SLIV: Scylla and Charybdis • 25 May 2008

How do we resolve the conflict between shapeliness, or control, and our sense that we are never entirely in control, in that we can never entirely close the gap between the work we envision and the work we create? Hoagland writes that “control exacts a cost too: It is often achieved at the expense of discovery and spontaneity.” He writes in praise of unsubordinations against the dominance of “repression as a useful agent in creative shaping.” The call is not to let anything go, but to allow for passionate excess, and the irrational… Do we admire the Navajo basket, not only beautifully designed but also so tightly woven that it can hold water? Or do we prefer nonfunctional pottery, the howls of the Beats, the delirium of Dada, the splatters of Pollock? Do we have to choose? (A glance toward the dance floor: The Talking Heads sand “Stop Making Sense” to a perfectly rhythmic beat.) Can’t we admire… Flaubert’s meticulously considered Madame Bovary and mark Twain’s uncivilized Adventures of Huckleberry Finn… the wilde-eyed riffs of Moby-Dick and the canny constructions of Borges? We can, and will—so long as, whatever its temperament, every map, every story or poem, persuades us of its purpose and justifies its methods.

-Peter Turchi, Maps of the Imagination, p. 21

Around here, allowing for vices, letting the little irrationalities have their space: I am finding a kind of sanity in fennel seeds, chewed slowly the way an old man chews his pipe. And an herbal coffee substitute called Teeccino, discovered on Friday at an environmentalist conference where the very fine catered lunch did not have a vegetarian option (they eventually brought me a plate of steamed broccoli) but did feature un-coffee.

Dissertation today. I will not see what the rest of you did yesterday—the film about the anthropology professor whose off-campus, esoteric adventures do wonders for his sex appeal. But after I crashed yesterday there was this wonderful old BBC program; and tonight I hope to get to Steve Dwelley’s latest, which will doubtless be a subtler and more true discussion of what I’ve been trying to say about the letting go, and the training, of the mind during yoga.

Letting go is: deferential; humble, intuitive.

Training is: intense, expert, intentional.

So: intuition and intention. Both in meditation practice; and in writing practice. Or:

Will without surrender is a tight-ass; surrender without will is a wuss.