LWPS: Coming Unglued

by lizard

When problembear recently signed off, I didn’t say anything. I knew why, but I didn’t want to admit it. I think it was the phrase my passion has been supplanted by anger that really jumped out at me. Good luck on the writing, Bill. I’m thinking the same thing.

And then there’s this: OccupyMissoula is not something I’m going to write about here. I’m conflicted in ways I can’t describe, and it’s taking a toll. One of the side-effects becomes how I escalate the prods and jabs of comment-culture here. I know I can be fucking tedious. I’m putting myself in a 7 day cold turkey timeout from the noise, including my own sometimes shrill (you’re right, pbear) voice.

Consider this weekend’s poetry selection from Czeslaw Milosz’s Road Side Dog the antidote to all that.

*

COMING UNGLUED

What I am going to say will be understood by those of us who have lived such a moment: for instance, during a historical upheaval, when the life of a human society suddenly reveals its unsuspected traits. Since there have been in this century a number of historical upheavals, many people have had the experience.

It happens that we may walk, watch, be tormented by our compasion or anger, and suddenly realize that what we are seeing, all that reality, is beyond words. That is, there is nothing about it in newspapers, books, communiques, nothing in poetry, fiction, or pictures on the screen. From reality which is homely, perceived in a most ordinary way, something else, autonomous, enclosed in language, has come unglued. Astonished, we ask ourselves: Is it a dream? A fata morgana? The fabric of signs envelops us like a cocoon and proves to be strong enough to make us doubt the testimony of our senses.

Such an experience does not incline us favorably toward literature. It compels us to ask for realism, which usually leads to pseudorealism or for a veracity nobody could bear. In the nineteenth century it was said about the novel that it should be a “mirror carried on the highwah,” but “realistic” novels lied without scruple, clearing from the field of vision subjects recognized as undesirable or forbidden. The true London of nineteenth-century capitalism hardly exists in the novel, except for a few pages of Dickens, but what that Babylon of misery and prostitution was, seen through the eyes of a foreigner in 1862, we may learn from Dostoevsky’s Winter Notes on Summer Impressions.

The twentieth century brought with it a fictitious reality fashioned by the political will. It was a screen, painted with “scenes from life” to hide what was going on in back. It was called socialist realism. Yet the orders and prohibitions of the state are only one of the possible causes of this division into the seen and the described. The fabric of language has a constant propensity to come off from reality, and our efforts to glue them together are in most cases futile—yet absolutely necessary.

—Czeslaw Milosz


  1. d.g.

    Shall we swallow the hard pill of realism and define that “which is real” as efficacy in the form of protest that turns over the apple cart of complacency? That being at least one tent removed by force from the parking lot of Montana’s most insidious cog in the wheels of corporate compromise: Maximillian Baucus????

  2. Chuck

    I think OM will be gone tonight and the Missoula liberal elite will gather at the local brew pub to celebrate the bullet dodged.

    • Steve W

      What liberal elite?

    • JC

      Gone? In every war there is a time to retreat and regroup. There is a long winter ahead. OM may not have the presence it has had for the last 2 weeks on the Courthouse lawn, but the Occupy movement is not just a physical embodiment. It also involves the development of new relationships in the community, across the state, and over the country and world. How those relationships move into the future has yet to be seen.

  3. JC

    Thanks for all you do lizard. I know it’s been a tough couple of weeks. It’s times like this when the deep dark underbelly of society becomes exposed.

    In the many tributes to Milosz after his death, this line sticks out:

    “He observed that those who became dissidents were not necessarily the ones with the strongest minds, but rather those with the weakest stomachs. The mind can rationalize anything, he said, but the stomach can take only so much.”

    Here, this might soothe your soul today.

  4. Lizard – you don’t know mw and I don’t know you, but I can tell you it’s not worth coming unglued over – nothing in the blogosphere is.

  5. I think Liz that you are a good soul and a wonderful person who has a really tough job. Figuring out what to let go of can be tough.

    Anger can take a hell of a lot of of a person. Looking at our government, it is even more- and expecting an apology from “the government” isn’t even a possibility. I keep working on coming to terms with the precise point with which to let that all go and move forward.

    Take some much needed rest. Enjoy the kids and the tamaracks. The season is brief, and soon it will be winter.

  6. It’s hard to talk about issues and ideas when you keep getting slammed with juvenile name-calling and destructive personal attacks. Seems like a few years ago one blogger here said they would remove comments which were nothing but name-calling. So I guess I didn’t see the ones that were removed but I wouldn’t mind seeing less of the ignorant spew which meet a lot of the posts on this blog. Anger about certain things is so much better and necessary than complacency.

  1. 1 OK, I’ve Finally Stopped Yelling | - Dave Budge .com

    […] decreed that being angry was personally counter-productive. And young Lizard, of the same ilk, has come to a similar reflection.  I’m also appreciative of the fact that it’s been several years since Pogie has […]

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