Aphorisms XXIII

Fine, but if you put all your eggs in one basket, you’d better not drop that basket.


So often in anxious times you see your own internal features expressed in silences, gaps and tones in the speech of your friends. Your own face glares back out of them darkly and says, you’re not enough, you are guilty. But, as it often turns out, they never meant anything by it.

I long for the truth of a myth of a messianic moment where understanding passes over us in a sweet rapture. But it won’t.

The most we can hope for is to taste it, from time to time.


If you’re truly heartbroken about something, you can’t write poetry about it. That needs distance – or maybe I’m asking for too much. Maybe the poetry composed in agony is anti-style, anti-sentiment, and more raw than other poetries. We know this poetry, we find it written daily in little tragic outpourings on lost and monumental blogs, which have their own cutting magnificence. But that rawness is what tempts me to call it ‘not poetry’. Poetry seems to need a certain distance. Or maybe I pry apart the emotion and the concept to avoid those strong feelings, weak as I am.


Othering – when I place a poem in relation to others, in terms of submission, I sometimes realise that it’s entirely different to what I thought it was. It’s like I’ve only just realised what it means. The same happens when I reread an author a year or two after I first did – a darkness, a realness suddenly appears, and the naïve readings are cleared to back rooms of the mind, where dust has gathered.


I can’t say this to myself enough, it seems. What we call great art is art that has been promoted. This is a historical materialist truth. So as an artist, if you expect to succeed, you must promote yourself, or have someone promote you. I find an excuse in being bad – but I’m not that bad. I just need to begin pro-motion. Selling myself, believing in myself. This is an economic truth.


Half-forgotten Kierkegaard – There was talk of stages of life – the aesthetic life, then, better, the ethical life, and then after all, the religious life. Each being what might be called an overall regime of meaning. I’ve been living the aesthetic life, meaning aesthetic projects were the guide and overall rail along which the worth of my life moved. This is supposed by Kierkegaard-in-my-head to be the most immature form of meaning. But I have been shown a certain emptiness of this route, or tempted from it, by something fuller, by someone who travels on another path. The ethical path – by this I mean that the value of life is determined by social considerations, projects and living with others in a very immediate way. Unlike the aesthetic, it isn’t concerned with memory and culture insofar as they aren’t integrated in life through concrete, caring relationships. The way the aesthetic is preserved in the ethical is through, for example, the kind of Feng Shui and style thinking around a residence, that place in which we care and live. No longer in art which exists as a free radical in the culture-as-generalised-fantasia.


If you want to live with someone, you should first learn to live without them. If you want to live without someone, you should first learn to live with them. Both variations of the chiasmus have something to them. How the cared-for-other conditions your values and ethics, and how they do so even away from strict presence.


Aphorisms take such little work; dissolute, but not fragmentary, except in sequence and rhythm of composition. Perfect for a lazy writer.


Sometimes the overgrowth, perhaps literal neuronal overgrowth, of concepts can enjamb experience horribly, bringing thoughts, always the thoughts. Can’t I just look? Can’t I just feel, without the thoughts beginning…

One day I might undertake the practice of stripping thought from my mind. It will take years of mindful practice, reinforcing the moment, the practical consideration. But it will require all hope for a redeeming thought to be lost. I have never yet lost that hope.

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