"don't know where I'm heading"

This is the line of introduction to Sofia's latest podcast on être-soi, which I cannot recommend enough. There is so much to be said in response. But to first continue from my last post - there is something to be said for vocal communication, over the written word.
Recently, I have been returning to Plato, and even earlier to Parmenides, and am very intrigued by the combination of the truths packaged in fables that warn against fables. The Parmenides text was meant to be read aloud, so there is repetition in the fragments. I think that repetition is important in writing, too - because our memories are fallible, and it is a great thing to come back, again and again, to what is essential. The vocal component of communication affords aspects that are less apparent in writing: repetition, variations on a theme (how many versions are there of the Cronos myth that Plato warns against!). Everyone should have their chance at telling their own version of a story. This act seems more challenging in writing - this I say after having taught writing for almost 15 years now.
When we write, it seems set in stone. I would say that this is what I regret most about some of my earlier published works. They are the epitome of don't know where I'm heading - yet there they are, my incomplete children. And unlike children, they will not grow in the eyes of those readers who will divorce them from what I will go on to write.
In contrast to this are those writers who have known from the beginning to keep to themselves their weaker poems - like Rilke. He would not publish any poem until he was completely satisfied with it. I consider such souls to be more developed than myself. I consider that I began my life quite far away from where I wish to end up - which means more mistakes along the way. For instance, when I look back at one of my unpublished collections of poetry, I consider it to be the opposite of what I now consider my artistic vision.

 Elements: papers: pugly pixel
needlework: minitoko; lace brushes.

I regret, on some level, that I am not more selfish of the image that I release to the world. It is as if I want to say: yes, I am imperfect, see for yourselves! And then, I have to fight, as a result, for a space called "process", instead of keeping the process inside before releasing something to the world. Is it impatience? I would have said so, before I listened to Sofia's podcast. It reminded me of my first conversation with a woman poet, Clare, in Hong Kong. Before that, all of my writer friends had been male. And before I go any further in this conversation, I would like to say that I have little affinity for "feminist" conversations. And yet! Despite such politics and because of myself, there is something to be said for the difference in approach to male and female writers.
The female approach is one of process. Is it the makings of motherhood? That allow for the stages, because the mother know that the child must first grow before it can become an adult. That the child, despite how many "good stories" (viz. Plato) she tells it to set for it a good example, will still make mistakes. And it is not that she wishes to put the mistakes on a pedestal, rather, she acknowledges, with long-suffering love, that this is part of being human.
It takes a lot of courage, I realise now, to allow space for process. Interestingly, without this space, true, spontaneous inspiration cannot take place. We all know that we are to aspire to live "in the present" - but to do so means accepting those moments when something is "unfinished". It seems that there is a need for these moments to be exposed at this time in history (at least, this is my story - how I would put it), as a response to the overly-planned or controlled contemporary environment. Again, not to idealise this space - it is not finished, it is not the end product - but all of this is summed up in the phrase "don't know where I'm heading". It is the sign of the journey.
But perhaps a more fruitful way to put it would be, "I'm heading for the ideal" - which is to allow for process, but reminds one that there is an ideal to be had. Much of my earlier work had titles that were connected to growth, process, the notion of being under construction. But if I could change that now, I would rewrite it by underlining the ideal, the possibility of goodness, that we do realise ourselves and our lives if we set out on good faith. And yet. If I have arrived where I am now, and wrote what I wrote then, there must be a trace of it in there - to be perceived by those with eyes who can see.
One of my favourite philosophers is Hans-Georg Gadamer. He writes a lot about signs- which can only be perceived by those who believe. He also writes about tessera hospitalis: "a fragment of being that promises to complete and make whole whatever corresponds to it," or, "the symbol is that other fragment that has always been sought in order to complete and make whole our own fragmentary life." This is how I choose to see poetry now, how I choose to see communication. I agree with Plato that some things are best left unsaid, or, to put it in my own words, some things really aren't worth the time of day.
But as for that which is worth our time - and which, in turn, gives our time meaning, it seems that a journey - at least for some of us - is necessary before we can complete the picture. May we take this journey, may it be serendipitous, may we find that true light, and allow it to illuminate us.


Elements: flowers: maybemej; drawn label: minitoko; lace: surfing ant.