Feb 18, 2010
Which bird is the poet?
(reminder: you can enlarge any photo on Banjo52 by clicking on it)
Constantly Risking Absurdity by Lawrence Ferlinghetti
On the Valentine's Day visitor comments here, Paula spoke apologetically about reading Ferlinghetti; in fact, she was so ashamed that she's changed her icon to a duck. So I'm offering a Ferlinghetti poem that deserves our respect (except for the superfluous, grandiose last two words).
I've mentioned a couple of times a similarity I see between poets and stand-up comics, so why not Charlie Chaplin too? For some reason, "a little charliechaplin man" teetering high on a rope has stuck with me as one of the perfect images for almost every kind of performer, from symphony, jazz, and bluegrass musicians to stand-up comics to acrobats, looking to catch Beauty as their world understands it.
And this month, why not see Olympic athletes like Shaun White in the same light, in the "empty air," spread-eagled for an audience that might secretly be as thrilled about a dramatic fall as they are for the successful execution of a trick.
"Copy that, Danno" for race car drivers and their audiences?
I also like Ferlinghetti's implication, as I hear it in "a little charleychaplin man," that if the poet fails, if he falls or lets Beauty drop, embarrassment will be as awful as injury or death. You can't be a bumbler; you've imposed upon yourself various "sleight-of-foot" requirements so that you look good as you take each step toward "taut truth" and Beauty. After all, any peasant could catch her in a big basket. That's not a performance; that's not art and deserves no audience. That's just staying alive, eating potatoes, paying the rent. We all do that for awhile.