Monday, February 9, 2009

Rumour has it...

Dear all who read this blog and know that my mission is to commit acts of poetry (sometimes maudlin), lo and behold my latest creation. Starship, you can take me back now as I have accomplished my mission.


I don’t know where I went

in that blue night,

I walked an uneasy road

and found some scattered seeds,

I gathered up and took to bed.

They grew wild

in my sleep,

spread rumours of flowers

in the morning breeze.

Best Descriptions of Bad Acting

I spoke to the walking wounded in my home town on Sunday and he used a rather original metaphor to describe the overwrought quality particular to the writing of many Indian hacks. "Like child actors in Hindi films, always over-acting." This made me laugh a great deal because its one of those images that makes sense immediately. 
There is much joy to be taken in particularly bad acting--I feel great awe that I'm being allowed a special glimpse into the construction of a persona, the struggle to assemble it and the spectacular ways in which it can fail. I like being able to identify the inauthenticities in the expressions of a truly bad actor because then it increases your appreciation for the actor who is accomplished and nuanced.
I want to take the chance here to include a brilliant description of particularly bad acting by Nancy Franklin, who recently reviewed a television series called 'The Beast' for The New Yorker. She says of the actor Travis Fimmel: "His expressions are those of a person whose face itches but whose hands are tied, and all he can do is twitch until the feeling goes away."

The Holding Space of Words Set To Meter

Kim Addonizio's poetic voice moves me. This is a woman who writes like she has been singed by hell's fires and then immediately dipped in  cool waters--she writes with the kind of balance only a woman who is well aware of Newton's Third Law of Propulsion. You know the one? Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. So Ms Addonizio writes with the fervour of someone who has known the equal and opposite sides of luck, like somebody whose pain breaks inside her every so often like beads from some torn string and reassembles mysteriously once again.  This poem is one of my favourites:

The Numbers

How many nights have I lain here like this, feverish with plans, 

with fears, with the last sentence someone spoke, still trying to finish 

a conversation already over? How many nights were wasted

in not sleeping, how many in sleep—I don’t know

how many hungers there are, how much radiance or salt, how

many times

the world breaks apart, disintegrates to nothing and starts up again

in the course of an ordinary hour. I don’t know how God can bear

seeing everything at once: the falling bodies, the monuments and


the lovers pacing the floors of how many locked hearts. I want

to close

my eyes and find a quiet field in fog, a few sheep moving toward

a fence.

I want to count them, I want them to end. I don’t want to wonder

how many people are sitting in restaurants about to close down,

which of them will wander the sidewalks all night

while the pies revolve in the refrigerated dark. How many days

are left of my life, how much does it matter if I manage to say

one true thing about it—how often have I tried, how often

failed and fallen into depression? The field is wet, each grassblade

gleaming with its own particularity, even here, so that I can’t help

asking again, the white sky filling with footprints, bricks,

with mutterings over rosaries, with hands that pass over flames

before covering the eyes. I’m tired, I want to rest now.

I want to kiss the body of my lover, the one mouth, the simple


without a shadow. Let me go. How many prayers

are there tonight, how many of us must stay awake and listen?

Cultivating Solitude

You need a lot of discipline to cultivate solitude. To plant the seeds of it, you need not to watch TV, you need not to blog or send out too many texts or check your facebook account or update it. 
You need to find some time where you are alone and you are not reaching out to anybody or anything. You can be an observer and not really report it to anybody. I kind of did it on Friday night and most of Saturday and the results were interesting. I find it made me calmer, it balanced my approach to things and has now rendered me annoyingly self congratulatory.
I was inspired by an essay in The Chronicle of Higher Education by William Deresiewicz, who says that the contemporary self is most scared of anonymity. His theory is very sound--he says our need to be connected is also the need to be visible.  So when we post our photographs on facebook or when I write on this blog, it validates me. In his words:
"This is the quality that validates us, this is how we become real to ourselves — by being seen by others. The great contemporary terror is anonymity. If Lionel Trilling was right, if the property that grounded the self, in Romanticism, was sincerity, and in modernism it was authenticity, then in postmodernism it is visibility"
I recommend reading the article in its entirety but what was particularly valuable to me was this concluding paragraph:
"A constant stream of mediated contact, virtual, notional, or simulated, keeps us wired in to the electronic hive — though contact, or at least two-way contact, seems increasingly beside the point. The goal now, it seems, is simply to become known, to turn oneself into a sort of miniature celebrity. How many friends do I have on Facebook? How many people are reading my blog? How many Google hits does my name generate? Visibility secures our self-esteem, becoming a substitute, twice removed, for genuine connection. Not long ago, it was easy to feel lonely. Now, it is impossible to be alone."