October 13, 2016

Ordinary Usage

The quest to discover a definition for "literature" is a road that is much travelled, though the point of arrival, if ever reached, is seldom satisfactory. Most attempted definitions are broad and vague, and they inevitably change over time. In fact, the only thing that is certain about defining literature is that the definition will change. Concepts of what is literature change over time as well.

Ain’t it just like the night to play tricks when you’re tryin' to be so quiet?
We sit here stranded, though we’re all doin’ our best to deny it
And Louise holds a handful of rain, temptin’ you to defy it
Lights flicker from the opposite loft
In this room the heat pipes just cough
The country music station plays soft
But there’s nothing, really nothing to turn off
Just Louise and her lover so entwined
And these visions of Johanna that conquer my mind

Literature, in its broadest sense, is any single body of written works. More restrictively, it is writing considered as an art form, or any single writing deemed to have artistic or intellectual value, often due to deploying language in ways that differ from ordinary usage. Its Latin root literatura/litteratura (derived itself from littera: letter or handwriting) was used to refer to all written accounts, though contemporary definitions extend the term to include texts that are spoken or sung (oral literature). Literature can be classified according to whether it is fiction or non-fiction and whether it is poetry or prose; it can be further distinguished according to major forms such as the novel, short story or drama; and works are often categorized according to historical periods or their adherence to certain aesthetic features or expectations (genre).

Though you might hear laughing, spinning, swinging madly through the sun
It's not aimed at anyone
It's just escaping on the run
And but for the sky there are no fences facing
And if you hear vague traces of skipping reels of rhyme
To your tambourine in time
It's just a ragged clown behind
I wouldn't pay it any mind
It's just a shadow you're seeing that he's chasing

The concept has changed meaning over time: nowadays it can broaden to have non-written verbal art forms, and thus it is difficult to agree on its origin, which can be paired with that of language or writing itself.

They’re selling postcards of the hanging
They’re painting the passports brown
The beauty parlor is filled with sailors
The circus is in town
Here comes the blind commissioner
They’ve got him in a trance
One hand is tied to the tight-rope walker
The other is in his pants
And the riot squad they’re restless
They need somewhere to go
As Lady and I look out tonight
From Desolation Row

The haters on Twitter are all bent out of shape because Bob Dylan just won the Nobel Prize for literature, as if their 147 character indignant temper tantrums come anywhere close to the life work of one of the greatest poets, writers and artist of any generation.

Decade after decade Dylan has used words to crack open our universe in ways we didn’t know were possible. I could careless about awards or whether or not someone deserves one, but to watch people disrespect a body of work from an artist who has always been true to words and language and stories, feels unfair.

The man is a legend and one of my favourite story tellers.

His words have lit a constant path for me. I remember as a child listening to Blowin’ In The Wind with -, to this moment losing myself in a Don’t Think Twice demo. His words are the easiest for me to sing and his voice an echo of my own. I don’t know anything about Nobel and their criteria, but I do know that Bob Dylan deserves any award that values stories.

The day was slow and warm and wet. We went to the waterslide park. Rode a few slides. Swam in the lazy river. Came home to dinner and a movie in the dark.

I am looking forward to seeing how much worse this Trump shitshow can get. Every morning promises a deeper look into the carnival. This campaign is making it difficult to believe in Democracy. I can’t imagine how anyone can take America seriously ever again. It’s hard to parent and/or teach in a world where a man who talks about ten year olds in a sexual manner is not arrested, let alone running to be president.

He can’t be real. This campaign cannot be real. There has to be some kind of Manchurian experiment, where a group of people decided to create the worst person imaginable and see what would happen if they asked a country to take him seriously. This campaign will be a blight on the American consciousness for generations to come.

Sure, we survived Nixon and Reagan and Bush Sr. and Bush Jr, but this is much much worse. This campaign has revealed a puss filled tumor in our collective psyche that has already spread its cancer to places that we won’t fully realize for years to come.

We have sewn our very own Frankenstein. And I won’t lie it is pretty entertaining watching him tear himself apart. But, all monsters become more gruesome as their desperation takes over. Fear turns into anger and anger into destruction. Things are going to get worse before they get better.

God bless America indeed.

Colin Kaepernick might start this week, and although I hate his team, I hope he throws for a 400 yards and 5 touchdowns. Team Trump and all the maggots grovelling at his feet are due for a stiff uppercut, before we enjoy the TKO.

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