Not more deep, more shallow. You take what you can. Monday morning: pot of coffee. It's a dead kid who rats on another kid. New media schizophrenia. Dear cloud free from moral guilt. Pigeons. Sometimes I walk down the street and something happens, or nothing happens. No parents no rules. March 23, 1987, game three: Bird drives the lane & Bill Laimbeer lays his ass down. Five dollar pitchers of Blatz; Sam Cooke on the jukebox. A door leads to a door leads to another door. Deepinsnow. Living in a city. Eepinnow. To live in a city. I get good advice from the advertising world. For example: this & this & this. An obsession w/the morning news. Ten cent wing night. He do the policemen in different voices. Rust Belt restlessness. Post-industrial Michigan. Telling the same story over & over. Can’t slow down. Won’t stop. This doesn’t explain anything.
June 4, 2008
My mind, I’ve observed, seems to spend a lot of time looking for a chance to doubt, deny or contradict what is presented to it. Maybe as a result, it also used to be ridiculously sensitive to even the faintest odor of sanctimoniousness, hypocrisy, or just poor reasoning in others. While this has all gotten rather better in recent years, in some ways it’s also gotten worse. Such crankiness and lack of insouciance doesn’t come from disillusion exactly, which is what most people think, as much as it comes from a broad feeling of instability, the suspicion that even the most solid structures can be toppled by shadows and the desire to have that fact recognized. Subtleties and gradations that, to me, make real thing actually real, are everywhere daily smothered in the name of intelligibility, and it can make even a happy person sort of irritable and combative.
While its difficult to reliably reconstruct something so embryonic , I suppose I must have sensed early on, in poetry and in writing, a fellow traveler to these experiences of skepticism, mistrust, and general negativity. The affection I have for the artform still has to do with the way it tests the extremes of value reversal, even to the truly futile point of valuing the anti-value. It’s maybe that old love for what reminds us of ourselves: poetry also seems confused to me, also seems unwilling to hold a consistent worldview for very long, and also seems to fluxuate between the belief it has some world-historical importance and the equal certainty it’s irrelevant. I rather like that it can be so elusive and, supposedly, subjective. I like that it can be perverse, obscene, and grotesque, and then suddenly turn all earnest, wondering, and vulnerable.
Recently I was describing to Laura Moriarty how my writing is trying to work its way into some kind of destabilized collapse. She said, “Yeah, right: ‘negative capability’.” But I think I’m thinking of something different from what Keats describes. “When man is capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts without any irritable reaching after fact & reason.” Well, sure, maybe…but I have in mind the way the mind recalls painful moments more sharply than pleasurable ones, or the way stories about stable, successful protagonists bore pretty much everyone. It’s not a matter of developing a capacity for existing in such contradictions, as if you could master and harness those traumas “for the powers of good,” but just that they are. They’re like other beings living among us. You might deny they exist, and avoid them for awhile, but eventually you’re going to walk right into one. I frankly don’t think it’s possible to honestly value destability, change, mystery, or a lot of things people claim to value, and I certainly don’t think our reliance on fact and reason is an irritable quality. It’s more that in poetry, or the kind of poetry I care for, there’s a vivifying act of acknowledgement: the pieces genuinely don’t fit, we’re small & limited, and a terrible amount doesn’t add up. I don’t know exactly how to let such actualities exist within any given poem instead of quashing them, but I think the ability to do so isn’t so much a capability as an act of admission: something is happening here and I don’t know what it is.