Friday, December 6, 2013

fear & loathing in provo, utah


I've been taking a poetry class from Lance Larsen at BYU for the past semester, and yesterday was my final workshop (aka everyone gets to say what they hate about your writing and also about your personality). So I'm posting the piece I submitted, and I also just want you all to know how much I agonized over this stupid dumb poem for, like, two weeks and about how I had crippling writer's block and everything I wrote was garbage and I even considered stealing the first line from Addy's latest poem because it is beautiful beautiful beautiful. But somehow I managed to scrape together this little beast and my class was fairly gracious about it even though they all basically said "you're really weird but this poem was okay, I guess". So, whatever forever, here it is and thanks for reading it and you're all super bitchin'.

Also, I have about 200 half-drafts of regular posts about things like living with people you don't like and trying to combat girl-hate and about how I've been crying about the real actual F I'm getting this semester at college and also a sermon of my emotions about Neil Gaiman (my personal savior), so I'll try to finish them and post them and blah blah blah blah blah. I think this is the end of the post.

"If you have one appetite, he thought, you have them all." (Louise Gl├╝ck)
-Avery Jalaine


  1. Anonymous8.12.13

    Wow very visual.

  2. Dear Avery,

    Write a damn book already. I need something to put in my pillowcase.

    Lots of love,


  3. Anonymous24.4.17

    Hi. I know this is whole anonymous commenter thing is kinda John Green kitsch, but it suits my needs.

    It’s funny that I brought up mono no aware in my last comment, before reading this. As I read you here, I could hear it in your voice. I think it’s brilliant that the there’s a phrase for it in Japanese, because it’s certainly a unique kind of sad feeling. It aches gently in a way that portends something more unsettling. I could hear you approaching that unsettling place, too. But I’ll talk about that later. I’d like to first respond to essentially everything you said. I’ll start with the part about your unease with the mundane.

    I don’t think the problem with our lives is that they aren’t full of non-stop action. That which is boring can be endured. Experiencing the mundane to appreciate what’s exciting, that’s not hard to wrap your head around. Because let’s be honest excitement usually comes, whatever it means to each of us. It’s chaos theory. Everything unravels and we never know how or why or when. What’s difficult to accept is that the parts never really fit. Everyone loves art because it tidies up our lives. Whether it’s a camera or a narrator or a good editor or Final Cut Pro or the edge of a canvas, there’s this amazing power to cut details that don’t fit, focus on what matters, turn things coherent. That doesn’t always mean exciting events; plenty of great art deals with the mundane. But even the most abstract thing you’ll find has, in some way or form, selected things at the expense of that which doesn’t fit in order to convey something. That’s the difference between art and real life, right? Selection.

    I’m sure you’ve been here before: you’ve just watched or read something that you completely, deeply loved. The places, the characters, the music, all of it. You loved all of it. You loved the world. But now, it’s over, and all you’re left with is this uneasy sense of emptiness, loneliness even. All that stuff in that place that you were for awhile, it’s gone. It was never really there. And you can’t go back, not really. Experiencing it for the first time is what makes it feel authentic. Some people try rereading or rewatching. I don’t like to. It feels unsettling to me, seeing that every small detail has stayed the same. That means I have to come to grips with the fact that there’s no entropy, no chaos theory in these universes. Nothing unravels, everything that was stirred can be somehow unstirred. I’d rather leave them behind and pretend they’re real, that the rules are the same there. It makes me feel better. The most I’ll do is Wikipedia the actors, authors, writers, producers, whatever I can find.

    What I’m trying to get at here is that ends are everything. They are the basis of meaning. The fact that books and poems and albums and paintings and films and are finite is the thing that necessitates selection. Think about everything you know about storytelling, and plot. There must be an arc with a beginning and an end. The time sensitivity of events creates tension, which creates meaning. Still pieces of visual art, while not time sensitive, operate finite space. It’s not always obvious, but at some point what you’re looking at isn’t the art anymore, it’s just whatever we call everything else. At least most of the time. Whatever defines that end I’m sure is the matter of debate. But that’s veering into the sort of semantics even I despise, which is really saying something.

  4. Anonymous24.4.17

    Anyway, the excruciating thing about being is that we don’t have that time sensitivity, not really. We come up with these deadlines, eras, whatever you want to call it. But here’s the thing, they always arrive, and then they go, and we’re still here. That’s the scarier place, right? Feeling sad that something is over is just the surface feeling. What we’re really dealing with is the terrifying prospect of remaining, of continuing. The ends we’ve made aren’t real ends. There’s only one real end. And because it’s the real end, we don’t get to appreciate it, because after the real end, we simply aren’t.

    Until then, we have to deal with the fact that life isn’t art. We don’t get to select what to include to make everything work. It’s not the boredom that’s scary, it’s the ambivalence of it all. We change our minds. We contradict ourselves. Things mean a lot and feel real, and then they don’t. We like to say we’re growing, and maybe we are, but who really knows for sure? If I say I grew into something doesn’t that mean I’d have to take the aggregate of everything I did or said or thought or felt over whatever period of time and then somehow compare it all to everything that I am, now? That’d drive a person insane. You’d have to confront that vast morass of your own ambivalence. It’s hard for me to imagine a worse hell.

    I remember when I was something like 7 years old I tried, for the very first time, to think about what it meant to go to heaven forever. To be immortal. It was the first panic attack I ever had. I felt the air leave my lungs progressively and I tried to stop thinking about it and I ended up crying hysterically, in my mother’s arms. I guess maybe that’s when the possibility of a pious life flamed out. For a lot of people, the end is the scary thing. Personally, I find infinity to be much more terrifying.

    Did you have a Brave New World unit in one of your high school English classes? I did. It really fucked me up. I still remember the culmination of the discussion. Life isn’t about feeling as much pleasure as possible. It’s about creating meaning. Back then, I was convinced. The book is certainly a compelling argument. Here’s the thing, though: the longer I live, it seems to me that if you’re really committed to that philosophy, and you want to take it to it’s natural conclusion, you have to make your life time sensitive. You must set a deadline for yourself. A real one, that you’re conscious of. Knowing when the credits will roll is the only way to beat the ambivalence. It’s not the easiest thing to accept, but I think it’s true, especially after doing my damnedest to take the whole feeling pleasure philosophy to its natural conclusion.
    I hope you’re not panicking or anything. This isn’t a note. I don’t have the balls to head for the exit, at least not yet. I guess the ambivalence of everything just isn’t painful enough. Besides, it doesn’t often feel that way while it’s happening. We all have the survival instinct to ignore it. At least, most of us do. Some certainly stronger than others. Anyway, for the most part, we only need suffer through those scary glimpses, when these artificial “ends” arrive and we’re still here.

    (whatever that means)


Oh thanks. You're pretty.