Jim Trainer

Posts Tagged ‘Ernest Hemingway’

The Creative/Destructive Process of the Artist: No Help From Heroes

In Uncategorized on May 31, 2013 at 4:50 pm

sthira-sukham-āsanam
The practice of Yoga is the cultivation of the balance between effort and ease.

Greetings. Perhaps you are wondering, where has the author been? I’m proud to report that my absence from this blog had nothing to do with writer’s block. The practice of writing and posting on here has fine-tuned my outrage and given me focus. Even when I’m out of material I’m able to write about that and when all else fails I’ve always got 1-4 blogs in the chamber, ready to be posted. The goal was to develop the skills and habits of a columnist and come up with 800 words every day, neat and fine. I have had vague aspirations to find work as a columnist, to fly it up on their pole and reap the benefits of a syndicated readership. These things have not changed. I am confident that I can deliver on the daily, should I find such gainful employment as a journalist. The practice has paid off. It worked, and it’s been nothing but kinghigh fun and real adventure in the great indoors coming up with these missives to deliver to you all.
As a devoted (and cherished) reader
you’re also aware of my deeper desire to always find ways to serve my Art more efficiently. Ultimately I have been finding for a way to have my Art serve me.
Aho. I am after nothing but the complete realization of the Artist, that one day my work will sustain me. Differing from these catch-as-can hours stolen from the dayshift and the dayjob-on the hustle, I envision a time, perhaps 10 years from now or even tomorrow, when writing is the hustle.
Throughout the 190 posts written over the last 3 years a common thread has emerged and reemerged and it is one of health. Getting better. Getting effective. I envisioned that my health and well-being would ultimately only serve my Art, maybe even add some years to my life, years that I could devote to this grand vision I have been serving for 21 years now.
And what a grand vision it is. The fucking weight of it is, at times, debilitating. Or buggerall, I’m flying so high that even less gets done. Oh well I didn’t intend for this post to be about my insanity. Or maybe I did.

Where I’ve been-the reason Going For The Throat has been relegated to a weekly publishing schedule is because I’ve been taking it easy. Yup. I know, unheard of right? Lazy sod. Wrong motherfucker wrong. Aho. I’ve been taking it easy in the grandest sense. It’s not like I’ve been stuck in bed or chasing tail around town. I’ve been taking a break from the inner critic. The mechanic, the motherfucker behind the wheel who calls the shots and gets shit done around here. He’s such an asshole. I’ve dealt with him a few different ways over the years but mostly I’ve had to face him with one burning. That’s right, smoking. Nicotine motherfucker. But some shit went down in the mansion and my smoke-free method has failed. The approaching heat of summer has forced us to turn on the air, which of course has opened up the vents, which of course just blows smoke throughout the house and into all the high rooms, even into the ones of tenants who don’t smoke and don’t want to smell it in their apartment. It was a condition of my hire here that I could smoke out the window. But every 6 months or so I get a text from Camp, next door:
The cigarette smoke is getting out of hand.
All this is beside the point. Or maybe it is the point. The act of creation is coupled with the act of destruction. I’ve ratcheted my focus with the help of caffeine and nicotine. Then, when it’s all over, I start to drink. My heroes have taught me well. Not only have they left me with a body of work that I can sink my teeth into, they have shown me how to live. My heroes have shown me how to survive, how to get through and squeak through with the smallest bit of light coming in through the impassive slow corners of nights full of fucked, too-small life. I owe it all to them. But they can’t help me get where I’m going.

As for the weight and scope of this grand vision, shit. I’ve been pecking away at it for decades. But this much madness is too much sorrow. And I’m 38 and it’s time to get this show on the road. Simply put, you haven’t heard much from me these last few weeks because I couldn’t smoke while writing and worse, I couldn’t imagine writing without smoking. So I just smoked. Outside. That was me on the porch reading Phillip Levine with a Dunhill in hand. That was me on the roof smoking MCDs with Hater Blockers on.

The thing is, even when I was writing/posting every day and my golden hours of productivity were up and I was drunk in the afternoon or spooned out in the damp night looking for a way to murder the day, the real fuck in the ass is that this method did not serve the vision either. It’s mostly either perpetuated the blues or helped me deal with them. For true.
When you consider that my plans include owning and operating my own printing press, equipping myself with a home studio for podcasts and getting out on the road once or twice a month, lying around like a fuckall Hemingway and whiling away the afternoons won’t cut it. Aho. It just won’t do.

So here we are. Up on the plateau but at an impasse. Finding for a new way to make this dream real, hoping the new ideal and trying to break through, listless and without product-derelict and bored with no help from heroes but-it’s ok. I can see a different way and it makes sense to me now.

From up on the mountain I can suddenly see the chain.

mala

Kingdom Found

In Being A Poet, Being A Writer, Being An Artist, Buddhism, buddhist, Charles Bukowski, day job, depression, employment, Love, magic, mental health, mid life, Poetry, punk rock, solitude, the muse, TYPEWRITERS, working class, Writing, writing about writing, WRITING PROCESS on August 17, 2012 at 12:01 am

Henry Charles Bukowski humanized poetry.  The stoicism of his anti-heroes perhaps betrayed a respect by many writers of the 20th Century for Ernest Hemingway.  They called Hemingway Papa.  Hemingway is not my Papa.  In plain-spoken, dispassionate prose, Bukowski included the sometimes gross and hairy minutiae of life to arrive at a greater truth.  He was not resigned to this–sometimes there is no greater truth.  Some nights there is no peace.  Papa helped me through many war-like years and he still helps me, when I must ruefully look back on those years and try and find some peace with it all.  Giving up is easy, the fight is painful.  Losing the game is painful, until you find your own game and are thus victorious.  He wanted to “frame the agony” and get in touch with magic, the miracle. He had more to say at the street level because that’s where he lived and spent most of his time.  What is so important culturally about Bukowski is that, for all intents and purposes, he was part of the Beat Generation. The difference is he had to hold a job throughout America’s boom and twilight.  He had no aunt with a house in New Jersey where he could sober up and dream of America.  He watched the new school from out in the yard with all the other hopeless scabs.  He watched them come and go and he outlived them all.  

Life went on for Papa.  It always did.  He had to contend with elements unleashed after the dark curtain of a right-wing backlash fell in the 80s. And for all intents and purposes, we are only living in the post-80s.  He found courage, acceptance, defeat and ultimate glory in the mastering of his own game.  The poetry coming from Papa during the August years of his life in San Pedro is some of his most indelible.  It smacks of one of his heroes, Li Po, with its all-inclusive sentimentality and the beautiful realities uncovered once grand notions of entitlement and romance are stripped and thrown away.

It couldn’t be taken away from him in his early years either, even if he didn’t know it, while under the spell of his “assault”; bad cases of the blues he wrote about so unflinchingly.  Underneath all his armor was something his father couldn’t take away with a razor strop. So that, years later, when looking back at a “decade of 12 hour nights”, he was suddenly touched by magic and left the job for good.

Credit is perhaps due to Hemingway, for the emotional subtext of Bukowski’s man’s man, but as it turns out, his writing owes a lot more to Raymond Chandler.  It’s fitting that his last novel was a detective one, and his protagonist hired to find Lady Death.

Papa had some luck.  But luck won’t help the truly bitter and the ungrateful.  Luck didn’t help him continually submit work to the literary journals and magazines while he was:  unemployed, under employed and homeless (although he was perhaps his most creative while sitting on a bar stool in Philadelphia for 10 years, but, weren’t we all?)

Many lived like Papa but did not become a celebrated writer, poet and screenwriter.  Many just died in madness with their women or in a gutter all alone.  Throughout his literary output and life, Papa knew what eastern mystics like Li Po were saying.  He moved about a destitute metropolis of 80s America, admiring cats and simple distractions like the race track and the mockingbird.  But through it all he knew succinctly what another great Taoist writer, Lao Tsu, knew:  little fears eat away at man’s peace of heart. Great fears swallow him whole.

Make your best peace with things, a deal, because the game is rigged.  The real action, the best game, is inside.  Be alive with the gamble, be touched by magic but don’t get so wrapped up in trying to beat the game.  Be like Papa and lose everything.  Lose it all, you don’t need it.  It’s a rigged game and a burden.  When you put down the burden of who even YOU think you’re supposed to be, you can just be who you are.

Thanks for the courage, Papa.

 


Curator at Going For the Throat, columnist for Into The Void, progenitor of stand-up tragedy™. Jim Trainer publishes a collection of poetry every year through Yellow Lark Press. To sign up for Jim Trainer’s Poem Of The Week, visit jimtrainer.net.
KINGDOM FOUND, along with 6 other poems written in tribute to Charles Bukowski, are available in the latest issue of The Schuylkill Valley Journal.