May 4, 2009

No Butterflies Here



It’s downright embarrassing to review some of the things I’ve written in the past year, particularly because I’ve posted much of it in this blog. It is not as if this faulty material is hidden away anymore in computer files or in wrapped-up notebooks like a hundred other things not worth publishing. It is out there for the whole world to see. Of course the whole world could be less-interested in the garbled transmission of my thoughts and feelings, and is. Except for a few apparently faithful readers, most of the 10 to 20 hits a day this blog receives are obviously random, a response to a keyword search, or only surfing the blogosphere. I am surprised, however, at the number of readers I have--according to the miraculous Site Meter--and how their numbers will spike on a certain day of the week, say a Thursday, when the total might climb to 30 readers in a day. Why? I have no idea.

Neither do I have a hint why I am read in Yemen, Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Bulgaria, Russia, and China. Nor can I imagine who is reading me at the UN, or in Washington, D.C., or why. Does it have something to do with a rather-critical but-balanced piece I wrote about the Israel-Palestine Monster Ball? How can I know? It is perhaps a curse to be saddled with an imagination and a suspicious mind too. I sometimes think it is, because friends tell me that I am “so wrong,” and “so far off base,” and “way wrong," and "couldn't be more off," so often, that I long-since have begun to wonder if I am a crackpot? Or am I the only sucker dumb enough to tell everyone?

I think that the worst things I’ve written have been about love and women. What was I thinking? What a wild sick and reckless romance! What a fantasy! What a lunatic I must be to write about love and women? What the hell do I know about it? If I knew anything, would I be living alone or in a van most of my life? Do I look normal to you? Unbelievable, as Bill the killer opined, what a sucker I am for women. They must be laughing their heads off at me. I was a young fool, and now I am an old one.

Looking back at the carnage my own mind wreaked on my life during this recent period is painful and slightly unreal. Here brazenly revealed is the chief flaw in my personality the defect in my character and the rip in my mask showing the confusion of mind beneath, which strips me naked and leaves me trembling without even a fig leaf before you. It is as if I had a terrible festering wound that I kept insisting everyone examine, perhaps at the dinner table. What presumption, self-importance and selfish egoism! Why do I keep telling the world about my stupid loneliness and the idiotic things I did and thought to bring it about? Do I expect Wonder Woman to materialize from the screen wave a magic wand and restore my wounded soul? Well, why not? Anything is possible. Maybe she can fix my ego and bring a happier love-life, too.




And that is another thing which has become apparent to me in this constant writing, which has become my only communion with you all: my innate silliness, and how it pops in and out of my writing like an annoying jack-in-the-box, whose lid won’t stay shut. I don’t know why its there, I don’t know why I get so silly, I don’t know why I’m so careless and negligent as to let it mar a product already-flawed in other ways. I see it has to go. The only excuse I can think of to justify it is that I’m trying to be honest about Mike Havenar; sometimes I’m just silly. Yet I know I’m not entirely so honest. There’s a boxcar full of stuff I dare not say. There’s no fooling oneself. I can accept that I’m an old fool, but I don’t want to be a silly old fool too. That much perhaps I can fix.

I suspect that in my own case the test of good writing is how honest I am prepared to be. Tell what? Tell it why? I think good writing requires much sacrifice; at least the sacrifice of time which might be better spent fishing, and might at least result in dinner. Dinner for two…

Another weakness appears to be the recurring theme of vast sarcasm and my undisguised scorn for the warring governments and the dumbed and numbed marionettes that run them. I know my constant criticism appears grandiose and pretentious to some, but on the other hand I can offer no excuse or apology, because my deepest feelings and the fruits of a fair amount of research has produced the theme. Without it I don't think I would have much of identity, since so much of my life has been about that. And somebody has to do it. But perhaps I lay it on a bit thick, sometimes unfairly, and my words more often might spurred by justifiable anger but uninformed by deeper thought. The anger is so apparent to me, and probably to you. Question: Is my anger justified, and does it help or hurt the writing? Answer: I don’t know.

I'm not changing my mind about the mediocrity of America though. Nor am I changing my view of American history, which to me is an ongoing atrocity; and it is yet-to-be-proved whether President Obama will make a large difference. Of course I hope he does. No other President has ever impressed me so much.

I see my writing as a kind of medicine, self-administered before an anonymous audience, some of whom might learn something from my experimentation; something helpful, entertaining, or healing I hope. Because what is the point of living strictly for oneself, of concealing one’s dim lamp even, when one will lose life and perhaps all memory of it? Maybe the soul is a happy fantasy, the ultimate denial of death; perhaps this one life and consciousness is all there ever is. Maybe the whole thing is meaningless or at least forever beyond our total comprehension. How can anybody know? Therefore, it seems to me, since we all are human and in this leaky boat together, we should get to know one another, and make it as easy for each other as we can, even as we sink and drown in an indifferent ocean. To gather ‘round the fire to talk to sing to dance to share ourselves and enjoy each other, and all that; why not?

I wonder now if I should try writing simply to entertain. Until now, I’ve sought to communicate, to make people aware of me, of whom and why I am. But this is probably pointless. This sort of thing probably should be written after one has become a good writer and is known and has evoked curiosity from the literary-minded; not before. Is there still time to invent or relate edifying, good yarns? Can I make you laugh or cry? Can I make you wonder? Can I make you finish a story wishing it was longer?

I haven’t a clue about writing fiction or I would have written more. Structuring a play or screenplay, inventing characters, finding a plot a setting and a theme, isn’t easy for me, and if I had any skill at it I would post it proudly. I do well with dialogue, however, which gives me some hope that I might create some readable fiction, if I live 20 more years, at this pace.

All this writing, these 70-odd pieces, has been done on the front porch of a friend’s house in New Jersey, in two unheated houses in St. Tammany Parish over winter months, and in coffee shops from New Orleans to Corpus Christi, as well as from the driver’s seat of my van parked beneath streetlights or on the beach in a scorching hot sun. I keep telling myself that I could do better if I had my own place. I continue to believe it too. How nice it was to write undisturbed for a few months this last winter, even though, as I said, I wrote about love and women, some of the worst stuff I’ve ever written.

Why don’t I just go back and delete it? Because it would be cowardly, for one thing. I’ve been tempted, strongly tempted at times, to simply delete the whole blog, perhaps to hide the evidence, hoping that no one has copied any of it, because it is so embarrassingly deficient in creativity, talent and industry. Someone whom I respect very much, protesting that I sell myself short, said, “Don’t you do that Mike,” so I won’t. I am very grateful for her encouragement, and frankly it is about all the encouragement I’ve ever had, and probably the best and most-valid reason why I love her so much.

If I had to write a blurb for the blog, about the only thing I could say would be that it seems like a serious effort to improve as a writer and produce something of quality. I’m still hoping this will occur. I've learned something from it even if no one else has.

All I can do is try to learn from my mistakes and continue writing. I wish more people would comment though. You folks must have an opinion. Go ahead, bury me in criticism if you must. I think I can take it at this point. I spun my cocoon hoping to emerge a beautiful butterfly. I don't know what I am, but anyone can see I'm not beautiful or a butterfly.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"The Taoist philosopher Zhuangzi once had a dream of being a butterfly flying without care about humanity, however when he woke up and realized it was just a dream, he thought to himself 'Was I before a man who dreamt about being a butterfly, or am I now a butterfly who dreams about being a man?'" - Wikipedia

Mike stop slacking and post some new material for your anonymous, yet loyal fan base. We lurkers are starved for new content.

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