Living with the Truth Stranger than Fiction This Is Not About What You Think Milligan and Murphy Making Sense

Wednesday, 21 December 2016


Now What Does this Do?

you never realised
your imagination
had a manual override
nor that it was so effective
and so conveniently placed.

The handbook said nothing
and yet you would have thought
that that would.

29 August 1989
Not quite sure what to say about this one. What puzzles me more is what I said when I showed it to B. because I showed her all my poems at this point.
If he had a choice, lose his libido or his imagination, what would a writer choose? It's a preposterous proposition but for a second or two try to take it seriously. When I first came online I found myself getting into some quite involved e-mail exchanges with no less than three different women and all about poetry. Poetry! I'll say it again: poetry. All my life I'd waited for a woman I could talk about poetry with and here were three and I hadn't even been looking very hard. B. had gone to university to study English but had to quit because of ill health--I still have her copy of The Faber Book of Modern Verse which she gifted me having no further use for it (red flag there)--but I could never really talk to her about poetry. She's read poetry, discussed poetry, written essays on poetry but she'd never written any poetry and that is a gulf to cross.
One of the women I corresponded with in those early days was called Deb and we got on to the subject of the erotocism of poetry which has nothing to do with writing erotic poetry. She was the first person to suggest that what one experienced in the process of writing a poem could be throught of in sexual terms. And why not? Research shows that during ejaculation, men release a cocktail of brain chemicals, including norepinephrine, phenylethylamine, serotonin, oxytocin, vasopressin, nitric oxide and the hormone prolactin. Phenylethylamine is the interesting one because it triggers the release of dopamine which is the brain's reward when we complete or achieve something.
Now I'm no scientist and the research concerning dopamine and its relation to creativity is contradictory but all I can say about the few months surrounding this poem is that I was constantly looking for my next fix. I coudn't write them poems fast enough. Never in my life have I experienced anything like it. Of course there was a price to pay and when I crashed at the end of this I crashed big time: no poems for three years solid and my second major depression but let's not get ahead of ourselves.


vito pasquale said...

When I had the old blog I wrote a series of pieces called Best Remedies For An Overactive Imagination. I often wonder about the source of imagination because it seems apparent that some don't have one at all. It doesn't make one unsuccessful in the world but I believe it does make the day less interesting. I have no doubts as to the source of the libido.

I love the title of this poem.

If I were a writer I'd probably give up the imagination thinking, maybe, who knows? Maybe it will come back?

Jim Murdoch said...

I like to think I'm in touch with the real world, Vito. I like to think that but I suspect it's far from true. I'm not sure I have an overactive imagination but I still have an active one. The problem these days is stretching it. I've been reading through the poems you've been posting and a thought that keeps recurring is, How come I never thought of that? It's so obvious. I don't mean that in a bad way. I think that about a lot of things. Especially portmanteau words like Brangelina and Ennuigi. I love them but I so rarely think to use them. (A rare example is this Sunday's poem.) And they are always so obvious but someone had to be the one to think of them first or at least to do something creative with the thought. Now I can just imagine your brain whirring and the next thing you know you'll have written a poem chock full of novel and witty portmanteau words and I'll think, How come I never thought of that? It's so obvious.

vito pasquale said...

I used to enjoy solving the jumbled word puzzles in the newspaper. Sometimes there would be a word that took quite long to figure out. . . and then once deciphered it would be something so simple that I'd wonder how I didn't see it in a second. I think the hardest jumbles were those that looked almost like real words: TAIRO stumped me today when I tried my hand again after not having done so in many years.
I think I've invented one portmanteau word, somnambulimia. . . a sleepwalking weight loss condition.

I enjoy that I may have thought of the thing that anyone could have but perhaps did not.

The real world, if it's what I suspect it is, is worth avoiding at all costs if one can.

Jim Murdoch said...

It’s been years since I did anything like that, Vito. I was never a huge crossword fan. I did like word searches when they came out but I enjoyed creating them more than I did solving them. I did a Star Trek one once which used every letter in the grid bar the one in the very centre, a Q. That kind of thing tickles me. On the tablet I have a wee game I play where you get a handful of letters—I think I’ve mine set to seventeen tiles at the moment—and a couple of minutes to arrange them as you would on a Scrabble board. I can usually get done in under a minute unless there’re hardly any vowels but I like the speed of the game; you can fit in half a dozen any time. I have other word games and some of them are like word searches but they take so much longer to complete. I hate a game where you ache after you’ve finished. I can’t imagine sitting in front of an Xbox or a PS4 (I think that’s the latest version) for hours on end.

Love ‘somnambulimia’. I was thinking about this yesterday, films like Sharknado. I bet someone sat down and just made up titles until they found one that sounded like it might work and then made a movie to fit.

Ping services