I was intrigued by the title of this poem, taken verbatim from a movie of inestimable cinematic value, and since the right bait will catch any fish, or at least make the fish bite, I bit. Despite trying, my experience may go down as more addition to that everlasting question of whether it is the writer or the reader’s fault if a work is not understood.
Persius, the Latin Satirist, affected Obscurity for another Reason; with which however Mr. Cowley is so offended, that writing to one of his Friends, You, says he, tell me, that you do not know whether Persius be a good Poet or no, because you cannot understand him; for which very Reason I affirm that he is not so. —The Spectator (London), No. 379 (May 15, 1712)
While I may not “get it” myself, “Alien vs. Predator” was enough of a success that it has now been published this year in an eponymous collection of the poet’s work. Why, then, do I not comprehend a word of it?
I noticed that a few people have been searching for the phrase, “Dark Triangle Narcissism” on Google and landed upon my nearly-identical short short story. For some reason, I thought a further explanation of what narcissism really is would be in order, this time without the cover of fiction. Perhaps it is because I, and no doubt all people who are not actually narcissists, have personally encountered these immature people in my own day-to-day life. I, for one, grew up with a front-row seat to a particularly vulgar and absurd form of it. Not only that, but in everyday society, at work or play, we run into one of these “problem childs” and either deflect their hostile behavior or suffer by it. From what I have learned by life experience and study of human psychology, one could best divide humanity not of age, sex, or political views, but between the mature and the narcissistic. This is not to say that all narcissists are the same, just because they share distinct characteristics as compared to non-narcissists (i.e., mature adults); rather, there are ranges of how severe their behavior is. I also do not believe that narcissistic personality styles are necessarily permanent in most cases. Immature people, even an older immature person, are nonetheless still capable of maturing further, even if rather later than the normal.
Going Rogue: An American Life by Sarah Palin (Harper Collins, 2009)
Seeing this cover at a library’s second-hand book shop, I found it striking enough to take a closer look at it. Because a book review of such a work as this would be superfluous at this point, I thought I would at least comment on the cover design of the book.
I comment on the cover art because, to start with, covers of books are really a form of art, designed by professionals using photography, graphic design, drawing, etc. As such, I think it would be fair to examine our example here critically. I realize, of course, a cover of a book is not designed to be fine art, but I still hold it is open to criticism to the extent it holds itself out to the public. Remember that
To Judge, and Offend, are distinct offices, and of opposéd natures.
Review of “Say Not What If” by Andrew Friedman (CreateSpace, 2011; originally published in 2007).
“Dear Mr. Bell: I have found a new book of poetry online, and since I know you write verse yourself I thought it might be of some interest to you. The book consists of only one poem, perhaps we should call it an epic poem, a form I thought was extinct at least since Stephen Vincent Benet’s John Brown’s Body. The author describes his work in his marketing “blurb”:
Say Not What If? is a nearly 10,000 word story written as a long rhyming poem. It is about a man on death row, and has as its theme the concept that time is our most valuable commodity. The story has characters and dialogue, and is extremely easy to read and understand, regardless of whether you have a GED or a PHD. No special knowledge of or ability to read poetry is required.
An ideal blog, Half Sigma, has (alas!) been discontinued by its author. Although he has replaced it with a new site, absurdly entitled The Lion of the Blogosphere—perhaps “The Lamb of the Blogosphere” was already taken—the glory days of the old blog are no more.
His was a true blog. It was updated daily with multiple, brief, and very clearly written posts, almost always a logical analysis of the latest news item or pop culture happenings. Without effort, he could cut through any journalist’s superficial explanation of the news. Perhaps this made him cynical, to see selfish motivations and social gaming under every supposed selfless cause and issue. Even the “elite” journalists themselves, he pointed out with real evidence, were really only in their job because of social connections and not talent
Persuasion by Fiction: Some Poems from The New Formalist, Volume IX, Number 1
Looking at the latest published English-language poetry, on several major sites and publications, I found that every last one of them was in free verse. Modern style, no rules—too cool for school. But lately, to my complete surprise, I ran into something called The New Formalist and found a collection of contemporary poetry written in with traditional form, meter, and rhyme.
I would not myself choose the term “formalist”, since it strikes me as a bit pejorative, implying that the default behavior is to be informal—and there is no group I know of that call themselves “informalists” to balance the term out. I fully understand the necessity of these terms since verse today with meter and rhyme (that is, adhering to form) is now the extreme exception and not the rule, and as such, requires apologies, explanations, and prefixes to excuse its non-modernist prosody.
Now, so delighted I am by my findings of this publication, allow me my criticism of these selected poems from the collection:
I had a dream and thought I would relate it to you thus: I first noticed numerous girls and women running in deep consternation, in all directions, from something or someone in the center of a very large room. The room was like the center of a sports area, and the area was rather dark, the roof unseen and unlit, with dim red lights around the edges and exits, but there was a yellowish glow illuminating the scene from the center. Not being affected emotionally myself with whatever was frightening the ladies, I wandered in closer to the edge of the main floor, seeking to get a clearer view of what the hubbub was about. There I looked and saw what at first seemed to be a shocking, harshly-lit thing, not easy on the eyes, and with three points; looking from above, it was shaped exactly like a triangle. As I looked directly at the shape though, with time the light seemed to gradually dim and not be as intimidating; the same thing happened when I looked entirely away: the light troubled my eyes no more, and in fact, helped illuminate the exits of the area, where so many girls were escaping. The light was only on the edges of the shape, and the shape itself was rather dark, as if it attempted to distract others but remain hidden itself. The darkness of the center of the triangle contained no light, as if it were some kind of black hole, which could devour lightness without limit without ever tiring of it, but at the same not produce anything, or be of any other use.