In which I make the usual excuses and focus on the collective, veering slightly to the personal
Very early in the Trump administration, I posted something that began with my favorite one-line poem-within-a-poem. Reynolds Price attributed it to Robert E. Lee, but I strongly suspect Price wrote it himself:
A country emptied by the fear of war.
from The Dream of Lee, Reynolds Price
And in that post, One Nation, I mused in a stream-of-consciousness way about the implications of a Trump administration and the way social media keeps eating our brains. If this scrap of writing has no other value, it reminds me that I had some awareness that something was up vis-a-vis the Russians at a very early date. Not that this makes me any kind of a prophet: quite the contrary. Questions about Facebook’s passive involvement or acceptance of such events were quickly swirling. But the nature of Orwell’s memory hole being what it is, it feels like something from a later stage.
Anyway, I wrote very little poetry after that. I have two intervening entries, one of which I actually wrote in early 2019 after kind of a spiritual shock, promptly forgot about in drafts, and have just published.
While I did not vote for the man, I have been impatient with the notion of letting someone live in my head. Not long after the inauguration, I had to dismiss a developer who worked for the company I then ran, because he became obsessed with the matter so thoroughly that he was not getting any of our work out the door. This tragedy (if I may use that term about losing a job as a developer) stuck with me – we need to soldier on, and keep working.
At least, that was my thought. If we consider the importance of “doing the work” in the sense that councilors, preachers, gurus and bartenders mean it, I have badly neglected the work.
As have we all, perhaps – since we find ourselves where we are. I thought about Price/Lee’s one-liner often at the beginning of the end of the Trump administration – COVID-19. The line worked perfectly. Taking “war” as metaphorical, it’s exactly where we’ve been for almost a year now (one may muse on the thought that “emptying” for a short while would have greatly reduced the toll of this particular war, but let’s keep moving).
One of the ideas behind my blog is that we creative writers veer between trying to create something eternal while being as stuck in the present as much as anyone – so keep shipping some
code poetry and don’t worry about whether something ages or dates. But I have badly neglected the work.
Another thing that changed in the last two years – I was very underemployed for a year (so – worried about going bankrupt) and then got a fantastic job with a hosting company (so – learning that job, traveling a LOT before COVID hit.
Excuses, excuses. I thought about this blog frequently – and then scrolled Facebook or Reddit some more. Exhausted at the remains of the day, to evoke Ishiguro’s fabulous phrase.
And then the symptoms hit, which perhaps all creative types recognize. Sadness, to the point of tears. Bouts of nostalgia. Not being able to sing a silly song about Jesus without getting emotional, and not about your bad chord changes. Reading one’s own past work and tearing up, which may be the ultimate in narcissism.
I’d better get back to work.
One last thing: I’m unhooking the Twitter auto-post function after this post. I may tweet there occasionally, or may not, but something about social media bothers me right now, and feels like part of the problem.