A few photos from Summer 2014.
At the library, I overheard a teen boy talking on his cell phone:
I’m at the mall, mom.
I’m in a store.
It’s a very quiet store.
I’m in the back of the store, I don’t want to be too loud.
It’s a sports store.
I’ll be home soon, bye.”
Being given the opportunity to revisit the past, you arrive at the only piece of land between two stagnant bodies of water that alternately smells like peanut butter, marijuana and heaven. Stagnant is the only suitable word, because the two bodies of water are sedentary - the only movement one can discern passing through them is the play of wind and fog over the surface, and that alone seems a passing fancy.
Is it even possible to reach back into a person’s own mind and pick out certain words and events, along that same path, and recall them so accurately and shamefully? Of course. More to the point, why bother? What relevance is there to it? The absolute worth of the thing is what one finds in their own conclusion. Peanut butter and marijuana, the things I said yesterday, neither have significance compared to appreciating the idyllic here and now.
Obviously it’s just the weight of a memory and the story that unfolds while you’re holding it in your mind, positioning and prioritizing other necessary functions, shuffling your internal drive, your Random Access Memory, your cache of daily functions in order to grasp that moment long enough to form a complete picture of what actually happened. A peripheral might be employed, a series of photographs might be scanned and uploaded, a person might reach into their past for acquaintances living and dead, friendships long passed over for intimacy and depravity, memos and reminders and quips bandied about with fervor…but you’ll never find that place again.
It was there, and then it was gone, and for a moment you were there with me, stuck between two stagnant bodies of water. Smelling of Peanut Butter and somebody’s joint, the glassy surface of the lakes smelling distant and omnipresent, here and there, passing, absorbing, departing, the memory decompresses, the image scatters and you’re left standing there, between two stagnant bodies of water, uncertain if you’re smelling somebody’s joint or the rot of duck grass…just like it was before you stumbled along.
"If you’re not lying to me, you don’t care enough to try."
"I said, if you do not care enough to make up an excuse for your behavior, you do not care enough about being important to me and my concerns. I am not a child, you can try to deceive me, and I will play along, and that is how real adults interact."
"You want me to lie to you?"
"No, I want you to fight for me. I want you to struggle for my validation, I want you to grovel if you have to, but honesty is not the best policy if you think being important to me is the same thing as Santa Clause and the Easter Bunny."
"I swear to Christ you are making absolutely no sense. Easter Bunny? Christmas? What does that have to do with where I found these wool socks?"
"Don’t you ‘wool socks’ me! Don’t you make me feel sorry for your pathetic lack of foresight! These wool socks were not just found! You stole them from a poor orphan starving in the streets of Calcutta! I know how you are! You just walked up behind this poor starving orphaned child lost in the squalor of India and stole his wool socks because you thought you could."
"I have no clue what you are talking about. You are deranged. I haven’t even left the zip code for years. How do you even know I have a pair of wool socks?"
"Don’t defend yourself with more questions and segues into your own sociopathic manipulations! You know what you did. You told me the truth, and expected me to be concerned for you. You expected me to treat you like somebody I was concerned about, and then you just told me the truth and didn’t even try to seduce me, or corrupt my gentility. How dare you?"
"Could I just…"
"No! there will be no dialogue about this. I am not the Tooth Fairy!"
"Okay, I got it. what we have to do is verify his actions, while he is definitely doing the thing that bothers us, then we can definitely prove his identity is the same as the one that bothered us in the first place, then we will have certainty that his actions are directly involved in our problem."
"You need verification of his activities, to prove his current behavior is unsuitable to your own?"
"No, we need the privilege of knowing his actions are based on ours, so we know for certain that he is basing his behavior off of ours, so we can clear ourselves of his coercions. That way, when he tries to find fault in our activity, he will just be faulting himself."
"That doesn’t explain why you are here."
"Look, the information paradigm of his juxtaposed logic is fraudulent. It’s grotesquely embarrassing to my aesthetic of knowledge interface. I am trying to help him discern the factors of informational constructs that drive the hierarchy of inter-media relationships. This thing about you and him trying to be friends in real life is just drivel compared to my over-arching intelligence database of reasons why the verification of his identity will supersede his efforts at validation and contrition for his faults."
"Do you even know what that means? Are you just parroting things that have been sold to you already, like a chain letter?"
"Look, I am trying to protect you from a person who is obviously sick and unhealthy, and clearly uses it to lure people in, only to hurt them and drive them away. It’s classic narcissistic value / devalue behavior. Once we go through the verification process, we will be able to more clearly discern the vulnerabilities he mocks in others, so we can then undermine him from his own views."
"And all of that, you believe, is based on something you did first, that he admired, and then aspired to?"
"Yeah, but I learned how to appreciate the verification process."
"Alright, take all of the options, weigh them out as singular entities, stars in the firmament, if you will, things that are visible and capable of theoretical discourse, but for all rhyme and reason well out of your reach. Start with that. Understand the distance between you and your understanding of the things you are visualizing."
"You are talking about something I am imagining, when the reality of my question was based more on simple miscommunication - you are extrapolating variances of intent and behavior from one single question, based largely on a piece of information being used as leverage against me. It has nothing to do with astronomy or James Madison, it just has to do with you believing something about me that is not true, and you acting on it."
"So, you’re calling me a liar?"
"Not at all. Not at all. I am trying to explain something to you that is beyond introspection - it is the wake of a passing boat. Something that has transpired that led to a state of disarray, not a deliberate construct or a generalized theory of discording behavior. It’s not very complicated really, the problem seems to exist more in people being ashamed of hearing it told."
"Oh, I get it. You’re right because you knew all along, but didn’t tell us because you liked watching the fools parade around, demonstrating their false concern for their chosen martyr? You self absorbed hack!"
"How dare you! You knew we were…trying so hard to impress upon you our concern, and you didn’t care at all! You just mocked us and spit and swore and gave us the finger like a child. You bullying hack! You spoiled brat!"
"Not the issue. Not the issue at all. Right and wrong is not the issue. Just knowing the limiting factor is the ‘right’ behind this argument, after that there is little to guide a person but their own judgement, and that is not something I would have presumed to predetermine - the discussion I am trying to prevent is deliberately pulling anybody into my own confusion out of malice, something you seem so eager to demonstrate and burn me at the stake for, and I don’t know why it motivates you so much."
"Alright. Tell me the limiting factor."
"Why are we doing this? Why are we here, talking about this?"
"What does this have to do with your limits?"
"You fucking pussy! You fucking cocksucking faggot bastard daddy’s boy pussy! I fucking hate you!"
"You do realize that everything on the internet is submissible as evidence in a court case, right?"
"You are such a pathetic fucking loser with your mom and dad’s money and your bullshit tired hack attitude! You fucking pussy!"
"Why would you ever expect me to feel sorry for you? Or expect anybody to extend their hand to you? Did you actually use the words, ‘shadow of a doubt’ with me? How fucking dare you presume we owe you anything? You fucking bastard, cocksucker faggot!"
"Are you aware that by using profanity on the internet you are limiting the amount of future you will have ten or twenty years down the road?"
"My favorite vulgarity is cocksucker."
"This isn’t over until we get even with him for everything that we did on his behalf, that he didn’t care for."
"How does any of this fall in to the realm of legitimate family discourse? How does any of this fall into the realm of healing or caring for the sick?"
"You fucking pussy! You want us to feel sorry for you now! You fucking faggot pussy cocksucking faggot!"
"Oh, we were having so much fun taking care of our lives, and nurturing our children and their futures, we really didn’t realize the effect it was having on you."
"I can’t wait to see the look on his face."
"I can’t wait to see the look on his face."
"I can’t wait to see the look on his face."
"I. Can. Not. Wait."
You know, Holden Caufield had it right. The more people you know, the more attempts you make to hold something sacred, the more often people will let you down. It happens to everybody, constantly, and people find ways to make themselves numb to their own hurt. The way certain objects are given human qualities, the way ritualistic practices become contentious relationships between getting it done and reminding yourself that you have to do it, the way people in your life gradually become less and less important, until only the sound of their opinions reverberates in your mind, and their faces are forgotten.
There is not any substance to being alive, so the experience of passing through each day is fatalistic and simple - you fall asleep, you wake up, you fall asleep, you wake up and twenty years later you look back and realize you have become the person you did not want to be.
There is no reset button, there is no do-over and there is no verbal ventriloquism capable of rectifying the faults and shifts that erode your daily habits, your favorite things, your crumbling relationships, all of the things you have accumulated in order to be the round peg in the round hole or the square peg in the square hole are just objects and ideas other people need to feel comfortable enough to accept you.
The lasting impression people seem to have about Holden Caufield was that he was an alcoholic, or a narcissist, or a philistine, but I think he was the most human character ever written. Completely devoid of pretense and supposition, a simple reflection on any person’s ability to look at themselves and realize their limits. A person can learn to adopt any doctrine they might choose in order to accommodate the egos of the people they must contend with for their own well being, but eventually a person must learn to appraise their own values and realize not having to constantly struggle for acceptance is the most liberating quality to life that can be learned.
For Holden, that meant protecting what and whom he held sacred with secrecy. For most people, I think it has to do with learning your limits. Either way, Holden Caufield had it right.
"Don’t ever tell anybody anything. As soon as you do, you start missing them."
"…see you just don’t understand."
"We need to re-prioritize the things you think are not difficult so we can call attention to the things that are difficult for you."
"Yeah, then we’ll know for sure that our trivial pursuits are more important than yours, and we can call attention the things you have been negligent about."
"Crosswords? You’re upset about crosswords and games?"
"Hey pal, in my family we fight over the newspaper and the daily crosswords as much as turkey drumsticks. You better show some appreciation or we’re gonn…"
"Are you serious? You’re ridiculing me over games and extending a threat to me because I don’t appreciate being told I’m obsolete and redundant because of crosswords?"
"Who said anything about games? You did. Who said anything about obsolete? You did. This issue between us is no longer about crosswords and games and the problems we have completing them, this is now about how we deal with one another’s priorities, and you show classic lack of concern for other peoples concerns…it’s so selfish."
"I just can’t believe you’re wasting time telling me how selfish I am when I can’t afford to eat or buy new clothes or take care of myself in a manner which would be useful to anybody else but myself. What would you have me do? There are monks and priests with more property and assets than me, why not take out your wayward psycho babble on them? Tell the deacon with a fancy car what a fuck-up he is. Tell the pastor with three wives and two mistresses what a selfish prick he is. Stop harassing me for struggling."
"Oh, it’s about religion. Oh I see. You have problems with God. Well my God is a tolerant God that forgives people and doesn’t need to fluff his feathers every time his hen lets him back into the scratching yard."
"…for fuck’s sake."
"You have serious problems buddy! You think you can just blatantly shoot your mouth off about God and not have to prioritize your daily life around making other people feel important! You have some serious anger issues pal!"
"What? Anger? Where, when? Your God doesn’t have much relevance to me, and to disfavor me for implying religion has equity beyond ones faith is ridiculous. Vatican city is pretty well off, you know."
"Oh please. Implications and intents and probabilities won’t get you out of this one buddy."
Your Intro to creative writing professor takes you to an apartment building, randomly chooses a stranger’s apartment and invites you to write an essay about the person, based on their studio, one bedroom, two bedroom or condominium.
You oblige and write a satirical piece about what a loser the person must be, how he or she must have made some kind of self pitying mistake of cloying neediness in the face of a materialist society that only cares about money and the value of something that can be resold under a different name.
You open your dusty thesaurus and brush off some synonyms and antonyms, make your rhyming dictionary come to use in a separated iambic pentameter meter interspersed throughout your diatribe, an overly critical analysis of a stranger you have never met and will never need to accommodate. The professor is amazed, struck dumb by the verbosity of your ability to wade through the frivolity of another person’s best attempt at happiness in order to juxtapose your own antagonistic maudlin narcissism with the efforts of a stranger.
You go home. You open the web browser, the newspaper, you turn on the radio, you forget your work and presume another day will follow this one, as sure as the sun will set the sun will also rise.
Your essay gets published, your views and expressions on the random apartment are read by hundreds, thousands, millions of other strangers, who all feel your vindictive and justifiably self-possessed writing exercise was the hard work of a creative writing professor and his amazing student.
A few weeks later, you notice a few things amiss in your apartment, your one or two bedroom, your condominium.
"It takes a lot of courage to believe something that is not true, and then use it to defend yourself from somebody who is trying to be your friend."
"Are you referring to God? Like religion is a doctrine you believe in even though it is not true and there are no fishes and loaves or Heaven and Hell but you have to love your neighbor anyway?"
"Well what are you talking about? I mean who cares? What’s your point, is there a point? Are you doing something worthwhile or just annoying people with your inane nonsense? There’s no relevance. Why are you here? What are you doing?"
"Answering all of those questions, even beginning to address the reasoning behind your motives - even getting to the intent of your interest in knowing the answer to any of these, is beyond my ambition."
"Oh, you’re mocking me. This is about you and how verbose you are. This is about your responsibilities and your needs and the things you don’t have because other people need things too. This is about you being selfish. you should have just told me. You’re calling me a coward who can’t understand the reason why I hold on to opinions or values, and hides behind the judgements of other people in order to protect myself from being hurt, while you sit high and dry and whittle yourself a vision of trees from a forest that does not exist."
"You think this does not exist? You think being told who I am, by people who have access to my life, who can make decisions about my future based on their own fears and insecurities, isn’t true? Take your observational powers, your friendly interest in seeing me happy - take your love for me and amplify it through years of hurt. You’ll be left with a feeling of vague and unsupported malaise. Something went wrong, you just don’t know where or when or why and you don’t want it to happen again. You buckle down. You straighten up. You walk the straight and narrow and hope for the best."
"You’re the God damn coward…accusing me of hiding behind another person’s belief. What a crock."
"I’m not talking about not trying, or hiding or giving up, I’m talking about acceptance and marginalization. Once a person knows there are parameters they have to accept in order to feel reciprocation from others, those things gain priority."
A year’s worth of photos, screen grabs, imported pictures and iPhone imagery. Some photos of friends, events, places and happenings in and around Minneapolis…
Winter 2013-2014 pictures, (1 of 2), also located on Flickr, Google +, Facebook and infrequently on Twitter. #Daisychain reminds me of summer.
Love came at dawn, when all the world was fair,
When crimson glories, bloom, and
song were rife;
Love came at dawn when hope’s wings fanned the air,
And murmured “I am life.”
Love came at even, when the day was done,
When heart and brain were tired, and
Love came at eve, shut out the sinking sun,
And whispered “I am rest.”
Susy Clemens, (1872-1896)
|—||Autobiography of Mark Twain|
Recently spotted in our collection: Patrons Are People: How to Be a Model Librarian, published by the American Library Association in 1956 and full of helpful hints prepared and illustrated by Sarah Leslie Wallace.