Monthly Archives: January 2010

Reading Pynchon in 2010, pt.1

What echoes of our times: his future.  Gravity’s Rainbow minces the layers of power like an onion, until you can no longer tell which piece comes from which layer.  The same way many of us feel today.

The money, for example: where has all the money gone?  Where does it come from?  What does $ 100,000,000,000.00 even mean?  Is it literal?  Or more like the made-up currency, the player’s currency they used behind the scenes in Germany in the run-up to WWII?

Another example: the dichotomies of politics, partisanning more and more into opposing forces.  Somebody’s playing it like a video game, but who?

Culture, too, is moving outward, sliding open as if two immense bronze doors until they are parallel, and a gulf has opened between them.  Absolutists on either side who cannot listen to each other; and yet, these doors are webbed across by small filaments: tax minimalists who also believe in the right of choice; homosexual people who cannot marry voting for ultra-cons because they support anti-immigrant controls; progressive liberals who mostly manage to conceal their racism until finding that secret polling screen.

Despite these cross-links, our society is becoming more and more striated.  Left and Right fighting for control, and all of us who don’t play in the game the ones to lose.  Can anything be done?  Can some one stand in the middle and shout to either side?  Reach out with Mr. Fantastic arms and bring us back together into one mass?

In physics, it takes much more energy to fuse two elements together than to split them apart (this is why nuclear fusion power is still on the drawing table), and it looks like the same is true in politics.

It also looks more and more like Pynchon’s novel was (and is) a frightening prophecy.  Metaphorically speaking.

Where Things go Wrong

It’s interesting, the process of writing a poem.  As I’ve been applying to MFA programs recently, it is a subject that I have had to approach a number of times; none of the questions that tangentially broach this subject are the same, and so none of my essays are the same.  But, the question still remains, and They still want to know how I approach poetry, how useful I would be in a graduate-level workshop environment.

How to respond, and show the gatekeepers that success is a foregone conclusion?  Or that my input will be a constructive and innovative addition to their program?

Do I approach by addressing my theories on what poetry is about / for?  Do I describe where my ideas come from?  Do I look at my ‘process’ in writing and revising?  How does the angle play in creating an image or identity for myself?

While the attack-angle plays a definite role in conveying my qualities and suitability for the program, what about the voice I employ?  Most of this post is semi-formal… not too much grand vocabulary, not too much complexity in sentence structure… but also little in the way of colloquial vocabulary or structure either.

Where things go wrong is in making these choices; I’ve written the responses in a more formal voice, and try to address a little of each of the angles in regards to my writing sample.  How should these schools read these choices?  We all read the world around us, how do my choices come across?

I’ve made my choices, and we’ll see shortly how they end up…

 

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