Memoir Seminar

Jean Baudrillard: “Cipher, don’t decipher.”

Translation: Keep to yourself. Keep something of yourself for yourself. Keep something of yourself from yourself. Commit silence.


How shall we write silence? How shall we write in silence? In what tone does silence not-write?

Knot-writing. Bound books. Unsafe words. Writing is seen as emotional release. It’s first and foremost a building of tension. Writing complicates. Writing frustrates.


If you must write a memoir, don’t spill your guts. Deflect reflection. Let sleeping Freudians lie.

Engage like a mistress in tease and denial. Put a hand over your mouth. Hand over your mouth. Muffle your dreams.


Final Fantasy

A previous version of this post was published here.

On February 23, 2008, about 200 volunteers flushed, level by level, every toilet and urinal at newly built Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., to see if the pipes could handle the load.

Imagine a moment when everyone in the world with a smartphone sent each other a smiley face emoji at the same time—not to test the limits of all the networks, just for shits and giggles. Put yourself in the micro-second between everyone hitting send in unison and the possibility that no one would remain on the planet afterwards to respond. Are we not right now suspended between the final fantasy of synchronized global suicide and its fulfillment via technology?

A far more sinister way to end the world would be to realize everyone’s fantasies, a process virtual reality machines have already begun. Realizing every fantasy would destroy the symbolic power of fantasy itself. We’d be left with a literal translation of every metaphor, a logical explanation for every random thought. No more latent content to our dreams—every secret would be dragged out of our minds and streamed “as is” in real time. Before too long, we’d pray to God for nothing less than Nothingness.

For now, we text and carry on—everyone equal before the Law of Communication—forced to send and receive information, most of it useless. Just do it. Just speak.

The most radical message left for us today is to say nothing at all.

Imagine a moment when everyone on the planet with a smartphone refused at the same time to send a text. Or a moment when everyone on the planet flushed a smartphone down a toilet. Dream up a fantasy so spectacular it threatens to end the world and then, for the sake of fantasy, don’t tell a soul.

Holy Ghostwriter

“A man who fears ridicule will never go far, for good or ill: he remains on this side of his talents, and even if he has genius, he is doomed to mediocrity.”–E.M. Cioran

I was nervous about publishing my last post. It was a great joy to write, but I worried people might think I’d finally gone nuts. Perhaps I had hitched a ride on the hypomania train, my freak flag flying on the other side of depression.

Despite my honesty here, I’m still holding plenty back. Not all ideas find their way online. Some retire to the privacy of my journal. Others are destined to roam the hinterlands of my psyche. More than a few self-truths never emerge, but I know they’re up to no good.

Good writers generate themes; great writers develop a distinct voice. How much of blogger-Chuck is the real me? How much of poet-Chuck is the real me? How cleverly has blogger-Chuck adopted the persona of depressed-Chuck?

What do I want you to think of me when I’m nothing but a ghostwriter projecting inner shadows?

Perhaps our good friend Mr. Cioran can shed some light on the subject of secret-telling and how I should compose myself going forward:

“Write books only if you are going to say in them the things you would never dare confide to anyone.”

Little Secrets

Little Secrets

we were children once
and nothing more
taught to keep
our little secrets

chaos in control
the past comes back in a flash
nightmares in the noonday sun

we overindulge in spirits
too meek to inherit
the weight of the world

at home in fear
there’s danger beyond strangers
no need for make-believe
when everyone pretends

we find ourselves in hiding
passing souls composed of air
fighting to forgive
the trespassers against us