. . .

Intermediate Hedonics

“For my own part, indeed, I never permit the slight appearances of a pending shower to interfere with my engagements; being convinced, that, not only in the serious, but even in the more trifling pursuits of life, one ought not to be lightly driven from one’s purpose by casual circumstances or frivolous inconveniencies.”

Now this was a sentiment so entirely correspondent with my own, that had it been uttered by a bearded Jew, an Æthiop, or a wild Arabian, I could have hugged him to my bosom, and have hailed him instantaniously as my friend.—“For an Englishman,” continued I, “has too many caprices of his own, turning him continually out of the path of resolution, to suffer those of his climate, also, to thwart his intentions, and prevent his pleasures. And wisdom, permit me to observe, does not so much consist, as some surly old philosophers would persuade us, in despising Pleasure, as in being, as far as Human-Nature will permit, independent of contingencies and accidents in her pursuit.

“Your Peripatetic, therefore,” continued I— examining my dress, which was by no means calculated for the circle of St. James’s, “should accommodate himself accordingly.—They who would allure this universal mistress by the spruceness of their exterior, may dread lest the threatening shower should damp their ardour; but he, who depending only on the vivacity of his own fancy, and the sprightly effervescence of his passion, dares boldly approach her in a threadbare coat of rusty sable, has nothing to dread less formidable than an absolute storm in the centre of a houseless heath….”

- The Peripatetic by John Thelwall

. . .

Intermediate Hedonics

She cried, "All this to Love and Rapture's due;
Must we not pay a debt to Pleasure, too?"
- John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester

Why do we care about these dangly or tucked-away bits? Why should we even notice them?

Because they give pleasure. In fact, we're unlikely to be capable of seeing an anthropological sample, or a piece of commercial trash, or amateurish thrashing, as art until our interpretation of that something-else-in-the-kinks flips from "a mistake" to "a pleasure."

Hey, I'm no Johnny Greencarnationseed. I understand that the motive forces of life include much more than happiness, and that happiness includes much more than pleasure, and that most intense pleasures exist outside the aesthetic realm.

But philosophers are right to so often treat hedonics and aesthetics together. Art, being both in some sense external and in some sense non-utilitarian, definitively outlines pleasure in a way that other triggers do not. When a mathematician, for example, talks about a proof as beautiful, what's meant is not just that the proof exists aside from any application, but that its existence gives pleasure.

If we were a more rational species, "Form follows function" might be merely descriptive; what makes it instead a prescriptive aesthetic is the delight the prescriber takes in the resulting form.

. . .

Intermediate Hedonics

"You must learn to choose between right and wrong."
"Right and wrong? But how will I know?"
"'How will he know'! Your conscience will tell you."
"What are conscience?"
"'What are conscience?'! I'll tell ya! A conscience is that still small voice that people won't listen to."
- The Blue Fairy, Pinocchio, Jiminy Cricket
In practice it is seldom very hard to do one's duty when one knows what it is, but it is sometimes exceedingly difficult to find this out. The difficulty is, however, often reducible into that of knowing what gives one pleasure, and this, though difficult, is a safer guide and more easily distinguished.

Why I should have been at the pains to write such truisms I know not.

- Samuel Butler

Pleasure, like pain, is a signal to pay attention.

Attract the attention of a verbosely analytical person and you get verbal analysis. Pleasure is not the only thing in life. It's not even the most important thing. But for a critic it's the pertinent thing.

And so I've been puzzled by its absence in most academic criticism, perhaps because such euphemisms as "jouissance" and "cosmic laughter" make me queasy. As critic, it seems to me I have a singular code of ethic: To remain true to pleasure, no matter how embarrassing or inconvenient that may be. To betray that is to betray the entire enterprise. I can no more know what's going on in art if I ignore pleasure than I can know my own sexuality or my own diet.

I realize, of course, in an unhappy sort of way, that not everyone feels that way that for some people, sexuality is what it would be dangerous not to profess, and diet is what they've had all their lives in abundance, and what's artistically interesting is what's come out most recently, or what everyone in their social set is talking about, or what they need to advance their career, or what they've been assigned to review. And clearly I can't agree with Kant that the Beautiful is somehow more universally valid than the Pleasant, or follow the tenuous corollary that greater Universal Beauty is carried by art that is scrubbed of all but artiness. For someone in my unattractive $20 shoes, aesthetic relativism, like ethical relativism, isn't just another doctrine on special in the marketplace of ideas, but an obstinate fact that must somehow be lived with.

When it seems I assault the validity of your pleasure, I intend only to express my own pain. It genuinely saddens that Spielberg never fulfilled the promise of Sugarland Express and genuinely infuriates that Saving Private Ryan so gulled me. Conversely, what are we supposed to do when someone argues against the possibility of taking pleasure in Frank O'Hara? Need we sully our cause by championing it on the villein's own chosen battlefield? Or can we nod and smile and leave the laborer sweatily building their model-hell-kit in model-heaven-kit's despite? My own impulse is to point towards my pleasure and state (firmly but politely, toujours the lady): "Nevertheless, it moves."


Un regard oblique directs us to an appropriate bit of foreword by W. S. Merwin.

Jordan Davis writes:

There used to be a parlor game (back when we had parlors): assigning personality type according to the phrase that comes to mind when O'Hara's "Personism" manifesto is mentioned. You have your "Mineola Prep" and "they do may" types needing to be reminded when they do and do not control a situation, your "bully for them" and "only Whitman and Crane and Williams... are better than the movies" people suffering from excessive well-adjustment (probably not standard English), your "nostalgia *for* the infinite" and "life-giving vulgarity" people (probably the best poets of the bunch), and of course your "not Roi, by the way, a blond" and "Lucky Pierre" types, who went to Brown.

As for Aaron of Godofthemachine and his dubious "poetry scans" proposition, generally I find I'm better off not striking up a conversation with someone with fists raised to strike me.

Aaron himself protests he's no fighter, even if he's not always a lover. So far I follow him, having denied that dichotomy in the paragraph that linked him. He also protests that his attacks on (what seem to him) artlessness have nothing to do with pleasure, art being a discipline akin to civil engineering. My dissent is the topic (such of it is) of this (meandering and frankly disappointing) series: Art is unknowable except by pleasure; when previously held notions of "what's allowed" can't take into account one's pleasure in an artwork, it's a sign that the notions need to be rethought, not that the art is bad; the critic's noblest job is to undertake such rethinking, John Latta on O'Hara a convenient case in point.

. . .

Intermediate Hedonics

I beg the reader to boycott the scurvy misnomer of "price hedonics." Purchasing is driven not by pleasure but by desire. (In what sense is planned obsolescence pleasurable?) Properly, economists should instead refer to "consumer epithymetics" or "consumer bulimics" or "pornometrics."


Lawrence La Riviere White previews the Advanced course:
Here's a reason I've avoided thinking about pleasure: it leads on to another term, energy. What a dorky word, old-fashioned, vague, encrusted w/sins of the previous century. But I can't get away from it.

Because pleasure in writing isn't always pleasant. Here we get to the great advancement Freud made over the previous rationalist psychologies: sometimes pain is pleasure. Freud of course bedeviled by mechanical metaphors draws these pictures of drives & objects, which crudify the whole thing, but his fruitful confusion of pain & pleasure shows us how the energy level, the psychic wattage, as it were, of the feeling might be its most important quality.

Psychoanalysis, I believe, has some nice pictures to help us understand motivation. & like all pictures, they have their limits. Lacan's jouissance is more sophisticated than Freud's ego psychology, but it is still a limited picture. There's more wonder in Spicer's poems than dreamt of in the Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Criticism & Theory.

Making (insert here a dirty big etymology of poetry) requires motivation, and motivation shapes making. Poetry works at a level where the motivational energy remains close to the made thing. With the poem the mantle is thin & you can feel the magma heat bleeding through. Of course not everything that calls itself a poem has this heat. Some are just rocks.

Pleasure in poetry, the pleasure that gets at the heart of the matter, seems a nervous thing, a low buzz, a dull glow on the horizon, the tooth's ache you cant help prodding.

Surrealism (psychoanalysis' idiot brother who started a rock band & has all the fun) breaks the mantle to get at the hot gooey stuff.

And then wisely appends:

As a pre-emptive modification of my previous post, lava-love is not the only pleasure to be gotten from poetry. To take a bad example, back in the day when Robert Hass was my everything, I found his poems pleasing fantasies of the cultured bourgeois life-style--gnostic frisson included!--I thought I was working toward. It turned out to take a lot more work than I was capable of.

There are obviously many different pleasures. The ones that interest me the most are the ones difficult to name or describe. I mean, I'm not totally lazy.

As the conscious justification of art changes from place to place and time to time, so does the pleasure: it may be the pleasure of collaboration; it may be the pleasure of exercised vigilence; at its worst, it may be the pleasure of the snapped trap, or of simple flattery. What keeps it an aesthetic pleasure is its source in irreducible object.

Like most critics, I overemphasize those pleasures for which a vocabulary has already been defined. But that still small voice nags and tugs, and quotes the last Martian broadcast: "My vocabulary did this to me." Which is when it seems important to write something about Hogg or Charles Butterworth.

White continues the discussion:

I thought of yet another version of pleasure unconsidered in my hypothesizing, & this one is kind of the 800 lb. gorilla: how the poem or the book can itself be an object of desire, obsession, hysteria. Again I would like to talk about motivation: what drives the critic? What are they trying to do? Plenty of my fellow grad students wanted to make the world a better place. They thought that reading potboiler novels from the 19th century was part of a progressive, liberatory program for the present. I disagreed, but at least it's a nice idea. But texts became tools. I on the other hand am still troglodytic, & these books are magic and mysteries. I want to use both terms in a religious sense: these books have powers to which I am in thrall. & the greatest sign of their power is the pleasure I get reading them. It will come as no surprise that as an adolescent (a state that lasted well past 30) I tended to make minor deities of my crushes. Lots of poems about girls. There are obviously many problems w/my way of thinking about things. But there also seem to be problems w/the other ways, & I'm not a really good impersonator, so I might as well work on improving my act. I will never make top billing at the local burlesque, & I'm certainly not getting to Hollywood, but it beats mowing hay.

All of my thoughts about poetry & pleasure seem to translate quickly into erotics. Surely this slide marks one place where the larger culture--"Who is the girl wearing nothing but a smile and a towel / In the picture on the billboard in the field near the big old highway?"--influences my thoughts on the smaller culture--"I have my books and my poetry to protect me." In any case, my thoughts bear a particular aspect, & when I see that I think there must be other aspects I am blind to. In other words, someone else could have a very different & equally true way of looking at it.

Update, 2017-12-29 - Thirteen years later, hedonics in the news:

The brain does have pleasure centers, but they are not modulated by dopamine. So what’s going on? It turns out that, in the brain, “liking” something and “wanting” something are two separate psychological experiences. “Liking” refers to the spontaneous delight one might experience eating a chocolate chip cookie. “Wanting” is our grumbling desire when we eye the plate of cookies in the center of the table during a meeting. Dopamine is responsible for “wanting” – not for “liking.” For example, in one study, researchers observed rats that could not produce dopamine in their brains. These rats lost the urge to eat but still had pleasurable facial reactions when food was placed in their mouths. All drugs of abuse trigger a surge of dopamine – a rush of “wanting” – in the brain. This makes us crave more drugs. With repeated drug use, the “wanting” grows, while our “liking” of the drug appears to stagnate or even decrease, a phenomenon known as tolerance.

. . .

Intermediate Hedonics

I wish they wouldn't call me “a hedonist”; it produces such a bad effect on the minds of people who don't know Greek.
- Walter Pater to Edmund Gosse

International Masturbation Month having just ended, we're well acquainted with the limitations of solitary pleasure. Among more social pleasures, bullying and torture often predominate. George W. Bush displays the lineaments of gratified desire more plainly than Allen Ginsberg even did, and I dislike him more as well.

So, no, hedonism is not enough. There's a reason humanity went to the effort of developing concepts like responsibility and shame. It's less a philosophical foundation than an empirical corrective.

Lingered over, sought out, often emphasizing what we'd do anyway, pleasure doesn't necessarily surprise us. Nevertheless, being above all else a signal, pleasure performs individuating and anti-systematic functions. It humanizes the humanist, puts the spring in Springfield, wakes the drowsy and dopes the knotted. Regular dosages are particularly recommended for guilt-ridden bible-thumping natural twisters such as, to take the example closest to hand, myself: in George Harrison's beautiful phrase, "a stuckup, up-tight, tight-assed asshole."

If my profile is at all typical of those whose life was saved by rock and roll, we deserve our poor reputation. Still, it's not like we'd be less creepy without our little inanimate friends. Hedonism is what's missing from Adorno's jeremiads, and he seems no more simpatico for its absence.

* * *

As Lawrence White has already commented, where there's pleasure, desire follows. And aesthetic desire, like all desires, can turn bad in a hurry: a regent who dungeons the prince. Of all the "there but for the grace of pleasure go I" monsters that torment my dreams, the collector may be the scariest, what with the full weight of corporate capitalism pushing aesthetes toward that reassuringly simple, communal, and self-destructive role. Again, close attention to what's attracting our attention is the best (or at least the cheapest) prophylactic I know.


That scene in 'Deliverance' where they're in the canoes and Reynolds' character Lewis yells "...Drew was shot!"? That's us too. And the Ned Beatty incident as well. And the church even, jacked up and lifted to higher ground. That Dickey was a diabetic isn't pertinent exactly, though it may have some relevance I can't get to right now. Used to have a mint set of Django Rheinhardt 78's from the 'Hot Club of France'. Now it's 'Third Watch' reruns shared communally with the rest of America.

Mikarrhea has anticipated me.

. . .

Intermediate Hedonics

"Pleasure is no fun."
- Jean-Luc Godard, Vivre sa vie

Even with all my caveats, have I oversimplified? A bit, maybe, for correction's sake, remembering that occasional attention to a corrective is all I hope for. Only a saint makes career of conscience. I'm grateful to saints as a limit point, but when I conscientiously notice where I get most pleasure, I prefer the criticism of fellow sinners, unable to either deny or dwell in the light. Beatific extended verges on soporific, with blessed exceptions.

Which reminds me that I neglected attention when I listed the cognitive science topics most germane to aesthetics. To exercise one's attentiveness is a pleasure in itself, a significant reward-and-goal in all mammalian play, human art included. (That's why they're called "novels.")

Not all pleasure is interesting. Are all interests pleasurable?

Aversive interests we tend to call "compulsions." Some remain unwelcomely productive across a lifetime my waspish temper, across my own. Others can be resolved by admitting to their pleasure, as in the archetypal narrative of discovering one's sexuality. A focal shift effects hey-presto! as quickly as a cat turns on the soothing hand.

Pleasure and pain are "opposites" like bitter and sweet, rather than like acid and base: additive, not contradictory. On goes the Tabasco sauce; on goes the hair shirt. We feel conflicted; we feel like a conflict.

For myself, few pains seem more aversive than boredom. While such sensitivity's common among critics, it's not true of everyone. Artists of my acquaintance demonstrate a much higher tolerance for tedium. Sometimes even an appetite.

A good thing, too. Chefs may be guided primarily by their knowledge of pleasure, but the operation of cooking's rarely pleasurable in the same way. And chefs have other obligations: to not kill anyone, and, for some cooks, to not leave the diners feeling ill for weeks on end.

. . .

Questions of Turbulent Velvet

1) "It's all good and well to love your artifact, but why write to express your love for it?"

Because I am a river to my people. It's a small people cute as a handful of buttons but then it's a small river.

To put it another way: I don't write to the Heathers. I barely write to any public at all, as my poor editors used to bemoan. That's OK. Writing isn't oral tradition. It doesn't need a steady stream of oxygenated blood. Being stumbled over's the extent of my ambition.

To put it another way: Talking to myself is a poor substitute for conversation. Talking to the walls, or the page, or the screen is another poor substitute. But when those two substitutes get together (faint bass in the background)... they're about to discover (music begins to swell)... that they just might have to say (vocals kick in): "The Love I Saw in You Was Just a Mirage." No, wait, "I Like It Like That."

To put it another way: I wouldn't deny the thrill of spitting confrontation, or the increased attention with which it inevitably rewards me. Similarly, we get more attention when we break our child's arm than when we tuck our child into bed. Only a sociopath would take comparative levels of public attention as a guide through life.

Sociopathy is, as we've both noted, the sole spiritual goal currently approved and propagandized by our corporate fathers, a sociopath being the sole personage a corporation can convincingly mimic. And, as you've noted with special force, our weedy academic uncles mostly support that goal. Thus the need to explicitly remind myself of explicit reminders of slightly-less-sociopathic pleasures. Not that I believe that anything as piddly as an artist or as piddlier as a critic makes a lick of difference, but now's the season for empty things.

To put it another way: A vice that makes us better human beings is best renamed, no matter how minute the good effect or how greatly the renaming inconveniences our formulae.

Or, to put it another way: Where my attention's drawn, I become curious. But I'm constructed (or misassembled) in such a way that the only way I can feel I've understood is through words. If I don't write the words, they keep nagging the noggin. It's not heroic, it's chronic.

To put it another way:

—Goggins, you're the flamingest dirty devil I ever met, do you know.
—I had it on my mind to say that, Goggins answered firmly. It did no one any harm, did it?
Fff! Oo. Rrpr.

Nations of the earth. No-one behind. She's passed. Then and not till then. Tram. Kran, kran, kran. Good oppor. Coming. Krandlkrankran. I'm sure it's the burgund. Yes. One, two. Let my epitaph be. Kraaaaaa. Written. I have.



2) What's all this about "pleasure"?

A manly sentiment. Almost Nietzschean: "Thou goest to cozy sofas? Do not forget thy whip!"

(What heavy metal band was it wrote a song boasting about how quickly they ejaculated?)

I want to take your word on it. But was there really nothing but mechanical reflex behind that word's satisfying snap, tang, and closure? You took no satisfaction in its shaping? Then it seems unfair that I take such satisfaction in its shape.

When a living writer asks Why write? or Why live?, they handle snakes. Making is inherently pleasurable, even if the line between pleasure and painful necessity remains mercifully unfixable, even if that pleasure is easily diverted and diversified. Like gravity, it's a comparatively weak force with comparatively visible results.


Pleasure is nature's bell. To get the spit out. The spit's the thing.

T.V. continues to find marrow in the bone here and here.

And, by email, here:

I used to bury them in the backyard, but was too dimwitted ever to find them later.

Growling, wagging, we do what we can to save the world.

My moral ambitions do tend toward the doggish (though not the dogged more chihuahua than pitbull). The Tutor interpreted "stumble over" as in drunken bum, which is fair enough, but the pet lying obtusely in the path from bed to bathroom was part of the image, too.

. . .

Intermediate Hedonics

The last word for now goes to the self-publishing crank:

One can bring no greater reproach against a man than to say that he does not set sufficient value upon pleasure, and there is no greater sign of a fool than the thinking that he can tell at once and easily what it is that pleases him. To know this is not easy, and how to extend our knowledge of it is the highest and the most neglected of all arts and branches of education. Indeed, if we could solve the difficulty of knowing what gives us pleasure, if we could find its springs, its inception, and earliest modus operandi, we should have discovered the secret of life and development, for the same difficulty has attended the development of every sense from touch onwards, and no new sense was ever developed without pains. A man had better stick to known and proved pleasures, but, if he will venture in quest of new ones, he should not do so with a light heart.

One reason why we find it so hard to know our own likings is because we are so little accustomed to try; we have our likings found for us in respect of by far the greater number of the matters that concern us; thus we have grown all our limbs on the strength of the likings of our ancestors and adopt these without question.

Another reason is that, except in mere matters of eating and drinking, people do not realize the importance of finding out what it is that gives them pleasure if, that is to say, they would make themselves as comfortable here as they reasonably can. Very few, however, seem to care greatly whether they are comfortable or no. There are some men so ignorant and careless of what gives them pleasure that they cannot be said ever to have been really born as living beings at all. They present some of the phenomena of having been born they reproduce, in fact, so many of the ideas which we associate with having been born that it is hard not to think of them as living beings but in spite of all appearances the central idea is wanting. At least one half of the misery which meets us daily might be removed or, at any rate, greatly alleviated, if those who suffer by it would think it worth their while to be at any pains to get rid of it. That they do not so think is proof that they neither know, nor care to know, more than in a very languid way, what it is that will relieve them most effectually or, in other words, that the shoe does not really pinch them so hard as we think it does. For when it really pinches, as when a man is being flogged, he will seek relief by any means in his power. So my great namesake said, “Surely the pleasure is as great of being cheated as to cheat”; and so, again, I remember to have seen a poem many years ago in Punch according to which a certain young lady, being discontented at home, went out into the world in quest to “Some burden make or burden bear, but which she did not greatly care —Oh Miseree!” So long as there was discomfort somewhere it was all right.

To those, however, who are desirous of knowing what gives them pleasure but do not quite know how to set about it I have no better advice to give than that they must take the same pains about acquiring this difficult art as about any other, and must acquire it in the same way that is by attending to one thing at a time and not being in too great a hurry. Proficiency is not to be attained here, any more than elsewhere, by short cuts or by getting other people to do work that no other than oneself can do. Above all things it is necessary here, as in all other branches of study, not to think we know a thing before we do know it to make sure of our ground and be quite certain that we really do like a thing before we say we do. When you cannot decide whether you like a thing or not, nothing is easier than to say so and to hang it up among the uncertainties. Or when you know you do not know and are in such doubt as to see no chance of deciding, then you may take one side or the other provisionally and throw yourself into it. This will sometimes make you uncomfortable, and you will feel you have taken the wrong side and thus learn that the other was the right one. Sometimes you will feel you have done right. Any way ere long you will know more about it. But there must have been a secret treaty with yourself to the effect that the decision was provisional only. For, after all, the most important first principle in this matter is the not lightly thinking you know what you like till you have made sure of your ground. I was nearly forty before I felt how stupid it was to pretend to know things that I did not know and I still often catch myself doing so. Not one of my school-masters taught me this, but altogether otherwise.

* * *

To know whether you are enjoying a piece of music or not you must see whether you find yourself looking at the advertisements of Pears’ soap at the end of the programme.

- Samuel Butler, Note-Books


Spinning the self-publishing crank: BLOG = Brautigan Library Online Glory-hole

God breaks a long silence:

Anywhere at high noon

I would also have quoted from Joseph Kugelmass's "The Assault on Hedonism" (Part 1, Part 2) if he hadn't written it three years in the future, where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives.

. . .

With, Around, or Over?

Etymology all round humps fecundity and pleasure together with smacking, fidgeting, flicking, scratching, messing up, and sweeping across. Only Old English seems to have prioritized the homey fuckbuddy (which I admit warms me towards Tolkien), and only French the kiss.

Even a preposition isn't always enough to disambiguate. Is the fucking off we confess to the same fucking off we demand of others?

* * *

I see chess as an allegory for life. The point is it's a contest between two opponents.
- Weldon McDonald
Because problems are the poetry of chess. They demand from the composer the same virtues that characterize all worthwhile art: originality, invention, harmony, conciseness, complexity, and splendid insincerity.
- Vladimir Nabokov

Journalists call them both chess "masters". But as I remember Vladimir Nabokov considered himself more problemicist than competitor, whereas by all accounts Marcel Duchamp played a vicious semiprofessional game.

Could that be why chess supplanted Duchamp's artistic career but nourished Nabokov's?

* * *

There are at least two ways to get a game wrong:

  1. Refusal to stay within the bounds of the game.
  2. Inability to see outside the bounds of a game.

The second mistake is more dangerous, since it's more often made by winners, and their rewards usually come from outside the game's bounds and the players' expertise in a large nonrenewable fee after a boxing match, for example, or in journalistic attention after a bestselling novel, or in governmental control after an election.

* * *

Mixed emotions and two left feet. This is a peculiar dance, and like everyone else I step it peculiarly.

As spectator of aggression, I love the graceful conviction of martial arts films, but I can't fill the imaginative gaps left in superhero comics or pro wrestling.

As actor, "I like it but it don't like me." I get the kind of kick from public elocution that people other than Cole Porter get from cocaine, but the rebound's fierce. Between the crush of doubtful conscience, a low boredom threshhold, and a hair-trigger temper, I'm worthless or worse at anything but the smallest-scale cannon-fodder political actions. Similarly, despite my self-evident pleasure in pontification, I'm unable to teach when coercion or grading are involved.

In both cases, skills relevant to a game are more than offset by my distracting awareness of conditions outside the game proper.

Which makes me a very unprofessional player.

It doesn't make me a player hater, though. Our society depends on good politicians, good teachers, and good propagandists. What makes Tom Matrullo's shylockia ridiculous is his implication that political games are novel, rather than an inevitable aspect of representative republics.

What makes him outrageous is his acquiescence to game-for-game's-sake: the refusal to acknowledge that a game is more than a score and that a life is more than a game. Whether a reporter is "partisan" or not hardly matters when all the pages are sports pages, when a voter's job is not to save themselves but to pick the most attractive contestant, when a senator's job is not to avert a health care crisis but to beat Clinton. All three branches of federal government are now made up of high-fiving high-scorers. The destruction of my country simply doesn't register except as winnings.

I led such a quiet life. Then somehow I woke up and found myself married to Mike Tyson.


kari edwards draws an unpleasant connection between this unpleasant post and the unpleasant image on the title bar:

your gender graphic seems to be the same cheap "trans" gender joke that shows up in the mass media, such as sheik 2... this is a cheap joke as the expense of a population that is the target of hate crimes.

and if it is so so funny.. replace it with a person of color, or someone with a disability-.. and if not, why not? why is gender the joke? are you not just reenforcing gender stereo typing from a phallocentric gaze...? some on.. this is on the same level as george bush's ruse on gay marriage..

Another reader, another correction:

The destruction of the idea of your country. Right before Grandmasters comes Ghosts. Wasn't Parcheesi the one where you could let other kids play too?

Or, more cautiously still, the destruction of my idea of my country.

The destruction of our idea of our country. I need the reminder at times. Other times I need a minder. Matrullo is calling you "Ray" as familiar or opponent? I couldn't get that from either context. Things are heatin' up. Get that belt on.

I hardly ever wear a belt. But it's easy enough to give me one.

And here to do the job is another nightmare husband:

Arnold Schwarzenegger, the weight lifter and Hollywood actor turned California state governor, accused the state legislature of being "girly-men" and called on voters to "terminate" those that oppose his budget plans at the polls, California news media reported Sunday....

Key provisions of the Governor's budget proposal include school distribution of steroids and Viagra, new subsidies for L.A.'s plastic surgeons, and mandatory sexual harassment insurance.

A sheik joke for John le Bischop, finding his own corrupt flesh remembered long after its integrity got relinquished; who, filled with whatever that is, used his position to generate steam of a kind, the unnatural repression of natural inclinations, dubbed un- while he indulged them. Love the sinner hate the sin; love the baby, hate the act that brings it into being. Flicking is suggested for the mosquito, after smacking, as the smear so common among the thoughtless causes release of bodily fluids, hers, which can be pathogenic to the smearer, as the dermis is breached immediately prior, being the cause of the smacking itself. And remember, she's just trying to feed her kids.

Impressed by the cut of my gormlessness, Candida Cruikshanks offers me a chance at a capon gown.

As if I wasn't already having a bad hair day, another reader pours scorn upon my head:

Natterless bumpkins.

As we both know, we don't come here to watch me bemoan what we call "personal life." In default of anything better, here are a late addition to the Milly Bloom discussion and a warning to avoid installing Yahoo Messenger 6.

An anonymous grader at the School of Love gives me:

amores 3.7

No more summer sessions, hurrah!

Adam Kotsko approves.


Copyright to contributed work and quoted correspondence remains with the original authors.
Public domain work remains in the public domain.
All other material: Copyright 2015 Ray Davis.