I’m taking a break from work, which is beginning to drive me mad. In an effort to expel that madness, I’ve spent the last 20 minutes* producing the following, which you, as itinerant browser, are obliged to read. Besides, it’s important that people who are smarter than you expose you to things you’d never ever (for reasons of personal sanity) discover on your own.

Thank god for the Web. Blogging is the hands on, regret it in the morning, be-all-end-all of crackpot presses. People like me (friend to myself, nemesis of I), are worse than chain-smoking communists at Paris cafes, worse than the hairy crank addict on TV who sells Orange Clean, worse than the growing number of bloggers whose deep chasm of reality compresses daily in inverse proportion to their online output. Worse, because we take advantage of personal connections to expose our hairy bellies and boogered up noses in electronic form to our supportive friends and ask (and really, really hope) that they like what they see. God help you (and that’s not likely, if you made it this far), here’s my flipflap, titled, Possession, or Books I Been Looking @.

I recently bought Stephen Jay Gould’s opinionated and wonderful tome, The Structure of Evolutionary Theory (it currently resides on my desk till I build a new bookshelf for it at home). I don’t quite know when I’ll read it all, although thankfully I still remember enough about evolutionary studies to grasp most of what he discusses. It’s in the category of books measured by dimension (X, Y, Z, and T) rather than page count, and is deep with opinion and theory and science reporting. I also keep being drawn back toward Georges Perec (who remains brilliant even in death—publishers keep finding and trickling his works to the US as if he was still submitting.) I’ve steadily been creating a sort of virtual bull’s eye pattern of books around me. Or maybe a concentric set of crystalline spheres. I’m in the center (but not frozen in a lake.) Books to have on hand always are in the first sphere. The residents of the spheres can change, although I’m finding several (mostly hallucinogenics) that tend to stay put, like Perec, Borges, Calvino, Dante, Arabian Nights, Mahabharata, Le Guin, Gloss, Singh, and Wolk. On buying books, I place them in their different circles almost right away, though not till I’ve made the purchase–during the chase and at the point of purchase, when desire swells like an unfettered prick in a supermodel nudist colony, I only know that I sense value in having them, and am fooled into thinking they’re all first sphere candidates. It is absolutely a mating ritual.

When I actually get to them can be calculated by a complex algorithm (that I sense but cannot quite manage to transcribe) involving hours awake in any given day, desire, desperation (desire’s sometime unreliable companion), anxiety (where the book is the balm), hours needed to work, hours spent with Debby, and with our children, with friends, with writing, hours spent walking, hours spent pretending to socialize (while I’m thinking about other things). The algorithm (or my grasp on it) is a complete failure, so I spuriously overlap reading with other tasks, including my day job. I move books from sphere to sphere based on some deep emotional requests made in a language that cannot be printed or uttered out loud. God may be in the Primum Mobile, but the reader lives in the center sphere, and that, on Earth, is where the real power is. Maybe power without wisdom. Maybe unfettered and unfocused curiosity. In any case, I will be the last to know.

So why the hell share this kind of stuff with anyone? If it was all that we wrote and shared as writers, that’d be sad–a bunch of inner nazis and Tom O’Bedlams clattering at the bars across the aisle from each other. But sometimes you write something nutty with a kernel of worth in it, and you hope that a reader will find it. (The name of this blog is associated, for me, with a few kernels of worth in a cornfield.)

* 20 minutes was the intent–few things take only 20 minutes to write other than a grocery list, suicide note, or forged excuse.

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