the three key components of living (no, i meant writing poetry) are observing, speculating, & figuring. there’s acting too, but that’s evident in the ‘act’ of writing / living.

one needs to observe but not be too cute about it. imagine you are taken by realism, you seek to render things as they really are, you ‘write what you see’. eventually the image is of you sitting at the keyboard (or, heaven forbid, the paper & pen) writing about the fact that you are writing. possibly you get onto the somewhat related topic of ‘not knowing what to write’. as someone who has read poetry & prose submissions for a lit-mag, i can advise you that this is definitely a taboo topic. nobody cares about the fact that you don’t know what to write. there are other things to do. it’s the infinite regress of writing & like the regress of logic, it’s a bad thing. it’s a false thing. so, one must observe but create a distance between the self & the writing.

the next step is of course speculating. the hsc syllabus is very much all for this act. reading great works of literature will lead young people (with no experience of ‘the world’) to speculate about their own lives & positions, maybe morally. this is nice, but a bit stupid, because i don’t think such a view is practical. speculation begins with considering the observational aspects of your life, & then making up stuff. throwing yourself into unique situations & then working them through via writing. it’s like the best kind of poetic theory, the works that continually speculate throughout, & then in effect persuade themselves of the direction of the argument. speculation is the necessary exercise for the imagination & counterbalance to the regressively false character of observation.

figuration? well that’s the tricky part. poems are often suggesting grand meanings. extended metaphors that don;t simply compare an image to another, but liken a large array of elements to an overarching concern or philosophy. never easy to paraphrase this type of thing. but, i just can’t shake the feeling you have to keep it in mind. or an eye open for it. observe the shifting figures, &, now that i think of it, start again. but then that’s where pleasure is. acting with no chance of ultimate completion. just small bits of completion. that’s eudaimonia for you.

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