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Sounding brass; tinkling cymbal.

Oh, dear. —Bryant Durrell, friend of the pier, went and remembered something I wrote (checks dates) seventeen years ago, and while it’s not that I wish that he hadn’t (one is pleased, after all, to be remembered), still: his assessment of me-then as “overly charitable” is, itself quite graciously charitable; me-now, looking back over that intractably defensive meander, would rather call me-then “gormlessly naïve.” —But time has passed, great seething gobs of the stuff, and the only benefit one can scrabble from its passing is whatever might pass for wisdom: I’d like to think I’ve become a wee bit better at reading things, and reading how they might be read; much less sanguine, anyway, about an author’s ability to keep such material from turning in their hands and pointing the way it’s always going to point without inhuman effort, whatever intentions might charitably be imparted to them in the use of it. —There’s so much more and other more desperately needed work to be done, before we can set ourselves to play in fields like that.

We interrupt this narrowcast.

So the first chapbook of the fourth volume premièred on the web back in December; the second chapbook will make its debut one week from today, on February 8th, and appear in Monday-Wednesday-Friday installments for the next two weeks. So, hey: words are getting written. —In the meanwhile: if you do enjoy the work being done by the epic, or the notion of the work the epic would like to be doing, might I ask you to consider, for a moment, at least, supporting it with your patronage? Depending on the level at which you subscribe, you might already have gotten to see the story-time calendar I’m using to keep my discourse-time untangled; you might already have (in EPUB, MOBI, or PDF form) a copy of that next chapter, weeks before the (wonderful, lovely, couldn’t get by without ’em) peanut gallery has a chance to read it; your name might well be on an envelope I’m addressing tomorrow, to ship you a paper copy. Do consider it? —And, that consideration having now been taken, we return you to your regularly scheduled scroll.

No. 35: many Christian eyes.

Hey, nineteen.

So the pier’s been around for a while. (Apparently, bronze is the appropriate metal for any gifts on such an occasion.)

Begin as you mean to go on.

Stagger toward consciousness under the insistent paws of the older cats, wondering where breakfast is. Sit up, fish last night’s sweater from the floor, slip into it. Quietly to the bathroom to void the bladder and wonder, vaguely, if the toilet’s recently sluggish drain is merely due to an uptick in toilet paper usage, that might be remedied by a faintly stern lecture at some point, or something deeper, older, more severe, that will at some point require professional help. Into the kitchen, followed by the aforementioned cats, but quietly, quietly; it may be an hour later than usual, but it’s still some hours before everyone else. Switch on the kettle, crack open a can, a spoonful each in the bowls of the older cats. Grind the coffee. Rinse out the French press. As the water works its way to a boil, stick a head in the daughter’s room to check on the kitten, who’s sat, alert but sleepy, on her sleeping shoulder. Tip out the ground coffee. Stir in the water just off its boil. Mix up the poolish for the pompe a l’huile, and notice for the first time that the recipe just says “salt,” and not how much. Figure it’s a teaspoon, given everything else, but that’s for later, after the poolish has had time to ferment. Plunge the coffee, pour it into the thermos, pour out a cup. Sit down. Light the candle. Draw the card. Fire up the keyboard and turn to the first draft of the first scene of the thirty-fifth novelette. Figure maybe it’s time to commit to the occasional use of a question mark as an aterminal mark of punctuation, indicating a rising tone in the middle of a sentence, but not the end of it—but only in dialogue, and only when separated from the rest of its statement by some sort of dialogue tag? he said, uncertainly, but sure, okay, let’s do it. And what about whether or not he straight-up asks her where she’s going: say that out loud? Let it be inferred? Decide. Decide. There’s three more scenes to edit today to hit the pace we’d like. Let’s go.

20/20 hindsight.

What did I do this year, the year we decided to do the same thing we do every year, which is to bring blogging back. —Besides get translated and publish a book and begin the process of de-Amazonification and put out a ’zine and write another novelette, none of which is blogging, per se. Let’s see: I rather like this one, which only looked like it was sort of mostly about Watchmen, and this one, which is really mostly David Graeber, only then he had to go and die. This one, about book design and Entzauberung, is the sort of post I’d like to think I miss most about blogging; this one, about comics and formalism and serials, I’d like to think could’ve been, if maybe I’d worked it over one more time; this is the sort of genial shit-talking I always think these days I never have the time for anymore, even though they don’t take long at all; and this is the sort of thing commonplace books were intended for, I’d like to think. And I’m most awfully fond of this one (another entry in the Great Work) and most especially this one (yes), if not so much the third in the sequence, which wasn’t ever really supposed to be a sequence, but I’m sure you’re noticing all of these are from, like, the very beginning of the year? Before the Occupation of Portland by the zelyonye chelovechki, before the election and its ghastly aftermath sped up the grindingly long-term fascist coup enough for everybody else to see it, before the pandemic really settled in and took hold, and the bleakly short-sighted stupidity, and, well, I mean, 2020, y’know? I mean, it’s not like I gave it up entirely, I was still posting stuff I’d include in a year-end round-up, but I did skip the entire month of October, so. —I do have a Big Stupid Idea that I might start chipping away at. And I’ll try to make a point of not dismissing little stuff before I can post it; sometimes big things come from little stuff. —And I mean, 2009 was a pretty good year for blogging, wasn’t it? (Oh, hey, I was poking at Watchmen then, too!)

Fully automated hauntology.

I do wonder how authors dealt with the memories of cities and the ever-changing fabric of their ever-present selves in the days before we had Google’s Street View, and specifically now the history slider, letting you slip back and back to see what it looked like the last time one of those camera-mounted cars wandered these same streets, or the time before that: oh, look! you say, cruising past your own house on the monitor of the computer within it. Our car was parked right out front that day. What a curious sense of pride. (—If I were in my office instead, I might look up to see the enormous map of Ghana on the wall, and decide to walk the streets of Accra for just a few minutes to clear my head; we can do that, sort of, now.) —But there are costs, and slippages: this morning I was trying to find an appropriate bus stop to loiter at, needing to catch the no. 6 bus up MLK to (eventually) Vanport; I was reminded they’re building a building there now, where once had only been a parking lot, and a Dutch Bros. coffee cart, and happened upon a view of the construction site from April of 2019, when the first floor had been set in concrete and rebar, waiting for six more wood-framed storeys to balloon above it, but I stepped sideways, into another stream of views, that only offered September or June 2019 (the wood having bloomed now clad in brick, or what passes for brick these days) or August 2017 (the lot, the coffee, the light already different, as if lenses have changed enough since then to be noticed), and so here I am, with a morning spent bootlessly wandering over and over the same corner and streetfront, trying to find the precise spot from which I can once more catch that bygone glimpse of April, of last year.

Half a million words.

So the thing-that-argues (the argument itself being scattered in pieces all over the pier)—and, I mean, wait a minute. Maybe—maybe it’s about time, when you’ve amassed a corpus like this—

The run so far.

—maybe it’s time to stop being quite so self-indulgently coy?

So the epic (I think we can call it an epic, now, right?) just passed a milestone: with the release of no. 34, the first chapbook of vol. 4, —or Betty Martin (and here’s one of the problems of the epic: the cruft needed to identify exactly where you are in the flow of the thing)—anyway, the epic just passed the half-million word mark. These three book-shaped objects—

Book-shaped objects.

—plus this slender, unassuming ’zine (appearing in installments Monday-Wednesday-Friday for the next two weeks)—

No. 1: Prolegomenon

—add up to 511,358 words, according to this device on my desk here (minus the furniture of introductions and forewords, of course): why, that’s just over 29% of a Song of Ice and Fire!

—Anyway. Forgive me my indulgences, as I forgive those who indulge me; I just figured the occasion ought to be marked, somehow. I’ve been at this a while. There’s a whiles yet to go.

No. 1: Prolegomenon

Two-score and a dozen years ago.

Monday’s child is fair of face, they say, so hey—I got that going for me.

Selfie, in the study, without smile, with wild quarantine beard.

The visible world is merely their skin.

Altogether elsewhere, an interlocutor described the work of someone whom I haven’t read, for reasons, as, and I quote, “filmic and competent and all surface. And all the epigraphs only makes things worse,” and I know, I know, it has nothing to do with me, per se, but still: I felt so seen. —I do wonder, sometimes, as to how and why and the extent to which I’ve decided that the thing-I-do-with-prose should be so devoted to things prose is not supposed to do, but it’s like they say: anything worth doing is worth doing backwards, and in heels. [Strides off, whistling “Moments in the Woods.”]

Manichæan.

I might’ve made a mistake when I began the thing-that-argues. —Because I could not hear myself constantly and on a regular basis referring to Jo as a white woman (or, God forbid, a White woman), it would not be fair to single out Christian, say, by referring to him as a Black kid, or to Gordon as a black man.

Because I would not mark all of them, I could not mark any of them, so as to mark them all the same. The logic’s ineluctable.

But, you know. Logic.

I used to say that I didn't capitalize Black because I didn't want to have to capitalize White, but the "because" clause there was a mistake, an error in reasoning and logic.

It’s not just a matter of black, or Black, and white, of course. —How would you go about marking Ellen Oh? Would you say she is Korean? Even though she was born in Alabama, and most of her family hasn’t lived in Korea for a couple generations now? (Can you specify to any useful degree the differences in appearance between all possible individuals whose forebears might at one point have been sustained by that mighty peninsula, and the appearances of anyone, everyone else, that would render such a marker immediately perceptible, and adequately useful?) —You might perhaps think “Asian” to be an acceptable compromise, as a marker, but look for God’s sake at a map: Asia’s everything east of the Bosporous. How staggeringly varied, the appearances of everyone from there, to there! Worse than no mark at all, distorting marker and marked, and to no good or necessary purpose.

(The Ronin Benkei was flatly Japanese, even though Farrell was much too polite ever to notice more than a few echoes of classical Japanese manners in the gestures of Julie Tanikawa, whom he never heard swear in Japanese, except that once, for all that she spoke it as a child, with her long-dead grandmother.) (And as for Brian Li Sung—oh, but comics have their own markers, at once far more persnicketily precise, and yet so roomily ambiguous, and I’ve said too much.)

It’s not that the characters aren’t marked at all, of course: just not with such totalizing, reductive, contingent signs. Everyone’s described in much the same manner: their clothing, the way they carry themselves, their hair, how they say the things they say, the way the light hits them (the visible world being merely their skin)—the hope, of course, being that these pointilist details will accrete into a portait in the reader’s mind—inaccurate, perhaps, at the start, but resolving over time toward something more and more like what’s intended. (—Or, to be precise, what’s needed to make what’s intended work; this is imprecise stuff, this work, but really, think about it: how could even a single person, that is so large, ever fit within a book that is so small?)

But what does such a cowardly refusal on the part of the narrative voice, to plainly mark what any other medium would’ve plainly marked, by virtue of not being limited to one word set after another—what does this do to a reader’s relationship with the portrait they’ve been assembling when it suddenly must drastically be rearranged, after thousands upon thousands of those words? (I mean this at least is gonna hit a bit different than Juan Rico offhandedly clocking himself in a mirror on page two hundred and fifty.)

But let’s turn it around a minute: is it my fault if you didn’t assume from the get-go that an un(obviously)-marked character in a novel written by a white man, in a rather terribly white idiom, set in one of the whitest cities in the country—is it on me if you’re the one who assumes, before you’ve been told, that this character’s clearly white?

“White culture, should I capitalize it? My solution is to only use it as the first word of the sentence, so that you can't ever know which one I think is the correct answer.”

My own take on the question of the moment, or at least of the moment when I began sketching this out (though I’ve been thinking about something like it for a while now; it might’ve been the foreword of the third book, had anything coalesced in time)—my own take is not unlike what’s laid out by Angus above: because I would not dignify the constellation of revanchist grievances, the cop’s swagger and the supervisor’s sneer, that make up the bulk of what passes for the race I could call my own—because I would never capitalize that—well. Logic demands. Right?

But it’s ad fastidium, is what it is. —I could bolster it with an argumentum ad verecundiam, by turning to what Delany’s said, on his own perspective on the subject, bolstered in turn by Dr. DuBois’:

—the small “b” on “black” is a very significant letter, an attempt to ironize and de-transcendentalize the whole concept of race, to render it provisional and contingent, a significance that many young people today, white and black, who lackadaisically capitalize it, have lost track of—

Oh, but that was written in 1998, which is further away than it seems. Which is not to say anything’s changed, good Lord, I wouldn’t know, I only ever had breakfast the one time with the man, and we mostly talked about Fowles. But then, there’s this, from 2007, or 2016, depending:

“And those aren’t races. Those are adjectives of place—like Hispanic. And Chinese. Caucasians are people from the area in and around the Caucasus Mountains, which is where, at one time—erroneously—white people were assumed to have originated.”

“Latino..?”

“And that refers to the language spoken. So it gets a capital, like English and French. There is no country—or language—called black or white. Or yellow.”

But when he told this to a much younger, tenure-track colleague, the woman looked uncomfortable and said, “Well, more and more people are capitalizing ‘Black,’ these days.”

“But doesn’t it strike you as illiterate?” Arnold asked.

In her gray-green blouse, the young white woman shrugged as the elevator came—and three days later left an article by bell hooks in Arnold’s mailbox—which used “Black” throughout. He liked the article, but the uppercase “B” set Arnold’s teeth on edge.

And yes, it’s much the same argument! But it sits very differently, with different emphases and outcomes, when it comes from the mouth of Arnold Hawley, such a very fragile man—not Delany’s opposite, no: but still: his reflection, seen in a glass, darkly, as it were.

(Everyone knows there is no country called black, or language. What capitalizing the B presupposes is: maybe there is?)

But my own take on whether to capitalize “black” has no bearing on the thing-that-argues—in part because I’ve short-circuited it entirely, yes, but also and mostly because none of the people in it give a damn what I think, nor should they: the thing-that-argues, when it turns its attention to any such matter, should only ever care what it is they think, and how, and why: Christian thinks of himself as a Black man, for all that Gordon sees him as a black boy; H.D. sees herself as a Black businesswoman, concerned as she is with Black businesses; Udom, the new Dagger, still thinks of himself as from Across-the-River, though he knows most everyone these days sees him as one of the Igbo; Zeina, the new Mooncalfe, would probably say she’s black, or crack a bleak joke about Atlantis, and drowned mothers-to-be, or maybe she’d punch you, I don’t know; and Frances Upchurch (though that is not her name) would tell you exactly what you’d think she would, and never you’d know otherwise. —And each of them must be able to believe what they believe, to fight for it, or change their minds, without ever having to worry about some quasi-objective narrative voice thinks maybe it knows better blundering up to flatly gainsay them, this white voice in a terribly white idiom telling each and every reader that this was said by a Black man, or that was thought by a black woman, tricking these readers, every one, into thinking they maybe know what the author thinks—or worse, what the thing-that-argues thinks—and thus, what ought to be right, and further thus, who should be, could be, must be wrong. —And this understanding extends to all things.

(The narrative voice of Dark Reflections does not capitalize “black,” when referring to jeans, or to people, and so we can think we know what the author thought just a few years ago, or at least his copyeditor.)

So maybe I made a mistake at the start of it all. But there was thought behind it? At the start? Reasons to have done it, not that those are a guarantee of any God damn thing. —Maybe I’d do it differently, I were setting out today. Maybe I still regret using quotations marks, or writing it down as “Mr.” instead of “Mister.” But here we are.

There is a strength in writing as a fool, you do it right. Talking outside the glass. The room, that negative space affords, for the characters, for the story, for the readers (or so I tell myself, but I am a fool)—there’s power, in setting a taboo like this. You may not talk inside the glass, but still: you spill enough words, the shape of the glass can start to be made out.

Move fast; break things.

One is not unaware of a certain disgruntlement in certain quarters regarding a certain operation to which one has recently bound oneself; one looks at the one hand, one looks at the other, one manages a shrug of a bromide, life is compromise, I don’t know. It’s another of those situations where the structure is such that your choice or my choice can’t make a dent in the structure, but it’s all the structure will afford any one of us. They’re burning the postal service to the ground to steal an election—you maybe wanna buy a book? Could help pass the time until a general strike’s declared.

More numbers.

So I sold a copy of the new book through Amazon a couple-few days ago, for eighteen dollars. —I made forty-three cents.

Publishing is hard, y’all.

Despite recent movements advocating pushback against Amazon, most people in the United States maintain a favorable view of Jeff Bezos’ “everything store.” Peter Hildick-Smith, president of book audience research firm Codex, says that this includes most people who frequent independent shops; just over three-quarters of that cohort also use Amazon, at an average of five times a month, according to a 2019 survey. Even among bibliophiles, Hildick-Smith says, “It’s not as if everybody’s saying, ‘Gosh, I really don’t like Amazon. I don’t shop there’.” The result? “A very skewed market.”

When I first started putting this thing out in books (as opposed to words, or ’zines), I went with CreateSpace, because it was there, and because you could give them a PDF and some money and a couple days later you’d have a book-shaped stack of paper, neatly bound—

The author, with two of his books.

—which was a neat-enough trick, even if the paper’s a whit too glossy, and the cover a touch too stiff, to feel quite right in the hand, and every now and then you get a copy with sixty some-odd pages of the Petrisin Guide to Taking CLEP Exams stuck in the middle.

But even then, CreateSpace was being bound ever more tightly to Amazon, and now it’s been utterly subsumed, it’s gone; it’s nothing but Kindle, all the way down. —And if Hildick-SmithThe Amazon edition. had a hard time finding bibliophiles who don’t like Amazon, well, he didn’t talk to very many booksellers, or librarians.

If you spend eighteen dollars to buy the old CreateSpace Amazon paperback edition of “Wake up…”, published by and distributed by and pretty much only sold by Amazon, well, Amazon pays me four dollars. I can buy an author’s copy for six dollars and eighty cents, so we’ll take that as their basic cost to print; eighteen minus four minus six point eight leaves seven dollars and twenty cents for Jeff Bezos’ pocket.

The numbers for the new, Supersticery Press edition shake out a bit differently: published by me, printed by IngramSpark, distributed by Ingram, available to be sold by just about anyone who buys books wholesale from Ingram.The Supersticery edition. The wholesale price is forty-five percent of the list price, or seven dollars and sixty-five cents. It costs seven dollars and four cents to print a copy; IngramSpark then credits my account with sixty-one cents. Profit!

But there’s fifty-five percent of the list price left over: nine dollars and thirty-five cents. And that goes to whomever sells the book. Me, for instance, if you buy it direct. Your local bookstore, which you can do through IndieBound, assuming your local bookstore participates—even if they don’t have it on the shelf when you order. —Or, y’know, Jeff Bezos, I suppose. If you wanted.

Or if you buy a copy through Bookshop.org—which you can do with the click of a mouse or a tap on the screen—ten percent of the list price, or a dollar seventy, goes into a pool that every six months gets divvied out to bookstores in the American Booksellers Association; another dollar seventy goes to whomever gave you the link to Bookshop (like me, if you buy through this). (If it’s an ABA bookstore that gives you the link, they get twenty-five percent, not ten: four dollars and twenty-five cents.) —And you’ll notice you’re not paying full price, which is another thing a retailer can do with that fifty-five percent.

(Of course, there’s still anywhere from two dollars and four cents to four dollars fifty-nine cents going into Bookshop.org’s pockets, but they have expenses, and it’s okay, they’re a B-corp, and also capitalism.)

I’ll probably keep the Amazon editions around; I’m mildly amused by the mild confusion, and anyway to shut them off I’d have to figure out which website I’m supposed to log into now and what my password was or is or ought to be, and who has the time. —What’s also amusing to me, with Amazon, is of course they carry the new editions, of all three books (they carry everything Ingram distributes, because why not), but: you wouldn’t know it from search results, or looking at my Amazon author page. You can only find the Amazon editions for the paperbacks of the first two, but! Amazon makes more money off the editions that aren’t theirs: two dollars and fifteen cents more, per copy.

Well, anyway. I chuckled. Mordantly, but.

Speaking of self-publishing—

—as we were:

Trilogy!

I’ve finally managed to secure test printings of paperbacks from a print-on-demand shop that isn’t wholly owned by the largest and hungriest and most endangering river-system in the world, and holy cats, they are beautiful? They sit in the hand just right and the paper, the paper has this rough-hewn pulpy feel like a mass-market paperback you picked up from a spinner rack instead of that glossy slick you get from so many self-published books like too many (wonderfully, eminently playable) small-press RPGs. —It only took me 22 business days, plus shipping, to do it, since apparently what with the raging pandemic and all there’s been something of an impact on our ability to order and print and place books on demand, but hey.

So! You can certainly order them through me, which would make me ineffably happy, but your local library, or an independent bookstore, might also appreciate the nod, and anyway, them? Being plugged into the way things are? Might move it all along a little faster, because, what takes me, the publisher, 22 business days to deliver, the river insists would only take 11 to 17.

For, indeed, the watch ought to offend no one, and it is an offence to stay anyone against their will.

A socially distanced rally is a strange thing: but Neysa Bogar read Audre Lorde, and Renee Manes carried a sign that said Public Defenders Telling You That Cops Lie For 50+ Years, and even though we couldn’t hug each other, or rub shoulders, the energy was righteous, and the chants, though slightly muffled, still rang out, and one of those chants was DEFUND THE POLICE, and that’s the strangest thing, to me, at least, about the past mad wild upsetting unsettling enraging couple of weeks? —That this idea, that seemed an uncertain step too far when I first encountered through links to Mariame Kaba‘s Twitter feed, that firmed up underfoot as I read about it and sat with it and thought through it until I came around to the point I could say, yes, we must abolish prisons; yes, we must defund the police, all of them, right down to the ground; yes, we have no choice but to do the work to build a world where life is precious, so that life might be precious: that this wild mad desperately necessarily eutopian idea is suddenly lurching into view through the Overton window, to the point that John Oliver can do a whole dam’ show about it, on HBO.

Defund the police.

But for those who still find themselves clung to the notion of reform (radical, to be sure; meaningful; even bold), or those whose abolitionary imaginary only reaches to medieval Iceland—it occurs to me, that Dogberry’s advice to the watch might well prove an excellent basis for a retraining program for our thin blue lines. —Anyway, it’s a start. Policing delenda est.

The most relevantly framed.

DOGBERRY
This is your charge: you shall comprehend all vagrom men; you are to bid any man stand, in the Prince’s name.

SECOND WATCH
How, if a’ will not stand?

DOGBERRY
Why, then, take no note of him, but let him go; and presently call the rest of the watch together, and thank God you are rid of a knave.

VERGES
If he will not stand when he is bidden, he is none of the Prince’s subjects.

DOGBERRY
True, and they are to meddle with none but the Prince’s subjects. You shall also make no noise in the streets: for, for the watch to babble and to talk is most tolerable and not to be endured.

SECOND WATCH
We will rather sleep than talk: we know what belongs to a watch.

DOGBERRY
Why, you speak like an ancient and most quiet watchman, for I cannot see how sleeping should offend; only have a care that your bills be not stolen. Well, you are to call at all the alehouses, and bid those that are drunk get them to bed.

SECOND WATCH
How if they will not?

DOGBERRY
Why then, let them alone till they are sober: if they make you not then the better answer, you may say they are not the men you took them for.

The most renowned.

SECOND WATCH
Well, sir.

DOGBERRY
If you meet a thief, you may suspect him, by virtue of your office, to be no true man; and, for such kind of men, the less you meddle or make with them, why, the more is for your honesty.

SECOND WATCH
If we know him to be a thief, shall we not lay hands on him?

DOGBERRY
Truly, by your office, you may; but I think they that touch pitch will be defiled. The most peaceable way for you, if you do take a thief, is to let him show himself what he is and steal out of your company.

VERGES
You have been always called a merciful man, partner.

DOGBERRY
Truly, I would not hang a dog by my will, much more a man who hath any honesty in him.

VERGES
If you hear a child cry in the night, you must call to the nurse and bid her still it.

SECOND WATCH
How if the nurse be asleep and will not hear us?

DOGBERRY
Why then, depart in peace, and let the child wake her with crying; for the ewe that will not hear her lamb when it baes, will never answer a calf when he bleats.

VERGES
’Tis very true.

DOGBERRY
This is the end of the charge. You constable, are to present the Prince’s own person: if you meet the Prince in the night, you may stay him.

VERGES
Nay, by’r lady, that I think, a’ cannot.

DOGBERRY
Five shillings to one on’t, with any man that knows the statutes, he may stay him: marry, not without the Prince be willing; for, indeed, the watch ought to offend no man, and it is an offence to stay a man against his will.

VERGES
By’r lady, I think it be so.

DOGBERRY
Ha, ah, ha! Well, masters, good night: an there be any matter of weight chances, call up me: keep your fellows’ counsels and your own, and good night. Come, neighbour.

SECOND WATCH
Well, masters, we hear our charge: let us go sit here upon the church bench till two, and then all to bed.

The most generously apportioned.

Two of Swords (reversed).

Light the candle, draw the card. (I’ve switched from the Bad Girl Tarot to the Carnival at the End of the World.) Tweak a sentence or two, by which I mean take a word out, then put it back. I’ve written five percent of the next first chapter is one way to put it, but another way is to point out most of those words are an opening I’ve discarded, or at least set aside to be repurposed later. Plunge the coffee. Log into the other machine, the work machine, and let the various databases and distance-working tools—overstressed by the demands of an entire segment of the national economy suddenly working from their couches—reset and resynch and restore themselves in the relative quiet calm of four in the morning. Update all the lists of everyone we’ve been able to find so far, folks who might just with patient bureaucratic chipping and exquisitely phrased arguments have a chance to be pried free from federal custody before the virus catches fire in this facility, or that. (It’s already caught fire.) Look up when the daughter’s alarm goes off (sweetly artificial birdsong) and start to think about what can be made into breakfast. Adjust another word. —There’s this, written a couple of weeks ago, but available now, which is something of a sequel to this; also, go and read Martin Jay on the racket society. I’ll be back in a bit.

Read all you want; we’ll make more.

I’ll be puzzling over this one for a spell.

Walmart.

Meanwhile, I’d suggest you check a copy out from the library, but even though they added ten more copies to keep up with demand, there’s still a waitlist. So if I might humbly suggest the source itself?