What is about to happen in this space: I will illustrate the technique of “writing while stupid.” I’ve done this before. The basic idea is to harness your stupidity. Make it work for you instead of against you.
An inspiration for me in developing these ideas has been Fran Lebowitz, who complained of writer’s block through the 1980s and beyond and turned it into talk show fodder. Her repeated appearances on Letterman talking about her writer’s block like it was her lover made her my only age-appropriate celebrity crush. She is on my list right about in the middle, between Betty White and Taylor Swift.
She occasionally would talk about how she was busy writing a book about being a writer experiencing writer’s block. That made so much sense to me; I wanted her to father a child on me.
Obviously not every case of writer’s block is owed to engaging in stupidity or misusing pharmaceuticals or listening to loud music. When I speak of “writing while stupid,” I’m not really suggesting that you have to be experiencing stupidity in order to apply the method. All you need is some obstacle to work through.
Thus we’re led to the general idea: Say you are having trouble writing something. Write about that trouble. Be as specific as possible, name names, and include dates, times and graphic descriptions. Don’t hesitate to tell us if it’s a dark and stormy night—that’s six words right there.
Cat got your tongue? OK, you can’t talk, but you can show us the cat hanging off your face. Maybe you could start typing at your computer, “Will someone please get this cat out of here?”
Usually, when I have trouble thinking of what to write, it’s not because there’s a dearth of news to write about, it’s because I just don’t want to write about them. To put it another way, I can think about what I could write about, but I feel like thinking about it is going to hurt me.
But that’s the trick: you have to write through the barrier. You can’t write around it.
The man arrested for killing eight people at Atlanta spas, including six Asian women, says he did it because of his sex addiction. In other words, he has claimed he killed them because they were temptations. It wasn’t racist, he has said; he would have killed any women who tempted him as much. He was provoked. They had it coming.
The barrier lies in the revulsion.
All across the country, Asians are being assaulted and sometimes killed by people who blame them for the pandemic. The assailants think they brought the virus here.
There’s a lot of thought currently going into how people like this can be educated to see the errors of their thinking.
I don’t see workshops conducted by anti-racism advocates being the answer. I think the only thing these people are going to ever respond to is a bonfire of society-wide expressions of disgust at their behavior. They are beyond reason. They need to stop thinking of themselves as good guys. They need their sense of shame lit up.
The revulsion is the barrier to writing, but it’s also the answer to the trigger of the revulsion. Revulsion is just what is needed sometimes.
In other news, Bruce Harrell is running for mayor. But, but wasn’t he already mayor for a few days? I thought he would have got that out of his system. Huh. Well, anyway, he is proposing to improve SPD culture by requiring all of our police to watch the full video of Derek Chauvin’s murder of George Floyd, reminiscent of the scenes in “A Clockwork Orange” where Alex has to watch vids of sex and violence with his eyes clamped open and Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 9” playing.
I’m not sure that playing Beethoven’s Ninth would work with the SPD in general. There will have to be studies to find out what music they generally favor.
If their eyes are clamped open for the viewing, I’m sure more cops will quit. I’m not saying it’s right; I’m just saying, it will happen. People don’t like their eyes clamped open. After they quit, former police chief Carmen Best will then call for the SPD budget to be expanded to hire replacements. The budget will have to include extra pay for watching videos with eyes clamped open.
Dr. Wes Browning is a one time math professor who has experienced homelessness several times. He supplied the art for the first cover of Real Change in November of 1994 and has been involved with the organization ever since. This is his weekly column, Adventures in Irony, a dry verbal romp of the absurd. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read more of the Mar. 24-30, 2021 issue.