From Invisible Cities
Maybe my favorite?
"Cities & The Sky 1"
In Eudoxia, which spreads both upward and down, with winding alleys, steps, dead ends, hovels, a carpet is preserved in which you can observe the city’s true form. At first sight nothing seems to resemble Eudoxia less than the design of that carpet, laid out in symmetrical motives whose patterns are repeated along straight and circular lines, interwoven with brilliantly colored spires, in a repetition that can be followed throughout the whole woof. But if you pause and examine it carefully, you become convinced that each place in the carpet corresponds to a place in the city and all the things contained in the city are included in the design, arranged according to their true relationship, which escapes your eye distracted by the bustle, the throngs, the shoving. All of Eudoxia’s confusion, the mules’ braying, the lampback stains, the fish smell in what is evident in the incomplete perspective you grasp; but the carpet proves that there is a point from which the city shows its true proportions, the geometrical scheme implicit in its every, tiniest detail.
It is easy to get lost in Eudoxia: but when you concentrate and stare at the carpet, you recognize the street you were seeking in a crimson or indigo or magenta thread which, in a wide loop, brings you to the purple enclosure that is your real destination. Every inhabitant of Eudoxia compares the carpet’s immobile order with his own image of the city, an anguish of his own, and each can find, concealed among the arabesques, an answer, the story of his life, the twists of fate.
An oracle was questioned about the mysterious bond between two objects so dissimilar as the carpet and the city. One of the two objects—the oracle replied—has the form the gods gave the starry sky and the orbits in which the worlds revolve; the other is an approximate reflection, like every human creation.
For some time the augurs had been sure that the carpet’s harmonious pattern was of divine origin. The oracle interpreted in this sense, arousing no controversy. But you could, similarly, come to the opposite conclusion: that the true map of the universe is the city of Eudoxia, just as it is, a stain that spreads out shapelessly, with crooked streets, houses that crumble one upon the other amid clouds of dust, fires, screams in the darkness.
From Invisible Cities
I'm sorry. I haven't been feeling well. To make it up to you, here's a Blossom Possum:
* I successfully identified the female lead from King Ralph within 5 seconds of seeing her in something filmed 15 years later. This, quite possibly, is the proudest moment of my life.
* I think people should talk more about how weird it is that Peter O'Toole, John Hurt, and Richard Griffiths are in King Ralph. Even 20 years later, I keep expecting the British to burn D.C. to the ground for this.
* It's like if the French made a movie called The Godpère about an effete French puppeteer who becomes the leader of the Mafia much to the chagrin of his lieutenants played by Al Pacino and Robert De Niro.
* By the way, what are the odds that all of those actors (and John Goodman) would still be alive today? We may not have numbers that high.
* To this day I assume that the British monarchy is such that you can just give the crown to a really good servant if need be, sort of like passing on an out-of-style suit.
* Yeah, so maybe I've just been watching King Ralph for the past week.
Blasphemous Country Classics
"I Believe in You"
Well, I dont believe that heaven waits
For only those who congregate
I'd like to think of God as love
He's down below
He's up above
Don Williams: unitarian/pro-baby.
"If Heaven Ain't a Lot Like Dixie"
If heaven ain't a lot like Dixie, I'd just as soon stay home.
If they don't have a Grand Ole Opry, like they do in Tennessee,
Just send me to hell or New York City, it would be about the same to me.
No one tell American Civil Rights Hero Charlie Pride how Bocephus feels.
Things I Learned from Re-watching G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
Because if you've only seen it once, there's a lot you miss. I mean, I didn't have to watch it twice, but I also didn't have to graduate from high school. I re-watched because I care. Also, because I've already used up all of this month's free articles on The New York Times and I needed to find some way to keep in touch with global politics.
Here's what I learned:
1) Water is flammable and therefore science is a lie.
2) No matter what side of the recent budget crisis you were on, there's one thing on which we can all agree: most of our tax dollars should go to building more army ninjas.
3) In any context, "nano" as a prefix means "dangerous" e.g. Nanobot, Nanopunch, Nanomom.
4) In most contexts, "nano" as a prefix also means "delicious" e.g. Nanotaco, Nanopunch, Nanomallow.
5) If you need a secret lair, the key is to build it as far underground as possible. Unless you don't want your secret lair to be destroyed. The movie offers no solutions for if you don't want your secret lair destroyed.
6) As a suffix, "nano" means "size of iPod" and nothing else ever.
7) Brendan Fraser will cameo in your movie if he gets to make all of the following expressions: O!, Come on!, [laughing head shake], [motorcycle whee].
8) Chicks who don't like you have been brainwashed.
9) If your evil organization, collective, or confederacy is capable of replacing the president with one of your own men, your other plan that involves picking a fight with an elite task force of international soldiers is probably superfluous if not downright counterproductive.
10) Seriously, Earth, Wind, and Fire was right to leave out water.
On Editing a Novel #21
IT'S BEEN DONE BEFORE BUT HAS IT BEEN DONE...ON MARS? As we all know from that Al Gore documentary, America's most limited resource is heartbreaking family dramas that end with a drunken father having an epiphany about what is important while watching the sun set purple into the Western plains. If you must, blame Raymond Carver, LLC for drilling too deeply despite knowing what might poison the aquifer, but I'd rather you consider the possibility of abandoning this world of ruined plots much like our progeny will one day abandon Indiana. Instead, consider changing the setting of your novel to...Mars!
Watch how easy it is:
* A son struggles with telling his father that he doesn't want to take over the family business...on Mars!
* An alcoholic with a hilarious monkey gallivant around the country...of Mars!
* A series of people navigate interconnected stories of love and loss and...Mars!
* A scrappy group of teenagers have to fight off a foreign invasion. O, and did I mention the teenagers are...Mar!ions? I should have.
(The foreigners are still Soviets).
* A busy careerwoman discovers she has cancer...of the Mars!
* An Irishman locked out of his home wonders around Dublin..., Mars!
* Mars!...of Arabia!
* A touching story of a soldier's struggles to forget all the horror he saw on...Mars!
(Actually, that one has been done before).
* Pay it forward...to Mars!
* A young man discovers the emptiness of life in the modern corporate world until he discovers...and this is the twist...he's not on Mars!
Because Mars plots are over. Thanks, Updike.
China Town-->Ghost Town
Ghost Town-->Ghost Dad
* I don't know if you've noticed, but making fun of stock photography has really caught on. This, far more than my declining health or general disinterest, is why I haven't written about it in a while. Still, some fantastic examples here (thanks E).
* This is pretty great if you're a fan of The Wire. And if you're not a fan of The Wire, I really think you should get on that (Thanks H).
* The Cupboard's contest deadline was extended over the weekend and so you've now got until April 4th to submit here. Please do. Or, at a minimum, tell your father.
* Speaking of The Cupboard, we're going to be at the Houston Indie Book Fest alongside a bunch of other great presses, some fantastic readers, and, I'm told, a crepe truck.
* When I told my class about the crepe truck, one student asked with devastating seriousness: Sweet or Savory?
* I answered some questions about The Cupboard for the festival here. O, and when I say "we" are at the festival, I mean me, in the sun, eating a crepe of ambiguous savoriness. So come say hi.
* The Royals lost on opening day, but, in perhaps the brightest spot, got a good performance out of Aaron Crow. Still, I've long been aware of the folly of my optimistic season preview and the shortcomings only seem more clear now. It's possible winning 70 games with this rotation is actually impossible.
* If I'm still alive, I'll post something about my fantasy team soon. Because that seems like something I should put on the internet. In the mean time, ponder their name and mascot: