Wednesday, May 23, 2007

I have been sloppy

I have been sloppy about maintaining this site, and my two other blog sites have not been updated in so long that I'm considering deleting them altogether.

I have lots of excuses ... but none of them hold any weight.

But I have been writing. I have continued to post in Salon's TableTalk, of which I have been a member for many years, I have abandoned a nearly complete novel, and a partially complete book of history in favor of a new novel, which seems, at least to me, to hold great promise ... and I continue to write scurrilous poetic pastiches and limericks. 

But there is something in me that seems to avoid putting my work out for all to see.

Yes, I know that sounds odd considering my posting on a message board, but there seems to be a difference between posting a response or reaction, sort of a bastard child created in online conversation, and tossing something absolutely new into the world to be fodder for the virtual masses.

The unfortunate thing is that whatever is festering inside me is affecting not only my creativity but my life in general. I have distanced myself from friends and family. I avoid making important decisions. I am too easily dissuaded from action. It's as if there is a black hole inside me and everything tumbles in to be consumed and to disappear.

Maybe it's a lack of self-confidence ... 

In any case, the essays below were written last summer. This explanation is being written to avoid re-immersing myself in the world that I am creating in my new attempt at fiction.

It's amazing, isn't it, the lengths to which one will go to avoid the pleasures of creation?

More on blueberries

More from last summer ...

This morning I harvested blueberries. For lunch I had a tomato sandwich.

The tomato sandwich was made of two thick slices of tomato from a neighbor's garden (ours aren't ripe and she offered some of her surplus), two slices of whole grain bread and a bit of salt on the tomato.

It occurred to me that one of the deprivations in UniStatian society is the lack of true sensuality. I'll tell you what I mean.

A blueberry, to many people, seems to be a small blue nugget of flavored sugar. That is how it presents itself in pies, muffins and other manufactured products. There is a certain tickle of delight at the tinge of flavored fructose on the tongue if it can be sensed beneath the flood of glucose that surrounds it.

To me a blueberry is something quite different. It is a flutter of wings among the green leaves, the droop of the branches, their tips dragged down by the ripe globes. It is the feel of the fruit, warmed by the sunshine, the squelch between the fingers of a berry that's overripe or left unfinished by the birds.

It is the perfect combination of resistance and release provided by a ripe berry that lets you gently tug at a mixed cluster and open your hand to find only ripe ones.

It is the faintest tinge of bitterness on the dusty skin, the sun-warm feel of the berry in the mouth, the resistance of the skin as you gently bite down and the sweet explosion of taste as the skin ruptures and the center of your nervous system becomes your tongue.

To many people a tomato is a slightly fruity component of a salad, or a container for some other food.

But there is a special smell to the leaves of a tomato plant. It is a pungent, pleasant smell that dissipates quickly. It is part of the taste of a tomato fresh from the garden that is missing from those that are shipped from distant farms. The flavor is too evanaescent to survive and no amount of seasoning can replace it.

So many people these days have as their only experience of tomatoes, the trip to the chill supermarket and the stacks of red balls falsely dewed by a fog system to appeal to our instincts and make us believe, against all evidence to the contrary, that these foods are fresh.

They have missed the game of hide and seek among the leaves, the atavistic fear of a sudden hornworm, the waiting for ripening, the smell of the earth.

What is the sensual life today ... deodorized, chemically ripened vegetables displayed in a cold warehouse overwhelmed with the odor of rotting things and the tang of metal and chlorine.


From last summer ...

A series of curious thoughts ripened today along with the blueberries.

Actually the blueberries have been ripe for a while but the espresso drought has retarded the development of  my thoughts.

In a daze this morning, I loaded my macchinetta with espresso powder and water and set it to work. At last I heard it spew the neuronic stimulant from the depths like lava from a long dormant Vesuvius.

I poured the black drug into a mug and walked out onto the back porch to drink it in the early morning sun. As I stepped out. several birds rose from a nearby bush and flitted off. Damn! Birds in the blueberries.

"What the hell's the matter with you?" I asked the dog. "You bark at the mailman, the oil truck, the garbage truck ... but a group of marauding blueberri thieves get a free pass." She looked up at me complacently.

I shooed the birds away took a couple of sips of coffee and got a container. As I harvested the large dusty-blue orbs, I muttered a few expletives at the feathered thieves. Suddenly, the word thief linked to the old communist/socialist statement that "all property is theft," and I started to wonder what gave me the pre-eminent right to these berries.

Now bear in mind that the logic embedded in my mind has caused me to forswear 'isms', 'acies', and 'archies'. I am suspicious of all politicians, political thought and political commentators (the last two, of course, being mutually exclusive). But plucking blueberries requires little thought, my brain was bored and decided to take the problem and play with it.

So ... why do I get to shoo the birds away and take the blueberries for myself?

Although I did not plant the bush, I do, from time to time, nurture it and feed it. Is that enough to make the proceeds of the bush mine, and mine alone?

Does the bush belong to me because I care for it?

I 'own' the dirt in which the bush is rooted. I 'own' it because I paid someone else some money for the exclusive right to use it.

Does the bush belong to me because I own the land?

I am bigger (and scarier) than most of the animals that would feed on the berries.

Does the bush belong to me because I am stronger?

My wife makes excellent use of the berries in various ways to keep us nourished in body and spirit. She has many recipes in which blueberries are a component.

Does the bush belong to me because I can make the best use of its bounty?

I took the bucket of blueberries that I had gathered and went over to the porch for another sip of coffee. As I watched, the birds came flitting back over, bouncing on the branches and twittering to each other as they stuffed themselves.

I could shoo them away, and gather all the rest for myself. Then I would have more than enough for us ... but why do I need MORE than enough. I had enough.

The feathered indigents had no way of understanding any of the questions I had posed, nor did they care. I had enough, they had enough, there would be blueberry pancakes for dinner and birdsong outside the window.

The only thing missing was more caffeine.

I took the bucket and my cup and went into the house, the dog laughing quietly at me as she followed.