02 August 2010

charles bukowski, "more argument"

Rilke, she said, don't you love
no, I said, he bores me,
poets bore me, they are shits, snails, snippets of
dust in a cheap wind.
Lorca, she said, how about Lorca?
Lorca was good when he was good. he knew how to
sing, but the only reason you like him
is because he was murdered.
Shelley, then, she said, how about Shelley?
didn't he drown in a rowboat?
then how about the lovers? I forget their names...
the two Frenchmen, one killed the
o great, I said, now tell me about
Oscar Wilde.
a great man, she said.
he was clever, I said, but you believe in all these things
for the wrong reason.
Van Gogh, then, she said.
there you go, I said, there you go again.
what do you mean?
I mean that what the other painters of the time said was true:
he was an average painter.
how do you know?
I know because I paid $ 10 to go in and see some of his
paintings. I saw that he was interesting,
honorable, but not great.
how can you say, she asked, all these things about all these people?
you mean, why don't I agree with you?
for a man who is almost starving to death, you talk like some
god-damned sage!
but, I said, haven't all your heroes starved?
but this is different; you dislike everything I like.
no, I said, I just don't like the way you
like them.
I'm leaving, she said.
I could have lied to you, I said, like most
you mean men lie to me?
yes, to get at what you think is holy.
you mean, it's not holy?
I don't know, but I won't lie
to make it work.
be damned with you then, she said.
good night, I said.
she really slammed that door.
I got up and turned on the radio.
there was some pianist playing that same work by
Grieg. nothing changed. nothing
ever changed.

this poem makes me think of a discussion about literature i had with a friend of mine the other day. we talked about things we liked and disliked about different writers and movements (there was a lot of "i like his poetry more" on my side). at one point he said that there aren't many good women writers ("skirts," the bastard said), and before i could object i realized that my book collection is almost completely devoid of works by women. i know that there are good women writers - zadie smith, katherine mansfield, flannery o'conner, anne sexton - but i rarely read their works unless it's in some sort of collection (edna st. vincent millay seems to be the exception). when it comes to standalone works of fiction and poetry, men win. now i'm wondering - when searching for a book, do i instantly breeze past the sarahs and carols and marys for the ernests and arthurs and roberts? have i been subconsciously sexist this entire time? it makes me kind of sad. most of my favorite creators of any kind of art are men. is this because of numbers - there being no shortage of men making art - or because i am prejudiced in some way against the art women produce? or is it just folly? i'm not sure.

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