Sharp Objects Falling out of the Sky
On certain Wednesday mornings
Sharp objects from the sky
Come shearing down the sides of clouds
Like spaceships zipping by
And boulders, ashtrays, cutlery
And great meteorites
Come slashing from the heavens
—But clear up by Wednesday nights
When he was young he was swayed by the sea,
and he strayed by the sea and stayed by the sea–
his spirit was formed and was made by the sea–
He knew he would have to succumb to the sea,
to come to the sea and bring some to the sea–
(of his very best valor–and rum–to the sea)–
And when he was older he reigned on the sea;
he was trained on the sea and remained on the sea–
until his affections grew strained on the sea–
that’s when the real Poop hit the Deck!
In a strange little homestead lit by electric light
is a passing builder’s fancy floating in the neon night;
the spirit of the artisan flits by, nocturnal blue,
and shoots the moon by swooping through the ashes in the flue;
she drifts in starry glimmerings beyond the crooked room
where comet dust is settling on the folly of her tomb. O,
let lie the tools of wisdom where your little homestead rises,
and cry Hurrah! for moonlit nights
and foolish enterprises.
When I was teaching, I hated grades and grading. Even more than when I was a student. I understand the desire, even the need, for being able to assess and evaluate and compare and all of that sort of thing, but my idealism would much prefer to believe in a world where people do the very best they can at whatever they are doing and that, all by itself, is grand enough. I know plenty of practical reasons why this fluffy fantasy can’t work 99% of the time in reality but it certainly never affected my intense dislike of the whole quantitative approach, most especially when it had to be applied–as empirically and evenly as possible, of course–by yours truly in some areas that are arguably quite subjective.
So I set up criteria as clearly as I could and identified particulars of skill, technique, fact, synthetic application of knowledge and so forth that I considered worthy of the study, and took what measures I could to insure that all students got equal access to those resources and had the opportunity to learn, incorporate, express and otherwise use them. And I gave out grades. It was my job.
But in that aforementioned reality, my own version of which I quite happily embrace post-teacherhood, I am not bound by any requirement to make or evaluate anything on the basis of comparison with anything remotely real, not even the stuff of other people’s invention and making. And I must say that I do appreciate my freedom. Sometimes there’s simply nothing more satisfying than writing or drawing or otherwise making decidedly unreal, if not impossible, things for the pure fun of it. Maybe it just appeals to the rebellious kid in me. Maybe it tickles my fantastic fancy. Who knows but what a miraculous accident could happen one day and I might invent a magnificently useful Thingummy of some sort.
But that’s not the reason to make these things anyhow, now, is it? What is most pleasing of all about the creation of any object of ridiculous and pointless nothingness is the act itself. It’s a fine thing to make artwork of any kind just because one can, to enjoy the creative process without regard to the outcome’s being anything but entertaining for me, myself and I. Yes, that’s what I like. No grading, no evaluations, no need to worry about whether it’s beautiful or meaningful, let alone realistic, because this is my own reality, my own personal little world.
And you’re welcome in it, as long as you know the only rule is that there are no rules, and the only value assessment I’m after on the occasion is whether I had a good time and got some valuable yet enjoyable practice in the process of creating my little graphite universe or my textual treasury of the moment. Well, there is a second rule: you, too, should feel free to visit my place of creativity without being required to grade anything, including your own experience of the stuff, and free as well to leave without being expected to like or dislike anything. Though I sure do like it when anyone is moved by my selfless acts of ridiculousness and leaving my meaningless soul exposed in public to do the same, without fear of recrimination or evaluation, and with the infinitely happy sense that such silliness is not only permitted but encouraged in this neck of the woods. Have fun, y’all. I am.