Wednesday, December 24, 2008


"I could inform the dullest author how he might write an interesting book — let him relate the events of his own life with honesty — not disguising the feelings that accompanied them.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1797).
Since I have recently been "accused" of being a bit of a "confessional poet," I felt the need (after looking up what it meant) to post a bit about whether or not I would consider myself one. I was able to find this lovely quote by Mr. Coleridge that pretty much summed up what I hope to achieve with this blog. Of course, I had no idea that I was attempting to place myself in such exalted company, and clearly I can not make a rhyme to save my life. I was pleasantly surprised that Coleridge is to be considered a confessional poet, his poetry was some of the first that I was ever "exposed" to as a child, and I still remember some of it quite well. "The Pains of Sleep" ( ) remains one of my favourite poems, and when sober I can almost quote the entire first verse. Not bad since I last read it about 15 years ago. "Dejection: An Ode" and "This Lime Tree Bower, My Prison" are also some of my favourite poems. Clearly, Coleridge had a problem, it was called being addicted to opium, and his stated reason for writing one of his most famous poems Kubla Khan is that he was high as a fucking kite at the time. His excuse for not finishing the poem is even lamer, he was interrupted by a "gentleman from Porlock" i.e. he fucking came down off his high, and his "muse" deserted him.
However, this is not a post about my man love for Coleridge. I think I have made that pretty plain. It is a post (I hope) about what I am trying to accomplish. I realize that there are not a vast number of actual "events" in this blog, and perhaps that means I am not following Coleridge's advice. Instead, I try to, with honesty, attempt to detail my thoughts, reactions, or missteps in relation to the event whose details I ,with malice of forethought, blur. I hope that I am not the dullest of "authors" (not really sure blogging counts as being an author). Since this is my "confession" I believe I get to decide the exact format, and I choose to gray out the events, and to not disguise the feelings that accompany them. I think it is more important to detail the feelings that struck me after I missed that absolute sitter with the keeper beaten, than to detail the lovely cross I wasted, and the crowd's justified poor reaction to my folly. I am sure there are people would could also claim that my honesty is in question as well, and that may be a crime that I am guilty of. The honesty part is a big step. First, you have to realize that you must be honest with yourself, and conclude that you are not the hero of every story/event in your life. In fact, sometimes you are quite obviously the most villainous fellow in the room. Sometimes you are not even the most important person/object in the event. This is a hard concept to wrap my mind around since I hope that I would at least be the star of my own life, but sometimes I am merely the Peter Ustinov to some upstaging bastard's Kirk Douglas. To thine own self be true sometimes has to mean that you must truthfully admit you were a proper bastard in a certain situation. How else can you confess? False confessions (and I have be told I have seen a lot of them) are just some fool's way of making themselves feel either better or more important than they actually are. Perhaps, as Peter O'Toole (as Henry II in the Lion in Winter) "my life, when written, will read better than it lived." I am not convinced that is necessarily a bad thing. After all, it does imply that someone took the time, and thought you were important/interesting enough to write down your life's story. We all have, in some respects, our own set of "Notes from the Underground," and it might not matter to anyone else in the world but the person writing the notes. Even the most mundane things could, in theory, be made to be engrossing. I believe that is what Coleridge is trying to say. Do not concern yourself with the idea that the details would bore a vulture to death, concern yourself with the feelings, and then worry about how to turn them into something that other people, who are as "Idle as a Painted Ship Upon a Painted Ocean," would want (or better yet feel compelled to) read.

1 comment:

Cynnie said...

i'm thinkin on this