something uplifting.

many people - actually, probably all - have complained that this blog is too much of a downer. jesus, complaining all the time is such a cliché, one reader says. he's so depressed, another squawks. can't you write something uplifting? someone asks.

so i tried to think. maybe my "odd world view" (one of my least favorite professor's description of my choice of subjects) has been shaped by too many writers who could've used a higher dosage of lithium. so i went down the list:

teachers would make us read poems like "annabel lee" or "the raven" when i was just a kid. to be fair, it was around halloween time, and i guess they couldn't find any other "spooky" things for us to do. and of course, "the raven" was creepy and it did freak me out, but still, i thought it was cool. the protagonist is haunted by his dead lover and some bird keeps driving him mad. so by the time i learn that edgar allen poe died drunk and penniless and alone on the street, i thought, wow! not only can he write, but he's also a goddamn rock star.

next there was j.d. salinger. well, we all know how that goes.

and then sophomore year, i read the bell jar. i was probably too young to understand what sylvia plath was going on about, but i didn't care.

next on the list: michael dorris, a yellow raft in blue water. years later, when talking about this book in college, my professor, peter bacho, only had to say, "...and like every true artist, he killed himself." i was going to laugh, but peter bacho had a really serious look on his face. jesus, peter, what a goddamn cliché.

so when i tried to think of funny writers or funny stories, the first character that popped into my head was ignatius j. reilly. but he was obese, overeducated, unemployed, and he lived at home with his mother. and the author, john kennedy toole, was just like every true artist.

and then there was hemingway, sexton, woolf, and a whole slew of others i haven't even read yet.

but on my twenty-first birthday, a friend introduced me to david sedaris, who wasn't completely messed up, and who was actually funny. he managed to take worst-case scenarios, i.e. taking the blame for a crime he didn't commit, his mother dying of cancer, and his poor pathetic sister who lived in squalor, and somehow, he managed to make them funny. his stories were, well...uplifting.

by the time i was a junior, it was apparent that everyone in my classes had already read naked. we all tried to write like him.

it's hard, i think, to write uplifting stories, or entries, or poems, or whatever, when so many who've come before haven't been very positive. but maybe i'm missing something. maybe there's a bunch of them on the shelf right now that i'm just not thinking about. maybe there were true artists who had prosperity in their lifetimes, didn't become boozehounds, and didn't feel compelled to live in isolation.

well, there, i tried. maybe the next entry won't be too much of a downer. but then again, don't get your hopes up.


Richard said...

Well your blog is called "Talking about hard times" if they want something fun and uplifting why don;t they just read a blog called "Talking about Good Time" oh wait that might just be about the TV show. Dynomite!

Tiffany said...

You know, your bff Eddie Vedder said he mistrusts art that doesn't come from pain (in an interview on NPR re: his soundtrack for that movie). I think that's a load of bull. Is happiness not worth celebrating and exploring?