I came across this article Cut and Tape: On Writing ‘Draw Your Weapons’, by Sarah Sentilles. In it she describes an exercise she discovered in a Tin House summer writing work shop (which is coming up next week at Reed College–July 9th to the 16th).
In a workshop given by Nick Flynn he shared an exercise he learned from Carolyn Forche. For the exercise three items are needed: “a science article”, “a page of nonfiction that bewildered us”. and “an imagine we felt was somehow connected to . . . writing project”. Also needed tape, scissors, and photocopies of recent work.
Then you are unleashed upon articles and photocopies with scissors. You mark up and cut out passages that speak to you, and piece and tape them together. Finally, you type up this new piece. “You have to write it fresh, recommitting to every single word.”
I found this article on Powell’s Books Blog page a few days ago. And this exercise could be the answer to a piece I have been working on for years. It is revisiting, an updating of Tim O’Brien’s short story ‘The Things They Carried’ set in the run up to the invasion of Iraq. And instead of following the troops on the ground, in the war zone, it follows the cheerleaders of the war and the things they carried and didn’t carry as they rooted for war as if rooting for a favorite sports team.
I am not sure how to post my efforts on this blog. Perhaps it will come to me.
Here is the rough draft and all my notes to date posted below. I have my scissors and tape and am ready to get to work.
The Things They Carry Now
We were on troll patrol, venturing far from our conservative compounds, to engage libtard, freedom hating, islamo-facist feminazis. This was flame war and all that entailed. Laying troll-bait in the tubes to ensnare libfemazis and setting up anti-snark measures to protect the easily duped and more sensitive souls in conserva-land. Some called it a new war, perhaps they were right. However, the basic strategy was not new-overwhelming forces, on multiple fronts. While libtards respond to one flaming tube, we will be creating new flaming tubes elsewhere. Burn the tubes to save the freedoms, that was our war cry. Our unit was the vanguard of creating new, flaming tubes. We were motivated by the inhumaness of our enemies identiy politics, and trying to hoist their concern for others upon Real Americans. That sort of thing made us weaker around the World.
I am not quite sure how I got drafted into this battlefield-this sphere of light impluses, of zeros and ones-this thing called the tubes.
How does anyone? Connections. Family ties. School ties. Club ties. Born in the right Zip Code and fortunate enough to have a father who didn’t F-it all up with hookers and blow, or a parade of mistresses. In other words, the right connections oiled up for me.
My life hardly changed after joining the Fighting Keyboardists, yet I found myself caught up in this new war, with its virtual battlefields. The enemy was hard to pin down, shifty. They blended in with regular tube sites, launching irregular attacks of snark, sarcasim, and satire. The things we carried to meet these insidious attacks and to set the tubes ablaze depended on our specialties. And despite the things we carried I watched many around me struggle to defend against scathing snark attacks. There was, however, one who was truly never fazed-Vaniity Angeles.
Vaniity Angeles carried very little-mostly vitriol. She was the flame thrower of the bunch(of the company/outfit/operations) armed with vitriol bombs-the Molotov Cocktail of Conservathought. Some called her BC-after the black cocktail dress she forever wore in public. Or Blondie. She hated those names and tried to get us to call her Viper.
The vitriol remained unseen for years, only heard. But as the trolling and flame wars carried on, the vitriol weighed her down. It weighed down her soul, her features; it lent a viciousness to her eyes and chin. BC carried a small bracelet on her left wrist. It was gold. It was .99 ct gold. Weight: a few ounces. The chain was a gift from a former lover. He had been captured by the NLE or Never Liberal Enough regulars.(National liberal First. Liberals for America. Progressives for a Liberal America. America-Liberal First.) This group used, what some referred to as Enhanced Reality Techniques, or ERT upon him. We called it torture. What else can a daily bombardment of facts, scientific-based research, rational, logical discusion, be termed? Compassion. Empathy. Concern for others- dear God what a bunch of heathens. She carried it to remember to hate all libtards and their ideas. She carried it until he returned.
The libtards have developed a most devastating weapon-Snark. We have no defense against it. So we have retreated to our blood red gerrymandered districts, our bastion of conservative pride-FOX, where we find comfort and aid. There we are protected by Papa Bear, the Blondes, and a modern Saint George-Sean Hanity.
(We are attempting a new offensive in Silicon Valley. Our outreach to the young tech millionaires is taking time but early test results show promise). We have set up fortified conservative positions lead by local radio pundits.
(We spread the word-posting on the tubes Beck still lives. Or G.B. Lives)(what if the conservative Baldwin delivers a Glengerry Glen Ross type motivation speech).
Common things they carried/things in common:Keyboards, disregard (for reality, facts, science), hatred(each tried to out do the others), arrogance, muscular vocabulary, dismissal of Pinkos, islamo-fascist libtard ideals/ideas. Water carriers for elite but professed love for true Americans, guns, freedoms. A flag. A plastic card with 10 Commandments printed on it, some carried a Bible-the atheists carried silence. All carried Rational for real war, torture, secret prisons, an ability to never say sorry, or face consequences. Hypocrisy.(perhaps give examples-not just say but show). (Casual disregard for facts, others opinions). The ability to metaphorically stick fingers in ears, shouting la la la la la, like a 5 yr old and not be called on it, and in fact to be invited back to talk shows, and political round tables.(the other areas of this war). Incoherent(yelling rage), ramblings-perfected by SP(sarah palin-change name) and her obsession (with what). Who unfortunately was not in our unit-too busy being rogue and watching Russia.
Remark on atmosphere of the office-temperature controlled, casual wear-though suits and ties and dresses, smart outfits stood by ready for deployment when booking producers called. Often we went through 300 outfits a week. SO hard to cleanse sweat and make-up off collars and cuffs.
One morning we straggled in to office in ones and twos. Someone had made posters and put them up on the wall. You know the kind of war posters popular in early and mid 20th century. Someone had photo shopped the images and words-updating them to better reflect this new kind of war. There was one of Uncle Sam still dressed in his red, white, and blue suit-his finger pointed towards viewer but with added(new)words. The caption read, “I want you to battle the libtards on the fields, the beaches, on air. And never Surrender. Others had a big picture of a white guy Fawkes face against a black background and the words Beck Lives. Another showed a man driving alone in a reddish convertible-in the passenger seat a shadowy outline of the word shame, with the caption When you (carry) ride with shame libtards win. Most of the stragglers barely registered the posters that day. But in time they would carry the one Beck lives with them on troll patrols. It weighed only a few ounces but the comfort it carried was immeasurable.
Our detractors called us tube rats. We carried the name with pride.
The unit:Richard Halliburton/Wyoming(V-Prez/BH(for Big Head, had a giant melon)AKA Wyoming Red(R-mining, oil, gas), Jacques Vous(The weaving of the things they carried), Tenant Powell, German Gavel, G. Wiz-Brooks, Liam Waterford, AKA Bloody Bill(the cry More War! Always on his lips), Ron Digler, or U.N. Ten(with an irrational desire to remove the 10 top floors of U.N.)(because he advocated for the violent removal of the U.N. Building’s top 10 floors)(with a sweet, sweet ‘stache, we all wanted one), Kimber Carrera, Cid Carrera, Vaniity Angeles(write out each one individually then put together)
G. Wiz-Brooks struggled to keep up, despite carrying current conserva-thought-with face pinched and the bag held out at arms length like a bag of animal poo. Carried the disparate notion of America as Conservative Nation-as this was fantasy; it was weightless. Also carried the denial that he was a liberal in the modern conservative movement. He also carried the belief that baseball remained America’s pastime. Carried the belief he remained relevant. Someone said to him, “Just because you believe something doesn’t make it true.” He continued to carry his beliefs, despite someone imploring him to put them down and carry reality.
Slogans: Burn the tubes to save the freedoms. Have you started a flame war today? Kill all libtards and let God sort it out. I write therefore I am ink.
-Idea of a commercial for INC, You running in the background of story-don’t (think) it will work.
-Change name to 1001st Keyboardist-1st to cheer war/support troops, 0 prisoners, 0 Retreat, 1st to troll liberals/libtards/1st to raise the flag.
-Part of opening/middle(not sure). It’s a flame war-the libtards ambushed us on safe ground, Snuck into our conservapounds(unleashed a fury of snark)
-The fighting 1001st keyboardists infiltrate the various theaters of conflict: the airwaves, the TV, in print, the tubes, with sorties into entertainment, “comedy” and have a few allies in both. But that loose the war of snark, sarcasm. But living in hypocrisy.
-Remember Leo Strauss and his followers-Straussian’s. Wolfowitz was one. Irving Crystal and his son Bloody Bill. So this could be in here. The things the fighting (1001) keyboardist carry. A library of his books-they weighed one pound each. On the nation’s soul unweighted.
The 1st company of the 1001st FKBs was on libtard patrol that day.(trolling add in around here maybe) The tubes were quiet.(too quiet, someone was saying)(a new poster was up-Conserva-thought never sleeps). The office throbs with the voice of the Duce or maybe it was the Han(bemoaning the latest socio-fascist outrage perpetrated upon God-fearing Pundits. Someone turned off the sound). Fingers were flying across keyboards, digits ached, thumbs pulsed from banging the space bar.
They/we all carry crimes against humanity-crimes against democracy and the crime of shredding the freedoms they hate us for. The weight of this items are yet to be determined as those responsible for prosecuting they are too busy looking forward.
They/we all carry__dead and __wounded citizen soldiers, and __dead and wounded__Iraq civilians upon our/their conscious. The weight of so many dead is incalculable. Though in terms of known money spent the weight is__(divide this weight among each. Each carries__lbs of this coast. Though they too shifted carrying this cost to citizens and each citizen carries___lbs, even those who never enlisted in the 1001st fighting keyboardist Brigade.(our detractors say it stands for 1st to cry for war, 0 skin in the game, 0 morals or ethics, 1st in bar when actual fighting begins) Someone said no its(1st in the bar/under bed, 0 shame, 0 remorse, 1st under bed to piddle pants.)
The doughy pant-load carried coffee and donuts-weight 16oz of coffee and 8oz of jelly filled dounuts to his keyboard battlefield every morning. The only wounds he suffered were snark wounds, intellectual drubbings and hurt feelings. He still carries the effect of Post-traumatic Snark Syndrome. It weighs upon feelings. Weight a gross ton of snark unleashed upon the pant-load. His mother helped carry him to his place in the unit. Doughy Pantload spent all his down time viewing NSFW pictures of the girl across the office. He dreamed of her, MM. But she was already married when she sat down at the front line of keyboards, news casts, radio shows and news print.(i thought the rank Lt. Should be taken out unless self-described and of course the ego would want Col/Gen/Commodore/Marshall)
(all AC/BC) She carried very little, mostly vitriol. She was the flame thrower of the bunch. Armed with the (flame thrower) Molotov Cocktail of Conserva-thought. She was called BC or Blondie. She didn’t like either and tried to get us to call here Viper. (someone suggested Boa of Burbank-as she encircled and strangled all libtard arguments). The vitriol was unseen but weighed her down. It weighed down her soul, her features. It lent a viciousness to her eyes and chin. She carried a small bracelet on her left wrist. It was gold. Weight a few ounces. It was .99ct. The chain had been a gift from a former lover. He’d been captured by the NLE regulars (Not/Never Liberal Enough). She carried it to remember to hate all libtards. She carried it until he returned. BC carried hate, a deep seething hatred, that she unleashed upon the (fields of fire/tubes) blogosphere battle field.
They all carried keyboards. Weight about 3 lbs. Words. The words were the tricky items. Some were light and made up throw away lines. Others were heavier, especially the ones BC carried. Hers were like bombs which she flung with glee. They broke upon everything(in a great conflagration), discourse, rational thought, good manners, decency, common ground(it was amazing how long demo-fascist continued to wander around seeking common ground. We had that piece of ground zeroed in-that was our killing fields)(in an all consuming rage of madness(mar/man?-i think I mean MM also carried this) burned it all. Exploded all. Opening the way for the vilest hate, contempt, others (of us) carried to spread across the fields of discourse. [ It was toxic. Nothing but hate survived. Decent folks fled before the onslaught. Libtards were decimated, rational thought laid waste. Perhaps part of larger story.] (contented? Connected to others)
Lt. PL was shoveling the last of the morning’s dounuts into is pasty face hole. AC/BC was trying to recover from another late night by filling a glass from a vodka bottle she carried in her desk. It weighed___(?3lbs full), it was almost empty. She was screaming (at no one), “I have to get to my rejuvenating chamber before the sun shines on that Dam NYT building”, at no one in particular. Suddenly she shouted, “I need some TP people. (what have you got?) Someone flung a roll at her. It bounced off the desk next to her. “Dammit you smart-ass liberal. You know I meant Talking Points. I’m going Mahers show and I need to look even more intellectually sexy to him than I already do. Nothing. Silence. She didn’t notice. “God how he loves this brain.” She winced slightly as she touched her skull. Then she took a slug from her hand cut crystal rocks glass. “Much better”, she murmured. She continued to sip until her head lay on the keyboard.
(trying to come up with new name for Anne Coulter. BCD-black cocktail dress. Blondie (from good, bad and the ugly) I imagine Eli Wallach-Hello Blondie. The cocktail dress with no name. Conserva-brain, flame thrower, Molotov Cocktailer-MT(for Molotov) she was a troller par excellence, in great demand. Flinging flaming bon mots of poo, of carefully crafted troll bait, about the political battle(sphere) zone. With stood snark attacks, with stood waves of libtard indignation, libtard scorn, without shame, decency, or remorse. She was an inspiration to us. The Boa of Burbank-because she encircles and constricts libtards and their arguments.
MM carried loathing. She had been born in Not the USA and she loathed herself. She carried the loathing for all not the USA citizens. She was beautiful, bright. Brown eyes, black hair cut close. Slim features. (one could see why DPL was in love with her) Yet when she spoke the loathing (as it spewed forth) turned her into a demon. A vicious, snarling, spit spewing Demon. Her eyes went wild.
At times she wrote coherently-a modern day typing berserker. She torn through libtard’s arguments, comments and questions like a plow through snow. (she)(BC? Not sure who I mean for this next sentence) Pushed all asunder. Many of us thought she might have a heart attack when she make it to the stage of TV. She carried her husband’s citizenship. And rumors were she carried(Jessie’s word too. The demon she carried was light-only about 5lbs. She could have dropped it at anytime, but she carried it like a medal or talisman. (before this part of larger story)MM had point scouring the tubes(laying troll bait/troll traps-point on troll patrol) for more proof of libtard fascist pinko(islamo-terror surrenderists) destroying “Merica, with which to fuel the units next 10 angry (days) dark-hearted tiraids.
Dr. U.N. Ten-carries the coolest ‘stache. Weighs about 6oz. Brushes opposition aside. Carries buckets of flaming stupid hurt. (some detractors calling it asinine ignorance) He throws the FSH upon libtards and their enablers-that suspect group MSM. The buckets each weigh 1 lb empty-full the buckets each weigh 6 lbs. He carries one in each hand and a back up dangles from that beautiful, beautiful ‘stache.
Tenant Powel carried images of mushroom clouds. Tenant Powell carried the case to the U.N.(the war’s) most vital piece of evidence, the vial of white powder substance weighed 3oz. 1 oz of powder, 2 oz of vial. And the slides of mobile weapons labs weighed .5 oz each. The case/evidence weighed heavily on the successive vote. The journalists carry the Kool-ade that makes it all taste so sweet. They once carried 8oz. Red solo cups(copy right)-2 at a time-weight 1 lb. Perhaps these canards will weigh them(him) and those carrying them to the lower levels of hell in the future.
G. Wiz-Brooks no longer carries anything of value but his love a baseball. It’s sad really.
Now Krauthammer-German Rammer as a good name. Or German Gavel-as he pronounces judgments against weak kneed, cut and run, surrenderists. The Gavel was the old man of the group. The last remaining light of our conservative forefathers. His pronouncements carried more weight that most everyone alive. He knows the founder’s intent. All who knew anything knew this. He carried the founder’s legacy, words and intent, into the world, one they surely would never recognize. The weight must have been enormous, quite incalculable really. And a thoroughly self-proclaimed undertaking. No one talked of these(such) things as we moved through the tubes. No one talked of these things the day LT PL got hit by snark. One minute he’s holding a doughnut starring at mm’s picture the next he was down, the computer fried, the keyboard sticky with the coffee he split. LT PL split it falling down in the libtard snark attack. It was referred to as the doughnut down incident. Afterwards VP Big Head joked that conserva-troops should be issued with dounuts as large as his beautiful head. While someone else joked you face the libtard snark with the dounuts you have not the ones you should have had. That quip carried the room, shattered all shame, if any, someone might have accidentally been carrying. When we carry shame the liberals win. We ate his doughnuts as we waited for his mother to come carry DPL away. “There it is.” someone said, “Doughnut down.” We all laughed. There it is dounuts down. TIIDD, as the young kidz would type out today. (what if he is still there and they ignore him. Treat him as the honored dead. Support the Consera-troops-Honor the Fallen. So they can’t acknowledge he is actually alive. They turn him into a martyr. Strike that—the doughnut is the hero and MM falls in love with(it) or (him). War mongering does crazy things to a person—there it is. Even makes people fall in love with doughnuts. (We waited for his mother to come take him away), as we waited we ate the rest of his dounuts—someone took point to get coffee, as LT PL lay in the doughnut’s jelly innards. Perhaps LT PL’s last thought was of sharing a baker’s dozen of doughnuts with MM. Sitting across their computer screens, launching freshly made Molotov bait bombs together.
Jacques Vous/Jack Vous carried the rational for enhanced Interrogation Techniques (nee torture). Apparently it is weightless at least to(on) the hearts and minds and conscious of the Chancellors of UC Berkeley law school(Bolt Hall). Though I suspect it has some weight.
(R. Halliburton)(VP-Big Head) is still allowed to storm the airwaves despite all common decency and several attempts to label him a war criminal.
They all carried crimes against humanity.
JM-DPL dreamed that MM’s husband would be taken out in a libtard snark attack. But MM’s husband was hardly ever at the keyboard front line. No one was sure what he did. Perhaps it was clandestine work. Rumors were he carried papers and ideas to MM from dark and nefarious reaches of 1001st intelligence branch. Code Named:Faux Nooz, which MM dutifully carried to the public battle ground at Fox News. Really more of a testing ground or proving ground(for various ideas and theories of conserva-thought) Lt. Pantload dreamed of JM’s demise every time he photo shopped the clothes out of MM’s photo.
B2/Bloody Bill or B2 as we knew him, was the son of a wealthy Neocon. He could have sat it out. Got a deferment to some cushy Washington think tank and wrote (what some detractors called) nonsensical conserva-prop. But he manned the lines. He walked point. What does he carry. The excuses. The rational. The muscular words. Those obfuscating words, he carried them all. Words can carry consequences but for b2 words must be free of such weight. Free of repercussions, too. For he still mongers for war. The blood he carries on his hands never has a chance to dry and appears to have no weight on B2’s soul.
–We Carried No Shame–(I think this is a title idea. Or idea of what is not carried) (We carried ability to deflect and ignore culpability for all blow back).
Condi carried images of mushroom clouds
R. Halliburton-VP Big Head carried no heart, no compassion and only a smidgen of empathy, about an ounce worth.(for his money). He believed that not carrying these (things) items allowed him to stomp through libtard villages, homes, and fields. “Swift as a mongoose, it makes me”, “Heart and compassion weighs one down.”, “Slows one’s faculties.” VP Big Head and his minion Scooter Libby( Shooter McGee) carried the name of a CIA operative to the press(who put it in the Kool-ade filled cups) thereby exposing National Secrets-(link to damage done). VP Big Head also carried out the process(operation) of cherry picking intelligence gathered, selectively releasing said (cherry picked intelligence) information to the MSM (TV pundits). The MSM continues to let him carry his self serving message into the Sunday news shows without question, push-back, or remorse, or shame.
Doughy Pantload-Pantload was photo shopping the latest pictures the day VPBH lost his heart to libtard snark attack. Many thought we’d lost the muscular bloviating that had carried so many so far. It wasn’t to be. VPBH (now) carries the ___artificial heart. It weighs___ Whether this version of____artificial heart carries sympathy, concern, and compassion the owners manual is silent. What the artificial heart carries beyond the life force is indeterminate. The life force weighs heavily upon the planet. Though I suspect it has some weight as VPBH is allowed to storm the airwaves despite all common decency and several attempts to label him a war criminal.
Shooter—Scooter/Shooter came in carrying the name of National Security agent. Her husband was a suspected libtard pinko. He’d been undermining Intelligence claims of VPBH had been carrying. VPBH and Shooter carried out a plan to discredit him. It carried with it exposure of vital National Security issues and exposed American operations in foreign countries. They launched the operation while the rest of us slept. Leaking the information to Keyboardist support personnel at the NYT. We were too shocked by the ramifications of such exposure(for maybe a millisecond. Then we got over it and supported carrying out character assassinations on the pinko and his wife.), to be mad that VPBH hadn’t entrusted one of us. But that was his way, always going rogue-claiming team privilege when it suited him or coming to implore us to print made up interviews, “I’ve been working of this troll bait all week.”(and by I he meant Shooter),”(to be ready) in time for weekend news dump. I’ll go to MM if you don’t want it.” His troll bait would work through the tubes for weeks, entrapping libtards and drawing out pinko islamo-fascists, American haters. No one carried a no for VPBH. So when he went to (LT) PL-the LT about dropped his doughnut. Someone was there to steady him as VPBH thundered,”This is the muscular verbal ammo that will annihilate the libtard insurgency. I need it in the tubes now, LT PT. The PL looked like he was going to faint, but a quick glance at(to) the picture (of his mother) on his desk stifled his quivering. Stifled it long enough to reach for the MVA, or Muscular Verbal Ammo. The weight was unbearable, as they were new and the effects unrecorded. But assumed to be heartless(remorseless), cruel, and relentless. Weight would be measured in Megatons.
–Need to add some description to various characters office description-a little-Posters added now and again.
R. Halliburton/Shooter McGee Big melon, monocle, smirk of derision upon lips, older bald, looked like albino pumpkin with a smirk.
LT DPL Heavy set, glasses, peach-fuzz on chin, always a suit jacket, no tie, usually tan
(We’d sit in our cubicles)–no need to see everything. TV’s on wall, to watch for any developments. Open floor plan?, windows, 30th fl. IT was designed to look mundane, unassuming, just another office tower, bland, wanting of character, no ornamentation, nothing to make it stand out. It could have been in any town in America. It is where he humped ourselves everyday to seek out the enemy, pick up Talking Points before heading into the tubes(waded into the media stream/airwaves) to lay troll bait. Or fan out to support various offenses launched by Conserva-thought, while others talked the tubes to spring flame wars on libtards. We thought it was easy duty-cush. In by 9 out by 5- for most of us. The more famous trollers went on late night or weekend shows.
MM-Kimber Carrera, MM’s Husband-Cid Carrera(Mandy Mavin/Mark Mavin-original names. Like new ones better), Doughy Pantload/Jonny Aurum-Jonah Goldberg,DP’s mother-Sasha Hinton, Vaniity Angeles-Ann Coulter, Liam Waterford/Bloody Bill-Bill Crystal(more war), Kamilla Biggs/Briggs-Judith Miller, G. Wiz-Brooks-George Will, Colin Powel/George Tenant-Tenant Powell, Jacques Vous-John Yoo, Condi Rice-? VP big Head/Richard Wyoming/(R-Oil, gas, Drilling)-Dick Chaney, Dr. U.N. Ten/Ron Diggler-John Bolton, Chuck Todd-(Don’t have name yet-Declared it’s not my job to inform viewers/citizen’s when politicians spread misinformation). . . .
(The end-And so we find ourselves in an archipelago of Conserva-pounds, a sort of conservative oasis dotting the vast waste-lands of the tubes. We have our conservative tube sites-deep within our protective bubble. It is safe here-a respit from the horrible well known liberal bias of reality.)