“It takes a lot of time to be a genius, you have to sit around so much doing nothing, really doing nothing.”–Gertrude Stein.
And so we’re going to take a lot of time, an hour today, for our Poetry Slow Down, considering how Paul Simon’s “59th Street Bridge Song”, Gertrude Stein, and Marcel Proust, are giving us a wake-up call about being in bed, on the sidelines, as the mind’s frontlines, taking our time, taking time out, making time count, recovering lost time, and the neuroscience of genius that poetry illuminates. And yes, it’s the Superbowl, speaking of time out and taking time out, we hear a Proustian analysis of football and Stein on football (and her reply to a snarky reporter, Snap!–she has her finger on the pulse), and poems on football by Lewis Jenkins, Billy Collins, A.E. Housman, Howard Nemerov, and poems about being in and watching the game (including Super Bowl) by Rumi and Whitman, and recovering wasted time through poetry by your host, me, Dr. B (transforming drudgery time into happiness, by slowing down and conceiving and writing the poem: “I am happy/I take my time”).
“The only real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”–Marcel Proust. We consider that if we stop time, we can look around and see what’s here and not be blinded by the blur, the cacophony, the chaos: we can see the detail, we can pay attention keenly, and wake up; we can discern beauty, and in this timeless state we can find happiness (from the word “hap,” as in happen), occurring when we slow down, do nothing, really nothing, genius time, says Stein, Ein-stein, Gertrude Stein. That’s our show theme, challenged to bring February’s birthday genius Gertrude Stein in alliance with Superbowl Sunday. And speaking of slowing down, stopping the clock:
I ran out of TIME! I thought I had more! So I took my time! and then ran out! I was going to end telling about a UC study of neuroscience claiming wisdom is the slowing down of the brain in old age! In a new study researchers found wisdom increases with age and carries on even after occurrence of brain damage like stroke. Well, poetry is difficult, as Dr. Williams says, because it is saying things in a different way that we are not in the habit of (as Gertrude Stein says in her analogy to football). But when we read it, even if struggling and wondering, as in a football game, all the things going on all at once, where to look–it’s a time out, it’s time lost, it’s making time, it’s making time up, and maybe it is written by geniuses, and certainly our authors would tell us that, not just Stein posing as her lover Alice B. Toklas (she also came out–Stein, I mean–and wrote, What Is Genius?, using herself as a model, natch), and read by the geniuses and the wise–You! Poetry Slow Down! So we’ll speak of this anon, but right now it’s time to stop the clock! Let’s enjoy the super Bowl, on the screen, and in the sky, and heat up with Rumi’s vision for next week’s show on love, live from the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., and love words from presidents and Whitman and Neruda, and speaking of love, I have loved being with you as we’ve loafed and invited our ease a la Whitman, a la Proust, a la Paul Simon, a la Gertrude Stein, as we swing in the hammock, and on the stars, do nothing really nothing–nourishing genius. Enjoy!–which as Proust said, is the whole point, in so many (more) words (and we need them all).
© Barbara Mossberg 2011