I’m thinking of something Sharon Olds said in an interview once about how she doesn’t watch TV or read a newspaper. (Or drink coffee or smoke cigarettes.) She wants her writing to be pure, and absolutely accurate. And she noted that perhaps the fact that she doesn’t make herself a very well-informed citizen could mean she doesn’t make a very good artist. She was unsure about the idea. It wasn’t something she recommended. But I hear what she’s saying about accuracy. (And clearly, Sharon Olds is a very good artist.)
I think a lot about what the body has to do with writing. I always complain that I’m jealous of sculptors and glassblowers, welders and such. Because their art has all this weight to it, big machines that move and grind, smells and textures. Protective gear. Writing is just me and my keyboard. And my brain. When I’m exhausted from working, it’s all in my head--I just want to watch some shitty TV--rather than being burned or choking on fumes, or covered in sandstone dust. Which is a strange thing to long for, but there it is.
At the bookstore recently I saw two different books, both remaindered, about spontaneous combustion. The first was by one neurologist and the other was by a team of neurologists. The books studied the phenomenon, and using the vast array of tools available to modern science, the doctors had come up with several different theories on how and why spontaneous combustion occurs. But I kept thinking that the more correct explanation is that: sometimes people just burst into flames.