Monday, February 27, 2006
What am I thinking about? Men, confusing beautiful creatures that they are, but that's a constant, so never mind.
I wonder about evolutionary theory and the development of ethics. This topic's come at me from 3 different sources in the past few days. Something about how do you explain the development of ethic in 'natural selection.' Probably it's similar to wondering how 'mind' emerges from 'brain,' though I don't know. It's fascinating and perhaps I'll be able to work it into a prose poetry piece soon.
I wonder about the ballyhoo at the Museum of New Painting with a face-off on Saturday between the curator of the Art Gallery of Ontario, a couple of well known professors, and international artists over the "new new art." Or what I imagine is a faceoff between new media artists and old media artists, but we'll see...
I wonder about my birthday next week and why I'm here and what life means and what the future will bring, you know the score.
But mostly I wonder where inspiration is.
Sunday, February 26, 2006
"I stopped and let myself lean a moment against the blue shoulder of the air. The work of my art is the work of the world's heart. There is no other art."
"You are not here to love the world; you are here to be love in the world."
Saturday, February 25, 2006
Update:edit. Thank you, Richard,and MB, for your invaluable feedback. I've made some small changes, & will let it rest a bit and come back to it in a few weeks. The drawing I did in the mid-90s at my long gone cottage on Georgina Island. She's not the woman in this small word sketch, but somehow a similar energy...
In his "wish stream" a woman like her doesn't exit. She is beyond the years of possibility. She is slipped into, and relaxed in, like a well-worn dressing gown, a comfortable old couch, a favourite cafe in which to ponder one's thoughts. She is the warmth of a female oasis where struggle isn't necessary. She is the mother's arms, the place of acceptance, the restful time of sunset. She is the quietening. She is not just over the hill, but down in the valley on the other side, laughing and dancing her opulences. There is no need to impress her, or even to pursue her. She is a feature of the unchanging land. The aging woman with unbounded compassion towards herself and him. She is a prophecy of what he can become. Now she lies like sheer vintage lace over his vision. A bit obscuring, a reaction to the fickleness of his youthful women, an attempt at having a fixture of permanence to rebound back to. But it isn't what he wants, what he dreams of, what quickens his body, opens his heart. The 'wish stream' of images, visions, idealizations of love that he yearns for in his dreamy harem of beautiful women only includes a house mother who services others. Her yellowing teeth, her aging skin and its wrinkles not for the ardour of sweet romance. He found his way into her realm to heal a tired and wounded heart, the slings and outrageous arrows of lost love, and now he must make his way out and away from her, glistening again like a new-born baby.
Thursday, February 23, 2006
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
This is not to deny the importance of having and raising children! Nothing could be more important for us as a species. But that one half of the human race should be limited to this role is essentialistic. As if it is her unchanging, eternal role…
That thought system has not only been challenged but overthrown in the Western world, surely. After half a century of feminism aren't we are well past it? Does it keep cropping up in various forms because to have clearly defined roles for people makes the workings of a society easier?
The latest incarnation is in the field of neuroscience. Did you know that “from pregnancy on, female mammals are brighter, bolder and better able to cope with life than their childless counterparts”? That “[t]hese brain improvements are permanent, lasting from childbearing years into senescence”? Basically it all seems to boil down to some hormones that increase the ability to bond and the capacity to love: cortisol (which is usually associated with depression but which appears in elevated levels during the first week post-partum and appears to be involved in initial mother-child bonding), the endorphins, oxytocin and vasopressin, or “love hormones.” And increased neuronal pathways in the hippocampus, the hypothalamus (a region claimed to "strongly" affect "maternal behaviour"), the amygdala (which is claimed to regulate "maternal love"). Much of the evidence for the necessity of maternalizing the woman because it makes her smarter is based on the fact that women can distinguish their own baby’s cry out of a multitude, or their own baby’s smell in blind smell tests. Oh, and mommy rats could do mazes faster than non-mommy rats. It’s all a dubious application of fascinating scientific research and leaves me palpitating with worry. Maternal neurotransmitters just sounds like jargon for yet another hydra-head of essentialism.
The deeper message of this research, it seems to me, is that falling in love itself increases intelligence, curiosity, daring, and the beautiful nurturing behaviour that follows naturally surely sends those “love hormones” skyrocketing.
If you can lay down the inherent essentialism of the article, the research is utterly fascinating.
Article in question, and from which I quoted: Giving Birth to Supermom, by William Illsay Atkinson.
Sunday, February 19, 2006
My favourite creature as a child in Zambia, where I lived in the jungle, were chameleons which I played with for hours. It's hard to stay the same, and yet we never change...
Saturday, February 18, 2006
Friday, February 17, 2006
Tonight, the landscape iced, the streets, parks, roofs of the houses, encased. The branches of the trees I passed were glossy and fragile. I went out to photograph in the alley behind the house where I live, and came home with a pearl in an iced web of light.
Update: I left this image looking like a stage set, the 'pearl' so flagrantly hung, as a postmodern homage to "Pearl," a 14th century poem by the 'Pearl-poet,' thought to be the same author who wrote, "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight." My hommage doesn't have reference to a Pre-Raphaelite or New Age female muse, doesn't refer to the courtly love tradition, nor even to the Christian sensuality of "Pearl," with its open adoration and jewelled luxuries, which must have been a relief after the austerities of the Byzantine era. But the "pearl" is imaged, held in a web of light: it's been found, is still shining all these centuries later...
Since I can't offer a url with a translation of the poem itself, but only guide you to a site where it may be found, for anyone interested in long read, I have pasted the entire poem into a comment below.
Thursday, February 16, 2006
Entering an enclosure of great transparency and light where things name themselves.*
Fulfillment of our desires is not fullness in itself, but a counterpoint between lack and abundance. To know one is to know the other. They are twin forces, balancing each other through all the cycles.
The creative force is the force of entrophy. An oscillating dance, each necessary to life and death.
Life cannot exist without death; so death cannot exist without life.
In counterpoint we know each other.
Dualism enables us to straddle the middle, the golden means, the pivot of the centre. Even in uncertainty.
On the threshold of being, non being.
The dialectic of our soul.
*This line, I'm sure, is from Michael Hamburger's introduction to Poems of Paul Celan, which I would've written onto one of the copies of this mms. but which didn't get onto the computer, and which means a trip to the library...
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
This is a piece on, hmnn, security, but it's poetic, so what I consider "the glue," connective images running through the whole book; She added salt... and On the edge of I think of "as bones."
Is feeling safe in your domain security? Protecting your assets, information, property, who you are? She is without domain. Skinless, visceral wandering. Every abode temporary, a borrowed shell.
Without firewall, dam, divider, enclosure, screen, buffer, barricade. Nowhere to hide. The parchments of her words peeled back, shorn of the sheaths of a fragmented grammatology.
Exfoliate. She is peeled, pared, scraped, sloughed. Shorn of her home, its belongings, the collection of a lifetime.
To bruise, cut or injure the skin of.
The petals of the rose, like dried fragments of blood she carries with her.
Living life in uncertainty; in reality, not philosophically. On edges, where nothingness is, a fall into the irredeemable. Shouldn't the irredeemable be a footnote, the never-realized fear, the 'what happens to other people,' never oneself?
Bleeding, a release of. Sloughing. Shedding the impotency of harm.
A woman without armour, a shell, accoutrements, can disappear quickly.
The weight of things so very important.
Of the last piece, I could say, 'You can take the woman out of the Third World, but you can't take the Third World out of the woman."
Although it takes place in this culture, perhaps it's too alien to this culture? Too Africa or India or South American or ...
In that piece I aligned with probably 70% of the mothers of the world. Who do live in poverty, who do hold their families together in often impoverished conditions, who have a strength beyond reckoning if you really think about it.
I'd still like some comments, a discussion of any sort, encouragement, criticism, attack, it doesn't matter. Silence is the hardest of all. What does the silence mean?
Really bad writing? Way too whatever? Someone tell me!
Monday, February 13, 2006
She added salt to a bag of trail mix in the bulk foods store before sitting down with a coffee at a table to write. The colours of the street had became fainter and her step less sure on the wavering sidewalk, and she had sat on a bench until everything recombined. The doctor recommended eating something salty and drinking if this happened.
In the past few days she had eaten little and her stomach hurt from the lunch of minestrone soup and a pumpernickel bagel that her friend had served; this small bag of nuts, seeds and raisons seemed excessive. But she continued nibbling. She had lost too much blood over the past week.
Surely it was only perimenopausal bleeding. In the heat wave, on the weakest day, she'd gone out to find a drop-in clinic, walking slowly along the main street, resting frequently. Those she asked looked at her strangely. That day she did not have bus fare to go across town and knew she couldn't walk the distance. With such impossibilities thrown at her, she decided to forget medical help until she had moved and was settled. The woman she was staying with had become crazy with frequent and protracted hysterics over imagined infractions. Every few days, or oftener, she exploded with paranoia and accusations. Only when the woman smoked up was there peace in the house.
She sat at a table in the small cafe and considered her options. The situation where she was living was not good. It had been a mistake, but she wasn't trapped, soon she would find another home. In the interim she tried to stay balanced in her heart, stable in the inner alter of her mind. She was flying a migratory route, on the way from somewhere to somewhere, the general direction known, but not the details of the landing. She bled along the way. That's how it was.
She had lost over a litre of blood in three days; she had counted how many times a day her diva cup needed emptying, calculating the amount. She was anaemic. She didn't care if it might be cancer, endometriosis, fibroids, or a thyroid problem. She hadn't a place to call home, hadn't transferred her health coverage when she'd moved, and who would look after her child and cat if she had to go for tests? It was better to leave medical procedures alone. She took iron pills from the small supply she had, ate when she could, and in meditation focussed on healing the tearing in her tumultuous womb.
"You look pale and tired," Cheryl said when she arrived earlier in the afternoon for a visit. "I'm probably perimenopausal. A very heavy cycle, flooding. But then I'm a bleeder- bled a lot after my first birth. Coming to the end..." she smiled wanly. The two women nodded: the female body, with its life-giving powers, was also a body that bled monthly, and went into hyper-drive when the fertile years were drawing to a close. "Only I didn't expect it to be so physically taxing! It's like the early post-partum bleeding, just after giving birth. A final dramatic flourish before it stops for good." Cheryl smiled, "There are herbs that might help, and homeopathic remedies." "Yams are good," she concurred, "I don't have hot flashes, at least. That must be so hard."
She entered the cool house. Cheryl brought out two glasses of carrot and papaya juice and they sat on the couch catching up with the events of years when she was away, their children's schooling, problems with their ex's, the jobs both of them had had and the employment they were looking for, and their spirituality, meditation, yoga and how they were handling life. They were comfortable together, both knowing the struggles of single mothers. They both believed in the miraculous, too. Often, on the edge of unutterable loss, a threat of deprivation, where she was now, a reprieve occurred that made them both trusting of the beneficence of life. If you were open to survival, to maintaining a stable course, and stayed loving in your heart, generous in ways that count, things worked out. The tornados narrowly missed you; the hurricanes didn't destroy your plot; there were no major break-ins or fires or other calamities. If your inner emotional terrain was stable, so was your outer one. You could fast undo your fragile world by giving into despair or anger. Blaming would destroy the network of support around you, cause a collapse as you were abandoned.
Despite their employment worries, her heavy bleeding and its accompanying weakness, the way key people in their lives treated them, they agreed it was crucial to remain loving, optimistic stable emotional forces in the network of relationships they lived in. They were strong women. They could smile everyday even though they lived below the poverty line. Women like them didn't crumble easily. Despair was a luxury they couldn't afford.
For a moment, during their conversation, feeling the desperations they spoke of, the difficulties, she felt connected to millions of women over the globe who struggle with poverty, grief, racism, violence, but who keep going. Women who are the emotional centres for their families, who are anchors, who place food on the table miraculously out of almost nothing, who dress their children, their spouses, themselves somehow, who clean and maintain their homes, who work for menial wages, where they are essentially labourers, who never allow themselves to succumb to madness, or drugs, or a furious destruction of the world around them, who keep loving their families in profound ways. They grieve, yes, there is sadness, but they have hearts of compassion. It was here that she felt a bond with the strength of women throughout the ages. She knew she was alive, living in her generation, carrying the flame of continuous love through the marathon that history is, only because her foremothers had also carried it and passed it on. If mothering is a stable, conservative force, if that's what happens to women as they take on the responsibility and role of motherhood, then she was grateful for it. This was where there was meaning, the staying-with-it through everything, the power to endure, to continue.
She rose, feeling the light flooding in the window of the store like an illumination, and stepped into the steaming heat, inhaling the humidity, letting it loosen her, as she made her way to pick up groceries before walking across the park to where she temporarily lived, celebrating the loving core, its continuance.
Sunday, February 12, 2006
When you are making love to the man or woman of your heart, dreaming your God or Goddess.
When you no longer care how you appear, when you've forgotten yourself, when you hold nothing back, unrestrained, and give everything, your entire passion -pain, suffering, anger, compassion, joy, love- to us.
This has become my theory of art.
An aesthetic of intimacy.
Saturday, February 11, 2006
She continued probing how what she needed, an apartment, furniture, kitchenware, appeared seemingly miraculously. She was like a magnet. Attributing it to divine intervention was just a form of metaphor to explain it; angelic beings weren't carrying items to her. Anymore than the way any church, synagogue or mosque attempted to co-opt the process of miracle to justify their version of godhead. No-one can claim ownership of this process. What religions attribute miracle to, the stories they create to explain what is unexplainable, because it can't be willfully recreated, are just metaphors for the process, a way to explain the way to.
She had her own metaphors, ones not relying on a moralistic theology. She likened eruptions of the miraculous to an alchemical process. That the deeper work was at the atomic level. Where the vibrating energy flies to form molecules which form things. Before gravity binds them. Once they are bound, they remain that way until the forces of chaos and entrophy break them down. After the molecules fly and before gravity fully solidifies was when it was possible to shift the making of the world into new forms, models, paradigms. Where it was possible to wish a future into being and have it happen.
Where miracles happened.
Thursday, February 09, 2006
It is the language and conscious thought part that I am musing on. It seems to me that our thoughts are a giddy, wild place, composed of giddy, wild language bits, and that, to tame the inner riots, we create stories that tell us how to think. Because we don't know on our own. We are all busy searching for 'states of consciousness' that will enable us to exist peacefully with the rampant energies of the synaptic connections in our modern brains. Afterall, we're not just thinkers, but conscious of our thinking. And being 'self-conscious' is one of the most difficult states to be in.
Is that why we believe the powerful stories of our culture? Why we take them to be accurate versions of the truth? Because it settles our thoughts, having a specific set of ideas to work with, a certain way to think?
This post is only about some questions I had preparing an omlette for my son, who is visiting for a few days.
Did the omellete curve and bellow like a neopallium? I can't say, but perhaps.
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
Walking into her darkened room in my long dressing gown, I step on a winter boot, the hem of my dressing gown catching under my foot as it slides, caught on the mid-calf length faux sheepskin. The bog of materials pivots me. I can't rebalance myself, my foot trapped by the gown and the boot, neither relinquishing their hold. I'm lightheaded anyway. I fall straight back like an ironing board.
I try to bend in mid-air, to allow my rump to take what's coming, but can't manoever my body. I fall onto soft carpet, inches away from a wooden chair, on the back of my head, which I'm trying to tuck in for protection.
After impact, I roll on my side in a curled position and cry, oh so melodramatic but a way to release the shock of the fall. My daughter, who usually takes half an hour to wake up, leaps out of bed to hug me and help me up. I'm fine, feel no pain, didn't lose consciousness, no concussion.
The headache begins towards bedtime. I'd forgotten about falling but had spent a listless day of little substance feeling grey. Today it is like a fire simmering in my upper back, shoulders, back of my head. There is some minor bruising, that's all...
Monday, February 06, 2006
(the "you" in all my pieces is always the reader, you, my unbidden, golden muse, without whom I would write nothing.)
Friday, February 03, 2006
Fri: How hilarious!- Blogger's been acting up this evening, giving error messages, refusing to open sites, and now that it's working again I discovered eight copies of this post! And 8 copies have been duly emailed to me!)
She looks in the mirror, pushes her hair back, curves her back slightly, smiles. The nightdress is dropped on the floor as towels are laid close by. She turns on the bath tap, feels the spray, steps in. The warm waterfall falls on her back and neck and shoulders and soaks her hair; flicking open the shampoo that smells like a meadow of alpine flowers, she pours honey-coloured liquid into her cupped palm, rubs it between both hands and sweeps them into her hair bringing a lather. With the tips of her fingers, she rubs her scalp until it tingles. Arcing her head back, the water runs through her hair until it is free of soap, and then she begins again. After the final rinse she squeezes the excess water out, applies a conditioner and gently pulls a wide-toothed comb through as she unentangles it. Then she wets a facecloth and rubs it over a bar of soap until it becomes soapy, and begins massaging her body. She strokes her feet, undersides and tops, up the curve of the calf, around the knees, up her thighs, across her belly. She gently soaps her pubic hair, but never any lower; the vulva is sensitive. With her fingers, never the washcloth, she soaps the crack of her bum. She massages her breasts with the facecloth, under her arms, down each arm, and finally around her neck. Slipping the shower head out of its socket, she rinses her legs, arms, chest, breasts, belly, back, she gently pulls apart her cheeks and rinses her anus, and then holds the nozzle between her legs, letting the water dance off her labia; the water is warm, the droplets enliven her skin, the soap runs into the tub and down the drain. She holds the warm spray against one underarm and then the other, finding the gentle pounding of the water sweetly erotic, and she thinks of the body's erogenous zones. Today she is meeting her lover, and she is preparing herself.
Turning off the water, she opens the shower curtain, reaches for a towel to wrap her hair in, and then the large bath towel and dries herself slowly. She ties the towel around her breasts and hips and steps onto the tiled floor. Wiping the mirror, she sees a vague form in the steamed glass and with a comb parts her hair. She squeezes some conditioner into her palms and rubs it through her wet hair. Later she will put on matching lace panties and a bra, a tight top and jeans, and a small amount of make-up, concentrating most on the mouth, outlining the lips, applying a pencil, then lipstick, then gloss. She thinks of him the whole while. She sprays perfume between her breasts and behind each ear. She can hear him whispering to her.
The heat in her body already growing. She allows it to flame. The sensations warmly spreading through her in expectancy always amaze her. They are generated only by the thought of what is to come, the pleasures in the hours ahead. Sometimes she is so aroused that she has orgasms, little ones, as she walks to meet him. By the time they collide, kiss, fall into each other, undress each other, she is a heaving, sighing, moaning woman who is fully open and comes before he enters her and continues the crescendos with him thrusting deeply into her.
This is how a woman gets ready to meet her lover...
White Fire began in 2000. I wrote about 6 pages, which I read on a poetry show on a local radio station. It almost became a performance in 2001 too, with a troupe of a dozen disparate singers and dancers, but that's another story (that I'll obviously have to tell if I get back to the work).
It's an epic prose poem on the history of love in our culture. Ostensibly, that is, we'll see.
It's theme is a discussion on whether 'soul mates' exist. I personally don't believe in 'eternal' soul mates, only that your soul mate is whoever you're in love with, no more than that. But the question of love, ah.......