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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Housekeeping 2017

A little housekeeping is in order, y’all.

Aw man I love the way that sounds. It sounds like I built a house here and now I got to clean it up. This shit ain’t even an apartment any more. Four or five years and three hundred posts in we got ourselves a split-level fixer-upper going right here.

First thing to tell you is that I got rid of those mother fucking insidious WordPress enabled ads! Fuck these fucking “visitors may see ads here” or however that shit is worded. I had this blog four years and I been railing against advertising and shit like that and meanwhile ads are sneaking up on my site and shit just because I want to save $35 so I can buy a month’s supply of cinnamon Altoids. No more! I took control of that shit. If anyone wants to thank me, give me money! Preferably enough to buy a year’s worth of Altoids, and keep in mind I got CHRONIC halitosis.

Secondly…mother fuckers I am about to put pictures all over this fucking blog. You know why? Because I don’t give a fuck any more. I like taking terrible pictures and then using the Photos App on my iPhone to give them hokey ass filters and shit to make them look “artistic.” Ansel Adams would have had to take a job at the mother fucking toothpaste-cap-screwing-on factory if he was alive in this day and age of bullshit ass filters, and I love it…I fuckin love it!

Also: Holy Shit!!!!! The Dog Days Are OVER y’all. Someone I count as a good friend, the renaissance woman known to us only as Pickled Sparkly Moose Princess (occasionally Duchess), has returned from sabbatical and is posting again at Accidental Tentacles. Get on that shit ASAP!

Speaking of brilliance, where’s my old friend Babe? She’s convalescing somewhere in paradise and, as far as I know, remains on this side of death’s door. I’m ’bout to write her a public letter later. Got to get back in that open letter writing groove! Shit!

Speaking of Babe, what happened to Hijacked Amygdala? That shit went viral y’all! One of Anna Spoon’s badass collages got freshly pressed or some shit like that and people were like dammmmnnnnn. And then most of us were like, yep I’m good! And now we post more sporadically. But that shit still looks good though, especially taken as a whole in front of a computer with a big ass screen. Beautiful photos and collages and shit and haunting ass words about all kinds of fucked up shit. Just in case the world got too plastic smiley for your ass all the sudden. Or rather slowly but surely. Or rather quickly and inexorably. Anyways go read my stupid ass poem I wrote today.

Yeah so anyway, moving on, I been posting a lot, right? You’re god damn right. It’s March Madness right now! Will this shit continue? Yes, this shit will fucking continue god damn it. Unfollow if your feed is getting gummed up with inane BULLshit and you can’t take it any more! Because this shit is going to go all year! A stupid ass post every god damn day until 2018! I’m not just building poorly planned castles in the sky this time, I swear to JESUS CHRIST on my fucking…no I mean on YOUR…ok on someone mildly tolerable’s LIFE…I swear on THAT.

Lastly, thank you, members of the band Tool and makers of JBL bluetooth speakers, for helping me to write this post. Just so you know, Tool is playing a show in NYC this June. That is not a misprint. Tool is playing at The Governor’s Ball (whatever the FUCK that is). I think I’m going to go! If anyone else wants to go, I would be there under the name of Gordon Flanders and we can get WILD. No contact information or real names will be exchanged. Just throwing that out there for anyone who might want to go to a Tool concert but doesn’t have someone super fucking cool to go with (like me) but is also afraid of catfishing and human trafficking and annoying creepy texts from married men late at night and all that kind of shit that can happen when you meet someone in real life. Let me know via the comments.

Love ya, bitches!

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: 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

I Used the Word Dithyramb In a Post and All You Care About Is This Crazy Chick Who Lives in Asia

This post is an interview with the unnamed creator of Listen to the Babe. I wrote a thousand word intro to this interview which dealt mostly with how charismatic I am. I cut it, but trust me, I am still charismatic as fuck. Satisfy your need for proof of that with these masterpiece ass blog archives right here.

Did I really have to meet she-who-will-not-be-named in order to get these answers? No. Did I travel five thousand and seven miles to do it anyway? Yes I mother fucking did.

I found her inside a lean-to made of imported bamboo; she was writhing, in the throes of an ecstatic vision. She was screaming some kind of improvised dithyramb that sounded familiar and yet not at all familiar. She had a migraine, and she told me to leave.

Unfortunately, I had to work later and there was no time for pleasantries.

But now I have a little time. Let me tell you why I’d suck the babe’s dick if she’d let me.

She writes like a crack in the brick wall that grows when you’re looking at it. It never breaks the wall it just grows weirdly and in a fractal way. You get closer and look at the crack and it grows and grows and next thing you know, you’re looking outside of it. The crack is a canyon now, see? And you just got tesseracted into a perpendicular worldview. Also you’re very small now.

If she was born in Greece in the time of Socrates she would have clawed Pythagoras’s intestines out and told everyone about the dodecahedron in a short story about the sexual preferences of aging goatherds and by now we’d all be living in peace as part of the all soul.

She strives to free her mind and be adventurous without acting like a little dickbag about it.

Stop wasting your time here and go read her blog now.

Just kidding come back! What the fuck!

You can do that later. Jesus. Alright.

These are the things she told me, when her eyes paused from rolling around and her screaming wasn’t on the verge of bringing down that ramshackle hut.

Me:
What are some of the vague ideas/themes you are trying to convey in your writing?

Her:
I don’t really think about themes. But I suppose if you forced me to, I’d say much of my writing is about pain, how we get cut up and hung out to dry, and how we survive it. I like to capture how inevitable pain is but we tend to think it’s personal and accuse God of having it in for us. Then we wise up and see how indifferent life is, it’s not kind or malevolent, but it is beautiful. So beautiful I want to live to a hundred.

Me:
What elements of fiction would you say you are best at/which do you like doing the best?

Her:
I like creating characters. My characters tend to start out as fragments of me, but they quickly evolve until they don’t look anything like me. They are all my kids but with different fathers.

I’m careful with voice as well: the way a story is told. When I’m writing, I can’t move past the first page until I nail down the voice. It’s not always the same voice, it depends on the story I’m telling. But it’s the soundtrack to my story and it has to be there in the opening scene or the narrative will feel inauthentic.

Me:
Do you really believe you will finish a novel?

Her:
As Mulder says: I want to believe.

Me:
If you published a novel and one person said it was brilliant while no one else said anything, how qualified would that person have to be for you to be pretty okay with that?

Her:
That would be pretty dismal. I’d prefer at least a handful liked it. But if Junot Diaz rang me and said my novel was badass, I would be strutting. If you said my novel was motherfucking brilliant and you hated me for it, that would be cool too.

Me:
Are you really close to anybody?

Her:
It takes me a while to open up and trust. But I do have a few people who suffer me, friends who know me intimately and still want to hang around. I guess my best friend and lover knows me best. I’ve put him through the wringer but he seems determined to stick around.

Me:
Is this the life you imagined you’d have as a kid or is it better?

Her:
I was brought up pretty neurotic about religion that for a while I wanted to be a nun. Then I wanted to be the prophet who paved the way for the second coming. My life these days leans in the opposite direction. I’m glad to disappoint my younger self.

Me:
Are you exiled from your home state?

Her:
Self exiled. I didn’t want to die 20 miles from where I was born.

Me:
Will you go back home to visit? To live?

Her:
Visit, yes. As infrequent as I can manage. Live, never again.

Me:
Do you speak Thai?

Her:
I’m learning Thai, yes. I’ve been here in Thailand 18 months now. I moved from Hong Kong, where I lived for almost eight years. I’m a permanent resident now but I’m not sure I’ll live there again. It’s a great city, shiny on the surface but underneath people live truly inhuman lives there.

Me:
Do you like drinking in general? If yes, alone is better or with other people is better?

Her:
Yes I like to drink. With other people. I never got into drinking alone. I can happily smoke weed on my own though.

Me:
Are you into unusual sexual stuff?

Her:
I don’t think I’m particularly kinky; I would never agree to S&M, for example. But I like experimenting. I love sex. I’m fucking enthusiastic.

Me:
Do you like your family?

Her:
That’s a tough one. I love the family that I come from but on the whole I don’t like them. They’re part of the problem. The collective thinking in my family is to achieve financial security to insulate ourselves from all risks. They don’t bother with the poor and the planet, which makes no sense when you think about it. But that’s typical short-term thinking and very few people think beyond their lives or the next generation.

Me:
Have you experienced a lot of tragic shit?

Her:
Yes.

Me:
What would you do if you didn’t have to do anything?

Her:
I would write. Oh, wait, I’m already writing. Well, I’d just write the whole day, travel and run. I won’t bother with part-time work and needless socialising.

Me:
What’s your favorite book and why?

Her:
I can never answer this question. I almost hate getting asked this. There are too many to choose from. But I can tell you that Junot Diaz’s The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao rocked my world. I read it and thought, fuck, I can come up with something like this. That’s when I committed to writing the novel, and writing for the rest of my life.

Me:
Favorite movie?

Her:
Contact. I loved its protagonist, Ellie Arroway. She’s romantic and stubborn. I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of life on other planets. Proving the existence of extraterrestrials means we have to rethink our perspective on God and life.

Me:
Favorite drink?

Her:
Margarita. I also like SangSom, Thailand’s local rum, mixed with Coke and soda. Although I’m not a big drinker these days. At 42, it takes too long to recuperate from a hangover.

Me:
The one living person in the world you’d most want to spend a day with if they were exactly how you imagined them to be or better and there was no risk that they were actually totally fucking boring/an asshole/a violent psychopath who would murder you.

Her:
The Dalai Lama. Because I think he’s on to something. I have a ton of questions. First of all, I want to know if there’s a life after death. Or does it all end with death. Buddhists believe in reincarnation, and Buddhism is one philosophy backed by thousands of years of scientific research. I’d like to know what happens to the body, and if there’s a soul. I’d really like there to be a soul because I’ve worked hard on mine.

All I can say ya’ll if there is a soul, I got dibs on borrowin’ hers.

Boom. Interviewed. Read her posts on Conceited Crusade so everyone can feel a little better about life. Except possibly you, depending on how you get down.