Sunday, October 19, 2008

Think Again in Think

I will not remember myself today, though in every action I am present for purposes of memory. Whether I remember myself in what I do today is another story.

Age represents a "failing memory," which may be a fiction. I think I have become less reliant on memory, less impressed by it for my own sake, whereupon I became aware of the imperfections of my own memory. Loss of memory is hardly a cause of personal grief, though, I am sure to be impressed by others' good memory for their own sakes. But, again, I do not feel I lose anything in losing my memory. I trust I lose elasticity and capacity at the same rate as I lose memory, so all is being lost at an equal rate, and there are no regrets.

One point of caution: loss of memory is loss of hurt, and loss of hurt may influence one's writing, or whether one writes at all. All writing is the fact of having attained demonstration. Letters demonstrate a relationship; theses demonstrate an authority. Stories and poems can demonstrate almost anything, I suppose, but they cannot be called upon in the absence of motivating factors. Writing, even in pain, is a kind of victory, a thriving. One cannot thrive in the absence of one's memory of oneself.

In place of myself, I have the world as it is, or I should say the slim portions thereof that greet my eyes and ears. And I have books, which I rely on less and less as I grow older. A book is, to me, so easy and transparent a vessel of the author's own capacities to make themselves felt, that nothing can interest me that is well written. A book must be of a thing, and the thing must be of this world, thereby expanding what I see and hear, or might see and hear. Show me a qualified author and you show me only myself, to a greater or lesser degree. Such a representation does not interest someone at peace with forgetting such persons as themselves.

So, perhaps I know enough of myself and those who write to be able to afford to forget some portions thereof. I must admit, whatever portion of myself that is responsible for writing is much cleverer than that portion that wishes to write. And why shouldn't it be? Haven't I see enough of writers and their books not to be fooled into thinking that my desire to write is qualified in any way other than a personal desire to do so, however grand, however humble? While writing may work wonders, it is no wonder to me that one writes.

And so I outwit myself, and I sometimes wonder if I don't laugh at myself for a writing fool. And yet I have the last laugh as I write to spite my worldliness. I may not remember myself, or think the way I would like to, but here are the words to prove that I can constitute myself even in a present loss, which is no small thing, I think.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Block that Box!

The writer - like many of us - will be the last person on earth to realize his or her work is done, that it is, to the extent of one's ability and human strength, complete, accomplished, and finished. This is one line of thought emanating from the central experience of having nothing to write. I cannot say I am blocked, as I have no particular push from within that suggests there is something to say which, owing to some psychological constraint or surplus, is not being said. I want to write and feel empty without it, but that is beside the point if I am simply an empty vessel.

Now - just to clarify one error - when I say "say," I mean write. I recognize the worlds of difference and the battlegrounds of say and write, and I honor those who serve this day, standing pike-to-pike with those who confuse speech and literacy. I think I do, anyway, and that is the point.

Another point I want to make is to indicate in a straight forward manner a few of my life's ironies. I compose in a box form. My father made a career in packaging. My boxes are poems; his boxes are boxes. My job - my paying career - is as a trademark paralegal. In my job, I assist the attorneys I work with to help clients obtain, register, and protect their trademarks - or, the words and design that indicate their goods or services; sometimes, often times, by labeling packaging and boxes with the trademark. I don't know if I unconsciously intended to please or surpass my father with these ramifying tactics. I perpetrated and awoke to these ironies, intact.

Other lines of thought are, in no particular order (though who can trust who on order): ideas are not poems, and poems are not ideas. There is no form in writing; there is form in having written. Writers who advertise a love of any given sport are not, simply not, being interesting or helpful to others or themselves. Absurdity is in the bones or it is nowhere. There is such a thing as loving someone to such depths that you have nothing to say on the subject. And, finally, poetry is as we found it. It is we who change.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Don't Think About

It goes without saying, that there is nothing interesting in being traditional. Which is not to say that traditionalists are not drawn to interesting things.

I am a traditionalist. I am married and have a child. I am in the tenth year of a traditional career in a tradition-driven profession, working in a law office. When I write, it is in form. The form is somewhat interesting, true, when looked at from a certain angle, but a form is a form. When I paint, it is (A) pencil or such on paper, or (B) paint on burlap. Using burlap - like writing in my box form - is somewhat interesting as a choice, but I am no engine of the interesting.

I am a traditionalist by choice, in that I believe generally in something called "classical precepts," and always have, and have studied and worked and made decisions and choices accordingly, and here I am. To my mind, "classical precepts" translates to there being a right way to do any given thing, that economy and efficiency are positive values, that art is contributory rather than digressive, and that the artist/author should claim moral responsibility for his or her work. None of these ideas are interesting - not in the slightest. But there they are, swirling around me. They guide me, even as I have learned they do not and should not ever have to guide others. They are not values that guide the world or control the "quality of art" - whatever that is. They are my guides. I fought hard to obtain them, to master (or should I say, allow myself to be mastered by) them, and now they are mine, and I am theirs, assuring in myself a measure of consistency, I suppose, and a healthy dose of predictability.

But, I do not cherish the predictable. I have become more and more fond of experimental art and experimental lives, where I see that the thought and spirit of art are made apparent and where the artist makes public his or her process. The most interesting choice in experimentalism is to be an experimentalist, whereas there can be nothing interesting in choosing to be a traditionalist. And as to these sorts of roles being beyond our control - well, I have already stated that I believe in one taking responsibility for one's work, etc., so you can see that I have disqualified myself from considering options.

It strikes me that a traditionalist who has come to the decision not to apply his standards to others risks being boring to himself. I mean, what is the point of being traditional if I cannot feel in some way superior to others? But I do not feel superior. Not a bit. I see my work and am glad for it. I see my life and am grateful for it, and I can describe it in varying aspects, but I do not cherish my life or work as a thing superior to any other thing. I have known anger and I have known joy. A traditionalist, as a person, is a means of doing any particular thing in a particular way, whether that be writing a poem or leading a life. I don't know that cultural diversity will ever dilute traditionalism to the point of making all choices individual and unique. Such a movement , or occurrence, is interesting to contemplate though.