Her Favorite Critics

She checked out Wuthering Heights from the library because she just couldn’t make herself labor through trying to read Jane Austen any longer. For all the hoopla so many make about her, she really wishes she could make herself — read some of it — but it just isn’t in her good sense and sensibilities to bother with. She typed in to her browser, “why do people like Jane Austen so much” and the only thing that made any sense was a comment following a raving post about her that said “if she was writing in these times, she would be writing for General Hospital.” It wasn’t that she even got that much out of whatever she was able to read because all she got out of it was a similarly draining convoluted narrative like reading the book of Genesis in the Bible — just too many begets — begets for Jane being all the convoluted lines of relations of who knows who knows who or which of them might be married or intended or hopefully intended and far too many words in that doing — no economy whatsoever it seemed — seeming to take forever to get to any weight. Now, the Bronte sisters, they look a little more promising — at least the introduction by Charlotte in the second edition of the publication of Emily’s book where she is disclosing how the publishing of it came about in the first place — even that was more compelling than Jane Austen. 

So, what she figured by the popularity of Jane and the comment revealing what she might have discovered if she’d been able to endure, people want common. They want General Hospital or a romance novel like what they might find at a checkout counter before boarding a plane — most people — and any that don’t are rarer to find and certainly probably not sufficient to make a living on and why so many might write things that are common.

“I watched a movie about Jackson Pollack and you know what? When he finally got to a point in his tortured life of painting where others thought, ‘now there’s an artist’, he didn’t want to paint anymore because everybody from that point on wanted him to spit them out like he was a machine or something. The doing lost all of its value and any meaning for him as an artist.”

She had just read something she’d written to one of her favorite critics — a friend, an old boyfriend, who wrote a story with her once upon a time. Actually he wrote it and she expanded upon it because he gave up to easily, letting the story of a little Christmas tree end by the poor little tree lying in a ditch somewhere. She had wanted the little Christmas tree to have a better ending than that so took what he had written and enlarged upon it — taking the little tree to a recycling facility and back up to his forest family and friends. He loved what she wrote — not quite at first because at first it hurt his feelings some — and that silly little story became their child, something that kept them together, at least on a string, for many years thereafter, even until now — “When are you ever going to finish The Little Christmas Tree and send it off to a publisher?” he’d ask on just about every occasion he used it as an excuse to call her.

Anyway, he loved the way she wrote even when he couldn’t understand the meaning, so she decided to read Floating Dress Dancing to him to see what his reaction was since not one single person bothered to read it and it had been like a Jackson Pollock moment to her — a moment when you finally get something out of yourself that you’ve wanted to get out and it comes out just the way you want it to and even though you love it, no one else gets it. He didn’t get it either but still said he loved the way it sounded. “There’s something in there and I want to know. And even though I don’t understand it, I love the way it sounds and the way the words make you think about other things.” That was enough — actually what she wanted. She told him the story behind it. He understood it more but what she really wanted was for him to understand why no one getting it or liking it should matter anyway.

“You know how you love to sing and would be a singer writing and singing music if you could make yourself do the difficult work of pushing through the artistic barriers but you don’t care if anyone hears it or not, you just have to do it because it is a thing inside you wanting out? Well, that was Jackson Pollock but he pushed through the barriers and arrived to where he saw a thing and knew that it was good. I want to push through those barriers,” she said and hoped she could whether anyone ever got her or not. She just wanted to know that she could do it — get to a place where the getting to is felt in all it’s magical measure. She was hoping though that the getting there wouldn’t have her wanting to end it all like Jackson Pollock did.

“Yeah, I understand,” he said. “Do you want me to sing the latest things I’ve written?” he asked.

She let him sing — over the phone.

“You’re my pillar,” he said. “You’ll always be my pillar. Do you know what I mean when I say that you are my pillar?” He went on to explain. They were still connected by some kind of string but The Little Christmas Tree still wasn’t published. Maybe it never would be.

Wuthering Heights




Drew For Picasso

The days were shortenings already and she was wanting to stay up late again for reasons of bad habit – and even though it was denser and more clingy, the air seemed more able to effectively exchange evaporating thoughts for ones that lingered. There was something in the language it was laced with — particles of something from another world that could make their way to hers and find themselves able to ease through skull and any possibly resistant soft tissue inside to finally reach the kind of cells capable of conjugating meaning. From a synapse to a manifest dictation, words could then form stories. It was a sultry time she didn’t want to miss much of even though she had to be aware of and like melancholy – which she did –  she could easily find value in sadness and it was all just right for napping. Orange skies make napping easy. And even though bad habit and the loud complaining of aching joints were stealing some of the profit of sleep, napping was another thief but one that could leave a good exchange if it happened to.

It might just be though that the other world was saying a thing that once permeated and processed through her, could only manifest as a language replete with meaning she could find. None the less, she was able and willing and fully immersed and enjoying a hope that it could separate herself from herself for better knowing — failure that it might be for anyone else to render — her own foreign language.

She could remember watching a movie of Picasso drawing behind a transparent easel and having no idea where he was going but watching him scribble the vision only he was aware of until it was complete. It poured out of him with no interruption or flounder as if by the hand of GOD himself — pure magic in all of its absolute and linear simplicity. He didn’t lift his hand once from the invisible canvas — not that she witnessed. And debated as his artful language might have been, it was no less a kind of miracle.

She believed that there was a thing that could be captured if one was wanting and receptive. Though it might seem that it could only be a commission from higher being, it was more likely that it was another of the things that reside in difficult margins of existence, available to all rather than given.

Ethereal beings might be the ones who know and this is the time of year that they seem more willing to be found for asking. This is a good time to find the memories of gone friends, sisters and childhood. The time for sensing the smell of newly sharpened pencils.

It might be a day like today that just before twilight she and her sister would have walked or ridden their bikes up to the school to check the window for the lists of issued classes. They could barely wait to know what friends they’d be with when school soon started or if they got the nice or mean teacher — a kind of anticipation only known in youth — like Halloween.

And thinking of pumpkins, she must think of her gone but still beloved little red-haired dog who she got cans of it for mashing with her food — the goal being to offer her the bulk that she demanded without quite so many fattening calories and it also added nutrients for saving her longer. She tried to grow it and managed to get a few but it was one of those difficult things in living that a can can simplify.

Pumpkins are fun to grow. Little red-haired doggies too. It might be time to get another little being to get under foot. Would she live long enough to see it through? Maybe ethereal beings know that too but also know it would be best if she finds out for herself. She’ll keep from asking though she would like to speak with her sister again.

“Knock, knock. Are you out there somewhere near me sissy? I’m sure you are beautiful in your ethereal being.”

The melancholy that accompanies the leaving of Summer and coming of Fall is less troubling than a broken bone so she reminds herself to fall into a nap if it presents itself and not rue its thief of time any more than Winter. Everything is fodder for a story and opportunity for something.

It is written that Jane Austen may have remained single because she feared the space marriage and motherhood would have taken from any that she wanted for writing. She was paid pittance for publishing rights while she was living and not much more otherwise but more is known of what she spoke of its benefits to her soul than to her economy of living.

“It’s still August,” she thinks, why are pumpkins already in stores? Why is everyone in such a hurry to get further along in time — it zips by as it is, why rush it?” She remembers there is money to be made and the early bird is the one that gets the worm. She continues to remember how wonderful it is to have the freedom to choose whether she should compete or be happy. It is not everyone that has that luxury and certainly not many other than landed gentry in Jane’s era. It won’t be long no matter how many years the ethereal beings know that she has before she will be one of them. It will seem like a split second upon arrival. And that’s okay, because what she has figured out is that there is wealth available to mine in every split second and wasting any of them for anything other than something good is to mock the hand that drew for Picasso.


Jane Austen's Era