I'll be processing this one a while. Completely changing the way I think of healing, art and the unconscious mind. His approach to healing takes Marin...moreI'll be processing this one a while. Completely changing the way I think of healing, art and the unconscious mind. His approach to healing takes Marinetti's statement "Poetry is an act" to the most fascinating extreme. His idea of the 'panic party'...the importance of a positive effect of art (something I would have scoffed at before)...I could sum it all up as, "Better living through metaphor." Really excellent to read as a companion to Jung's Psychology and Alchemy, which I read earlier this year.
God how I wish I had read this when I was actively studying the craft of poetry. For anyone interested in creativity, the appendix on creative processes is priceless.
Some of my favorite quotes:
"At every moment, the capacity of the unconscious exceeds the limits of our reason, whether by way of dreams or by involuntary acts. With that in mind, shouldn't there be a way to make the unconscious behave voluntarily, like an ally?"
"The same advice given at the wrong moment will not have the least effectiveness...Similarly, when a person lets their guard down a bit, I often try to kick a psychological goal. We understand well that anyone who is prey to a vice continually maintains a position of defense. The ego refuses to yield. I must then seize or provoke a moment of distraction so as to let an order pass through the line of defense, into the unconscious. In order for the client to adopt the advice, it is important to penetrate his stubborn 'I' and to touch the much more impersonal zone of the self."
"Every day we should carry out a free act, a little thing that serves others, like giving a chocolate to a child, simple things. I have come to true depravity in searching for goodness. Sometimes I put cash in the pocket of a sleeping homeless person, so he thinks he has good luck. I invent miracles. Even if you don't believe in miracles, you can do little things to help others."
"The most difficult thing in the world is to create sublime art. Very few people have achieved this. But I could cite Rene Daumal, who learned Sanskrit and was a student of Gurdjieff; he achieved it. Federico Garcia Lorca is an opposite case: he could not achieve it, he did not know how to...When you read 'A Poet in New York,' it makes you sad...I remember some artists who said this world isn't worth anything, that it is a pigsty, that we are going nowhere, that God is dead, and all those things. Bad literature is this. To expose your navel, to tell how you drank your morning coffee amid general disgust, with everything around you rotting. While the world is dying, I drink my coffee. Or I perform my little sex acts. This is old-fashioned. One must cross this neurotic curtain. I, for example, confess that I cannot read Marcel Proust. He's too sick for me, and his neurosis can contaminate me. Every day I see neurotic cases, why would I want to read others? Nowadays Franz Kafka is on the loose everywhere! I go to mail a letter, and I find myself with Kafka in the post office: an employee full of problems."
(!!! As a sometimes-depressive who has alternately been completely in love with Kafka and Proust, I laughed out loud at this.)
"A healthy person can read Emil Cioran or Michel Houellebec and laugh a lot."
"In an unguided way, the true master lets wellness slip in and subtly introduces knowledge that can raise another's level of consciousness."
"The plant, the rocks, the joke: they are sacred, these things are consecrated."
"Throughout life, prejudices are not fixed, but beliefs are. I remember that at thirty years old I did something fundamental: I took a notebook and told myself, 'I am going to write down all the ideas I have in my mind. What do I believe in?' I wrote it, I did it to pick the ideas off, like fleas. And then I told myself, ' These ideas are not me; they may end up being useful, but they are not me.'"
"Behind every illness there is a book, be it the Qu'ran, the gospels, the Old Testament, Buddhist sutras...All books, if they are interpreted through fanaticism, produce illnesses."
"Psychoanalysis notes the dreams and interprets them in light of reason; it goes from the unconscious to the rational. I go in reverse. I take the rational and capsize it in the language of dreams, introducing dreams into the language of reality."(less)
This is a pretty informative collection of personal essays and overviews of the Radical Faery movement that was just one twentieth century queer respo...moreThis is a pretty informative collection of personal essays and overviews of the Radical Faery movement that was just one twentieth century queer response to cultural oppression--the ideas are dated and may seem limited to modern gay men, but the infusion of spirituality and environmentalism may be interesting for some. Worth the read for their veneration of Walt Whitman and their take on the 'calamus' poems. (less)
Sent me into a Patti Smith tailspin--"Horses" on loop, renting "Dream of Life" on Netflix, contemplating suspenders vs. ties as women's fashion.
Patti...moreSent me into a Patti Smith tailspin--"Horses" on loop, renting "Dream of Life" on Netflix, contemplating suspenders vs. ties as women's fashion.
Patti writes her life like a well-behaved novel--infuses events with purpose and meaning without any sort of postmodern apology, like a child, like kids. It's amazing that someone so tied to counterculture registers this much earnest idealism, such an ethos of care--and really, though the hip names drop like rain, such a lack of debauchery.
She nods to this occasionally--remembering a frustrated acquaintance who once said, after she told him she was, after all, straight, "You're not a lesbian and you don't smoke marijuana? Well what DO you do, honey?"
But more than anything, she writes a passionate, serious account of her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe, full of detail, carefully considered, full of loss in a way that almost reminded me of "The Year of Magical Thinking," but somehow (the documentary "Dream of Life" better tells how) not desperate or empty.
There's plenty of interest here if you're into either Patti or Robert (or Bob Dylan, or Baudelaire, or Andy Warhol, or just about anybody who passed through New York between 1960-1980), and their relationship is charted very closely, but you won't find any scenes of sordid fights or pettiness. Either they had none, or Patti doctored them away to reflect her retrospective feelings, or out of respect to Robert. "Just Kids" isn't at all a tell-all. It's a love object, for Robert, not for us.
I knew I was going to weep like a baby at the end after I read the introduction. Turns out, not just at the end...(less)