List with No Name #52

Continue reading “List with No Name #52″

List with No Name #51

  1. The Master
  2. Inherent Vice
  3. Boogie Nights
  4. There Will Be Blood
  5. Punch Drunk Love
  6. Magnolia
  7. Hard Eight

List with No Name #50

Mason & Dixon, Thomas Pynchon (incomplete)

The Silver Chair, C.S. Lewis

Woman on the Edge of Time, Marge Piercy (abandoned)

Life A User’s Manual, Georges Perec (abandoned with intentions to return)

An Armful of Warm Girl, W.M. Spackman

Dockwood, Jon McNaught

The Laughing Monsters, Denis Johnson

The Trip to Echo Spring , Olivia Laing (incomplete)

An Ecology of World Literature, Alexander Beercroft (incomplete)

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of PilgrimageHaruki Murakami

The Age of the Poets, Alain Badiou (incomplete)

Wittgenstein’s Nephew, Thomas Bernhard

Mystery and Manners, Flannery O’Connor

The Habit of Being, Flannery O’Connor (incomplete)

I, Little Asylum, Emmanuelle Guattari

Continue reading “List with No Name #50″

List with No Name #49

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List with No Name #48

  1. The desire to manufacture and maintain happiness leads our culture, our society, our whatever to repeatedly perform contrived aesthetic scenarios.
  2. Happiness being, perhaps, a modern, or at least modernish, invention.
  3. Modernish affect.
  4. And happiness, we maybe telling ourselves, the goal, the telos, the whatever, of religion, politics, culture.
  5. Like many Americans, I have absolutely no idea what will make me happy.
  6. I know that happiness is not stable.
  7. One of Blake’s chimney sweepers remarks that because he is happy and dances and sings they (God/priest/king) are absolved from the belief that they’ve done him injury.
  8. Religion, or the practice and observance of religion, is the maintenance, repetition, and performance of contrived aesthetic scenarios.
  9. Months ago at a baptism I witnessed a man sway.
  10. The swayer swayed rhythmically: his eyes closed, his brow wrinkled, his mouth downturned in the pretense of ecstasy—he swayed to the guitar-strumming of an Episcopalian priest, who plucked and sang a song I’d never heard.
  11. The assembled witnesses mumbling through words of which they weren’t sure.
  12. (Or mute, glaring, like my brother, my father, myself).
  13. Later the priest reserved damning words for this world.
  14. (I’ve committed no details of the sermon to memory, but we may file the whole damn deal under “Platonic shadows of some other promised Real-to-Come“).
  15. And yet the backdrop of the whole affair—did I mention this baptism was outside?—this backdrop was the mighty north-flowing St Johns River, a beautiful spring day, hot, goddamn was it hot-–this backdrop was beautiful, ecstatically beautiful, the deep dark blue choppy river, so broad, coursed in the background, dotted with white sails—trees: announce them: cypress, sweetbay, oak—they swayed—or their branches swayed, their green leaves tickled in the occasional too-brief wind—the sky blazed azure, that’s the word we have, streaked with violent clouds (they were not fluffy)—birds flew—can I remember them, the birds? Let’s license my memory: let’s say white ibises beat past the spectacle, that black vultures hovered not too close. Let’s imagine limpkins and red-shouldered hawks, like the proud avian who lives in the oak across the street from me. Ospreys. Hell, throw in a bald eagle.
  16. The world, this world, which is to say this particular aesthetic arrangement had the potential to authorize happiness—and yet the man in black yapped on about its utter falsenessthis world, this beautiful beautiful world.
  17. Emily Dickinson claimed to keep the Sabbath at home, by which I think she meant her back yard. Sounds nice there—the sermon is never long, and instead of getting to Heaven at last – you’re going, all along.
  18. (I had to preserve and repeat and maintain the aesthetics of Ms. Dickinson’s dash).
  19. I went and stood in the shade and tried to feel happy.
  20. But the man, the swaying man—his performance of ecstasy—all this, mixed with the sermon to spoil the happiness, which I probably enjoyed just as much—the which there referring to the feeling of feeling spoiled happiness, or rather the feeling of potential happiness spoiled.
  21. That the feeling of the feeling was as pure as it might be, mediated by Nature and its enemy Religion.
  22. And finding the man’s swaying performance so thoroughly unconvincing, having witnessed ecstasy my own damn self, at least once or even twice in thirty-five years.
  23. And maybe even experiencing ecstasy, its edges, its agony.
  24. (Ms. Dickinson reported that she liked a look of agony. Its truth).
  25. That ecstasy, or awe, or reverence, or pick your own synonym, because, hey, language is weak as usual, as always, as always-shall-be—language can’t pin down transcendence to a signifying utterance—where was I, am I?—that ecstasy might be pantomimed in the service of a service, of a system, of a religion—this is the shadow of happiness, the shadow of the ideal of happiness: the problem. The problem.
  26. I was never close enough to hear the infant’s cries, coos, wails, burbles, sounds, which she must have uttered—maybe she slept through the ordeal—but any sounds she made must have been the purest utterances at the occasion, the repetitions of Nature, still outside of the culture in which we had gathered to inscribe her.
  27. I wrote all this for me, not for you, not for anyone else—but let me end with the cloying sentimental jeering pretense that I wrote it for the baptized baby, a supporting character in this narrative, whose life I hope is mostly happy.

List with No Name #47

  1. Charles Weedon Westover killed himself on February 8th, 1990.
  2. He was 55.
  3. He shot himself in the head with a .22-caliber rifle.
  4. Between the eye and the ear.
  5. The right eye and the right ear.
  6. The temple.
  7. Charles Weedon Westover was better known by his stage name, Del Shannon.
  8. The name printed on his death certificate is “Charles Weedon Westover” though.
  9. CWW found success as Del Shannon, performing and recording the song “Runaway.”
  10. The 7″ 45rpm recording of “Runaway” became a number one Billboard hit in the United States of America in February of 1961.
  11. “Runaway” was the number one hit in America for four weeks.
  12. It was later a number one hit in the United Kingdom.
  13. And Australia.
  14. But it was not a number one hit in 1967, when CWW as Del Shannon rerecorded it as “Runaway ’67.”
  15. In fact, “Runaway ’67” failed to chart.
  16. CWW, under the name Del Shannon, wrote “Runaway” with Max Crook.
  17. Crook played the strange, dark, jaunty, bipolar solo in “Runaway.”
  18. Crook played the solo on a musical instrument of his own invention, a type of early electronic synthesizer he called the Musitron.
  19. Crook’s Musitron was a modified version of an earlier synthesizer, the clavioline (similar, of course, to an ondioline).
  20. Perhaps Crook’s most significant modification was adding reverb to his organ via a custom-built echo chamber that incorporated garden gate springs.
  21. Crook’s solo is the haunting spirit of a haunting song.
  22. Or maybe the haunting spirit is actually CWW/DS’s falsetto, which cracks through the piano and baritone sax approximately 45 seconds into the song, announcing that the narrator wah-wah-wah-wah-wonders why why why why why why she ran away.
  23. The lyric is simple but also dark, portentous, loaded with a primal anxiety that hints at outright menace.
  24. Why a “runaway”?
  25. Why did she run away?
  26. And why does the narrator want her there with him, walking in the rain?
  27. (To end this misery).
  28. CWW continued recording and performing as Del Shannon for the rest of his life.
  29. His final performance was in Fargo, ND, not a week before his suicide.
  30. Of course he sang “Runaway” there.
  31. It was his biggest hit.
  32. None of his other songs came even close.
  33. He did the alcoholic thing, the drug addict thing, and then the AA thing.
  34. He was, by all accounts, a life-long manic depressive.
  35. And many claimed a kind man.
  36. A generous man.
  37. He played “Runaway” on the David Letterman Show in 1986, shouting the song but hitting the falsetto.
  38. (Back in 1961, Harry Balk, who produced “Runaway,” had to speed up the recording–from an A minor to a B flat–to match CWW’s vocal–he was nervous and flat).
  39. Shirley Westover, his wife of 31 years, had left him the year before his Letterman appearance.
  40. CWW remarried in 1987. He married a neighbor’s daughter, Bonnie Tyson (also known as LeAnne Gutierrez), who was half his age at the time of the marriage.
  41. Bonnie found CWW’s body.
  42. Slumped in a rocking chair, wearing his bathrobe but not his hair piece.
  43. He was working on music with Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne around the time of his death.
  44. And clearly a Wilbury in spirit.
  45. CWW has no grave.

List with No Name #46

  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