It’s been a month since I posted anything, I haven’t been writing for anyone for the past several weeks. My keyboard and my sense of what was appropriate to express broke at the same moment the world did. I’m slowly clambering up the muddy bank, although I really dislike the new keyboard with its bizarre keypads and health warnings. The world, I fear, is not going to clamber up that quickly. I didn’t know what to say – I still don’t – because any complicated statement is erased, drowned under questions and arguments. The right has an organizing principle – money. The rest – break apart at a touch. No “gross congealment” there. All I can say is that the idea of counting bodies to ascertain the winner should be outmoded by now. We discuss AI replacing our minds – we don’t discuss anything replacing our warlike violence, murderous hateful catastrophic impulses. AI and war – both more about money than justice. Or growth. Or anything that resembles what most humans want.
I just read an essay by Anne Boyer on teaching and the lyrical essay. As she says, “Its gross congealment of two messy, non-parallel terms is reason enough to stay away…” Nothing lyrical about congealment, though the phrase has what I have come to recognize as the desperate roping together of words to incite feeling, whatever that feeling might be. Feel! Cries the poet, in tears because no one does like feeling, or do they? I came to the essay after reading that she had resigned her post as poetry editor for the NYT magazine. As I am stumbling my way through an MFA, a quest for knowledge drove me to find out who this person was/is. I re-read the essay and two of her poems and again came back to my questioning of what I am going and why and its worth and whether people are as useful to the enterprise as one might think or hope. Spell check changed stumbling to screwing. Hardly. Screwing up, maybe. I’ve already had someone laughingly say that I was dabbling in poetry. You know what Freud said. Or maybe not. None of my classmates knew who Freud was.
On a metaphorical, and on to less of a global crises mode – people use each other to make points then they or the other bang right up against ignorance, prejudice, and competition. I do not see what making points against another has to do with art at all. But when I watch a painting being auctioned off – You Tube – truly a way of breaking one’s consciousness or expanding it – a drug of a weird sort – anyway, auctioning off a painting for 121 million dollars, the slightly steamy, moisturized smile of the auctioneer, a man clearly used to making the super wealthy feel their presence is both needed and justified – he grins delightedly at the nervous bank of children – yes – children – boys and girls in their 20s, holding on to their phones, headsets, covering their mouths, while in some distant room, a person decides whether they can – spare – 121 million dollars for an important piece of paint on canvas.
The poetry editor resigned. Not over this, but over one of the other symptoms. Her letter said there would be a “poetry-shaped hole.” One can only hope.
I flatter myself that I appreciate the meaning of resignation, having done it myself, not too long ago. I removed myself from a place where the daily mindset had become so toxic I literally had stopped being able to eat. They enjoyed mocking my expressions as I listened to them plan to fire people. I was not lauded for my stance. Some people understood. Others did not. I was protesting a daily firing squad on my fellow workers. But so below so above, might be said. We’re grown inured to making others suffer in order to obtain power and to be first in line for the sale.
Unlike me, a man like the auctioneer, or the poetry editor, might be said to be at the top of their game. I remember reading something as a teenager, all philosophy and confusion. It was by Vonnegut, I think. Someone, anyway. They said that life was a game.
That seemed horrible. Still seems horrible.