Friday, October 21, 2011

Your Problem Is

"Your problem is that you bring in the critical factor before the lyric factor has had a chance to express itself."

- Friedrich Schiller, in a letter to a young writer who had writer's block.

* * *

The cart before the horse, chickens before they are hatched, etc., etc.:  the precondition of the fucked.

 * * *

The life you are living is the one chance you get to do this. Perhaps there is another life of some sort to follow. Perhaps! Perhaps! If there is, and you knew it with unbridled certainty, would that relieve you of the task of living now? Fuck no. And if you could only guess or hope for another round after this attempt at living would that relieve you of your obligations to be awake and alive now? Not a fucking bit. And if there was only silence at the end of this road would that relieve....  well, you get the idea.

So, what, exactly, are you doing with your time, this time, this life, this chance?

Putting carts before horses, counting chickens before they hatch, bringing in the critical factor before the lyric has had a chance to express itself. That last one isn't exactly an old saying, but it cuts closer to the bone.

* * *

Any time you find yourself thwarted, impeded, blocked by your own thoughts you have replaced the primacy of your creative response to living with the easier and stultifying response of finding fault with your works before they are done, finding fault with yourself for even venturing the game.

Get this through your fucked-in-the-head head: "I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live by what light I have."

That is Abraham Fucking Lincoln there, my friends. He knew from fucked and this was his response to it. Quit doubling down on yourself before you even get started. Schiller's "lyrical factor" is emergent not fixed. It is always in the process of becoming. It isn't one act, one poem, one song, one dance, one story, one home built, one toilet unplugged, one checkbook balanced, it is the life that contains those acts and there is no end to your obligation, your joyful obligation to act. Death brings the proceedings to a close, and if you knew with unbridled certainty there was some sort of life to follow this one how much more satisfied would you be for having left it all on the field here? And if you could only hope there was something after this, how much finer would your example here be if you lived out loud the greatest charity of all - a life lived fully? And if there is only lights out and nothing more, then this is your only chance to make hay.

So, what, exactly, are you doing with your time, this time, this life, this chance?

* * *

Schiller wrote the following:

Joy, fair spark of the gods,
Daughter of Elysium,
Drunk with fiery rapture, Goddess,
We approach thy shrine!

Thy magic reunites those
Whom stern custom has parted;
All men will become brothers
Under thy gentle wing. 

May he who has had the fortune
To gain a true friend
And he who has won a noble wife
Join in our jubilation!

Yes, even if he calls but one soul
His own in all the world.
But he who has failed in this
Must steal away alone and in tears. 

All the world's creatures
Draw joy from nature's breast;
Both the good and the evil 
Follow her rose-strewn path.

She gave us kisses and wine
And a friend loyal unto death;
She gave lust for life to the lowliest
And the Cherub stands before God. 

Of course he wrote it in German, and you probably know it better as this, but what is essential here is not its fame, but the simple fact of it; it exists. It did not until Schiller wrote it down, hewed it, formed it, re-worked it and built it. Over two hundred years on, it exists while Schiller does not. His bones are mold, yet are his bones him? Or is some elemental spark still alive because of the work he did while he could, bestowing, without knowing it, on those who followed and cared to seek it out?

Your task is not to write the next Ode to Joy. Your task is to let the lyrical take precedence over the critical. The critical is a whole clusterfuck of rules and expectations and customs, stern customs, that put you in and keep you in a trick bag. The lyrical is the mystery and force of Life moving through your life.

Schiller believed in angels and a heavenly Father. You needn't in order to do what life asks of you. It is your choice. It isn't required. What is required is joy.

Now get out the fuck out of your head and start living. You owe us some work.


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