Sunday, November 18, 2007

No Risk, No Gain: Blakean Mental War

I expanded on some comments to Steve Tills... thought them worth foregrounding as a post.

Original post and comments HERE

Should" is one of those words, isn't it?

It's all about where the "should" is coming from... and that voice can be elusive.

I think of a production of Hamlet by the Arden Theater Company here in Philly when they were still in the tiny theater-in-the-semi-round behind St. Stephen's. The ghost scene. The stage was simply a platform raised about two feet above floor level. The theater went dark. Hamlet alone in a soft spot on stage. Every line from the ghost came from a different side of the platform--as the actor playing the ghost circled around. Hamlet would turn toward the voice, only to hear it come from behind--even the voice sounded different (was there more than one actor?)

It was very effective. Chilling.

Like figuring out where the "should" is coming from.

Which is exactly what's going on in that scene, come to think of it!

I'm happy you're finding my blog of interest... twenty years ago, when I discovered the old BBS connections--pre-internet as we have it now, I naively believed it would be possible to find the kind of creative community we imagine when we think of... say, Poets of the New York School and the action painters in NY in the 40's, or Paris in the 20's, or...

Foolish dream.

But in these past few months I've begun to see at least part of that might be possible--since I set up JRBD. Blogs almost do it.

The discussion forums (Salon, Readerville, The Atlantic) failed because they depended too much on commonality of interest--that is, on common subjects. It was never merely an interest in art or poetry that defined (wrong word...defined) those moments, nor shared vision--but rather each of those involved seeing something before them that didn't yet exist, something different for each... an intrusion of the indefinable Real--what was shared, was what no one of them possessed, what could not be possessed, but only courted, each in his own way.

I see in the way we find and add links something more selective. I'm aware of doing that myself. While I want to be open, inclusive--I don't want to be so inclusive that the pattern of what I favor is obscured. I have something in mind... or just beyond what I'm able to hold in mind. I can't put a label on it. "Experimental" invites as many misses as "Mainstream." And some of what makes it into the mainstream is exactly what I'm looking for. I've chosen the majority of the blogs I've linked because, together, they seem to point in directions that feel promising... fellow seekers, if you will, but seekers who know damn well what they're looking for even if they won't be able to name or describe it till they find it.

is almost a caricature of the type! And I don't mean that negatively. It's that dissonant combination of openness and rigor--holding the tension!. Yes--that's what it's all about--holding the tension. He's amazing--such sharply formulated opinions and yet... he doesn't know what he's going to like till he sees it! So that what he likes, you can trust comes, not from abstractions imposed on what he reads, but from what he discovers from his reading, in the reading. To me, that frees me to both listen deeply to his opinions, and at the same time, never feel obliged to be beholden to them--or to believe he would respect anyone who did.

We cannot be genuinely open if we don't lay our beliefs on the table--stake our intellectual lives on the line. Blakean Mental warfare. But oh, the triumph is not in winning--but in discovering a whole new beginning! To have everything you ever thought or believed overthrown. Never happens to those who have nothing at stake, nothing to lose.

No risk, no gain.

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