Ideas at steak.
I was listening to the follow-up program to HBO’s Band of Brothers and a couple of things stood out. One of the original Easy Company guys said that when he got back from WWII, he took a course in ornamental horticulture. “It wasn’t worth that much, but I met a lot of nice people.” I think that’s what “art therapy” is really all about. Finding people you can talk to, about issues that may not contain much in the way of “meaning” but contain worlds of feeling.
Thinking about the Platonic “art is an imitation of an imitation” kind of thing, it seems to me that at its least, art is a representation. A re-presentation of the world right back at us, which forces us to deal with it more deeply the second time around. But it can be more than that. It creates something that has not existed in nature; it presents it with a force that was not present before. That’s what drives us forward, in a time that the positively medieval notion of a “quest for knowledge” falls short. When justice is gone / there’s always force.
Another moment in the program was the commander who talked of receiving an unfired gun from a surrendering German officer. He was proud of the fact that to this day, he has never fired this weapon. There was underneath it the hope that wars would not be fought, if only people would choose not to fire their weapons.
Got a reaction for my essay The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Destruction today. The teacher wrote:
Bravo — a tour de force! Very impressive work.
I don’t think I’d go that far, myself. I’d like to do some more work on it. I think she was just impressed that she was presented with a 13 page essay that didn’t bore her to tears. It’s hard for me not to think of it as a “work o fart”.
Went out to a steakhouse for dinner. One of the waiters decided to sit down and talk to me, and it made it sort of difficult to eat. But it was fun nonetheless. He was an ex-longhair, impressed with my hair. Why is that always such a topic of conversation? When you have long hair, people always assume that you do drugs. The conversation quickly turned to the prison system:
“If I get arrested and have to go to jail, I hope they just kill me instead.”
“ I mean, I’m not a criminal, I just smoke a little dope when I get the chance. If they send me to jail, I’d be afraid of being turned into a criminal.”
I gave a condensation of Foucault’s Discipline and Punish (the steakhouse waiter version), and generally had a great time discussing addiction and the penal system. I like talking to people, no matter how weird the topic.
It’s going to be weird to read Wound to the class on Wednesday. I hope I can do it with a bit of composure, but it was a difficult piece to deal with. When I got into my car today, the Steve Wynn tape I was listening to rolled around to a song that I hadn’t thought of when I wrote the piece, but I’m sure it was there rolling around in my mind somewhere.
oh those were better days
those were better days
we were sure that there had to be better days
no I’m not sure
some kinda itch
oh it all gets done anyway
but I read my life story twenty times today
still it’s some kinda itch
I must be clear about it though: I don’t write fiction. I really was bitten by mosquitoes as described. Thank you Luke for linking to it. My site traffic doubles when he mentions me, and I hope that people weren’t too disappointed by my all too frequent introspection. The fez must have a hypnotic effect; people actually do what Luke asks!