I was trying to find out what it was that everybody else understood without giving up my stubborn and hard-won lack of understanding.
I can manage a prose format as long as I keep closer to Laurence Sterne than to Henry James.
When you grow up in a family of languages, you develop a kind of casual fluency, so that languages, though differently colored, all seem transparent to experience.
While I don’t script and I don’t use other performers, I think my taste for underlying precision gives me something in common with Allan and George Brecht.
I’m standing up thinking. Anybody who wants to listen is welcome. If not, I’m happy to see them go.
I didn’t think about whether I was writing poems. I was thinking. And the more I was thinking, the more there was I didn’t understand.
A myth is the name of a terrible lie told by a smelly little brown person to a man in a white suit with a pair of binoculars.
My rejection of the idea of entertainment in its current form is based on the audience that comes with it.
I have spoken to expert audiences occasionally, but then no audience is expert over the whole range of things I want to explore.
I wanted to be an inventor, whatever I thought that meant then. I guess I was thinking of Edison or maybe James Watt. Or maybe even Newton.
Stories are different every time you tell them – they allow so many possible narratives.
I reserve the right to tell shaggy dog stories or even common jokes as part of what I’m doing. I don’t give a damn if half the audience walks out.
There is probably no oral society that fails to mark the spatial distinction of left and right, peculiar as this distinction may be.
The ancient Greek oral poets all had this anxiety about the deficiencies of their memories and always began poems by praying to the Muse to help them remember.
My way of thinking is very particular and concrete. It doesn’t follow a continuous path.
When my mother left her second husband, she wrote her autobiography and presented it to him for his approval.
The Sophists’ paradoxical talk pieces and their public debates were entertainment in 5th century Greece. And in that world, Socrates was an entertainer.
The self is an oral society in which the present is constantly running a dialogue with the past and the future inside of one skin.
You pay your money, you take your choice. I get the audience my language attracts and I lose the ones it repels.
I’m aware of my audience in a way, and I do try to engage with them while I’m trying to go about my business of thinking. I believe they help me by providing a focus.
There are editing procedures for talks just as there are editing procedures in jazz improvisation.
For several centuries what has passed for song in literary circles was any text that looked like the lyrics for a commonplace melodic setting.
I’m not sure what theory is, unless it’s the pursuit of fundamental questions.
I’ve always had a strong feeling for the Statue of Liberty, because it became the statue of my personal liberty.
I had no idea where these kids at a small private college in the San Fernando Valley were coming from, why they were coming to hear me, or what they needed to know.
I hardly remember how I started to write poetry. It’s hard to imagine what I thought poetry could do.
Children frequently sing meaningful phrases to themselves over and over again before they learn to make a distinction between singing and saying.
It’s hard being a hostage in somebody else’s mouth – or a character in somebody else’s novel.
While I’ve had a great distaste for what’s usually called song in modern poetry or for what’s usually called music, I really don’t think of speech as so far from song.
I learned enough Hebrew to stagger through a meaningless ceremony that I scarcely remember.
Disney made a fortune out of inventing the businessman’s idea of the imaginary as the contradictory of the businessman’s idea of the real.
I am quite unsatisfied by the distinctions between the oral and literate.
I was very committed to the process of composing, working at poems, putting things together and taking them apart like some kind of experimental filmmaker.
I tended to emphasize the secular, the casual, the colloquial, the vernacular against the sacred.
From this entertainment industry, may the gods of language protect us.
My mother turned into a professional widow. She couldn’t understand why I wanted to be an engineer; she thought I should be a chicken farmer.
When I got to the reading all the work, I was reduced to being an actor in an experimental play that I’d already written. And I didn’t want to be an actor.
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