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Friday, September 25, 2015

Give (#2)

"God has given you one face, and you make yourselves another." ~Shakespeare


Giving up the ideal for the real is our only job. Recognizing the point where the creative urge is stilled is our basic moral dilemma. Surrendering at that point the symbolic aggregates of matter and self is morally the right thing to do. Morality is giving the crystallized images of captured energy flows back to the universe. Wanting to live forever is immoral, just as it is immoral to destroy energy still possessed by the desire to be, just as it is immoral to circumscribe the desire of another. That is why immortality (Dracula) is evil, Los Alamites are guilt-ridden, and Utah polygamists are bad. Morality is the secret knowledge of every organism of its exact relation to desire.  
~Andre Codrescu, The Disappearance of the Outside: A Manifesto for Escape, p.190-1


My Topiary Is a Hedge against Confusion                      Michele Glazer

You have to come at it from a distance,
to walk up close to it to see the animal
is only from a distance:
then to be charmed by it.
The closer you get the more abstract.
       The dog is named for the variegated privet.
Walk away & the wind shakes Spot & the little leaves flicker,
perhaps, as if in happiness,
or, the water off.
It is not giving up anything nor is it
literal to a fault.

The work of the imagination / is to give itself away.   
~Erica Funkhouser, from  “The Marvels of Insect Life,” in Pursuit


472. We invent a god to help us understand solitude. In time, we give him a wife, a son, pets, students. He seems kinder; we know him better. But then we need a new god. 
~from Vectors: Aphorisms & Ten-Second Essays by James Richardson


God does not demand that we give up our personal dignity, that we throw in our lot with random people, that we lose ourselves and turn from all that is not him. God needs nothing, asking nothing, and demands nothing, like the stars. It is a life with God which demands these things.

Experience has taught the race that if knowledge of God is the end, then these habits of life are not the means but the condition in which the means operates. You do not have to do these things; not at all. God does, not, I regret to report, give a hoot. You do not have to do these things—unless you want to know God. They work on you, not on him.

You do not have to sit outside in the dark .If, however, you want to look at the stars, you will find that darkness is necessary. But the stars neither require nor demand it.

~Annie Dillard, in Teaching a Stone to Talk: Expeditions and Encounters, p. 31


Age of Vanya                                         Jeffrey Harrison

Three months after my brother's death,
I saw Uncle Vanya in New York.
Near the end of the play, Vanya says
he's forty-seven years old. I had forgotten that,
and the line caught me off-guard. Forty-seven
was my brother's age when he killed himself.
I wondered if there was something about being
forty-seven—the very beginning of growing old—
that makes a certain kind of person take
the measure of his life and find it wanting,
even unbearable. Did Andy feel that way?

A few years earlier, over Christmas, Andy and I
had watched Vanya on Forty-Second Street together.
We kept rewinding and replaying the scene
near the end of Act Three, fascinated
by Wally Shawn's performance of Vanya's tirade
and lamentation, which was terrifying
but somehow funny, mordant but pathetic.
I almost don't want to admit we were laughing,
yet I also hold our shared laughter dear.
Now I wonder how close Vanya was to suicide,
and when that possibility entered my brother's mind.

Approaching forty-seven myself now, I can say
it hasn't entered mine. And yet, some days
I have to remind myself my life isn't over,
that I am still, by some measure, young,
that I shouldn't give up and it isn't too late
to get something done. There could be decades ahead,
or at least the thirteen years that Vanya
gives himself. I tell myself it's just a phase,
as our elders used to say annoyingly
when we were teenagers. It's just the age of Vanya,
something to dread, something to get beyond.


…that poets are those to whom the difficulty of writing gives ideas, not those from whom it takes them away.  
~Reginald Gibbons, On Rhyme, APR, Nov./Dec. 2006


It is said that in marriage, the man and woman give each other “his or her nethermost beast” to hold. Each holds the leash for the “nethermost beast” of the other. It’s a wonderful phrase.
~Robert Bly, in “Iron John: A Book About Men,” p. 77


Desert Ant                               Sawako Nakayasu

Says “and” with every step, so that it sounds like this: “and and and and and and and and  and and and and and,” and so on. By the time I make my way to the same desert, I have been collecting and carrying an accumulation of nouns over the past, oh I don’t know how many days, and so I insert them in between the steps of the ant. Cilantro, tennis, phone, hand. Needle, rock, hair. Mingus. Monk. Mouth. I have been ignoring the dirty looks the ant keeps giving me, but finally I cave in, which means I stop to listen carefully. I am informed that I have thrown off the rhythm of “and and and and and.” I am informed that this shall not continue. I am given several options. I choose Monk, so for a while we do “monk and monk and monk and monk and monk and monk and monk.” I thought we were doing okay, but before I know it the ant is out of sight, and then before I know it, the ant has made a decision, and then before I know it, the ant is in my mouth, and mouth, and mouth, and mouth, and mouth, and mouth , and mouth. 

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