[barn-based solutions (act 1)]
(a talk show setting. armchairs; small table for water glasses, cell phones, and miscellaneous papers. Glenn, Karl, and Marty sit in a semi-circle: Glenn in the middle, Karl to his left, Marty to his right. Amanda, the production director, scurries about making last minute arrangements, touching up Glenn and Karl’s clothing and make-up; several times Marty declines her suggestions with a polite, discreet gesture. she goes back to a mounted video camera, makes some final adjustments, and then asks- “OK- are you fellows ready?” (murmured assent from Glenn and Karl; silence from Marty) “OK then, we’re starting in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, and we’re on”
GLENN<<< ok- ok, ok ok! (rubbing his hands, smiling hugely in a super-enthusiastic fashion) Well, I think we’re ready to get this thing started- are you two ready? [Karl nods politely- Marty continues staring straight out into the audience] OK, then, first, (looking out into the audience) let me thank you all for coming this evening. My name is Glenn Reginald and allow me to confess at the outset that for several reasons, far beyond my admittedly paltry control- and if you’re interested, by the way, I could possibly get into some of those later- the control issues, I mean- the “protocols,” as it were- you would most likely be shocked, utterly shocked, to learn what often happens behind the scenes of a media event such as this! we’re supposed to leave some time for Q and A, so maybe if there’s still some time after that- the Q’s have really been top-notch the last several weeks- keep it up!!! the A’s maybe not quite as much- but no big deal- no biggie. It’s simply impossible to tell what people might find relevant in these formal interview situations! All parties involved must be a little insane to even make the attempt!!! We do our best to cover as many bases as possible, but according to recent viewer feedback, well, sometimes even our very best is just not good enough!!!
As you may or may not know, I have been filling in for several weeks for Bryan Silson, the usual facilitator/curator/host of this lecture and interview series. He is still on assignment at the Southern Illinois Wilderness Management Institute, and from what I gather, there is still really no end in sight for that project. I would like to take just a minute or two to share with you all an email that he sent me just a few hours ago. (to Karl and Marty:) You fellows don’t mind? (Karl defers politely, no reaction from Marty) [reading from note] “Glenn- I know tonight’s interview is going to be a smash hit. [looking up at audience] Smash-hit is underlined! Remember- don’t ask the questions that come from the so-called bottom of your pathetic, festering heart because those usually aren’t very relevant, or to use your favorite word- “interesting”- [looking up at audience] Interesting is in quotation marks- and they’ll just make Karl and the viewers bored and uncomfortable. It’s your job to do everything in your power to keep them as stimulated and comfortable as humanly possible. Look at what happened to Gerald. [looking up] He’s referring here to Gerald Meyer, a former colleague of ours. [looking back down] He got away with unprecedented tactics for a considerable period of time, but when the repercussions finally came- dot dot dot. [looking up] And I would just like to add here, since we’re on the subject of dot dot dot Gerald, that I, for one, believe that he used those quote repercussions, especially when they started to become very obvious, in a highly imaginative and even artistic way. I would posit that in was in the very depths of that professional crisis that he crossed over from being a journalist to a bona-fide performance artist or shaman. [to Marty and Karl] You fellows know what a shaman is, don’t you? [Karl nods, Marty stares] He used the chaos and insanity going on all around him, the very chaos and insanity that he himself helped to generate, to illuminate the generalized and debased state of media discourse, particularly as it occurs in these so-called interview or Q and A style sessions. And I don’t think it would be too much of an encroachment on his privacy to quickly mention in this particular context that he spent the better part of 15 years in twice-weekly psychotherapy sessions with a pioneering mental health practitioner who completely subverted and reversed the usual rules of that particular professional game. And by that I mean this therapist was completely transparent about his own personal life, and spent as much if not more time than Gerald himself talking about his own countless disappointments and failures. The object being, as I understand it, that when the client or patient sees and realizes the extent to which this so-called eminent and successful professional has ruined his own life in almost every possible way, said client will realize that maybe personal ruin is a more generalized state of affairs, that ruin is in fact something to maybe even be deliberately cultivated. “Discover your own inner ruins” was the catchphrase, if I’m remembering it rightly, and “Go on to illuminate them for the whole word to see and shudder in front of.” Because of these and other highly unorthodox methods, our former colleague Gerald Meyer was able to develop an interview style unlike any other that we have seen in this industry. The fact that it eventually came to destroy his career is but a footnote in the larger context of his ongoing performance art. Before moving on, I’d just like to mention to those of you who may have stopped paying attention that Gerald has inaugurated a new lecture series at loading dock K down in the old warehouse district. At this point there is no online presence and events are advertised only through flyers and chalk on the sidewalk. OK- let me quickly get back to this email from Bryan and then we can proceed directly to the interview portion of tonight’s entertainment. [reading from paper again] “The repercussions might be serious, Glenn, maybe even more so than percussions themselves- so watch what you say tonight, and watch how he watches you watching what you say to him, and of course watch your reaction to his answers, and base your follow-up questions on that. Pounce on the bastard if he gives you the chance. I know you fancy yourself an intuitive, and I suppose in some senses you are. But you’ve been a little careless recently, I’ve noticed- I’m thinking particularly about the piece in October with Donald Jenkin’s lawyer and caretaker. He used you, Glenn. I know that we’ve already been through this but I don’t think it would hurt to mention it again. He used you. He utilized and appropriated your very existence. You served as a hand tool for him. He tended to his own private garden with you. He used your body as an implement by which to turn over the soil. You served as nothing more than manure to him. What he wanted to bury, he buried, and what he wanted to reveal, he revealed. Yeah, yeah, I know you were just being ‘intuitive,’ and I know I’m opening a whole new can of worms with these, believe it or not, well-intended remarks. I selected you as my fill-in for no particular reason.” [folds paper up and puts it in his breast pocket]
so- without further ado, I would like to introduce tonight’s guest, Karl Mistinal, esteemed photographer slash travel writer whose recent book of memoirs, Catching up with Uncle Karl, has just won the Carter Prize for excellence in contemporary autobiography. How do you feel about this prize, Karl? Does it mean anything to you?
KARL<<< (sheepishly) not really, Glenn…no.
GLENN<<< ok, fair enough, fair enough. (studying the back of Karl’s book) it says here that you focused primarily on the years spent wandering up and down Missouri, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, working on your series of interlocked heathscapes as well as experimenting heavily with both prescribed and recreational chemicals. were you worried about the public reaction to your incessant stories of drug taking?
KARL<<< no, not really. (pause) I think the public probably has bigger things to worry about.
GLENN<<< fair enough, fair enough. it says here you officially changed your name 15 times during those years and did everything in your power to blot out all sense of coherent identity. which leaves the readers and us with any number of questions, especially on a rare occasion like this when you are physically present and willing to give out certain bits of information in real time before a live studio audience. so- just to get the matter of your present official name out of the way- is it true that you are once again Karl Mistinal? or is this whole set-up just another one of your shadow identities?
KARL<<< No, Glenn, the name is not assumed. I have been officially designated as Karl. Yes. Karl Mistinal. Solid. All of a piece. Of single and singular and well-woven cloth. My parents bequeathed to me the name of Karl while I was still in the womb. Those were some of the best months of my life, by the way. Karl with a K. So to answer your question- yes. I am Karl. Thru and thru. I am officially and tangibly Karl…there are others out there, I realize. We will just have to co-subsist peacefully. All of this business about the name being assumed and the credentials being made up out of digital vapor or ether- I think I know where all that comes from and I acknowledge that I am in part somewhat responsible. If there are still people who are angry, and I know for a fact that there are- well, what I am about to reveal will make some of them angrier. (pause) Others will stay equally angry and others yet will begin to calm down. (pause) Yes, they will embark very quietly on the long, calming journey. I wish that all parties concerned fell neatly into this third category, but given the recent degree of transgression regarding certain moral and natural laws in this bio-region- well, forgiveness on that scale would probably itself be immoral and highly unnatural. Believe it or not, Glenn, I look to nature as my guide. (pause) Think for a moment, Glenn, about deep and uncharted wilderness. Better yet, ask the audience here to think about deep and uncharted wilderness.
GLENN<<< You mean right now?
KARL<<< Yes, right now.
GLENN<<< Uh… I’m not sure they’d be comfortable with such a request.
KARL<<< Why not ask them?
GLENN<<< I don’t think they’d be comfortable being asked such a personal question.
KARL<<< You just said that, Glenn- (pause) ok, then- just you- please- close your eyes for 45 seconds and imagine unexplored, uncharted, unsullied wilderness. I and anyone else here who would like to will join you. (Karl closes his eyes. Glenn is clearly bewildered. After about 15 awkward seconds he breaks the silence)
GLENN<<< I don’t know, I’m a little hesitant about this idea of yours, Karl. On this show we really value keeping our eyes open, eyes forward. We have a studio audience who is also in the habit of keeping its eyes open and forward. Maybe after the show, if there’s still time after Q and A, we can undertake this visualization experiment-
KARL<<< Deep and uncharted wilderness…
GLENN<<< OK, then, moving on, is there any way/ (cut off)/ to go back for a second and confirm that th///
KARL<<< I don’t know if it was a matter of extreme, finely calibrated, and diabolical recklessness or extreme, finely calibrated, and diabolical caution. Most likely it was more along the lines of indifference or boredom. Imagine for a moment the appearance and sense of a sandbag. Another word might be “exhaustion.” Mistakes were made, no question about it- half-truths were invented. Hand-crafted lovingly using only the finest psychic materials. If they had just remained heaped up somewhere in the inventor’s poorly-lit basement workshop- none of this needed to happen, Glenn. None of this would have happened. We would all be somewhere else now. We would all be engaged in very different activities. Very different, and I might add, very much more productive activities. The problem here is the same problem that we as circus animals come across everywhere- at some point these half truths are quietly put into mass circulation. This business about the assumed name- the haiku contest- the inventor’s poorly lit workbench- the canyons into which people sometimes disappear for the rest of their natural lives- I’ll have to go back and review it, Glenn. I’m sorry, but I’m not ready to account for these particular rumors this evening. (pause) Thankfully I’m one of those old-fashioned types who maintains a daily journal or diary. (pause) Go ahead and laugh out loud if you want. I don’t mind. I can refer back to any given day and with the aid of my notes, more or less reconstruct the events of that day. There should be more articles and novels written about the value of diaries. In fact, that’s what I’m working on presently. If there’s one thing I want the youngsters out there to take away from this interview, it’s the value of keeping a diary. Parents, if you’re listening- go out and buy your kids diaries. Simple, old fashioned, paper-based diaries complete with a key and lock mechanism.
GLENN<<< Ok, thank you, Karl, that’s all really encouraging- it’s good of you to be thinking about the children’s best interests- but if your name really is Karl, and trust me, we all here are prepared to believe that it is- still, I think it’s appropriate to ask at this particular juncture- who is the person sitting beside you? (Karl does not respond) You said to me and the producers before the show that you would only open up about him after the interview was well underway, and, amazingly enough, we obliged you. so, please, before we go any further, please- can we clarify this one simple matter- who is this person sitting beside you and can we include him in the discussion?
KARL<<< Sure, no problem, Glenn. This is the acclaimed and award-winning journalist Marty L. Stevens. And, just for the record, he is already included. Some people ask for permission and others simply by-pass that convention.
G<<< And which category are you in?
K<<< The former.
G<<< And Marty L. Stevens?
K<<< The latter.
G<<< And, if it’s not getting too delicate- what precisely is Marty’s role here this evening?
K<<< The same as every other evening, Glenn.
G<<< But what do you mean by that, Karl? You have to understand, what might be perfectly self-evident to you is not at all the case with the rest of us- get it together, man! We’re all here with you, buddy, eyes open, eyes forward- or is this all just another one of your well-known identity experimentations? Because if it is, we’re prepared to go the entire distance with you. The studio audience always appreciates identification antics like this. Up and down the Midwest longitudinal corridor, back and forth, countless times, no destination in sight, no support team, no discernible reason or mission statement-
K<<< (pause) Glenn, do you mind if I call you Hedge Apple?
G<<< (surprised) Can’t see how it would hurt.
K<<< Thanks alot, Hedge Apple. I’ve explained this many times already- but no problem, I’m happy to do so again. This hammering home approach that you take with lifeless and irrelevant data is what I suppose makes you an award-winning journalist. Marty here is my reporter. Understand? He is my own private reporter. He records what happens to and around me. He records my words and my actions. He records what occurs. He records the environment. He’s a highly trained, highly sensitive, and highly experienced journalist. He does what all journalists do. He observes what happens, very carefully, and then records or documents those observations in some form or fashion, equally carefully- usually written, but he also sometimes employs simple pen-and-ink sketches. The question of journalistic bias I’d prefer to leave to the side for the moment. Depending on how the Q and A goes we might get back to it later.
G<<< you mentioned earlier that some people consider him a political cartoonist of sorts.
K<<< I wouldn’t disagree with that characterization. He does certainly keep a pretty close eye on the polis. “Cartographer” is another term that has come up several times.
G<<< Ok then- moving on- these recordings- these writings, sketches, etc- what my audience really wants to know, I think, and what I would like to know also- we want to know the same things, for the most part- what eventually happens to these writings and sketchings? In all senses of the term, or in as many as you care to enumerate- what, in point of fact, happens to all of these writings and sketches? Where do they go or end up? Lead us thru the typical life cycle of these writings and sketches.
K<<< Well, no big mystery there, Hedge Apple. He stores them out in the barn.
G<<< What barn?
K<<< An old wooden barn that we rent out from a neighbor.
G<<< They all end up in a barn?
K<<< Sure. Seems as good a solution as any. Physical documents require a physical shelter.
G<<< But what possible good are they doing stashed away in a barn?
K<<< By the time they’ve reached the barn they have usually done all the good they are capable of.
G<<< Well then why keep them at all?
K<<< Sentimental reasons, perhaps. Laziness. Sluggishness. Vanity.
G<<< You openly admit to those qualities?
K<<< It’s difficult to say with precision. Sometimes I like to get another perspective. I keep a record for myself, as I mentioned, and then I compare mine with Marty’s. It helps me understand some of my errors and helps prevent further missed opportunities. It’s a really sweet arrangement for anyone who can scrape together the resources. Assuming, of course, that one prefers to avoid missing key opportunities.
G<<< Ok, wait- let me just get this straight- he tags along with you, like this evening, observes unobtrusively, and then proceeds to record those observations- does he record as he’s observing or does he do so after the fact?
K<<< It depends on the situation.
G<<< It probably depends partially on the need for discretion.
K<<< Oh, of course. There’s always that. It basically usually comes down, in the end, to gut feeling.
G<<< And by that I assume you mean…
K<<< Whatever human response might be stirred up in the heat of the moment- the convulsive nature of events- the chewing up and spitting out- raw transgression, really, if you don’t mind me putting it bluntly-
G<<< No, no, I don’t mind it at all- believe it or not, I have a bit of intuition myself…so what you’re saying is that sometimes he waits until he’s back in his room, and at other times he is recording events right there on the spot, pecking away at some sort of electronic device-
K<<< No, he never made the transition to electronic devices.
G<<< None at all?
K<<< (pause) Ok, let’s assume for the sake of argument that there were two distinct eras. . .which there weren’t, of course. . .massive over-simplifications are my stock-in-trade, so to speak. . .and a rickety rope bridge conjoining them, spanning an extremely treacherous gulf or abyss. Now imagine a band of wandering gypsies, or homeless people, or wildcrafting mendicant types- seriously, Hedge Apple, close your eyes for a moment and try to conjure up a small band of anonymous and wandering humans. I’m serious, close your eyes- (Glenn complies) Most of the time Marty studies this scene from afar but at other times he decides it would be better to do so up close, and of course sometimes this decision is made for him by circumstances beyond his control. Whichever the case happens to be, and whatever level of risk it entails, he studies and records without the aid of electronic devices.
G<<< In his journalism, you mean.
K<<< In every part of his life.
G<<< Including journalism.
K<<< Yes. The last time I checked, journalism was included in the category: every part of his life.
G<<< Wow. Can I open my eyes now?
G<<< Wow- a real throw-back! That’s amazing! I hear about these people sometimes. Are you implying that Marty still carries around an old-fashioned journalist’s notepad?
K<<< No, nothing old-fashioned particularly. Just a common, student-quality spiral bound paper notebook, usually one hundred pages or so. The kind you can ususally find in any gas station or Walgreens.
G<<< A simple spiral bound notebook.
K<<< Yes, a simple spiral-bound notebook.
G<<< This is where he records his observations.
K<<< That’s right Hedge Apple. I think you’re finally coming into the clear. He fills up one after another. He’s a vigilant and indefatigable observer of all sorts of phenomena.
G<<< Does he attempt to read your mind?
K<<< Hedgehog, believe it or not, he not only attempts it- it has been confirmed over and over that he positively succeeds.
G<<< Wow. So this is Marty’s journalistic practice.
K<<< Well, it’s one part of his practice.
G<<< What are some of the others?
K<<< (pause) I don’t know that we really have time to start breaking things down so specifically. . .he’s a relatively private person. . .certain things are off-limits…
G<<< Hold on- (calling off to the wings) Amanda, how much time do we have?
A<<< (voice from the wings) approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes.
G<<< (calling to Amanda) Are we obliged to fill that whole gap?
A<<< What do you think, Walter Cronkite? The gap isn’t going to just go away on its own! It’s not going to just close up around us when you decide you’ve had enough for the day. Jesus, Glenn, get a grip on yourself- you conjured up this ridiculous long gap in the first place! You and your little cornucopia of professional aesthetics and ethics! Has anyone ever suggested that you might have ruined certain key areas of your humanity for the sake of this gap? Ok, at this point it stands at 2 hours 42 minutes and counting. (pause) Do whatever you want with it, Glenn, but for god’s sake do something! Go ahead and let your guest call the shots if he wants to. I really couldn’t care less. That probably also goes for the audience.
G<<< (to audience, chuckling nervously) Wow, she really keeps us in line…ok, thanks for all of that...say, Amanda- just for the sake of argument- any way we could just fill it with silence? A John Cage type situation? Like you said, chances are most of our viewers wouldn’t mind.
A<<< Chances are they wouldn’t realize you were even trying to do something different-
G<<< Ouch! Amanda, now that is going too far- that is absolutely unfair. It’s a stuffy and insufferable insult to all parties involved. Of course that’s also why I’m calling out to you in this highly unprofessional manner. You’re the sort of production director who really knows…I’m not sure…something. . .when an interview starts to run off of the rails as I’m afraid might be happening now, you’re right there to provoke us and make us question why we even wanted to get into this industry. I guess good questioners do that.
K<<< You yourself try to do that.
G<<< You think so?
K<<< I know so.
G<<< Thanks for that, Karl. of course I realize you’re just being polite. I know all about that as well. (shouting) Amanda? Are you hearing this? Of course I created a gap! Of course I created a gap and don’t know how to fill it! Of course I’m being swallowed up every moment in the riptide of media-saturated oblivion! A few people- I don’t know all their names- I’ll just say “certain anonymous people”- will hear or see this interview as and when it is actually happening or maybe a little later on Youtube or Huffpo or Ubuweb- but guess what, Amanda- either way it’s going to be deconstructed, disregarded, discredited, and then completely forgotten. Do you hear me, baby? Forgotten! Yes, complete and utter oblivion! An examination of people’s personal diaries would attest to this fact. The great slow tide of oblivion, media biased or otherwise. Not just any picturesque phrase lifted by chance out of the catalog. This is the reality of our profession, Amanda- it is how we eke out a living. If there wasn’t this precise form of oblivion there would be no or little food in our cupboards- we would be down with Gerald in the warehouse district living the life of a modern-day hunter gatherer. Sure, for him that’s just an aspect of his ongoing performance art but for us it would be desperate. For us it would be the proverbial end of the line. Of course it’s already desperate in another sense of the term, but we’re able to kid ourselves and our audience, according to last week’s ratings, at least, roughly 85 percent of the time. In the meanwhile of course there’s still this confounded gap to contend with, which I appreciate you bringing to our attention in the typically confrontational way for which I originally hired you… We’re dancing around in the ruins, Amanda, just like Gerald’s therapist said that we should. And I don’t care if this eminent therapist’s Wikipedia entry implies that in 2008 he burned his own house down. No, not in the metaphorical but in the actual, and it turns out, criminal sense of the term. Sure, it was his own house, bought and paid for, but still too close to other houses for this kind of personal license. Apparently if the house had been situated a mere 15 feet further away it would have been outside the so-called “proximity zone” and could have been legally burned without any particular consequence. He would have had the right to tell the fire-department to just move along, nothing happening here, everything’s perfectly under control…it’s my property and I will dispose of it however I wish…it’s my gap in oblivion and I will fritter it away however I wish…
K<<< Hey Hedge Apple, calm down- it’s all right. We’re still slogging thru this poorly-defined social dynamic together. Don’t worry so much about the gaps. Let the gaps take care of themselves. Like Amanda implied, there’s nothing unusual happening. There’s a gap- ok, fine- no big deal, no drama- and then the gap closes for awhile, and we feel relatively secure. It’s the same with Marty’s journalism, if that makes you feel any better-
G<<< (pause) It doesn’t, but go ahead and fill me in anyway.
K<<< Well, buddy, every couple of days he completely fills up another notebook, there is a uncomfortable pause, and then he just charges ahead and picks right up in another. He keeps a constant supply at the ready.
G<<< (still weak and disoriented from his tirade) And tell us again what happens to all the filled notebooks?
K<<< After a brief consultation, they get filed away in the barn.
G<<< And approximately how many of these notebooks are filed away in the barn at this time?
K<<< Oh, several hundred, I’d imagine.
G<<< You can’t be more specific?
K<<< Not really. I leave those kind of details to Marty.
G<<< I apologize, Karl, but I’m really intrigued by this barn. I can’t seem to get the weather-beaten image out of my mind. I was a lad once, you realize. I emerged from a simpler era. We took Sunday drives through open country, believe it or not- your interlocking series of heathscapes really spoke to me, somehow. . .there were barns back in those days. . .barns for no rhyme or reason. . .sometimes just decomposing out in the middle of nowhere…
K<<< I understand, Hedge Apple- the wilderness finally reclaiming some of its own.
G<<< (pause, and then with sudden urgency or concern) Is Marty the only one with a key?
K<<< Amazingly enough, the barn door has never been equipped with a lock.
G<<< Karl, c’mon- I find that somewhat hard to believe.
K<<< Yes, I can understand how you might have that reaction. Other people have had that exact same reaction. It’s a relatively common reaction.
G<<< Years and years of highly sensitive documentation and sketches piled up in an old unlocked barn-
K<<< Pretty much
G<<< So technically, anyone could just walk in there and have a look for himself?
K<<< Technically, yes.
G<<< I mean, what’s to stop someone from making off with the notebooks?
K<<< In the strictest sense, nothing.
G<<< (getting upset again) Does Marty care nothing for his archives? Do you care nothing for his archives? Amanda, this guy here doesn’t give a rat’s ass for his own personal archives! Where’s the sense of propriety? Where’s the sense of responsible stewardship? Who knows what important or trivial purposes these documents might be utilized for? After all, Karl, isn’t it your daily life that he’s ostensibly profiling?
K<<< In the strictest sense, yes. Yes. He is my own personal journalist. I pay him an arguably enormous sum every month to follow me around 7 or 8 hours a day. There are a few other part-timers as well. A small crack-team of personal journalists and documentarians, all of them under Marty’s direct supervision. I have hired them on to take a professional interest in my life. And not to merely take interest, but to observe it, perpetually, and then to record their observations in student quality spiral bound paper based notebooks.
G<<< wait wait wait wait- we’re getting completely off track here- how could you or marty or anyone else, for that matter, be so cavalier as to leave these notebooks lying around in an old unlocked barn?
K<<< Look, I also just want to say for the record, again, just like I’ve said a hundred times before, that the barn is also somewhat dilapidated. At this point it would almost be useless to equip the door with a lock. Any forceful blow to the walls would most likely result in a new point of entry or egress.
G<<< Well, that just makes my question all the more urgent-
K<<< (gesture of: go ahead then)
G<<< How can you and Marty and all other parties concerned be so cavalier about the various notebooks, leaving them to sit around unattended in an old, unlocked barn?
K<<< It’s not so much a matter of being cavalier as calmly understanding that the dangers are minimal. For instance, very few people really know about the existence of these archives. Very few people are interested in their little narrative arc. Sure, sure sure, I may have won the Carter Prize, but you know- if anything, that just makes the barn more irrelevant. And besides, nobody knows where this barn is actually located. It’s just an old anonymous barn among hundreds of old anonymous barns in the region. Barns have developed the venerable reputation over the years but particularly in this day and age as being the place where we usually store our most antiquated or inconsequential belongings. Marty and I are admittedly using that reputation as camouflage….
G<<< So you do value the notebooks? You do have some reason for keeping them?
K<<< That’s a very difficult question, Hedge Apple…you’re finally starting to show your true colors, I feel. . .beyond what I said earlier?. . .yes, it’s difficult. . .the jury is still out on that one….
G<<< And yet you leave the barn unlocked! You allow the barn to sink into an increasingly dilapidated state!
K<<< You’re right, Hedge Apple- you’re right- there’s some inconsistency or mixed-messaging there. Trust me, it’s already caused serious contention among the various parties involved…
G<<< Well, I’m not surprised to hear that.
K<<< When we first rented the barn, back in the eighties, and I’m not going to be any more specific than that- just the eighties- the barn was entirely empty and marty was only filling up a couple of notebooks a year. That’s not a comment on him or his work ethic- on the contrary- it’s a comment on me and my work ethic. in the words of the philosopher Descartes, I had at the time “allowed myself to run empty.” Either that or I never really had anything underway in the first place…it’s just an old barn, ok? Straight out of the haiku regarding old McDonald and all of his super-fun animals…there wasn’t much journalism happening because there wasn’t much happening to journal about in the first place. Does that make any sense, Hedge Apple?
G<<< Yes, Karl- it does. Sadly enough, it makes perfect sense. Back when I was a lad, bicycling thru the countryside/////(interuppted) past the old race track-
K<<< (with especial emphasis) I hired Marty to observe and record events that weren’t even happening! If I had wanted somebody around to make things up out of thin air- and by the way, I actually have someone on the team now who is doing just that- but I didn’t need it at the time. I didn’t want it at the time. There was a huge pool of applicants, many of them with the highest credentials and recommendations. But things were different back then. Things were almost unrecognizable. Suffice it to say that Marty and I had a lot of unstructured time on our hands. There was no need to lock the barn because during the eighties and even well into the nineties there were usually only a handful of journals filed away there.
G<<< Why rent the whole barn then?
K<<< It was extremely affordable.
G<<< But still- if there were only a handful of journals why not just stick them in a closet or under a bed?
K<<< Marty wasn’t comfortable with that and soon enough, neither was I. He convinced me of the need for a separate, free standing storage facility.
G<<< And all thru the eighties and into the nineties it remained virtually empty.
K<<< Just like myself. We were partners.
G<<< You and marty?
K<<< Yes, me and Marty, but also me and the emptiness.
G<<< Ok, I think I follow you…I think I follow you in every sense of the term…by the way, that reminds me... my producers mentioned to me that this word “emptiness” might very well come up in our discussion, most likely at your instigation, which has indeed just been the case. We thought it might be fun for our viewers to take a little time out and put this word under the microscope. I have here a dictionary and thesaurus. Would you object to a brief excursus?
K<<< It seems a little silly, but no, I don’t formally object.
G<<< Silly in what way?
K<<< Silly in that everyone here knows perfectly well what the word emptiness means.
G<<< Are you absolutely sure about that?
K<<< Not absolutely sure, no.
G<<< But pretty sure?
K<<< Yeah, pretty sure.
G<<< Well, look, Karl, I’m not necessarily disagreeing with you. I just thought it might be fun to see what the reference books actually say.
K<<< Are the reference books the final arbiters on matters like this?
G<<< No, not necessarily, but they can be helpful. Don’t you agree?
K<<< First explain what you mean by helpful.
G<<< Ok…um..helpful in marking out the general contours of the word or subject under discussion.
K<<< All right, I think that I can agree with that…you’re suggesting it’s a place to begin or open up the discussion as opposed to ending or closing it.
G<<< Exactly, Karl! Exactly! Ok, let me find it here…..[reads the definition of empty]…ok, lets see what the thesaurus says….[reads entry for empty]…wow. covers quite a bit of linguistic territory. What was that phrase you used earlier, when you mentioned Descartes?
K<<< “I allowed myself to run empty.”
G<<< And where exactly did you come across that little nugget of wisdom?
K<<< It was in one of his diaries.
G<<< Ah, how interesting. The parallels finally begin to emerge. Do you think he also stored them away in an old unlocked barn?
K<<< I have no idea what his methods were.
G<<< But there’s something about that emptiness line that you identify with in some way.
K<<< Not so much, really. It’s just something I mentioned casually, and look, here we are, 5 minutes later, still talking about it- a word that everyone here understands very clearly.
G<<< Yes, yes, we’ve been over that- it’s not the word per se that I’m interested in but your particular use of it.
K<<< Then why drag in the reference books?
G<<< As a starting point, I told you. An opening. A point of departure.
K<<< What about a sense of destination, a direction, a focus- do you have any of these at this moment?
G<<< Indeed I do…thanks for asking… and in point of fact, I was waiting for that exact question. To my mind it brings us immediately and directly back to the barn, which, as you said, during the eighties and well into the nineties was, for the most part, standing empty. 5 or 6 journals, tops? what’s that? 2 or 3 pounds of physical matter?
K<<< That would probably be a fairly generous estimate.
G<<< Ok. That was the eighties and part of the nineties. The early years, we might call them. Well and good. A profound sense of emptiness. A sense of, you might even say, “Why am I even living at all?” A sense of, maybe Marty’s presence will get the ball rolling again. And it apparently did. Well and good. Ok, then. Moving on for a moment- regarding the barn, I assume that things are considerably different today.
K<<< In what sense?
G<<< In the sense that the barn is being put to more practical use.
K<<< Uh, let’s see…I would amend that slightly by saying the barn is being to put to more obvious use. The years of relative emptiness also had a very practical function.
G<<< Would you care to explain that?
K<<< Basic Taoism.
G<<< Would you care to explain that?
K<<< (gesturing to reference books) Look it up.
G<<< Well, with all due respect, I feel as though you could give us a better orientation.
K<<< C’mon, Hedge Apple- live a little! Just give it a shot! Just a quick point of departure. An opening. We’ll take whatever we find there and run with it.
G<<< Ok, Karl, if you prefer it that way….who knows if it’s even in here. [starts thumbing thru dictionary]
K<<< Either way it will be information that we can put to valuable use.
G<<< Ok, whaddya know- here it is: [reads definition of Taoism] Does that sound like what you were expecting?
K<<< I wasn’t expecting anything in particular.
G<<< How did we even get on this subject?
K<<< My former question precisely.
G<<< Ok, well…it looks as if we’re still stuck on emptiness somehow. you know, you’re right… that was probably a silly idea to drag in the reference books. I’m going to have a little talk with Amanda after the show. It was her idea, essentially. We all fought it initially but she refused to back down, that tiger. In fact, why don’t we just call her in here right now and get everything out on the table?
K<<< Isn’t it already all right there on the table?
G<<< Well, sure, there’s the evidence- I’m talking about the whole process. To be even more specific- the preliminaries. The preliminary discussions. Apparently she learned that you had a little thing for this phrase by Descartes, and she wanted me to be ready, and pounce on it, and put the whole thing under the microscope.
K<<< Which you did.
G<<< Yes indeed.
K<<< And which you continue to do.
G<<< Not necessarily, Karl. We’re going to get all of this out in the open. (calling off stage) AMANDA! AMANDA! AMANDA! I’m sorry gentlemen, but this is absolutely uncalled for. (addressing the audience) Everybody, hold on for a second- we’re going to get this thing hammered out- believe me, I can understand if you’re starting to feel impatient or angry- [walks off stage, calling Amanda’s name intermittently for 45 seconds. Karl and Marty sit quietly. Glenn returns to his chair] Ok, sorry about that, folks, she doesn’t seem to be anywhere- she’s obviously hiding. Obviously unwilling to come out here and defend her position.
K<<< Let it go, Glenn. Please. Let it go. Let’s move on to the next thing.
[Glenn still somewhat unnerved]
K<<< Ok then, let’s look up another word while we’re at it. Transition. I think we’re attempting here to make a transition. Of course everybody here already knows what a transition is, but we’ll look it up anyways and go along with whatever it says. If this is still an interview we’ll either move onto the next topic, if you have one, and if not we’ll just bring the whole thing to a dignified close. We don’t need Amanda right now to make wise and prudent journalistic decisions. You’re a 25 year veteran of the industry, Hedge Apple, and even if it doesn’t look like it now, this is still your show, your platform- this is your situation to direct or redirect in whatever manner you choose.
G<<< (wearily) Just go ahead and read the definition.
K<<< Good idea. Hold on. [reads the definition of transition]
G<<< Maybe the thesaurus entry as well?
K<<< No problem. I was hoping you’d ask- [reads entry of transition]
G<<< Ok, ok, that helps- I think I’m getting my bearings again. Hey- why don’t we take a quick five or ten minute break?
K<<< you’re not going to go off in hostile search of Amanda?
G<<< No, no, that’s all over.
K<<< You mean you’ve forgiven her?
G<<< That’s exactly what I mean, Karl. I have completely forgiven her. She made a weird suggestion, it somehow ended up being incorporated, didn’t go quite as planned, but oh well- I guess that’s what makes our show interesting.
K<<< You take chances.
G<<< We take chances.
K<<< You bring in weird outside references.
G<<< We do whatever it takes to get our guests to turn over the goods.
K<<< I can see that.
G<<< OK, fellas, let’s take a break and come back. No hard feelings. I’m finally starting to sense a certain camaraderie. Amanda probably just went around the corner to pick something up at the dollar store. (to audience) Ok, friends, I guess we’re going to take a short 10 or 15 minute break. For those of you who need or want to leave this would be a good opportunity. For the rest of you, feel free to get up and stretch, use the bathroom, engage in conversation with your neighbor, wander around, gaze out the windows- we try to keep things as informal and low-pressure as possible here.
INTERMISSION- They get up stretch. Amanda appears. They talk a little and then walk off. Typical studio randomness.