Home Again, and Back Online

Dear readers,

Thanks for bearing with me in the middle of all this moving around, and all this chaos; I thought I was going to live-blog New York, but actually, on the Global Warming week I arrived, nobody was doing much besides melting or stalling out on subway lines.

I’ve been traveling around, from Boston on to Philadelphia, New York, and (tomorrow) Berkeley. Countless friends and New Yorkers saw me and my airline weight-limit maximum suitcases in and out of trains, taxis, terminals. I’m fatigued; actually, I have the really bone-deep tiredness that comes from a few months in strange, humid beds, getting four or five hours of sleep per night. I was working, and then I had my vacation, but my vacation was just as intense. Blogging was a big part of it, in fact. I was hosted very graciously by the impossibly hip blogger (and real-live social dynamo) miso, who threw a house party in Williamsburg where we kept getting up and getting down all night. I like meeting bloggers in person. Actually, I have yet to ever see someone give a bad report after a face-to-face meeting, perhaps because blogging is frequently a heavy medium, and it’s always refreshing to see that same intelligence under circumstances of greater ease. I’m also pleased to report that I was at a Williamsburg party about the same time that Valve commenter Luther Blissett assigned such parties as a task for all Valve writers. Please note that the scandalous things mentioned by Blissett did not take place on my watch, but I did have intense conversations about James Brown. Attendees included A White Bear, something which just makes it more sad that she’s discontinued her blog in the name of her dissertation.

So much for the carnival on the East Coast; now I’m home, and able to make time for the tiny, persistent repairs of sleep. It’s a busy time ahead. Two of my close friends here are getting married, which is wonderful for them, heartwarming for me, and involves a fair amount of planning and wondering about airport-hotel wireless rates. I’m also moving from teaching composition, to teaching Irvine’s “CORE” course in the Humanities, which is the closest I’ve come to spending a year doing what I’d like to do for the rest of my life. My girlfriend is joining me here in less than two weeks, a prospect that makes me involuntarily glow. We are currently trying to figure out whether Justin Timberlake tickets are a feasible way to celebrate, or whether he will be so small in the L.A. amphitheater that he will look like a glittery Lego.

This summer was, as summers usually are, an impoverished few months in the world of culture, gadgets, and ideas. The iPhone arrived, but somehow everyone who had one seemed like a jerk to the rest of us. Transformers was predictably, incredibly, massively overrated. Various albums were released, but Feist failed to change anybody’s life in any way. When the quieter summer movies come out on DVD, it will be possible to delve back into Paprika and Once and frame the moments of greatest vision.

I was sad to see Antigram’s blog disappear; to the best of my knowledge, he quit blogging after a fight with K-Punk (that eventually produced excellent responses at I Cite, Rough Theory, and Larval Subjects). Blogging hurts people; more so, and more obliquely, than most face-to-face conversations. That’s its shame. At the same time, blogging works for me, in the midst of the splintered time of planning a dissertation, when people are cut off in their rooms and cut off by whole cities from each other. The people I know are jostled from place to place; the Web stays where it is.

I’m reading Orhan Pamuk’s My Name Is Red. I wish I could read the original, since the translation is full of the absence of what is unpreservable, the faint buzz of compromises with simpler prose. (Like, in poetry, every English Dante and every English Baudelaire.) Also, the book is written like a series of fiction workshop exercises. Still, I’m being patient with it because it is one of the best non-Russian studies of pettiness. It is not only about petty irritation, petty love, helpless desire; it is also about leaping out of ordinary life and falling back in somewhere else — like the character Black, who is rejected in love and so spends twelve years self-exiled to the army.

Take care, and enjoy the end of your summer. More soon.

-Joe

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