Correspondence 22.03.17

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From: Gordon Flanders <gordonflanders@mail.com>
To: Babe <listentothebabe@mail.com>
Date: Wednesday, March 22, 2016 at 12:36 PM
Subject: The twisty sounds of piano-fortes long forgotten

Oi mate, you ever been to a deli? It’s a place with a counter. Maybe there’s some weird rolled chopped animals hanging from the ceiling, they might be caked in white rocks from the ocean. In the deli sometimes there’s a red machine that you pull a ticket from and it has a long number on it and eventually someone will yell out one of the numbers on the ticket and boom it’s time to order your boiled pigs and processed simulated cow’s milk product.

If you look at the digits of a year, 2017 for example, in a certain way, you can see that it’s kind of like that ticket from the deli. You pull one out, you throw it away, you hope you got everything you needed.

What I been doing at The New York? I been doing it to death, my friend.

I used to think: I better not post every day; I don’t want people to have to read every thought that comes into my head; eventually they will get tired of me and unfollow.

You know what, I don’t know at all what people feel. What I do know is that search engine traffic comes from content content content. You can game the system, and I wish I knew how, but if I increase the amount of content on my blog, I figure someone is bound to look at this shit and give me a million dollars.

In 2017 I have not worried about the fact that I’m obsessed with money. I have given up on the dream of a utopian society, of having Tescos. Every empire falls at some point, all I care about is having enough reading material to ride out the apocalypse, and as long as I have one good book, I’ve got that.

I suspect that the more dreams you give up the more you know which ones actually even matter at all. Sure, you can think too small, but you can certainly think too much, and I have found so far that it is better to think nothing at all than to think big some days and on other days berate yourself for not thinking big.

I’m fighting with my cat to type this, and it’s cute like, “oh he wants to type things, too!” but I also can’t fucking focus for one fucking minute god dammit it’s like I have a kid or something. I play with this mother fucker all the time shit I love him but then I try to pet him just now and he bites me. He wants what he wants all of the damn time and that is it. The only time he’s nice to me is when he’s half asleep. If he was a human that’d be a fucked up and very common relationship.

I’m writing all of the time now writing writing writing I just love writing and maybe if I post enough times all over the damn place maybe I can just keep writing. I’m revising a story a little at a time and letting it take its course. Fuck it, you know? But people love to say that. And it’s pretty meaningless. Fuck what? I don’t know.

I know you’re not writing as much these days because you are a more complete person than you were before, but I miss your writing nevertheless. Don’t feel guilty, I don’t know how that makes you feel, but I wouldn’t want to feel guilty about making you feel guilty.

Ha! Feelings! Fuck ’em.

Love ya

G

From: Babe <listenotothebabe@mail.com>
To: Gordon Flanders <gordonflanders@mail.com>
Date: Friday, September 9 at 11:00 AM
Subject: 21 days with no incident

It is ten o’clock where I am, at a cafe, on an island down south, where a Thai cook is watching television, having already prepared my breakfast. It is low season, and in the course of the day, I am the only one he will see. Perhaps I will pass by again in the afternoon, for tea and to read my novel. I am reading John le Carré’s Our Kind of Traitor, which is intriguing though not quite as intoxicating as The Little Drummer Girl, which remains my favourite.

It rains lightly in the morning before the sun punches a hole in the storm clouds in the early afternoon. In the evening, strong rain and winds frustrate the hotel’s efforts to provide al fresco dining. This is a pattern that repeats itself the entire time I am here. I am not bothered. It is perfect weather for someone convalescing. While this is a short jaunt– a mere five nights– it is still the longest I’ve been away from home. Two days I’ve been on the island and the vastness of my horizon makes me almost seasick.

I want to read your brown leather book. It’s barenaked and shows straight through to the bone like a leper dead six hours in a pool with a distracted piranha. Ha. That’s brilliant. I could never write properly by hand, but I like my typewriter. I ran out of ribbon though, and as I don’t know where to get things that nobody buys anymore, I may have to resort to Amazon.

***

I started this email on the island and now I’m back in Bangkok, and my pores are clogged up with pollution too. I feel my leaves slowly curl up around me. I have never liked living in cities, it has always been something of a necessity. I need to be located near a bookstore. Yet I am contemplating packing my life into boxes, moving into a smaller place in Bangkok, and going on the road again. Living out of a suitcase two months at a time. Why? The world has gone mad, have you noticed?

You must be lost somewhere in Asia by now. Are you intoxicated by the alien life?

B.

P.S.

I can’t conceive of distances either.

 

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Correspondence 10.4.16

From: Gordon Flanders <gordonflanders@mail.com>
To: Babe <listentothebabe@mail.com>
Date: Tuesday, October 4 at 8:24 PM
Subject: Devilish Town’s End

Babe:

I know about low season now. I was there in Asia and it was low season and you could do whatever you wanted and the staff could do whatever they wanted. Until dinner time and then they had to do a few things no one wanted.

I have had a le Carre book in my possession since 2008 when a strange old homosexual who called me prince gave me The Constant Gardner. Shit I can’t believe I remember the name of the book. It’s in storage right now.

I know exactly what you mean about the horizon. When we were crossing between islands on giant canoes with pontoons and surly men in strange t-shirts, all I could think about were tsunamis. With a horizon like that, how could you see one coming, and worse, what would you do? You would do nothing. You could only hope to enjoy the spectacle. Or is spectacle to trite a word?

Did you get your typewriter ribbon yet? Funny the strange things that get in the way. How does one even make a ribbon like that. We are so dependant on the work of others. But really, is there anyone in the world who could wake up in the morning and make a typewriter ribbon, say at home after a breakfast of stewed tomatoes? I think…no.

The world is mad and the only safety is in motion, especially the road. Cling to it, my dear, do.

As for me I am overcome with lassitude. Extreme lassitude! Total inertia! Thankfully there is a quiche nearby full of leeks and a glass of rum and soda. As for me I am aching and I cannot regulate my temperature. I am mildly sick in the body, and sick as ever where it matters. I am reading Gravity’s Rainbow and so I am also reading the dictionary, else I am completely adrift in Pynchon’s gulf of text. I am writing about being lost in a forest and trying to convey that the forest grows denser the more we focus inward, and loses it’s power when we deal with the world as if it were really there. Which, who knows, maybe it is.

I will tell you about Asia.

All the best to you and yours.

-G

https://listentothebabe.com/2016/09/09/correspondence-9-9-16/

Correspondence: 12.07.16

From: Gordon Flanders <gordonflanders@mail.com>
To: Babe <listentothebabe@mail.com>
Date: Tuesday, July 12, 2016 at 10:16 AM
Subject: Chocolate Raspberry Cake

Babe,

How are the rains these days?

Madness hits you like a bar of soap. That’s funny. Certainly more accurate than washing over you like a beautiful wave. Yes you really have to be a buddhist about it, or a stoic, or what you think is a stoic, since I tried to learn about stoics and I got bored.

I’m glad you posted your story dead things. I enjoyed reading it. That mother is a piece of work. And that bird! What possessed you to write that way about an eagle! Ha! You’re something else. Shitting all over the dresser. Woo! Shit Christ that’s some kind of image.

I have been writing more by hand in my brown leather book. I’ve been writing in it since 2012. No one sees that and tries to peel away the layers. There wouldn’t be anything to peel if they did. It’s barenaked and shows straight through to the bone like a leper dead six hours in a pool with a distracted piranha. But nah it’s not privacy or the lack thereof is it. You wish the work could stand on it’s own but everyone gets psychoanalyzed from Blake to Didion. But that’s half the point. Fuck it. If they think you were sexually abused as a child based on the story well shit I guess you’ve crafted a reality for someone and I guess that’s what it’s all about. Writing fiction, I mean. But anyway shit I’m not deriding you for having to get up your courage to post it. Gertrude Stein never had to read blog comments.

Limn is a great word but I don’t know how to use it. Please demonstrate.

I like the man in that painting and I would like to be him, at least for a time, because alcohol soothes the boredom. On the rare occasion I get to drink these days, with the working all the time and having the same days off as my wife, on half of those rare occasions things really work out well. As it stands I drink an average of two beers three times a week, which is just enough to not be able to say that you haven’t drank anything at all. Ha! Well. Anyway. Doesn’t matter. The worst is over for now.

I’m reading Moby Dick, did I tell you that already? I’m two thirds of the way through. The first third was great. I feel like I’ve written this already but I am too damn lazy to look. You know what I hate? Clicking all around the screen to check things. That’s why I don’t post links, too. I would like to link my posts together more but I’m just too damn lazy for that. Moby Dick has a lot of really killer lines. Like one every other paragraph. This mother fucker knew how to handle English. I never seen a whale up close, but I can’t imagine the dimensions he gives are real. Probably the whales were bigger back then before garbage islands and ozone depletion or whatever else. Probably he’s taking some dramatic license. He says it’s eight feet from the top of the sperm whale’s head to where his mouth is at the bottom of his head. I guess that’s reasonable if you think about. But you don’t know what eight feet is anyway. Two point something meters. Can you conceive of distances? I can’t. A meter is about the limit of my ability to accurately imagine the size of something.

I’m writing in my brown leather diary because I needed to know that the way I write on my blog was the same way I would write if no one was reading. It’s not at all. Every communication is artifice.

Don’t underestimate the value of entertainment. All work and no play makes Jill a dull girl. That’s what I learned a few weeks ago. It has helped a little bit.

In the city you can’t walk around with your ears open. There’s too much pollution. Much too much pollution and unsolicited bullshit. I used to think I should walk around and experience the moment. We all need a place in the sun and we’re all trying to get it in the same place like a bunch of dumb-fuck assholes. So keep the ears plugged up with house music and remember that everyone else is living their own dream and you don’t want to interrupt. Here even the destitute and the pick-pockets don’t want your kindness. Plug up the ears, grope around in the dark if you have to and turn up the music and find your way to the punch-clock. It’s a stupid thing. But as you can see, the rotten fish in Chinatown and the working models in Soho find a way inside through your pores and that’s more than enough experience and living in the moment for one human animal without leaving the larger orifices unguarded.

I miss those times we would comment on each other’s posts in real time, and I made you laugh and you made me think. The whole world is a wheel so I won’t despair, not because I don’t think it’s a good idea…but because…well I don’t know, maybe I will despair after all.

Best of luck out there in the wilderness of civilization.

-G

https://listentothebabe.com/2016/06/17/correspondence-17-6-16/

From: Babe <listenotothebabe@mail.com>
To: Gordon Flanders <gordonflanders@mail.com>
Date: Friday, June 17 2016 at 9:39 AM
Subject: the way the rain smells

Dear G

I’ve been waiting for the rains to come since early May. The locals say that this was the worst summer yet. They said this last year too, and I remember that it was vicious. They don’t remember what that was like anymore, but I do. I logged the number of migraines I had last year.

It finally rained last night. I was happy for the 27 minutes it did.

I think a madness that feels like sadness afflicts us sometimes and there is no cure. The only thing is to be Buddhist about it and let it go through you. But it doesn’t happen the way they write it in books– it isn’t a gentle wave that you dive under and perhaps if you can hold your breath, you look up and watch it roll past. It’s not a wave at all, but a bar of soap that hits you.

I wrote a story, dead things, it sat in my brain for a while. It took a bit of courage to post it. It wasn’t the narrative or its subject matter that worried me, it was that people would read it and think, ah so this happened to her. There is no privacy in being a writer. Everything you write is parsed to see if it might reveal you, peel another layer of your self imposed anonymity. Ah, but what did you think of dead things? Was it too risqué?

I’ve discovered a lovely new word: limn.

B.

P.S.

I thought the man in Hope Gangloff’s painting might be you. As you will never send me a picture (nor I to you), I have given you this face and the lackadaisical posture to match the mood that you say has taken you. I hope the boredom has passed, because really there isn’t anything worse than being bored. It’s fucking worse than pain. I know this.

Correspondence: 22.04.16

from: Gordon Flanders
to: Babe
date: Friday, April 22, 2016 at 1:04 PM
subject: rot and recreation

My sister-in-law may be behind me as I type, is behind me, but may get closer and close enough to read what I am writing because one of the cat’s opened the door and I am wearing headphones. I am listless. I know no bounds except the ones I deduce based on learned constraints. Behind. Front. Inside.

The passages you sent to me last week are magnificent. I like the way the Hemingway one speaks and I like what the Ferrante one says. Especially the part with the emotional implosion. I am trying to be at peace with making a spectacle of myself. Why not? Let the happy be calm. I won’t try to emulate them for now. One day I will regain a state of yin, to borrow a word that I don’t understand.

I am reading a few books as well, though finishing seems like a remote prospect. But that’s the nature of time, isn’t it, and the nature of me, not to see the pattern. I am reading a book called Blessed about the history of the prosperity movement in American Christianity. It’s helpful in understanding many of the cultural forces that shaped my childhood, among other things. I am reading a book about information warfare called Dark Territory: The Secret History of the Cyber War. It’s by Fred Kaplan. It’s a lot of facts and such like that. I am still reading Imajica by Clive Barker which is a fantastic story recommended to me by the artist at Accidental Tentacles.

I loved reading your short story, slumming. I love gesturing to the loo and then making a snappy exit, especially when there are catered drinks.

I am pleased with the writing I’ve done since I wrote you last. I have some gray hair and I can feel the demons meeting for a quiet tea after a long night. We’ve followed your example and closed the curtains; we’ve shut out the diseased spring. And yet, of course, the spring and I have an animated past which we neither of us can manage to forget.

Be good, but don’t tell anyone you’re doing it. You won’t. But anyway.

-G

correspondence 15.04.16

Correspondence: 03.31.16

from: Gordon Flanders <gordonflanders@email.com>
to: Babe <listentothebabe@email.com>
date: Thur, Mar 31, 2016 at 6:07 PM
subject: thanks for poetry

Hey

Thank you for the Bukowski poem. I am glad you finally got your secret weapon. I hope you use it for all it’s worth as often as possible, and not just on special moonlit Tuesday’s.

But there is something about a moonlit Tuesday, isn’t there? Yes I know just what you mean. It’s hard to wait for the right moment, but it’s the waiting that makes the moment right. 

Does it take madness to write? It takes madness, yes. In a world like this, madness is the cause and the result. Until the whole world is mad, the writer will find work. To create or to find peace? Try peace first to see if it suits you. You can always return to the maelstrom.

I hope the accupuncture continues to relieve you of your merciless tormentor, and like I always say, never trust a man with a thousand tiny needles unless you know for sure that his homeland has been razed from the map. They don’t make them anywhere else.

I am going back to work now. Give my love to everything you see today.

Best

-G

http://listentothebabe.com/2016/03/24/correspondence-24-3-2016/

Correspondence: 11.03.2016

from: Gordon Flanders <gordonflanders@email.com>
to: Babe <listentothebabe@email.com>
date: Fri, Mar 11, 2016 at 2:07 PM
subject: light in the eyes

Has it been three months? From now on I’m treating time like an animal skin. I’m going to stretch it tight over a dark hole and I’m going to pin it down with giant crucifixion-grade spikes.

A headache narrative might be worth no more than a dime, but that metaphor with the teapots and the tea bags is pure gold.

I’m trying to respond to your last letter but it’s been so long that you’ve probably moved on to new questions. Do you still find that the pain is speaking through you? Are you writing for yourself now that you have taken a break from blogging? Are you working on your novel?

I’ve been writing fiction every day for fifteen minutes for the last two weeks. It’s hard to do every day because some days I spend every waking hour at the restaurant, but I can always find fifteen minutes somewhere, on the train if necessary.

Yesterday, I actually finished an eleven thousand first draft of a fictional story, so today I started a new one. I start a lot of things. I just want to finish one thing.

The story is terrible in one sense, but then again I’ve stopped caring about that. I have been learning math these last few months and I got to thinking about literature as a whole. Sometimes I censor myself because I think that if I’m not writing something new and unique, there’s no point in writing it. But I realized that writing and reading fiction are worthwhile pursuits that don’t need to be connected to some larger field or discipline.

For instance, one might write down all humanity has learned about math in ten or twenty large volumes, but the distillation of literature cannot be written in words or drawn in diagrams.

I’m still working that out.

Today I am a robot built from lead with antique hinges for joints. I have turned my back on my heart and drowned out it’s weird shouting with breakup music and public radio podcasts. Apart from that incident with the train a few days ago, things are going well. But I find myself less able to write a good letter.

All the best,

-G

http://listentothebabe.com/2015/12/22/correspondence-22-12-2015/

Correspondence: 16.12.2015

from: Gordon Flanders <gordonflanders@email.com>
to: Babe <listentothebabe@email.com>
date: Wed, Dec 16, 2015 at 11:07 AM
subject: sympathy pains

Has it been two weeks? Did we agree on once a week? I’m sorry but I’m sure you don’t mind. Really there’s no point in stabbing the river of time with red pins and hoping it will behave.

I had a dream about you. I woke up sweating and scared, but not because I drowned in the end.

On a different night than that one, I woke up after drinking spiced rum and had a terrible headache. I don’t drink spiced rum, I don’t get headaches and I have a low tolerance for physical pain. I lay there believing I would die, like the first time I smoked pot. I thought of you, and wondered how you were able to get anything done at all. After two glasses of Alka-Seltzer and twenty minutes of wishing I had morphine or Vicodine, the headache suddenly disappeared. I felt high, then, and I thought: have I been living like this the whole time? In a state of comparative euphoria?

I can’t believe you read aloud, or had someone read aloud, your last letter. I tried to listen to a similar link under one of your poems, but it didn’t work for me. You are like a phantom now. I hear your voice speaking your thoughts, but I don’t see you. I am afraid to record my voice and afraid to hear what I’ve written read out loud. I am not afraid of ghosts.

I have written nothing. I have read nothing. I work and work. Work is the best, and a certain numbness, a merciful numbness, said DH Lawrence. I stopped reading Thoreau. No time for that, not even on the train, where I have to think about things that I am forgetting. I’ve had Ham on Rye on my desk for three months. I thought having it nearby would facilitate the process of ingesting it. Maybe it has been six months. At least its yellow and blue cover match the white and brown desk.

I realized in a dream that the funniest people exist over an ocean of sadness. The dream was so strange, because I was doing normal things, and there was nothing bizarre about it. I was standing near my couch, feeling like I should die. I think in my dream I had the day off, which was nice for a change, or was it? I was feeling so sad and I thought it was stupid to do, but then I realized that the price of greatness was to be forever floating on a sea of something horrid and gut-wrenching, whether it be sadness, self-loathing, hatred, whatever. I suppose some great artists can sing from a garden of love. I suppose I am wrong. But what I realized in the dream was that if this was the cost of creating great art, I should instead write funny stories about one dimensional people. I should do anything rather than swim in that darkness. I should do anything rather than be this person.

If I am close to assimilating the darkness below, I am also more keenly aware that I, and you, are but matches struck and tossed into the gutter. If I speak of abysses below or above, of mastering or surrendering, perhaps I would do better to shut up and experience my moment.

All the best, forever and ever,

-G

http://listentothebabe.com/2015/12/04/correspondence-04-12-2015/

Keeping Up

from: Gordon Flanders <gordonflanders@email.com>
to: Babe <listentothebabe@email.com>
date: Wed, Dec 2, 2015 at 12:51 PM
subject: what in christ

I’ve been reading Thoreau again so you know what that means. I’ve been sleeping more and working at the restaurant more. I finally learned that the two must coincide. I used to try to push past the sleepiness and just write.

I also started reading Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon and I hardly understand any of it. I have to look up about twenty percent of the words. Hemingway said it was hard enough writing stories without having to explain them, and that a writer shouldn’t have to guide another writer through the more difficult terrain of their work. I better figure something out about writing.

I wrote a story for my sister. I borrowed this book called Vivid and Continuous by John McNally. I’m trying to push down my pride and do writing exercises. One of the exercises is to write a story for someone you wouldn’t normally write for, and so I wrote a childish story about a girl who wants a horse but gets a rabbit, and how the rabbit outlives the girl’s fancy, and then dies, sadly looking at my sister and wishing it was enough. It is a terribly sad and childish story. I wrote it by hand.

I want to cry now.

-G