Saturday, October 2, 2010


I just finished reading a few entries in Peter Terzian's blog on the Paris Review website, A Week in Culture: Peter Terzian, Writer, and am feeling...well, inadequate. The man is reading "Ulysses," for crying out loud. Not just reading it, he's parsing it; a little bit each morning. And he and his husband read poetry each morning at breakfast. That's after his daily dose of Joyce. Then he reads even more while commuting to his job.

I, on the other hand, am struggling with my self-appointed task of reading something—anything—of quality each day.

Of course, I must remember that I am writing (500 words a day, minimum); teaching (which includes quite a bit of reading); freelancing and dealing with the effects of whiplash. Oh, and then there's all this life to deal with.

Still. Come on. Can't I do just a little more, a little something to improve my mind, deepen my knowledge of classic literature, learn (finally) to appreciate poetry even if I don't fully understand it?

This is a beautiful day and I had a complicated dream that seems full of meaning—my father was in it (though I didn't see him, I knew he was there), Frank Conroy was in it and we had a joyous reunion that was way out of proportion relative to my actual interactions with that great writer/teacher, an old boyfriend or two, an acquaintance of mine who I wish was an actual close friend, and I lived (in this dream) in an odd little place with a front door I had to remove completely.

"Take down the barricade," I think is the meaning of that door. Or perhaps it is that, once I've opened the portal, it will take a large effort to close it again.

But haven't I already opened that door? And why was this dream populated by nothing but men (and me)? 


Anonymous said...

Hi Elizabeth - an old student of mine emailed this to me yesterday "I had the most vivid dream last night where you had taken me to a Blockbuster and the girl behind the counter refused to give me my $3 change. She
said she didn't have it and I'd have to come back the next day. I realized I hadn't seen or talked to you in a very long time, so I thought I'd email you and see how
everything is going."

My interpretation? He's beginning his 2nd year of college, and I think I represent all of his former teachers and that he sees that we helped him get there, but from now on, he's going to have to do it himself, and it won't always be a straight line....

I do like your door as a life barricade. Isn't there always a door that beckons to be opened no matter how many we've opened before? A constant journey and some doors are harder to get through than others..... Claudia

Jane said...

Lots of the past in that dream, E. And lots of connections too. You have that enduring connection with your father (even though you can't see him anymore, you still feel him with you). You have the past connections with old boyfriends and a writer you admire. And then you have the acquaintance you'd like to be closer to. Maybe you are looking for deeper connections with those around you and by taking the door completely down, you'll be able to do just that.

I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, a dream interpreter.

And that inadequate thing? Yeah, I get that when I read about my friends who are published writers and I say, "Man, why am I not working harder to do that?"

James Cahn said...

I'd be considerably more impressed with Terzian if he weren't so intent on "blogging" about his attempt to start each day with "beauty and art."

I've always had an issue with something that is written for an audience from the outset. To my mind, there is something that is immediately disingenuous about it. The "look at me" aspect is just too much to ignore and taints the content. To my mind, anyway.

Terzian is clearly, first and foremost, writing for an audience and I'm not impressed, despite his legitimate attempt to leave me otherwise. He's going through the motions but something just doesn't ring true.

Guess what? Most of what James Joyce wrote sucks. Not everything Shakespeare came up with is brilliant. Hemingway was a fucking hack and decided to put the punctuation mark on the end of that statement with a shotgun. (I know that he didn't mention Hemingway, but I really hate Hemingway and delight in the opportunity to talk about it.)

I've never finished Ulysses. Know why? Because it's fucking boring and there doesn't seem to be a pay off. If someone else thinks that's some secret indicator of non-admission into the "Genius Society" that's just fine with me. You know how smart I am? Smart enough to know that Ulysses is most likely a waste of time. See: Nabokov's "Pale Fire."

I thought "beauty and art" was all about how we interact on a personal level with the things that catalyze some sort of inspiration; some type of artistic response or recognition. This guy reeks of just wanting to appear to be a smarty pants. Find something new. Don't just re-tread already worn water.

As a side note, most of my dreams involve hot asian girls and I know exactly what that means. So, sorry I'm not more help there.

You do you, EAH. Let this do guy do him.

I'm off to enjoy another Manhattan....or maybe I've had enough?


Elizabeth Hilts said...

"Isn't there always a door that beckons to be opened no matter how many we've opened before? A constant journey and some doors are harder to get through than others..."
Claudia, you're right—there is always a door to open (or not). Thanks for reminding me that those "teachers" have helped get me here.

Elizabeth Hilts said...

I've spent the whole day thinking this dream was about the work I'm doing; your interpretation opens it up in an entirely new way. So thanks for that.

Elizabeth Hilts said...

Don't hold back, now; tell me how you really feel!
You are such a tonic—completely cranky, completely irascible, and your rants almost always make me laugh out loud. This one was no exception. I'm glad I gave you an opportunity to voice your opinion of Hemingway.
I will, of course, do "me"—what choice do I have?