Sunday, February 05, 2006

Various and Sundry

In the middle of the night I woke up and knew I was looking for my tribe. I’m a little worried that it consists of a lot of dead people – Brautigan, Faulkner, Forster. (For a little more on finding your tribe, check out Theresa’s blog entry on this subject.) It could be that I’m destined to be a nomad, going from thought to thought, the thread of my path being writing and the creative process, to wit:

The hypnagogic state. A little googling after my last entry, I see the hypnagogic state of consciousness is recognized throughout history as the source of creative thought by distinguished philosophers, artists and scientists including Aristotle, Brahms, Puccini, Wagner, Goethe, Keats, Coleridge, Neitzsche, Poe, Dickens, Dali, Ford, and Einstein.

In fact, when Thomas Edison would reach a ‘sticking point’ he would take a ‘cat nap.’ He dozed off in his favorite chair, holding steel balls in the palms of his hands. As he fell asleep—in the hynagogic state—his arms would relax, the steel would fall into pans on the floor, and he would wake, usually with an idea to continue his project.

The United States of Hypnagogia: a place of relaxed consciousness between wakefulness and sleep, during which flashes of inspiration and creative insight often appear. The mind is open and totally free to new ideas. I try to drink from this well as much as I can. I'm very thirsty.

Molly Ivins. I commute, and currently I’m listening to Molly Ivins read her own liberal political newspaper columns. Besides the loud laughs and guffaws coming from my auto, for some odd reason the phrase she used that stuck in my mind is “national laboratory for bad government, Texas.” I like her columns best—and this is a personal preference only—when she writes about a person she likes, such as Jessica Mitford or Ben Bradley. Still, it’s hard not to forget phrases like “if his IQ went any lower we’d have to water him two times a day,” or “his brain’s so small if we put it in a bumblebee it’d fly backwards.” I get energy from Ivins’ writing. I love what she says: keep fighting for freedom and justice, and don’t forget to have fun doing it.

Sometimes I wonder if I said what I think, would I be fired from humanity? Thank the universe for fiction. Writing: it’s like a blood test; it shows what’s going on inside of you. Meek, mild mannered Clark Kent enters a phone booth, bedecks himself with spandex and voila! Meek mild mannered BethsFrontPorch puts on her Olympia typewriter and voila! (For those of you trying to visualize what this might look like, the typewriter would be something like an accordian.)

Harper Lee. Much ado was made of Harper Lee this week in our beloved NYTimes. The headline called her “Gregarious for a Day.” It seems there was an awards ceremony in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, for an essay contest on the subject of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” and Lee put in an appearance. Lee is “one of the most reclusive writers in the history of American letters,” says the Times. She has an “outsized reputation for shyness.” Lee is a shining light for those of us trying to create our own incubators, where our seeds of creativity might germinate.

(It may be that gregariousness is good, but I am of a mind that it is good only in small, sincere doses, if it's given through an eyedropper on a piece of skin that is unscathed and won’t absorb too much. To date, there is no known antidote for an overdose of gregariousness. It is certain death.)

It’s a good thing I’m having company for dinner! It’ll be chicken pesto pasta. Say it 10 times, fast. I’ll be listening, authorized under the National Homeland Wiretapping Act, soon to be passed in a theater near you!


Robbo said...

This is the day that non-football commentary is the most appreciated. Even to a fan(I include myself) your Sunday morning musings stand in stark contrast to the pointless ramblings coming from the television. Beth, wake up - drop those metal balls - and give us some more pre-game!

alphawoman said...

To Kill A Mockingbird is one of my favorite books, One of only two books I have read twice. I have seen the movie countless times...but that does not count. I had no idea she was still alive!! She just proved she is not as exclulsive as Salinger!! Goodluck with dinner, sounds divine.

Theresa Williams said...

You know, my tribe includes a lot of dead people, too. Brautigan, Agee, Dickey, Wright, et al. I did get a chuckle out of this entry, Beth.

Cynthia said...

Hypnogagia -- you've got to love it as much as pesto chicken pasta.

Globetrotter said...

I can certainly identify with Harper Lee. I am gregarious only when absolutely necessary, which in my current unemployed state, is rarely.

Love the Molly Ivins quotes. She's wittier than my other favorite Maureen Dowd and more colorful.

Too bad more Americans aren't drinking from your well, instead of plastered in front of TV sets watching padded men with greasepaint huddle and rumble.

Vicky said...

Well, Beth, you made me laugh at the end of a hard day - THANK YOU!! That Molly Ivins... And that Beth...

Keep it up my dear - and go hang that accordion around your neck - I wanna hear you play!

Erin said...

"Sometimes I wonder if I said what I think, would I be fired from humanity?"

I LOVE this line! Just fabulous! I enjoyed reading the entire post. :-)