Not many distractions.  1.  It’s the weekend and good content needs to be searched out, instead of being pushed onto me as it is during the week.  2.  A holiday or somesuch, so that also dries up the output.  3.  The paying gig has kept me bizay to-day.  Really, that’s the only distraction.

But…there was a short story by Palahniuk that I read this morning.  If you don’t know Palahniuk, then I suggest you acquaint yourself.  He wrote Fight Club and other books that I like more.  His sensibilities are in the right place.  Sadly, he, like I do, tends to repeat the themes and messages in his ouvre.  So, this short story is “Loser” and it’s sweet.  Below is the money shot, which probably helps explain what is going on.  You should read the story though because the action the protagonist takes is BRILLIANT.

It’s like, if you live a boring-enough life, knowing the price of Rice-A-Roni and hot dog weiners, your big reward is you get to live for a week in some hotel in London?  You get to ride on some airplane to Rome.  Rome, like, in Italy.  You fill your head full of enough ordinary junk, and your pay-off is giant supermodels giving you a snowmobile?

If this game show wants to see how smart you really are, they need to ask you how many calories in a regular onion-cheddar cheese bagel.  Go ahead, ask the price of your cell phone minutes any hour of the day.  Ask you about the cost of a ticket for going thirty miles over the speed limit.  Ask the round-trip fare to Cabo for spring break.  Down to the penny, you can tell them the price of decent seats for the Panic at the Disco reunion tour.  (198-9)

Palahniuk, Chuck.  (2010).  Loser.  In Neal Gaiman & Al Sarrantonio, eds.  (2010).  Stories: All-new tales (194-201). NY: William Morrow.

Advertisements

Brandon, John.  (2010).  Citrus county.  San Fransisco: McSweeney’s Rectangulars.

Gordimer, Nadine.  (1982).  Six feet of country. NY: Penguin Books.

Hartwell, David G., ed.  (1989).  The world treasury of science fiction. NY: Little, Brown and Company.

Haug, Frigga.  (1992).  Beyond female masochism. London: Verso Books.

McQuade, Donald and Christine McQuade.  (2006).  Seeing and writing 3.  NY: Bedford/St. Martins.

McSherry, Jr., Frank D., Charles G. Waugh, and Martin H. Greenburg, eds.  (1991).  Great American ghost stories. Nashville: Rutledge Hill Press.

I’m not sure I want to do this anymore.  My reading has taken a hit.  I think it’s because I have strayed from the ground I enjoy.  Exploring is great, but there’s a reason why some of the explored territory is so poorly travelled.  Palahniuk did become tiresome, but I think I am ready to return.  Chabon never became tiresome.  Instead he became established.  I am ready to return to the safety of popular opinion.  Chabon’s popularity is no marketing ploy, unlike The Last – sooooo effing bad – Airbender, his stories are just legitimately good.  In any case, I am disappointed with my June readings and to keep things going I will return to established safe ground.  It is July, and I am clamoring for fireworks.  It is, after all, July.

These days I am making my way through season 1 of Deadwood. I am only on episode 5 and I must, literally ‘must’ as I do not want to admit it, say that I am hooked. Ian McShane is marvelous and I think he alone would make the show worthwhile watching. Another thing I really like about the show is its ambition. They speak of the show as depicting (actually, they speak in realist terms as though the show was really Deadwood, South Dakota and not a depiction) a lacuna of Law. The commentary with the show’s creator David Milch, however, shows us that he has a more realistic assessment: the show is not about an absence of Law but rather of the absence of law, attempting to cast the show as a study in other mechanisms of sociality. Too bad the show-sans-commentary does not impart this; the commentary is needed to realize the stated ambition of Deadwood is founded in a hubris.

I finished watching the episode where Jack McCall is tried for Hickcock’s murder and the in-show commentary, delivered by Ian McShane’s character, is wrong. The trial did not mark the introduction of law into Deadwood, precisely because everyone knew the law and civility of the trial was, like its outcome, a sham. What the show did was to show that Deadwood is not a lacuna of the law but that all of the US was lawless. Instead of the law there is only a mask of the law. Zizek sums it up better than I do (keep in mind that Carnivale was another HBO show):

[T]he logic of the social carnival brought to the extreme of self-reflexion: anarchist outbursts are not a transgression of Law and Order; in our societies, anarchism already is in power wearing the mask of Law and Order – our Justice is the travesty of Justice, the spectacle of Law and Order is an obscene carnival (Zizek 2008, 192)

In a strange coincidence (I should not be surprised to find an articulation between Palahniuk and Zizek) I am working on the new Palahniuk book and it is – I am only about a third of the way through the book so this my thoughts may change – also about this mask. At the moment I am meeting the characters as they speak about Cassie. What is interesting is that the characters are in a waiting room bidding time for their chance to be with Cassie, and Palahniuk has yet to introduce me to Cassie. Will he? Is Cassie a transcendental in the book? None of the characters think of her as a transcendental, they all have plans to affect her. But at the same time they all dismiss the others as in-affective, reaffirming her transcendental condition. Does Cassie even exist? Is she instead some mask, some fantasmic inflatable sex doll lifelessly willing to receive their intrusions?

I am not sure where Palahniuk will go with this, but there will be drama and action in the waiting room among the characters, and Cassie, the supposed structuring principle of the story, will be revealed to be an ineffective structuring agent.