Hello, Reader. Well, there was *almost* a full week of school this week. But not quite. And many appointments. And planning for milestone birthday (not mine). Writing and reading happened. This is a good thing. The Muse has been a bit reticent, but sometimes she’s that way. I’ve still been showing up at my desk to see if she’s hanging around. Now let us discuss permission:
permission: n. act of permitting; a formal consent; authorization; leave; license or liberty granted. From the Latin permittere, “let pass, let go, let loose; give up, hand over; let allow, grant, permit,” from per- “through” + mittere “let go, send”
Got that? Because it’s going to be important. Now:
the trapdoor on the top of my skull Do you read brain pickings? I do. They once featured a really interesting article about Ray Bradbury’s list-making habits. According to the article, he would begin writing by making lists of nouns — whatever came to him. Stuff like:
“THE LAKE. THE NIGHT. THE CRICKETS. THE RAVINE. THE ATTIC. THE BASEMENT. THE TRAPDOOR.”
As he made the lists (they were longer than this excerpt — sometimes pages long), the lists would break away from themselves into a longer piece, or an idea for a longer piece. The way I see it, Bradbury’s list-making was a way of giving permission for the unconscious to surface and to bring with it a wealth of material. He suggests to us as writers:
“Conjure the nouns, alert the secret self, taste the darkness… speak softly, and write any old word that wants to jump out of your nerves onto the page…”
I believe he just gave us permission to write any word, not any good word, or beautiful word, or rich or amazing or nuanced word. For me permission is a necessary condition for creation. You can read the whole article here.
basically unreadable At my MFA residency, one of the faculty (not my faculty mentor, but another faculty member who had read some of my work) suggested I read The Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard. “It’s basically unreadable,” he said laughing, “but you should read it.”
I am reading it. It’s basically unreadable. But it’s really interesting. And in it, Bachelard, amongst other things, writes about the importance of solitude and reverie in a creative life. In his view, the house is that protective, intimate space where reverie can happen, where one has the freedom and the protected intimacy to create. He says: “poetry appears as a phenomenon of freedom.” And he says a lot of other stuff (much of it unreadable). And I think his view of the house — specifically one’s first house, presumably a childhood house — might be a bit privileged because not everybody has the experience of protective, intimate space in their home. But we all need some kind of protective, intimate space where we are free to imagine in order to do our creative work. Also he says this thing which I’m going to type below just because it’s beautiful:
“And all the spaces of our past moments of solitude, the spaces in which we have suffered from solitude, enjoyed, desired, and compromised solitude, remain indelible within us, and precisely because the human being wants them to remain so. (S/)He knows instinctively that this space identified with his solitude is creative; that even when it is forever expunged from the present, when, henceforth, it is alien to all promises of the future, even when we no longer have a garret, when the attic room is lost and gone, there remains the fact that we once loved a garret, once lived in an attic.”
Personally, I once loved a garret. I once slept in an attic room. I’m going to keep reading this basically unreadable book.
and now, a poem A poem that also examines the idea of permission, and places where one feels protected and free. This is one of those poems that you just have to read out loud to fully appreciate. It’s not a skimmer. It’s lovely, it’s by Robert Duncan, and it is “Often I Am Permitted to Return to a Meadow.”
Funny, often I am permitted to return to the laundry room. I mean the garage. Anyway, may you always have the time, space, and permission to do your work, to live your life. Thanks for reading.