Posts Tagged ‘Charles Bukowski’

Charles Bukowski sang the life victorious, thanks to his having learned Transcendental Meditation

August 17, 2014

I first posted this wonderful poem by Charles Bukowski in the summer of 2014 and later found out that he had learned Transcendental Meditation towards the end of his life. So I’ve updated it in early 2021 with three different sources behind this story.

a song with no end

when Whitman wrote, “I sing the body electric”

I know what he
meant
I know what he
wanted:

to be completely alive every moment
in spite of the inevitable.

we can’t cheat death but we can make it
work so hard
that when it does take
us

it will have known a victory just as
perfect as
ours.

“a song with no end” by Charles Bukowski (1920-1994), from The Night Torn with Mad Footsteps. © Black Sparrow Press, 2001.

he apparently loved meditation

Towards the end of a Dec 31, 2006 New York Times article, David Lynch’s Shockingly Peaceful Inner Life, Alex Williams writes: The filmmaker sees no contradiction between inner harmony and external edginess. “I heard Charles Bukowski started meditation late in his life,” Mr. Lynch said, referring to the poet laureate of Skid Row, who died in 1994. “He was an angry, angry guy, but he apparently loved meditation.”

meditation allowed him to be creative in his later months

In this 89.3 KPCC interview Bukowski’s wife said that he lost some ground after being diagnosed with leukemia at age 73. He got it back with transcendental meditation. “It allowed him to open up a space within himself to say these words about himself dying,” said Linda Bukowski. “These later poems, death poems, are so acute and so awake and aware and I think that had a lot to do with how meditation allowed him to be creative in his later months and write these poems, that I still cannot read.”

I checked with a friend who has taught TM to many celebrities and she replied: “I instructed Charles (or Hank as he liked to be called) and his wife, Linda, a few years before he passed away. He was a lovely man at that time of his life. I wonder if he was meditating when he wrote this beautiful piece.”

That’s probably how David Lynch would have known since they’re longtime TM friends. She later emailed to say that she had taught Bukowski around 1992. So based on this information and what Linda had said, chances are this poem could have been written during those final years of his life while he was meditating regularly.

a related post

Cartoon wisdom from Karl Stevens appears in this week’s print edition of The New Yorker. Time Out Boston wrote on the back of his book, Failure, “Karl Stevens may be the closet thing to a Charles Bukowski equivalent working in comic art. Except Stevens is way classier….” When Stevens was working on Failure, “I was struggling with alcoholism which I think was where the comparison lies. I stopped drinking a couple months before beginning to learn TM. Obviously the practice was crucial to helping me focus on living a cleaner life. ”Peace of mind and heart arrives when we accept what is.”

accepting what is

William Butler Yeats wrote about The Coming Of Wisdom With Time. It seems to have come to Bukowski toward the end of his life. See his full quote posted on NITCH’s Instagram. Only now did I realize who Karl Stevens was quoting!

“I have been alone but seldom lonely. I have satisfied my thirst at the well of my self and that wine was good, the best I ever had, and tonight sitting staring into the dark I now finally understand the dark and the light and everything in between. Peace of mind and heart arrives when we accept what is: having been born into this strange life we must accept the wasted gamble of our days and take some satisfaction in the pleasure of leaving it all behind. Cry not for me. Grieve not for me. Read what I’ve written then forget it all. Drink from the well of your self and begin again.”

Words of Wisdom on Writing from Literary Lights

December 30, 2011

Maria Popova

Maria Popova – Maria Popova is the editor of Brain Pickings, a curated inventory of miscellaneous interestingness. She writes for Wired UK and GOOD, and spends a shameful amount of time on Twitter. All Posts | Email Popova

What sleep and plagiarism have to do with the poetry of experience and the experience of poetry
 
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I recently stumbled upon a delightful little book called Advice to Writers, “a compendium of quotes, anecdotes, and writerly wisdom from a dazzling array of literary lights,” originally published in 1999. From how to find a good agent to what makes characters compelling, it spans the entire spectrum of the aspirational and the utilitarian, covering grammar, genres, material, money, plot, plagiarism, and, of course, encouragement. Here are some words of wisdom from some of my favorite writers featured:

“Finish each day before you begin the next, and interpose a solid wall of sleep between the two. This you cannot do without temperance.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Begin with an individual and you find that you have created a type; begin with a type and you find that you have created—nothing.” ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald

“Don’t ever write a novel unless it hurts like a hot turd coming out.” ~ Charles Bukowski

“Breathe in experience, breathe out poetry.” ~ Muriel Rukeyser

“A short story must have single mood and every sentence must build towards it.” ~ Edgar Allan Poe

“You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.” ~ Saul Bellow

“Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal.” ~ T. S. Eliot

“Fiction is a lie, and good fiction is the truth inside the lie.” ~ Stephen King

“Good fiction is made of what is real, and reality is difficult to come by.” ~ Ralph Ellison

“The problem with fiction, it has to be plausible. That’s not true with non-fiction.” ~ Tom Wolfe

“You cannot write well without data.” ~ George Higgins

“Listen, then make up your own mind.” ~ Gay Talese

“Find a subject you care about and which you in your heart feel others should care about. It is this genuine caring, not your games with language, which will be the most compelling and seductive element in your style.” ~ Kurt Vonnegut

“Write without pay until somebody offers pay; if nobody offers within three years, sawing wood is what you were intended for.” ~ Mark Twain

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This post appears courtesy of Brain Pickings, an Atlantic partner site.

Image credit: Knopf

This article available online at: http://www.theatlantic.com

Here’s a good resource of Writers on writing – an updated reading list of 70 notable meditations by Bradbury, Didion, Sontag, Hemingway & more http://j.mp/1huxG1S posted by Maria Popova @brainpicker.


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