scruta

Either you are sorting it out, or you are full of it.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

New Words: Bildungsroman and Clanjamfry

Bildungsroman

Clanjamfry

posted by ferret at 7:59 am  

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A Chainsaw Spirit

During one of my more depressed moments, I decided to try my luck on google.com with the following search: “FUCKFUCKFUCKFUCK.” To my surprise, I came across this entry on a website dedicated to allowing folks to post their own micro graphic novels based around pictures of chainsaws. While the particular entry I found which lead me to the website was a rather dull and uninspired piece of self-loathing (which was, admittedly, somewhat appropriate at the time), a number of other entries on the site were pretty good. I particularly liked the website of one of the authors who has apparently lost his frog.

Anyway, I wrote my own micro graphic novel for the website, which I have included in its entirety below.

A Chainsaw Spirit
By Ferret
http://www.scruta.org
There exists in every man a forest of troubles. It is filled with dark, gnarled trees – the inner thoughts, habits and predispositions that prevent him from seeing the sunlight, the bright lights in himself and the world. Luckily, however, the forest is not impenetrable. There exists in all of us a chainsaw spirit, capable of clear cutting everything in its path, given time and enough fuel.
To take down a tree, you have to start on the smaller limbs first. You may see the trunk, and wishing to get to the heart of the problem, cut there, but don’t. The tree will topple more quickly, but the presence of its many limbs will cause it to become entangled with the other trees around it, far above the reach of your chainsaw.
When you have removed all the branches and limbs, the leaves and sticks, throw them in a pile and start on the trunk. Due to its size, you’ll need something to hold its weight while you cut it into little pieces. Don’t think that you can tackle this problem by simply laying the trunk on the ground. The chainsaw can slip and cut you instead of the wood.
While cutting the trunk, focus. This is the time when the chainsaw exerts the most effort, and you need to apply more pressure to make sure that the cut is straight and true. Focus. At this point, the only things in your mind should be you, the chainsaw and the wood.
When a tree has been cut, burn it in the fireplace of your soul. In its destruction, you can already feel new warmth lingering in the sudden, flickering light where there was once darkness. You smile knowing it’s a change for the better. The forest of troubles now contains one less member.
Complete this task as many times as necessary, and you will see the light.
posted by ferret at 8:55 pm  

Friday, December 18, 2009

Being in the Airport

“To answer transcendent questions in language made for immanent knowledge is bound to lead to contradictions.”

- Schopenhauer, “The Indestructability of Being – 8″

I’m sitting here at the airport in Pudong in the business class lounge,

Watching the suited salary slingers kicking back with newspapers

Fresh fruit salad, fried noodles, coffee and worldly conversation,

And I’m thinking about myself.

I’m here with them, but I’m not here with them.

+++

There is a part of me across the sea now

With the land that gave me life

That strange working of processes

Of East Coast winds and cities carrying the names

Of long forgotten indigenous tongues

That saw the birth of idealistic paradigms of governance

In the ricochet of gunshells and the wild whoop of riches

Desire, desire in its basest, most productive form

That brought my mother and father together

That brought their parents to prosperity

That instilled in me this spirit to move West

So far West it became East.

+++

Were you to ask me who I am,

I would say that I’m neither here nor there

Neither in the East nor in the West

Neither businessman nor poet

Neither a gun-toting rube

Nor a saintly charity worker.

And yet, much to my consternation

I must assert I’m all of them.

posted by ferret at 12:52 pm  

Saturday, December 12, 2009

New Words: Swale and Shirring

Swale

Shirring

posted by ferret at 5:41 pm  

Friday, December 11, 2009

Great Powers

China will be the next great power.

The 21st century belongs to China.

Nothing can stop the rise of the Chinese juggernaut.

+++

I hear these pronouncements daily now

Like a mantra spoken religiously to this idol of the future

By pundits and publishers, financial wizards and frenzied technocrats

Doctors and drunks, politico-poets and pallid prosecutors

All of them gripped with expectation and envy.

+++

I still see China as the gangly son

Of some great althlete, whom everyone expects

To fill out in the course of a summer

And become a bone-jarring beast like his dad.

+++

I think more about this on the bus to Jing’An Temple

Shanghai’s newest city center with spindly skyscrapers

Popping up in dust and refuse like a bad case of acne

Unable to be restrained, a nuisance of development.

+++

The TV on the bus is playing the third report in my memory

About the newest talking magpie or parakeet that says:

Nihao, zaijian and byebye.

Although last time, it was nihao, zaijian and hello.

I guess people at the last featured bird spot

Were more fond of saying hello than byebye.

Maybe the shopkeeper was an asshole

And byebyes weren’t necessary.

+++

The segment ends and another begins:

A girl who’s become a balloon-animal wunderkind,

Twisting up swords and flower bouquets

Bridegrooms and cartoon characters

In an awe-inspiring display of carnival-styled genius.

They ask the girl if she’s afraid the balloons will pop,

And she says she’s used to it.

Then it dawns on me:

These are the real trappings of power.

I’ve seen it all before.

Cutesy animal shorts and children’s tricks

Soon give way to interventions

Escalations, assertions of economic dominance

In order to ensure their continued presence

On the TVs in buses and skyscrapers

Promising their viewers that their pets

And balloon gifted children

Might claw their way onto the screen too.

+++

When I get off the bus at Jing’An

I see a young man in a beauty salon

Feeling his flexed bicep.

Despite his apparent lankiness

I can tell he puts pride into this brawn

What little of it he has.

As if there’s much more to come

And soon the world will have to take note.

posted by ferret at 11:53 am  

Thursday, December 10, 2009

New Words: Amanuensis and Obbligato

Amanuensis

Obbligato

posted by ferret at 11:26 am  

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

False Start #29

On my way back from an open mic tonight, I got into a conversation with the cabbie about American literature. It started after he mistook my backpack for a violin case and asked me if I played the violin.  I told him that I wasn’t playing any instrument because I’m really just a poet, and I’m only responsible for words. (This is a bit of a lie overall given my interest in folk guitar, but in this case 100% true. I ended up only reciting poetry over a jam session tonight.) After I told him about my literary ambitions, he started telling me about the four famous American authors that Chinese people read in school: O. Henry, MarkTwain, Theodore Dreiser, and Jack London. (I should note that it took me forever to figure out who the hell 德来塞 (déláisài, Dreiser) was. I attribute this to the fact that I was never a big fan of his works.)

I pointed out to him that all of these authors were at least 100 years old, and he said he knew. I asked him if he knew any contemporary authors, but he said he didn’t.

After he dropped me off, I walked home thinking: Maybe this is why Chinese people have such a hard time relating to Americans. They think we’re all Sister Carries and Huck Finns, Connectecut Yankees and hapless gift givers a-la-magi, but most of all – wolves.

posted by ferret at 2:44 am  

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Putting Hot Chinese Spyettes to Good Use

[FERRET, WEASEL and BADGER are sitting in a doughnut shop, writing content for a website. BADGER brings up the 2010 World Cup.]

BADGER

Did you hear? North Korea made the World Cup.

WEASEL

Seriously?

BADGER

Yeah. I bet they’re going to set it up so that the US ends up playing them. That’d be an ultimate match-up. Everybody would want to see it.

WEASEL

Yeah. That’d be pretty good.

FERRET

Did China make it?

BADGER

No. No way. How could they?

FERRET

Why is that?

BADGER

Why is what?

FERRET

Why is China so bad at sports like soccer and basketball when the country is so focused on it?

BADGER

They just don’t have enough black people.

FERRET

Seriously? Do you think that’s why it is?

BADGER

Of course, it is!

FERRET

I always thought that black people in America were better at sports because their culture emphasizes sport more than other cultures.

BADGER

Well, what about all the white people in America? There are plenty of white kids whose parents really push them hard to play basketball, but they aren’t as good.

FERRET

I guess. I’m willing to say maybe the entire distribution is shifted in favor of people of African descent a little bit when it comes to those kinds of skills, but overall the difference is marginal.

BADGER

But that’s the difference that matters! Look it, you’re only talking about the farthest outliers of any group of people. The players in the NBA are the best in the world.

FERRET

Okay, but still. Chinese culture traditionally doesn’t emphasize competitive sport as much as Western cultures do…

BADGER

Still, that doesn’t matter! The government pulls these kids out of schools when they are 8 years old to go and train to be athletes. Yao Ming’s parents were both basketball players, and he was raised to be that good. Why in a pool of over 1 billion people can you only produce one player really good enough to make it to the top? They just don’t have the genes.

FERRET

Maybe.

BADGER

That’s probably why they had hos go and bang all the basketball players when they come to get their semen.

[FERRET starts laughing.]

BADGER

Why are you laughing?

FERRET

Are you serious?

BADGER

Of course I’m serious!

FERRET

You think that they have hookers collecting the semen of LeBron James when he comes over here?

BADGER

Of course! Think about it. There’s got to be somebody in the Chinese Sports Bureau somewhere who’s thought of this. About how they can improve the gene pool and make super Chinese basketball babies.

WEASEL

Yeah. Then they give the sperm to female athletes to make super Chinese basketball babies.

FERRET

But they’d still be half black, and that wouldn’t fly with Chinese people.

BADGER

Then they’d breed them to look more Chinese over several generations. Or try to genetically modify DNA in stem cells or something.

FERRET

So you’re saying that some hooker is going to go in and do all of this?

BADGER

Not a hooker. Some Chinese operative. Like a super-spy.

WEASEL

Yeah, a super-hot Chinese spy. She’ll go in there and collect it from a condom.

BADGER

[making a quick flicking motion like he's removing semen from a condom into a test tube:]

Wha-cha!

FERRET

Are you guys serious?

BADGER

Dead serious.

WEASEL

They’ve got to be doing it now. Chinese superspies bangin’ NBA players to make the Chinese basketball gene pool better.

[There is silence for a moment as the absurd plausibility of it all sinks in, and then the three get back to work.]

posted by ferret at 3:19 am  

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Li and Zhou: Ao-Ba-Ma

[Li and Zhou are sitting in their office, busy at work, censoring as usual.]

Li

Ao-Ba-Ma.

Zhou

Ao-Ba-Ma.

Li

Ao-Bi-Ba-Ma.

Zhou

Ao-Ba-Ma.

Li

So what do you think of him?

Zhou

Ao-Ba-Ma?

Li

Ao-Ba-Ma.

Zhou

He’s okay, I guess. I liked Bush more. He wanted to make America strong.

Li

Hmm… I still don’t know how people could have voted for him. America is a strange place.

Zhou

But he’s very fierce, and there are many black people in America.

Li

More than half?

Zhou

I don’t know.

Li

It’s not more than half. Lots of white people voted for him, too.

Zhou

America is a strange place. Did you hear about the American in Yunan?

Li

The drug dealer?

Zhou

Ýeah. Apparently he burned down many buildings to save trees.

Li

America is a strange place.

Zhou

Ao-Ba-Ma.

Li

Ao-Ba-Ma.

Zhou

Did you hear about the miners?

Li

Which ones?

Zhou

Good point. Well, the ones that died that they covered-up.

Li

Oh, yeah, but it was bound to happen. Right before the Olympics.

Zhou

They still shouldn’t have done it.

Li

Did the officials have a choice? I suppose they could have spun it off about how China is responsible.

Zhou

Oh, it is responsible!

Li

You’re right. It is.

Zhou

And we’re becoming more like the West all the time. Did you see the one about the homosexuals?

Li

In America?

Zhou

In China! The report said that there’s over 30 million now!

Li

Wow. But only 30 million? I read somewhere that there are that many in America.

Zhou

Well, America is a strange place.

Li

True. Ao-Ba-Ma?

Zhou

Ao-Ba-Ma.

posted by ferret at 1:48 pm  

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

False Start #29

No sleep. No sleep. Not yet my boy, not yet.

Not as the idle knife grinders sharpen their teeth with anticipation.

Not as the weavers slacken their looms for cat’s-cradle games.

Not as the machinists play percussive troupe with hammers and widgets.

Not as the money-grinders malinger in bed, refusing to reckon sums.

No sleep. No sleep. Not until they sing.

Not until you give them a song.

posted by ferret at 11:29 pm  

Powered by WordPress