Saturday, August 21, 2010

cultivating lovingkindness

when i was doing my best to do 'very little' which is what i think i'm quite good at, even if i fail at doing it at all, in sweden, i had a lot of time to ponder. often the mind shifts in shallow, errant thinking. my mind at any rate wallows quite blissfully in small currents. yet, i made notes on my current environments and my own attitudes toward my life as a human. i thought of an absolutely unoriginal aphorism: to write well, one doesn't need to be an asshole.

perhaps it was modernism, and the romantics before them, that cultivated the persona of the mad artist who toiled in isolation and suffered greatly for her art. doesn't work for me. suffering begets only suffering and produces very little in the ways of living and the arts. better yet, isn't pleasure, however you define the word, the greater good? should we not as humans cultivate a lovingkindness in our lives, our arts, our writings, and by further extension, our technologies and our governments?

i work better when i'm happier. i know that and i prefer the company of people who can create pleasure in themselves and in me. lovingkindness does not mean an end to crankiness, or shallowness, or even being pissed off at the state of our world. but the practice of lovingkindness i think encourages others to do the same. i'm not sure where to go from there, of course. often, in our society when one is labelled 'a nice guy' that is quite often code for being weak and an easy mark. that code is a false marker. being nice and practicing niceness does not make one weaker. i recall something the gnostic philip k. dick once wrote, that to practice love is the greater of hate, because love is harder than hate, and greater for it being so.

better still, please see gabriel gudding's post on developing a kind mind by clicking here. gudding's rationale is more fine and an extremely crisp, lucid argument for what i've stumbled thru here. the intellect is also a great source of pleasure and gudding's mind is one of the better minds i've read on the topic of writing and lovingkindness. in fact, gudding is one of the rare poets who is actively seeking a writing of anti-meanness. poetry, i think, is made the better for it.


At 2:05 PM, Blogger John B-R said...

Tho I couldn't agree more that there are those who think that they have to cultivate some some shall we say highly neurotic traits to help them create, some artists just ARE assholes, Richard, and nothing can be done about it. That's because most assholes don't think they're assholes.

You needn't worry too much about it, for yourself at least. You are one of the good people.

Oh and welcome back by the way. Rule of thumb 1 day jetlag / hour of time change. SO you should feel fine two weeks from now ...

At 2:48 PM, Blogger richard lopez said...

i should also write out the aphorism: you don't need to be artist to be an asshole.

meaning of course that asshole-ism appears to be woven in our culture and is indeed encouraged by it, at least in popular media. see any reality show or contestant show on tv for too numerous examples.

what i admire in gudding is his rejection of asshole-ism. that is a breath of fresh air. too often we are taught that to be on top we should become mean motherfuckers.

i reject that, absolutely. we don't need to be mean to be excellent. we can be excellent while exercising kindness.

feeling almost normal, john. the excitement of travel has worn off but damn! it's nice to be home.

At 4:54 PM, Blogger Ed Baker said...

I, for one, really missed you! And I certainly de:preciated the wonderful post-avant card that you sent... I shall all-ways treasure it.

as for "art/assholes" I'll know "art" when I see it...


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