It’s Not You It’s Me…or Maybe I’ll Blame my Job

I’ve had a few inquiries of late about why I haven’t been blogging.  The answer is simple and probably nonsensical: I’ve been working, and attending to some personal matters and, when I fall behind on something I deem essential, I feel guilty doing anything I deem non-essential.  If I am at a ‘bus stop I can write a blog, but cannot file my taxes.  But the later prevents me from doing the former.  If I had downtime at my day-job could I catch up on my correspondences? I certainly could — if it weren’t for the laundry.

Guilt my be a great motivator but for me at least it’s terrible for general efficiency.

There Are Days when Poetry Is Required

September 1, 1939

I sit in one of the dives
On Fifty-second Street
Uncertain and afraid
As the clever hopes expire
Of a low dishonest decade:
Waves of anger and fear
Circulate over the bright 
And darkened lands of the earth,
Obsessing our private lives;
The unmentionable odour of death
Offends the September night.

Accurate scholarship can 
Unearth the whole offence
From Luther until now
That has driven a culture mad,
Find what occurred at Linz,
What huge imago made
A psychopathic god:
I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return. 

Exiled Thucydides knew
All that a speech can say
About Democracy,
And what dictators do,
The elderly rubbish they talk
To an apathetic grave;
Analysed all in his book,
The enlightenment driven away,
The habit-forming pain,
Mismanagement and grief:
We must suffer them all again.

Into this neutral air
Where blind skyscrapers use
Their full height to proclaim
The strength of Collective Man,
Each language pours its vain
Competitive excuse:
But who can live for long
In an euphoric dream;
Out of the mirror they stare,
Imperialism’s face
And the international wrong.

Faces along the bar
Cling to their average day:
The lights must never go out,
The music must always play,
All the conventions conspire 
To make this fort assume
The furniture of home;
Lest we should see where we are,
Lost in a haunted wood,
Children afraid of the night
Who have never been happy or good.

The windiest militant trash
Important Persons shout
Is not so crude as our wish:
What mad Nijinsky wrote
About Diaghilev
Is true of the normal heart;
For the error bred in the bone
Of each woman and each man
Craves what it cannot have,
Not universal love
But to be loved alone.

From the conservative dark
Into the ethical life
The dense commuters come,
Repeating their morning vow;
“I will be true to the wife,
I’ll concentrate more on my work,"
And helpless governors wake
To resume their compulsory game:
Who can release them now,
Who can reach the deaf,
Who can speak for the dumb?

All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky:
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die.

Defenceless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.
--W.H. Auden

On Mathoms: a Manifesto (Almost)

I should get rid of my old CDs.  There is no real reason to keep them.  Maybe a few of the local bands who never made it big that signed copies would be an exception, but I have kept them all, along with every program from every play that I have ever seen.  There is no real sense to this. I have seen a lot of plays.  I have to make a concerted effort to not save stubs from movie tickets, although I do find them piling up in places.

Long ago I wrote (luckily I don’t save everything that I have ever written, but I did save this):

I first encountered the word ‘mathom’ twenty-one years ago when I was reading The Lord of the Rings. Hobbits, like both Dragons and New Yorkers, are natural hoarders. And, when a healthy amount of material possessions becomes burdensome, some of the more interesting things are sent to a museum run by the Mayor: “The Mathom-house it was called; for anything that Hobbits had no immediate use for, but were unwilling to throw away, they called a mathom. Their dwellings were apt to become rather crowded with mathoms….” I later found out that ‘mathom’ meant ‘treasure’ in Old English. And, indeed in Beowulf, the dragon’s hoard is filled with many a mþum.

It was an introduction to an old blog. I thought at the time that the mathoms I kept were only in my mind, but, it turns out that when I moved a few months later I had more than I realized in boxes.

I make no pretense that the mathoms I put here will be worthy for a dragon’s hoard, merely that they will be worthy of your consideration. I only hope, that by writing them down, I can be done with these pesky notions so that they stop cluttering my mind and clutter yours instead.

I didn’t mean it at the time but I think that this notion sums up all writing, or at least all of the writing that I do.  The ideas need to be let out one way or another, and they have to be let out properly.

I told an idea to a friend years ago for a story I wanted to write and he told me it was cliché, and there was no more damning word to me then than ‘cliché.’  I would even have preferred ‘bad.’ I can’t recall exactly what the idea was but I doubt it was cliché, or even bad.  I do know that I went about it in the wrong manner.  Nobody wants to hear story ideas, although a few may want to read them once they are finished.

I can’t speak for anyone else but for me the ideas have to come out or they become distracting.

Tags: The Mathom-House at Michel Delving,

Electric Nags

I finally gave up my flip phone a month ago.  It was a kind of sad decision for me. I really didn’t want a smart phone but everyone else had moved on.  Contrary to what some people believe, I try not to pile on the eccentricities.  What could I do? the old flip phone had sticky buttons making it almost impossible to dial numbers and when I opened it the screen was occasionally dim. The smart phones are not much more expensive now, so I figured I’d cave in and get one.

I lasted about three days in full smartphone mode. Every few seconds there would be a notification from social media sites, a text message,  or a nagging green owl. None of it was pressing, and none really required my attention.  And yet my time kept slipping away. In all of my phone time I didn’t really talk to anyone.

So I turned it off, and, for that matter, I turned my notifications off. In my flip phone days my phone was off maybe a third of the time, and now it is off more than half.  I really only turn it on to text my friends which I do more than I like to admit.

I’m not sure what it is that I am always supposed to be plugged in for. If you send me a work email at 2:00 am on Saturday, expect a reply on Monday morning.  If it is pressing life or death, I will get back to you soon, if not, live your life, I’ll be living mine.

We often hear that the convenience of cell phones is ruining our lives, but it isn’t really a convenience at all — it’s a hassle. It’s one more gadget that breaks down the separation between home and work, and between sleeping and not sleeping.  I’d rather just do what I want to while I am doing it.  The owl can go nag somebody else.