“Ode to a Bear” is not a serious attempt at some prose poem. It was written in under 10 minutes while in bed on a Saturday morning. I could not sleep.
I was reading T.S.Eliot. Particularly Ash Wednesday and The Hollow Men.
There were accompanying notes. The notes are what captured my interest. Had Eliot worked today would we know everything there is to know about them? Even things he may have been unaware of. I shall explain, shortly.
So, truthfully, I decided to scribble something of my own feelings after a fashion. “Bear”, as it shall become known to future generations, was the result.
Prior to reading Eliot I had been reading about the wealth of the Boston Brahmin and a short news article on a wealthy man disinheriting his children so they would have to work as hard as him to achieve wealth.
The Boston Brahmin were a group of families united in attitude and wealth who dominated much of the education, business and real-estate around Boston (and beyond). Eliot was of Brahmin stock. They thrive in the same fashion as all elite, white families seem to thrive through self-preservation. Walled communities of teaching and access. I am avoiding the “C” word since this is an American Tale and such systems do not occur in the US. It is a meritocracy, after all.
It struck me that I would read some achievement and then, immediately, read how it was translated into wealth. I realised all achievement was ranked by the wealth which flowed from it. Political wealth was a real favourite because the power which came with the association was like an Insurance policy. Politicians, many of whom only achieved office and offered no real social or financial legacy, head the list of “Notables”. Undeservedly, in my opinion.
They soon become nothing. Just dustless rows of musty, meaningless men with little to inspire or say. My hero, Thomas Stearns Eliot, ran from his heritage and even rejected his American citizenship in later life.
And I thought and I reflected.
Then I realised that I could check how long I had been reading. Why could I not sleep. How long had I been writing? How many words had I written?
And then I wrote this, in the dark, in bed.
All is material All is matter Is the phrase “does it matter” pertinent? How does the silly poem exist An existential question I was reading Ash Wednesday And in 10 minutes I threw out some parody verse Yet it feels very real to me It is nonsense A middle aged man’s juvenilia Yet it matters. That word again. In Eliot’s case the words have authority and subtlety and they convey an elevated communication. In his case a God. Where did that "God" word come from - literally. Did he write on paper by hand? Did he type? Biographers will know. Perhaps. For me - I am using gestures on a small keyboard on an iPad. An iPad Pro might I add. More value. That is recorded since I sync to the cloud. Also the time. It is irrefutable. The duration. The edits. But before that the record will show that I also read Eliot on my device. I have an electronic collection of all his works. The context can be ascertained. So can my location. Perhaps it does not matter since this writing has no value. Digestible by the bear.
And I realised that, in that moment, my location was recorded. Who was near to me. Literally which room I was in. A map could display my location as I gesticulated every word into existence.
I realised the time was preserved. And the reading material prior to the writing. It is to be found, easily if you have the influence required.
Also, had I drunk wine the night before? Had I stayed in? Did I go to a pub? Was my insomnia due to wine being bought at tea time? The wine I did buy seems likely to have been a Friday night relaxant.
What movies did we watch as we supped the wine? I streamed “‘allo ‘allo” – Series 7. That is recorded. No doubt I shall receive an advertisment for a box set (which I already own).
What had others around me read? Who was around me? When did I finish work? Which iPad did I type onto? DId I make any edits?
And that is a fraction of what is available, at the discretion of others.
My shopping history will show that I once bought, and read, this book:
I recommend it.