I have nothing else to say. My spine hurts.
Edit: Hmm. What does it mean that I have begun confusing funny with sad?
* * * *
Administration, n. An ingenious abstraction in politics, designed to receive the kicks and cuffs due to the premier or president. A man of straw, proof against bad-egging and dead-catting.
Alliance, n. In international politics, the union of two thieves who have their hands so deeply inserted in each other's pockets that they cannot separately plunder a third.
Amnesty, n. The state's magnanimity to those offenders whom it would be too expensive to punish.
Capital, n. The seat of misgovernment. That which provides the fire, the pot, the dinner, the table and the knife and fork for the anarchist; the part of the repast that himself supplies is the disgrace before meat. Capital Punishment, a penalty regarding the justice and expediency of which many worthy persons — including all the assassins — entertain grave misgivings.
Commerce, n. A kind of transaction in which A plunders from B the goods of C, and for compensation B picks the pocket of D of money belonging to E.
Compromise, n. Such an adjustment of conflicting interests as gives each adversary the satisfaction of thinking he has got what he ought not to have, and is deprived of nothing except what was justly his due.
Conservative, n. A statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from the Liberal, who wishes to replace them with others.
Corporation, n. An ingenious device for obtaining individual profit without individual responsibility.
Diplomacy, n. The patriotic art of lying for one's country.
Freedom, n. Exemption from the stress of authority in a beggarly half dozen of restraint's infinite multitude of methods. A political condition that every nation supposes itself to enjoy in virtual monopoly. Liberty. The distinction between freedom and liberty is not accurately known; naturalists have never been able to find a living specimen of either.
Labor, n. One of the processes by which A acquires property for B.
Multitude, n. A crowd; the source of political wisdom and virtue. In a republic, the object of the statesman's adoration. "In a multitude of counsellors there is wisdom," saith the proverb. If many men of equal individual wisdom are wiser than any one of them, it must be that they acquire the excess of wisdom by the mere act of getting together. Whence comes it? Obviously from nowhere — as well say that a range of mountains is higher than the single mountains composing it. A multitude is as wise as its wisest member if it obey him; if not, it is no wiser than its most foolish.
Nominate, v. To designate for the heaviest political assessment. To put forward a suitable person to incur the mudgobbling and deadcatting of the opposition.
Opposition, n. In politics the party that prevents the Government from running amuck by hamstringing it.
Patriot, n. One to whom the interests of a part seem superior to those of the whole. The dupe of statesmen and the tool of conquerors.
Patriotism, n. Combustible rubbish read to the torch of any one ambitious to illuminate his name. In Dr. Johnson's famous dictionary patriotism is defined as the last resort of a scoundrel. With all due respect to an enlightened but inferior lexicographer I beg to submit that it is the first.
Politics, n. A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage.
Poverty, n. A file provided for the teeth of the rats of reform. The number of plans for its abolition equals that of the reformers who suffer from it, plus that of the philosophers who know nothing about it. Its victims are distinguished by possession of all the virtues and by their faith in leaders seeking to conduct them into a prosperity where they believe these to be unknown.
Presidency, n. The greased pig in the field game of American politics.
Radicalism, n. The conservatism of to-morrow injected into the affairs of to-day.
Republic, n. A nation in which, the thing governing and the thing governed being the same, there is only a permitted authority to enforce an optional obedience. In a republic, the foundation of public order is the ever lessening habit of submission inherited from ancestors who, being truly governed, submitted because they had to. There are as many kinds of republics as there are gradations between the despotism whence they came and the anarchy whither they lead.
Suffrage, n. Expression of opinion by means of a ballot. The right of suffrage (which is held to be both a privilege and a duty) means, as commonly interpreted, the right to vote for the man of another man's choice, and is highly prized. Refusal to do so has the bad name of "incivism." The incivilian, however, cannot be properly arraigned for his crime, for there is no legitimate accuser. If the accuser is himself guilty he has no standing in the court of opinion; if not, he profits by the crime, for A's abstention from voting gives greater weight to the vote of B.
Un-American, adj. Wicked, intolerable, heathenish.
Wall Street, n. A symbol for sin for every devil to rebuke. That Wall Street is a den of thieves is a belief that serves every unsuccessful thief in place of a hope in Heaven. Even the great and good Andrew Carnegie has made his profession of faith in the matter.
* * * *
The whole satanic lexicon can be found in e-form right here.
On another note, I was recently pointed toward a review of The Social Network (which I'll see someday, I promise) that touched on the same topic as the articles from Adbusters and n+1 that inspired the last update. An excerpt:
When a human being becomes a set of data on a website like Facebook, he or she is reduced. Everything shrinks. Individual character. Friendships. Language. Sensibility. In a way it’s a transcendent experience: we lose our bodies, our messy feelings, our desires, our fears. It reminds me that those of us who turn in disgust from what we consider an overinflated liberal-bourgeois sense of self should be careful what we wish for: our denuded networked selves don’t look more free, they just look more owned.
With Facebook, Zuckerberg seems to be trying to create something like a Noosphere, an Internet with one mind, a uniform environment in which it genuinely doesn’t matter who you are, as long as you make “choices” (which means, finally, purchases). If the aim is to be liked by more and more people, whatever is unusual about a person gets flattened out. One nation under a format. To ourselves, we are special people, documented in wonderful photos, and it also happens that we sometimes buy things. This latter fact is an incidental matter, to us. However, the advertising money that will rain down on Facebook—if and when Zuckerberg succeeds in encouraging 500 million people to take their Facebook identities onto the Internet at large—this money thinks of us the other way around. To the advertisers, we are our capacity to buy, attached to a few personal, irrelevant photos.
Is it possible that we have begun to think of ourselves that way? It seemed significant to me that on the way to the movie theater, while doing a small mental calculation (how old I was when at Harvard; how old I am now), I had a Person 1.0 panic attack. Soon I will be forty, then fifty, then soon after dead; I broke out in a Zuckerberg sweat, my heart went crazy, I had to stop and lean against a trashcan. Can you have that feeling, on Facebook? I’ve noticed—and been ashamed of noticing—that when a teenager is murdered, at least in Britain, her Facebook wall will often fill with messages that seem to not quite comprehend the gravity of what has occurred. You know the type of thing: Sorry babes! Missin’ you!!! Hopin’ u iz with the Angles. I remember the jokes we used to have LOL! PEACE XXXXX
When I read something like that, I have a little argument with myself: “It’s only poor education. They feel the same way as anyone would, they just don’t have the language to express it.” But another part of me has a darker, more frightening thought. Do they genuinely believe, because the girl’s wall is still up, that she is still, in some sense, alive? What’s the difference, after all, if all your contact was virtual?
I think it's about time I took a walk. Near-full moon tonight. Later this week I'll have a post made up of my own words instead of other people's.
Meant to update this thing a few days ago, but was seized unexpectedly by The Sickness. Verbiage to come when head cold goes.
In the meantime, please enjoy this photograph, courtesy of Mr. J.F. Contrary to what you might suspect, it is not a photograph of yours truly (though the resemblance is uncanny).
I would say that poetry gets a bad rap nowadays, but that would be incorrect in that it implies that anyone gives poetry a sliver of thought. The causes for the craft's beleaguered reputation (or lack of one) in the 21st century can be attributed to a number of causes.
But the cool part about this, and one of the reasons I enjoy reading modern poetry (at least the stuff that isn't overacademized and deliberately impenetrable), is that you know the people who still write this stuff must be both passionate about what they're doing and writing precisely what they want to. Hard to approach a project with a cynical, market-driven mindset (like you frequently see in fiction, nonfiction, comic books, television, film, music, video games, etc.) when there simply isn't a market to cater to. Poetry ain't dead. There are a lot of people doing some very cool and interesting stuff -- it's just that nobody is paying attention.
In any event, I am not a frequent poet. Every month or two, I'll find myself finishing a new piece. It's not something I can will or force; it just happens on its own. But now I'm sitting on a stack of work that's never been published (though, as usual, not for lack of trying) or presented to an audience, and have been thinking it's about time I got it out there. And this was why I headed to Brooklyn last Sunday for an open mic in Park Slope.
Open mics are always a crapshoot. All of the people who come to perform are there because they can't get invited to perform anywhere -- which doesn't necessarily mean they are awful, but in many cases it does -- and most of the people who come to listen arrive with the performers. But hell -- a free show is a free show, and an audience is an audience.
So I headed into Park Slope with Eszter and a stack of printouts and found the place without too much trouble. It was a little bar/cafe with a lovely atmosphere: red walls, low lighting, and a laid-back soundtrack. Pretty much what I expected. We arrived late. I was about twelfth on the sign-up sheet, so I took a seat, slurped on a Hot Toddy, and consulted Eszter on which of the six and seven pieces she thought would be best to read.
At 7:30, the first performer came on: a middle-aged man who strummed a guitar and sang off-key ballads about drinking and seasonal depression while a sunny-faced kid of about eighteen or nineteen accompanied him with a bongo, eyes shut, smiling, swaying from side to side like he had taken MDMA at a summer drum circle. Certainly it was a little ridiculous -- but it is hard to just earnestness too harshly, especially when you yourself cannot even coax a guitar into twanging out "Jingle Bells."
Next up was a diffident young rapper of about twenty or so. Tonight was obviously his first or second performance before an audience. You could see how nervous he was. He introduced himself louder than he rhymed, and he kept his feet rooted in one spot, but he never missed a beat. And he was sincere -- which, despite what the sneering Simon Cowells of the world will try to convince you, does count for a lot.
Meanwhile, I had ordered another drink and was eying the rest of the crowd. There they were -- a disparate group of twenty-somethings, sipping coffee and scribbling a couple of last notes into a pocket diary. Poetry fags, one and all. I was eager to hear what they had to say, and for them to listen to me in turn.
The next act was introduced. He shut his notebook, slid it into his pocket, and approached the front with a loose swagger. "Good to see you all tonight," he said, snatching the mic from the stand. "Give yourselves a hand!"
Mild applause. I raise an eyebrow.
"So, uh, anyone excited about the McRib? The McRib is back, man! Sheeit. What kinda rib is that? What animal is that from? Musta been some abomination, some kinda horrible abortion of bestiality or something. Right? Am I right? Sheeeit."
Eszter and I looked at each other. Okay, I thought. The flyer specifically welcomed "poets, musicians, and comics." So we have some lousy standup on the bill. Cool. Just a little airy levity before one of these young Keatses or Kerouacs takes the mic and astounds us with his clarity of perspective and keen precision of craftsmanship. It's gonna happen. Just wait for it.
Applause. The next act approaches the front.
"So, uh, I was out drinking the other night and I started talking sweet to this bartender chick, but her -- she won't have any of it. 'I don't date meatheads,' she tells me. So I say back to her, thinking I'm clever, 'but I'm a vegetarian!' So she says, 'I don't date faggots either.'"
BA DUM CHING! Laughter.
And so it unfolds. One after another, the comedians take the mic.
"You know what's weird? You ever think about how different it is to take a shit and give a shit?"
"I bite my nails. My girlfriend keeps telling me 'that's such a disgusting habit!' I say, 'you know what else is a disgusting habit? Being an annoying bitch.'"
"Now I'm no racist, but..."
"I never ask a chick if she's pregnant. I just sorta hang around and wait nine months and see if a baby pops out. And when I don't see a baby, I get pissed, you know? Means I just spent nine months hanging around with some weirdly-proportioned fat chick."
The crowd cackled with laughter. I go over my own material again and again. The poem about a bird. The poem about frogs. Oh, and that goopy love poem. Christ -- I brought a ukelele to a knife fight. I gave Eszter a nudge and nodded toward the door. It was time to leave.
It was the sensible thing to do, really. Neither of us were having any fun at that point. The stand-up acts all sucked; I'd take doofy poetry over artless jokes any day of the week. Eszter was seething over a misogynist jokester who left -- arm in arm with his girlfriend, no less -- two minutes after he put the mic back in its stand. But it wasn't them so much as the crowd that compelled me to quit the place. They loved these guys. How was I supposed to impress them -- follow up a routine about getting fingered in the ass the first time having sex with a piece about a blue heron? The crowd wouldn't be into it. I'd be wasting my time and theirs. So we left.
And yet I feel infinitely more foolish now than I would have had I balled up and presented my work to an unreceptive audience.
Not only because I sold myself short and copped out -- but this whole thing might have been a better story, something more worth remembering and repeating, had I swallowed it and made it happen, for better or worse. Anything is better than an anecdote that goes nowhere. Any memory is more worth retaining than "that night I was going to do something, but I didn't."
The greatest writers became what they are because they didn't lose their nerve, even when it meant standing naked before the world.
Busy busy busy. Busy.
I think I really need to stop reading the news. I just can't cope with it anymore.
No -- what I need to change is when I read the news. Ordinarily, the first thing I do after shutting off my alarm clock is sit down at the computer, open up my RSS feeds, and inform myself about the world while waiting for my brain to get readjusted to being in it. This now seems very foolish to me. On any given weekday morning, the very first information I consume is invariably a collection of headlines going like, GLEEFUL, AGGRESSIVELY IGNORANT LUNATICS SEIZE POWER IN AMERICA; SUN TO SWELL INTO RED GIANT AND GOBBLE UP EARTH BEFORE UNITED STATES ECONOMY RECOVERS; HUMANS AND BEDBUGS TO BE ONLY SURVIVING ANIMAL SPECIES BY 2030, BIOLOGISTS WARN; CHINA OUTSIDE, PUTTING BOOT ON YOUR CAR.
Waking up in the morning -- especially this time of year -- is already hard enough. Why would the first thing I do upon getting up be something that compels me to go back to bed?
No -- that's not it, either.
What I really need to stop doing immediately is finishing a story on the Washington Post or New York Times and clicking on the "comments" tab.
In the old days, before journalism went digital, I imagine it was possible to put down the paper after reading some heartbreaking article about the latest environmental catastrophe, egregious act of ignorance and injustice, or foreign bloodbath, eat a few Prozac, and assure yourself that the cleverness, generosity, and fundamental decency of the American character would bring about a righting of wrongs, a promise that the mistakes of yesterday would not be repeated, and an example set for the rest of the world -- even if it might take another few months, years, or decades to see it happen.
And then the Internet appeared. And then the Internet Goober Gallery came along and destroyed my faith in the American populace.
Actually, that's not entirely fair. We certainly can't blame the Internet if the people take advantage of this unprecedented age of instant global communication to demonstrate how fucking awful they are.
Over the last few minutes I've browsed the comments sections of a few Washington Posts pieces pertaining to the economy, Don't Ask Don't Tell, Afghanistan, and race. Let's see how the public feels about these difficult and multifaceted issues:
I have zero doubt that the failed 0bama administration orchestrated this. The pitiable part is that even if she knew that as a fact she would still vote for 0 just for his melanin content.
* * *
After 9 years of trying to bring Democracy to these ungrateful savages they have given US very little in return. I would suggest that we withdraw our ground forces to Pakistan and employ our much underused B-52's. Carpet bomb the entire Afghan region until every last one of these maggots are dead and leave their carcasses for the motherloving rats and buzzards. These people want a fight US than we'll blow them straight to hell. Once all is said and done with we can use their mineral resources to pay off the cost for all the time and money that's been wasted trying to help these cave dwellers.
* * *
Observation...Why is it that females seem to be so much more tolerant of homosexuality than males???? Soft Values have been the root of decay in numerous societies in the history of the world. Why should we embrace soft values in our society???
* * *
I don't hate the sob. I simply "don't like him." I wouldn't hurt him. But, I wouldn't recommend that he be allowed in presence of our Soldiers, when they're armed.
O'bama "cannot" be as dumb,as he appears. He went to school, and graduated college. Can he be dumb enought to believe that we, or any Nation, can borrow itself out of debt, or spend it's way back to prosperity? Even Jethro, of The Beverly Hillbillies, could Cypher, better than that.
So, if he's not dumb, that only leaves deliberate intent. He doesn't know how to "feel" or to "be" American.
He's living his Father's, and hid Grand-Father's dreams. He's still figting, and opposing Imperial Colonialism.
He's getting even with European Anglos, who had, at one time, imprisoned his Paternal Grand-Father.
His aim, is to destroy America.
It cannot be accidental. You're hoping that he Succeeds???
* * *
DON'T YOU DARE COMPARE THE IMMUTABLE TRAITS OF SKIN COLOR AND RACE -WITH THOSE WHO PRACTICE THE SIN OF SODOMY!
* * *
look, I'm not a racist, I try to be tolerant.
But this is our country.
They are right.
America is our country. Americans are mostly caucasians, and some blacks, who of old fought with us in the revolution, and in the Civil War and later wars and some mexicans we adopted later, and some native americans we adopted, and everybody was integrating, if especially slowly in the case of the blacks.
So yes, there is just one America. Our America. In this case, if almost no other, I will stand and fight with Palin and Beck.
The rest are unasked for but tolerated immigrants to our country. You can always go home, if we offend you.
* * *
It is us against you and you are losing big time. Make no mistake about it, I would not give you or any other liberal the time of day if your life depended on it. In fact, I would run ahead of you and destroy clocks just to hasten your demise and then laugh about it. I want you and people like you crushed and utterly destroyed, just beating you is not enough. You greatly underestimate the hatred many, many of us have towards anyone who supports the Marxist in the White House.
It's bad enough reading about how much worse off the world is today than yesterday -- that the barbarians are crowded round the gates, putting ever more chinks and cracks in the wall that stands between enlightened civilization and a new dark age -- but thanks to the Internet, I am also discovering every day that another sect of barbarians is inside the gates, hammering away at the walls from behind.
To me the Internet is seeming less and less an engine of education and community than a propagator of demagoguery and non-information. Perhaps Tolstoy wasn't completely bats when he derided the printing press for promoting ignorance and self-assuredness.
And I guess that concludes my Internet blog post about how clever I am for observing everyone else's silliness. Sheez. I'm going back to bed.
Most of his photographs fall within three categories: photos of Manhattan graffiti, documentary photos of protests, and snapshots of security cameras. (He feels that if somebody is taking pictures of him without his permission, he should be entitled to the same liberty.)
Before I arrive at a proper answer to the question I posed in the last post, I'm going to have to do a little research in conjunction with my ruminations. Before going into exile, my father left me with a copy of Maryanne Wolf's Proust and the Squid. Once I finish it, I hope to understand enough about the act of reading to arrive at an informed idea of how it most differs from the dominant media of the day and what books can give us that television and video games cannot. I will begin reading as soon as I finish taking notes on Plato's Theaetetus. (Probably could have found a better dialogue to start with; this one doesn't even arrive at a bloody answer to its own question, but it wanders through some interesting places.)
As I finally begun picking up steam again with the Lotus Eaters, another rejection slip for The Zeroes arrived in the mailbox this afternoon. The more times you are told that "our decision is not an indication of the merit of your manuscript or your ideas," the harder it is to believe it.
Well, back to Tactics.
I have not been updating this gentleman as often as I would like or had originally intended, so I apologize for any nights you may have stayed up feverishly clicking your brower's reload button, hoping, praying, fiending for a new transmission from bitspace. This new prose project has been occupying most of my free time lately; it is probably hopeless as a novella, and will likely end up being another novel (though probably only half as long as the first -- which I still can't get anyone to publish, thank you for asking). If I can finish it by the end of the month, I have promised myself an Xbox 360. And if I don't? Well, I guess I'll just have to keep spending my spare change on tumor-growing pleasure sticks instead of downloadable brain corrosives. (But given the choice, I'd prefer to hunker down with King of Fighters 2002 UM and Rez until the days start getting longer again on December 21 or so.)
As I work on this new project (the title is "Lotus Eaters;" whether or not a "the" will get stuck at the beginning is still under deliberation), my doubting and cynical self is chiding my creative self for acting foolishly and wasting his effort. You can't sell the first book; what makes you think you'll have any better luck with a second?
He has a point. I see this project meeting with about as much success as the first (zero), and even if it did get published -- somewhere, somehow -- what would it matter? Nobody would read it. Nobody gives a fuck about fiction anymore. Why don't I just resign myself to writing nothing but video game commentary for the next twenty years and at least being assured an audience?
It saddens me that the wider public doesn't read fiction for pleasure unless their arms are twisted into it. And I'm not just saying this own my own behalf, either. People are seriously missing out. Yesterday I reread Herman Melville's "Benito Cerino" before sitting down to start a new game in Final Fantasy Tactics. As I looked back on what I did that day, which do you suppose seemed the better use of my time?
If you've followed my work for any length of time, you've noticed I like to ruminate on the aspects of DIGITAL INTERACTIVE ENTERTAINMENT MEDIA that set it apart from the classical -- or at least older -- modes of entertainment/expression. It is true that video games can do a lot of things of which non-interactive and non-visual media, such as prose, are simply incapable. But now that video games and fiction have reversed positions -- the one that once struggled to validate its existence is now one of the most lucrative, widely consumed, and analyzed of our pastimes, while the other is practically hanging by a thread, slipping further into irrelevance as public interest and corporate profits dwindle -- I think it is worth backpedaling a bit and looking at what makes fiction what it is. What can fiction offer us that new media cannot?
For the best answer, please consult The Curtain, by Milan Kundera. For my answer -- which will probably be very similar to Kunera's, albeit shorter, less erudite, and far less eloquent -- well, sit tight a few days. I'd like to think it over a few minutes. In the meantime, I would be interested in knowing your thoughts.
Today was the end of daylight savings, a date which has all but formally replaced the equinox as our occasion for marking the shifting seasons. To celebrate (or mourn), tonight I am posting a few pieces from translator Dave Hinton's collection of Po Chü-i poems. Enjoy or else.
* * * * *
Autumn Thoughts, Sent Far Away
We all share these disappointments of failing
autumn a thousand miles apart. This is where
autumn wind easily plunders courtyard trees,
but the sorrows of distance never scatter away.
Swallow shadows shake out homeward wings.
Orchid scents thin, drifting from the old thickets.
These lovely seasons and fragrant years falling
lonely away -- we share such emptiness here.
Cold Night in the Courtyard
Dew-stained bamboo seems like jade,
and blown curtain-shadow like waves.
As I grieve over falling leaves, bright
moons in the courtyard grow countless.
Ch'in Song in Clear Night
The moon's risen. Birds have settled in.
Now, sitting in these empty woods, silent
mind sounding the borders of idleness,
I can tune the ch'in's utter simplicities:
from the wood's nature, a cold clarity,
from a person's mind, a blank repose.
When mind's gathered clear calm ch'i,
wood can make such sudden song of it,
and after lingering echoes die away,
song fading into the depths of autumn night,
you suddenly hear the source of change,
all heaven and earth such depths of clarity.
My body's idle, doing perfectly nothing,
and mind, thinking perfectly nothing,
now more than ever. In this old garden
tonight, I've returned to my autumn pool,
shoreline dark now birds have settled in,
bridge incandescent under a rising moon.
Chestnut scents swell, adrift on a breeze,
and the cinnamon's a confusion of lit dew.
So much solitude in this far end of quiet,
an isolate mystery no one finally knows:
just a few words haunting a far-off mind,
asking why it took so long coming here.
In Answer to a Letter Sent by Liu Yü-Hsi on an Autumn Day
Grateful to escape such grave illness,
I'm happy to wither away at the root,
let this lamp gauge darkening eyes,
my belt measure this thinning waist.
On a day of frost turning leaves red,
in a time of hair gone white as snow,
I may grieve over old age coming on.
But once old age ends, I'm grief-free.
I almost neglected to mention that I attended Jon Stewart's Rally to Restore Sanity last weekend. This wasn't for absentmindedness or dawdling -- I deliberately refrained from wasting any time straining to find something worth adding to the thousands of photo albums and post-event reports on Facebook and the professional blogosphere. If you already wanted to know how it went, you probably already have a good idea.
For my part, I had a pretty good time. I couldn't see a goddamn thing and was just barely able to hear, but the outing as a whole was rather fun and I don't regret going.
But I couldn't help being bothered by something when I was there. It was a thrill and a great relief to see the putative "Million Moderate March" come to fruition (the turnout was higher than anyone -- even the organizers -- anticipated), but something about the scene made me uneasy. I had a difficult time putting my finger on it, until star political cartoonist Signe Wilkinson brilliantly illustrated the matter herself:
Yeah -- Tea Party is a bunch of frothing, anti-intellectual, latently racist, and easily-manipulated dolts who want to drag the United States back to the 18th Century while China, India, and Brazil go full steam into the 21st. But at least they're taking their shit seriously. We're playing for fun, while they're in it to win it.
First, from Gallup:
Next, from the Center For American Progress Action Fund:
Forty-one percent of voters in this election said they were conservatives. That’s quite a bit higher than in recent elections. Only 34 percent of voters said they were conservatives in 2008, and just 32 percent in 2006. Even in 1994, only 37 percent of voters were conservatives.
The high conservative turnout came at the expense of moderates. This group was actually smaller than conservatives as a proportion of voters in 2010—39 percent compared to 41 percent. By comparison, moderates were 44 percent of voters in 2008 and they were 47 percent of voters in 2006. And in the 1988-2004 period, the percent of moderates never dropped below 45 percent.
Thanks, guys. Way to act like the stoned slackers Bill O'Reilly says you are. Enjoy the time warp to 1785 and remember that you could have prevented it.
(Of course, I suppose I am as blameworthy as anyone else. Come 2012, I'll be knocking on doors and dialing numbers instead of wistfully hoping the electorate might provide its own motivation on election day.)
Hello from Soft Skull Press.
This is a form letter to let you know that as of the end of October, 2010, the Soft Skull editorial office in New York will be closed. This email address, email@example.com, is no longer in use. Soft Skull's parent company, Counterpoint, will continue to publish under both the Counterpoint and Soft Skull imprints from Counterpoint’s main office in Berkeley, California.
Going forward, Soft Skull's submissions policy will conform with Counterpoint's policy:
- We cannot consider unsolicited fiction submissions unless they are represented by a literary agent.
- For nonfiction submissions, please send to Soft Skull c/o Counterpoint a one-page description together with a sample chapter and any other supporting materials. You can learn more about Counterpoint at www.counterpointpress.com. Please take a moment to familiarize yourself with what Soft Skull has published in the past, as that is the best indication of what Soft Skull may find of interest going forward.
- We are unfortunately unable to consider poetry, children's books, or genre fiction.
Thank you for thinking of Soft Skull Press for your work, and please accept our apologies both for the form letter and for the delay in our response to your submission.
All the best,
Soft Skull Press
So, in short: "sorry, but the manuscript you sent us last month is being transferred from the 'incoming' pile to the incinerator." Righto. Thanks a ton, guys.
(One of the problems with forcing yourself to keep a weekly blog is that a week will pass and you will realize you are a day late with the latest update and have absolutely no topic in mind. Today we will be winging it.)
I grew up and still live in the New York City satellite suburbs of North Jersey. At night you can see some stars, but Manhattan and the local shopping centers cast a sort of transparent opacity across the sky that makes it difficult to see anything but the most prominent constituents of the most famous constellations. In September you might spot Vega, but cannot glimpse the rest of Lyra without squinting. After midnight in October you can locate Orion, but will probably miss the dim little star beneath his leftmost belt loop and have very little chance of glimpsing the M42 nebula within his rhombus-shaped warrior's kilt. A month or two ago I spent twenty fruitless minutes searching for the M31 galaxy astride Andromeda's tresses. Last night I looked up and saw the Pleiades, but could only account for five of the seven sisters.
I guess my point is that the things around us that are slow, quiet, and not immediately noticed are often the most important. We probably owe it to ourselves to treat them as such -- but I suppose that could be as potentially disastrous as continuing to ignore them. Our frivolity-based economy would collapse, taking with it society's central support beams. Civilization as we know it would break down. A full quarter of the population would be slain during the widespread riots, and a full half of the survivors would perish from starvation. Those that remained would abandon the cities in droves, striking out for the hill and plains to lead the austere and bitter lives of sustenance farmers. But think of what they would see when they happened to cast an upward glance at the evening sky above their frigid, torch-lit mud fields.
(Next week you can look forward to a silly little comic strip instead of half-cooked metaphysics. I hope.)
* * * *[XXXX],