Sunday, September 24, 2017

Expiated, from July 30, 2014

Sometimes when I write about a subject here, no matter how fiercely it had been churning inside me, when I write it, it's like it's released. Whether it's the aggravations of some awful co-worker, an obsession with fruit syrups, or some bit of nonsense rampaging through my brain like a gaggle of frisky coyotes, I give voice, and there is silence. Maybe all art is like a more or less polite exorcism. We invite some demon to possess us. We're lucky if it's a terrible one. This terribleness is usually indicated by causing a spinning head and a lot of throwing up. Then we begin the pleasurable and laborious exorcism, the setting down of the right words, the sentence testing, the exasperated starting all over again, the ceremonial 14th rereading. And then it's over. The demon is safely locked away in a poem, or a painting, a cartoon or a blog post.

But it's a tricky process. Sometimes the exorcism doesn't take. Sometimes there are still things to be said.

Those are the ones I keep coming back to. Sometimes they are too mighty to get at; my anti-quest for fame, the complexity of book jacket covers, my feelings towards the automated check in machine. Some are fathomless, like cats or birds, and some are trivial and require a lighter touch than I can sometimes find, like the passive aggressiveness of bicyclists, or people returning books in stacks as the pleasant machine voice is asking them nicely to return their books one at a time. But whatever it is I keep trying. The exorcisms never end. And if I can't get these demons out I don't mind too much. After they've been in there awhile they're my demons. Irritating, yes, but like bits of sand in an oyster, they are layered and transformed in me. Whenever I get one of those pearls out you know it. You may even comment.

"I liked your post today." You say when this happens.

"Thank you." I say. "I miss it already."