Auto-Antonym: An Artist Statement
Intentionally or not, often by fault of memory, I lace every line with a lie. I’m sorry if I misled you, even though writing should be an acceptance of and rage against everything we know to be true.
Cleave, for instance: a meaning and its opposite caught in one word. Absurd and complex, like every person we’ve ever met.
Auto-antonyms: words caught in conflict with themselves. And within that conflict I lay my writing. I put my peace upon the place where tear apart can also mean put together.
Bi: racial, lingual. From Japan to America. Son and father. I live in two worlds and belong fully to neither. This gives way to various tensions one must attempt to reconcile.
As I age, however, I think reconciliation isn’t what I’m after. I think I crave the tension, to lay roots in the grey-between, pull from both sides the sustenance required.
My grandparents fought on opposite sides of the war. I thrive in no man’s land; I am the truce they both dreamed of.
I have always intended good, even while doing the most careless things. Often I am my own opposite.
I’m thinking of a certain species of spider whose young devour the mother. First they drink from her joints to paralyze. Then they eat her guts. I am an author who is always hungry and never starves.
“Can’t repeat the past? he cried incredulously. Why of course you can!” – F. Scott Fitzgerald, “The Great Gatsby”
The moment I read that I must have known he would fail. And yet –
The poet Gregory Orr states the lyric poem is “an assertion of meaning against the negation of experience.” Poetry, and writing itself, is a means to combat the fluidity and often confusing narrative of life. We transform experience into a concentrated, consecrated linguistic form. In other words, we order and alter the past; we change it.
I mean to cleave everything in this world.