Index this, my homebody with archive fever, under 'inclement weather' .... de-filed in an infinitesimally nested death spiral, for Deep Time
Forgive me, for it's been 3 weeks since my last confession. I'm still here .. on Riverside drive in Manhattanville. Not much has happened outside this window where i roost like a peregrine falcon. After months of homeless peregrinations, i'm quite content to brood here in 1 spot .. watching the world spin below. Kind of like that street performer in 1 of Tom Robbins' books that stands perfectly still .... but if you look carefully .. during the course of the day .. you realize he actually spins around in a complete 360° circle .... only his movements are so infinitesimally small that they are not noticeable to anyone observing in real time. Only if you left & came back, or took time-lapse photography, would you notice he was spinning in circles (or he was stationary & the rest of us were spinning .. either way).
Googling, i can't seem to find what book it was in .. if it was even Tom Robbins .... maybe it was Richard Brautigan or someone else. But if my memory serves me, it was in reference to a real street performer, i think in Seattle. Maybe it was Thomas Pynchon who wrote of this, but perhaps that's because i'm thinking of the character in 1 of his books (i think Vineland) that every so often throws himself through a sliding glass door to collect insurance money.. or disability (for being insane). But i can't even find any reference to that (or figure out why this reminded me of the non-whirling dervish performance artist) .. so maybe i'm making this all up.
If you know what i'm talking about in either case, let me know & i'll update this post accordingly. That's how publishing works on the internet .. it's a malleable medium. [UPDATE 2/27: It's 'Turn Around Norman," from the Tom Robbins novel Skinny Legs and All .... a hat tip to a Tom Terceira for letting me know.]
& if it is Pynchon, jesus .. sorry, Internet, for mistaking him for Tom Robbins. Or Brautigan for that matter .... though you could see where that confusion might arise with the latter 2 .. both being hippie writers from the Pacific Northwest .. a pedigree from which i also hail. Far from my current situation ....
I've been in archival mode of sorts lately, perhaps spurned by being reunited with our possessions & organizing our new home on the river .. regrouping & considering my next move. 5cense-wise the thinking is .. since i'll probably be doing less traveling & acquiring less 'real world' experience, that i'll perhaps mine my old journals. I've threatened to do this before, but now i'm serious. Why else did i keep those journals? Why do we take photos if we never go back to look at them later? For that matter, why do we even write books or blog?
This is not the first time i've had archive fever .. the other notable time .. in Bangkok in '09 .. was under the influence of Derrida .... not the first time Derrida had drugged me with his archival secrets (though both these posts were written in garbled code, so you probably didn't 'get' them). Perhaps this thinking morphed (spliced with Serafini & Crawford) into the concrete embodiment of an ark .... The Ark as archival document, a codex .. culling & collecting words like Noah herding up his animals.
Over the last few months, in anticipation of the move back to the states, such archival thinking has made me consider whether to change the name of Calamari Press to Calamari Archive. Not just because i think Dalkey Archive has a nice ring to it, but because the word archive better captures the intent of Cal A. Mari. I, Cal A. Mari, am no go-getter publicist or promoter with my finger on the pulse of what's current & hip. I'm an archivist at heart. I'm more interested in what will stand the test of time. I envision Calamari more as a curated collection than a 'press'. Press sounds aggressive. Like presses push product on unknowing consumers.
As i'm writing this, i just registered www.calamariarchive.com. Why not? For $1 buck. You never know. Not the first time i've done this .. not that i horde URLs .. more often than not i eventually let them lapse. For a while i had www.skewedink.com .... though i'm not sure why .. 'seemed like a good idea at the time'. Maybe i was gonna start a Calamari imprint of books comprised solely of printing errors. In any case, the shtick never shtuck & the URL was absorbed back into the peloton of you, The Internet.
Perhaps this is all to procrastinate .. to put off what i'm actually going to do with Calamari Press-cum-Archive in 2013 .... not to mention the book i'm stuck in the middle of. 2013 marks the 10th year i've been doing this shit. One thing i do know is that i'll be at AWP in Boston in a month. Table L18. Beefing up inventory in anticipation, since over these past few years i've 'liSquidated' a lot of it .. or recent titles i never stocked up on until now. Oh, which reminds me, i also added the 'buy book' buttons to the Calamari site, so am back to fulfilling from the source. So come & get it. Getting enough orders already (thanks to Joe Sacksteder, who's teaching Marsupial somewhere in Michigan) that it's making me wonder if i need to dig my scale & label printer out of the closet.
And since my distributor SPD wanted to do some sort of promotion thing for AWP, they asked me to submit info & a cover for a forthcoming spring/summer title. So this past weekend i made a cover & came up with a title for the book i'm procrastinating working on: The Becoming. Now i just need to find it inside me to write it. Not that i am the 1 writing it.
Another thing i know, with some degree of certainty, is that i'm going to do a 10th year anniversary issue of Sleepingfish. Call it 'Decade,' or something pretentious. It will consist partly of 'greatest hits' from past issues (including online pieces that never saw the light of the printed page) & some new things. This is the thinking anyway. I haven't updated Sleepingfish.net yet, but consider this to be a call for submissions .. with preference given to anyone using the words 'nested fishstick' in the cover letter or in the submitted piece .. & meaning it.
In regards to this archival madness, part of what i've been doing is indexing. For the Calamari & Sleepingfish sites, there's not really enough data to justify an index ... though an author index on sleepingfish.net perhaps would be helpful. I did throw a custom search box up on the Calamari home page .. that searches calamaripress.com & sleepingfish.net. And btw, when i registered sleepingfish.net, the .com URL was available .. i just thought .net had a nicer ring to it .... not just in regards to fishnet stockings, but .com sounds too business-like & doesn't work for fishy things.
5cense.com, however, has been long over due for an indexing. It's been bothering me for some time .. people will ask about a particular post, about some person, or some place .. & even i can't find it. I've had a cumulative field notes page for some time, where i list books by place. But people often ask about photos from a place .... so i put this nifty 'places mapped to photos' page together, generally organized by geographical area, with linked thumbnails. But this is more to show off my photography (why not .. i bothered to bring a camera with me to most of these places).
The real chore, though, was creating a general index/sitemap. Used to be i had tools to magically create such things, but 5cense is such a hack that i did it all pretty much by hand. It was therapeutic in some ways, but now i seem to have ulnar nerve entrapment as a consequence. Some sort of pinched nerve. My left pinky has been numb & tingly, even after switching out my mouse for a trackpad (thinking that .. since in the 3 months before i was swiping on my laptop .. going back to a mouse had caused it). Yes, i mouse with my left hand mostly, though have since gone back to my right. But now i'm not so sure mousing caused it. Maybe leaning excessively on my elbows or wrists. Or now that we have access to the Columbia gym, i've been going crazy on the stationary bike .. & i guess (according to you, The Internet) ulnar nerve entrapment is often caused by leaning as such on handlebars.
Regardless, all this ⌘-c- & ⌘-v'ing on computers surely doesn't help. When i got to the last term to put in the index, indexing, my brain just about exploded (just like it did copying & pasting the ⌘-c & ⌘-v symbols above). Like painting yourself into a corner then lifting yourself out by your bootstraps. Then i searched the 5cense domain (using the nifty search box i added to the index page) for instances of 'indexing' & was reminded that Ander Monson beat me to the punch. To quote myself:
Not sure what i meant at the time by 'healing decay' .. i suspect it was Josh Cohen's addition (he was heavy-handed with these reviews i wrote for him at NY Press) as it doesn't sound like something i would say.
This led me to to realize i didn't have an index entry for 'ant death spiral' (don't ask what my train of thought was) .. & when i searched for ant death spiral i realized that i had never said anything about this phenomena of ants marching to their death in mass numbers, stuck in an endless feedback loop .. 1 of the most bizarre brainfarts in the animal kingdom. So, here, now i have a page to reference when i put 'ant death spiral' in the index. And 'dividing by zero' also seems worthy of adding to the index (though i already had «∞» in there .. & a tattoo on my right wrist to show for it). As well as 'who peed in the pool?'.
i also never before mentioned the infinite cat project, except in casual reference to Borges, who i talk about surprisingly little here. Both Borges & the infinite cat project were i guess things that weighed heavily on my mind in the days before i blogged here on 5cense. Unfortunately, we don't have a cat (i'm allergic), but we do have .... Jaguar.
Little known secret about j & i .. while i've talked about Singha before (see the index), i've perhaps never mentioned Jaguar (except in reference to African safaris or 'mongoloids' .. who, like the Olmecs & Devo, i honestly think are special 'Jaguar people' with supernatural abilities). Our Jaguar is probably second to Singha, in regards to relative importance in our household. We got Jaguar in Mexico, in San Juan Chamula to be exact (i remember only because i just indexed it) .. & Jaguar's primary responsibility is communications. For example, right now he sits next to our Wifi router (whose designated name is 'Hobo Camp, Bitches'), to boost our reception. Not sure how that ever came to be in Jaguar's domain .. maybe it's his big ears .. but he has served us faithfully for about a decade.
& in case you're wondering why i am bolding certain words .. when i go back to index this, it will make life easier. And speaking of inanimate objects as totem pets .... we have 2 very important additions to our lives on the way (no, we are not pregnant, though it seems everyone else is) .. that are in the high seas right now .. probably somewhere near the Pacific Trash Vortex. While we were in Ubud, we fell in love with these 2 Javanese puppets (after all, Krishna (who comes 3rd in the pecking order)(& who lost an arm in the move here) needs friends) .... though these 2 newcomers will likely take over as alpha male & female .. upsetting the rank of our existing surrogate pack. We bought these puppets & shipped them to ourselves because we didn't feel like lugging them around. They are due to arrive March 1 .... that is, if we can trust the sketchy freight company we had ship them (they spelled cargo with a k on their sign, for starters).
Anyway, what the cathartic process of indexing made me realize is that there are reoccurring threads that span posts & that there are also things i think about a lot that i've never blogged about .. so perhaps there are holes to fill & threads to expand upon. This is the beauty of writing in hyper-text language. We can be all non-linear, in the vein of Markson, but deeper, unconstrained by the physicality of the 2-dimensional page. And speaking of Markson .. in looking through old posts i was reminded of some gems, like this that Markson said in reference to Schopenhauer (another person i think about perhaps daily but have not said much about here):
If you gaze carefully into the hypertext, into the deep links, you'll start to see patterns formulating in all the chaos. You'll see the spider-web threads weaving through window after window .. into unseen dimensions.
Sitting in 1 place can also have that affect on you. Rather than fly your body around the globe trying to find exciting things to engage your mind with, you can pull a Dickinson & never leave the house. You can concern yourself more with time than space. Stare long enough at the most mundane things ('into the abyss' even, in reaching for the Nietzsche i talked about in the last post) .. & you'll find them gazing back at you.
On this note, this morning i put my (unfortunately shitty) camera on a tripod pointing out the window & through the course of the day, when i remembered, i set the camera to film .... then took this footage & sped it up. Here's what a day in my life looks like, in 1 minute:
The music i used (which unfortunately blocks the video on some browsers, in some countries) is Deep Time, who's name derives from a technical term used to reference geological time .. so seems apt just for that. They used to be called Yellow Fever when i first learned of them, but they had to change their name because some other band had it .. which is probably for the best. The name of the song, Homebody, also seems relevant to my current situation. It goes something like this:
I never listened to the words really before, but for some reason this was the first song that popped into my head when i thought to put music to the above video.
Can you blame me for being a homebody when it's this cold out? We lucked out when we first got here, from sweltering Indonesia .. it wasn't so cold. But after that week it dropped down into the single-digits for a spell. Used to be my cut-off temperature for running was 25-28 degrees .. now when i run below 35 degrees it feels like my face is gonna fall off & my lungs are crystallizing. We've even resorted to running up & down our stairwell (21 stories) when it gets this cold. What idiot settlers decided to build cities in such fucked up places not fit for human habitation?
The way these things work, these blog posts, is that i typically jot down notes here & there of things i've been thinking about. I email them to myself, or if i'm reading a book, i write in the margins or dog-ear the pages as a reminder. But then when i go to write these posts, i end up going on about things entirely different .. like ant death spirals & the infinite cat project. Or just posting periodic updates from the view out my window.
Part of the problem, in this instance, is that i got distracted by this whole indexing business. Not only did i create an index, but i also archived some things & updated the home page & added that orange header thing .. & even wrote a long overdue 'about' page that explains what it is i'm doing here in the first place. And rather than use style sheets or templates (not nearly so foresighted), i usually just take an old page & swap out the content. And i use Dreamweaver, which is not always so smart .... so when i looked into the code of the home page (which is traditionally called index.htm, so i had to call the real index something else), i realized it was a clusterfuck of nested loops (which if you're not careful can lead into endless loops—the cyber equivalent of the ant death spiral (also see my ««I» am a Strange Loop» is a Strange Loop post)). And trying to fix it in Dreamweaver only made it worse .. so i had to map everything out by hand to wrap my head around how to clean it up:
Yeh, i know .. i shouldn't be using tables in the first place .... but i'm like a mouse that finds 1 path & keeps taking that path until the path eventually cul-de-sacs into an endless maze. Anyway, all seems good now .. at least on Chrome (i don't bother checking the rest). I surgically removed about half the code .. not that you'd notice by looking at the page, but in the long run it'll make my head hurt less.
I'm also not boring you (but i am) about my computer woes as of late. I finally bit the bullet & upgraded first to Snow Leopard & now to Lion (still think it's criminal they force you to upgrade your 'operating system' & then charge you for it). All my familiar habits got up-ended .. like swiping up when you want to scroll down. It's like trying to cut your hair in the mirror. And Apple adds & changes all this shit you never asked for .. as if they know what's best for you. 'They' are so arrogant in this regard.
This also prompted some other housekeeping chores .. like trashing Entourage for Outlook (which i'm now regretting). And archiving & deleting files .. a never ending task. But yes, this is all in coping with the 'ritual de lo habitual'. I suppose it's good to change operating systems now & then because it forces you to not form habits .. to change your perspective & not take such things for granted. To not be mindless, but be ever-cognizant of the deeper meaning behind these strange things we do. At least for a day, until we get used to it .. like everything else.
Anyway, this is the dog ate my homework excuse for why i never got around to writing about what i sat down to write about .. our old immortal friend Henrietta Lacks, who's been on my mind a lot for the past month (mostly because i'm reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks) .. HeLa's cellular being & also Sugar Man Rodriguez. But, dear Internet, this will all have to wait until the next post ....until then i'll be watching the ships pass by ....
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