Exhibit 1.8.21

Things Leading Me to Believe the OK Cupid First Date Occurring Next to Me Will Not End in Two Souls Discovering Simultaneously Their Missing Half in the Other and Needing to Heal This Wound They Did Not Even Know They Had with a Lifelong Commitment and to Confirm It with the Propagation of the Human Race with the Unstated but No Less Real or Essential Goal Being Not Only a Tangible Expression of This Love but the Future Transcendence of Man’s Historical and Biological Limitations Leading to a World that So Closely Resembles Traditional Notions of Heaven that Generations Will Pass without the Knowledge that It Is Not


* One party spent 10 minutes explaining dubstep to the other


Comment / Posted in Dates, Future, Hellos

Exhibit 24.3

If Given Access to Future Wikipedia I Would Search For, In Order, These Things

1. Kansas City Royals World Series
2. Apocolypse
3. Apocalypse
4. Adam Peterson pope
5. Twin Peaks episode guide
Comment / Posted in Baseball, Future, Searching

Exhibit 10.22

Stock Photography Review

They say you can judge a society by how it treats its worst citizens, and there’s no reason to think this isn’t a good way to judge stock photography as well. Here are some examples of how stock photography handles the sick among us because they are anonymous consumers of products too.

You can’t really get much worse off than this lady, who appears to have caught all the diseases. As she uses her non-branded computer to check the Internet for possible cures to Headache/Stomachache/Pregnancy, she swallows pill after pill, no longer caring if she ends up like her cousin:

Oh, poor Tiffany. If only they hadn’t made her pills in the same color scheme as her favorite variety of Good & Plenty…

By the way, that photo is pretty much perfect if you’re trying to sell…

A) Nothing
B) A Way Out
C) Durable Brown Plastic Pill Bottles

Gerry wasn’t sure how to immortalize Grandpa until he saw a newspaper ad seeking models for stock photos…

I’d like to think that whoever took this photo was really excited about cornering the market on corpse photos.

There’s nothing really remarkable about this one except for the fact Tiny Head here was probably actually sick the day they taught fake coughing in his San Bernardino Community College acting class. It was his one chance to get an ‘A’ which would have saved him from a life spent acting, poorly, like he was actually sick.

Of course, then there are the lucky models like this kid:

Somehow he lucked into his own series of stock photos taking place in a dystopian future where tracking done by forehead barcodes has replaced traditional parenting.

That’s like the Star Wars of the stock photography world.

My god, these two look horrible. What happened to them?

Ah, of course.

1 Comment / Posted in Future, Sick, Stock Photography

Exhibit 4.12

Countdown to GRE Literature Subject Test.

Days left until test: 5
Things I knew about Elizabeth Barrett Browning: 0
Things I know about Elizabeth Barrett Browning: 1 million
Number of authors who if I had been asked when they were alive I would have been off by more than 100 years: 5 (um, sorry, Thomas Gray and others)
William Blake: Dead
Time wasting blog posts: 1
The most shocking date of death: E.M. Forster 1970 (can you imagine him listening to Janis Joplin or watching the moon landing? It just seems wrong. But, if we know anything, it’s that wikipedia is never wrong).

2 Comments / Posted in Fear, Future, William Blake: Dead

Exhibit 3.8

D(usty) has a great post which evolves into a discussion of the phenomenon of quirk fueled by this article from The Atlantic. In between sunburn induced wincing and the adjustment to a life where shirts hurt and no one can ever touch me again, I was able to move my eyes enough to read both and suggest you do the same. Anyway, I’m stealing his topic.

I feel a deep ambivalence about all things quirk (including that phrase, which I’m only using because apparently someone at The Atlantic decided its the phrase for this movement. Frankly, I would prefer something that uses the words “Precious” or “Wonderment,” but that’s just me. Also, I think it’s odd Hirschorn, the article’s author, doesn’t mention the whole ‘new sincerity’ crowd which seems inherently linked [sigh, by which I mean the McSweeney’s-ish set rather than the anti-irony, post-9/11 critical set, although maybe them too]).

If my mom got to label this movement–and who’s to say she shouldn’t–she’d call it “cutesy.”

It’s not that I find the work of the filmmakers, writers, etc. that Hirschorn writes about to be uninteresting or ineffective, if anything I find it too effective at pulling my strings by a well-placed song or perfect pop culture reference. So too, those artists that eschew pop culture references in favor of unadulterated (but profoundly nonthreatening) oddity, win me over with their perfect combination of precociousness and absurdity. These artists view the world and its denizens as machines of coincidence oiled by awe. Or, if that rhetoric is too much, at the very least the work often seems to be vaguely existential only instead of leading to absurdist meaninglessness it leads to a shy, vulnerable hope.

The hope often seems to be a promise made good, however. Characters in these “quirk” stories generally turn out okay, often by making an improbable connection with another quirky character or by discovering a deeper problem than their own malaise. The stories work because they’re reality crooked enough to turn the mundane into something strange and wonderful.

They are remarkably insincere.

Or at least most are. I’m trying hard not to mention names here, but let me just say that some of the artists who fit these labels I enjoy to the point that I would defend their work against said label. Others, I enjoy but as a bit of an emotional guilty pleasure (sort of like listening to an emo song and getting all angsty). Some I think are shallow and manipulative. For many of the artists mentioned in Hirschorn’s article, I feel all of these things.

The insincerity is what I can’t shake and what keeps me from committing to the idea of so much of this “quirk.” That the movement–and it is a movement unless we’re willing to call it a great coincidence–misreads itself as being sincere is what is profoundly frustrating to me. I remember when someone introduced me to A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, and I flipped through it at a party, getting only so far as the long preface, and stopping completely when I got to the part that said, “This is a picture of a stapler.” next to, in fact, a picture of a stapler. That was it for me.

You could argue it’s sincere insomuch as it’s a picture of a stapler and not, say, a puppy next to the text, but the gesture of identifying something so meaningless and unimportant is insincere, and, to me, it’s enough to make me want to spend my limited reading time elsewhere.

(For what it’s worth, I’ve enjoyed some of the other Eggers I’ve read, especially his short stories, but haven’t read much McSweeney’s or The Believer for the same concerns about sincerity. I’ve heard What is the What is amazing, but again there are just enough questions with motive and authenticity [why is it called a novel? why is this even Eggers’ story?] that I feel reluctant to pick it up. Every time I think about buying it, I can’t help but feel like I’d be better served reading one of the other hundred books about the Sudan. I’m probably wrong).

I guess I just like my absurdity to be a little more dangerous and done with the tools of the art (e.g. the prose or the camera work). This is one of the reasons why I think poetry handles this sensibility better. Free from the obligations of character and setting, the absurd/surreal can be sincere in a really powerful way. For prose, George Saunders and Aimee Bender, for example, take askew glances at the world and make them seem like dark possibilities, a reality we just haven’t visited.

In film, David Lynch manipulates with color and haunting (rather than pop) music, and his worlds always seem delicately balanced on top of some deep evil. What those artists do not do, is let their sensibility get in the way of confronting something that isn’t precious or adorable. Take Me and You and Everyone We Know. The fact that one person spends the film trying to sleep with pre-teen girls goes completely unjudged because he does it in such a strange, funny way. That when the girls seem to agree to the act he hides apparently excuses him, but it doesn’t take the violence out of the previous flirtation.

I liked the movie well enough, but it was tough to ignore this scary inner conflict in favor of July filming her own feet.

It gets to the heart of the problem for me, because no one in the quirk examples mentioned seems to need anything except to be acknowledged and accepted for their own eccentricities. If they can connect with someone with a matching set of eccentricities, all the better. Zach Braff paralyzed his mother, takes a lot of anti-depressants, but all can be redeemed when he meets an epileptic who murders gerbils.

I’m not much of a Marxist, but there also seems to be something highly consumer oriented about these stories, and not just because they’re normally about the upper-middle & middle class. Not only do characters seem to be able to obtain happiness wholesale, as if they were buying a lamp at Target, but a lot of the manipulation of the world seems to be done in ways that have more than a little to do with advertising principles (lots of nostalgia, “in” jokes, highly targeted demographics, etc.)

What a lot of this quirk means to do is show and then correct a character’s numbness. This is supposed to be sincere since we all sometimes feel lonely and disconnected from the world. What these stories usually do, however, is taunt a gray-tone world with a pastel one. That the world in these stories is highly artificial and manipulative is what makes them insincere, and even the non-fiction is highly edited to remove any problem truly insurmountable. It leads to sadness without desperation which isn’t, of course, sadness at all but rather just a melancholy expression of numbness.

It may be cathartic, but it isn’t eloquent.

6 Comments / Posted in Future, Poetry, Writing

Exhibit 2.13

I’m not sure if you’ve spent enough time studying that Susan Sarandon drawing yet. If you stare at it long enough you’ll see your future.

Comment / Posted in Fear, Future, Heart