The Business of Banshees
It’s been a while. How are you, old buddy?
It hasn’t been “too long,” though, right? I only owe you one post per month. That’s our deal. So: I’m not apologizing for my lack of production. I’m totally meeting my blogging commitments. And who says I’m not producing? I’ve written nearly 100,000 words since I last posted. Each and every one of them as vibrant, purposeful, and engaging as the words you see now. I’m manufacturing words like a banshee. That makes sense, right? Banshees are most known for wailing and writing. I think we should compare everything to the actions of banshees. The phrase isn’t going to become a meaningless generic intensifier on its own, after all. We must work at this.
It occurs to me that when I lobbied for the word “bloggery” to mean “blog post,” and touched on an already established meaning, referring to a whole blog, as if a hatchery, I didn’t think at all about how bloggery might suggest the word “diary.” Dear Bloggery! But I’m not trying to sell blog terminology this time. We’ll have to let it all float around out there fluid-like, as words do in English — or any language — and check back in fifty to one hundred years and see what we have. By then, I suspect the word “BLOG” will refer to any long form writing that’s more than fifty words. Nobody will have the patience to read something that long, though, so it will have fallen out of general usage, except in the sense of criticizing someone when they text something with actual punctuation, going on for two, three, or even four (!) sentences. That will derisively be referred to as a blog. Maybe with a wrinkle of the nose to suggest an unpleasant fart hanging in the air.
Bloggery could also mean the place that blog posts originate from. Like an ovary. That wouldn’t support my original intention, but I like it, too.
It’s a fertile word.
I’m pleased with the words so far in this post, but they seem dishonest, meant to obscure who I really am. I should reveal myself more, maybe by talking about my masturbation habits, or…
Gack! No! TMI! Oversharing!
Or so you say. Some of you. Maybe some of you don’t brandish that destroyer of conversations, “TMI.” But even if you’re not overly sensitive to personal information, perhaps you don’t want to read about masturbation, whether performed by me or anyone.
I understand. Trust me: I’m just as afraid to talk about it as you are to read about it.
Yet we should confront our fears.
Recently, I was interested to learn about Ernest Borgnine’s masturbatory regimen, at Ken Levine’s medical blog:
[…] and now Ernest Borgnine has passed away at 95. He remained robust and sharp pretty much to the very end. A few years ago he was asked the secret of long life and he said he masturbated every day. That sure beats eating healthy and taking vitamins.
You may have reservations about the topic, but this is important health information to consider. Maybe it’s “just enough” information.
It also brings to mind a George Carlin bit, “Losing Things,” where he talks about how some people will say something was stolen rather than admit they lost it, even if it’s something that nobody wants: “Hey! Who stole my collection of used bandages? And they also got away with my nude pictures of Ernest Borgnine!”
That joke has been lodged in my brain for years. However, now I think there’s a risk I’ve shared too much Ernest Borgnine information of a penile nature.
I don’t want to be penal.
But there is more to say about masturbation. In Natalie Goldberg’s book, Writing Down the Bones, she tells us about a writer’s workshop she held in Northern Minnesota:
I gave them the usual pep talk about trusting their own voices and saying what they needed to say. Then we wrote for ten minutes, and went around the circle to read what we had written. People were shaking as they read, not necessarily because they had written anything earth-shattering this first morning, but because it is very naked to put your voice out there for the first time in a group of strangers. People read about their childhoods, their farm, how nervous they were. It was a regular beginning. Then David read in a very loud voice:
Masturbation. Masturbation. Maaaaaaas . . . Ma! Ma! Ma! Ma! Mastur ba ba ba tion tion tion . . .
And so forth. It certainly woke everyone up.
David wrote little else on any other subject for the entire week.
This is good stuff.
It’s from the chapter, “A Large Field to Wander In,” and moving now into non-masturbation territory, Natalie goes on to say:
Often I have had students who were very coherent right from the beginning. They wrote complete sentences, were descriptive, detailed, and grounded. In Minnesota, in the heart of the Midwest, almost everyone could write like this. I heard stories about tornadoes, winters, grandmothers, but after years of that I felt there was nowhere to go in their writing. Because they did write well, they were unwilling to leave what they knew, to break into new frontiers and crack open their world into the unknown. I remember in one Tuesday-night class, the writing was so basically solid and good, I couldn’t shake them. I wanted them to foam at the mouth, become blithering idiots, and wander into unknown fields. At the end of the class, after they were eager to understand and didn’t, and I was eager to shake them and couldn’t, I suddenly stopped and said, “I know what the problem is! None of you have ever taken acid!”
Now, I don’t propose that LSD or psychedelics necessarily make a person a better writer. What I meant was at some point in our lives we have to be crazy, we have to lose control, step out of our ordinary way of seeing, and learn that the world is not the way we think it is, that it isn’t solid, structured, and forever. We are going to die someday, and nothing can control it. Don’t take LSD. Go to the woods alone for three days. […]
Hey. Is that me? Am I one of those grounded Minnesotan writers? Even after doing all that “LDS in the ’60s?”
I’ll have to work harder at achieving incoherence.