Friday, December 07, 2012

Things I said Elsewhere

At Marly's Palace:

I don't know if I could read Mervyn Peake any more. Loved him when I was a teenager, but back then his Ayn-Rand-on-acid, impudent "I owe nothin' to nobody!" stance was kind of adorable. Now that it's the official motto of the US House of Representatives I feel a bit different about it.

On Facebook:

Me: Tempted to identify myself on my various profiles as "religious but not spiritual." You know, just to goose people a bit. But also because it's true, so far as I can actually assign a meaning to either word. Which is not very far.

DJ: Why that way round? I'd have thought you'd have gone for 's but not r'.

Me: As far as I can tell people say they're "spiritual" when they believe in their premonitions and think the world shapes itself according to their own wishes and desires; and when they don't want other people's wishes and desires to count the same way. So I'm very anti -'s'. But ritual, the responsibilities of tradition, prayer, spiritual practice, accepting that I belong to others – all very 'r' – all those, I do subscribe to.

“The intellect of man is forced to choose,” said Yeats, “perfection of the life, or of the work.”

Dubious: I was struck by the lines, when I first read them as a teenager, but I was never convinced by them, and I'm not convinced by them now. Particularly though, in me: I have come down such a funnel that the life and the work are very nearly the same thing: if I go on as I began, stationing myself as someone who knows something about living, surely I must either demonstrate some skill at it, or see my audience leave in disgust?

But life and work have both reached an impasse – the same impasse, really. A number of options are open to me. But the step before me is occluded. I must either make it visible, or take some other way; or tell it so slant that the coffee cups slide off the table and the butter lands on the floor.

What then? Well – another way, a circuitous backstage quest, to work myself down, and come up by the trap, accompanied by red smoke and spurts of sulfur, or to work myself up and descend in the machine, trailing wisps of glory, my cheeks rouged and my wings outspread?

But maybe either way it doesn't really matter: maybe my bones are turning to glass, my muscles to air, my skin to cellophane, my blood to water, and I will be perfectly transparent: impossible to see except on very sunny days, when a prismatic glint might rise from my kneecaps. In sign of – some covenant or other. Tiny shepherds with little rice-grain sheep will point to the rainbows and fall to their own needle-knees, and peep in their tiny shepherd voices. I could try to tell them it's only a trick of the light, but my voice would be a snarl of thunder in the heavens, and I'd scare them to death.

So – once again, a long way round to zero.

 “Yet I'll hammer it out,” says Richard II, the only person in either the play, or the audience, who doesn't understand that the poignancy of his storymaking is that his story is over, and he has nothing to say that will move horse or horseman ever again. Only a tongue, still wriggling, like a severed lizard's tail in the dust. “Yet I'll hammer it out.” Don't bet on it, even here and now, Mr Citizen Plantagenet! For the meaning was never yours in the first place. The meaning, dear prince, is what was to be hammered out of you, distilled out of your own battered flesh.


Zhoen said...

This seems so alien, as though we spoke different languages, using the same words but each has wildly different definitions.

Dale said...

Yes, I'm afraid I think it likely I'll be saying more in this vein for the next couple weeks. Thanks for responding anyway! xo