Tuesday, May 18, 2010
One man Wolfe pack
Yes, I purposely spelled Wolfe wrong, do you want to know why? Because I am in the midst of burrowing through Thomas Wolfe's "Look Homeward Angel." My verbal stutterings are his toddler talk- by the time this incredible man was an adolescent, he had created an entire world for his mind, a musty, earthy safe haven where he retired with his treasures, his aching heart, his desired isolation. For those of you who have not tiptoed through the words of Wolfe, I am going to force you to go pick up a copy at the library immediately through this series of down on my hands and knees praises that I throw back at history, back to the late 1930s when Wolfe tragically passed-- apparently, there's been a lack of Wolfe throw back, a ceasing to his greasing the hands of eager readers with slick pages-- he was so famous during his lifetime, writing monumental works (this book, 507 pages) that encouraged little boys of his generation to flourish into manhood with pencil in hand (that doesn't at all sound like a phallic reference, now does it?) Let me introduce you to the desert breeze of Wolfey prose, let me woo you with his words- personally, I love him for the literary slap he admonishes on my mind. Whenever I get lost in the steamy sauna of thoughts that literally roll across the Sahara of my brain, I read a few sentences of Wolfe and am immediately smacked back into place. I challenge each of us to try to write as he does--
"As the flame shot roaring up from the oiled pine sticks, and he felt teh fire-full chimney throat tremble, he recovered joy. He brought back teh width of teh desert; the vast yellow serpent of the river, alluvial with the mined accretions of the continent; the rich vision of laden ships, mastered above the seawalls, the world-nostalgic ships, bearing about them the filtered and concentrated odors of teh earth, teh sensual negroid rum and molasses, tar, ripening guacas, bananas, tangerines, pineapples in the warm holds of tropical boats..."
His descriptions need description; the commonalities of life are jigsawed down into slivers of shadowy reality. To write as he rolls, to sow the words of the earth like a garden to his crop...inspiration.
To be inspired, how does that touch you? Deep, obviously. Intimately, passionately- it should seize you in a way beyond breath, a way that lifts your breasts past your chest and your shoulders skywards- how many times has inspiration really hit home? Last year, I listened to this rapper, Emmanuel Jal, one of the Lost Boy of Sudan who performed for one of Nelson Mandela's last birthdays- his energy yanked me from gravity, and the images he created with his voice had me swearing I would leave for Africa in a month. I don't think it's wrong, necessarily, that inspiration has to leave, sooner or later. I can't remember every person who's filled my head with blinding truth, every performer who got me mimicking their moves in the hallways. But, that's part of the beauty, the fleeting nature of raw, soul-cleansing awe. We feel that connection, that passion, for an instant small, and then it washes above our heads, rips through our ribs and passes onto the next innocent bystander. We are witnesses to the greatness- and then, when that empty place aches during duller days, we look for something new to fill it. Read a book, sing a song- watch GLEE! (on right now, being recorded) Challenge: Find the small inspirations and squeeze them to their pulp, rattle them until their seeds shake free. It's always the time to inhale a little passion.