On Jorie Graham: Three Sentences

The writers of Two and a Half Men and the aesthetic disciples of Jorie Graham, while probably unfamiliar with each other’s work, both traffic in the same vocation — namely, as Purveyors of Tedium.

Three possible improvements to the work of Jorie Graham:

  • A Jorie Graham poem with a laugh track.
  • A Jorie Graham poem written in front of a live studio audience.
  • A Jorie Graham poem closed captioned for the hearing impaired.

Jorie Graham’s poems, by virtue of their obscurity, necessarily keep the reader at arm’s length. Practically speaking, this isn’t a problem: the discerning reader will inevitably choose to stand much further away.

The Four Sorts of Personal Conduct (And Their Respective Implications)

To conduct oneself with humility in public while privately harboring notions of one’s own preeminence: this is shrewd.

To celebrate one’s talents publicly, but to question the magnitude of those talents in private: this is the start of a tragedy.

To be convinced of one’s virtues entirely: this is a sign of mental illness.

To doubt one’s worth constantly: this is merely reasonable.

Three Entries from An Enthusiast’s Lexicon

AMBITION (n.) — A trait exhibited by those who, lacking the intellectual dexterity to contend with leisure, instead commit their lives to work.

CONVICTION (n.) — A deeply held belief or principle which, in 15-20 years, one will deny ever having embraced.

WINE (n.) — A fermented beverage which, when consumed in sufficient quantity, equips one to tolerate life.

The 17 Necessary Conditions for a Good Life, According to Martial

In the 47th epigram of his 10th book, first century Roman poet Martial supplies the 17 necessary conditions for a good life, as follow.

  1. Inherited wealth, as opposed to that produced by an actual job.
  2. Some reasonably fertile land.
  3. A working fireplace.
  4. Total avoidance of lawsuits.
  5. An avoidance, almost as total, of business attire.
  6. A calm mind.
  7. Physical health.
  8. Gentlemanly powers.
  9. A sort of artful candor — or perhaps “benign insouciance.”
  10. Likeminded friends.
  11. Agreeable dinner parties.
  12. A simple, functional table.
  13. Nights without anxiety, but also not totally drunken, either.
  14. An active, but not entirely indulgent, sexual life.
  15. Considerable sleep, preferably when it’s dark out.
  16. The desire to be oneself only and nothing more/else.
  17. Neither a fear of, nor a wish for, one’s own death.

Translation courtesy Shackleton Bailey, Christopher Francese, Tom Gardner, A.S. Kline, and the present author’s own mediocre Latin.

Regarding Wine and Poetry, Three Notable Differences

Baudelaire recommends always to be drunk — on wine, for instance, or poetry. I consume much of the former — and would much of the latter, as well, were there more palatable examples of it.

One can become drunk on either wine or poetry, that’s true. The difference, however, is this: few vintners take pleasure in the difficulty with which their product is consumed.

Wine is served at poetry readings with a view to rendering the event more tolerable. Notably, there is not an equal but opposite example of this.