Monday, April 23, 2007

Winging It

This is one of those nights. I'm sitting here at the keyboard with the intention to write, but nothing has pushed itself forward, or at least far enough forward, from the welter of half-formed thoughts and mixed impressions that have been jockeying for space in my brain over the weekend. There's certainly no lack of things to write about. But there are constraints on almost all of them. There are the Ideas Which Aren't Really Worth Getting Into, like my walk today through the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center which is in the process of being renovated to make it less fortress-like in its appearance, or my continuing frustration with not being able to get my fingers and my brain coordinated when I am practicing this ridiculously formulaic little Mozart minuet, or the debate we had today at our literary magazine staff meeting about whether or not including a cute and pretty funny but not very deep piece was going to be worth the trouble it was going to cause us because of its casual deployment, with ironic intent, of the word m*therf*cker.

There are the Ideas Which Are Worth Getting Into But Are Off Limits For One Reason or Another, like the whole involved story of the email a friend of mine prepared but did not send out in response to the email which the director of our ROTC program DID send out relaying with regard to the flag being flown at half mast this week. But it's complicated, and peoples' feeings are at stake, so I'm not going to get into any of that here, at least not now.

Then there are the Ideas Which Are Worth Getting Into And Are Not Off Limits But Which Are Just So Large That One Doesn't Know Where To Begin, like the Future of Education or My Current Take on the Meaning of Life or even my reactions to watching a DVD, this afternoon, called The First Year, which is a documentary which follows five classroom teachers working in inner-city public schools. It was both tremendously inspiring and tremendously discouraging, and I guess it matters which order you put those two adjectives in, but beyond that preliminary and highly generalized characterization of the movie would be a post that it would take me maybe two weeks to write that would have to do with what the teaching profession looks like from the other end of the binoculars.

And finally, much on my mind these last few months, are The Things Which Are Really Important and Fundamental But Unable To Be Put Into Words At All, which would include a significant proportion, perhaps a majority, of what goes on in most of our minds most of the time, right. Some of it falls into the category made famous by Gertrude Stein when she used the word inaccrochable. Some of it is just inaccessible to language, its what Flaubert was thinking about when he remarked that "human speech is like a cracked cauldron on which we bang out tunes that make bears dance, when we want to move the stars to pity." And some of it is just not accessible at all, it's either subliminal or it's subconscious or it falls into the category of What We Don't Know We Don't Know.

So that's where we are on this April evening. I usually give my students permission to write one paper each semester about why they can't think of anything to write a paper about. I guess this one has been mine.

No comments: