What? “Fabrications” author Baret Magarian HAS NO WEB SITE!

Baret Magarian’s novel The Fabrications comes out June 1 from indie publisher Pleasure Boat Studio, distributed by Small Press Distribution in Berkeley. “A wildly inventive, comic novel centered on a bizarre idea: what if someone’s fictional story about your life started to come true?” That’s the blurb. I’ve been reading the book. It’s pretty darned intriguing. Then comes Lee Foust’s review: a “brilliant and complex dual meditation upon soul and image, spirituality and spin, philosophy and satire.”

So I sit down with Baret at the Feltrinelli Red bookstore cafe on the Piazza della Repubblica in Florence and he says his publicist told him he needs a web site and I say, “Well, duh.”

Dubya-dubya-dubya BARETMAGARIAN.COM, right? But no. He doesn’t have a Web site.

“You don’t have a friggin’ Web site? What’s wrong with you?”

I do a spit take there in the cafe. Then it dawns on me. Wow. I kind of envy the guy. “But … you have to have one,” I say.

“I really don’t want one,” he says. “I really don’t.”

Truth is, I don’t either. I’ve got one but I don’t want it. I’ve got one just because … you’ve just got to have one! You don’t have a WEB SITE? YOU ARE A RIDICULOUS MAN!

But after my spit take, I’m kinda sitting back letting the pure reality of this sink in, and the feeling reaches me, and I realize: This man is a hero! This man defies all convention in pursuit of his art! This man has the courage to stand up and say, “I am a man! I am a writer! I have no Web site!”

This man refuses! This man says what millions would love to say if only we had his courage: I do not want a Web site! I hate my Web site!

How we got onto that in the first place is we were talking novel-launch publicity, pitches, how to get yourself noticed, that kind of crap, and I was already irritable and filled with bile and ennui and irritation until he said those magic words: “I don’t want a Web site.”

Then I see the angle. “There’s your angle, Baret: Novelist refuses to buy domain name first and last  no hyphen no period! There’s your angle, my boy! Genius!”

Sure, Baret, don’t have a fucking web site. I applaud you!

And I do. Seriously, this is what I like about Baret Magarian as an artist: He’s going for it. He’s the real deal. He’s got no Web site. Google www.baretmagarian.com. What do you get? You get the chance to grab this highly desirable domain name for the princely sum of $8.95!

It made me feel so small.

Detaching from Trump

I want to quickly share one simple response to the shock, fear and heartbreak my friends are feeling in the U.S. as a result of the recent election. I should be working on the novel, or the Finishing School book, but this is important to me.

In my personal quest to let go of attachment, that means all attachment.

I must let go of the illusion of power, the lust for control over people and institutions, the pride of hearing my own viewpoints echoed and praised, the pride of being right, the consoling belief that I am a good person in contrast to these others who are not good people, the delight in winning arguments, the pleasure of voicing scorn wittily and denouncing those whose ideas I despise, those whom I consider harmful, hateful, deluded, dangerous, misguided, those whose anger toward me makes me want to retaliate, those whose words, pointed right at what I hold sacred, make me fearful and protective … in my personal quest to let go of attachment, in my personal quest to accept things as they are, I cannot stop just because this one political event seems outside the category. And I must be most aware of that attachment to things I hold most sacred. The problem is not the quality of the object to which I am attached, but the phenomenon of attachment itself.

In my quest for perspective, I have to ask myself: Have I learned nothing from history, from legions of poets in exile, from war, sackings, raids, genocide, burnings, persecution, mass exile and emigration, have I learned nothing from history about fate? Have I learned nothing from the anarchy of disease, of cancer’s insouciant eeny-miney-mo choice of victims, of the random car crash, the random rain, the random earthquake and flood, the random rise and fall of regimes?

For a long time I have lived like an exile watching from outside the palace gates. I have longed for acceptance and belonging but I have not belonged or been accepted in the way I long for because what I long for is not to be found. I long for love and security like a child, all the time, empty and desperate. I have tried to stuff this big emptiness in my chest with everything the world has to offer but have had to conclude that this big emptiness in my chest is a feature of my being.

Likewise, there is no guarantee that I always get to be on the winning side. Yes, it is bad. But America is not unique. America is not immune to catastrophic political mistakes. There have been rulers before in other countries who were mad, narcissistic, paranoid, deranged, and they have wrecked things and made disasters. And such a thing has now begun. In response, what do I do? I am no activist hero. I am not a political actor. I am no match for this.

If acceptance is the key to all things then I must always watch for the imperious re-emergence of my hunger for power, my lust for recognition, my need to be right, my need for praise. I must remember how all these things are symbolic satisfactions of my basic need for love and security, how, when love and security in my daily life are threatened, I turn toward symbols: solidarity, my side winning.

Meanwhile, we have lost big.

What will keep us safe? How will we best survive?  What do I do?

I wait it out like a bad storm. Are there others, left behind, whom we can rescue? We will see.

If you like, if you’re not safe where you are, and you can swing it, come to Italy. Come to Castiglion Fiorentino. Wait out the storm with us.