Saturday, October 27, 2007

Bleak but tangy ...

... A writer's exhilarating dead end. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Earlier today Dave appended this poem of Tom Disch's as a comment to another post: QED.

You should also visit Endzone.

I should add, by the way, that while I agree with Daniel Kalder when he says that "being enthusiastic all the time just ain't natural," I'm not so sure about some other things he says. For instance: "In the US, certainly, the dominant idea is that if you're not permanently pumped up with enthusiasm for life you're completely buggo: there's even an ad on TV that demonstrates how your downer can spread to your dog - and you wouldn't want that, would you? Personally, I think this militaristic insistence on maintaining an upbeat mood at all times may in itself be a contributing source to the great river of melancholy that, to judge by the quantity of uppers consumed, runs through so many American souls."

I don't think a TV ad is good evidence for a "dominant idea" in the U.S. or anywhere else. As for "the quantity of uppers consumed" - could we have some figures, please. Most ordinary people I meet are neither consumed by melancholy nor obsessed with pumping up their enthusiasm - nor consuming quantities of uppers. But then, I live in an ordinary neighborhood populated with ordinary people. Most writers and intellectuals hang with other writers and intellectuals and project their parochial outlook onto the rest of society. That explains why so much that is written is such a bummer. And, by the way, I don't find "QED" at all bleak - and am I wrong in detecting no small measure of mordant humor in much else over at Endzone?


  1. Frank, your comments reminded me of a late-night drive through a remote part of West Texas ..... it was in the pre-XM/Sirius era, and there wasn't much to choose from on the radio ..... there was a Christian ministry station that presented a radio play (part of a nationally-broadcast series) about a girl who, at first, misunderstands the meaning of 'joyful' in a Christian sense ..... so she spends every waking hour spouting one inane, "don't-worry-be-happy" phrase after another ..... by the end of the half-hour, she has attained a fuller understanding of herself, her faith, and the state of 'joy' that is Christ ..... wish I could remember the name of that series!

  2. ". . . am I wrong in detecting no small measure of mordant humor in much else over at Endzone?"

    You aren't wrong, Frank.

    Patrick Kurp, who's read more of Tom Disch's work than I have, has pointed out that his poetry is "funny and elegant," that he is one of "nature’s celebrators," and that as a literary critic he's among those with "a gift for epigrammatic prose that can be distilled into one-liners without sacrificing critical acumen."