“Before Archimboldi left, after they’d had a cup of tea, the man who rented him the typewriter said:
‘Jesus is the masterpiece. The thieves are minor works. Why are they there? Not to frame the crucifixion, as some innocent souls believe, but to hide it.’ ”
(Roberto Bolaño, 2666, trans. Natasha Wimmer, p. 790.)
“Amalfitano had some rather idiosyncratic ideas about jet lag. They weren’t constant, so it might be an exaggeration to call them ideas. They were feelings. Make-believe ideas. As if he were looking out the window and forcing himself to see an extraterrestrial landscape. He believed (or liked to think he believed) that when a person was in Barcelona, the people living and present in Buenos Aires and Mexico City didn’t exist. The time difference only masked their nonexistence. And so if you suddenly traveled to cities that, according to this theory, didn’t exist or hadn’t yet had time to put themselves together, the result was the phenomenon known as jet lag, which arose not from your exhaustion but from the exhaustion of the people who would still have been asleep if you hadn’t traveled. This was something he’d probably read in some science fiction novel or story and that he’d forgotten having read.”
(Roberto Bolaño, 2666, trans. Natasha Wimmer, p. 189.)
“Trivial details illuminate the course of control through the distributing agencies. Forty years ago you could have records sent home to you on approval, in line with the customs of a liberalism which formally, at least, respected the customer’s taste. Today you find the more expensive albums citing copyright laws and the like in order to keep the stores from furnishing them on approval: ‘Sales conditions for Germany: Rerecording our records as well as recording broadcast of our records on tape or wire, even for private use, is forbidden. To avoid rerecordings without permission, dealers are not allowed to loan, rent, or furnish records on approval.’ The possibility of abuses cannot even be denied; the worst can now almost always cite irrefutable reasons – they are the medium in which evil becomes reality. In any case the pig must be bought in a poke, for listening to records in the poorly insulated cells of stores is a farce. Complementing it is the maxim that the customer is king because he can enjoy Bruckner’s entire Seventh Symphony in the privacy of his home. Whether such tendencies will change with market conditions remains to be seen.”
(Theodor Adorno, Introduction to the Sociology of Music (1962), p. 201.)
“When I flew in to read at Brown, we first of all marched around the parking lot, reviewing the literary situation.”
(Paul West, “John Hawkes”, p. 13 in Sheer Fiction, Vol. IV.)
“As for those who so exalt incorruptibility, inalterability, I believe they are brought to say these things through their great desire to live a long time and through the terror they have of death. And not considering that, if men were immortal, these men would not have had an opportunity to come into the world. They would deserve to encounter a Medusa’s head, which would transform them into statues of jasper or of diamond, to make them more perfect than they are;. . . . And there is not the slightest doubt that the Earth is far more perfect, being, as it is, alterable, changeable, than if it were a mass of stone, even if it were a whole diamond, hard and impenetrable.”
(Galileo, from Dialogue on the Two Great Systems, giornata 1, quoted in Paul West’s Sheer Fiction, Volume Three, p. 51.)
“– cooking custard with skin – dropping it – retrieved by a young man from the floor . . .
in the dream girls were in their stone uniforms
and in real life the mother can serve you bkfst and there will be still the remoteness of a dream – “
(Joseph Cornell’s Dreams, ed. Catherine Corman, p. 40.)
“It was the Nativity scene, with Mary and Joseph and a cow and a donkey on each side of the baby, who was spiked all over with rays like a golden porcupine.”
(Denton Welch, A Voice through a Cloud, p. 151)
America I’ve given you all and now I’m nothing.
America two dollars and twenty-seven cents January 17, 1956.
I can’t stand my own mind.
America when will we end the human war?
Go fuck yourself with your atom bomb
I don’t feel good don’t bother me.
I won’t write my poem till I’m in my right mind.
America when will you be angelic?
When will you take off your clothes?
When will you look at yourself through the grave?
When will you be worthy of your million Trotskyites?
America why are your libraries full of tears?
America when will you send your eggs to India?
I’m sick of your insane demands.
When can I go into the supermarket and buy what I need with my good looks?
America after all it is you and I who are perfect not the next world.
Your machinery is too much for me.
You made me want to be a saint.
There must be some other way to settle this argument.
Burroughs is in Tangiers I don’t think he’ll come back it’s sinister.
Are you being sinister or is this some form of practical joke?
I’m trying to come to the point.
I refuse to give up my obsession.
America stop pushing I know what I’m doing.
America the plum blossoms are falling.
I haven’t read the newspapers for months, everyday somebody goes on trial for murder.
America I feel sentimental about the Wobblies.
America I used to be a communist when I was a kid and I’m not sorry.
I smoke marijuana every chance I get.
I sit in my house for days on end and stare at the roses in the closet.
When I go to Chinatown I get drunk and never get laid.
My mind is made up there’s going to be trouble.
You should have seen me reading Marx.
My psychoanalyst thinks I’m perfectly right.
I won’t say the Lord’s Prayer.
I have mystical visions and cosmic vibrations.
America I still haven’t told you what you did to Uncle Max after he came over from Russia.
I’m addressing you.
Are you going to let our emotional life be run by Time Magazine?
I’m obsessed by Time Magazine.
I read it every week.
Its cover stares at me every time I slink past the corner candystore.
I read it in the basement of the Berkeley Public Library.
It’s always telling me about responsibility. Businessmen are serious. Movie producers are serious. Everybody’s serious but me.
It occurs to me that I am America.
I am talking to myself again.
Asia is rising against me.
I haven’t got a chinaman’s chance.
I’d better consider my national resources.
My national resources consist of two joints of marijuana millions of genitals an unpublishable private literature that goes 1400 miles and hour and twentyfivethousand mental institutions.
I say nothing about my prisons nor the millions of underpriviliged who live in my flowerpots under the light of five hundred suns.
I have abolished the whorehouses of France, Tangiers is the next to go.
My ambition is to be President despite the fact that I’m a Catholic.
America how can I write a holy litany in your silly mood?
I will continue like Henry Ford my strophes are as individual as his automobiles more so they’re all different sexes
America I will sell you strophes $2500 apiece $500 down on your old strophe
America free Tom Mooney
America save the Spanish Loyalists
America Sacco & Vanzetti must not die
America I am the Scottsboro boys.
America when I was seven momma took me to Communist Cell meetings they sold us garbanzos a handful per ticket a ticket costs a nickel and the speeches were free everybody was angelic and sentimental about the workers it was all so sincere you have no idea what a good thing the party was in 1935 Scott Nearing was a grand old man a real mensch Mother Bloor made me cry I once saw Israel Amter plain. Everybody must have been a spy.
America you don’t really want to go to war.
America it’s them bad Russians.
Them Russians them Russians and them Chinamen. And them Russians.
The Russia wants to eat us alive. The Russia’s power mad. She wants to take our cars from out our garages.
Her wants to grab Chicago. Her needs a Red Reader’s Digest. Her wants our auto plants in Siberia. Him big bureaucracy running our fillingstations.
That no good. Ugh. Him makes Indians learn read. Him need big black niggers. Hah. Her make us all work sixteen hours a day. Help.
America this is quite serious.
America this is the impression I get from looking in the television set.
America is this correct?
I’d better get right down to the job.
It’s true I don’t want to join the Army or turn lathes in precision parts factories, I’m nearsighted and psychopathic anyway.
America I’m putting my queer shoulder to the wheel.
(Berkeley, January 17, 1956)
If it is spring it matters a little,
or not. Some are running down
to get into their cars, shoving
old ladies out of the way. I say,
dude, it made more sense a while ago
when we was on the grass. Tell it to the Ages,
that’s what they’re there for. You know,
miscellaneous record-keeping, and the like,
the starving of fools
and transformation of opera singers
into the characters they’re supposed to be onstage.
Here comes Tosca, chattering with Isolde
about some vivacious bird’s egg winter left behind.
I turn the corner into my street
and see them all, all the things that have mattered
to me during my long life: the dung-beetle
who was convinced he could tap dance; the grocer’s boy
(he hasn’t changed much in eighty years, nor have I);
and the amorphous crowd in black T-shirts with names like
slumlords or slumgullion spattered over them. O my friends
(for I have no other), the beginning of fermentation is here,
right on this sidewalf, or whatever you call it.
We know, they say, and keep going.
If only I could get the tears out of my eyes it would be raining now.
I must try the new, fluid approach.