Author Archive

Fan Letter and New Blog

In Free Floating on January 29, 2011 at 7:41 pm
M. Standfast, Kyoto

Sympathies, as a project, has been in remission, and yet during its dormancy the site lives on, with a small but beautiful life of its own.  Last month Sympathies received a fan letter from one Chris De La Cruz, a young man working his way through the first stages of what will surely be a lifelong wrestling with “My Dinner With Andre.”  Chris’s lovely note planted a seed in Sympathies’ curator, M. Standfast, which has borne fruit in the inauguration of a new blog, Jungian Intimations.  The new blog, now in its glorious infancy, can be found here:

Intimations will cover all things Jung, as well as allowing the “clown called I” to riff on matters autobiographical.  Thanks in advance are due to Mr. Dean Williams, who suggested long ago that we should open a site dedicated to explorations in psychology.

Here is Mr. De La Cruz’s letter:

Hi Matthew,

Today I stumbled upon your website when looking for different essays about My Dinner with Andre which has, over the past year, become one of my favorite films (tied with Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind). I was reading both Part I and II of your blog posts on My Dinner with Andre and found them both really insightful. I especially enjoyed the sections on impulse in Part II. I think that is something I really struggle with in my understanding of the film. You put it so clearly when you say:

“The trouble with authenticity and living on impulse is, simply, that one person’s authenticity is another’s callousness; one person’s impulse is another’s betrayal; one person’s honesty is another’s arrogance.”

It’s so true what you say. I mean where is the consideration of others if I am going on impulse all the time? Is it that deep inside me there is always this compassionate core where my impulse will react from? This whole past semester, I have really been trying to find a way in which “each day would become an incredible, monumental creative task.” I think I find it most difficult in terms of my relationships. I find such a struggle in understanding when there is a point where you can truly be with someone. I feel like the institution of marriage is counter to the idea of acting on impulse. Andre says that he questioned whether he could spend the rest of his life with Chiquita and he realized he didn’t want to be anywhere else, but when does someone reach that point? Is it after you have traveled the world and realizing that you can create this intentional, authentic experience within your own home?

Essentially, all this message comes down to is to let you know that you should really consider continuing with your analysis of My Dinner with Andre. It’s relieving to read someone else’s well-constructed thoughts on the film so that I can take a break from listening to the incessant monologue in my head. I don’t know what your reasons were for giving up – but I hope it wasn’t because you didn’t think anyone really cared.


Incidentally, Chris participates in a series of videos concerning Public Safety.  Be careful out there kids.


Jerome and the Devil

In Poems on December 16, 2010 at 10:07 pm

M. Standfast, New York

In a glade near his home
Lurked a boy called Jerome
When he met with the sight of the devil
Who asked for his soul
In a tupperware bowl
With a voice smug, and typically level

Though of manner quite mild
The cunning wee child
Prepared a surprise for the devil
Who felt thoroughly deceived
As the soul he received
Belonged to the neighbor’s boy, Nevil

Image Credit:

The Respectable Man

In Organizations, Poems, Sociology on December 12, 2010 at 3:51 pm

M. Standfast, Kyoto

Editor’s Note: Here is The Respectable Man.  A decade old, but it stand up pretty well, perhaps.

The respectable man
reflects if he can
but the world won’t wait for reflectors
the respectable man
sits on the can
sits on the board of directors

The respectable man
hawks wares to the clan
who cannot tell shit from shinola
the respectable man
sees a water ban
and irrigates crops with a cola

The respectable man
works on his tan
en route to his room at the Hilton
the respectable man
is pimping a plan
with robust tax-giveaways built-in

The respectable man
spits on his hands
and scurries his way up the ladder
the respectable man
looks over the land
and respectfully empties his bladder

Search Terms II

In Meta, Poems on December 12, 2010 at 3:31 pm

M. Standfast, Kyoto

Editors Note: This is the second list of search terms that have led readers to the site.  Glad to see such commonly googled terms such as “cartoon its only til the mail server is back up” continue to drive traffic here at Sympathies.

+”my dinner with andre” +”andre gregory”
“beehive” “my dinner with andre”
follow up to my dinner with andre
neuronal net

neuron flashing
detailed neuron
neuron draw
fly giant neuronn

i can always live in my plays, but i can’t live in my life.
i could always live in my art but never in my life
walter benjamin hashish in marseilles
hashish in marseilles walter benjamin

post modern classicism
post structuralism architecture
structuralism architecture
classicism cartoon

cartoon its only til the mail server is back up
cartoons of structuralism
puritan cartoon
cartoon of an anonymous letter

erving goffman backstage
interaction ritual erving goffman+summary
tearoom trade
erving golffman, public bathrooms

phrophet saul
conversion of paul
paul the apostle
paul the apostle cartoon

forget me not-oldest poems
“man’s self-production is always, and of necessity, a social enterprise”
modern stairs
emerging from an egg

Image credit:

the process has a point of view

In Organizations, Poems, Sociology on November 12, 2009 at 9:44 pm

M. Standfast, Kyoto

the process has a point of view
the process has a plan
it consecrates opinion
of the group or of the man

the process can be tampered with
but one must take great pains
to regard the ghouls that process fronts for
ghouls weighted down with chains

each time we wantonly with process toy
one chain process doth loose
if the ghouls become untethered
we have ourselves cooked goose

blood rites, human sacrifice, motions carried
parliamentary procedures of every kind
serve well to prettify men’s base designs
but their rigidity may insult the mind

so by all means make your end run around
the process, subvert the stated order, bring fresh
thinking but beware the ghouls of process
which will claim their pound of flesh

or better yet submit to process and to “the rules”
establish your credentials and sanctify intent
until you see that form is but an empty suit
and process, when respected, can be bent

Image Credit:

The Taxi Driver

In Poems, Ranting on September 9, 2009 at 10:10 pm

7088851M. Standfast, Kyoto

the taxi driver had no teeth
and did not know his way
soon enough I began to seethe
but knew not what to say

the taxi driver circled the block
and circled round again
I did not know just where we were
but recognized where we’d been

the hapless, toothless taxi driver
took another right
a fear rose up in my chest
this could go on all night

the taxi driver holds his rider
in a kind of cell
when your driver loses the plot
the ride becomes pure hell.

“Curtis John Tucker had a lot to do with it”

In Music on July 12, 2009 at 9:56 pm


M. Standfast, Kyoto

I recently downloaded “Nothing Left to Lose,” a Kris Kristofferson tribute (the second such in my collection).  On it, Howe Gelb, of Giant Sand fame, covers the song “The Pilgrim.”  You know the song; it goes: “He’s a poet/ he’s a picker/ he’s a prophet/ he’s a pusher/ he’s a pilgrim and a preacher and a problem when he’s stoned/ he’s a walking contradiction/ partly fact and partly fiction/ taking every wrong direction on his lonely way back home.”  You know the one.

It’s a good song, and Gelb turns in a sound version, but Howe’s spoken introduction is what caught and has retained my attention.  Before starting the tune, Gelb says the following:

“I guess when Kris wrote this song he wrote it for Chris Gantry–he started out doing it though by–ended up writing it for Dennis Hopper, Johnny Cash, Norman Norbert, Funky Donny Fritz, Billy Flot, Paul Seibel, Bobby Neuwirth, Jerry Jeff Walker, Ramblin’ Jack Eliot had a lot to do with it/ Me I ended up learning this song for Vic Chesnutt, Jason Lyttle, Evan Dando, Polly Jean, Paula Jean, Patsy Jean, Juliana, Victoria, Bobby Neuwirth, Bobby Plant, Curtis John Tucker had a lot to do with it.”

The alliterative Bobbys and the the matching of Ramblin’ Jack Eliot and Curtis John Tucker make this little speech into a mini-poem of sorts, and we know some of the protagonists; Dennis Hopper and Johnny Cash of course; Jerry Jeff Walker and Ramblin’ Jack Eliot are folk singers; Bobby Neuwrith is a folk singer, multimedia artist, and Dylan confident in Don’t Look Back; but who Norman Norbert, Funky Donny Fritz, Billy Flot, and Paul Seibel are–well your guess is as good as mine.  Similarly, Vic Chesnutt, Jason Lyttle and Victoria (Williams) are folk singers, Evan Dando, Juliana Hatfield, and P.J. Harvey are alt rock superstars, Bobby Plant is presumably Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin fame, Bobby Neuwrith is Bobby Neuwrith, and Curtis John Tucker, well, he had a lot to do with it.

But here’s the point, after listening to Gelb name drop Funky Donny and Curtis John, I feel an affinity for them–were I to bump into Funky Donny in an airport lounge or a bar, his presence would resonate with an essential familiarity–even if I didn’t know precisely that it was he, I would recognize immediately that he was indeed funky, not to mention a serious problem when he’s stoned.

What Gelb hints at both in his evocation of the circumstance surrounding the creation of the song, and in his description of his coming to know of it, is the presence a community behind the writing of the song, and a community behind Gelb’s coming to know of it.  Behind or beside every Kristofferson, Gelb implies, is a Norman Norbert, every Dylan is a Bobby Neuwrith, every Howe Gelb a Curtis John Tucker, every Kafka a Max Brod.  This thought fills me with a little jealously and a little sadness; I’m not at all sure that such communities of practice are as common as they once were.  Maybe I’m wrong about this, maybe the grass is always greener and I just don’t recognize my own Funky Donny in the sea of imminently replaceable cardboard cut-out stick figures that seem to populate my days.  Or again, maybe I’m right, and something about the atomization of human affairs in the first world in the 21st century means that the idea of an artistic community where minor but still vital players such as Norman Norbert is no longer viable.

Whatever the case, the humanity and camaraderie inherent in Gelb’s intro remind one that communities are indeed important in the creation of lasting artistic production–Neuwrith may not have been essential to Dylan’s art in the mid-60’s, but he was instrumental in its vitality; Kristofferson wrote “The Pilgrim” but would it have been as good without Paul Seibel? and let us not forget that Curtis John Tucker had a lot to do with it.

As for this post, Villa Maria’s Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc had a great deal to do with it.  What does this tell you about the age in which we live?

Image from:

Search Terms Leading to Sympathies

In Free Floating on July 1, 2009 at 11:48 pm

M. Standfast, Kyoto.

Editor’s Note: The following post is a list of rearranged search terms that have led readers to the site. Many of these are self-explanatory; a few are sightly more out of orbit. Apparently, these are our major concerns.

classical sympathies
classical sympathies word
classical sympathies blog
“write for sympathies”

post-modern classicism
jm coetzee panel
michelle-irene brudny
jonathan dee cheever

“jonathan dee”
zadie smith new york review of books
david foster wallace kafka
judith butler

erving goffman
erwin goffman
goffman stigma

tim chanecka
andrew chanecka
i”ll so offend to make offense a skill,
“the snakehead”

“let’s lawn it”
ronald reagan’s necktie bar signed
6th street dance studio miami

berger & luckmann
luckmann identity
berger and luckmann social construction
berger and luckman identity social fact

carver fires
raymond carver fires explain
raymond carver little things analysis es
writing poetry

ideas for serious poems
i know you all and will awhile uphold th
zizek mash altman conformist
not wiser than a daw

prince hal”s dirge meaning
prince hal sympathetic falstaff
prince hal throw off
loudon wainwright -mp3 -tickets -ebay

poli sci
the first fountain pen

classical sympathies matthew
“matthew thomas” kyoto
“matthew thomas” homosexual

kind of necktie
construct a spiral