oct 21 2019 - for the time being
ideas flowing from compartments to chainmail to chassis
|Benedict Nguyen||Oct 21, 2019||3|
before I even started drafting this slushee, I was thinking about many of the things I was thinking about a year ago and maybe my oct 16 2018 post’s musing’s of its own existence have twirled in deeper spirals around themselves into this oct 21 2019 post and I’ve mentioned that I can self-absorbed right?
and i’ll acknowledge the latent meta-headache of artists/writers using ‘personal essays’ to question the function of personal essays by dropping this excerpt of a poem that I received in my inbox this wk;
by Tony Hoagland
I will keep eating my experience
with a certain
shitting out opinions
to the end.
I got it from this poetry chainmail that was revived from the early 2000s to circulate in our inboxes in this wild fall that’s happening. I read the above without much context—of how the poet organized it within a collection or who the poet is or what the poet cares about or what it means for those words to come from this specific person
I’ll say that who the Artist is, is so important. it is. Who gets to shit out opinions to the end and be listened to?
a recent article, ‘The Writer as Influencer’ by Allegra Hobbs, makes an eerie but not surprising comparison between the function of writers (supposedly the True Intellectual Artists) and influencers (supposedly the Shallow Scammers). besides making me more self conscious about the navel-gaze-y ness of some of these slushies, it made me think about how artists broadly are leveraging our lifestyles and personhood for clix and cash in a particular kind of way and
I was stumbled on to this essay by Tajja Isen that highlights patterns in work brought out by the personal essay boom of this past decade. i’ll be clear and say it can be absolutely magical for someone whose identities/cultures have been stolen and trampled on and dismissed and exotified to speak from those places with dimension. but Isen’s essay (among many others), is helping me question the economy of art that shapes the norms (and prices!) for such narrow ways for writing about/expressing them
From Isen’s essay:
“I’ve started a ritual to dispose of personal essay ideas I know I won’t write. It involves saying the phrase aloud — “personal essays I won’t write” — like it’s a punchline, or a prayer. […]
The refrain is a joke, mostly, a loving dig at how easy it is to make googly eyes at your navel. But it’s also a minor exorcism: By articulating the urge, however fleeting, to seize an idea, pin it down, and parse its innards, I make myself evaluate the kernel at its heart.”
It’s helping me articulate how/why I only seem to write about the same few things in this slushie — time passing and slipping, #freelanceflailing, burnout, lol. These aren’t neutral topics but they’ve been ones that i’ve been able to mine sentences about for the speedy rhythm of this fqms’ celestial calendar, which reminds me how quickly and slow time passes and slips. and it’s not an accident that I don’t write about other things but I wonder where the kernel of my heart is??
I wanted to share with y’all an excerpt of the poem that i’ve been sending back in the few folks that have sent me stuff:
‘on registering good feeling’ by dear one, t. tran le
I’d forgotten what kind of company Delight is bulldozing shrill no one can get a word in all day Delight entertains in a room of mirrors no matter who else is in the room
^^excerpting poetry is exceptionally stressful, see the original link for the original formatting
last week, after spending 2 months reading a book (which is long for me!), I started reading a new book on the subway and, for whatever multiple reasons, have been speeding through it pretty quickly. I reached a passage and had the fleeting idea of excerpting it for this slushee but instead of noting it, kept reading and forgot where it was. when I started drafting this, I flipped through everything I read and chose this, which I think is different from the part that grabbed me last week but i’m very unsure ;)
“Or maybe none of these things will happen except in my mind and yours, because, like I told you, together we’re making magic, at least for the time being.”
—Ruth Ozeki, A Tale for the Time Being
^^I don’t mean this as an earnest note about some presumptuous relationship between myself and you, reader, but as a nice quote that is itself, beyond what I can say about it
This book had been on my list for awhile and the ‘algorithm’ (I know, I know, i’m a robot too) of what I read now/next favors books that have surfaced multiple times in a certain time period and more than a couple folks have some how brought this book (published in 2013) into conversation over the past few months.
i’m thankful for the in-person talks about books and the smattering of emails from strangers with poems that have a context for them, even tho they might not all say much to me
someone I recently spoke to about my slushees mentioned the lite astrology references I make feel a bit mysterious. I don’t often make it the work of the slushie to explain what it means to me that today’s third quarter moon shifts from cancer and enters Leo and the sun enters Scorpio on Wednesday (!!!). i’ll say I’m drafting this after my 3rd mtg of the morning (and 3 more to come today, lol - I definitely get to check off the #freelanceflailing box for this post ;)) and that while I didn’t plan for this day, I agreed to it - so today’s moon shift feels appropriate lol
and know that might not even mean much to you but it’s funny how this framework of astrology allows me to be very specific while also talking somewhat around things — a metonymy for big planetary feelings and galactic relationships between the multiverse and this human tapping buttons on a chassis in hopes of articulating something well