The question going around tonight concerns the inevitability of the whistle, the lipped variety, and it’s more simple amazement that we have this kid’s toy right there all the time in front of our noses and just some hairs south. I like to whistle when I’m doing it, critics be damned. There was a woman in the library today, a worker who hummed and whistled the whole afternoon away, and it was really getting to me. When I do it, the whistle is like its on fire, I love to listen to it, there’s no control, just a wondrous ride that may or may not make musical sense but feels sooo right that me, the audience of one, can’t help but be struck dumb, which usually happens in about the third minute of intense same. But those three minutes . . . .
There are crickets here — not the Beelzebub cicadas of Houston, but the little guys I used to fall asleep to as a kid before air conditioning and urban coast life. I’ve landed in a strange but fitting groove here in Trinidad. Am lulled by the crickets and even looking at property just out of town. It’d be just a ten minute drive to Safeway in the heart of the beast and still I’d be back in wild nature. The teaching is the fuel, am feeling almost flush again for the first time in ages, a feeling I had deemed irrelevant for years, until it no longer was. And the crickets are playing no small part. They’re singing Rush City, 1968.
And am now teaching forty young adults, all with great hopes and plans and worries and sometimes awful family histories, how to write. How to think. How to find and express their best ideas. We’re talking about how to organize their ideas and present both them and themselves to a specific audience. Most are headed for traditional trades, or physical education, teaching, nursing, but in some of their writing even at this raw stage, there are promising sparks. So I talk about rhetorical choices, and about how rhetoric, the conforming of expression to various standards, codifies the various strategies a skilled writer might use. So that by learning these strategies they can take control of their thoughts and present them effectively to others. Make callow the soul in this terrible angry time.
But about the humming woman. She’s charming and a fine painter, artist, loose in a world of possibilities. It’s all clay, after all, or pigment for the painting. But she kept repeating one piece over and over and over and over. Many times more. Countless times. Is art the serene repetition of wobbly forms?