:: Do not add up
I was looking at the New Books section in the library of my college and
I found a book called PS3569.L3 by David Slavitt. Now, PS3569.L3 is where
the book is found in the library as well as the name of the book. Wow!
This would be like my address and my name being the same thing, an ultimate
consolidation. But it made me think seriously about the different sorts of
information that a name and an address give us. An address tells us where
something is and a name tells us what sort of thing that thing is. These two
kinds of information cannot always be combined. For example, take the case
of a cup. The cup is the name and the cabinet is its address. The name
"cup" applies to things which are not within the cabinet and
the address "cabinet" has many more things in it besides cups.
I do not think that the name of a thing and its address can always be
combined, but I do think that David Slavitt's example could lead us to
some interesting investigations of the different sorts of information
contained in names and addresses.
In here, what is joyousness has already changed. The noon sun does not
please me, but what might I say that would please me? Perhaps the dawn,
the sunset; the changing of the light. Full sun is beautiful overhead,
but it fades and why? Its fading does not remind us of its beauty as
the fading of dawn and the sunset do (ending with preposition). The
changing light constantly reminds us that it is in a continual state
of becoming. That birth is not like the birth of a child which occurs
once, but more like the birth of love which is continually delivering
The "Yes" I say and the "Yes" which I wish my lover
to say are often hypocritical. Often, I say "Okay" or
"Fine". The statement of "Yes" is an ideal, often
not reached, but when it is, there a feeling of accomplishment in my
deepest bone structure. Within the hypocritical there is often an ideal
which we wish to live by, possibly an unapproachable ideal or possibly
approachable only for mere instants. To approach the ideal one's being
(or collection of beings) must be altered, or as Rilke writes and
Wittgenstein fondles, "You must change your life."
(remember to write essay on Rilke's prickishness -- the way he says
and writes that if you do not live and write in the manner and way that
he does, if you do not feel that you would die if you were unable to
write (Letters to a Young Poet), if you are not willing to change your
life for poetry (above mentioned line in poem about statue of Apollo),
if you are not old with feeling and experience (Notebooks of Brigge, and
even when old you will probably only be able to write ten good lines); he
says that if you do not do all of these things that you cannot and should
not write, there is not even any possibility of it. I wonder if he had all
of these qualities or if he shoved them in his own face and went depressed
through the years. Rilke builds a wall for a young writer, or any writer,
to smash his face into. He gives us the obstacle of an unreachable ideal.
Reading Rilke might make any writer catch fire with the match of a poetic
life, but he might also make them burn to shreds. Remember the great poet
who wrote "But to truly be a star you must also truly burn."
Yes, remember to write that essay! But also remember to keep it short,
possibly 231 words long.)
When you read a book how do you know that the "I" of the narrator
is always the same "I"? Idea: A book with four separate narrators
whose voices are distinct, but the reader is never told which one is telling
the story. The first half of the book: the characters are distinct and each
telling their own separate stories. The second half of the book: the
characters merge and become one as the author emerges finally.
Trust, both of the world and of people, is a result of the fact that we
cannot know what we cannot verify for ourselves. Anxiety has it origin
here. Perhaps content, calm people have more trust in the world and in
people than anxious people do. Maybe anxious people need more evidence
than calm people do.
How does the quantity of work that a poet produces affect his ability to
be and call himself a poet? A large quantity of work perhaps means that
the poet has forced himself to live a poet's life, to see all through the
lens of poetry, to endure being a writer, to endure working, to realize
the fullness of the tree in the potential of the seed of his first
"I must tell you that as a painter I am becoming more
clear-sighted before Nature, but with me the realization of my
sensations is always painful. I cannot attain the intensity that is
unfolded before my senses. I do not have the magnificent richness of
colouring that animates Nature. Here on the banks of the river the
motifs multiply..." Cezanne
Cezanne's doubt is twofold: His manifest doubt is that he cannot depict
nature realistically and this led to his ability to invent new methods
for painting and perceiving. But there is another doubt that questions
whether a painting can hold reality at all. It is this modern doubt which
suspects that a realistic painting cannot hold the truth of its subject.
This second doubt entails the belief that there is something more in a
thing than that which can be sensed, that there is something radiant in
a thing's presence which eludes our ability to depict it. But we still
must attempt to do this impossible thing -- to understand one
simple thing and communicate it completely. The realization that the
depiction (painting, poem, novel, photograph) of a thing in a realistic
manner does not necessarily capture the essence of that subject is the
basis for abstract art. Abstract art seeks to depict the radiant quality
of the subject by eliminating any realistic depiction. Perhaps abstract
artists have realized that when a narrative is too strong the idea behind
it is often lost. But abstract artists must realize, like all artists,
that their art and the perspective it gives, is ipso facto limited.
Multi-media art has attempted to remedy the limitation of method
and form. It has attempted to say that through the use of many methods
and forms it will be possible to eliminate the limitations of each
method. I do not think that we can say that this is possible, but I have
not thought about it enough to have a reason for this belief.
In books that are heavy on plot the idea behind the plot is often lost
to me. These books do not urge us to dig for the deep and mythical within
them. They do not necessitate interpretation. The trend to move away from
narrative has produced many books which force us to interpret them, they
force us to search for the deeper meaning. This quality lies within the
very structure of those sorts of books. If we are not forced to interpret
the world, do we nevertheless interpret everything anyway? In an interview,
Alexander Nehamas states, "We're condemned to be interpreters. The
only question is whether we do it well or badly: do we interpret in an
original manner or do we interpret in a way others have already
interpreted?" ("Bomb" magazine, Fall '98, pg. 41). I
agree with him if I can say that he is not talking about anyone but about
humanity in his ideal state. Most of the time we do not interpret the world,
most of the time I walk without noticing, often times I am not very
conscious of my life. The novel of ideas and the strange novel force
us to interpret them and while we are interpreting we are happy, we are
engaged. This is one of the reasons why people criticize television,
because it does not need the viewer to participation with it. It can become
background noise. But it does not have to; we can work to find the
mythological struggles that constantly occur on television; we can work
to interpret television. But it will be hard work for it is so easy to
let the images on television pass by into meaninglessness. To force
yourself to interpret your life constantly is one of the ways in which
life can become art. The world does not ask for you to interpret it, not
much in life really asks for your participation with it. Art is never
asked for. An artist must fight to overcome the indifference the world
has for him. Emerson said that an essay should be a "perpetual
noticing." We must agree with him. There is no time off in art and
philosophy for they form a new system for perceiving, for living. But we
cannot be "perpetually noticing" everything; we must select
our medium and our subject; we must limit ourselves in order to say
anything, for the statement of everything is impossible and meaningless.
The existentialist has made us realize that there can be no philosophy
that does not begin with the self; there can be no question worth asking
if it does not involve the self. But this presents us with another
problem/question: Do we continue to always have to state that
everything must pertain to the self, or can we move on and do the work
of it? Do we constantly have to use the word 'self' or can we imply that
everything must pertain to the self? And on a side-note: "Can
we force ourselves through hard work to be engaged in any possible task
or idea? Can we work hard enough so that any question or idea will
pertain to the self?" (another one quotes the self).
I have tried to do art in numerous ways: writing poems, essays, novels,
and painting, photographing, making paper, drawing, dressing, cooking,
eating, walking, and observing. I recognize that each of these methods
has its limits, but attempting them all makes me both understand their
individual limitations and character and it also helps me to try to
eliminate these inherent limitations. The goal is to express things in
as full a manner as possible; to gain intimate access into the noumenal
world of a thing and express it; to express things as radiant unities.
I do not know whether doing art in a number of ways helps or hinders
us in achieving this goal. But I do art in a number of ways for a few
other reasons. Firstly, if you do art in a number of ways you have a
better chance to be able to express any type of thing. Secondly, if you
do art in a number of ways you can do art more often and avoid the
depression of down-time (it is much easier, for me at least, to
write two poems, draw two pictures, write a story, etc., than it is to
write ten poems). And thirdly, it is nice to artistically please every
person who you love with all of their diverse tastes and ideas.
I have another question concerning the previous paragraph: Are all of
the various ways of doing art, which I stated (poetry, photography,
making paper, drawing, eating, walking, observing), all actually methods
of doing art? Poetry, photography, and drawing are all definitely
considered methods for doing art. Making paper and cooking are usually
considered methods for doing art, except for the fact that they both
have the connotation of being crafts. But are walking, eating, and
observing methods for doing art? It is sometimes said that with an
"expanded notion of art" life can be viewed as art. But this
does indeed make it difficult for anyone to actually become an artist
for they have believed that they were artists for their whole lives. I
can see how, through conscious engagement with life and the struggle to
attain this engagement, life could become an art form. But this would
be tantamount to creating a philosophy and philosophies need to be
written out in order to understand their implications and specifics.
Or do they need to be written? Can a philosophy be merely lived? If
so, it would be the ultimate existential philosophy or "life
philosophy" -- a philosophy that insists that we put the
self first using the method of living and not of writing -- ha.
Or more broadly, does art need to have a product? And if it does, then
no matter how much an artist hates it, every artist is a materialist.
I just read an interview with Alexander Nehamas in Bomb magazine (which
is probably why I am writing this) in which he states, "The purpose
of philosophy as the art of living is, of course, living. But the life
that it requires is a life devoted to writing"("Bomb",
Fall '98, pg. 40). Not only did that quote lead to my having this
question with myself, but it also made me joyful to be a writer --
the exemplary model of what we do makes us realize that what we do is
possible and necessary.
I wonder how the act of writing words and messages on paintings has
changed how words are used in poems, novels, and philosophies? The
words written on paintings are usually either concise messages (Joseph
Kosuth, Barbara Kruger and Christopher Wool), or semilegible, elusive
experiments with language (Basquiat, Tapies, Twombly). I'm not quite
sure how you would go about trying to answer this question.
I am sure that Faulkner drank when he wrote. I am sure of this both
from things he said and from my own experiences of drinking and writing.
Many people have told me that one should not use drugs and do art at the
same time. And it is true that when I have written something while being
intoxicated I have felt embarrassed to tell anyone of this fact. It is
as if drug induced art was somehow less pure than sober art. One must be
careful when using drugs and doing art at the same time because while you
are intoxicated your judgment loosens and your ability to judge is one of
things which is at the heart of interpretations and interpretation is at
the heart of art. But it can be a good thing to have your judgment fall
away; it can open you up to new possibilities. I think that writing while
high is sort of like writing on a train. It can either be a very positive
experience and lead you in new directions or it can make you either
incompetent as an artist or unable to do art at all. I once rode the train
from New York City to St. Louis and I wrote, what I consider to be, one
of my best poems, but then I rode the train from St. Louis to Seattle and
wrote nothing at all. The question of whether using drugs and writing is
good or bad is different for each person at each time in their life.
There isn't any sort of categorical statement that we can make on it.
However, we can think about it, we can argue with ourselves about it in
order to better understand it. While drugs might not have a negative
effect upon art, they may have a negative effect upon the artist and
this is a slightly different point than the first. When a drug is used
to help with art a new space is made for the artist. This new space will
not be accessible to the artist except when he is using that drug.
Therefore, if the artist needs this space to complete some work of art
then he will be functionally addicted to the space and to the drug with
which he made the space.
We can be philosophers like Nietzsche, Heraclitus or Fermat who all give
us the grand statement at the end of a proof but withhold the proof. Or
we can be philosophers like Plato, Aristotle, and Kant whose philosophies
work out every aspect implied by the final statement and which offer a
reader the proof that was used to reach that the final statement.
The notion of morning, the haze on early breath, wished I had fed the
gulls, but coffee now, I must write, no, must live, which to which and
whose to whose. "Mouth to her mouth's kiss", I think that's
from Ulysses, Joyce makes a great chiasma of language. Early now, but
my lover is not here, somehow I must live and write...I have always felt
that writing was an active state, reading seems passive, talking (when
it's best) feels active, watching movies is passive for me, but writing,
writing is always active, some of my best memories are of writing --
the drunken train writings, the after sex sweet lover writings, the
working out of everything into an integrated way of living. Is it a way
of living that I am after? Of course, but I know that I write too much
and dance too little, I write when my lover is far and dance when she
is near, that is my decision, and I think that it is a good decision in
all these mornings. Though, I do love the gulls on the foggy beach. But
I have definitely forgotten to talk about many important things about
morning (and this was supposed to be a piece of writing about morning)
such as the awful morning breath and the interminable morning
I often disguise my wonder because I am embarrassed of it. I want to act
naive when I am in a state of wonder (or reverie) and when I am not in a
state of wonderment I wish to show off my smarts, but it is hard. It is
hard to show an entire self. While visiting my friend Melvin in Santa Fe
he mentioned Duchamp and I know almost everything about Duchamp but I
said almost nothing. I must have said something about his expansion of
the term "art" through his readymades and through The Large
Glass. But I said nothing about the notes. The notes of Duchamp are what
really turn me on. The idea that notation could be art is so fabulous to
me, but I said nothing to Melvin. Perhaps I was embarrassed, perhaps I
felt that he wanted a shorter answer; an answer that could have been the
answer to a standardized test (i.e., Duchamp was...). It is so difficult
to know when someone wants to know the confusing truth of a subject and
when they want the simple test answer. I understood Kant until I read him,
now I can say almost nothing. I would probably concentrate on one of his
more obscure ideas. I couldn't give a synopsis of Joyce though I have
read everything he wrote and much of what he read. When we go deep into
a subject we find that we cannot tell it out, we cannot name the theme.
After a few months we perhaps can say what the main idea of it is. Perhaps
we can never tell out the main idea of something after we really know it.
We need time, as people, to let all of the unnecessary aspects of a
subject fall away.
I wonder what the first synonym was? When did it come to pass that we
needed two words for the same thing? I suppose that synonyms are not
equal, but subtly different. Ohh, when did we get such subtlety in
"Take what you have gathered from coincidence." Bob Dylan.
"My intellectual heroes are people like Nietzsche, who think that
many things happen for no particular reason. But once they happen you
can use them for your own purposes. And if you use them successfully,
you have given them a reason." Alexander Nehamas. I hope that
this essay, without any connection by the author, makes sense. Or do
I need to say something afterwards? Do I need to add myself?
When is the best time to hear new music? When is the best time to listen
to music that challenges everything that we trust? I suppose that the real
question is: when can we best handle a shock to our aesthetic set of
(Whenever we enter an educational situation
either as a student or a teacher
we must think about the role and importance
of education in our lives.)
How to test a teacher:
For the first assignment
do something very odd,
integrate and work hard on it --
hand in a long poem or a large art piece,
make sure that it demonstrates
that you have thought a long time
about the material --
if they think about the piece
and accept it
they want to teach you --
if they reject it
they want to mold you.
The best teachers
stand up and say:
"No, I will not let
love of things
When a student is a couple of weeks into a class she must decide how she
wants to operate in the class, she can:
i) Decide to do really well in the class because either
a)She knows that the subject of the class is important and interesting
b)She has a need to do well in all things.
ii) Decide to go to class, but not really be engaged with the subject
matter -- thus, almost auditing the class.
ii) Decide that the class is being poorly taught and therefore the grade
in the class is not important, but that the subject matter is, and
therefore she goes out on her own and attempts to find what is beautiful
and existentially relevant in the class, perhaps she finds the poem at
the center of the subject.
Either the hoops
which a student must jump through
must be made explicit
that the student
will create her own hoops
must be made explicit.
An ethical question:
I know a quotation of Jean Genet's from the back of a Patti Smith album.
Is it wrong for me to say, "Jean Genet said, 'X'" or "There's
this quote of Genet's that really goes along with what you're saying."?
Or should I say, "I read this quote of Jean Genet's on the back of a
Patti Smith album."?
Related: Is listening to a tape-book grounds for saying that you have
something to say about that book? Is reading the cliff-notes of a book
grounds for saying that you have something to say about that book? Is
hearing a lecture on a book grounds for talking about that book?
Or: Does it matter where we get information?
Since knowledge of a book or subject always seems incomplete it seems that
anywhere we can get knowledge is fine as long as we don't pretend to know
everything about that book or subject.
I am 21. I'd like to write about being stoned -- I'd like to write
about it in a semi-intellectual way -- I'd like to write about
how being stoned changes my wants and views and my general outlook on life.
I wonder if there is anyway to do this without sounding cheesy or flaky.
I wonder if there is a way to write this in an intellectual way from the
first person perspective, or must we rely on others to tell us how we have
changed when we are stoned.
Do not add up ::