Monday, September 24, 2007

taking attendance

This appears to be my twentieth post since No No Yes Etc. was inaugurated nearly three months ago. I'm ambivalent about whether this is a sufficient pace of publication. On one hand, this has to be a secondary mode of output, creatively speaking, to my main writing, which I am getting my mind around as a book manuscript right now. But as a blog reader I know how important new blog material is, and how the old material has a way of going instantly out of date regardless of how topical or evergreen the subject may be. Even the format of the vertical blog text, which sends old entries into the internet netherzone of the archive, suggests the demand for fresh thought. I had a discussion with my mother's friend who is a librarian and who noted the problematic meshing of library science with the onslaught of online blog material overwhelming research tools and filters. In a way, it would appear, blog entries' format, with auto-archiving and permanent online niches, render the librarian almost nugatory or at least superfluous, except insofar as they might point you to the unlisted blog or the secret entry. But isn't that what Google is for? I feel like we're rearguing atonal music all over again, the science of science. But, then, who's arguing?

My own impulse in terms of inventing a blog writing style has been to think fast and try to make connections, paragraph to paragraph of the seemingly disconnected. Paul Rosenberg, a very smart blogger at, engaged in an interesting discussion of conspiracy theories, vis a vis Naomi Klein's new book, The Shock Doctrine, which Farrah has been talking about a lot this week. He debated whether it is conspiracy thinking to point out dormant structural connections or whether it requires a special cabal, public masks, cigars in a room where a lot of inexplicable down town occurs. Today I read Klein's related article in Harper's, which predictably raised my blood pressure but is basically a simple observation: the government has funded a disaster relief industry that now lobbies to maintain market dominance. No conspiracy, just politics.

I thought again about the fantastic Don Siegel movie I watched the other night, The Big Steal, in which one bad guy chases Robert Mitchum who chases Jane Greer who's chasing another bad guy. The movie starts out with lots of normal tough guy wit but halfway through suddenly goes wordless as Mitchum and Greer flirt by driving crazily over a series of switchbacks in the mountains of Oaxaca. Suddenly it's like a dream I keep having, taking these hairpin turns in a car that drifts through the curves as if its plummet over the precipice would be deliberate and gentle. It's not the speed that makes the characters fall in love, it's the skill with which they don't quite lose everything. Two details seem especially dreamlike: the pavement, which because of the minimal Mexican infrastructure (cf Klein) peters out almost indecisively at the edge of the road, like a passing fancy; and the background, which lurches from soundstage backdrop to reality with an antic abandon. While the projected backdrop skitters up and down, Mitchum and Greer barely jostle. They're just that good, or it doesn't matter one way or the other as long as they show up at all.

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