Saturday, February 15, 2014

Great Author:

… Well, obviously I would empathize…  It would be like having a border collie and keeping him inside by a piano in an apartment, not giving him room to run or a sense of work to do, an outer space to patrol.  Look at Shakespeare's forehead, the hair worn off it, shaped like a bottle-nosed dolphin's almost, all that wild wordy frontal lobe activity.  You can see it on Joyce's face, in the proclivity toward schizophrenia, an excess of words, in his line, his daughter.  There's a need to write thoughts down on a regular basis.  Like a need to keep up with something.  Thus is it isn't always polite.   Like Hamlet, wild and wordy and borderline, I mean, looking at it one way.  No wonder for some of us Hamlet is the picture of sanity, or a kind of role model of how to deal… Sanity is found in the activity of writing, in Shakespeare's case, dramatic verse, a thousand characters, all of them inhabited, all of them with words appropriate to them,  a great character active, mutable, changing all the time, worth catching 'live,' and portrayable in a different way each time.

With Hemingway too, the strange sexual fantasy of having manhood blown off in the war in his first novel…  Not surprising a son of his, again schizophrenic, dressing as a woman, dying in jail.  Evidence of a need to get something down, out of one's system, or simply 'out.'  Papa was, or could be, a sensitive guy, could tap into his affection and appreciation of animals, like his cats, just as he could shoot other animals.  Strange…

But basically this is why I see value in a daily, or regular, exercise of writing.  We can't all let the television do the talking for us, to sort out all our things.  We have to be active in it, just as we have to eat.  We read good stuff in order to appreciate that need we have.  To deprive one of that is to mistreat a dog, animal cruelty.  Perhaps implying that we have to listen and to entertain, leave a door open for forms of verbal activity that are intimate and conversational.  A sorting out of thoughts, a sorting out of chemistry.

I'm sure all of this is quite obvious.  It's why we watch Jimmy Fallon, or why an actor can do impersonations, or the wordiness of rock'n'roll, like Freddie Mercury, Queen.  An anthropologist looking at us from a distance would take it all in stride…  Conversations in bars, Ulysses, old pagan myths handed down verbally, Shakespearean theater, all of us trying to keep our brains in tune.

If you were an author, I suppose you could study the way conversations misfire.  People mean to be on the same page, they want to talk about the same thing, to make sense, to be understood, to understand another, but we so often miss.  We get cut off.  We don't get to say things as we might like to.  Maybe it's just that another person's thoughts are just going off in another direction.  All you can do it listen to her thoughts.  Try to engage.

But it all had been so horribly counterproductive…  It was as if you had made a great scientific discovery.  You'd been morally upright about your science, disciplined, upstanding, done good science.  All of which felt good, deeply satisfying, fulfilling…  But you'd left the door to your workshop laboratory atelier open enough, and someone else had come along and claimed the principal spoils, just out of simple selfish pleasure, the easiest thing to do in the world, something that makes you look good even.

My mother's feminist preachings had not served me well to understand the situation.  Women are passive creatures, who must be courted.  They are not the decision makers they're made out to be.  While they may choose lots of things in this basic matter they must be chosen by the man.  I made far too much out of surface rejections, episodic things…  And I never made myself clear, always stopped short of expressing myself, the heart, that sort of thing.  I thought the science was enough, quite obliviously, like your typical awkward intellectual.

A lot of things that followed upon this failure of mine--I don't know, was it simply a matter of self-confidence?--were pointless, counterproductive.  The great scientist was reduced to being a humble workman, reduced to overalls, sadly, against his will, knowing now what he'd missed.  Down and out, nobody knows you.  And no Ayn Rand fantasy, no Patricia Neal coming to Gary Cooper.  Society takes you as a kind of madman, for your humility really.

I can understand Melville's Ahab somehow.  "Strike through the mask…"  Look to the great Biblical injustice you've been dealt with, though of course you yourself caused it, completely responsible for the whole thing, the absence of a leg, the scar of lightning, like the destruction of all of Job's happy life, the seeming thanks for his good science of believing faithfully in his God.  But of course, as far as Captain Ahab, you can't be violent or aggressive, violence only begetting violence….  You have to listen to God saying "where you there when I laid the foundations of the world?"  Faithful servant, you have to accept.

So what good does science do you?  Did you even learn anything?  Maybe you  learned more about bravery and of ostracism than you'd like to know.  "Who needs science anyway?"  What good does it do?  Or, rather, the science should be about living, on a daily basis, just trying to be happy and do all the things required of us.  No need for grand noble-sounding experiments of the sort great author's like to run.  Psychological flaw.  Just keep it mindless and happy.  Write popular recipe sort of books, how-tos.  Focus on the worldly…

Or maybe the failure itself, maybe that too is the science, like a king stripped of everything, learning to be a pauper and deal with everybody in a new way.  No, not really.  How I blather on.

Can you resurrect your science, make it vital again, as it once was?  Or do people change so much, so that the science is completely reformed, as if on a different scale, or like the Big Bang theory suddenly working not forwards but backwards, everything fallen back into the minuscule origin point…  No, I guess not.  Science is, as poetry, meant to be sweet, happy or at least at peace.

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