the phantasmagoria of the mist

Unconsciously, but still of free will, he had preferred the splendour and the gloom of a malignant vision before his corporal pains, before the hard reality of his own impotence. It was better to dwell in vague melancholy, to stray in the forsaken streets of a city doomed from ages, to wander amidst forlorn and desperate rocks than to awake to a gnawing and ignoble torment, to confess that a house of business would have been more suitable and more practical, that he had promised what he could never perform. Even as he struggled to beat back the phantasmagoria of the mist, and resolved that he would no longer make all the streets a stage of apparitions; he hardly realised what he had done, or that the ghosts he had called might depart and return again.

Arthur Machen, The Hill of Dreams

the interview

Hello, I’m here for a job interview.

Oh, are you.

Yes, I was called in. I have an appointment.

Hmph. I doubt that.

Excuse me?

That’s not how we work. We don’t call people in. We don’t do that.

But I received a message. It said to come in. Today. This morning.

Who was the message from.

I don’t know. Some person.

Does this person have a name.

I don’t remember. I deleted the message. Isn’t there an appointment schedule you can check? Or maybe there is someone else I can speak with?

I’m afraid not. Just me here today. And there is no appointment schedule because, as I said, we don’t call people in. We’re not that kind of place. We don’t work that way.

But you are hiring…

We might be looking to fill a position, yes. It’s a possibility. Not my specific area, mind you, but I’ve heard things, you know, in the hallways.

Well, this is confusing. Should I come back then? Is there a time today when someone who might know more about this will be around?

It’s difficult for me to say. After all, I don’t want to make an empty promise. I don’t want to say, ‘Yes, come back at 1 o’clock,’ only to disappoint you if no one is here.

Oh, well, should I come back at 1 then?

Did it sound like you should come back at 1?

I’m not sure. Maybe?

No one will be here at 1. That was just an example.

Fine. Then when will someone else be here? Perhaps someone more helpful.

Are you saying I’m not helpful.

More helpful. I said more helpful. I understand this isn’t your specialty, but I am interested in the job and would like to follow through on the interview.

What interview. I told you, we don’t do that. We don’t hold interviews.

Okay, fine. I’m leaving now. Maybe I will try back again later when someone else is around.

Good luck with that. Have a nice day.

[front door closes]

[coworker enters from stage left, sits down]

Was that the applicant leaving?


I see. Have you made a decision?

Let’s just say the position is still open.

Any particular reason why? We can’t delay hiring much longer.

Well, you know what they say…some people just don’t interview well at all.

Hmm. Yes, I have heard that. Fine, then. Will you call the next one on the list? And make sure to enter the appointment in the schedule this time so I know when to be here.

I certainly will.

bruno schulz and the need for connections

“Recently, I have been calling almost daily at the office. It sometimes happens that someone is sick and they allow me to work in his place. Or somebody has something urgent to do in town and lets me deputize for him. Unfortunately, this is not regular work. It is pleasant to have, even for a few hours, a chair of one’s own with a leather cushion, one’s own rulers, pencils, and pens. It is pleasant to run into or even be rebuked by one’s fellow workers. Someone addresses you, makes a joke, pulls your leg, and you blossom forth for a moment. You rub against somebody, attach your homelessness and nothingness to something alive and warm. The other person walks away and does not feel your burden, does not notice that he is carrying you on his shoulders, that like a parasite you cling momentarily to his life…”

Bruno Schulz, “The Old Age Pensioner” in Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass

late rain world

The world was late today. I don’t know. I was late. But I wasn’t expecting the world to also be late. I had hoped for a leisurely ride in on mi bicicleta. Instead there were cars everywhere. An automotive horror show. Maybe it was the rain. Rain slows the world to a crawl. Like slow motion, creeping and crawling. Not me, though. I was pedaling quite rapidly, in fact. Bike commuting reminds me I am alive. Otherwise I might think I was a walking corpse. Or a dancing one. I’m skipping a meeting this morning. I don’t care. It empowers me. Robert Walser would skip it. Walser wouldn’t still be here seven years later, though. Walser wouldn’t have made it seven months. Seven weeks, maybe. More likely seven days. He’d be in his attic room writing his soul out on shreds of borrowed paper with a stolen pen. Oh, where is the rain crow. He migrated long ago. Now who will tell us when it is about to rain. I felt the cold rain on my face and knew I was alive. No more alive than last month or last week or yesterday, but alive nonetheless. 2013 dreams have been vivid so far. It’s like there is an arthouse revival series going on in my dream life. I’m liking it. There’s nothing else to report, I’m afraid. Raining, check. Biking, check. Reading Walser, check. No more rain crow, check. Not a corpse, check. Alive, check.

mosquitoes = o quiet moss

It’s possible I saw more mosquitoes than birds during my birding expedition. I probably now have West Nile Virus. They are going to spray stuff from airplanes to kill the mosquitoes where I was looking at birds. Really. I wouldn’t lie about that. Think about not ever going to work again. Just think about it. For one. heart. beat. Fuck. I saw a dead slug on the sidewalk. I can’t take it. Why is it so easy to dislike people without even knowing their faces or their names. And yet. a squashed slug. crushes me. Farley walked right past a cat. Didn’t even see it. I think the cat was mocking him. There were a lot of vultures at Soldiers Delight. Hanging out on the cancer towers. Airing their wings and such before kettling up. It’s a vulture’s world out there. So many dead things to feast on. Because life is too much of everything. And so things are always dying and being replaced. And if you’re a vulture…well, I don’t feel the need to explain any further. There are too many people. And there are too many things. Too many people things and too many thing-people. The other night I dreamed I was living in an outdoor camp in a forest. I was part of a team. Our job was to watch over the forest, to help people traveling through it and to keep poachers out. We slept outside in little beds and watched informational films that helped us do our jobs better. How is this relevant? Let me put on my Jungian hat and pontificate. I guess maybe I want to help people instead of rot at a desk all day? Maybe not a job, per se, but something. Why not. Jung said many of his patients were successful middle-aged people who suddenly realized their lives were empty and meaningless. Hooray. Nothing changes throughout modern history, does it. It. just. gets. worse. But what does ‘successful’ mean in this context. I suspect it means the opposite of what I consider success. I am not interested in ‘social standing’. I am not interested in ‘moving up the ladder’. Of course that kind of success is going to make your life feel empty and meaningless. Of course it is. I hate your filthy money and everything. it. stands. for. I just want my time. That is all. Why is it so difficult. It seems like it belongs to me. But actually right now it largely belongs to a mammoth financial institution by way of a prominent American university by way of the United States Government by way of taxes paid by my friends and neighbors and complete strangers. So, in a way their time belongs to me, but not really because I give it to a big faceless bank, which means the people ‘moving up the ladder’ own it all. And their lives are empty and meaningless because of it. If they just stopped the process by which they are taking our time, I think we’d all be better off.

Where’s my cave. I have some paintings to make. They tell a very different story.

And yet…at work the ghost of Edouard Levé was haunting my mailbox. So there is that.

my thoughts dried up so i wrote this instead

When you isolate yourself, you have no one else to blame when things go awry. There is some small comfort in this. It is possible to go days without talking to anyone. This can be a magical combination of your own self-imposed silence and a general indifference on the part of others. Together we can make it work. The woman in the alley enjoys screaming hateful words at her grandson but she is sweet as pie when I say hello. This dichotomy hurts my brain. The alley is loud in the summer. The ladies across the way gun their motorcycles at all hours. The level of their inconsideration for people living together in a confined space staggers me. Small children yell and sing and talk like adults. I brood at the kitchen table. If it weren’t for the swatch of overgrown vegetation threatening to engulf my porch, I would have to see, as well as hear, the denizens of the alley and that I could not bear. Meanwhile, in the plus column, the city installed four solar-powered compacting trash cans on a main street in the neighborhood. I was overjoyed to throw my dog’s poop in them. Then they took one away. It was the most conveniently located one. Why. On another street near my house the city erected an expensive-looking fence in the median. A few weeks later they removed it. Why. Every day I see the thousands of dollars I pay in property taxes hemorrhage out onto the streets in the form of Kafkaesque activities such as this. It pains me. I could make much better use of those thousands of dollars than by funding the erecting and dismantling of fences. Segueing into the employment realm, it’s summertime at work which results in a curious laissez faire attitude toward attendance. I like it but it confuses me. I am always suspicious of it. Yet there is a natural relaxed cadence I cannot ignore, and so I allow it to carry me in its wake. When I feel agitated, I look at the little pictures in the dictionary and this soothes me. Last night I had a pleasant time in dreamland, but I forgot most of it upon waking. I don’t like that. I need to remember my dreams or waking life seems vacant. Do you ever wonder about the nature of friendships? They are curious things. Coming and going, rarely staying. Sometimes they wane; sometimes they wither. Sometimes they fail over the stupidest things. And you wonder if it could have been avoided, but in reality if it was a strong friendship it should have been able to withstand most of the nonsense we manage to self-generate. Which then begs the question of why the friendship existed in the first place. Convenience, perhaps. Boredom. Desperation for human contact [see: possibility of going for days without speaking to anyone, as outlined above]. I have had many friendships through the years, for all of these listed reasons and more. Not many have lasted, but the tiny few that have are worth more than gold. The question is then, do I now need more friends? What purpose would they serve? It gets harder to make friends as you get older. It’s horrible but I find myself more judgmental than I used to be of people when considering them as potential friends. I am also perhaps even more guarded now. Friendship requires time and effort, both valuable resources that I don’t expend lightly. How can you know if it’s worth it. Most of the time I am content to be by myself. I also have a dog now. The ultimate friend. Always dependable, always happy to see you. Can’t go to the bathroom without your help, which is a little weird. Doesn’t talk, which is both good and bad. Sometimes I wish he’d talk, just a little. See, even though I am content by myself, I have this annoying urge to reach out sometimes. It’s irrepressible. Sometimes everything can’t be found in books. Or nature. Most things, yes. But not all. This is the curse of human nature. We are not 100% autonomous. And I am so restless. This incessant unease shadows my every move. The panic. The urge to drop out. The crushing confinement of your own mind. We’re all so spread out. Held together by weakening links. I trip over my own shallow roots and fall face-down in a mucky bog. Roll around and let the clay harden on your skin. Let it cover all that you see as wrong. It feels so good.

expert daydreamer for hire

Hello, I am a fully licensed and bonded daydreamer. There is no one more qualified than me to stare out a window all day and think fanciful thoughts. My highly active imagination generates a constant flow of grandiose ideas and intricate schemes without a single accompanying thread of motivation to follow through on implementing any of them. Lately, this has become an unwieldy burden while attempting to complete the typically mundane tasks that comprise my current job. Hence, I am seeking alternate employment. If you choose to hire me, I ask only for a desk near a window, preferably with a comfortable chair, perhaps even one that reclines. I propose to sit at that desk from approximately 9 AM to 5 PM, Monday through Thursday (I always take Fridays off for personal time), and gaze thoughtfully out the window as my mind wanders untethered to any one particular task. I take approximately 45 minutes for lunch, and I prefer to be left undisturbed during my working hours. However, often at the end of the day I grow more gregarious and can often be provoked into imparting some of the keen insights and clever theories that have sprung forth from the fertile loam of my grey matter during the previous 8 hours. These bits and pieces of mental flotsam may often have grave relevance to the success of your business, and I will freely expound upon them, provided you do not expect me to do anything beyond that. Salary requirements are available upon request.

well, it’s september now…

and it feels like August, which seems about right seeing as August felt like September. Although it’s messing up my internal clock, which was preparing for Autumn. There have been a lot of goldfinches around lately, singing their sweet songs. We got a new feeder that accommodates even more birds. The clinging birds like it. I saw a squirrel out there and yelled at it to get off the feeder. It ran down the side of the house and started to go toward the nearest tree. But I had finally hung the squirrel feeder in the next tree over, and so I yelled at it to go over to that tree. It twitched its nose and then headed over, climbed up and found the feeder, then started nibbling on the super dense corn log I had stuck out there. Those squirrels are pretty smart.

This may well be my last week of employment. Ahead is the dark yawning abyss. I’m ready to make the leap into it.

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