Sunday, March 15, 2009

matteo dudek

Great Failure

Matthew Wenger who might remember with me that we have only seven generations before Mennonite history is reduced to myth (or at least this is what they say in Africa about African history), recently told me that I have a “voice” when I write and that it has gotten “gentler” since we moved to the livable West Coast. For three years I have attempted to restrain the vapid impulse toward callisthenic verbosity (inspired in the first resort by Jorge Luis Borges) and tried in a very small way the practice of alienation defined by J.M. Coetzee as “inner emigration” to a world of marginality where one can finally speak both within and to a culture such as “Mennonite.” Operating from the position of a surely lapsed member of Country View Chapel (a problem space located next to the Amish Door Restaurant in Wilmot, Ohio); the son of a Mennonite lay bishop (not to mention a career-path shaping professional), I’ve been projecting back to Mennonite readers (I assume), in a language that is not easily assimilated, three cryptic paragraphs every week.

It’s been a failure as Slavoj Žižek would frame it – expression is always such; but at times it has been a glorious, feverish failure, pencil to paper urges, the sort of passion that would make Rainer Maria Rilke smile (or at least that’s what I’m told). It’s been a self-serving failure sometimes, like Ayn Rand or George Orwell at their worst. And it has been a failed attempt at cultivating mindfulness, as the mundane still appears boring more often than not. The writing life has failed many times to construct meaning out of the hyperreality of current experience: I remain an often overwhelmed but rooted individual floating around in time and space like a water lily. Sometimes, though, I feel like I’m on the cusp, pushing at something provocative and evocative, and that’s when writing is great, and the degree of failure is the best.

Yesterday Jennifer and I drove the winding roads of North San Francisco Bay with no real purpose. It felt like the countless Sunday afternoon drives I took down County Road 2 southwest toward Maysville out of Mount Eaton or on the dirt stretch between what we referred to as “the Dump Road” and Kohler Road down by Rodney Stutzman’s old place (where I trapped frogs and dug for black diamonds as a 12 year-old). When the melancholic light was right (at around 5 pm) and if I was lucky a dramatic thunder storm had just swept through, the Amish-Mennonite landscape of southern Wayne County seemed just about perfect. It was green and quiet, the air sparkly, just birds and me and the occasional cow. I was saying goodbye, moving to the city, away from the simple life toward a utopian community “out there.” On my aimless silent drives by myself, I think I was trying to orient myself with the Mennonite landscape. I was trying to see it for what it was; as a natural system not as a function of me. I can’t really see California in the same way, because we don’t know it well enough (after all it is the third degree of separation from my Mennonite roots), but it was still nice to say goodbye like that, we’ll miss it a little when the show here is over and all we will remember are the bright lights of good feelings and near misses.


Blogger goooooood girl said...

your blog is so good......

6:06 PM  
Blogger matt said...

I don't remember this, and I'm still trying to figure out how to commment. until then . . .

1:27 PM  
Blogger matt said...

still nothing profound to say but I just heard a song that seemed to emerge nicely out of your failure - it is sung by The Kingston Trio

"Well, no matter where I wander I know I'll always find a welcome at the end of every journey.
There'll be friendly people waitin'.

California would not hold me 'though I loved her timber mountains.
Worked her fields and worked her orchards up and down her central valley.

I have driven open highway through the golden Utah valley
And I watched the rivers gently gliding. I wave my hand to friendly people.


Folks who know me call me a drifter. They don't know I'll stop my ramblin'.
They don't know that someday, somewhere, somebody's gonna make me settle down.

I'm going home, Lord, I'm going home. (Repeat and then chorus twice)

I'm going home!"

p.s. they also sing another song which I believe will become our next one hit wonder when we can record together again - it's called Greenback Dollar

7:23 PM  
Anonymous Olivia said...

Darren, who is gooood girl and what has she done with Jen?

6:25 PM  

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