Sunday, March 14, 2010


What is my job? My job is everything I put my hand to. Over time, the lines between job and non-job have blurred. Perhaps you have driven in the country and seen a field half given over to shrubby growth, odd grasses, bordered by a fence of sorts. Some body owns that land, and maybe they decided to let it go fallow, or they stopped farming for some reason, or the guy dies. Maybe they’re going to sell it. Well, that’s not what I mean. I am not a shrubby field. I am someone driving by this or that shrubby field, thinking about it. Now I’m the guy writing about thinking about it. Maybe I will buy that shrubby field; maybe it’s mine already. There probably no particular shrubby field – right? – I’m just saying “shrubby field” the way you say “sunshine.” Look at the sunshine, not this sunshine over that sunshine. It’s a condition, not a thing. That’s how I feel.

So with stories, jokes, poems, tasks & errands, work, play, love-making, Christmas shopping. The condition is the thing; the thing is not the condition. The thing is contributory, like the wind that pushes a boat across the sea. You wouldn’t say the wind crossed the sea; you say the boat crossed the sea. Both boat and wind – and sea, for that matter – and sailor and food for the sailor – all are contributors and spectators. Things matter – of course things matter. There is nothing without things. I am speaking about perspective. I am describing what I feel. I am feeling and writing. That is my condition. It is not a secret.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Beauty Stay

My wife Endi, who is remarkably beautiful, asked me what is the most beautiful place I have seen. I answered that I see beautiful places and things every day. Pressed for details, I mentioned a brick wall I had seen, or recollected.

That answer though was incomplete. The complete and honest answer is that I am impressed by everything I see with a strength of impression that equals that of beauty. The last thing I can remember that struck me as extraordinarily beautiful - in an artistic way - was one or another scene from a ballet we saw here, in Portland. But then, I can't be interested in being impressed by ballet. That is simply ballet doing its job and me agreeing with it.

On the other hand, I am very often bored by efforts at beauty, or truth, or interest. Is this because the blank wall in front of me just now, spotted with a few abrasions, hung with a picture, showing its age - is it because this wall impresses me with a force equal to that of beauty, that a poem or painting seems superfluous? Am I sated?

Yes - I am sated. I do not worry or yearn for truth or beauty. I know that countless individuals and collectives are striving to make their point, and from out of their efforts will emerge notable works, etc., etc. I know there are victories and tragedies - over-reachings and fallings-short; moments in the sun. All of this plays out in my mind as a kind of background music, as if living near a playground, the window open. I do not choose - I have no power to choose - between the weight or worth of this wall and a poem as representative of work or play, truth or beauty.

It seems to me that some art aims at this kind of understanding without actually achieving it, of course - without reserving for itself pride of place in having made a "discovery." I can't help but be skeptical - don't you see? - of the products of an effort made redundant by blank walls, walnut trees, empty bottles, spinning tires, even a bit of blue sky. I stop and look and am frozen by possibilities. Perhaps this is too much to say at once. I mean no disrespect.