29 March 2014

Thank You Neil Young For Helping Me Write

"Don't let it bring you down
It's only castles burning,
Find someone who's turning
And you will come around." From Don't Let it Bring You Down by Neil Young

There is some disagreement about whether such a thing as writer's block really exists. Some claim to suffer from it at various times. Others say that it is a fiction created by people who are simply lazy. I know that at times when I try to write there's no there there. This only happens when I have nothing very specific to write about or when I don't have to write. Sometimes -- like today -- I really want to write and indeed feel I need to but the well seems bone dry.

That's when I turn to Neil Young. It never fails. I play some of his early music -- such as After the Gold Rush which I have on now -- and the problem is solved.

This is only my second blog post of the month after cranking out 15 in February all part of my Countdown to 60 series. I have however been quite prolific with my poetry having published 26 poems in March with two more waiting in the wings and maybe another one or two to follow. I have also been putting the finishing touches on my second unpublished novel. I have made steady progress on my third novel which will likely remain unpublished as well. Maybe I'll write a fourth book on how to write unpublishable fiction.

I've been reading a riveting non fiction book called The Life and Times of Charles Manson by Jeff Guinn. It's difficult to write about the experience of reading the book. It recalls the world of the early teen years describing as it does much of the political and cultural atmosphere of the country in the mid and late 1960s even referencing Berkeley and San Francisco. Manson spent a short amount of time in Berkeley when I was about 12 years old. I don't recall seeming him around -- some joke.

Manson's story is utterly fascinating and depressing to me much in the same way I've always been intrigued by Hitler and the Nazis. Humans are pack animals and love a charismatic leader. Of course some individuals and groups are particularly vulnerable to messianic figures who claim to have all the answers and in turn require blind obedience. Hitler found large swaths of a country who would pledge loyalty and Manson built a huge "family" of over two dozen who would submit to his will even to the point of murder. This is a phenomenon that is not going away. Although one hopes that modern industrialized nations don't follow some loony to war (looking at young Putin) or that we don't have murderous cults preying upon the innocent. By the way Guinn's book is excellent and I highly recommend it although I don't review books for Amazon anymore and haven't in almost seven years yet I still get emailed requests to do so. Some of which are for the type of books I wouldn't read if you paid me.

Among the other books I've read recently was an excellent biography of Allen Ginsberg I Celebrate Myself by Bill Morgan. For me Ginsberg has become -- in addition to a favorite poet -- a favorite person. Speaking of Hitler Putin and Manson, Allen Ginsberg was the opposite being so much about peace love and the buddha. I'll set aside the topic for now as I'm thinking of dedicating a longer writing to Mr. Ginsberg but I did want to give him a shout out. Talk about a spirit that lives on....

Melancholy mornings I do go to work and riding the subway trolley walking and coffee and photocopying later I am full of piss and vinegar and spout my happy lessons to legions of students who do upwards learn. Successfully completing a day's work is one of the better feelings that can wash through your body. Like. If only the day did not stretch out so long with scrambling back through an hour long commute to return home still needing to tie up loose ends and then to relax at last taking tie off and eating dinner and watching Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert and reading poetry and sleeping until doing it again blessed weekend comes only to zip by. But I. I. But. Happiness is not minding so much what burdens you carry what cares you care about and there I did it.

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