(Note: there's a typo at 2:40, where the video-maker types "firm commitments" where it should be "first commitments." Other than that, it's more or less accurate.)
Broke ground on the Darwish / Muhammad Ali piece this morning. Slow work, as expected. Trying to do it with these new contact lenses? Not worth the extra trouble--they're out now, but have left me chemically grumpy, even so. Funny how that works; as my college roommate taught me, once the bad chemicals get into your bloodstream, it takes a while for them to work their way out, no matter what else is happening. (Maybe a run or something would speed that along? Or a rum!)
From the delightful Bemsha Swing, via Mark's blog, this inspiring / intimidating list of "principles":
(1) Be smart [Be brilliant]. It always helps to start out with that basic advantage of being smarter than the next person. What this really means, though, is to work smart. Be intelligent about the way in which you go about doing things. Think things out.What would my five be--and how embarrassing would it be, I wonder, to put them in writing?
(2) Read more. Be the kind of person who has read more than the people in any given room. That's what the 9,000 book of poetry project is really about.
(3) Out work (everyone else).
(4) Stake out (your territory). Define a few areas in which you are a specialist. Within those areas, you want to have a fairly dense, saturated knowledge. You want to have read the Collected Poems, not the Selected Poems. If you are in Graduate school and reading only the works assigned, or only the reading list for an exam, you are probably not going to be very well read.
(5) got prose? Basically, as a critic you are a kind of writer. The writing is not a secondary activity ("writing up" the results of something else) but a primary one. Not every publishing academic writes all that well, so that is a way to set yourself off from the crowd right there. Assuming you have 1-4 covered, you've got to have prose.
For the first time in ages, today, I found myself hankering for a new instrument: a "music tool," as the off-shore posts on ebay sometimes call them. Too many options! A bevvy of beauties in the bouzouki / octave mandolin / cittern category, all of them achingly affordable. If I could get my hands on a few, to get the actual feel of them in my fingertips, the decision would be easy. Staring from afar, they all appeal.
(This new Trinity College Deluxe took me by surprise just now. Drop dead gorgeous--but not more lovely than three or four other options, alas!)
Laura, your comment yesterday (about reviewing) raised an interesting point. I do indeed "enjoy dissent and negotiation, at least at some level, and would feel a bit uncomfortable thinking of yourself as an authority figure whose opinions should never be challenged." Heck, I dissent from myself more often than not! (You should see me trying to decide who's in, who's out in a syllabus.) My Parnassus pieces are almost all arguments with myself about a poet or school of poetry, rather than ex cathedra pronouncements about the art. Hmmm... come to think of it, I quite like reading such pronouncements--but writing them, I'm perpetually haunted by exceptions.
Did someone say "Haunted"? Cue it up, Shane & Sinead: