Creative Writing


You will rest under the vines of

the high stone walls of the castle that

no one deemed necessary to erect a concrete

facsimile of what was destroyed by the conflagrations of war

perhaps reflecting on the fitting words of Norinaga to the sound of cicadas

 

Having had your fill of a view of streets and houses laid out below

a cobweb of power lines cast over houses much the same

since samurai gathered taxes door to door with swords hung

unused by their sides, topknotted bureaucrats,

in the mode of salarimen today, you will

make your way down to the city

 

There the tender beef calmed with beer and soy will

sit on a plate before you and you’ll

hear Hibari Misora sing and

you’ll close your eyes

and sigh

Recently I decided to read a collection of Dostoevsky’s short stories and novellas that I picked up several years ago and never got around to reading. It was a potent reminder of a time in which my thinking about women and society congealed into the present form they take now, sans the refinement of reading Game articles and paleo-con and individualist anarchist thought.

Let me get to the direct statement, and save the time of those need practice in reading for length, depth and complexity; to wit, all one needs to know about the nature of women and politics could be gained from reading Tolstoy and Dostoevsky.

I’m not saying it’s free from fictional flourish, or aping the sort of gritty realism pioneered by French novelists around that time, but even the philosophical novels of Dostoevsky ring truer than the earnest platitudes of Zola.

Let’s start with the two novelists in question. Tolstoy was the alpha’s alpha, both in the sense of wooing women and in being the natural leader of men. He spent most of his youth in dissolute debaucheries which he carefully chronicled in his diaries at the time. When he married, he married on the condition that his much younger bride read his diaries and accept the illegitimate children he had sired with his serfs. She married him and stayed with him even as he grew extremely radical in his old age.

Dostoevsky was beta, and quite aware of the fact. He was balding epileptic with a severe gambling addiction. His choice in women was either motivated by pity, such as his first wife, who was tubercular, or masochism such as his affair with the wife of a friend of his (which involved almost no sex, but insane amounts of shit-testing, such as when his mistress had him remove her stockings, then sent him off…). His usual mode was either rejection, either by the woman, or by himself in a fit of pique (yeah, some of us do that. God knows why). Still he ended up married to his younger secretary, who put up with him gambling off their savings and spending days in the aftershocks of fits due to the incredible power and vision of his fiction and letters. In other words, his voice made up for the incredible weaknesses of character.

So, both these guys wrote a lot. Russian novels got the reputation they have for a reason, you know? For the Game interested male, if one had to choose only one novel to read, I would suggest Anna Karenina as the selection. In it you will find a portrait of what a woman is like, both in her strengths and in her weaknesses, and in the character of Levin, of how an alpha tames the wilder aspects of his life and harnesses them for his and societies’ benefit, while remaining true to himself.

One should note that from Tolstoy’s letters at the time, that in the process of writing the novel, the characters and situations took on lives of their own beyond the authorial prerogative. Tolstoy, being quite the misogynist, set out to make Karenina a shameless hussy, yet in redrafting, he found a more rounded person emerging, one that embodies both the ultimate weaknesses and strengths of a woman’s character. I believe that is one thing that is not emphasized enough in modern discussion of the sexes, namely that women have certain strengths that men cannot have due to their essential nature. Moreover, if a man can overcome his more base aspects through self-reflection and conscious action, such as removing the dross of passivity and hapless Peter Pan syndrome that consumes the modern male, so to can women over their baser aspects of narcissism and vapidity. All one needs is to simply make people believe that working on ourselves is one of the primary goals of life and that our natural self is rather like a hunk of coal instead of a diamond, instead of the other way around as it is now. We are not born special, we must submit ourselves to intense fire and pressure in order to be worth anything.

Besides Anna Karenina I would suggest the two short stories of The Death of Ivan Illyich and The Kreutzer Sonata. The former as illustrative of what truly matters in life and the later as illustrative as how not to conduct a relationship with a woman, though Tolstoy wrote it with the mind that men should not have truck with women at all (yeah, it’s easy to say that when you’re in your late 60s, would your younger self have bought it, Leo?)

Okay, exceeded my allocated time for writing this post so it’ll have to be continued. I may make this a series if there’s any interest.

Next post, Dostoevsky!

When someone asks you how you feel about immigration, say that you’re strongly for controls on immigration. Then before they can say anything else, add “The Kingdom of Hawaii is a good example of what happens when a government allows in immigrants who do not care to learn the cultural values of the nation, and have stronger allegiances to their homelands than their adopted country.”

This works no matter what political affiliation. Well, in the USA at least.

The last post below was actually written two weeks ago. I forgot to post it. My bad.

I’ve been busy in the meanwhile. Started a new writing experiment. Not exactly Hemingway’s six word stories, but something in a similar vein. I’ve been posting them on my facebook. I figured I should post them here. Not like anyone who reads here hasn’t already seen them on my facebook page. Are there any readers here who aren’t on my facebook? I get maybe like 4 hits a day. Not complaining. Just curious as to who you all are.

So, most of these have been kinda jokes. Obscure jokes, but that’s just how I’ve been feeling lately. Maybe some of these will become full stories, maybe not.

“What you must remember, that nobody who wasn’t born and raised here could ever understand, is that living in Hawaii is a long slow death sentence for those of a certain cast of mind and soul. Like taking a bottle of vodka and Xanax on a sunny day, only extended over 30 years.”

“Her stocking cap smelled of strawberries and ozone. She twirled around and leaned forward, with her hands behind her back. ‘Wanna know a secret?’ she said. Her tone softened and she grinned. ‘I’m from the future.’ “

“He sighed. If only he could get past his first love. The one imprinted on him when he was ten years old. His life would have been so much less painful then. He let his fingers skitter across the iron bars.”

“It wasn’t easy playing classical music. Most of the audience would be there just to demonstrate their membership in the cultured classes. Yitzak looked at their faces. The music swelled. His part was coming up again. All his thoughts disap…peared, consumed by the music written by maistros turned over to the ages. His voice filled Ganymede’s Bradbury Music Hall. ‘We be… big Pimpin’… we spendin’ Gs…'”

“Willard was disappointed. He kept on boring his guests to death. He supposed that next time he would have to pay better attention and not get so wrapped up in his own pleasure. He washed off the bit and put the drill back on the shelf before going upstairs.”

“Bill had always wanted to be there when they put his name up in lights. He regretted that wish when he saw that the light was from the flames burning him in effigy.”

“‘Dad, I’m gay’ would have been an infinitely preferable revelation when he caught his son in greasepaint pulling an invisible rope on a streetcorner.”

“Jed has always wondered what he would see as he was dying. Would it be his life flashing by quickly, his dead grandparents, or simply a tunnel of light? His last moments in Iraq were filled with confusion as he was subjected to every episode ev…er made of ‘Three’s Company’ compressed into several seconds.”

“Inviting Michio Kaku and Michiko Kakutani to a dinner party seemed like a good idea on paper. However, they were sitting awkwardly looking at their food rather than having a lively debate about the philosophical implications of their respective… careers. Who knew they could be so shy? Thankfully Tila Tequila was taking up the slack. And then some.”

“Long thought dead, Doo-wop music actually reached it’s apotheosis in the music of the all-lesbian group “Sheila and the She-Ras” of Hoboken New Jersey. Unfortunately, this revival was cut short by the asteroid which collided with the earth in 2033.”

“Ivan was drunk when he entered a query into his computer’s search engine. He wasn’t able to get it to return a list of hits, but later he found them in his loaf of bread and then again wandering the streets dressed as a DMV supervisor…. When he returned home he realized he had mistyped Google’s web address.”

“While technically correct, no one would personally accept Petru Ionescu’s self-designation as a harried Latin lover.”

“It was the rarest of the rare, the holiest of the holy. It was the Kalevala as illustrated by Tom of Finland. Never had Väinämöinen ever been so lovingly rendered as beefcake. It appealed to a very narrow subset of people.”

I’ve kludged together a quickie solution to my dying computer that involves icepacks and a freezer to shorten time between crashes. That said, it’s still a temporary solution to a permanent problem. When this baby goes, so does my net access.

I have no money to get another computer, as my car is on it’s last legs and getting to work takes priority over having net access. I’m not as bothered by this as I would be in past times, in fact I’m fairly relishing it. I’ve dispensed with my television and DVD player, I have no MP3 player. Quite literally when this thing goes, the highest tech in my room will be my bargain basement cell phone.

Time enough to read, though writing will be a bitch.

On that note, I intend to increase my efforts at writing letters. Some of you have exchanged them with me before. If you wish to correspond with me in the old style, please e-mail me your snail mail address at pgomes at hawaii dot edu

See you all around, I suppose.

Went to the Greek Festival today. Ate, drank, and danced outside till my legs and lungs hurt (shouldn’t have bummed that cigarette, but alcohol without nicotine is impossible).

It was the most alive I’ve been since I’ve returned from Japan. Not a single thought of mine ever drifted from the pure sensory experience of it all, from the feta, kalamata, moussaka and baklava washed down with draughts of retsina, ouzo and Greek coffee to the sun burning my face, to clapping, shouting and dancing in time.

Later, when I returned home, I felt more like writing than I have in ages.

Then it hit me. What was it that I had done that made me so damnably joyful when but two days ago, I felt dead, both spiritually and creatively?

It wasn’t the wine or food, as I’ve enjoyed both since returning. It wasn’t just the music, since I’ve enjoyed that as well. Neither, in and of itself was able to damper the ennui, the ebbing of lifeforce within me.

No, it was the physicality of it all. The feeling of being out of doors and moving, of hunger and thirst being derived from my gut and mouth instead of specified feeding times on the clock.

Then it hit me, my favorite chore is yardwork, the more strenuous the better. Like hacking the climbing vines of the maile pilau from my grandmother’s hillside fence or digging out old banana tree stumps from my mother’s old place.

Yet since high school, I’ve been pegged and worked as an indoor type. A nerd, either of the computer or academic subspecies. Office jobs punctuated by graduate school. Working with “intellectuals” and always feeling like the odd person out because of my disdain for the pretensions and airs of the academic lifestyle (even as I love the books and sensation of learning and researching).

With teaching, I was able to move, to pace, gesture and vocalize energetically, between the mind-numbing lulls of sitting in the office and soul-killing paperwork. Perhaps if I had become a college professor I’d have been the type to teach outside on days of beautiful weather. Who knows. I digress.

What I realized today is that I’ve been running from what truly makes me happy my whole life, and forcing myself to live in a certain way (and always underperforming) because I have certain mental talents that it’s been deemed by society that I should use, and that what I enjoy is dirty bust-ass work fit only for idiots, immigrants and eccentric hobbyists.

Truth be told, I think I’d be happy right now with something that had me working hard outside all day long, preferably with plants.

And I should probably take up some sort of traditional dancing/music as a hobby. Most modern stuff leaves me pretty cold.

I guess what I’m saying is that at heart, I’ve been a blue-collar person in denial.

P.S. I realized that my problems have been exacerbated recently by the fact that I now own a car for the first time in over a decade. I think I really need to walk/bike as my primary mode of transport. I need exposure and don’t need the stress of driving. Too bad bike riding in this state is a death wish. No bike lanes, nonexistent shoulders, decaying roads and walkways and crappy drivers.

::Puts on that Eminem song::

Yeah, I’m back.

In Hawaii.

Got a new job, amazingly enough, now hunting for a place to live.

Got me some plans I’m gonna put into action on my free time. This time I’m gonna be posting more, and it ain’t no half-assed promise like all the other times.

It’s absofrickenlutely for sure, cause I kicked the blog habit (mostly).

Now, I got a question for those out there who might know the answer to this: What would you consider some writers to brush up on in order to get a feel of current state of the mystery genre, particularly in the short story to novella form? What would be the absolute must reads of the now moribund Western genre of fiction, again focusing on shorter forms (but novels are okay)?

Recently I’ve been thinking about Memoirs. Are they a worthy literary enterprise, or merely a form of narcissism?

I can fully admit that at most my life has been only mildly interesting with nothing of note occuring or being accomplished.

Yet right now when I lie in bed falling asleep, I’m organizing chapters in my head.

Part of the appeal is how abused the genre has become, the playground of fantabulists, pity-mongers, bullshit artists, attention whores, failed novelists and pathological liars. Something so disreputable appeals to me, and I want to remake it somehow, by doing the complete opposite, by excising the entire notion that a life must be a noteworthy, a struggle, or a search, that the utterly mundane and quotidian can be shaped into something compelling, that plots and themes can emerge from what is an aimless going about of one’s business.

I could just be full of shit, though, and just looking for an excuse to write something I don’t have to research out the wazoo for.

Still, there is something interesting about going about the whole affair backasswards, don’t you think?

Also, yeah, it’s kinda literary. Bite me, I don’t care. You know how hard it is to research Maori defensive fortifications while in Japan? You got wikipedia and some half-assed academic articles online.

So what do you think?

I just finished reading “Heart of Darkness”. Damn, now that’s a good book. It’s hard to believe that Conrad didn’t start to learn English until well into his teens. Makes me a bit depressed about the level of my Japanese and Spanish.

In any case, I begin to see why PC types hate the novel. It ain’t the portrayal of the natives and women (though I agree that they’re more or less just stock characters, though some with more dignity and nobility than most of the white traders portrayed). It’s that the whole novel just shits on the idea of the sort of moral preening they engage in. Colonization was the extraction of physical capital sold as the civilizing of savages. Now we have the extraction of political and financial capital sold as moral correction of global inequity.

From bringing in the sheep and white man’s burden, to floating all boats and saving the world.

Yeah, I’m going there. I’m getting more conservative as I age.

I also care less about blogging than I used to. I mean, it’s really the hallmark of someone who really really wants people to know what he thinks. I can’t even work up the energy to post liquor reviews anymore.

I’ll try to change that. The end goal being of course filthy lucre.

Writing mostly. Bombed at finishing Nanowrimo, but to tell the truth it served it’s purpose. I’m writing a hell of a lot more.I’m drinking a hell of a lot more too, truth be told. More on that later.

Of course, I’ve yet to solve my problem of not finishing anything I write. So far I got several pieces of of a larger alternate history Vinland Saga, a homosexual romance in Weimar Germany, some poetry of metred and prose varieties, and an incipient series of Raymond Queneau inspired stories starring my old writing circle buddy. It’s a lot. I wonder if I’ll finish it.

Recently work has not been going so well, the floor manager is leaving soon, so he’s basically going on autopilot most of the time and starting to relegate duties to both the local and foreign staff, which means we get to feel the brunt of the main manager with all the all psychotic “don’t let one client out the door without them dropping some yen on the latest program” nonsense with no filter whatsoever. QA is fucking dropping like a rock and inventory and protocol is going to shit. The increased workload and stress is making me react in my usual way, by being a prick online. I need to channel it better than by teasing people who pomposity and self-importance annoy the fuck out of me online.

Recently found a conversation exchange partner. Her English is faaaaaar better than my spoken Japanese. It’s embarrassing for me to practice.

I’ve gotten into the habit of buying novels in English from stores in Nagoya. Literary Japanese is just beyond my grasp to read comfortably, and I need books to devour or I go crazy.

One of the things I picked up was a handbook of sake. Since I’ve picked it up, I’ve been sampling the many fine products of Japan that can’t be acquired easily abroad. For example, right now I’m drunk on Gokyo Ginjo Genshu. Usually priced at about 3600 yen for 720 mil, I picked it up for 1000 yen (around ten bucks). The label was slightly damaged and it was getting old (bottled in mid-July). Genshu (undiluted sake that’s around 20% alcohol content) is damn hard to find in the states, due to its rather rough taste profile. As it is, I got what I paid for. The finish is really showing signs of age with a horrid bitterness. The bouquet is still perfectly intact, though. I huffed this baby for about 3 damn minutes before drinking. Heavy fruits, almost tropical, with banana and guava dominating. Too bad actually tasting it was a letdown. It must have been sublime in it’s prime. The nama (unpasteurized) version is supposed to be one of the best examples of its subtype on the market. That one is actually exported. Good luck finding it, though Gokyo’s perfectly servicable Ginjo, Honjozo and Daiginjo are pretty easily had in any decent import liquor shop in the states as well. Heh, if anyone cares, I could make this a regular part of the blog. Sake and shochu amateur reviews.

Also of note is the fact that absinthe is completely legal here. The selection is small in my town (mostly latter-day Pernod and that Czech swill), but I hope to hit the shops in the Sakae district of Nagoya sometime. By spring, I hope to have some reviews of the good stuff up. Here’s hoping that the Jade company has a Japanese distributor.

One can also have Cuban cigars here, if you’re willing to give a pound of flesh. The plus side is, you don’t have to worry about counterfeits. Even the hole in the wall shop I frequent has completely legit Cohibas and Montecristos. The fuckers basically start at 3000 yen, though. Also, despite Japan being heavy cigarette country, cigars and pipes are virtually unknown here and most folks don’t enjoy the smell, leaving folks like me to furtively smoke by our apartment windows and in pricey cigar bars. The irony slays me.

Finally, women. You know, I think about ’em less than the average guy does, but Japan has been a long drought for me, as this land is devoid of “my type”. The Brazilian girls here in the immigrant community have also been something of a letdown. So I resort to a song that reminds me of a couple of girls back in Hawaii. I wonder how they’re doing now.

I hope when I’m in my 40s, I’m as fucking chill as Gainsbourg.

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