Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Mundane Wilderness

"Go to your cell, and your cell will teach you everything."
   ~Desert Fathers

"I wish to be with those who know secret things, or else alone."
  ~Rainer Maria Rilke

Mr. Pond’s response to last weeks discussion particularly interested me. He writes, that "the act of writing itself is an act of seclusion, a turning away from speech and community into the solitary, silent voice of the writer." We are at odds. Writing is not an act of seclusion, it is an act of reaching out, of embracing, challenging, or calling forth. It is an outward act which requires silence and seclusion, but then calls to the world it meets, embracing it and welcoming it in. Silence and seclusion are essential, but they are essential in the same way they are essential to the prophets and to the desert fathers - we retreat so as to find our voice, but our voice is not meant for the wilderness, it is meant for the community, which is not a community of comfortable tradition, or those who write and think and see as we do, they have their own voices, the community is anyone and everyone who can hear, and who will listen.  

Perhaps we disagree because I consider this to be the role of the poet in the world, among the people he meets and among those whom he will never meet, except in bits of writing or fragments of thought passed along. In this he is active in the community, he doesn't need to fill his life with running about. His writing is active, it is interactive, and it is a living voice for him to raise up. 

Jenna's response is encouraging though, she gives me the eyes to see Mr. Pond's post in a holistic way, as one aspect of the writer's otherness, expressed in a rejection of the mundane things of neighborhood block parties, activism, and other distractions, and an embrace of the solitude that leads to writing.  But I would like to follow this discussion with clarification, if my friend's don't mind dwelling a bit.

 Mr. Pond's statement: " I know of no other way to write than that Romantic vision" brought to my mind the romantic tradition, and it's effect on the image of The Writer. I would like to probe a bit into the act of writing as it relates to daily life.  Is there a value in mundane life for the work of the artist? How can the writer in the romantic ideal combine the demands of daily life: family, bills, housework, and physical labor with the dramatic aloneness of the writing life.

I am very much convinced that daily chores are a grounding, inspiring, and essential aspect of my own creative process. My best writing came during a time I spent working long hours at a dairy farm, it was constant, heavy labor, and I know I've never been healthier physically or creatively than I was that year. Now, with the direction that comes from consistent, physical chores, I am beginning to come again into an active creative period. I'm grateful for the demands of my life, there is less time to write, more time to feel and know the world around me. Ora et Labora, the blessings of balance. It is what the Romantic's lack, balance, aching muscles, roots, and the soothing resistance of bread dough. Not everyone is suited to physical labor, but the presence of mundane tasks is an essential to creative wholeness.


  1. I've been happily following the blogalectic (in a quiet, lurker-like manner), and I just wanted to share my agreement with Masha's contribution today. I especially found the following resonated with me:

    "Not everyone is suited to physical labor, but the presence of mundane tasks is an essential to creative wholeness."

    For me, the work that has been gifted to me to do is that of a librarian--not physical work by any stretch of the imagination. But I view my work very often *as* my creative act (and this, coming from someone who was a Drama major in college).

    I am not so much a creative writer (as it's typically understood, i.e., one who writes fiction) as, perhaps, a personal writer--a writer of stories (that are usually factual/autobiographical) about what it means to be a whole person. So the discussion of writerly craft (regarding fiction writing, at least), etc., is often outside of my personal experience (though I *am* an avid reader of good stories so I can get at craft from the reader's perspective, just not from the writer's).

    That being said, I wanted to leave a short note to say that I appreciated tonight's offering by Masha to the blogalectic.

    Write on, writers!

  2. Thanks so much for your contribution Donna! I am not usually a fiction writer either, actually, but I think that anyone writing creatively has a similar call and challenge.

    I'm especially interested in the idea of writing stories "about what it means to be a whole person". This sounds absolutely fascinating, and very much an aspect of the creative life! I would love to hear more.