Friday, February 6, 2009


Today I felt some urgency to get a new entry on the blog, but really had nothing to put down that was "blogworthy." For the past two weeks I've been thinking about the reality I'm creating in the blog. In a way, it's a perfect form for me. After writing a full-length memoir, and all those years writing poetry, I know what I enjoy is creating a narrative out of my life. In a way, I've been blogging a long time, writing essays, practicing narratives, making written pieces out of what is in my head. In the blog, though, because it is immediately public, I right away began making choices. I began from the beginning leaving things out (beginning with the essay I wrote that occasioned the blog in the first place). I've been going back and taking things out-- things I would otherwise say or even write, things that I think are important to the story. It is not censorship, exactly. When I write them in the first place I hesitate. When someone responds or suggests I take something out, I do. It is sensitivity, I suppose. It privileges a certain story, however. I took something out in a past entry already once this week. I wonder about that, because I know my poetry and maybe most of my writing has come from a darker place. A place I value for its beauty and honesty. The blog is true, too, but it creates a certain picture of my life. And this picture is in large part fiction, as all narratives are, and it's a different narrative than the one I've told so far.

It's pastoral.

To write these entry/essays, I need to be engaging with things-- movies, experiences, the natural world, ideas. These past few weeks my chief engagement has been with movies. So I could sit down and write a film review. I don't want the blog to become one thing only, but I can only write about what I'm engaged with. And in fact there are other stories I could tell-- about all I'm learning about the aging of the monastery, and all the sadness that comes along with watching the Sisters flounder and valiently keep on, and struggle with their individual and collective fragility. But that is a private story, to be told some day but not now.

And it is winter, so we're watching a lot of films. And I'm not writing poetry, but I'm thinking about the fact that I'm not writing poetry, and sending out my second manuscript to contests. Last night there was a poetry "event" at the college, a panel on politics and poetry, and there were two writers on the panel who interest me, and they were going to talk about William Stafford, who also interests me. But we didn't go. I had so much anxiety about "the scene" of it, and all that it means that I'm not engaged by and in that world anymore. I had worked myself up sufficiently by the time I came home from work that I just wanted to be let off the hook and not have to go. We went out to dinner instead.

Tonight we watched Vicky Christina Barcelona, the latest Woody Allen movie, which struck me as a story straight out of Edith Wharton. It takes up Allen's perpetual fascination with the hedgehog and the fox, the romantic and the classical world view, the lure of the domestic and the lure of the artist life (which he calls passion). Two women go to Barcelona for the summer, one happily playing out her conventional plan for a good life (Vicky), the other a destructive and restless romantic (Christina). They meet a great artist and his ex-wife, a muse for everyone. The poor woman, Vicky, is now confronted by the prospect of living a conventional life with a conventional man until the end of her days. The great scandal of boredom. But of course, the real romantics in the film don't find love and happiness either. Their world view is counter to stability, so they have to destroy what becomes still and peaceful. There's no good end game.

The truth is, I don't know of lives with other people that are boring. No life stays the same. It's a matter of engagement-- engagement with anything close at hand. I might be wrong about that, but I also know that our society privileges the romantic, and the romantic doesn't lead to paradise.


WolfsGotYourTongue said...

I had also just seen Vicky Christina Barcelona, for the second time. I saw the movie in the theatre and really liked it, but the second time around it gave me a shocking revelation: I am both Vicky and Christina, and am not sure how the reconcile the conflict of interest. Ha!
I find it interesting that you said Woody Allen does the comparison of the romantic and the domestic lifestyles; I had not thought of that, nor been privy to that insight. I found however, that he showed the flaws of both lifestyles (not just the artistic passionate lifestyle): Vicky's relative is cheating on her husband because she has grown bored with the 'lack of passion' and urges Vicky to do the same. Both lifestyles are shown flawed and unfulfilling (sp?)-- which is what I get from Woody Allen: Cynicism, and Narcissism. Maybe he was making a comment on the temporary-ness of all situations or the human propensity to be dissatisfied no matter what their situation. All this being said, the soundtrack was great!

Susan Sink said...

I have to say I think you might be right-- you might be both! (I don't like what that says about your chances for longterm fulfillment...) I agree that Woody Allen shows the downside of both lifestyles/ philosophies. Thanks for the comment.