Sunday, October 9, 2011

A Man for All Susans

 Life is no more complicated now than it was, say, thirty thousand years ago, when decisions of all sorts were required of the Cro-Magnon peoples. It may seem more complicated now, but is our nature to think the immediate now is hot.  The distant past resonates nostalgia.  Yeah, right.  There are more of us, which adds to the appearance of greater complexity, but imagine a Cro-Magnon or, slightly earlier, a Neanderthal, being asked to describe his platform or come up with a vision statement.  Archaeologists and anthropologists are not of the same mind about whether these elders had speech capacity, and their only visual relics are stunning renditions of handprints (all in red) and animals, seemingly erupting from the rock walls on which they were painted.  No written graffiti, no early versions of Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.

In recent months, various publicists have asked of you such things as your brand, your vision statement, and your mission statement.  Prior to that, you were with some regularity asked for proposals, curricula vitae, syllabi, and exegetes, not to mention methodologies, business plans, and resumes.  Only this morning, someone asked you how many books you had written and you in seeming reflex countered by asking her how many pots she had thrown.  To credit, she responded, “Fair question.”

There was arguably a less dense population during the time of Walt Whitman, which may have accounted for the fact of his having been asked for none of these badges of entry or, indeed, anything resembling a grant proposal.  He, himself, had merely to follow his chosen path of evolution from birth to self-actualization to self- determination to poetry, thence to what your great blog pal, Mary Carroll-Hackett cited as “walking west into spirit.”  For your time, there are computers with enormous storage capacity, bristling with hunger for your existential appendages.

Not many days ago, you were approached to teach at a particular college within the ever metastasizing University of California, where, you are willing to bet, there will be those who want one or more of these documents from you.

Understand this; you are not setting yourself on the same tier as Whitman.  Until you typed that sentence, the idea was as remote from you as one of the moons of Saturn.  While you are up and thinking about such things, obeying the cultural nudge to promote yourself in addition to having gone through the crucible of beginning to forge and kiln yourself, you offer up this vision statement:

You are naturally friendly, because you are the spawn of Jake and Annie, and you were aware of the individuals they attracted into their lives and the exquisite measures of friendship they provided to you, your sister, and their close friends and relatives.  You are your father’s son in terms of having been given your mantra from him, which needs no translation, even though mantras are traditionally imparted in Sanskrit.  The mantra Jake passed along to you is, “Hey, Annie, when do we eat?”

Your friendliness does not preclude a serious level of impatience, which has been honed and stropped over the years you have spent in university-level teaching and in publishing.  It is not so much that you would never ever buy the metaphoric equivalent of the Brooklyn Bridge or underwater real estate in Florida as it is that such a prospectus would have to start in the right place, have an intriguing premise, and not come with either a weather report or long introductory self-congratulations from the presenter.

At one point you heard your literary agent describe you as a man who does not suffer fools and your immediate thought was, “Well said.”  This was followed by how much trouble such trait had got you in over the years because of the judgmental side of your nature it implied, a fact that extends to your curriculum vitae and, when the same material is used outside the university landscape, your resume.

Your vision is that Life is a shotgun wedding of Theater of the Absurd and Noir mystery.  Pain of some sort is always right around the corner, regardless of whether you follow through on what you had planned or, at the last moment, veer off because of your realization that it was a crazy-assed scheme, only to realize later that for you the crazier-assed the scheme, the greater the likelihood of it meriting your attention.

Just this morning, you asked a woman you are growing fond of whether she swears to or at herself in her internal monologue and she looked at you as though you had just asked a crazy-assed question.  You have that effect on some individuals.  Thus the distinct possibility that there will be no pictures at eleven or any other time.

Post a Comment