Monthly Archives: July 2014

Writing Is Knowing

BLANK LINES

I.

The world is a word
between thought
and expression.
The moment just before
the silence breaks,
a pregnant pause
inducing wonder.

II.

I write with passion,
out of impulse.
Nothing but blank lines
behind my words.
You can’t take them
literally, they’re already
spoken for.

III.

The poet tries
to lighten up:
“The beaten path
I have a way
of getting off
so follow me
before we’re lost.”

IV.

I read somewhere an apple
needs to be eaten
to know it’s an apple.
So it is with the page.
It needs filling out
to realize how
empty words feel.

V.

There’s an art
to crossing out
or scribbling in
the margins.
The writer even
brainstorms
grocery lists.

c b snoad
7-29-14

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Tweet Nothings

Why do newspapers and news stations insist on including a reporter’s Twitter handle? Will I find a follow-up quote regarding a serious piece of journalism or a fun fact about unicorns?

There’s no limit to the number of characters you’ll find on Twitter. Is it entertainment? A citizen-in-the-trenches news source promoting democracy across the globe? A place for celebrities to apologize for racist tweets they “regrettably” posted five minutes ago?

Today I have nothing to look at but an image of myself telling the world how wonderful I am. Humanity gazing at its own navel, an “inny” analogous to our self-absorption.

Twitter is not enlightening, it’s stupefying. Pure noise in a world full of it.

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Internet Explorer

It’s hard to locate the internet. Where exactly does it exist? Can I hold it in my hand? Is it bigger than a breadbox?

I can’t define it but I know I love the internet. It takes me so many places, in my underwear, alone. Recently my neighborhood experienced an outage. The entire fifteen minutes without a connection left me in a panic. You don’t realize your love for something until you can’t log into your email.

Even when I’m not online I’m comforted by the thought that the internet’s humming along without me, anxious for our next point-and-click affair. With broadband speeds like these, who needs friends?

I use the web for information mostly. Everyone I meet is always so cordial and everything you read online has been verified by experts. Even spammers and trolls mean well. They’re just creative types without direction.

Of course knowing about a particular subject does not imply mastery. You cannot think the world into submission. That’s what Google is for. And you can only find Google on the internet.

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Happy Ever After In The Marketplace

Back in February George Packer wrote a feature story for The New Yorker about Amazon and the status of books as just another commodity. Amazon’s current annual revenue from book sales stands at $5.25 billion, which is seven percent of the company’s overall $75 billion in profits.

Packer writes that “Amazon sells a bewildering array of products: lawnmowers, iPods, art work, toys, diapers, dildos, shoes, bike racks, gun safes, 3-D printers.” The site’s huge selection and abundance of unbeatable deals attract consumers the world over.

I love Amazon. It’s where I buy most of my books. They are cheaper and ship fast, sometimes for free after I add to my cart a pack of smiley face boxer shorts I don’t really need.

But I hold books in higher esteem than lawnmowers or gun safes. Call me naïve, but I cherish ideas, placing them above profit margins. Of course authors, publishers and Amazon disagree. Everything, I know, has a price. Nothing transcends the marketplace.

Below I’ve included a ranking, from most to least precious, of what I value in this world. It’s the exact list formulated by the ancient Greeks, composed, no doubt, on a tablet:

  1. People
  2. Ideas
  3. Flat Screen TVs

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Phantom Limbic Effect

Every stomach ache or sneeze. The rise and fall of each orgasm, every burst of laughter. Physical sensations leave their mark without our conscious awareness. As with bodies of water—the flow of past currents etched in a riverbed—we retain a trace of what’s washed over us.

Particularly painful memories have a way of reemerging when we least expect it. The original moment has passed but we’re in the middle of it again, searching for an exit. I call this phenomenon the phantom limbic effect.

We’re familiar with cases of amputees who feel their missing limbs long after surgery. In what I’m describing the trauma is “missing,” that is to say, not happening right now, but the sufferer still endures its terrible weight, unable to dismiss it. An outsider might call this phantom pain, but for the victim it’s the closest thing to a flesh-and-blood terrorist.

The limbic system is the area of the brain that deals with emotions and long-term memory. In this case the body and limbic system together recall the trauma, with the body serving as the site of reenactment. It’s not just how you feel about a memory then, but how it feels about you, on and underneath the skin.

Of course, this works for the liberating effects of pleasure. But it’s hard to seize the day when old traumas hold us hostage.

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Plug And Play

So it’s come to this. Literally.

The makers of a popular sexual aid for men have released their latest breakthrough device, the LaunchPAD. Now guys can watch porn on their iPads and “use” them at the same time. Talk about stimulating simulation.

I won’t link to the product here. Feel free to Google it at your own risk.

There are powerful testimonials on their site. I think “Moneyshots” puts it best: “I get out my LaunchPAD whenever my wife goes out of town. Now I wish she’d leave more often. This thing is amazing.”

Brilliant. A tablet as the other woman.

If anything, the LaunchPAD gives new meaning to the terms “hard drive” and “download.” It wouldn’t surprise me if the product is on backorder. Maybe Walmart will offer it on layaway this Christmas for wives in a giving mood.

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Everybody Hurts

I can’t hide from it: I’m a sensitive guy. Sometimes I lie awake and picture the people I care about, focusing on my connection with them, recalling what about them makes me feel good. But there’s not one person I love who hasn’t suffered in this world. And this makes me sad. And the sadness I feel for myself rushes through me. I acknowledge, in their pain, my own.

We’ve all screwed up at one point or another. I’ve had my fair share of missteps. God’s forgiveness is easy to get. All you do is believe. Securing the forgiveness of others is difficult, but it’s never out of the question if you humble yourself and make amends.

The hardest part is learning how to forgive myself. If I could find myself walking down the street, emerging from a faceless crowd, what would I say to me? How might I comfort this sensitive guy, move out of his way and let him pass?

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