October 28th, 2009 / 2:54 pm
Snippets

Years ago I used to think the advice ‘tell the truth but tell it slant’ meant that you were supposed to be smarter than your reader, and that telling it slant meant weird or funny. Then I stopped thinking that, and less years ago started thinking that it means you are supposed to be smarter than yourself, and that the show is out of your control, and when you stop trying to tell the truth so hard the truth will come out of your sound. Now I don’t know what I think, and don’t want to, and that seems better than the other two entirely.

38 Comments

  1. Ken Baumann

      ‘Now I don’t know what I think, and that seems better than the other two entirely.’

      yes; getting out of the way.
      that’s the end anyway, right? the want to be out of the way, non-present, no self, the no knowing, 0, etc.?

  2. Ken Baumann

      ‘Now I don’t know what I think, and that seems better than the other two entirely.’

      yes; getting out of the way.
      that’s the end anyway, right? the want to be out of the way, non-present, no self, the no knowing, 0, etc.?

  3. amy lawless

      No, neither of those are what it means. When Dickinson said that, she meant don’t be so fucking obvious, you dumb cow. Poetry isn’t from the mind of the clinical pragmatist but from the mind of a poet. Sometimes being a poet means don’t be a sow about it. Sometimes being a poet means stop drinking for five minutes and describe what the log looks like now. And now, and five drinks later, and now, and then.

  4. amy lawless

      No, neither of those are what it means. When Dickinson said that, she meant don’t be so fucking obvious, you dumb cow. Poetry isn’t from the mind of the clinical pragmatist but from the mind of a poet. Sometimes being a poet means don’t be a sow about it. Sometimes being a poet means stop drinking for five minutes and describe what the log looks like now. And now, and five drinks later, and now, and then.

  5. Blake Butler

      that doesn’t sound right either

  6. Blake Butler

      that doesn’t sound right either

  7. Garett Strickland

      I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this as well, mostly frustrated, wanting to strip myself of artifice altogether. But the thing that’s had me writing more poetry than fiction these days is that, honestly, it doesn’t seem up to me. Writing has become more & more of form of channeling, and the more I make myself a willing & thankful vessel, the more pleased I become with the work. Even though it never comes out how I’d intended, which is occasionally frustrating.

      I see a lot of others, though, comfortably inhabiting the ‘I’, and I’ll end up feeling envious. But those writers who are able to do such a thing and still be in dialogue with the Other in a meaningful & mysterious fashion seem like they’ve earned back the ‘I’ after having presumably pried it out.

  8. Garett Strickland

      I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this as well, mostly frustrated, wanting to strip myself of artifice altogether. But the thing that’s had me writing more poetry than fiction these days is that, honestly, it doesn’t seem up to me. Writing has become more & more of form of channeling, and the more I make myself a willing & thankful vessel, the more pleased I become with the work. Even though it never comes out how I’d intended, which is occasionally frustrating.

      I see a lot of others, though, comfortably inhabiting the ‘I’, and I’ll end up feeling envious. But those writers who are able to do such a thing and still be in dialogue with the Other in a meaningful & mysterious fashion seem like they’ve earned back the ‘I’ after having presumably pried it out.

  9. Matt Cozart

      I think it means something like, instead of writing “The world is stressful and I am sad,” write something that expresses some aspect of those thoughts in a more particular way. “Find an angle,” a modern newspaperman might say.

  10. Matt Cozart

      I think it means something like, instead of writing “The world is stressful and I am sad,” write something that expresses some aspect of those thoughts in a more particular way. “Find an angle,” a modern newspaperman might say.

  11. drew kalbach

      what are you channeling exactly?

      bacchus?

  12. drew kalbach

      what are you channeling exactly?

      bacchus?

  13. Garett Strickland

      I’d shy from naming it.

      Jack Spicer has some interesting things to say on the subject. And Lorca’s notion of ‘duende’, as well. And William Blake. The list goes on.

  14. Garett Strickland

      I’d shy from naming it.

      Jack Spicer has some interesting things to say on the subject. And Lorca’s notion of ‘duende’, as well. And William Blake. The list goes on.

  15. christian

      Pretty sure she’s talking about circumlocution (ie, talking around what you’re saying). The next line I think (I don’t feel like googling it right now) is “Success in circuit lies.” The poem ends with something to the effect of “The truth must dazzle gradually or every man be blind.” Any other poem or letter of Dickinson is a good example of what she describes here. Course you got to wonder if she’s telling it slant in that one too.

  16. christian

      Pretty sure she’s talking about circumlocution (ie, talking around what you’re saying). The next line I think (I don’t feel like googling it right now) is “Success in circuit lies.” The poem ends with something to the effect of “The truth must dazzle gradually or every man be blind.” Any other poem or letter of Dickinson is a good example of what she describes here. Course you got to wonder if she’s telling it slant in that one too.

  17. drew kalbach

      i’m sticking with bacchus then.

  18. drew kalbach

      i’m sticking with bacchus then.

  19. drew kalbach

      in the spirit of mean week:

      posts like this are a waste of time, there is no answer, it’s just meaningless pseudo-philosophical word play.

      i hate this post.

  20. drew kalbach

      in the spirit of mean week:

      posts like this are a waste of time, there is no answer, it’s just meaningless pseudo-philosophical word play.

      i hate this post.

  21. Sean

      God, you are stupid. It’s like a sailboat, Blake. It’s called tacking. Sometimes you go sideways to get forward. Jesus. Keep thinking on it, though. It is about art, OK? What you should do. It’s some of the best advice ever given, if you listen. Not hear, listen.

  22. Sean

      God, you are stupid. It’s like a sailboat, Blake. It’s called tacking. Sometimes you go sideways to get forward. Jesus. Keep thinking on it, though. It is about art, OK? What you should do. It’s some of the best advice ever given, if you listen. Not hear, listen.

  23. Mike

      Pretentious much?

      (sorry … that’s just the mean week talking. No, seriously. I’m sure your work is lovely.)

  24. Mike

      Pretentious much?

      (sorry … that’s just the mean week talking. No, seriously. I’m sure your work is lovely.)

  25. drew kalbach

      ah now it all makes sense, thank you sean, you’re like a marathon-running yoda.

  26. Mike

      Maybe we shouldn’t be taking advice from some nutty broad who wouldn’t leave her room.

      Mean week!

  27. drew kalbach

      ah now it all makes sense, thank you sean, you’re like a marathon-running yoda.

  28. Mike

      Maybe we shouldn’t be taking advice from some nutty broad who wouldn’t leave her room.

      Mean week!

  29. David

      That line always made me think of Zizek’s stuff on anamorphosis. “The status of the object-cause of desire is that of an anamorphosis. A part of the picture which, looked at from straight in front, appears as a meaningless blotch takes on the contours of a known object when we shift our position and look at the picture from an angle. Lacan’s point is even more radical: the object-cause of desire is something that, viewed from in front, is nothing at all, just a void; it acquires the contours of something when viewed at a slant…” How to Read Lacan, 68

  30. David

      That line always made me think of Zizek’s stuff on anamorphosis. “The status of the object-cause of desire is that of an anamorphosis. A part of the picture which, looked at from straight in front, appears as a meaningless blotch takes on the contours of a known object when we shift our position and look at the picture from an angle. Lacan’s point is even more radical: the object-cause of desire is something that, viewed from in front, is nothing at all, just a void; it acquires the contours of something when viewed at a slant…” How to Read Lacan, 68

  31. Sean

      David,

      WTF?

  32. Sean

      David,

      WTF?

  33. David

      hmm, don’t ask me, i only quoted it so its smartness could anamorphosise me as intelligent. looked at dead on, i’m dumb. so, to answer your three letter query, i guess you’ll have to ask zizek. or lacan. or dickinson…

  34. David

      hmm, don’t ask me, i only quoted it so its smartness could anamorphosise me as intelligent. looked at dead on, i’m dumb. so, to answer your three letter query, i guess you’ll have to ask zizek. or lacan. or dickinson…

  35. Ross Brighton

      It’s partly amy, but also slant rhyme, as (and not as) a metaphor

  36. Ross Brighton

      It’s partly amy, but also slant rhyme, as (and not as) a metaphor

  37. HaydenDerk

      Tell the truth, don’t the truth…it’s a strange idea. If you tell a truth that doesn’t matter much, everyone loves you and calls you a rebel for “telling it straight”. If you don’t tell the truth, everyone loves you because you transport them from a reality they call “harsh” and seperate them from life. Just say what wants to be said, leave it at that and get drunk.

  38. HaydenDerk

      Tell the truth, don’t the truth…it’s a strange idea. If you tell a truth that doesn’t matter much, everyone loves you and calls you a rebel for “telling it straight”. If you don’t tell the truth, everyone loves you because you transport them from a reality they call “harsh” and seperate them from life. Just say what wants to be said, leave it at that and get drunk.