HARKONNENDOG

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Friday, November 25, 2005

What CLOWN looks like.


There it is, CLOWN, in the flesh- well, a picture of the flesh, well, a picture of the paper.

Anyway.. Here's the link if you'd like to purchase it.

That' is http://www.lulu.com/content/182896 for those who prefer to cut and paste into their browser.

Sales have leveled, off, btw, from the initial massive burst of 15 on Tuesday, down to 2 on Wednesdy and 1 yesterday. Hehehe. Fuck.

If you do buy it I strongly suggest you buy the paperback version. I know it costs more but most of those who've read it have read it at least twice. It lends itself to that sort of thing because it is full of soul orgasms. What's a soul orgasm?

This excerpt from CLOWN describes it...

I don’t know. I’d never been to the SAM. People in Seattle always call it “The SAM.” Like they call Seattle’s Best Coffee SBC. People in Seattle are pretty cool except they’re always trying to show you how cool they are.

I’d walked past it on the way to the Metro tunnel after work but never gone in. In front of the entrance there’s a fountain that flows over some rocks protruding from a blue gray marble type of floor. I’d never bothered to really look at it before, and the only impression I had of it was that it was kind of like a Japanese rock garden. It was plain but conveyed a mood, a sort of melancholy mood having to do with loss.

Stephen Crane has a poem that goes:

A man said to the universe:

“Sir I exist!”

“However,” replied the universe,

“The fact has not created in me

A sense of obligation.”

That sort of mood. A feeling of inevitability because the universe will be how it is regardless of how we want it to be. But it was just an undercurrent, a mood, and I never really paid attention to it and I didn’t think the fountain was anything special.

This time I looked. It is a monument to Americans from the Northwest who died in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, and the Persian Gulf. It is a very good monument. Like The Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C., it has a wall with the names of all the dead carved into it. There are a lot of names there. And you know they all grew up around the area you’re in.

I knew that most of them, probably all of them, died before they were my age. It was the first time I’d ever really seen a war memorial. They are more than memorials to people who died fighting wars for their country, they are memorials to people who died young. Every name there is a carpe diem poem.

All the names on that wall are flesh without function now. Flower food, worm meat. Most of the bodies from before Korea are probably just dust on what they were buried in, now. And I’m not saying it wasn’t worth it.

Every soul gone. Or worse, if you’re not a believer in the after life or eternity, every soul blinked out of existence. I’m having a hard time explaining this because I want to give an idea of how tragic it is, how utterly horrible, but also say that it wasn’t in vain. That that was how great what they all did was.

And I believe it. Easy for me to say since I didn’t die with them. When I see people of my generation saying that all the government systems are the same, or that wars are fought just so industries can make money, I wonder how they can think so shallowly. Imagine a fourth Lord of the Rings book that takes place a generation after Aragorn and Fredo and Pippin are dead. Just imagine a bunch of young teens sitting around in Mordor, evil-free Mordor, talking about how that war was a bunch of crap. Talking about how the bow and arrow guild was behind the whole thing. That’s what I think about kids who are cynical about the 20th century wars. A lot of people in Seattle are too cool to believe something like that, true or not.

No matter how well or worthily they died, though, they’re dead. So like I said, the monument is more than a monument to their sacrifices or heroism, it is a monument to the tragedy of young death.

It got me thinking about that generational thing again. How we would have met such challenges. What would we do if China invaded Taiwan or India? Nothing, probably. Think about it. We wouldn’t do a damn thing because we don’t care for ideas too much anymore.

It just happened that I was standing there, reading the names on that list, when she screamed. And RIGHT before she screamed, before I turned to see what happened, I felt and wished that I could be worthy to hang out with this group of guys when I died. Like a Valhalla sort of thing. And, (thought happens so fast.) as I turned I was thinking/feeling ‘now you’ll know, here is the answer to the challenge you sent out, here is your chance to become worthy to meet those who died for ideas.’

It was just a teenage girl screaming because her boyfriend or would be boyfriend had snuck up and tickled her. She wanted everyone around her to see how pretty and young and full of life and potential she was. I did see it all, and pretty much everyone around her also did because she screamed so loud. Who knows how many people muttered:

“Shut up you stupid whore.”

I know one person did, because I did. She wasn’t really worth that much anger. I was disappointed because, at that moment, I probably would have been brave and noble if she had really been in need. I was mad at her because she wasn’t a victim I could save.

Jon Donne wrote a poem called Batter My Heart, where he asks God to force him into loving God. Basically he realized that he turned to and loved God the most when he was most miserable. So he asked God to basically do horrible things to him constantly so that he could love God completely. ‘Batter my heart.’

He wanted his free will taken away so that he would not have the option to not love God as he knew he should. That was kind of what I wanted, and why, in a way, I envy my grandfather’s generation. They had little choice about whether or not they would be great. They had battered lives. They could either be great or fail, utterly.

My father’s generation, what I think of as the Clinton generation, had Vietnam. Things were a little less simple. You could go the Muhammad Ali route, which was to protest and suffer for not fighting. Or you could go the John McCain route, which was to fight and suffer the fighting. Or you could go the Clinton route, which was to weasel so you did not suffer.

And what great choices does my generation have? We have none. We had a war, but it was not a great war. There was an enemy personifying evil like in WWII, but he wasn’t a threat to anyone but his neighbor countries. There wasn’t a great controversy around a foreign war like in Vietnam. There was no crisis. There was just a won war. There are names on the wall from the Persian Gulf too, though. I’m not saying I’m not grateful to them.

But that war never even touched me.

In a way I always thought John Donne was an idiot for asking God to crush him so that he would turn to God to ease his suffering. But I also dig what he was saying.

Even the fact that he wrote that poem took a lot of nerve. He was a believer, so part of him knew that poem was a prayer, so when he wrote and published it he must have known that it might be answered. He reached the point in his life where he was tired of waiting for the tests so he asked for them. But he did it in a sideways manner, and I don’t think you can give him a lot of credit for it.

I never went into the Seattle Art Museum. You go into museums so you can have moments where you’re more alive, more conscious of what it means to be alive and capable of thought and feeling. Moments like the one the monument gave me. I call them soul orgasms because, like regular orgasms, you can’t have one right after another, you need some recovery time.

Unless you’re a woman. But even women can’t have multiple soul orgasms. At least I don’t think they can. Regardless, there was no point in going into the museum because I’d just had a soul orgasm and I wouldn’t be able to have another one regardless of what I saw in there.

I rarely have soul orgasms from paintings or sculptures anyway. Usually it has to be poetry. When I say poetry I mean music, too. Music is a form of poetry. Lyrical poetry. If you love music you love poetry, in case you didn’t know.

So I started walking away, but after less than a block I turned back. It felt like my body wanted to be there, but I guess it was my head operating through my body. I quit smoking the day I figured out that the feeling that I wanted something in my mouth was my body’s way of calling for nicotine. Before then I was always saying:

“It isn’t the nicotine. I just need something in my mouth.”

So I didn’t know the enemy, you know? But once I recognized the nicotine pangs for what they were, I knew the feeling I needed to resist in order to master the nicotine urges. Since then I’ve understood that our bodies’ feelings and desires are really mysteries to us. Maybe we just don’t have the vocabulary we need to recognize our bodies’ demands.

One of the problems with CLOWN is I finished it like 3 days before 911. So this entire excerpt makes no fucking sense unless I date the book... but I specifically didn't want to date it... and haven't... except 911 dated it... except people might think Clown (not me because I'm not Clown, Clown is Clown) lived through 911 and Afghanistan and Iraq and he didn't think that qualified as an identity creator for his generation... I have my own ideas about that but I won't share them because they're not in the book (yet) so your guess is as good as mine (unless or until I date it)...

I guess I should date the book... I guess I HAVE to date it. Hrm...... I guess I could make a reference to the millenium...

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