Sunday, December 07, 2014

wherever you go there you watch TV

in a video interview of joseph brodsky the exiled russian/u.s. poet said that one afternoon he was sitting at his desk writing or translating and he reached for the dictionary.  brodsky's mind flashed toward that gesture and he said to the interviewer no matter where he was on earth he would make that same gesture and that a country is only the extension of the space.  brodsky, in other words, is a poet wherever he found himself. reaching for a dictionary is a gesture of centering the mind and the body no matter what the landscape looks outside the window.

i was reminded of brodsky's insight last month when b. and i were in an s.f. cab going to see slowdive at the warfield.  we zipped thru neighborhoods and because it was a mild lovely night many windows were open.  now when i travel i am less interested in the touristy places.  i want to visit the local supermarkets and shops, the bookstores, the places where people live and have their basic needs met.  where you buy your food matters more to me than a statue commemorating the local hero or founding father. 

when we were in the cab i looked at the beauty of s.f. -- and it is a phantasmagorical feast for the senses and the eyes.  i looked in the windows of the houses and apartment buildings.  you know what most of the people inside their homes were doing?  yes, that is right, they were watching TV.  can there be a more ordinary, less dramatic, thing in this world?  people were watching TV amidst the splendors of a world-class city. 

TV viewing is hardly a thing to -- in the words of george harrison -- get hung about.  and yet it is one of the most basic, homely things we do.  watching TV does indeed center us wherever we are.  in other words, no matter where you live you will probably focus your attention to a little, or big, blue screen.  why do some of us when we want to change our minds and our souls need to change our scenery?  if there is a republic i occupy it is the international republic of poetry.  i firmly believe if you want to change your mind and your soul you must change your language.  a country, or neighborhood, is only an extension of the space.  i don't mean we should not cherish beautiful countries and cities and neighborhoods.  i love the neighborhood and city i live in.  sacramento, california is a place where i hope to die in.  but whether i live in sac or s.f. or l.a. or nyc or paris or london it is still only an extension of the space.  wherever i live i will still be a human being living in the international republic of poetry and watching TV. 


At 9:52 AM, Blogger Jim McCrary said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 9:52 AM, Blogger Jim McCrary said...

is this the old since the planet moves i dont have too? i gotta go see whats around the bend. lets talk

At 8:44 PM, Blogger richard lopez said...

me too, but not always. i love travel. but sometimes i just want to stay where i am. i think what i was trying to say, jim, is that we chase ourselves when we travel thinking that if we can change our scenery we can change our selves. but in our pursuit for novelty and new vistas we bring our same old selves with the same old set of neuroses. we can travel too by not leaving where we are and we can change our selves if we want to when we acknowledge that wherever we go that same old face will always meet you in the mirror.

rereading your book, jim, AT THAT this morning. i started my day off right!

At 10:12 AM, Blogger Jim McCrary said... can lose your mind many different ways for of them is to be somewhere not known before...under your bed or under a jungle tree.


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