It’s Called a Potoo

January 26, 2014 § 1 Comment

I’ve been told that anyone who makes it their business to be familiar with literature should know the quote by William Wordsworth in which he says that poetry is “the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquillity.”

What a quote. For one thing, it sounds good. In the case of quotes, that trait often overrides the characteristic of having a logical argument. And honestly, I have often felt that what this statement is saying is true. Poetry is like a more convenient form of journal-ling for me. It’s often involuntary. Maybe it is the result of reading a lot of poems when I was younger, or perhaps it is an inherent trait. Whatever the case, reading that line (taken from the Preface to Lyrical Ballads, an anthology of poems by Wordsworth and Coleridge) stirred a sort of poetry-loving-patriotism in me. It really got me. It was like Wordsworth was leaping forward in time, whispering in my ear, and explaining who I was.

It's nothing special. That is the joke.

A poet.

And while I’m not so sure that theory works for every form of art, there’s a pretty good chance that it applies to the highest forms of literature. For instance: Blog posts.

So here’s the spontaneous blog post of a lifetime.

Today I read some of Isaac Asimov’s science fiction novel Foundation. I know what you’re thinking: “What a staggering epic.” “Staggering?” I reply. But I noticed: they never mention Christmas. Preserving the “great” culture of humanity, and you don’t even have a Christmas? Lame.

No green shirts? Yawn.

No green shirts? Yawn.

I mean, come on. The absence of Christmas alone is enough to drag me out of a story and make me realize that what I’m reading is only so much thirst-induced desert mirage material. So much for the willful suspension of disbelief (a term actually coined by Coleridge, ooh look continuity).

Not that including Christmas would be great for every sci fi epic. One slight miscalculation, and you’ll end up recalling every copy of your holiday special as though each one carried a live bomb that would explode the house of any family that popped it into their VCR. 

I'd show you a pic of the actual holiday special, but I don't hate you.

George Lucas has a lot to answer for.

The point is, writing’s hard. And not everyone can do it, no matter what the self help books say. Okay, now I’m going to lunch. I challenge my co-writers to rise to the challenge and compliment my brief but worthwhile post with some thoughts of their own. In closing, this bird exists.



§ One Response to It’s Called a Potoo

  • Caleb says:

    You DARE to insult the literary great that is Isaac Asimov? And not only that, but you DARE to insult his great staple of the science fiction genre that is Foundation?

    We’re through.


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