Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Cynicism, Pragmatism, Asterism, Writingism

"People just have no clue about their genuine nature. I have countless friends who describe themselves as 'cynical,' and they're all wrong. True cynics would never classify themselves as such, because it would mean that they know their view of the world is unjustly negative; despite their best efforts at being grumpy, a self-described cynic is secretly optimistic about normal human nature. Individuals who are truly cynical will always insist they're pragmatic. The same goes for anyone who claims to be 'creative.' If you define your personality as creative, it only means you understand what is perceived to be creative by the world at large, so you're really just following a rote creative template. That's the opposite of creativity. Everybody is wrong about everything, just about all the time."

-- Chuck Klosterman

I am not creative. I am, however, cyncial, or pragmatic. I don't know. Depends on the day. Where does misanthrope fit in between the two? I am genuinely disgusted with humanity, but I also have great hope about our basic natures and potential.

As I watch the garden turn colors, even without the help of cold weather, and as a few asters slip open suddenly like the first blasts of popcorn in the pan, I feel an overwhelming sense of loss and discovery, disillusion and joy. And I feel constipated writerly as the world presses in on me like a foot on my chest, and the only way out from the speed of all this impending decay is to create at a similar rate of speed. Some people call this being prolific and stand in awe, but it may simply be frustration, loneliness, or rage (against the machine?) which leads to burnout and pragmatic cynicism. Everything is passing by faster and faster. The tilt-a-whirl is revving up. I think I may soon have no choice but to vomit all over the page if I wish to keep some drop of sanity in my soul.

In other words, though I have many ideas on editing, I am close to saying goodbye for now to my memoir Morning Glory and, if / when time ever allows (or I darn well make it allow), I will soon throw myself into the Great Plains memoir. Too many rejections. Too much not happening. Wrong climate, I don't know. MG isn't clicking with anyone. It's either too memoiry or not enough. This isn't feeling sorry for myself. It's a damn good chuck of words. Denial and anger take many forms, and the best writers turn it into more writing. But the vast majority get caught up in something, anything, that they can do marginally well just to feel good about their existence for a time--manage a Burger King, edit copy, kill squirrels, go to grad school and write unintelligible academic essays via inflated / borrowed ideas from some big name theorist and pass the synthesis off as their own brilliant new scholarship. Or they raise monarch butterflies.

7 comments:

Susan Tomlinson said...

Hugs, my friend. Just...hugs.

Victoria said...

I'm a plagiarist. More hugs...

fairegarden said...

I am creative. Have some hugs from me too. And raising Monarchs is a fine endeavor.
Frances

misssarahkate said...

Fabulous quote - it's just writhing with truth - God, I'm a crappy cynic. Good writing, Benjamin.

Benjamin Vogt said...

If only hugs ended war, homelessness, joblessness, and a sense of self worthlessness in a world dominated by private corporations. If only we could hug monarchs, or if they could hug us. Perhaps then.

Ginny said...

Focus on the monarchs and the garden and all of those hugs. Forget the corporations. And I absolutely love the way you describe the asters - perfect. Hugs would end war, homelessness, joblessness, and all the rest if everyone truly wanted to hug everyone else.

Carol said...

Benjamin, I love your writing... before you vomit be sure to have a copy of the text. It is hard to be an artist ... a writer... a poet. Thank you for continuing the struggle. The world is a better place for your efforts. I regret I have not bought your book yet but plan to soon. The world is indeed unjust and you balance well in knowing Monarchs. I have one chrysalis left ;>( ... it has been a good year for us. Maybe some of your eighty or more made it to Cape May, where Randy E. said a million or so flew by a few days ago ... or so. If you enjoy MG ... why not just keep at it. ;>)