Thursday, July 2, 2009

Wish I could find a good book to live in

[Melanie and pix from the Hubble - if you want to go back to 1970 for 4 minutes, this is it.]
This morning I had the blissful morning I like to have, still in pj's until noon, drinking coffee, ignoring responsibility. I have always thought this is what a writer's life should be like. My life, anyway.

In all this I journaled, wrote a poem I don't understand, which was interesting and perhaps auspicious, and got into learning things I don't have to learn, thank God. Things I probably did learn at one time, but tossed aside as no longer useless. These ideas are probably still littering my lower brain, like the dirty sweats littering these 3 guys' dorm room I saw on Oprah. In case you're wandering, the Answer was The Container Store. Miraculous transformation. Mmm-hmm, for about as long as it took to get those cameras out of there.

Anyway, I tracked strange and interesting ideas through the internet until I landed on metanarrative. Wonderfully, the professor who included this in a course glossary began "Difficult to explain." Then, as evidence, he copied a paragraph from the Free Encyclopedia.

Actually, I confess that I was a student of narrative theory, a fairly rare specialty, you'd be surprised. It has made me very hard to please when it comes to novels. So here is my plea -
I want to read a novel that has the comic attitude, which sees life as fundamentally okay, which emphasizes farce, weddings, and feasts. I want to not be exposed to terrible dark secrets, wrenching experiences, aging and death and all - see, I get those in my life. If I wanted those, I'd stick to life and not seek out novels. In short, I get changed enough by life; I don't want works of art to scratch up my frozen soul. If you know this novel, please write.
At this remove from academia (I left it in 1995), I admit to liking what I like, and it does seem far from what I am supposed to like. I like to feel good. I like TV. The evening news, controlled by NBC. DVD's from Netflix. Chocolate. Okay, everybody likes that. And, like Melanie, "a good book to live in."

I wonder where we got what you might call the metanarrative about Art, the idea that Art should reflect suffering and moreover, make you suffer. Folk art isn't like that. A friend and I talked today about another friend who has taught himself to play wooden flute, and plays it like a shaman, sending delightful stirrings all up and down the chakras. He doesn't make us suffer. We feel better after we hear him. Hey, there's an idea.

I admit, an idea about Art isn't quite the same thing as a story; but they have something in common - they are made up by our brains. And millions of these meta-concepts govern our lives, billions litter our path, like the stars in the heaven. Things we should and shouldn't like. What decent people read. How to eat. I mean, since the truth about margarine came out why does anyone listen to the Diet Police?

Well, it is late. I have brought you a truly wonderful song today, and I actually do have a novel I am enjoying, perhaps for the second time, The Burglar who thought he was Bogart. I am a great fan of this witty series by Lawrence Block, in which corpses never really bleed, so it is time for me to get reading.

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