April 23rd, 2007


multiple choice

susanstinson's cat Black Kitty died. She wrote of the loss in her blog. Sad.

I am put in mind of an old exchange with kind counselor I revisit often. The deft touch of it, along with its underlying point, impressed me even in the immediate aftermath of its occurrence.

Back a coupla years ago when things were in such turmoil for me, I found myself having many moments of worrying that my older cat was about to up & die---beyond what his health problems at the time merited. This channeling of fear, squirrely as it was, at first went towards practical questions, like what to do if the ground was frozen when such a thing would go down, even more than to underlying feelings along the lines of the (false) thought "I couldn't take it!" False cuz of course I could take it. I wouldn't want to take it, but, you know, when bad things happen, we take it. What else can we do, and how can we not do? The fact that life goes on, if it does, is sometimes a horror in its own way, but that doesn't undermine the factuality of the continuation, even if fear of some potential amorphous unbearability may abide right along with it.

Anyway, I'm digressing. The conversational snippet was me saying something like "I don't know how I could handle it," prompting her brilliantly simple nugget: "How would you want to handle it?"

Poof. Turned an "either-or" into the proper type of question, if a question had to be asked: multiple choice. You come up with the options; you influence the selection of answer or answers, to whatever extent you get to, or have to. Which, even if it's only a little, is something.

That moment was worth weeks of co-pays, easy. And now I give it to you, reader, gratis, fwi may be w to you. And just to note it again & celebrate it a little myself.

And it sounds like some of Susan's choices, in an actual aftermath, have been good ones.

disambiguation; air; what's compelling

I like the word "disambiguation," which you get at the top of a number of wikipedia pages---whenever there's more than one version of the whatever-it-is you're out to read about.

Although I often say that I value ambiguity and how it's a virtue in poetry & that's something about poetry that's better than, say, the average day at the office & its usual values, I also personally value disambiguation, particularly when I manage to muster it with respect to my feelings. I was asked this weekend whether I get angry much, or easily, or what-not; I had no readily forthcoming answer to report, and conversation moved on, but my virtual speechlessness made it a notable question for me. Since I usually just blurt and blather.

It's quite unusual when I experience (in the personal arena) immediate awareness of my own unambiguous, clear wrath, especially when the target of it is present and I proceed to give said target the what-for. It's not that I so rarely get angry; it's more that it often takes me a while to realize it, first getting a sense of it to the surface & then sorting through the other emotions that might be going on.

In my family of origin, quite the variety of unpleasant or upset feelings presented as anger. Some of them might have been "pure" anger, if there is such a thing, but much indeed was anger in response to (or in stead of) frustrations or some variety of hurt or fear, balled up and spewed out in crazy rage. Thus I don't think it's such a bad thing that I have this knee-jerk filtering, this compulsion to disambiguation before delivering the goods---though sometimes I do wish I had, a tad more often, the quicker clarity that seems to go with just getting mad, right off, about something. Cuz it's kinda fun when righteous outrage (or is that not exactly anger?) is right there on the surface, and you know it, and you can "Listen, Mac!" 'em.

Your reward for wading through those sentences is this link to the song "Air" by the Owls, who are apparently from Minnesota. I've been having it in my head as the song for the day (thanks, Dr. Robert), so now you can too. The litany of the things there aren't is issued with a bouncy lilting feel/irony I dig, and the simple refrain is somehow g-damn compelling:

Is only air
I used to care;
I used to care
There is only air.

Could it be the mere bamboozling of majorly lush production? Arthur Smith, future classic music reviewer for the Washington Post, once told me that Ginsberg's "Father Death Blues" was compelling to me only cuz of the hand organ, churning through contemptibly ordinary chord changes.

Arthur, back then, could be a bit of a study in how to mess up your ability to take simple pleasure.

And the H-bomb, back now, turns out to be (oh, among other things, sure) a bit of a study in how it can feel good to be without all those lovely litany things, when mere air is still a relief, after that care.

And, anyway, it's the spoken intro to "Father Death Blues" (not in the YouTube version linked to above) that really got me going, I think, and the way he read that, all crisply articulatin' and ominous. Googling for the passage now I am directed to this very blog you're reading at the moment, but last year, where it seems the same Arthur thought led me to quote that excerpt in comment conversation with shmizla following this H-bomb saturated post.

But, anyway anyway, Arthur was right about the simple chord progressions. Like sprig5's tidbit on a waltz getting you in the gut because it's a heartbeat rhythm: who could argue. Like Lee Ann's pointing to the simple stepping down the scale in a slow, regular beat as a candidate for the source of the compelling in one of my really most favorite songs, which is also a waltz, and which I might share with ya'll here sometime soon.

Why the desire to figure out what's compelling? Right now I say it's just an excuse to commune with the compelling some more. Like, say, spending what is surely (all told) hours pondering why it might be that you're so compellingly attracted to someone.