Saturday, February 4, 2023

All He Had

"He was not a practical man.  He hadn't a practical bone in his body.  He was not the fellow you would go to if your car needed repairs or if you wanted some help with home improvements.  No.  He was the sort who wondered more about the mysteries of life than may have been good for him.  He was trained to think well but had decided that thinking well had not served him the way he hoped.  Relationships were not built on logical thinking it seemed.  He wished he had never read a book and had learned the idiot's grin and nod instead, but it was too late for that now, so he satisfied himself with making pictures and pretending.  He would, he thought, return to an evanescent childhood and speak in tongues.  He would become a mystical savant.  That is what he thought now, at least, in the romantic last light of day.  The moon would rise now, the Full Snow Moon.  That is was what he had to look forward to in that moment."

People ask me if I write.  When I say yes, they ask me what I write.  "Journals," I say, and they go, "Oh."  They might be more impressed if I were famous for something, but the Diary of a Schlub holds no fascination for them.  I keep thinking that I should write "fiction" and send stories out to. . . to what?  

I got a call yesterday from a fellow I hired when he first started his academic career.  This fellow was hot, coming off years of top notch journalism.  He'd done some pretty big stuff, had written for The NY Times, the Post, Vanity Fair, Variety, and later worked at Interview magazine before it went belly up.  

"I got out at the right time," he said.  Indeed.  As my fashion friend tells me, print did not take the coming digital world seriously, at least not seriously enough.  Magazines folded or became very, very thin. 

"Are you still writing?"

"Yes, I write every day.  I'm starting to send out stories again."

"Where are you sending them?"

"To the literary journals mostly."

"Well. . . there's big money in that," I laughed.  Not that writing is about the money, of course, but you get my drift.  

"Yea, its not like it was when Esquire was paying a dollar a word."

Indeed.  I wouldn't know that except that I had read it.  The two magazines that paid writers the biggest bucks were Esquire and Playboy.  Imagine that.  Draw your own conclusions.  But where do writers get paid now?  

"I'm thinking about trying Substack," he said.  I wasn't familiar, but it sounded a lot like charging people to read your blog.  

Hey, wait!  Maybe I should move this to Substack!  Sure, I'd have to edit my pieces a bit, but that's what the money's for, right?  I've read this fellow's fiction.  I could write circles around it if I tried.  

"That's right, honey. . . you keep telling yourself that." 

That's my superego talking.  It doesn't like me very much.  

Last night, I watched "Come Back, Africa" (link).  It is said to be a seminal work, a scripted documentary that used no actors.  It is by the same writer/director of "The Bowery" which I watched years ago.  Oh, man.  It was weird.  Made in 1959, it looks like a college film student's work.  The audio is terrible.  But. . . and here was my takeaway. . . I came to a new understanding of Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness."  The old critical interpretation of "The horror" and "Exterminate all the brutes" favored the colonists while later, postmodern interpretations favored the indigenous people.  But they are both incomplete, I now think.  The horror is the intersection between the two.  Worlds collide.  Oh, yes. . . the horror.  

Don't forget tonight's full moon.  It will be a small, cold one.  

"It was what he held onto.  It was all he had."

I'll look into Substack.  

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