The Attitude of Eachother

Planet of light: literary salon in the city of Orange.

Posted in Attitude, maturity, Uncategorized by Michael Atallah on April 7, 2012

“…it will simply be these Robots walking around, feeling nothing, thinking nothing, and there will be nobody left to almost, to remind them there was once a species called a human being…”

A passage by Andre Gregory over dinner with Wallace “Wally” Shawn in Louis Malle’s 1981 film My Dinner with Andre: if you haven’t seen it, SEE IT. 

The world today, yesterday, very yesterday and with a bit of courage, tomorrow, can be described backward and forward in so many ways by so many personalities; especially, ESPECIALLY those who carelessly forget the meaning of future history. However, there is no blaming to be done here. Let’s face it, this is a winner-take-all society and the glory lies in what and who is poignant, well published, vanguard, evenly marketed and all around entertaining. Not a bad criteria to follow; however, who are these winners? Where do they come from? When do they come from? Who discovers and who searches? Is it easily explicable? Can a small town in Ukraine be just as important as a book signing in Berlin? Excuse me, Plato, we have issues here. Dystopia and iPads aside, what is going on?

Considering storytellers here, only thing I can think of is that there is an invisible graveyard of writers (or any profession really) that history has forgotten.

“…with feelings, with thoughts… and that history and memory are right now being erased…” Carrying on from Andre’s speech over dinner, he goes on with Wally: “they’re feeling there will be these pockets of light…in a way, invisible planets on this planet, and as we, the world, grow colder, we can take invisible space journeys to these different planets and refuel…”

I believe Aristotle eruditely stated that poetry (storytelling in all mediums of imitation) is far more functional for history than stuffy historians writing backward later on. Imagine that old Greek buzzard sitting in a Denny’s – Sunday morning, early – piping words onto a notebook while more coffee is poured and half eaten pancakes mix with the pile of papers all around him. He writes, to wit:

At Dennys. Coffee is rancid but the light piercing through and that brunette breakfast server can’t be a better combination. Screw you, Plato. Describe this! 

PS. I’m left handed, jerk. 

That said, can we ultimately shun the miraculous automated structure of technological advancements that bring people closer together as the world (us) figure’s it out as it goes along – traffic accidents and supermarket self check-out systems included? Essentially that’s all we can do, really. Do you think the Internet was conceived bearing in mind that one day a stripper in Shanghai could find true love with a dental student in Moscow through a chat room? Time took care of that, along with persevering programmers and “insane” risk takers. What do you think these people’s attitudes were juiced on while stumbling upon life-altering discoveries we now take for granted? Stories – fact and fiction.

In honor of naïve participation, story writers mustn’t be discouraged by the competition and power structure of the literary world. Good writers will always be good writers, and the only way to be a good writer is to be surrounded by challenge, abstract inspiration and the ability to enjoy a private chuckle while in line at Starbucks.

What ought to be done is preserve the idea Mr. Gregory mentions above; planets of light and invisible space travel on earth. Circumstance and the right level of caffeine (or whatever turns you on) take care of the rest. Think of it more like a car mechanic saying, “You’re bummed? Go to a salon & mix it up, dude!” Go to a salon he says. Why yes, yes I will. What better place to go and listen to storytellers sharing their versions than a warm, safe and respectfully well-lit environment. 

Imagine one of the many places in North America that would require some kind of astral plane of this sort: Orange County. Talk about the world growing colder; OC is a place where horizontally dismantled cities and text-message fueled traffic accidents could use a place for fly-on-the wall and auto mechanic authors to mix and shine. I suggest reading Brian Eno’s essay: The Big Here, Long Now .

Invisible and visible writers have participated in literary salons dating back to the Levant’s, Ancient Greeks and, later on, during the oddly-shaped baroque period. I believe it was Horace who set the standard of literary gatherings to either please or educate. 17th century French and Italian writers pushed these gatherings into a sort of underground movement, preserving Horace’s “aut delectare aut prodesse es.” A small group of college kids in the city of Orange began a little underground of their own. A literary safe house of sorts calling out for story-writers to participate with respect and heightened listening skills. Nisreen Breik, a soft-spoken talented writer and inimitable host brought people together who would otherwise never find themselves sharing the same air. This was and still is the potion of this torrential salon simply titled: Short Story Reading. Thereafter, momentum took form for the next two years following the baroquian formulae, giving writers a voice and learning lessons to find what they didn’t think they were looking for. This planet of light takes place every other Thursday in the city of Orange at a hideaway café known as The Ugly Mug.

For those of you who live in Los Angeles, the train ride to Orange is an experience in and of itself. Relax on a quiet 45 minute sunset ride out of downtown into a sleepy Spanish-style depot 3 short blocks from the venue. For more information on train schedules, visit or

For more information you can e-mail the host to schedule a reading slot. This salon is for those to read and listen. Non-authors and admirers of storytelling are welcome to join and experience what a true literary salon can provide.

Started: Dec 17, 2010

8:30 PM-10:00 PM

3$ cover (readers and attendees)

Located at The Ugly Mug Café

261 N Glassell St

Orange, CA 92866

(714) 997-5610