Wednesday, April 2, 2014


Reading the Iliad took most of my cancer days. I was at war.

The Iliad is a big book, and I dabbled with multiple translations. I was after more than the story. I wanted to triangulate the whole mess, chart it from different angles to know it better, understand the distance between Homer and me.

What I really needed was a project. I took ill just before getting my second Masters in the Humanities, and basically for as long as I can remember I'd been at work on literary projects. At any one time I was grappling with philosophy, theory and literature, structuring an argument and turning it into prose, while also crafting verse, developing an art that seemed to tap into what was at the very center of who I was.

It's a sense-making act of incredible power to write. Even -- no, especially -- to write a paper. I think that's why most people hate it. By "power" I don't mean power over the world. More like power to keep the world at bay. Not that it's escapism, pure and simple. Art is too connected to life. But for me, papers and poems were both places to bring chaos into order. Playfully, at times ironically, because the order you make always puts you in touch with the chaos outside. You always see chaos winking through.

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