I want to contact her, and just talk, but I know that’s impossible. I’ve said awful, awful things to her, and apologies won’t do, I know that.

Worse yet, she’s done something amazingly cruel to me – I’m shocked anyone could do what she’s done. I can forgive that, but only if she’s willing to talk to me.

Part of the problem is that her cruelty resides in speech that complements what she’s done. If I try to talk to her, as I have before, she’ll push me away and hurt me more. She did this before I did anything wrong, she has done it after I have done some things wrong, and now that some time has passed where I have done nothing wrong, I think it’s time I waited, and maybe got an apology. I have been sincere in my apologies, after all, although tormented by her coldness. One might expect that she could say she’s sorry, given my concern.

A Theory On Myspace’s Popularity

Note: I left this comment on Jeff Jarvis’ blog and thought it was a waste sitting there. I have modified it some. This was also posted on my old blog, before it was literally eaten by the server.

MySpace works in my mind because it’s blogging without all the “writing” and “thinking” keeping an audience demands, all that stuff being replaced by the raw sexuality music unleashes and that young attractive people – rightfully – want in on. One listens to music and looks for hot girls (or guys) there, because it’s like a giant online concert, composed of personals and cliques composed of personals and band pages. Conversation is easy to make, because you can start it by saying, “Hey, I saw this band recently, why don’t you check out their page and listen to some stuff?” (That the grammatical version. The Myspace version would involve phrases like L8OR H8OR’s or something). The music is always in the background, I think, and that makes it the world’s largest personals site.

I could be wrong about this, though. There might be something more sophisticated to MySpace. I’ve found a classical composer there who is very good, and I’ve found a few friends who talk about literature with me there. But I really want to meet decent people, too, so where there’s a will, there’s a way.

So I dunno. The question is this – we would want a site that could be used for free personals no matter what, and MySpace, because of the music, allows us to have that sort of site with an easy cover, “Yeah, it’s about the music for me.” Fine, so let’s say this: How would MySpace be different if certain types of music were more popular on it?

"If I can stop one heart from breaking," Emily Dickinson

If I can stop one heart from breaking
Emily Dickinson

If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.


“I shall not live in vain” divides the poem neatly, enabling us to see how the speaker stumbles through her own reasoning. The first part: “If I can stop one heart from breaking” seems to refer to any heart, anywhere at any time. It sounds selfless and generous, and the speaker does not seem to care about her own condition. Ay, there’s the rub. Why is she saying any of this? Because the speaker is herself heartbroken. To help someone else is really to try to exert control over your own heart, to tell yourself it isn’t so bad.

Then the speaker moves to “life” in general: she wants to “ease one life the aching.” She hasn’t stopped her own heart from breaking; perhaps that is too unrealistic. From “aching,” a pain her heart feels internally, we move to a pain that could also be considered on the surface of ourselves, like a cut that needs to be addressed. She sounds generous, but her rhetoric betrays a most self-centered approach. “One heart,” “one life” strongly imply she must take care of herself first. She is not specific about who else she would help.

Finally, she moves beyond herself to something definite. In this case, “one fainting robin.”

The central line of the poem concerns “cooling a pain.” It comes as part of a trifecta of actions, “ease, cool, help,” that are most unlike her initial wish, to “stop” one heart from breaking. The theme of heat emerges in this central line, implied by “cool,” and is reinforced by the image of a “fainting robin.” That last item builds to some kind of comment on what it means to be at rest; the poem has been moving from one action to another nearly every line. Heat demands we stop almost dead in our tracks from exhaustion, but then there’s another rest, being at home, implied by “nest.”

Heat and movement can be seen as the enemies of living well: they are, in some extended sense, ingredients of heartbreak. We pursue passions, becoming overheated with love when things go well and rage when things don’t. The question is that of passion and whether a point could be found that is at rest for us. Can’t we simply stay at home? The speaker slowly moves away from preventing a broken heart, as if that were impossible, through the second part of the poem. And the end of the poem, with the robin returned to the nest, suggests the first wish is a mistaken wish. One can’t stop hearts from breaking and perhaps one shouldn’t stop hearts from breaking. The importance of being at rest in some way — maybe even to fly again — is only known when one has tried and failed. There is another way of conceiving of passion, in accepting the “ease, cool, help” set of actions, which shows there is a way of motion that encourages rest in its best, not most definite, sense.


I remember a professor once upon a time telling me that life was a game, and I started tuning him out.

I’m pretty sure nowadays he didn’t mean it in a trivial way, but when I see people say things like “People who take themselves seriously make me crack up,” I just wonder.

Look, the world is filled with serious things. People are coming back in body bags and with limbs lost just to give another people a chance at democracy, and that other people doesn’t seemingly care for the most part.

I suppose someone not quite in my life anymore would have wished that I didn’t take her seriously in any way whatsoever, so that a cleaner break could have been effected. What she has learned about me, I sometimes think, is that I should not be taken seriously at all, I think. I guess I should be avoided or ridiculed. After all, I’m not losing life or limb, and to love when such feelings are not reciprocated is pathetic. One should only love when given the correct opportunity, many would say. And finally, I do sometimes think that I can change things, or people, or make life better generally – how could I assert such a mission when the only real proof of seriousness, it would seem, is sacrifice, or that which exists via consent?

Aristotle says the life devoted to pleasure is not a serious life whatsoever, and that only the philosophic life (the life of leisure, contrast leisure and pleasure), and the political life (the active and effectual life, compare effectiveness with actions in leisure) are the only two serious alternatives regarding how we should live. It’s a tricky formulation, because the politically oriented life always threatens to collapse into Empire, the desire to acquire more and more to satisfy wants, even if that want is only that of security.

And so I think a certain “faith” – I’m probably using the wrong word – underlies the philosophic life. That “faith” concerns two things: it is a trust that we can survive even if we don’t always preoccupy ourselves with securing material things (Matthew 6: 28-34 echoes the Aristotlean teaching about not trying to control chance completely), and is also the “faith” that life isn’t really a game for anyone, alone or with another. People lose their lives and limbs so we can be free and live well, and the least we can do for our those who sacrifice is treat each other with respect, and show an appreciation for the diverse – and sometimes very serious – uses of freedom. I suspect that what underlies the charge against others taking themselves too seriously, of course, is an inability to account properly for one’s own life or responsibiities, as dissipation occurs many times through a delusional group effort, where everyone has consented, but not thought.

Enfolding (a poem)

for Sarah Johnston – happy birthday

There were ideal forms once,
seen in a past life.
Brought forth by strokes,
short graphite lines adding up,
forming the ideal that once was –
my hands tire.

And these varied flavors,
sour and sweet and fresh,
that last one perhaps
above all. Again I find
that key element, no
collapse into sameness,
but even the tongue
needs parsley.

We think beauty arises
from the earth’s green,
or the mist’s gray.
But I know what
would sustain
my vision,
my feeling,
and it would not be me,
or it.