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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 11/12/18

Oriental Ways

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Message Linh Dinh
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As I get older, my eyes often discharge this greenish pus. It's disgusting, I know. With a moist towelette, Lan dabbed at the corners of my eyes. I didn't purr, I swear.

"Some customers can be pretty gross, but we don't have to serve any of them. If we walk out, though, we don't get paid."

It's good to hear people's stories, face to face. In Philadelphia, I knew almost none of my neighbors, so the only local community I had were the drinkers inside Friendly Lounge, yet even there, it was hard to talk, because the television was always on, even if no one was watching it, and the jukebox often interrupted.

Though not all Americans bowl, eat, drink and have sex alone, too many are divorced from their neighbors, neighborhood, the direct experience and even their own thought process, since it is regularly drowned out by canned garbage. Since the collapse of the American empire will be, among other things, a cultural and psychic deliverance for Americans themselves, all should wish for it.

One night in Philly, there was a blackout for maybe an hour, and inside McGlinchey's, where I was sitting, the barmaid dug out some candles and lit them. Without electronic distractions, we became much more conscious of everyone else's presence, clearly heard everything that was said, even if it was across the room, and was encouraged, or at least not prevented, from chattering at length. Finally, stories could flow. I remember being soothed, but also saddened, for why wasn't this the norm?

A decade ago, I gave a reading at This Ain't the Rosedale Library, a Toronto bookstore now out of business. It was fairly well attended, and afterwards, a bunch of us went to some Kensington Market bar to talk, but the canned music was so loud in there, conversations were impossible. We were reduced to shouting snippets at each other. I screamed to a woman next to me, "This is why poetry is dead!"

"What?!"

"Poetry is dead!"

"Yeah!"

"This is why!"

"Huh?"

"We can't even fuckin' talk!"

"I know!"

Lastly, an announcement: at 6PM on Sunday, November 18th, I'll give a reading in Tokyo at Aoyama Book Center, 5-53-67 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Cosmos Aoyama Garden Floor (B2F). Mieko Kawakami was supposed to appear with me, but some nutcase has threatened, online, to come to this event to stab her, so the police has advised Mieko to not show up. It's a great shame, but it's also heartening to know that literature can still be that deadly serious somewhere.

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Linh Dinh's Postcards from the End of America has just been published by Seven Stories Press. Tracking our deteriorating socialscape, he maintains a photo blog.


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