Novel or update? Viegener’s 2500 Random Things About Me Too is composed entirely of Facebook status updates from the 25 Things About Me meme that we all did a few years back. What does it take to turn a few status updates into a novel? Several things. You’ll find a few of them here in these excerpts. Bet you wish you were his friend. For my money it was the novel of 2012.

lxv

1.  I’ve been looking at the sex ads online and I’m struck by both the variety of people’s pleasures and their monotony, the slavish repetition.

2.  This is the problem of genre.

3.  Walking outdoors, I will grab a leaf of whatever plant I pass and crush it to see what it smells like.

4. I just poked a lymph node in my neck, which is swollen from my cold, and I decided that maybe homeopathic medicine does work. You give a 
tiny amount of poison to stimulate your body to respond to the disease.

5. This is a realization best made while high on cough syrup.

6. In the sex ads there is a kind of arcana or lore, as encoded as medieval scholasticism.

7. My mother was raised by her grandmother and they were poor. For several years she worked as a housecleaner in a bordello owned by her rich aunt.

8. She told me she liked the women there, and they were always very kind to her.

9. Why is no one talking about poor people?

10. Random things are what irritate; what makes the oyster makes the pearl.

11. The newspaper is filled with stories about the Great Recession, but no one seems to be complaining, or depressed.

12. This must be a very upbeat downturn.

13. In general people have a bias in favor of certainty, or things we believe exist.

14. This is my problem with a certain amount of conceptual art, its favoring of that which exists over that which does not.

15. An exercise for guys. Look at your body. Imagine your shoulders narrowing and your breasts coming forward. How does it feel?

16.  Democracy is a concept. I have never actually lived in a full democracy.

17.  All democracies so far are partial.

18.  Never since ancient Greece and Rome has there been such a robust public display of phalluses. They’re everywhere online.

19.  Allegory is like camp. It’s either intentional (on the part of the writer or artist) or a product of reading.

20.  Therefore anything can be allegorical.

21. The gloryhole: now there is a word to behold.

22. As my mother aged, she began to dislike her body. Once she came to the desert with my boyfriend and me and after we had to drag her into the Jacuzzi, she said it was “not aesthetical” for people to have to see an older person’s body like this.

23.  Reading sex ads online, I think that the misspellings often make them sexier, up to a point.

24.  I often think of more things after I finish working on random things for the day than while I am thinking of random things for that day.

25.  The phenomenon of including cock shots rather than a picture of yourself when you’re looking to give a blowjob has always interested me.

 

lxvi

1. There are certain phrases that never sound right, like “I want to get naked with you.” Or “sexy time,” “make whoopie,” “have nooky.” Oh, and “sex maniac.” I love that term.

2. Today I’ve eaten three oranges and each one tasted slightly different.

3. The Atlantic side of the Panama Canal is 76 feet higher than the Pacific side, and I often wondered what would happen if you built a tunnel and all the water rushed from one ocean to another.

4. When I saw Einstein on the Beach so long ago, it created a new kind of performance art for me. Because I was being seduced by the man sitting beside me, I wasn’t just an audience. I was a participant.

5. Let’s leave behind the old avant-garde. The white cube and the black monolith—like the one at the beginning of 2001: A Space Odyssey, which excites all the apes until they learn to use tools, a bone, which they then use to kill each other.

6. Also, what if we used the Pacific to fill up Death Valley, which is 224 feet below sea level?

7. My father took me to see 2001 as a kid. I remember I was fascinated but confused, and I had nightmares later about monkeys under my bed, waiting to pull me down.

8. Occasionally I have come across pictures of me on gay sex sites being presented by other men as themselves.

9. If you read these lists you will probably know everything you will ever need to know about me.

10. Doesn’t everyone have a monkey under his bed?

11. Recently at school I met with Orlando Tirado, who is photographing all kinds of gay men’s bodies naked, in what he calls describing the indescribable.

12.  2001 the movie and 2001 the novel were created at the same time; neither is an adaptation of the other, but they are not the same.

13.  I just had a vision of the future, and it looks like my blood on a piece of paper.

14.  I mean that’s what led to my vision.

15.  Have you ever seen light shadows? Like when you watch a dark figure on a light background, on a stage or a dais, and you look away and you see the figure in reverse everywhere you look.

16.  It’s as much a dark shadow I guess. It’s something you see when you read against the grain.

17.  I will confess I often find repressed people sexier than promiscuous ones.

18.  Maybe it is the challenge of repression.

19.  In my recollection, it seemed very important to my father for us to see 2001 together. Now I think of 2001 as being important to my father, as though it says something about him.

20.  I have a complicated system for saving random things, which involves keeping a paper folded in quarters in my pocket all the time, then transcribing the things to my computer, then putting together the old things as I continue to write the new things.

21.  After years of problems with circulation, my mother’s leg was amputated. She was tough. She told me that a prosthetic leg that works is better than a real one that doesn’t.

22.  Yesterday I chanced upon the sex ad of a long-ago ex. He’s lying even more than I am.

23. All the Oedipal narratives are about limping somehow, and about the limpid, and the limpet.

24. Isn’t it curious how fruit can refer to both an individual thing and a category, one fruit and all fruit? And like the word gay, fruity once had a more innocent meaning.

25. It is interesting that we don’t seem to think of homosexuality as innocent.

 

lxvii

1. Keith Hennessy says the most feedback he got on Facebook was this week when he questioned the meaning of “friend.”

2. I remember the first time I went to Paris and saw a pissoir (a public urinal). It seemed like a civilized wonder, so I photographed it. A woman who was passing by saw me, and called me a sale cochon, a dirty pig.

3. I just reread a few dozen lists and I see that so much has been omitted.

4. David Burns and I sometimes call people on Facebook “frenz.”

5. I am using the most obvious devices here: mixing genres or styles, for example pairing the sentimental with the obscene.

6. Or anticipating commentary, rephrasing it, and thereby foreclosing it, which makes the work seem more rounded or rooted or sweeping somehow.

7. I remember when Friendster came around and I felt the name was right. Not friends but friendsters, a little sinister perhaps, like gangster.

8. Or by mixing ordinary with extraordinary, irreverence with sincerity, brutality with sensitivity, or present and past with future.

9. You know, one of my favorite words of late is chillax.

10. The worst is MySpace, which is less about friends than adolescence and narcissism.

11. There’s music in that word, chillax.

12. Are there forms of friendship which are not narcissistic?

13. Can I tell you something kind of gross?

14. Often when I’m really busy working, I have a large plastic jug at my desk and I just pee in it to avoid a trip to the bathroom.

15. So many sex ads say they are actually looking for a “deeper connection.”

16. My mother never mastered her prosthetic leg, but it was never far away. When she rolled around in her wheelchair she kept it on her lap.

17. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. That’s an ancient quote though lots of people think it’s from The Godfather.

18. I’m two-thirds through now. I can see the end and am starting to feel like I have too much to fit in.

19. I’m giving up on not knowing what will come next.

20. As I sit here, I hear kids outside playing, screaming at each other. Anything could be happening.

21. Self-consciousness or reflectivity on process is a sure winner. As are name-dropping and embarrassing revelations.

22. John Cage’s book Indeterminacy is composed of random stories that are connected primarily through a certain attitude.

23. I remember in high school when all the girls’ hair had “wings.”

24. Recently at school I met with Henry Crouch, who is photographing gay cruising areas and parks, what he calls the un-representable spaces of desire.

25. Things I could touch from where I am sitting: pens, iPhone, computer and cables, dried rose petals, messy stacks of paper, and a plastic jug half full of urine.

 

lxviii

 

1. In high school, I became a sort of junior Marxist, read all these books, and wrote a long paper for my economics class. My teacher told me the paper was too good for me to have written it myself.

2. I never thought of my piss jug as a chamber pot but I like the comparison. I always liked the term “night water.”

3. Death to the capitalist insect that preys upon the life of the people!

4. Peggy is getting thinner all the time and only picks at her food, so every day I confect new ways to get her to eat.

5. I remember a formative moment when I was fourteen and I saw graffiti on a city courthouse that said “faggots unite against patriarchy.” I remember I had to look up patriarchy, but not faggot.

6. My failure in writing here lies in the structure of the 25: the catchy opening, and the apposite ending. I can resist closure but I can’t resist apposition.

7. My brother and I had many stuffed animals. My first one was a bear that I got for Christmas four months before I was born.

8. Chamber pots make me think of bedknobs and broomsticks.

9. My mother loved Steiff stuffed animals. We had a family of porcupines who walked upright and wore clothes. They got put away so they wouldn’t get damaged.

10. I saw a John Cage piece once at CalArts when I first started teaching there. Cage sat at a desk on the stage writing on paper, and occasionally he’d read a number out loud. He was balancing his checkbook.

11. In retrospect the stuffed porcupines were toys my mother never had as a kid, so she got them for us and then locked them away.

12. Peggy hates her dog food, which has no meat. The vet said meat protein gives her crystals in her bladder, which make her incontinent.

13. The father of the stuffed porcupine family was named Mecki, almost like Mackie Messer in The Threepenny Opera.

14 Kurt Weill was a big part of my childhood, all that music.

15. The word window comes from “wind eye,” which is very nice and always reminds me of wind socks.

16. A few years before she died, my mother was sorting out the house and all the stuffed animals. Once when my brother and I were visiting, she pulled them out and we divided the pile, and now I have half and my brother has half, including my mother’s animals.

17. When I finish this, will it forever change my way of thinking, writing, or being? Or is that what Jung calls compensation?

18. Reading the newspaper lately I’ve noticed how fond we are of depressed, suicidal people with famous parents and troubled lives, and how depressed poor people don’t seem worth paying attention to.

19. I have a wish-demand to forever change my way of thinking, writing, and being.

20. There’s a book on organizing that everyone recommends, and I even bought it. But I can’t bear to read it, so it just sits there: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

21. There’s something galling about the phrase “highly effective.”

22. Speaking of alienation, one of my favorite loan words is ostranenie. It’s Russian for making strange, like the German Verfremdungseffekt, or alienation effect.

23. The thing about any alienation effect is that to work it requires something familiar.

24. One of my favorite definitions of depression is as the inability to sustain useful delusions. Such as: everything will be ok, people are basically kind, or everything has a meaning.

25. One week Peggy likes eggs, then not. Another week it’s dog biscuits, or avocados. Right now she only eats blue cheese.

 

from 2500 Random Things About Me Too, Les Figues, 2012
Read a review of Viegener’s book in Volume 3 of LemonHound by Jacob Wren