Jump to content, Jump to navigation.

Amber Paulen

Sketchy Surroundings

You must leave your surroundings sketchy, unfinished, so that you are never contained, never confined, never dominated from the outside. — DH Lawrence

What writing was when I first began was an absolutely spontaneous expression of myself trying to make some peace with the world. That I was in the world, of it and subject to its throws; my writing was a coming to terms. Sometimes I am feign to believe that the cycles I experience in writing mimic the cycles of the world in its natural forms. The cycles of a creation which is of me, the artist, are as inexplicable as the world is.

Over the years I have learned that I must listen to the part of myself which is the most buried. Here, in the deepest crevice of my being, I am telling the truth, as it is for me. Dabbling my hands in art is dabbling in that crevice daily, so, one would assume that the echo is well heard. Here’s the problem: within the crevice there develops over time a lingering attatchment, dependencies based on the limitations of a pre-fabricated character or scene. To create is to remain constantly open to what is going on down there; to create is to always be attuned to instinct and intuition. When the old can no longer sustain the new it is necessary to destroy.

I was building out of stone though I had no stone-chipper, no pick-axe, nothing to create fluidity out of rock. I destroyed. WHAM! KA-BAM! and the cloud of dust and ash and bits of stone rose, then settled. My book, I’ve begun anew.

As a descendent of the late great Henry Miller I have renewed my devotion to “first person spectacular.” In first person is how I began so now it shall be. First person allows the idiosyncrasies of myself, my imperfections, to be given their full and proper range; first person gives me raw, gives me me and that’s why I began in the first place. There’s enough nice story lines and well-rounded characters lining shelves; enough replicas upon replicas of archetypes one-million times worked out. I have no intentions, unlike Henry, of “leaving a scar upon the face of the world.” Instead I’ll say: The Body’s Long Madness will make a crater half a continent wide. And though no one may hear the fall, there will be many accidents stumbling into the gargantuan hole.

I see that when they tear their hair with an effort to comprehend, to seize the forever unattainable, I see that when they bellow like crazed beasts and rip and gore, I see that this is right, that there is no other path to pursue. A man who belongs to this race must stand up on the high place with gibberish in his mouth and rip out his entrails. It is right and just, because he must! And any thing that falls short of this frightening spectacle, anything less shuddering, less terrifying, less mad, less intoxicated, less contaminating, is not art. The rest is counterfeit. —Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer

Just spotted: Thanks so much Out of the Woods Now for recently complimenting the reading note Pilgrim at Tinker Creek!


·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·