Trouble’s Up Side

by baldilocksbaldilocks

I voted. You should, too.

To up your literacy quotient and gain an insight into human nature, read this Kevin Williamson piece:

What I have found most interesting about the recent investigations into [T.S.] Eliot is not the high-minded work of the poet and critic at the height of his powers but the emphatically low-minded verse of his latter years, particularly the erotic poems that have produced so much eye-rolling and squeamishness among certain kinds of low-minded readers. The poems are not very good, but they are interesting companions to the important ones. Many of them detail Eliot’s encounters with the “Tall Girl,” his epithet for Valerie Fletcher, his second wife. She had been a secretary at his office and was, in the inescapable biographers’ cliché, nearly four decades his junior. What he found with her was simple domestic peace, something whose value is most apparent to those who have not known it or, as with Eliot, who had not known it for most of their lives.

Eliot’s life had been an unhappy one: the disastrous first marriage to a mentally ill woman, a job he hated in the subterranean offices of Lloyd’s bank that for all its demanding respectability failed to keep away financial difficulty, his own spiritual crisis and the convulsions of Europe. Like many great men, he also suffered from his own strange cultivation of personal unhappiness — he was, at times, positively creepy, sexually, socially, and otherwise.


But he somehow managed to find himself, in the latter part of his life, writing contented, sentimental, and oddly specific verse about his love life with his second wife.


It is not true that great artists must suffer or that genius is only truly unleashed by unhappiness, though this silly romantic notion is immortal, and Eliot himself may have believed something of the sort. Graham Greene gave us a point of comparison: “In Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love — they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.”

But what if it’s really true that all creativity is merely a mental form of waste elimination–an outlet against harsh realities of life, like the suckitude of living with a crazy spouse? If so, observing that someone is full of poop could become a compliment.

As for the election, I look forward to the wailing and the gnashing of the teeth when the polls close. And that’s the last thing I want to say about it today for a few hours until something funny/horrid/unforeseen happens until I change my mind.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2012. Her second novel will be done in 2016. Follow her on Twitter.

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