Thursday, November 22, 2012

Confessed Ignorance and the Ecstasy of Influence

Rob Gronkowski poses with his new cereal “Gronk Flakes” which are available at Stop & Shops throughout New England.
Rob Gronkowski’s new cereal “Gronk Flakes” hit store shelves on Tuesday, and the Patriots tight end was on hand to celebrate at a Walpole Stop & Shop.
Who is this guy?! He looks like Stephen Malkmus!

So I'm all "gronk?"  "Gronk?"  "What the F' is that phrase that guru and GLAMrous mentor Michael P. Edson uses?!..."  Gronk? Grunk? Grok?

GROK!  And so I learn it is from Heinlein:

grok664 up95 down
Taken from the book 'Stranger in a Strange Land,' literally meaning 'to drink' but taken to mean 'understanding.' Often used by programmers and other assorted geeks.
It took me a long time to grok Perl, but now I can read it without going blind!

I get it!  And it's beautiful!!  Drink to me only with thine eyes...

My brother read science fiction, I didn't.  Maybe because of that.  I never understood why I should.

I also had a tough time reading Eggers' Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (thanks, Adam, but -- sorry...I just can't do it...even if Eggers' time-space feels so much like mine...).

Now I find myself reading A Hologram for the King, which kinda feels like today-based science fiction.  I am likely to meet Dave Eggers in a couple of weeks, and I feel like I have to have read at least one of his complete works.  The novel is happening in a very American now, but it feels a little like science fiction, and I get the page-turning aspect and how over-arching, metaphor-like actions help us take one small step outside of our own lives.  This out-of-body sensation has us just far enough outside the psychic skin to turn around and look at ourselves or those in our close circles -- better to appreciate or criticize, emulate, learn or smolder in self-loathing or onanistic admiration.

And I am right now into several essays of Jonathan Lethem's The Ecstasy of Influence.  Only to find that he was an avid science fiction reader, then writer.  When he writes about science fiction it brings back all these images of my youth and the deep libraries my brother kept of Herbert, Heinlein and the old science fiction magazines he collected.

I wanna write a great essay that connects Joyce's Ulysses and Pavement's Crooked Rain Crooked Rain.  They'se is the stories of my life written by better writers.  After I finish the Hologram book and the Lethem essays, I might go on to Lethem's 33 1/3 book on Fear of Music.  Will Lethem write about i Zimbra and the influence of Romanian Jewish avantgardistes like Tzara on Ball and others?  I digress... 

For now I'll leave this short post as a tribute to influencers in my life, and likely never get to science fiction, alas.  It seems like so many people I love do, so here's to them.  Thanks, Mike, to opening my eyes to Heinlein, martians, and drinking life in to the fullest.

Happy Thanksgiving.


mike said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mike said...

James - - you're a maniac!! (Glad that you found the true meaning of #grok)