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Taking pictures leaves a smudge on my glasses. Did I get it from the garlic shot, or from the poison ivy?

I’m reading the blogs this morning rather than writing in my own, still catching up after a week and a half of offline distractions. If I collected my various comments on other people’s blogs, would they add up to something I could post here?

Beth’s post on “Stealing the Image” and the comments it garnered have me thinking about self-consciousness – though, looking at my pocket notebook, I see I was already thinking about this first thing in the morning. Pure coincidence (as if there’s any other kind).

“So often,” I wrote, “my writing for the day begins with reflection on the act of writing itself.

“Is this just me, or does the composition of text involve self-reflexivity from the get-go? One translates perception into image, image into sound, sound into object – writing. Before, as speech, even in the mind’s ear, words were embedded in a flow. But on the page or screen they achieve some kind of autonomy – they become knowing witnesses rather than mere participants.

“The writer feels both more powerful and less powerful than the orator: more powerful, because able to employ vastly more arrangements than the mechanics of oral composition and delivery permit; less powerful, because the newly autonomous words turn the scribe into a servant of meanings that now seem continually to elude judgement. The flux is no longer between words but within them.”

In other words, to occupy oneself with written words is to become involved in a sort of infinite regression. Artists and musicians, by contrast, dwell in closer proximity to the origins of consciousness.

Sounds like horse-pokey to me, Dave!

But see, that’s the thing: I may be self-conscious, but I’m also an exhibitionist. I don’t mind letting it all hang out: the warmed-over philosophy, the half-finished poems, the ingrown toenails, the bad teeth. I revel in my imperfection.

“My body may not look like much, but let me tell you: it’s one unbelievable multi-tasker! I get dizzy just thinking about all I get done without thinking.”

I had just written the preceding sentence in my notebook when I bethought myself to stop by Maria’s blog, alembic. There I read this:

Some people collect rare coins. Others, antiques. Me, it seems, I like to keep my body well stocked with autoimmune diseases…

But the comments to that post are closed, so I am left with my mouth hanging open.

“It’s only news if the man bites the dog.” I remember an old story from the Weekly World News in which a collie carried a small child back into a burning building. “I know my dog anywhere I hear him bark,” says the old blues verse. It’s the sound of home, no matter where you are.

“You are waiting for the poodle to stick out its tongue at you and wag a friendly tail,” Maria wrote – though “you” in this context means, of course, “I.”

But the diagnosis says Lupus, “the sharp-toothed stealthy wolf.” (It helps to know that Maria is originally from Romania, which still has a healthy population of wild wolves.) And: “Poetry has turned on me, and maybe the cure, the only effective cure for it is silence.”

“No comment” is still a comment, though, isn’t it? This thing keeps turning back on itself, like a dog chasing its own tail – that wagging monstrosity of domestication that any self-respecting wild canid would long ago have caught and put to a merciful end.

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