Fresh out of writing class, or the mentored group that has morphed out of that class, my mind going this way and that, forming complete sentences, and good ones, it seems, about really cool, deep, voiceful stuff.
I bagged up the cookies cooled on the counter, gave my daughter a back rub and saw her off to bed, took the dog out for his pee, checked for familiar constellations, came in and turned off lights and the gas fire. I had to get to bed in case of an early sub job. Looking forward to my writing time, thinking it would be easy. I plugged my laptop in by the bed in anticipation of the flow that was soon to occur. No hurry, though–first the evening ritual: pull on p.j.’s, brush teeth, unclip earrings, do a few sets of free weights and lunges.
But dang it if it isn’t difficult again. Time for the rubber to hit the road, as my friend J.B. used to say. I feel my relaxed muscles, the warm sheets, the satisfied, contentment of a day of getting things long on my list finally done. The final coat of finish on the dismantled chairs, the car tabs replaced, the grout ordered, phone calls placed, son’s college paperwork attended to.An uneventful sub job the day before in high school biology.
Time to exert will power, and start putting words on the page, one by one. Starting in the next paragraph.
I just finished listening to Darwin’s Voyage of the Beagle on audio. I enjoyed the precision of language in which he described each organism and geological feature, and found it interesting to hear about his assessment of the levels of civilization and moral development of the various peoples he encountered, from Christianized natives living in prosperous, pleasant villages to naked, hardscrabble tribes fishing from primitive dugouts and on the southern coast of South America, exhibiting no signs of artistic or civilized life. There was a measure of scientific objectivity about these descriptions, and also flashes of cultural bigotry. For example, he recounted the story of an old escaped slave woman who threw herself off a cliff in the face of recapture, and declared that. If she had been a Greek noblewoman, she would have been a tragic heroine, but in a black slave he saw it as stubborn willfulness. I’m not using quite the words he did, but that was the idea. But really, most of his observations about people were insightful, granted that he valued strength, honesty, self control, faithful monogamy, modesty (in women), hospitality, industry and temperance. He often compared the naturalized Europeans to the natives they had subjugated and/or converted, and found the natives superior.
But toward the end my mind drifted off the scientific and anthropological content and simply marveled at Darwin’s diction. I was thinking I could buy a copy of the book, highlight all the language not specifically about the topic and reuse it with new topic, to try the effect. Deft linking of clauses, no subtitles or dumbing down, so un-Neil Young.
My other reading is from a complete other dimension–poems collected by Robert Bly in a volume called The Winged Energy of Delight, and as I am an inarticulate ignoramus when it comes to literary commentary, I can only say, inner jaw-dropping amazing. So accessible and evocative. Check this out:
Tomas Tranströmer – from “April and Silence”
I am carried inside
my own shadow like a violin
in its black case.
The only thing I want to say
hovers just out of reach
like the family silver
at the pawnbroker’s.
Kabir- from “Think While You are Alive”
The idea that the soul will join with the ecstatic
just because the body is rotten–
that is all fantasy.
What is found now is found then.
If you find nothing now,
you will simply end up with an apartment in the city of Death.
And to think, what I said, you know, at the beginning of this, that I thought I had something coolto say.