Monday, September 14, 2009

Tom Taylor

tom taylor
Originally uploaded by jim leftwich

Tom Taylor


Just doing the work for its own sake, all the rest is gravy, who can tell anyone anything? Vincent Ferrini, from a letter, May 1995

We were going to change the world--that was the line when I was coming up in the sixties. There actually was a sense of commitment and mission, more or less unheard of in recent times, there was a sense that some sort of “we” could replace an old, dying set of linguistic symbols (images) with counters which were more directly accessible to consciousness, there was going to be a revolution in the kind of poetry that was made. Maybe this was only in my own mind, but I did feel a kind of crazy, radical unanimity which linked poets together, not the sort of careerist fending-off-the-wolves approach we have now. Later, when the revolution had been co-opted by the very success it had courted, I wrote out of commitment, or foolishness, or because it was all I knew how to do. Poets are good for baby-sitting and housepainting, a ”friend” told me once... And even later, more recently, that is, I wrote to save my ass, from what exactly I do not know--from the void, the dark emptiness one encounters which is cause itself. Now, somehow, writing is more playful

We were going to take over the world, replace an obsolete discourse with one which was more efficient in its relation of conscious to unconscious, somehow more aligned: no thing but in seeing. But you forget along the way that the way is there at all, and so I wrote for all the reasons one could have, I made it my reason for existence, an esoteric, private activity which explained my moodiness and my inability to share myself with others in intimate relationships, be they colleagues or wives or my own children. I wrote from arrogant self-righteousness to blind, drunken (averted) rage, to the isolation of the secret masturbater. Isolated and you desperate for the company of others, so afraid to be alone in my “genius”, as it unfolded from calm intention through self loathing and sabotage to addiction and personality disorders and the absurd vow of poverty, those were part of the deal, and so I kept writing, day after day, page after page of black scratch on yellow paper. I courted chance, error and those compositional mistakes which the unconscious to penetrate through and into conscious mentation, like Gurdjieff’s monks chanting in such perfect union that the world itself ceases to exist at all.

I became aware of the disjunct and the profunct in my self. At writing, I would continue to feel the sacred rush & focus of depth-diving not experienced in any drug or ecstatic love state. I became addicted to the “passing beyond” one can experience in the repetitions of time and space manipulation in the writing act that one learns to control. I wrote to allay (escape) my depressive states, sinking through them and their associated pain to discover the inebriation of the poem. I did not really want to experience any real feeling at all, and so I stayed in the world of my own creation, with its autism of self and song; “the play of the mind, to see whether there is any mind there at all.” (Olson)

And people loved me, put up with me, though I could not return their love, I was in such a selfish, narcissistic state. I could not return the glow of humanity I could sense in others, even into last year, when I fell into the hole of my self again, the second or third or third-point-five nervous breakdown. Ah, how pure it is, the irony of one’s own isolation and favor all in the name of the poem, sacrificing everything, even love, to the quest, the cause, the act, a false matrimony with the self. Writing is suppressed speech, with its own sense of breath: I chew my lips and crack my knuckles and pick my nose as I write compulsively .

This has all changed somewhat. One year after. Clean and sober. After a year of holing up and not writing. What is now described has no indistinction--”futures favored forward” inclines the day to a more experienced sense of being. “Life is the poem” (Vincent). And what came across from the old to the new is all that was imagined in the restitution of the present which begins upon healing. I could still be lying, having replaced one delusive state with another, but I am still write, as I must, day after day, from a center that is sometimes calm and still and flowing without any palpable sensation of being there at all, following the lines across the page, or free associating on the screen at eighty words a minute, sometimes it is that good.

It was all so calculated, with me a bit player in my own dream. Writing became the self-causal progression through the inchoate and out into the light. And one’s youthful fantasy that one could change (rule) the world effaced to just being there. Our last image of Peter Sellers is as he walks out of his last movie, becoming smaller and smaller as he walks out upon the water, into, what, just into.... So now I continue to write because I must continue putting one word down after another, and then another one, as a web of surprise continues to lead me across my time into whatever it is that is there to be discovered in this spasm which is continuing itself. Today is the tomorrow you were so worried about yesterday (A.A.). I go every weekend to my unfurnished house at the beach to think and dream and act and write and continue.
April 18, 1995

Ralph Waldo Emerson, The Poet
Eric Neumann, Amor & Psyche
Otto Rank, Art & Artist
Gertrude Stein, What is a masterpiece and why are there so few of them?
Charles Olson, Projective Verse
Johann Huizanga, Homo Ludens