I’m home today with a nasty cough and a slight fever. And I am thinking to lie on the sofa in the studio and watch inspiring films while drinking tea that I really can’t taste.
So I google “films about poetry” and what comes up? A list of films that are love stories. A list of films about poets’ dramatic love lives. Read: sex lives. One particularly disturbing story seems to directly equate a very young woman’s sexual desirability with artistic talent. The trailer is shot full (pun intended) of perspectives dictated by the male gaze. I get a very “let’s ogle her while the kitten searches for true love” vibe.
I am cranky again. I am being very judgmental and unfair. And I have used the word “cranky” a lot the past few days.
I suppose one could scrounge up a dozen reasons to explain my frustration now, but one of them is actually related to my current exploration of “what poetry means to me”. Whether poetry and lyric are inexorably linked. Whether the “exuberance” of the lyric is inexorably linked with desire and other aspects of interpersonal relationships. Or whether the mechanism of “art” truly is open to expressing any aspect of what it is to be human. A human was here. Love, sex, grief, yeah. But also other unnamed things that we recognize without “knowing”.
I have experienced exuberance for no reason. I have felt a swelling in my chest and tried desperately to “remember” the cause – was there something new, did I win something, was I anticipating something: What!? I usually start worrying about my mental health. Exuberance without a dramatic cause – a story – a rationale and justification – is just (hypo)mania, right?
Unjustified emotion is a sign of mental illness. Or hormonal imbalances. Or some other dis-order. Dis-order.
What if everything we tell ourselves about why we feel a particular emotion at any given moment is nothing more than another story we’ve learned to compose as a way to soothe ourselves? To control one another and keep the world predictable?
Kids wake up happy without questioning their sanity or looking for the reason for it. I know there are some adults who do this, too. I have heard people talk about them and rationalize it by describing these adults as “simple-minded”. Or “special”. Unexplained cheerfulness is definitely anti-social behavior. It makes us giggle nervously. I’m not sure if it is a named archetype, but it should be. (Note to self to look it up when the headache subsides).
What if all art is just an act of unlearning? Resisting. And that our ideas of what poetry is can get in the way of that? What if art should start where we are familiar and then chisel at it until it leaves us speechless. What if instead of giving us more stories related to our own stories, it tears down every story?
What if it is the “made thing” that shows us the artifice in all made things? Even our own stories?
I watched a really good lecture about Alfred Jarry’s work the other day. I have no idea if my thoughts are at all in line with his. But I am wondering…