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Anxious gatekeeping

Analogous to nervous cluelessness is something we might call “anxious gatekeeping.”   This is desire to police the borders of poetry, or of...

Friday, February 27, 2015

Deathbed

They say nobody wishes they had spent more time in the office and less time with family, or on the lake. But does a painter wish she had painted fewer paintings? Does the composer wish he had written fewer string quartets? The poet on her deathbed might ask "Did I do it?" [though that might be more of a male attitude?] In any case, the deathbed regrets are kind of beside the point. What do you want to do now? You have to bumble through life the best way you can.
Both Apocryphal Lorca: Translation, Parody, Kitsch and What Lorca Knew: Fragments of a Late Modernity are studies of Lorca’s influence and reception. The first is narrowly focused on American poetry; the second contains more varied material, including extended close readings of “Play and Theory of the Duende” and “Ode to Walt Whitman.” My third book in this trilogy, Lorca: The Shattered Subject, is an attempt to define the distinctiveness of his own work through a more direct encounter with his poems and plays. I continue to believe that the study of Lorca must be comparative...

5 comments:

Vance Maverick said...

Even if it's true that you'll have certain opinions on your deathbed, why do you have to conform to them now? The logic seems very strange. We don't generally consider the attitudes of our four-year-old selves, or those of other very old people, with more than a fond or detached respect.

Jonathan said...

Sure. That's an ultimate end-point that people make reference to, but why should it determine preferences in the present? We are often constrained by decisions we made as very young people. That seems unfair. I am the prisoner of my 12 year old's idea of what I should do for a living.

At the same time, I think we should be faithful to our younger selves' aspirations. Maybe we did know something then that is important.

Vance Maverick said...

Yes, I do too, though I'm not sure why. Perhaps this is all an attempt to wish away the problem of "si jeunesse savait, si vieillesse pouvait", by imagining a hybrid self with a selection of capacities and perspectives.

Let's be glad that Gogol when young did not behave in accordance with the actual preferences of his older self....

profacero said...

I do not know what I will wish on my deathbed. Lately my wish is never to have moved away from California. At the time I did, I did not feel that way, though.

One of my friends says you never know how bad a bad decision is at the time you make it. How can you know what you will regret? I only regret the decisions I felt coerced to make, i.e. the ones I knew were bad ones. I do not think I will have a sudden revelation on my deathbed. And I listened to my mother's deathbed regrets just recently, and they were the same ones she had always had, decisions she made as a young person feeling coerced, and that shaped her life in a way she knew even then that she would not like.

profacero said...

And also: what goes into regretting something? I do not know that I would now regret moving away from California had things worked out differently, for instance. They have worked out so badly that I long for really basic things, the smell of the land, the mountains that were there when things were all right and that make things all right when I see them now. But had things worked out differently I would not regret. So this is one more example of why people who preach about what you will wish on your deathbed have no idea what they are talking about.