Tuesday, April 28, 2009

It doesn't matter so much what you write, as by the terms of great fictive art, but about what you conjecture to understand. (Shakespeare's characters are full of conjectures, positing, theorizing, posturing, in keeping with their personalities and situations.) Without doing so the air of fiction is too thin, too thin to satisfy the reader for long, too thin to allow the writer to put in a consistent effort.

All we can do is theorize and make conjectures, aided by the development of a thinking theoretical science. Just as we have physics, we have the thoughts of Buddha and Jesus. Beatitude, a realization of illusion, is the potent vehicle by which to grasp the operation of reincarnation as a primary truth of existence. Turning the mind away from such thought will leave one less able to act beneficially. A constant nameless sacrifice, not necessarily unenjoyable, provides for the well-being of future incarnations and all else we are connected to and part of. We will all discover, ultimately, on our path the reality of incarnation and proper action, in order to live in a better world, accepting the path as it is laid out before us.

One may evaluate a writer on such terms. Melville? Dickinson? Writers evolve with the realizations of the times.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The artist within
you sought to control.
You took offense to the ticking
of inner wheels, a mind wandering,
ways strange to society, in quotes,
as if embarrassed by your dad,
but worse.
You wouldn't allow the artist
his rainstorms, his snowball,
his youthful drunkenness,
flowers nor his trees.
Why should he give a fuck
if you didn't like such things?
Not like he was going to change,
or that he didn't see a purpose in all of it,
strange and sad as it may be,
and yet uplifting and true and necessary.
You had your eye for an eye,
a tooth for a tooth.
And where does that get you?
A child, I hope you're kinder to,
that you don't shun him for his crayons,
intent on making a junior misanthrope
to later bloom.
Well, we were kids back then.
You would control the subconscious,
and I needed

Later, when you become wise, time sorts out what there was to it of real love that comes from dimensions higher than the ones we see. There was the illusion of love, versions of self-illusions, stories you tell yourself. With time and wisdom you finally see the parts of an affair that really were of love, the child-like, selfless, the long-suffering of Christ and Corinthians. Then you see, or try at least to see, that what you wanted for another is her happiness. You see the lesson behind nature, and learn also that you were for the lesson, and not so much ever capable of being the instrument of her happiness.

Anyone who loves well pleases the Gods, as they say. If one is an artist, he is an artist, and he paints a picture. One wants so badly for the male to find the female, as completion of a picture, but it is an interesting picture when boy loses girl. (Brilliant Russian movie by Grigory Chukrai, "Ballad of Soldier," for instance.)

It is the lesson of nature to show us the foolishness of the enchantments that come from following the illusory selves offered up by the egotistical "I"s within us.

Time, if it offers a lesson, if it lets us analyze ourselves, helps us understand the higher things, the nature of love beyond what is embarrassing to talk about.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

It is for the wisest of us
to encounter that which is difficult to comprehend,
hard to fathom, to accept with any satisfaction,
looking like the weak and mournful as we try.
And nature's plan to bring unto our minds
a higher understanding,
to speak of.
We hunted the whale,
the mammal closest to us
in spirit and in thought,
for the oil
in his hide.

Monday, April 13, 2009

While I have no right, as an academic might, to claim any lock on wisdom, the point, it seems to me, of good writing, if taken to its conclusion, is the work of the adept, the lama, those reincarnated enough times that like Buddha they would have a grasp of everything from the highest nuclear physics on down. The writer himself is not an adept, but allows and runs enough experiments of observation and humoring the variety of experiences he has at his grasp, studying them, if he is sensitive, in the cortex of his subconscious, that he might be ultimately able to make educated guesses in the direction of knowledge of, say, a higher spiritual being. The writer's vision will always be reinforced by the fact that he is drawn to things he is not able to understand, such that he might spend a lifetime pondering and portraying them. Through his experiments, if not by his intellect alone, nor by his own personal feelings, he will come upon some form of higher wisdom, even if he is left unsatisfied by it until he learns he must accept it.

One had a sense that David Foster Wallace was at this sort of thing. You could see it in his sketches of state fairs and cruise ship vacations. There was the sense to his work that he could take the things of the common, by understanding them on their own terms be able to bring, or at least ask for, a sense of overall moral purpose or placement. One had a sense that he was in pursuit of a beatitude when it came to such things as those he wrote about. And indeed, come to find out, this was basically what he was working on in his story of IRS clerks, a conversion of the suffering of boredom into something worth elation and beauty.

Perhaps that is a perilous line to walk if readers aren't willing to ask big questions of what they read. It would be easy and normal to say, 'but that is not our place, to ask for meaning out of that which is difficult to understand,' or, 'how would we ever now?' You can't blame people who don't want to accept from outside the work of experimentations and conclusions, like the horse is brought to water, take it or leave it. (Carver has a good sense of this issue of believing, drawn so well in his work.) Yet writing always seems to lead to fundamental questions, ones of how we cope with what is mystery or suffering or fear of unknowns and death and loss, as if something deep in the universe were asking us, then showing us, that there is a point to all this.

Writers, just as philosophers have been doing, have been asking questions, portraying interesting situations that have their basis and their truth in real life and experience, for a long time. No one wants to say, of course, that there are final answers, that the life of St. Francis tells us all we ever need know; that would wreck the fun of stumbling through our own lives, and such also comes across as too simple. Who, in our multi-multi societies would be willing to accept a common truth.

Yet, maybe for the writer, it is good work to acknowledge the simple true things that save us from depression, that there is light in the world, that there is good in the world, that we can do it, that in our own small way we have the power to make our neighbor's lives and those of the connected beings of the world, human, animal, creature, and so on, better and happier and more pleasant. It is simple scientific work, and it must be done, to show that we not fear anything.
Shakespeare took his writing religiously. His characters speak of the personal experiences anyone writing goes through. Ophelia countering the sanctimoniousness of her brother comes as a writer's self-defense for viewing life as it is, with seediness and 'sin' as well as the prim and proper. Othello's tragedy compares to the losses an individual faces for pursuing a mad career like writer dramatist humorist poet and tragedian. Hamlet is the playwright's great accomplishment, the defense of all writers. King Claudius stands in as the powers of socio-economic realities that can not be easily dismissed if one wants to live a half-way decent life. (Proper that poets study kings.) His works portray the bad times as well as the beauty a writer goes through, all that is grist for the mill, that a writer must expose himself to in order to see clearer and farther, closer and better.

He did in such a way as to follow a Christian model, the works reeking of a man who tried the best he could to be on the level of Christian morality. He ends up being, at an early age, a remarkable source of wisdom. He releases the high moral animal within to make observation in a world recovering from the Dark Ages and struggling with its own brutal times.

Ultimately, a writer serves a simple dish, morality, not of the simple kind. It can only be a refined one, sensitive, subtle, flexible, responsive, rather than a know-it-all proclamation of right and wrong. He speaks as one who has been there, you might say, and suffered, claiming no superiority, using words as he might to show shifting sands. His words serve us openly and graciously, to be taken and usefully interpreted through all our times.