About

The following is a letter I wrote to a friend:

 

Thank you for the compliment. You referred to me particularly as a man, not as a guy, which to me is an important distinction. It must be because of the Bob Dylan song: “How many roads must a man walk down / Before you call him a man?… The answer is blowing in the wind.” I looked over my posts since last weekend and a little before. You are right, my blog is turning into something different than how it started. But I’m only doing what Emerson did as a writer, which was just to follow his thoughts wherever they took him. It is a process of improvisation. You simply start writing and follow the thread until you’re done and some discovery is made. I learned that technique from poetry writing class with a woman named Ellen Cantor. I didn’t like her as a person but in hindsight I owe her some gratitude for teaching me how to write a narrative poem. She led us through Elizabeth Bishop from an anthology, and the poem I used for a model was “In the Waiting Room.” Then a couple of years later I read a poem by Keats that revealed a very similar approach to writing. Finally I found it in the essays of Emerson: so there was a good precedent for Elizabeth Bishop and for what Ellen was teaching. This is a peculiarity of me, always looking for a precedent in history, trying to trace an idea to its origin. Obviously the improvisational narrative must be older than Keats. But when it was formally used and taught for the first time I don’t know. Do you? I guess it doesn’t matter. The story belongs not to the original teller, but to the best teller, according to a professor Ihad for Shakespeare. So that Goethe is probably better than Marlowe for the Faust drama. It’s been a long time since I read any Emerson, and before the house fire, I had a nice volume of Elizabeth Bishop too… I was saying how my blog has changed, morphing into more than just a place to discuss schizophrenia. Maybe I should rewrite my home page? But I want to wait a little while and think about what to say. Just what is my blog about? Where is it now and where is it going? I suppose I could call it a hegira, along the lines of Anne Sexton. But it’s gone beyond my personal life— or so I hope— to be more of a social commentary. I wish for my writing to be that good, and possibly turn some heads around. I never used to consider myself wise enough to make any kind of criticism of my culture, but maybe I’m evolving just as my blog is. So we see that writing is a process of transformation, which Anne Sexton also covered. It is a personal thing, but also a social thing. For, every individual’s life makes sense only in the context of its society… and at the same time, individuals construct society by means of language and writing. Sounds like Karl Marx a bit, but I guess the Marxists have a point.