Je pense, donc je blague

“Sister on South Padre,” oil on canvas, 16 x 20 in. (JMN 2022)

When I’m tempted to post something here with greater frequency than usual, I ask myself: Am I in thrall to a voracious craving for plaudits? Am I a prelapsarian Ozymandias? An attention-seeking missile? Look what I’ve thought — done! — made! — seen! BOOM!

A remnant of my freshman swoon over all things French rears its head. It’s the aphorism clung to by chaise-longue cartesians of my ilk: Je pense, donc je suis. Cogito, ergo sum. I think, therefore I am.

I couldn’t make it through the title of this post without stooping to japery. I intended to write “Je pense, donc je blogue” (“I Think, Therefore I Blog”), but “… Therefore I Jest” forced its way out. (Monsieur Allard, French guru at Trinity, stuffed our heads with essential slang.) Perhaps I couldn’t keep a straight face at the reach for loftiness.

Reading about poet Sharon Olds, I learned something I had forgotten: Don’t assume writing that expresses joy or anguish is confessional. Her interviewer, Sam Anderson, writes of the canonical stance to maintain: “‘I’ is a character, like any other — maybe especially when it seems to be telling the truth.”

… It’s paper and pen. It’s not a person. It’s a speaker’s vision of a person.

(Sharon Olds)

I must remember this when reading a certain Spanish blogger whose work I admire. Also, by the way, Olds gives me insight into why I blog.

The act of writing itself, she insists, is fun — a physical discipline that sits somewhere between drawing and dancing.

(Sam Anderson)

Olds describes herself as “kind of a fussbudget,” and the bulk of her writing never reaches the public. Her finished books tend to be slim, but “carry inside them, hidden like dark matter, the gravity of all the unpublished writing that helped make them possible.”

(Sam Anderson, “Sex, Death, Family: Sharon Olds Is Still Shockingly Intimate,” New York Times, 10-14-22)

(c) 2022 JMN — EthicalDative. All rights reserved

About JMN

I live in Texas and devote much of my time to easel painting on an amateur basis. I stream a lot of music, mostly jazz, throughout the day. I like to read and memorize poetry.
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2 Responses to Je pense, donc je blague

  1. Your ‘blague’ keeps raising interesting new ideas for me to think about! Keep them coming! And I love your painting too.

    Liked by 1 person

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