Friday, May 13, 2005

Of Mere Being ...

Writing is a tricky business. You think you've found a way to hide out, an anonymity that allows you to whisper into the universe's ear, instead of shout into the tyrant's face. But it's an illusion. We shout even louder on paper, with much more intense reverberations than any amplified tirade.

I read a memoir in my Creative Non-fiction class today--a memoir about a particular summer of my life. It related to classic mythology because it was a journey--a random exploration of cultural abominations made right by the vagaries and temperaments of "the gods." It was an exciting adventure full of trials and tribulations, with the heroine making out more or less alright in the end. :)

It felt good to purge, and it was a piece that, for the moment anyway, I'm proud of. I felt it was the most sophisticated thing, structurally, I've ever attempted. Here's a small section:

"During the summer before our big day, my pending husband had just finished graduate school and moved to an area north of San Diego into the home that we were going to share. I stayed in Pasadena, moving into an eight-foot by ten-foot room in a condo owned by my friend Kelly’s former boyfriend. My clothes hung on a bar directly above my head, often floating in the hot, night breeze like restless ghosts. Sometimes I’d come home from work to hear the sounds of my friend and her ex attempting a reunion. Later he’d sit in his boxer shorts, stuck to the vinyl sofa eating directly out of a carton of ice cream I’d purchased, explaining to Kelly how he couldn’t commit because, “what if Demi Moore, or someone like her, suddenly showed some interest in me?” With ice cream smeared on the sides of his mouth, his belly folded over the elastic waistband of his boxers, he confessed he was pretty sure he would feel somehow short-changed. While I observed him in disbelief, he set the cold spoon down on his thigh and asked me how it was I knew Aaron was the best guy for me. "

I came across this poem and I'm contemplating it. I sort of love it, but I'm not entirely sure I understand it, do you? I think it's about how the most sublime things about us, our unconscious art, the part of our identity that lies beyond the mirror or signifiers, is our purest thing ... our essence?

Of Mere Being
The palm at the end of the mind,
Beyond the last thought, rises
In the bronze distance,

A gold-feathered bird
Sings in the palm, without human meaning
Without human feeling, a foreign song.

You know then that it is not the reason
That makes us happy or unhappy.
The bird sings. Its feathers shine.

The palm stands on the edge of space.
The wind moves slowly in the branches.
The bird's fire-fangled feathers dangle down.

--Wallace Stevens

I spent a portion of the evening with some members of my writing class. Some were in another class with me, and I can feel our community growing. I enjoy the wit and sincerety of these women that are becoming my friends, and I enjoy the diversity and talent. It's wonderful to feel the energy of this. I think I avoided bonding too deeply in Portland for these past four years, because I wanted to be free to leave without pain. Guess I'm staying for a while! :-)


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