Disruptive Juxtaposition

Sunday, December 25, 2005

The dog will always be restless

Recently consumed:

o a plate of steak & eggs left over from this morning's Christmas breakfast

o a few stone-ground wheat crackers

o a miniature chocolate phallus w/ gonads... wha?? Yes. Sent to our family at this time of holiday cheer by, I believe, the Manfredos? Hey, I needed some chocolate. This was good chocolate, and besides I'm comfortable enough with my sexuality to eat such things.


It's just about 11:30 on Sunday night, Christmas night. My inbox has been steadily filling with emails from so many of you. I've been unable to keep pace with emails in turn. It pains me that this is the case. But know that I am working on the Communication Project with diligence. Kind of like grieving Jon - he would laugh at that word - it will be a marathon endeavor.


I thought about bringing Jon down here to his old room and setting him on the desk as I wrote. I didn't. But I wanted to and here's why: because Jon was more absent than he was present, today, this Christmas. For that to make sense, I'll have to explain. Of course he was absent. I think we were very aware of that fact, to say the least. But that awareness was sort of tacit and largely dealt with in quiet / individual ways. For me, Jon was most present today when I looked at the picture of Missy and I on the stairs, and tried to figure out where Jon would have been, had he not made the mistake he made. I think he was present for Dad when we four and Baba and Pa were enjoying our post-prandial desserts and there was an extra slice of Fuji apple - I began to think about the dents in the main courses and desserts Jon would have made, had he been here. I suppose that what I meant by the absent / present comment above was that there is a difference between a present sort of absence, and an absence that is just an absence. I'm not advocating - at least I don't think I am - that we sit around and think only of Jon's ways of opening presents and tormenting Bailey and such, that we commiserate at length on videos and old pictures of Christmases past. But the scarcity, in myself anyway, of brainspace clearly delineated to Jon himself - what he sounded like, what he would have been up to today - struck me as curious and worrisome. I don't want this process to be about some vague-but-heavy Sadness; I want it to remain Jon-centered. To a certain extent, the process can't be divorced from Jon, obviously. Still, I suppose that I'm beginning to fear that the process will begin to move away from Jon himself and toward a non-Jon-centralized Sadness. The more I write, the more I realize that I'm simply describing the mourning process. Nevertheless: I don't like it. I'm not ready for these subsequent steps. That isn't quite accurate. I'm not ready to feel ready. I don't like the prospect of moving on, not yet. It's only been eight days.


I've written 4 poems in the last 2 days. The first is one of the long iambic pentameter monologues Robery Pinsky and Campbell McGrath have been inspiring me to write for lo these past many years now. The latter 3, however, are completely different than anything I've written. If they have forebears in the poems of a previous poet, that poet would be John Ashbery. Take a look at his poem "For John Clare" to get a sense of him. These poems aren't tied to any one place or voice or idiom. They seem to be realizing in a more extreme way those attributes of, well, disruptive juxtaposition than my other promising work.

In my good poems, I always strove and strive to make unexpected leaps between very different subjects and ideas, and to make them similar and related through unconventional means I still don't fully understand. Sometimes I'd articulate the difference / similarity between, say, the Road Runner and sexual pursuit via a flight of high-falutin' rhetoric. Sometimes I'd articulate that difference / ultimate similarity via a third image or likeness, and chain the images and ideas that way. The point is though, in such poems, no matter how many disparate elements I throw in there, everything always aligns in my mind as I write. I basically know where I'm going. If language and its possibility is a map, such a poem is the line I'm drawing with a highlighter.

In these last 3 poems, however, I don't know where I'm going. These poems are like spinning a globe and putting my finger out to stop it. Wherever my finger stops is a line. I spin the globe again and get another line, except this time the globe when I open my eyes is of Mars or some other planet. Nothing ties the poem together as I'm writing. By the time I'm done, something ties it together. I've tended to notice this tying-together element just before the poem closes, so I have been noticing it and acting upon it. But by and large, there's an unharnessed ranging between philosophy, straight reportage, personal reflection, image, omniscient 3rd person speculation, rhetoric, slang, colloquialisms... they go everywhere.

Which might turn out to be another way of saying they go nowhere. But they are helping. I choose to believe they're helping because - imagine this - there is a one-to-one connection between my feeling inspired and my writing something. Those who know me know that I have long made my writing my work. That means waking up at a certain time, making coffee, and writing a poem. With the addition of the novel, it's meant meeting a quota of words every day after the poem. I'd been lucky or diligent enough with this system over the years to jettison the idea of inspiration or emotional catharsis - that, or else I've come to formulate an idea of inspiration as something that only begins to take shape after and not before I've begun to put words down. It's been a good system and I think it's treated me OK: no "burning out" as of yet. I'm heartened to say, however, that I've been grabbed by certain lines and images over the last 48 hours and have had to put them down.


Here's the running set list of songs I think I'll put together for Jon. The order is not set.

Built To Spill - "Else"
Shout Out Louds - "Very Loud"
Sufjan Stevens - "The Predatory Wasp of the Palisades Is Out to Get Us!"
Meat Loaf - "Bat Out Of Hell"
Aimee Mann - "Just Like Anyone"
Bob Dylan - "I Was Young When I Left Home"
Sigur Ros - "Glosoli"

This list is too me and not enough him. Those who knew him, and maybe those who didn't - any suggestions?


So much more to put down. Anyone want to pay me to write this blog? I can think of worse forms of employment.


I am angry with him. It's not as though I'm furious with him. That would be inaccurate. I'm disappointed in him and want to tell him that. My angry disappointment doesn't feel like it's about me, although I am disappointed and angry that I won't get to know him now. Won't get to know who he really was, much less who he was on his way to becoming. More than that, my d. and a. revolves around the fact that he did this thing and didn't really understand what he was doing. Although I can't be sure, his note makes it sound as though he was convinced that it was the right thing to do, i.e. kill himself. I won't aggrieve him by airing his words; Jon was v. v. private. But he referred to an unallayable sadness or emptiness in him when he thought of life without his girlfriend E-. My d. and a. centers on the fact that Jon didn't realize - with all due respect to E- - that no woman's really the source of such apparent grief. That there's no relationship sufficiently life-defining that its end must mean the end of one's life. That he was letting himself be duped by feelings he should have known better about. Realize that I'm not questioning Jon's love for another person. Realize that I am questioning, and indicting, Jon's apparent inability to distinguish his feelings of sadness from the rest of the spectrum of feelings. He felt a profound loneliness and extrapolated from it such that it seemed like the only way life could possibly be from that time onward. He was a young guy and I suppose he hadn't had the experience to know that the cliche about the only constant in life being change is true. That George Harrison didn't title his best album All Things Must Pass just because it had a clever ring. Now, why did I bring up George Harrison? Weird.


All of my powers, day after day

I can tell you, we swaggered and swayed

~ Sufjan Stevens, "The Predatory Wasp of the Palisades Is Out to Get Us!"


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