Sunday, February 25, 2007

Discipline and other stuff

Discipline. I don't have it.

So many things occur to me to write about--but they are never short, and then I get bogged down in the "what's the point" mode.

Today was interesting. Went to a reading of a friend's play (Mirror up to Nature). Excellent, excellent start. Really close to being done. We discussed his new method of working which included the use of an outline. Like me he has sooo many interests he could ramble for the rest of his life and some of his plays have suffered for that. This one rambled, but always came back. One of the characters is a former MI non-com, military intelligence (what's the definition of an oxymoron, Ma?). Kidding aside, Mirror once was, and stationed in Korea. One of the things which stuck with me was the fact that tributes to MI operatives say "a dangerous and sensitive mission," no details, as opposed to regular forces where mission details are generally given (died defending Hill 403 from enemy attack). That not even in death can the secrets be revealed to family.

Watched the last part of "The State Within," BBC miniseries (well prob. reg. series in Britain) about the manipulation of a war by big business. Hmmm... Too plausible (to cynics like me).

Another thread of Mirror's play was what are we doing with our lives. He's about my age, most of the readers and commentors were about my age. Most of us over-educated (as one character describes himself). What have we done since college? Anything? Anything of importance? What is important? Writing that novel, that play? Writing a successful novel, successful play? Just getting by? Volunteering in Africa? One of the guys (Playomatic at YouTube and My Space) has volunteered in Africa, and makes movies. But they (the movies, not the volunteering) aren't really succesful. Neither are Mirror's plays, but they're still doing better than I am when I can't even get the novel or play out of my head and onto the page. Blech.

Also thinking about criticism. How to do it, how to take it. The web is full of criticism. Most of it useless. Mirror wanted quality feedback with detail, which I think we gave him. I've always admired Mirror's ability to take criticism (and praise, interestingly enough). It's a difficult art. I've been exchanging poetry critique on the board I mentioned below. I've really enjoyed it, and would love to find more places to do it, but I don't want to be stuck in poetry 101. I was able to skip that in college and I've no desire to visit it now. Call me immodest, but I think I'm at least in Poetry 202. The guy on the board who's posting and critiquing and I have exchanged PM's about whether anyone want's to read what we're saying to each other, and whether other posters are interested in joining in. So far no one really has been, so we've drifted off. I also know enough about myself to know that I'm not so good at soft-pedling. If it's bad I'm better off saying nothing or I'll start saying it, and on a board that can be suicide. I don't want to be antagonistic and cruel. "Tread softly because you tread on my dreams (Yeats)" The web is just full of people possibly laying out their dreams and other people just live to jump up and down on them. Or maybe I'm projecting. I do that.

You Tube is full of people saying "This is crap." Sometimes they're saying it about things which are generally accepted as very good (Billy Collins poetry, David Bowie, Kate Bush). Do they think they are cool for bucking the trend? Of course, some things which are critically accepted are crap and may things which are "popular" are crap. I, for instance, cannot stand Rothko. I think he's laughing all the way to the bank. My mother thought everything after the Impressionists was crap and I certainly don't think that. There is much in Modern art that moves me. And there are things I like that I know are bubble gum and don't bother to defend (Dr. Who novels.) And things which may be bubble gum but which I will defend as not (Duran Duran). I don't quite get the point of looking for things to say, "That's crap." (Forgive this use of Thugs on Film terminology). The point is, now the web has made us all arbiters of taste. But who's opinion do you read (or dig through the rest for). I'd much rather have a decent conversation with one person, than random sparring with a bunch of unknowns.

My husband is a tremendous snob in art, lit and music. He says, "That's crap" a lot of the time. Only he says it to me and our circle of friends. He doesn't go out and find strangers to say it to. There's a book in there that could make me millions, if only I were disciplined.

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