People seem to have advice for all possible occasions; and most of them come in the form of DO NOT. When we were kids these included: do not touch hot hobs or do not cross the road by yourself. Then they moved on to things a tad less innocent: do not do drugs or do not sleep with strangers comes to mind as absolute classics. Even now that we’re adults and (I’ve heard) responsible adults on top of that, advice still get thrown at us, uninvited. Do not risk losing your job. Do not live on microwave meals. Do not spend all your money on fun trinkets. Do not do this, and do not do that. And here I am with yet another one – do not read poetic prose.
What odd advice it is!
You see, life comes in all sizes and shapes. Some events change us immediately; they are bold and loud and warn us about the inevitable transformation we have to go through in a process. Some slowly trickle down in a controlled fashion, ready to earn some consequences years later. Finally, some do not change us at all; they might as well have not happened, as all they do is fill up our time. These are what most of our lives consist of anyway, isn’t it? But then, there are events that stab us in the back, the unexpected changes that come from unlikely directions, grand betrayals we may never even be aware of happening at all.
And that was poetic prose for me. It came into my life and stayed, and although nothing seemed to be different, everything was, and although it may seem to you quite ridiculous, well, it is quite ridiculous, I have never been the same since. At the very least my affair with literature has changed its nature forever, and since most of my life it was just literature and me (and cute pets), that in itself was quite a twist.
Poetic prose ruined my writing
Believe it or not, I used to be able to write short, concise pieces. I swear. It may be hard to believe it, especially if you have read a few of my other posts, but yeah, that really was a thing.
Until poetic prose, of course.
Somehow, as soon as I crossed this magical line I lost all of my ability to express myself clearly. No reading philosophy could help me anymore – I was all into Sartre anyway, how could he help me? Good that I was almost out of school by then; my essays became the massive beasts they are now. Actually, my final IB exam featured a 26-page essay, so maybe I did start a tad too early (I do still feel sorry for the poor lad who had to read it, 26 pages on the depiction of seasons in Bruno Schulz’s writing, what a pain it must have been to read).
Do not read poetic prose. That is exactly what will happen to you. You will just start… talking. Meandering around the meaning instead of hitting the point. Like some sort of crazy river which forgot the way to the sea.
Poetic prose ruined my taste
I don’t remember when the last time was that I enjoyed a good dialogue.
I mean – not because I do not encounter any good dialogues. I just… Well… I could live without them. Who needs talking anyway, right? It’s enough for the narrator to talk and talk and talk. Other characters do not need direct screen time. What a waste of pages that would that be anyway.
And plot? What is plot? Aren’t the most beautiful pieces of art all about nothing, really? I have developed a strange taste in stories about nothing that somehow remain about something, and regular stories with somethings and someones just don’t do it for me. Sure, I still read my regular portions of fantasy books and sure, I still binge watch Netflix, but it just isn’t the same.
I do get bored with fast stories now. With action, I supposed. And I blame it on poetic prose. It taught me the beauty of taking things slow and from a very, very, very far distance.
Poetic prose ruined my practicality
For the sake of this argument let us pretend for just a second that I used to have a practical side.
Please don’t laugh too loud.
The truth is, I have never been… very good at that. You know, all the useful things. I might have studied Physics, but I only chose it for the pursuit of ideas and fundamentals and understandings, not for the problems it could solve. I am useless at solving problems. Theoretically, yes, I can be quite logical, but anything more… just no.
The same goes for appreciating the practical. I must admit I find it quite tedious. I always did. But ever since I started reading poetic prose, more even than poetry, since I have always liked meatier poetry anyway, I have lost any touch with what’s practical. Things need to be pretty. Just that, although it is more difficult than it may sound.
Art may be useless and for art’s sake, but this principle carried over into everyday life yields quite odd consequences.
But poetic prose also kind of saved me too
At the end of the day finding it was one those rare moments that make one realize who one is and what one wants. Sure, that may make one an embarrassing weirdo to some extent, but it is a step in the right direction.
Maybe I would be a good absurdist, as that’s where I was going with my writing and reading agenda, but I’d never feel at home there – it’d never be fully mine. Sure, maybe I’d enjoy myself like I do now, reading countless Stephen King books, but I’d never fully know what it means to lose myself completely in something. And… well, I’d never make a Miss Practical, who am I kidding.
Embracing poetic prose was for me part of embracing who I am with all its consequences. Luckily for me, it turned out I do not dream of shooting people but rather of laying in the grass and watching the ducks argue with each other; I guess it could have been worse. And although I lost touch with reality a bit, I gained something in return – some level of trust in myself.
Now you’ve been warned. Don’t read poetic prose. Go find something truly yours.
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