Daily Archives: February 14, 2011

life of the artist and what the artist needs in life

i read the first enderby novel, “inside mr. enderby”, by william s burroughs, acquired from ye ol’ local library.

a tale of the artist, and what the artist needs, and the development of the artist. i’m down with burroughs and much of what he suggests if i’m reading it about right, is that a sensitive soul, a poet of grand worth and institution, is lost somewhere inside his own head, and somewhere inside what other people expect of him. posterity arrives early on in the form of time travelers, who do not wake the sleeping son of a bitch. if not for the cue that this poet was indeed a great man, he’d seem like the emotionally stunted lunatic the world around him. even the future imposes upon the man, when the teacher leading his students to this alter of greatness invite the students to celebrate the dyspeptic emissions and kiss the unclean knuckle of the sleeping man. no saint of art, he is a psychotic in need of therapy, not aggrandizement. in poor health, and poorer mental state, he huddles into his lavatory and creates poetry as if defecating the waste and illness of his broken soul into sound. some of these poems, decided to be not masterpieces, are flushed like toilet paper down the loo.

the story of enderby, then, is the story of the man being healed of the wounds that bleed, by the society that adores the poetry. he is offered, first, the acclaim of the academy through an award. he is quick to flush that right down the toilet in his own way, and abandon the academy for good. he is then offered the love and adoration of a beautiful, desirable woman. this, too, is flushed away when the real needs of the woman, a honeymoon in rome, a fine life, and the healing of souls done by the church are abandoned. the final opportunity of healing, at last, comes in the form of destruction, but i will not tell you exactly how.

a comic novel, full of profane and grandiose figures that overshadow enderby with their own emotions and forceful personalities, enderby is the put-upon matyr of all the ills and agonies of the world around him. he stoically shoulders the pain and casual violence and love and guilt and shame of a confused nation, all who know nothing of poetry and nothing of the man, except that enderby must be a great poet, a very great poet indeed.

even the time-travelers are not so all-knowing in the arts, as they also visit a major literary figure who is in all the anthologies, and who is an utter, complete failure. his poem is stale, and his fame is a product more of personal aggrandizement and marketing than actual talent.

enderby, the man at the center of all that madness and confusion, has only one way out.

funny, witty, and bleak bleak bleak. william s. burroughs has done much more than feed the hollywood movie machine.


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On writing and eating

The mind is connected to the body.

I eat junk food when I get stressed out. It’s my bad habit/coping mechanism. For a minute or two, I feel better. But, then I try to write. It doesn’t work so good. The whole whitebreadsugarprocessedcornsyrup food diet of modern america does not help my art. I bet it doesn’t help yours, either.

You can get a hangover from sugary, fatty foods. You can feel terrible followed by the rush of joy on a sugar hit.  Maybe you can ride it out.

Yesterday I was baking a lot and nibbling on sugary treats while doing so, and I woke up feeling like I had a hangover. I certainly didn’t get as much writing done as I’d have liked.

This morning, though, after my sugar hangover and after my hearty, wholesome breakfast I already feel more focused and alert. My breakfast was oatmeal mixed up millet, quinoa, barley and cooked with dried fruit and greek yogurt. I’ve already written more this morning than I did yesterday when it was not easy and my head ached and I couldn’t seem to focus on anything and everything was insurmountable. Today, it’s not so bad. It started bad, but then I ate my breakfast of wholesome, nutritious grains. In a minute, I’m going to pull out the juicer and make something with carrots and cucumbers in it. I’m going to go for a long walk. Lunch will be salad. Dinner will be brown rice and vegetables. Healthy things, all.

The head is connected to the body. What is bad for the body is bad for the head.

Writing much? Making art? Eat right, and exercise. Don’t give in to the sugar traps, the grease traps. And if you do, (because we all do), don’t let yourself linger in them. Recognize the signs in how you feel and pull out before it’s too late.

The one thing you don’t want to lose, when writing, is momentum. Sugarcrash, and telling yourself that you’re writing and need that little extra something, a little extra comfort, is actually not comforting. It’s horrible, and it will do terrible things to your art. Like drug use, junk food only works a little bit, for the period of the rushing high, but immediately changes into darkness.

If you get stuck? Don’t go to the kitchen. Go for a walk.

The mind is connected to the body. The soul is, too.

(It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that some intrepid sf writer has set up his laptop at a treadmill to keep his feet moving while he writes…)

(This is excellent advice, and I know that I will be ignoring it again, sometime soon. I will give in to my dark cravings…)


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