There are people everywhere who form a Fourth World, or a diaspora of their own. They are the lordly ones! They come in all colours. They can be Christians or Hindus or Muslims or Jews or pagans or atheists. They can be young or old, men or women, soldiers or pacifists, rich or poor. They may be patriots, but they are never chauvinists. They share with each other, across all the nations, common values of humour and understanding. When you are among them you know you will not be mocked or resented, because they will not care about your race, your faith, your sex or your nationality, and they suffer fools if not gladly, at least sympathetically. They laugh easily. They are easily grateful. They are never mean. They are not inhibited by fashion, public opinion or political correctness. They are exiles in their own communities, because they are always in a minority, but they form a mighty nation, if they only knew it. It is the nation of nowhere . . .
– Jan Morris
Ithaca by Constantine P. Cavafy (1863 – 1933)
When you set out on your journey to Ithaca,
pray that the road is long,
full of adventure, full of knowledge.
The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops,
and the angry Poseidon — do not fear them:
You will never find such as these on your path,
if your thoughts remain lofty, if a fine
emotion touches your body and your spirit.
The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops,
the fierce Poseidon you will never encounter,
if you do not carry them within your soul,
if your heart does not raise them up before you.
Pray that the road is long.
That the summer mornings are many, when,
you will enter ports seen for the first time
with such pleasure, with such joy!
Stop at Phoenician markets,
and purchase fine merchandise,
mother-of-pearl and corals, amber and ebony,
and pleasurable perfumes of all kinds,
buy as many sensual perfumes as you can;
visit many Egyptian cities,
to learn and learn from from scholars.
Always keep Ithaca in your mind.
To arrive there is your ultimate goal.
But do not hurry the voyage at all.
It is better to let it last for many years;
and to anchor at the isle when you are old,
rich with all that you have gained on the way,
not expecting that Ithaca will offer you riches.
Ithaca has given you the beautiful voyage.
Without her you would never have taken the road.
She has nothing more to give you.
And if you find her poor, Ithaca has not deceived you.
Wise as you have become, with so much experience,
you must already have understood by then what Ithacas mean.
This is an excerpt from Paulo Coelho’s “The Zahir,” a story about a man whose wife has left him for another man. In this exchange he speaks with his new lover and she tries to make him understand that he’s been acting out of fear.
“You see? You don’t even want to say his name. Are you superstitious?”
“Mikhail. There you are, that’s his name.”
“The energy of hatred won’t get you anywhere; but the energy of forgiveness, which reveals itself through love, will transform your life in a positive way.”
“Now you’re sounding like some Tibetan sage, spouting stuff that is all very nice in theory, but impossible in practice. Don’t forget, I’ve been hurt before.”
“Exactly, and you’re still carrying inside you the little boy, the school weakling, who had to hide his tears from his parents. You still bear the marks of the skinny little boy who couldn’t get a girlfriend and who was never any good at sports. You still haven’t managed to heal the scars left by some of the injustices committed against you in your life. But what good does that do?”
“Who told you about that?”
“I just know. I can see it in your eyes, and it doesn’t do you any good. All it does is feed a constant desire to feel sorry for yourself, because you were the victim of people stronger than you. Or else it makes you go to the other extreme and disguise yourself as an avenger ready to hit out at the people who hurt you. Isn’t that a waste of time?”
“It’s just human.”
“Oh, it is, but it’s not intelligent or reasonable. Show some respect for your time on this earth.”
The Jew’s Daughter is an interactive, non-linear, multi-valent narrative, a storyspace that is unstable but nonetheless remains organically intact, progressively weaving itself together by way of subtle transformations on a single virtual page. (Say that five times fast.)
What? Yeah, I don’t know either. Click here to read the entire thing. It goes on for pages and pages, but this first paragraph just slays me. It’s completely visceral storytelling. You aren’t told what is happening, but through the beautiful and haunting words choices, you build your own story. It is an emotional reaction. Now that’s fucking poetry.
I often find this part swirling around in my head:
(Is this what they said?), inadequacy, and, as a last resort, an inexplicable refusal. You asked could I build you from a pile of anonymous limbs and parts.
It’s just… yeah, so good.
Does poetry inspire you? Or do you find it mildly off-putting? I don’t have a favourite poet and I kinda feel like a fraud of a writer for that. But I do believe that all writers should give a stab at poetry — at least once in awhile. There’s something good and terrifying about no structure, rules. Write your lover a note, yours friends haikus, and someone a song. Or just keep them to yourself, whatever, as long as you’re exploring new means of storytelling. I’m still gathering the courage to post original poetry on here. Maybe I just need to accept that it’s okay to be bad. Or, just choose not to care.
If you were entranced by this poem, you’ll likely fall for this song by Sufjan Stevens ft. Buck 65. It’s weird, a little bit non-sensical, and fucking beautiful.
Whether it’s your pain or someone else’s, it’s all of use to a storyteller. Steal it, spin it, say it out loud. Your failures are your friends. Just write it all down.
Oh me! Oh life! of the questions of these recurring,
Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish,
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew’d,
Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me,
Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined,
The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?
That you are here—that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.
– Walt Whitman
Some love is fire: some love is rust:
But the fiercest, cleanest love is lust.
And their lust was tremendous. It had the feel
Of hammers clanging; and stone; and steel:
And torches of the savage, roaring kind
That rip through iron, and strike men blind:
Of long trains crashing through caverns under
Grey trembling streets, like angry thunder:
Of engines throbbing; and hoarse steam spouting;
And feet tramping; and great crowds shouting.
A lust so savage, they could have wrenched
The flesh from bone, and not have blenched.
– Joseph Moncure March
You guys! My little brother is DJing in New York City tonight. New York-freaking-City!
So I was going to go into this whole tirade about working hard and following your dreams and how proud I am and the lessons I’ve learned and other mushy stuff like that, but it’s Saturday and my brain is sleepy. So, instead, check out Cam’s official music video:
Or on Much Music’s website. (Like, it’s a part of the official rotation now.)
And dance your butt off while you’re wrapping your body in warm things and building up the courage to leave the house (Canadian readers) or getting over your midday slump (I see you, one Australian reader) or making inappropriate decisions after midnight or wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, throw on “The Currency” and get a little crazy.
So, congratu-fucking-lations Cam. Kick some ass in New York tonight. I’m so proud of you and I’m so grateful you’ve shown me how to follow your dreams. Wish I could party with you in NYC tonight. Maybe next time 🙂