After a day spent dozing & using up the remaining tissue, I am now listening to Kathleen Edwards recent cd, “Back to Me,” in an effort to avoid the tv & CNN’s “Breaking News” that will surely bring more devastating updates about Texas evacuees and breached New Orleans levees. I can barely stand it. Allergies have made me fragile, particularly today. Is it any wonder that I emerged from my slumber at 6:30 p.m. to find the sky darker & more ominous than ever?
And how not to feel my ensuing efforts are futile? I was just re-reading the intro to Marjorie Perloff’s book on Wittgenstein that I linked to yesterday. Perloff recounts a scenario between Wittgenstein and his friend where he expresses righteous indignation in the face of a learned philosopher who doesn’t apply his well-honed logical thought to the actual world he walks about in. Wittgenstein wrote to Norman Malcolm:
“Whenever I thought of you I couldn’t help thinking of a particular incident which seemed to me very important. . . . you made a remark about ‘national character’ that shocked me by its primitiveness. I then thought: what is the use of studying philosophy if all that it does for you is to enable you to talk with some plausibility about some abstruse questions of logic, etc., & if it does not improve your thinking about the important questions of everyday life, if it does not make you more conscientious than any . . . journalist in the use of the DANGEROUS phrases such people use for their own ends.”
Perloff follows up, “What is the use of studying philosophy if it doesn’t improve your thinking about the important questions of everyday life? It is the pressing question Wittgenstein asked himself throughout his career as a philosopher. As early as 1913 in the Notes on Logic, he wrote, ‘In philosophy there are no deductions: it is purely descriptive. Philosophy gives no pictures of reality.’”
I guess this concern also echoes some of my hesitation with poetry as of late. I really don’t know what I’m doing much of the time. I’m trying to trust intuition. But I get that confused with externals that weigh me down or false highs that might be irrelevant. Then again, such “realities” may all contribute to the proverbial big picture we each inhabit. But what if each of our big pictures are separately designed? Instead, I should be developing strategies to convey and trust that purpose will follow like the raft on the river apart from “sivilisation.” Oh, I’m making little sense here.
For something uplifting, Gina Franco introduces us to the Amish poet, G. C. Waldrep, tonight.
“I know how to beat the rage of my tender age…” If that’s true, Edwards is way ahead of the game. Listen to samples here.
Instead of editing and grading, I’ll just be headed out into a Brooklyn rain now.
Amy King is the recipient of the 2015 Winner of the Women’s National Book Association (WNBA) Award. Her latest collection, The Missing Museum, is a winner of the 2015 Tarpaulin Sky Book Prize. She serves on the executive board of VIDA: Women in Literary Arts and is co-editing with Heidi Lynn Staples the anthology Big Energy Poets of the Anthropocene: When Ecopoets Think Climate Change. She also co-edited the anthology Bettering American Poetry 2015 and is a professor of creative writing at SUNY Nassau Community College.