Subj: An Actual Explanation for a Previously-Totally-Unexplained Friend Request!
From: Christopher Robbin
Date: Nov 28, 2007 10:37 PM
Dearest Pagan, Queen of the Paganites:
Hello, this joyful post-Thanksgiving Wednesday! You have always been a person who has inspired me greatly – I read “The Exes” two or three times during a single summer, and aside from some P.K. Dick novels, which I devoured, and Murakami’s “Wind-Up Bird Chronicle” it was all I felt I had in the way of fiction that I could relate to that summer, as I recall – and your book, “Pagan Kennedy’s Living,” taught me all I know about life, and I say so on my myspace page. (I’m thinking spefically – aside from all the great stuff in it, and the, I guess you could, “offhand” way it’s presented, which makes it that much easier to learn & relate to & incorporate into one’s life – of the passage in the dating section where you say: “If you go on a date with someone, and are totally contented with your own life and don’t give a shit what the other person thinks about you (I’m paraphrasing from memory – sorry if it’s not quite right), you instantly become sexy to him or her.”
I thought, fuck!, that’s true of everything. (Which you pretty much say, or imply, at least, by saying it that way). And so, with much practice, I began applying it everywhere! Bit by bit, situation by situation, pretty much everywhere I had the opportunity of the next seven years or so, and now, I’ve made it!
Which means, at last, I’ve become a fiction writer! At least, in that, I’ve written two piece I feel qualify as bona-fide fiction, even though they haven’t been published yet. They’re on my blog! The first is a less-than-one-pager called “The Bicycle Commute Neighbor,” of which I’m not certain people will understand is meant to be funny, as the voice of the narrator is meant to be read completely seriously – or, at least, he thinks so. But it’s out there for people – or at least people who are my “Friends” on myspace – to make of as they wish.
The second story is longer, and I guess qualifies as publishable length, should someone want to. It is about a man I found, to my rather distaste and displeasure, cited as a cultural reference point by what I hope was the publishers of “Pagan Kennedy’s Living”: Noam Chomsky. I read him when I was young, in college, looking for someone or something to relate to, and of course, he was there, out and about in the leftist-indie-culture, all-too-willing to offer his opinion. I read an interview with him in Rolling Stone (“An American Radical” I believe it was called – ha! And no-one watches Robert Downey Sr.’s “Putney Swope” nowadays!) and then went out and bought “The Chomsky Reader” to get me started. I read the interview in that, but looking back in retrospect, these two interviews – with someone else talking, leading the conversation, and asking Chomsky questions which he then, of course, responds to – are the only Chomsky publications I find readable (crazy as his comments in them are). I tried his book, “Necessary Illusions,” later (“Necessary Illusions”! Horrors, Noam!) and found it unreadable. Which is, in fact, both true and provable! Hard as it is to imagine, this is in fact an unwritten book. (Unwritten! And they published it anyway!) What I mean specifically – not that there’s any avoiding it in this book – is the way “Chomsky” (if that is his real name) “writes” (he’s once said, himself, that he’s “not a writer” – how true! (I forget where)) the book: you get, on each page, maybe a longer, three-to-four sentence paragraph in the “text” (such as it is) and a footnote at the end of (speaking from memory, I swear to Goddess, it truly is very close to) each of these paragraphs, referring you to another, maybe one-or-two sentence paragraph below. Not references for citations, or explanations of unclear or not-very-well-known words or phrases, but more “writing,” veering off onto another subject. One of which, I recall, includes a suggestion something like, “a great research project would be to . . .” – yeah, sure, Noam, dole out the work to the rest of us as you see fit!
So you see, it truly is an “unwritten” book! He didn’t do what a writer does, or I hope a writer does, which is make up their fucking mind about what they want us to read and what they want to tell us, so we can finish the goddamn book, and maybe, oh, I don’t know, get on with our fucking lives?
Even better is his comment on life on a Kibbutz, which editor James A. Peck actually gets him to talk about in the introductory interview to “The Chomsky Reader” (heaven forbid Chomsky talks about his own life experience, rather than sitting back and commenting on the lives the rest of us live). Chomsky said he grew disillusioned over time with what he “saw” as a lack of inclusivity at the kibbutz, as he remarks at one point, “for example, they would never allow Arabs on a kibbutz” (or something).
Yeah Noam – Arabs on a kibbutz! Great place for them! (And I’m sure they’d WANT to be there, besides!)
Meanwhile, for the rest of us who actually live in the world outside Noam’s head, we have to deal with these problems on an ongoing, day-to-day basis: how do we uphold the traditions and practices of the culture where we make our home without letting our own culture be destroyed by the encroachment of other cultures, and all the while respect other people’s right to make their homes in other cultures?
Not easy questions, nor boundaries to negotiate, as Jews, Arabs, punk rockers or anyone who belongs to any culture of any kind can tell you.
But not for Noam, of course, who is a tenured Professor at M.I.T., and seems, at this point, to have no culture from which he hails at all, if his own comments are any indication.
I mean, really! “No Arabs on a Kibbutz!” That’s like going to a convent and saying, “No men? What the fuck!”
So I decided to set the record straight about ol’ Noam and his problem with the outside world (that is to say, acknowledging it exists) … and he once said this of Saussure! I don’t remember the context, but he committed to the statement (something like): “A Saussurean [approach, or view, or whatever] leads you away from reality [or something].” What the fuck! Saussure INVENTED THE FIELD YOU PURPORT TO STUDY you stupid fuck AND HE WAS A GODDAMNED GENIUS BESIDES!
Which is to say, I wrote a short story, about nine pages in longhand, making fun of him.
It’s called: “The Nutty Professor.”
It’s on my blog now, and if you join as my friend, I would feel the priveledge of at least knowing you had the chance to read it.
(And, of course, since this is Myspace, and there is a certain decorum expected, I will keep whatever gnawing sexual fantasies I may have about you – given that you are and accomplished author (in my view, though, sadly, it’s not one yet shouted from the rooftops here in Portland (we won’t go into it; you’d be lucky to find a copy of “The Exes” even at Powell’s on Burnside, though they do seem to have “Stripping” and “Spinsters” around)), slightly-older-and-thus-more-mature woman, and general hot babe – entirely to myself.)
So happy Wednesday-after-Thanksgiving Pagan! And thanks for, if nothing else, enabling me to send a message to someone actually named “Pagan.” (I guess that makes me a “Pagan Worshipper.”)
Fare thee well!
With much affection (all of it professional),