There must be a tiny, drunk policeman in my brain redirecting traffic around the scene of an accident, because I started off researching the gothic elements in Emily Dickinson’s poetry, but ended up watching the creepy twerkbot in Basement Jaxx’s video, “Never Say Never”. I’m not even giving you the YouTube link, it was one of those kardashian moments that makes you feel dirty.
It was Dickinson’s birthday a couple days ago. I was too busy to commemorate it in any way, except to re-read Poem 435, my favourite, and wonder at the path writing took her down. I don’t know if the slightly disparaging epithet “odd recluse” is fair to her, but she certainly withdrew into her work during her later years. Is that the price of genius? Certainly poets (and writers too) often feel the need to stand apart. It’s like traffic: you don’t appreciate how fast its traveling if you’re in it — stand on the side of the highway, different story. I wonder if she wrote 435 in protest of her growing reputation?
Much Madness is divinest Sense—
To a discerning Eye—
Much Sense—the starkest Madness—
‘Tis the Majority
In this, as All, prevail—
Assent—and you are sane—
Demur—you’re straightway dangerous—
And handled with a Chain—
I don’t think she would have minded being thought of as ‘dangerous’ but the fear of being leashed/controlled/restrained by society or social mores would have tempered the artistic temperament, I guess. Unheimlich. You still have to live in the world, even if you consider yourself to be outside it. I believe Poem 435 was among almost two thousand discovered after her death in 1886. Two thousand unpublished poems. Hard to believe. Finding a decent oration of Poem 435 has proven difficult, but this bloke does a fair job. He’s appropriately hipsterish with the beard and beanie. Have a look.
To my shame, I went straight from that to COPS: Skyrim. Heh! You know, the episode where the Imperial guard handles a complaint from a lady offended because a giant won’t covering up his unmentionables. And well, you know, my afternoon kind of just went like that (snaps fingers) after that …