if what can change then everything can change


Is that it?

Like on Seinfeld when the dentist is Jewish for the jokes…

You tried the rugalach at the bakery by my house?

That place is serious.

It’s just a tiny door, but enough to get scared.

Why do you mock my gloves?


(Your hair’s gotten longer.)

I was thinking of getting it trimmed,

But I was also thinking of just getting it shaved again,

But then

(You weren’t happy with it the last time.)

But I thought I was.

It ended up all right.

Now I look back on it fondly.

The short really does look good on you.

I’m just going to get a trim dude.

So, you know, when you go to the hairstylist

Can you tell them

“Make it the same except shorter?”

Because it occurred to me that it might be the type of thing

You think makes sense,

But then because they know what actually needs to happen

It doesn’t.

(One of the weird things, especially with guy’s hair,

Is that you mainly need the back cut

Because your hair shouldn’t actually be the same length.)


Think I thought about the fact that you liked it

last time I saw it

in the National Gallery,

all patriotic, exemplifying our heritage

or our purchasing power

owning all the great art after crushing Europe.

They’ve been bad for a couple of years.

The Rams never retooled since they were good,

so fast and everything was so exciting

with all their crazy offensive moves

and then a couple of their best players

fell out of their prime,

lost a step, fell apart; so you can’t really get that into them.

But you can always root against the Patriots on the DL.

You mean, you’re not going to go into a bar

and pronounce your hatred of the Patriots?

I don’t have any ability to watch sports.

You would never watch it by yourself at the crib?

I couldn’t understand it.

That’s why being in a bar is great,

people just start explaining it to you

when you have that blank expression.

Football seems especially confusing.

That’s what it seems like from

the ways girls talk,

understand the least.

But you just sort of have to like it.

It’s not like you’re going to be like

ohh that’s what happens on third down,

now I like it.


Watched Breakfast at Tiffany’s, but didn’t finish.

Audrey Hepburn is so graceful and hip. Did something weird happen

in the end? It’s not even like she’s a great actress. Well,

you don’t even think about it. When do you think people stopped

talking like that, with that weird English accent?

I bet that’s what New Wave movies did.

But I think well-bred people actually talked like that,

I’m not saying that it was just an invention of the movie.

Maybe the same reason why the 60s seemed so violent,

like my grandmother’s hatred of

the fact that my mom liked Bob Dylan,

a fact that is totally unimaginable today.

What, that she loved Bob Dylan?

No, that my grandmother hated it.


like Grace Kelly in Rear Window, really fuckin’ cool,

goes out with this cool guy, all proper;

okay Roman Holiday, she’s a princess, and you know

as soon as you see her gorgeous foot

you say this is a great movie and this a cool chick.

I would venture to say that chicks like that are cooler than chicks now

who do whatever they want

and everyone’s a cool chick,

but I’m saying that cool chicks will arise,

their spirit is not going to be ruined by these institutions

how is this possible with restraint and constraints

and that people are relatively interesting

by nature…

but people don’t exist for you to be entertained

well, yeah, right, so why is everyone so interested in being interesting?

a reactionary argument,

not such an argument for why things weren’t so bad

because people don’t exist for you

but that doesn’t change whether or not they would be interesting

so it’s not an argument against my argument; it’s immaterial what I want

it’s just saying that your argument is not an argument;

the reason that certain institutions aren’t phat for women

doesn’t have to do with whether they

make women more interesting

but that’s what I’m wondering, saying, asking…

because being unique and interesting is so important, and

because conformity is such a threat that people feel

that being interesting is essential to people

and that is one of the reasons why people think

cultural restraints are bad;

what I’m saying is that the argument

doesn’t go through

because the lack of constraints

doesn’t make people remarkable

then people will move back to them of their own accord

people don’t stop getting married,

they don’t stop going to church

but they do all those things less;

hard to imagine those institutions

sustaining themselves

unless there’s something

very different about America.


…just bought a bunch of stuff to make pasta

at home: oil, garlic, spinach;

so much cheaper, to stay on top of it,

and my roommate started cooking again;

it’ll just make it better to live there now,

because if it’s just two people

who don’t give a shit about anything

and who are content to sit in their rooms all day

it’s not good for the house.

He lost his car, you know?

And he didn’t get it back and I’m not sure

if that means that he can just say

“Okay, fine, you can have my car”

and then it’s all over,

or if there’s something he needs to do,

and I’ve definitely noticed legal notices at home,

but we don’t talk about it much.

I’m pretty sure getting your car foreclosed on

has to be one of the worst things for your credit.

it’s gotta be worse than the stuff I do.

What do you do?

I don’t pay my credit card bill.

Not even the minimum?

not for like a year

Not even the minimum?

no, I don’t pay anything on it.

And I still have some bills from before I moved.

And then whenever I actually have enough money to pay them

it doesn’t seem worth it.

And then when I want to pay them I realize I don’t have enough money.

You gotta just pay the minimum.

Yeah, but if you don’t have any money

you’re not going to pay the minimum.

What if you only have a couple hundred dollars?

Are you going to pay your bills then?

Well, you can pay the minimum and then still use the credit card.

Ideally you’re right, but now it’s shut off.

I’ll take care of it later, like when I’m a lawyer.

Once this life thing lets up then I’ll be responsible.

mixture of policy, circumstance, and choice

and the phat thing he says is thatpoor people’s bad decisions

are a lot more significant

and their good decisionsare a lot less…

I’m lucky because my panic doesn’t concern spirit, but substance:

I’m just an alcoholic.

Whenever I drink I just want more

and all my bad panicky memories are filled with alcohol.

I just kick it straight up American style.

I live way beyond my means, accrue a lot of debt.

I don’t understand how you know that about yourself.

Because you don’t think it’ll happen again.

Why did I buy all this stupid shit?

Why did I drink so much and act like an ass?

People know all sorts of shit.

But then, people do change.

Maybe that’s only on TV.

I think some crazy shit happens and people come out of it different.

I’m just not sure that you can decide of your own free will to change.

But you could decide to create an intervention.

Like rehab, you only have to use your willpower for a second,

and then the rest of it is against your will.


that makes sense as a juxtaposition, right?


so you have these classical philosophers versus the law

and then you have Christianity versus the law,

but Christianity isn’t just for Jews,

not just a critique of the Jewish law…

the critique becomes universal



the main question becomes

does Christianity make people feel as if they’re chaffing under any law?

against law

as such

both of which it’s fighting against;

isn’t that fucking money in the bank?

because for us custom means nothing

but for the ancients it meant everything

and it meant that if you broke a custom you were alone,

and now, all we want is to be alone,

feeling tradition differently now

and the way ritual has changed

has changed our idea of custom

and that if you felt in yourself that you didn’t want to follow a custom you would have to explain that.


but banishment isn’t an element of brainwashing

well, yeah it is, the threat of banishment, the threat of being alone

the threat of it is, but not the actual banishment

well fine, the threat is the custom, the prospect of reward and punishment

but customs aren’t totally objectified to us

the prospect of banishment feels different to us than it would of to them

you’re saying you would feel like you were banished if you didn’t follow a custom

no you would be banished if you didn’t follow a custom

there’s nothing more real than using language but people have always changed language

we assume language as fixed

but don’t expect

that when we use it incorrectly

we’ll be exiled

we still might be banished for saying the wrong thing:

any college professor right now could say that

black people are stupid

and be pretty fucked up

or they could say that

women have no place in our philosophy department

and tell me whether or not they would be banished?

and before that the highest level

was marked by people

who thought that the law wasn’t enough.

doesn’t Jesus still think that the law isn’t enough?

somebody on the West Wing thinks that the law isn’t enough.

that’s the thing, most people are in contradiction with themselves

the negative would be that

they think that the law is oppressive in that it

cramps their style

they think it’s not enough

because President Bush

is stomping on the Constitution.

But this is completely uninteresting psychologically:

it’s just that we all want the law

to apply to everyone else

but not to us,

it’s just a really watered down version of wanting to be a tyrant.


here’s my gaffle

(you mind if I gaffle you for a little while?):

Shakespeare is a nihilist, but what kind of nihilist?

all of Shakespeare’s plays are problem plays

none true comedies

none true tragedies

the comedies are problems

because political rulers

are the means by which everything is resolved

(Theseus in Midsummer Night’s Dream,

the Duke in Measure for Measure)

because what makes the comedies comedic

is revealed to be within the hand of the poet,

not within the forces driving the characters —

the marriages, the resolutions,

would not take place

without some sort of deus ex machina

(the duke doesn’t have to kill himself)

but it’s just these weird twists of fate

that turn these comedies from tragedies —

all of the comedies would be tragedies

if they just played out naturally…

afterwards exuded

the second part

of the argument,

equally compelling…


is going to live a tortured marriage

play within the play

the image of her with another man

but knows she hasn’t

but thought she did for such a long time

but it was a setup, a play, a fake can be explained

but he experienced the shock of thinking that she did

I don’t think that’s right, he knows she hasn’t

what you see isn’t erased by what you know; the characters cared

that wasn’t what I was saying

but that’s an extreme version of what you were saying

but I wanted it to be meaningful without the context of the characters

which maybe it’s not

which maybe it’s not, which is the thing.


outlined chance event

because Socrates was real and Plato was real

philosophers exist

and then there are,



between the true lawgiver and the moderate tyrant

still has that deep deep lust for power

but that sort of chance meeting hasn’t occurred…

and if man can change

that means he can change from what he was

then man can change into something that no longer produces greatness

this herd animal

with an instinct for preservation



and dominates

then there won’t be any more individuals

and we’ll just blink and smile

and say that we have invented happiness

and it will be the reign of the last men

and man will set like the sun…


…going to have to get a girlfriend off the Internet

if I don’t find one soon,

because even though

I’m used to not being with someone

it gets lonely and old after a while

I really feel like I’m not that undesirable

I think in highschool you used to be super attractive

that’s a fucking cool idea,

like when I had dredlocks and a beard

like not by the end of highschool

that was the Elvis year

I don’t think I know what you’re talking about

I don’t think I do either

now tell me about how attractive I was

They used to call you the sun god

no, see I think I’m pretty good looking now

and some days I think I look better than almost everyone out there.

I think in highschool you just had a certain sexual aura:

you had a thing going, with the pot and the dredlocks…

I have been able, in my life, to sleep with very attractive women

and I don’t want that to stop

that’s what I’m saying, in highschool

that was especially prevalent

I’ve come to believe that I can score chicks that are extremely good looking

but only if they have some little other thing

and that that’s my niche

and this is something that happens

like every three years

so I’ve been banking on the fact

that I can pull this off again

and that girls who are interesting

in other things other than looks

get fewer and fewer

as you get older

I don’t care what a chick has except that she’s beautiful,

but I think that being gorgeous adds all these things to a girl.

At a certain level of beauty it’s impossible for a girl to be normal

and not to have become interesting precisely because she’s beautiful.


I’ve got these great cows in the sky

and lemonade clinking

as an image.

They would move really slowly,

can’t write a whole poem by recording

problem is that I’ll generate these little bits


what’s good is that

you don’t just write the next thing,

you turn it off

when you’re not inspired

and then you stop

and the reason why you wouldn’t want to do something about it

is precisely because you want it to have the providential character

of faith

you make something and you just have to think that it will turn up;

one thing happens, gathers salt,

“first of all you have to be a great storyteller”

that’s what they say on TV about making movies

only one man could make a point with his characters

the only time characters have had serious intellectual things to say

but they’re not just placeholders is in the Brothers Karamazov;

maybe it’s that you need the character to be less smart than you

so Joyce could do it with Stephen Daedelus in Portrait

because Stephen sounds childish;

people don’t have very many ideas

and so for someone to have a character

who had more than one idea

almost impossible,

maybe you just give them your half-assed proposals.


With the Mountain Goats songs and the Neutral Milk Hotel repertoire

I can play a whole hipster folk review.

But now I think I’m really good,

When haven’t you thought that?

No, I’m serious. You should hear me.

That’s what you say every time you think you’re great.

But now I think I’m actually really good.

I think it’s really funny that you don’t remember saying that every other time.

Where you’re like, I think I’m actually better than other people.

No, I’m serious.

I know, but that’s what you say when you’re serious.

I know, but when you realize that you think you must be wrong.


The other angle


wouldn’t it be phat

to be a founding member of a school of poetry?

but you can’t just have a group of friends like that

just because it sounds cool

you have to be born into it

by your tip

and those friends have to exist

circumstances have to exist

and your temperament.

Besides, foundings are

some of the craziest things to go down.

Always violent if you call them that and never by consent.

What about the reunification of Germany?

I don’t know if it gets out of the problem,

that’s all I’m saying.


Been using these pocket folders,

using the small yellow notebook

and then putting the pages into the folder for later typing.

I need to come up with a new system.

I generate a new system every week.

But the multiple systems angle, while fun, doesn’t really organize you.

Yeah, I have at least six types of notebook and notecards and the computer.

For me it comes down to well, if I come up with a cool idea I should just remember it

because I’m not going to go through all the notebooks to find it.

I should at least learn how to keep better notes for class.

I actually wish that I understood the purpose of notes for class better.

I keep them, especially from my Nietzsche class, because every day

the professor was dropping bombs.

And you can’t possibly remember them off the top of your head.

One of his students has notes from his class since the 80s

and has them all perfect and in binders.

I’m gonna copy them.

He should publish them.

He’s only published one book and by all accounts it’s really hard.

If you can do that and you love teaching, that’s amazing.

You have to be pretty ensconced in the department, not now.

If you get ensconced you can get pretty weird.

If you’re allowed to get weird, you’ll go there, no problem.


when you’re in your early 60s, if you’re in good health,

you’re pretty much at the top of your game as a philosopher,

enough experience

without wear —

poets are young

and they seem like they get worse

that’s where being ensconced is a real problem

once you get the knack

you can just go

and maybe not saying anything anymore.

Ashbery can make an Ashbery poem whenever he wants,

constant generation,

but there’s always hope

you never know what you might be good at

that you haven’t tried yet,

like I’ve never been skiing;

I hope you never ski…

also glad I’m not a taxi driver,

not knowing how to drive would really make that job suck,

how did I find myself here:

or the operator of a lock and dam:



…don’t think I want to travel to India.

realized a long time ago,

anywhere else you want to go?


just for style, minimalism,

just a really distinct, well-articulated, aesthetic,

strange morality: I mean where do you get warlords?

In Afghanistan, the shittiest country in the whole world

and then you say, if warlords are a factor

refined and ugly


yet well articulated…

but obviously Japanese people have an inner life,

but do people have an inner life in North Korea?

Let’s pretend like they do, watching reality TV in their heads,

but I really think people can be brainwashed.


when you said it didn’t matter the type of book you read.

I just think I can just read books well,

I was interpreting the hell out of this Kafka parable,

and I was like

I know this is right:

“point of the myth is to situate the interpreter in time and space

part within a whole;

interpreter as part, unless you will never belong”

whereas, the interpreter of the parable

is completely anonymous,

instead of situating, dislocates;

takes you precisely out of time and place,

forces you on yourself”

and fake myths situate people better than any other

but I think that’s money,

money in the bank;

written a lot of poetry as something,

but then always satire,

could poetry actually be something else?

to stand on its own.

like the Ion

I want to write a book called

And Are You The Best General, Ion?

always ideas for books, but don’t merely take a weekend,

passages and interpretations

about reading esoteric texts, clumped,

if you don’t have an axe to grind it’s cooler

and if you’re not trying to be a virtuoso,

but they’ll be real interpretations of different shit

done soberly

but it would be strange because

you probably didn’t think

the book was about that


…and being a philosophy professor is unattractive

unless you have joie de vivre, unless you

also lead a poetic life

you are a miserable miserable man

waiting for something that may never happen

not some weird bottled up thing, I just don’t talk about it,

as if you throw a stone and don’t know what you’re doing

tragedy of the moral life

setting habits in place that are almost impossible to break,

sucking a stone for lost water;

not even sacrificing it for being a philosopher,

but for being a reader of philosophy

and you have to know how much you love that

and you must have the utmost confidence

you must bring it and be an arrogant bastard

but is that enough to sacrifice the other pleasures of life?


do the desires of the elitist have a hearing?

is it accepted? is it tolerated?

are conservatives like me tolerated?

well, you are here

but you’re different from polite society

you’ve known me for a long time

you have to put up with me…


…whether becoming is

or whether it’s just passing away

to another world beyond it;

how is that not a problem?

you’re saying

everything is historically conditioned


the fact that everything is historically conditioned;

otherwise, you have to say

people will think that for a while, even a long while,

and that afterwards people will think something else

so, nothing,

unless you have a vantage point from the end of history,

because we do, groundless

doesn’t the fact that you believe something for no reason trouble you?

do you not think about your life? do you not take it seriously?

how do you both think about your life and not think about it?

how do you as a thinking person discard any notion of value, untroubled?

you just do what the culture tells you?


no, most people aren’t relativists,

but most people would like to think of themselves that way;

that’s where the money is

people really want to be tolerant,

but that’s so obviously not true…

precisely the most cultural cultures

are the least relativist…

but I won’t give you a half-baked argument

about how tolerance has to be tolerant of intolerant.

as if I fight against relativism

because it is the strongest strategy of people who want

everyone to be a pawn in the game:

easier to manipulate

if they don’t believe in anything…

our daily experience sounds silly,

but that’s not a refutation;

it seems like a silly refutation

because a 15 year-old could think of it,

but why doesn’t it seem like a silly idea

because a 15 year-old could refute it?

so logically unsound and yet so powerful


and wish they could think it

but know they can’t

and it may be that political ideas

must be philosophically half-baked

and you just have to make things work by trial and error,

but people like to argue from principles;

which way is it better to be wrong?


Accepting what culture you’re given,

to some extent, but moving beyond it,

to say culture is binding and brainwashing

makes you sloppy and lazy and watch too much TV.

I choose things that don’t make me happy, constantly,

and part of it is my fault

but part of it is that I live where these things are really accessible,

and sometimes I wished I lived in a place that

made its first and only purpose to keep me straight and focused,

and for those reasons I have serious doubts about democracy and liberalism.

I just hate loving things

I’m supposed to love:

You’re feeling what’s happening now.

This is the world’s expression...

A soul is big enough for the high and the low

Except for the fact that we die.


How many great books have there been?

More than none.

They’ve always been possible.

Not before they existed.

Philosophers exist into the future.

Civilized man could fade away.

If there’s nothing greater than the perfect fry that we’re after

It’s the perfect fry, perfect shape, width, etc.

And you’re telling me that’s not petty?

Why is that petty?

Why is it not? I think the onus is pretty much on you.

It’s perfect; it’s not the fry that matters, but the perfection

Then why shouldn’t we make the goal of America to produce the perfect pair of tits?

I mean the perfect killing gun.

So what about the great man? We don’t want everything to be great.

We want them to run the country, to teach us.

Then why should there be any constraints on their power?

The great man wouldn’t allow for the perfect French fry.