A Personal Conundrum of the Full-Empty Glass

Some people believe I write from the perspective of a person whose glass is half empty, a negative viewpoint that paints the world with a dark brush. They would rather I write as if I view the world as a half-full glass. Neither perspective fits my view of the glass in my hand.

I write of the glass just fractions of a second before the shattering strike of a baseball bat; its volume in relation to its capacity is irrelevant. The impact of the bat will spray shards of sharp glass in all directions. Some people in the path of the glass will be sliced deeply by fragments of fused silica as sharp as a razor. Others—either through their good fortune or the bad fortune of others who act as shields—will walk away unscathed. Still others will survive modest damage to their skin and their souls.

Someone I once thought close to me listened to me read a poem I had written and, after I had finished, offered, “what the hell is wrong with you?” The poem dealt with cynicism, frustration with life, and the inability to achieve wishes and dreams. But its setting and its first-person presentation apparently convinced her the “speaker” was me and that the setting revealed an ugly rage deep inside me. Hell, maybe it did. But that wasn’t the perspective from which I was writing.

I suppose the doubt about the “meaning” of my writing could be construed to mean I am successful in presenting hard-to-grasp conflicting emotions. But maybe I’m just unable to articulate meaning or perhaps I’m unwilling to clearly say what I want to say because it’s so painful. Those are the motives often ascribed to writers whose work is a bit difficult to fathom. Of course, those are good, published, recognized writers. Maybe I’m trying to put myself in  rare company.

Ultimately, I think much of what I write, especially the hard-edged, darker stuff, may be symbolic of deeply private thoughts I wish I could share with someone, a friend closer than any I’ve ever had. There is no confidante, of course, with whom I’d be willing to share them; these may be be thoughts I am willing to share only with myself, and then with some trepidation.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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3 Responses to A Personal Conundrum of the Full-Empty Glass

  1. jserolf says:

    I suppose you are right — to some degree. Perhaps King reflects the stories he read as a child, but perhaps King is only mediating the thoughts of the age or era?

    There is a lot of discussion on the author’s place in his writing. I tend to lean more from the camp that says “the author is dead,” and so any interpretation of the piece means we leave the author out of the picture. Hence, as I sometimes say in my classes, “War and Peace” would have been written anyway, even if Tolstoy never existed, hence, post-structuralism. See Roland Barthes “The Death of the Author.”

    Of course, we might just as well argue that Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” reflects very much what Jackson was on a personal level. She was a Wicca witch, and so any incorporation of symbolism is reflected by her beliefs.

    This all gets academic, but I enjoy our exchanges here. Can you imagine a discussion like this on FB — ain’t gonna happen! 😉

  2. I think. I write. I wish. I wander. says:

    Juan, I understand your point of view and I agree with it, up to a point. However, I think there’s a fine line between political correctness and civility/decency; I think Trump and his ilk equate the two and take great pains to trample the latter pair in opposition to the former. In the case of my writing, I have mixed feelings; some of what I write does, indeed, reveal who I am and what kind of person I am or might be, while other pieces are pure fictions. I can’t fault the people who might confuse the two or who might see evidence of the “deep inner self” in once piece and assume a more savage piece is simply an extension of the same person. Your words give me reason to think, my friend, and I appreciate that!

  3. jserolf says:

    I think we are living in a world of cissies — weak hearted and minded people who simply say things like “I don’t want to see or hear that again,” like you were in the imaginary presence of your nightmare teacher and classroom in 3rd grade.

    I hate the idea, or what is some kind of rule, that I cannot or should not use the word “nigger,” for example, in my classrooms, because it is politically incorrect –even if I am reading from “Huckleberry Finn” — or that I should not discuss obesity in the classroom because there’s a fat person in the back. What will people think?

    When we live our lives like that, how can we not expect people like Donald Trump to come about?

    The poet, the writer is like is a medium, so to speak. S/he reflects the “what is ever out there.”

    The person who put you in an accusatory check is nothing more than a member of some moral police. We might then suppose — by that person’s thinking — that Stephen King must be an axe murderer deep down in side because he wrote a story about it.

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