Day 45: Friday
Good morning Zak,
I don’t have much to write today. I think I’ll just use this entry to curate a few quotations…
Since the middle ages mainstream love poetry has pretty much always centered around idealizing the beloved. I think that’s basically what people mean when they talk about “romanticism.” But as long as romanticism has been the dominate feature of secular literature, there have also been charming little reposes from it…
“My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips’ red;”
-Shakespeare, Sonnet 130
Lines like these make me wonder about Shakespeare’s love-life. I mean, I know the last couplet of this poem is something of an apologia for the rest of the thing, but I still have trouble picturing this woman just falling into his arms as he tells her that her breath stinks (ln. 8).
However that may be, as poetry the sentiment is simply lovely. Of course, this kind of anti-romanticism is predicated on the predominance of romantic sentiment in society at large. It’s fun to call your mistress ugly in a love poem only because it goes against the grain of the genre as a whole.
“I buy you rogaine
when you start losing all your hair,
sow on patches
to all you tear.”
-Ingrid Michealson, “The Way I Am“
Apparently Michealson likes this kind of irony too. I’m putting this song at the bottom of today’s entry.
Both of these quotations are about the outward appearance of the beloved. Basically Shakespeare and Michealson are both saying the same thing: you’re not hot, but I love you anyway.
Or does “sowing on patches to all you tear” carry some kind of metaphorical meaning? That’s a pretty jejune way of reading it… right? I mean haven’t we moved past the days when everything in art was somehow supposed to signify something other than itself?
Quotation 3 & 4
“You take me the way I am.”
This is Michealson’s version of Shakespeare’s final couplet…
“And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.”
Both very charming little passages. There’s something philosophically appealing about the notion of being accepted along with all of one’s flaws. Warts and all, as it were.
But the more I think about it, the more I feel there’s some kind of deeply rooted fallacy in the ideological fabric that underlies this poetry… Both poems are reactions against romanticism. If they cannot be called realist they are at least anti-idealist. And yet, when I reflect on my own identity—the way I am—outside of any kind of idealist point of view, I must admit that I am not that satisfied with myself. I have my reservations about the prospect of being taken precisely the way I am.
For sale, buy as is.
I’m going to just go ahead and give you my opinion here. There is nothing truly poetic or beautiful about man unless it is his potential to become beautiful—not the way he is but the way he may be. Let scientists and historians report the facts of nature and society; the duty of a poet is to look at humanity with an artistic vision. To see not actuality but potentiality…
and preferably not to confuse the two.
P.S. Consider this my confession: I dropped the ball, and we missed precisely two weeks of the daily blog.