Red Skies at Night . . . But This?


This picture doesn’t come close to capturing it, but the sun is a hazy red around here because of massive wildfires. Not as bad as Los Angeles is faring at the moment or the Gulf States for that matter. But chilling.

At any rate, my job has been a nightmare of long days lately and my wrists have been killing me, so I’ve not been on here much the last couple of weeks. Hopefully normal posting will commence soon.

Thanks to all of you for sticking with me.


A Rant: Poetry

The critique of poetry I’ve heard most often in my nine years of blogging can be paraphrased thusly: “If you have something to say, why don’t you just say it?” I presume this refers to the metaphorical and discursive qualities of freeform writing. My response to this is simple enough:

“I am saying it.”

Beyond the artistic possibilities of poetry, I am mainly attracted to it for the opportunity to express the world as I truly see it, without the imposition of the strictures of grammar and proper phrasing that prose implies. Am I heavy on abstractions in my writing? Yes. Yes. And yes.

Because that is how I see the world.

Perhaps that makes my mind an obscure entity and communication to the average person a near impossible task. However, it is not a failing on my part. Someday we may all meet in the muddled middle and find a deeper understanding of one another. Until then, we all need spaces in life just to be ourselves, and to find comfort from others amidst the confusion of navigating this strange universe.

Poetry is home.

Raymond Chandler on Writing

Via Roy Edroso, I found this interesting bit of commentary on the art of writing from novelist Raymond Chandler:

What do I do with myself from day to day? I write when I can and I don’t write when I can’t; always in the morning or the early part of the day. . . . I’m always seeing little pieces by writers about how they don’t wait for inspiration; they just sit down at their little desks at eight, rain or shine, hangover and broken arm and all, and bang out their little stint. However blank their minds or dim their wits, no nonsense about inspiration for them. I offer them my admiration and take care to avoid their books. Me, I wait for inspiration, though I don’t necessarily call it by that name. . . . The important thing is that there should be a space of time, four hours a day at least, when a professional writer doesn’t do anything else but write. He doesn’t have to write, and if he doesn’t feel like it, he shouldn’t try. . . . Two very simple rules, a. you don’t have to write. b. you can’t do anything else. The rest comes of itself.

This is quite the interesting thesis. Though many of us don’t quite have the luxury of four hours a day, does it make sense to set time aside only for writing (whether you produce anything or not?) I wonder how many people operate this way.

The Rejects


Rest peacefully, my dear words,
In the pit of this musty drawer:
You’re no picture, no memory,
Without light or rallying song.
A belief is no use
Against well-illustrated desire.

So, rest deeply, my dear words,
Vowels and consonants nestled:
I know that I’ll see you again
In the next obstinate verse
(We all go there someday,
Beyond the cloud, that impenetrable cloud . . . )


The Essence of Humanity

Yasterblyansky in a philosophical essay critiquing David Brooks’ column on moral radicalism pulls out a great passage from George Orwell’s “Reflections of Gandhi”:

“The essence of being human is that one does not seek perfection, that one is sometimes willing to commit sins for the sake of loyalty, that one does not push asceticism to the point where it makes friendly intercourse impossible, and that one is prepared in the end to be defeated and broken up by life, which is the inevitable price of fastening one’s love upon other human individuals. No doubt alcohol, tobacco, and so forth, are things that a saint must avoid, but sainthood is also a thing that human beings must avoid. There is an obvious retort to this, but one should be wary about making it. In this yogi-ridden age, it is too readily assumed that “non-attachment” is not only better than a full acceptance of earthly life, but that the ordinary man only rejects it because it is too difficult: in other words, that the average human being is a failed saint. It is doubtful whether this is true. Many people genuinely do not wish to be saints, and it is probable that some who achieve or aspire to sainthood have never felt much temptation to be human beings. If one could follow it to its psychological roots, one would, I believe, find that the main motive for “non-attachment” is a desire to escape from the pain of living, and above all from love, which, sexual or non-sexual, is hard work…”

I’ve long believed that we tend to perceive love as either a selfish act or a selfless one, but as Orwell suggests, ought to do neither. We ought instead see it as an act undertaken irrespective of self, one fundamental to humanity and thus inevitable regardless of our individual desires (or lack thereof.) Love is pure drive and though its main components–lust, a selfish act; compassion, an unselfish one–have a personal basis, love itself is the one thing that transcends the being who experiences it.

We must follow love to its unknowable ends,
For without it we would gain no momentum.
Life does not travel on any mere emotion:
      Without reason
And motive to refuse another.