Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Blue guitar

The Man With the Blue Guitar

The man bent over his guitar, A shearsman of sorts. The day was green.

They said, "You have a blue guitar, You do not play things as they are."

The man replied, "Things as they are Are changed upon the blue guitar."

And they said then, "But play, you must, A tune beyond us, yet ourselves,

A tune upon the blue guitar Of things exactly as they are." -- Wallace Stevens

I always kind of related to that poem. I don't necessarily completely understand it, but I relate to it. Because at times I feel I'm sitting there playing a blue guitar while the world passes by and not a lot of people are pitching coins into my hat. It's as if they don't recognize the tune.

I think I see things clearly. And I hear that beat of the different drum they are always talking about. But it makes me feel so different sometimes. And different isn't always considered a good thing.

Of course, being considered eccentric does help you get away with things, like not ever cleaning my desk at work until things threaten to fall over on me. It allows me the freedom to violate corporate standards and keep odd things around me like the monkey playing cymbals and coconuts (long story).

At one point in my career, when I was a lowly copywriter, I used to have a complete Elvis shrine at my desk and tons of random crap that seemed to gravitate into my cubicle. One day I looked up and an entire middle school class was filing by on a field trip. The person hosting the field trip had made a special trip to my floor just so the class could see my office. As the kids filed by gawking at me like I was a geek in a carnival ready to bite off chicken heads, I had an Epiphany as to why gorillas in cages fling feces at people who stand outside the bars making faces at them. It was all I could do not to stand up a scream in a lisping voice, "I'm a man, not an animal."

But I doubt any of them had ever heard of the Elephant Man.

It's just that, when I was growing up, I caught on to the Catch 22 of being "creative." Teachers were always encouraging us to think out of the box and be creative problem solvers. Great inventors like Thomas Edison and George Washington Carver were always paraded in front of us as examples of what creative thinking could achieve. But damned if the same teachers didn't make us walk around single-file with our arms crossed ready to whack us in the head if we talked without raising our hands. And all hell would break out if you colored outside the lines.

But I learned that people aren't really comfortable with "out of the box" thinking that actually steps outside the box. People like their boxes. This is why they freak out when you don't mow your lawn or make your bed. God forbid if you dance naked on your roof with a dead chicken and a feather duster...not that I've ever done that...more than that one time.

But I digress.

Anyway, I guess I've arrived at a fairly happy medium in my life and can walk the line that allows me to play the blue guitar and occasionally throw in a few standards that people can hum to. It pays the bills and keeps me employed.

But I still refuse to make the bed.


Naughti Biscotti said...

Good God, Tim!!!! My sides are aching from laughing.
I understand this...I even think I understand the blue guitar...and it scares me a little that I undertand it so well.
I have to have my eccentric behaviors to keep order in my life. When I get caught in the monotony of life; going to work doing that which pays the bills...I get edgy, irritable and then frantic. Must...get...out...!!! Then I end up doing something out of the ordinary to feel truly alive. Once I went bungee jumping...another time I jumped into a raging river from out of a tree.
After having children, I've exchanged my adrenline rushes for art.
Please tell me there is nothing wrong with being a bit different.
Haven't danced naked with a dead chicken yet...but am considering incorporating it into my next painting.

Naughti Biscotti said...

I heard, through the grapevine, that there was free chocolate in Dizgraceland. I have not found any...and am feeling a bit deceived.
Although, your blog is like chocolate to, it always lifts my spirit.
I forgot to mention how much I loved the "Blue Boy" painting. A true masterpiece!! Well done!!!

Time said...

If being different was wrong, I would never be right. Sounds like a country song. But no, definitely, embrace your inner originality.

Art is the perfect outlet (though I'm not sure about the dead chicken). I bungee jumped once. It was from a crane over a pit of straw. I figured if I could do that, I could just about face any fear. I almost lost my pants. Where's the dignity in that. Plus my friends called me Dope on a Rope for weeks.

Sorry about the chocolate. I'm in marketing. Remember the lesson of the Sea Monkeys.

And I'm glad your spirits are lifted by my blog. I'd wager that quite a few of us feel that way about your stories and art as well.

Anonymous said...

You know about the little dog found via X-Ray that had been painted over in Blue Boy?

I imagine the critics aiming their verbal blunderbusses at poor ol' Gainsborough: "What on Earth are you thinking old chap? Outrageous! Putting a dog in a picture of a boy - no one else is putting dogs in their portraits. What do you think you are, some sort of French artiste? Out with the dog I say!"

Mrs. R and I have some kitsch to send you.


Time said...

Slacker R, R U now. I vaguely remember something about the dog being erased from the Blue Boy. Maybe he was the Blue Dog that ended up in New Orleans. Kitsch is my life. I used to have this idea about decorating a Kitchen entirely with Kitsch so it would be a Kitsch-en. Tess doesn't share the vision.

Anonymous said...


In a similar vein Mrs. R does not share my affinity for dumpster diving. The compromise is that if anything we own breaks and it is electronic I get to scrap it for parts.

Look but don't dive is the rule in this house. But I can still go to Ham Fests!


Time said...

I'm glad she has stopped you from dumpster diving. I'm assuming a Ham Fest has something to do with Ham radios and not baked pig.

Anonymous said...

Ham Fests are a lot like dumpster diving only without the dumpster and everything costs money.