1. “Angst Journal” by Osamu Dazai, presented without comment, or maybe just an intro

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    Osamu Dazai (1909 - 1948) is one of Japan’s most well-known writers. His masterpiece was probably his final book, No Longer Human, which is also, somehow, “Japan’s second best-selling novel.” Dazai lived as a self-destructive outcast in a conformist society and frequently used elements from his life and family background as material for his stories and novels.

    "Angst Journal" is a short diary that looks kind of like an introverted Twitter feed. None of the entries are dated, but Dazai mentions The Final Years, so this is probably around 1936. During this period, he was, I think, in debt and addicted to morphine.

    If you’re interested in reading more about Dazai, I would recommend The Saga of Osamu Dazai by Phyllis I. Lyons.

    ***

    ANGST JOURNAL

    ________ _____th

    Someone put a live snake into the mailbox. Anger. Whoever it was must enjoy laughing at unsuccessful writers who go out to check mailbox twenty times a day. Start to feel bad and stay in bed all day.

    ________ _____th

    "Don’t sell your suffering" — letter from a friend.

    ________ _____th

    Condition terrible. Bloody phlegm. Sent word home, but they don’t seem to believe me.

    Peach tree is blossoming in corner of garden.

    ________ _____th

    Inheritance from father was apparently 1.5 million yen. No idea how much is left. Was disinherited eight years ago anyway. Have only managed to live this long thanks to kindness of elder brother. But what about from now on? Have never even dreamed of earning own keep. Won’t have any option but to die if this keeps up. On this day, man of corruption, that’ll teach you, bad writer of terrible books.

    Dan Kazuo came to visit. Borrowed forty yen from him.

    ________ _____th

    Correct proofs of short story collection The Final Years. Suddenly wonder if this might end up being my final work. No doubt it will.

    ________ _____th

    Number of people who haven’t bad-mouthed me this year: three? Less? Surely not.

    ________ _____th

    Letter from my elder sister.

    "I just sent twenty yen, so please go and collect it. You put me in a very difficult position by always asking for money. I can’t tell mother, so it always comes from me, and it makes things most difficult. Mother doesn’t have that much money either… You must be more frugal and stop spending so much. The magazine companies are paying you at least a little, aren’t they? Stop borrowing from others and tighten your belt. Take better care of yourself. Look after your health, and stop going out so much with your friends. We are tired of worrying about you so much…"

    ________ _____th

    Drowsy all day. Have begun to suffer from insomnia. Two nights so far. If I don’t sleep tonight, three nights.

    ________ _____th

    Visit to doctor at dawn. Remember Tanaka’s poem:

    If I forget
    my journey, weeping, down this road
    who will ever know?

    Coerce doctor into giving me morphine.

    Wake in early afternoon. Feel anxious and sad at light in young leaves. Decide that I need to get healthy.

    ________ _____th

    Most livid, burning shame brought up with no hesitations by family. Leapt to feet. Put on geta clogs. Home! Froze for a moment, looking like Deva King. Kicked brazier. Kicked coal bucket into the air. Went into four-and-a-half tatami room and kicked kettle into sliding door. Door’s glass rattled. Kicked tea table over. Soy sauce on wall. Cups and saucers. Scapegoats. Couldn’t have gone on living without breaking all these things. No regrets.

    ________ _____th

    "Five feet eight and shaggy." "Die of shame." Think back on phrases I wrote earlier, chuckle to self.

    ________ _____th

    Yamagishi Gaishi comes to visit. Enemies on every side, I say. Oh, no, only on two sides, really, he replies. Laughs handsomely.

    ________ _____th

    When you aren’t talking, you look fine. I just want you to listen to this. No, I’ve heard plenty. But— … Argued over one and a half yen with family for three hours last night. Absolutely mortifying.

    ________ _____th

    Can’t go to the toilet alone at night. Small-headed boy of fifteen or sixteen in a white yukata stands behind me. Looking back over own shoulder is taking life in hands these days. Definitely a small-headed boy there. Yamagishi Gaishi says it’s because of “somethin’ unspeakably cruel” one of my ancestors did five or six generations ago. Maybe so.

    ________ _____th

    Finish writing next novel. Did it always make me this happy? Read through it again. Looks good. Send word to two or three friends. Can pay everyone back now. Title is The White Monkey Berserk.

     
  2. page 79 of New Tab

     

  3. Anecdotes taken from five Japanese Zen masters’ Wikipedia entries, presented without comment

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    Kodo Sawaki (1880-1965)

    "Sawaki was raised by a gambler. […] He later became a Zen teacher, and is known for his rigorous emphasis on zazen, in particular the practice of shikantaza, or ‘just sitting.’ He often called Zen ‘wonderfully useless.’”

    Taisen Deshimaru (1914 - 1982)

    Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Deshimaru’s master (Kodo Sawaki) predicted that Japan would lose the war. When Deshimaru departed from his Master, Kodo said ‘Our homeland will be destroyed, our people annihilated, and this may be the last time we see one another. Nevertheless, love all mankind regardless of race or creed.’”

    Ryōkan (1758–1831)

    "One evening, a thief visited Ryōkan’s hut at the base of the mountain only to discover there was nothing to steal. Ryōkan returned and caught him. ‘You have come a long way to visit me,’ he told the prowler, ‘and you should not return empty-handed. Please take my clothes as a gift.’ The thief was bewildered. He took the clothes and slunk away. Ryōkan sat naked, watching the moon. ‘Poor fellow,’ he mused, ‘I wish I could have given him this beautiful moon.’"

    Hakuin Ekaku (1686 - 1768)

    "[A beautiful Japanese girl’s] parents discovered that she was pregnant. She would not confess who the father was, but after much harassment named Hakuin. In great anger, the parents went to the master. ‘Is that so?’ was all the master would say. After the child was born, it was brought to Hakuin. He had lost his reputation, which did not trouble him, but he took very good care of the child. 

    A year later, the girl could stand it no longer. She told her parents the truth: the real father of the child was a young man who worked in the fish market. The mother and father of the girl at once went to Hakuin to ask forgiveness and to get the child back. Hakuin willingly yielded the child, saying only: ‘Is that so?’”

    Masao Abe (1915 - 2006)

    "Abe’s profound quest continued. In December 1951, during a group Zen sitting at the Reiun Temple in Kyoto, Abe personally challenged Hisamatsu, screaming to him, ‘Is that the True Self?’ Hisamatsu replied, ‘That’s the True Self.’ Abe entered an intense phase and struggled with the view that ‘It’s all a lie’ (which he cried out while dousing himself with a bucket of ice water at a subsequent group sitting). Finally, Abe told Hisamatsu, ‘I just cannot find any place where I can stand.’ Hisamatsu told him, ‘Stand right at that place where there is nowhere to stand.’”

     
  4. professional cat walker summer 2k14

     
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  6. Here’s an audio recording of a very impromptu two am reading I did with Sophia Katz in the back alley of an art gallery in Toronto around late June. 

    Sophia reads a short section from New Tab by me & then I try & totally fail to read a poem by Sophia.

     
     

  7. "If the Hollywood sign was located inside my head, it would say ‘DESPERATE’ in giant letters instead of ‘HOLLYWOOD.’"
    — from New Tab
     
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  9. this week on otherppl podcast with brad listi, I talk about more or less all my issues & probably mispronounce a record amount of words.

    I started listening to brad’s podcast back when he had sheila heti as a guest & it’s probably my favorite literary podcast, so being today’s guest seems good to me.

    (Source: guillaumemorissette, via popserial)

     
  10. tiveposts:

    "NEW TAB", una novela de GUILLAUME MORISSETTE

    Recomendación total para la lectura de esta novela en su idioma original en espera de una edición en España, para la cual me ofrezco como traductor —llegado el caso. Su protagonista y narrador es un diseñador de videojuegos próximo a la treintena, descontento con su trabajo y con su vida en general. Es decir, que sufre de baja autoestima, aislamiento y ansiedad social, como cualquier buena persona. […]

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    "NEW TAB", a novel by GUILLAUME MORISSETTE

    Full recommendation for reading this novel in its original language, while awaiting an Spanish edition, for which I offer myself as a translator —if necessary. The protagonist and narrator is a video game designer in his twenties, unhappy with his work and his life in general. I mean, who suffers from low self-esteem, social isolation and anxiety, as any good person. He has the idea of returning to college in Montreal to study Creative Writing, so he moves home to share a house in rental with other students. In the attempt to re-invent himself, he makes new friends —-with one foot in real life and another one on Facebook—, he attends parties and raves, and flirts with alcohol and other drugs disastrously. The disappointing and full of self-destructive mood of tweets —aphorisms— acting as a transition between scenes prepares us to guess the fate of this unfortunate guy in its interaction with reality.

    “New Tab” (Véhicule Press, 2014) offers a wonderful psychological characterization of characters that makes them completely believable and lovable. Realism also defines the protagonist’s “love story” with a younger girl, a desultory literary fanzine editor who is still trapped in a previous relationship of dependency. Few contemporary love stories I have found so poignant as this one, told by Guillaume Morissette, this new writter associated with the emergence of the Alt Lit scene in Canada. My identification with the characters has been tremendous, thanks to its particular wisdom to perceive and transmit the doubts, the fears, the absurd, the innocence and helplessness of our lives in the second decade of the century. Morissette is author of the miscellany of prose and poetry, “I Am My Own Betrayal” (2012) and has published in numerous digital media.

     
  11. I am not sure I fully understand what this review is trying to articulate, but I liked reading it. if this is a ‘negative review’, it’s probably the nicest negative review I’ve seen so far.

    I feel like it’s hard to see what philip means here when he talks about the ‘post-modern mechanics’ of a book like taipei in comparaison to new tab, but this kind of review really makes me want to understand better how other people perceive novels & what they’re hoping to get out of them. 

     
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  15. cool review of new tab by daniel roy, who, according to his linkedin, is an independent videogame writer & designer who worked on games like splinter cell & more