Tag Archives: place

Pretty much an accident that your perceptions of the place matched the author’s description

Last day before Thanksgiving. A break will be good. It’s already 5;25, I for some reason read the Rock. Coll. magazine that came instead of starting to write but hey, no big deal. Now , after poopin’, it’s 5:45. Oh, well, here we go.

This story about a blue-collar guy who lived thriftily and donated $2.3 million to University of Great Falls. But what caught my eye was his avoidance of “putting on a show”—as opposed to all the grabs for attention out there now, you know, the cultural importance of attention. And I wondered if what he is indicating here is that he’s humble, … that he’s doing the donation entirely for his own personal reasons, not for publicity or external reasons at all.

Here’s the other article that caught my attention yesterday, both from Tues. [Chicago] Tribune. This guy, Meltzer, writes comic books, novels, and a TV show,” Jack & Bobby.” At first, the quote about if he writes about it, he’s been there—well, duh. I mean, yes, if you’re writing about a place that other people might also visit (that is, if you’re not just writing about a made-up or appropriated-from-real-life place), then, yes, you need to be there.

But the other side to that quote could be the editor is saying author really “evokes” the places he writes about. But all that means is that, after reading this, you go there and see for yourself, you can see what he’s writing about. But you’ve already read this description, and so that’s in your mind when you go there yourself, you know? You can’t have the experience fresh because you’ve already read it. And let’s say that you read about a place you’ve already been to. Well, then, it’s just pretty much an accident that your perceptions of the place matched the author’s description.

See, I think I wrote about this recently, how media perceptions are often so different– that is, the perception of a place I get from seeing the media representation is not the experience I have when I go to a place. I’m reminded of my Wash. D.C. trip in ’97 [as a reporter for an agriculture newspaper, with my trip paid for by a corn-growers group] and how White House was smaller than I thought it’d be, less impressive somehow. And how there’s that dissonance between your idea built from media and your perception of it right here.

It might have been funny if, instead of just an article about the topics, if I’d actually written about the process of lobbying. After all, that was sorta more unique than most media accounts—and, sh!t, that would’ve been much better than the dull-ass articles I did write. But within recent months I found and reread some writing I’d done that was about the press conference, how horrible it was and everything—pretty funny now. That would’ve been a better story. It was more-interesting material than yet another ethanol story, but there you go. I can’t imagine Warren actually publishing it—though I’d have to tone it down. Maybe he would’ve actually let me do a sidebar on the lobbying process. Oh, well.

[From journal of Weds., 24 Nov. 2004, Journal 40, page 34-8]

‘Even transcendent moments can drain you’: Pocket pages week in review

I indulge my obsessive mind sometimes in pursuing an idea. Maybe that’s why my posts (for example, here), my writing, can get a little too dense, some readers have commented.

It’s OK if I don’t have all my ideas and ideals worked out. The tension makes my writing interesting (maybe).

My town's water tower gains a crown during maintenance work this week.

My town’s water tower gains a crown during maintenance work this week.

There’s no need to speak against an artwork (like this example speaks against the movie Dead Poets Society). A person may like or love an artwork’s tone or voice, without caring too much about whether the artwork is particularly realistic or accurate or even philosophically astute.

I got upset about something I read that my alma mater did. I’m reminding myself that I don’t need to get upset about institutional decisions — there will always be ones I don’t agree with. I can disagree with things without actually getting upset about them.

My blog doesn’t need to be as timely as a news site is. I’m writing more “undated” (as the journalists say) pieces that can be read at various times. I’m building an archive, a set of stories, ideas, etc. More a book (like an anthology?) than a newspaper.

Reading in book “Jazz Poems” a poem by Frank Landon Brown that contains the line “a boy … who’d become great before he should have.” This prompts a thought that there are seasons, there’s a paced unfurling, to a life. And it may not help to hurry it. That if we get attention young, we may not be able to handle it, or we may be ignoring /sacrificing some other part of our lives. That even transcendent moments can drain you.

After seeing an ad in American Poetry Review for Bennington College M.F.A. program, an ad that said, in 72-point Helvetica,



be read.

as if readers could be delivered. What if people were actually eager to read writings? What would those writings be like? It doesn’t seem that writers should need all this machinery working toward fame — the small journals, the MFA programs, the poetry contests with entry fees, etc.

I was showing off for my fellow teachers last night, I can now [the next morning after the open house] recognize. I was telling stories in an attempt to entertain.

There’s a narrow range of responses, reactions, a person might have to something (particularly I’m thinking here of reactions to seeing, reading, or hearing something in real life or in media). This range of responses might include agreeing, disagreeing, associating something with it, mocking it, etc. To go beyond these mere responses, you gotta think a little deeper, dive in, engage, not go with your first reactions, which tend to be of that narrow range. Instead, you can use that event as a starting point, not as the whole first half, of an essay.

The midpoint of my commute from home to school (or school to home) is just a concept, the middle of a whole, a unit, a defined distance. But physical things aren’t relative to particular points. There isn’t an obvious relation or comparison between the locations of my home and my school, except that they are locations that matter to me.

I have an obsessive tendency to check a few things, in particular, to check to make sure my stove is off before I leave the house, and to make sure my classroom’s windows are locked before I leave school. I look at each thing, each burner knob, each window, and I say “off” or “locked,” respectively, as I look at its state. I wonder if having this habit is part of what inspired my interest in wondering in a more general sense how much words and perceptions match physical reality. Perhaps I say “off, off, off, off,” to confirm my perception of the stove’s real status, to make sure I am paying attention, forming a memorable idea that it’s really off (that if I say “off” at the same time I’m looking at the burner, I may remember that I said “off” and that it really was off). [My variety of obsessive thought involves being concerned that I am paying attention now to turning off the stove so that if I later wonder if I turned off the stove, I can reassure myself. But actually the goal is to not wonder later at all — it’s better to get busy doing something else. But maybe this habit of mine is partly why I’m philosophically interested in wondering how ideas and words match/reflect reality, as here, for example.]

Writers write in order to find something to say (for explanation). We don’t have things in mind that we need to say, or at least not always do we. When we do, that’s not usually as interesting.

A different way of thinking about places, about physical things: There doesn’t need to be, there is no one way to conceive of nature, including the concept of no-concept.

Weather and other physical world conditions don’t matter in the mental realm — or maybe they do. I mean, we can read and discuss, say, Plato, whether it’s cold or hot outside. We’re inside, climate-controlled — it’s hard to even read outside (it’s too bright, etc.). But if clouds shape (even partially) our mood, and mood shapes ideas … maybe I’m sensitive to my surroundings. I observe lots, and get critical of things, maybe because I feel overwhelmed and feel a need to respond, so I get defensive (and thus critical).

I did no reading online while eating today at lunch (I usually do read online, or watch TV, or even write, while eating).

[End of the school day Thursday:] Feeling too tired today to want to grade student papers. This is what I felt like much of last year, rather than the energetic mood of the last few days when I was keeping up with grading.

“Oh, well, what’s a little memory loss,” laughed one of my colleague teachers to a student.

Every time I go to Walmart, I regret it.

I think that one thing I’m searching for in my writing is some unity of consciousness and place/physical locale. I know I’ll never get to know the truth of the physical world (not talking particle physics here, but what really happened as outside of, apart from, my perception of what happened), but the particular consciousness’s voice matters. The writer’s voice is in, is embedded in, comes from, the consciousness.

In contrast to the individual’s voice, there’s the language we use when people join into groups, organizations, institutions — anonymous, role-based speech. Not unique consciousnesses at all (or the uniqueness is minimized) because the teacher in the classroom, the boss in front of a staff meeting, feels the need to play the role of teacher, of boss.

On Friday afternoon in the parking lot, one male student was telling another male student some plans for afterschool transport options. The second student said, “I think that’s your mother over there.” The first student said, “Oh. Nevermind.”