/ :: 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 itself.
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 adolescent poem.
    "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 hard-on.
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 language?
"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 ideals?
    (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
    this student's
    love of things
    be harmed."
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
    the hope
    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 :: .