September 14th, 2008

full life

(no subject)

My college experience was transformative - as they probably are for most people - but I can point to 2 specific events that had the most profound effect on me.  The first was a bad mushroom trip at my first and only Grateful Dead concert during my sophomore year; the second was the week I spent in my junior year doing nothing but reading Infinite Jest.  

Up to that point, I was mostly into Richard Brautigan and Jack Keroauc, and then, later, dudes like Henry Miller and Charles Bukowski; standard college-age reading material.   I hadn't intended to spend a week doing nothing but reading IJ; certainly I was planning on attending my classes, and eating meals at regular intervals, and, well, interfacing with other people and doing the things I normally did.  And I only picked it up in the first place because of a review I read in Newsweek, of all places.  But I was pretty much transfixed from the first sentence, and when I finished the book for the first time, I immediately started to re-read it, and when I finished it the second time, I returned to the world feeling... changed.

I've always been a better writer in my head than on the page, which is something that's frustrated me to no end, and what struck me so deeply with Infinite Jest is that I felt - and I still feel this way - that if I knew how to write the way I feel like I could, I would have written IJ.  Certainly a lot of people find his writing gimmicky and obtuse and self-indulgent and embracing the worst qualities of post-modernism; that's their right.  Certainly IJ is the best and most notable example of all of these qualities.  And if you are the sort of reader who totally loves it when an author just goes for it, then you can understand why someone like me would fall so deeply under IJ's spell.  And for all the showmanship and self-aware razzle-dazzle, IJ is devestatingly personal and emotional and - most importantly - real

And so while I found the rest of DFW's work somewhat disappointing in comparison, I still readily ate it up, and when I wasn't reading his books, I was busy reading all the stuff that influenced him - and then reading all the stuff influenced by him.  Which adds up to quite a lot.  I'd say about 90% of the fiction I've chosen to read in the last 12 years can be traced back to my week with Infinite Jest, and wanting to recapture the feelings I had when I read that book. 

The world is a difficult place right now, and the loss of a talent such as DFW's only makes it more so.  RIP.

full life

(no subject)

I'm not going to let the poll numbers get me down, because poll numbers do not reflect expected turnout.  If you remember during the primaries, even the loser of a Democratic primary generally got more votes than all the Republican votes combined. 

To put it another way, poll numbers do not reflect stuff like this.

Never, have I seen anything like it in my 17 and a half years living in Anchorage.  The organizers had someone walk the rally with a counter, and they clicked off well over 1400 people (not including the 90 counter-demonstrators).  This was the biggest political rally ever, in the history of the state.  I was absolutely stunned.  The second most amazing thing is how many people honked and gave the thumbs up as they drove by.  And even those that didn’t honk looked wide-eyed and awe-struck at the huge crowd that was growing by the minute.  This just doesn’t happen here.

Then, the infamous Eddie Burke showed up.  He tried to talk to the media, and was instantly surrounded by a group of 20 people who started shouting O-BA-MA so loud he couldn’t be heard.  Then passing cars started honking in a rhythmic pattern of 3, like the Obama chant, while the crowd cheered, hooted and waved their signs high. 

So, if you’ve been doing the math…  Yes.  The Alaska Women Reject Palin rally was significantly bigger than Palin’s rally that got all the national media coverage!