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Third Sitting

...And of course control is something we know even less about than we think, and we think we know very little, insofar as we think, which is very little, and when we do we are less than little and not in control. The needlessly convoluted style means I am hiding something, or rather that you think I am hiding something when I am not hiding something except insofar as it is hiding itself and I may or may not be in control, but of course I don't know.

The thing that I am not hiding is that this is a bad book, thus violating pretty much any standard of goodness you could want. Fortunately, we don't always want what fits our standards of goodness, we don't usually even have these standards, and we mostly don't have a clue what we really want, let alone what we could want. So the badness of this book could be kind of cool, in that, should it be sitting on your coffee table and some coffee-drenched guest open it at random, he/she may be dumbfounded and perhaps start a conversation with you, the profoundly-alone host, with a comment like "What the hell? This is such a bad book. Its, like, `style' (Your guest will makes little quotation thingies with her/his voluptuous hands. This will overwhelm you.) is so needlessly opaque, and there's no structure... I can't believe someone actually published it... yet... I admire you for actually reading the whole voluminous thing... you don't have, like, any diseases or anything do you?"

Here is the problem with good books; I mean very good books, the kind that make you stop and stare at nothing every few pages because your mind has been assaulted so intensely: you don't understand them. I'm not saying people don't understand them; this is a commonplace: every time someone thinks up something really neat, it gets simplified and consequently butchered for public consumption, so you get Nazis saying "Nietzsche's our dude" and silly American businessmen thinking they're acting in actualization of the ideas of Locke. I'm not stating my version of this myth, `cause I think it's a crock, and I don't need to state versions of other people's crocks because I can think of my own. What I'm saying instead is that you don't understand them, and if and when you mistakenly think that you do, you will go to a party and try to talk about Dostoevsky and people will laugh and give you a swirlie. And you will thank them for giving you that much attention and return to reading tripe. I know this because I have checked.

So you don't really want a good book anyway. On the other hand, when you get a book like Everything I Ever Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten by "Little Stupid Freak" Bobby Fulgrum, which encourages you to be stupid, you understand every word, hurt you though they might, so there ya go.

There is of course much more to be said about the badness of this book: it's short attention span, its inability to either argue a point or be consistently funny, that time it blew up every toilet in town with just a ball of wax, three paper clips, and a thumb nail, etc., but the text will meander elsewhere, should it choose to do so.

So what the heck is the structure of this book? Well, here is a table of contents: I know it's a bit late, but we are still fairly near the beginning, my dear, so like it or lump it.

I. Tripe, Chapter II

II. Tripe, the Final Chapter

III. For the Love of Tripe

IV. Nancy Drew and the Haunted Tripe

V. In which little Artie gets a very special gift and the gang learns a new song

VI. Absolute Freedom and Terror

V. Signs, Signs, Everywhere signs, Part V, a New Beginning

VI. Purple Mountains, my Butt!

VII. Vocabulary commonly useful for the tourist, plus words describing my Butt!

VIII. Tripe!

IX. Tripe!!

X. Table of Contents, part II (page numbers)

Now that that's settled, you can stop aching in anticipation, which I suppose by now you have been doing for some time, including during the break, so I am really sorry if I kept you awake weeping, but it does build character, and if it doesn't you can use one of the many other defense mechanisms that any well-heeled hooligan like yourself has to constantly deploy just to keep his/her lunch down.

I was talking about free/remote/random association, and I did have a point, believe it or not, about tripe. I have recently been informed that in Mexico, tripe is a totally normal food. One could order a sandwich, or as they say in Mexico an sandwich, with beef, turkey, provolone, lettuce, mayo, and tripe on it without giggling. This scares me, because I am culturally biased, because my culture is always right. If my culture told me to jump off a bridge, I'd do it.

...Which is causing me to have an itching burning sensation that I will pass off as a thought, about enemies. Not specific enemies, like Hitler and Savoir Faire (who incidentally is everywhere), but general big stupid enemies like "the government" or "those lazy vagrants who cain't stomach the humiliation of selling off their lives doin' some completely worthless and unquestionably boring job so as to be respectable like my miserable self" or "people who eat lemons." Just as I chided you for probably defining yourself in sharp opposition to the mass of crazy people (yes, I was doing this, in case you were unaware, which I suppose would make my attempt a poor excuse for a chide, but oh well sigh), the paragraph before this one was hinting at ripping at both "my culture" and lots of sociologists who make more money than I did until you paid for this book (and if you didn't I am now pale and starving in a pile of my own half-eaten excrement, thank you). One could now make many comments about the place these only-vaguely-defined, probably non-existent-as-we-now-so-negatively-define-them, and certainly totally misunderstood by the individual that uses them as an opposition and thus an orientation within the field of values, thus defining his/her moral/cultural orientation on basically stupid and fallacious grounds, but I will instead say that all of my enemies should be killed, and I want you to do it.

The preceding was included for publicity, so some psycho who was about to flip out and kill people anyway could do so at the behest of this book, thus increasing its sales. Oh, and also, my only enemy is you. See, now I can be blamed for mass-suicides, too.

Now you see how random yet underlyingly patterned this is? Das' tripe. To successfully create an artwork within a given genre, being creative is like the RAT (yes, you do remember what that stands for.) -- finding the perfect word in one's vocabulary to finish the sonnet or limerick, say, but when there is no genre, or the genre is an ill-defined one like "overpriced gift book" which refuses to put upon itself any further strictures beforehand, then you get tripe. So if you have any avant-garde streak in you -- if free form poetry and pop songs that only repeat the chorus twice instead of nine times excite you -- if you thirst for the cutting edge, well, then, this is what you've been asking for, isn't it? I am so happy you can't answer me (though you may try, sending a letter if you must via Santa Claus, who knows where I live).

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© 1993 Mark A. Linsenmayer [ Contents ]