List with No Name #46

Lists
  1. Flann O’Brien
  2. Mark Twain
  3. Daniel Defoe
  4. Iceberg Slim
  5. Edith Van Dyne
  6. Acton Bell
  7. Victoria Lucas
  8. Æ
  9. H.D.
  10. S.E. Hinton
  11. George Eliot
  12. George Sand
  13. George Orwell
  14. Toni Morrison
  15. Anne Rice
  16. Ford Madox Ford
  17. Robert Galbraith
  18. Paul Celan
  19. Boz
  20. Saki
  21. Stendahl
  22. Novalis
  23. Voltaire
  24. Lewis Carroll
  25. Franklin W. Dixon
  26. Lemony Snickett
  27. O. Henry
  28. Richard Bachman
  29. John le Carré
  30. Italo Svevo
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List with No Name #45

Lists
  1. Walking down the street—a windy night, a blustery night, the last remnant of winter poking into new spring—walking with my family, I ran into my former cat. My wife coaxed him from the brick home five doors down the road, where he has lived for the last three years, or maybe habited is the word, browner, fatter than I remember him when I remember him. He ran up and bit me. I burst into tears.
  2. The time I called my parents, weaving home from the izakaya–It must be daytime, the supper hour, back at home in Florida, yes?—asking after my father, my brother, my grandmother, my childhood dog, how was she, her health, etc.? The lie in my mother’s voice. Stumbling in tears back to my tiny apartment. I missed the train.
  3. (I missed the train on purpose so that I could cry on the long walk home).
  4. On our bed, our old bed, a slimmish bed, tickling my wife, my fingers all over her beautiful young body, her laughter, shrieks, protest, delight. Our cat—our kitten—how he dashed in and bit me all over, viciously, striking like some other animal, like one might imagine a cobra or a weasel would strike. My hand, my arm, my shoulder. That I had a genuine wound there. Blood. My wife calming him, explaining him. Sweethearts.
  5. When my mother brought home the dog, a border collie, a beautiful black and white border collie—no, her name, I can’t share that, I can’t—me, twelve, furious, trembling even, walking into the neighbors’ yard, away, the dog, her, she, the dog in our garage, my younger brother petting her, my father suspicious, but me—Why so angry?
  6. I loved the dog. So much. She was the best.
  7. A few years ago, finding a picture of my dog, a puppy still, wet, in a bathtub of a house I lived in twice, finding the picture in the pages of a book, handing it to my daughter, who asked after the dog, her condition, name, whereabouts, etc., concerned, an edge or shade of protocol in her voice.
  8. That picture now tacked to my daughter’s wall on a corkboard reserved for such tackings.
  9. The cat—how he jumped into my daughter’s crib, curled about her. How it frightened us.
  10. He was never the same after the daughter, or we were never the same, an understatement, an obvious, obvious understatement, of course.
  11. He went to wander a bit, stroll in the world; he failed to return at nights. He took up with an orange tabby, a dusty bland beast my wife dubbed Pearly.
  12. A ridiculous name for a cat.
  13. And then I took to feeding them both. On the porch.
  14. There were other dogs after the dog I loved. A chow, a beagle that couldn’t keep up. What happened to them?
  15. The cat took residency under the house. He refused to move in. He was some kind of scrapper now. We might see him of an evening, curled on the porch, nestled, maybe, with dust-orange Pearly.
  16. But he stopped coming in.
  17. What happened to my dog? The details? I don’t know. This is still a sore spot, but I seem to refuse to ask.
  18. (I suppose I enjoy a sore spot, a wound to worry).
  19. The cat did not like my daughter, I think, and when we had the son, well, I know he didn’t like that. He made it clear. But we subscribe to a fiction wherein the cat loved the children and the children loved the cat.
  20. My daughter has a sweet little framed photo of my cat. He is curled snugly (is there another way for a cat to curl?) in a little wicker basket atop a kitchen cabinet in our old home. My daughter insisted on keeping the photo when I went to throw it away.
  21. Every person, or most persons, that is, most folks—-most folks love their dogs and like their dogs and will say of a dog they like and love: He was a good dog. But my dog! My dog was a very good dog, a smart dog, a dog of impeccable training. My father, returning from years of work overseas to a few months of not working (overseas or otherwise)—my father he trained the beast. It was his project.
  22. (I say, I write, My dog, knowing goddamn well that that dog was my father’s dog).
  23. Returning home from a week in the Smoky Mountains, unable to locate my cat. A miasma about the backporch. Flies, that dead-animal smell that permeates the nostrils, the brain. Finding a raccoon corpse under the house, its body bloated but whole, vile, large and swollen. Discarding it in a series of trash bags.
  24. Its fur was the same color as my cat’s fur.
  25. The strange joy when my cat arrived two days later, his feet trotting down the pavement, sauntering even, arriving on the porch indifferent to my delight but hungry.
  26. That he had taken up first with a possum, and then a raccoon.
  27. The first time I suspected the affair was when I heard the strange crunch of a new jaw crunching on my cat’s own food—a louder, drier crunch. I made myself, hollered, arms above head, chest-thrust, Hey raccoon—off the porch!
  28. But that furred trio just stared at me, knowing I’d go on feeding them as I had been, all Darwinian competition suspended by domestic tendencies, blinking in a series.
  29. How horrifying!
  30. And yet and still—my children, via the designs and tendencies of my wife and me—don’t they turn woodland creatures into anthropomorphic totems? Don’t they squeeze stuffed dolls? Draw and mold and paint forest friends? Make stories about such beasts?
  31. I can’t believe for a minute that the dog would’ve taken to such nocturnal company, nor would her sweet heart spurn my babies for night adventures.
  32. But who knows.
  33. My parents now live with an awful yapping terrier dog, his two rows of teeth set above his rotten beard, and above that mutant jaw, his eyes skewed, akimbo, their colors mismatched.
  34. There is a picture of my cat, or the cat that I am calling my cat who is so plainly now his own cat—there is a picture of that cat in the crib with my daughter. In the picture, both cat and daughter face the camera, the crib horizontal to the viewer, its vertical white bars framing the pair. The cat’s head intersects with the daughter’s head, occluding half her face from the viewer’s view.
  35. This picture horrified my daughter.
  36. (And perhaps signaled a sense of self, or, more importantly, or more significantly, or just plain more interestingly, the sense that there was a self that could be occluded, obstructed, obscured, incomplete).
  37. My wife and I, repeatedly testing our daughter’s reaction to the photo, varying times of day, situations, etc., in order to observe her reaction.
  38. (I almost used the verb gauge for observe but oh my that would be so dishonest, yes?).
  39. Anyway, it horrified this little girl, moved her to tears, gasping, this cat’s head blocking half of her head.
  40. With the dog I don’t know what happened, not really: She was old; her hips were bad, we had to put her down. There’s no image there, just the sound of my mother’s voice passing through some 7,000 miles, telling me that she—the dog—was dead. Or not to tell me, but rather to avoid telling me.
  41. But I do know what happened to the cat.
  42. Here’s what happened to the cat: We moved—not far—from a colorfullivelyurban neighborhood, to an old old suburb of that early urban plot. We moved.
  43. And he was an afterthought, the cat—with his roving, his adventures, he was hard to pin down, to catch in a carrier, a box. I’d tried to coax him and trap him and chase him over a few weeks, but in the thin interval between buying the new house and moving into the new house and selling the old house—well I couldn’t get him, grab him, hold him.
  44. Until I finally did. I engineered (the verb here is too kind) a trap of sorts, bating him with the food, constructing a perimeter, waiting. Pearly showed himself (he knew he was not wanted), but my cat was far slippier. But I waited. And I nabbed him: In a carrier purposed for cats and then into a big box and then into the back of my station wagon and then howling for five or six or seven minutes as we traveled, not far, but over a short, old bridge, into our new old neighborhood, his howling yelping shrieking raising my anxiety about the whole thing, his rustling fury palpable in acute waves from the rear of the car, my voice which could not even call him to me under the brightest of conditions in no way alleviating any of this and so yes of course the first thing I did when I got to the new old house was to open the hatchback, open the box, pull out the carrier, and try to grip the cat who yes of course sprang down (like a cat!) onto the unfamiliar concrete drive, hunting perhaps a crawlspace to crawl into, sensing none, none, none what to do what to do?
  45. And then he ran away.

List with No Name #44

Lists
  1. In Kyoto, in the hot summer rain, sweating in a poncho, fighting with my girlfriend in front of a golden temple.
  2. At 17, experiencing the most intense jealousy of my life, watching a classmate weep in front of The Pietà, thinking, feeling, Why can’t I feel that?
  3. On the way to work, sleepy, maybe a bit hungover, breaking down in tears at “Space Oddity,” concern for Major Tom, his family. Swearing off music in the early morning. News radio ever since.
  4. Religion is just a set of aesthetic possibilities, conditions, and experiences.
  5. In Cork, drinking beer on a roof in the summer sun, a wasp landed on my very eye.
  6. In the last year of college, writing and recording dozens of songs with friends, editing the songs into a cohesive thing, calling the thing an album, sharing it with friends, with never even once the intention of doing anything else with that music, with no dreams of anyone else hearing it, live or recorded. An album made entirely for ourselves.
  7. Listening to it a dozen years later, conceding that it was actually maybe very good.
  8. Vomiting in foreign cities.
  9. Wary of my own susceptibility to sentimentalism, to sentimentality, to my awful tendency to experience catharsis through a fast food commercial on television.
  10. Never able to feel transcendent peace in nature, despite Emerson, Thoreau, Dickinson, Whitman, etc.—because just at the moment that the affect of transcendent peace manifests (the verb is inadequate), my awareness of the affect and the process of the affect and my feeling of the feeling of the affect spoils it all.
  11. Crashing into a road sign on an off ramp, walking away from the wreck, lying down on the slanted concrete abutment in the shade of a roaring overpass, feeling the best feeling, unspoiled.
  12. My child born—that nothing was more original, real, terrifying, beautiful.
  13. In dreams, sometimes: A whole other life, full, brimming, rich, real. He who wakes me wounds me, I think Nietzsche wrote. Or was it Bernhard? Or am I imagining the phrase?
  14. Never not jealous of a hawk in flight.
  15. My mother falling asleep, I kept reading until I too fell asleep.
  16. Vomiting into the trashcan in my classroom.
  17. My brother, balling up wrapping paper, hurling at me. My explosive rage.
  18. The snakes, the rats, the roaches I’ve killed.
  19. Workshopping a story in class. How I hated everyone.
  20. Friends jumping on my bed the afternoon of my wedding. (How did they get in?). Vomiting in the bed.
  21. Reading a certain novel, its plot, its construction essentially destroying a hundred or more of my own pages, my own outline, my own idea.
  22. A Modigliani in the New Orleans Museum of Art: Her neck was everything I remembered of the visit.
  23. My electric guitar, literally rusty from salt air and disuse.
  24. Irony as an aesthetic experience—or a defense against aesthetic experience?
  25. Painting the same scene in watercolors, dozens of times, with my daughter—the loquat tree, the grass, the sky. Her paintings surpassed mine so quickly.
  26. The rat that scuttled over my feet by the river in Chiang Mai. My horror and laughter.
  27. Removing dead rats from a shed as an aesthetic experience.
  28. All experiences are aesthetic experiences.
  29. Does maturity necessitate that we turn down the volume on these aesthetic experiences? That we manage the affect? That we blunt the feeling of the feeling?
  30. Seeing The Pietà again at 27 and moved by the memory of the classmate’s aesthetic response a decade earlier.
  31. The tourists crowding out Mona Lisa, I shuffled into some other room full of heavy, dark, black paintings—Caravaggios?—the names didn’t matter, the authority didn’t matter, I was 15 I think, I relaxed, I could look, I was alone, or I felt alone, it was lovely.
  32. My office: Prints by Goya, Picasso, Tintoretto, Leonardo. A painting by my grandmother, a dog resting, a bird and a bone nearby. Students come by to look at the giant Bosch reproduction, which I wish were more giant, more real.
  33. At the Dali Museum. Shock at how small some of the paintings were.
  34. Is there an aesthetic experience outside of sharing?
  35. Endlessly copying figures from comic books.
  36. Photographing food and sharing it on social media as a kind of thanksgiving prayer.
  37. Seeing the Bacon collection at MoMA, feeling a feeling that I still don’t have a name for.
  38. Rising early on Saturday mornings to watch a show where a man (or was it a woman?) guided me (and others, I suppose) through the rudiments of sketching animals. My grandmother made me sausages.
  39. My daughter’s thorough indifference to a Dürer etching in our local museum I wanted her to see. Her pleading to go to the gardens to paint with watercolors, to paint the fountain, the flowers.
  40. Sometimes in my dreams I write something, or paint something, or create wonderful, strange music.
  41. At eleven years old, sitting for a friend’s mother, who painted my portrait in watercolor. She didn’t draft in pencil, she worked so quickly. I was jealous and grateful.
  42. One of the reasons I love the internet so much is that it allows me to look at paintings. But looking at a painting on a screen is not the same as looking at paintings in the real.
  43. As a teenager, attempting wax dripping paintings in the style of Pollock, starting small fires in my bedroom, covering the scorched carpet with books, clothes, my parents sometimes not discovering the marks for weeks. Trying to explain them, but unwilling to share the paintings.
  44. A wish for anything that disrupts the feeling of feeling the feeling.

List with No Name #38

Lists
  1. John Barth’s beret
  2. Zora Neale Hurston’s fedora
  3. Mark Twain’s bowtie
  4. David Foster Wallace’s bandanna
  5. Tom Wolfe’s white suit
  6. Carson McCuller’s cigarettes
  7. Wiillaim Faulkner’s pipe
  8. Jonathan Franzen’s spectacles
  9. Flannery O’Connor’s crutches
  10. Walt Whitman’s hat (cocked, natch)
  11. Oscar Wilde’s fur coat
  12. Thomas Pynchon’s paper bag

List with No Name #37

Lists
  1. Socrates
  2. Guy Debord
  3. Sylvia Plath
  4. David Foster Wallace
  5. Hunter S. Thompson
  6. Gérard de Nerval
  7. Tadeusz Borowski
  8. Spalding Gray
  9. Virginia Woolf
  10. Lucan
  11. Thomas Disch
  12. Vachel Lindsay
  13. Ernest Hemingway
  14. Yasunari Kawabata
  15. Paul Celan
  16. Seneca
  17. Heinrich von Kleist
  18. John Kennedy Toole
  19. Sarah Kane
  20. Breece D’J Pancake
  21. Gilles Deleuze
  22. Robert E. Howard
  23. Richard Brautigan
  24. Anne Sexton
  25. Stefan Zweig
  26. John Berryman
  27. Walter Benjamin
  28. Primo Levi
  29. Jerzy Kosinski
  30. Hart Crane
  31. Yukio Mishima