*On the topic of my noms de plume
by Josh Kimball
Hello! And welcome. This stupid little blog is fast coming up on two years of operation, and I thought I’d write a couple anomalous posts to mark the occasion. In a few weeks I’ll thank a bunch of MFers and throw around a bunch of Best Of links and generally be an idiot, but I first thought it would be fun to look back a little further.
As any regular readers of the ‘nerd probably know, for my day job, I write about all kinds of whacked out bullshit – the culture, the consumer, Slankets, furminators, high-concept schemas illustrating where our world is going, any and all of that. One of the pieces I wrote not too long ago was about my company’s new macrotrend (a macrotrend is just a construct for thinking about large chunks of consumer and cultural phenomena), called MultiMe. The piece is here, and it talks a little bit about the changing nature of and possibilities around identity today, using Twitter and my recent Twittercide as a road in. (My twitter self has since been resurrected, for any who care.)
The post itself and the idea behind it, along with a recent profile of David Foster Wallace in the New Yorker, got me considering the various selves I’ve left online over the years, and I thought it might be fun to revisit a few.
The topic of identity, of course, is a gnarly one, and I’d rather not get lost in too much nuance here. On the low-end of my multiple personality spectrum, though, is the simple work/life divide. In addition to writing in a wholly different voice for my day job, I now write (or “write”) the ‘nerd. I previously took a crack at daddy blogging on Dethroner, and I’ve left a thousand Web 2.0 accounts in my wake.
Long before all that, though, I used to write some super-psychedelic, head-splitting bullshit under a wholly different – not simply obscured – name. What pulled this out of the back of my brain was the recent New Yorker piece that talked about the central theme of “The Pale King,” the unfinished novel David Foster Wallace left behind. A quote:
“The novel [The Pale King] continues Wallace’s preoccupation with mindfulness. It is about being in the moment and paying attention to the things that matter, and centers on a group of several dozen I.R.S. agents working in the Midwest. Their job is tedious, but dullness, “The Pale King” suggests, ultimately sets them free. A typed note that Wallace left in his papers laid out the novel’s idea: “Bliss—a-second-by-second joy and gratitude at the gift of being alive, conscious—lies on the other side of crushing, crushing boredom. Pay close attention to the most tedious thing you can find (Tax Returns, Televised Golf) and, in waves, a boredom like you’ve never known will wash over you and just about kill you. Ride these out, and it’s like stepping from black and white into color.”
Cool, right? Anyway, that reminded me of the tiny, unread blog I used to write under a fake name way back in the day. The “author’s name” was Kelvin Gordon and his single goal in life was the pursuit of MONOTONY. (Make no mistake – I bear ZERO resemblance to the great DFW in any significant way, shape or form. The subject matter was simply the trigger here.)
Here’s one of the more coherent posts, which is about insanity itself. Another post, on the fictional event of my resoling a pair of cordovan loafers with the help of Vin Diesel, addresses the issue of monotony and what lies beyond it:
“As hammers flew, flung heavy in the humid air, the monotony, too, grew. There seemed no end to the repeated repetitions. There seemed no break, no divergence in time that was past (nor of time in the future foreseeable).
Monotony, as monotony so very, very often does, when experienced in its purest states, stretched forward and back in temporality, like the undulating waves of the humpback whales. Hammerfall. Hammerfall. Hammerfall. Hammerfall.”
The rest of the blog, such as it was, is strewn with sometimes-sensical talk about monotony (going much further and sometimes scarily deeper than the above example) and “the pursuit of the Sufficient Life.” Very few people, of course, read The Dinghy at the time, though I would urge you to look around (if you are insane). The only attention that particular collection of writing did receive was from a group of academics in a northeastern college – aligned with the L+A+N+G+U+A+G+E poets in some way, I think – who found the fracturing of the narrative amusing or interesting. Or something. Who knows?
Under the same name I wrote other stuff as well, including a RIVETING drama about TWO OWLS who want to kick each other’s asses, which I HIGHLY recommend that you read immediately.
Also, a story about COWBOYS titled “Salvation at the Flop” for a publication called Pindeldyboz from way back in the day. “It is night. The band plays. Fleas scream. Bullets om. Chips click. Piss tinkles. A chair scrapes. Wait. Wait.” That one, I may not even be embarrassed about.
There were some other things, but I have bored you enough for one day. Or for two years even. This, I think, is my payback for linkblogging. So thank you. When I return (and it may be a bit of time before I do so), I will “write” about MUSIC once again.
Thank you and goodbye forever.