April 30th, 2004


Dear Readers I'm not sure where I'm headed. I've gotten lost before

When I write with intense negativity and self-loathing it's generally an attempt to clear those feelings away. Identify them, bring them to the surface and clear them off on to the page like a really good blow of the nose. A search and destroy mission of the soul.

It works, at least often, to release the internal build up and stop my psyche from screaming. After venting I often feel like curling up and going to sleep, and I'm pretty much guaranteed to feel better in the morning. I did just that last night, going to sleep at 9:20, and now it's 2:17 and I'm awake and will probably stay up so I can get this damned paper done. I hate these damned papers, I don't see why our entire grade should be based on what amounts for most people to a few hours of work. It puts undue stress on the student body and is not a particularly good way of teaching either. Just an easy way to grade.

On occasion I feel guilty about expressing angst and self-loathing in this forum, since I know there are people who read this journal and I wish I could keep it full of pithy humorous essays on life and politics or skewed observations about the world. That's not what this journal was created for, though. It was created, or at least perpetuated, because I was at an impass in my therapy and couldn't get out sentiments that I really needed to express. It's much easier to express onself in a journal where the decision to expose only takes a split second (the writing is not as vulnerable an act as the posting because up until the moment you hit the post button you can always just delete it and take it back) as opposed to the constant decision making inherent in talking. When you're talking you have to keep re-affirming the path you are going down or you can easily veer off into a different topic or into half-truths and dishonesty. In writing you CAN do that too but the impetus isn't nearly as strong. Up until that half second it takes to release it out into the wide world you have no reason to lie.

On the other hand I also wanted this journal to be more than just the senseless whinings of another disgruntled twenty-something. Often times it isn't. I've grown to be okay with that though, since it's my personal bought and paid for place for self-expression and thus it's alright for it to be about what I need it to be about at any given moment. If that makes people not want to read it, that's okay. If it makes the people who do want to read it uncomfortable from time to time, well that's just collateral damage in my own internal emotional war.

On the other hand I don't want people to think that I'm looking for sympathy. I'm not. I won't say that I don't appreciate it when it comes, but I'm not seeking it. I'm not looking for people to buck me up when I'm feeling blue or tell me that the sun will come out tomorrow. (If anyone offers to bet their bottom dollar I will be forced to take rash and irreversible action.) The act of writing, alone, is enough to pick my chin up and draw out a lot of the tension.

I do wish I was the kind of person who could comment on the fact that "Swoops" candy says on the box that it will 'evenlope your mouth in chocolate bliss' even though that means it will leave you like Neo in Smith's interogation room (first movie, towards beginning) only with chocolate bliss rather than flesh. They should call it the candy that tries to eat you, but gives up before reaching the nose or the chin.

I'm not that kind of person, though. I have a lot of darkness in me, and I need to represent the darkness along with the humor. Darkness and self-doubt are not the sorts of things that one can talk about with aquaintances so all that stuff gets shoveled here. When someone says "I just chased a squirrel around the lawn!" it's inappropriate to respond "Sometimes I think I'm unworthy of love and that I'll never be able to achieve or impress in the real world the real world like I can in an academic setting."

Another reason for that is the shallowness of people around here. I was talking to my friend Doug about all the friends he's made and he said that he had been burned a lot by aquaintances who he thought were friends but stopped making eye contact or smiling during semesters when they didn't have classes together. I think it's a combination of my school attracting the socially awkward but intelligent and the very ambitious and heartless. It's also part of being a young person. I get alone better with people who have a few more years under their belts. Maturity, it's a good thing.

Christ, I'm writing so sloppily that I keep skipping whole sections of sentences as my mind races ahead of my fingers. That's okay though, I'm writing and it's what counts.

I guess I wrote this as a disclaimer, to say that I'm not some emo boy looking for validation or love in cyberspace. I'm not on the verge of suicide, haven't been for many many years, and I'm not necessarily like this in real life. In real life I ponder why the cops never raid seders to catch underage drinkers and claim that children are best raised by monkeys.

There's an REM song on their INCREDIBLE album "Up" called "At My Most Beautiful." This is not me at my most beautiful, but it is me at my most vulnerable and in some ways my most honest.

Truth before beauty, it's not the motto of our society, at least not anymore, but I'll take it. There has to be some place where you can scrape off the pancake makeup of social appropriateness and just let yourself

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    REM - UP

To think about the one you love, and hold her tight

I wrote my paper and turned it in. No last minute rush to beat the deadline or "Oh my god I have 2 hours left and 10 pages left to write!" situations. I didn't even watch the Archie Movie like I did while writing a previous paper, a poor decision that a friend of mine will never let me live down. This one was no muss no fuss. I actually read one of the books to its completion and looked at a fair amount of the other one. The essay wasn't any good but that's because the assignment was really lame. Foner might be a great lecturer but he gave a really lousy paper assignment this semester. Part of that may have been the particular books I chose, but my TA said that the combination would probably work so I am not willing to take the blame for that one either.

I think it should be at least a B, if it's not I'll be surprised and may talk to someone since I'm kind of ticked that Jeff won't be grading it. That would mean I will probably wind up with a B+ or A- in the course, which is fine. I should have pass/failed it, in retrospect. That's okay though, my GPA is no longer the defining feature of my life and that won't ruin it anyway.

It's still strange to me that I managed to pound this out in plenty of time. I even looked it over and cleaned up the most egregious errors in it (there were some serious grammatical problems in the beginning part, written before my nap, and significantly fewer in the later segments.) and added a few references. It was polishing a bit of a turd but I had time for it and never felt rushed. I even handed it in a few minutes early, unheard of for me. I think this is an artifact of being done with this part of my academic career, at least for now. It's in contrast to filming last night with Frank, Doug and Marissa. That was an incredible amount of fun and we got some great footage of Frank walking down the street while being pelted from behind by white M&Ms and Doug sitting on a stool in the middle of a street divider tossing a tennis ball up and down.

I'm tired now, and I'll start the work on my next paper tomorrow. I've gotten past one of the humps and I think I'll be okay from here until the end of the semester. There are two classes that I am almost guaranteed to get As in if I don't fuck up, and two classes where I am likely to get A-s or B+s. It's not the worst senior semester ever.

I don't know what I'm expected to wear to the Phi Beta Kappa ceremony and this is causing me some consternation. I never bought a cap and gown or anything. Will I be expected to have those? Is it formal? I don't have formal clothes. I'm afraid to send an email asking about appropriate attire on account of they might rescind my membership saying "You really ought to be smart enough to figure this out on your own."

One of the nice things about the internet is that Phi Beta Kappa from an ivy league university doesn't mean shit here. People will still call you an idiot. Everybody needs to be called an idiot from time to time. I'll bet when Einstein left the milk out overnight because he was too busy figuring out how the universe worked to be bothered to put it back in the fridge his housekeeper was like "What's wrong with you, IDIOT? Time may be relative to velocity but this milk was just standing there for hours! Shouldn't you know that under those conditions it will go bad quickly?"

I have resolved to watch Adaptation again this weekend. That movie not only has brilliant dialogue, a perfect image of the creative process, but extreme awkwardness around women. It's a trifecta. Charlie Kaufman must be swarming in poontang right now, and it's bound to affect his writing sooner or later. Success really does have a way of bringing a writer low. That's why so many of the great ones were unrecognized in their own time, in my opinion. Once you're John Grisham (not that he's a great writer, he's just recognized in his own time) what impetus is there to push the art?

"Well, I could sit down in front of the computer for 12 hours and try to hammer out a few pages or I could cut and paste a plot from an old episode of the $6 million man and then drive my Ferrari into the city to score some blow and sleep with a dozen blonde 20 year old John Grisham fans who have shaved pussies."

I wonder if when John Grisham's little angel and devil pop up on his shoulders to argue over something they speak in terms as inane as the lawyers in his books. Does he accede to the wishes of one just to get them to shut up? Meanwhile does Robin Williams get little angel/demon pairs that go off on cocaine fueled riffs? How could he ever make up his mind under those conditions. "Ehh, I still can't decide. Go back over the part about what if George Bush were commisioner of baseball please..."

Okay so I actually just started watching Adaptation. I left the keyboard and went into the other room. Now it's paused and I'm back because I wanted to write up my thoughts so far. This is, I believe, the fourth time I've seen the film. Other people can watch films over and over but not me. I get bored, I get tired, I don't like it. This movie that's not the case with. I cherish each viewing. I get excited, leap up, clap. I want to hug it, the movie in the abstract not the characters, just the piece of art.

God it's SO fucking brilliant. Well it's brilliant, and it's me. That initial monologue where Kaufman is talking about all the neurotic shit that goes through his head, that's me! Hell that's my journal. And then the meeting with the executive where he sweats like he's in a Turkish steam room while she tells him how brilliant he is.

God I love this movie. The only thing I don't like about it is the Meryl Streep/Chris Cooper scenes, not because they aren't brilliant but because I am so enthralled in Charlie's story that they seem sort of extraneous.

A lot of people have movies that they can watch over and over and still love. That doesn't happen often for me. This is such a film. I want to be Charlie Kaufman, well not in a creepy "Neurotic white Jewmale" way, but I want to translate self-loathing into glorious art with the same transcendant skill. I secretly harbor the belief that I might be able to as well. I mean not now, I'm young and so unpolished that my diamonds look like quartz, but eventually. Years down the road. With constant practise.

I wrote earlier that I thought Charlie Kaufman would lose his edge with the onslaught of pussy he's sure to recieve from his success. I didn't really mean that. He's too neurotic to let that go to his head. Too self aware to trade in art for artifice just because he doesn't HAVE to be brilliant anymore for a shot at youthfull breasts and soft white thighs.

I'm sure he could shed being lovelorn and still build cathedrals from his words.

On the other hand, that moment in Adaptation when Nick Cage's Kaufman transfers from watching the orchids to watching the women. It's so hauntingly true and powerful. Even a master only gets 3-4 of those moments in his whole body of work, if he's extremely lucky.

Of course film is not just about the screenwriter. Spike Jonze is full of talent too. The way he disassociates Nick Cage from his stardom by having him blown off by the actors in Malkovich. I mean John Cusak, Catherine Keener, they're known. Nick Cage is a $20 million a movie star. Yet when they look down on him, they don't return his wave, and he slouches and tries to blend into the wall. You forget its Nick Cage and you feel sorry for him. That's acting, sure, brilliant acting. It's also incredibly slick direction. So slick you don't even feel it. Spike Jonze just picked your psychic pocket and all you felt was the brush of his sleeve against your lapel on a crowded street. Didn't even register it but WHOOSH, Cage is permanently gone and Kaufman's left up there naked on the screen inhabiting his body.

Not that Cage was ever necessarily there to begin with, but certainly if he wasn't there then you were made aware of it in his introduction. By directly contrasting him with John Malkovich, only letting Malkovich be himself and focing Cage to be Kaufman, Jonze is not letting you ignore his celebrity. Whether you want to see it or not you have to DEAL with it on some level.

I think I may be able to write better once I no longer have this school shit hanging over my head. The problem with most of these assignments is that they involve ass-loads of writing, but not the sort of writing I need to be doing. Then I feel guilty when I'm doing my writing because I have other stuff I should be doing. Damn you Super Ego, my bullets of logic bounce off your emotionally stunted chest.

Maybe I should get out of the city to write, too. LA is a city people can write in because it's not a real city. People write in New York too, all the time, but in walk up apartments with character or old warehouses in Brooklyn. Maybe this is just the wrong environment.

Watching Charlie's pages covered in red ink is inspiring. He can fuck up three or eight attempts to start a single scene too. His genius does not come from instant perfection.

God I need to remember that.

If there's one thing I don't need it's a drug to fascinate me. I am so easy to pull off task already. Everything in the world is fascinating. I don't throw things out because I like to play with them. All the papers I own get torn up eventually as I handle the edges and pry at them, try to feel the individual fibers and how they work.

I think my interest in LHG proved that. I mean what WAS that? It's infantile. She's a pretty girl but the world is full of them, she's probably got a boyfriend or a drug problem or whatever. I do this sort of thing too often and it makes me want to excavate my head with a bowie knife.

Please don't claim that Adaptation teaches "You are what you love." That's not where the heart of the movie lies. It lies in "You fat piece of shit! You ruined my life you loser. Oh you fat fuck!"

Writing is a full time profession, just not one that will necessarily pay. That's the scary part about it, if you want to be true to art, if you want to really go out there and write something original, not a requisitioned piece or something for a deadline, there's no guarantee of an audience and even less a guarantee of distribution to reach that audience if it's out there. The internet has changed that in some ways, but there's still no money in writing brilliant stuff that nobody wants to sell.

If you haven't seen Adaptation why not? If you didn't like it, why not? It may not be the best movie ever made but it is a masterpiece, undisputed, and it is my favorite. I don't know why more people aren't obsessed with this film. It's not a campy culty boobs and bodybags piece of celluloid that's fun only for those with those particular interests. It's a genius meditation on the nature of art, the nature of media, the nature of humanity, the nature of nature.

This movie makes me want to write something good, and soon. Not necessarily fiction, and not good in an absolute sense, good for me. Good for my talents and abilities at this point in time. I don't need to be beyond myself, I just need to do what I am capable of.

It's not the answer to all my problems, it's just something I want to do.
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