For your pleasure we offer kick-boxing or skeet-shootingFor your pleasure we offer kick-boxing or skeet-shooting

“Sometimes I think that there will be a place in the future for a literature the nature of which will singularly resemble that of a sport.  Let us subtract, from literary possibilities, everything which today, by the direct expression of things and the direct stimulation of the sensibility by new means–motion pictures, omnipresent music, etc.–is being rendered useless or ineffective for the art of language.  Let us also subtract a whole category of subjects–psychological, sociological, etc.–which the growing precision of the sciences will render it difficult to treat freely.  There will remain to letters a private domain: that of symbolic expression and of imaginative values due to the free combination of the elements of language.” — Paul Valery (quoted in “After Joyce,” from Not-Knowing, ed. Herzinger)

Getting it rightGetting it right

“[Henry] James was the most consummate artist American literature has produced. He was fastidious by nature and by early training. He had studied his art in France as men study sculpture in Italy, and he had learned the French mastery of form. Nowhere in his writings may we find slovenly work. His opening and closing paragraphs are always models, his dialogue moves naturally and inevitably,—in all the story despite its length nothing too much,—and everywhere a brilliancy new in American fiction. He is seldom spontaneous; always is he the conscious artist; always is he intellectual; always is he working in the clay of actual life, a realist who never forgets his problem to soar into the uncharted and the unscientific realms of the metaphysical and the romantic.” — Fred Lewis Pattee (from The Cambridge History of English and American Literature, Vol. XVI, Book III, Part VI., Sec. 9)

Reason without rhymeReason without rhyme

This week I’m posting copies of the poems I had published in the first decade of the Third Millennium (by the reckoning of the Christian Church and the Western post-industrial democracies).  These poems were all written between about 1998 and 2005.

This is pretty much the end of my previously published work, which I’ve been posting to this site since March of this year.  I have a poem, “love poem,” in the Lyrotica anthology published by Vagabondage Press, but that came out just a few months ago so it falls outside of the date range of the batch of poems I posted today.  And I have a story, “Lawn,” which should be coming out in Thema magazine’s “One Thing Done Superbly” issue any day now, if it hasn’t already.  I’ll probably post that to this site next year.

Next week I’ll probably begin daily postings of a longer work, High Street, which is a book-length manuscript that confused people such as myself might characterize as creative nonfiction.  So much for the probabilities and the confusion, then (I could be a derivatives trader).

Unpacking the objectUnpacking the object

“According to [Henry] James, a short story was the analysis of a situation, the psychological phenomena of a group of men and women at an interesting moment. Given two, three, four different temperaments, bring them into a certain situation, and what would be the action and reaction? The story was a problem to be solved. Little was to be said about the characters: they were to reveal themselves, gradually, slowly as they do in actual life, by long continued dialogue, by little unconscious actions and reactions, by personal peculiarities in dress, manners, movement, revealed by a thousand subtle hints, descriptive touches, insinuations. Under such conditions the movement of the story must be slow: in some of his work there seems to be no story at all, only the analysis of a situation. The method requires space: James has stretched the length of the short story to its extreme….  Twenty-eight of the one hundred and three stories in Henry James’s final list are long enough to appear as volumes. Yet one may not doubt they are short stories: they are each of them the presentation of a single situation and they leave each of them a unity of impression.” — Fred Lewis Pattee (from The Cambridge History of English and American Literature, Vol. XVI, Book III, Part VI., Sec. 9 (emphasis in original))

What men wantWhat men want

“If a woman tells me: I love you because you’re intelligent, because you’re decent, because you buy me gifts, because you don’t chase women, because you do the dishes, then I’m disappointed; such love seems a rather self-interested business.  How much finer it is to hear: I’m crazy about you even though you’re neither intelligent nor decent, even though you’re a liar, and egotist, a bastard.” — Milan Kundera, Slowness (trans. Asher)

The soul of contentionThe soul of contention

“Hawthorne added soul to the short story and made it a form that could be taken seriously even by those who had contended that it was inferior to the longer forms of fiction. He centred his effort about a single situation and gave to the whole tale unity of impression. Instead of elaboration of detail, suggestion; instead of picturings of external effects, subjective analysis and psychologic delineation of character.” — Fred Lewis Pattee (from The Cambridge History of English and American Literature, Vol. XVI, Book III, Part VI, Sec. 4)

Rimbaud packed it in before he turned 21Rimbaud packed it in before he turned 21

In November of 1975 I was 17 years old and began writing poetry.  The following year I had four of my poems published in two very obscure magazines.  In 1978 I had another published in another very obscure magazine.  It was another ten years before I had another poem published, again in an obscure magazine, this one in the United Kingdom.  And in 1990 I had another poem published: magazine again obscure.

Those seven poems are the previously published works I’m posting this week.  They were all written before I was twenty years old.  Nearly everything else I wrote in those early scribbling days when the Vietnam War was still freshly lost and the nation was anesthesizing itself with drugs, sex, rock-and-roll and King Disco, has long since been thrown away and good riddance to it.  I would hate to think someone would have to wade through that garbage to sort it out after I die.

What are you running from?What are you running from?

“There is a secret bond between slowness and memory, between speed and forgetting.  Consider this utterly commonplace situation: a man is walking down the street.  At a certain moment, he tries to recall something, but the recollection escapes him.  Automatically, he slows down.  Meanwhile, a person who wants to forget a disagreeable incident he has just lived through starts unconsciously to speed up his pace, as if he were trying to distance himself from a thing still too close to him in time.  In existential mathematics, that experience takes the form of two basic equations: the degree of slowness is directly proportional to the intensity of memory; the degree of speed is directly proportional to the intensity of forgetting.” — Milan Kundera, Slowness (trans. Asher)

Jump down, turn around, find what’s been forgottenJump down, turn around, find what’s been forgotten

It had been my plan to post my earliest published poetry this weekend, but last week I found in my archives one more previously published story I had overlooked and hadn’t posted yet.  That story is “Tossing Baby to the Tiger,” originally published in 2003 by Salt Hill.  It is what I posted this week.  It’s much more interesting than my poetic juvenilia, which I’ll probably post next week, for I have no shame and I no longer care.