“I pretended to sleep on the bus when I was a kid. I wanted to see where the bus went. I always got off at the same stop and I didn’t know where it went. I wanted to know where it went. And so I opened my eyes like, ‘Oh, no, I missed it. What do I do now?’ And there wasn’t anything. It was all the same, streets and stores and apartments. I stared out the window as we went north. And then it was only apartment buildings, wide avenues and then empty fields. I did the same thing on the subway. I went to the end of the line and collected a transfer from every station.” He stared into the water as if he could see his small hands clutching bits of colored paper.
Various aesthetic theories maintain that poetry is a matter of inspiration descending from I know not what lofty place…something intuitive, immediate, authentic and all-embracing that springs up who knows how. But in these theories there always remained a void: how does one arrive at the written page? Just as we already have machines that can read, machines that can perform linguistic analysis of literary texts, machine that make translations and summaries, will we also have machines capable of poems and novels? The true literature machine will be one that itself feels the need to produce disorder, as a reaction against its preceding production of order: a machine that will produce avant-garde work to free its circuits when they are choked by too long a production of classicism.*
(*From Italo Calvino’s Cybernetics and Ghosts)
Sometimes in the recording of a bald sexual incident great significance adheres. Sometimes the sexual becomes a writhing. Sometimes it is a fresco hidden in a sacred cave where one may sit and contemplate on things of the spirit. There is nothing I can possible prohibit myself from doing in the realm of sex. It is a world unto itself and a morsel of it may be just as destructive as a ton of it. It is a cold fire which burns in us like the sun. It is never dead.*
(From Arthur Miller’s On Writing.)
An outtake from Anori, the first book in my science fiction trilogy:
The glacier rumbled behind, a low deep shift of ice and snow, and then another rumble after that, further away. She watched the smoke and steam from the launch, the rocket nosing out of the valley, the bright ball spitting out beneath, arching up steadily in a thundering blur.
She wondered how she had come to this ridiculous moment, collecting creatures, ready for the next disaster, or pretending that this was so, that there wasn’t a cloth hanging down disguising the true intent, their responsibility for this, their predicament in this self-made trap and looked down at a cluster of pink and purple flowers in the shape of a one-armed girl, her chest thrust forward like she was being pulled to heaven.
Words float through: Empty. Death. Grasping. The camera drifts underwater, everything a sweeping, swinging visual. Redeem my life. Justify it. That blinded you. I turned you upside down, my son. Longing for something other. There’s isn’t a story, just characters who stand about, some playing handsies. Nobody’s home.
You have to fly. Fly. High up. Everything’s just a…speck.
(Extracts from Knight of Cups in bold italics)
Wallace Stegner’s Angle of Repose, a chronicle of frontierswoman Mary Hallock Foote, offers reflections on how life unfolds:
Time hung unchanging or with no more visible change than a slow reddening of a poison oak leaves, an imperceptible darkening of the golden hills. It dripped like a slow percolation through limestone, so slow that she forgot it between drops. Nevertheless, every drop, indistinguishable from every other, left a little deposit of sensation, experience, feeling. Familiar and unfamiliar swam and blended into a strangeness like dreaming as she saw Howie’s face out of her girlhood against the mountainside of her present life. A wash of confused feelings went over her like wind across a sweating skin, for the identity that Howie took for granted and talked to and reflected back at her was not the identity it used to be, not the one that had signed all her past drawings, not the one she knew herself. That what was it now? She didn’t know.
There’s been much written about Gord Downie as of late, too much to process, moments paraded like possessions. We were there. Yes, we were.But as intense and real as so much of this seems, it’s more a madness, everyone searching, clicking and posting…for what? Looking for a place to happen?
Monday, August 22 @ 10 am:
Monday, August 22 @ noon:
Monday, August 22 @ 3 pm:
Just like that, from being with Mars to being replaced by a fish story. Isn’t anything supposed to stay? Or does it all have to go away?
“Everyone’s a goddamn pervert.” Dee traced her nail along her palm, following the lifeline up to the base of her index finger. “We repress that. We deny it, turn it into porn, the door locked, like it isn’t what we dream. But we all have these tiny demons. They’re our essential thing.” “What about her?” Val nodded toward a woman at the far side of the tavern, her hair pulled back, posture straight.
“Two masseurs, lots of oil.”
Dee considered the man leaving, his pink striped sleeve rolled up one arm. “Squeaky toys.”
Dee wiped her hand through the drink rings, pushing the thick puddles into small lines, making a long claw-like streak. “The thing about men is that they love to stare at their hard cocks, like a rare and marvelous wild thing.”
“They’re like little boys, amazed by that thing between their legs. They can’t fathom anything so stupendous and god-like.”
“Wards off the fear of death.”
“For, like a minute, anyway.”
“Back to the perversions.”
Where am I? Do I just stay here and wait? Where are the signs? Am I supposed to follow everyone else? Or is the next train coming here? Do I go into the terminal? Are the stairs the only way? Where are the bloody signs? Do I go into the terminal? How can I do that if my ticket won’t scan? It can’t be there. Am I really supposed to go all the way back down the stairs? Where are the fucking– On a pillar? The back of a pillar where nobody can see it? Are you serious? It’s impossible to see when the next train– Oh, 7:45. 7:45? And it’s…7:46? Are these trains on time? Is this the stairway? Is that the…? Yes, they run on time. Wonderful. Fucking amazing. Another hour to wait for the next one. Should I even bother? Shouldn’t I just go home? I’ll write it down. That will make it better, get rid of my frustration. Fine, I’ll do that. Where is it? Where’s my fucking pen?!?
To write, you need momentum, you need to keep moving ahead, anything to avoid sitting like a lump, clicking from one stupid thing to another. I promise that I will stop after the next image. Just one more website. One more. But I keep doing it…like a child. Absolutely nothing in my head. Until finally I decide to blog on that very thing, my inertia. And do it. And then get back to actually writing again, a character suddenly stepping in.