helping to make the nonsensical nonsensicaler    

November 27th, 2008


Remember I'm an artist. And you know what that means in a court of law. Next worst to an actress.

Joyce Cary

PERSIFLAGE is updated on Thursdays.


Why not order your sausages through the mail? Join Sausage of the Month Club. Box 1000.
Noted Scotsman and Drinking Enthusiast, Pynchon Gurbuddlie's Compendium of Golf Courses I Am No Longer Welcome On is now available in soft cover. Ask for it in better bookstores.
Got a perfectly good skeleton of Sinanthropus pekinensis sitting around at home? Why not bring it in to Uncle Ray's House of Important Archaeological Discoveries? We pay top dollar for your finds. Visit our showroom on Grant Avenue near the Pony Corral.



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Rooting Around in the Horse's Mouth

Here is an essay for people who like to look things up on the Internet. Certain words that may be difficult or obscure are provided with external links to web pages explaining them. What could be more fun? [Don't write in with ideas. - Eds.]

I believe it was the great Classical Chinese poet Han Shan who said "We could inscribe our poems on biscuits and the homeless dogs would not deign to nibble." He was probably right. The poem has never been an overly popular way to express a thought. It is a form that has languished across the ages in something resembling obscurity, eclipsed by the more readily accessible media. Lucretius' De Rerum Natura was never, even its day, as popular as something like David Suzuki's TV show never mind say, Survivor or Dancing with the Stars.

This could account for some of the persistent crankiness that one normally associates with poets. Like other artists in a variety of unpopular media, they feel underappreciated. But is this feeling justified? Aren't they really the authors of their own misfortune?

Wouldn't Lucretius have been better off explaining atomic theory in a regular ole textbook? Wouldn't that have increased his chances of landing a tenure track position? Why did he feel compelled to make his thesis a poem? And, more importantly, whose fault was that?

The thing of it is, and this holds true really for all of the arts, nobody held a gun to Han Shan's head and MADE him write poetry. Okay, guns hadn't been invented in the Tang Dynasty but nobody held a sword to his head either, saying: "You better write a poem buddy or it's curtains for you!" (all this in Chinese of course)

Han Shan CHOSE to write poetry about scree. Lucretius thought to himself "Hey I know how to get the word out about atoms - a really really long poem!" Jackson Pollock looked down at his pants after he finished painting the bathroom, liked what he saw and started dripping all over the place. Modigliani traced around an almond, became enamoured of the shape and went to town. John Cage lying in the tub with his head under the water thought how all those notes were cluttering up his music and decided, ALL ON HIS OWN, to get rid of them. Nobody made any of them do it. They did it to themselves.

If, as a result of their decisions, not a single solitary soul listened to or looked at or read any of their work they really had nobody to blame but themselves. It's not that difficult to be popular and well-liked if that is your goal but you do have to put some effort into it. You can't just fling notes and paints and words about and expect people to throw a parade for you. It's just not going to happen. Trust me on this one. I know.

Hugh Briss

Hmmm, seems to be some extra space left over this week. Too bad there isn't anything interesting to put in here. We really didn't plan this out very well. Should have had another short article I guess. Oh well. Maybe next week.