Thank you to Michael Solsky for reminding me of this man’s work, which was initially thrust upon me at age sixteen by two English teachers, one erupting with enthusiasm to share Nemeth’s work and the other one hesitant to endorse his poetry as wholly sound because “well, he is crazy”. This was around the time of my mom’s first or second stay in a mental health unit, and I was still trying to grasp at a shifting center of reality, so I was more than open to the idea of mental illness and deep creativity simultaneously existing as it seemed the universe often has no other course to take.
Michael made a short documentary film about James Nemeth called “The Living Poet” (viewable on solsky.org under Film, Documentaries). In it, Michael spends an evening in James’ home, and James recites poetry and visibly battles his aural-cerebral monsters. To expound on my experience watching this short film would take far longer for me to write and far longer for you to read because it produced such an amalgamation of things personal, specific and universal, general that I believe the best experience will be for you to simply watch the short and discover a similar openly hidden truth for yourself.
James J. Nemeth, New Brunswick Resident since 1969
Somerset Street and Division Street [Google Street View]
October 26, 2010
Photographer: Christian Oliveira
THE SELF MADE MAN
James J. Nemeth, February 2003
[you will read this week’s headlines
and you may write next week’s.
next year, you may make them.
or perhaps you might not.
but you will care for your own life
(and maybe the lives of others)
but not for multi-legged barrels.
because the unlived life is hardly worth examining.
you will leave the trivial for farmers of the trivial.
while bugs who call themselves men
stammer along a trail of pheremones
toward a harvest of the trivial farmers,
you stand upon a mountain (of books)
and you make your way to your corner of the café
looking for and finding those who question where they stand,
and those who are not afraid to age and decay.
but more importantly,
you look for those who look in your direction,
for those who SEEK,
for those who seek another Self to engage.]
This link will send you to the entry on Drew’s blog. Here is my reply to what he said:
Drew, I have to disagree with some major points here. While the supernatural is an element of Gothic fiction, not all supernatural horror is Gothic. In “Supernatural Horror in Literature” (to readers, it can be easily found in entirety by googling the title) Lovecraft talks extensively about “weird tales” not of the Gothic sort, though he frames most of them as reactionary to Gothic and avers that the modern “weird tale” would not be possible without the Gothic movement.
And I’m not fully up to date on recent scholars’ and authors’ commentary on “grotesque and arabesque” but my understanding was that when Poe used the terms, it was to divide styles WITHIN the Gothic tradition, with “grotesque” referring to creating fear using gore and “arabesque” referring to creating psychological-driven fear absent of gore.
Is “Gothic vs. Arabesque” a trendy way to differentiate right now? If it is, I’ve been left out of the loop on that one, probably because I’ve mostly only read literary criticism by authors who died long before I was born. I’ve heard that Stephen King has done a decent essay on horror but haven’t checked that out yet.
Perhaps it would be better to simply differentiate by dividing horror into “Supernatural” and “Realistic” or “Naturalistic”.
Mr. Daywalt just followed up:
still interested to know if any tumblrs have some input on this, especially “arabesque”?