Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Notebook doodle

Sunday, January 29, 2012

"Adjectives of Order"

Found this in an old document folder:

Adjectives of Order
by Alexandra Teague

That summer, she had a student who was obsessed
with the order of adjectives. A soldier in the South
Vietnamese army, he had been taken prisoner when

Saigon fell. He wanted to know why the order
could not be altered. The sweltering city streets shook
with rockets and helicopters. The city sweltering

streets. On the dusty brown field of the chalkboard,
she wrote: The mother took warm homemade bread
from the oven. City is essential to streets as homemade

is essential to bread . He copied this down, but
he wanted to know if his brothers were lost before
older, if he worked security at a twenty-story modern

downtown bank or downtown twenty-story modern.
When he first arrived, he did not know enough English
to order a sandwich. He asked her to explain each part

of Lovely big rectangular old red English Catholic
leather Bible. Evaluation before size. Age before color.
Nationality before religion. Time before length. Adding

and, one could determine if two adjectives were equal.
After Saigon fell, he had survived nine long years
of torture. Nine and long. He knew no other way to say this.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

A brief thought on art and culture

(This was supposed to be the basis for a poem, but out of laziness, I decided to just write it out as a rant.)

One idea that has been occupying my thoughts lately is how bizarre it is that arts can be seen as embodying culture. For example, when someone says that Katy Perry's music reflects some large segment of American culture, or that a community should do more to publicly fund the arts in order to "promote culture."

The reason that this strikes me as so odd is that, in most cases, nothing is more private and individualistic than art and the process by which it comes into being. Every step of the way, from developing one's style to determining subject matter to execution, is a display of individualism. And so at best, it seems to me that collective culture, as far as the arts are involved, is really a constellation of different, radical individualisms.

Or... if we say that American culture, for example, is defined, in large part, by diversity, then no particular works of art or music or dance could be called representative of it. It would be defined by the available spectrum, so to speak, not the individual works... which is a roundabout way of saying that there are no creators of culture, only contributors.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

There's nothing so tragic

There's nothing so tragic
as a comedian
who isn't funny
whose talent is confidence
but not comedy,

and the same for poetry
where the hypocrite-poet,
sweat-stained with introspective intensity,
prefers editorializing
with line breaks,
like this.