April 6, 2006

I love soda can pipes and life


candy darling, by gerard malanga, 1971

* the rude pundit on life in the house without Delay. excerpt:

"There are various schools of thought on how best to get rid of an infestation of Eastern subterranean termites in your house. Basically it depends on the severity of the damage already done. Termites are persistent insects, chewing through the soft parts of the wood in your house, leaving behind a honeycombed shell of the great, sturdy place it used to be. Really, what termites are doing is creating a place where they can live and feed and wreak more and more destruction, taking the solid wood and transforming it into a moist, muddy network of tunnels and tubes. It's the best environment for termites.

"A termite colony is a caste-driven society, with a king and, most importantly, a queen at the top. The colony depends on the queen for its survival, as she can lay 2000 eggs a day. The queen can live for up to 25 years. Do the math. That's a hell of a lot of vermin. The worker termites make up the largest caste, and they live up to that moniker, maintaining the tunnels, catering to the needs of the queen, gathering the food. Workers are essential to a well-run destruction wrought by the colony. Then there are the soldiers, with their mighty mandibles and sticky chemicals, always at the ready to kill and crush any ant that might attack the colony. Then there are the swarmers, the termites that leave the colony to find mates with which they can start new colonies. Destruction, you know, is a neverending project.

"As revolting as all termites are, especially when you see them in their creeping, crawling swarms, the most disgusting by far is the queen termite. Its gooey white sac is often bloated with eggs, its progeny slipping out of her in a neverending spewing of slimy, larva-engorged mucus balls. She's so filled with the burgeoning termites, ready to be catered to and then set loose to eat and corrupt the stability of the very house that surrounds them, that she's an easy target, too fat to move, too single-purposed in her existence.

"So the schools of thought on saving your house are this: if found early enough, before too much damage has been done, you may be able to get away with just killing the queen. However, most pest control experts would say that it's a fool's errand to pursue the queen alone and think that the infestation will be taken care of. Really, in the end, to be safe, to make sure your house isn't gutted from the inside, it's best to just kill the entire colony. Otherwise, they'll just find a new way to breed and destroy, breed and destroy. So wipe 'em out. You'll be happy you did. And you may discover that your house can remain standing longer than you ever expected."

* Popmatters reviews various books in the Continuum 33 1/3 series.

* Interview of V.S. Naipaul. excerpt:

Naipaul: You only have to look at that dreadful American man Henry James. The worst writer in the world actually. He never went out in the world. Yes, he came to Europe and he 'did' and lived the writer's life. He never risked anything. He never exposed himself to anything. He travelled always as a gentleman. When he wrote English Hours about what he was seeing in England - written for an American magazine - this man would write about the races at Epsom and do it all from a distance. He never thought he should mingle with the crowd and find out what they were there for, or how they behaved. He did it all from the top of a carriage or the top of a coach. A lot of his writing is like that. And he exalts his material because he thinks that this subject matter he has alighted on - the grandeur of Europe and the grandeur of American new money - is unbeatable. Elizabeth Hardwick said to me about Henry James many years ago, 'What's he going on about? These people he is talking about are just Americans!' It has the effect that young American people still think they can 'do a Henry James' - come to Europe and write a book like Henry James.

Q: You couldn't say the same about Hemingway, whom young Americans also try to follow. He did mingle with people.

Naipaul: Hemingway didn't know where he was, ever, really. He was so busy being an American and that was his subject matter. You wouldn't have any idea, from Hemingway or Fitzgerald and their stories or writings about Paris, that Paris was in the most terrible way between the wars. They just talked about the cafes, the drinks and oysters and things like that. They don't see the larger thing outside. I find it very difficult to read that kind of writing or to take it seriously. It's for other people - people down the road...

* "Religion restricts this play of choice and adaptation, since it imposes equally on everyone its own path to the acquisition of happiness and protection from suffering. Its technique consists in depressing the value of life and distorting the picture of the real world in a delusional manner which presupposes an intimidation of the intelligence. At this price, by forcibly fixing them in a state of psychical infantilism and by drawing them into a mass-delusion, religion succeeds in sparing many people an individual neurosis. But hardly anything more. There are, as we have said, many paths which may lead to such happiness as is attainable by men, but there is none which does so for certain. Even religion cannot keep its promise. If the believer finally sees himself obliged to speak of God's 'inscrutable decrees', he is admitting that all that is left to him as a last possible consolation and source of pleasure in his suffering is an unconditional submission. And if he is prepared for that, he probably could have spared himself the detour he has made." -- Freud

* 100 greatest punk songs.

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