Shifting Software

I've been writing poems for a few days, like a kid absently poking around in his alphabet cereal. I have a funny relationship with poems I write: I don't personally identify with them and I appreciate them because they are like snowflakes ... they appear only once. A poem is a stopping on the road to have a look around, or it is realizing you have always been stopped and the scenery going by is stagecraft.

But there is something even deeper than poetry, and that is laziness. It goes down to the bone.

I sit down and write a poem in quick brushstrokes. Sometimes, like yesterday, I get distracted by the shape of the lines and get caught in a pattern which then has undue influence. Another influence is the theme, which corresponds to some emotional tone I catch, which is defining me but which is normally not conscious, in the way that water remains unknown to a fish even though it is the medium inseparable from its existence.*

This emotional tone is interesting to me because I agree with George Leonard (The Silent Pulse) that our primary and determining communication is instantaneous, and involves our adjusting to an emotional tone expressed inside a common field. We become each other, whether we are doing business at the bank or at a trailer on the county highway. We become each other when we make love.

But be cautious about mentioning this to people who might be frightened by this information.

Leonard wrote about experiments at Boston University in something called "microdynamics," which was looking at short time interval changes in two subjects engaged in direct interaction, as for example conversation. What appeared beneath the surface of the exchange was a perfectly choreographed dance between the nervous systems.

Emotional tone has to do with that direct contact with other energy fields, before it has been processed by the part which speaks. And yet the poem has a voice as well, and it does speak. The words in this case serve the field, rather than being distracted by heaven, with its promise of an unlimited supply of virgins in a rich man's garden, if you're Muslim, or an unlimited supply of devotional harp concerts in a rich man's garden if you're Christian. The common denominator that doesn't vary is the setting of the festivities, which provides some clue as to the origin of the fantasy.

So there are feelings in the words, which are derived from how they flow and sound in combination. And then there is the intellectual component, of metaphor. Too much intellectual component will irritate the goddess of proportionality, Kierra.

Kierra, who is eight, shut me down yesterday when I started to tell her the meaning of anthropomorphic. She and her brother were watching cartoons and I said something about the animals being anthropomorphic. "What's that?" she asked immediately.

I knew she would. She's right on top of something that comes up which she doesn't know about. "It means they are like people," I said. And then, imagining that I was establishing rapport, I Googled for more information on the word. "Anthro means man," I said, "like in anthropology, and ..."

She scooted closer to the tv screen with a look of intense annoyance on her face. This was too much information and I was informing her against her will, now. She had turned me off as easily as she could turn of the t.v. should it become an annoyance. I told Linda about it and she said, "She'll find out by herself. That's how she likes it."

Of course. That's how we all like it.

I recently had a line about riding a Roman Cross into the sun, and I felt the urge to explain the image. So I asterisked the cross and below the poem I started to write about the logic behind the image of the cross as a spaceship.

Today I went back and removed it.

The thing that makes a poem unique and never to be repeated is that the images can't be reduced to what they mean in other words. They resist that kind of reduction, and although they can be explained by some system with a consistent internal logic, they are never captured because they always have wider parameters than the explanation.

But there is something else which makes a poem unique. It can transport a lot of information in a small container. Right now I want small containers because I am going through annihilation and rebirth with the blog. I will want to reduce the site down to a sampling of the existing site, and start something new. I don't ever know for sure what's going to come next, but you can certainly appreciate how much easier it is to move when you don't have a lot of junk to haul with you.

Shifting software on a blog is like a trapeze artist letting go of one bar and turning to catch another one at its still point. Or this analogy might be a lame excuse for a link to some vintage pinup art ... the images I use with the poems are often linked to the source of the image, or at least where it linked to from google images.

*The idea of our losing touch with the emotional medium in which we all exist, together, connects me to William Faulkner. He said that the problem with contemporary man isn't that he is evil, but that he is paltry. He has abstracted himself out of existence. As I recall (from a book by, G. Bedell ) he said that in a speech at the University of Virgina in 1953. Let me Google that and see if I'm right. Well, I can't find the book for sale, but it was "Kierkegaard and Faulkner, Modalities of Existence."

Cool. I love the internet. What I found was a You Tube video about Faulkner's becoming writer in residence at the University of Virginia in 1957. I watched the entire video, which has had fewer than a thousand views, and toward the end of it there was a short clip of Faulkner lecturing, when a student asks, "You have said that you regard respectability as one of the prime enemies of individualism. Do you regard love as an enemy of individualism?"

Faulkner: "No. What's love got to do with respectability?"

Posted: Sun - June 22, 2008 at 02:30 PM