I don’t think Bluets lends itself to being read aloud. It’s not poetry, it’s firmly in the prose camp. It’s lovely prose, but still prose. I think it should be read to oneself, allowing the reader to cobble meaning from the sentences based on their own experiences. I think any meaning a reader takes from it is intensely personal and has to be somewhat buried when reading the text to someone else. Though that might be because I’m a private person.
200. “You step into the same river twice” —a heartening anthem, without a doubt. But really this is but one version of the fragment left behind by Heraclitus, who was justly nicknamed “The Riddler” or “The Obscure.” Other versions: “On those stepping into rivers staying the same other and other waters flow”; “We step and do not step into the same river; we are and we are not”; “You cannot step twice into the same river, for other waters and yet others, go flowing on.” It seems that something is staying the same here, but what?
From Bluets by Maggie Nelson, p. 80.
I ILL’d some serious awesomeness this week. I picked up Maggie Nelson’s Bluets and Matthew Dickman’s All-American Poem, both of which I’d been meaning to read for years, it seems.
Bluets was not available through my county system, and I’m not sure it was available through the state of Maryland either. But USMAI had it. Keep on doing what you’re doing.
During the act of reading engaging fiction, we can lose all sense of time. By the final chapter of the right book, we feel changed in our own lives, even if what we’ve read is entirely made up.
Research says that’s because while you’re engaged in fiction—unlike nonfiction—you’re given a safe arena to experience emotions without the need for self-protection. Since the events you’re reading about do not follow you into your own life, you can feel strong emotions freely.
The key metric the researchers used is “emotionally transported,” or how deeply connected we are to the story. Previous research has shown that when we read stories about people experiencing specific emotions or events it triggers activity in our brains as if we were right there in the thick of the action.
We remember the rabbit when we see
the duck, but we cannot experience
both at the same time
—E.H. Gombrich, Art and Illusion
WHAT do you remember? When I looked at
his streaky glasses, I wanted
to leave him. And before that? He stole those
cherries for me at midnight. We were walking
in the rain and I loved him.
And before that? I saw him coming
toward me that time at the picnic,
But you loved him? He sat in his room with
the shades drawn, brooding. But you
loved him? He gave me
a photo of himself at sixteen, diving
from the pier. It was summer. His arms
outstretched. And before that?
His mother was combing his soft curls
with her fingers and crying. Crying.
Is that what he said? He put on the straw hat
and raced me to the barn. What did he
tell you? Here’s the dried rose, brown
as tobacco. Here’s the letter that I tore
and pasted. The book of blank pages
with the velvet cover. But do you still
love him? When I rub the nap
backwards, the colors lift,
bristle. What do you mean?
Sometimes, when I’m all alone
I find myself stroking it.
from the Poetry Foundation.
Duly noted, guys!
I have heard white people in the community who are angry at the anger displayed by people of colour in the community; people who say that we don’t deserve to be listened to if we can’t be polite. I couldn’t figure out why this statement felt wrongheaded to me, until I read a post by my colleague, writer Nora Jemisin, on RaceFail. She pointed out that discussions of race in this community have been happening, politely, for decades. And though there has been change, it has been minimal. When we people of colour started to blow up, suddenly there were more of you paying attention.
We shall not come again, not to this wet
and summer day, nor to the waylaid place
where you laid waste to me and I to you,
and where we reminisced recalling who
did what to whom. We shall not come again.
Not to the bed we thrashed nor to the memory
of the way I brushed my hair back, nights,
nor to the air we dared to share to breathe,
or couldn’t quite. We shall not come again.
No more, my face seen round your corner, or
your briefcase found beneath my table. We
weren’t able, apt or sane. We shall not come
again. Nor cry nor clutch, not even once
again. We shall not cover up in quilts
or bear the beast of one another’s guilts
or sit in silences made saddest by
what was. We shall not come again. Because.
from Poetry Foundation App
orig. Poetry (December 2009)
Torn between reading the final chunk of To Say Nothing of the Dog or working on my take-home final. My final is so straightforward and easy that it is hard for me to get started on it early because I am the world’s laziest person. :(
Anent TSNotD, despite its very slow-moving story, I am into it. You don’t want to read too far into how the time travel and discrepancies work, though, because undoubtedly it will never measure up to any kind of sense. I’ve gathered that that is true of all sci-fi, however, and has been true in my limited sci-fi reading/watching experience. Also, you can’t take the historians in the novel seriously. No, they are not examining any kind of realistic topic that real historians would have studied—they are cartoons of historians. I am okay with that. It is fantasy with some reality mixed in that provides the kind of escape I am into.
I’ve read a complaint or two that Connie Willis has British Victorian dialogue all wrong (not that the complainer had any particular authority that I know of), but it didn’t really bother me because, even if Willis gets it wrong, she is wrong consistently enough to still draw me in. The characters are solid and fun, and the tone is light-hearted. The book is not gaggy and boring like “funny” novels people have recommended to me. Instead, each sentence, each line of dialogue has compelled me to read the next. Conversations go off on tangents that I don’t especially mind they go off on. I like these slow-moving books because I can leave the story for a while when I’m side-tracked by something else, then get back to it without having to review several dozen events that lead up to the point where I left off.
Willis also really digs into her characters’ unconscious life, which I am always into. I’m not done with the story yet, but I guess this is still a recommendation.
I won a book in a Goodreads giveaway. Bookgasm!
Unfortunately, or not unfortunately because I just won a book by random chance, it’s Both Flesh and Not.
That means if I review it, I’m going to get scrutinized by a bunch of pretentious literary internet assholes, possibly. Can’t be worrying about that, though. A book is just a book. If I write “book good—I read it it was nice.” then I’m doing no less than all the people who dismiss Jane Austen and then can’t name any other female writers. And I’ll try to do more than that. I don’t like being embarrassed by the things I write on the internet, so I’ll try to make a meaty review. But seriously, it doesn’t matter that much.