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? 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 a person is tempted not to see the difference.

I did notice however that Klimt’s best known, most recognizable paintings have other smaller paintings embedded in them, and that when I looked at them this way I liked them more than I had previously.

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.

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.

At 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 a 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 with our Supreme Court is that it has turned everything political, while claiming 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.

Auden correction

I tried to Tweet; it didn’t work.

Facebook makes me feel phony, so I cancelled my account. 

Suspicious of Google I now resist consulting it, preferring to look up things in dictionaries or encyclopedias.

Instagram, SoundCloud etc etc—the minor leagues—hold such little interest that they might as well not exist; in fact, I respect those who refuse, for whatever reason, to use any of these social media platforms.

Auden was wrong: poetry makes everything happen. 

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival, Golden Gate Park, Friday, October, 6, 2017. 

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival, Golden Gate Park, Friday, October, 6, 2017. 

Privacy and transparency

Imagine a security system sophisticated enough to take a photograph of your soul—so that the authorities would be able to see whether or not you have one.

View from Rm 722, Hotel Deluxe, Portland, Oregon, October 5, 2017. 

View from Rm 722, Hotel Deluxe, Portland, Oregon, October 5, 2017. 

Post-dystopian future

While we’re at it we might as well expand our definition of evil to include the as yet unimaginable, so that when the unimaginable happens we will not be taken by surprise. 

Yard sign, Kerns neighborhood, Portland, Oregon, Oct. 1, 2017. 

Yard sign, Kerns neighborhood, Portland, Oregon, Oct. 1, 2017. 

Reverse perspective in the stories of Clarice Lispector

I woke as a potted plant. I’d grown up overnight in the hallway, mysteriously. Someone had been thoughtful enough to place me in a stand and to put a small plate beneath me to catch the water.

My first thought was to make a video of the event, as visual imagery now has a far brighter future than do words, though I still believe that when all's said and done words will be much more valuable.

Hallway in the author's home and the mysterious new houseplant there, discovered shortly after reading the Brazilian writer Clarice Lispector, San Francisco, September 14, 2017. 

Hallway in the author's home and the mysterious new houseplant there, discovered shortly after reading the Brazilian writer Clarice Lispector, San Francisco, September 14, 2017. 

Theatre and anti-theatre

Will I ever forget the time and place where I first heard the phrase, 'the decisive moment'?

It was about the same time I first listened to Love, the band led by Arthur Lee, and their incomparable lp, "Forever Changes."

Asked the other night whether I liked or disliked the Vermentino--a white Italian wine--served at dinner I answered that it possessed, "an inward dryness." This wasn't 'wine-talk', this was the wine talking directly to me, without an intermediary.

Hearing myself say such a thing, I think, "Brooks, you shouldn't have said that, you might be suspected of being Republican." And then I remember that Balzac was republican, as was Stendhal.

Alexandria Theatre, Geary & 18th, San Francisco, Ca. The theatre opened November, 1923 and closed January, 2004.

Alexandria Theatre, Geary & 18th, San Francisco, Ca. The theatre opened November, 1923 and closed January, 2004.

Breakfast outdoors

If you can't solve a problem, enlarge it.  Dwight Eisenhower is supposed to have said this and I suppose he might have, it sounds like good military strategy.

Writers enlarge problems all the time; the enlargement of a problem is the writers specialty; in fact, the smaller the problem the better the possibilities are of writerly enlargement.

I read the news this morning on my laptop. Two good things happened: 1) an ex-football player and announcer resigned from broadcasting football on ESPN, protesting the violence in the sport, specifically the CTE trauma suffered by so many players and the consequences of that trauma in their later years and 2) a writer named Terry Pratchett requested that he have all his unpublished manuscripts steamrolled upon his death, and yesterday that request was honored.

Backyard, author's home, Richmond neighborhood, San Francisco, Ca. 8:30 a.m. August 31, 2017. 

Backyard, author's home, Richmond neighborhood, San Francisco, Ca. 8:30 a.m. August 31, 2017. 

Eating the middle of nowhere

There's this little café in Eureka, Nevada and we're hungry so we stop there. Mennonites own it; the women in the kitchen all wear little white knit caps. I order the omelet and sourdough toast. What I notice especially about the women is that they all look me in the eye. 

The night before we had dinner in Ely. It was one of the most remarkable meals I've ever had. The restaurant owner and chef was from Guadalajara, Mexico–the mole sauce was extraordinary, perfectly bittersweet–and he'd somehow created an atmosphere in which everyone could be happy, both servers and diners, in the middle of nowhere.

Hwy 50, between Ely and Eureka, Nevada, 10 a.m., August 24, 2017. 

Hwy 50, between Ely and Eureka, Nevada, 10 a.m., August 24, 2017. 

The new male narrative of democracy

Our new president, el jefe, commander and chief of all forces of enlightened divination, is making many white men, his chief subjects and syncophants, re-think the white male narrative. It now goes something like this: The Born Rich bequeath To Those Born Beneath Them an extremely small portion of the working capital The Fathers of The Born Rich bequeathed Their Sons. In turn, the bequeathments to those Born Beneath Them by The Sons Born Rich become even smaller and smaller, causing The Sons of Those Born Rich to appear larger and larger in the eyes of Those Born Beneath Them. Meantime these poor people, Those Born Beneath Them,  are constantly being shown by The Sons of Those Born Rich a distorted picture of everything they don't have but feel they should.

This is a crucial new twist to the social order known as Our Democracy: Those Born Beneath Them are the ones actually Born Rich, and what was once thought of as Being Born Rich is now a kind of curse, a Class of Men made up mostly of venal little white sociopaths who fear that those who have far less than they have might someday become One of Them, The New Born Rich. Thus The Sons of Those Born Rich, as this new president was, become determined to not only hold tightly to their inherited wealth but to expand it by torturing and exploiting Those Beneath Them, many of whom, for some curious reason, lap up the punishment.

El caballero at the "Eclipse Rodeo", Pavillion, Wyoming, August 20, 2017. 

El caballero at the "Eclipse Rodeo", Pavillion, Wyoming, August 20, 2017. 

A place on the river

About 8 miles west of the little store the guy with the funny last name burnt down for the insurance money, and 25 miles or so east of the East Gate of Yellowstone Park, is where I fish. I walk down the dirt road from my cabin in the late evening, and either fish with flies or with live terrestrials I've caught and put in a little jam jar. I can't tell you the name of the river; it's sworn me to secrecy.

My river, northwest Wyoming, 7:20 p.m. August, 19, 2017. 

My river, northwest Wyoming, 7:20 p.m. August, 19, 2017. 

President in Space

IDEA: let's send this guy to outer space. NASA built, state-sponsored rocket ship, replete with 9-hole golf course, small casino, game-show nymphets and a McDonalds. A perfectly good expenditure of federal tax dollars.

Trump Tower Space Mission, (prototype sketches), August 19, 2017.

Trump Tower Space Mission, (prototype sketches), August 19, 2017.