Thursday, June 30, 2005

In absentia

Although I post infrequently on this blog (as anyone who reads it must know), I shall make aware to those who do happen upon it that I will, for the next month, be even less prolific than I have been in the past. In the following month I will be undertaking a task of the tallest order: writing a novel in thirty days. Yes, you heard me - thirty days. I am absolutely terrified, but a part of me is excited and anxious and I think it will be a test of my mettle the likes of which I have never really subjected myself to before. So I bid adieu to all you readers (the three of you). Wish me luck.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The Wail of Being

I had a damn good cry last week. Broken, dissheveled, pathetic, lying shirtless on the floor, I wept like there was no tomorrow, lost somewhere deep inside, uninhibited. The Wail of Being, I called it. I liked the sound of it, The Wail of Being - very existential. It seemed appropriate too, to attribute my tears to no particular agent, to a sentiment both vague and overwhelming, to life itself, for I'm not troubled by anything particular at the moment. No kittens have been recently mutilated, and my library of vintage Playboy's remains untouched underneath my bed, just where I left them, and so, eliminating the usual sources of pain, I'm at a loss to explain my breakdown.

But this is beside the point. It doesn't really matter why I was crying, but that I was crying, and that it was an ennobling experience. I felt vital and new afterwards. I felt good. There was no shame or regret within me. I felt an individual, finally.

"It's a shame men don't cry more," a friend said to me as we casually happened upon the subject. I agreed, bolstered by my recent experience. It seems women have a kind of monopoly on this whole crying thing, but, dammnet, why should they have all the fun? But I started to think that perhaps the reason it felt so good to weep is that I, as a man, am not supposed to.
We say we're much more enlightened and liberal these days when it comes to gender stereotypes, but that's not really the case. Real men don't cry, and they sure as hell don't admit to it, and they especially don't praise it. And so, in giving up a role and an act that I play almost every day, one that is often stifling and unnatural, I attained something pure and genuine. This feeling was born out of sorrow, but punctuated by joy, facilitated by the structure I overcame, and so the structure was necessary, but only as something to be occasionally razed.

Friday, June 10, 2005

The Muses and Philosophy

A friend told me he was all about the Muses yesterday. "I'm all about the Muses lately," he said. I was like, "Wuuurd?" and he confirmed that, yes, he was indeed feelin' the Muses. What I find interesting, however, is that he is a philosopher. He belongs to a tradition that repudiated the Muses, if not directly then most assuredly indirectly; it is in the Poets that the Muses sing, and poetry has been done-in since Plato.

Now it may be somewhat bold of me to suggest that because someone studies philosophy their views are naturally consonant with those of Plato. In fact, if I had made this assertion I would just be plain wrong: Nietzsche was probably the greatest modern philosopher and here was a man who disagreed with the most basic Platonic/Socratic principles. But my friend loves Plato. He has said before that even now it is Plato's world we live in. He knows the material and is especially bright. He has studied Political Theory at the University of Toronto under some of the greatest minds in Christendom. What, then, in the name of Socrates did he mean when he said he was feelin' the Muses, when he said he desired for the Muses to sing in and through him so that he could write some philosophy? Would not the influence of the Muses be antithetical to the very nature of his enterprise? Does not the part of the soul animated by the Muses run contrary to reason and is instead the province of the passions, the thymos, if you will? Don't the muses represent that which philosophy must do battle against and rise above? Homer called upon the Muses; Socrates rejected them. The Muses and Philosophy are foils, not friends, and it is this sentiment I believe which caused me not a little amount of consternation upon hearing his utterance. I had thought it is the aim of philosophy to neglect, or at the least control, that part of man which is persuaded and swindled by the comfort of the Muses, for it is their influence which obscures both reason and detached, rational thought about the unchanging and the eternal necessary for philosophy as envisioned by the Ancients. Philosophy rose in opposition to Poetry because it felt that it could find truth with reason, not "feeling" as Poetry does. But my question is not about which discipline approaches more closely the truth. My question, my doubt, is that Philosophy and Poetry, and by Poetry I refer to the Muses, are not congruent. And my answer is I don't believe they are. One may rightly dispute whether Philosophy is correct in repudiating the Muses, but I believe it is beyond dispute to say that Philosophy does not require, nor is aided by the Muses, and that it should, if it wishes to be true its principles, stop its ears with wax and ignore the call of the Sirens.

But my friend was drunk when he said this so he was probably just a little fucked up.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

My response to the game of literary blog tag:

Number of books I own:

About 1oo. I know that sounds like a paltry number, but, keep in mind that I am only a young man, twenty years old, intellectually ripe enough to want to read all the books I own and fiscally irresponsible to buy any more at the time being. But I have some great books. Quality literature, I tell you. And doesn't 1oo great books mean more than 5oo Nancy Drew's? Hmm? Does quality matter here?

Last 5 books I've bought:

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay - Michael Chabon
On the Road - Jack Kerouac
The Dharma Bums - Jack Kerouac
Basic Writings - Martin Heidegger
The Crying of Lot 49 - Thomas Pynchon

I borrowed Basic Writings from my uncle but, dammet, it's just too good to leave off the list. Phenomenological "seeing" is the new blue, my friend.

Last 5 books I've read:

The Closing of the American Mind - Allan Bloom
The Sun Also Rises - Ernest Hemingway
Austerlitz - W.G. Sebald
Natural Right and History - Leo Strauss
Absalom, Absalom! - William Faulkner

You can track the intellectual heritage from Strauss to Bloom and totally call Bloom on plagiarism. Take that you polyglot!

5 books that mean a lot to me:

For Whom the Bell Tolls - Ernest Hemingway
The Brothers Karamazov - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
The Republic of Plato (Bloom translation)
The Glass Bead Game - Herman Hesse
The Outsider - Albert Camus

I know, I know, The Outsider is a little cliche, but it resonates deep within me right now and I can't in good conscience leave it off my list. For Whom the Bell Tolls also happens to be my most cherished book, a first edition no less, and a more mature, poetic Hemingway speaks from its pages to the poet in me. Wow. That sounded a little gay.