Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Holiday Done.

  I can't write about Christmas. It matters too much. Not in the cosmic order of things but to me, simply. As I can't write about Pittsburgh. Or about my mom. Or sex. It's too sloppy, comes out too messy. "I love you!" One of most powerful things you can say. The least powerful thing you can type.
  You can't be more important than the words on the page.
  And when the one overpowers the other you write for shit. 
  Tennessee Williams could write like that but his words don't stay on the page. They get up and walk around. They speak. You meet them, literally, face to face. Print despises indulgence. Theater can handle melodrama. It's temporal. Like us. It inherits all the excuses we grant to the living. 
   I have a friend, a writer -a sharp, reputable writer- who won't write about things she loves. Too much. Her family. Her childhood. The city we both spent time in. 
  I used to think that was sad, an admission of weakness or some kind of failure and now I think it's wisdom. It's brave.
   Good writing needs good tooling. It is good tooling. The medium inseparable from the content. When you get to poetry it's practically a visual art. 
  Nothing greatly human by necessity leads to great writing. Nothing's worth reading simply if it's about sin or war or love or children. Often it's the opposite - mush, blather. You spray too much feeling into the words and they end up splayed on the page. Boiled milk. Too many colors come to brown. 
    Passion played out using the proper nouns of the people you knew, the places you've been, turns toward the confessional. 
   Did Beckett write about the War or Joyce or the Easter Uprising? Did Nabokov write about his father's murder or the loss of his homeland? Does Stoppard write about his children? 
  Which great writer, without essential guile, without a mask, speaks from the heart - or about that which lives closest to the heart? 
 And the ones who did? Who looked their most personal demons in the eye, called them into the room and then cast them in their work?
   James Agee dies of a heart attack in a cab in the middle of Manhattan. He was 46.  Fitzgerald dies in a duplex off Laurel Canyon road listening to a football game. Crushed. $13 dollars and 13 cents in his bank account. He was 44. Gene O'Neill locked himself in a room for a decade and broke his health writing 4 plays about his insane family that he insisted were never be performed until he was dead a decade. Anne Sexton/ suicide. She was 46. Plath- you know it-31. John Hersey never wrote anything worth a damn again after Hiroshima. Ditto Harper Lee. Thomas Wolfe dead at 38. Kerouac at 46. Jim Carroll a corpse at 35, body dies at 60. 
   Confessional lit become unconventional suicide. 
   Cloak/ deflect/ defend + Intrigue, deception and speed = Silence, cunning, and exile.
   So in an awful, bloggy personal digression ...I don't know what I'm saying here. A tribute to my fine fine friend who works with such diligence and passion, the guts she has, the fire, how I wish her a long life? How I eat her words like air.
   Or if I'm just a little thrown to realize I'm older now than Fitzgerald ever was, or Kerouac, and if I met Sylvia Plath walking down the the street,  I'd ask a friend, "Who's the kid? Young to be a mother, no?"
  Or maybe it's just today. Tonight. With four inches of snow finally fallen on a barren Pittsburgh. Filling the trees, their narrow little arms outlined in white. January 6. The Day of Kings. The ignored holiday when the three magi reached the Christ. And if you think about it - isn't that when you'd actually celebrate a baby? After it was born? I always think of the poor priests and deacons around the city throwing the big Epiphany service for no one. Music and color and chant and ceremony and everybody's home nursing a hangover, The Slavic minority singing in their churches not far from where I sit. It's Xmas there. Standing, only singing, a religion without any instrument but the voice. How it shakes me. Holy dissonance.
   Christmas. When your mind wanders. The whole city, street by street marked with symbols, talismans, wreathed in evocation. Wired to make you replay your life or the lives you wish you could have touched but only knew them in their work. Maybe that's the best gift in any season: I have Anna Karenina. I didn't have Tolstoy for a father.
  So beware the bio, the portrait that's not a pastel or an oil, the confession, the sell, the branding.
  If there's something to hope for in 2015 it'd be less Eating some Praying and and a healthy suspicion of a Love that dares not do much but shout its name.



  1. Glad, that you are safe returned to your beautiful town.
    Here, we have the tradition of groups, that sing the janeiras - good wishing - to people in their homes, door to door, but mainly in villages.
    Yes, lets hope that for 2015.

  2. "eating words like air" - touching, beautifully said.

    Your words, on the other hand, are different.
    They do not feel like the air I need to breathe, to live.
    They do not feel like the blood that runs in my veins.

    No, they feel like a gift, something you offer us from a place within you: images and scents and sounds translated, concentrated and yet laid bare for us to absorb - to grok until it is disseminated into our inner matrix, until it is almost as if we had lived it ourselves, .
    Doppelgangers of memories we did not experience, like tales passed on around the fireplace. Like movies so perfectly done we feel like we were there.

    With your words, you let us sometimes see through your eyes.
    Thank you for that.

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  4. What you said about those three little words are so true. I have tried writing and some of the people that have read what I have drafted want more the only problem is I get so caught up in what is trying to come out I get blocked and can't explain everything properly on paper. I wish I was as good a writer as you are but I will not atop and ask that you do not stop. I enjoy reading what you write and seeing your world through your words. Thank you David

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  6. Been thinking, about your feelings concerning talking from oneself and its difficulty in doing it.
    It couldn´t be truer – sharing our feelings, memories, lives, is an unique experience of giving and in many times, changing the lives of others, and our own too.
    We grow together in this process and learn with it, everyday.
    No one, has the truth about anything, but when you truly and heart fully share, you give freely and receive also, and that is the beauty of life, itself.
    Take care,
    PS-Are there limits to this sharing or not?
    I suppose so, everyone has inner secrets, that keeps only to him/herself, for several reasons.

  7. Sorry, am a bit confused... "You spray too much feeling into the words and they end up splayed on the page." I get the differenciation you make with a play, but can anyone actually write amazing things without some specific drive to it, which can be taken as a passionate sign?

    I loved the loving support you offer to your writer friend here, and should she be whom I think she is, she rocks indeed =)

    Any passion, any of the episode of your life can be used to write. Think of palimpsest and let it out! Try to re-write your own story with a different angle.

    "and a healthy suspicion of a Love that dares not do much but shout its name"... this is really moving. You're quite a man to dare writing this. May love start whispering her name to your heart ;-)

    Jan 6 has been a nice day filled with BDays - yep! Now TODAY, the 7th, is a way different story...

    Here's how my heart spoke out, passionately - and like it, leave it, take it, erase it, be upset about it or answer it... there are topics you can pick and write about... or kill me right here!

    1. Just a genuine thank you because I wanted to erase what you have erased (the 2nd reply).
      Realized way too late this was not a place it should have appeared.

      All my dearest apologies and thanks again for having erased it, truly.

  8. My mom had lunch out today. Then a man started shooting people. He killed 3 people, one of them a woman at the same restaurant where my mom had lunch a few hours earlier.

    I called my mom just before it happened. No idea of course. We had a good chat, not too short. She called me after it happened but I missed her call.

    Who do you want to call before the news guts your hometown?

    Call them.

    Hope for 2015, less killing, more love of all kinds, of any kind. You were supposed to be a special year and it's only January. Enough.

  9. Love this posting. I think by far my favorite!

  10. I am in.... awe at these writings. If I tried to express in words, on paper... or here...how these words fill my heart and touch the soul.... they would flow together~ into shades of "brown". I am not a "writer", but I write. The same as I am not a lover, but I love.

  11. Not sure i agree, you can talk about anything just depends on your audience.. Isn't communication the key, i mean if we all day around all day not saying anything, sure we'd have body language but sometimes things need to be said, just with great care, to who might be listening, or in this case reading ^_^