No creative work is delivered in a ready-to-eat, fresh-out-the-drawer manner. Revision and the slow chipping away of the creative marble is the less-sexy truth behind all great inspirations. Ok, maybe not if you're Kerouac. But I'm not American. Or a dead beat poet.
On Saturday I hid out from the German monsoon season at my kitchen table. To the tune of thunder rolling across the neighbouring buildings, I was able to clear all the paper notes I'd let lie over the past eleven months. Half-finished songs. Untuned stories. And now, for at least one weekend, is everything back in order and ready for the fresh impulse of new summertime projects.
The clearing efforts involved a lot of throwing away. The throwing away efforts included circa 448 failed Basho haikus. Haikus that will never again be seen by any living person. Or any dead person either, I guess. Unless Kerouac is haunting me.
One of the failed haikus struck a chord. It reminded me of a discussion I'd had the night before. I was trying to translate the word "epicurean" into German, and Google translate proffered "Genusssuchtig". Which, literally translated, would be "pleasure-addiction". This riled me. Epicureanism, together with Stoicism, have both offered my life so much. And so much of In Search Of Basho is based on these old philosophies.
It upsets me, that both of these schools of thought have such negative modern connotations. Stoicism does not mean rendering yourself cold-hearted to the beauty of the world. Nor does Epicureanism mean intricating yourself in a massive ice-cream-and-bacon-fuelled sex orgy.
So, in my small attempt to redress the balance, here's that failed haiku. And here's to you, Epicurus:
I am dead; and the
Only poverty I now
Fear is loneliness.
(If you're still there, Mr Kerouac, here's to you also. On the Road was beautiful.)