Tuesday, August 1, 2017


Took my small black backpack with me running this afternoon, stuck my wallet into it, and stopped by the Fiver Corners Hardware store to get a quarter-inch Allen wrench. There was no single Allen wrench. A small collection of Allen wrenches was sold in a package. It was only four bucks so I bought it. When I got back home I got under the kitchen sink and tried twisting the nut under the garbage disposal, which had frozen. Nada. I couldn’t get it to move a bit. I put everything back. Unplugged the disposal unit. We never use it anyway. Which is probably how it got frozen.
8:04 p.m. I listen to the Stones sing “Cry to Me,” which is credited to Burt Russell and was first released in 1961 by Solomon Burke. Then “Out of Time,” by Jagger and Richards. It’s Mick Jagger’s birthday. He’s 74. Wonder what he’s doing. How does a Mick Jagger celebrate 74 trips around the sun?
Brian Jones played the marimbas.
Brian Jones. It’s never too odd or old or out of time to think of Brian Jones. He always seemed to be goofily smiling. Puffy-eyed. He is the most undead dead person I know.
And then there is Peter Green’s “Albatross.” That lovely, incomparable, rhythmic pulsing bass, like the slow graceful moves of the bird’s flight over Antarctic waters, dreamy, crepuscular. A nice way to ease into the night. Into void. Shōbōgenzō. The wonderful heart-mind of Nirvana.
The empire of night is all that it seems, tassels, sperm, desperation, the blue fish of dream. And then some. It all squiggles, wriggles, walks its weight around the sun, enigmas of Norwegian rock, oceans, the huff and splash of waves roiling in, roiling out.
Memory of E.G. Marshal’s voice introducing CBS Mystery Theatre and its creaking door one night between Redding and San Francisco on I-5, a big full moon to my left, clouds scudding by like bridal veils. Summer, 1976. The year that the Apple Computer Company started. That future did not have me in it.
What if Kerouac, passing through Denver in 1942 had met my mother, got married, had me, would I still be me, I would not be me, I would be John Kerouac, Junior, or some such ridiculous thing.
I go to bed and listen to a podcast on a French internet radio station called Dans l’atelier de l’artiste hosted by Adèle Van Reeth, who regularly hosts a program called Les Chemins de la philosophie (The Roads of Philosophy). The show is about Jan Vermeer. The guest is art historian Jan Blanc, author of Vermeer: la fabrique de la gloire. He talks about the light in Vermeer, how omnipresent it is, how modulated into different tones, intensities. How the light is a sharp, living, dynamic clarity that chisels shadows, assigns them a place, and presents objects and people with an uncanny lucidity that borders on the phantasmal. How the light streaming in from the outside seems to put the chaos in domestic settings in place, in flowing, serene arrangement. He talks about Vermeer’s “The Astronomer,” that the man sitting in the chair with one hand on the globe and the other resting on an ornate fabric is actually Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, the Father of Microbiology, and that the room is bathed in an aqueous light, an illumination of glowing, empirical awareness. Everything in the room appears steeped in experiential speculation: the window, the chair, the cabinet with a pile of books on top.
Blanc further remarks that Vermeer, like Proust, used articles from daily life to create a new reality, a sense that the visible world held unseen charms, that the phantasmal appearance of our daily realities was similar to the cave in Plato’s allegory, that it’s all illusion, a false reality. How the world itself is a fabrication, a product of our perceptions, how we compartmentalize and organize our sensations, channel our perceptions to make sense of the chaotic sensorium in which we make our way.
One might also interpret this tendency otherwise, that it depicts a reality we only rarely come into rapport with, that our awareness is often blunted by stress and routine. Artists like Vermeer bring it into focus. Blanc also talks about Vermeer’s alleged use of a camera obscura technique, basically a box with a hole in it. Light from the scene passes through the hole where it is reproduced with its color and perspective onto an internal surface. If the image is projected by way of an angled mirror onto paper, it can then be traced by the artist.
It remains a controversy as to whether Vermeer used this device. There are also little pinholes in his canvases where he may have used string for accurately gauging angles for vanishing point perspective and illusions of depth.
Ain’t reality a gas? There are so many ways to play with it, coast by its shores, look for it, pan for it, filter it, juggle it, walk through it.
Still can’t sleep, so I try listening to a talk by Eckhart Tolle on meditation. This guy always puts me to sleep. He has such a soothing voice and is such a calm presence, though I wish he’d shave his chin more often, that hair on his chin is weird. It’s not a beard, it doesn’t even look like it wants to be a beard, it’s just whiskers he didn’t get to, didn’t bargain with, so it’s just there, casually. Tolle dings his flat little bells, I love that sound, love the way it starts out brightly then dissipates into nothing, he does this three times, then begins talking, and is almost immediately interrupted by an ad, a Swiss girl selling cheese. So I look for something else. I turn off the Bluetooth and settle on a classical music station, KING FM.
After R arrived home we went for a short three-mile run. I wanted to stop again at the Five Corner hardware store to get a mini LED flashlight. I these things. It occurred to me that something might be stuck in the blades of the garbage disposal unit. Maybe that was why it was jammed. I bought a red one. We also stopped at the library to drop off the Nick Cave film documentary One More Time With Feeling, a very strange chronicle with a tragic event at its core, but unless you know what it is before the movie begins, you think you know what it might be, there are evident clues, but you don’t know for sure. It’s never stated. We looked it up later and discovered that Nick Cave's 15-year old son Arthur had fallen from a cliff near their home in Brighton and died. Nick Cave has had four sons, Arthur, Luke, Jethro and Earl. Arthur and Earl were twins. Earl makes a studio visit during the movie which, not yet knowing what had happened, made us wonder if the tragic event had occurred during the filming of the movie. It had, but it hadn't been Earl, it had been his twin brother Arthur. Recording sessions for what would be the album Skeleton Tree continued two weeks after the tragedy. The pain was palpable. Cave describes the event as a black hole that swallows one's universe. "It's the invisible things that have so much mass," he observes. And yet the music continued. And was quite beautiful. 
The library was closed. We could’ve dropped the movie into the collection bin, which is a little steel door that pulls out from the brick wall in the enclosed entrance, but the movie hadn’t been officially checked out to Roberta and she needed to tell a librarian that she left with a movie that hadn’t been properly processed at the self-serve computer.
I shot a bright beam of LED light into the garbage disposal unit. The blades were thick and shallow. I thought they’d be much bigger. It looked very silty, but I didn’t see any object whatever. The movable parts, gears and whatnot, must’ve rusted together. Fused like the creature in the 1979 movie Alien, still sitting at the controls, fossilized and black.
Tom Skerrit used to come into the pastry shop where R once worked. He liked Mozart.
Some interesting terms on the French news this morning: juillettistes and aoûtiens. They sound like religious or political organizations. A juillettiste is someone who vacations in July, and an aoûtien is someone who vacations in August.
Also, the phrase “circulation en accordeon,” which means stop and go traffic.
There is a lot of coverage on the French news about the forest fires that devastated parts of Corsica and the south of France, mainly in the Vars, and the Bormes-les-Mimosa. Over 10,000 people were evacuated, sent to cots in high school gymnasiums, old people and young, all with  grim looks of anguish, worries about their homes, pets, wallets, documents, family photos. Heavy winds made the flames unpredictable. The fires had an internal rhythm all their own. Terrible. It looked like the entire world was burning down.
Big sun, blue sky, warm air this afternoon (70 degrees Fahrenheit), sound of a shovel scraping on asphalt, then silence as dirt is flung, crying baby, barking dog, thump, thump, thump of my running shoes on gravel, smell of must emanating from a garage sale across the street on West McGraw Place, cluster of signs stuck in the median grass at 3rd Avenue West, 21 candidates for mayor, murder occurred here a few weeks back, husband shot his wife in the back of the head during a heated argument in an Uber car, woke up later in some bushes not knowing what had happened, I know Uber had nothing to do with it (the driver feared for his life and survived by keeping his cool and being cooperative until he let the man out of the car and then alerted the police) but I really hate Uber, I see it as an excrescence of neoliberal crassness, an exploitative practice that undermines all the good that comes from collective bargaining, maybe I should run for mayor, kick Uber and the cruise ships out of Seattle, and thus the mind churns, spins, chews, expatiates, I focus on the uphill task ahead of me, not much of a hill really but still a hill, I rise into a little business district, Ken’s Market, Queen Anne Health Food, Joseph Hair Salon, Tulinda Yoga, StateFarm Insurance, Macrina Bakery, kid’s red wagon parked in front of Costello’s Custom Upholstery, family eating in front of Maleno’s Taco Shop, huge white lilies arranged in a wall-mounted phone booth, the phone totally gone, in its place are Christian icons, Saints and Angels, I nearly collide with a young fat woman walking along gazing at her smartphone by the Fountainhead Art Gallery, a tall athletic man in his 40s goes running by to my left, further up 10th Avenue West a young woman with glasses looks up from her smartphone resting on the rampart, smiles, and says hello. I say hello back and keep on going, arriving home to shower and greet R and rub Athena’s white furry belly and eat tortellini and do some laundry and much later hear a helicopter beat the air with its blades no doubt eyeing the big Seafair parade travel downtown Seattle for one of the local news stations as I try to read Proust. 

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