There Is More to Life Than Being Right – (notes on not writing #2)

Everyone wants to be right and it’s the most important thing in the world. It feels exciting and invigorating. But this hardly resonates.

To be right, has a temporary glow… but also, to be right… sucks. It sucks the life out of everything. The way we are treating it now. It’s rigid and, the way we’re treating it now, unintelligent.

To be right has become the most banal aspect of contemporary existence.

Writing is more difficult than ever. And also easier. Because of the culture of RIGHT.

It’s enough to make you feel done with language, with writing. To give up everything. To just give up. Because to write, to use your words – this involves taking a position. Do I need to be right, to write? Because there is more to life than being the one who is right.

We’re dealing with an actual and deliberate detachment from reality. Because as much as we propose to speak truth, truth is not only what we are speaking at any given time. We’d like to believe that it is, but truth changes as quickly as we figure it out.

What is truth? You can’t only be right and also have the truth. It’s impossible. Truth is filtered through the material world, but it can not be caught by you. Truth is a phenomenon created by the sum total of an infinite multitude of ideas and perspectives. Truth is a multitude.

And this is why we need poetry.

Poetry calls us to remind ourselves how foolish we are in being so right. In pretending to have all the answers. In our righteousness against the assholes.

Because there is no right answer in poetry. There is no “figuring it out” once and for all. No one single truth or perspective. And there isn’t supposed to be. Because this would not be possible, and it would not even reflect all that art is capable of – nor all that we are capable of. Art can understand us even beyond ourselves, because art is perspicacious. Because art is a universe, within universes. Because art reflects reality as this complex multitude beyond one single ego — one single ego whose tragic flaws art is also sure to reveal, so that nobody can be a God (but perhaps, merely part of the god we envision).

The “one single ego” of the artist or the writer – that’s just a personality. The artist, or one who creates, serves as a medium for an aspect of truth. Like all beings — except that the artist occupies oneself with this phenomenon specifically. But this doesn’t mean that the artist is supposed to be right either. To be so right and so perfect, even so irrefutable — that would be the creation, ultimately, of something stagnant. And what would be the point of that? To end ourselves?

…What is the actual end game of RIGHT?

We don’t need to be right, much as we act as if. And artists don’t need to be right to create, nor writers – especially not to write poetry which neither needs nor strives to be right — it just needs to show. And this is why we won’t give up. Craft will continue to excel at creating more questions, than answers. There’s people out there who really wish we would, just give it up. We all know them. And we can’t help but disappoint them. Truly. And this is okay. In fact whatever we do, it will disappoint someone. And that’s marvelous.

This is the reason it is worth it to keep going. Not to make more points. Not to be more right than they are. But to imagine. All of what is possible. And in doing so, we will not please all. If we existed only to please, then nothing original would ever get made or done. Because so often, what is original begins by embodying what is not-right.

And as for the whole? Not just the artists. The “everyone”? There is the idea that if we compromised on everything so readily, then nothing would ever change. And we could not dare to hope for a better world.

But this does not mean we are the god of intelligence. Is our opinion seriously, honestly, the highest intelligence possible? Does our opinion represent the highest world order? Please.

We’ll do better, in today’s climate, to celebrate how wrong we can be.





Two Words, Two Worlds

prac-ti-cal (adj.)

*of or concerned with the actual doing or use of something rather than with theories and ideas.

*relating to experience, real situations, or actions rather than ideas or imagination.

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im-ag-i-nat-tive (adj.)

*new, original, and smart.

*good at thinking of new, original, and clever ideas.

————————

prac-ti-cal-i-ty (noun)

*the quality of being adapted or designed for actual use; usefulness or convenience

*the quality or fact of relating to actual activity, especially ordinary or everyday activity

*a detail or consideration involved in putting something into action

———————


imag-i-na-tion (noun)

*the act or power of forming a mental image of something not present to the senses or never before wholly perceived in reality

*ability to confront and deal with a problem; resourcefulness

*the thinking or active mind

*And the André Breton quote, aptly quoted in Barbara Guest’s Forces of Imagination. “To imagine is to see.”

———————-

Writ-ing

*the activity or skill of marking coherent words on paper and composing text

*the act or art of forming visible letters or characters specifically

*doing whatever you want





Two Visions

To create something of this time, speaks to the now. And may realize impact now. But with no guarantee of a future.

To create something ahead of its time, could only realize that level of impact later. And may not have significant influence now, nor enjoy full appreciation now. But its value may increase beyond expectation – later.

Nobody really knows exactly what later will look like. Nobody really knows the values of the future.

But the now has its flaws, and the future is more likely to admit it. The future’s success lies in the inevitable incompleteness of the now.

And the success in the now, is in that which is concerned with yesterday’s weaknesses.


Bad Writing

I rarely used to write as candidly as I’ve done on certain recent occasions. Breaking the rules of what I’ve felt would be a better thing to write. A more worthy thing. Not sure how long it will last. I’ve felt the impulse waning, and the writing shifts into other topics. But that’s partly a diversion from my tolerance level for my own stories, which aren’t always so comfortable. But – I’m a little bit of the mind that one’s own story is the most (perhaps the only) quasi-honest thing that they’ll ever have to offer. Writing involves persona, but a persona does have roots.

When venturing into the darker places, I’ve thought “am I making myself look bad?” Aside from the heart-to-heart with close friends, I would try to be more enjoyable than what is real, in real life. Try to avoid subjecting people to actual reality. It’s the polite thing to do, right? But this is a blog. On the internet people have a choice to tune you in or turn you off, or just turn your page to a better day. A more productive, enlightened, insightful, less self-indulgent, more palatable day.

I’m inclined to get personal because I’ve wanted to see more of it around and the brand of “truth” that it offers. And because people like to say things in life aren’t personal, even though sometimes they damn well are. And because some like to say that you shouldn’t write about the personal, and especially that you shouldn’t blog about the personal. Why not? I do it because I don’t want to be a vegetable. Because I am not an emotional zombie. Because nobody is.

Nobody is any of these things, and yet with current trends of cancel culture, conspiracy violence, and a revolving door of media-corrupted and debased relationships underscored by apps treating people as a pizza to be ordered, a mounting loss of respect for basic humanity is upon us. To write the personal is, in a way, to stand for humanity.

It seems tragic to have to remind ourselves that humanity itself is intrinsically worth something. And that it deserves respect on this basis alone. And that humanity is why we are doing what we are doing — everything we do. Because of love. Because of need. Humanity is everything to us in fact — even when we forget this. And we were not put on this earth merely to exist as an extension of somebody else’s agenda, or for whatever our value is or isn’t to them.

So how can the personal be so offensive? Does it seem too… feminine maybe? Too low? Too self-important, unless you’re a celebrity whose stories are automatically more valid than yours because they are rich and famous and you aren’t? And so everyone wants to hear their story, but only for the tabloids to take them down later also? For their humanity. Or is the personal just too real, as if we are not even grown up enough to handle that? What exactly do we need to reject about it? Don’t write about yourself, we’re told. Don’t talk about yourself. Why not?

We have stories. Why not tell them? What exactly is so offensive about a first-person narrative now? Is it really that much more “selfish” than anything else? Or is it just that it doesn’t sell as well as a how-to? Is it less practical and functional? Is it less… “good business”? Maybe even less…. bullshit? Does everything have to be monetized to have any kind of value? Does human experience have no value? Are our most unusual personal narratives “crazy”? Obviously that’s all total nonsense. Yes I said obviously. Let’s stop playing dumb because we can do better than this.

To understand humanity one has to get personal. To piece together a complete picture of history, even, we study people’s letters and diaries. Women’s history would hardly even exist without such accounts. Without the surviving poetry of World War I and II veterans, that entire front-line perspective of the very real horrors and consequence and the human cost of those wars would be missing. What about works like Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass? We’d just never know. All the history we’d have then is “big history.” Only life’s biggest winners — the most powerful and influential. And grossly incomplete. The personal does have its place — even in the most important research.

Everyone has their take on what’s going on in the world. Everyone has their take on what’s going on with another person, with groups. To write the personal is almost more responsible, because one presumes only to know oneself. Of course we do not really know others, much as we like to think so. We can only theorize. Yet if you write yourself and pretend that the writing is of others — of characters or even real players — it would seem more respectable to forge that little white lie.

Shouldn’t we pretend to be “above it all” to help our career and reputation? I struggle with my own cowardice too. To write the personal is to actually share. To allow oneself to be seen, beyond hiding behind signifiers that would elevate our status. But to write the personal is also to subject oneself to something as fraught and complex as the ideology of our own existence. And as fraught and complex as the admission of ourselves as sensory and emotional beings. Sensitive beings. Souls, even. In doing this, our stories propel us all into bridging the gaps of our differences. Enabling myths to be dispelled and theories to evolve and opinions to expand. Is this why the personal can seem so offensive in theory? Is it too demanding to step into another person’s experience, or even to dive more deeply into our own? The personal can be as antagonistic to core beliefs, as much as it can be seductive for its intimacy. Does its seductive quality make it too easy?

In the darker times I’ve had the thought, would I be writing like this if I were happier? Perhaps no. But I would still be writing something if I were happier. So do I just pretend this current reality of my humanity doesn’t exist? What good will that do? Convince or encourage more people to sit alone on the couch by themselves crying in their own worst moments, thinking no one understands and fearing what will happen if anyone discovers their grotesque vulnerability? That’s no great service either. Will I ever be happy again? I assume so or can only hope. For now, I will at least do something with whatever is going on in the moment. What could I give, as an artist, more than these diverse momentary truths of my existence?

To worry so much about saving face is to never be free. And, I would argue, to worry so much about saving face is to limit what you have to give. To worry too much about saving face — maybe that’s the true self-serving disease.


The Real Future

The present isn’t female. The future isn’t female. The present is just the present and that’s a lot of things. The present is black white brown and all the genders and religions and cultures and professions and all of whatever else we are seeing.

The present is simply what we see right now. The future is just human. The future is tired of fighting. The very literal future is beyond hate. Beyond division. Beyond identity, even. The future is human.

The future is beyond having to even see at all.


Observation #1



Fear is the fuel of judgment. And judgment is not exactly perception. Do it anyway. But first, there’s the mirror.

Who is it? Is it real? Is it true? Where does this mind come from?

We like to say, it’s not personal. Don’t go thinking everything is so personal. But also. Everything is personal. Everything.