Monday, January 2, 2012

The Strength of Your Hand Will Give the Stroke Its Bone

As someone who bleggalgazes in each and every post, I believe I have credibility when I say that if anything can define bleggalgazing as an embarrassingly odious exercise in self-congratulation, this is it:

In one largish ballroom, a different sort of panel was happening. It featured the Dish’s Andrew Sullivan and two other men who looked like Andrew Sullivan — pleasant, bearded, round-faced men, which is a chic sub-style among many of the attendees here, optionally accessorized with square glasses and male-pattern baldness. The panel was called “From Philosophical Training to Professional Blogging.”

But the three men on the panel have done so, and splendidly, with varying degrees of national recognition for their thoughtful punditry on political and cultural issues. Besides Sullivan, who has a PhD in political philosophy and is known for his writings on conservatism and gay marriage, the other participants included Slate blogger Matthew Yglesias, who majored in philosophy at Harvard, and Grist magazine writer/blogger David Roberts, who has a master’s degree in philosophy from the University of Montana.

Male pattern baldness and glasses. Gah. I have two regular readers in Missoula, one at the University of Montana, if it's you, David, Hi!


Dick Allen

Make your strokes thus: the horizontal:
as a cloud that slowly drifts across the horizon;
the vertical: as an ancient but strong vine stem;
the dot: a falling rock;
and learn to master the sheep leg, the tiger’s claw,

an apricot kernel, a dewdrop, the new moon,

the wave rising and falling. Do these
while holding your arm out above the paper
like the outstretched leg of a crane.
The strength of your hand
will give the stroke its bone.
But for real accomplishment, it would be well
if you would go to live solitary in a forest silence,
or beside a river flowing serenely.
It might also be useful
to look down a lonesome road,
and for the future
to stare into the gray static of a television screen,
or when lost in a video game
to accept you may never reach the final level,
where the dragon awaits, guarding the pot of gold,
and that you’ve left no footprints, not a single one,
despite all your adventures,
anyone following you could ever follow.


  1. Pastor Sanctimonious knows that Jesus really said, "Blessed are the war-makers. They shall inherit the Kingdom of Lockheed."

  2. Thanks for the link. Also, your blogwhored poem mosaic is impressive!

  3. Nailed. Okay, I confess: A.B. in Philosophy, UNC-CH; M.A. in Philosophy, Temple University. Less obviously male pattern bald. Tho, thinning, yes. Semi-beard. Not round-faced. Rimless glasses. Blogger of sorts. And here I thought I was unique. Fuck you and your fucking WP. What does it mean when the only thing philosophy majors who eschew academia can do is either blog or practice law? And why does it make me feel like I should quit the whole enterprise much as I did the latter?

    You may not be aware, but Murakami's Norwegian Wood is coming out in movie form in a couple weeks. I'm reading it now. Have you? Will you not see the film? You've piqued my interest re 1Q84.

  4. This is the Dick Allen I thought of when I started reading the poem.

  5. I'd read two other Murakami: Wind-Up Bird and Kafka on the Shore and they were better than meh but not wow. I suspect 1Q84 works so well for me because of my current mood and outlook - 1Q84 makes as much if not more sense to me than 2012.

    Movies? Films? What are those? I don't say this proudly, but I haven't been in a movie theater in probably two years and I can't remember the last movie I saw via TV or DVD. Huge hole in my cultural knowledge, I admit.

  6. Zen! Me too. When I first saw the name a few years ago I imagined the ballplayers ginormous glasses.

  7. I'm buying you some Stones for next Giftmas.

    Your mosaic thing messed with my luddite noodle.

  8. First you had a pome about a vasectomy and now you have one about wanking. You'll tell us when to worry, right?

  9. Heh, keeps folks coming back for more!

    Silly me, I read them as about the creative process, but death to the... oh wait, I've been told not to do that. Heh.

  10. btw, the notion that Andrew Sullivan has a PhD in political philosophy does not speak well of the value of same