“Thirteen Songs About Forgiveness”: Mockingbird

with some images of how to do it, when you need to: ...Given its origin in the blues, rock n roll, and pop music more generally, comes by its emotional palette honestly: desire, frustration, hurt, despair, sadness, anger—these are the primary colors of the form. There are gazillions of songs that plead for a second chance (“I Want You Back”), gazillions of songs of repentance and regret. There are gazillions more about standing one’s ground, about enough being enough. But forgiveness itself is d … [Read more...]

From Lionel Johnson, “By the Statue of King Charles at Charing Cross”

Vanquished in life, his deathBy beauty made amends:The passing of his breathWon his defeated ends. --whole thing … [Read more...]

From A. Bates, “Party Line”

(yes, I am reading a Point Horror '80s paperback about a 976 teen talk line. My summer is going great) Robbie started over to the Chevy and Mark, relieved, climbed into the Jeep. He'd been hoping for a four-wheel drive for his mother to get to work in the winter, but hadn't figured he had much chance of finding one in their price range. But if there was any hope of getting either of these cars, he wanted the Jeep.It smelled musty inside, reeking of old oil, mouse droppings and dust. The … [Read more...]

The Literature of Contempt: Some Rambling About DFW and Dostoyevsky

Over the holiday weekend I read through pretty much the entire Mockingbird archive of posts tagged "David Foster Wallace." Meanwhile I'm reading The Idiot for the third time (and finally retaining something other than the "worst thing you ever did" party game, I hope...) and slowly gnawing through Игрок (The Gambler) in Russian class. If you ever want to notice how super-contemptuous (презрительнейший! чрезвычайно презрительнейший!) both of these writers can get about everybody in the entire worl … [Read more...]

From David Foster Wallace, “All That”

This was the year, at five or six, that I learned the meaning of “reverence,” which, as I understand it, is the natural attitude to take toward magical, unverifiable phenomena, the same way that “respect” and “obedience” describe the attitude one takes toward observable physical phenomena, such as gravity or money. --whole story; rings interestingly against the passage from Infinite Jest about the Sergeant-at-Arms … [Read more...]

From David Foster Wallace, “The Pale King”

This remains largely theory, but my best guess as to [my dad’s] never dispensing wisdom like other dads is that my father understood that advice — even wise advice — actually does nothing for the advisee, changes nothing inside, and can actually cause confusion when the advisee is made to feel the wide gap between the comparative simplicity of the advice and the totally muddled complication of his own situation and path. I’m not putting this very well. If you begin to get the idea that other peop … [Read more...]

From Fyodor Dostoyevsky, “The Idiot”

tr Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky--letter written by a terminally-ill teenager, so Dostoyevsky is fully on-trend: First of all, there is a strange thought here: who, in the name of what right, in the name of what motive, would now take it into his head to dispute my right to these two or three weeks of my term? What court has any business here? Who precisely needs that I should not only be sentenced, but should graciously keep to the term of my sentence? Can it really be that anyone … [Read more...]