Once, when Chuang Tzu was fishing in the P’u river, the king of Ch’u sent two officials to go and announce to him: “I would like to trouble you with the administration of my realm.”
Chuang Tzu held onto the fishing pole and, without turning his head, said, “I have heard that there is a sacred tortoise in Ch’u that has been dead for three thousand years. The king keeps it wrapped in cloth and boxed, and stores it in the ancestral temple. Now would this tortoise rather be dead and have its bones left behind and honored? Or would it rather be alive and dragging its tail in the mud?”
"It would rather be alive dragging its tail in the mud," said the two officials.
Chuang Tzu said, “Go away! I’ll drag my tail in the mud!”
A great rock and roller has passed away.
Art: Avi Spivak/ Story: Billy Miller
To a great extent, this crisis is about hubris. It seems to me that Europe thought it had made it when the euro was launched, that the European project had entered its final phase or had even been completed. We perhaps felt that economically, politically, socially and even culturally we had reached a higher plane than the rest of the world. While there is much to admire about the European project, this feeling of accomplishment simply covered up the cracks in the architecture of the EU and euro as well as the chasms between its member states. The idea that we had attained convergence was wrong as was the idea that Europe had a divine right to prosperity.Nick Malkoutzis
EW: So what is a professional poet?
JM: All right, a professional poet is somebody who hustles and makes a living from the shit, or who tries to make a living from it. And a living poet is every minute you are a poet, you don’t have to write to be a poet. A shoemaker could be the greatest poet. The way he hammers the nail in the fucking shoe is poetry. The way a woman lifts up her hair, lifts her skirt, a hooker, the way she smiles, that’s poetry. When it’s a living thing, it’s poetry. But these people who are hung up on fucking words and shit, the academic mentality, they’re not poets. They’re jerking off, one hand against the other. So it isn’t what you say, it’s what you do that makes you a poet.
EW: But aren’t there some, what you would call professional poets, who are also living poets?
JM: Right, sure, they study the poems, they read everybody else who comes out. They read in the universities. They get the rich people to back them or the big companies to publish them. But to me they are not saying anything. So they might have good use of language, they may write some interesting poems; but they are not moving it out to the masses, they are not saying anything to the people who are dead, who are the living dead. And the idea of a poet is to wake up the dead, shake up the ones who cannot think, cannot smell, taste, feel or breathe. And so they are not revolutionaries in the sense of trying to shake up the system. They want a piece of the action and they want to be rich and famous and they do not want to shake up anything. They are not revolutionaries. They are not people who are willing to put their life on the line to change the system or to make the world a better place for most people to live in. In other words, they are doing it for the money.
Eddie Woods interview Jack Micheline for Exquisite Corpse.
I did a project to prove that the literary establishment didn’t like me,” author Stewart Home is explaining in a crowded East End pub on a late Saturday afternoon: “I applied seven years in a row for an Arts Council writers award, and didn’t get it. The eighth year I applied, they’d introduced blind submissions and I won, that was my vindication. I had the joy of Salman Rushdie refusing to shake my hand when I got the award.Stewart Home