Thursday, March 9, 2017

Visiting the Monster






"I am from weak stock, yo,...told you that.
The bones of my father's grandfathers scored
with defeat, failure at every turn." (waking thought 3/2/17)




Sickness
Sickness and age
Sickness and age and winter

and monsters.

Reading Grendel by John Gardner again for the first time in more than 20 years. First book I read upon moving from Tennessee. The memories. Poor old monster, leaving his home outward toward new hills, lost and alone with a hundred soulsongs heard wrong inside his head.

The stuff that happens to Grendel is interesting, too.

I've been sick for the last week or so, and it's all slowed it down - thinking, moving, doing - and it let's the things you've outpaced catch up and needle you with nostalgia, harp songs pulling you back. The music started when, rummaging around, I found my first journal in MN, made myself. It was no less than Grendel himself who prompted me to start scribbling my own. The line-drawn pic above was still taped to the front, along with a cigarette butt. Ah, such virgin thoughts of loneliness.

What I love about Gardner's classic is that there is balance on many fronts: the magnitude of scope vs. size (Grendel comes in at well under 200 pp.). The heights of reason and the lows of brutality. Gardner himself, no doubt, valued balance, as reference to it can be found throughout the work. Too, I see Grendel himself as a fulcrum between the see-sawings of meaning and nihilism, of beauty and falsehood. The universe around him vies for Grendel's allegiance, but he is no easy follower.

So, also, do I find myself waffling between many things in this sick pause from life, many thoughts, many modes of being, many hopes, desires.

It's made me think about the nature and structure of the memoir I'm trying to write.

Perhaps no sprawling Prousitan omnium gatherum, but something small, memories to fit comfortably into your pocket, take to town, back home. Gardner knows better than to tell you everything, but through deft prose, (Thomas) Wolfe-like and flashing a spark in the direction, he leaves us to glean what we may. 

Yes, perhaps something like this, a focused beam on some center of my past, allowing the night around it to be wondered, highs and lows balanced with a knowing, childhood finally made right by the grown up, the work itself finished but waiting, as if one day if I might go back write the darkness, too.



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