Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Just one more thing

I frequently have trouble going to bed. Want to do "just one more thing". Corollary, I'm sure, to the morning ritual of "five more minutes". I end up emailing or texting myself story or blog post ideas (like this one), dog groaning to sleep next to me, phone too close to my face in the dark because I've taken out my contacts.

I discovered, quite by accident, that while my phone has a miniature version of Word on it, there is no way to, using the Word app, send the file to myself. There is, however, a way to have my phone read it to me, which was startling to find out in the dark one evening. Text to voice programs tend to be fun, when one uses them voluntarily. Listening to the little robo voices can lend interesting perspective. And they are unforgiving if your sentences are crap.

Funny thing, though. In those dim days a few years back when Limewire was still legal, I got a copy of Ginsberg reading "Howl" at some university or another. It was amazing, because "Howl" is always amazing, but it was also interesting because he sounded somewhat like a text to voice program.  Obviously, there was a depth of feeling in Ginsberg's voice that I have yet to hear one of those canned voices replicate. I'm still wrapping my head around "Howl", even all these years later (though I can recite the beginning of it from memory), and I hesitate to declare what emotions I think those were necessarily. A certain defiance, but also a certain level of wistfulness. It's a unifying poem at times, particularly in the third part, with the "I'm with you in Rockland" refrain (which I've seen, on the Internet, make a neat tattoo).

The "I'm with you in Rockland" part makes me think of other...mental hospital? Sanitorium? poems. "Flee on your Donkey" and "The Music Swims Back to Me", both by Anne Sexton, both just as wistful. There's also a disarming level of frankness in Ginsberg's work, and Sexton's, that can at times make you check to see if anybody's watching you read. Or make you check to see if your fly is done or whatever.

Poetry, even if I don't like it so much, is so very naked at times. It lays you bare, past the clothing, flays you right down to the bone.Fiction, though I dearly love it and feel actually comfortable writing it, still leaves you a shirt at least. Most of the time. I think because it's longer it gives you time to catch your breath, adjust your mask.

This isn't to say there aren't fictional pieces like poetry. Sometimes the language a writer uses is just so. You savor it, rolling the words over in your mind like a smooth stone, or a new vintage at a wine tasting. You explore what they evoke. It's hard to maintain that paragraph after paragraph, page after page.

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