MIKE TYSON: A POETICS (#1)
Notes (Gleaned Specifically for Poetry) from April 13, 2012 Boxing Session:
-- Jab, Cross, Hook. Julio (moi cherished trainer) notes, I signal my cross by always doing a tiny fist-circle prior to unleashing (hah) it. Moi replies: "But that fist-circle feels good!" Okay, he says, because it's not like you're training to be a real boxer. Doesn't sit right with Moi as she thinks, "Nah. Still gotta do this thing as if it's for real -- as if I'm going to enter the ring soon..." So must stop signaling my intent ahead of the actual event.
-- I spar with Julio with moi gloves (in my favorite color blue) and he wearing pads with these arrowheads in the center as targets. Julio notes, I have to make certain hits as if my fist is going through the pads instead of considering the pads as walls before which I (unconsciously) pull back my punches. Exactly! I think: No walls! Go through those walls!
-- Jab, Cross, Hook. Julio makes me go slowly through the motions first. In that way, my body gets accustomed to, including up building physical memory, of the motions. When we start that way and then increase the pace to how fast I can then throw the combination, the result is more clean, more finished, more effective, more what the combination is supposed to be. Learn the form before you start breaking away from it. Know the language before you disrupt it. (Is this the difference between language-disruptors and those who "coincidentally" disrupt by being second -- or third -- -language speakers. But what if language is inherently impure; how do you disrupt the impure?)
-- Julio tells me to focus on the pads, their alignment. The pad's alignment will signal what type of punch you're supposed to throw. For example, if the pad is horizontal to the floor, you don't throw a cross but might choose an uppercut instead. When I start paying attention to the pads -- which are metaphors for the real-life boxing opponent -- I notice that I suddenly stopped doing that fist-circle that signals my crosses. I take from this that I become more effective because I have gone beyond myself (who cares that the gloves are in my favorite color? Who cares that a teeny fist-circle feels good (and I think it feels good because it is an opposite motion to the wrist-position I favor when I'm writing and I'm always writing)?) By focusing away from moiself and onto the opponent, I am more able to do what it takes to be an effective boxer.
-- When you're short, you go in closer to the danger. If you back away from your taller opponent, you are giving your taller opponent an advantage due to reach. If you cannot reach something, get closer to it. The more intimate you are with a subject, the more effective you will be -- this is where imagination may be just a starting point in art-making. Imagination as a tool, a starting point, versus the raison d'etre for that poem. Knowledge matters, whether it's research or the literally bodily investigation.
-- Hadn't known Mike Tyson was an orphan until Julio mentioned it. This synchronicity Wows me even as it doesn't surprise Moi as poetry, I've learned, is inherently synchronistic. And this synchronicity is about how I was researching boxing for purpose of a manuscript on orphans. And something I learned as soon as I began researching Mike Tyson (from “Tyson Projected” by Avi Steinberg, n + 1, 29 June 2011):
As an earnest young man, an orphan, [Mike] Tyson was preoccupied with origins and authenticity. Unlike Muhammad Ali, the young Tyson never staked any claims to radical American individualism. He didn’t boast of being “the greatest ever.” Even late in his career, after his crack-up, when his once-great skills had been replaced by threats to eat his opponent’s children, Tyson tellingly qualified his boasts: “I’m the best ever! There’s never been anyone as ruthless,” he said but then felt compelled to add, “I’m Sonny Liston! I’m Jack Dempsey!” He recognized his place in the hierarchy of tradition: an excellent copyist, not an original. At best, a perfect imitation. As he later put it, in an interview with the New York Times, he was resigned to be “a fake somebody” rather than “real nobody.” To Tyson, the prospect of becoming a “real somebody” was never a possibility.
Exactly. If our childhood gods determine much of what we become, it's the same as saying our childhood demons are also determinative. Then, Orphans...what forms their roots?
--And what does it mean to train to become someone you know you'll never become? Like me(?), training to be a boxer but not to be a boxer. Poetic authenticity--that most seductive paradox: being authentic for the goal of being an effective reproduction .... as Mike Tyson ("Beyond The Glory"), once put it, ""I have a Catch-22 within my own identity"
Or is it just something else Tyson said--ye ars poetica or arse poetica:
"I'm just going to extremes...[but] I don't know..."