Tuesday, July 25, 2006
I'm playing a waiting game here -- hardly an exciting thing to blog about, but I don't have much of anything else to say. What am I waiting for? At least three things, at the moment....
I'm waiting to hear about a job that I interviewed for yesterday. I would be soooo perfect for this job. If you people who interviewed me yesterday are reading this, I really would be awesome, despite my possibly dorky interview answers. Unfortunately, rest of the world, I can't give any more details, lest I blow a really good thing, but stay tuned.
Also, I'm waiting to hear about my manuscript. Yes, I know that's not exactly news. But above and beyond the multiple competitions I've entered and open submissions I've submitted to, Demimonde is being considered now at a publisher that asked to see it. How cool is that? And I'm a finalist (again), one of 25, in one of the aforesaid competitions. (This is #17, folks.) So I may yet see this book published before I die!
I've also submitted a review I've written, on spec -- not an earthshaking thing, but interesting, and I'm waiting to hear the outcome of that.
And that's all the news, or most of it. I wrote a check today for the high school reunion I'm going to in September. Lord help me. It's a 38th high school reunion, and across the country from me. It's costing me money I don't have, and I just hope it isn't too horrible.
The weather here may be the best anywhere, now. It's been pushing 80° or maybe 85° during the day, but a blessed fog is in this evening, and the mornings have started cool as well. My house is high on a hill and faces west. With one window open there (the only one that does open at present) and the back door open to the deck, it's been just lovely all day The dog has stayed with me, rather than go up with John to San Rafael where it's been in the 100s. She's eleven now, and moves slowly enough. In the heat, she moves so slowly, she might as well be going backwards!
Saturday, July 15, 2006
The connection with poetry is clear. What people do in therapy is, in some ways, a loose, uncrafted version of what poets do, i.e., create something new through speech. What stops us is the limits on our ability to think and create. Experience becomes restircted to old, familiar linguistic pathways. We may know other possibilities exist but like ultraviolet light we don't have the equipment to experience it directly.
People come to new understanding & experience in therapy (freer understanding and experience) by creating words for it. These experiences may be just out of reach or far out of reach. Even close to awareness they can't make the leap. Speech in therapy is encoded, requires another mind to read between the lines, so to speak. There's a distinct aesthetic to clinical work.
Psychodynamic training plays with theories of the mind, but the effort of learning to listen & grasp elusive qualities of clinical expression is similar to learning to read poetry (and other writing than relies on linguistic devices like associative leaps, word play, imagery, etc). Like being able to understand, appreciate atonal music or contemporary art, it takes exposure and reflection on one's experience of it. Otherwise these things seem crazy and alienating (like some of contemporary poetry...).
I'm going to teach a class on this eventually.
Friday, July 14, 2006
"...The whole issue of lyricism is about fragmentation, for me anyway. The moment. The fragment. Fracture. The things seen in passing. The notion that things halt but only in our imagination for a half a second and poetry is an attempt to slow things down a bit and hold on. ...
...I'm very interested in the nonreductive, not forcing the thing to make sense, but allowing it to hover with a number of senses. That's some of the work I've done. You don't do these things consciously. When I read my own work, I see that I'm trying to get many things to move around one another centrifugally and centripetally at the same time. To shoot off and come in. What did Frost say a poem was? "A momentary state against confusion." That's what interests me – the attempt to bring many things into some balance, into a kinetic equilibrium. It's what atomic theory tells us is the case. I know nothing of that, really, but the little picture we are given of the atom and the molecule and the things inside the atom, the whirl of things that make the desk, your hair. If you slowed it down you'd start to see the everything start to disintegrate, but it's held together. That seems to be what lyric poetry is all about, holding together the stuff that is flying off. That would be my metaphor for it anyway – sort of molecular activity. ..."
I very much like this.
Thursday, July 13, 2006
Diana Vishneva, a principal dancer at the Kirov Ballet and at American Ballet Theatre, once told Francis Mason, of Ballet Review, that in any ballet she always tried to find “a particular thing that allows me to know what I am doing with the role, not just to do it beautifully.” She needed, she said, to find her own “secret.” Sometimes when you hear such words, you tremble. Many theatrical absurdities—chaste Carmens, happy Hamlets—have been perpetrated by people on similar quests. But, in a performance of “Giselle” . . . at A.B.T. in mid-June, Vishneva . . . did find her own secret to that ballet, and the result was a show that left people sitting dazed in their seats afterward.
That’s just how I feel when I’m writing a poem! I can work and work on a poem but it never quite comes together until I feel that I’ve found the poem’s secret. Not that the poem needs to reveal its secret in some corny epiphany—in fact it’s probably better if it does not!
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
I'm actually interested in the whole concept of creativity and genius, beyond the need to prop up my perennially sagging self-esteem. I've always wondered how much opportunity, encouragement, and, well, luck has to do with the making of genius. You may think I'm finding excuses yet again, but take, for instance, everyone's favorite example of genius: Picasso. What he painted at fourteen just totally boggles the mind. But. Picasso's dad was an artist. No genius, he was a competent painter who was also a teacher. He recognized young Pablo's talent. (In fact, it is said that he gave the 16-year-old Pablo his brushes and he himself never painted again.)
What if Picasso had a dad like mine? My dad refused to let me apply to a liberal arts college with a creative writing department because, he said, no self-respecting man would ever go there. Note: I'm not now nor ever was a man. But Dad was sending me to college to get married, and the kind of man that filled the bill didn't apply there.
I'm just commenting. This is light years away from the article referenced above. But it ties in with it in my mind as well as to other reports I've been reading about young women who don't consider themselves Feminists (and, bless 'em, don't need to).
Over and out, for now.
Monday, July 10, 2006
In case I’ve been missed, I’ve been working on a series of poems about this woman, La Donna Velata. With any luck, I’ll be finished sometime in 2008. I saw this portrait in Rome over 25 years ago, and though I’ve never been back, it’s haunted me ever since. Painted by Raphael about ten years after Leonardo painted Mona Lisa, for me it has all the mystery and force that I imagine people found in Mona Lisa before it became a cliché. As this article in The Guardian says about the painting:
Something uncontrollable is happening under her rich clothes, as the silk of her sleeve goes into convulsions, but she looks back at you boldly. Vasari thought this was the woman for whom Raphael lusted to death. Others say it was a baker’s daughter. All that’s certain is that this is a different Raphael, painting like an open-hearted Venetian and not a Roman careerist. Pity he didn’t do it more often.