This paperback copy of V was $2. I told the guy (Brent, at ADA books) that I’d been looking for a good edition of this for a while, and he said “well, ok, but this isn’t especially a nice copy”, and I was like “this is nice!”. Like “this is $2!”.
OK, another example, so I had a copy of Gargantua & Pantagruel that I had been reading at the laundromat, It’s a perfect book for that. And when I went on tour I took it on tour, and then I left it at Ivy’s house, which is annoying but maybe someone picked it up or will pick it up, it’s a funny book to have lying around to get opened at random by strangers. Or anyway strangers who I could imagine being friends of Ivy. Or it’s propping up a table. Anyway it was like a Penguin classic so rather than try to get it mailed back I thought whatever I’ll just get another one for $4 or whatever. Anyway, later Ben Franklin’s was having a big sale and I got a psuedo-nice edition for a song basically, leather bound with gilded edges. But, it was like, too serious, or precious, and I didn’t feel right throwing it in my laundry bag or bringing it to the beach, and at the same time the paper was this fake parchment, and the footnotes transcribing the Latin shit comedy were absent (this is where the Latin shit jokes in Mothers News came from a few months back.
Anyway, it’s a classic, but this edition was too “I’m a classic” and self-serious… people like to act like writers of the past weren’t fun and crazy and experimental and just doing whatever they wanted to do and maybe it’ll work. It was stodgy and irrational and not fun to read. Also it had seemingly never been read, which sucks, the pages were all chalky, it was like those people who buy leatherbound books by the yard for a real-looking study… so I bought another shitty paperback, with the good footnotes, for $3, and now the leatherbound one lies totally inert on the shelf.
So you treasure shittiness.
I treasure a kind of shittiness. I use this phrase a lot: “wiggle room”. When something is shitty or well read, or lived in, or whatever you want to call it, there’s room to get in there and move around. When I was a kid I had this bike, and I wasn’t into bikes the way people we know are into bikes, I was 9 or something, I just rode around. Anyway for a variety of reasons we won’t go into I ended up with a nice bike, and not to be dramatic but the cost of the bike was impressed on me. I was aware that it was an expensive thing. And as a consequence I didn’t do the stuff I wanted to: ghost ride it down a hill, skid way out, leave it in the rain, not worry about it getting stolen… Nick had a bike that was a total piece of shit and it was way more fun to ride… Nick’s bike had wiggle room. It’s funny, i’ve been watching a lot of movies with Socko… you know what her favorite movie is, all time?
It’s Terminator. The first one. “Terminator: Just”.
I asked her what she liked about it, she said something that really blew my mind. She was like “it’s a peaceful, easy-breathing feeling”. Can you believe it? This is Terminator! I had to triple check we’re talking about the same movie! What she likes about it, and bear in mind that she’s a classically trained pianist, who has rejected that, and feels oppressed to some degree by the scale, anyway this is my understanding of what she likes about it, is that the movie was just… made. Like, it was “just made”. Not like it was recently made– like “Let’s Just Make A Movie”. It’s a good movie, great even, but it’s not “a great movie” like tortured authorship debt to the world etc.. They had an idea, they made a movie, I mean they wanted to succeed, but it’s a strong and interesting genre film, that’s the domain. It’s great without reaching, wanting, or in many ways getting, in this way that might seem rare if you’re mostly around “great art”.
So anyway, I bought this (V) and then I’m waiting outside Nick’s house, and it starts raining, and I sit under a tree and read. And I’m under the tree but I’m still getting stray drops, and then as it turns out I stay under the tree too long, it had well stopped raining but I’m still getting rained on just because the tree is like drying off. Anyway the rain fell on the pages and it didn’t bother me, it was nice. But if I had a Traditional Nice copy, the book would’ve been unavailable to me at that time, and even a sort of stressor. Oh, also the book has 2 peoples’ names written on the inside, which is a nice feeling. And there’s one underline so far that I’ve found, hold on, (finds page)
OK. And it’s not underlined, it’s circled. Pretty funny. It can be nice to read an underline and know that that part might not be important to you, but it was the important part for someone. Like, “The World Is Wide”, or even “No Wronge Waye”, that feeling. Oh! Another thing, that’s specific to Pynchon, is that I guess he wanted at some point to be a songwriter? So in all of his books there are these little songs written out. I always wonder, did whoever had this book before me try to sing the songs to themselves? And did the melodies they had to write to sing these songs, did they get anywhere close to the melodies I wrote? That’s a nice thing to think about… There’s this address scribbled in the back, I was thinking about writing them… there’s a name but it could be either a business name of a hippy name… wait, let’s (I’m pausing to look this up on Streetview) and…
I need to get that “String Smoker sings Pynchon” tape…
As of yet I do not write in my books, but I’ve been thinking I should start… get a little stamp or something, but the PO box in it… Sometimes I really like when there’s writing in books, sometimes it pisses me off. I both love and hate getting a book and there’s a passage underlined and then next to it it says “so true” or something. I like when people write their names in it, that gives me this feeling of continuity. Maybe I like when people underline because it drives the price down? I got this book about the Qabalah from the library, it was underlined (actually hi-lited) HEAVILY but only on the first two chapters, then nothing. I was like “these are clearly the marks of a dilettante.”. It was nice to read well past that section.
Speaking of writing in books, I bought a copy of Swamp Thing, excuse me, Man Thing, #1 from the comic book store, and this is not an especially rare or sought-after book, but it was 95 cents, which I found curious. Then when I bought it and looked inside, and I never open the bag before buying, I found that it was written in, but the writing was an autograph of Steve Gerber! That’s the guy who wrote the first 30 Man Things, which are good, plus Omega the Unknown, which is really excellent. But the emotional value went up as the monetary value went down, that’s extraordinary. Forrest Ackerman had a first edition copy of Dracula that is not only signed by Bram Stoker, it’s signed by EVERYONE who has EVER played Dracula! I imagine that Bela Lugosi’s signature would drive up the book’s market value, but I like to think that Frank Langella’s signature would probably be treated as graffiti from an appraiser’s standpoint. “Uh, can we restore it to it’s pre-Langella state?”. Christopher Lee I love, but I think his signature has neutral fiduciary buoyancy in this case, like it brought it down as much as it brought it up.
I bought a copy of the first Suicidal [Tendencies] record the other day from Armageddon, and it was $4, and I told Ben [store owner] that I had been looking for the LP, because the CD version they rerecord the songs years later, and it’s like, too confident? Anyway he said “well, it’s $4 because… it’s pretty partied”. ! I was like “that’s OK, i’m just going to party it myself”. He said “Oh yeah, I mean, my copy’s partied too. I partied it”. I told him I didn’t mind getting a pre-partied copy. It was cool, a real “I’m no snob” feeling. And he was right, the record isn’t trashed per se, but it is definitely partied.
Well, it’s not like there’s potato chips in it or anything, it just uh, “shows signs of wear”. But it’s like the Dracula book sort of, just the Dracula book… has perfect evidence of the ideal party. Even down to gate crashers and people you kind of maybe don’t want to hang out with. Or you don’t know if you do. Oh! OK now we’re just listing things, but Handsome Matt Smith had I think a Slade LP I always coveted with Marijuana seeds folded into the spine. That rules…
Anyway, the point is, these things are in the world. Not like they’re alive or anything, but they are in the world, and they allow room for you, and they suggest movement. It’s nice to think of having only really nice things, But, it’s like after I had that bike, I told myself I should never have things I can’t just burn. Which still allows for me to have nice things, but it’s like, I want to never be afraid to use something to its capacity. The knife that the astronauts took into space is a serious affair, thousands of dollars, specific design, but an astronaut also has no compunction about throwing it full force at some space face if that’s what the situation calls for. That purity of hand can be difficult to access. The beauty of not nice or mezzo-nice things is that… wait, what’s that word?
I’m looking up the word.
Visualize this taking a while but not a super while.
“Wabi-sabI (侘寂?) represents a comprehensive Japanese world view or aesthetic centered on the acceptance of transience. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is “imperfect, impermanent and incomplete”. It is a concept derived from the Buddhist assertion of the Three marks of existence (三法印, sanbōin?), specifically impermanence (無常, mujō?).
Characteristics of the wabi-sabI aesthetic include asymmetry, asperity (roughness or irregularity), simplicity, economy, austerity, modesty, intimacy and appreciation of the ingenuous integrity of natural objects and processes.”
“The Three marks of existence, within Buddhism, are three characteristics (Pali: tilakkhaṇa; Sanskrit: trilakṣaṇa) shared by all conditioned things, namely: impermanence (anicca); suffering or unsatisfactoriness (dukkha); non-self (anattā).”
May 12, 2011
Tags: armageddon sun, astronaut, classics, Dr Ackula, dracula, genre, getting rained on, hippy name, latin, Man thing, Maurice Champagne, Mothers News, No Wronge Waye, OK, paperback, pynchon, rabelais, shit comedy, shittiness, signs of wear, streetview, Suicidal Tendencies (band), terminator, underline, wabi sabi, wikipedia, YELLING
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