I. His Dark Materials
It’s a trilogy that turns Harry-Potter grads into atheists, have you heard? The overarc(h)ing narrative is the quest to kill God. Here’s the thing: it’s so much more godly and Christian than any other book I’ve written. Even if God dies (spoiler alert) in a terribly anticlimactic scene, all three books insist the church is a huge terrifying force that must be fought at all cost. And angels are everywhere and basically it’s all Milton all the time. Oh, look! I wrote “written” instead of read. Who the H do I think I am?
II. Bill Callahan live at the Williamsburg (Brooklyn) Music Hall
Me seeing B.C. live is like certain friends seeing Gary Lutz read, or like Flannery O’Connor at a midnight mass. This is to say I’m devoted. The man drumming had a mincing fag’s approach to slapping the heads; he drummed like Snagglepuss holding two pieces of someone else’s poo. The reason this was perfect for a Bill Callahan show is the exact sort of thing that makes preaching the B.C. gospel so difficult. I was unsatisfied by so many repeats from the 2007 show in Omaha, but satisfied overall. (Pretty please follow the above B.C. link, and then pretty please buy me that guitar of his.)
III. The audience at same
I was dissatisfied by the audience at Bill Callahan live at the Williamsburg Music Hall. Is it a New York thing, or a Brooklyn thing, or a Williamsburg thing: this self-absorbed performing for other people in the audience? One woman “woo”‘d for five long seconds at one random moment and it killed. More laffs than at a Gallagher show. She won, I guess. Hipster of the Century.
Poetry is the most self-conscious of writing forms. This is not my (sloppy) idea. I like read it in a David Citino book it’s so everyday. Poetry is also the most associative of writing forms. This can be seen as contradictory. That this contradiction exists is what makes poetry simultaneously interesting, possible, and for many many people (not me! honest!) unreadable.
V. People v. Flowers
A line from a poetry book I need to re-read: “I love flowers / more than people.” It’s a sad, shameful, defeated admission. Writers, sure, have many jobs, but foremost among them has to be to remind people that other people are worth loving. Right?
VI. A fallacious argument that still needs a sound counterargument, the finding of which will I think make me a better teacher.
Liking to read and liking English classes is like being born with or somehow developing a taste for licorice, and that some people just don’t like licorice. And for some reason the world has decided that these people can hate licorice all they want but that they damn well better have an understanding of exactly what licorice tastes like if they want to get a degree, or want to be considered educated. And so, for two semesters or so they suck it up and choke down licorice twice/thrice weekly, all the while keeping their eyes on this lovely licorice-free prize they’ll enjoy as soon as they’re done with school.
VII. A possible counterargument I don’t really want to have to use.
Not enjoying English classes because there are no definite single answers (like, say, in most other academic courses) is like not enjoying beer because it tends to make one drunk.
VIII. Joanna Newsom may be precious, young, and may have left B.C. for Andy F-ing Samberg, but she’s incredibly talented and her first album remains great top to bottom, inclusive of the following lyric I finally paid attention to just yesterday on a nine-hour train trip from Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to Williamsburg, Virginia.
“Never get so attached to a poem you forget truth that lacks lyricism.”