THE SANE FACE OF INSANITY: THE INSANE SCHOOL OF POETRY, PART II

Robert Lowell: ‘I’m a Poem!’ versus ‘I’m a Lowell!’

The worst sort of insanity, as we all know, is insanity that wears a suit and puts on a sane, reasonable face—and wins over the public.  This is the worst insanity of all.

The New Critics were a perfect example, in poetry, of insanity masking itself as sanity, with an impotent philosophical approach; New Criticism was well-received precisely because it was impotent; it finally meant nothing even as it said a lot; New Criticism was flighty and malleable—which is the worst thing a good philosophy should be.

The New Critics made pronouncements that were nothing but truisms, such as: the proof of poetic worth is in the poem, not in the poet’s biography, not in the poet’s intent, and not in any perceived emotional impact on the reader, and these led to critical debates as to which part in the signifying chain should we look at, after all, and back and forth, and blah blah blah.  It wasn’t an argument or a philosophy that finally mattered; it was merely arguing for its own sake that mattered; the critical faculty was replaced by distractions: hair-splitting by academic suits.

The philosophy which defines poetic worth, a noble enterprise in any age, was replaced by revolutionaries of the will whose agenda was simple: explode poetic worth in the name of a sly, personal ambition.

This is why Robert Lowell,  whose claim to fame was that he was a Lowell, adorned himself with the “only the poem matters” New Critics, from the moment his shrink (Merrill Moore, one of the Fugitive/New Critics!) sent him to Vanderbilt to study with John Crowe Ransom and Allen Tate.

The New Critical Sybil was all Vanderbilt men, Rhodes scholars, initially self-published in their short-lived magazine, The Fugitive, briefly Far Right Southern Agrarians, Writing Program Era founders (one of the Fugitive group awarded Iowa’s Paul Engle his Yale Younger prize) textbook authors, and respectable, suit-wearing supporters of Ezra Pound’s bearded, swear-fest revolution, abetted by the Anglican version of the New Critics, tweedy T.S. Eliot, follower of insane, but primly dressed, Jules Laforgue.

Warren and Brooks’ Understanding Poetry, the successful New Critics’ textbook, blanketing high schools and colleges in multiple editions from the 1930s to the 1970s,  singled out for high praise two poems of insignificant worth, two mediocre Western imitations of haiku, Williams’ “Red Wheel Barrow” and Pound’s “At A Station At the Metro,” while punishing “Ulalume” by Poe in a vicious send-up by creepy Aldous Huxley.  There is nothing more hateful to insanity than to see itself transformed into measured art.  Insanity prefers, in every instance, to be itself: nonsensical, unfinished, random, ego-ravaged, mean.   If we understand how it all goes down, it makes perfect sense that Williams and Pound, privileged members of Allen Tate’s cabal, were honored in a textbook for poems best characterized under the heading, drivel, by the “only the poem matters” New Critics.  We can hear Williams’ howls of protest—I do not abide these right-wing formalists!—as he is honored (the Dial prize, for instance) by his friends.

The test is: are you afraid of the well-made poem, or not?

We all know the protests:

Bu-bu-bu the well-made poem is too much like a song!

Bu-bu-bu the well-made poem makes me feel too self-conscious!

Bu-bu-bu the well-made poem isn’t the language of real speech!

The protests—we’ve heard them for a hundred years—are by now well-known, and the dirty little secret, of course, is this: failures to write a well-made poem have been turned into virtues by the suits of Modernism’s haiku, finger-painting, “revolution.”

It is important to distinguish the insane poet from insane poetry.   We made a brief list, merely to amuse ourselves, in our “Insane School of Poetry” post, of sane and insane poets—and we do feel that Philip Larkin, in his poetry, is sanely, in good faith, attempting to communicate with us, while John Ashbery, in his poetry, is insanely not communicating with us, but again, this all happens, finally, in the poetry, as a matter of course, and even the insane have lucid moments, and the sane write millions of insane poems every day, and when we say something is “insanely good,” we do mean it is very, very good.

The insane poet, the Blake who saw visions, the (falsely accused) drunken Poe, the psychotically deranged Rimbaud, the stoned and smirking Ginsberg, the McLean mental hospital patient Lowell, Plath or Sexton—all these biographical issues should not distract the critic.  Let us, as the reviled by the New Critics’ Edgar Poe did, patiently and honestly review the well-made poem.

The insanity of the Robert Lowell is a subtle thing.  Forget the electroshock therapy sessions, the manic episodes. We can see it in a Paris Review interview in 1961.

The 25 year-old Frederick Seidel, who was graduating from Harvard when Lowell was stuck in McLean’s, was the interviewer. (A year later, Lowell awarded Seidel a prize for his first book, a prize rescinded by the sponsors, who deemed Seidel’s book anti-Semitic. Lowell resigned in protest.)

Seidel sets the scene back in that year of 1961: “On one wall of Mr. Lowell’s study was a large portrait of Ezra Pound…on another wall…James Russell Lowell looked down…where his great-grandnephew sat and answered questions.”

As he talks to young Seidel under the big picture of Pound, Lowell sounds eminently sane.

What are you teaching now?

I’m teaching one of these poetry-writing classes and a course…called Practical Criticism. It’s a course I teach every year, but the material changes. It could be anything from Russian short stories to Baudelaire, a study of the New Critics, or just fiction.

No surprise Lowell taught the New Critics.  But who would have a large picture of Ezra Pound in their study?

Robert Lowell, that’s who.  Here, in this interview, is Lowell on Pound:

[Pound] had no political effect whatsoever and was quite eccentric and impractical. Pound’s social credit, his fascism, all these various things, were a tremendous gain to him; he’d be a very Parnassian poet without them. Even if they’re bad beliefs—and some were bad, some weren’t, and some were just terrible, of course—they made him more human and more to do with life, more to do with the times. They served him. Taking what interested him in these things gave a kind of realism and life to his poetry that it wouldn’t have had otherwise.

Is this ‘head in the sand’ denial, or what?  Pound was a criminal, but he was “eccentric and impractical,” so let’s excuse him.  He “had no political effect whatsoever.”  Whatsoever?  Really?  It sounds like Lowell is protesting too much.  Yet, here from the lips of Robert Lowell, is the literary establishment view of Pound: “terrible beliefs,” but they “made him more human,” “more to do with the times,” “they “served him,” “gave a kind of realism and life to his poetry.” Modernism operates like a daily rag: if you are “more to do with the times,” you are golden.

The distinguished Robert Lowell’s message is:

Stick to the poetry, which, because of Pound’s realism, merits a Bollingen Prize (which I awarded him).  Ignore the “terrible beliefs.”

Get it?  Focus on (the poetry’s) “realism.”  Yet ignore the “terrible beliefs.”

Here’s the insanity in a nutshell: Modern art and poetry (such as Pound’s) because of its “realism,” exists in a realm apart and cannot be judged by the standards of—“realism!”

When “realism” is a very important thing, why then should the art of poetic form interest you?   Lowell’s opinion of Pound, the man, cannot help but influence Lowell’s aesthetics.

…I began to have a certain disrespect for the tight forms.  If you could make it easier by adding syllables, why not? And then when I was writing Life Studies, [in the 50s, Lowell of the 40s was more of a formalist–ed.] a good number of the poems were started in a very strict meter, and I found that, more than the rhymes, the regular beat was what I didn’t want. I have a long poem in there about my father, called “Commander Lowell,” which actually is largely in couplets, but I originally wrote perfectly strict four-foot couplets. Well, with that form it’s hard not to have echoes of Marvell. That regularity just seemed to ruin the honesty of sentiment, and became rhetorical; it said, “I’m a poem”—though it was a great help when I was revising having this original skeleton. I could keep the couplets where I wanted them and drop them where I didn’t; there’d be a form to come back to.

The poem, “Commander Lowell,” is where Lowell takes potshots at his dad’s personal life.  Lowell puts his finger on why prose eclipsed poetry: “That regularity just seemed to ruin the honesty of the sentiment, and became rhetorical; it said, ‘I’m a poem.'”  Lowell’s writing became more “raw” and less “cooked” (even as he was being “cooked” at McLean hospital) as he grew older (“disrespect for tight forms”) and Lowell’s transition was aped by the country, in the grip of the Writing Program Era, as the 20th century advanced. The horror of “I’m a poem” became more and more acute.

And the interview continues:

Had you originally intended to handle all that material in prose?

Yes.

If Lowell’s subject matter demanded a prose handling, why didn’t Lowell just write prose?  Why did Lowell make his personal issue with “tight forms” into an aesthetic decree?  Lowell’s Creative Writing students, such as Plath, (and the country in general) were excited by the taboo subjects explored by Lowell’s “confessional” manner.  But “confessing” is a funny way to teach writing.  It seems to come back to the “realism” of Pound, doesn’t it?  And again, we see the contradiction of the New Critics, and how their “The poem is what matters” was a kind of shield for Lowell, and a clever way to advance poetry into a truly psychotic realm.

First, with the help of the New Critics, establish that “the Poem” exists as a pure, separate (and sacred) thing, understood only by (Writing) professors.  Second, with the help of Robert Lowell, the New Critics’ Frankenstein monster, make “realism” and “confessing” and “telling personal secrets” really important.  What’s this going to do to poetry?  Think about it for a minute.  Combine these two elements and you will get poetry that is prosy, arrogant, difficult, tortured, and self-indulgent.  Bingo.  That’s exactly what happened.  True, “Howl” (1956) had already happened.  Lowell was following as much as leading, but the point remains the same.

John Dewey’s “experience” finally triumphs over everything.  The term “experience”—which can mean anything and everything—finally steamrolls over art.  Lowell was the perfect messenger for this madness.  Sane, yet mad himself, successful, up to a point, in writing formal poetry, but gradually going over to the other side, mentored by the New Critics, a famous superstar professor in the new Creative Writing Program era spreading across the country, Lowell was at the center of the whole ugly experiment.  Listen how sane the ‘seesawing’ Lowell sounds, asking for a  “breakthrough back into life,” a meaningless, hollow appeal:

I found it got awfully tedious working out transitions and putting in things that didn’t seem very important but were necessary to the prose continuity. Also, I found it hard to revise. Cutting it down into small bits, I could work on it much more carefully and make fast transitions. But there’s another point about this mysterious business of prose and poetry, form and content, and the reasons for breaking forms. I don’t think there’s any very satisfactory answer. I seesaw back and forth between something highly metrical and something highly free; there isn’t any one way to write. But it seems to me we’ve gotten into a sort of Alexandrian age. Poets of my generation and particularly younger ones have gotten terribly proficient at these forms. They write a very musical, difficult poem with tremendous skill, perhaps there’s never been such skill. Yet the writing seems divorced from culture somehow. It’s become too much something specialized that can’t handle much experience. It’s become a craft, purely a craft, and there must be some breakthrough back into life. Prose is in many ways better off than poetry. It’s quite hard to think of a young poet who has the vitality, say of Salinger or Saul Bellow. …I couldn’t get my experience into tight metrical forms.

In Life Studies Part III, Lowell writes odes to four mentors: Hart Crane, Delmore Schwartz, George Santayana, and Ford Madox Ford. Ford worked for the War Propaganda Office during World War One; Ford met Pound off the boat when the latter traveled to England to make a name for himself in poetry, and Ford later joined the New Critics in America to start the Creative Writing Program Era—with Robert Lowell’s help. Santayana taught T.S. Eliot and Wallace Stevens at Harvard.  Lowell, with Life Studies, is clearly positioning himself within the High Modernist pedigree.

A pedigree of mediocre poetry turning off the public, madness, and cunning personal ambition.

10 Comments

  1. October 16, 2013 at 2:21 am

    I wonder what you’ll all think of this “mock pastoral elegy” I’ve referred to several times. I wrote the first 20 lines of it in high school, then took it with me to college. I showed it to a boy in the house who was way ahead of most of us. He said he had an I.Q. of “160 at least,” and I didn’t doubt it. Anyway, he read the 20 lines (roughly, my “invocation to the Muse”), smiled faintly, and said, “It’s doggerel.” A few weeks later, the boy made a reference to “your mock pastoral elegy.” I said, “I thought you weren’t very impressed by it.” He said, “I was impressed that you were trying.” In 1980 I wrote 106 more lines, thus completing the poem. I showed it my friend again, and he was not uncomplimentary. Here it is in its entirety.

    “Estelle, A Mock Pastoral Elegy.”

    By David Bittner

    A crown of laurel ‘pon my head?
    The image doth disturb the dead
    Revered laureate bards.
    Scattered o’er crypt floors are the shards
    Of urns rock’t off their shelves by flustered ashes.
    The crashes
    Of the crockery
    Remind me of the mockery
    I do commit, I, so inept,
    Around whose doorpost the ivy’s never crept.
    But, O, sad words must I now spate,
    Th’obsequies for Estelle of late.
    And as to burial is the hearse,
    Is not the vehicle of verse
    To fond commemoration?
    So at risk of rousing indignation,
    I plaint the dire news.
    Only thy help, Muse,
    I do first hopef’lly ask:
    Guide my artless hand in the task!
    O, tender of Demeter’s orchard,
    Keep this verse from rhymes too tortured.
    Estelle an elegy doth merit
    As polished as the multi-carat
    Jewel she bore ‘pon crook’t end digit.
    Let comely verse grace her now woef’lly rigid!

    For we were members of the self-same clan,
    And knew each other as well as distant kinsmen can.
    At frequent rendez-vous in the big city,
    She gathered with us, who sang the rural ditty.
    And when, as rarely happ’t, she’d ford the Rock,
    It meant a raucous time for all the flock.
    We puzzled oft for hours late and long
    How old Eugenius could stand to hear her song!

    But, O, how grieved are we now she is gone.
    Nature’s grief doth fill both hearth and lawn.
    The dog looks ’round and is not fed,
    For his mistress now lies woef’lly dead.
    The cat, who needs a change of litter,
    Wonders why Estelle has quit her.
    And see the garden flora sorrow
    That Estelle won’t nurture them tomorrow.
    Ye lovely phlox, ye creeping vine,
    How much the tragedy is thine.
    Ye know that ‘tween these climes and Hellas
    None better can train you to the trellis.
    So droop, ye daisy, wither, ye rose;
    For night, eternal , tulip, do thy petals close.
    Hark! The lilies of the valley toll
    For Stell’s most blessed, gentle soul!

    Where were ye, nymphs, when deepest water
    Closed o’er the head of Stell, your daughter?
    Were ye so absorbed in cards and Ouija
    Ye could not hear her cry, “I needja!”
    Yet, e’en had ye been by the pool,
    Could ye have ever changed fate cruel?
    What foolishness, what wishful thinking
    To suppose ye could have stopped Stell’s sinking!

    Now, gather, nymphs and friends of Stell,
    And listen to the tale I tell.
    In Hades starts our jeremiad,
    For there doth dwell the witchly triad.
    O, Clotho, thou who spinns’t the thread,
    Of justice art thou not oft said
    To be the constant patron?
    Why then this soggy death for our dear matron?
    And thou, Lachesis, why hadst thy measure
    To stop as Stella took her natant pleasure?
    Of all water imagery in poetry found,
    Can any give dignity to one so drowned?
    Finally, Atropos, who sealed the action,
    Of compassion owns’t thou not a fraction?
    Madame Defarge paid more attention to the dead
    Than thou, who snipp’t as cross the pool Stell tread.
    So spin, measure, cut, ye sisters–
    May ye get blisters on your blisters!

    What ho! What ho! Who now appear
    To cast an eye on Stella’s bier?
    ‘Tis Neptune, Camus, and Pilot of the Galilean Lake,
    Come with morbid enquiries to make.
    What awful accident befell,
    They want to know, our dear Estelle?
    First Nature’s delegate doth speak:
    “Word reached me on th’Olympic peak
    That snuff’t was our dear matron’s life.
    Was’t homicide–the wicked thrust of knife?
    Was Stell by sword split fore to aft?
    Or did she drink some poisoned draught?
    Next Culture’s consul doth enquire,
    “By what means did th’esthete expire?
    I loved to hear ‘mid all the voices
    Her own bant’ring about such choicies
    As “L’Etranger” and other volumes quite as slim.
    If level one was trouble, level three was not so dim.
    Now Religion’s voice, the Pilot, cries:
    What caused our Esther’s sad demise?
    As o’er Kinnereth’s Lake I soar,
    Her gifts to Zion I shan’t forget, nor
    Shall I e’er omit to say
    The prayers on her memorial day.

    Now return ye, Sicilian Muse,
    And kindly bid him stop who strews
    The vernal flowers on yon bier.
    We’ll observe no such obsequies here!
    Nay, deck Estelle’s plain wooden coffin
    With no such posies as might soften
    The pain of brother Esau’s mourning,
    But hearken rather to this warning:
    More dear to brother Jacob’s heart
    Are gifts to the physician’s art.

    But enough! To upward climes let’s soar,
    Amd meet Estelle at Heaven’s door.
    Ah, there to Michael she reports
    To learn her hours on the shuffleboard courts.
    Hark! The sainted Enoch sings
    As Stell is fitted with her wings
    And escorted down pearl-studded road
    To her own new cumulus abode.
    Yes, sing, ye angels and ye saints,
    ‘Tis yours, the business of such plaints
    As these, which signalize life’s end,
    And receipt of bless’t celestial dividend.
    Such joy has not been seen on high
    Since Perseus heard Andromed’s cry
    And slew the wretched beast off Jaffa’s shore.
    Now all have reason to rejoice once more!

    FINIS

  2. October 16, 2013 at 3:44 am

    In case anyone needs help with some of my references, here are a few paragraphs of explanation.

    Like serious pastoral elegies, “Estelle” contains formulaic elements which appear in the poem in the following order: an invocation to the Muse, in which the author confesses his unworthiness to be writing in such an exalted form and begs the Muse to confer more talent upon him; a representation of the sorrow of Nature; a complaint about the nymphs’ absence while the lamented one was dying; an expression of resentment against the cruel fate which has brought the dead one to his (or her) untimely end; a procession of those (representing Nature, Culture, and Religion) who come to ask the cause of the disaster; a command to deck the bier with garlands, and an expression of reassurance and consolation based on the thought that the departed is now living in another world.
    “Estelle” contains a few twists on some of these elements. It uses the same three persons to inquire about the tragedy that “Lycidus” does– Nature’s Neptune, Culture’s Camus, and Relgion’s Pilot of the Galilean Lake. But Camus, the River Cam (with the Latin inflection, “us”) in “Lycidus,” becomes in “Estelle” the French philosopher Camus, whose popular novel, “The Stranger,” Estelle has read for her book discussion group; and the Pilot of the Galilean Lake, St. Peter in “Lycidus,” becomes an Israeli fighter pilot in “Estelle.” (“Kinnereth” is the Hebrew name for the Sea of Galilee.) Also, since Estelle was of Jewish faith, the command to deck the bier with garlands in “Lycidus” becomes in “Estelle” a command not to deck the bier with any flowers.
    There are only a few attempts in “Estelle” to parody specific lines of “Lycidus.” “For we were nursed upon the self-same hill” in “Lycidus” becomes in “Estelle,” “For we were members of the self-same clan.” “Meanwhile the rural ditties were not mute” becomes “She gathered with us, who sang the rural dity.” And “Old Damoetus loved to hear our song” becomes “We puzzled oft for hours late and long how old Eugenius [Estelle’s late husband was named Eugene] could stand to hear her song.”
    Also, the same Sicilian Muse who “bids the vales to purple all the ground with vernal flowers” in “Lycidus” is called upon in “Estelle” to forbid the “strewing of vernal flowers” on Estelle’s bier; and “the hungry sheep who look up and are not fed” in the part of “Lycidus” dealing with the Pilot of the Galilean Lake becomes, in Nature’s lament for Estelle, “The hungry dog looks up and is not fed.” But then the point of “Estelle” is not to make fun of “Lycidus” or Milton but to make gentle fun of Estelle by making her the subject of a pastoral elegy, a fate incongruous with her simplicity.
    Estelle is sometimes for the sake of rhyme or rhythm called “Stella” or “Stell.” Milton often called Lycidus “Lycid” in his poem, and if it was good enough for him, it is good enough for me. The Pilot of the Galilean Lake also calls our heroine “Esther,” which was her name before she changed it to “Estelle.”
    The reference to the “Rock” that Estelle “fords” is to the Rock River, which flows through Rockford, Illinois, which is 90 miles due west of Chicago, Estelle’s home. The rock to which Greek myth says Andromeda was chained as a sacrifice to Neptune and from which Perseus rescued her is located in Jaffa Harbor.

  3. thomasbrady said,

    October 16, 2013 at 2:08 pm

    David,

    “Estelle” is top-rate. Beautiful, with touches of humor; and the most delicate music in verse I have ever read.

    Congratulations.

    Touching lines like this:

    The dog looks ’round and is not fed,
    For his mistress now lies woef’lly dead.

    This is stunning in its lovely pathos.

    Your ear and your heart for poetry are sublime.

    Tom

    • October 22, 2013 at 8:54 pm

      Dear Tom, I was just kidding about deserving that accolade by Magnus Hirschfeld. Actually, in writing “Estelle,” I was just hoping to achieve the effect Emmeline Grangerford does in “The Ode to Stephen Dowling Bots.” So I think your tongue-in-cheek praise for “Estelle”–“This is stunning in its lovely pathos”–is really pretty funny and would do equally well as a compliment for the ambulance-chasing Emmeline. It also reminds me of an old Peanuts cartoon. Lucy and Linus are looking at the entertainment section of the newspaper, tring to decide on a movie to see. Lucy says, “This sounds like a good movie, ‘I was a teen-age war-monger.'” Then she says, “Or, how about this one, ‘I was a teen-age camel-driver'”? She asks Linus, “Which one would you like to see?” Linus says, “I don’t know… It’s difficult to make a decision when you have a choice between two such obviously fine pictures.” I remember Clifton Fadiman’s comment on Huck’s taste when Huck says something like this about Emmeline: “If she could write a poem like that, there’s no telling how good she might have done when she grew up.” Fadiman says, “Huck can’t tell it’s just trash.” Well, please remember, I did say it was only supposed to be a “mock” pastoral elegy! And, true, I did use one of the most common rhymes in poetry, “water” and “daughter,” too, “but you must admit I avoided “arms” and “charms,” another oldie, and tell me, have you ever seen “Hellas” and “trellis” used as rhyming words? All for now! Yours, David

      • thomasbrady said,

        October 23, 2013 at 11:43 am

        David,

        I was sincere in my praise. The verse is high quality, the mixture of pathos and mockery is pulled off remarkably well.

        Tom

  4. thomasbrady said,

    October 16, 2013 at 2:14 pm

    I just love this:

    And as to burial is the hearse,
    Is not the vehicle of verse
    To fond commemoration?

    • October 16, 2013 at 11:11 pm

      Well, thank you, Tom! I’m reminded of Magnus Hirschfeld’s compliments to one of his patients. He told her, “You dream as others sculpt and paint!” Yours, David

  5. October 17, 2013 at 12:13 am

    Dear Tom, If you liked “Estelle,” I wonder what you will think of my favorite line among all those I’ve ever written. I used it as the opening line of my 12th-grade English term paper on “Gulliver’s Travels.” My thesis was that “The Voyage to Laputa,” the floating island in the sky where the scientists did all their unnecessary, speculative experimentation, was “relevant” [the big catch word of the late ’60s] to contemporary society. Some 20th-century critics said that “The Voyage to Laputa” was out of touch with the modern-day, prevalent “scientific outlook.” I simply adduced some evidence that some of us still think things like going to the moon are a silly, expensive waste. And now, with a flourish and a drum-roll, the line. …”Not even during his voyage to Lilliput does Lemuel Gulliver run into wind so unfavorable as that which he encounters in practically any critical discussion of his voyage to Laputa.” Good night! David P.S. I may want this as the epitaph on my gravestone some day. I wonder, did Ogden Nash make good on his intention to have his gravestone say, “Candy is dandy,/ but liquor is quicker”?

  6. Diane Roberts Powell said,

    October 23, 2013 at 1:26 am

    When I read Lowell’s comment about Pound, I was reminded of Ginsberg’s inane (or insane) comment about Burroughs’ murder of his wife. (He had shot her in the head supposedly during a “game” of William Tell). During the documentary, Burroughs kept yelling, “Shoot the bitch!” To which, Ginsberg replied that the shooting had opened something up within him (Satan?) and had made Burroughs a better writer.
    I’m including a very funny link to an Esquire article about Pound and the Tea Party.

    http://www.esquire.com/the-side/richardson-report/tea-party-movement-history-021610

    • thomasbrady said,

      October 23, 2013 at 12:51 pm

      Diane,

      Interesting.

      Yes, Plato was right: art and literature is a problem, just as making a good society is.

      How do we aspire to philosophy and keep down the tyrants and thugs and creeps—while at the same time promoting freedom and healthy competition?

      Society demands a certain amount of order and civility to merely function.

      Art, literature, and entertainment does not have the same built-in necessity. It can just be totally creepy, all the time, whenever it wants. In fact, since people are naturally curious, the creepy tends to triumph in art and literature and entertainment.

      We lie down with the creepy. That’s our fate.

      Tom


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