Friday, August 05, 2016

Moleskine Outtakes: Three Short Notes

Like you, I love to have a small notebook in my pocket.  Me, I like Moleskines, preferably green (I am deeply superstitious about color).  The notebooks are usually filled with nothing more interesting than lists: things I need to do; writing deadlines I need to meet; things I'm meaning to read, and the other detritus of the bookish mind. But sometimes I scribble something else, a little more coherent.  When I was younger, these were often bitter little rhymes, like:

Lacking Auden's glib facility
Robs my heart of all tranquility
But I must say it helps a bit
That his later work was shit.

(I have either mellowed in middle-age, or learned to find things in the later Auden that I could not find when I was an eager young bastard).

Anyway: here are three outtakes from my most recent Moleskine.

The Pure Judgment of Taste
Setting morality aside, there's truth in this: the failure to appreciate something is a failure to understand it. But understanding, of course, brings us to the question of morality which, it turns out, can't be set aside.

The Climate for Poetry
Walls can stand without a roof, sure, sure. But a roof's only unimportant if it isn't raining.  I'm writing this because someone told me a poet should never explain his work.

The Book Written in a Variety of Styles
I know, I know, everybody's supposed to "find a voice" or "brand himself" or pursue a consistent project or whatever.  You know: produce a book that is somehow coherent.  But my plan? My plan was to be different, not to do what everybody else does, precisely by virtue of doing what everybody else does.


  1. Re: note 3, "Different" by Clere Parsons

    Not to say what everyone else was saying
    not to believe what everyone else believed
    not to do what everybody did,
    then to refute what everyone else was saying
    then to disprove what everyone else believed
    then to deprecate what everybody did,

    was his way to come by understanding

    how everyone else was saying the same as he was saying
    believing what he believed
    and did what doing.

  2. Oh, yes, wonderful. I spent about 15 years feeling exactly that way. One of my best students was like that, too: she had to wrestle something to the ground and give it a good kick in the ribs before embracing it.