|Anne Petty, Sara and Her Dog|
|Cocteau's vision of Stravinsky composing The Rite.|
"Without artists like Stravinsky who compulsively make everything new, our sense of sound would become increasingly narrow. Music would lose its essential uncertainty. Dopamine would cease to flow. As a result, the feeling would be slowly drained out of the notes, the polite drivel of perfectly predictable music. Works like The Rite of Spring jolt us out of this complacency. They keep us literally open-minded. If not for the difficulty of the avant-garde, we would worship nothing but that which we already know."
- Jonah Lehrer in Proust Was a Neuroscientist.
|Fine art by R. Mutt.|
-Tom Wolfe in The Painted Word.
This is Wolfe's epiphany. He finally figured out why he wasn't "getting" Modern Art ... namely because you have to be familiar with the theory behind the painting first. The painting merely illustrates the theory, and is not necessarily meant to be pleasurable, not meant to be whole. It is not the point, but points to the point.
The same can be said of a large swath of modern poetry as well, where the reader/listener feels as if he/she's walked into the room at the end of a rather boring theoretical conversation. Uh, okay?
Here is Wolfe's advice (from the same book, which is a must read) for such encounters, he warns:
"To be against what is new is not to be modern. Not to be modern is to write yourself out of the scene. Not to be in the scene is to be nowhere. No, in an age of avant-gardism the only possible strategy to counter a new style which you detest is to leapfrog it."
|Right brain sandwich left brain sandwich.|
"Perusing all the elements of a vertical row is primarily a right-brain function; following a horizontal line is primarily a left-brain function."
- Leonard Shlain in The Alphabet vs. The Goddess.
- Thomas Merton (in Zen and the Birds of Appetite)
|Roethke cracking up.|
A few quotes from Roethke's book On Poetry and Craft (Copper Canyon Press):
"If a thing fails rhythmically, it's nothing."
"Art is our defense against hysteria and madness."
"Inspiration? The important thing in life is to have the right kind of frustration."
|...that the whole progress of humanity proceeds.|
- Anna Pavlova
|Hugo with imagined bourbon on the rocks.|
|AWP (Where's Waldo Wittgenstein?)|
"I ought to have become a star in the sky ... but instead I've remained stuck on the earth."
You see, Wittgenstein too failed at AWP.
And for those of you who did triumph, congratulations! Lao Tsu says it best:
"Triumph is not beautiful
He who thinks triumph is beautiful
Is one with a will to kill
Conduct your triumph as a funeral"
|AWT 2013 (Boston)|
"Publishing a book of verse is like dropping a rose petal in the Grand Canyon and waiting for the echo."
Coincidentally, AWT (The Association of Writers with Tourettes) will also be having its annual conference next week. This event is sure to include many of the exciting phenomena AWT has become famous for: coprolalia (spontaneous cursing), echolalia (repeating the words of others), and palilalia (repeating one's own words). There will be a veritable epidemic of readers, all of whom will be mostly talking to themselves surrounded by others also mostly talking to themselves. You may find yourself unknowingly involved in one of their readings, as they will be taking place at innumerable restaurants and bars throughout the city. If you find yourself having a relaxing dinner one minute, only to be surrounded by raving lunatics the next, do not panic! While stopping, dropping, and rolling may be effective, quietly removing yourself from the situation is probably best. Do not give them money! as this will only encourage their behavior.
To be sure you won't find yourself in such a situation (or if you are curious to see them in action), we've provided a link to their list of events here: AWT.
At no point in the history of the human race have there been more writers and writing programs in existence than at present. Enjoy the show!
"...the author who attempts to organize space while neglecting time is venturing into a field in which materials and the tools - paint, canvas, stone, metal, wood, and camera lens - are more effective than language. He is working in two or three dimensions instead of four and is thus evading what seems to me a more difficult challenge and a greater opportunity for innovation."
This is Malcom Cowley's (one of Malcom Cowley's) attacks on the avant-garde, and specifically Robbe-Grillet's idea of the "new novel" and Andy Warhol's a in Cowley's essay A Defense of Storytelling.
It seems to me that he has a point, though a decidedly conservative one - for after all, a writer must be able to write whatever a writer wants to write, right?
But it's true, one must admit, that one advantage writing has over, say, painting, sculpture, music even, is time. The writer has the ability to lead the reader through maze after maze, the seeing forest and the hearing field, across the street and up the stairs, to open the door, to enter the room, to walk over to the window, to open the window, to step out onto the ledge, to look down, to sigh, and then, perhaps, to go back in or to jump or to fly.