Beatnik for Jesus

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Whitman said to loaf and invite my soul...I`m sure that didn`t mean watch reality tv and play zombie apocalypse video games.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

It was a good day today.

I sat at my desk properly caffeinated, with the sound of the new Coldplay album in my ears as I extricated the lovely white goo from the center of maple frosted long John. I am basking in the glow of one of the best compliments I have ever received.

One of the girls in the office cut her hair last night. I told her it looked good. Later she told me, "AC, thanks for always making me feel good about myself."

If I can leave this world and people say that when they remember me, it will have been a good life. Those people that have done that for me have been the people I would do anything for and always valued what they had to say because they had added something to my life. That is very different from those people in my life who simply criticised me in the name of mentoring or helping without the authority that a real relationship provides.

Thanks for reading.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Tom Waits reads Charles Bukowski

I've started reading a little Bukowski lately and I really like him.
Here's one of his poems read by Tom Waits.

Thanks for reading,


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Penguin Poet

I found an interesting poetry blog called Penguin Poems and wanted to share it with you. Good stuff.

Thanks for reading.


Monday, September 12, 2011

Literary Steel Cage Match between Upton Sinclair and Somerset Maugham. Throwing folding chairs will be permitted...

I originally called this post "Of Human Bondage and Main Street-Reviews and Literary Theory of the Difference Between Novels and Essays.", and then I realized that would bring almost no hits, and sounded like some of the essays I wrote in college, so I added a little zing to it.

I recently read two very good novels: Main Street by Upton Sinclair and Of Human Bondage by Somerset Maugham. My wife and I have this big list of all the important books, one should have read in college, and since we are in our forties we have some catching up to do. I have read "important" novels on the list in the past, but it didn't really strike me until these two novels why novels are as important as essays or other types of non-fiction. What I saw in both of these novels, and possibly expressed clearer by Sinclair's work especially was that novels are not only able to express complicated ideas through narrative, but they are able to illustrate these ideas in a more complete way than non-fiction and other genres. Now, some people will say that novels lack that classical form of an essay where you present evidence in an organized way in order to prove your thesis. While it’s true that novels don't always present truth in a didactic method, they can still effectively argue to prove a thesis.

The difference is that novels explore truths more completely by putting their characters in the midst of trying to live out what they believe. Not only that, but their beliefs are challenged by other characters in the novels who operate under different paradigms. Through the passage of time in the novel, we see characters changing their beliefs in response to their experiences. In this way, the novel has an almost organic feel to it. It does not seek to convince you of something based on reasoning alone, but instead uses the narrative as a vehicle to experiment with how different paradigms would play out in different situations. Now, because the novel does not rely on the same careful reasoning based on gathered evidence to prove its point, it has to convince the reader on a gut-level that the narrative resonates with their own real life experiences; the novel has to present a believable story, or any chance of proving any valid truths are lost.

We see a perfect example of these paradigm shifts in Main Street by Upton Sinclair. The main character is Carol, a liberal, self proclaimed reformer who naively believes she has all the answers to turn a small town into a progressive paradise. Sinclair was a very serious Socialist, with an extensive history of being heavily involved in politics. What I liked as a reader about this book was that there were some very sarcastic comments about the liberal naivete of Carol. She was elitist and condescending as she was oh so sincere about helping the little people. It’s an interesting novel in that you don’t really like the main character, at least not until later in the book, so her comeuppance is enjoyable on a purely nasty level.

When Carol marries a doctor from the small town of Gopher Prairie, Minnesota, she thinks she finally has her opportunity. When she arrives though, she sees how it won't be as easy as she thought. As she comes into contact with every part of society, from the banker to the socialist handyman, she fails at every endeavor to better the little town. She becomes involved in so many projects to help the poor and the deserving people, and either is thwarted by the pillars of polite society, or just screws it up herself.

One of the very interesting parts of this novel was how the point of view changed from Carol to other people. We saw how others wanted to improve the town in their own way and how they saw Carol’s endeavors. By the end of the book, Carol has changed to the point that we like her and care what happens to her. At least I did.

Now, between the two books, Of Human Bondage is the more enjoyable book to read. There were times when Main Street was a definite slog through the marshes. What’s so amazing about Of Human Bondage was that it starts out with the main character losing his mother and father and being sent off to live with his aunt and uncle. Even with this non-joyous start, and with the hero moving from failure to failure and never really having success, I could not put this book down. What was so incredible was that when I got to the last chapter of the book and got to the ending, I was so happy. It ended so well, and it was like the last three pages where Somerset Maugham summarizes, illustrates and explains the characters life in such a way that I felt so very contented that I basked in the goodness of a great book for several days, like a great meal. By the way, Somerset Maugham is the author of “The Razor’s Edge”, which is another remarkable book and worth the read. Don’t judge it by the Bill Murray movie version, its much better than that.

Thanks for reading,


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Jack Kerouac's 30 Essentials for Spontaneous Prose

Jack Kerouac's writing was very unique and his prose especially has a certain quality
that you won't find in other authors. It's similar in some ways to Walt Whitman, but
to me, it has a desperate, hungry feel, as if each word were a meal to starving man,
He called it the Spontaneous Prose Method. Below is a list that he published of
30 essentials necessary to write in this method. Even if you aren't a writer, you
will find this interesting.

  1. Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for yr own joy
  2. Submissive to everything, open, listening
  3. Try never get drunk outside yr own house
  4. Be in love with yr life
  5. Something that you feel will find its own form
  6. Be crazy dumbsaint of the mind
  7. Blow as deep as you want to blow
  8. Write what you want bottomless from bottom of the mind
  9. The unspeakable visions of the individual
  10. No time for poetry but exactly what is
  11. Visionary tics shivering in the chest
  12. In tranced fixation dreaming upon object before you
  13. Remove literary, grammatical and syntactical inhibition
  14. Like Proust be an old teahead of time
  15. Telling the true story of the world in interior monolog
  16. The jewel center of interest is the eye within the eye
  17. Write in recollection and amazement for yourself
  18. Work from pithy middle eye out, swimming in language sea
  19. Accept loss forever
  20. Believe in the holy contour of life
  21. Struggle to sketch the flow that already exists intact in mind
  22. Don't think of words when you stop but to see picture better
  23. Keep track of every day the date emblazoned in yr morning
  24. No fear or shame in the dignity of yr experience, language & knowledge
  25. Write for the world to read and see yr exact pictures of it
  26. Bookmovie is the movie in words, the visual American form
  27. In praise of Character in the Bleak inhuman Loneliness
  28. Composing wild, undisciplined, pure, coming in from under, crazier the better
  29. You're a Genius all the time
  30. Writer-Director of Earthly movies Sponsored & Angeled in Heaven
This was from"Belief & Technique For Modern Prose: List of Essentials"
from a 1958 letter to Don Allen, in Heaven & Other Poems, Grey Fox Press, 1958, 1977, 1983.

Thanks for reading


Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Zombie Hunters

I started reading a very good web comic called The Zombie Hunters recently. Its very well done and the art is fantastic. I really recommend it. You need to start from the beginning, because it has a long story line. I like the newer art better than some of the first chapters of the comic, but I'm no visual artist, so I have no room to judge someone else's work or how their direction changed over time. I just wanted to make sure you knew that it was really worth it to stay with the comic.

I have always liked Zombie Movies, or anything Post-Apocalyptic. I'm sure there are thousands of essays about why those genres seem to appeal to so many people and I'm really not in the mood to explore that idea ad-nauseum.

My personal theory is that they are so popular because they put us in the situation where we can dream of throwing off all the bullshit of polite society and go back to simply surviving by our wits and strength and actually fighting for our lives. That's in place of the kind of political campaigning many of us do everyday as we try to keep our jobs intact or deal with teachers and classmates in college or high school.

I think it also appeals to throwing off a lot of the responsibilities of mowing our lawns, paying our taxes, keeping the oil changed in the mini-van. In a post apocalyptic zombie world, the lawn and insurance is the last thing you live for and you really live in the moment. You have no to-do lists, other than keep the clip full of ammo, the chainsaw full of gas and the door barricaded.

That, and I think we all would like to be able to know like a huge garage sale with no haggling over anything. By the way, The Zombie Hunters has an I HEART LOOTING T-Shirt on sale, its pretty cool....

(This weblog does not condone or encourage the illegal looting of homes or business of any kind, unless there was actually a Zombie emergency, in which case, it is our humble opinion it would be permissible....mkay?)

Thanks for reading.