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Sunday, June 04, 2006

Poetry

Charles Bukowski worked for the Post Office. He would do his job and come home and drink wine and write poetry. He didn't care much for his day job but he loved staying up late drinking alone, listening to classical music on the radio and typing out poems. His canvas was a white sheet of paper shoved into an old type writer. The demons running around inside his head provided excellent material for his work. He was mad and said so. He wasn't trying to hide it. He was trying to tell someone about it in case someone wanted to help.

Those of us who love Bukowskis work refer to the man as Hank. Hank was a grizzly bear of a man. He loved to drink. He loved women. He hated working. Down at the post office you had to do what you're told. You had to take tests putting letters into slots based on the addresses on the envelopes. There were bad bosses and co-workers to deal with. One day Hanks publisher told him to quit the post office job. They worked out the amount of money needed to support Hanks lifestyle and it was provided by the publisher. It amounted to something like 105 dollars a month for rent, food, booze and cigarettes. At the age of 50 he quit his job and became a professional writer. Within the month he had written his first novel. He wrote several more novels and hundreds of poems. The novels served as background material that helped the reader understand where some of those poems were coming from. At the end of his life there was a body of work that came together and told a story.

I'd like to fashion this blog after people like Bukowski. I'd like to bring up the beatniks. In college they teach science and they teach art. So far it's been the arts that have allowed outsiders to make an impact on society. Bukowski was a postal worker. Kerouac was a vagabond. One thing the best of them all shared was a lack of formal education. They wanted to write so they did. A scientist however will have a hard time in the modern realm of the business. Many physical scientists for example, have a hard time renting the time on an atom smasher to prove their theories. It costs money. Writing a book does not. So what I'm trying to do with this blog is create a place where beatnik thinkers can contemplate the possibilities of the natural world. That's not science of the latest fashion. It's science that applied to people who existed in medieval times. Lacking the ability to smash atoms or look at cells left people with no other options than to dream up possibilities. Imagination was king. As I've mentioned before, marketing is now king in science.

Step away from the kings of science and sketch out a possibility that you've been thinking about for awhile. Go to the local pub and sit at a table by yourself and write a long paper that you won't have to worry about getting published. Invent a start-up company in your head and don't worry about the investors. The business of science is run by people who are the best at getting promoted. The best scientists are probably sitting at lab benches all day wondering about the data they get and how it really happens. They don't believe much of the hype coming out of the labs they work in but they are keenly interested in the experiements. The big time scientists have a story they need to tell and they are only excepting data that helps tell that story. The small time scientists are like poets. They wonder about the world they live in. They just don't know how to get anywhere with their ideas so they hold them in. To the poets of science I say, let it out. Write it down. Start a blog. Start a journal. Seek out other disgruntled workers and use your anger to strike at the status quo. Do something to them that they never did for you. Make them think. Make sure that at the end of your life there is a body of work that people can use.

1 comment:

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