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Saturday, May 31, 2008

Sartre on the Family

Sartre maintains that the family is the key mediation between the individual and "the general movement of history" and yet is experienced by the child "as an absolute in the depth and opaqueness of childhood." Mom, Dad, brothers, sisters, and History Itself in the same house. Somehow I never noticed History. Though there was a set of encyclopedias. And stories of combat in World War II and the conditions of life during the Great Depression.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


Bernhard's novel Ja, or Yes, is a beautiful cruel melancholy work, not unlike his Concrete. I finished reading the TriggerStreet screenplay this morning and wrote the obligatory critique and used up my full day's supply of energy in doing so, which is like shoveling it down a hole, but the author will be diverted by reading it, so there's that.

Staring Into a Void

Feeling void of ideas tonight I went to Trigger Street and started reading a screenplay (yes when I'm feeling desperate I go to Trigger Street and read screenplays) and actually enjoyed what I read, after having been dragged to the bottom of the ocean by Bernhard's Ja earlier in the day, I can't wait for tomorrow to come so I can start staring into the void again . . . which I can only take for so long, then I go to Trigger Street, it's slightly sickening to have no ideas of any kind, why does that have to happen? It has to happen because one cannot live continuously with one's soul at the utmost peak of intensity . . . or something like that.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

China Earthquake Victims Need Help

This is to urge all visitors presently seated in the Waiting Room to help the victims of the earthquake in China, where Mother Earth became insane and furious and cruel beyond reckoning or understanding, by making a financial contribution to the Red Cross at

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Bernhard's Ode to Salzburg

From his memoir Gathering Evidence (pp. 78-79):

"My own unaided resources were no match for the petty bourgeois logic which prevails in this city as in no other. Everything here is opposed to whatever is creative; and it remains true, no matter how vehemently the contrary is asserted, that this city is built on hypocrisy and that it greatest passion is hatred of the intellect and the spirit: wherever imagination is so much as glimpsed, it is rooted out. Salzburg is a deceitful façade, a monument to the world's mendacity, behind which creativity and the creative artist are doomed to atrophy, disintegration, and death. This city of my fathers is in reality a terminal disease which its inhabitants acquire through heredity or contagion. If they fail to leave at the right moment, they sooner or later either commit suicide, directly or indirectly, or perish slowly and wretchedly on this lethal soil with its archepiscopal architecture and its mindless blend of National Socialism and Catholicism."

A moment of amusement in an otherwise bleak and wholly unproductive day. Last night I dreamt I set up my drumset in the parking lot of a restaurant as members of a band waited for me to finish but we didn't get a chance to play any tunes. This is a frequently recurring dream. One comes right to the verge of playing--and the dream ends, or shifts scenes, as it did last night, to a bus or trolley, I couldn't tell which.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Chicago School Economics as War

More from the wealth of material in The Shock Doctrine (p. 405):

"Everywhere the Chicago School crusade [of "free-market" Friedmanite economics] has triumphed, it has created a permanent underclass of between 25 and 60 percent of the population. It is always a form of war. But when that warlike economic model of mass evictions and discarded cultures is imposed in a country that is already ravaged by disaster and scarred by ethnic conflict, the dangers are far greater."

A note on Peter Joseph's not-for-profit Zeitgeist: The Movie: it is available for rental on DVD at Hollywood Express. [June 2015: Now on YouTube.]

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Theater of Nothing

Extraordinary rendition screenplay has collapsed, subject seems too big, I'd have to fake too much. When I'm between projects I feel as if I've never written anything at all, that I in fact do not know how to write. And if one is asking oneself Am I a writer? the next step on the downward slide is Am I anything? When a project is underway one is under a kind of spell and when the spell has disappeared one feels like a passenger thrown over the rail of an ocean liner and one treads water watching the liner get further and further away, wondering how one managed to get oneself into this predicament. Or as Truman Capote put it: "Finishing a work of art is like taking a small child into the back yard and shooting it." The other new project I tried was an absurdist comedy, wrote maybe 30 pages, all the while knowing that Hollywood has no time whatsoever for Theater of the Absurd material, so that too collapsed. And when one is not writing one's day revolves around--nothing. I suppose I'll go up to Barron Plaza and people-watch, buy a paper, read more about the supremely idiotic Democratic brawl. I'm sure both candidates get a good 8 to 10 hours of sleep a night and probably spend every other afternoon napping; I can't buy into the myth that they "work hard" or "work non-stop"; there's no way they could keep up the pace of making a speech or two a day for months on end without substantial rest to keep their strength up, so they can look fresh and energetic--as they always do--when they're behind the podium. When I see one of them nodding off at the podium and fumbling their way through a speech, then I'll know they're "working hard."

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Tidal Wave and The Birthday Party

The combined effect of reading Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, Naomi Wolf's The End of America and viewing Peter Joseph's documentary Zeitgeist Movie has been, like a tidal wave, to sink one's screenwriting canoe, to smash it to splinters, I'm treading water amidst the wreckage wondering what happened to my interest in writing for the screen, I mean these are emotionally wrenching and intellectually overpowering works; so since I couldn't write I read and happened across an interesting article about Pinter's The Birthday Party this afternoon on a literary weblog in which the author maintained Pinter had confirmed to someone that McCann symbolized repressive Roman Catholicism and Goldberg repressive Jewish orthodoxy, which was gratifying to read after all these years of uncertainty about just what the hell went on in that work, which one has read any number of times without approaching this interpretation; one is expected of course to fall down and worship uncertainty, and plays that don't resolve the issues they purport to examine, but secretly one enjoys knowing what's what.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Ambushed by a Paperback

For no particular reason, no, that's not true . . . in order to avoid reading Robbe-Grillet last night I picked up M. Yourcenar's Coup de Grâce, which I first read in 1986, and it was so insightful and charming that it totally undermined my self-confidence today and it was only with the greatest effort I was able to turn to my new screenplay this evening and advance it a couple scenes, rage once again playing a determining role in the development of the plot. Reading fiction is a dodgy business, you never know what it's going to do to you. I may have to pick up guidebooks to Vienna, Poland and Romania as I am, at least for the moment, dealing with extraordinary rendition, though with a twist of course, and will have to do some more weapons research. Watched the DVD Rendition on Saturday night, it's a good film dealing with a down and dirty subject, lost a substantial amount of money in the US, I think the budget was $27 million, and it only made $9 million or so at home, but that's consistent with an opinion expressed by N. Chomsky on CCTV last night that the educated and indoctrinated upper 20 percent of the population is manipulated by the ruling elite into spending its time, at least those in the corporatized media, making sure the remaining 80 percent spend their time thinking about sheer fluff from morning till night.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Is the Human Race Rational?

In today's NYTimes, columnist Nicholas Kristof writes (p. A25):

"Somewhere in the world, we humans cut down an area of jungle the size of a football field every second of every day, and deforestation now contributes as much to global warming as all the carbon emitted by the United States."

Klein: Birth of a New Economy

Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (p. 381):

"So while the reconstruction of Iraq was certainly a failure for Iraqis and for U.S. taxpayers, it has been anything but for the disaster capitalism complex. Made possible by the September 11 attacks, the war in Iraq represented nothing less than the violent birth of a new economy. This was the genius of Rumsfeld’s ‘transformation’ plan: since every possible aspect of both destruction and reconstruction has been outsourced and privatized, there’s an economic boom when the bombs start falling, when they stop and when they start up again—a closed profit-loop of destruction and reconstruction, of tearing down and building up. For companies that are clever and far-sighted, like Halliburton and the Carlyle Group [now defunct], the destroyers and rebuilders are different divisions of the same corporations."