APHORISMS – Noah Vale
October 19, 2021
A lid for every pot—a sadist for every masochist—a Jew for every sycamore tree—and a beautiful, simply gorgeous woman, for every block of Manhattan.
At McNally Jackson they keep the Bukowski, and the Burroughs, behind the counter, not on the shelf with the rest of the American fiction: in their respective places, or where their respective spaces should have been lined with paperback volumes, are two plastic placards that read: “Bukowski: ask at the counter,” and then a little later on down, maybe in the next row, one that says the same but for Burroughs. I figure it’s either like how grocery stores keep razors locked up—so that every time someone came to buy them, they could get a good look at them first, and make sure they weren’t crazy or suicidal, and then could put them on a list besides—a list of potentially crazy (for there’s always the potential) and now, in fact, armed citizens, so in case a razor attack goes down, the police can come asking after that list and have a good start for suspects—or, alternately, it could be like how grocery stores keep deodorant and OTC medications behind a plastic shield, that has to be unlocked, because they’re the most commonly stolen goods—and, as we know, if anyone is going to shoplift from a McNally Jackson, it’s the admirers of Burroughs and Bukowski.
Writers should study math. One speaks of gender and autism in terms of “spectrums,” one speaks of stories in terms of “plots,” one speaks of the “arc” of a life; one speaks, further, of the imaginary, of sets and of sequences—we need a richer vocabulary with which to explore these ideas.
As a kid I always preferred the prepackaged, preprocessed, refined cellophane products of the grocery store—and detested the porosity of fruit, the slovenliness of home-cooked meals on paper plates, hand-wrapped in plastic or aluminum foil. Even though, in point of actual fact, the latter tend to be much cleaner, healthier, safer than the former, what with their odd and unnatural preservatives and chemicals. But still my original prejudice persists. I think of a prepackaged cookie from a bodega—hopefully never touched by human hands—as healthier and cleaner and more hygienic than, say, an apple—especially an apple, a fruit which I loathe, uninhibitedly. (As a rule I loathe fruit, which has a certain porosity, you could say, a vaginality; fruits are eminently penetrative.) This, I think, sums up perfectly why I love and prefer to live in cities.
All the most beautiful women in the world are dead.
Museums are important cultural and societal institutions, to be protected at all costs, because they show us how easy and meaningless it is to be considered a great and quite important artist.
I can’t make playlists to send to you because songs, for me, like life, tend to simply wash over me, with no distinction or delineation. Ask me to make you a list of songs to listen to and I find myself with no recourse but to bestow upon you nothing less than the entirety of my life and experience and existence. Same goes for movie recommendations.
My pronouns don’t matter because no one ever refers to me.
Since my adolescence I’ve been cultivating alienation. The same way some people might cultivate a peach orchard, or a love of cinema or a stamp collection. The reason it’s taken that long is because it takes that long for the loneliness to set in. At first you can keep it at bay, maybe even make a few friends of it. Have some laughs and some drinks. But then eventually one day I couldn’t do it anymore, and then I just wallowed in it—the loneliness. And that is an intense wallowing, to find yourself suddenly face to face with the truth of the thing, with loneliness. You need to wallow, intensely so, and for some time—for me it was probably two to three years, maybe even five, if not longer, the dates are hard to approximate. But you need to wallow for a good and long time in order to reach the point of accepting the loneliness, of realizing that nothing you could possibly do could change the loneliness. And then, you even start to love it. You start to embrace it and you couldn’t live any other way—the lonely way.
What I yearn for most of all is to be a lost soul among mere men.
All of a sudden I remembered one of those late night conversations, only shared by boys in bunk beds, at unimpeachable hours of the night—during which I referenced a robotic race of men I had seen in a movie (2009’s G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, but it actually doesn’t matter) who felt no pain, and no fear; another boy, no more than two or three years older than me, a family friend so close I referred to him as my cousin—who incidentally became a drug addict, a wastrel, in adulthood, and my parents relate news of him to me in very somber tones and in minor chords—he said to me, that to feel pain was essential: what if you were to accidentally lean with your hand on a stovetop surface? If it weren’t for pain, you’d sear your skin off, cause permanent damage in your casual indifference. As for fear—if it weren’t for fear, you couldn’t sense that feeing you get, that inexplicable feeling, of being watched or followed… Fear is programmed into human-beings-as-animals… there is a sense beyond the material, more infallible than the material, more transcendent and universal… when you feel you are being watched, say, on the train, you look up and without fail you catch a glance… I remembered this as I looked down at the parking lot across the street from me, at a couple, a nice, young, thirty-something couple, walking their German shepherd… as I looked—nay, stared—at the dog, indifferently and absent-mindedly—he, the dog, sure as hellfire, or sure as I was then on the fourth story of my apartment building, looked across the street and up the four stories, right into my eyes… he sensed me, even through window glass, asphalt, and city smog… what I felt then, I’m sure, was something of the inviolate and the twilight. Something ancient and cruel.
A novel should be a lone voice dealt in holy screed against society.
Brooklyn is a hell of your own creation, while Manhattan is the hell of other people.
I resent the implication—I resent every implication.
“Give us this day, our daily bread.” It’s all so easy. Truly there is nothing at all to be done in the world. There is nothing worth doing, under the sun. Unless you’re making the food.
Socialism with a human face is like a toaster with a human pussy.
If when walking down the streets of New York City on a clear day a drop of moisture should fall on your philtrum, refrain from licking your lips.
Never take as fait accompli what can instead be sold wholesale.
Opinions are like people. Every asshole has one.
An artist is he who is unduly critical.
Il n’y a pas de rapport sexuel. “There is no sexual relationship.” There are only two bars of soap who continually gnaw at each other; two lighthouses passing in the night. A woman once told me, during an argument, Don’t tell me what I want. I found it an unfair request. Life is telling others what they want and desperately trying to believe yourself.
My ideal relationship, then, would be one very long argument which would promise never to terminate.
The insurance company demanded of their actuaries that they dot every ‘i,’ cross every ‘t,’ but inexplicably, the pages under review contained not a single ‘i,’ nor a single ‘t,’ so the desperate employees began dotting random letters, and crossing indiscriminately, hoping to fulfill their duty.
“We should at least cross the lower-case ‘d’s, to show we spared no effort.”
“Yes, and a lower-case ‘e’ could stand to be dotted every once in a blue moon.”
All praise is criticism and all criticism is also criticism.
To be memorable is to repeat yourself loudly and often. A broken clock is right twice a day, but a broken record is right over and over and over again.
In the brotherhood of man, all sex is incest.