Sunday, April 24, 2011
Writing has, in fact, gotten me through a few dark nights of the soul, in an unexpected way. It has set a standard for me that has been both higher (get out of your head, challenge yourself, try writing differently, and about different topics) and lower (write! just write. Worry about the rest later). I will have to keep doing it, and having the discipline to do so will be hard for a while. Still, I come back to it again and again. It reminds me of my guitar - a failed experiment - teacher's definition of musician. She said that being a musician is not about whether you have talent, or about what fame you achieve. It is about whether you come back to it throughout your life, work at it, and give yourself a chance to learn.
Saturday, April 23, 2011
As the end of my writing experiment comes into view, an experiment which has at least yielded a short story, it occurs to me that in spite of a degree, well, two, in English lit, I can't analyse writing worth anything. Oh I can make stuff up, interpret away until I'm halfway through a Ph.D., but doing the truly writerly thing of looking a the cogs and wheels is very hard for me. Give me an exercise and I will write with a good understanding of what I am doing, but I am terrible at understanding other people's writing, and really even my own when I write freely, and am scrambling to acquire a vocabulary to do so. Yet I have control, I am confident in how I use the tools I have. My effects, for the most part, are conveyed as intended.
At the the end of the day I feel like someone in that episode of Blackadder with Tom Baker as the legless captain saying "My lady, you have a woman's brain!"
Friday, April 22, 2011
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Sunday, April 17, 2011
Friday, April 15, 2011
Ah yes, splendid. Guests. Jolly good. No eggs for breakfast. No matter. Yes, yes. Four, no, five. Not a problem at all. May run out of milk though. Yes. No matter. We’ll make do. Cornflakes. Must have cornflakes somewhere. Madeleine must have put them somewhere. Yes. She moves things, Madeleine does. Lovely girl. A little discombobulated. Yes. A trifle disorganized. But charming. Toast, surely there is some toast. Ho hum. Out of bacon, last of it sizzling. Cast iron pan. Gussie handling it. Not good with food, Gussie. Not so much. Charming chap though, positively charming. Better move those bottles. Might knock them over. Hm. Champagne. That was the last. Didn’t mind them drinking it yesterday. No, don’t begrudge it at all. Only that was the last. Did I get any? I believe I did not. Still, they were lovely company. A little loud. But lovely. Very spirited. Still, it was a jolly good time. Few stains on the carpet. It’s quite fine. Yes. Red wine.
Still, mustn’t complain. Wouldn’t do. Wouldn’t do at all. Better fetch some more bacon. Yes. Get some air. Get some fresh air. Bacon too. Perhaps some milk. A few eggs. A nice long walk. Enjoy the season. Top notch day. Sunny. Yes. A brilliant day. Wander a little. Bit of quiet. Wouldn’t do though. Wouldn’t do to abandon the guests. Not at all done. Not a bit of it. Still, a bit of quiet. Would be quite good. Quiet. Bit of silence.
Better get that bacon.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Intellect, rationality, is a wonderful thing. Like a tool, you can hone it, perfect its use, guide it, after much practice, with ease. It is a measurement. I have spent much time with people who believe in this tool, a very fine tool. I grew up in the belief that it – ratio, science – was the small light in a vast darkness. So it is. I had not fully grasped the meaning of that metaphor though, until I bumped up against it again and again for a long time.
In the dark, you must sometimes turn away from the light to see better. This does not diminish its value; without it you would see nothing at all. But sometimes it is best to keep it at your back, and let your eyes adjust to the dark to see more clearly. So reason lights up human nature, but cannot be used by staring into the light. Instead I have turned away from it, knowing it there in the background from the glow it cast, but looking out into the darkness.
I have worked hard, this last year, at moving rational knowledge into my heart, accepting that rational thought is not what directs my emotions. Unless I can understand with my heart as well as my head, my reason desintegrates into rationalisation. My intellect alone is easily confused, easily lost in the fray. Perhaps mine is simply not strong enough. So instead I have simply put in the dumb work of self-development – writing every day, regardless of inspiration, doing tai chi even when I don’t feel relaxed, going for walks when it’s cold. The road to personal progress for me has been to put in the hours (some of the time...) and not think about the outcome. I find it always pays off when I stick with it – but never when I expect it or how I expect it. Most often this practice helps when I fail most dramatically, or am most disappointed. It’s when I learn the most. Beckett was right – and thanks again to Evan for the quote – “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.”
Funny how that quote become less depressing every time I read it, and every time I go through the same mistakes and learn a little more, and fail a little better.
This weekend I finally made the link between Edgar Allen Poe and The Wire, that is to say, I visited the Poe House. The Poe House is located in a neighbourhood so bad as to be iconic. You see, it is right next to the Poe Homes, a social housing project from years gone by made famous by David Simon’s observation that why yes, there’s an awful lot of crime there. The Poe House – an impossibly teensy house closely guarded by the unnecessarily defensive curator – is a sort of marvel. A marvel of Baltimore-style loss of opportunity, that is, though there is some Poe-esque morbid charm to it. Surely someone, hell, why not David Simon, can do some bloody fundraising for this place, knock down some of the condemned houses, build a visitor center and bring some money into this godforsaken neighbourhood? Surely Poe is famous enough to deserve better than a badly edited snowy tape from the eighties? As it is, it inspires enough people to brave the area (on foot!), the erratic opening hours and the wait in front of the closed door. Surely Baltimore can do better, even in these dour times.
I propose a combo Poe/Wire tour. I think it’s a natural fit, I really do. Death, mystery, detective, work, suffering, drugs, crime – it goes down well enough round here. We have the crime and drugs anyway, why not make the most of it? Worked for David Simon. Who knows, we could maybe even spend some of the money on making some of these places safer. Let’s make it a goal – let’s aim to make drugs and crime the future tourist fallacy of Baltimore. Let’s aim to have well made-up actors posing as junkies for lack of real ones by the year 2024.
In other news, gorramit, I’m ignoring the news because it if so hatefully idiotic, and because the Dems are such gorram idiots. Someone hand me a wet towel please, I have some people I need to smack with it. This is making me nostalgic for when the other people were being the fools.