Liquid Ink

The official website of Gint Aras, Finalist 2016 CWA Book Award


Duck amuck (my two cents)

It’s not that some unfortunate and poorly educated old man said foolish things to writers licking their chops for his folly. It’s that this kind of folly becomes the centerpiece of a national discussion. We don’t talk about “that book that just got published” or “this new scientific discovery.”

No. We don’t even know what that is.

Some of us express shock that a man who makes his living carving whistles and pumping shotguns on a television show also harbors deluded views of reality and warped readings of his own religious teachings. Some of us rush to his defense as we dress ourselves in warped views of our own political documents, our hearts aflame with nationalism. Yet we fail to understand that both responses are identical. They’re motivated by the same impulse. And both miss the point.

This should be dismissed as unfortunate rambling. Instead, we sit transfixed, lobbing insults at one another. In the meantime, we’re not paying attention to anything that can save us from ourselves. Instead, we dive right in to the folly that keeps us from the conversation we should be having, namely this one: What can be done to keep us from destroying our home?

The answer isn’t in the colosseum. The fantasy pick. The patriarch of ducks or the cover of a magazine. But that’s what a society starts paying attention to when it loses the values that once allowed it civility. It’s in every history book. If you want to know what comes next, pick one up.

For the record: he should be taken off the air, but not because his comments are offensive to either the public or sponsors. He should be taken off the air because leaving it on the air would reflect a lack of empathy for him and those he loathes.

Narrow door


I’m psychic

Last night during meditation—I try to meditate every night before bed—I kept having this intrusive thought that concerned my car. Now, I can’t stand cars and look at them as a nuisance, a symbol of our degradation; they’re a source of stress for me, mostly. My spare tire was stolen over a year ago and I’ve yet to replace it. So during this meditation the thought kept coming up—it was relentless—you need to get one of those fix-a-flat cans in case your wife gets a flat tire. I was able to let the thought go.

But then I had a dream that my wife had a flat tire. I was sitting someplace thinking, Why didn’t you get one of those cans of fix-a-flat? Why didn’t you get a spare? Now she’s stranded all the way across town.

I awoke noting these thoughts and figured I’d take care of the problem the next time I had to take the care someplace. Of course, what happened? This afternoon I got a text from my wife. She had a flat tire and was taking the car to a Mexican mechanic’s on the North Side.

So, there it is. I can see the future.


Chilling prediction—Video 2:34 min

My grandfather and I used to watch Cosmos every weekend on PBS. Here’s the host, Carl Sagan, speaking many years ago on Charlie Rose. The point he makes here is the point I try to make in every single class I teach at the college. I succeed in making it to a minority of students:

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Revolution in Kiev, Ukraine

My wife is from Kiev, grew up there during Soviet times, and we still have family and friends there. One of her dachia neighbors is photojournalist Dmitri Larin (Дмитрий Ларин). This guy is currently taking amazing pictures of the demonstrations against the Yanukovych government. You can subscribe to his feed on Facebook without friending him if you want to see all his pictures. They’re offering a better vision into the nature of the protests than any news reports I’m reading in English. I’ve been depending on his updates and on my wife’s translations to get an idea of what’s happening there.

Here are some examples:

Holiday tree

Downtown Square
Snow at nightMetro Station
Lenin statue
This one of the piano player is not Dmiti’s photo. I got it from the Обличчя Майдану Facebook page. They were helping to organize the million person march that occurred on  December 8th.
Music as protest
To get more from Dmitri, subscribe here:


5 ways to be alternative

You know who you are. You’re not square. You’re not like those people over there, those regular people, the ones with 9-5 jobs in skyscrapers and homes in suburban wastelands. You’re hip and cool. You have tight pants and a fedora. We’re in awe.

Not really. It’s one thing to listen to Arcade Fire because the band is good, and to have remixed your own versions of various Radiohead tracks. Yes, it’s cool to be the only guy in your Starbucks who knows MC Conrad. It’s ultra-cool to go The Metro or CBGB twice each week to know the scene. But we have to face it. Being cool and being alternative are two different things. Here’s the truth: it’s cool to be alternative, but it’s not alternative to be cool.

Virtually anybody can be cool. You just need to be finished with high school, live in a city and take a photography class or major in graphic design. You see? Instant cool.

If, however, you want to be alternative, it takes more than tight pants and a gold phone. It isn’t necessarily better to be alternative, of course. But it does require doing things that few people do.

1.) Listen to contemporary classical music

Here are some names: Claire Chase and ICE, Eighth Blackbird, CUBE. If you search through all the members of ICE, for example, you’ll find a network of music that’s unlike anything you or your friends have heard.

Here’s another name: Arvo Pärt. He’s not a hipster. If his music does not kick your ass, there’s no hope for you. You’re going to hell.

2.) Read literary fiction

Sure, Charles Dickens was really boring in high school. That’s because you read him when you were a child. But you’re older now, and you’re worried about being too similar to all those people over there. One way to be different from them is to develop empathy. Literary fiction offers you this lesson.

Don’t look for a list of names from me. The list of Great Books is out there, and they are all available for free in local libraries. Investigate some of the stories you think you know. They’re different from the movie version, believe me.

If you want to really be alternative, subscribe to a literary magazine. You can follow virtually all of them on Facebook and Twitter.

(Note, reading literary fiction is different from simply getting an MFA or flaunting your copy of Gravity’s Rainbow in a Cleveland Starbucks. You can read literary fiction without doing either of the aforementioned.)

3.)  Learn a foreign language

Yes, Spanish counts. But so does Icelandic. What are you going to do with Icelandic? Funny…you never asked that question when you bought the turquoise drapes or when you signed up for graphic design. You can do the same things with graphic design as you can with Icelandic: fuck all, or whatever you want.

4.) Cook your own food

No, it’s not alternative to go to the latest BYOB in Williamsburg. Everybody’s doing that. The alternative people in the urban west cook for themselves (and others). They do it instead of playing Xbox or posting pictures of their appetizers on Facebook. They bring their own lunch to work or school.

5.) Read multiple newspapers

In any format. And if not every day, then at least regularly. And don’t worry too much about the Dining or Entertainment sections. Your friends will tell you about that. Worry instead about the Business, Science and World sections. If you read those, your friends won’t know what the hell you’re talking about.

But you will know, finally, that you’re completely different not merely from those people over there but also from most of your friends. Ironically, once you gather the narrative they’re missing, it will become very difficult to look down on them or anyone else. I’d explain why, but I’d need you to read the news first.

How I appear in mirrors