Wednesday, March 5
The Mad Hungarian1 across the hall is playing
Pink Floyd, very loudly, and I am pondering some things.
Little things, like what exactly I'm doing with my life, if it would be
possible to articulate my thoughts on God, and why I'm responsible for so much crashing banality. Big ones like
whether the chili-pepper Christmas lights around the window unbalance the room
and should I get more posters or something and why is fruit smuggled out of
the cafeteria infinitely better than, say, this banana would have been if I'd
eaten it then and there instead of putting it in my sweatshirt pocket?
1Actually, Levente's not particularly mad, in either
sense of the word, but he's a big, vocal kind of guy, and mostly I just like
referring to someone as The Mad Hungarian.
Back it on, I say, back it on up. Start this over.
Writing's good. I like text; articulation is fun and obfuscation too some
times, but external validation for your existence it just ain't. I don't want
to be a writer, I'm just someone who happens to write... Fluently?
Fluidly? Not a chance. Least of all now. This ought to be spun off in the
pages of some notebook where it might hit me some day as a good reminder of
where I was once (and I have a specific kind of notebook in mind, but my
current volumes are all full of ink), not somewhere I'm trying to do something
serious, right? But then who says this is serious, and why should it be?
I'm just the other side of a couple of important edges right now: Ones that
define little things like coherence and the chances anybody'd get anything out
of reading this, but also the one that's defined my obsessive need to hit that
escape key, pound on the backspace, delete things and start over a thousand
times. I'm not just ignoring the little things - I'm ignoring the big ones
that should tell me to drop out of this editor, delete this file, and move on
'cause I'm not gonna produce anything.
I read most of the collected shorter poems of Kenneth Rexroth the other
night, all but the most excruciating early stuff, and it's clear the man got
better as he aged, when formal things and structures and abstractions tied to
isms fell away or got replaced by solid simple words. It doesn't hurt that
somehow I know a little more than when I first read these things and more
things seem like simple words to me. Names of poets, Latin interjections, the
ten thousand things and histories I didn't know existed, mysteries I
thought were nonsense once. Learn a little and much can change. It's good to
know I've learned a little. And anyway before I put the book down I stopped
bullshitting myself that I don't want to be a poet, because sometimes that's
precisely what I want, and pray tell me what's wrong with that?
Of course you could if you felt like it; I can even do it for you, coming
at an angle to the question: Don't think funny typography makes for something
else than prose, don't know thing the first about rhythm rhyme or verse, can't
sing to save your mortal soul, don't want to sink a life worth living in the
purest refuge of bad English major angst and ennui (Charles Bukowski wrote a
thing about poetry readings that was right to the point, brutal, and I just
stopped for ten minutes to find it, failed).
But see it doesn't matter overmuch because there are moments when I think
that, yeah, that, I want to make something like that
and even more important moments when I think this, I want to render
this somehow not because it can be caught but exactly because it
utterly cannot, nothing reduces to words and abstractions are the ground of
everything you fail to know and I want to make one anyway because I've got
absolutely nothing else to offer and I'm still inclined to speak.
Formalize a thing and you kill it, name it and it's gone, hold it too
long alooking and something real leaves, but sometimes we've got no choice.
We choose resolution and what we hope will be simple understanding where we
maybe should know better about the simple part; there's nothing more human and
maybe it's one of our better traits, if being more interesting primates than
grubs and tubers and keep-an-eye-out for the rest of the jungle red in tooth
and claw is a positive (and don't mistake me, I'm in favor, most days). So
sometimes I want to write poetry, and even if I never do, I'm pretty much ok
with wanting that.
It's the little things, even retreating further into unwarranted-upbeat
Ash Wednesday solitude.