November 5th, 2003

Clearing the Clutter

I've always been interested in the way that the littlest of matters can matter so much: how a slight misunderstanding can lead to a major fight with your life partner; how a failure to check to whom a casual e-mail reply is being sent can lead to disaster; how children become unhinged by the loss of a throwaway toy, when the disappearance of an expensive one goes unnoticed.

I'm thinking about displacements a lot more now that I'm officially in writing mode, struggling to write productively with everything else that's going on.

It's amazing how quickly the day can go awry with an insignificant phone call or the realization that there is no milk in the house.

Conversely, it's amazing how well it can go when I get off on the right foot.

I was feeling impinged upon by the internal and external clutter -- not just things, but the fragments of thoughts better left for another day -- a little while ago. So I decided to stretch -- I won't use a pretentious word like "yoga," since I can't stretch that well -- and now I feel totally refreshed and ready to make some headway, as soon as the computer is done backing up my files.

Of course, listening to Purcell doesn't hurt. I put on Keiji Haino's guitar noise extravaganza -- over sixty minutes, but only one track -- first, because I'd seen it filing Kim's CDs, and realized, rapidly, that it wasn't going to be a means of clearing the clutter.
  • Current Music
    Henry Purcell sonatas, in the other room


The other night at the Denali show, when my former student was talking to me about poetry, I tried to explain my undergraduate theory that it would be possible to write a great body of work solely by inverting the clichés of other writers. I explained all the work I'd done on Rilke and how he often seemed to be taking that approach, particularly in the New Poems.

In the course of the discussion, I thought of a little formulation:
I would love to become a cliché, but I don't want to be a cliché!
It's silly and obvious, to be sure, but still captures the basic philosophical distinction between being and becoming quite nicely. What do you do once you've arrived?
  • Current Music
    still Purcell sonatas