Thursday, March 31, 2005

Two Passages by Haruki Murakami

"The last time I'd slept with a fat female was the year of the Japanese Red Army shoot-out in Karuizawa. The woman had extrordinary thighs and hips. She was a bank teller who had always exchanged pleasantries with me over the counter. I knew her from the midriff up. We became friendly, went out for a drink once, and ended up sleeping together. Not until we were in bed did I notice that the lower half of her body was so demographically disproportionate. It was because she played table tennis all through school, she had me know, thought I didnt quite grasp the relationship. I didnt know table tennis led to below-the-belt corporeality."

"At work, the day is solid with meetings from the morning on. Important meetings on sales campaigns for a new product line. Several employees read reports. Blackboards fill with figures, bar graphs proliferate on computer screens. I participate, although my contribution to the meetings is not that critical because I'm not directly involved with the project. I voice an opinion only once. Isn't much of an opinion, either -- something perfectly obvious to any observer -- but I couldn't very well go without saying anything, after all. I may not be terribly ambitious when it comes to work, but so long as I'm receiving a salary I have to demonstrate responsibility. I summarize the various opinions up to that point and even make a joke to lighten up the atmosphere. Several people laugh. After that one utterance, however, I only pretend to review the materials."

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

East / West

by Paul Bowles

Cannabis sativa and its derivatives are strictly prohibited in Turkey, and the natural correlative of this prescription is that alcohol, far from being frowned upon as it is in other Moslem lands, is freely drunk; being a government monopoly it can be bought at any cigarette counter. This fact is no mere detail; it is of primary social importance, since the psychologlical effects of the two substances are diametrically opposed to each other. Alcohol blurs the personality by loosening inhibitions. The drinker feels, temporarily at least, a sense of participation. Cannabis abolishes no inhibitions; on the contrary, it reinforces them, pushes the individual further back into the recesses of his own isolated personality, pledging him to contemplation and inaction. It is to be expected that there should be a close relationship between the culture of a given society and the means used by its members to achieve release and euphoria. For Judaism and Christianity the means has always been alcohol; for Islam it has been hashish. The first is dynamic in its effects, the other static. If a nation wishes, however mistakenly, to Westernize itself, first let it give up hashish. The rest will follow, more or less as a matter of course. Conversely, in a Western country, if a whole segment of the population desires, for reasons of protest, to isolate itself in a radical fashion from the society around it, the quickest and surest way is for it to replace alcohol with cannabis.

from "Homage to Edward Said"

by Mahmoud Darwish

And your identity? Said I.

His response: Self-defence . . . Conferred on us at birth, in the end it is we who fashion our identity, it is not hereditary. I am manifold . . . Within me, my outer self renewed. But I belong to the victim’s interrogation.

Were I not from that place, I would have trained my heart to raise metonymy’s gazelle there . . .

So take your birthplace along wherever you go and be a narcissist if need be.

- Exile, the outside world. Exile, the hidden world. Who then are you between them?

- I do not introduce myself lest I lose myself. I am what I am.

I am my other in harmonious duality between word and geste.

Were I a poet, I should have written:

I am two in one, like the swallow’s wings.

And if spring is late coming, I am content to be its harbinger!

He loves countries and leaves them. (Is the impossible remote?) He loves to migrate towards everything. Travelling freely between cultures, there is room for all who seek the essence of man.

A margin moves forward and a centre retreats. The East is not completely the East, nor the West, the West. Identity is multifaceted.

It is neither a citadel nor is it absolute.

The metaphor slumbered on one bank of the river. Had it not been for the pollution,

It would have embraced the other.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Guests Speak, No. 3

Blog Skepticism
by Ankush Khardori

I'm glad to see you've started this blog. You now hold the dubious
distinction of being the first person I know personally to do such a thing.
In my mind, a lot is riding on whether or not you're able to be successful: If you are, I'm going to have to stop deriding blogs at every opportunity I get.
To be fair and not to discourage you, my open disdain for these things
has more to do with their role in creating and propagating political
rumors; their authors' smug but emarrassingly unjustified sense of
self-importance (see, for example,;
and the idea that otherwise useless people can make a living by linking
to *other* people's writing and adding easy irony or sarcasm (see, for
example, and;
as well as

Obviously, none of the above applies to you, and I've really liked the
few posts I've read thus far -- even though I think Coleridge a far
superior romantic poet to Byron. I'm just kidding; my knowledge of
Coleridge is limited to the oft-repeated (but infrequently attributed)
phrase, "willing suspension of disbelief." But I digress.

Guests Speak, No. 2

by Henson Robinson

How do you say whoooohooo oo oo oo!!!! ??? what does that say
to you?? I like to think you would see that and think of running
really fast or sledding down a really fast hill or skiing through a
forest of trees!!!! Oh my god I am getting really excited just
writing this!!! It is making me want to run around through the halls
and isles here at work just to see how fast I could do it with out
getting caught or falling down!!!! It must be really cool to be a tuna.
There are times that my eyes move faster than my head can think!!
I am gonna eat a graham cracker!! It is crazy what a nice day will
do to people.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Guest Speaker Series, No. 1

Tempe Strip Mall
by Carl Koschmann

we didnt land on the hispanic strip mall - the hispanic strip mall landed on us. John was itching to do laundry and directed us the Arizona State campus in Tempe - we parked the van and john/fredo promptly picked the oldest washing machine available which promptly stopped working. In fact, the spinning apparatus dislodged itself and the only movement was a slight current created by a jirating nubbin at the bottom.

i myslef, lured by the promise of "the best fadez n' temp" entered what turned out to be a barber shopped staffed and patronized entirely by latinos. my stylist Hector was a stout, happy young man who expressed confusion at my wisconsin flop, but pressed on, spending a clear 45 minutes on the trim around my neck - which, i am told, is nothing short of artwork. hector expressed that "he doesnt mess mith california" as the winters are too cold. i told him we blew a tire outside of vegas. hector expressed that he doesnt mess with vegas either. too hectic for hector, it would appear. he filled me in on the spanish talk show that was on - but mostly expressed disdain for the topic, confiding in me that they watch it to placate the female boss. he finished a while later, with all manner of product in my new crew cut. i am no longer the same person.

back at the laundramat, things were going no faster, so fredo and i posted up in the kids video lounge to watch Toy Story 2 with two hispanic kids who explained the plot to us and shared a large bag of doriotos. as we waited for the dryer to finish, john took us to a smoothie establishment, where he promptly fell in love with the smoothie operator. she was a tall attractive black woman in runner's tights, and john quickly ascertained that she ran the 100, 200 and relays for both for ASU - johns eyes lit up - but they lit up only long enough to discover a large rock on her ring finger.

people's lives were changed in that hispanic strip mall - albeit only slightly.

Night and Day

He couldn't sleep, so he sat patiently in the dark. His eyes wandered, falling on the tiniest glimmers. Light caught the side of a small object -- a plane maybe -- and he tried to focus on it. As a mass of light, it seemed graceful and amorphous. Then he remembered: putting his swimsuit on, walking down to the lake, diving in. The object was not a plane at all, and it wasn't even nighttime. He began his ascent and thought, the certain sideline themselves.

Call to Action

To anybody interested:

fredburgessblog will soon be showcasing a new feature: the guest speaker series. You are encouraged to send an entry that will be posted on the site shortly thereafter. Send whatever -- fiction, nonfiction, propoganda, whispers, backcrawls, whatever. It can be anonymous or not. It can be good - or not.

Send your entry to

Down with censorship. Up with the words in your head.