Friday, October 29, 2010

Chinese Brush Experiment

In instructing poetry students over the years, I evolved a teaching device called a "Chinese Brush Experiment," or CBE.  In it the student can only write forwards, never backwards, just as the skilled Chinese brush artist gets no forgiveness for his brush.  Whatever goes forward, stays, so that in a poem, one can only go back to change punctuation, spelling, grammar, and to push the envelope, I suppose--line breaks.  But not the essential text.  I propose the same exercise for my blog this morning.

And it is morning here, 4:22 AM PST.  I dozed off earlier only to awaken again to a burst of energy, which enabled me to get the wash together, take a closet door off in the bedroom, clean out a cabinet in the kitchen, take out the compost and do various other domestic tasks that happily consume my time at odd hours. 

We live in an apx. 800 square foot cottage, and it is my ambition to close out or modest storage unit, to have all worldly possessions under this one roof.  I am close to achieving said ambition, as storage is mostly empty now, and I need only go through the guest bedroom reducing possessions in order to accomodate things from storage I wish yet to keep, like my Simpsons memorabilia.

When the Simpsons debuted I knew television was marked forever.  The show was too smart, usually a death knell, but it appealed on so many levels that it's now gone on for over twenty years, the longest adult cartoon ever to grace our screens.  Not anticipating this, thinking that for the intelligence of the show its lifespan would be short, I began collecting Simpsons memorabilia early on.  I thought, like the famous Mickey Mouse phone, that any trinket I collected was sure to become a collector's item.  But Paah!  After twenty years all the stuff has no value, at least on E-Bay.  Because the show's still going on.  Yet I insist on keeping what I collected.  I used to think it would be my grandchild's college fund.  Now I think it's just God laughing at me.  But I won't give up the collection.

So I must make room in the guest bedroom for storage, and it will not prove too hard.  I'm just not ready to undertake it yet today.  Today I have other concerns, one of which is novel for a bachelor (my wife is away at present).  I plan to actually wash the sheets and afterwards put fresh sheets on our bed, something I don't think I've ever done, since as a bachelor I used to simply sleep on a futon with no sheets or in a sleeping bag on the floor.  Today will mark a first, I think.  In fact, since my spiritual transformation on August 23rd, I can actually see dust.  A man who can see dust.  A man who can see dust and changes the sheets on the bed.  This is not a miracle?  Women of America, rise up and affirm that for a man, a straight man at that, that this is indeed a miracle!

I've been working my way through Mozart's late string quartets and found a space in the KV 400s (ref. for Mozart fans only) where he tends to merge long sustained interludes in and out of another in a continuous unwinding, and it is quite hypnotic.  See KV 428 for an example.

I watched the World Series game last night with friends and one thing I like about watching baseball is that it allows for much conversation and analysis.  For the opposite reason I love basketball, because it allows for so little, given the constant action (save the interminable time-outs and free throws).  Thank God the NBA season has begun.  Go Lakers!

And, with nothing more profound to say, putting his brush away, he signed off.




  1. Just wanted to say I admired your poems on Tryst.

    Laura McCullough

  2. Thanks so much, Laura, it's seldom that a poet hears such affirmation and it means a lot.



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