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To Make Bach the Grund of Grundrisse and the Chaconne of a Shocked Shack

To Make Bach the Grund of Grundrisse and the Chaconne of a Shocked Shack

by David Shapiro on March 15, 2010

Today I thought I should add my secret voice to your evaluations.
Your intelligence may be genius, but remember as my mother said also always be nice.
A seventh grade teacher consoled me when I was teased:
You can always tell the genius by the enemies who surround him.
Try, though it’s impossible. See JA. Make no enemies.
Well, you’ll always have aesthetic enemies just by liking something “they don’t.”
But I’ve noticed even one personal enemy is too much in the tiny circle of Prospero’s Kabbalah.
You impress me and you’re so young, so you have I think one task: Go on! Keep working,
and keep your opinions growing widening and changing.
One day love Chatterton. The next day read Villon.
One month give up to Proust, one year give up to Kafka.
Pound’s big canon is correct: Be curious like a physical scientist (Aggazis for Pound).
Keep your work, throw nothing away, it might be the best you’ll do one day.
Don’t be arrogant with the stupid as I was accused and am.
See the dynamics of politics and art but without getting bitter.
Reject none of the great religions—read and memorize all sacred texts without belief.
Or keep them with you if must for certain periods.
Be interested in all the arts. That includes architecture, dance, painting, sculpture.
Read more than philosophers in philosophy.
But don’t make your poems be a vessel just of abstractions.
Exercise in real life, stay healthy, don’t take drugs, don’t drink like kids.
Read all the old magazines. Find a library that has them.
Know 1952 and 1852 as if they were 2010.
Have together in your mind the value of the concrete particular.
Make your work dazzle but not razzledazzle—make your being elegant and defended.
Read all of Shakespeare and the great commentaries—that doesn’t just mean Uncle Harold necessarily.
Learn languages. Each language is worth 500,000 or more.
When you learn a language, keep it up.
Translate a page every day.
I mean mistranslate a page every day and that will be a religious duty.
Don’t be a Rilke—practicing vulnerability.
Make it your business to read Marx AND Finnegans Wake.
Search out no great men—be a great man.
Don’t let emotional problems destroy you.
Don’t commit suicide obviously, and learn to scorn it but not the victim.
Don’t get married too young and if you have to write love poems, do.
Try writing 20 songs a year.
Try writing short stories. Read Kawabata.
Read everything that Meyer Schapiro footnotes.
Learn to travel and be one “on whom nothing is lost.”
Continue reading James even if others tell you they haven’t.
They will and they will have the subtlest teacher. Therefore,
read William and Henry and their father. Good luck,
David Shapiro in a Polonius-like mood.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Adam Fitzgerald March 15, 2010 at 3:45 am

Alina Gregorian March 15, 2010 at 2:30 pm

When words are places we can live in.

d shapiro March 15, 2010 at 5:42 pm

This was a fast note, it has no business being read, excuse me,
Red Clay takes the blame. How humiliating to be Polonius
how public like a cloud, to give advice the livelong eve
to the front page of the NY crowd.

I thought I heard on an ad: Never give up your dream of being fake!

Glenn Gould said he had no advice to give, but finally he said he
had learned Mozart when a vacuum cleaner was on–therefore respect the value of the negative. Schumann gave advice for young musicians. One I listened to. Tap everything like a window and listen and
determine what its pitch is: ABor C. Keep a log of the life-threatening
advice and idiocy of every Polonius in your path. Avoid Freud
until you drown in his prudence.

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