Friday, June 15, 2012

I find myself admiring...

...someone who has what looks like a complete sensibility.

Of course, even a drooling Visigoth has a certain sensibility (he can sniff fear on the wind and devise an aesthetics of plunder, so to speak). So I'm using the word "complete" in a special way. Barbarian culture is excluded. I'm using that word "complete" to distinguish the sensibility of someone like me, who is sort of a snob about cultural matters, from someone with a broader grasp or vision of things.

I have, over decades, drifted toward things European, while neglecting (or outright scorning) things American. Though I do appreciate Emerson, Poe, Melville, Emily Dickinson, Twain, and Steinbeck, as well as some homegrown popular music (Dylan, Roky Erickson, CCR, Roy Orbison, some others), I missed the boat with others things -- the Beat vibe and a whole array of "local" spirit-root songwriters. So there are things to learn from a person who appreciates deeper aspects of American culture while also being sensitive to that unique European aesthetic. A person sensitive to lived or felt experience and who looks for emotional honesty, wherever he finds it.

I'm distinguishing my rather clumsy self from someone like Will Crawford (author of Fire in the Marrow).

Will is a poet and soulful roustabout. Some of that American stuff I've missed out on percolates up through quite a few of Will's poems. At least that's the impression I get. He takes his themes and directs his focus mostly on people who have breathed this American air, who stagger through or make pact with the peculiar conditions here. But Will's imagination and poetic stress are not constricted. He also writes about obsessive conquistadors, Van Gogh, others. His appreciation for Werner Herzog, many East European poets and writers, Old World paintings and films...well...that pleases me.

What intrigues me is how Will can juggle both that European and American stuff simultaneously. I have such a one-track mind that I've become illiberal in my tastes. I compartmentalize, whereas Will is open-ended. Apparently he does not, like me, exclude the native forms of being -- characters embedded in this fabric of circumstance. (I have though made a recent attempt at American rapprochement with my Southern Weather e-book.)  Will is attuned to those who sing the song of road and grit, hard love and whiskey blur. Those who appeared and ached in time zones of Blues and jazz. Who wandered dunes of lost beach or withered in rooms of mortal waiting. People and things that happen here, in America.

I think I'm having trouble describing that special American vibe. Whatever it is, it's something that oozes surreptitiously from the movie world here. Maybe a quality of perception that is connected to Ford, Cassavetes, Lynch. Not sure.

But as I said, Will also appreciates many things that are damn important to me, aesthetically. So the fact that he also appreciates certain over-yonder poems and the writings of Bruno Schulz makes me realize that there must also be things here undeserving of my snobbish neglect. Thinking about Will's complete sensibility is like having a form of eye surgery done on myself -- restoring a balance of far- and near-sightedness.

Having said that, I don't know if I'll ever be able to fully heal my alienation to the American experience. Even though I'm geographically located in that experience. Having read The Magic Mountain so many times, I find that listening to an American conversation -- even hip, "knowing" talk -- is like having my head squeezed by a large pecan nutcracker.


  1. I will keep my comment some what short as I need to save my words for the review he asked of me for his new poetic creation.
    I met Will (cyberly-(is that a word) a year ago and our friendship is like finding that lost earring or cuff link. Through osmosis I have been educated and vice versa to many things I'm sure I would have otherwise missed. He is a spectacular human being and our mutual love of Nipsey Russell, humanity and words is something I will treasure till I am nothing but mere dust.
    I am not a snob though..I just step aside those nutcracker moments :-)

  2. WC expresses himself in such a vibrant manner. And like you say, he is a fount of knowledge. All kinds of stuff -- intellectual, cultural, even the arcane (knows the value of primal monkey stare). And yes, he's got a cool sense of humor. A swell fellow.