I think of the children who will never know, intuitively, that a flower is a plant’s way of making love, or what silence sounds like, or that trees breathe out what we breathe in.
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Our reporter, Dusty Miller, writes, “Unless you’re trying to scratch out a living as an artist or have seen the contemporary collection at the state museum of art in Raleigh, or live in a treehouse in the hinterlands like a friend of mine, you’re undoubtedly aware that North Carolina is the state of the arts. Everyone’s heart of Thomas Wolfe, clogging, and handmade dulcimers, but how many people are aware that living a life of quiet anonymity in Raleigh is one of the nation’s literary porn kings, Ronald Kemp? The company he’s been working for recently folded, but that’s life, the life of an artist.”
If I were to join in communion with you, to commune with you, to communicate with you, I would do so over a cup of raspberry leaf-mint tea and a piece of Celebration Carob Cake (so called because it was the first cake I baked after the birth of my last child).
I stopped working as soon as I was out of a place to live. To work hard all day hauling lumber and driving nails and take my rest on some itchy living room couch was too much. My broken-down, ragged Ford was a cop-baiter and damned if I was getting up at 6:30 in the morning with a backache, to hop into that piece of crap, work all day and come back at 6:00 p.m. getting popped on the way back for “emitting white light” or “noise pollution,” the ticket costing me the whole day’s work. Hell, no! Better to just go home and see my folks, get my car together, get a new job, save some money while Mom and Dad put me up. Here it was, the end of summer and my mind and body were in some kind of harmony from working in the sun. Definitely the perfect time to go home. Now going home, that’s not easy for a borderline case like myself. I never paid much attention to “reality,” as they say.
There is intentional communication and there is unintentional communication. Tolstoy said everything we do expresses something about us, but nothing we do expresses everything. Expressing one’s self is as real a human need as hunger. Yet, to avoid that nagging feeling that one is not saying what one means, one must first know who he is. Paradoxically, to solve that problem one must periodically abstain from communicating anything. That is, spending time alone the better to know one’s self and to avoid the miring of the self in a swamp of superficiality. Everyone needs occasional refueling. There must be unimpinged upon time for experience to be digested, assessed and assimilated. Otherwise self-expression remains on a cliched level, while the soul, unheeded, yearns to grow through an expanded understanding of the universe through which the body is and has been moving.
A friend comes to my home. She tells me that she is very mad, and her mouth forms a tense but full smile. Another conversation, the person tells me that he is feeling “good, real fine.” His eyes make no contact with mine, his brow is furrowed, his body appears stiff. At a party, a recent acquaintance says that she would like to get to know me better. Her arms and legs are crossed, and she is leaning away from me.
When I have a problem, I sometimes have difficulty owning up to it. It’s much easier to say, “He’s screwed up to get in my way like that,” or “How can they treat me that way?” And this only intensifies my problem. I alienate myself from others and at the same time allow my head (intellect) to separate itself from my guts (feelings).
For years, I spent an hour every morning with The New York Times. It wasn’t that different from repeating a mantra or concentrating on the breath. Stories, like thoughts, would come and go; in time, it dawned on me that “objectivity” was pure myth, since no two people, journalists included, see the same event in the same way. The line between reality and illusion became increasingly watery — there were demons and avenging angels everywhere, on the corners of Harlem and on the campus of Kent State; America was drowning in the shallows of its own dream. The writing on the wall said it all; who needed The Times?
Couldn’t find anything else. The following being typed on a Scott Towel. You know — The one that’s twenty percent heavier? What the hell is her name anyway? Not the waitress with the spills. The other one. The one in the grocery store. Whipple’s Supermart. That was a joke. Really. Anyway, they all know each other and they’re all out there. Even the old ones. AUNT BLUEB
We asked Richard Williams, THE SUN’s poetry editor, to assess the literary magazines published in and near Chapel Hill.
Jealous of the female art of creation, man conjured up the art of the mummified reflection, and so was born the Work of Art: a solid hunk of inanimate matter scratched and battered into a shape codifying his unique understandings. A more ideal mate than Woman herself, the Work of Art is utterly faithful in replicating man’s image, and resistant, unlike himself, to the armies of decay. When his body is but a grey pool of foam greasing the slide of bones back to earth, a simple computerized image of himself lives on in his masterpiece. He worships art as the means of gaining victory over death.
First he insults me, tells me I’m not a human being. Well, I tell him — this frog, this polka-dotted frog — that I just can’t control myself in the face of spaghetti. Then this frog looks at me, very seriouslike, and intones: “You’re going to have a great revelation when you’re 62.”
The immortal words were no worry, they would keep. But what about the others, boxes upon boxes? Phrases to polish, sentences to shape. How long before they spoil? How long before the air is soured with mistaken meanings? While he searches for the right word, how much is sacrificed?