Category Archives: deep thots

A Poem by GM Quinte

International Call

You can see in the early light of dawn
Facing the noise of the so-called Twilight
Bright stars through the perilous fight, and a wide range of his lines and
Flow because we are bold, fluttering looking at the wall?
The rockets red light, and bombs, and the explosion in the air,
Evidence throughout the night that we learned he was still;
O Star Spangled Banner still wave
Fluttering bravest of the land of the free world?

(“The Star Spangled Banner” first stanza, Google translated from English to Chinese to Russian to Korean to Arabic to English.)

DFW on Fiction & Nonfiction

This seems wise & articulates something I’ve been thinking for a long time now, so I thought I’d share it.

Fiction’s abyss is silence, nada. Whereas nonfiction’s abyss is Total Noise, the seething static of every particular thing and experience, and one’s total freedom of infinite choice about what to choose to attend to and represent and connect, and how, and why, etc.

That’s David Foster Wallace, from his introduction to one of the Best American Essay series.

I’d rather contend with the abyss of silence.

Proust Questionnaire: AW

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

I don’t have one.

What is your greatest fear?

Dying abruptly.

Which living person do you most admire?

My wife.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

Salesmanship.

What is your greatest extravagance?

Custom-painted orange wheels on my white Audi station wagon.

What is your favorite journey?

Oman: Muscat and the Wahiba Sands.

On what occasion do you lie?

I avoid lying, because I’m not good at it.

Which living person do you most despise?

My personal shit list is zeroed out right now.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

In print: ostensibly and perhaps. Aloud: dude and fucking.

What is your greatest regret?

Pulling back and not going on one particular heavy wave in the winter of 2009.

Where and when were you the happiest?

At the birth of my son.

What is your current state of mind?

Woolgathering. Paranoid about seeming lazy. Anxious about time.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I would want more artistic confidence.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Writing my second novel, Panorama City.

If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?

A beloved cat named Whiskers.

What is your most treasured possession?

My newest surfboard.

What do regard as the lowest depth of misery?

The piped-in music at our local Ralph’s, a grocery store.

Where would like to live?

Paris.

What is your favorite occupation?

Novelist.

What is your most marked characteristic?

An inability to keep so-called inappropriate thoughts inside my own head.

What is the quality you like most in a man?

Intelligence, sense of humor, language, taste.

What is the quality you like most in a woman?

Intelligence, sense of humor, language, taste, flirtability.

Who are your favorite writers?

Nabokov, Proust, Hrabal, Nicholson Baker, Pynchon, Thomas Bernhard, Cheever.

Who are your favorite heroes of fiction?

Franz-Josef Murau, Arno Strine, Jesus, the Cat in the Hat.

Who are your heroes in real life?

My wife. After that the list is always in flux: James Alan McPherson, Yves Klein, Tom Curren, Gabriel Orozco…

What is that you most dislike?

The sound of someone smacking their lips while eating.

How would you like to die?

I’d like to know I’m dying and be able to say a few words about it first.

What is your motto?

Seize the daybed.

In the Way of Experience…

Yet five minutes after…I realized I had not actually seen the three plants in the little colony we had found. Despite all the identifying, measuring, photographing. I had managed to set the experience in a kind of present past, a having-looked, even as I was temporally and physically still looking. If I had the courage, I would have asked her to turn and drive back, because I knew I had fallen, in the stupidest possible way, into an ancient trap. It is not necessarily too little knowledge that causes ignorance; possessing too much, or wanting to gain too much, can produce the same result.

[John Fowles, The Tree]

poets versus fiction writers

My second year at Iowa, I lived with three poets in a farmhouse out on Taft Ave SE.

Here’s a fake painting of it, complete with cut-and-paste signature. (It had been moved to that location some years before and so had no trees around it. Kind of creepy, huh?)

The Farmhouse in Question

It’s gone now, or moved. Apparently, the owner’s son liked it so much he moved it around the corner and fixed it up for himself.

One of the understood duties of the farmhouse tenants was that we would have to throw a couple good parties every year, including at Halloween.

Being involved somewhat in the set-up of said bash, I didn’t have too much time to work on a costume. I found a cardboard box downstairs in the cellar and made it up to look like a TV set. Then I put on a blazer and tie, and I did my best to look like a news anchor, a talking head, complete with shorts.

We had a rubber rat lying around, so I added him to the costume, too, tying him to my blazer with a short “leash” of string.

Here’s the costume:

The Costume in Question

You can see the rat perched on top of the TV, and the string leading down to my jacket button.

Fun costume, right? People seemed to think so. But in a way I never expected and could not have predicted, the rat, that little black rubber rat, became a litmus test like no other I’ve seen before or since.

Every single poet I spoke to that that night had something positive to say about the rat. From “Nice rat,” to “I love the rat,” to “The rat makes the costume.”

And every single fiction writer wanted to cut the rat, edit him out, or at least get some satisfactory explanation as to why he was there.

Quackery

My friend Colin’s piece on migraines and the artwork of Renee French contains a reference to duck diving, along with a helpful link to this here blog.

So for those of you who clicked on the link, and for the rest of you, too, duck diving is a technique surfers use to get their shortboards under a breaking (or more likely already broken) wave. (Longboarders have to figure out another way.)

Anyhow, it works like this:

1. Paddle toward the broken wave, speed is your friend.
2. When you’re a few feet away, about to be run over by the whitewash, push down firmly on the front 1/3 of your board, so it’s now pointing down, headed underwater.
3. Push down on the tail of the board with your knee or foot. So the board is flat, and then pointing up again.
4. While this is happening, calmly let the wave pass over you.
5. Let the board’s flotation bring you to the surface again.

Seems easy enough, right? It takes a lot of practice. And timing, timing, timing.

There’s nothing quite as satisfying as thinking you’re about to get crushed by a wave breaking just outside of where you are and then exiting out the back with a clean duck dive, especially if surfers to the right and left are spinning in circles or trying to retrieve bailed boards.

Back to Colin’s article. In his metaphor, the wave is a migraine, and he duck dives it.

Not bad for a non-surfer.

Except that I associate duck diving (in, say, 53 degree water) with some of the worst headaches I’ve ever had the displeasure of experiencing.