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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...

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Negative Thoughts

My songs are no good. I am wasting time by writing them and am deluded to devote any time at all to them. I will never publish another book or article. I am lazy. My office is a mess. My nomination for Distinguished Professor will come to nothing. I am a bad teacher. I am disorganized and lose things. Nobody cares about what I do: I am an old-faahioned formalist out of step with my field. I have a library book overdue and I don't know where it is. My left ear is clogged with wax. My heating bill is too high this month. I am "privileged" and elitist.

Yes. I am prone to negative thoughts like anyone else. I have no solution to offer you, since I suffer as much as anyone else, if not more.

The only thing I can say, then, is welcome to the club. But notice how the powerful thought itself is. All of this could be true, but most of the suffering comes not from the truth of all of this, but of inflating this into something much more than it is. All negativity is a form of egotism stronger as any arrogance.

I could say: I wrote 8 songs and published 4 books, that's more than you did. Your office is cleaner than mine. So what? You do trendy criticism, but I am still the better scholar. Earwax or the absence of it is trivial... All that is equally true.

A single idea can bring you far...


Thomas said...

Thanks for reminding me about the library book! For me thoughts like that are often a sign that it is winter. I'm looking forward to the spring.

Leslie said...

The incredible light green of the tree leaves against white bark in Danish spring and then later, the birds that sing so loud at such early hours.