The future is no longer what it was For better or for worse Familiarize with the newness Learn to cohabit with life and latex Organic is superfluous Anthropomorphic is just as good Your non human humongous mate Is a persistent repetition of a phrase
Your non human humongous mate Waves at me to say hi Before it disappears in your face It? Him? Them? I wonder How does our friend identify gender? Meanwhile this ménage à trois Ectoplasma, android, foie gras Two beating hearts, few bloodless veins
Your non human humongous mate Parks in your garage As I complete your bionic ecology Me and your non human mate We high five like chums Rectovulva Septum In the future after the shockwaves Sad tadpoles are left to die
Your non human humoungous mate has an advice: Make love. Fuck.
Completed Goodreads 2020 reading challenge 5 months ahead, and I began only in mid April. I think I need to slow down, this is like a Bugatti on steroid. Mostly new reads, a few re-reads. Full list with completion dates:
1.The New York Trilogy (Paul Auster)- April 20 2.Sapiens (Yuval Noah Harari)- April 30 3.The Unbearable Lightness of Being (Milan Kundera)- May 5 4.My Name Is Red (Orhan Pamuk)- May 13 5.Waiting For Godot (Samuel Beckett)- May 14 6.Kafka On The Shore (Haruki Murakami)- May 20 7.The Book Of Strange New Things (Michel Faber)- May 26 8.Let The Right One In (John Ajvide Lindqvist)- June 4 9.Ficciones (Jorge Luis Borges)- June 10 10.The Dumb House (John Burnside)- June 14 11.The Snow Child (Eowyn Ivey)- June 22 12. Animal Farm (George Orwell)- June 24 13.The Particular Sadness Of Lemon Cake (Aimee Bender)- June 29 14.The Arrival (Shaun Tan)- June 30 15.To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)- July 5 16.Tightrope (Olga Wallo)- July 9 17.1984 (George Orwell)- July 15 18.The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)- July 21 19.Choke (Chuck Palahniuk)- July 27 20.No Longer Human (Osamu Dazai)- July 31
Since the time he had been trying to write a substantial piece of literature, Dark had felt paranoid, intimidated. The possibility of failure seemed inevitable, almost tangible, waiting on the corner with it’s black wings spread like a cape, ready to pounce on him and devour his innards the moment he lowered his guard. The more he read good literature, the more he realized how fiendishly difficult the craft of writing really was and how inadequate and crippled he felt inside. Perhaps he should write something that was destined to be such a dramatic failure that he could murder himself with it, as a revolutionary act or something. Mishima, Plath, Hemmingway. Heck…Dave Wallace. Either way, nobody was going to read his crap, but a death toll might make it cult. The egg was broken, waiting to rot. The seed of life had abandoned it for good. Perhaps getting scrambled on fire was the only salvation it could ask for. Besides, who could resist the cheap thrill of watching a train wreck in slow motion? It’s the paramount of entertainment. The Germans called it schadenfreude; pleasure derived by humans from a fellow human’s misery. Dark took a deep breath…alright then, lets transgress. Lets bring in some ugliness. Shock, schlock, shit. Shittier still. Blood… bile… venom… semen… milk… BLACK MILK.
~ An excerpt from BLACK MILK my work-in-progress fiction.
THE HANDMAID’S TALE – Margaret Atwood Genre: Speculative Fiction/ Dystopian Rating: 2.5/5
‘As I have said elsewhere, there was little that was truly original with or indigenous to Gilead…’ (excerpt)
Such an irony then, that Atwood’s own sentence would so perfectly describe the very novel that tells the story of Gilead…THE HANDMAID’S TALE. Some books, despite being works of genius never get the adulation of the mainstream. A few mediocre ones just blew up out of control. THE HANDMAID’S TALE has a few good things, but it is not a very good novel. Atwood writes beautifully. It is probably the only saving grace of THT. The beauty of literature (or in fact any art) is that it affirms the subconscious knowledge of its reader (or audience). The utmost pleasure is bestowed upon readers by telling them the things that they already know about life and human condition, with little nuggets of poetic philosophy curved out of mere mundane. The beauty is in the detail, with unusual perspectives that no one ever thought of. And Atwood does this effortlessly. Chapters after chapters she delivers little morsels of delicacies for the soul. Here, have a taste test: ‘Ignoring isn’t the same as ignorance, you have to work at it’ or ‘Better never means better for everyone… It always means worse, for some’…and how about this? ‘A rat in a maze is free to go anywhere, as long as it stays inside the maze’. The book is full of illuminating phrases like this. She even plays with syntax really well ‘I feel like the word ‘shatter’’. Nevertheless, all along the book I kept thinking is this novel trying to trick me into liking it? As I progressed my doubts turned into conviction. THT is not a literary masterpiece. It is mediocre at best.
Dystopia must feel original. Dystopia must feel futuristic. Dystopia must feel believable. None of these are true for THT. The dystopian darkness is created through a monochromatic prism of feminist monotone. And the agenda appears so naked that it loses its credibility. Most of the book literally feels 1980’s or early 1990’s, the references are too heavy on that time period. As a results it fails to create the timelessness of a futuristic dystopia. Degradation of civilization or society occurs slowly over time. Absolute overturn of culture, the kind that THT warns about, does not happen in a decade. How did Gilead happen… we are not given any satisfactory backstory or context, nothing at all. We are supposed to take things as they are told. The theocracy, the hegemonic masculinity, the regimental brutality, everything just serves the author’s one point agenda. Since Atwood never makes an effort to make the atrocities plausible THT never manages to brew true horror or rage like Orwell’s 1984. The pacing is languid which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But nothing much happens here for almost two thirds of the book, the routine keeps cycling and recycling. And yet near the end everything seems to be rushed, as if the author realizes she has hit the respectable length of 100,000 words and it is time to wrap up. Fortunately, the ending is surprisingly good. And this ending would have salvaged the book to some extent. But Atwood inexplicably adds a lengthy and unnecessary epilogue to spoon feed her audience, in the process completely destroying the poetic ending. It is the disrespect and the lack of confidence that Atwood hands out to the readers, this patronizing attitude in underlining everything she couldn’t convey in the story, that drives the death nail. THT is not a train wreck. It’s not great either. It has been championed for political and commercial interest of the twenty first century, mostly by millennial YA readers. There is very little literary importance here. Incidentally, THE TESTAMENT, the sequel of THT is indeed a train wreck, as per many reviewers who loved THT, and it only shows that even the Booker committee is nothing but star-worshiper sell outs. This was my first Atwood and I don’t feel too enthusiastic about her bibliography anymore. Not even ORYX AND CRAKE, nope.
[Note: This review has nothing to do with the Hulu series. I haven’t watched it and do not plan to watch it either.]
Twenty minutes early Or twenty minutes late It’s a matter of perspective You count seconds And soak in the minute details of the cafe Awkwardness gathers on the milk skin Of your hot chocolate In the aquarium fishes cry The water is salty from their tears Hello, she says, Have you been waiting too long? You have seen her before But pictures are notorious liars No photograph can do justice to a beauty like that Her face is an elegy An elfin myth She gracefully accepts the chair that you offer Remains of the afternoon just meanders Like a wafty feather Weightless, pointless, boundless You only remember the brief moment When she holds your hand in the end Four years? Five maybe That afternoon is still expanding Unfolding in memories Unspooling in dreams
Featured Artwork: CAFE DU MATIN by Olga Beliaeva (watercolor on paper)
Every love story is a ghost story Something always haunts somebody The dead haunt the living The living haunt the lovers The lovers haunt the dead Bodies lay on ice Beds tremble, pillows weep Red stilettos tiptoe in the kitchen Still new… only dusty Stale cookies, dry coffee stains Little balls of ache inside throats Gray pictures, grim smiles Words shatter like glass Sour kisses…stinging…choking Hallways bellow Shadows take shapes Ghosts mourn the living… Love stories are ghost stories Somebody always dies in them
Featured Artwork: STRANGE LOVE by Massimiliano Ligabue
Trivia: The phrase ‘every love story is a ghost story’ is not mine. It was mentioned by David Foster Wallace in his writings and letters, but he maintained that the phrase was not his. He attributed the phrase to Virginia Woolf, that it was introduced to him by the writer Richard Elman in a lecture. But the phrase does not appear in any of the surviving writings of Woolf. However the phrase appears in a letter of Australian author Christina Stead when she was battling depression, as a possible title of a story, although no story of Stead is titled such. As per Stead’s biographer Hazel Rowley, Stead probably wrote a story under that title then changed the title to ‘Les Amoreux’. Now, Stead happens to be a favorite author of the author Jonathan Franzen who was Dave Wallace’s close friend and contemporary. Whether the phrase was written by Wallace with a made up back story or was it name-dropped in a drinking game by Franzen or Elman, or is it a case where two writers, Stead and Wallace, unconnected with each other, dreamt of the same line in a true Borgesian fashion (Dave Wallace was JL Borges fanboy), nobody will ever know. In the honor of the phrase Dave Wallace’s biographer D.T. Max named his book‘EVERY LOVE STORY IS A GHOST STORY- A LIFE OF DAVID FOSTER WALLACE’. This poem is my loving tribute to Dave Wallace.
When Naom Chomski and Steven Pinker, the stalwarts of liberalism are attacked as anti-liberals, when Margaret Atwood, Salman Rushdie, Gary Kasporov and Jeffrey Eugenedes, each of whom has committed so much for liberal ideas are accused by liberals, you know that liberalism has turned into a malignant, free-speech-curbing, Orwellian totalitarianism. The only permitted opinion is the left hardliner opinion, any digression of free thought, any difference of opinion, any criticism will be silenced and punished as heresy and fascism and right wing, no matter how ridiculous or irrational the counter-opinion is. Recently I read how a liberal who never misses an opportunity to crush Hindu religious propaganda (and rightfully so), justified the conversion of Hagia Sofia into a mosque, arguing that prayers in the building will make people more humane or some bullshit like that. Appalling hypocrisy, yet that is supposed to be politically correct. Fuck that, I say.
Aafra calls from Hong Kong She sounds upbeat But in the following two hours of our video call I know she is gloomy as the downcast sky It is afternoon But the weather masquerades as late evening You can’t trust anything these days can you? She asks I wish I could lie I wish I was naive enough to shoo away her fears Instead I rile up some anger in her It works Or at least she plays along We glide through our shared past Brief yet momentous glories What we were once We take comfort in each others insignificance Lending shoulders from million miles away The video keeps breaking Lousy broadband Aafra cooes at my dog I wonder at her first world apartment Half of our lives are gone We are still waiting to live
Featured Artist: VICTOR RODRIGUEZ (acrylic on canvas)
The rain came hesitant like an unsure youth A gush that settled into a shy drizzle Shallow dark pools mothered little sidewalk rivers Wet cigarettes sailed the choppy waters to the underworld For those who were unloved and wasted
A stray dog left in the rain sat upright Drenched, eyes closed, nose in the air Inhaling the petrichor deep in his soul Did the moist wind carry his dead owner’s smell Who drowned in a flooded manhole last monsoon?
A walk in the moist evening of your town Presents a few revelations Say, the temptations of kesar jalebi… It paints a feverish picture of you Partly because it mirrors the orange of your hair Partly because of the orange negligee that hugs your wet skin Revealing more than it hides The water droplets on your bare shoulders Glisten like the shiny syrup Coagulating a viscous carnal necessity in me
I order for a serving of the jalebi and wait Slowly melting invisible into the granular darkness Of the breathing trees to hide my hard on Awakened by the solemn movements of your body The jalebis arrive Each bite foreshadows a pleasure you promised A secret invitation to let me spread my roots Deep inside your portals The spirals of this clementine sweet Are they guiding me to your labyrinth of indulgence?