Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I'm a dip, but so what: random cranks

I'm such a dip for not writing more often.

See, what I love about having a blog is that it forces me to write, to write more and with less perfectionism. It works against my tendency, cultivated in childhood's secrecy, to internalize everything. Blogs are clotheslines between the tenements. Hang your unders in public and damn the hatches. Something like that.

Also, I have this "thing" against complaining when, in fact, complaining is the root cause of art. Or one of the roots, along with ecstasy--which is what I want to veer towards, but even the Persian poet Hafez, who knows the divine and ecstasy, wrote cautionary poems, poems warning fellow poets to keep their egos under control.

My last post was a poem from my book. I'd included two "photos"--I found both in Google images as I usually do. I didn't feel either epitomized or complemented the poem, but my "rule" (the rules of the Order of St. Sarah Sarai) is to locate artwork quickly and be done with it. Again, the anti-perfectionist, and also the rule of a person who is a writer and not a photo editor.

I left the Ellis Island photo up but deleted the drawing of a slave ship. It never felt right to have it accompany the poem and that unease was met with comments too far afield. I was reminded of Susan Sontag's treatise Against Interpretation. Or Aristotle telling us, in different words, that a thing is equal to itself. I just couldn't stomach anyone interpreting a sketch of a slaver as looking like anything other than what it is--an implement of torture, genocide and means to the worst form of slavery that world has known (U.S. slavery).

So I took down the photo. I remember years ago when I was editor-in-chief of a small monthly devoted to ethnic arts and issues. A politicized African American group wanted me to print some anti-Jewish statements in an op-ed and I wouldn't. I was criticized but I just didn't see the point.

So that's that. Onward.

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