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?