James Wright

What the fuck is cheese?

In Dave Chappelle’s “what the fuck is juice?” joke, poor black people limited to sub-quality “purple drink” have no idea about the concept of juice as derived from an actual fruit. The racial implications of Chappelle’s humor are too complex for me to get into, and not what this post is about, so let’s just say I find the joke profound. In D.F. Wallace’s “This is Water” speech, wherein fish, asking “what is water?” take for granted the most essential constituent of their existence, Wallace ends by telling us “this is water,” meaning, we are the fish, and that cognizance of the things around us, which leads to positive/proactive thinking, is our responsibility. (Of course, one thinks about the last decision he made, an act which deserves reticence.) And so, dear writerly people, at this juncture I ask you what the fuck is cheese?

Cheese, that which is cliche, corny, sentimental, and all other vague no-nos subject to interpretation. “Saint Judas” by James Wright, one of my favorite poems, tip toes on cheesiness with lines which I’ve strike-thoughed:


Craft Notes / 53 Comments
February 11th, 2010 / 3:22 pm