Saturday, August 11, 2007
Antic View now up to installment 129. I think this is useful mind muddle. Jeff Harrison is a sui generis whose conceptual cogitations provoke useful routes and branches. I think my own humble application toward the confusion is worth reading, but I'll put the trumpet down now. I hate to think a Jim Behrle nerve tonic is "what it's about". I mean, okay, social program molds our movements, but I hope our thoughts are freer. which is to say, writers not just preening but risking to state the tentative nature of the exacting process is worth readership. the spectacle of whingeing, of course, may be more enticing.
Friday, August 10, 2007
my mind drifted to thoughts of Walden and Thoreau today when any chance arose. there aren't a lot of natural swimming holes hereabouts, so Walden shimmers with that attribute. my family aimed elsewhere for swimming excursions, as I was growing up. my grandmother lived in the town of Townsend, on the NH border, so we went there. the VFW kept up a swimming area across the street from the little store my grandmother had there. saturday nights thru the summer there were chicken barbecues with a band concert after. it was like Mayberry, or one of Mark Twain's stray warm memories of youth. a few years ago Beth and I were coming back from western Mass and made our way to the swimming hole. the river was gone, gone I tell you. only the bare bones of the band box remained of, what, my youth? the river, no major artery, had apparently been diverted. my friend grew up in Concord and fondly remembers the cement pier that stretched into the water of Walden, perfect for leaping into the water from. I always considered that thing monstrous, but I saw with different eyes than my friend. just as the many visitors to Walden see different uses. as Beth and I walked along one time, we unavoidably heard a conversation between a man in the water and one on shore. the one in the water was opining about the Jungian qualities of swimming. etc, as you might imagine. and sure, some people want to enact an Annie Dillard moment. I mean that kind of self-conscious circumspection that accounts for a great deal of nature writing. I demarcate a difference in Thoreau, cheer me on at your pleasure. sure he was a hearty blowhard, insofar as he was loaded to the gills with aphoristic concentrations. I think he's hilarious and fresh air often, but still, you know, he could get caught up in a John Brown mystique. I forgive him, as I should forgive all such eager failings in judgment. but I see conviction in his process, or more aptly: actions in his words rather than words in his actions. the Annie Dillard sort of precognitive philosophizing is thoughtfully glib. which doesn't sound like I'm making sense. I mean something about how the subject jolts her expression, like her thinking is controlled by the structure of essay, and not in Montaigne's embracing sense (whose effort of comprehensive consideration reminds me of Thoreau). rather, Dillard defines territories of populated worth. I offer Dillard only as an example of a collective of popular, or populist, writing. and maybe why I give Thoreau the nod is simply the palpable example of his cabin (by which I mean the replica sitting there near the parking lot, a couple hundred yards from the actual site of his cabin). that replica offers a wonderful, perhaps useful, picture. room enough for a bed, a desk and a chair. for all that, a kindly fireplace, and an open, brimming door. I see this as a vision of a writer. there would be room for that handful of books, more accurately that armful. say ten essential books. we just moved, as I've said. our books are in boxes, may remain thus for a while. which ones will call for me? as a writer, what books do I need? a writer writes. a writer is not a NYC bar. a writer is not a school or tenure track or political position. you know where this is going. a writer efforts letters, words and sounds. that uncluttered cabin is so much writing. it is the Bhagavad-Gita played as a trumpet. it is a walk out and about transmogrified into letters surrounding words. Walden Pond is a movie only vaguely starring the glacial pothole itself. people go there to exercise, to play, to relax, to talk, to eat, to imbibe some rarity of thought or mood, and all of this is right. the writer has this clean box of a room and the mechanism to enter the written motion. think of Thoreau with his outlook on the pond. his little desk upon which he writes his journal, tinged with the loss of his brother. I don't mean to make hero of Thoreau any more than call Walden Eden. neither assertion would be useful. Walden has just been particularized, and Thoreau is just another candidate in the flush. how crucial to remember this! we write poems not as proofs or definitions. we write what is with us, in our cabin, in the squared resonance of our place, here, now. if Don Henley had not come along, Walden would not be here? I don't know. I just want to stay with the particulars of the place. the one here and now, with all the words involved.
Thursday, August 09, 2007
we've decided to make Walden Pond our go to place, it being convenient for said purpose. purchased a season ticket, even (good at all national parks. no reason really to consider it sanctified but the place is. sunday we decided to eat dinner there. well, the place was packed. in fact, it only just reopened when we arrived at 5:30: attendance at Walden's plush wateriness is strictly limited. so the only perch we could find was by the road to the boat ramp. a dusty place indeed. I took a dip and while doing so 2 pairs of mallards paddled close by. they moved purposefully toward I don't know what. not much after, they moved purposefully away. the sense of this idyllic postcard held fiercely in place (against the onslaught of blighty progress) is strong. but the sun, oh, it sinks into the trees to the west in spacious loveliness. I cannot tell you how uplifting it used to be to cycle by on my way home from work years ago. just that glimpse as I raced to the intersection with rt 2. yesterday we just swam. I don't really swim, to be honest. I never cottoned to the immediate collection of water in my ear. to be further honest, I am unnerved by the extent of nothingness below me when I go into deep water. fathomless death or some such. I think of Titanic and Perfect Storm and Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald (I just refound that song, by Gordon Lightfoot. I'd assumed it was about some, say, 19th century disaster but in fact Lightfoot's song was tantamount to a news report, came out within a year of the sinking of the freighter on Lake Superior). so I don't swim so well. I took a movie recently of a swarm of swimmers plying their effort in a circumnavigation. nothing that Thoreau imagined, I wot. yesterday the water was like bathwater. mallards, 3 pair, were a mite annoyed at our appearance in their bailiwick. it is a poetry, you see, to see a place as a place, as a center, as something definitive. we live in a new place, as I have reported. it has a porch. the porch is all the world. when we first saw the porch, which looks onto the town green and the unavoidable Unitarian church, it was festooned with mock orange blossoms and a reliable sun-and-verdure motet. I'm not faking the poetry. we sit on the garden bench that I bought long ago, drink beer, and tune in to the traffic, the wrens and house sparrows in the mock orange and everywhere else, the failing sunlight, and gulping torrent of frog voices, etc: ferlies and marvels. is poetry a place? isn't Thoreau writing that poetry, as he rambles and preens about his wild land of theories? isn't Dickenson, in the flickering garden choices of her own written word? it is a blasting simplicity, and yet... I mean, even Faulkner, who could be a circus show, he does include that position of place within the structure of poetic response. yes, it all gets hokey, with Don Henley presiding over some vision of sanctified, and one wants to feel better than the eager touring parties who come merely to splash, yet that all goes beyond the point. the point is a drop of water. poetry, in that drop.
Sunday, August 05, 2007
this blog has seen little of my consummate verbiage lately so I take this sunday evening to produce some brain-scrapings for your delectation. we have, as I did mench, moved, down the road a piece. we remain in the luxury of our boxes but made a goodly effort today at emptying a few. we situate across the street from the town green and the inescapable Unitarian church there. I was born into a Unitarian church but it gave me nothing, tho I liked the church building as a bright meditative space. my birthday was wednesday. I share it with Herman Melville, William Clark, and Jerry Garcia, probably others. there is no reason to associate myself with them, but let me anyway. Melville is a wonder, certainly in his greatness (Moby Dick) but also in his struggles. Lewis and Clark are a trope that has lost nothing for me. a sense of creative adventure in that journey. I'm planning to write a rockopera about the Corps of Discovery, done as an hommage to Jerry. Madonna would be wonderful as Sacagawea. yesterday was the birthday of Robert Grenier, Roger Clemens and Percy Bysshe Shelley. of course Clemens stinks, the greedy crumb bum, but the other 2 pulsate. one time at Franconia College I was in a room with Grenier and another person, just the 3 of us. somehow birthdays came up, and it was revealed that mine was 8/1, Grenier 8/4, and the other person 8/3. well I was born in the Year of the Dragon and according to all horoscopic evidence I'm a pretty wonderful person. you could look it up. we went to Walden twice today. 1st time, Beth and I circumambulated its verdant gleam. the 2nd time we brought foodstuffs at dinner time. the parking lot had just reopened when we arrived. attendance amidst the pond's coconut tanning creme aroma is kept strictly in hand. a sign explains the wherefore of the pond's high water level: porous pavement. rain seeps thru the pavement instead of running off. less erosion, thus. because of the rise in water level there remains little of what you'd call beach. benches that used to line the wall bordering part of the pond are now underwater. that's so freaky! I aint hardly read nuthin' lately, books have yet to be released from their limbo. in boxing books I happened upon Sound and Fury, which I am slowly rereading. Faulkner is so wound up in his mythology, which is a good and bad thing. his weak novels are caricatures, of Faulkner, of the South (a South he invented, or people believe he contributed to the American psyche). in S&F, he's clearer on the mythic extent, it feels close to home. when he overburdens the furious tragic element, and the dogma of Southern decrepitude, he sucks out loud, to put it baldly. yoiu can tell him I said so. in my edition, S&F is aptly offered with As I Lay Dying. which is a grisly comedy that should have been made into a film by some ardent and exacting filmmaker. I mean, it is funny the way Goodfellas is funny, and maybe Scorsese would be the one to do justice to this aweful and compelling story. Madonna would be great as the corpse. and my ramble report endeth here...