Virginia Woolf, “The death of the moth”.
“Straying from the standardised template of education is scary; it forces you to address and take responsibility for the shape and continuation of your own education. Yet this self-directing approach is also far closer to the constantly inquisitive, curious state that being an artist entails.”
“Language is just music without the full instrumentation. Music doesn’t have the burden of connotation that language does. I prefer music, actually. I think there’s almost no room between the two. Talking about what a poem can do, think about Miles Davis or Beethoven—those pieces that have communicated something emotional without language; the only language you have is the title. I think a poem can do that, but people resist that. I’m chasing a kind of language that can be unburdened by people’s expectations. I think music is the primary model—how close can you get this language to be like music and communicate feeling at the base level in the same way a composition with no words communicates meaning?”
“If you think about an animal, there’s no perfect animal. Most people think of poems like they’re machines. I’m thinking of something more organic and human that exists the way it needs to exist, more like a baby or child. How do you achieve that? I think of myself as a person who likes to be in control of everything. So how do I surprise myself? For so long I’ve been this person who’s been too in control, so how do I relinquish control? Some of it’s about line breaks, narrative. I like the poem to look a certain way in terms of line breaks, but how do I release control? Some of it is subject matter. The poet wants to be liked in the poem, but what does it mean to not always chase some kind of appeal? Discomfort, vulnerability, rawness that come up in a poem—that also has to do with perfection, the absence of perfection. That’s hard to teach, but if you make people more generous in the workshop, then you can get it. You say, “Oh, it’s not a perfect poem, but it’s pretty good; we’ll take that.” It creates generosity if you aren’t chasing a perfect object.”
“Scientists from the University of Southampton in the UK have created a new data format that encodes information in tiny nanostructures in glass. A standard-sized disc can store around 360 terabytes of data, with an estimated lifespan of up to 13.8 billion years even at temperatures of 190°C. That’s as old as the Universe, and more than three times the age of the Earth.”
“We are, in the deepest sense, responsible for ourselves. We are, as Sartre put it, the authors of ourselves. Through the accretion of our choices, our actions, and our failures to act, we ultimately design ourselves. We cannot avoid this responsibility, this freedom. In Sartre’s terms, ‘we are condemned to freedom.’”
– Irvin D. Yalom, The Gift of Therapy: An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients (via creatingaquietmind)
Singapore is always (consistently) good to/for me. I consider myself fortunate to have been able to spend so much time there, and to have returned so frequently. And my experience of Singapore is largely based on the people I’ve met while I’ve been there— poets, students, teachers and more. I look forward to my next visit!
“…line breaks have everything to do with doubt. That’s why poetry is so different from prose, because it’s infused with doubt. At the moment of a line break, even if it’s for a millisecond, you’re thrust into doubt; you’re thrust into a place where you’re not certain what just happened or what’s going to happen. Only faith that the next line will land us on solid ground is what keeps us breathing.”
– Jericho Brown, from his essay The Possibility of God (via kathleenjoy)
“To save time, take time in large pieces. Do not cut time up into bits…The mind is like a locomotive. It requires time for getting under headway. Under headway it makes its own steam. Progress gives force as force makes progress. Do not slow down as long as you run well and without undue waste. Take advantage of momentum. Prolonged thinking leads to profound thinking.”
The work of a professional isn’t to recreate thrills. It’s to show up and do the work. To continue the journey you set out on a while ago. To make the change you seek to make in the universe.
Thrilling is fine. Mattering is more important.
“The thing about writing is – I reckon – that it requires a lot of space where you don’t write. You think about nothing or one very small part of a poem you aren’t happy with. Hours go by, days go by. You put on a CD. You read half a book. You walk into the next room and forget why you did. You walk back. A week goes by. A year. Then you join the French Foreign Legion.”
This: “Look at how hands move, in the official video. There’s the interplay of the Raised Hands: In the church scenes we see hands raised in praise and surrender to the God of that church; these are interspersed with shots of the extraordinarily sharp double edge of what appears to be a 12 year old black boy* dancing as hard and as well as he can in front of a row of white police officers decked out in riot gear. As the boy dances harder and harder, the praise in the church reaches a pitch, and as the congregation throws their hands up, again, in surrender, the police throw their hands up to the boy. Surrender and praise, intertwined. The recognition of something more powerful, more perfect, something worth surrendering to.”
And this: “If I learned one thing this week, it is that we are starving to see ourselves in power. We yearn to celebrate the vision of it–even when we know it is a ploy, a hologram. Our hunger, no matter how potent, no matter how righteous, cannot transfigure pop stars into revolutionaries. It cannot supplement community power with what it manages to extract from corporate media.”
I haven’t paid any attention to music videos for a while. Because time. There are only so many channels I can keep up with, and my disposable hours are increasingly limited. Of course, as a child of MTV, The Box and IDTV/BET, I sacrificed more of my youth than I can quantify watching music videos, diving beyond aesthetic titlation to appreciate how epic narratives can be spun, how socio-political commentary can be invested, how layers of depth I may not have appreciated in the simple act of listening to the music can be revealed through moving image. I’ve been trying to catch up on critical analysis of Beyoncé’s ‘Formation’, and for a moment, got sucked down a rabbit-hole. Thanks, YouTube.
All this to say: the poet/photographer/human in me has completely fallen for the attached video. That is all.
In my own work I’ve come to think about time as a form of relationality. Our stories about time tell us what is it to be with others, or to not be with them. They also tell us what kinds of forms this ‘withness’ can take. This means that time can also be seen as a form of ethical encounter. If that’s so, what are we doing when we ignore other people’s claims that they don’t have the time?
It seems that in order to treat the other ethically, you have to come to terms with your disappointment, let go of the anticipated future you had been working with, and then still have the generosity to be able to say to the person who has somehow let you down “Of course, no problems, hope things get better for you soon”.
“You go rummaging around in other people’s lives. You hear rumors and go digging for the painful truth beneath the lovely lies. You believe you have a right to these things. But you don’t.” He looked hard at the scribe. “When someone tells you a piece of their life, they’re giving you a gift, not granting you your due.”
– The Wise Man’s Fear: The Kingkiller Chronicle: Book 2 (Kingkiller Chonicles) by Patrick Rothfuss