Careers in Advertising

The first sip of Perrier sounds like a Porsche pulling up in front of your house. You let it idle there for a few moments before your houseboy opens the front door for you and hands you the keys... 

...no, that’s a touch too elitist I’m afraid, The Creative Director says. I’m looking for a slightly less moneyed demographic, equally discerning of course, predominantly urban, a single man or woman who’ve chosen to live without an automobile and who use Uber or Lyft...

...I see, The Copywriter says, dejected, having followed The Marketing Position to a fault, knowing now he’ll have to burn the midnight oil before he’s allowed to go home to a disappointed wife and two small children who haven’t seen him in days. 

 Perrier, now available in convenient 10 oz. cans, poses atop a stone on the Wyoming property of a former copywriter and creative director, Wapiti, Wyoming, 8:50 pm, July 19, 2018. 

Perrier, now available in convenient 10 oz. cans, poses atop a stone on the Wyoming property of a former copywriter and creative director, Wapiti, Wyoming, 8:50 pm, July 19, 2018. 

Breathing in air, breathing in water

What I admire about birds is that I can’t be sure of what they’re saying, though I know it’s some sort of truth. Fish on the other hand belong to the community of silence, the complete opposite of birds; fish know when to keep their mouths closed.

As well as being a person a poet is half bird and half fish. Which half is which, which half predominates, for one half will always win against the other, can be heard in the poets song and seen in the poets silence. The poet who endeavors to write the smallest poem possible and the poet who endeavors to write an epic have ambitions that are commensurately large and small: neither ambition is greater or lesser than the other, though each is ambitious.

Both bird and fish, the real poet, were he or she a poet, takes the time necessary not to write, and instead sits completely still looking up at the sky and down through the water.

 North fork, Shoshone River, Wyoming, Tuesday evening, July 17, 2018. 

North fork, Shoshone River, Wyoming, Tuesday evening, July 17, 2018. 

Ezra Pound of Hailey, Idaho

Pound drove west to east, from San Francisco to Elko, Nevada.  

He stopped for a burrito in Fernley, astonished by the number of cars lined up at the drive-thru lanes at McDonalds, Jack-in-the-Box, and Taco Bell. Seeing the long lines of cars waiting for their infrared hamburgers and chimichangas, Pound, a nascent environmentalist, thought “now there is a symbol with a capital S.”

Driving east, Pound took a bathroom break in Winnemucca. Making water in the latrine of a Chevron station there, Pound snapped the photo below. 

Driving on toward Elko, the famous dictum—“the natural object is always the adequate symbol”—came upon him.  It was at that moment that Pound decided to drive on to Hailey, Idaho so that he could be born all over again.

 Sign above latrine, Chevron service station, Winnemucca, NV, said to have inspired the poet Pound, leading him to formulate his famous dictum about object and symbol. July 13, 2018. 

Sign above latrine, Chevron service station, Winnemucca, NV, said to have inspired the poet Pound, leading him to formulate his famous dictum about object and symbol. July 13, 2018. 

Attention deficit

I apply to The University of Rabelais and am admitted. 

First assignment: write a novel with a poet as the protagonist.

I sit at my desk with pad and paper and ballpoint pen, an manual Olympia typewriter with a red ribbon, an IBM Selectric, a MacBook Pro with Microsoft Word, and my IPhone. 

Nothing much happens: I can’t get past the title: “Autobiography of Poetry: the Attention Deficit Edition.” 

 Four cookies, St. Honore Boulangerie, Lake Oswego, OR. June 22, 2018. 

Four cookies, St. Honore Boulangerie, Lake Oswego, OR. June 22, 2018. 

The animal kingdom

I’d rather a baboon be my President, and a Pacific Walrus that hasn’t gone on the Atkins Diet to be my National Security Advisor. I hold The Supreme Court in contempt of the law—if the robes aren’t enough to disgust one, then reading the ‘record’ of The Chief Justice ought to be: Roberts began his political career serving the ends and means of the Reagan bunch and worked up from there. Conservative Baboons are taking over the animal kingdom! Humanitarian baboons must resist! 

 Photo courtesy The New York Times, June 22, 2018. 

Photo courtesy The New York Times, June 22, 2018. 

Statue of Unliberty

Writing this on Sunday morning from mother ship Starbucks, international beacon of morning light and coffee... 

...a headline in The New York Times reads, “Border Policy Had Been Seen As Inhumane”.

Scroll through old notes on iPhone: from the August 22 edition of The NYT about a July 24th meeting Attorney General Jeff Sessions had with his boss Donald Trump about ‘criminals’ coming into the USA from El Salvador: “we have a harmony of values and beliefs” said Sessions after the meeting.

At Starbucks, people drink their coffee, their fingers purring into their laptops and iPhones, reading the news that way, or writing greetings to loved ones on this Sunday morning in June, Fathers Day.

Elsewhere, in the wealthiest nation in the history of the world, immigrants are being demonized and children taken from their mothers.

 Starbucks, Lake Oswego, OR, 7 a.m., June 17, 2018. 

Starbucks, Lake Oswego, OR, 7 a.m., June 17, 2018. 

Celebrity Dictators

(Soundtrack) A Groovy Kind of Love. 

Enter the hosts: President of The USA, Donald J. Trump and Kim Jong Un, Supreme Commander of The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

(Canned applause from an international group of print and broadcast journalists). 

Announcer: Ladies and Gentlemen! Welcome to the premier of ‘Celebrity Dictators’!!!

(More canned applause, but louder). 

Announcer: Tonight our two great Dictators will interview apprentice dictatorial candidates representing each continent on the globe. Please welcome from Europe...

 ‘Celebrity Dictator’ hosts walking toward the set of the new NBC hit show.

‘Celebrity Dictator’ hosts walking toward the set of the new NBC hit show.

Deep state

The state that operates in the name of the people is neither deep or necessarily nefarious: it is the same state that brought us Donald Trump, whose conjuring of the ‘deep state’ and whose protestation against it is a kind of confirmation that it doesn’t exist, for if it did Donald Trump would not be President.

 Donald Trump as seen on C-Span. 

Donald Trump as seen on C-Span. 

Hypothetical tweet

The Chinese have stolen our literature. The Russians have hacked our painters, sculptors and conceptual artists. Mexican and El Savadorean gang members are crossing our borders Illegally to rape and murder our best musicians. This must stop! Now!

 Illegal tomatoes detained at the border between Juarez and El Paso. 

Illegal tomatoes detained at the border between Juarez and El Paso. 

Crop of gargoyles

As seen on C-SPAN, the Senate hearings of data mining of American voters undertaken by Cambridge Analytica, including the probing questions asked by Senator John Cornyn, Majority Whip, prepared by his young assistant T.S. Eliot III, seated behind his boss. If there is a creepier, more disingenuous bunch of human beings than the leadership of The Republican Party, it has yet to be seen.

 T.S. Eliot III, descendent of the great poet, sitting in his own private wasteland behind his boss, a US Senator from Texas. They are the hollow men, they are the stuffed men.

T.S. Eliot III, descendent of the great poet, sitting in his own private wasteland behind his boss, a US Senator from Texas. They are the hollow men, they are the stuffed men.

Waking from insomnia

Why can’t we perfect ourselves, to make ourselves as perfect as possible? Who says we can’t, or that we shouldn’t try? Why this rejection of the spiritual, or the acceptance of the spiritual only in its conventional, predetermined religious forms? 

 The Salesforce Tower, downtown San Francisco, November 3, 2017. 

The Salesforce Tower, downtown San Francisco, November 3, 2017. 

At the Legion of Honor

The difference between a despicable regime and one that’s barely acceptable is often so slight that one is tempted not to see the difference.

One can’t help but notice, however, that Klimt’s best known, most recognizable paintings have other smaller paintings embedded in them, and when looked at this way are more understandable than previously understood.

 Gustav Klimt’s painting “The Kiss”, from the book “30,000 Years in Art“ (Phaidon, 2007).

Gustav Klimt’s painting “The Kiss”, from the book “30,000 Years in Art“ (Phaidon, 2007).

A financial matter

If you leave early enough in the morning you can live all day off of a bike ride and borrow from it for 24-hours, interest free.

If you don’t leave early enough you can get all cooped up in those molecules that like to strangle adventure, and before you know it it’s noon and you still haven’t done what you said you’d set out to do today.

 View of the author‘s bedroom, San Francisco, Ca, 9:20 am, November 6, 2017.

View of the author‘s bedroom, San Francisco, Ca, 9:20 am, November 6, 2017.

The museum of liberal humanism

The liberal humanist, what’s left of him, keeps small portraits of his grandchildren on the desk to help him continue believing in the value of human beings, individually and collectively.

Often during daylight hours he finds himself talking to people who have no idea what he’s talking about, people not only incapable of defining liberal humanism but who don’t show the slightest interest in its definition.

The liberal humanist is tempted to emphasize decline – his own and others’ – while yearning to import a more positive message.

 Hallway, 2nd floor, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, November 2, 2017. 

Hallway, 2nd floor, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, November 2, 2017. 

At Point Reyes National Park

I see things in batches–I either see lots of things or see nothing at all, and both seem to happen all by themselves, without pre-determination. The thing that intrigues me is this very random, happenstance way I have of seeing and not seeing, the time when I see everything and how that time capitulates to my other way of seeing, when I see nothing at all.

In any case, I see that wherever I am I have to keep my eyes on the path because that’s what I really need to see.

 Point Reyes, Ca., Saturday, October 28, 2017, near Limantour Beach. 

Point Reyes, Ca., Saturday, October 28, 2017, near Limantour Beach. 

War

Aunt Lois, now 97, remembers being in Rotterdam days after the Axis powers surrendered in World War II. She said she took a streetcar to the city center and that all that could be seen downtown was the streetcar and the streetcar track, otherwise there was rubble everywhere.

I’ve always wanted to ask Aunt Lois, “how could the streetcar and the track be intact if everything around them was pulverized?” But it’s too late to ask her now, as she no longer remembers. 

 The New York Times, op ed pg, October 23, 2017. 

The New York Times, op ed pg, October 23, 2017. 

My Clarice Lispector fan club kit arrives

It came in the mail today, all the way from Brazil.

There was a warning on the box, written in small print: reading the contents may cause extreme literary pressure. 

When I went to open the thing I was flabbergasted! I’d never heard such an outpouring of pure, devoted silence.

The contents in fact hadn’t settled during shipping – another disclaimer written in small type on the side of the box. In fact there was a whole jungle, several rivers, and at least one great city inside.

I wonder if all the members of The Clarice Lispector Fan Club received the same kit when they joined, or if I have her all to myself.

 Clarice Lispector, Complete Stories, A New Directions Book, 2015.

Clarice Lispector, Complete Stories, A New Directions Book, 2015.

Killing time, I make a quick sketch at the Bloodmobile

The irony of our Supreme Court is that it has turned everything political, while claiming apolitical impartiality.

We have become a nation of not knowing where we come from: in contradistinction to our home grown citizens, immigrants know where they come from and why they have come here, and this country is fortunate to have them.

Whole hours go by in which I have no thoughts and no imagery occurs. Iam troubled by their absence; it’s as if I’m not living. I suspect the majority of my fellow citizens have times like these, but that only a very small minority of them are troubled.

 Neil Goresuch, appointed Associate Chief Justice of The Supreme Court of The United States by Donald Trump, to replace Antonin Scalia, as drawn on notebook paper, October 12, 2017.

Neil Goresuch, appointed Associate Chief Justice of The Supreme Court of The United States by Donald Trump, to replace Antonin Scalia, as drawn on notebook paper, October 12, 2017.