Monday, April 20, 2009

sticking to your guns

hmmm, put that way it sounds rather bad. like going down with the ship or something. i could say 'stick to your guns'! alas, the imperative is not for everyone. a therapist friend says most people happy to be in the mainstream, depression coming when they wash up on the bank for awhile.

nevertheless, i know it's cheezy of me, but i'm inspired by movies where the hero won't give up and gets the girl ('adventureland' 'slumdog millionaire') or where the hero suffers an appropriate death, as in 'the wrestler'. the ram, as he was called, died flying in the ring. of course, an inappropriate death in the movies can depress me for days. 'milk' an example. he, in no way, deserved the end he received.

what's true for the movies goes for real life too. an example: years ago the university art gallery had a show of fantasy miniatures done by a painter who lived in a small valley town near here, gridley or biggs. he'd spent a bit of his youth in san francisco, yet retreated to work in solitude and be a complete unknown. i wish you could see his work.

true, rimbaud quit writing poetry by twenty and sailed off to be a gun-runner in north africa. maybe he knew he was written out. or perhaps he had to go proactive as a romantic. or maybe it was his way of rejoining the mainstream, being a businessman (unfortunately not a very successful one). blake says 'a fool who would persist in her folly would become wise.' who's to say what that wisdom might be. in eugene o'neill's 'touch of the poet' the hero eventually abandons his aristocratic pretensions and goes off with the boys to drink in the bars. somehow he made a better american than a false brit.

all this said, i admire those devoted to an honorable personal mission. i say 'honorable' cause i'd like to except serial killers and corrupt politicians. and i suppose it's naive of me, yet i pretty much accept what is 'honorable' to the world. it can be poetry or soldiering, parenthood or a nunnery. it's not easy to survive the self-doubts which will assail you on your path. this is not for those who always think they're right. that gives them energy, not necessarily courage. without a sense of service, the term doesn't fit.

you can persist beyond your talent and skill, imitating yourself. i'm thinking of wordsworth and hemingway, however the latter did write 'the old man and the sea' and 'a movable feast' before doing himself in. i'm always sad when a great pitcher leaves the mound for the last time.

humility must be part of this, i suppose. to know you're not a genius and still strive to make a tiny contribution. after all, civilization is an ongoing process, not something we wish to end.

speaking of continuation, here are some recent theater and dance pics. persisting in a small community may be your honorable destiny.