End of Literal File
What does "End of literal file" mean? Every time I swipe my credit card on that tiny machine in any sort of retail establishment, that is what is says on the screen. It makes we think, Well, that's it, the literal is over, onto the metaphoric and surreal. Or maybe, it is saying,"You know, by using this credit card, you Barrie, really have not actually paid for anything, so don't take this transaction literally. Don't forget, this is all virtual money." Sometimes I read the phrase incorrectly and think that instead it reads, "End of literary file" and I feel very sad and morose and melancholic, like literature and the literary is closed forever, the going out of business, everything must go kind of closed and that, that is it, that the gigantic file with Woolf and Faulkner and Baldwin and Proust and Stein and all the other writers I love, has been deleted or thrown away into a dumpster or has just ended, like there is just no more hallway to the hallway. And then I am glad that, that is not the case and it is like waking up from the briefest nightmare. And then I quickly move on and think about the phrase, "Swipe your credit card" and how really weird that is because swipe to me, is really more about stealing. I know of course that the way it is being used is most likely derived from "sweep" and so it is a broom type of action these language-makers are meaning, not thievery of one's own posessions but why not say, "Sweep your card?" Perhaps because that implies doing something "to" the card itself and not something "with" the card. Wouldn't it be great if it was "shmear" your credit card and then everytime you shmeared it, you would think of bagels...
Stakes and Steaks
Sometimes in things like theatre, literature, and movies, I feel a little about stakes, the way vegetarians feel about steaks. I wonder just how necessary they are to my art diet. I feel more nourished sometimes by the open-ended and the subtle and by the accumulation of mistakes. I like to watch something isolated, like a laugh with a pause on each side. I like to look at what longing looks like in a human. Beauty in an unexpected place and experiments with time are welcome too and talking that makes me think about what talking even means. I love a story that coheres, and I do abhor the impenetrable, but often story is just the scaffolding and not every story has to be a war. Once, I forgot to put stakes in my tent and a strong wind came and blew it right across a field. Clumsy, pretty somersaults ensued and I was glad for it.
Nice to Know
It is nice to know that there is an artist who embroiders onto x-rays and that there is a fuschia lighthouse and pizza telekinesis. It is nice to know that there are pillows that look like big rocks and edible doughnuts the size of peas. It is nice to know that most naked butts are both sumptuous and pretty in their own way and that someone has two matching Pippi Longstocking tattoos. It is nice to know that there is an artist making indoor clouds and another who makes igloos out of books. There is graffiti around the world that is most definitely art and giant discoveries like an abandoned ferris wheel in a field. It is nice to know that lace can look like skin and hair can be a kind of wing and a collection of stools can look like a clusters of grapes. It is nice to know that someone had a royal banquet in the woods and that Yoko Ono would like us to swim to an island in our dreams and that to her this is a kind of dancing. It is nice to know what a human heart looks like when all the muscle and fat has been removed. (It looks like a net.) It is nice to know there are structures of light and that some people carry light around with them in piles that look like layer cakes. It is nice to know there are tiny fictional landscapes with skateboarders and that there are real beaches with pink flowers one can recline upon instead of sand. It is nice to know that there are mohawks made from spoons and that there is a yearly penis festival in Japan. It is nice to know that the amount of exposures in photographs can be well beyond double and that long exposures of sex make sex look spirally and strange. It is nice to know that twin adults look interesting holding hands in a grocery store and that staples can look like skyscrapers. It is nice to see almost everything sped up or slowed down or made blurry on purpose. It is nice to see shape or color as a category and to see what fits in. It is all so nice. I do not much care for the made-up word, "Pinterest." I wish they had called it something else, but I did find and see so much there this past week and much of it fed and enticed me so and it is so enjoyable to scroll through all that I collected and marvel at it over and over when I might have been working on one of several unfinished writing projects or doing some cleaning. But my, what a window these little screens we have can be,what wide and extraordinary windows indeed.
LOOKING FOR A WORD
Today I was looking for a certain word to describe something else, something about social media, but that is not really important. Anyway, all I had was the idea and D and R were over and so I asked them for help. I said, "So you know how you are at the beach and you go in the water and it is shallow and then suddenly it drops down? What is that called when it does that?" They couldn't think of the word. I said, "What is it? What is it?"I momentarily turned the kitchen floor into a beach and demonstrated hoping that somehow a mime performance would help. I said, "Okay, so your kids are going into the ocean and what do you say? "What do you tell them to be careful of? ""There is no word," they insisted. Then we talked about other things which if they had been formal lectures instead of meandering conversations would have had titles like, "Psychological Diagnosis of Self, Friends, and Relatives for the Lay Person" and "Why Sleep is Still a Good Idea For Tired People," "Texting: A Sociological Phenomenon of Instantaneous Regret" and "The One to Five Time Use of LSD in Young Adulthood: A Case for The Necessary Introduction of Reality Expansion Beyond Suburbia". Then we listened to some music and had coffee. Then I yelled out, "The word is drop!" "What is?" they asked. "The thing," I said. "The word, when it drops down, it is called a drop." R didn't hear me because he was running the garbage disposal which he had suddenly made work a few minutes before when it had previously not been working. Somehow he'd done this using a shish kebob skewer that I didn't remember ever having before that moment. He'd said, "Do you have something long and pointy?" And there it was out of nowhere in the silverware drawer. D said, "I don't think that's what it is called? Why would it be called a drop?" Then we both realized simultaneously that in her mind's eye she'd seen a lozenge, like a cough drop but then she changed it to the drop I meant and then R sort of caught up with what was happening, but he was still thinking about the LSD discussion and it seemed like drop in that context, as a word was almost some kind of linguistically multi-leveled weird acid thing in itself. I mean does drop acid mean that the acid is a drop? Which kind? Both? Then that thing happened whereby when you focus too intensely on a particular word it starts to lose its meaning, like when you get too close to something it looks blurry. I think it is so strange that the same thing happens with meaning and a word as with an object and one's eyes. I remembered binoculars right then. My parents had had these huge heavy ones. When they were not actually held up to one's eyes they were like an obscene necklace, like a sculptural interpretation of the albatross idiom, an idiomatic idiom, almost iconic really, but not quite. And then I just mentally backed away from the word and I realized that yes, yes, it was true. Drop was and is the word for when the ocean floor drops down. It can be a thrilling experience when a verb is also a noun for the thing and the action. It is kind of like acid for the adult who is well past his or her twenties. Well, sort of. And this would be the end of this little story which has ended up not being so little after all, but there was this 2nd part or 3rd part, a part after whichever part we're on. It is very late so I've lost track of what parts are parts and what are sub-parts. But, after the universal agreement that drop was indeed the word, my son came downstairs with D's son and they said, "Do you want to see something cool we just learned about on the computer?" "Sure," we said." And they showed us this thing called "Google Gravity." Have you seen it? It takes all the words and images on your screen and makes them all drop down, like rain drops, like falling snow. It looks like your monitor or laptop has been picked up and shaken. It blew our minds. Way trippy day.
It is nice to hear people order their coffees with room. It is nice to order coffee and be asked, "Would you like some room?" Today, I almost replied back, "I'd like some rooms, maybe two or three. I'd like a meadow too, a sloping one with long Walt Whitman-y grasses."Room is a lovely word. Room. Room. Room. Words that end with the letter "m" almost hum on the way out of your mouth like a little nap. Mmmmmm. Mmmmmm. It would be nice if the word ruminate were spelled roominate because that would make the word and the mental action of ruminating seem less obsessive and more contemplative somehow, at least to me. To roominate would simply be this act of finding openings in one's thoughts. Although now, I am thinking of the poet Rumi and that makes the word ruminate do the same thing without changing the spelling to roominate. Yes, beauty, space, love. surrender, a Rumi-nation. Oh now wouldn't that be nice, to have a Rumi nation? Lot's of falling over in ecstasy I imagine and lots of whirling blissfully around. I think it might be a place better to visit than live. Though rumors would definitely be better if they were roomers. Those roomers, who needs them? They just take up room with all of that spreading around.
I am now imagining Virginia Woolf in a cafe somewhere in a particularly happy mood, no rocks in her pockets, no dark mood crushing the stream of her important and beautiful observations. It is 2012, decades after, "A Room of One's Own" and she pops back from the whispery realm of the dead and into to the realm of the here and now. Mrs. Woolf orders tea. The person behind the counter asks, "Would you like you like some room?" Mrs. Woolf replies, "Why yes, yes, of course. Yes, of course and certainly. I indeed would like some room. I always like some room. Thank you."