Sunday, February 27, 2011

You Said it Sunday

Reading some Beckett - More Pricks than Kicks - first thinking that considering all the people who ooo and ahh over Joyce, I trust Beckett got it, because I sure never have. Second wondering at B's language - determined, furious, "standing out."

Well then it comes to me that like Joyce his language is implicit with all the anger you would expect of an Irishman writing in the language of English. Beckett is to Dickens what Ice Cube is to Updike if you like it that way. This is not a thought so much as light dawning as to the nature of a family quarrel. The features of the living room, the artifacts, stand out. Thinking of Joyce like an Englishman thinks and you are lost even as you are bound to believe yourself. This does not mean I now get Joyce, but I better get not getting him, and what's more I respect him the more for it.

What is the quarrel. For my part, I see an Irishman as one who steps into a fight and pulls it up over his head and would sooner commend his soul to God than stop short of an end to it, whereas an English thinker can't stop talking about his options. Speaking of religion is to step into it. Beckett captures the distinction perfectly when a character, a Jesuit, finishing his debate with an atheist states "The best reason that can be given for believing is that it is more amusing. Disbelief is a bore. We do not count our change. We simply cannot bear to be bored."

I cannot bear to be bored, but what is my quarrel? Categories are elusive. Analogically, cycling suggests winners and losers. But for the cyclists there are racers and non-racers. A good racer helps "make the race." The more who race, the better the race, the more relevant the outcome. I do not know how not to race. I pull the race up over my head. I know the pleasure of winning and I know the pleasure of going to the front when the boys are chatting and picking up the pace so that the talk stops.

Even so, faculties diminish but not our need for love. To succeed in the game I play you must above all things endure. The final exhibit is one's naked will, unharnessed to accomplishment, untasked with admirers, unadorned, feckless, free. "The Spirit of the People," in this case is more or less a coincidence of actions ascribable to a person who wants what no one can give him and is determined to keep it so. This and bodily health buys me silence in which to enjoy a clear conscience, for I can do nothing and it will be the same to almost everyone if I were to write forever.

Which leads me to wonder, do I do too much? I think so. Recent experience has taught me to consolidate, to pull in the satellites, to retract and reside. My door is open, wide open to family, friends, wayfarers, but I will not venture outside. This is a way of seeing who you are as you prepare to do what you do. I will not expect myself to respond unless asked to. This seals a few ongoing leaks that I cannot support any longer. The quarrel has reached a stage of subtle influencings. I cannot retreat and I cannot remain in place or be bored.

The process is to work when you work and to philosophize when you do not, for that is a taking away of what hampers your work.

A hero cast the pitchfork, but who and what sharpened its prongs?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Stock Car Racing

The realm of distinctions is not susceptible to imagination. Imagination does however attend distinctions, as like a musician hired to practice at a trade fair.

In our perceptions we are susceptible to the Thing and its Attendants. Imagination does not assist in reduction.

Poetry, if it is good, honest work, can attend or it can reduce. It does not produce.

My poetry is a poetry of reduction. I believe one starts with what is at one's fingertips then makes choices and is chosen, resulting then in a reduction, or poem. Imagination is not a means. It is the sound, sight, or sense created by means in friction.

Philosophy is the practice of working to producing an agreeable result from means in friction.

The imagination has no place in philosophy, and no place without it. Whereas poetry in form is the registered fact that one is the hunter, not the hunted.

Aphorisms are as funny as one is willing to enjoy keeping one's mouth shut.

If I wanted to be famous, nothing would be different from now, as I would very much like to be famous. But more than that, always more, I wish to be great.

May the means and their frictions grant you the pleasures that attend an imaginary end.

I know why I will never be known. Because I am not known now. Fifty-two year old people do not get known ever, not unless they appear, as if suddenly, smiling for the simple fact of being recognized.

I am entitled to recognize myself. All the other boys have left the room.

Perhaps you think I am content. Ha. I am not content. I am at mid-wrestle always always always. But, I hate the sound of me saying something of no use to anyone but myself. Curiously, my comments on others are more about myself than those regarding myself, my practice. There is no paradox. Speaking of myself I form a secondary content, which is at some lengths more interesting than the tertiary content of criticism and commentary.

Oh well then, fine, I want to unstick myself as I am too constantly stuck, wondering how to get back to fluidity.

I love blogging, where there is every opportunity to do nothing at all.

I am in a peculiar place and have been for weeks, as if caught just inches or minutes from an understanding that would free me, that would grant me a clear, abiding, conscionable self-awareness. Always I am just this close. I do not mean to eliminate self-doubt - or do I? How much can I know writing about what I can understand?

It occurs to me that crossing into self-understanding of the sort I wrestle toward would be an insanity. True or false, determined and determining, I wander, I dare, I tempt, and yet always, always I wake in my own skin.

It also occurs to me that a window opens then shuts. I will never put myself into words I understand.

The realm of distinctions is only seemingly available to the imagination.

In our perceptions we seduced by wakefulness and cause. Imagination does not permit exclusion.

Poetry, when we work at it, trails at a distance the thing it must have for its master. Or perhaps I am in front of myself.

I have seen too much at arm's length to trust my mind by itself.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Daffy Duck spells Superman

So I go on this business trip. I guess it's not really a business trip because I am a paralegal at a law office. I flew to Seattle, stayed overnight, was driven out to Woodinville, WA - which is like the wine capital of soggy Christendom - and presented on trademarks for wineries. It was all I could do to pull my body up to behind the lectern and deliver. Then, being done, one simply reverses. To Seattle, back home. I hate it.

I like my job, but I hate travel unless I can believe in its utter necessity. I traveled to San Francisco to see a close friend in November 2010. That was a necessity. It was something I owed myself and that friend. The entire journey was fraught with the sort of meaningfulness you naturally associate with terms of belief and need. But this, this business trip. I did no service for anyone that they could not do for themselves.

The moral, the tale's end, is in common with that of any recent misadventure. I simply will not do it again. I have presented at this seminar two years now. Enough is enough. Chuck one of the attorneys out there. They seem to have some inexhaustible interior capacity to perform on cue that I sadly am lacking.

Speaking of which, I can say that this among other recent experiences has confirmed my aversion to reading in public. I hate it, and I don't understand it. Why in heaven's name am I reading to full-grown, literate adults? Certainly, not for the poetry. You can read the poetry yourselves. Should I distrust you to ascertain certain subtle yet critical nuances? Does my reading help you to "get it"? I doubt it, and who cares if it does. That's your business, not mine. Again, there are people who incline toward delivering messages - lawyers, ministers, most poets it seems. Find someone else to do this sort of rude, campfire work. I will not be missed.

There is the contention of community, that readings build community. That would be true if people knew how to read aloud, if the poetry were all profound, and if there was no such thing as books. As it is, readings present an illusion of community as demonstrated by the fact of the reading. Poetry readings are a tautological tableau.

What is community? Well, there are two communities. There is you and your friends and professional contacts. That's one. The other is the "community" critics or historians perceive as they look over at or back on you and your friends and others and form ideas of who and what was happening and give those thoughts labels and names and such. I think poets want to be perceived as important and therefore famous - or is it the reverse... - so perhaps they feel that if they demonstrate their connections - let's say, through readings - they are in effect telegraphing a name, a happening, an "ism" far into the future (or New York), a pattern of light that will fall on wide-open, impressionable history-writing eyes.

It's not so different with business trips and such. I return to the office to questions of How did it Go. It went Well. Met some Clients. Got a Little Work out of It. I have telegraphed and received confirmation. My receptor may not be a 25th Century Stanley Fish, but can I honestly pretend to control the difference, and am I so sure it matters who or when?