Poetry, Go, and St. John's Wort

Amy Hoy just posted a rant about poetry. I hate poetry, and I wonder why.

In the beginning, I hated poetry. Girl stuff. ...Then my father pointed out that he wrote a lot of it, and suddenly it was no longer tabboo, and I tried my hand at a little. I didn't realize just how much it sucked. Coincidentally (I assume), I fell in love for the first time shortly thereafter, and boy oh boy was there ever poetry! I spewed it forth on a daily basis. It still sucked, and I knew even less how much so, thanks to this other person telling me how good it was.

My interest in poetry died a quick death, the day after she broke up with me. ...One final death throw: the break-up poem. I don't remember what became of it. I honestly don't care. Im sure it sucked just as hard-core as the sappy love poems that preceeded it. At that point, I was done.

Ever since, I've gone back to my original stance: poetry is pretentious, fluffy, and lame.

After reading Amy's treatsie on what makes a decent poem, I found myself wondering just what it was that I hated about it. It's pretentious was my first though, but I quickly had to remind myself that I was okay with pretentious fine art. ...cause I totally am. (Painting to the right is Spatial Concept by Lucio Fontana; it's a great piece [source]).

So it's not just that poetry is pretentious. It must be more than that. I don't think it's the negative association I have with my first relationship, either: there were plenty of positives that came with that time in my life.

If I had to guess, I would say that it was the forced nature of poetry that I abhore. ...Which brings me to Go.

When I was playing Go last night (and losing miserably), I refused to look ahead more than two moves. This is absurd: you cannot win the game if you don't look ahead, period. And yet I despise the idea that I have to analyze every friggin' stone I place on the board. I desperately want it to come naturally. To be subconscious. To flow.

I can want that as vehemently as I dare: it does not change the fact that I will continuously lose. Dramatically. Every time. ...You must look ahead. You must analyze. Especially toward the beginning.

I hate that.

A lack of flow seems to be a serious blocking point in my entire life right now. ...The code I'm working on is at a point where there is no more flow: I have to squeeze additional performance out of it. Drawing still intimidates me enough that I do less than three hours a week. I know enough German that I'm at the point where I need to start memorizing.

I spend a lot of time tying knots (!) because I've gotten good at the knots I know. There is flow, now. ...But it's friggin' knot tying. It feels like such a waste. ...Good skills to have, sure, one or twice a year, maybe. But not to be sitting there on a Tuesday night listening to music and practising your sheepshank.

Of course, on the whole, I've just gotten increasingly grumpy and uninspired.

So, yeah: I've started taking St. John's again. : )

1 comment:

Victor said...

Good poetry does flow. I dislike poetry as well, though in my case I think it's because it doesn't hold a visceral appeal to me. I can appreciate its beauty intellectually, but it doesn't draw me. I think it's because I see language as a tool more than a medium. It is there to convey, not be admired in itself; and so i find beauty of poetry simply boring. Give me substantive thought, and I will be all over it.

It's kinda like the aesthetics of cooking IMO. A visually pleasing meal is certainly visually pleasing, ahem, but I will be damned if I put any significant effort into making a meal pretty -- or pay someone else for it.

Poetry, I think, it like spending hours to make a really beautiful dish which will be eaten in a few moments. Lots of form, little substance.

of course this isn't the case for all poetry. Once, as a teenager, I read a poem which really stuck with me. Had all poetry been like this, i would have been a lover of it:

You must be to the east, west, north, or south -- there is no fifth choice.

You must be on the ground, under ground, or above the ground -- there is no fourth choice.

You must be, or not be -- there is no third choice.

You must -- there is no choice.