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Coming To You From A Room

February 21, 2014

[Due to the special nature of the email of the 17th Day, and out of respect for the eyes of any who would read it, it is being reproduced in it’s entirety below without italicization, save for the epigraph from Kafka. To further confusion, I will then put the present-day remarks in italics, except when they are in boldface.]

There is no need for you to leave the house. Stay at your table and listen. Don’t even listen, just wait. Don’t even wait, be completely quiet and alone. The world will offer itself to you to be unmasked; it can’t do otherwise; in raptures it will writhe before you.
–Franz Kafka

It occurs to me that one thing I must do to to further understand this work is to go into the gallery and just sit there, for a long time, in silence. I will not be alone, as he is for great periods of time. I will leave, as he has not, and my long time will not be so very long. But still there might be discoveries to made in the encounter with what we usually call boredom. The idea is familiar and the means are readily at hand, but how often do we really explore this experience, willingly? Let us try a little experiment here. I will take a neutral word from the Kafka quote, “table,” and type it over and over again. Try to read each word individually. table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table able table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table able table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table able table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table tablet table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table able table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table table tablet well that wan’t very much really. I did not write long enough for the tedium to become very interesting. And you probably did not read each word, if doing that can be called reading. Though I find trying to read the tables to be more interesting than typing them. Maybe boring prose would be better. About how tables often have four legs. Sometimes they have three. Sometimes more than four. A table may have just one or two legs under certain circumstances in which the leg or legs is or are properly rooted in the floor or a wide base. When was the last time you were underneath a table? No, sorry, questions are too interesting. Especially that one. I wonder if Anthony has asked anyone when was the last time they were under a table and why. I do not think so. Chairs are also interesting. Some have arms as well as legs. Like people. Who can balance on two legs due to active maintenance of posture and footing. It is very liberating to not have to even try to be interesting. It can be liberating but not very liberating maybe to not have to even try to be interested. Snorkel would be an even better word if it were spelled snorkle. The British spell snorkeling snorkelling. The whole thing about valorizing boredom can be quite irritating. Small children can also be irritating but still we might love them. Cereal is an interesting food, both in the breakfast sense and the grain sense. In the eighties the New Yorker ran a series of articles about grains. There was an article about wheat. There was an article about corn. There was an article about rice. I do not know if any other grain was represented. Those are the big ones. Someone should start a society for the promotion of minor grains. It could be called The Society for the Promotion of Minor Grains. I never read those articles. I was just awed by the daring of their publication. And they were long articles. Maybe multi-part. Now there is an interesting word: multi-part. It is true that the experience of reading boring prose is very different from the experience of sitting silently in a bare room. Maybe we could count the ways in which they are so very different. There are thirty. I know I am not being boring enough. Not boring enough for ecstasy. I have often sought to bring women to ecstasy through boredom but I only succeeded seven or eight times. Certain people have seven or eight pairs of pants. Some others have more. Some others have less. Those are the three kinds of people. The mind has a problem, its problem is that it is always so interesting. Many people in Asia have struggled with this problem in a way that many people outside of Asia have admired. For example some people there have tried meditation, which is very boring. Some people in Asia have tried being rice farmers which is particularly boring and backbreaking. Some rice is from Italy and expensive. Italy also manufactures Beretta firearms, after which the television show was named, in an early experiment with product placement and naming rights. Firearms is a way to say guns that indicates that you are a boring person though it is a rather lovely word. Law enforcement is a perhaps less lovely pair of words that indicates the same thing. I could gladly write this way longer than you could gladly read this way except you read faster than I write. No, I do not think think this has very much to do with Far Off and All. I suppose I should mention Gertrude Stein. She was very good at what she did. Some have questioned her heterosexuality. She lived in Paris but was not French. Using the first person creates more of a bore effect than a boring effect. Writing a users manual to something dull that no one needs to use is a good way to get boring prose. So is being a lawyer. Putting all your words in one paragraph creates a look of being boring or difficult or unpleasant but is a bit of a cheat. Even this sentence could fail to be boring. Sitting in a room. Standing in a room. Eating in a room.  Slowly eating in a room. Letting it happen in a room. Dreaming of snorkeling in a room. Needing to pee in a room, but not doing so. Two different ways of taking the previous sentence. Three different kinds of people, in terms of pants. Nine lives of cats, claimed by traditional wisdom that has often lead us astray, such as in thinking tomatoes are poisonous which they are not, unless they have been poisoned. Which happens in Italy quite often. Italy is shaped like a boot. It is kicking Sicily, because Sicilians are rustic rubes and gangsters. Some movies have been made about Sicilians. Anthony is half Italian and half French. Meg and Danny are half Restivo. Their Restivoness is Sicilian, but I do not know if Anthony Restivo’s Restivoness is Sicilian. It is a good name, you can see how it belongs on a pack of matches. To properly do this experiment I would have to keep writing for at least ten hours. I will not do that. The experiment will be incomplete. People will be sorry about that. They will wonder what could have been. They will wonder and wander and Phoebus is dead, ephebe. Who are you calling ephebe, Ephesian? Gertrude Stein was from Pennsylvania. She was not a bullshitter. She was less a bullshitter that any textile magnate you care to mention. Experiments are often less than experience. Experience comes with time. Time is not measured as easily as often people think. Some numbers are big and some numbers are small and one number is the number of days you have to live on this earth (or in space, if you can get there). Some tables, furthermore, are black. And some are pink or green or covered in blood. Some tables are used for accounts and some to hold up aquariums. Some aquariums have little tables in them, but not many. This is being written in a room. The room is in a house. The house is in Belmont, a neighborhood in Charlottesville. Charlottesville is in Virginia. Virginia is in Italy. I just fooled you by being more interesting than you expected, by lying. Lying is a way to avoid being boring sometimes. Though not as often as people think. When you say ‘it is boring’ you are using the word incorrectly. When you say ‘I am bored’ you are using the word incorrectly. It is a word of fantasy. They no longer make the keys of pianos out of ivory. Without ivory they don’t bother with the ebony either. All the harmonies are plastic now. The colors come from chemicals made from petroleum and waste. So that elephants and trees can live. North America would be called South America if people had called north south and south north and the civil war would have never happened. None of this has happened before. When Anthony sits in his room with the big windows none of it ever happened before. Day Seventeen never happened before. It happened now but it never happened before. If this is your favorite email I like you. Shepherds are often Basque, and so are terrorists. Linoleum is not so very bad. A linoleum knife is dangerous in the hands of a belligerent drunk. But so is a baseball bat or an awl. Linoleum knives don’t kill people, people kill people. Is this cheating? Is it cheating to write that chairs are often usefully placed around a table? Is it cheating to remind you that some chairs have arms and some chairs have feet? Is the Pacific Ocean really as large as people say? Is it art? How can we cheat more? More than anything we need to cheat more. People are dying from not cheating death. Tests teach best when tests are cheated. Owls are interesting birds but unlike pigeons they never carry mail. The rings of Saturn are like the rings of onions. Both are rings. The rings of a bell are different. Peals and peels also. This is coming to you from a room. It is coming to you through wires and through the air. It is coming to you from warm buildings that hum, surrounded by barbed wire, that very few people go into. It is coming to you because of what sperm and eggs can do when combined. It is coming to you because they are combined. They are often combined. Then they do it. Look around at what they do. Some tables wobble. Some tables wobble more. Raptures can be yours. Anyone can do this.

–“Restivo Watch Day 17: A Boring Message” (2/21/11)

Maybe I should use the bold more often on this blog. About this email — and I always thought of them as ‘posts’ not ’emails’ but for the purpose of the blog and the embedding them in posts it makes sense to refer to them simply as ’emails,’  though maybe it would be worth it to go bold and call them ‘dispatches’ — the most common thing I would hear from people about it is that they would say they read every single ‘table.’ This impressed me as I would not have done that and, in fact, never have. I started an attempt earlier today but quit about halfway through. The problem has more to do with visual tracking than boredom, making the challenge not quite fit for its purpose. I suppose you could follow along with your finger, but that would mean putting your finger on your screen, which something that is either just not done or done all the time and with all kinds of computational consequences, depending on your device.

After the liberating rigor of typing out the ‘tables’ gave way to the full undemanding freedom of what follows, this became one of the most enjoyable of all the dispatches to write. My general approach to writing is anal-retentive stream-of-consciousness. Here the stream was gently let loose, simply because, when I sat down to the computer that night, I could not think of a single damn thing to write.

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