bend over, and receive an ass bashing with a wiffle ball bat. It was because we stole the rubber band off of the neighbor's newspaper. Little did he know, a few years later, we would be tipping over motorcycles and throwing shaving cream balloons at passing cars. He never knew about those incidents. Oh, and one time we linked a bag full of rubber bands to make this super-rubber-band and we tied it across the street from a fence to a stop sign. An unwitting bicycler got clotheslined and he fell on his ass, the bike riding unmanned for a few yards before tipping over. Dae In and I giggled and ran away. My uncle never found out about that. This was the same uncle that bought me a brand new honda accord when i turned 16. Then the car got repo'd only a few months after. He owned a liquor store that went under (after the riots of 1991). He once cracked the butt of his pistol on some thief's nose when the thief tried to steal beer.

Seth said...

Tommy: good uncle recollections...mine would be much different.

Josh said...

Welcome to "Uncle: The Blog Devoted to Uncles"

Mysteriously enough, I not only have a few real uncles, but also had a high-school teacher whose nickname was Uncle. This was at boarding school, one of the strangest places in the universe, so he invited us over to his apartment to listen to opera and watch the English Patient. Yeah. Despite a general kindness, he used to constantly tell me not to pick my face - he knew it was a natural reaction, but he didn't want it to scar, direct quote.

Any other Uncles out there, real or imaginary?

Seth said...

Josh:

My uncle's name is Dean. He's my only blood uncle...You'd like him.

Josh said...

Never heard of him.