Review # 72 8/08
Title: The Theory and Practice of Oligarchic Collectivism
What is it? : Book, a collection of short thoughts or comments on different aspects of life by Graywyvern, an author mostly known for his poetry.
Technical Quality: Good looking trade paperback with clear easy-to-read printing.
Innovative Quality: High. Fine black and white cover art is an abstraction by Hileel Memshac. Content is a collection of short comments showing some very sophisticated original thinking expressed in a very poetic way.
In 1670 Blaise Pascal published his now classic book, “Pensees”, (thoughts). It was a 17th century man’s enlightened reflections of his life and the world around him.
That classic work has, in my opinion, now it’s match in this new contemporary, self published book by Graywyvern.
It too is a book of thoughts, 100 pages filled with short paragraphs. Each one encapsulates a single idea, maxim, thought, puzzle, vision or reflection.
The best way to review it is to show selections from it. But before I do some overall reflections of my own.
Some entries are short and give a quick jolt of insight. Others are deeper, more complex thoughts that, for me, required two or more readings. The author uses simple language much of the time but delights in the occasional big words, such as: polyvalent power, quietudinous, eschatology, nexus, siliqua, and from the title, oligarchic – the adjective form of the noun, oligarchy, that means a small group having control of a country or any large group of people.
His comments often include a poetic example or parable to illustrate his point. He often talks of the subject of art with a special emphasis on poems and poets like himself.
Now for some selections. They are not the worst or best; but, just a sampling of those I particularly liked. Or I should say the first 13 short and complete entires and the first 5 excerpts from longer entries that I liked. There are many many more favorites. The book is a mix of about half short entires and half longer entries, the longer ones being about the size of a paragraph. And please remember, I don’t mean to in any way suggest these samples cover all the areas of topics and ideas discussed.
First some short and complete entries:
At the end of his rope is where a poet shines.
The illusion that everything is sayable comes from having dwelt too long among the things that have been said.
More than i want social justice, i want a land where i don’t have to hate.
The more intuitive you are, the spookier your world is. Not more frightening – but more mysterious: & more inhabited.
The child makes the ritual, the child disbelieves the ritual (unmakes it) – two powers denied to normal adults.
I keep struggling against the false belief that to be something not yet defined is to be useless.
I image a brawl in which ten million poets fight to the death for access to the last reader of poetry.
A corporation is not so much a machine for making money, as a device for diffusing responsibility.
Chalk-drawing on the sidewalk is what we are. One good rain & we’re gone.
Is despair like a faith in the impossibility of all efforts?
Ego is a theory of the introvert in isolation, the extravert in conflict.
An artist without a community is a lightning rod without the storm.
Prose is poetry all the air has been let out of.
And here are some excerpts from longer entires:
When i walk down stairs it’s a controlled fall, that i continually interrupt and launch again to sustain the smooth movement of. This, then, might be a provisional definition of mature art – whose labor has disappeared, like scaffolding, and yet it holds to a line of necessity (the unseen stairs of my path) …
… Our definitions are as much forced upon us as the deformations of age, illness, and employment: they are the surfaces where our bodies touch the hook we all writhe upon.
… Mankind’s only concept of civilization seems to be to make the ultimate racket & the inescapable reek.
… I think i value this (keeping a journal) more than the making of art, even if it is less perfect & useless to others. That other is what i make of the flies i catch; this is the very web of my spiderhood.
… Story is older than speech.
And two more favorites (I’d give you more but I would be reprinting not quoting! It’s time for you to follow up and get your copy of the book for more of these gems.)
I read about the lives of artists; i say, “my god, it wasn’t worth it!” Well, the rest had it just as bad, and what did they leave?
Without the touch of another, you walk on air
Overall this book is an instant classic, and one of the best books of our era. And saying anything short of that is false.
Finding something this sophisticated and special is rare. I’m glad I was lucky enough to be one of the first to read and experience this exhilarating and insightful work – a marvelous achievement! And our world should be grateful for this addition to its body of literature.
Overall Grade: 7.99
Grading system: 9-10 Highest grade – Life’s work of a master (ex. Collected plays of Shakespeare, collected symphonies of Beethoven) 8-9 Single best work of a celebrated master’s career. 7-8. Best work of an era or genre or decade. 6-7 Best work of the year. 5-6 Very good. 4-5 More good than bad. 3-4 Average amount of good = amount of bad. 2-3 Mostly bad with some redeeming parts. 1-2 Nothing redeemable. 0-1 So bad it is offensively bad and outrages the reviewere for taking up that time in his life – just awful.
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