Thursday, August 14, 2008

wire wire wire - random reflections in London

As a Slovenian Hegelian has said: the thing I hate the most (outside of the inevitable) is stupid and happy people. Which is why, I must confess, it is good to be away from the U.S. where so many lead unexamined lives. London is no paradise of course, although surveys over the past decade have indicated that 2 of 3 here do not believe in God, so perhaps there is less Denial. Unfortunately, unless you are in posh or touristy places, the plethora of dogshit on the sidewalks is rather disgusting. People from council flats and housing estates look like something from Vera Drake. All you need do is go to a car boot/jumble sale (which sales have become fashionable over the past decade) to see what genteel poverty is.

Every time I return to Britain I maintain the hope that I will find an agent or a publisher for my retro detective novel and my book of short stories. But it's a bit late in the day now.

I saw The Wire here on TV for the first time. I was not impressed. Cops and gangs and politicians and reporters. Same old same old. One-dimensional writing. Can't hold a candle to Prime Suspect, let alone the metaphysical Prisoner (six of one). However, I was impressed by Man On Wire, the documentary film now showing in theatres here. And whatever happened to Hilda Downer's new book of poetry, Down To The Wire, which was due out years ago.

Hard to watch English language films, TV, listen to radio, music, now with increasing deafness. Still, not to gripe. Maybe easier to go deaf in America where not many have anything to say of a literary/intellectual nature, at least not in South Jersey where living like a hermit is easier than socializing. Not that my provincial home town of Philadelphia is any better, but thinking of Philadelphia, I wonder if the academics in charge of Pennsound there will ever have the balls to record for their archive the exceptional performance poem, The Black Glove, by Ketan Ben Caesar, a South Philadelphia poet who has been reading and organizing readings for 40 years now. But he is not an academician and so wears no Emporer's New Poetry Clothes. On his website, he has consistently denied Cosa Nostra rumors, but it is true that since Ketan arrived on the scene, not one Philadelphia poet has been whacked, though as Ketan knows, there were a few worthy candidates. Also in Philadelphia, Vincent Rinella, who has worked 40 years as a therapeutic counsellor and attorney in health care fields for the disabled, has published privately his second chapbook of what he calls Coterie Works.

Except for speed, computer technology seems to me to isolate human beings rather than to enhance communication, but then I suppose someone my age after Gutenberg would have said: there goes illuminated manuscripts. Still, as the late Denise Levertov had opined, no great poetry will be written on a computer. In fact it is the end of literature as we have known it, and quite possibly consciously so since what writers get (beyond this kind of digital vanity press aggrandisement) is simply the trickle down (golden shower) from computer use by the military. It has put an end to the art of letter-writing. And has (as all travellers know), put an end to the romance of short-wave radio.

Well, never mind. I began blogging when I thought my increasing hearing losses might be due to acoustic neroma and thought if I have anything left to say, best get it out there. But isn't it all vanitas and loneliness and boredom and bullshit, really?

With household bills going up here even faster than in the U.S., the head of British Gas recently said that people should stop complaining and wear an extra sweater indoors. He makes millions of course, like American CEO's. When will these people be put in prison as they probably deserve to be. Still, I would rent here if I had the bread, but with grotty studio apartments in decent neighborhoods going for $2000 a month and one bedrooms going for 3, what's the point. A decade ago I did rent a studio here but ended up suing the landlord, a property developer named Goldenberg, because of undisclosed vermin infestation. But I lost the case, not having hired a lawyer, and also because I could not provide substantial enough evidence in the form of live cockraoches and rats. British justice. And once, over 40 years ago, I was forced to leave a place I had rented because I was fucking my girlfriend there. We can't allow that, the Arab landlords said. Gombeen men, all of them, as the 20th century's greatest comic-ironic novelist, J.P. Donleavy, would say.