Tag Archives: truth

Reading 2017 into 1886

I don’t particularly like to write in books. I know people who keep Foster Wallace footnotes in the margins of all their books.

Like most things, I have an exception: my Nietzsche books. They are fair game. Friedrich Nietzsche’s works, when not aphorisms, are dense–they are difficult to scan.

I read and re-read Nietzsche, the same way I mull Patañjali or the Bhagavad-Gita or Kerouac or Baudelaire.

The passage below struck me when I read it last night. It was hard not feel a it like Nietzsche was sitting on the other side of the sofa, sunk and uncomfortable in his Bismarck-era get-up, smoking all my ganja and rambling about decadence.

This excerpt is Section 242, in ‘Part Eight: Peoples and Fatherlands’, from Friedrich Nietzsche’s 1886 work, Beyond Good and Evil. This translation is by Michael Tanner in 1973; the italics are Nietzsche’s, the underlining is mine.

“Whether that which now distinguishes the European be called ‘civilization’ or ‘humanization’ or ‘progress’; whether one calls it simply, without implying any praise or blame, the democratic movement in Europe: behind all the moral and political foregrounds indicated by such formulas a great physiological process is taking place and gathering greater and ever greater impetus–the process of the assimilation of all Europeans, their growing detachment from the conditions under which races independent on climate and class originate, their increasing independence of any definite milieu which, through making the same demands for centuries, would like to inscribe itself on soil and body–that is today, the slow emergence of an essentially supra-national and nomadic type of man which, physiologically speaking, possesses as its typical distinction a maximum of the art and power of adaptation. This process of the becoming European, the tempo of which can be retarded by great relapses but which will perhaps precisely through them gain in vehemence and depth–the still-raging storm and stress of ‘national’ feelings belongs here, likewise the anarchism now emerging–: this process will probably lead to results which its naïve propagators and panegyrists, the apostles of ‘modern ideas’, would be at least inclined to anticipate. The same novel conditions which will on average create a levelling and mediocritizing of man–a useful, industrious, highly serviceable and able herd-animal–are adapted in the highest degree to giving rise to exceptional men of the most dangerous and enticing quality. For while that power of adaptation which continually tries out changing conditions and begins a new labour with every new generation, almost with every new decade, cannot make possible the powerfulness of the type; while the total impression produced by such future Europeans will probably be that of multifarious, garrulous, weak-willed and highly employable workers who need a master, a commander, as they need their daily bread; while, therefore, the democratization of Europe will lead to the production of a type prepared for slavery in the subtlest sense: in individual and exceptional cases the strong man will be found to turn out stronger and richer than has perhaps ever happened before–thanks to the unprejudiced nature of his schooling, thanks to the tremendous multiplicity of practice, art and mask. What I mean to say is that the democratization of Europe is at the same time an involuntary arrangement for the breeding of tyrants–in every sense of that word, including the most spiritual.”

In an Age of Ice, An Auger is a God

Just trying to break the ice.

That’s the problem with taking too much time, whether it’s away or closer or wherever else we go when we are not present.

I’ve been away. Need to get back into it. But the blank page is a haunted house–the blinking word processor’s line is a reminder that bringing form into formlessness isn’t that hard…it’s only tricky if you want something more than a line.

The line never says enough. That’s where we pick up from.

And that’s where I need to pick up from. That last line, so long ago.

Don’t get me wrong. Been writing as much as ever. Just much more focused, less distracted by this social posturing.

But here I am. Getting back into it all–for posterity, for popularity, for the possibilities we are promised by extroverted polemics.

As simple as taking a solid stem auger to lake ice. Hold steady and let the drill’s teeth do the work.

At least until I break the ice.

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Truth, Fiction, and Nostalgia

I am unfashionably late to shamelessly self-promote some new prose that has come out earlier this month in Literary Orphans. As you will see in the table of contents, pieces are listed with approximate read times…so don’t be a dick and spend two fucking minutes reading something I humbly proffer two minutes of my writing to you, dear Reader, for entertainment, for ponderment, and for didacticism.

The appearance of fiction in truth and truth in fiction is as elusive as the elctron—physicists now know that the atom isn’t an organized ball-and-orbit construct, that electrons are not like planets circling their proton/nutron sun. Instead, electrons are vibrations that exist in proximity to the components of the nucleus and can exist anywhere at any time. Their position can only be defined, in a particular space at a particular time, by observation—so that the electron is only in the ‘one-o’clock position’ (for lack of a better term) only for the split second that you are observing it there. When you are not observing it, the electron can be at any other position, and is impossible to predict.

 Truth and fiction have this same kind of quality. It is impossible to say whether something is truth or fiction, even if the storyteller insists on one or the other. Even the wildest science fiction stories are rooted in some fundamental truths we know about our lives, our society, or our physical universe. And even the truest of stories can be distorted by the nature of memory, or the perceptive filter through which humans perceive the world. What a wonderful paradigm.

 All of this is to say that there is truth in my fiction, and I won’t spoil it for you, besides to say that I do indeed have a first generation digital camera. It is big and bulky and takes terrible photos. Worst part is that I can’t even transfer photos off of it because the chip is old technology and would require hardware I no longer have. There are photos trapped on that camera…photos of a special time and a special place, and special people who are there, pixelated on a one-inch screen.

 The photos are trapped, but the memories are captured. It’s tragic and joyous at the same time, and damnit if it doesn’t so happen that every now and then when I’m alone and drunk I will pull out the camera, reload the AA batteries and flip through those photos. I am terribly nostalgic like that.

 And hence: “Moments of Momentos”, which appears in Issue 11 (the Lennon issue) of Literary Orphans.