Sunday, October 27, 2013

Joy Tedium, for John Milton

Tedium is not alone. It is a composite phase. It is not an event, or exception. Tedium is art made perfect.

I heard a story today from a little girl who stopped me in the street to tell me that she had lost her purpose. "You are so young, little girl," I uttered with all possible tenderness. "How can one so young have lost her purpose?" She replied, "It is in the nature of purpose to be lost. Purpose is not a thing to be acquired and held and profited from, like a convertible asset. You mistook my statement of fact for one of lament. I have lost my purpose, this is a fact," said the little girl, "but I have not lost my critical sensibility."

Ah. If only I were half so wise as the little girls one meets in Portland. Unlike the books on  our shelves, or the birds of the air, there are all kinds of people dipping in and out of cafes and convenience stores who are chock full of answers.

Just the other day, walking out, bleeding inside from an incurable mortality, I found myself paying attention to some things and ignoring others. Meanwhile, my body was digesting something. Coffee and fat mostly, I suppose. The phone rang and rang. A computer spoke but I was already elsewhere. It's like I can never catch up to my success. It's like I will always be the last one to know myself.

I have come to accept the world. What is the alternative? Even where I doubt, I water flowers, or I pull them up. I return from a long bike ride, flowers in the pockets of my jersey already wilting. I appear here and there, usually out of a sense of obligation, and am a brick.

Where is his joy?

Joy is not alone. It is a transmutive forage. Lymph-like epodes embark. The window of opportunity is glazed with the likes of you. A great noise awaits. Cigarette smoke. The moments where we pause and light our cigarettes - in compliance, in assumption - the stuff of eternity.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

This is my Apology

The day was already old when the day was new. What you brought, the music, settled into lines and checker-board excavations not of your making. Every now and again you looked up and smiled at me. I was waiting for you to finish, but you cannot finish. You seem to be enjoying yourself. And, to be completely open about this, I am not unhappy watching you. I manage a sort of arrangement - you would say twice as much is done behind my back - and so the room, while inherited, is not a complete mess. I do not know, and I will not know, what the ending looks like. Really, I have no preference. But I will not resist. I will not delay, and I will not remember myself leaving you to yourself. You do not deserve to be alone.

And so, I apologize.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Age of the Auto-Didact: The Form of Righteousness in American Poets: a Complaint and Lament

Nothing speaks to cultural decline with such force as short-sheeted ambition. There is no music so dull and dour as that of the poet who seeks mere restitution. There is no moment so perfectly suited to despair as when an artist wants nothing more than that one set of facts should be replaced by another set of facts.

I for one look to the future, to future generations and those individual voices, who will, I trust, find something in this universe more to their taste - more suitable to desire - than singing songs of blame over matters of dollars and cents. That society should practice equitable laws is a fine and necessary thing. But the form of righteousness that has overcome the American Poets has overwhelmed every other tone or consideration than that of a hurt I cannot bring myself to believe they feel.

I wonder at a generation of artists so attuned to balance sheets in lieu of personal accounts. That one or another entity should possess this or that amount of monies, and that one should pretend shock that individual persons do not - writing it out here, I can hardly believe what passes for meaningful conversation these days, when we are all to blame for the world we live in.

The puerile nature of blaming this or that worldly power for some lack of having served some poetic individual's  finer inclinations - I ask, if this is what writing modern poetry leads a 30/40-something to, then why bother? Why be a modern poet? Why bother at all, and how can we ask others to care? If a feeling is the point - what of critical care?

Where is the insight, the dance? Is complaint-at-power suddenly news? Does this constitute a work? Are you kidding me? Is corporate accountability the stuff dreams are made of? Are our writerly cannons so completely voided? These ultimate "concerns" in matters economic expressed as blame and complaint strike me as misplaced, unbalanced, and, frankly, obnoxious. Or, embarrassing. It stuns me what these people take "seriously" as a solution, when the solutions have been before us for eons. When eons' worth of persons named and unnamed have labored for fairness and balance and, may I say, have gotten us somewhere better than where we were, and by a fair margin.

Children of the obvious, this should appeal mightily to you, who manage somehow to believe that you and you alone discovered the writings of Karl Marx

Drawing a point, building an argument, seems futile where, however one even begins to consider the matter, the subject is prosaic and closed. I can only theorize very generally, and so I offer this observation. Lacking religion, people almost inevitably form one of their own, often (these days) based on personal tastes and opinions, or what suffices to please their friends. This outcome is pathetic, especially when you consider the influence of religion on such expectations and standards as pervade contemporary pronouncements. The likes of Nietzsche and Marx had the intellectual fortitude to do battle with historical forces. But not today's scholar/poet.

And so, whereas religion, philosophy, or critical theory helps to describe the general ambition of "economic equality" (from which one is free to create important solutions) it does nothing to explain the unsophisticated rancor that underlies and really sets into place the Form of Righteousness in American Poets. I don't know that any Americans have ever been so culturally inept. There is a breathtakingly uninteresting and baseless character to the underlying assumptions - that, somehow, all corporations are evil. That capitalism is necessarily evil. That ownership of property is necessarily evil.

Funny. I thought religion owned determinations of what is "evil" and that such judgments were out of fashion. But, no. Ours is the Age of the Moral Atheist, baptized by the function of blame. God is such promptings by friends as support their opinions. There is no work or reality here, no functioning humility or simple, hard-earned kindness, but a dream of the Self blanketing with blame what does not appeal to that same Self.

Auto-didacticism, thy name is love.

What fine, enduring work this is, this temple of nose-blown tissues and stilted doubt. This heaven of NOT. Who can fail to be bored to tears?

I labor, in this time and place, to understand how a person can form such judgments while at the same time maintaining an attitude of utter vigilance with respect to unfair judgments.  As I said, religion has no answer - except where the practitioner has managed to convince him or herself that she or he is utterly right. A business truism might apply here: if you have no competition, you have no market.

But the American Poet is not concerned with business, or markets, or audience, except insofar as his or her friends share the same opinion. That done, success is complete.

American Poetic politics is something like a certain fiction, of some note, where a being arises from dust and conceives that, in the absence of competing types, they must be God. If the futility were provocative or new, we might have something. But from my perspective this is all better gotten over, and as soon as possible. Not that I believe for one moment that this phase will soon pass. I am certain it will get worse. I am certain that it will mature and ripen and turn putrid before some new thing can emerge to save us from ourselves.

I have lamented in this blog my lack of success as a writer. Well, I can say that nothing reassures me in my decisions - to write as I do, to publish my own books - quite like observing certain tendencies of certain of my would-be peers. And so, in unison with anyone who might care to agree with me, I offer these petitions:
  • Let me fail, let me be washed away as one who has never known success in poetry.
  • Let me fail wildly, as one who has no clue.
  • Let me be mocked, derided - or better yet, ignored, as one whose language fell unsounded to the earth.
  • Let me say, I am weak, and partial, and wrong, forever.
  • Never let me blame others for my own failings.
And, finally, let me always celebrate the best we have and have done. Let me live in purpose and profit in intelligent choice. Let me always acknowledge others for their hard work and, while the war will be waged forever on this earth, let me never surrender.

Gladly I will fail, but I will fail well.

In the name of the kind, the knowledgeable, and the founded, now and forever.


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

A Few Ideas for Books or their Content

Without bothering to explain why, I can say I have no use for books of poems that purport to be written simply to publish a book of poems. Put another way, I am tired of poets who are merely poem publishers, whose work is the work of being a poet known for the poems they have written. This looks unreasonable. Fine. Perhaps then it is very poetic. I do not care either to excite or to offend, but in the meantime here are a few thoughts I suppose for content of that which purports to be a book of "poems."
  • Besides wordy poems, I sometimes provide more concrete poems, including those with numerals, etc.
  • I also might provide drawings. These are usually rendered with a graphite stick. Goodness my days are complicated.
  • How about taking photos though, saving them as jpeg files and inserting them into a word doc? That would be a nice way to push the wordy poems out away from each other.
  • A page of more or less pure color inserted here and there.
  • Repetitions of a dedication page, taken up as a kind of apology.
  • How about a book that purports to determine reaction and response to an absurd degree and so offers directions or advice to the reader for "coping" with the poetry?
  • Voting, investment, breeding instructions. This one really is quite relevant. It would not have to be an ongoing, insertionary form of proto-representation (don't screw with me you punks) but might conclude a matter in offering the sort of post-Edenic guidance any poet would be proud to sign off on.
  • In the midst of this, we create or teach children.
  • Work-out routines; song-lists; coupons.
When the world was young, one might have put one's hand out and expected nothing in return. Those are long gone.

Friday, October 4, 2013

This MS/Book - Show a Monsters

I printed out the unconscionably ragged/telltale efforts of the last few months. There are fours poem types. 3 I am calling word listy impressionable types; 3 sonnety ones - out of 6 drafted, having disposed of the ones where I was trying to say something, apparently, which of course never works;  2 quatrain strophe types that purport to an effect, and; a five pages of short-line quatrains that appears to draw across the lines of the other 3 types.

The interesting part is, I can't see these working together except by doing drawings that bridge them. I mean, of course they will be interspersed and all that, but it is new to me to assemble prospective poems and sense drawings are needed for specific bridgings, ass opposed to saying, Well, this MS needs drawings, period. Then fitting them in, usually in a kind of pattern, such as 3 poems: drawing; 3 poems: drawing, etc. I feel that some credit for this situation (I hesitate to call anything in art a development) should be accorded the fine individuals who contribute to the Concrete Formalist Poetry website. The effect of all their visual art/poetry must be felt and responded to. No, art is not merely on our walls. It is in our blood, or coursing through one's mind. Formed as perceived, or realized in reaction and perception.

I think the title will be "Show a Monsters" which pulls from a line - but I want to credit Ike Eisenhower, who is fond of posting images on face book where a puppy is always referred to as "a puppies." But there's more to that and this, as one should expect.

Anyway, I sure love writing. I love how each book is different. The process, etc. varies, always. This work will be produced and published in, I would say, about 6 weeks, and be my 25th book I use book and MS interchangeably). It is always new, and I am in a good place where I can recognize that this is a sign of a species of mental and perhaps emotional health. I may not be read much; I may never be reviewed; but then I know I can't flap my arms and fly to the moon. Or, so what. So what. Why on earth should I compare my life to others' lives? It just doesn't make sense to do that, certainly, not in terms of creative production. When assailed by doubts and self-loathing, it would be more to the point to ask God for his advice; to which He might respond, I could care less. Just be nice. Well, I can do that, most days anyway.

Other notions touching on collateral. I have looked at other Print-On-Demand sites, and is still the best for me. I have been working on cleaning up the books to make them more regular in terms of which pages have numbers, etc. Oh God this sounds stupid, doesn't it? I mean, can you imagine anyone caring? I'll ask God. Lord, I am concerned at title pages and such having header lines or numbers. Guide me. Tchya! Right!

Once this puppy is in the book, I might go to life in the clouds - buy a Chromebook, etc. I have to say, I am quite excited about the Cloud Life. In the end, I will still create a pdf and publish via - I mean, I don't see changing my more-or-less incredible intractability. Or collaborating. HaHaHaHa! But, who knows. If someone asked I would twist myself into a Southern Belle's curls to oblige and impress. God forbid.

Finally, I have done good work in cleansing my bookshelf of all but three feet of work, constituting only that which I am reading or want to read, or is a lively hinge-point. So, I have concrete works, a couple friends' books - all my religious literature - Bishop Percy's three volumes (that's poetry - 17th Cent.)  - Dante, The Aeneid. A few others. But I am selling off the majority of the litter of dead white men. Gee. I hope God approves.