One big long draw

I really don’t want to lose to this guy. But I will unless he totally screws up. We started playing a game of chess against each other back on October 5th when the weather still seemed as if it could have been summer. I remember sitting there, alone, and making that one move that was not half bad, but was the wrong move. That move sent a chill through me as soon as I made it. I should have taken a little longer thinking about it.

We remember the slightly bad moves most, the ones we do not make exactly right, but should have. That’s alright. Things even out. After all, we are winning in some other games where our opponent did not make exactly the right move either.

Wouldn’t it be great if our time on this earth was infinite. We could search for the exactly right move until we found it. But our opponents would search for theirs too. Life would be one big long draw.

Published in: on November 27, 2008 at 12:00 am  Leave a Comment  


From Calvino to McCarthy to Trevor. The books come fast. Now, on the fourth day, it’s the novels of Phillip K. Dick.

I want to burn every last thing from me. And when the burning is done, I want to be a new person. Not forged, not stronger. Just different.

Published in: on November 26, 2008 at 3:35 am  Leave a Comment  

“She’s my fantasy.”

Past 3 AM in the morning. These nights of insomnia won’t let me go.Will I ever fall into restful sleep again?

“I think about her all the time; she’s my fantasy.” Why does fantasy keep me up so late at night?

Published in: on November 25, 2008 at 4:20 am  Leave a Comment  

A couple of days

Having finished a Calvino, a McCarthy, and now well into some Trevor short stories in the past two days, I wonder why this is the year of short orgies of fiction. I guess it was the time to negotiate love found, then lost.

Published in: on November 25, 2008 at 2:35 am  Leave a Comment  

one gulp

I read Cormac McCarthy’s The Road in one gulp today. I wonder if there is a better American writer.

Published in: on November 24, 2008 at 10:14 pm  Leave a Comment  


The one thing I found out about her tonight is that she is writing a novel.. It was a shy and embarrassed admission, just as though she was taking her clothes off in front of me for the first time. No, she takes her clothes off in front of men all the time. That can’t be it.

She’s writing a novel and none of them know that.

Published in: on November 24, 2008 at 12:56 am  Leave a Comment  

Remembering and forgetting

“You forget what you want to remember and you remember what you want to forget.”
Cormac McCarthy, The road

Published in: on November 23, 2008 at 10:40 pm  Leave a Comment  

Today’s book

Today’s book is Russell’s Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy. However, love and desire will not leave me alone. Of course, the image of a certain woman will not leave me alone either.

Published in: on November 23, 2008 at 3:20 pm  Leave a Comment  

As many as the stars in the sky

How many kinds of love are there? At least as many as stars in the clear night sky. Pick one. Wish. Hope.

Published in: on November 22, 2008 at 6:28 pm  Leave a Comment  


You wake one morning. You realize you have been in a masochistic love affair: painful, humiliating, and degrading. Yet you enjoyed it. You would not trade the thrill for anything. But there are all kinds of love; you have not come close to experiencing them all. So, it is off to the next one. Goodbye, masochistic love. I’ll miss you. Thanks, for the enjoyment.

Published in: on November 22, 2008 at 5:40 pm  Leave a Comment  

Desire and forgetting

Memory’s images, once they are fixed in words, are erased.

Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

An idea goes something like this. Read some good books closely and passionately. Read so that you may write. Read to move yourself to another and better place. Read most of all to forget through the act of forming words.

Published in: on November 22, 2008 at 12:46 pm  Leave a Comment  

Wrestling match

It is as if I am two people these days. One of me, L1, inhabits a toxic place. The other me, L2, does not want its double, L1, in that space, so L2 grabs L1 and tries to pull him from his place to another place less toxic. L1 and L2 grapple with each other all day and all night everyday. Right now, it appears L2 can not budge L1, but I am betting L2 will triumph from shear persistence. The battle is specially vicious this morning. Neither side yields an inch.

It is as if it is a war for existence.

Published in: on November 22, 2008 at 11:44 am  Leave a Comment  


“Falsehood is never in words; it is in things.”
Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

Published in: on November 21, 2008 at 3:08 pm  Leave a Comment  

Laundry II

Is there such a thing as the meaning of life? Or do we engage in acts of narration, translation, interpretation, and stylistic creation without any underlying foundational meaning? One might compare the question of meaning to the question of whether there are any rules for writing fiction. There may be some rules, but of no use. The consummate stylist breaks the rules with her acts of narration, translation, and interpretation.

Oh well, at least the laundry is done.

Published in: on November 21, 2008 at 1:23 pm  Comments (2)  

Horizon to horizon

I wish B did not live in California. I would like to see her more often in the coming years. That we have regained a close personal friendship seems almost like a miracle. (Can miracles happen if there is no god? Or is there only unexplainable things?)

She has a long layover over at O’Hare airport on December 21 on her way from Europe to California. We will celebrate the holiday together that day. My usual dull depressing holiday season will have a brief respite.

We plan to meet in Las Vegas in January. Hooray for my team! I escape the cold weather for a few days and meet gregarious company at the same time. Since she is working in Europe much of next year, I might even get a chance to meet her there.

Meanwhile, the air is chill and the sky cobalt from horizon to horizon in Chicago today. And I know that one way or another things will be OK. After all, B’s Thanksgiving Day card to me sits beside the computer as I write this.

Published in: on November 21, 2008 at 12:31 pm  Leave a Comment  


Regret for saying angry spiteful things I did not mean, regret for leaving things undone, regret for doing the wrong thing repeatedly, regret for being a pest: it must be time to do some laundry.

Published in: on November 21, 2008 at 11:23 am  Leave a Comment  

The spine of it all

I wonder from where my desire to write comes. I think reading certain writers stir the desire in me. As V rekindled my desire to love and be loved this year, so reading Calvino stirred my desire to write again. To write often means trying to grasp an impossibility as when love ends in a broken romance, a romance which on sober reflection afterwards seems as if it was always an impossibility. Just as I still love V, I still adore much I have written that will most likely never have a reader.

Writing this brief passage has been more painful than I can describe. Desire remains regardless of outcome. It is always desire from beginning to end that holds life together.

Published in: on November 21, 2008 at 11:19 am  Leave a Comment  

Random time

Having finished reading the section on Paulus in Europe Central, I turn to Calvino’s Invisible Cities, the perfect antidote to reality if not desire. Time is as random as the movement of wind and clouds.

Published in: on November 20, 2008 at 5:19 pm  Leave a Comment  

No large cardinal numbers please

Dreaming of reincarnation, I wonder how many lives I must live to meet her again, and the next time at exactly the right moment when she would be mine. I hope those lives don’t equal some large cardinal.

Published in: on November 20, 2008 at 5:11 pm  Leave a Comment  

Cope II

I have returned to reading Vollmann’s Europe Central. The book meshes fiction and history seamlessly. I’m immersed in the section called The Last Field Marshal whose central character is the German general Paulus who commanded the German Sixth Army at the battle for Stalingrad during World War II. The narrator of this section (an East German Stasi agent? I assume all the narrators of Europe Central are secret police agents of some sort.) admires Paulus, a man who does his duty, a man who aspires to attain the rank of Field Marshall. Paulus fails to take Stalingrad. Then his own army is encircled and subjected to near annihilation and the worst privations of a Russian winter.

As I recall from reading a history about Paulus and Stalingrad, it becomes evident to Hitler that Sixth Army will have to surrender to Russian forces. Hitler promotes Paulus to Field Marshall, knowing that no German Field Marshall was ever taken alive on the battlefield. Paulus does the unthinkable; he does not kill himself before the surrender. A man who did his soldierly duty impeccably, refuses his one last duty. Oh well, Vollmann’s narrator will soon refresh my memory.

Some good fiction tells about the shortness of our lives and how the things we want the most could never be. These novels tell how we cope with bitter disappointments–how we go on.

Published in: on November 20, 2008 at 1:38 pm  Leave a Comment  

Tuesday night math

Tonight’s math book is Davenport’s pretty The Higher Arithmetic, not least, because I can see the proofs with my mind’s eye. What was lost to memory is found. What is all too easily recalled fades into the shadows. Things tend to even out.

Published in: on November 18, 2008 at 8:04 pm  Leave a Comment  

Mathematics and aesthetic pleasure

I took Apostol’s Introduction to Analytic Number Theory to the bar with me last night. Several friends remarked that reading mathematics was strange. The best explanation I could give is that I do it for aesthetic pleasure, which is true.

V and I discussed methods of studying mathematics last night. At my advanced age, I find it increasingly necessary to follow abstract proofs by setting up elementary examples of the proposition in question. Where I could once follow the abstractions in my head, I now need some scratch paper and an elementary example to make things concrete. At first, this seems a lamentable fact of the aging process. But on reflection, if I read mathematics for aesthetic pleasure, I still find some beauty in comprehending the proof of a proposition even if only at the elementary level.

Discovering the place of mathematics in history and culture is also part of the aesthetic pleasure I get from mathematics. The complex interconnected metaphors linking mathematics to the world and mathematical propositions to each other always fascinate.

With mathematics I stride two worlds: the red hot subjective and the blue cold objective. Whatever excites the emotions and the intellect simultaneously intensifies the aesthetic experience whether it be mathematics or the appreciation of a lover or former lover. Some have said our aesthetic natures and the pursuit of aesthetic pleasure is a lower project than the pursuit of morality and the divine. I wonder if this could be correct. Might they not be of one piece and depend on an interlocking set of metaphors we use in the pursuit of happiness?

Some undeniable beauty in mathematics illuminates the world, whether the lines of a cathedral or the curves of her body.

Published in: on November 18, 2008 at 12:42 pm  Leave a Comment  


We can live our lives two ways: red hot subjective, where we live in an emotional intensity that threatens to consume us, or blue cold objective, where the view from nowhere gives us an austere comfort. I’m going back to blue cold objective. Nobody will ever break my heart again. Yes, I will lose the thrill of love, but love is so overrated.

Published in: on November 18, 2008 at 12:15 am  Leave a Comment  

She’s coming

Let’s not make this long. She is coming. She has not stepped from the shadows yet, but she will soon. I can’t see her yet, but she is coming.

All I can tell you is that she’ll be so into me. I’ll wake at 3:30 AM in the morning and feel the heat from her body. Touch her. She’ll stir slightly without waking and know that someone somewhere loves her well.

Yes, she is coming.

Published in: on November 14, 2008 at 1:46 am  Leave a Comment  


Playing chess on the iPhone against my Internet opponents, I imagine I am sitting across the table from them in some cafe in their cities. My mood brightens, for someday that is exactly what I will be doing.

Published in: on November 12, 2008 at 3:37 pm  Leave a Comment