"It's 9 Below Zero and My Woman's With Another Man"
Old songs, old lines, boredom, and the next thing I know I'm wading in deep reading waters--standing just above Niagara's deepest lip and ready to dive and I dove right into this damn book that subtitles itself "Excitement and Growth in the Human Personality"--and over the lip I went sans barrel or innertubes--the first person to go over Niagara Falls was a woman? Is that true? I think so. Yes, I know, the Internet is one click away, but I'm a lazy SOB ("Son of Brazil").
So into this Niagara Falls of a book I dove. I love reading waterfalls; the heavier the falls the better. And the first thing I read startled me; this is our old pal the gently great Paul Goodman writing, "Among the evolutionary developments of mankind, speech is of especial importance and deserves a separate chapter. As with the other developments, the neurotic abuse consists in using a form of speech that is 'instead of' rather than 'along with' the underlying powers. This is the isolation of the verbal personality." [Gestalt Therapy, Perls, Hefferline, Goodman, 1951 Dell Delta Books, chapter VII, "Verbalizing and Poetry."]
Boy that gives me a thrill right on down to my wolf bones and marrow whether I understand it or not; just the writing is thrilling. I like the way the mind thinks writing. Yesterday I lifted and excerpt from www.languagehat.com of Richard Parsons talking about speaking his writing into his computer. I dig it, man, but is there a difference in thinking through the end of a writing instrument?--and that includes typing on a keyboard--it is dictation--OK, OK, I agree with Parsons, it is dictation to oneself, to a machine, though do we image that way? Do we write like we speak? There, that's the problem I have with it. NO. I don't think we write like we speak. I write like I think I speak; like I think my persona speaks, like I think my characters speak though I'm actually just speaking writing, nothing made up or affected, shit like that, just straight out conversational writing, though, like I tried to say a few posts back, when I'm writing a novel I try to write like a novel's supposed to be written, you know, like novel-writing tradition. I mean do writers write to be read? To have their work read out loud? Again I may have to combat Powers at this point. Hey, Dick, you parson's dick, what about writing to be read--read aloud, or is reading private like praying to Jesus and other gods is supposed to be? A sacred private moment? Doesn't reading your own fictions into a computer demean them a bit?...I don't know, Dick, it just seems to thwart what I've taught myself over the years, that what I write is different from how I speak or even how I read writing out loud. Whewwww! It's complicated, the way thinking ought to be. Chess is set in stone; still it has enough probabilities built into it to keep one thinking at it continuously; same with writing. [Have I mentioned the influence Gertrude Stein's idea of writing in the continual present had on me?--Heavy, man; Gertie was a writer; she couldn't help it; whether it was good or not, she wrote it, what it was that she wrote; D.H. Lawrence wrote like that, too (faster with a pencil that a man with a dictograph--don't you love that word: "Dictograph"?), and Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs and William Faulkner and the original greatest Thomas Wolfe, they all wrote that way; Henry Miller wrote that way.
Which brings up another problem. What if you're drunk, like a lot of writers are when they write, would a drunken writer speaking into a computer be as successful as if he were to write his drunken images down on paper? Just think, the great Balzac wrote his endless number of books with a quill by candlelight while imbibing in rich Mexican coffee, roasting the beans himself, grinding them, and then boiling up his own coffee. Friends said he drank as many as thirty cups of coffee during a writing jag; Balzac would write 16 hours a day, starting in the late evening and writing all night until drained the next morning. And still he had time to Casanova about with some of the best looking babes of his day in Gay Paree; yet, he was vaunted as the ugliest man in the world, and he may have been;Rodan made him like a humpbacked dwarf. Those dudes get a lot of female attention. Toulouse Latrec, too, another lady killer though a dwarf and kind'a ugly--except he was rich; I suppose Balzac was rich, too, come to think about it.
Paul Goodman continues writing as is continued writing like he is to continue writing if he is to continue to write, which he does: "From one angle, it is useful to define 'personality' as a structure of speech habits and consider it as a creative act of the second and third years; most thinking is subvocal speaking; basic beliefs are importantly habits of syntax and style; and almost all evaluation that does not spring directly from organic appetites is likely to be a set of rhetorical attitudes. To define in this way is not to belittle or explain away personality, for speech is itself a profound spontaneous activity." We're off to see the Wizard! Speaking for Toto, "Where's the nearest fireplug?"
for The Daily Growler