Saturday, October 8, 2016

On My Slow Output

Either because I read Myles’ Inferno two days ago or watched a clip from Muench’s Where a Blade Becomes Horizon or because Daviel Shy’s Lady’s Almanac was playing at the MCA, I was thinking about things reaching completion.

We, Vicky and I, have this deadline—I don't even know what day it is—to finish and screen our horror movie, or our zine creep feature, a 10min whatever that turned out well last year, and could it this year?

I was just thinking, it’s been done; it can be done again.

And how I wrote some pretty good paragraphs when I was 25, and how the confidence to do so six years later has left me. And how that makes me frantically write in pocket notebooks. And will I be doomed to be a pocket notebook man? And is that so bad?

Or as Gore Vidal once asked a friend who feared the answer: “And what is wrong with [being] a second-rate writer?”

My bedtime reading is: Life on the Mississippi, Swann’s Way, Geography of the Imagination, I Must be Living Twice, Pan, Supplication, and Simone Weil, a biography. These put me right to sleep. (I may die before I finish any of them.) Though if it’s the poems, I feel like I’ve really done something, knocked out those poems, and then I can snooze.

Why am I telling you this? Because I have a hard time getting into bed and just admitting that the day is over, that there is no more to be done. No planning, no grading, no drinking, no eating, no journals, no texts, no more any sort of tasks that I can start.

To the reading list, Guy Davenport’s Geography of the Imagination. Davenport is always ready to explain how someone’s little sister or dad is more interesting than their more famous sibling or kid, and so it is with Yeats, whose father, I learn, was a great conversationalist, seemed to make a living out of it. Anyhow, I’m only recalling the first para, which has been in my head for a week, and is about Ireland in the early 1900s, not really about Yeats at all.

He begins—
“Of time, the tyrant and obsession of the rest of the world, the Irish know nothing and care less. Dublin, a city for 1500 years, has never gotten around to building a cathedral.”

Sometimes I wonder if I were Irish and not American if I would have a better handle on things and fall asleep at a decent hour.

Also this band Martha, from England. I read about them in Razorcake when I was looking for new music. They were highly reviewed, on every other person’s top five, it seemed. Namely Blisters in the Pit of My Heart, their new album, which is very good but also way too catchy and sweet to the point that it feels like self-indulgence, like being drunk and hearing the Replacements and because of that getting all nostalgic and wanting another drink when what I really need to do is have some water, get up early and take a bike ride or do something healthy, not drown in wine like a fly or try to conduct some disingenuous lonesomeness out of thin air.  

And so the second to last song on Martha’s album is called “Do Nothing,” a slow burner that takes off in the final two minutes with this end-of-the-album philosophical turn that I would guess is the reason people love Springsteen. That verse goes like this, in a sort of Ted Leo-ish romp (“Timorous Me”),

Years ago sat by the road, / Waiting for the van to tow us home, / I was cursing my old car,  / And you were looking at the stars and you said, / 'Everything is infinite but nothing is eternal' / 'Na├»ve romantic shite' I thought until I wrote it in my journal."

So anyhow, “Everything is infinite but nothing is eternal,” that’s really good as a maxim, but I get lost in maxims and pretty soon its all maxim and tattoos but no healthy breakfasts and good habits. What I’m wondering is, will Vicky and I finish this thing? Will it be fun? Which horror movies will we lift from? And will I finally heed that great warning that Marquez slipped into one of his early short stories, “Divers die of nostalgia”?


The fresh school year is here, all is possible.