Belated Birthday

I do believe you think what now you speak;
But what we do determine oft we break.
Purpose is but the slave to memory,
Of violent birth, but poor validity;
Which now, like fruit unripe, sticks on the tree;
But fall, unshaken, when they mellow be.
Most necessary ‘tis that we forget
To pay ourselves what to ourselves is debt:
What to ourselves in passion we propose,
The passion ending, doth the purpose lose.
The violence of either grief or joy
Their own enactures with themselves destroy:
Where joy most revels, grief doth most lament;
Grief joys, joy grieves, on slender accident.
This world is not for aye, nor ’tis not strange
That even our loves should with our fortunes change;
For ’tis a question left us yet to prove,
Whether love lead fortune, or else fortune love.
The great man down, you mark his favourite flies;
The poor advanced makes friends of enemies.
And hitherto doth love on fortune tend;
For who not needs shall never lack a friend,
And who in want a hollow friend doth try,
Directly seasons him his enemy.
But, orderly to end where I begun,
Our wills and fates do so contrary run
That our devices still are overthrown;
Our thoughts are ours, their ends none of our own:
So think thou wilt no second husband wed;
But die thy thoughts when thy first lord is dead.

Hamlet 3.2.182-209
Belated Birthday

Tony Soprano

Tony Soprano: What I’ve Been Up to Since the Show

As many of yous recently heard, I’m still alive, despite those shady-lookin’ guys who were coming into the diner the last time you saw me, in 2007. That year changed a lot of things for my family and me—and, with all the recent discussion about what happened to us, I thought it was time to set the record straight.

First of all, I hate that Journey song, “Don’t Stop Believin’,” from the end of the show, and, after the power was restored following that massive tristate-area blackout, my daughter, Meadow, went over to the jukebox and changed it to “Umbrella,” by Rihanna, which was a big hit at the time.

Many of you may remember that my wife, Carmela, and I had been fighting for years, and that I was starting to feel real claustrophobic in our Jersey suburb. Carmela had gotten accustomed to that life style, but I decided that it was time to make a clean break, and headed to the Oregon shore, where I bought a little house and started going for long daily walks while listening to “This American Life” on my Android. Dr. Melfi, my shrink, came with me for a little while—you recall the palpable attraction between us—but I could tell that she missed the East Coast. Eventually, I said, “Listen, Jen, I really appreciate this, but I can tell that you’re miserable out here. Why don’t we remember the good times, like when you didn’t tell me about what that guy did in that parking lot, and I didn’t kill him by bludgeoning him for thirty-five minutes with the handle of an oven from a pizza shop?”

I was a little lonely after that, but not too bad…

Also…the original in-depth VOX piece is worth a read.

However the most amusing upshot of the article was VOX’s subsequent piqué une crise following SavedYouAClick’s Twitter spoiler; VOX and others immediately went existential, questioning SavedYouAClick’s right to live.

As bubbles in the bong water go, fairly funny. 1

Tony Soprano

Show 1 footnote

  1. Especially after Chase read the original VOX item and said “Uh, wait a minute: you keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Decline Celebrity

On a recent Alitalia flight from Milan to New York, a woman in a neighboring seat said, in Italian, to my girlfriend, “I didn’t want to disturb your privacy, but I couldn’t help notice you were reading Elena Ferrante. Isn’t it amazing?” Carol agreed and politely tried to resume her reading, but the woman needed her moment of ritual speculation about the reclusive author’s identity. “Everyone knows Ferrante is really a man,” she began.

When Italian columnists set themselves to the Ferrante mystery, they assume she must be famous for something else. For what other reason would one possibly decline celebrity? As Ferrante once said in a written interview, “It would not occur to any newspaper to fill a page with the hypothesis that my books were written by an old retired archivist or by a young, newly hired bank clerk.” Part of the point of her withdrawal is to show her country, with its reality shows and cult-of-personality politics, that celebrity — the universal, wrathful demand of the public for complete disclosure — might be graciously declined.

The books themselves are about, among other things, keeping things hidden, and how the partitions we erect permit us the comfort of multiple identities…

Elena Ferrante

Learn About Yourself

I’m not even sure I understood how lonely I was. I had friends back in the real world, but I never asked anyone to visit me. On some level I still didn’t believe that I could be lonely, even though it was staring me in the face, all day and all night. I genuinely thought that because I wanted to be a writer, that made me different from other people: mysterious, self-contained, a lone wolf, Han Solo…

The weather got colder. The bathroom situation was becoming a problem: showering was a Shackletonian ordeal punctuated by a brief scalding interlude. I couldn’t afford to keep the rest of the house properly heated either, so I stayed in bed a lot, drinking Bailey’s straight from the bottle. The house began to be plagued by flies that seemed to live in the walls. They were dormant at night, probably because of the cold, but when the sun warmed them up they came buzzing out in hordes, and I spent hours stalking around the apartment swatting them. One night in December, when the temperature went down to 15 below, I took off all my clothes and ran around on the lawn naked just to see what it felt like.

Maine was trying to teach me something, but I was a slow learner. I thought I’d gone to Maine to face my demons and turn them into art, but it turned out that I couldn’t face them, and not only that I couldn’t even find them. I was trying to write about what I knew, which in itself probably wasn’t a bad idea, but I was mistaken about what that was. I thought that what I knew most about was myself, but I could not have been more wrong. I didn’t know the first thing about myself, and Maine wasn’t going to teach me. You don’t learn about yourself by being alone, you learn about yourself from other people.

Learn About Yourself

A good writer

“To be a good writer, regardless of genre, is to wage a similar war against clutter. A writer’s job is to distill a lot of stuff down to its most potent elements. You have to edit out the noise that rattles through and complicates life in order to find some piece of truth that you then put down on a page and share with the reader. A good writer becomes an expert at separating what they want to write and what they need to write, occasionally stripping away beautiful sentences with a ruthless tenacity if those sentences aren’t a good fit for the piece.”

– Cord Jefferson

Rêves doux