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Showing posts from February 25, 2018

In order to write poetry, you must first invent the poet to write it.

Antonio Machado’s epigram goes: “in order to write poetry, you must first invent a poet to write it.” I take this as a general rule that crosses genres, and put it in radical juxtaposition with that debauched child of American transcendentalism: write what you know. The latter has always bugged me, on many counts. How do you know that you know is the epistemologically most basic. There is something imagination squeezing, a certain corseting of energy, that is at stake here. Y ou would not advise a tennis player to play the game that she knows, or the plumber to confine herself to only the known, the expected. You’ll never play excellent tennis or do good plumbing that way. All concern acts that are elaborated in contexts full of unforeseen variables, which you bump into and learn from – for instance, you learn what you don’t know. Every time a car mechanic goes, “come on baby, work”, or a cook go, “it tastes done,” what is expressed is the essential duality of work, the fact that the

Letter from Paris

Paris has had a dismal winter. My standard of comparison is, admittedly, skewed. Set next to the simulacrum winters of Santa Monica, which perfectly replicates the pattern of long nights and short days but not the temperatures or the potential for snowfall (snowfall on the beach? No way, dude!) – that is, the storybook winters we get in children’s books, all based on the weather in those countries licked by the Gulf Stream at its Northern end, which are the model even in films made in Hollywood (or, really, Culver City), where Santa Claus never wears jogging shorts even if the actor playing Santa does – by such personal orienting points it was hard. By more normal standards, winter was less dismal than mid-range. It isn’t as if we are plunged into the Little Ice Age here in Europe, as in that period in the 17 th century when the Seine regularly iced over at Rouen, and the glaciers crept down those Alpine slopes into Heidi’s bedroom. Of course, in one model of the disaster we are h