More Hitchens

I am reading Arguably, Hitchens’s latest collection of reviews and essays.  After reading an article I say to myself, “yes, that is exactly how that subject should be treated.”

Hitchens is one of the most interesting writers–ever.

Published in: on September 13, 2011 at 10:23 am  Comments (1)  

Desire or lack thereof

So fucking awesomely bored–maybe, that’s why I spend 10 to 12 hours each day writing a stupid geometry book. (And you’ve to get up early in the morning to do that.)

But I like it. At one point in my dismal life, it was a dream.

Geometry, visual, smitten

OK, I haven’t been writing much on my blog.  I’ve been writing my geometry book ten to twelve hours a day, not including those hours when I am just thinking about it.  In short, I’ve been having fun.

One of the things I like about geometry is that is a point between the analytic and the visual, but we’ll talk more about that later.

P.S.  I haven’t fallen in love again.  In fact, I haven’t even been smitten lately.

Published in: on April 22, 2011 at 9:47 pm  Leave a Comment  

Writing blues

The one thing about writing is that it is so damned easy not to do it even though you know you should.

Published in: on March 7, 2011 at 11:17 pm  Leave a Comment  

One more year?

I’ve decided to be a writer for one more year, probably from sheer stubborn persistence than anything else. Plus, I kind of dig it.

Published in: on December 29, 2010 at 9:02 pm  Leave a Comment  

A new one?

What if you looked into your shoebox and found out it was full with scraps of paper and cocktail napkins with shit written on them? Would you think those scraps contained enough stuff to make a novel out of them?

You might. But would you actually do it–write the novel, that is?

What if you swore, without equivocation, you’d never write another novel again, would you write another one just because you had a shoebox full of sheer unadulterated shit?

Published in: on December 3, 2010 at 11:28 pm  Leave a Comment  

A new one?

What if you looked into your shoebox and found out it was full with scraps of paper and cocktail napkins with shit written on them? Would you think those scraps contained enough stuff to make a novel out of them?

You might. But would you actually do it–write the novel, that is?

What if you swore, without equivocation, you’d never write another novel again, would you write another one just because you had a shoebox full of sheer unadulterated shit?

Published in: on December 3, 2010 at 11:27 pm  Leave a Comment  

Sitting with The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens

When you write enough words, you come to realize that each new set of words is an act by the writer and that writer is not the same person you knew only yesterday, for she seems wild and untamed even though you thought you had put her safely in her cage.

Published in: on December 3, 2010 at 3:48 pm  Leave a Comment  

C and the feeling of what happens

As I had mentioned, I am reading C.  I like what happens.  But there ain’t no feeling about what happens.


Tell me how badly it feels when things go wrong.  Make me feel like you know me.

Published in: on September 17, 2010 at 10:09 pm  Leave a Comment  

The novel sails

You are drifting and dreaming for the first time in a long time. (Feels good, actually.). Thoughts surface almost randomly–thoughts such as what is the future of the American novel.

The novel is not dead. It sails upon an infinite sea. That’s your feeling anyway.

Published in: on September 16, 2010 at 4:39 pm  Leave a Comment  

Postcards again

Note: write a postcard everyday.  Leave some kind of record.

Published in: on April 27, 2010 at 2:41 pm  Leave a Comment  


When you have writer’s block, write “fuckstick’.  I mean, you can’t possibly walk around all day with “fuckstick”  the only word in your head.  So, write those other words.

Published in: on January 25, 2010 at 3:06 pm  Comments (3)  

Typewriter refund

Cormac McCarthy’s old Olivetti Lettera typewriter sold for $254,500 at auction.  It looks a lot like my Olivetti Lettera, but I can’t seem to make a single good sentence with mine.  I’m going to ask for a refund.

Published in: on December 7, 2009 at 9:51 am  Leave a Comment  

Pocket notebooks, cheap pens, and wandering

A small pocket notebook and a cheap pen come in handy.  One ought to have a space where one can write or work geometry problems without fear of fucking things up–no matter where one may wander.

Published in: on October 30, 2009 at 12:49 pm  Leave a Comment  

David Hume, essays, and blogging

The essay might be the most perfect form of writing.  (I’m thinking of David Hume’s essays.)  The essay displays a persona (mask).  The essay guides a path to new ways of thinking if written well.  The essay shares an intimate piece of mind. (All propositions about essays form an inconsistent set of sentences, yet one cannot tell for certain which ones are true or false.)

I wonder if these days when words spar with mathematics for my time and attention are telling me something

I wish I were dining with David Hume this evening.  I’d like to get his thoughts about blogging.  Would he laugh when I told him this blog would be my writing legacy if I died tomorrow, or would he politely pity me?

Published in: on October 28, 2009 at 11:25 am  Leave a Comment  

Drawings and the future

I spent the afternoon sitting in a corner at Pippin’s drawing diagrams on the computer for my geometry book.  At first, it was drudgery, but then my mind wandered off the task at hand.  The diagrams started to look pretty.  Other drawings came to mind and I explored them.–things I had not thought about.

Questions recurred.  What if this silly geometry book is the only thing I really work on or care about?  Would my life be any different?

Probably not.

Published in: on October 22, 2009 at 5:39 pm  Comments (2)  

What to write about?

On a given finite straight line to construct an equilateral triangle.

Proposition I.1, Elements, Euclid

You might naively ask: what are all the interesting propositions you can prove about equilateral triangles?  I suspect enough propositions to create a quirky yet interesting book for the mathematically inclined.  Of course, one can generalize to regular polygons, polyhedrons, and polytopes, but by then you would have Coxeter’s splendid book Regular Polytopes.  Let the first project consist of equilateral triangles.

It’s warm and sunny.  I dream about and drift through a land whose significance lies in its interesting propositions.  Or to paraphrase Wallace Stevens: not dreams of life itself, but dreams of propositions about life.

Published in: on October 21, 2009 at 12:23 pm  Leave a Comment  

Oh, for a voice

This morning, I finished writing the third draft of a novel.  I’ve been working on the damned thing for almost two years.  It hurts me to write it.  Every pleasure or pain I have felt in my life spills upon the pages.

Now, the thing has to be rewritten again in another draft, for the third draft is just not good enough.  A blurred vision of what the novel should be emerges, but it lacks a voice to tell the story.  A narrative with a blurred vision and lacking a voice is home made shit.

Some days, I would give just about anything for a voice.

Published in: on September 25, 2009 at 11:42 am  Comments (2)  

Do what you want, but before you start, meditate on whether you can do it

I went to Starbuck’s this morning with a math notebook in hand.  My intent was to work on some elementary notions and results regarding elliptic curves.  As I drank my coffee at the bar and stared out the window running along State Street (and isn’t math  like the rest of life–a lot of staring into space?), I fixed upon the conceptual outline and style of the geometry book I have been writing.  It fits with what I can actually do when writing a geometry book.  Wow, how did I ever come up with that idea!

And with that, I decided what I want to do with a significant portion of the rest of my life.  I’d tell you, but it’s a secret until I actually do some of it.

Published in: on August 27, 2009 at 1:04 pm  Leave a Comment  

“… and luck were all you needed”

The blue-backed notebooks, the two pencils and the pencil sharpener (a pocket knife was too wasteful),  the marble-topped tables, the smell of cafes cremes, the smell of early morning sweeping out and mopping and luck were all you needed.

A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway

Lookin’ forward to writing tomorrow when the sun comes up.  As paltry as my words are, a romance continues between me and them.

Published in: on July 27, 2009 at 12:07 am  Leave a Comment  

Haunted, but all will be well

A girl came in the cafe and sat by herself at a table near the window.  She was very pretty with a face fresh as a newly minted coin if they minted coins in smooth flesh with rain-freshened skin, and her hair black as a crow’s wing and cut sharply and dieagonally across her cheek.

I looked at her and she disturbed me and made me very excited.  I wished I could put her in the story, or anywhere, but she had placed herself so she could watch the street and the entry and I knew she was waiting for someone.  So I went on writing.

A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway

The air smelled of gentle early morning summer rain languidly evaporating on grass and trees when I walked to the coffee shop this morning.  I sat at the window in the coffee shop reading the opening chapter, A Good Cafe on the St.-Michel, of the restored version of A Moveable Feast.  Memories of the summer I first read it returned.  I’ve read the book many times, but only in summer.  It is a summer book for me even though Hemingway evokes the sting of late fall when the weather turns cold and strips the leaves from the trees.

The first time I wondered what it would be like to be a writer was when I was 17 and reading the Ian Fleming James Bond novels on summer mornings.  The second time came when I was in my twenties and read Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast.  I’ve had moments in my life when I’ve been distressed or depressed and the only way I could fall asleep at night was by telling myself, don’t worry, you’ll write  a bit tomorrow morning and all will be well.  And those morning always followed.

Walking home from the coffee shop I saw a woman standing across the street waiting for the traffic light to turn.  She was young and pretty.  She wore sandals and a white summer dress dotted navy blue.  She was tan yet not too tan.  Her black hair was partially pulled back leaving the sides falling about her shoulders.  The light changed.  When we passed in the middle of the street I glanced at her and she was looking at me, an old man smoking a cigarette with A Moveable Feast tucked in his armpit, his long hair spilling from underneath a Cubs baseball cap.  She might have been Hemingway’s girl at the Place St.-Michel returned to haunt another old man.

At home, before going in, I stood on the sidewalk and finished my cigarette and imbibed the odor of the rain glazed grass.

Today, I feel as though it is the summer of 2002, the year I turned 54 and officially decided I was living my first year of old age.  That year I declared myself a writer too–either for good or ill.  I have betrayed my writing many times since.  I should have written successfully by now.

On these summer nights of 2009 I still tell myself before falling asleep, don’t worry, you’ll write in the morning, and all will be well.

Published in: on July 15, 2009 at 9:09 am  Leave a Comment  

Prelude to a deluge?

OK, we have been suffering from writer’s block at State Street, also known as laziness.  Maybe, just maybe, it is over.

Published in: on March 24, 2009 at 11:23 am  Leave a Comment  

Geometry and Death

The days have grown unseasonably mild. I fill them with my geometry researches as much as possible. My melancholy fades.

I look at geometry in my own unique way. For the uninitiated it would seem that mathematics is something carved in granite, something not alterable. However, basic mathematics arises from our mental system and its experience of the world. After that, it is all imagination–metaphor through and through.  Granite turns to putty.  We shape it for our pleasure.

I tell myself I am writing a geometry book. That adds discipline to the study and research. “I want it to be right, and interesting too, don’t I?”

OK, I’m writing a geometry book. I think I will self publish it. I’ll sell it on I’ll let Google digitize it. I’ll live beyond my time. Euclid would think of me as one of his own.

Published in: on February 11, 2009 at 1:17 pm  Comments (3)  

Attraction, objectivity, and today’s lunch

Let’s call her X1, one of the women I know. I met her for a quick lunch today at Starbuck’s. (I drank a large coffee and ate a slice of pumpkin bread.) She really likes me, and I like her, but I don’t find her sexually attractive, although there is nothing specific I can identify why that is so. I could very easily sleep with her, but I am sure she would misinterpret my feelings. Sex is not worth it if I will frequently come into contact with her when she wants a romance I care nothing about.

Then there this other woman, a woman totally forbidden to me, whom I absolutely adore. She feels the same way about me. Things seem so unfair.

But what are the facts? How can I report without making inferences and judgments that may not be justified? I fall into the trap of a false romanticism all the time. What I can have does not interest me. What I cannot have intrigues me.

This all seems to fit with my recent loss of objectivity. I cannot make a simple report of the facts.

For instance, I should say: X1 ate a turkey sandwich at lunch; she talked about the TV shows she watches; she told me she is afraid of losing her job; her hair is red; her eyes are blue.; she touched my arm several times when she was speaking to me.

The solid fact remains, however. I am not attracted to her.

Published in: on January 12, 2009 at 2:47 pm  Leave a Comment  

Halberstam, Foote, and weeping

I’ll admit it.  I have been rereading David Halberstam’s The Coldest Winter, a history of the Korean War, his last book before he died.  For my money, he was one of the best American writers of his generation, whether it was one of his long histories or seemingly trivial, but not really so, documentaries about the the 1949 and 1964 baseball seasons.  In my mind, Halberstam was one of the great writers of his generation even though I suspect he will not be recognized as such.

It puts me in mind of Shelby Foote, the writer of a wonderful three volume history of the Civil War.  When the best nonfiction lists of the 20th Century were released, he was no where to be found on any of them. Yet he was the spectacular narrative historian of his generation.

I think I understand why Halberstam and Foote are under appreciated.  Alone at night, they make you weep, like Thucydides does.  Not many people have the stomach for that.  Not many people ever did.  Weeping, alone at night, is not something we seek, let alone want to come across.

Well, my Halberstam and Foote books will always be some of my prized possessions.  And I will always love my Thucydides.

Published in: on January 12, 2009 at 1:39 am  Leave a Comment