Tuesday, February 07, 2006

If Emily Dickinson had a Blog...

If Emily Dickinson had a blog...

If after six months (or one year, five years, ten years), she realized that her blog attracted no readers (or one reader, five readers, ten readers), would she continue to blog her poems?

27 repartee:

Anonymous Holly wrote...

No. She would sew them into little books and leave them in a trunk to be discovered after her death. She would have little respect for blogging frogs who need the attention of an admire bog and blog.

But she's more spiritually developed than I am, and I still want an audience.

2/07/2006 10:15 AM  
Anonymous Holly wrote...

Oops--make that "an admiring bog."

that's what happens when you don't preview your comment before you post it: horrifying typos.

2/07/2006 12:01 PM  
Blogger frankengirl wrote...

Holly - Ha! Blogging frogs!

I’m certainly no expert, but I do believe Emily Dickinson desired "fame" and personally, I find it very strange that some would think she did not have such a human longing! :)

Truly, who in their right mind does not long for recognition (an appreciative audience) of their work?

She writes poems about fame several times (yes, sometimes mocking fame), but clearly, fame is on her mind. We have a tendency to create a mysterious (and saintly) aura about Emily, but I suspect she must have felt a great deal of heartache that her poems did not reach “the world.”

I believe she and her sister-in-law dug all of her poems out of "her trunk” one-day and scoured through them to send a select few to the publisher. The publisher rejected Dickinson and this could not have been happy news for her.



Btw, Holly, congratulations on your publication in Poetry International (how nice to be in such close proximity to a poet laureate)!

As for Emily, I highly recommend to anyone and everyone: THE BELLE OF AMHERST which stars Julie Harris and is on DVD. Emily even offers a few recipes in this lovely two-act play.

Words from Emily herself:

“Fame is a bee.
It has a song --
It has a sting --
Ah, too, it has a wing.”


A wing, Emily? Hmmm… I might like to fly a bit.

2/07/2006 12:19 PM  
Anonymous Holly wrote...

Thanks for the "Belle of Amherst" recommendation--I just found it on Netflix and moved it to the top of my queue.

I agree with you that Emily had to be concerned about seeing that SOMEONE read her work--literature is not just about creativity, but conversation: we want to be in conversation with the works and artists who speak to us. It's important to hear and be heard.

2/07/2006 1:26 PM  
Blogger mysticgypsy wrote...

"literature is not just about creativity, but conversation: we want to be in conversation with the works and artists who speak to us. It's important to hear and be heard."

I couldn't agree more, Holly :)

2/07/2006 3:17 PM  
Blogger frankengirl wrote...

Thanks for contributing to this conversation, mysticgypsy - :)

No playwright writes to inspire an empty theatre; no actor rehearses to entertain vacant seats.

2/07/2006 3:43 PM  
Blogger actonbell wrote...

I just wanted to say that this was an excellent topic! Very interesting.

2/07/2006 8:32 PM  
Blogger Golgotha_Tramp wrote...

Surely everyone want to be heard in one way or another. People want to find a mentor or a pupil, someone to aspire to or someone to adore them. I must say I feel touched when someone praises my work especially if they are someone who's work I admire and respect.

2/08/2006 4:04 AM  
Blogger frankengirl wrote...

Thanks, actonbell! Emily Dickinson is a symbol of willpower to me. I believe she longed desperately for publication. She was encouraged early on by a publisher, but he never committed to her.

btw, this post started in response to the word “fame” on Holly’s meme. I desired clarification. For me, the word "fame" conjures up images of Britney Spears or Jessica Simpson, not the playwrights (ah, Wendy Wasserstein, how I miss thee!), poets, singer-songwriters, novelists, etc. whom I truly treasure. But if it were not for a bit of "fame," I might not have known many of my favorite artists!

So, not only are artists at the “mercy” of this-thing-called-fame, so are we, the audience. Fame seems a sort of give-and-take. How much do we, the audience, “give out” fame by devouring up stories of “famous” people?

Ah, it’s early - need caffeine!!! :D

2/08/2006 7:40 AM  
Blogger frankengirl wrote...

Golgotha - I think you echo perfectly the natural human desire to be appreciated for our contributions - and I don't mean solely so-called "lofty" art, but our daily creativity in solving a difficult issue, comforting a lonely person, etc.

You bring up a really important relationship - the mentor/pupil - which can be truly influential and transforming in a person's life.

btw, some of the best two-character plays revolve around a mentor/student because this kind of connection is so rich with possibilities!

2/08/2006 7:43 AM  
Blogger mysticgypsy wrote...

"some of the best two-character plays revolve around a mentor/student because this kind of connection is so rich with possibilities! "

well said Frankengir.
However, where (and how) does one draw the line between a professional relationship and a romantic one?
(I am intrigued by this question primarily in reference to Charlotte Bronte's novels)

2/08/2006 7:53 AM  
Blogger Golgotha_Tramp wrote...

Mysticgypsy - I agree with you totally, all too many times I have developed feelings of desire about teachers / tutors who nurture and praise my ability. I must say I put this down to being 'drunk' with praise.

2/08/2006 8:06 AM  
Anonymous Holly wrote...

btw, this post started in response to the word “fame” on Holly’s meme. I desired clarification. For me, the word "fame" conjures up images of Britney Spears or Jessica Simpson, not the playwrights (ah, Wendy Wasserstein, how I miss thee!), poets, singer-songwriters, novelists, etc. whom I truly treasure. But if it were not for a bit of "fame," I might not have known many of my favorite artists!

fame to me has to do with recognition of one's artistic worth and with commercial and critical success. I suppose I should have been more accurate and written that I was afraid of "never finding contracts for the two books I've already written, and never managing to write any more books; and, if my books ARE published, having them remaindered before they utterly disappear."

The fact of the matter is, I never want to be so famous that I can't walk down the street in pretty thorough anonymity. I just want people to buy and appreciate my books.

2/08/2006 8:38 AM  
Blogger UltimateWriter wrote...

i think she would continue...whatever force from within compelled her to write would have her continue blogging...blog on!

2/08/2006 9:03 AM  
Blogger frankengirl wrote...

Holly, I think it’s gutsy and great that you bring up fame on your meme. Many don’t admit to the desire, even suppress the desire, and I really wished to explore fame further because it’s a fascinating issue. So thanks for the clarification - :)

I agree with Ursula Le Guin who says (in better words that this): Without a reader, a novel is just words on paper.*

Yet, in my experience, heavy-duty fame often requires a certain amount of compromise, and I haven’t always been willing to compromise.

* sorry I don't have exact quote handy!

2/08/2006 9:21 AM  
Blogger frankengirl wrote...

UltimateWriter - lol! Thanks for the encouragement to Emily and all other “Emily”s in the world!!!

2/08/2006 9:23 AM  
Blogger frankengirl wrote...

Here's the Ursula Le Guin quote:

“The unread story is not a story; it is little black marks on wood pulp. The reader, reading it, makes it live: a live thing, a story.”

Well, I'm not sure I agree entirely (unless the writer is also allowed to be the reader). Still, I love the quote - and thought you might, too. :)

2/08/2006 9:47 AM  
Blogger Golgotha_Tramp wrote...

It is a lovely quote, i do agree with you though that the writer should be included as not everything I write I want to display to others but I find the act of writing it down very therapeutic.

2/08/2006 10:23 AM  
Blogger frankengirl wrote...

mysticgypsy & Golgotha! - I feel like your comments deserve an entire entry devoted to them and I’m very tempted to ask you both to write something up about it to post! But that sounds like I’m handing out homework. So instead, I’ll respond completely incoherently:

I find there many fascinating elements of the mentor/student relationship, and YOU both strike at the heart of one of them – romance (or an infatuation, a crush, a devotion) – because the mentor/pupil relationship can be an intimate one. An ethical mentor (IMO) would not allow this to lead to any sexual behavior – until the pupil has “graduated” the mentorship. (A harmless crush, however, can be good for the soul, hehe!)

But mentors have egos and weaknesses, clearly, and both sides can feed into each other. The mentor may enjoy the devotion of the pupil as much as the pupil enjoys the attention of the mentor. Artists can feel that their art IS their true essence, and so when someone nurtures and admires their art, they can feel that they themselves are being loved, admired, nurtured. Lines blur.

Another line that blurs sometimes is the question of who is teaching who. The pupil may move beyond the teacher, and egos/competition may be stirred.

And Yes! Charlotte Bronte not only had a real-life mentor/student relationship, but she also used them in her novels as well. The Professor, Villette and I would even say Jane Eyre as well (the older, worldly man and the young naïve girl). Still, Jane teaches Rochester a thing or two, eh? And again, that’s why these relationships are so rich for drama.

Ah…I don’t think I’m doing your comments any real justice - ;)

2/08/2006 10:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous wrote...

Oh, I really like Emily Dickinson. I find this topic very interesting. I think she must have liked the concept of fame, but deep down she simply was too shy/reserved to approach it. She couldn't stop her flow of creativity so she kept on writing, perhaps hoping one day she would gather up the courage to get her poems published.

Cristina.

2/08/2006 12:00 PM  
Blogger frankengirl wrote...

All of your intelligent comments have led me to post again! But where the devil is the sidebar? Ah, alas, perhaps it felt it was no more than little black marks and faded away... ;)

2/08/2006 12:01 PM  
Blogger mysticgypsy wrote...

Hi Frankengirl
I think you brought up very interesting ideas about domination and need in assessing mentor/student relationships. Regarding the idea about how art becomes the essence of a person, I wonder why then a relationship with a person should exist. Would not imagination fully suffice? Then do we only "love" someone else because they are "moving" objects of art? Where does art end and the "person" begins? or are they one and the same? If so, how do we draw the lines between selfishness and love? Does love even exist?

On the other hand, there is also the danger(!?) of dependence on the mentor (or student)in such a relationship (or any other relationship). I always wonder if this is a good or bad thing.

As for Charlotte Bronte, the mentor/student relationsip appears in all of her novels, and even some (if not all) of her juvenilia.:)

2/08/2006 5:15 PM  
Blogger frankengirl wrote...

mysticgypsy - :) So when are you going to give me an easy question?!

"Regarding the idea about how art becomes the essence of a person, I wonder why then a relationship with a person should exist. Would not imagination fully suffice?"

I believe creativity is stimulated by relationships (of all kinds) and we are all teachers/all students, giving-and-taking. I suspect our imagination would become stagnant if our thoughts only revolved about themselves. People are mirrors and windows, showing us new reflections of ourselves and opening new views of the world for us. And as artists, if we lose touch with people, we lose touch with those we hope to stir with our art.

"Then do we only "love" someone else because they are "moving" objects of art? Where does art end and the "person" begins? or are they one and the same? If so, how do we draw the lines between selfishness and love? Does love even exist?"

I won't answer if love exists! I need cliff notes to answer your questions - :P I do think we confuse art with the person and person with the art. Take Cary Grant. Many confuse him with the character he played and this became a joke for him. He used to say: "Everyone wants to be Cary Grant. Even I want to be Cary Grant." And I remember when I discovered that Bing Crosby beat his children, I just couldn't watch a Bing Crosby film, because I'm mixing the art with the person. As for selfishness, yes, that's a really good question. Sometimes the give/take is off-balance, but hopefully, it's corrected (which may mean breaking away).

"On the other hand, there is also the danger(!?) of dependence on the mentor (or student)in such a relationship (or any other relationship). I always wonder if this is a good or bad thing."

Yes, I think you're right to bring up the danger of dependency! Eventually, the student must move away from the mentor or the student may stunt their own growth; become a mimic of the mentor rather than a unique voice in the world. But separation leads to drama (sometimes one is ready and the other, not).

As always, you know, these are just random thoughts, so take or leave them as you will. ;)

2/08/2006 6:53 PM  
Blogger frankengirl wrote...

mysticgypsy - p.s. Have you read Charlotte Bronte's juvenilia? If so, what do you think of it?!

2/09/2006 1:30 PM  
Blogger mysticgypsy wrote...

Hi Frankengirl
Thank you for your responses to my questions :)

I have indeed read some of Charlotte Bronte's juvenilia. I think they are such funny, splendid tales that bring out her vivid imaginative tendencies. In "Adventures at Verropolis", there is Lady Zenobia (or Zelzia) Ellrington who is a tutor-like figure to one of the male characters. The theme of education and tutelage is central to a lot of these tales (at least from what I have read so far..)

btw, what are your own thoughts on them, if you've read them?

Also, is there any spell or potion that could reverse the curse of the mysterious gnome so that you can still roam the valleys of the blogosphere everyday without being kidnapped by naked reality's knights?

2/09/2006 4:37 PM  
Blogger frankengirl wrote...

mysticgypsy – No, I haven't read CB's juvenilia. Perhaps (similar to our discussion of Wide Sargasso Sea on your blog) I tend to avoid the early work in fear of interference with my love affair with Jane Eyre! Also, I don't believe it's easy to come by, but I'll have to seek it out now!

"Also, is there any spell or potion that could reverse the curse of the mysterious gnome so that you can still roam the valleys of the blogosphere everyday without being kidnapped by naked reality's knights?"

Hehe! You've a vivid imagination! You have me being kidnapped! And by knights! I hope they have good manners, these knights of yours. And if they're going to steal me away, they had better make intelligent conversation, or else, let me pack books (so I don't get bored on the journey). If I do discover a spell, I'll let you know, but Reality has such a relentless determination to it! Still, there's next week to look forward to, and I hope to see you there! :D

2/09/2006 7:15 PM  
Blogger spo0nman wrote...

SUCCESS is counted sweetest
By those who ne’er succeed.
To comprehend a nectar
Requires sorest need.

5/21/2006 2:18 AM  

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