Alison Bechdel, Ave Maria, Batman Arkham Asylum A serious House on Serious Earth, big black dicks, Blood Meridian or the Evening Redness in the West, Christopher Hitchens, corgi, Crime and Punishment, Don Quixote, encomium, Essay, Freedom, Fun Home, If you're reading this pat yourself on the back because you can read and that's awesome, Johann Sebastian Bach, Les Miserables, Literature, Loony Tunes, Moby Dick, Nine Stories, progymnasmata, Sexual cannibalism, spider sex, The Marriage Plot, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany, The Trial of Henry Kissinger, Ulysses, William L. Shirer, Writing, Years of Upheaval, Yo-Yo Ma
The last year saw me write at least forty essays, each designed to highlight some aspect of literature, yet I can’t shake off the feeling that I really haven’t accomplished that much. No seriously, hear me out. What exactly does it mean to be a blogger?
Stop. Before I continue, let me give you this link so you can listen to this while you read, if you’re even still here and haven’t stumbled onto my blog because you were looking for fish sex or big black dicks. It’s a compilation of Bach on YouTube. I’ve always preferred Bach over the other classical composers. Even Mozart. Especially Mozart. I ain’t haitin, it’s just, Bach has complexity and presence that isn’t trying to prove its genius. Anyway here it is:
Now like I asked before, what exactly does it really mean to be a blogger? I call myself a writer, because along with the book reviews I write here, I also write short stories, poetry, and novels. Especially novels. Novels speak to me, yet I find lately I have a devil of a time reading one by itself. I’ve developed this system where I read ten pages in a book and then put it down. It’s a way of getting reading in and still being able to get things done. It works too; I’ve read Moby Dick, Ulysses, and Les Miserables through this system. Don Quixote is next as soon as summer school, fall semester, spring semester, and life is over with and I can find three goddamn minutes to myself. But what is a blogger? Can a blogger really call themselves a writer? I’ve seen blogs that are nothing but photographs, often a half naked women, but also of rusty cars in black and white, of little girls wearing white dresses, close ups of naked girls covering their nipples with one hands while green paint has been smeared across one cheek. These are blogs I have seen. Can you call these people writers?
I had this thought earlier and I believe it to be a good thought, I would like to start a blog about cheese. Spend the rest of my days trying various samples of cheese and write a review about them. Not just about how they taste, but the history of that brand of cheese, where it’s typically made, how it got its name. I think that’s a good idea, but I could I still call myself a writer? And what would the title of the Blog be?
A writer is what I am, it’s all that I can be because, at this point in my life, I’ve passed the point where I’m really fit to do anything else. It’s starting with my back. I’ve woken up three times this week with a pain in my back. That’s how I know I’m a writer because I can’t imagine doing anything else, and it’s too far to go back, but the problem arises: the only manuscripts I have ever published were on this blog, and there again, can you really call what we write on blogs writing?
What I spoke before about Bach is true. I prefer him over the other composers. I don’t know anything about the man. I know he’s German but that’s about it, and it could be wrong. Classical music for many people is just noise, like Heavy metal. Both varieties of music are similar in its auditory components that people ignore them thinking there’s no variety when any musicologist or dude wearing a Slayer t-shirt will be happy to show otherwise. I think I like Bach for two reasons. The first is because of a scene in the movie Hannah and her Sisters where Michael Kane’s sister-in-law plays a record. Bach F minor concerto. It’s a beautiful song, and one of my favorite scenes in a movie. The other is because Yo-Yo ma performs Cello Suite No.1-Prelude and I’ve actually seen Yo-Yo Ma perform in person. The man is a machine; he was poured into a cellist. You can’t watch the man play without being moved. I’ve included a link here as well.
Now why all this questioning and randomness. I’m a year old today. White Tower Musings began a year ago as part of a romantic ambition. What I wanted to do is convince people who hate literature and believe that it has no point or purpose to shut up and see that it has all the purpose and meaning in the world. Books can change people’s lives, when given to them at the right time, in the right way. Selling a book is hard, and feels often like prostitution . The downside is you don’t get paid like a prostitute does however, so it’s a thankless job with no fucking.
While I’m thinking of it here’s a cool random GIF (is it gif or jif, peanut butter?) of Godzilla.
While I’m thinking of it, I want to make sure you don’t feel like this was a waste of your time, so here’s a list of books I think you should read before you die because people love lists, if only so that they can disagree with them, because after all, what would the internet be if not a place for people to share their bullshit opinions with one another:
- The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William L. Shirer—Haven’t actually read this one, but I recently borrowed it from my little sister who’s studying history so I’m pumped.
- Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky—Haven’t read this one either but I’m going to. Dostoyevsky is my man.
- Freedom by Jonathan Franzen—This book annoyed and depressed me, but I haven’t read a book that has reminded me where we are as a culture right now.
- The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides—Is one the greatest living American Writers.
- Blood Meridian: Or, the Evening Redness in the West by Cormac McCarthy—There’s a tree with dead babies tied up by their jaw bones.
- Years of Upheaval by Henry Kissinger—It’s Kissinger’s memoirs as his tenure as secretary of state during the Nixon administration.
- The Trial of Henry Kissinger by Christopher Hitchens—Fuck Kissinger! Use his fucking memoir as a doorstop!
- Nine Stories by J.D. Salinger—Because you need to see what a good writer the man was. And because Phoneys need to die.
- Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic—Because there needs to be one book on this list by a woman that is not just for the sake of having a woman in the list. This book will floor you.
- Batman Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth by Grant Morrison and Dave McKean—This is in my mind the greatest graphic novel behind Fun Home, filled with detail, and one of the most honest examinations of insanity you’ll ever read.
It’s been a year and over 4000 people have visited this blog, though to be fair, that number is probably closer to 3000 since I know most people only found me because they were looking for porn. And what does that say about career as a writer if people are only finding me because they’re looking for sex? But this fact isn’t as concerning to me as the title I’ve given myself, because certainly nobody in the public did. After a year of writing book reviews, movie reviews, and hopefully in the near future, art reviews, what have I actually accomplished?
I do not believe someone should call themselves a writer unless they can point to a finished product and say, “I wrote that.” I have that here, in this blog, but there again does this count as self publishing, in which case is this a vanity press?
Before I continue let me tell you a fun fact. My wife is a biologist and came to me one night telling me about a paper she had to give a presentation on. She chose it for the title. Sexual cannibalism. The article was an experiment done by scientists observing the mating behaviors of black widows and several insects. I’ll stick to the black widows though because that’s what I remember best. The researchers found that males that were aggressive in their mating dances and displays tended not to be eaten following coitus. Anyone who doesn’t know anything about spider sex is about to learn something cool. Black widows get their names because after they mate with the males they typically eat them. Sex, especially for female arthropods, is exhausting and they need nourishment for the incubation of eggs and the creation of eggs sacks. The man’s right there, so…fuck it, why not. Free eats. Well, as it turns out the males that acted like horny frat boys saying “HEEYYY BABAY!!!” were less likely to be eaten after sex.
Lesson of the day boys: Confidence is key.
Second lesson of the day: Fuck fraternities.
Third Lesson of the day: Never wear ladies underwear in public…unless you can pull it off.
My first article for this blog was actually a paper written for a class. The teacher arranged the course following something called the Progymnasmata. It was the classical (in the sense of ancient Greece) model of teaching young men how to be orators and writers. The Progymnasmata was a series of exercises and one of them was the Encomium. What the encomium does is ask the students to praise a person, object, institution, etc. focusing on the positive effects it has upon society. Christopher Hitchens being the writer I most wanted to kill and wear his skin for the rest of my life (too much?) I decided to write what the man had done for me. I got an A, and that was that. But a few months later I was battling with the idea of starting a blog. My thought was, I’m always talking to people that aren’t around, thinking of arguments against people I hear randomly talking about “this book is stupid” or “this book is weird” or the classic “What does this have to do with what I want to do for a living?” After a while not being published, and having to listen to the voices in my head for so long, I thought a blog might help.
The internet seems like a place where we’re allowed to explode and unmask our true selves. I worry though about the people who choose to live their entire lives in it when bikinis and corgis exist in the real world.
One essay leads to another. That’s another thing. Hold on. My favorite Loony Tune is Bugs Bunny. I envy his confidence.
I call my posts essays because I’ll give myself that. Most of the blogs I randomly scan through have 300-800 word posts describing the writers emotions, their feelings, explaining why they photographed seven hundred bunny rabbits humping in the DNC convention, but nobody ever calls what they write essays. I can’t think of anything else to call them. I put too much time and energy and sweat into them to call them anything else. It can’t be posts. Posts are something you do on facebook, if anybody still uses facebook.
Here’s another video if you’re tired of Bach. It’s Ave Maria by Shubert in the original Latin. I’m an atheist but this song always stops me.
I think the problem with most writers is we all feel like we’ve got nothing to really contribute. We’re told nobody reads books anymore, and we’re all plagued either by the image of the penniless writer drinking himself to death, or else of the hipster wannabe at Starbucks composing poetry but really just looking at pictures of Bob Dylan on Google images while wondering why nobody takes him seriously. The writer is plagued by a poor self image in the Post-Hemingway, Post-Cobain, Post-Dylan, you know what I changed my mind it’s definitely Daffy Duck that’s my favorite. Bugs is cool, but Daffy has character.
I guess what’s bothering me, what my mind is wrapping around, is the typical human question: did anything I do matter? I admit, a year is not a great judge in the great scheme of things, and my ambition is too often checked by the limitations given by reality, but I do want this blog to matter. And to be fair, in the course of a year I have managed to write reviews for at least thirty to thirty-five books and films that I felt were worth people’s time. And even if people find me only looking for all male Mandingo parties, I at least taught them where the word Mandingo comes from before they decided to say fuck-it and go back to tumblr.
This essay was really written for me. I thought I would be quirky and funny and try to get in a few good points, but I’ve found at the end of this writing to be dissatisfied. I began this blog because I wanted to show people that books and creative writing can change people’s lives. A book can be the difference in a person’s life.
That’s the only question that really matters to me after a year of doing this. I write, and I publish my work, and people (seem) to read what I write. That’s where I hang my hat after a year of working and promotion of this site. A year in, and I have 50 followers and 4000 views. There’s a bottle of Jameson that sits on my bookshelf between The Vagina Monologues and The Male Nude. I think I’ll take it down, enjoy the deep burn of great whiskey. After all, that’s what writers do.
Thank you all for a year, thank you for bothering to show up. Thanks.
As a parting gift here’s a picture of me wearing a dress.
Since you were patient enough to listen to all my boring classical music here’s a fun video of Goofy trying to ski. Enjoy.
Definitely, definitely Taz. Taz was my man. Do you know he was only in five actual shorts? It’s crazy but Taz was actually just a minor character in the canon of Loony Tunes. Fun facts here. That’s all folks.