12/29/20: Listen Up, Philip #poetry

12/29/20: Listen Up, Philip #poetry

The protagonist writes because he doesn’t talk

I talk and write because I always have more to say

Rushdie advertises his master class on writing and says the main thing is just to sit down your ass and write a lot

Save your money

The Rick Blog says you aren’t ready to write until you stop taking classes

and put your ass in the chair

And stop reading too

Rushdie says taking the voyage to the other side of the page

I took a lot of classes and I read a lot of books

Now it’s my turn

This Philip character is an asshole

In my book, he is more a businessman than a writer

One big reason that I do art is that I don’t want to be that type of asshole

or be around them

Art is about truth and love, sweetheart

Philip has a mentor

I’ve had mentors

You can’t write until you don’t have mentors

I’m not anti-social, or a-social

I’m post-social

This guy Philip writes to get laid

He writes to go on book tours

His mentor tells him to get money

I’m hungry for images of writers today

I found some here

These writers in this movie pose as being clear voices independent of the world

I don’t pose

I’m not competitive

I just really suspect I am better than most of these other people

When I encounter someone better or just as good, I get excited

I love excellence

Well … I’ve only come across just as good

I’ve never seen better

I’m smart, I’m soulful and I have a good facility of expression

What else do you need?

This guy Philip is such an asshole that I don’t see why his girlfriend is with him

Oh in this scene she’s pissed off

The mentor says: “You are selfish and un-sentimental. These are admirable qualities.”

Philip: “I know. I come from an unsupportive background”

Mentor worries.

“Don’t overdo it — you’ll become lazy and angry and your work will suffer.”

Me: Selfish is not good. Prioritizing your writing over unimportant demands of others is essential. But a writer should always be there for what is truly important for the people you love —- and you should love the people who love you if you can’t initiate love on your own …

Un-sentimental is great … sentimentality isn’t love, it is just cheap sensation — nothing real

Anger does make work suffer, but getting to the other side of anger is a writing pre-requisite like having mentors and reading and taking classes … you have to matriculate through your connection to what other people think if you want to write …

I was accused of being lazy but I wasn’t. I was angry about the accusation. I expected recognition form a world incapable of giving it —- when I told them to go fuck themselves the words poured out … but all the non-writing frustration and being “blocked” is part of writing … becoming a writer involves gestation and labor pains

and this mentor doesn’t know what he is talking about

The mentor gets Philip a teaching job

You don’t start writing until you stop teaching

If you are a writer, it’s all you do

It’s all that you have ever done

When I wrote when I was a teacher my teaching sometimes suffered

When I taught while I was writing my writing sometimes suffered

Compromise punctuated by moments of fulfillment

This movie is about a young guy dealing with success

Philip says he is notable but not a success

I never understood success when I was young

I wasn’t thinking about money fame and/or power

I was thinking of being true to my voice

That’s it really

I didn’t think about other people having other preoccupations

the money fame and power

I was really good in those years but I didn’t know it

I wasn’t conscious that I was a perfect writer

I did my writing on the stages of comedy clubs

and got admiration and insults

Money fame power would sneak into my bed at night and beat me up

Look …

a writer has to live

and feel it

and then get free

and then make his writing come first

and then believe that his words are important

and know that he is the equal to the world

and assess himself and the world on his own

and not worry about what other people think of his words

and be insulted by others temerity to think that they could assess him or his work or could tell him what to do

The mentor wants adoration and attention and misses it

He smokes cigars

I miss cigars

I wonder about adoration and attention

No I don’t — check that

I wonder about reaching a bigger audience

When was this movie made?


The men — the writers — keep telling the women what to do

they give orders and the women comply

Old fashioned

Adoration and attention?

That’s from a time when publishers and producers and critics defined culture and told people what was good

and audiences dictated what they would tolerate en masse

individual audience members never got precisely what they wanted and needed

they could only enjoy a broad category and never a specific poem written just for them

but now the world is connected

and all writing is a message in a bottle that reaches the person or persons for which it is intended

not by the writer

but rather by the creative intelligence of creation

and I think there are more people who would find resonance in my words

other people similar to the ones who have found me already

and I wonder if there is something that I should be doing to reach them

in the meantime I just keep writing and putting it out there

I wonder if there is any money in writing — real writing not the commercial bullshit

I never get an idea of how to make this money

but money magically comes to me in other ways

just appears and arrives

money no strings attached

as if God’s creation subsidizes my work

without jobs, assignments or pledge drives

If I ever teach again, I’ll just read my writing to the class

or assign my writing

and assign the class papers responding to my writing

and then not read the students’ papers

and give everyone an “A”

I like seeing these characters in a movie

These ghosts from the now defunct New York publishing scene

and MFA candidates are better for me at arms length

I appreciate the screenwriter, director and actors as middlemen and women

These characters are too cool, too distant, too hip, too averse to showing emotion, too afraid of not knowing

but mainly too ambitious in some way

they aren’t concerned about writing

but more concerned about making it as writers

getting over

to compensate for some self-loathing

and if I wasn’t using this movie as stimulus for an inventory of my own feelings of about being a writer

I’d really be bored by these characters

check that — not bored — I’d find them toxic

Which isn’t to say this is a bad movie

on the contrary

it’s a pretty good exploration of something …

These people all have a hard time connecting

and the movie is about that

Love has never been an issue for me

My family loved me and I loved them

I love my brother

my wife

(chronological order)

It’s pretty simple

you love somebody and stick with them

and love deepens

I struggled with work and recognition

I’m past all of that now

Art is not a struggle

I love it and stick with it

and that love deepens

Friends are welcome to come and go

for the duration and degree that they choose

Everything that makes people unhappy is a misunderstanding

How confidently I write my words

Philip winds up successful, alienated, isolated alone

a great and celebrated novelist

who is a mystery to himself

Thankfully that’s not my genre

I just live my life

and keep a journal

and make it something more

taking the specifics and enlarging them to universals

My life doesn’t have to be sad or lonely to do what I do

My life and my writing are two separate and related projects

I’m not limited to the sole influence of a somber cool jazz soundtrack

I take what comes and go where I please

This movie gets four stars out of four

it values what Philip doesn’t achieve.

Copyright 2020 Richard Thomas

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