Which is true of anything (for DFW)

It started with the glassy-eyed couple at the lake. They had a dog too. They sounded like they used drugs or lived in Northern California, you could tell by the way they talked.

The guy said you can teach a dog around 100 words, they’ve done studies on it. He gave me a URL where you pay $19 and get an IQ assessment done on your dog. They’d done it and were surprised how smart Kenny was, they were proud. The woman smiled and agreed.

I said that sounds like one of those ideas after a night of heavy drinking and knee-slapping: an IQ assessment for dogs. Wouldn’t that be a hoax? And because you paid $19, you have to tell someone else to do it so you don’t feel dumb yourself. And this perpetuates into a viral Internet scheme. 

Once you start believing this kind of thing it’s easy to believe anything. That you can change your tolerance for the cold by wearing less clothes or taking all-cold showers. That if you don’t have anything to write about other than taking a cold shower, take a cold shower. That human sounds of pain and ecstasy are about the same. That drinking too much coffee will give you the shakes and alcoholics have to drink so they can stop shaking. That shaking actually warms the body which is why we shiver and you can raise the internal temperature of your tent by 10 degrees with just a small candle.

That your voice is truly unique but can sound staticky if you’re on the wrong station. That Neil Young can sing about anything and it will sound good because it’s Neil Young and although it’s not what many would call a “good voice,” it’s his voice.

That habits are defined as something we do without thinking, like checking your phone for new messages even when you don’t have any because you just checked.

That you need to know how the story is going to end before you can start telling it.

That men’s breasts really do sag like a woman’s and marijuana can make that worse.

That there are people who laugh as a reaction to pain when they don’t know what else to do or say. That your face looks different in the mirror than it does when other people look at you. That no one has ever gone mad from writing but might from not writing if that’s what they really need to do, which is true of anything.

That dogs have souls like people but they’re not people’s souls, they’re dog souls and there’s no difference between human souls and dog souls. And what goes into a soul? And is it possible there are people without them, who consume other people’s souls because they themselves are empty? And that you can tell this by looking into their eyes.

That there are two types of people, who either take or give. And that people can toggle between “take” and “give” depending on their motive and the time of day.

That you can get better at anything through practice and good habits are defined as things you do without thinking that actually add up to something, unlike masturbation or phone-checking.

That tinnitus will abate if you stop exposing yourself to sustained noise. That hearing loss from firing guns unprotected will affect the opposite ear of the hand holding the weapon.

That it’s true you can dream about something before it happens because time is a ruse.

That people can turn into dogs and vice versa and that magic is real if you believe in it, which is true of anything.

That we are all truly connected and Wi-Fi just makes it faster.

That just a few people can make all the difference in your life. That if people don’t show up at your funeral it doesn’t mean you weren’t important to them, maybe they didn’t get the announcement.

That you can smell the rain before it comes and fool yourself to believe the sound of traffic is the seashore.

That things happen for a reason even when you don’t like what happened. That we have control over our lives even when it seems we don’t. That control is an illusion and being “controlling” is never good. That if no one is controlling a project, the project is out of control. That life ends when you die.

That you can make money as a social media influencer. That people Follow you because they’re interested in getting to know you. That the phrase “making a living” means what you do to get paid. That definitions imply this is everything a word is not, by defining what it is. That fences work to keep things in and keep things out. That we are all here for a reason and may never know what.

That a dog’s mouth is cleaner than you think.

That some jeans really do make your ass look better.

That it’s possible to make things happen you might call divine just by believing in them wholly.

That the gifted and the mad are only a half click away. That our pain is universal because we are all connected and no one knows how to deliver us other than God.

That if someone believes they can fire laser beams from their fingers by concentrating really hard, stay away from them.

Categories: death

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

26 replies

  1. Oh this is so good, Bill. Loved every single word. Tour de force-osity.


    • So glad you liked it Tish, thanks! Just riffing off this crazy writer I’m reading and trying to get him out of my head, but exhilarated by him too. Life is good. – Bill


      • The energy coming off this post was palpable. What the hell are you reading? Maybe you need to keep a bit of it in your head for moments when lift off is required. Maybe I need some of it…Wayhay…


      • I’m rereading Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace, which seems appropriate for the month of January and newly unemployed. His writing is remarkable while difficult often, but often rewarding. Dark, funny, heavy, disturbing. Reading it with my friend Ross and hoping my friend Loren can catch up with us. Fun, reading books together with people and talking about them online. I envy your patience to reread Bronte and really loved that post about it. My wife read it and enjoyed the photos of the green vegetables, too…so soothing to be reminded of things growing at this time of year. Glad you liked this and felt the energy; it’s a shameless ripoff of a passage from the book about 200 pages in.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Sorry for the add-on comment here: when I say this is a shameless ripoff from the book, I mean it’s to ape his style, not the content. I have my own spider’s nest of weirdness to write about that doesn’t require thievery/plagiarism.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I did NOT believe the ‘shameless rip off’ anyway. When you find another writer that hits the mark (or several), I think of it more as a conversation/exchange/joust – responses evoked/ buttons pressed etc. Too often writers, by which I mean me, do not read enough fiction, thinking we need concentrate only on our own stuff. I think it’s a big mistake. You can’t create in a vacuum. I can’t remember who it was who used the phrase ‘the goblin wind’ to describe the story making process that goes on outside of us. Anyway, it’s a matter of grabbing its tails and hitching a ride. You know it when you’re flying. The interesting thing about reading the Brontes is that I found the process doing something rather different in my brain – (the virus might have contributed of course); they opened up imaginative pathways that now are part of my memory much like half remembered dreams. They are bound to affect what I write at some stage. Interesting stuff. And you’ve got me fascinated with your ‘spider’s nest of weirdness’.


      • I love everything you’ve written here, all the references and off-the-cuff imagery, thank you for sharing your thoughts Tish. I especially like the notion of ‘opening up imaginative pathways that now are part of my memory like half remembered dreams.’ I’m really interested in that idea, much like sleeping with your windows open to elicit the sounds and fragrances of the outdoors. The writers I like most inspire me to put the book down and start writing. That happened to me a while ago when I first read Henry Miller because his voice was so (?) rich/pungent…and it happened with Paul Auster’s New York Trilogy and now with Mr. Foster Wallace’s epic wank. And there’s something funny about the seeming pointlessness of the book and devoting so much time to the book, but of course if it inspires us than that’s the point I suppose. Thanks so much for playing ball with me on this, was an honour. Best, – Bill

        Liked by 1 person

  2. That was good. (Pronoun, not conjunction.)


  3. I wish I could stop myself from violating a wonderful post with doggy talk.

    It sounds like they are lowballing doggy vocabulary to have everyone feel they have a smart dogs. Not that a large vocabulary is sign of intelligence.

    If you’re in the mood for some dog science, there’s a recent video that includes the dog that has a 1’000 word vocabulary (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UnMULQDHIjk).


    • Yours is no disgrace my friend! The video is brilliant. I think this must be the same one I heard about from those people at the lake, but I’m not good about retrieving videos (or bones). Thanks for sharing! Very cool and nicely done piece.

      Liked by 1 person

      • “Yesterday a morning came, a smile upon your face.
        Caesar’s palace, morning glory, silly human race”
        lyrics that apparently owe something to Jon Anderson’s friend David Foster (sans Wallace).


      • That’s incredibly bizarre. I feel like putting that on now but can only do it at mind-bending volume levels, to feel the full force of the 1970s and all their capes and shooting stars coursing through me. Instead, I’m parsing Brian Eno ambient records and trying to find the thread, but often it’s hard to tell if it’s on or not. Re-listening to “Neroli.” Nice to have your company during this sunbreak in Seattle! Thanks for scattering some glitter my way.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. enjoyed this one, bill. i liked the rhythm of the rolling rant –


  5. Well, come on now, Bill, those high-waisted jeans from the eighties had nothing on what women wore in the aughts.

    But I do envy you for (re?)reading this work of Infinite Length. I would like to be able to have said that I read it, one day.


    • High-waisted they were, thanks for reminding me of that. Makes me think of leg warmers and Olivia Newton John for some reason. But this is a kid-safe blog.

      Infinite Length: seems appropriate for total self indulgence but his writing is so truly…I don’t know…unabashed maybe. Not that anyone’s ever been accused of being abashed, have they? Like being peccable.

      I don’t even know I’d recommend the book but it’s fun to read it now with another writer.

      I really enjoyed your story yesterday — less the story itself and more how it was told, which was chilling.


      • The ones I envision were acid washed, and those are fairly kid-safe, I fear.

        Books of Infinite Length intimidate me. Although I have read LOTR at least 6 or 7 times, so perhaps they shouldn’t. I think it’s more about when they are bound as one volume. It might be psychological. I’m investing myself in the whole thing, not a third of the thing.

        Thank you. I’m surprised it seems to have been so well-received. I thought it might turn people off. Maybe it did some, and they’re just being silent. I’m also surprised people assumed it was true. It is. It’s just interesting that no one seemed to assume it was fiction.


      • It is darkly ironic everyone assumed it was real. That’s awesome, troublesome. I had to look up LOTR that’s how weak I am. I’ve read Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man maybe six times (but I think you prefer English writers, not Irish). My wife is not accepting of the fact you haven’t read Chekhov yet; sorry you lost street cred with her but not me. She hasn’t read your writing yet.
        Last year she and I read The Woman Who Lost Her Soul, which is quite long and beautifully written and I would most earnestly recommend. It’s funny when you get a reception to something on the blog and then nothing, to what you think you would. Ass-backwards and very telling that way too. The internets don’t lie. Gaze into the eye of the internets.


      • Well, I feel I’ve been sufficiently open about my fraudulent use of his image. Plus I have been to Moscow – maybe that will help me earn back a credit with her. I feel I must earn back this credit from her. And It’s no longer true that I haven’t read him. I just find him…oh boy…she’s not not going to like this…a bit…overrated? There goes that credit, I’m sure. I’m very interested in Chekhov the person, though. That he was a doctor, that he often didn’t charge for his services, that his approach to fiction was not one of solving problems but describing them in intimate, non-judgmental detail. That the role of the writer was to remove himself completely from his writing and to let the writing describe reality. All fascinating. Plus, clearly he was a dashing fellow, and of course the way one looks of utmost importance. No one wants to stare at the words of an unattractive or poorly dressed writer. I stared at the eye of Internet for too long and it deleted my soul.


      • Well gosh, thanks for sharing Walt. You really opened my mind here. I am sorry you lost your soul on the Internet but at least you’re not alone.


  6. Ok.This one sealed the deal. Great writer.



  1. Known outage report for Western Washington | Tish Farrell

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