Art is a Gamble

Easel at the window of blue building.

Easel at the window on 24th Street, Mission District, San Francisco, CA. Photo by Estela.

Art is a gamble. Maybe you have talent, maybe even genius, but maybe no one sees it. I mean, look at Emily Dickinson. “Ya got sup’m,” Higginson said, “but’cha ain’t ret yet.” Well, words to that effect.

Or, you might be delusional. Ever watch those talent shows on tv? (I watch SYTYCD and RuPaul’s Drag Race.) When folks audition, some of them believe they have talent, when they clearly don’t have a lick. Or it isn’t up to par. When the judges tell them no dice, they’re bewildered, crushed. Some walk off cursing, claim the judges don’t know what ef they’re talking about.

Then there’s market forces. In Inferno, by Eileen Myles, regarding poetry readings, she writes, “There are many kinds of fakery, and some are successful.”

I re-watched Cutie and the Boxer. (It’s still on Netflix.) Pollack splashed paint on a canvas. Ushio Shinohara paints by punching a canvas with boxing gloves. In the documentary, Ushio is 80, and finacially just getting by, with his wife, also an artist. I think it’s a moving story, not only about Ushio, but his wife, Noriko. These are artists in the purest sense of the word. They live for art, and nothing else. It’s an idealistic way to live. Common sense should tell you that it’s risky, if not foolish. Especially, I think, if you’re avant-garde.

The market forces went against Ushio. And Noriko, as woman–wife and mother–had an added disadvantage, having to take care of her family. I don’t know what follows after this film, but I hope it helped gain them some financial relief, and more recognition for their work. (Their son is also an artist. There’s a lot to say about this family of artists, and their dysfunctions. But that’s a different subject.)

Toward the end of the film, Ushio says:

“Art is a demon. A demon that drags you along. It’s not something you stop, even if you should. Maybe you go insane… You throw yourself away to be an artist.”

Once you are a celebrity, anything goes. So, it seems to me. As much as I’m a fan of Eileen Myles, if I wrote like she does, I’d be told I couldn’t write. I think she’s a little messy. And her grammar is sometimes off. But that’s her style, I guess.

R. Crumb, the comic illustrator/artist, says of Warhol:

“He had a clever little schtick, but again, highly overrated, as far as I’m concerned…One of his lame-ass silk screen prints goes for more money than some original renaissance art.”

I feel the same way about Basquiat. One of his paintings sold for over 8 mil, a couple or so years ago. He was in the right place at the right time. I’ve heard it questioned: Was he exploited, or did he exploit? IMO, it was both. From everything I’ve read, saw in the documentary, and  the biopic, he never said he wanted to be a great artist; he said he wanted to be famous. He succeeded at that. Wasn’t even 28 when he bit.

Market forces. And opinion. And, of course, luck.

Van Gogh didn’t sell more than a painting or two in his lifetime. He used to give his work away. Which infuriated his brother, who supported him, gave him money for his art supplies. Van Gogh painted because it’s all he really could do. He failed at everything else. He didn’t fit into the “real world.” He was a misfit. As was Dickinson.

I agree with Ushio Shinohara: art is a demon. You can’t let it go. Even when you know you should. Just get a job, man. But maybe you don’t fit in the “real world.” For whatever reason. So, art is also a saving grace. As it was for Dickinson. As it was for Van Gogh. Sometimes it’s all you got. Personally, I’m not sure what I think of Ushio’s art. That’s a whole other matter.

“Being an artist,” Hubert Selby said, “doesn’t take much, just everything you got.”

Art is a gamble. But if you feel it, you gotta do it. Do it. Do it. It’s a beautiful life, even when it’s rough.

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I was eighteen. Watched a tv report on President Johnson’s “War on Poverty.” The only image

Frida Kahlo cardboard cutout in front of gift shop.

Frida Kahlo cardboard cutout in front of gift shop, or whatever that is. Kind of New Agey stuff in there too.

that sticks in my mind is of a rural white woman with small children. Three or four. A social worker asked what would the children have for lunch. “Gravy,” the mother said, spooned a white substance into bowls for her children. What was for dinner, the social worker asked. “Gravy,” the woman said. And what was breakfast?

Stupid questions. Or else rhetorical. Just get it on record. Some people didn’t/don’t have three meals a day. When hunger becomes too intense, they scrounge. “Let’s see. Flour. Salt. Lard. I’ll make gravy.” With water, not milk. Shit. If they’re lucky to have flour, or anything else. In ’68, this woman had a roof over her head. A raggedy one, but a roof.

Johnson was concerned about hunger in America. In those years, the president wanted to make it possible for economically disadvantaged high school graduates to go to college. There were grant programs. I guess loans too. But plenty of grants. (I didn’t go to college till much later.)

Then came Reagan. And it’s been downhill ever since. Even the Dems are like Repubs. I’ve never seen so many homeless people. Ever. Except in pictures of the Great Depression. It’s as if the Depression returned, and gelled.

In the fifties, minimum wage was a livable wage. A very modest living, but a living. But now, minimum wage is merely survival. Not livable, but survival. You might live in an SRO, a whole family, in a hotel converted into a single room occupancy. A whole family! Or maybe live in a car, or a tent. Or a camp under an overpass. So I gather, from what I read. Even adjunct professors, like the one in San Jose, who was interviewed for an article on poverty, who lives in a car with her disabled husband. Can’t afford rent.

College costs more than ever. And they hire adjuncts. Part-timers. They have no benefits. Poverty wages. Chancellors are paid in the millions. The tenured and full-timers look down their noses at adjuncts. Those positions used to be grad student assignments. I remember when grad students went on strike, in the early 90’s, at Berkeley, demanding benefits, better pay, better treatment. I saw J, a post-grad I knew, waving his fist in the air, and shouting, “Yeah!” as cars passing by honked in support. He was job seeking last I spoke to him. Years ago. I presume he’s a tenured English professor somewhere now. He was brilliant and handsome. I had a secret crush on him.

They should cap maximum wage. Geezus, rich is rich. The uber rich will still have more money the average Joe Blow, let alone minimum wagers. But, no, they want it all. What sort of heartless shit is that? Well, yeah. Heartless. Arrogant. Greedy. Corrupted. Soulless.

Nothing poetic about it.

I’m all for social democracy. Not socialism. Not communism. But social programs, in a capitalist society. Pure capitalism is as bad as pure socialism. IMO. From what I observe. We need public schools. Public assistance for those in need. (Shit, financial institutions get it. Mega corporations get bail outs with our tax money. That’s Welfare.) Public transportation. Public spaces. Public lands. And a livable wage. Not survival, but livable. As in the fifties. Public schools had cafeterias, where food was prepared daily, not packaged or frozen junk. Frozen pizza? Please. We didn’t buy our school supplies when I was a kid. Schools provided pencils, pen, paper. At least, in grammar school. Through sixth grade, as I recall.

The late sixties, early seventies. The cultural revolutions. There was promise. Even change. I was a fool. I believed. (Well, “we.” I wasn’t the only one.)

I didn’t participate in all that 60’s and 70’s action. I was a married. “Buried” from age sixteen to thirty. (Had to leave a messy home life. Mother. Father. Drama. So much unhealthy drama.)

Divorced at thirty. 1980. It’s a miracle all I did, really. Clueless. On my own. Full of phobias not yet identified. Mid-eighties (my mid-thirties), I transferred to the University. Early oughts, (fifty) I “crashed.” All the psycho-damage. And then the meno-change. Whoo. Rough years, man. Rough years.

And all I wanted, goddmanit, was to be a poet.

Poverty is easier than ever. You can work and still  live in poverty. You can have a middle class life, and then, bam! homeless. How the hell can it be legal to double a person’s rent? DOUBLE! Or kick ’em out so you can rent to higher paying renters!

I have a poetry reading in October. I should’ve been doing this forty-five years ago. But my life didn’t go that way.

This is my life. I’m lucky I don’t live in an SRO, or a tent, or a car, or under an overpass. Shit. At the very least.

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Social Anxiety

Dark bedroom, early morning light through curtains.

6:09 a.m. Early morning light. Summer soon.

I cracked a fortune cookie, pulled out the little strip of paper, popped a piece of cookie in my mouth, and while I munched on it, read my fortune. (They don’t seem to have fortunes anymore, really. Just an adage, which we might perceive as a cosmic clue. I mean, it’s only meant as entertainment. But, you know…) It read, “All that we are is a result of what we have thought.”

Yes. I know this. I know this. It was a reminder. Because I forget.

Fortune cookie strip says, "All that we are is a result of what we have thought."

Fortune cookie strips I tape along my bedroom doorframe.

I stopped to think what thoughts I have that bring me to this place where I am dissatisfied.

Emily Dickinson had social anxiety. She locked herself in her room. As a kid in sixth grade, I thought that was a beautiful life. Never leaving your room, surrounded by books, reading and writing poetry.

Years later, my high school friend freaked out when I told her that. “That’s crazy,” she shouted.

Well, I wouldn’t use the word “crazy.” Unfortunate, I’d say. Agoraphobia, social anxiety and the unconscious excuses one makes to shut doors to opportunities.

Dickinson wrote poetry like no one else. I wonder, if she didn’t have social anxiety, if she weren’t agoraphobic (which I’m presuming was the case), would she still write like she did? Or would her poetry be different?

A therapist and I once talked about how some people are convinced that they are something they aren’t, and that we can see that, but others don’t. She said they just convince people that they are what they think they are. I’m not talking about pathological liars. Just people who think they are more than what they are, and it serves them well.

Then there are those who think they are less than what they are. And they convince people of that too. Certainly doesn’t serve them well.

Social anxiety. Agoraphobia. Panic attacks. Fear of being seen.

The first step, is to know what you’re working with. Catch the thoughts so you’ll know what they are. Then you can deal with them. Change them.

I’m thinking of writers I have read, or writers I’ve met. They are successful. But, damn it, their writing isn’t really all that.

Well, there’s also luck. Luck hasn’t exactly been friendly to me. But that’s no excuse. I hide behind my fears. That’s why I’m dissatisfied. It’s on me. That’s what the fortune cookie told me. “Change your thoughts, Estela.”

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Writer’s Block

Inner Peace and Beauty graphic.

“Inner Peace and Beauty,” graphic by Estela

She said, “I’ve heard people say they have writer’s block. I don’t know what that is. I don’t have any trouble writing. I don’t even believe in writer’s block. There’s no such a thing.” That was twenty-nine years ago. I knew her ego was too big to prevent her from writing her simplistic shit. The sad truth is, there is an audience for simplistic shit. She is famous now.

Sometimes I get mad at the world for being cruelly unfair.

I just read Tao Lin’s latest book. I find him interesting, but he also annoys me. Seems rather full of himself. And what can be said of someone who worships a pseudo-guru, pseudo-shaman, pseudo-philosopher, who pushed the use of psychedelics. (I don’t care that you try them, use them, like them, love them. That’s your prerogative. Just don’t call it spirituality if you use them 24/7. And don’t push them. Pusherman. The pusher, man.) He’s robotic. Says he never felt awe until he took, I forget, LSD, or shrooms, or something. That is sad. (Robots don’t feel anything.) He should try psychotherapy, instead of psychotropics. IMO, he’s not “expanding his mind,” he’s warping it. IDK. It’s his prerogative, IG. IDGAF. Just don’t push ’em, man.

At first I found it inspiring to hear him say, “There’s no good art, or bad art.” But the truth is–he’s wrong. There is good art and bad art. But the question is: who gets to call it? If you enjoy it, do it. If you can sell it, sell it. If it’s good, it’s good. If it’s junk, it’s junk. Great works of art worth millions have been found at thrift shops and flea markets, or stored in a basement or garage, dusty and mildewed, sold for chump change. Junk has sold because people believed it was art. They liked it. Ever see Exit Through the Gift Shop? It’s all about what people believe.

Hell. I forget to stay positive. I forget. I slip into brooding and self-pity. I hate myself for it. Then I hate myself for hating myself. It’s a nasty spiral.

I recently read The Last Night of the Earth Poems, by Charles Bukowski. Some of the poems feel to me like rough drafts, as if he were reaching for something but couldn’t quite get there. And some are amazing. I love Dinosauria, We. The Last Night…Poems was first published in 1992, two years before Bukowski kicked it. DW is pure genius. Prophetic. What he writes about in that poem is in process. He saw it then, and more people are seeing it now. Not enough, I’m afraid. I just don’t think enough people get it. If they did, neither Trump nor Clinton would have been the choices in the last election. “The masses elevate fools into rich heroes.” (And I don’t know that there is anyone. They might be out there, but I am not aware of them. Bernie? Lizzie? IDK.) We do really live in a dystopia. If you don’t see it, you are lucky. Ignorance is bliss. Until the shit smacks you in the face.

Anyway, with some of these poems I was reading, I felt that Bukowski struggled to write. And then I come upon a poem where he says just that. He had always said writing was easy. But toward the end of his life, he struggled. He had writer’s block. “THE GREAT BUKOWSKI”  had writer’s block. He was ill. Diagnosed with leukemia. He writes about writing, writers, the process of it, the state of it, his impending death, literature, life, absurdities, reflects on his past, worries about his wife after he’s gone. He complains in one poem that all he does is write the same thing. He feels confident here, then slips, dips into self-doubt over there.

(I love Bukowski. The writer, not the man. Get that straight. And if you have to ask, “What’s the difference?” FO. I don’t have time for that shit. Another of my favorite poems is The Genius of the Crowd. ((This and Dinosauria, We are on YouTube. Check ’em out.)) His poem The Laughing Heart reminds me to keep going. I read it like a prayer.)

Writer’s block goes deep. It’s a psychological struggle. A narcissist like her wouldn’t know shit about that.

I wrote ten poems last month. I have a file I labeled “Post-Myles Poems.” I have never written more than one or two poems in a month. But I felt something open up in me after reading Eileen Myles. I finished one yesterday. That one took me over a month to finally “get there.” It started somewhere else, though. I meant for it to end up over there, but it ended up over here. I like it though. I like it very much. It’s called Pancakes.

I have given up on open mic. I attended one in particular for a good three years. But the fun fizzled. And it got to feeling like “promiscuity.” Not to mention that mediocrity prevails, and the amazing poets, real poets, are few and far between. Alone, writing or reading or drawing, or watching a favorite tv program (yay, it’s time for So You Think You Can Dance), which are few, or something on Netflix (often hardly much, but sometimes something), or something on PBS is more worth my time than listening to mind-numbing mediocrity. Gregory Corso rolls over in his grave and groans, “Where’s the blood?”

I was a featured reader last April with three other people. The bookstore reading curator was so impressed with us, she invited us to read at the October 2018 Litquake. I’m really looking forward to that.

Every writer, every artist, has her or his or their own journey. Don’t compare yourself to others. (I say this to myself.)

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Women Writers

Nose protuding of dog wrapped in lbanket in her open crate.

Isabel in her crate on a cold morning, warm, safe, cozy.

I’m reading Eileen Myles. I didn’t know who she was, until I read an article about a “punk poet.” Two words I’m drawn to–“Punk” and “Poet.” Two words I love.

Later, I come across her own words: “Can I just say for the record I’m not a punk poet? I’m from the working class, I sling the vernacular w style and I’m a dyke.” (Posted on Twitter.)

Well, I don’t know enough, I guess, to understand how being from working class or being “a dyke” makes her not a “punk poet.” After reading Chelsea Girls and I Must Be Living Twice: New and Selected Poems, and a number of articles about her and her work, I can understand why she would be labeled “punk poet.” But labels are invented by critics anyway. It’s my understanding that Robert Lowell hated being labeled a “confessional poet.” I’ve never cared for that description of Sylvia Plath either. In some ways, all art is to a certain extent “confessional.” Or you could say “personal.” Art is informed by an artist’s personal life experience. At least, that’s how I see it.

Some people have said to me, “I want my story heard.” I’ve never responded to this whine. I’ve never told someone, “What makes you so special that your story has to be heard?” At the poetry reading and open mic I attendED pretty regularly for three years, this woman described it as “a place where people tell their stories.” When I read there, (featured and open mic) I wasn’t “telling my story.” But it was assumed I was. Sure, there’s an element of personal experience in my poetry. But it isn’t my intention or objective to write about my personal experience. It’s simply inevitable. I am not writing “my story.” Who am I that I need to tell my story? It’s the story, it’s the poem, it’s the writing that matters, not me. My intention and objective is to create art.

At the same time, I do love autobiographies and memoirs. But autobiography is only a perspective. It is a story the way the writer sees it, remembers it, not to mention tells it. A person writing autobiography “creates” her narrative.

Sort of like, what is true really isn’t, or not completely, and what isn’t true (or isn’t meant to be) really is, or sort of.

To me, the story, or the poem, matters more, beyond the person writing it.

Eileen Myles’s Chelsea Girls is described as a novel. In an interview I read, the interviewer asks Myles about “the character Eileen.” I don’t know. Chelsea Girls reads to me like autobiography. To me, Eileen writer was the Eileen in Chelsea Girls. Even if it’s the narrative she creates, and anyone she writes about might disagree with her point of view. “I’m not like that.” “That’s not how I remember it.”

Novel or autobio, I very much enjoyed reading CG. Though there’s some writerly characteristics I wonder about. She writes “me” and “her” when it should be “I” and “she.” I remember seeing a comma when it shouldn’t have been there, and there were times when I thought commas were missing and would add clarity. But it’s my understanding that Myles considers herself an avant garde writer. Apparently, a publisher wanted to edit her work “for better clarity,” and Myles refused. She’s the writer. So, I’m ok with that.

I mostly read men. My most fave writers are men–Bukowski, Raymond Carver, Richard Brautigan, Denis Johnson. But my most favorite women writers are poets: Emily Dickinson, Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Elizabeth Bishop. Of my fave male writer, Bukowski is the only one whose poetry I like. (Well, I love it.)

As for specifically lesbian poet, I really like Eileen Myles. I could never get on the Adrienne Rich bandwagon. The best way I can describe it, is that she just feels too cerebral. Her poems strike me as “creative lectures.” I don’t feel spirit. Unlike Bishop. In her poetry I feel music and beauty–spirit.

What I admire most about Eileen Myles, is that she has lived as writer. Not for fame, not for monetary gain, just the writing. “I wasn’t afraid of being poor,” she says, “I didn’t want to live in a big house. I’m the perfect size for poetry. I can move around.” (Vulture, Sept. 24, 2015) Yet, fame and monetary gain found her.

It doesn’t hurt that Allen Ginsberg attended her reading, that Robert Mapplethorpe took her picture. (That photo is on the cover of CG.) She was an assistant to an ailing New York poet, James Schuyler, who lived in the Chelsea Hotel. I mean, these particulars are impressive. But if she didn’t have the talent, none of this would matter.

Sometimes poverty, hardship, is a price to pay for love of art. The starving artist. And sometimes Fate rewards the hard work. Not always. There are plenty of artists who died penniless.

I’ve come across her name, “Writers to read.” But I ignored it. I don’t always trust opinion. (I tried to read Lydia Davis, The Collected Stories. Stopped halfway through the book.  Really disappointed. A story is NOT one line! ) Having read the article about a “Punk Poet,” I got curious. I’m glad I did. I need to read people that inspire me.  ♣

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Magic of the Moon

Front steps in the dark with blue light shining on them.

5:20 a.m.

I got up yesterday morning at 5:15.  I wanted to see the super blue blood moon. I got up later than I had wanted to. Effing insomnia made me lose sleep again, and I was unable to rise at 4:45 when my alarm went off. But I jumped out of bed when I saw it was after 5:00. I still had time to see the eclipsed moon.

A Super Blue Blood Moon. Man, that’s poetry. Natural poetry. The Universe’s Poetry.

I love the moon, as it is. It’s already special to me. I didn’t want to miss this extra special moon.

I got the flashlight and went out back. I saw a guy two houses over doing the same thing. He stepped onto his deck, on a second floor, and went down the steps into his dark yard, using a flashlight. My flat is a downstairs unit. I stepped out on my deck and with my flashlight checked the yard for feral cats or raccoons. All clear. I switched off the flashlight and looked up at the sky. I didn’t see the moon. Must be behind the house, I thought. I didn’t want to step out into the dark, back yard. Sometimes those feral cats and raccoons leave scat. Ugh. So gross. I wasn’t gonna risk stepping in some. Or a critter might suddenly pop up from behind the fence, and that would surely make me scream out in surprise. And a shot of fear.

So, I come back in and try the front door. No cars at this hour. Or a rare one, anyway. Who would see me standing out in the middle of the street in my jammies and bathrobe, wearing a jacket? At least I was wearing sneakers, not slippers. And if anyone saw me, eff it. It’s a an extra special moon.

I wasn’t sure I’d have a good view of it. It could be behind these tall houses, flats, and apartments, here in The City. (Times like these, I miss living in a small town or even a burb. Where the night sky is darker, stars more stark, the view wider because even a two-story house doesn’t tower up this high. But I’m in love with The City.) I open the front door. Gasp! There it is. Right in front of me. Across the street.

Super blue blood moon above rooftop.

Super Blue Blood Moon

Damnit, it was beautiful.

It isn’t the biggest moon I’ve ever seen. Eighteen years ago, I saw a moon that looked like a huge space ship sitting on the freeway up ahead. I was on my way to work, at 3:30 in the morning. The moon was enormous, white, and bright. The size of this eclipsed moon is a dot, compared to that moon I saw. I arrived at work at the same time as a co-worker. He swiped his keycard, stepped aside and let me in first, smiling like a gallant knight. I said, “Thank you.” Then I said, “Did you see that moon? Wasn’t that fabulous?” He goes, “What moon?” I said, “What moon? That huge moon we were driving toward on the freeway.” He says, “Oh, I didn’t notice. I never look up at the sky.” You didn’t need to look up at the sky. It was a giant, glowing globe on the horizon, as if sitting on the freeway up ahead. It was wider than than the freeway we drove on. Geezus, I hated working as a payment processor, making my bread. As much as Bukowski hated the post office.

The second biggest moon I ever saw, two or three times bigger than this one, was many, many years ago. It was a pale, yellow moon. I was with a poet. Twenty years older than I was. First poet I ever knew. We saw the moon rise up over the hills. It rose quickly, like a balloon. He grabbed my wrist, and he goes, “ESTELA! LOOK!” His tiny, blue eyes about popped out of their sockets. He squeezed my wrist like a tourniquet. “LOOK!” he says, giving my arm a sharp shake. A fifty year old man, excited as a five year old boy. I too was thrilled to witness such spectacular beauty. It was amazing. Literally surreal as a dream. Magical. He’s the only person I ever met who reacted to the moon with the same intensity as myself. I mean, he was, after all, a poet. He taught creative writing. He hated his job, hated teaching creative writing. But he did it for his bread.

white moon lowering behind a rooftop.

Lunar eclipse completing, moon lowering behind a building.

From my view, this moon was not as large as seen in other places. But it was immensely beautiful, nonetheless. And all I had to do was open my front door.

So, sure, there is a scientific explanation for this. Planetary orbits, a specific alignment of sun, earth, and moon, time and space and all that. And the moon changes color (appears to, anyway) because of the atmosphere and wavelengths of light that reach us. These plain facts kill the poetry.

I love the moon. For me, it has a magic energy. A poetic energy.

Hell. Afterward, I felt depressed and lonesome. Maybe a poem will come to me. Or, a better way to phrase that, maybe I can find one to pull out of the well of mystery.

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Reading, Writing, Wondering

I had always said I would never read on a device. I had always said I would never have a Super moon in an overcast sky.cell phone. Well, you know what they say about “never.” As for “always,” it really can’t be projected into the future. You can presume. But “always” is like “a body in motion.” It will continue until an external force interrupts it or redirects it. “Always” is constant only in the past or in the present–always did, always do. Circumstances can change, forcing you to make changes. Didn’t have to before, but do now. Didn’t want to before, but now do. You can change, maybe learn something new that causes you to see something differently; you change your mind.

So, I’ve had a cell phone for about eleven years. Circumstances changed, and I had to get one. Now, I need one. It’s literally a necessity. For me.

The cool thing is that cell phones have changed and improved considerably since I first got one. I’m sure I don’t have to explain that. Most people use them far more than I do. I’m selective about apps. I actually prefer my laptop for most things. But recently I downloaded and started using the Libby app. It’s awesome. I can check out books from the library. Either e-books, or audiobooks. E-books on my computer hurts my eyes. But I don’t have an issue reading from my iPhone, I have discovered, to my delight. So, when I wake up in the wee hours, as I tend to do (I’ve always been prone to insomnia, even as a kid), I don’t have to turn on a light to read. I just reach for my iPhone.

On my laptop, I sometimes listen to audiobooks. I only listen to books when I need to hear the information, and don’t care about the writing itself. Or when I’m not sure I will like the writing/writer. Hearing is easier than reading. When I read, I read for “the word.” The language. How something is written. I look for beauty in the language, in the style. I look for depth in the writer and the writing, the work. If it’s beautiful writing, I want to experience reading it. I want to look at the words. Savor them. It’s interesting, though, because poetry is different. Hearing it read gives it a different dimension. Deeper, further meaning.

I am currently reading My Struggle: Book Five, by Karl Ove Knausgaard. With the Libby app. I started with book 5 (of 6 autobiographical novels, written after his debut novel Out of the World, which I also want to read) because in it he writes about having writer’s block, while seeing his friends one by one get published. He writes about “a shattering love affair,” and also, “his father dies, and shortly thereafter he completes his first novel.” I thought, OK, I’ll bet he has father issues. To my thinking, this book had potential for depth. I’m loving it. I’m so happy to be reading this. I will read more Knausgaard after this.

I came across an article about Zadie Smith, actually, and she mentions Knausgaard. I was intrigued, and decided to check him out. But I also wanted to read Zadie Smith. I’ve seen her name for some time, but hadn’t looked her up. This article made me curious, so I checked out my library. 99% of the time, the book I want to read isn’t at my branch. I had to request it. (Knausgaard is only available as an ebook. That’s why I downloaded the Libby app.) I had already requested Largesse of the Sea Maiden, Denis Johnson (R.I.P 😦  ), posthumously published. I was number nine of nine requests for Largesse. I didn’t expect it all that soon. All the books were checked out, and there were eight people in front of me. What if the readers held on to the book for the entire three weeks. Or passed the due date. I’d have time to read ZS first. I presumed. It only took a couple of days to get ZS. When I went to pick up the book yesterday, the librarian told me Largesse was in too. Came in that morning. 😮 I was surprised, but happy. 🙂 That means I have to complete it first, because last I checked, 46 people were waiting behind me. For all I know, the list has grown even longer. I think it’s cool that people still utilize libraries.

I’ve decided to read Largesse first, continue with Struggle also, as I can during the day, and if/when I wake up during the night, then I’ll get to ZS. I should be able to get through Largesse in three days. I’m not a speed reader. Some people read really fast. I wish I did, because there are so many books I want to read. But I’m not a fast reader. Just not.

I have no idea if I’ll like Zadie Smith’s novels. Some people love them, some don’t like them at all, from comments I’ve read. I’d probably like her essays, though. I did like her responses to fans in the article I read. The only thing I didn’t agree with, was her opinion of Jay-Z. She says his rapping “pours right into your ear like water from a tap.” Not for me. More like water up my nose. Not a fan. At all. And apparently, she had “early dislike of Joni Mitchell” and I gather from the article she considered her low-brow. For me, I dislike Mitchell’s voice, I find it jarring, but I do think she wrote some beautiful lyrics. I love hearing people with beautiful voices sing Joni Mitchell songs. Her lyrics are poetry.

Reading (and music) is a personal experience. Depends on who you are, what you need, what you seek, how you think, how you perceive, what and how you understand, what you know or don’t. And then there’s personal taste. I think vibration has something to do with it too. Isn’t that what the the whole universe is, energy and vibration? We dig a particular vibe, and totally dislike another. And it’s all cool. You know? It’s all cool. Different strokes. That’s all.

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