Thursday, November 15, 2007

Communism Works: An Open Letter to Michael Silverblatt

Impossible to say exactly why, but the lumpen is rising, people. For example last night I listened to the voice of Michael Silverblatt and wanted to cry. I wanted to cry, Michael Silverblatt. For one thing is certain: we cannot go on like this…

I’ve been thinking about the world for a while now Michael – thinking of it not as a network of true or false propositions but as the inside of a gigantic whale tunnelling through time and darkness. Etymologically, as you know, whales and architecture come from the opposite end of the linguistic spectrum – but there is architecture in the whale as surely as there are whale pods migrating through downtown Los Angeles. Just because things aren’t brightly lit, doesn’t make them invisible, Michael.

Michael Silverblatt, to be honest I thirst for your tears as voraciously as a car whose little orange gas-icon has been lit up for the last thirty miles. I feel like we could get there, Michael. I really do. You interview authors on the radio and I am an author not on the radio, and together we are travelling through a series of interlocking whales that make up existence. One whale is America, another is Earth, then others that are God, Los Angeles, etc.

You remember the grade-school exercise that asked us to write our exact location on an undelivered envelope? Well, I think it’s time you opened that envelope and delivered the message that America has been promising the world for years. We’re ready for it – we’ve waited long enough, anyway, and the message is burning through the thin blue sheath like a coal. Messages, messages: we’ve been promised these for centuries, Michael. But your country’s hesitancy has made the rest of the world suspect her.

Michael, I believe I have made progress along these lines, and though I may not be the first person to say this to you, I want you to listen very closely: the thing that will make you cry is brotherhood.

“Brotherhood?” says Michael Silverblatt. “Just last night I talked to Junot Diaz. Jonathan Williams sat on that exact stool – you’re speaking into the microphone that once touched the lips of Seamus Heaney!”

What, exactly, is Michael’s point here? An older guard might pull out the over-rich consistency of the bourgeois worldview – but I like Michael, and more importantly I am like Michael, specifically in my reverence for the sacred and the high. I believe that we are all in the same whale and therefore hope to answer him, not with the scorn of the working class, or the kiss of the whip, but with a vision as pure and simple as a rose in winter. A ROSE IN WINTER MICHAEL! Am I speaking loud enough yet? Lower this partition, take off your headphones and I will show you how passion can make a rose blossom from your forehead and vines drip from your nose like shoelaces; thorns pierce your eyelids. I will show you the world you’ve been longing for.

Should Michael trust me on this one? Should he put down his collected works and chop wood with the rest of the sun-bronzed demi-gods? More importantly will the whale ever dock and the message dribble off its lips to collapse exhausted on the ivory sand?

Alright, I admit it Michael, you are making me cry now, which is not exactly what I was aiming for, but which I like anyway. Delicious tears of the people, or the person! Rosewater on my upper lip! I feel that we are halfway there – Communism works, Michael Silverblatt! Say it with me, and by saying throw off the fetters of your life and ambition and find yourself in the real utopia that we’ve been planning for generations, whose groundwork we laid before you were born and whose spires will continue their putsch long after you yourself have disintegrated. You may die, but the world you bequeath to your children will live on into the night.


Are you crying yet, Michael Silverblatt? Because listen, people, if Michael isn’t crying we haven’t done our job. Rend your clothes and don hairshirt after hairshirt, for an unmoved Michael is the surest indication that everything we have worked for is lost. The winter is upon us. The vast Russian winter. Take refuge in your rabbit holes. Because from now on the only things that you will experience in common are death and sleep and maybe not even the second of these, because the world we have made respects nothing and lurches gradually towards the twenty-four hour work week. The man on which nothing is lost looses everything, and this is the secret Michael. This is the switch you must flip to extricate yourself from this madness of industry, nightmare of endless books…

I know you can do it Michael. I have faith in you, I hear a spark travelling through your vast and deeply-sonorous naval cavities, making its way towards the light, moving as it not-moves, like Jonah in his whale. Longtime listener, first time caller, Michael. Take me into your heart and I won’t disappoint.

3 comments:

The Man Who Couldn't Blog said...

Remember how we were all into laughing about mullets a while back and then, as happens, we all got sick of laughing about mullets, and then we sort of forgot about them.

If you do a Google search for the word "mullet," the first page has as many images of mullet wigs as actual mullets. That's how you know something is dead, I think. When searching for it (on Google or anywhere else...like, say, in a hunt through your psyche), you will find more simulacra than actual.

TKim said...

Hey man,
Just listened to the Silverblatt interview. Wow,
Junot Diaz has become a changed man. No more of that transgressive, I'm a bad ass with loads of punk street cred. This was a wiser JD, burnished by life and age and probably by loss of some sort. He seemed so earnest and hopeful. Near the end, I admit, my eyes were getting hot, and I thought to myself, if I'm about to squeeze out a tear, dude, Silverblatt is probably losing his shit. And he so lost his shit! It was lovely.

The part of the interview that moved me most was when he explained how we're all trying to stay human on a daily basis. He was saying how one of the characters couldn't love this girl because he didn't have the capacity to love, or at least treat with human dignity, her brother. JD was saying how love has to be large and all encompassing. You can't love islands. You gotta love the entire cosmos. This realization comes at a time in my life when the older people in my family are passing. My Grandmother's sister, who lives in Korea, is sick. She probably won't make it past the early part of next year. It's odd that even though I haven't met her in person, I have this gushing, almost melodramatic love for her because the love for my grandmother was so strong. It's like JD's charater, but in reverse. My grandmother's presence is so strong that it reaches out to everyone else that is linked to her, family or
friends or 0even things like the TV shows she enjoyed.

My mom went to Korea last week to visit my great
aunt, and I gave her a hundred bucks to pass down to her. Wow, man. My great aunt was so happy. She called with my mom from Korea. That gesture brought us closer, but not to each other. It brought us closer to our memories of my Grandmother. My great aunt told me in this scratchy, smoke broken voice, "You are so kind. I haven't even met you and you do this for me. My sister must have loved you so much." Man, I almost lost it Silverblatt style right there. From her reaction you would think i dropped off truckloads of gold ingots.

You know, being tossed around the MFA craft whirlpool, I sometimes forget why I write. That feeling i got from my great aunt, that feeling of my heart just expanding and stretching, i want that in my work. That JD interview was a reminder, to me, of what this is all about. There's a pure and longing desire underneath it all. I don't know what to call it, but it's real.

Sorry this email got all sappy, but the timing of your 7th draft post and Silverblatt's interview and the news of my great aunt all kind of came together for me. Strange how life converges like that sometimes.

Josh said...

Why do I write? Jesus, I wish I knew... Gluttony, probably. I'm a card-carrying onanist and dextrous enough to be in love with dexterity. Plus there's my uncle and mom. But it's weird about us
Puritans: we're power-obsessed and ecstacists and live to see the face of God winking at us out of a pile of coffee grounds - winking at just us. Warm as I can get I feel like i've always carried a little sliver of Northern ice around with me, like Prince Caspian or whoever that was strapped to the silver chair (that's the Chronic....what?....les of Narnia in case your parents weren't inadvertently feeding you Christian propaganda as a child).

Anyway, enough of the lyric dweebery. JD came off smug and annoying in his first interview, but I am overjoyed to hear of his rebirth and plan to get my hands on BAWLOOW as soon as I can.