copyright 2009 - 2013
Walks with Mway is a novel that parodies a blog (and at the same time a blog that parodies a novel), using the blog form for its structure and medium of publication. The main page matter, the posts, and the comments are all parts of this original work (certain news reports and other materials that have been written by others have been appropriated, to a limited extent, for artistic purposes). Since this blog novel is a literary work (literary though it explores the realm of the “subliterary”), it must be remembered that all the statements that appear in it are the expressions of fictional characters. When the blog opens up on the computer screen, it appears in reverse-chronological order. To follow the narrative of the work, the posts should be read in chronological order, and the comments appended to each post should be read as they appear..
Recently something happened to me (which I’m about to relate here) that caused me to look over my novel “A is for Australian Blue Heeler,” which I hadn’t looked at since I posted the final chapter on December 24, 2011. After I finished reading that work of letters (which, if I do say so myself, I enjoyed reading quite as if it had been written by someone else) and before I closed the website, my eyes accidentally fell upon this post. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. It’s tolerable to have my original work appropriated into a larger work of one who is my master (after all, this accords with my own stated intentions and desires), but to be deemed a fictional character – this calls for a comment of protest. There may be something to my master’s description of writing as a “body transfer” – a process, if I understand him correctly, that entails an ontological change enacted between cause and effect, source and destination. However, the assertion that “all the statements [in this blog] are the expressions of fictional characters” places me on the same footing as the Gingerbread Man, or any other imaginary character, Stephen Dedalus say, neither of whom was able to make, ex cathedra obiter dicta de hors-texte, a comment about the narrative he found himself in – my very act of commenting here proves the difference between them and me. In short, things are still happening to me; I am still an “I” with a future. And recently – what a thing happened to me! Moi and Gregor took me on a trip in the car somewhere! Not to Lenny the monster’s, nor to KFC, as Moi has done a couple times lately. This was a trip in which, after looking out the window and watching the countryside speed by for a while, I actually felt like I was left home alone and had nothing to do but curl up on the backseat and eventually fall asleep. Whenever the car slowed down or turned a curve, I poked my head up and sprang to my feet – the countryside was still passing by. Finally, after what must have been a half a day, Moi and Gregor pulled over to stop somewhere. I was standing ready to leap out, but instead of letting me run free, they slapped a leash on me and had me mulling over a parking lot bordered by a strip of bland grass which I only reluctantly peed upon. Then it was back in the car, and another long sleep. A road atlas was propped against the back seat, but it was wedged in tightly, and it wouldn’t have helped me if I could have consulted it, for even though signs abounded along the highway, my nearsightedness prevented me from reading them. Finally, another stop, another strip of uninspiring grass. Then finally, and this was a third “finally” (who knows how many “finallies” I was to encounter?), we ended up at what I was only later to determine was a Comfort Inn. People of dubious character milled around parked cars and waste containers, an automatic sliding door entranceway threatened to crush me to death every time we passed through it, and, foremost, I was consigned for I did not know how long to a narrow hotel room with a carpet that smelled too much of soap, an air conditioner that made it hard to hear what was going on outside, and a door that latched with a click and thud that forebode an indefinitely long imprisonment. Periodically Moi or Gregor took me outside. I managed to claim a spot behind a dumpster for toiletry purposes, and Gregor eventually walked me down a dirt road which, first assuming it might lead to the creek and clearing at home, I followed enthusiastically, only to be disappointed when we hit the impasse of a heavily traveled highway. Gregor found a stick which he dropped in front of me but which I, tasting an aluminumy dust covering it, promptly discarded.
What was I to make of all this? Had Moi and Gregor decided to live in this hotel room for the rest of their lives, a fear which spurred me to bark several times as they were leaving the room without me and also to scrawl a complaint or two on the hotel’s comment pad, which complaints I on second thought scratched out, because, if I was not happy, I had to admit that I was at least comfortable -- the inn did live up to its name, at no time was I in any greater danger of my life than I might be at home (except perhaps when going through those sliding doors), and a desk attendant had even given me a biscuit a couple times as we were passing through the lobby? But why had they not brought the cats along with us, why had they only brought me along on this trip? Why, for the first time in my life, did they even take me on such a long trip? Was it unreasonable for me to think that they had taken me somewhere where I was to receive some sort of recognition for my work in writing “A is for Australian Blue Heeler,” if not an award of some kind, perhaps at least a dinner – perhaps those biscuits the desk attendant threw me were such a dinner? Well, it doesn’t matter – the point I’m trying to make is that the trip was a dramatic demonstration of the position I continue to find myself in, even though we’re all now back home, a position where I must constantly think “what’s going to happen now?” Fictional characters do not have to think this, at least at the end of their narratives – or if they do, they do not think it at the level of intensity I do. MM.
There may be no better evidence of cognitive incoherence between parallel universes (whether those universes are brought about by walking through a monkey vine portal or by simply writing something down) than what’s revealed by this post. Certainly if I had wanted to write a novel (or a blog, or whatever this thing is) full of solely fictional characters (as The Author claims to have done), I would have chosen a name other than Sisyphus Gregor for the blogger (a name as implausible and unrealistic as that of Stephen Dedalus). I would have chosen something like, say, Greg, for the first name, and, for the full name (picking the first plausible-sounding name that pops up right now in my head), say, Greg Burgess, Gregory Burgess, Gregory T. Burgess – a common enough name, I’m sure, if you looked it up on the internet. The same holds true for the names Moi, Boy, Jazz, and, of course, that most improbable of names -- Mway. Whatever the nature of this blog, whether it be a novel, a work of art, or not, and whatever the ultimate outcome, it has always been concerned with looking through the play of signs toward the referent. I hope this calms down anybody worried about her ontological status.
Today Moi got me a birthday card, signed by her, the kids – and you, MM. It’s a rather disturbing card, don’t you think? Published by American Greetings out of Cleveland, Ohio, it has a cartoon on the cover by someone named Coverly, which shows two dogs, one seated on the floor looking up at the other, who’s seated on an office chair and reading something off a computer monitor. A caption in the top left-hand corner says “DOG BLOGS.” Below the picture is a caption of what the dog is reading: “’He slept. He ate. He barked at stuff. He went for a walk. He pooped…Geez, it’s like he’s living my life!’”
Perhaps to further show that my focus is on the referent – or perhaps because I simply find it hard to let go of this blog – I’ve decided to append here a series of emails between Moi and me, which we’ve exchanged since she’s gone to a Red Cross staging area in New Jersey to help the victims of Sandy. Besides – and I’m addressing you, MM -- on the off chance that you might peek again at this entry of my blog – maybe you’d like to know where Moi’s been the last few days. Emails appear in the next three comment boxes:
Sent from my iPhone.
I'm glad to hear it. When I saw how techy the rental car was, I got a little worried that you'd have difficulty with it. Did you get lost at all? How many times did you go round that cloverleaf? I suspect you'll have a lot to do tonight settling in and everything. I just took Mway for a walk, fed the chickens. Didn't find one egg. I miss the fire in the wood pellet stove -- seeing it would make me feel like you're home here. But don't worry about me, just enjoy your trip.
I'll call you about this. Sold arran to fiddle kit. Can you mail it out? I gave them all made out.
Sent from my iPhone
I'll be working out of Piscataway, NJ. Am staying at the Hyatt in Princeton. Good buffet dinner tonight. Stir fry beef with fresh ginger and garlic. Salad. Potatoes. All you can eat. $15. Open till 10:30 pm so that all the workers get a chance to eat. So far I gave the room to myself. Moi
Sent from my iPhone
Send one to this address
1322 F_____ Drive
A_____, IL XXXXX
I'll call to tell you more -moi
Sent from my iPhone
They're in the yellow room in the big orange box all packaged. Put some bubble wrap around it, Manila envelope. Have weighed at post office.
May cost $2.10 to mail first class save receipt no insurance or delivery. Information.
Name is for J_____ B_______ address in other email
Sent from my iPhone
The only box I find in the yellow room is one filled with empty jewel cases. Help.
Look in that brown cupboard
Sent from my iPhone
Thanks, Sis - that's $12 in the family bank.
(Attachment – photo.JPG) Outside of Perth Amboy, NJ in a Walmart parking lot.
Sent from my iPhone
(Attachment – photo.JPG) At the hotel. -moi
Sent from my iPhone
Looks like I'd be at home there, a bird to look at, and a piano to play.
The powers that be do consider this on par with Katrina . Have t seen much devastation though I. The areas we're working. See LOTS of geese!
Sent from my iPhone
They closed the kitchen I was on so am being moved to Middletown NJ by redbank. We were there with the kids, remember? I'll keep you posted. Am meeting some really good people - all kinds! Moi
Sent from my iPhone
This is one of the birds I think I saw at the feeder today. I was looking at this one bird, with a little line of rust color below its wings, like you say you saw the other day. I noticed it also had a little tuft on its head. Found a picture in Audubon that I think fits it. It's said the tuftheaded titmouse likes to hang out at feeders with other winter birds.
I just sent you an email, which maybe you've already found. Yeah, I found Middletown on the map, just a few miles from Red Bank (I remember taking the Boy there when he first became a Kevin Smith fan, visiting the convenience store from Clerks -- also the birthplace of Count Basie). Are you still staying in a hotel in Princeton?
Yeah. Still in Princeton but am being reassigned - again.
Last night was much busier at the tavern than the last time we were there. A full table, with a woman who was having a birthday, right next to the piano, a full table against the back wall, and a private party in the back room, plus others. I think I read a tally of 54. Berkheimers were there, and I explained to them you were on a hurricane mission. I was able to play Unchained Melody for Mrs. Berkheimer, because, with some foresight, I brought along a fakebook that had the melody line.
I was pretty excited to be able to identify that tufted titmouse yesterday. I've heard and have been amused all my life by the name "titmouse" and now I know what one looks like. I saw several again this morning. Yesterday, while I was fixing my breakfast, I looked out the window and I saw the feeder was empty and thought "hell, that's another chore for me to do." But after I filled it up, it's amazing all the birds that came: black-capped chickadees, the titmice, the redbellied woodpecker, another woodpecker that I think might be a downy woodpecker, cardinals, bluejays, and various sparrows (which I'm still working on trying to identify the various kinds. I even saw a blackbird with a brown head -- was this a brownheaded cowbird? I looked a long time at the redbellied woodpecker to see if I could actually see red on its belly. I read in Audubon while I was doing my journal that the red on the belly is seldom seen in the field. But it seems to me that there should be some sort of red on the belly that can be seen. I'm not sure if I saw red or not.
This morning I took Mway all the way down to the creek since it's going to be a long day for her. I saw, running up from the creek, one (maybe two) deer.
After only two days the feeder on the cherry tree is empty -- I guess I'll fill it up in little while, but that's a lot of bird seed. I found a hen, almost hidden in the newly laid straw, sitting on an egg this morning. I grabbed it out from under her -- I don't think she could have been sitting on it for more than a day. Down at the creek, where Mway and I walked this morning, I saw a great blue heron. It was sitting on the creek past the wire fence, on Hutchinson's land. It only raised itself up a foot or two above the water and headed up the stream bed, not flying high in the air into the field, so I think it found a place where it won't be so disturbed. I have the day off -- it's Veterans Day and the courthouses are closed. I realized this morning that it's probably not so easy to compose an email on your iPhone. Were you able to hook up with your friend from Oregon? It has gotten very warm here -- would be too warm to run the wood pellet
stove. I'm still wearing a sweatshirt I put on a couple days ago, but I think I'll take it off and don one of my Hawaiian shirts.
Laurie called, left a message on the machine. She didn't leave her number. Sounds like she just wanted to chat.
Thanks. I called her. I think they'll be shutting down earlier than two weeks. So might be home for T day! Moi
Sent from my iPhone
Hi, so they took me off ERV and stuck me in the canteen at headquarters in new Brunswick because I told them I wouldn't drive on the expressways without a really good navigator. They were going to give me the guy that I lead to HQ the first day. He's a nice enough guy but was more lost than me. It's very noisy at HQ - lots of workers puffing their feathers. I don't like serving them food and would much rather be out on the road. Also it's up 6 flights of stairs and because I can't stand to be in a small room with lots of people always talking I have cramps in both my legs from going up and down stairs. If they could do without me I'd just as soon come home.
Sent from my iPhone
I'm sorry to hear they took you off the ERV and put you in the cramped canteen. I watched CBS news last night, and though Sandy is no longer the top news, they ran one story focusing on a woman in south Queens (somewhere along the shore) whose modest house was wrecked inside from flood waters. She has no insurance to cover her loss, and FEMA is only giving her $1700 or something for repairs. Seems like it's still a mess all over that area. Things seem to be going a little better of late, however, in the Delta Quadrant. The Voyager crew built a stronger and faster shuttle craft. It got caught in an ion storm and was tossed down onto an M-class planet and buried beneath four miles of rock, but just as oxygen was running out for the Away team, they were found and saved.
Yeah, we'll it seems it's winding down here in NJ - people got their power back and gas is no longer rationed. I hate working in the canteen- small, hot, too noisy, not enough to do so I half pitched a hissy fit and they sent in mental health so maybe they' ll just send me home. If they could find me an outdoor job hauling stuff that would be ok but I don't like working here at headquarters. Whatever.
Sent from my iPhone
At A Glance
Hilton Times Square is a sleek, boutique-style hotel that was built in 2000 and soars 44 stories above Manhattan. This upscale, full-service landmark hotel is located on famous 42nd Street in the heart of Times Square, and is steps from Broadway theaters, lively nightlife, New York City’s best shopping, Restaurant Row, Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum, Ripley’s Believe It or Not, Rockefeller Center, Radio City Music Hall and much more. Boasting a modernistic façade and sweeping vistas of New York City’s famous skyline and the Hudson River, the hotel has been recently renovated and is walking distance to Jacob Javits Convention Center and all major subway lines.
Hilton Times Square offers 460 of the largest standard size guest rooms in Midtown with spectacular panoramic views and high-end amenities including 37-inch flat screen televisions, laptop-size safe, MP3 players and more. Zagat-rated Restaurant Above overlooks Times Square and is open for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Enjoy Pinnacle Bar, the hotel’s chic lobby lounge. Stay productive in the 24-hour business center or work out in the fully equipped 24-hour fitness center.
Moi had returned from her Red Cross mission a few days ago, worn out and dejected by her experience. But a few days later she got a call from the local coodinator asking if she’d be willing to volunteer for another assignment. This time she would report to the Red Cross center on 49th street in Manhattan as an ERV driver. She accepted the new assignment, but when I questioned her about whether or not she could put up with driving on the expressways around New York, about as confusing I would imagine as those around New Jersey, she became worried and anxious. She spent a day agonizing about whether to go or not. I eventually told her that it would probably be best for her, and the Red Cross, if she cancelled her assignment. She called her coordinator, and explained how she felt, but the coordinator told her if she refused the assignment, the Red Cross would never call her again on a national emergency. She hung up, feeling like a failure. I took Mway for a walk. When I arrived back, she told me the coordinator had called her back, had told her she understood how she felt, and that she would be reassigned as an ERV loader. This morning I drove Moi to the Avis rental place, and she drove into Manhattan this afternoon, finding the Red Cross center okay. She called me a few minutes ago to tell me she was staying at the place above. She’s getting together with the Boy for dinner.
Compiled from my memory.
I should be there with them.
Service animals allowed: Yes
Pets allowed: Yes
Sorry. That should have been Anonymous said….MM.
Somewhere in this blog, I once commented that this blog of mine is “if nothing more, the best dogwalking and see-what-my-dog-can-do blog on the web.” I believe that’s still true – thanks to some extent, I must concede, to your avid reading and responses to it, MM. But the idea of dogs and blogs is apparently something very much in the air these days – perhaps in part because the words “dog” and “blog” rhyme. Not only is there that greeting card that I mentioned above, but last night as Moi and I were flipping through the channels on TV, we chanced upon a show on the Disney Channel based around a dog who has a blog. Here is what wikipedia has to say about that show:
Dog With a Blog is an American television sitcom that premiered on Disney Channel on October 12, 2012. It stars G. Hannelius and Blake Michael. Disney Channel has renewed it for season 2 as of February 4, 2013.
Avery Jennings and Tyler James are step-siblings from Pasadena who hate each other but come together in the pilot episode. The family faces an even bigger adjustment when they discover that their new dog, Stan, can talk and also has a blog, unbeknownst to the family. Stan uses his blog to discuss the happenings in the Jennings-James household. Avery and Tyler later learn of Stan's talking ability and agree to keep it a secret from their parents. If the family finds out that Stan can talk, they will take him back to the animal shelter.
The series premiere was watched by 4.5 million viewers.
There are a couple important things I want to ask you, but now I’m distracted by this last comment you made. Why do you bring up this TV show, as if it had some relevance to our enterprise here? I remember when the Walt Disney Company put out some decent children’s books: Lady and the Tramp, 101 Dalmations – I suppose these also dealt with the arrant fiction of talking animals, an idea as old as – well, you would have a better idea than I how old -- but somehow they seemed more grounded in reality. Beyond the talking dog idea, part of the premise of this show is even more ridiculous: why would a family feel compelled to take a dog to the animal shelter simply because it can talk? Plus there’s something very depressing about a dog blabbing about private matters. I’m glad I do not watch TV. MM.
One of the things I wanted to ask you about (I suppose the other things don’t matter, or I’ve figured them out for myself) is this: back at the last post of your journal, followed by the publication of my Z chapter, Moi commented “I have been reading your blog and find it riveting.” She doesn’t mention my novel explicitly, but do you think she meant to include it implicitly as part of what she finds riveting? MM.
Well, a “blog” necessarily includes all its parts. The comments to a post, wherein your novel appears, are part of a blog. So it would follow that your novel is included in what she finds riveting.
Do you know that none of the dictionaries in your office have an entry for “blog”? I had to go online for a definition. Wikipedia says “A blog (a portmanteau of the term web log) is a discussion or informational site published on the World Wide Web and consisting of discrete entries ("posts"). Because you seem to distinguish a “post” from a “comment,” I found this troubling, so I hunted down a definition of “post.” At merriam-webster.com, I find this definition (third entry, fourth definition): something (as a message) published online. This is far broader than your implied definition of “post,” sufficiently so to include the term “comment,” so I am convinced that the latter is part of a blog just as you say, despite the distinction (perhaps inadvertent) that you make. But what still troubles me is that Moi qualifies “blog” with the possessive pronoun “your,” “I have been reading your blog...,” highlighting your contributions to the blog, possibly to the exclusion of my own. I would feel better if she had written something like “I have been reading your blog and find it riveting, and I include Mway’s novel in my assessment.” MM.
I believe you’re attaching too much importance to the word “your.” It’s simply a casual, offhand way for Moi to refer to the blog. “Your” has no more significance than to identify which blog she is talking about.
Perhaps the way I rephrase it does sound a little stiff and formal. Still, if Moi merely wanted to identify the blog, she could have written “I have been reading the blog and find it riveting” or “I have been reading this blog and find it riveting.” “The” or “this” would not have drawn attention away from what somebody other than “you” has contributed. Indeed, in her prior sentence, she calls the blog “this blog.” She could then have simply written “I have been reading it and find it riveting.” Instead, she deliberately steers away from the all-encompassing terms “the” and “this” and chooses one, which, by contrast, has a more selective focus. MM.
Possibly a more selective focus – but not necessarily. The words “your blog” could encompass just as much as the words “the blog.” Again: Moi is writing in a casual manner. I think you’re according too much significance to word choice here. To know for sure that Moi deliberately chose the words “your blog” with the intention of discounting your contributions to it, I think you need some kind of additional evidence.
How about this? If Moi was merely being casual, it would have been far more casual of her to simply type the word “it.” That’s only two keystrokes compared to the four for the word “your.” Or she could have written “the.” That’s only three keystrokes, and the keys for those letters are clustered comparatively close together. Tell me she wasn’t deliberately being more deliberative by choosing a more difficult word to type out. MM.
Perhaps it wasn’t more difficult. Consider this: she had just made the keystroke for the letter “g” in the word “reading.” The letter “y” is right next to and just above the letter “g.” Could be it was just easier for her to hit that “y” and continue on with the word “your” than to hunt down the letter “i” farther to the right in order to spell out “it.”
But the “t” (the first letter in “the”) is right next to the “g” too. MM.
It occurs to me that we’re confusing physical efficiency with casualness and furthermore confusing casualness with conciseness. Casualness does not strive to be either efficient or concise. It frolics along without worry of taking extra steps. Look at the fourth sentence that Moi wrote: “You need to login in for me.” Obviously this contains a typographical error, which Moi didn’t even bother to correct. So it seems to me you’re worrying about a subtlety in word choice that was far from Moi’s concerns.
Perhaps Moi was causal in the first part then decided to be more deliberative in the last sentence. There she could have written – I think we definitely agree – either “this blog,” “the blog,” “it,” or “your blog.” I would submit that she also could have written “your and Mway’s blog” or “your blog and Mway’s novel” (there are numerous other permutations, but let’s just leave it at that). So if she was just frolicking along, as you say, she would have had (at best) only a 1 in 6 chance of stumbling upon the words she does. Note also that in the last sentence she dispensed with contractions. Previously she had written “I’ll help”; here she wrote out “I have been reading,” a sign of formality which presumes a greater concern with word choice. MM.
Your analysis wrongly accords an equal likelihood to the word phrase choices. Moi is, after all, addressing me. That means she is far more likely, without thinking too much about it, to write something using a form of “you.” Look at all the “you’s” in her previous sentences: “surprise you,” “You need,” “For your,” “help you,” “You.”
That’s the crux of the issue, isn’t it? Why is she only addressing you? And there’s my Z chapter right above her comment, hanging like a bee around her head. How can she ignore it? (By the way, the bee metaphor here might have cropped up from my recent peeks into a book of Jonathan Swift’s writings, lately fallen to the floor behind your armchair.) MM.
Thanks for pointing out the fallen book. Wood must have knocked it down clambering to a favorite hideout of his on top of the bookshelf. I guess I’ll leave it on the floor for a little while longer. But to get back to what Moi is saying in her comment. Seems to me we’re going in circles a little. I’ll try to sum up my argument – which is what you want to accept as true anyway, right? Moi calls the blog “your blog,” focusing upon me, because I am, after all, if not the sole contributor, the originator and administrator of it and because it was around Christmas time and she’s addressing me specifically about a gift. There’s no reason to read anything more into it.
I don’t believe we’re quite going around in circles. I’ve pointed out that my Z chapter is right there for her to see, the last thing for her to read, the most noticeable thing for her to comment upon. Not to acknowledge it explicitly under those circumstances! Yes, I’d like to believe otherwise, but I cannot help thinking that this means that, unlike your journal (or whatever you want to call it), she found my novel to be somewhat less than “riveting.” Tell me I’m wrong! MM.
OK, look at it this way. Granted Moi could have chosen the words she chose as a means of snubbing you. It’s a reasonable inference. It’s a possibility given the circumstances you point out. But it’s not a necessary inference. Is it even a likelihood? I’ve pointed out plenty of other circumstances that make it unlikely: she’s addressing me, she’s thinking of binding the blog and turning it into a Christmas gift. With those things uppermost in her mind it’s most natural that she selected the words “your blog” – meaning nothing more than “the blog,” with your riveting novel as a part of it.
Sorry, I forgot it was your turn to say something next, MM. I’ve deleted my comment because it doesn’t add anything new to what I said above. Your turn.
Thank you. Here’s my response to what you say above (while you’re sitting on the toilet and Moi’s going in and out the door carrying jugs of something or other she’s gathered from the trees and is boiling up on the stove). I don’t like those terms “it’s most natural,” as if Moi were just a bee flitting from flower to flower or a spider building her web. Indeed, even a bee shows a certain amount of deliberation in selecting a flower to sip, a spider doesn’t unthinkingly build a web just anywhere. Moi had the opportunity to say something about my novel. I don’t think she was bound, in the words she could choose, to the circumstances of the moment. Even if she didn’t explicitly acknowledge my novel in the comment she made for the reasons you say, she could have done so in a subsequent comment, saying something like “Oh, and Mway’s novel – I really think that was riveting too -- what an accomplishment!” That she didn’t do so means something. But, on the other hand, I’m willing to concede your basic argument that it’s hard to prove a positive from a negative and that right now there’s just not enough evidence which decisively outweighs other evidence to the contrary to infer conclusively that, by not explicitly acknowledging my novel, Moi intended to communicate that she did not like it. For how could she not have liked it? – that (it suddenly occurs to me) is the best argument to support your argument, which, though I’ve been arguing against it, is what I actually want to be my argument. MM.
There you go, MM. That’s a safe assumption. How could she not have liked your novel?
Is it a safe assumption? MM.
Well, I suppose like many (if not all) assumptions this is one that’s not quite self-evident, and there’s an argument that must be made to support it. But I think it’s a strong argument. It goes like this: although you can tell from the books she keeps in her bedroom that Moi likes stories that are told in a more or less straightforward fashion (she enjoys word play so long as it forthrightly supports and clarifies content and does not get carried away), and although she’s not a big fan of the work of any of the historical personages you enlist as characters (indeed, as you might know from when she stomps on the floor if I’m playing bebop or similar jazz for too long on the piano in the music room below her bedroom, the rhythmic jumble and dissonance of modern jazz just sounds like traffic to her and makes her nervous) – despite these “although’s,” I would think that Moi would like your novel because it is, after all, a dog story, and Moi loves dog stories.
And she likes other animals too – and plants, rocks, water, dirt, the sky. There’s plenty of that stuff in my novel. But perhaps I should have put some chickens in it. I know Moi is awfully fond of her chickens. I could have thrown some chickens in my C chapter – but I didn’t because I didn’t see that they were appropriate there, and I only put in my novel what was appropriate. I did put “cats” in there, but only in the American slang sense meaning “man.” I thought about having some feline “cats” dropping into sight when Cosmological Constance makes her entrance, but again that would have been an unnecessary complication of the plot. Now that I’m thinking about it I see I could have included “fiddle” in my F chapter, which would have made Moi happy (I didn’t because at the time I was focusing on pianos, trumpets, and didgeridoos – I can’t think of everything all the time). It’s too bad that the content of comment boxes can’t be revised because I can see now where I could have fit “fiddle” in. I guess the best I can do is post an erratum stating that line four of F should read: “Finnegans fiddle, fumble.” I regret I didn’t put that in before. I hope this lack of a fiddle was not a big factor for Moi, and, if it was, I hope this makes up for it now. MM.
Please don’t bring up things to be regretful about – I myself have perhaps written more things in this blog than I should have, certainly more than I originally intended, and at the same time not enough. To make matters worse I can’t even commit myself to these regrets – thinking maybe they’re something to be regretful about in the short run, but in the long run “it’s better to have written something, rather than nothing” or “it’s better to have spilled the milk, than never to have had milk at all” – I don’t know what I’m saying.
But my novel is still something Moi must have liked? We’ve been saying: “how could Moi not have liked it?” MM.
When I first read her comment, on Christmas morning, it made me very happy. And even now, as I look at her comment again and realize she was probably being gently facetious in calling my blog “riveting,” I feel it was very sweet of her to say so.
See, now you’re talking as if she was just responding to your contributions to the blog! Maybe I’ll go crawl into my --- MM.
It occurs to me that our question “how could Moi not have liked my novel?” can be interpreted in different ways, depending on whether “not” or “liked” is emphasized by being placed in italics – unfortunately, it seems neither you nor I know how to make italics in these comment boxes – at least I don’t; do you? It seems to me we don’t even know what question we’re asking, and if we did we wouldn’t even be able to put it properly into words. MM.
Look, I believe it comes down to this: all we can say about whether Moi liked your novel or not is that we don’t know, so we might as well assume she liked it. And I bet she meant to single it out for praise in a later comment but got distracted by other things. You know what it’s like to be distracted. And, for chrissakes, it’s been over a year since she made the comment; I’m sure she’s moved on to other thoughts, and I think it’s time for you to move on to something else yourself. You – as well as me. For I’m also berating myself – I who seem to be stuck in this blog, opening it up every morning while I’m having morning coffee, adding a comment here and there thoughout last year, wondering if I should add even more to it this year. I have thought about adding more to it, but I wouldn’t want to write about anything stressful, just something while I’m gulping coffee to carry me away for a few moments from the cares and concerns of life (which I can’t keep up with anyway). Perhaps I could say something more on the topic of consciousness, which I bring up at one point but don’t get very far with – that would be fairly mindless. Perhaps I could present a reading of Sartre’s Being and Nothingness and spark a discussion of the baffling fact that people like David Chalmers (the current leading authorities on consciousness – see the wikipedia article on it) seem totally unaware of this book. Something like that perhaps – only (now that I think about it) I shouldn’t do it here, not in this blog. I should set up another blog – maybe even a real riveting one this time.
Though such a blog would (definitely in this case) not be riveting to Moi. I remember many years ago, back when we still had only one computer connected to the internet (hers), I would frequent Chalmers’ Consciousness Page and Moi, catching me going there, mockingly asked me, “Haven’t you yet figured out whether your conscious or not?”
Has it truly been over a year since I posted the last chapter of my novel? I guess it’s so – and I guess I must have been thinking about other things in that time too. For instance: of late Moi’s been carrying these jugs of – I suppose it would be sap – up from the trees and boiling it on the stove. She’s been letting me outside to follow her. Back and forth. Back and forth. What’s this all about? MM.
“Haven’t you figured out yet whether you’re conscious or not?” “Haven’t you figured out whether you’re conscious or not yet?” “Haven’t you figured out whether or not you’re conscious yet?” – I’m trying to decide how she would have phrased that (and I can’t believe that in my comment above I’ve written “your” instead of “you’re”). But to answer your question, MM: Moi’s been tapping maple sap and boiling it into syrup. And she’s been doing a lot of other things too. Working on an oil portrait of the Boy that he wanted for his birthday, for instance. And ice skating several times a week at an indoor rink in a nearby town – in fact, she’s just interrupted my train of thought here by telling me she’s sad that the rink will soon be closing for the season. What can I do but shake my head in commiseration then glance back at this page to give her the hint that I’m trying to write here?
Yes, I remember now, the Boy was here a couple days ago. I like it when he’s here – sometimes he throws stick for me and when I’ve got the stick clenched between my teeth he’ll grab both ends and spin me around in the air (something you don’t tend to do). But I don’t see him around now. MM.
Yes, he was visiting here for his birthday, but he’s gone back to NYC. To Moi’s and my relief, he didn’t ride back on his motorcycle because it was too snowy and windy. (You may have noticed that he bought himself a motorcycle this past year, which he’s been working on and storing in the outbuilding, covered up so the chickens don’t shit all over it. Unfortunately we don’t have a garage or any place where he can work on it, but he had a chance to take it to Ezra’s workshop where he took the engine apart, painted it, and put it back together. Yesterday or the day before, though, Moi found a bolt from it lying in our driveway – sounds like an important piece. I wish I didn’t have to think about this damn motorcycle of his. But I found a copy of Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance up in the attic, which I’ll give to him next time he visits.)
The Girl – I guess you call her Jazz – didn’t come to visit? MM.
No. She’s gotten a job as an assistant manager of a snowboard shop and I guess she wanted to go snowboarding while there was still some snow on the ground. Unfortunately it was not with Matt – I don’t want to go any further into this. I’ll just say this because it might interest you: at the house where she’s now living with her girlfriend, who has something like ten dogs and cats, she thought for a while that Spook had suffered a heart attack or something, but I guess the pathetic cat is still holding on.
What do you know about the word “dog-ear”? I’ve been thinking about this curious word for a long time now and it’s been on my mind again of late. Perhaps I could take a break from being a novelist and investigate the etymology of this word and discuss its inappropriateness as a metaphor. It’s a bad metaphor, don’t you think? Not all dog ears are bent downward like the “dog-eared” page of a book. MM.
Yes, that sounds like a good idea, and I can help you with it (also there’s something about your one ear I’d like to explain to you). Only let’s not do it here. We can discuss dog ears in my new blog, if and when I start one up. Or if you can’t wait for me to do that, I’ll open up a word file in the meantime. Just one last thing here though (on this surprise-snow pre-Spring day) -- you asked about Jazz, but you didn’t ask about Atlas. Wouldn’t you like to know how Atlas is doing?
Feel compelled to add this (though it’s been a while, hasn’t it?): This past week in Wade’s New York Times Book Review I came across an article on Karl Ove Knausgaard and his succés de scandale, the autobiographical work Min Kamp, apparently published in the same time frame as this blog. I don’t think I need to point out our common situation and the similarities between his work and mine (admittedly I’ve only read excerpts of his work from a New Yorker review online). I would like to note this one difference though: A half a million Norwegians have read his book and his family is upset about the things he’s written about them (an outraged ex-wife, an angry uncle, an estranged second wife), and Mr. Knausgaard apparently feels pretty sick about this (and worried how his three young children will eventually react too). So I guess I can feel pretty grateful that hardly anyone has read my work here (how much, really, has Moi read?), and the one being who has read any significant portion of it has, in the long run, surely benefited more than suffered from what I’ve written about her – don’t you think?
Learned something this past week, feel compelled to mention -- something to disconcert the dog: Alphabetical Africa by Walter Abish, published 1974. Nothing new under the sun.
That was actually me trying to post a comment above. When I saw it didn't come up under my own name, I tried to correct the error by deleting the comment, but this has only made things more confusing. My apologies (especially to Beverley Conrad). I think I've solved the problem now, so this should come up correctly now.
What I meant to post on May 27, 2015 was this:
2002 - May 27, 2015
"There are new things under the sun every day -- and throughout the day."
And talk about new things under the sun, perhaps it’s now easier for me to mention this one new thing, as I’m sure Mway would want me to do. Actually I’m not sure she would, but it seems right anyway to mention it here. Obviously (or perhaps it’s not so obvious) Mway and I never got around to starting a new blog, the one in which I would discuss consciousness through a reading of Sartre’s Being and Nothingness and she would discuss the word “dog-ear.” Just never got around to it. And sadly, in the last six months of her life, she even stopped taking a walk with me. She had fallen down the stairs one day and never recovered, plus she developed a bad skin rash. She could only walk on quivering legs. Moi gave her prednisone for the rash, but this caused her to drink water insatiably. Both her ears now drooped, and she showed no interest in reading, just seemed content to lie in the room where I banged away on the piano. I felt her absence on the walks down to the creek, my only consolation being that if I did not feel like taking a walk I did not have to take one. And it’s sad to say that, after a while, I started to enjoy a certain freedom in the walks. I started lengthening them, stomping out new paths, even mowing the paths to keep them clearer of weeds. I have to admit: I did not miss throwing a stick at all.
Eventually Mway could no longer get up off the floor and had trouble breathing and we had Lennie put her to sleep. The very next day, after we buried her poor dogsbody in the ground next to the herb garden, Moi started looking around for another dog. “I can’t live without a dog,” “I’ve always had a dog.” “Love me, love my dog” (showing me the magnet sign from the refrigerator), are the things she said to me when I suggested maybe we should relax a minute and consider not getting another dog. I soon gave in, however – her birthday was coming up, I didn’t know what else to get her, she quite possibly couldn’t live without a dog and I apparently have been able to live with one. So this is the new thing, Mway, I feel I should mention. I know you had no great love for other dogs, but maybe you would like this pup (who just now pooped and peed here in my office). A Blue Heeler/Border Collie mix, named Snap (short for Whippersnapper), she looks just like you in the face, except for some black fur around her snout that gives her the appearance of having a big black nose. Both her ears stick up straight like yours used to do. A number of times already Moi and I have both absentmindedly called her by your name. In her body, though, she looks much like Blue, her fur black and smooth, not dappled and bristly like yours, and ending, not in a stub, but a long black tail, tipped white. She now accompanies me on my afternoon walks like you used to do, only our walks don’t end in a fetch but in a one-on-one bout with a soccer ball – talk about something new. And more like a rock even than a stick – oh, happy times.
It was only going to be a matter of time until they combined blogs and books right? I'd be interested to read this and see how that narrative style works out!
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