Saturday, November 27, 2004

I'm a loser baby / why don't you kill me

the title is the chorus from a song by Beck, and I'm thinking of it this afternoon because of something I read this morning that recalls an email exchange between me and Aussie poet William Fox recently. I suggested to Fox that writers in general, poets in particular, should cultivate the arts of doing nothing, of just being, in order to cultivate a space for daydreaming, a state I think is critical to any creative work, whether that be poetry writing or finger painting. but in this context I really mean poetry.

let me a bit plainer here. I've mentioned in this blog that I walk to work, roughly five miles round trip, before. I do that because I consider it absolutely important in keeping a balance in my various lives. walking allows me to daydream, to think thru problems, either of composition or reading. my thinking is not systematic in that I could work on systems of logic. rather, that walking creates a physical rhythm that induces a sort of meditative state, and that meditative state is crucial for mental health. I've had friends and coworkers describe me when I'm on my perambulations, and they laugh about it because I mostly look altogether elsewhere. I don't know how I look at all, so I must trust that I do look lost in thought, sorta like a goofy mad professor.

at any rate, such a state for me is akin to the physical labor I did before I found myself in an office job. such work was often soul-crushing, and physically exhausting, but it could also allow for the body to move in rhythm and create a meditative state for the mind/brain. when that happened it was almost a pleasure. the mind was free, and I learned to have on hand a pen and some paper just in case. often nothing would get written but sometimes I'd get lucky.

but why the Beck chorus of being a loser sticks in the head when I sat down a while back is because the art of writing and reading, and the ancillary arts of living varied lives, is also learning how to lose. the poem we wish to write is never the poem that gets written. when reading an amazing text we are humbled and challenged to write something as good or better. that we are always hoping to become better men/women, lovers/fathers/mothers/sons/daughters and so on. that life is a big loss, but what matters is how well we lose.

that the arts of doing nothing is a challenge to free the mind and allowing us the absolute necessity to daydream. that, perhaps, is the hardest art of all.