i have been published, a prose poem about my sleeping problems (really, a waking problem), at Abjective, an excellent weekly online marquee, and it's been archived here.
I also started collecting some of my online comment ephemera.
posted by M.Melnicki 7:39 PM
an arbuscular fungus infiltrates and reclaims. this festering forestbed, futurewave, still limps. blogs abound, what's the difference? i can catalogue them all, also announce new egg, suchaswitch, prose poems. someone said use everything; to me this echoes Emerson, I open my manysidedness.
posted by M.Melnicki 8:35 AM
After months of numbness and anxiety and confusion, I finally completed poems addressed to my imprisoned pals in Persia.
posted by M.Melnicki 6:52 AM
Everyone says that no one ever reads your Ph.D. dissertation, but in the off-chance you might be interested, here is a link to it. I wrote a preface at the beginning that is more like an autobiographical account of my academic adventures thus far, which the general audience might find more readable than the rest.
It is entitled: "Modes of Hydrogen Production by the Photosynthetic Bacterium, Rhodospirillum rubrum".
posted by M.Melnicki 5:35 PM
If you jump to 35:30 on this youtube video of the Student Reading of the UC Berkeley Lunch Poems series, you can see and hear me read the poem that won me the Rosenberg Prize in Lyric Poetry this year.
posted by M.Melnicki 5:31 PM
This year, I am again a co-recipient of the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Lyric Poetry Prize!
You may read the poem here.
The judge had to comment:
Matthew Melnicki's 'Untitled'.
The best thing about the poem, to my mind, is simply that it is surprising.
It doesn't bother with anything needless and instead launches, quite
economically, into a figure that it manages to develop both from line to
line and in a kind of spiral of effects. The movement into a looser rhyme
works here, as do the progressively less tethered images and phrases (I like
'swivel circumstance', 'accolades come crinkled', etc.), to create a kind of
swirl that's restrained into shape by some very nice alliterative sound-play
and internal rhyme. I'm not entirely sold on the penultimate sentence ('to
bleakly transcend' may be rhythmically demanded, but doesn't feel quite
right, and the dream-interpretation link seems a bit easy) or the ultimate
one. But the need to turn the pace is clearly sensed--and done with a bit
posted by M.Melnicki 4:52 PM
Poem Published at Idiolexicon.
Someone posted an offer for a free copy of their poetry journal which I wouldn't buy. Read my poem and find out why.
posted by M.Melnicki 9:57 AM
On May 1 2008, I read the poem that won the academy of American Poets Prize (here) at the UC Berkeley Lunch Poems Student Readings. You can jump to 52 minutes to find me reading it on this video.
I also read it (and the Dorothy Rosenbergy Memorial Prize for Lyric Poetry - here) on April 25, 2008 at the "A Celebration of Writers" awards reading at the International House at UC.
posted by MM 8:46 PM
I just heard today that I am the co-winner (with Johnny T Hernandez Jr.)
of the Academy of American Poets contest for 2007-2008
at the University of California, Berkeley.
The poem can be read if you click here.
The judge has commented:
"The poem by #xxxx is a beautifully cadenced series of images. They have a
striking, almost surreal character, thanks to the markedly original
lexical juxtapositions with which the poet builds his or her phrases. This
is a tough-minded but melancholy poem, reflecting on the world that's
immediately at hand."
I am very flattered, especially since this is one of the few times I've shown my poetry and indeed even won a prize.
EDIT: It later was announced that I'd been selected as co-recipient for a second prize from the UC competitions, the Dorothy Rosenberg Memorial Prize in Lyric Poetry. It can be read here.
posted by MM 12:02 PM
Books in the street.
There is so much to say about Berkeley's books in the street, clothes in the street, dishes and furniture and art in the street. Two nights ago, a friend of mine found two six-packs of beer, a pizza, and a bunch of groceries in the street in SF (all in different places). Most of my wardrobe has come either from the street or the free pile in my building.
But what I wanted to share right now regards a pile of books that were in the street on my way back from purchasing my quarterly supply of beans from a local Indian grocer. Unfortunately, my bike was already loaded halfway up with beans, but I was able to take some books. What is remarkable was that a young couple was moving in to a new house, and were angered to find that the previous tenant had left behind his books and CD's (they kept the CD's inside to get some money for them). Surprisingly, this irate couple had not noticed that the books were VALUABLE. It was a lifetime's collection of books on Marxism and Philosophy. The most distasteful part of it, besides her jeering in an un-Berkeley way at the radical topic of the books (she mocked a Sartre book because it had the title "Anti-semite and Jew"), was that she was so disgusted by the books that she did not even want them on the sidewalk and thus called a book dealer to take them away for free (she would have made at least $200 had she sold them individually, or might have been more genial and donated them somewhere so that they could be appreciated). The dealer arrived while I was trying to decide which books merited the small bit of space left in my backpack, in a rush and annoyed by my sifting through the books. He literally took ALL of the remaining books into his car.
A humorous curiosity was that despite all the books on Marxism, there were a number of books that indicated someone had been studying to get a real estate broker's license!!!
Among the books I managed to save are a collection of poems by Brecht, Marcuse's "one dimensional man", Breton's "surrealist manifesto", two books by Horkheimer, Adorno's book about music, Beckett's piece on Proust, a book by John McPhee, a book by Sergei Eisenstein (much appreciated by my filmmaker roommate!), selections from Marx and Engels, and Octavio Paz's "alternating current".
posted by MM 9:55 PM
I have not presented any new ideas in quite some time, namely because I have been preoccupied with my graduate studies. Woefully, I have had enough time only to read the required scientific literature for my coursework, and have done very little personal development beyond my new enthusiasm for tea and pressure-cooked beans. Nevertheless, I am currently in the doldrums between tumultuous semesters and tonight I intend to briefly document a bourgeois thought that arose while shamefully drinking port in front of a fireplace, debating with my cohabitant about the meaning of art.
Art: banality has no beauty.
While sitting at the toilet, I surveyed the only source of input: the utilitarian paint on the wall. The paint had been unevenly applied, creating haphazard splotches where the brush changed directions. One such splotch resembles a flamingo. Is this art? Can one fathomably purport that coincidentally representative banalities are art? (That is, do ordinary objects represent "art"?) Much of 20th Century art provokes the attempt to define art. (These artists have also busted open art's vestibule -- an act which perhaps is without succession, and thus in the future it will be quite challenging to break new ground, lest we forget that true art comes from style and vision, while concept is subordinate). This brings to mind Duchamp's infamous toilet, Magritte's puzzling pipe, Pollack's erratic canvasses. Could I go around taking pictures of anything I wanted and consequently say it is art? I would like to point out that the value of this sort of work is not the presentation of art but rather the philosophical tradition of coercing a beholder to think, to ask theirself questions to formulate their own opinions. Is the toilet art? I think it's a cheap shot and only has philosophical and historical value as art. But can the real artists now "get on with the show"?
I am in support of the demolition of the walls on art. No critic is ever justified to pass judgement on a piece of art (nor any human to put forth any idea) without giving the quintessential disclaimer of subjectivity, rubbing away all assertions of fact or universality. If the artist felt compelled to make something, it is art. It matters not if multitudes deem it of poor quality. It is the inertia to create that is ever-important; it is this channeling of emotional energy into a manifestation that is vivid to me. Call this beauty. Art is either the creation or recognition of beauty. Often times, the beauty is cloaked by a premise: the beauty in a cathartic film is not the morbid deaths and loss portrayed but rather the feat that catharsis can be spawned by such a presentation. The same can be said for vulgar art, which masterfully designs a vehicle to repel.
The splotch of paint on my bathroom wall is not art. But it becomes art when I take a picture of it. I will have selected that splotch in contrast to other splotches, thus found something worthwhile to observe in it. Alternatively, I could tread on nihilism and rather take pictures of all the splotches that are amorphous and could never resemble anything. But it is the cryptic artists I abhor that would mix the two categories, hiding representation among meaninglessness in a secrecy that only commentary can elucidate. So, art is latent in everything, but it is only beauty until we present it as part of a message.
posted by MM 4:36 AM
The best, and perhaps only, value judgment one can make on individuals is of demeanor. Draw the gentle folk to your floors and love them as they love the world. Every smile they exude to strangers is a gift to society and their work is perhaps the most valuable form of activism. Those that cuss, argue, interrupt, spit, grab, stare, steal, stomp, and mutilate possess a variant violence. To build a better world, we need to purify ourselves of all violence in the way that we must also stop using money because we so strongly dislike capitalism. Kindness is a more flexible gown, with sinews. Gentle persons can coast with the wind and always manage to find the ground when needed. This faith in friendliness need not be like Buddhism, not new-age strives for nothingness. It’s bold, it’s the only worthwhile bridge to the Straight World, and it reaches them more strongly than newspapers. “Oh that lovely creature smiled at me!” You don’t have to abandon any of your trailblazing handiwork of creativity. In fact, your art and your actions dressed up in demeanor may have new inflections, may better rub up against the wall. Destructive, violent imagery is a falsehood to building peace. There is no community in graffiti. But you will undoubtedly find: those that listen and smile and purport careful actions, considerate of neighbors, will have the most friends, most peers, most success.
posted by MM 7:32 PM
Early in life, back in the suburbs, I heard occasional gossip of particulars who “ran away and joined a commune” (pronounced CAH-myoon). This was intended to evoke that the person jumped off the deep end and has some undesirable personality traits. You occasionally heard of cults and people who danced naked around a fire and had to turn over all their material possessions and were never allowed to call home and probably had to go through some sort of painful ritual, probably strung out on drugs. That, I was told, was a CAH-myoon. They said Jonestown was one, too. Communism was also a bad idea to suburbanites.
But I live in a cuh-MYOON. It’s quite a lovely place. We eat meals together every day at 12 and 6. We greet each other every morning, welcoming each day with a moderate group chat, a meeting, checking in with each other. We gently point out each others’ faults: this makes us feel warm inside because we’re trying to become more pleasant in our demeanor. We cook mashed potatoes when someone’s jaw hurts and we tell each other which articles are worth reading in the New York Times. I think it has something to do with building a healthy community and bringing the concept into your home.
posted by MM 11:45 PM
Limits to the spread of a grand solution.
Whatever magnificent scenario arises to guide a polis toward sustainability, the path will be most difficult to navigate amongst a sea of people. Perhaps, should a group of individuals seize upon an idea of seceding and constructing a new home, the task of membership might erode any democratic spirit of liberation. Indeed, rules would need to be established in a communal society, to prevent the abuse and gluttony and greed and overpopulation that are inevitable once the bandwagon realizes they have an alternative (ie, America's alluring frontier being destroyed by taking in those yearning to breathe free). Instead of being governed and willfully accepting destruction, persons will want to build their own communes, communities, villas, arcologies, domes, collectives, and govern their affairs under the labor of equality. How will power-hungry golems with a will to conduct be compelled to soften their leadership roles and allow a langorous process (in order to assure democratic consensus)? How will safeguards be placed to limit the immigration of those who care to participate? (Arcosanti will not feed you free even if you volunteer to help build their city.) If utopian pilgrims cannot join up with others, how will they ever pick up the knowledge of how to settle and build new communes? If the answer is "Our commune is full; build your own with neighbors," how can these new families remain fortified against a flood of alien affairs, what gel will shape them against the creep of capital-exchange? We must weave without wandering too far, we must collaborate without coaxing. There must be a blueprint to easily sow. There are golden atoms we can project, ideas too lustrous to be buried beneath the sea of morals. And there must be a patient partnership that knows change cannot be demanded, but adapted. We must find a way to safely allure and to inspire without leadership, to teach without induction.
posted by MM 9:39 PM
Benevolent conversation and encouters.
I have sat lonely, envious of tribes and communities that I remain an outsider to, desirous to open conversation with persons that appeal and whom I assume to be interesting. Having moved around different cities, and being an initially-shy, honest person without the façade of laying pickup-lines nor wearing an advertising costume to lure people to interact with me, I have grown somber over an absence of friendships. I do belong to a small, specific community, but I believe that boundaries should always be transcended, and the limits of comfort or satisfaction should never cease the need to interact with strangers and to meet new people. It is through this interaction that we learn, gain experience, and grow. We develop our personalities and we assemble systems of peers – pools of human resources, outlets for sharing.
How does one attract the mutual interest necessary for interaction? Kind people do not sit on thrones, awaiting to be approached and thus served. I have found that most people, including those smilers that view every human as a potentiality, only have time and effort to make new friends if they are looking for something to receive, if they can benefit too. Friendships are reciprocal. Yet it is egotistical to walk around as if you have something to give in order to receive; this would allow the woes of capitalist market-ethos to encroach upon the sociological realm. Social capital ends at a smiling face. I do hope to accumulate as many friendly encounters as I might, but if all I received was a smile and a pleasantry, I could live satisfied.
It is under the idea that one does not want to trade anything but friendliness that I believe the key to interaction lies. I believe that it is inquisitiveness, curiosity, and geniality that unlock an other’s disposition of being busy. Ask a person about themself and they will unfold before you, letting down their petals to bear nectar. All persons enjoy telling what they know, to attempt to influence someone else. (Of course, to allow this unfolding to sustain would develop a desire for power and governance. We should never submit fully to individuals, but rather open our channels to test every new idea against our old ones, tried but not necessarily true.) Yet if the conversationalist succeeds in sparking your interest with their enthusiasm, they will have gained another peer. It is then that you open your own chest and display your commonalities. And of course, you both will have gained a “friend” and had a positive encounter.
posted by MM 10:27 PM
My thoughts on the debacle of electing a pawn for governor.
It is outrageous that a society can be so ill-considered to select a republican governor with no platform and embarassingly funny celebrity status. It is even more outrageous that people are disillusioned with the whole democratic political process. "My vote didn't make a difference". "See, next time I won't even waste my time." Instead of frustration at the polls, people should invoke this emotion for illegitimacy in electoral politics to bring things closer to their own grasp. Instead of speculating on next year's presidential election, people should focus their attention to the true hopes of achieving a sane local municipal government. There is extreme hope for Green politics in the San Francisco mayoral race (Matt Gonzalez!) and with this sort of focused optimism, we can demonstrate to the rest of the state and country that not all Americans are misled by sensationalism. Instead of vowing to denounce politics and to say that governance is ineffectual, one should bring capacity for change also closer to their own realm of agency; one should get in the streets and right the wrongs of their local situations. While we all would love to have progressive jobs, getting paid (well, too) to fight for environmental and egalitarian issues, vocation is only one domain. We also are able to effect change by volunteerism. There is no other singular way -- not contributing money nor voting -- to reach out to neighbors and participate in society, thus communicating ideas. One will find that the frustration acquired on election day is quite a contrast to the exhiliration of cleaning up garbage, teaching a child something new, feeding a stranger, or donating items to the needy. From there we can more effectively communicate. Volunteerism, even in the slightest bit, can bring forth our ability to function as a democracy. It can also bring forth benevolent societal progress.
posted by MM 11:38 PM
I have not posted in quite some time. Much idealism has been running around my head, but lately I have been considering posts in slightly-less scatterbrained form. The internet allows impulsive communications, which I often end up regretting. I would like to try to plan better to formulate more well-developed ideas, and I have no idea where this blog will turn. While I think it is important to track my activities on this blog, some issues of privacy have been coming up. Instead I will try to use this blog as my online journal -- a springboard for new ideas.
The Idealist's Path to Advanced Academics and Socioecological Action.
I just wrote an essay that is basically "how I hope to get into grad school". I wrote it for my friend, Skye Gruen, who I lived with while interning at North Cascades National Park. Like me, this friend is hoping to go to graduate school to study something socially & ecologically conscious: renewable energy from biological sources. I have a whole idea of how to go about embarking on the task to contribute to this sort of socioecological action. CLICK ON THIS LINK to read my new essay that I just completed today that tells how I believe an idealistic scholar can find their way into a grad school program that matches their ideals and hopes for changing the world (human society and ecological home -- this should encompass everything).
And on the personal note, I currently am working at UC Berkeley, doing research on Photosynthetic Purple Bacteria, discovering how to get them to produce hydrogen. Over the course of time, I will likely discover much more, and I hope that my stay in this particular laboratory has only just begun. It is incredibly refreshing to be back in an academic environment, and one of excellence, nonetheless. An entire building devoted to plant and microbial biology!!! Wow!!!!
posted by MM 11:32 PM
The Infinite Mechanism of Being.
Take a digital disk of music: it is a work of art, an expression of an individual's emotion, culling their experiences to an effusion of sound. It is a unique experience, inimitable. Yet, it is a digital collection of concrete definitions... the bits of a digital piece of information are not subjective -- they're either one or zero. There is mechanism in music. Take the sounds that make you weep, that remind you of your lover, of the full moon walks you've taken, of recovering from a blight or blizzard... These sounds can all be defined and programmed; I'm sorry but the magic of music is material.
Yet then proceed to calculate the probability of randomly arriving at this collection of digits, yielding the same music that transports you to the winding corridors of the city of Cordoba. You will have barely embarked on this vast task before you will realize that the amount of time for an event like this to occur is very large -- unfathomably large -- INFINITELY large. Thus it is improbable. Yet the possibility exists. You can very well theoretically arrive at the disk of music randomly. An intact human set of DNA could very well materialize out of a stew of component chemicals and yield Eve or Adam (well it would have to happen twice in this case). But this probability is so tiny that we must discount this theory as unlikely.
There is something highly unique in the work of art, in the handwriting of an individual, in the bed you have slept in and the way the sheets have been wrinkled. No two persons can share every exact experience, and hence there is no way to escape the dea(r)th of individuality, of existence.
For certain, there are commonalities that we may arrive at to determine likelihoods: if a person studies Italian Renaissance art, they are likely to pick up skills to paint a lovely image for their church and for it to be received as "good". Yet this does not imply that in order for an artist to accomplish elegance they must submit to the history of past artistic triumphs. There are infinite ways for people to create something (at all), and just as this there are also the same infinite ways for people to create something that is good. Of course, if you wanted to rationalize, there are more ways to create something (good or bad) than the ways to just create something good. But both are inifinite. Try that on.
We accept standards based on what experiences we have had. Even in the technologies are there infinite possibilities. There is an infinity of source codes that a programmer can write to arrive at a common efficient program. There are limitless possibilities to construct a bicycle. But there are standards, based on experience, that have locked us in to accepting certain methods. You can build a good, unique bicycle with no background in bicycle history at all, but no bike shop will be willing to market your bicycle until it has been proven that it is successful and that a market exists for it. Instead, the shop would rather continue selling the mainstream style of bike the public has known about. The same goes for combustion, classical music, cooking, calligraphy, caricatures. Breakdancing, baroque architecture, bookbinding, banjo-picking. The mainstream, accepted way to do something well has clouded the tributaries.
In this infinity of possibilities of finding a way to do some activity, I would not say that all of these possibilities are good. Indeed there are many poor inefficient choices, many undesired and wasteful ones. Often, the best route is the safest route, which is to emulate your neighbor and your teacher. We should not seek to be strictly nonconventional -- that is too conventional a strategy. But we must know always that there are no walls (burn them down if you can!) and that your creativity can be as unique as you seek for it to be. Nothing beats excellent ingenuity; become a master at being yourself.
posted by MM 10:48 PM
We have a large problem on our hands. Society does. There is an ideal of how to engineer a society that works for 100% of humanity (Bucky), but I am not a philosopher, sociologist, politician, leader. I have only seen a glimpse of the way and thus will not elicit the details of a utopia. But the problem on society's hands is that, however this future community might be structured, there is no ground for it to be sown in right now. For certain, we have activists, peaceniks, anarchists, nonprofits... but as a culture we have reverted farther back than we were thirty-five years ago. What has happened?
Besides my new biofuels research job (my small contribution to utopian details), my activities are now taken up by a project to edit and reprint an essay that was handed out in the seventies, documenting the Digger/Free/Hippie movement in the sixties. While much of it is just bringing the facts up to date and excising the time-eroded idiom, there is a certain groundwork that is missing that I would have to rebuild. How can such a classist, capitalist (damn you activists with your CLIF bars and clipboards) people find something tangible in playful, witty, mesmerizing attacks on the system? Do we have to start from scratch? Do we need another Vietnam War, another LSD revolution?
posted by MM 10:02 AM
Last night I went to see a concert (Bardo Pond, Kinski, Subarachnoid Space; see Atrocity Jukebox for the review.) I stayed up front, unlike my usual retreat to the back corner perch of the concert space, because I attended the show with two friends. I can almost undoubtedly say that I did not leave the view from in front of the amplifier because of peer pressure (i say "almost" because I did it also out of ignorance). It is remarkable how far peer pressure will take a person. I cherish my hearing (how else will I be able to find a future expression of all the music I've been carrying with me?) and I normally worry about hurting my ears, but a simple "tsk!" from a friend makes one feel self-conscious for dissenting to them. At the concert I also would have wanted to dance freely as if no one was around, but I felt as if everyone would stare at me and think I was the dancing weirdo. The difference between the hippies and the indies is amazing. While the indies are ideologically sharp, their social skills are incorrigible. I hope that my flirtation with the straight-ahead world does not provoke hideous qualities such as weakness to peer pressure. Nevertheless I quite easily avoided drinking even though my friend offered to buy me something. My point here is that no matter how strong-willed someone may be, peer pressure still abounds in the slightest incidents. I often wonder if it is better for me to just be a loner, a true individual, and walk away whenever I feel like it. I would rarely get close to anyone but I would be 100% self-accountable. Sometimes I think about the selfish existential appeal of worrying about you, yourself, first and foremost. We should of course be rather making sacrifices to help people and lend a hand where available, but this position can lend to getting taken advantage of and letting down one's guard. It is then that we make regrettable mistakes because we have forgotten what we have set out to do here in the world, which is simply to be oneself benevolently.
posted by MM 10:41 AM
In this life I think we strive to do whatever we can to continue living past our individual moments. Those that are too indolent have children to pass on their genes, heritage, property, reputations. But for the creatives and critics of the world, we may seek to leave a cultural, ideological mark. Be this through art, science, culture, or achievement; it is the creative act that continues our individuality on for the evolution of future generations.
posted by MM 8:51 AM
Les Enfants Terribles.
Film by Melville, 1949, based on novel by Cocteau.
I viewed this French film tonight. While all art is negotiable (and thus nonnegotiable; it is what you perceive it to be and no interpretation can ever be objectively false), I found a parallel in the characters' stoicism to the absurd fervor of life.
(short plot: brother and sister with quarreling relationship float through life via a mysterious ailment, sequestering themselves in a shared bedroom. mom dies. sister marries rich, husband dies shortly, inherits mansion where brother and sister and two friends live. brother and one friend fall in love but the sister shrewishly fiddles the situation so she can have her brother to herself. climatic ending which i won't spoil).
It made me think again of how life moves fast around us and in the end we die, existential overtones. The bulk of life is just details. Yet there is a complexity here and that is the subconscious affinities we have individually for rather specific characters. By this I mean a particular face that may appear compulsively attractive to one individual; the things that we, as individuals, find ourselves compelled towards without explanations. Despite the futile dirt of life, we are aligned to a specific path. We may often discover the misfortune of others as we amount to these selfish proclivities. Our life is quite like a railway. The scenery sweeps past us and ever still we head onward with passion's momentum.
a friend of mine also noted that this is a post-WWII European film, where the people had gone through every emotion possible and were left with this bewilderment in its wake. In the US, however, we appeared (and still do) to be spoiled brats, without ever having felt extreme communal trauma. Therefore, in our art, the emotions are a trifle; a small fleck of controversy upheaves us. Many of us are so flimsy that we fail to hold any societal shape. Our diversionary entertainment culture can not be blamed on the capitalist control, for they would sell us whatever we bid them; if we were concerned with community and larger stages than the trifling incidental flecks, say activism or philosophy, our art might not be so whimsical. [Indeed this is a large populace and influences abound and one cannot characterize americans vs. _______ on any account. Diversity flourishes.] Nevertheless, one could still wax conspiratorial and state that our diversionary culture is just an incident of those in power sedating us with the drug of entertainment.
posted by MM 10:16 PM
Sorry I haven't posted in a while. I just started a new job and it's #1 on my list of things I'd rather be doing: research on making renewable fuels from biological organisms at UC Berkeley. In the lab of Dr. Tasios Melis, I am going to be working on a project of trying to get a unicellular green algae and a photosynthetic purple bacteria to grow together and produce hydrogen. More details to follow.
I recently have read a piece of work that is associated the SF Diggers. The essay is called Deep Tried Frees and you should read it, especially if you live in San Francisco, are an anarchist, dream of utopias, or are enamored by hippies. It is all about the Digger movement in SF in the 60s that centered around communal living and free services, food, events, etc. I might try to update it again (was previously updated in 1989) and hand it out for free at protests and other events.
posted by MM 4:35 PM
Four Views of Collaborative Art.
While viewing a documentary about the science fiction author William Gibson, "No Maps For These Territories" (recommended), I had an idea for collaborative artistry. This could probably work with poetry or musical composition... What would occur is for one artist to write half of a poem, with very loose lines. They then would pass the lines to a comrade artist. The comrade would then treat the text as every-other line of the final poem and by this method would fill in the converse lines, forging a collaborative half-poem in a supplemental voice, spliced in like a zipper. Then, the comrade poet would extendthe poem, but reversing the role, and instead would construct the latter half of the poem by writing a new loose framework. The text would finally be returned to the original poet, who would then splice conclusionary lines into the frame of the second half of the poem. The poem would, in its construction, be a mirror image of collaboration. It is curious to wonder if a style or intent of the poem would thus be pivoted across the median. There would likely be vectors of voice pointing in multiple directions, but for the uninformed the poem would coalesce into a complete whole work.
A similar experiment could be done with collaborative music (one composer builds half of a loose piece, the second layers on top of the piece and then continues the piece onward symmetrically, and then the extension is filled in by the original artist).
Another experiment of collaborative music composition that I once envisioned (inspired by John Scofield's interpretation of the hippy-funk band, Deep Banana Blackout, "bump") would involve interpretations or remixes. A musician or band would compose a piece to their satisfaction, then give it to a musical peer of theirs who would then reinterpret, remix, or cover the piece. Then, the remix would be fed back to the original band who would reinterpret, remix, or cover the altered piece. To fill in the balance, this would be done a separate second time with reversed roles, and a 6-song 12" ep (for instance) could be released with each project on one side. This has been done to a similar extent with the band Cerberus Shoal, as they are releasing a series of ep's that collaborate with musicians such as Alan Bishop of Sun City Girls, and Magic Carpathians. I have not seen this sort of project enacted anywhere else; please direct me if you know of any.
One final permutation of this collaborative zipper art form would be something any person could do. I have in the past attempted to make a mix compilation with my friend Jonathan Forgang. In this experiment, we intended to make a mix tape by adding a song each, piece by piece. Jonathan would tape the first song and then he would hand me the tape and I would listen to the song and search for the perfect compliment song to add to the tape. We would then keep passing the tape back and forth until it was completed. There would be a logical flow from song to song, but it would be a collaborative effort, and the direction of artistry would zig-zag throughout. With hope, the two visions might merge into one to produce a common or hybid effect. Jonathan and I never completed this project (in fact, Jonathan, you owe me a blank tape!) and if anyone desires to carry out such a project with me, I would be eager to do this.
posted by MM 2:14 AM
In conjunction with today's post, "Open Idealism", I should like to envision a way for me to convey the ideas contained to others. A friend of mine says that these long-winded highbrow "lectures" might only preach to the choir; that is, those that have the tolerance to sit (or sift) through such a dissertation might not be the ones to benefit from any of it. What is needed is this "entreaty with our emotion", a way to poetically or artistically connect with others. I saw a free cabaret show last night and there were these two women that got up and did some spoken word performances about individualism in art, feminism, and racism. Their performance opened up ideas in a fresh format that veers away from the archaic, obstinate dialectics of philosophizing. I shall then hope to compliment this post of such a dreary quality with a partnered poem that parallels the power of the performance I saw by these women that reached out to the audience so well. I will, however work on this poem later, as I am sleepy and in want of dreams.
posted by MM 11:55 PM
It is subjective and blindly arrogant to say "my idealism is the correct path" or that something is "most important". There are multitudinous paths to meaningful activity in this world, and we must always keep in mind that each person embarks upon quests that appear to suit individual needs. That is, what is ideal work for one person (helping at a soup kitchen) is just as sacred as another's work (environmental lobbying, or Christian missioning). What is crucial, however, is that we communicate in our daily process of value-sorting. It is wrong to say "This is the way of the world" but we must not refrain from saying "I believe that this is the way of the world". If we do not go out and profess our ideas of what is most important in life, then we embrace status quo and neglect progress. (It is my personal opinion that the status quo is certain disaster, and thus progress, however defined, is inevitable if we are to speak of sustained happiness). It would be futile to speak out at all if we were to believe that each individual choice of path of activity in life is sacred. We must question -- entreating with our emotion -- the activity around us. We must stand tall and be bold and proclaim our device, always preparing to revise. It is the exchange of idea that is critical to human life's progress, and the exchange can only be enacted if we part our mouths, release our tantrums, broadcast our proto-lectures. Do not fear the perception of arrogance so long as the final page is not written and you are ever willing to ammend your idealism.
posted by MM 11:49 PM
email to Glenn Donaldson
what follows is an email I sent to Glenn Donaldson, who runs Jewelled Antler Records...
one would think that the concept of communes go hand in hand with being
space-cadets, and maybe we are all each, individually, jesters of our own
majesties; yet here ... the earth is more a jewel than the star.
I have been tempted of times past, when these seeds were young, of
lawlessness and frivolity and outward mind-expansion. I feel the music, the
aural brushstrokes that defy the boom boom boom and rigid hierarchies of
collective conventions of the commonplace. We need to reestablish the
balance on the horizon, between understanding this world and the
imaginations of a land with more light. we need to open up the chalice to
all, however sharp is the wine.
many thanks for keeping the cost as low as you can go, but we are still
paying for our esoterism... let the curtain drop! release the grease and
let the music run free! Have you ever thought of free distributions? I am
enamored of Jason Soares (of Aspects of Physics) and his www.mp3it.com, and
of our beloved Thurston Moore with the new www.protest-records.com. At what
cost must money be charged, and are any of these costs able to be
circumvented? Please let me know if you would like to investigate this with
me; I might
consider ... the possibility of reenchanting what was lost
with the glitter in the wind.
posted by MM 11:37 PM
Email to Miriam Greenberg.
...and here is an email I sent to Miriam, who has just started a blog, Poor Word Choice, in response to her inexpressibility.
while it is a joy to achieve things through publicly releasing yourself (yes, surrender to the moment), perhaps you should focus more on the joyful discoveries you find in the world. a blog is powerful in two respects: for one thing, you may broadcast to your putative network of acquaintances (and yet more, thanks to google and links and associations) and thus inform & document your progress in the world and in your life. a second, bolder motive is the process of discovery and experience. What resonates with you may seem obvious, but in retrospect (or removed from your immediate experience, as we outsiders see it) your observations are tools and language for communication, action -- dialogue. If I shut myself in the world, I will only learn a handful of things and thus our individual worth may allow us to become selfish. But bouncing off the vantage of others can often grant new insight. I often take long gasps between my own proclamations, often to lessen the deluge of information (thus making my body of work more navigable by others and by myself), and for this, I understand your editing and shyness... But miss miriam (don't tear out any more pages!!!), you have not said anything yet, but I know you have hordes of thought in your head. release it! open the sluice-gates of your word reserves and let the world know your pathways. the world may not blink, but at least you will be able to know what you have accomplished and thus be able to help others better. and as for your "poor word choice" dilemma of steering towards expectation, I know the drama. I have contemplated scrapping this whole message because of the lofty diction, incomprehensible to many (even to myself at times). Here's a parable... I'm taking up watercoloring lately, and I'm trying to letter some titles for some bookbinding projects. I've been looking at some arabic art books and studying the way that arabic calligraphy appears. My friend here tells me that I should only use the books for inspiration and not as a blueprint to copy from. He says, when we copy we are imitating and thus not expressing ourselves. There is no such thing as "bad art" or mistakes in art. He says that there is something divine about the way someone holds a brush that makes whatever comes off it incredibly unique, an expression of the person inside, perhaps similar to the way a handwriting presents itself. There is a pattern to every person, but the rules of the pattern only apply to one person, and not across persons. Remember that there are no rules, and if you want to write in capitals in one instance and JUxxxTAPOSE some SMALLCAPS in another instance, so be it. be a genderfuck, don't be fallen upon when you dance in the rain. be proud to be yourself and remember, there are no rules; there are only conventions. when you follow the conventions you are ordinary (that may be of appeal to you and no one can take away your guilty pleasures either). but if you ask me, normal is boring.
posted by MM 11:16 PM
I am now met with frustration over the twenty-something existential crisis of what to do with my life and how to do it. I am now looking for places to live in San Francisco, wondering if it's the best thing to do (I could always stay where I'm living now and protest and garden and bind books and learn on my own)... I just sat and listened to Bizet's opera, "Carmen"... I appreciate it much but sincerely wish that modern music possessed such intricacy. the opera and symphonic timbres (of the instruments and the voices) are now extraneous because of the digital age. As I listened to Weill's "Threepenny Opera" the other day I imagined Rachel's or Explosions in the Sky or Eyvind Kang exploding these scores within the modern musical tastes... I am beginning to enjoy classical music (who would have known opera too!) but ecstatic sprawls of noise still capture my emotions. I prefer to be experiencing my art in juncture with my age. that reminds me, i ought to buy all the other sunburned hand of the man cd's... great band, i love them.
posted by MM 12:24 AM
Departing GWU for Good.
The best advertising a university can do is to support their alumni with email and web server access. One would expect that if the university has shaped their students (clients?) into latent successes, their audiences will expand. Nevertheless, the university does not see things this way and only seeks to free up bandwidth (perhaps a large problem of the future, as more and more people will be using online resources for communication). Although they have delayed the deletion of my supposedly permanent firstname.lastname@example.org email address, they are deleting my webserver access. The biggest tragedy will be the loss of my thesis, but even more hurtful will be the relocation of my webpage, Future Wave. I am still looking for a proper home without having to pay for it. However, in the meantime, I will phase in the new address, before the access actually kicks out: http://futurewave.dyns.cx -- this is a free service by DYNS that enables you to keep one address but to point it to some longer address that may keep changing. Thus, I only need to give out this address, though the host (where the files are kept) might change all the time (as I keep switching servers)... Someone has told me about this and also of another option: he says that the San Francisco domain name is free, that you can register melnicki.sf.ca.us, for instance, for free. I haven't gotten this to work yet, though, but that would be a neat domain name! I hope to learn more about computers, networking, software, and eventually programming, but this will take much time... plus you can't learn anything unless you know of applications for your knowledge.
posted by MM 10:22 AM
By Way of Peace & Activism.
Today I pondered what one is to do in this world, once conscious of the conundrums of civilization. I had an argument with a fellow about peace and protesting. He felt that according to Ghandi, all one needs to do is lead an exemplary life of noncontradiction regarding peace. He felt that "screaming protesters" were only aiding to the true causes of war (antagonism and the unbalance of morality). I disagree only in that one needs to go out and communicate with the world. While meditating in the street is a powerful statement of what our world should be like, it is marginalizing the left from the greater society. I believe that we need to endorse a path of peace and creation, avoiding destructive and violent methods of action and communication. Yet we cannot be selfish in our peacefulness. We must look into the hate and grapple with it, not run away from it. I am not asking for individuals to fight back, unless with words and ideas. Communication is the only war or weapon that is wonderful.
posted by MM 11:21 PM
My Method of Talk.
I like to talk; I don't like people who listen. Granted I may talk interminably, I enjoy conversation, exchange, dialogue. When people say I talk too much, or too fast, they misunderstand me... I will speak my mind as thoughts arrive. I have also been criticized for cutting people off, as if I should feel rude. I wish others would cut me off whenever they had something to respond to. Otherwise, I would talk forever. The other option, only speaking when appropriate & concise, narrows my opportunities to interact with people. And I speak quickly because I want to cover as much ground as possible, rather than limit a conversation. When people hold things back, or sit and wait until a person seems to be finished, or just submit to the talk of the other person by listening, conversations become one-way and superfluous. The main function of talk should be to test ideas, see what others think and know. That way we can refine our own thinking and in the future communicate more concisely. This is precisely what experience is composed of. Forcing someone to behave as if they were experienced with an idea (by seeking brevity) is eschewing truth, falsifying interaction, an unintended costume. And keeping silent throughout someone's experimental ramblings is to allow one's ideas to seem to pass when they might merit correction.
posted by MM 4:49 PM
I want to be proactive. Things I would like to start doing regularly include: bike protests against the war, doing an hour of vocabulary every day, doing an hour of plant biology research every day, reading a book every ten days (yeah right), taking my vitamins!, meditating for ten minutes every morning while listening to my stoner ambient noise music, waking up and going to bed earlier (with minimal use of an alarm clock), learning a new skill every month, learning about computer programming little by little.
posted by MM 1:10 AM
My university, GWU, has rescinded in its promise of a permanent email address and fileserver account. Here is a letter of complaint I wrote to the IT department.
I am outraged that, as a GWU Student, I was told numerous times by the University that students with ACAD and email accounts would be able to keep them indefinitely (FOR LIFE!) as long as they were maintained. Now they are being revoked for alumni. I cannot believe that the university is going back on its word, its PROMISE. How disrespectful, to do this to students that have paid THOUSANDS of dollars to be a part of GWU, when we could have spent much less on larger state schools that seem to have more resources. You can be guaranteed that I will never support GW in the future, monetarily or reputation-wise, should this be carried out. If there was any chance of this revoke occurring, the promise for indefinite email addresses should never have been made. My research and work depends upon my website and my gwu email address and my reputation as a GW alumni.
The fact that I keep my thesis that I wrote for my degree at GW on my website is pain enough. There is no other place for it to be posted than on a GW webserver. Not only would it be an incovenience to myself, but it would look terrible on the university to have their students' theses hosted on commercial servers. It makes the university look cheap and selfish. GWU is an academic institution, not a business.
posted by MM 9:45 AM
I really enjoyed this following speech that Senator Robert Byrd made on the floor of Congress this afternoon. [CLICK HERE TO READ]
posted by MM 11:19 PM
I hate Bush.
This war is on. The dimwits have deadbolted the door to the cockpit of arrogance. Upon hearing the news of the bombs flying, while en route through the Mission District on a peace march -- the entire human cavale thus inverted and circumsized -- my heart felt weight and my mind shifted into cartoon mode. Caricatures are the only personification of evil that I know and now I entertain the horrors of depression, of metal in the sky and fire in the world. I never could have imagined it would feel like this; the fate is sealed and innocents must die now, the sight of a city (oh, to explore it!) in destiny of sudden ruin. Baghdad, you hear me now: We have not lost, we will fight back, we will lay in the streets and love. We of the earth with dirt on our hands, who stand in the rain and still cry... our horrors are still alive. With shallow voices and scanning eyes, we cannot tempt with teleprompt. This "peace" is perfidious, a lump in throats because we all know: it's coal, it's cold, war is old. the only way to peace is love. the only way to truth is to listen. The one who talks a rehearsed hearse (no matter how shiny the vehicle, it's still to the graveyard we go) is the one who bends and squeals and whose noodles we will never know.
My reaction will be to ride Critical Mass, "BIKE! Against the War", all day. The streets are ours and the only business is love. I also stumbled upon the Impeach Bush campaign. Here is my note to Rep. Pelosi:
"The deception of the American people and disregard for the international community regarding this war and the propaganda (and subversion of truth) involved have led me to desire eradication of GWB's reign of terror upon the world. He and his cadre of menaces are in fact the true terrorists to the world. I am for peace, social issues, the environment, technology, and the economy. I do not think GWB values any of these, even the economy (except his personal localized economy of corporations that feed his campaign and cabinet). Please support this measure and bring it to the table of your colleagues! I know it's radical, but I do not wish to see the obsolete concept of war praised by people that are not properly elected (By the way, please support Instant Runoff Voting to prevent such an ambiguous presidency, especially when the current one lies by claiming the American people are clearly behind him... clearly not!)"
Think peace. Think love. Do not yell out against the war but go and love and smile and insist that the fool is at fault.
posted by MM 11:12 PM
I travelled for the second time today to the East Bay to look for apartments. This time I was a little more successful, finding one nice place off Craigslist, and another nice one in the same neighborhood from a sign on the street (the benefit of bicyclery!). It is still very draining to have to bike around back and forth, but soon enough I will have an address and will be able to apply for jobs and order CD's and build a nice place to have guests over for, and well, make friends that will be those guests... I just hope that the apartment I select is large enough. I purchased Eyvind Kang's CD (see below) today at Amoeba records... I was looking for more Sunburned Hand of the Man CDR's, but couldn't resist not purchasing anything else... I saw lots of Vibracathedral Orchestra rare CDR's too which was enticing but I ought to wait until I have a job or at least a place to enjoy all this music (it's quite hard to listen to music where I'm staying because the people there do not enjoy most music and prefer silence... silence drives me mad, but they would say the same about my space music)... Right now I am desiring to acquire: Sun City Girls & Alvarius B., Sunburned Hand of the Man, SY's "demon lover" soundtracks, Jackie-O Motherfucker, Cul De Sac's new one, Abunai!, Comets on Fire. Help someone! I also managed to attract someone with my craigslist ad (to find people who like the same music as myself) to invite me to his band practice to see if I could contribute at all. Now I am shy in presentation or performance in front of others, but it has been many years since I have done so; perhaps things have changed. This fellow, Scott, has enticed me with his idea of starting an East Bay dronerock collective. Wow, my dream. I hope I can still study plant biology though. And last but not least, I went to the peace rally two days ago and had a marvelous time, but it is now depressing about the march to war. The only thing I am excited about is the impromptu critical mass that will occur the entire day following the bombing of Iraq. But of course if I could prevent the bombing of Iraq, I would gladly give up Critical Mass forever. I hate killing. I'm a bit annoyed by this incite of fear with the "Code Orange" declaration. hello... we shouldn't be afraid, we should be mad that the administration has caused this threat (which is most likely insubstantial). anyhow, i must rehydrate and then sleep....
posted by MM 12:44 AM
Eyvind Kang: "The Story of Iceland"
This album is wonderful. Eyvind has played with Secret Chiefs 3 (oh my goodness, such wonderful composed eastern orchestral fusion, the music of the coming apocalypse, eh?). This album is one of his on John Zorn's Tzadik label. This was also recommended to me by Cerberus Shoal's Caleb Mulkerin. It consists of repetitive woodwind&strings style magical avant-composed music. Think Philip Glass, but with slow Explosions in the Sky drum snares, forboding of the sadness of destruction and war. The eastern accuracies mixed with european avant-isms dilate the pupils, remind of the human experience and how indifferent yet full of wonder the morning can be. This is a beautiful cohesive composition with recurring themes and an incredible shiny mix. hard to dislike. There is an odd psyched classic rock droning piece with loping wavering vocals at the end. it sounds terrible on my laptop and is a terrible fork in the road of this disk, but it is quite interesting to hear another color of Eyvind Kang's palette. He is playing at the Bottom of the Hill on wednesday and I intend to go, but Damo Suzuki (ghost) is playing at the Hemlock Tavern tomorrow; two concerts of eastern crossover globalization musicians. wish they'd just play together rather than make me go twice or have to pick between them.
Hash Jar Tempo
Finally got to listen to this CD. It annoyed someone I live with, but then again he was annoyed by Gabor Szabo also, so I have no trust that we have similar musical tastes. For the space rock I listen to, Roy Montgomery's projects are incredibly accessible. Although he utilizes noisy tones of guitars (often unrefined, if only he would learn about tone the way Eyvind Kang arranges sound), his worlds he creates are precisely SONG. the guitar sings a story in the way a muse uses a voice to impart a tale. I was nervous that the collaboration with Bardo Pond would be cathartic, since their music is often curdling, cleansing, wrenching... like a wet rag being twisted, the bodily discomfort of taking mushrooms... but they seem to simply back up Montgomery (and collide, intertwine) in order to produce a hippy stoner meditative background music perfect for creating with. As the volume fades in, I anticipate something magical being revealed that is not normally perceptible. It reminds me much of Phish's marvelous "My Left Toe" on the Siket Disk (a surprising must-have for drone rock and psych fans).
posted by MM 12:33 AM
first week in SF.
I am now going to try to recreate the pithy post that I lost because of the inadequacies of Blogger. Over the past week, my first span of days in San Francisco have been largely exciting, despite my not leaving the house too much. I have been helping create the Free Eats, Free Shelter, Free Pantry, and Free Medical Charts that the Free Print Shop puts out every three months. We are now working on a new one on Free Mental Health services in the SF area. It is astounding how great a resource these charts are. Some other projects I have been working on include participating in video editing, cooking vegan food, learning the Bengali alphabet (so challenging, but so interesting: the alphabet is organized based on how you use your mouth to make the sounds, not randomly ordered like the latin alphabet), and doing bookbinding.
In Search of Perfect.
I have a friend that is a book-lover and likes to collect and repair books for a community library, but sometimes I feel as if he is a perfectionist. Today, I showed him a journal I had made in the bookbinding class I had taken at GWU and he remarked "it's really beautiful! it really is... but I wonder about this binding, it just won't hold up, it's too loose." Books to him are artistic AND utilitarian, but his reverence of them is beyond me; I view them as an evolutionary tool yet he probably imagines that they are proprietary moments in history. He is very dissatisfied that I write in my books with pen and highlight them. To him they might be holy and should not be defaced nor altered. In my opinion, a book is not a projection of an author's absolutism but rather a subjectivity that reacts with our perceptive mind. By writing in a book, highlighting the good passages and writing marginal question marks and "are you crazy?!" notes demonstrates the plasticity of ideas. Without a beholder, art is a solemn street; yet with the integrated community of experience art becomes a busy boulevard. I feel that we should not shy away from settling for imperfection because perfect is unattainable. And commentary and criticism are only constructive. It is a selfish arrogance that is offended by criticism, incredulous that one's creation was not perceived as unanimously perfect, after all.
We had a dinnertime discussion the other night about making decisions in doing art: another friend (a video editor) remarked that only a bad artist says "Oh, it'll do". They all laughed, but on the inside I cringed: I say that all the time. I like to imagine that I have an artistic side, but deep down I know that I am always incapable of making trivial decisions that are supposed to be heartfelt (such as selecting the best font to layout a document with, or what vegetable or spice to add to a sauce, or what color to paint something). I think that the subjectivities of art and design are not a science and there is no correct nor best. Of course, we should all steer away from poor choices, but when it comes to picking between three mediocre choices, I have no qualms in settling. The folks here seem to rather want to spend large amounts of time in search of perfect.
posted by MM 10:51 PM
New Music Aquisition
A few days ago I took a trip to Aquarius records. I had used their wonderful website for opinions and clips of music in the past and am in wonder that the record store even exists. They say all these great things about Amoeba records here in San Francisco (and rightly so), but the selection at Aquarius blew my mind. They were a bit exclusive, and I wonder how they get by (perhaps it's the higher prices), but the selection of psych and experimental and indie records whet my whistle. I selected two disks:
Sunburned Hand of the Man >> "Piff's Clicks".
This band was recommended to me by MV (Matt Valentine) of Tower Recordings, in a recent email exchange regarding the zine I'm coordinating, Future Wave. Sunburned Hand of the Man seem to me to be an amalagam of mellowed out exploratory jazz, Vibracathedral Orchestra's neo-hippy space-age campfire bang-a-longs, and Tower Recordings' psychedelic space folk timbres and intonations. Like TR and VCO, this is another collective outfit of monkeys tinkering, clamoring, and shining. Brilla, amigos! Overall, I give it a 9.5 and would put it in my "glad I found out about this band, will highly spread their name around" category. I include in this category: TR, VCO, JOMF, Cerberus Shoal, Do Make Say Think, Steven Wray Lobdell, Jessamine, Secret Chiefs 3, GYBE!, Idyll Swords, Sonna, Tarentel, Gabor Szabo, Explosions in the Sky. These consequently turn out to be some of my favorite bands. You can find Sunburned Hand of the Man albums most cheaply at www.ecstaticyod.com -- Eight dollar CDR's, I believe.
Hash Jar Tempo >> "Well Oiled".
I have not dug into this record yet, but I was happy to find it used. It is some of the folks from Bardo Pond -- bluesy sprawling noise trance -- joined by Roy Montgomery, the awesome NZ dreamy guitarist (both near misses from my "glad I found them, will tell all" category).
posted by MM 10:01 PM
I just want to say right now that I supremely hate blogger. It lost a long post I had been working on and now I am furious. I will hopefully try to switch over to a more benevolent, less leviathan-like program that is much more user-friendly, but first I have to try to safely re-write this hour-long post I had been working on.
posted by MM 12:11 AM
I am currently aboard my Amtrak train from San Diego to San Francisco -- a meager 15 hour trip compared to the 5-day trip I have taken before. Two days ago I quit my job testing membranes and writing up test procedures for the Pall Corporation (yes, I am aware that it was a corporation I was working for. When I have more experience working with businesses I can further comment on the difference between destructive, trivial corporations and technologically advancing benevolent corporations -- Pall, for instance, makes membranes that make medical and industrial filtration processes more efficient and inexpensive. I always tell people that at least I wasn't testing hamburgers!). The last day of work was incredible. I felt as if I'd won an award; everyone was praising me about how good a job I'd done, and I was taken out to lunch (for vegan food nonetheless!). On my exit interview I reflected a lot about the challenges of my job and I was told that much of the difficulty was because I was too educated for the job (duh!). They basically didn't have a specific position for me, so they ended up sharing me across departments getting me to apply the scientific method where otherwise people were making up numbers and fabricating inaccurate data. So, while I wasn't learning about Biology in quite the way I wanted to, I did get to learn about scientific testing, corporate hierarchy, and above all, industrialism. I surmise that industrialism is not the blanket culprit of Western woes, but it is rather Industrial Capitalism -- the drive for making more and more for less and less. Technological Revolutionary Industrialsm -- the drive for doing more and more while using less and less -- is a much more sensible paradigm if we are to continue with this path technological modernity. I have no qualms about preserving the underlying paradigm of the western civilization -- information and technology; I would like, however to exchange the hierarchical use of this information (property, authority, governance, patriarchy) for holistic, democratic information gathering-and-sharing. There is much more to discuss and probe regarding this topic (which I have been considering for a year now, perhaps more -- since I first read Buckminster Fuller and Paolo Soleri); however, I shall hold off until I meet my future peers in this grand geographic gamble I am taking by picking up and moving to a new city, yet again.
When I first moved out to San Diego, I was looking to gain experience in biotechnology, I was hoping to practice activism in a place that needed it badly, I was desiring sunshine and fresh air, I was hoping to stare the stereotype of Southern California in the face and say "I can ride my bike and fart past all you cars!" I largely accomplished much of this, but the impetus for my moving up to Berkeley lies in my lack of community. It was a great challenge to make friends without having a car. I will still resist stereotypes of people (save one, which I learned from my commute on the train every day: there are two types of people -- those that smile back at you and those that stare at their feet) but there was something peculiar about all of the people I'd met that seemed like friends. I can't put my finger on it, perhaps it was absentmindedness, bias towards an individualist, arrogance... It does not matter, but I was not used to having to push real hard for friendships. The people I met had spent effort on making friends as if it were a limited resource and thus would not want to waste it on a guy without a car, that eventually is going to go to graduate school and be an intellectual scientist, that has no other friends to share. The primary longing I have that was not fulfilled in San Diego -- that I am certain I will relinquish in Berkeley -- is the need for peers to discuss and intellectualize interesting topics with. I rarely met people that read books, let alone of similar topics as myself. Those who did had their own business going on. It was remarkable that I came out to San Diego on an adventure with no friends, no job, no girlfriend, no car. No one seems to do that lacking all of those items. Yet in San Francisco, and in DC as I was used to, people do that all the time. I think I will be much more understood and will find participation in all of the thinking I've been doing lately.
I should cite an email I sent to my great pal, Hilary Frenkel, when she asked me what I learned during my six months in San Diego, (i'm adding a couple things to it):
what did i learn? i learned that i can be very apathetic when
i'm not getting paid (with respect to internships)... I learned that I love
bicycling, but I need to take care of my body and stretch (Still too lazy to
do that). I learned that being vegan is right on! (oh, i always knew that!)
I am now trying to put together a zine that will consist of interviews and
contributions from many of my favorite bands, formulating a critique of
industrial capitalism. so far people have been receptive, but i only recently
started to get the ball rolling.
let's see, what else.... southern california is all highways and suburbs.
the people are super nice but many are self-centered. there are two types
of people in life: those who smile back and those who stare at their feet.
making soup is easy, cheap, fun, and tasty. freezing leftovers is the key
to surviving a 9-5 job (er... 7-3)... i like dumpster diving, but still need
guidance on what's safe and what's not. i've gotten a lot of new music,
burned a lot of cd's from people and the library, learned about classical music,
realized that a motorcycle is not only unsafe but also uses gas too!
the only way to find a job is to physically go in and say "give me a job,
here's my resume". life's too short to settle for any less than our dreams.
craigslist is a wonderful thing. beer is expensive unless you buy it at trader
joe's (you won't believe their alcohol choices and prices! 1.99 wine and
it's incredible!) I'd rather read a book or climb a tree than drink a beer or
watch TV. Michael Jackson is not so bad, just misunderstood.
posted by MM 8:53 PM
I am not going to go on and on about why it is a global atrocity (for America and for human morality and for human life) for the US to attack Iraq preemptively (heck, at all!) There has been enough said about this issue, and all I seek to do is align myself with the other anti-war folks. The people, united, will never be defeated. Here is a good article written by the honorable historian/political scientist Dr. Howard Zinn that I feel explains the issue rather well, and made me feel as if there were hope. On that note, almost any article on Common Dreams is great, and I suggest you make it your homepage, at least to read the headlines.
posted by MM 10:13 AM
in case anyone is curious, I was able to settle the case of the library book that I left on the train. I purchased a hardcover copy of the "Biotech Century" for 11 dollars online (was almost perfect condition!) instead of paying the library forty dollars to replace it. They made me get a librarian's signature to say it's okay and then I was doing fine again! I then went upstairs and took out another ten CD's from their collection (Blues like Bessie Smith and Big Boy Crudup this time!) to burn. Oh I love the library, and my conscience is clean.
This Weekend's Barbecue
This weekend my roommate and I had people over. Well, not quite. Only one person showed up somewhat near on time, and we fired up the barbecue after waiting an hour because we were getting hungry. We skewered vegetables with this orange-chipotle barbecue sauce that I made (yum!). That Vietnamese chili-garlic sauce is my new favorite ingredient! (move over coriander! goodbye Hoisin!). And my new favorite vegetable is Delicata squash. you can eat the skin on this one if you stew it. I had some leftover and stewed it with an asian barbecue sauce (so easy to make) and it literally melted in my mouth. My recommendations go out to you to get ahold of this squash!
So the real interesting part of the barbecue (besides the "friends" of mine from San Diego that really treated me like shit, besides drinking all our beer, making fun of me, showing up five hours late, and getting us lost on the way to the bar) was that my old friend from childhood (Meghan Ollendike) came down from Newport Beach to visit, since I'm moving up north next week. It was such a treat reminiscing, even though we weren't best friends or anything. I recommend to you all (besides that you eat Delicata Squash) try to contact old friends from adolescence whenever you move to a new place. It really was a rewarding experience.
The Zine I'm Creating
Well, if you've been wondering what the deal with "Future Wave" is, I'll explain here (and probably in countless other places throughout my website). Future Wave will start out as just a web content zine, but will eventually evolve into a print zine, which my roommate Sara (who's an awesome painter and graphic designer) will help layout. Hopefully that will be soon, but I have to see what kind of responses and content I get. So, the premise is this: I hope to coordinate musicians that I enjoy to formulate a collective critique of industrial capitalism and try to answer the question of "where's the world going?" Much of the music I listen to (post-rock, for lack of a better word) is instrumental, and there are ideas absent from the music. I am certain that these musicians possess radical ideas about the world, and most of them are probably forward-thinking, as the music has a dreamy quality. So far (I started mailing out propositions last night) I have received a nice response, and I think the project will be an overall success, provided that I keep up with it. Check back on the zine tab to see what has been posted, if anything at all.
posted by MM 6:35 PM
My colleague at work.
My roommate and I caught on the news two nights ago a story about a boy who was killed by a woman in a SUV while his father was using an ATM; apparently she pressed the gas instead of the breaks while she was pulling into a parking space. I found out the next day that the father was a fellow that I work with, Alan Remos. Alan is in the hospital with two broken legs, and his son (nine years old I think) is dead. I am dumbfounded. I know that when bad things circumstantially occur out of our control (call it fate), we end up looking for something or someone to blame, to try to imagine how it might have been prevented. I would not say that the woman is largely at fault (goofing at the wheel is as easy as brain-farting by forgetting your own phone number), but I am impelled to think that we should not be having so many people driving cars. A fellow at work today pointed out to me that it is quite easy for myself to reject car culture because I'm young and single and not tied down to anything (thank goodness!). However, someone with a family and bills to pay and a job to go to may feel that life is impossible without a car. I think this is the lesson that we need to learn. This woman probably knows, deep inside, that her mind was always capable of misfiring the wrong neurons while driving; this same very thought is another point on my list of why I refuse to drive; I don't trust myself -- heck sometimes I don't even trust myself on my own bike (see my entry, "The Car I Dented", below on 2/13/03 for a perfect example.) Yet I do not use any drugs and am an avid reader and did well in school. Clearly I can't use "I'm a moron" as an excuse (as I often do)... Some people just don't have perfect attentions (I doze off during long -- yet enjoyable -- lectures, I left my library book on the train (see 2/10), I goof up dates (see 2/16))... While I do not think the answer is to chemically fix these problems (I hate drinking coffee to stay awake when I use the computer at work, but do so just so I don't get fired), I do think that absentmindedness is a serous thing when people take the task of driving so casually. The very fact that there has not been a federal ban on driving while talking on the cell phone is preposterous! All of our lives are in each others' hands when we come near a road; when attention is diverted by the phone, it is much easier to slip up and press the gas instead of the breaks, or to forget to check blind spots for pedestrians or other vehicles. Just a month ago, even, a public transit bus crashed into a private residence! (luckily no one was murdered then). I think people need to begin to view automobile driving as a privilege and not a necessity. Unfortunately, that limits where people must live because in some places it is simply too difficult to find a job without driving. Personally, I'll take a dense city with good public transit, or an organic farm community (aka commune) any day before I settle in a place where a car is almost-necessary. Hence, I have a week and a half to get out of San Diego. I just hope me and my bicycle make it to that date...
posted by MM 5:39 PM
Missed the Peace Rally
Today I goofed and I've never been more mad at myself... I accidentally confused Saturday with Sunday, in that I thought tomorrow was the International Day of Action against the war... I had been looking forward to this day for quite some time, as I feel that it is necessary for civilian everybodies to support those activists and otherones that are putting their "decencies" on the line by committing to actively (and thus activistly) seeking out progress (in the human sense, not the economic one)... the reason for the mixup was because I was getting emails about the SF protest (which is actually on Sunday because of Saturday's Chinese New Year parade) and the SD protest (actually was today, Saturday)...serves me right for not being organized. but the real lesson from the story is that I need to move up to SF even moreso because I have not had any friends down here to go to events with... I have not been able to get excited about things with anyone, I've had to keep it all to myself, like a foreigner afraid to open up to natives. I am putting a stop to this, and because I am quite the conversationalist, I seek to say everything... I think I once said in my journal "I live by entropy.... see everything!"
posted by MM 2:59 AM
I posted an entry from my print journal about "what's going on in the world today?" which, for my ideals, exposes what I think the true inspirations of the US government are (oil! clout!) CLICK HERE TO READ.
posted by MM 9:52 PM
The Car I Dented.
Today, while riding on my bike home from work, I wasn't looking where I was going and I lost my balance. Luckily I didn't steer myself into a passing car, but I did manage to steer myself into a parked one. I feel horrible, as I think I might have dented it. Now, I loathe automobiles, and it is very easy for me to say "dang those people should not have invested in a car in the first place!" but i cannot hold my tastes and standards for a happy life to everyone else. That kind of arrogance is problematic of patriotism and Hitlerism. I thought for a moment that I should leave a note, but I don't have enough money (nor would I feel comfortable) to pay someone to make their automobile more attractive. it's not like I broke the thing. But I do feel terrible that someone worked long hours just to acquire the thing. I would hope to say that perhaps I may help someone get over the attachment to materialism, but it is more likely that I just created an angrier person out of my victim and a more dishonest person out of myself. I keep thinking of my hippy idealism and thinking, as I ride my bike every day past the loud obnoxious guard dogs that someone thinks is necessary to "own, that only love can solve the problems of the world. The only way to get those dogs to shut up is not to impulsively bark back, not to swallow my irritability, but to go back to the dogs amidst the snarling and act compassionate, bring a treat, hush them... i don't know. but it is obvious in all cases, the case of international affairs especially, that the way to cease an unwanted sentiment is not to attack it but to deny it and insist otherwise.
In the case of the car I dented, I did not practice what I preach.... but still there are so many ways to rationalize what I did... what would you have done?
posted by MM 5:25 PM
The Lost Library Book
Well, I am certainly a buffoon enough to have left a book on the train. (It was The Biotech Century by Jeremy Rifkin.) I have done this once before, with The Gold Bug Variations by Richard Powers, and the conductor rescued me by holding on to it, but this time no such luck; we have a new conductor on my commuter train. The worst part is that it's a library book, and I have eight days to return it before I rack up fines. There is, additionally, the price of the book ($28) plus a ten dollar handling fee that I will be required to pay. Now I support the library, and I am in no way trying to point a finger at anyone besides myself, but the reason I am in love with the library is because I don't have the money to be buying books left and right. Therefore, paying forty dollars plus for a book that I don't get to own -- nor get to finish! --does not excite me. I have decided to buy a used copy of the book online and then hand it to the library people and tell them "look, I wasn't planning on paying you forty dollars. So I went and got the book for you. Take it or leave it. Either way, I'm not paying the fine". It's a little New-York-ish for me to be doing in California, so it's presenting me with a moral dilemma. First of all, I was going to buy a softcover (because it's cheaper and easier) but then that's abusing the library a little too much (still better than not paying the fine at all, though). So I decided to pay a little extra for a used hardcover (heck, my copy was used too!) In any event, I am torn as to if this is legitimate. It pains me to use the library often and then not want to dish out a little money for a noncapitalist social organization as wonderful as the public library. However, if all they really need is their book back, and I take care of it for them, perhaps they can see the better light and willingly slap on a new barcode and call it even... I hope I don't lose any more sleep over this, because I would hate to have library privileges revoked! I guess it's irrelevant though, since I'm moving to Berkeley.
posted by MM 9:03 PM
I submitted an old paper to my school's honors program's academic journal, even though I'm an alumni. It's entitled Holistic Thinking in the Globalization of Invasive Exotic Species. I will definitely be jumping for joy if I get published. I already achieved my first published poem a few months ago (maybe being an alumni gains credibility?).
posted by MM 8:56 PM
I had started a "blog-type" entry earlier today, before I created this blog. I left it on my journal page. It's about why I'm moving away from San Diego, to Berkeley.CLICK HERE TO READ
posted by MM 8:31 PM
Welcome to Future Wave.
Welcome to my blog. For a while I fought the urge to create one of these things. I love the DIY ethic, and my mother homepage was created by my remedial HTML skills on my school's server. I have a writings page on there that has excerpts from my ink journals over the past few years... That is the stuff I'm proud of. You should certainly check it out. However, I decided to make this blog separate from those journals. They are a sort of post-stoner reflection on life and I try to be devoid of personal activity in the paper-and-ink journals. Besides, they are too valuable to me to want to abandon the practice of writing on scraps of paper at odd hours of the day and then transcribing them into the bound journal (I bound the newest one myself!) The bound journals are probably too inaccessible for widespread public consumption, so it's best they remain elsewhere. This blog's purpose is to help friends (and strangers!) find out what I'm up to, and to personally document this challenging portion of my life (read: figure out what I'm doing here).
Nevertheless, I decided to make this go more smoothly by affiliating myself with this free Blog service. It hurts me, but at least I'm not buying a car or eating cheese (I'm a vegan bicycling environmentalist AKA hippy). I guess what I can do, though, is interlink between the journal and the blog.
And, it is only fitting that this blog begins three weeks before my big adventurous move up to the bay area. Somehow I know my life will unfold greatly up there in Berkeley. Down here, in San Diego (which should qualify as a big adventure too, since I came out here also with no plans and also by myself), things have been stagnant. This is a large reason why I'd like to have this blog. I need to take hold of the reins, figure out what I'm doing right and what wrong.
So, nevertheless, let me say now that "FUTURE WAVE" is not only my blog but my entire online web presence. I hope it to evolve into a webzine (all in good time, though) in which I will coordinate the countercultural emergence of a holistic vision of life (read: the paradigm shift away from industrial capitalism, rock&roll and pop, corporate branding, globalization without localization). What this holism will represent is part of the future wave that we may watch unfold. In any event, if you are interested in reading more about these ideas, check out my homepage. Please keep in mind that I am always wanting feedback, even if it contains negative criticism... so thus email me with your comments, especially if you're a stranger!
Finally, I hope to bring lots of new music to people (check out my music collection!!!). I will try and tell you what I have been listening to lately. This first blog entry was brought to you by: JESSAMINE (Another Fictionalized History). [[great space/drone rock with male/female vocals, much better than Bardo Pond but similar. from Portland, OR. They now are the group Fontanelle]]
posted by MM 7:55 PM