(By which I mean not really, since it's due Tuesday and I will have some time to work on it between now and then, but the plan was to get a first draft done yesterday. Instead I watched 9 episodes of Gilmore Girls -- 7 of them IN A ROW.)
(By which I mean not really, since it's due Tuesday and I will have some time to work on it between now and then, but the plan was to get a first draft done yesterday. Instead I watched 9 episodes of Gilmore Girls -- 7 of them IN A ROW.)
Is poetry ever not relevant? Since before the Bible we have been saying the things that we really mean in poetry. This semester in school I'm reading poetry spanning the years from 1800 BCE to the present and it's hitting me more than ever how important poetry is to our way of life.
This, of course, comes with a caveat. Poetry as a form of expression and a way of exploring society and tension and life is important. This does not mean that every poem is important. It definitely does not mean that it's better to say a thing in poetry. It just means that poetry as an artform is an exceedingly important aspect of modern society in ways that people don't understand. Sure, few people go around carrying copies of Shakespeare or Milton or Whitman or Eliot, but how many people go around carrying iPods jam-packed with songs? Song is just a step up from spoken-word poetry. I don't think people realize that.
I don't always (read: very infrequently) agree with the contemporary conception of poetry in the literary sense. Most of the poems that I read for my poetry workshop course don’t have any emotional impact upon me. I cannot stand the postmodern/contemporary poetic system in which poems can be so obscure. I think that the purpose of the modern poet ought to be to write things that will make the modern audience feel.
In conjunction with that, I have issues with the current ideas about the connection between a poem and its meaning. Many of the poems I’ve been reading in Hejinian’s class are so opaque that you cannot see through them to the meaning--you cannot even feel through them to the meaning. I care less about seeing the obvious meaning of a poem the first time I read it than I do about being able to sense somewhere deep in my gut that this poem has purpose. Poems should not exist to hide meaning, they should exist to present it, in a condensed way that is understood by the subconscious, or by what I more frequently refer to as the gut. I want poetry that makes my stomach shiver. I want poetry that affects the primal sense still left within me, that sense that tends to frighten the modern civilized urbanite. Howl was such an explosion in its time because it got to the guts of these people who were not used to having their guts gotten to and who did not like to think of themselves as still possessing guts, having attempted to trade them in for stock options.
I want poetry for the people. I was thinking earlier about how no one reads poetry any more. Once, it was possible to make a living as a poet. Now? People hardly read any poetry at all, unless it’s in school. People do not turn to poetry for succor; people do not turn to literature of any kind for succor, but that is another, larger problem. I wasn’t there when this happened, so I can’t state with any certainty that it is the case, but it seems to me that when people started withdrawing from poetry, poets started withdrawing from people. And that was the greatest mistake they could make.
Like Wordsworth and Coleridge proclaimed in their introduction to the collection of poetry entitled Lyrical Ballads, published in 1800 (okay, so I'm an English geek, so sue me), we should have a poetry that celebrates the everyday human language by using it. Language should not be about obstruction of meaning, but rather about presentation of meaning. There is no need to use language deliberately intended to make the comprehension of the poem’s eventual goal more difficult. This is not to say that a poem cannot present itself on multiple levels--there are some poems that, when approached intellectually (ex. within a classroom or analytic setting) yield very different levels of content.
To me, it is acceptable for a poem to have no discernible symbolism, or connection to literary or poetic conceits. One does not need to be able to analyze a poem for it to be a good poem. But really--one ought to be able to call it a good poem if one is to spend time analyzing it!
...and that's my poetry rant for the moment.
In other news, the reason that I was on here was to post my favorite stupidity of the day. I just received my official election guide in the mail, and was idly browsing the arguments for and against certain propositions (okay, I'll admit it, I turned straight to the "controversial" ones, mostly for the purpose of seeing what the other side was saying and then laughing/pointing/screaming in outrage at their idiocy). But for me, nothing quite beats the title of one of the authors in support of Proposition 8: Jeralee Smith, Director of Education for the California Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays.
Um. Yeah. That's like saying, "Hey, faggot! We wanna be your friends!" Ex-gays and gays? Well isn't it nice that they're being inclusive. Let our ex-gays talk you out of your gay, too. You know, gay is like a country, you can leave whenever you like, like the expatriates. *fumes*
But back to the much more awesome topic of poetry! Not so awesome, because I have to write a paper about it, but still awesome, because it's poetry. Which is kind of what I ought to be doing right now -- working on my paper about Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself." So I'm off to do that.
My roadtrips chill
drink treasures with the sky
capture experience in memories & photo
tread widely lightly sustainably
I am more impressed by the first than by the second. The second is easy to manage in the context of the magnets. The first took a little more ingenuity (and actually was the one I wrote second).
and somehow, without knowing why,
we cannot part and say goodbye
as other smarter strangers might.
Instead, we linger longingly
and circle 'round the empty street
and wonder at how we did meet.
He has no aim of wronging me,
nor have I aim of harming him.
We do not speak, as if by oath
we have been bound to keep our troth
and so we stay in streetlights dim.
Perhaps, had we two passed by day
our meet would not have been sustained,
our full contact indeed contained
in moments as we passed our way.
What chance of fate, what errant thought
has caused this passage in the night?
Shall we two stay here till the light
to wonder -- what have we forgot?
Two strangers on a darkened street
become a new thing in the light,
and we, who bonded in the night,
now face the day as comrades sweet.
(written during my biblical poetry class, while thinking of A Thousand Words for Stranger and the way in which the main characters find each other--a meditation on what it means to be a stranger)
I also volunteered to go first for workshopping, so this may or may not also be the poem that is workshopped in detail by the class. Right now it is not what it should be, but closer to being right than it was before. Also, it does not have a title.
The moment that changes everything
isn't a kiss. You shared one of those years ago, but somehow
you ignored it. When they asked, you lied
and said he was just a friend.
But here in the silence, a simple gesture--the lean of two foreheads together--
It's not flashy--forever appears to be a pretty low-budget affair--
but you don't care. From the way things just lit up, it's a good bet
you don't even notice.
I don't want to see the words that pass
between you, unspoken, no less potent for their silence. I don't belong
in this scene--this simple intimacy more private than sex,
more powerful. But I watch
before turning away, and I know
he's changed your world,
No one is my world. The warmth I feel against my back
is overflow from you--not my own, this leftover creeps
like the scent of cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning,
or the subtle heat of sunrise,
still a long way off.
I love the sparseness of two, and I want something like it in one, which is currently lacking. I feel there ought to be a different voice to one because the speaker will necessarily address the overseen figures differently than she addresses herself, but at the same time I think the divergence between the tones of the two parts is too wide at this moment. So that's one of the things I'm working on.
What's the last thing you wrote?
...It's probably bad that I don't remember. I'm pretty sure that it was from The Printer's Daughter, my as-of-yet unfinished 2007 NaNovel.
Was it any good?
The fact that I can't remember it probably means that it wasn't. I've been planning two random stories that popped into my head, but I haven't really been writing on them (because I'm saving them up so I have options for NaNoWriMo 2008).
What's the first thing you ever wrote that you still have?
When I was four, I wrote a story about the cat who lived next door. His name was Frasier. It was illustrated and took up an entire front side of a piece of lined paper (each letter took up three lines, and there was a space between lines--the whole thing was possibly five sentences long). I spelled the cat's name "Frasher" because that made sense at the time. I still have this piece of paper, tucked away somewhere.
But if this question is more like, "what's the first thing you ever wrote that belonged to the time period when you were serious about being a writer?" then I'd have to admit to having several horrible first drafts of the first book of what was (and still is) intended as a fantasy trilogy, set alternately on Earth and on an earthlike planet called Azuria. These date from the beginning of seventh grade. In fact, I still have the handwritten first copies of those, too (in pencil, from my seventh grade writing portfolio). It was the first time I tried to write something that required worldbuilding and complex characters and was intended (eventually) for publication.
Most definitely. Not as much as I write prose, and probably not as well. My goal with writing poetry is different from my goal with writing prose. Poetry is always much more personal, less about telling a story and more about capturing a specific feeling or atmosphere. My poetry doesn't usually have conflict or characters; it's more about ideas.
Oh yes. Actually, not until recently (because, until recently, I had very little to angst about). Wait, I take that back--somewhere there exists an angsty poem I wrote in eighth grade about the boy I had a crush on then, in which I lamented that he never noticed me as more than a friend.
Most fun character you ever wrote?
Ooh, this is hard. Because it's a very different from asking who my favorite characters I've written are. I can't think of characters that are particularly "fun" to write, although I like Rhinn from my planned trilogy of fantasy novels a lot. Also, Mr. Robinson, a government agent in a sci-fi short story I wrote, is lots of fun because he's fantastically spy-like and knows everything. Also also, Ferdinand (aka Andy) from "The Free Way," because he starts out being so isolated and proper and ends up ruining an expensive Armani suit by frolicking through the garden in the pouring rain.
This is different from "fun," but a character I'm always really thrilled to write is Aleska from a short story called "Fire and Ice," because her view on everything is so unique and she's at such a crossroads in her life, and I love being inside her head as her world shatters and she pulls together the strength to rebuild it (does that sound a little sadistic?). When I wrote her story, everything just seemed so inevitable about it, like the ending was pulling me forward from the moment I started.
Most annoying character you ever wrote?
Charles Macaulay from "Predators and Editors" (even though I don't like the story much at all). My main character's little sister (I think her name's Megan) in the planned fantasy trilogy. Not sure I can think of others specifically.
Best plot you ever wrote?
It's hard for me to like the plots of my novels-in-progress, because they're not done yet. Also, for instance, I really like the plot for The Printer's Daughter, but seeing as how it's a mix between "Beauty and the Beast" and Jane Eyre, I don't feel quite like it's my plot.
I like a lot of my short story plots, but specifically "Fire and Ice" and "The Free Way."
Coolest plot twist you ever wrote?
ZOMG the mysterious master of the manor house is actually a werewolf!
How often do you get writer's block?
Not sure I believe in writer's block, just writer's laziness. But I get that all the time.
How do you fix it?
Do you type or write by hand?
Both. Usually, I plan by hand and write early drafts by hand (occasionally), but most of my final stuff and all of my editing is done on computer.
Do you save everything you write?
Yes, to the extent where my mother has given up asking me to get rid of old notes scribbled on the back of whatever was at hand and just asks me to organize them.
Do you ever go back to an old idea long after you abandoned it?
Very big yes. I'm still planning to someday write the fantasy trilogy that I began to plan out in fifth grade. Granted, I guess I've never abandoned it, but it's been on sabbatical for a long time. I have worked on it occasionally, in bouts of seriousness, but never gotten more than 40,000 words into the first book of the trilogy, with really minimal planning for what happens next. I do have a whole lot of worldbuilding for this place, though, and that more than anything tells me that I'll be coming back. I know too much about how things work on Azuria to abandon it. Also, Holly and Jasen, my main characters, were the first characters I really invested with my whole heart. I can't leave their story untold.
What's your favorite thing that you've written?
Favorite completed thing? "Fire and Ice," no question. Favorite incomplete thing? I have no idea. Since I've been working most seriously with The Printer's Daughter recently, it's close to the top of the list, at least for specific portions which I absolutely adore.
What's everyone else's favorite thing that you've written?
Depends on who you mean by "everyone else." Most people who've read "Fire and Ice" like it, but my dad likes the stories I've written for workshops at Berkeley best, since they're realistic. I don't actually think that "Flour Girl" or "Dead White Women" are all that bad--I surprised myself in writing them and liking them, and I suppose that other people probably like them too.
Do you ever show people your work?
Yes. Frankly, I wish that I had more readers to help me work on things!
Who's your favorite constructive critic?
Depends on the day. Sometimes, it's my dad, because he's not afraid to be honest with me and he holds me to very high standards. But at the same time, sometimes his criticism boils down to "Why did you insert a werewolf into what would have otherwise been a perfectly good real-life story?" and on those days I have to stay away from him, because it hurts still to know that that's what he thinks. The only other person who regularly reads and critiques my work is Rebecca, and she is also very good at keeping me honest. She laughs me out of bad ideas and talks me through the good ones.
Did you ever write a novel?
I don't think I can answer "yes" to this, because while I have begun no fewer than four separate novels, I have yet to complete a single one. I don't think I get to answer "yes" until I have a complete first draft. But I suppose it's not lying to answer "almost."
Have you ever written fantasy, sci-fi, or horror?
Yes, much to my father's shame and my delight.
Ever written romance or teen angsty drama?
The first real original fiction romance that I've written in an prolonged form is The Printer's Daughter, though most of my stories end up having romantic pairings that will work themselves out in the future, even if not during the timeline of the story.
However, long before this I was writing romance fanfiction, because while I am not an insane shipper, I am a shipper nonetheless, and one of the major draws of fanfiction is the ability to construct an alternate or extended saga in which the romance works out the way it's obviously supposed to.
What's one genre you have never written, and probably never will?
Horror. I don't think I'm good enough to write a really smart thriller, and horror seems like a cheaper version of that genre (thriller but without the smarts) and I don't want to write that.
How many writing projects are you working on right now?
Three is probably a safe number. The Printer's Daughter is the big one, but there's also two ideas kicking around in my head and jostling for the spot as my 2008 NaNovel. One's about a normal highschooler who finds out that her best friend's a wizard, and the other is an anti-Twilight manifesto presenting itself as a cross between Rent and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Do you want to write for a living?
Have you ever written something for a magazine or newspaper?
Have you ever won an award for your writing?
Probably? Nothing big enough that I remember.
Ever written something in script or play format?
Yes, for Script Frenzy.
What is your favorite word?
Eloquent, juxtaposition, coalesce
Do you ever write based on yourself?
Yes. I think all of my characters are facets of myself, or mirror images of me--but somehow or other, they start with a part of me, whether it's one that I am in tune with or one that I'm trying to run away from.
Which of your characters most resembles you?
Well, Holly and Jasen were written as splinters of my personality, very deliberately--Holly comes very close to self-insertion. But after her, Noelle is very close.
Where do you get ideas for your characters?
People I know. People I am, or could be, or desperately don't want to be, or wish I was. Anyone I feel some strong emotion for, be it pity or desire or camaraderie or pain.
Do you ever write based on your dreams?
Do you prefer happy endings, sad endings, or cliff-hangers?
I'd rather read a happy ending, or at least a fulfilling one, as long as it fits with the tone of the work. If the happy ending still comes as a result of great sacrifice and pain, I'm okay with it. It's happy endings no one has to work for that piss me off. Same goes for tragic endings that just seem to happen for no particular reason or with no significance. I mostly write happy endings, or at least uplifting ones, but I really admire people who can write sad stories that I keep reading.
Have you ever written anything based on an artwork you've seen?
No, but I have written things based off of music I've listened to.
Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write?
Nope. Even in the editing, I'm rather loose with grammar. I think it should be a reflection of the way a thing is being said or thought or intended, and we rarely think in proper grammar.
Ever write something entirely in chatspeak?
Does music help you write?
No, not really. It usually just distracts me. I only use wordless music when writing, and then only as a way of drowning out something even more distracting (such as people talking loudly).
Are people surprised and confused when they find out you write well?
I like how this question presupposes that people will find out that I write well. I don't think I've surprised anyone with my fiction yet, or if I have, they haven't told me about it. But I have had a string of teachers and professors rather gratifyingly surprised by the quality of my essays.
Quote something you've written.
I don't have access to very much on this computer, but here's a few lines from a freewrite that I am in love with. "He" is Jasen and "she" is Holly (from the long-planned fantasy trilogy):
After the end, they go on. He's still the best friend she's ever had, maybe the only one, and she wouldn't trade that for anything in the world. She knows it in her heart and in her soul. People around her talk about what they'd do for their friends, and she knows she'd do it all and more--she knows that she has done it. She's given her life for him, and though it hasn't been taken, that's only a matter of luck, a simple miracle.
Everyone says it's more than friendship. She brushes that aside as best she can. "What's more than friendship?" she asks the doubters. "What's purer, truer, longer?" Frienship is safe because everything else ends.
Her heart has two settings--"don't care" and "forever"--and it's obvious which one is his. But how she gives it to him is her choice, and so she decides anew every morning, every afternoon, and every night that they're forever friends, and nothing else. There is nothing else that they need.
Rebecca's in a poetry class this semester and they do a lot of interesting and weird and fascinating experiments with poetry as a medium. One of those has to do with "transelations," a word coined by people who translate poetry with the intent of keeping the emotional sense of the original poem even if the metrical or rhythmic sense, or the exact word-for-word translation, is broken from. Rebecca's teacher handed out a bunch of poems in non-English languages (most of them still used roman characters, at least) and had the class write what they thought the poem was -- think of it as multilingual tag-team telephone, only with poetry. Some of the results were crazy, but I've seen it work out pretty well.
So last night neither of us could really get to sleep but it was too late to start a movie and we didn't feel much like reading (there's a first for you) so Rebecca hit on the idea of doing our own transelations. We picked two poems to start with (one originally in Spanish, the other in English) and went at it, swapping with each other when we'd finished the transelation and continuing the process. We ended up with six variations on each individual poem. To give you an idea, here's a string of transelations.
THE YOUNGEST CHILDREN OF AN ANGEL
by Anna Swir
When you kissed me for the first time
we became a couple
of the youngest children of an angel,
which just started
Lapsed into silence in mid-move,
hushed in mid-breath,
to the very blood,
they listen with their bodies
to the sprouting on their shoulder blades
of the first little plume.
When you kissed me for the first time
weeping came -- a few
of the yawning swans of the angels
which -- we swore -- just stared
Laving into el momento de silencio
Hunted in muted breath
two varied bloods
ay -- glistening bodies
Trees sprouting, shuddering
of the tinest flute.
When Euclid came the first time,
Weeping to view
The yawning signs of angles
Inching up stairs,
Leaving nothing of momentum's violence,
Haunted by aching breaths
Of asymptotes lost,
And heavenly bodies
Lines sprout and stutter
So it's a little different when you're working from English into English, but it's still fascinating to see how the poetry shifts from one telling to the next, stealing the sound and sometimes the sentiment of the poem before, but ending up with a radically different meaning. We got from a love poem about angels to a Euclidean appreciation of angles in the space of two transelations.
The best part was that this was the shorter of the two poems we transelated, so one of us always got done before the other. One time this happened and Becca started doodling in the margins, and she drew Mr. Darcy with his famous quote, "She is tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me." When it was my turn, I not only transelated the poem, but also Mr. Darcy's statement, so that it became "She's intolerable, but naughty hands of eunuchs tempt me."
...yeah, it makes me such an extreme geek that this is the most amusing thing that's happened to me in the past week. But it is! If you're as amused by this transelation thing as I am, post a short quote in one of your comments. Then anyone who wants can transelate it. I'm actually really interested to see what this would look like in a forum setting.
I feel like I need to write something profound right now. I just finished my last IB test ever, and I won't think about them until next July when I get the results. It's a glorious day, and I'm sitting in a beam of sunlight that pierces my window, and I'm feeling a breeze on the skin of my arms, and the sun is so bright and at such an angle that I have my eyes closed as I type this, because it would hurt to keep them open. I love days like this.
I think that a problem with my writing is that I feel like it has to have purpose. Why do I worry about this? Purpose is created, to a certain extent, within the reader -- and if there are people willing to read what I have to write, then I should write it. Even if it's just something I want to write, I should write it.
But I'm torn between all of the many different things I could/should write right now. (I should do my math homework, but let's rule out that option for a moment and focus on the really important things.) For the first time in a long time, I feel like writing fanfiction. Also, I have to write a poem for humanities for tomorrow. Also, I need to plan out the characters that will belong to the script I'm going to write in June.
Part of me thinks I should probably just get the poem out of the way. This is a good, logical idea. But I'm not sure if I really want to do it...
I think I will, but just because I need to get back in the habit of poetry. And of freewriting in general.
( Poem )
( X-Files fanfiction in progress... )
We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Headpiece filled with straw...
I dunno, something about the figure's gesture really does strike me as empty. It's movement, sure -- but where to, and where from, and why does it matter to the viewer? Under the scrutiny of such a clear gaze, the figure is frozen, a mere shadow.
This, Lauren, was probably as a direct result of your eye picture. I wanted to try the shading out, so I did it. But then I thought about what it means to have an eye in black and white -- the irony of this great capturer of color being pictured in monochrome. Hence the quote: "The eyes are not here. There are no eyes here." For how can it be an eye if it can't see? It's a hollow eye, providing the user with only a shadow of sight.
The quote for this is, "Here, the eyes are sunlight on a broken column." This takes a bit of explaining, but when Tony and I were studying Hollow Men (and everything else) for IB orals, we came across a site which mentioned that a broken column is a common grave marker in the case of a premature death (http://www.aduni.org/~heather/occs/
The death of a child dying young is mourned because they have not yet had the time to live. The death of the Hollow Men should be mourned for different reasons -- because they had all the time they could have wanted, but they made nothing of it but their own personal Hell, the "desert kingdom" here on Earth.
And that's all the ones I feel like scanning, though I've got one more...but I think I'm going to color it in, just to see what it looks like that way. I'd be afraid of ruining it, but it's not good enough to begin with for me to worry about that.
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.
1. Beauty by Robin McKinley
2. The Coelura by Anne McCaffrey
3. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
4. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
5. An Assembly Such As This by Pamela Aidan
6. Duty and Desire by Pamela Aidan
7. These Three Remain by Pamela Aidan
8. A Wizard Alone by Diane Duane
9. Hamlet by William Shakespeare
10. Cameo Diner by Matt Miller
I feel like I cheated, because the most recent one's a book of poetry that's taken me maybe an hour to read...but it was good, and some of the other books on this list are long, so it makes up for it. Also, a book is a book is a book. I shouldn't discriminate against it for being a book of poetry.
Besides, there were some really good poems in it.
by Matt Miller
I've hoisted gods on my shoulders before
and so you've probably seen them dancing
above the crowd, effortlessly gliding over
the human sea like sweaty kids dumb-faced at
a July parade. I'm big and tall though so it's
really no effort and really gods are actually
quite light, much lighter tha you'd think, bones
like birds I guess, and I apologize if I ever confused
anyone or caused a cult or worse a religion, it's just
that as tall as I am I hoped to see a little further
but male or female, dog or cat, savior or trickster
or whatever combination thereof it was all
a waste of effort since once sprung forth or
pulled out from my squinting brow
and thrown up onto my back, they all turned out
to be blind, every last one of them.
by Matt Miller
And he to me: These miserable ways
The forlorn spirits endure of those who spent
Life without infamy and without praise
They are mingled with that caitiff regiment
Of the angels, who rebelled not, yet avowed
To God no loyalty, on themselves intent.
--from The Inferno, Canto III
There are no boots marching, no steel
toes knocking at my door, no black coats
coming to arrest me, and yet I have stopped
in the middle of the song, turned quiet
at my turn. The scopes on the roofs are
not on me, they are not even my roofs,
and still nothing, no rhythm hung lyrics,
not even humming or whistling
against evening graveyards. Why am I
unbound yet so silent? Why, not yet tied
by bars or knives, with mud or dung
beetles, not soiled in search lights and
rusty puddles, am I so mute, so dumb?
So uncensored, why do I wither all
my untethered hours lying in the sand
by the summer sea? Horseflies chew
the salt from my skin, and I do nothing.
I got the book last summer from my teacher at Stanford, because it's his. It was so odd reading through the poetry and realizing that I had met the person who wrote it, especially because some of it, like the poems above and a couple others, seemed so important. I'm not used to knowing people who're important. And Matt never seemed that important, I mean he did but not in the crazily poetic way. So it was odd reading this and in my head hearing him saying it. But it was also really, really great.
On one of the last days at Stanford, my class did a poetry reading in the common room at Terra. Matt came by, and so did the Creative Writing program director, and we shared poems we had written while sitting on chairs and piano benches and the floor in a circle. At first no one really wanted to read what they had, but slowly we got off to a start, and we read around the circle, and some of the poems were powerful like this. And we all told Matt he had to read something of his, so he deferred that he didn't have anything on hand, but I had his book with me (because he'd given us copies a day or so before) so I handed it to him and told him to read, and he did. And when the book finally came back to me it was signed: "For Candace. I'll be watching for your work in all the mags and journals. 'I greet you at the beginning of a wonderful journey.' (I misquoted Emerson for you.) Best, Matt EPGY 2006"
I miss Matt, and Terra, and a lot of the people I met there. I miss Stanford: all of it. But I mostly miss who I was there. I miss being that girl. I know I can't go back in time, and I don't want to, but those three weeks made me feel so much myself, and I don't think I could possibly forget them.
In death's other kindgom,
At the hour when we are
Trembling with tenderness
Lips that would kiss
Form prayers to broken stone.
~From "Hollow Men" by T. S. Eliot, Section III
For some reason these lines of that poem are the ones that always seem to get me. The way they're set out on the paper just makes me stop and think, and I feel this pang inside me -- a false rememberance of all the times I've ever felt like this.
(Because everyone's felt like this sometime: waking up in the middle of the night yearning, not for cheap sex or meaningless communication or blind vanity, but for connection, compassion, "tenderness" reciprocated in whatever way: the sudden and desperate need to not be alone.)
(And "alone" doesn't just mean alone -- sometimes I feel most alone in those moments when I'm surrounded by others...)
(I'm not feeling this now, so you shouldn't worry...but the power of the imagery is not lessened because of it. If anything it proves stronger, since it is capable of reminding me of what I've escaped. The memory isn't beautiful, and so it's one I'd forget, but Eliot doesn't let me.)
Waking alone. It means a lot of things. To someone, maybe it's the sensation of waking up and finding your lover departed. For others, maybe it's about waking up and being forced to remember that you went to bed alone, that there is no companionship for you. To me, it might mean those things sometime in the future.
But right now, it still means something. For the longest time, when I woke up in the morning, the rest of the house was already awake, but no one had left yet. I relished waking up early, because I felt comfortable in my house warmed by human presence. I would read in my pajamas for an hour before Dad kissed me goodbye and left for work. This was a signal that I needed to get dressed and go downstairs, where I'd meet my sister and Mom would have breakfast ready for us on the table. We ate together and watched cartoons for half an hour before brushing our teeth and leaving for school.
Slowly, as school progressed, I had to wake up earlier and earlier. Middle school was the first time I had to wake up to an alarm; before then, my internal clock was a good enough judge. High school was the first time I had to wake up before the sun on a regular basis. And slowly, it became less thrilling to wake up so early. More and more, I was waking alone. First I was up before my sister, but still saw Mom and Dad. Then, Mom began to sleep longer than me, too, and it was just Dad and I at the breakfast table. And then when this school year began with him at his new job, I truly woke alone. The feeling isn't a comfortable one. It's a change so great from my childhood that when I try to think about it directly, I can't fathom it. But my father and mother still make sure I'm up when my alarm goes up -- without them, most days I wouldn't wake up. In college, I wonder what it will be like -- waking alone. Having no choice but to wake alone.
I don't think I can spend a life like that for very long. I need human comfort; I need camaraderie; I need support, compassion, connection. I cannot be a Hollow Man -- it would kill me first.
So I was on www.bible.com because I was looking through Song of Solomon (since the Walcott poem mentions it, and we're supposed to look up those allusions). But I saw this link that I had to click: "What does the Bible say about...war?" http://www.bible.com/
So there's that rant. I realize that (except for the one Bible verse) all this stuff is just one person's interpretation of scripture, and I'm obviously not trying to ridicule Christianity -- seems pretty pointless for a Christian to do. I just think these interpretations are a little...off. Missing the point. And for some reason I needed to write about it. You've been warned, don't read if you don't want to.
I have definitely just wasted time that I really can't afford to waste, especially if I'm just going to go and waste more time watching X-Files, which I really want to do. So probably I will, since tonight's the last night this week when I don't have ridiculous amounts of homework.
I think my favorite thing I did today was work on a project in Art. We're supposed to draw a superhero or action figure or something, so I asked if I could draw a character from one of the books I'm writing. So I drew Holly, from Azuria, my great unfinished&unplanned novel. Her story's being changed around as I draw her, because of how capable (or rather incapable) I am of drawing things well, but it's a good exercise in character creation.
I've got a lot of chemistry stuff, which I should be doing right now. I'm not...this is possibly a bad thing? I need to finish up the homework and then read the chapter as a review for the test. I think I'm going to do that now...yeah. And print my history paper, and that's really all I have to do for tomorrow. Wow. That's a feeling I could get used to. Maybe I'll actually get the chance to (gasp) write? Or read?
On an unrelated note, I like Derek Walcott. I did not used to like him, but now I think I do (handsiness aside).
"Kneel to your load, then balance your staggering feet
and walk up that coal ladder as they do in time,
one bare foot after the next in ancestral rhyme.
Because Rhyme remains the parentheses of palms
shielding a candle's tongue, it is the langauge's
desire to enclose the loved world in its arms;
or heft a coal-basket; only by its stages
like those groaning women will you achieve that height
whose wooden planks in couplets lift your pages
higher than those hills of infernal anthracite.
There, like ants or angels, they see their native town,
unknown, raw, insignificant. They walk, you write;
keep to that narrow causeway without looking down,
climbing in their footsteps, that slow, ancestral beat
of those used to climing roads; your own work owes them
because the couplet of those multiplying feet
made your first rhymes. Look, they climb, and no one knows them;
they take their copper pittances, and your duty
from the time you watched them from your grandmother's house
as a child wounded by their power and beauty
is the chance you now have, to give those feet a voice."
-- from Omeros, Chapter XII
The thing is, I can't get myself worked up over doing work. It's a bad thing, because it's not going to get any better as the school year progresses, but I'm just in a bit of a slump right now. I hope it's just because I'm sick, and that it's not going to become a habit, but I've got my worries.
I'm not going to stop doing things -- I don't think that would be possible. I'm not going to stop doing my work and getting it done. But I'm also going to not be completely productive for a while, I fear.
I've been struck lately with an odd desire to write fanfiction. No particular fandom, no actual plot -- just the drive to have lots of people I don't know in the real world review my story and reaffirm how important I am. The instant gratification of reviews is why I stopped writing fanfiction in the first place, and I'm not about to return to it, but this is the first time in a long time that I've wanted to.
Slightly random though this is, I'm kind of annoyed with having to switch groups in humanities. I really liked the old Group A -- we had some decent people, and we all worked really well together. I understand the groups needed to be split up a bit, but I don't see why it was done so drastically. Is there supposed to be something wrong with letting us hang out with the people we like? Reminds me of Anthem: Transgression of Preference?
Lots of things have been reminding me of books lately. For instance, Beauty and the Beast somehow has been connected in my mind to Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice? And werewolves? This is what happens when you decide to do a new take on an old story -- time pollution kicks in and all of the thoughs and theories that weren't around when the story was first told clamor to be included in the new version.
I've got an MUN conference this weekend -- well, Friday and Saturday. On the one hand, I don't want to go, but on the other I'll be glad to attend. It's Huntington Beach MUN, which isn't overly challenging.
I'm also considering whether I want to take part in tomorrow's Humanities talent show. If anything, I'd just recite a poem -- one of Shakespeare's sonnets, probably? I've become rather partial to "Let me not to the marriage of true minds," because I love the sentiments expressed. Oh Will, why so good? You make the rest of us look like tongueless fools.
Maybe I've spent enough time procrastinating now. Maybe I'll go do something worthwhile now. Or maybe I'll go memorize a sonnet. Either way, I'll go do something.
Um...I'm tutoring more people for more money the rest of this week. I still have to study for chemistry and calculus, but I also need to help my sister with her studying. I've got a really long to-do list, but all I want to do is curl up with a good book. Oh, and I need to memorize "Hollow Men" by T. S. Eliot by tomorrow. I've got the first stanza, but that's not much out of five. Oh well, I've got time. "There will be time, there will be time to prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet. There will be time to murder and create, and time for all the works and days of hands that lift and drop a question on your plate. Time for you and time for me, and time..."
Time that I stop the Prufrock insanity.
Now I'm really going to study for chem, after I figure out what Princeton wants from me in terms of financial aid.
Took IB tests, lived away from my parents for a prolonged period of time, almost got published (this should really read "got my first rejection"), applied to college
2. Did you keep your New Year's resolutions and will you make more for next year?
I never seem to keep them, but I keep making them. The two I remember from last year are to stop biting my nails and to memorize "Ode," a poem by Arthur O'Shaughnessy. Still a nail-biter, but I did memorize "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," which is longer and (in the scheme of things) more important than "Ode," anyway.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
4. Did anyone close to you die?
5. What countries did you visit?
this is one of the rare years where the answer to this question is "none"
6. What would you like to have in 2007 that you lacked in 2006?
time to be an artist
7. What dates from 2006 will remain etched on your memory, and why?
July 15 -- when I got my first real rejection letter
November 28 -- the first Humanities field trip, and my first real brush with a different kind of world and a new sort of freedom
June 25-July 14 -- EPGY Summer Institutes Creative Writing; "The Terra Era"
December 21 -- when I hugged Mr. Vargish and Mr. Fukuda, and gave scarves to Mr. Koger and Mr. Krucli
November 7 -- the first election year I've spent politically active
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
surviving junior year
9. What was your biggest failure?
a stubborn determination not to acknolwedge the reality of certain situations
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
the usual allergy related stuff, but nothing serious and definitely nothing that required hospitalization
11. What was the best thing you bought?
my new laptop
12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
I don't know...
13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
It's a rather long list, and it makes me appalled and depressed, so I'm not going to go into it.
14. Where did most of your money go?
books, Stanford, MUN
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Humanities, especially the English portion; writing my senior thesis; Stanford and EPGY; being done with junior year
16. What song will always remind you of 2006?
I'm not much of a music-oriented person, to be honest; I'm not likely to remember this year in terms of a song. But off the top of my head, I think of "Vienna," "King of the World," "The Minstrel's Prayer," and "Running Alone" (it should say something that I think only one of those actually came out during 2006).
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
happier or sadder? happier
thinner or fatter? I don't know, probably about the same
richer or poorer? richer
18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
writing, thinking, loving, living
19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
worrying, crying, sighing, wishing without acting, hating
20. How will you be spending Christmas?
with friends and family, as always
21. Did you fall in love in 2006?
Was already there, but it deepened.
22. How many one-night stands?
23. What was your favourite TV program?
Prison Break, Project Runway, West Wing, X-Files
24. Are you angry at anyone now that you weren't angry at this time last year?
25. What were the best books you read?
Regeneration by Julie E. Czerneda
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Proven Guilty by Jim Butcher
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen
Howl by Alan Ginsberg
26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
As I said above, I'm not music-oriented. But I did "discover" that I'm pretty open-minded when it comes to music, and that I can take recommendations from almost anyone.
27. What did you want and get?
good scores on my APs and IBs, recognition from my peers, support in my writing endeavors
28. What did you want and not get?
29. What was your favourite film of this year?
The Prestige or Happy Feet
30. What did you do on your birthday and how old were you?
I turned 17 and spent the day taking an IB Psych test.
31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
getting published by Julie
32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2006?
nonexistent, unless "dress how you feel" is a fashion concept
33. What kept you sane?
literature (as it always has), good friends, good teachers, hugs, peppermint, caramel, pretzels, warm milk
34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Norbert Leo Butz
35. What political issue stirred you the most?
All of them; I count 2006 as my first year as a politically active citizen, and I wasted no time forming opinions about everything.
36. Who did you miss?
Katherine Simpson, Katherine Fosso, Luke, Paula, Steph J
37. Who was the best new person you met?
Katherine, Luke, Paula -- EPGY FOREVER!
38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learnt in 2006?
Do not let the actions, reactions, decisions, or judgments of others shape who you are: be truly yourself, and great things will fall into place for you.
39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
Though you can see when you're wrong, you know
You can't always see when you're right. You're right.
You've got your passion, you've got your pride
but don't you know that only fools are satisfied?
Dream on, but don't imagine they'll all come true.
And I've got to find a way to incorporate into a science fiction novel a conversation between J. Alfred Prufrock and William James. I think I know how I'm going to do it.
November. There is nothing like November.
who take the silence and bend our ways
around it so that somehow (we still don't know how) we produce
a song, a shout, a cry into the night.
But whatever it is, it's worth it.
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
picking up driftwood aimlessly -- maybe
to construct a house in the sand,
furnished with sea-glass windows that filter the light in
green and brown and blue.
And sitting by desolate streams; places quiet
like that are in short supply
now. "Alone" is not a bad word.
World-losers and world-forsakers --
after all, it's just a world, a mere phsycial
reality, and physicality's not always
something to be craved --
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world forever, it seems. Because who else
cares to move the world, nowadays? You'd be hard-pressed
to come up with a good answer to
that question. So it's up to us. It's up
Words in italics comprise the first stanza of Arthur O'Shaughnessy's poem "Ode." Anything not in italics is mine.
I really wish someone would take "Ode" and set it to music so that I could sing it out loud in joy.