In Search of Lost Time Vol. 1: Swann’s Way & some of Volume 2 (review written with little time)

Marcel Proust around page 60 of Swann’s Way, dips a cookie, a madeleine, into his tea, and is instantly taken back to the Combray of his youth (1870’s and 1880’s), a country town where his elderly great-aunt lived, and his family would holiday; his nameless narrator, actually. He dips his cookie, at alternating short-cake saturation to relive this memory, this sensation; trying to understand the mechanism of remembrance and his own memory. And it seems, reading this the second-time around, makes the book more enjoyable, as you are remembering what you have read prior, as the narrator is remembering his life prior. Parts of the book, I found hard the first read, were actually easy: his description of the church at Combray seemed short, and actually important, where when I first read it, seemed to take forever, and be unimportant. Some instances of Proust’s musing on art were hard to identify with, though how he relates them to the characters’ lives were significant; how a tapestry in the church of Combray, the likeness of a saint is the likeness of a Duchess or Princess of the fabulous Faubourg-St. Germain; how M. Swann compares the face of Odette, his future wife, to the face of a famous painting, maybe by Botecilli; Or even more important, the “little phrase” that M. Swann and Odette take as their loves’ “little phrase”, a sad minor melody of piano-forte with violin accompaniment. Continue reading

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New Story Posted: “What’s it like to be a modern kangaroo hunter?” by Andrew George

Greetings. Our friend from Australia, Andrew George, posted this curious account on his personal blog last week. We found it so interesting that we asked him if we could re-post it here. Hope that you enjoy! And happy Thanksgiving!

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Article I got published on Thought Catalog

I wrote a shit-talking parody of a Blake Butler essay. It’s kind of out-of-control, and makes me look a little crazy. Please read, if you have the time.

http://thoughtcatalog.com/2012/i-dont-want-to-read-any-more-literary-or-cultural-criticism-by-blake-butler/

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Anything I do is more a reflection of myself than the outside world.

You know what I hate. Pretty much the opposite of what I want at the time. If I’m driving slow and the driver behind me is impatiently on my ass then I hate them, and adversely, if a driver is going slow and I’m behind them, I hate the slow driver. I can encompass both polarities of driving. And I can hate both.

If the perception of life is a reflection of the person, when I hate, I hate myself. If I hated anything the most–other than not getting what I want or having what I want taken away–is myself. Adversely, I also love myself.

You can’t hate anything you don’t also love. Or you can only really hate something that was once treasured, or destroys what you treasured or what you thought it was that you treasured. Basic tenants of the Buddhist ideas of the self-grasping “I”, attachment and anger.

I saw a schizophrenic homeless man on the edge of downtown Denver, cussing at no one on the corner. He had a high-pitched voice and was in quite a state. The high-rises of the financial district were behind him. I felt I could relate with him because who doesn’t just want to cuss at the air and rage at the world sometimes.

Sometimes I wish I could destroy a good chunk of my property in a rage, as it seems it could be alleviating, yet I can’t quite muster that type of rage. Just like when I feel like giving up on life, I really can’t follow through with it because the logical conclusion to this is homelessness. I have migraine headaches and enjoy the comforts of having a home. Giving up equates fucking yourself. While we may entertain the thought, the conclusion is more fucked than the emotion currently being entertained.

It’s like when I think, “I”m better off dead.” I’m not. I know this. It’s suicidal cognition, not a suicidal desire. We all think this, at points, some more than others.

I’m in therapy currently, and this isn’t a cry for help. I’m fine. The pain of life is inescapable and universal for all. Enduring pain until joy returns is an idea I had accepted a long time ago. That accepting suffering is freeing in ways, but the idea of accepting suffering loses ground sometimes, like all ideas, merely ideas, thoughts, emotions. They are like us, transient, and sometimes seeming inconsequential.

Anything you say can and will be held against you. You say things and people interpret them. Sometimes, maybe often, this interpretation isn’t what you mean and is misconstrued. A person will reflect this back at you, and you will be aghast that they could interpret that from what you said. You may find it hurtful. The person may explain their reasoning. But basically everything you say, you are fucking yourself because you are being asked to be perceived. The perceiver is chalked full of their own karma, meaning their own subjective perspective. Just as I can hate the driver going either too fast or too slow, no one is perceiving anything correctly because no object can be objectively perceived. Never. This is the basic idea of “the emptiness of meaning” in Buddhism. Basic realities like if you walk in front of car and it hits you and hurts you, are not in this idea of perception.

Patience is the antidote to anger. Anger is the by-product of someone, or something taking away, damaging, or destroying the illusion of what you once were attached. Attachment is perceiving an object as something that will fulfill you and make you happy. And the self-grasping “I” is the perception of “you” (this is a hard one for me) which arises the fundamental problems of life.

My therapist tells me Freud thought depression was actually anger turned inward. I agree.

I also have codependent issues.

Anything I do is more a reflection of myself than the outside world.

This is similar to a schizophrenic yelling nonsense on a corner.

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In Defense of Ogling [1]

I’ve seen other men ogling women, and it can be a pretty contemptible thing. Mostly when a large age gap exists, like the 60-year-old gentleman looking at a questionably-legal teenager’s ass as she passes, following her ass with his eyes, in front of 15 or more people at an outdoor mall without shame. Not that I haven’t done that. I just enjoy a womanly figure, so the 17-year-olds don’t inspire me to make a complete perv of myself. For am I ever going to see this contemptible man again? No. So what does it matter to him if he turns and looks at her questionably-legal ass? This is pretty standard man cognition. Yeah, I may look like an asshole, but I’m just looking. Most men try not to creep out a woman, or make her feel threatened. Ogling is just how we’re programmed, in ways.

Now my female readers, I can feel your anger. There’s tension. I can see you quietly fuming, but let’s make this a nice read. I’m communicating. Aren’t you always saying we need to communicate more? I can quote you, “You never tell me anything!” Not that I’m arguing. I’m not. I’m just trying to let you understand where we, men, are coming from. What exactly is going through your boyfriend or husband’s head when a beautiful women (or, possibly, any women) pops in to their view, and his eyes naturally go to boobs and butt, and quickly looks away. Your dear sweet grandfather (blessings to the living, and R.I.P. to the passed) ogled women. I’m sorry to say this. I got a little heated. But it’s true. Good men ogle, like myself. I’m in a faithful relationship of over 3 years. I’m not a perfect boyfriend, but I think I’m pretty damn good. Lately I’ve been making all the meals because my girlfriend tore her ACL tendon. I’ve been waking up early to make her coffee and oatmeal. Spent 11 hours at the hospital on her surgery day. I even got scraped from the Velcro on her knee brace while having sex. But that’s “mandatory stuff,” according to her. Maybe my shining light was her last birthday. I had bought tickets to a Hitchcock play “39 Steps” 2 months beforehand, getting great 2nd row seats. It was a matinee. I’d made her an omelet for breakfast. Took her to a nice restaurant that night. Bought her flowers and jewelry. And I treat her good, generally: making her laugh when she’s down and doing my share around the apartment. It’s not like she hasn’t called me a “selfish asshole” before, but, you know, what man hasn’t? You need to explain certain things to us. We’re a little bit dumb sometimes. Example, I’m writing this. Continue reading

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On Being a Don Quixote

Most people that write are compelled to create. It doesn’t mean they’re the next Hemingway, or that you should care. It’s just they can. They’ve figured out a process. The words spin around their heads, an idea they want to explore, an arc or way of approach. They have a vision and a process and create. Of course, this compulsion to create could be simply associated with a common positive side effect of mood disorders, hypomania. I could site a study of the percentage of mood disorders present in the students of the prestigious Iowa Writer’s Workshop, but most likely, you, the person reading this, likes to write, and can relate to the idea. You were 16. You had started to become depressed and anxious. Words just spun in your head. You couldn’t turn them off. You wrote poems with your thoughts and then wrote them down. Seemed similar to drawing as a child, or playing with toys. Your mind felt connected to something, and you felt like you had a purpose. This was your joy. Aren’t we supposed to follow this joy? I’d say yes. Double and triple yes. But don’t expect anyone to care. Continue reading

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