Saturday, November 27, 2010

Jay-Z on Braggadacio and the Sonnet

This is too cool not to share and I want to encourage other people to pick this gorgeous book up. First of all, it's a beauty and will make all writers jealous. The narrative, or rather, apologia of the life of a hip-hop king, is juxtaposed with images, pull quotes, and codes for many of Jay-Z's songs, but not in a way that looks like a crappy coffee table book. This is the real thing. This is book as artifact. My hand to God.

From Jay-Z's new memoir, "Decoded":
"But even when a rapper is just rapping about how dope he is, there's something a little bit deeper going on. It's like a sonnet, believe it or not. Sonnets have a set structure, but also a limited subject matter: They are mostly about love. Taking on such a familiar subject and writing about it in a set structure forced sonnet writers to find every nook and cranny in the subject and challenged them to invent new language for saying old things. It's the same with braggadacio in rap. When we take the most familiar subject in the history of rap - why I'm dope - and frame it within the sixteen-bar structure of a rap verse, synced to the specific rhythm and feel of the track, more than anything it's a test of creativity and wit."

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Great Underselling of Selfishness

We've been sold a sale of goods on this whole being selfless thing. I know plenty of people (ahem, my mother) who will tell me and you that we're here to serve others, and there's truth to that. But I want to talk about another way of doing that.

This is what I have decided after 15+ months of surrendering myself to both my child's and my husband's needs. I am angry. I am lost. I am confused. I am in such sore need of creative expression that I am nearly an imploding star. It occurs to me that this is not perhaps the source of light and selfless giving that can be a real benefit to either my child or my husband.

There are creative/selfish pursuits that require such focus and expenditure of energy that combining them with a small child is absolutely impossible unless you make a conscious decision to be a selfish mother. I am by most accounts a traditional mother who devotes every waking second to her child and who would not even consider childcare. But it's time, after 15 months, after too much stifling, after coming so close to imploding all over my husband ... it's time. I hereby declare I am ready to become a selfish mother. Atticus, I hereby declare a loosening of the apron strings.

Here are stops on my unwalked avenue of selfishness:

Writing (I know this should be number one, but it's not. Shut up.)
Taking and Editing Photos; Scrapbooking
Taking Walks
Picking up Pretty Leaves
Wandering Around Marshall's (without calling to check up on family even once)
Going to the Bar (after 9pm! Gasp!)
Making Lunch Plans
Buying Food No One Else in the House Will Eat
Cooking Food No One Else in the House Will Eat
Taking Long Baths
Wandering Around Hobby Lobby
Sitting At Panera (not to grade - that doesn't count)
Learning a New Trade (Maybe Book Arts?)

Other Things

This list is sort of lame. I don't remember how to do this exactly. I think knowing how to pursue things that interest you is not at all like riding a bike. It's a muscle and mine has grown flabby with disuse. In the interest of using the phrase hereby declare far too often, I hereby declare it time to wear the selfish muscles out until they are so exhausted, so big, so absurdly muscular, they cannot help but lift husband and child up into the great swirling eddy of happy wife and motherdom. I hereby declare it.