[lit-ideas] Sunday Twofer

  • From: David Ritchie <profdritchie@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sun, 13 May 2012 11:46:11 -0700

When "off" and "on" blur together, sometimes I wonder whether a well-defined 
job delivering the mail would be a fine thing.  And then I remember Charles 
Bukowski on the subject and my own experiences as a consumer.  For want of 
seven cents recently--there was a rise in price I missed--the post office 
confiscated my letter, held it ten days, returned it to my box.  By this time 
my brother-in-law's birthday was two days away, and since he lives half a world 
away and doesn't "do" e cards there wasn't much possibility that he'd be amused 
or cheered on the right day.  I thought of creating a fuss in my local post 
office, but when I got there a couple were having a loud argument in the 
parking lot, one fit for t.v. (which may have been where they learned the 
moves), and that was enough to put me off.  I paid the missing seven cents; 
they re-sent.  The card arrived in nine more days, which was first class.  
Meanwhile, I ordered some nineteenth century books and an up-to-date, backlit 
reading device.  The first were to come by "media mail," the second was 
regular.  None arrived on time.  My current theory is that our guy leaves 
packages for his relief, allows them to cluster.  Why do all that heavy lifting 
when you have seniority?  Sure enough, these two packages and another all 
arrived on POET'S day, Friday, which is I believe when our guy goes fishing, or 
writes laconic stories.  (Piss Off Early, Tomorrow's Saturday).

An exercise proposed by a candidate for a job teaching writing at our college 
consisted of tearing a hole in a piece of paper to create a window on the 
world, a point of view, a frame for observations.  We were asked to take a few 
minutes then to write what we could see and what we thought about what we could 
see.  Here's me, "My point of view is not still.  When I am god-like and above 
the top of the frame I see stains and smudges on the table, marks, variance in 
value.  These do not mean much to me.  What a crap pen this is.  Now I scrunch 
down.  Another of these crap pens comes into view, or rather the black and 
round end is what I see, also about a quarter of an inch of whiteness.  When I 
really get low, I see Arvie [African-American] eating his lunch from a white, 
ceramic container.  None of this is accidental.  I choose the point of view, 
and in that selection I refuse other possibilities.  So now I wonder about 
connections.  I spy a white slip of paper, a white stain on the table, possibly 
left over from an attempt to use white-out.  Ah, in the distance, yet more 
white.  My points of view and what I see..., it's all really quite white.  He's 
asking us to put our pens down.  No more might for me, or this pen."

David Ritchie,
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