Friday, January 23, 2009

On Reading and Writing

I seem to write well when I read a lot. This creates all kinds of problems.

First, if that's what lies at the base of my writing, where's the originality? Where's the creativity? (Possible answer: all creativity works by insightful juxtaposition of elements. See, for example, Conway's Game of Life. Beauty (or, if you like, complexity) emerging from simple rules and simpler elements.)

Second, I am bound to the enxiety of influence. I read a little about this phenomenon on the internet. Then I downloaded someone's Ph.D. thesis on catharsis, kairosis and some other Greek word that escapes me. It was supposed to illuminate the anxiety of influence, but I didn't finish it. The point I took form all that: the young artist must symbolically slay his influences. How psychically violent. I guess no more reciting Rilke or Ginsberg from memory. It's hard for me to get angry at these guys (though I recently learned that Rilke was, like so many idiot poets of his time, sympathetic to Mussolini. So that makes that easier.) Ginsberg, as we all know, was a big supporter of NAMBLA. I'm beginning to suspect my Apollonian tendencies are stronger than these guys' were. (Although one could make a decent argument that support for Fascism is kind of the ultimate manifestation of the Apollonian spirit.)

Anyway, to make this short: I can't seem to clearly differentiate myself form my influences. And another ham-fisted attempt to break that constraint by reading something crazy like Rabelais Quine or Sumerian creation myths won't really work.

Third, inspiration yields too many words. I get attached to that wonderful flow feeling and drop much of the rest of life. I really need to cut down on words. I've breathed words for a long time. It's time to start breathing cadence. It's time to start breathing themes, and fugues of themes. It's time to experiment with craft (the icky matter of presenting stuff in psychologically translatable terms). It's time to look around. Time to sublimate what I see, but humbly. Time to wait patiently for the gentle trembling of insatiable need to put something down in words. until then, it's all music: all Chopin and Bach and Beethoven. It's time to enlarge the soul before putting it to work. Enlarge the "soul" first. Take a few more years. Then begin your actual task.

Consider: "The point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer."