09 May 2014

Anatomy of Creative Faculties

In Shakespeare's Memory the protagonist is a Shakespearean scholar who is given the gift of Shakespeare's memory, but finds the Bard's memories to be a mundane "chaos of vague possibilities" and ultimately a personal burden.

This short story by Jorge Luis Borges suggests that genius is a confluence of circumstance. Borges' story suggests that genius springs from the wells of experience, comprehension, and will, rather than from disjointed vignettes or vague recollections.

Borges also hints at notion that a summation of memory is not constrained to, or created from a single being, rather it is perhaps likened to an institutional memory that is culturally accumulated over time. That is, some component of memory flows out of humanity from the tributaries of human Zeitgeist.

Through the curiosity, introspection, and existential anguish of his protagonist, Borges' deconstructs creative inspiration in a way that distinguishes the product from the individual.
I realized that the three faculties of the human soul: memory, understanding, and will, are not some mere scholastic fiction. Shakespeare's Memory was able to reveal to me only the circumstances of the man Shakespeare. Clearly these circumstances do not constitute the uniqueness of the poet. What matters is the literature the poet produced with that frail material.Jorge Luis Borges
Memory is the most mundane, if not chaotically disjointed faculty. Understanding jumps up a peg in the hierarchy. Understanding is culturally imparted, but its lever is the intellect of the individual. The faculty of will is the ultimate determinant. Will distinguishes the creative individual.

Inspiration is a rare gift that flows through us like lightening. Some are able to bottle and distribute lightening, but many of us create from the raw force of will. Borges' protagonist learns that Shakespeare produced timeless, culturally resonant work though human insight and will despite the encumbrance of frail material.


08 May 2014

It's No Wonder

I haven't eaten a slice of Wonder Bread since the late 60s.

Looking back, a slab of processed American cheese slathered in mayonnaise and topped with a green hairpiece of iceberg hidden between two slices of Wonder Bread was standard fare for a dumb shit like me.

Back then our Chevy BelAir had no seat belts. And back then my parents and their friends could knock back cases of liquor and fill tugboat-sized ashtrays in one evening like they were auditioning for Mad Men.

That was a long time ago. People change. Things improve. Except Wonder Bread.

If Wonder Bread has changed, it has changed for the worse. The New York Times singled out the makers of Wonder Bread as the Most Republican Company. It's no wonder.
Wonder Bread is American conservatism.
Like the air-filled bread, American conservatism lacks substance and leaves me hungry for more. Today's conservatism is bereft of intellectual honesty in the same way Wonder Bread is woefully lacking in nutritional value. For decades American conservatism, like the empty interstices of Wonder Bread, has been fodder for comedians.

If you are what you eat, then don't eat that shit.