Saturday, September 30, 2006
Ira Socol, whose work I've been reading for over two years now, is one of the best writers I've found who is posting on the NET. Stylistically, his work is nearly perfect and continually astounds me. He manages, through action, memory, description to convey complex situations and characters. One doesn't get a sense of judgment of the characters in these often complex situations by the narrator of the piece, nor any of the self-aggrandizing or moralizing that is rife in the blogosphere, only compassion. He writes perhaps a kind of 'film noir' prose and his writing, without a word of excess, seems always to overflow into poetry. Despite posting rough drafts for a book, his posts are encapsulated and complete in themselves - knowing the broader sweep helps, but it's not necessary.
While it is wonderful of him to include my blog among his 'most read,' his site is one of the best in the blogosphere and I would highly recommend it to anyone.
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Sunday, September 24, 2006
We should learn to love each other so much we live outside time ... detached.
He said (Steiner). La Dolce Vita (1960).
Who can love in a world where money must be made? The film is from a man's perspective. It is the women who talk of love; if love is spoken of. Especially Marcello's fierce, suicidal and beautiful girlfriend for whom love is possessive.
Those whose lives overflow with money don't know what to do with love either. Fellini knows this. Love wants to hold, to keep forever in its embrace, but it's all feathers. The clouds of pillows become unstuffed. We are tarred with our desires. What we are searching for are endings.
(Or so Fellini implies, not I.)
(from a mss-in-progress)
Thursday, September 21, 2006
The eye that doesn't weep, the unblinking eye is a dangerous eye. Warhol made it art, though, and so gave it an entrance into the pathos of living, and thus an ethos. The unblinking eye doesn't have an ethic. Perhaps only the eye that weeps does. And do we find ourselves weeping before the accident victims who he emblazoned from newspaper images into wall-sized silkscreen repetitive images that fade out? Who are these anonymous dead people, are they the future of us?
The film of the man sleeping was nearly unbearable. It was Edgar Allen Poe's tell-tale heart, beating. The camera is angled on his chest and part of his face. We see his diaphragm move up and down with his breath, which is not always even, depending on his inner state, his dreams, and we see his chest pounding with his heart beat. That heart beat eventually pounds in our ears. It is visceral, the core of the pulse, the central ventricle, where the blood gushes in and out of, hundreds of litres an hour. We find ourselves dreaming with the man who's sleeping and whose heart we witness beneath his chest with the black hairs that we can almost feel under our fingertips. We become voyeurs, watching the minutiae of the vulnerability of sleep.
Warhol was a voyeur, no doubt about it. He chose moments in the continuum of images to still, to repeat spatially. Moments that compose us in a moment in time, a moment in history.
If I seek to integrate the critic with the poet, Warhol did not help in that quest. When we arrived, my friend and I, we were given a large black phone with numbers to press. Then we heard recordings, Cronenburg, actors, critics, memories of those who knew him, visited his studio, were part of his crowd or had a portrait done by him. The rooms at the AGO devoted to the show held people standing before large silkscreens or screens of moving images with a big black phone to their ears. It was eery. We were in a wired world that he perhaps prophesied. But we could not fully 'read' Warhol without the 'critical' accompaniment.
Warhol impartially recorded the effects of passion: the most wanted criminals; photographs of horrendous accidents, suicides; and sex, a man's face only while he receives a blow job; and the terror of narcissism as the 3 minute film records an unmoving, unblinking subject who dissembles before it, showing the stark soul in the unwavering eyes and the retreat into blinking, self-consciousness, an attempt to veil while being instructed not to before the artist left the room. As he impartially took snap-shots in the recording of us, in stance perhaps like Joyce's Portrait of the Artist, 'paring his fingernails,' Warhol was, for me, cerebral. You cannot view his work without knowledge of its background, what he was doing, how it came about, what it means, its critical context; without this information, you are lost. Everything is a 'found image.' Nothing is original. It is the unblinking eye, a constant surveillance, even if Warhol's "eye" is a configured eye and pointed like a spotlight. His work is a comment on culture, almost a footnote on it, and we need to be guided through the specifics of that culture was before we can begin to understand it. Warhol has not become fetishized by our culture, become a cliche, though shows like this may help, as well as productions like the 4-hour PBS documentary, to the point where we fully understand the message of his medium without explanation.
tags: Andy Warhol, Andy Warhol: Supernova: Stars, Deaths and Disaster, 1962-1964, Art Gallery of Ontario.
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Today I expect the collusion of the critical and the poetic to be further clarified. I'm going to the Andy Warhol show at the Art Gallery of Ontario which should be interesting - I find his work, despite its elevation of the commercial icon to art, cerebral. It requires a critic as go-between, as intercessor, a body of theory to explain it. Commercialism figures highly in Warhol's art. He was a successful commercial artist before becoming a 'fine artist,' and he became hugely successful at that, too. He took cultural icons, Marilyn Monroe, Jackie Kennedy/Onassis, and made us aware of our deifying tendencies. Or elevated the ordinary to the status of high art, like a show of packing boxes, filming the Empire State Building for 8 hours, filming a man sleeping through the night... I had no use for Warhol's aesthetic or artistic mentality when I was an art student many years ago, he never 'spoke' to me on any level about the possibilities of art. He was the showman showing the showmanship of our society. But then as now, I'm not a conceptual artist. Thanks to this show, though, I am already revisiting my biases and am beginning to even think he was a prophet - of the internet/media driven world that we live in, and that puts him in a whole other category. I may even end up liking him.
I'll let you know.
(Here's a link to an article, Andy Warhol's Smirking Genius, on the PBS 4-hour documentary on Warhol.)
Sunday, September 17, 2006
"Wallace Stegner, an author who served as director of the Creative Writing Center at Stanford ... [wrote an] essay "To a Young Writer" (November 1959) [that] took the form of a letter addressed to a former student—a twenty-something young woman with literary aspirations, a graduate degree, and an unpublished novel. Stegner sought at once encourage her and to give her an honest picture of how difficult her career path would be.
He began by expressing empathy for the uncertainty she must now be feeling:To date, from all your writing, you have made perhaps five hundred dollars for two short stories and a travel article. To finance school and to write your novel you have lived meagerly with little encouragement and have risked the disapproval of your family, who have understandably said, "Here is this girl nearly thirty years old now, unmarried, without a job or a profession, still mooning away at her writing as if life were forever. Here goes her life through her fingers while she sits in cold rooms and grows stoop-shouldered over a typewriter." So now, with your book finally in hand, you want desperately to have some harvest: a few good reviews, some critical attention, encouragement, royalties enough to let you live and go on writing...
You would like to be told that you are good and that all this difficulty and struggle and frustration will give way gradually or suddenly, preferably suddenly, to security, fame, confidence, the conviction of having worked well and faithfully to a good end and become someone important to the world.
Stegner warned, however, that fame, fortune, and accolades would most likely not be forthcoming. Not because her work was not good: "You write better than hundreds of people with established literary reputations.” The problem, he explained, was that her writing was aimed over the heads of the mass of readers, and would therefore only ever be appreciated by a small audience of "thoughtful readers." She would thus always find herself struggling—"pinched for money, for time, for a place to work."
So was all this worth it? "I would not blame you,” he wrote, “if you ... asked, Why spend ten years in an apprenticeship to fiction only to discover that this society so little values what you do that it won't pay you a living wage for it?"
But in the end, he argued, living to practice an art that one does well is its own reward:For you ... it will have to be art. You have nothing to gain and nothing to give except as you distill and purify ephemeral experience into quiet, searching, touching little stories ... and so give your uncommon readers a chance to join you in the solidarity of pain and love and the vision of human possibility.
But isn't it enough? For lack of the full heart's desire, won't it serve?"
I think you have to just not care about what people think of you while you scribble away. Future fame or fortune are irrelevant. You do it while your family and friends shake their heads and wonder why with all that education and ability you seem to be doing nothing, and they pity you and shake their heads and you have to just let them. There is no teleology to it; simply, you have to release yourself of the books that want to be born. You labour alone, that's just the way it is. No point fighting it. Without "a product," a society based on capitalism, commercialism has no way to gage value. Until the book is written and published, there is no "product," and, therefore, no "value."
Though I don't know about you, personally I haven't found that giving up and walking away from one's muse is an option. Exigencies of the muse, though, is another topic.
Thursday, September 14, 2006
I confide in you, Monsieur, troubled by the writing we are immersed in. The air is steamy, damp. And the communities, internet colonies, are like flocks of birds flying in scattered formations. Today, mon cher, I am not good with words. I say what people already know.
You ask me to describe her? I trace patterns of words to read the braille she is. It is like surfing where the screen becomes a crystal ball of tides. Posts open and close like visions. Writing hides in an ocean continually closing over itself.
Her stories are long, drawn out, each paragraph a wave dissolving the sand, the shore, encroaching. She is the rising tide; it is overwhelming. My computer screen is splashed with spilling breakers.
Must I imagine her? Like seaweed, hair, dark, long, pulled back loosely with wisps softening around the face, I think. I've never seen her; shall never gaze upon a photograph. She wears only veils of words, an obscuring sea spray of a forcefulness that surprises.
While I want to stay in the imagery of water, Monsieur, the metaphors shift. Let us leave the desolate shore and come into the city of words. Where her house is and where she moves like an exotic figment, a flash of fabric and skin.
A blackness of cloth, surely, but not without red. Brooch of a poppy. Toss of bead earrings, like Native American dream catchers. Or that ruby rising out of a ring of melted, cast sun, the only one on her hands woven with pale veins and the delicacy of a musician's fingers. Open her closet and you will find on the floor red canvas tennis shoes, ginger petal satin Chinese slippers, patent leather ruby heels, flaming red slick knee-high boots. On the shelf, a vinyl orange belt, crimson silk sash, red opera gloves, a vermilion felt hat. Dragging down the white wall like Barnett Newman's "Lema sabachthani" series, a funerary dirge of black dresses, a heavy curtain of silk, cotton, corduroy, rayon, wool hung on cedar-scented hangers.
Her writing spills out of its unkempt garden, overflows with the redness of a sensuality that is both innocent and over-ripe, tended and unweeded. It is like Oscar Wilde's "Salome"; if she who holds the platter on which the prophet's head rests was a writer. Or Beardsley's version in black lines, but aged: white skin, black habit, and the blood red splashes that are uniquely hers. I smell perfumes and compost: perhaps her writing resembles a mass of cut flowers in varying stages, some dying, some bursting forth; floral, with dark passion.
But always the salt swirling about. It leeches the soil. Dying follows her. She's in a difficult economic situation, desperate really. How she came to penury is a tale that grows more strange in each telling. The publications for which she wrote were autumnal leaves that fell and floated away. Her fish bones were broken and reset crookedly. Yet she fishes, and scales mercilessly what's caught. Is she a victim? Or a perpetrator? I don't know.
One doesn't know the true story or if there are any true stories.
An onrush of waves now, from the sky, from the ocean, it doesn't matter. Salt water in my mouth. Monsieur, I beseech you, help me break free of the undertow. Why does she silence us - I, and the others? She speaks in the diminutive. Sarcasm of a sea-side parrot, words twisted in the ruffle of virid and cinnabar feathers, inside the sharp beak. Have I found someone to beleaguer my laboured writing? It becomes unbearable, the denouncer's voice. Do I imagine a fertile slope for my Sisyphean ball of letters instead of an ocean of caustic words? Why can't I turn and go elsewhere, where welcomes wait?
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Very dark brown hair, long, pulled back loosely with wisps softening around the face, I think. I've never seen her; shall never gaze upon a photograph. She wears a veil of words.
Perhaps a blackness of cloth, but not without red. Brooch of a poppy. Toss of bead earrings, like Native American dream catchers. Or that ruby rising out of a ring of melted, cast sun, the only one on her hands woven with pale veins and the delicacy of a musician's fingers. Open her closet and you will find on the floor red canvas tennis shoes, red satin Chinese slippers, patent leather ruby red heels, red slick knee-high boots. On the shelf, a vinyl red belt, red silk sashes, red opera gloves, a red felt hat. Dragging down the wall like Barnett Newman's "Lema sabachthani," a funerary dirge of black dresses, a heavy curtain of silk, cotton, corduroy, rayon, wool on cedar-scented hangers.
Her writing, its own fertile garden, overflows with the redness of a sensuality that is both innocent and over-ripe, tended and unweeded, like Oscar Wilde's "Salome," if the woman who holds the platter on which the prophet's head rests could write. Or a mass of cut flowers in varying stages, some dying, some bursting forth; floral, with dark passion.
One doesn't know the true story or if there are any true stories.
Why am I, along with others, silenced? She speaks in the diminutive. Sarcasm of a parrot, words twisted in the ruffle of virid and cinnabar feathers, inside the sharp beak. Have I found someone to blot my laboured writing? It becomes unbearable, the denouncer's voice. Do I imagine a fertile slope for my Sisyphian ball of letters but where I don't belong, and why can't I turn and go elsewhere? Where welcomes wait?
Monday, September 11, 2006
Poverty drives this corner. The dispossessed come from everywhere, converging. Last year I tripped on the street car tracks and fell headlong on the traffic-heavy road. I'm not imagining that gravity shifts its axis here.
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
a certain way.
In continuous presence.
Doesn't the moment
if we are living it?
Even if it doesn't exist.
Fading horizon lights
as the wing lifts
surge into sky.
Which doesn't exist either.
here as much sky
as up there.
A velocity of words
the sonic sphere,
winds of sound
made into meaning.
Perhaps I fell in love
Winging across the alphabet.
into each other
like bodies of knowledge.
Are we a rhetoric of ourselves,
our love or war or loneliness-
how can what we say
I cannot imagine our lives
without their ceaseless
The heartbeat at our throat.
As I tilt my chair back
in the pressurized cabin,
These words, even in their
voicelessness, the droning dark
on the ascending flight.
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
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(This is the same dish they serve in SlotzCity Casino.)
"One possible cause is what he calls tension myositis syndrome (TMS). What happens in those cases is that various powerful emotions, largely unconscious, bring about a tension in the muscles of the back. This tension causes real (not imaginary) pain, because the muscles are deprived of oxygen. And Sarno's major contribution to medicine is that he has found a way to treat such patients with a high degree of success.
To oversimplify greatly, the treatment consists of explaining to the patient the physiological basis for TMS, and inviting the patient to consider, with or without professional assistance, the possible unconscious emotions which might be the underlying cause."
We underestimate the power of our emotions, and how unruly they can be if there are problems that are hard to deal with: abuse, loneliness, frustration, failure. The strain alone of holding one's world together for one's loved ones can take its toll, as we all know.
Whether or not any of us have TMS or not doesn't matter. We surely could all do with a litte TLC (tender loving care) anytime. I'm suggesting that self-love, which includes self-acceptance, is a viable form of healing our own divided minds.
Last night I thought, hey, if directing this pranic energy of love to my upper arm (diagnosed with bursitus) has substantially healed it, why not extend it to all of me, even where it doesn't hurt. I felt bathed in bliss, let me tell you. Such inner brightness - a flowing healing energy, I felt a high voltage charge of pure happiness. It was like a guided visualization; I used to do this for my yoga students, why had I never done it for myself? I am happy to report a sense of inner calm, balance, and joy today. Being in love has been shown to increase immunity, so it's all good. And, if you're really nice and leave lovely comments, perhaps I'll even try a recording a guided visualization for you...
Monday, September 04, 2006
Such moments are profoundly healing. The flow turns away from death, the cancerous ruin of the cells in the body, and towards life, the rebirth of glowing new cells. Radiant energies dancing the whole being, aligning with the cosmic forces of love, unity, wholeness, creativity.
Before it was always ending, every time was the last time, the future wrapped up in a ball of time where the strands are always ending. Always coming together in perpetual separation. The wrapping of the strands of moments of togetherness tempered with the forever leaving. The not now and never will be. The refusals of continuity...
The beginning of the beginning, a genesis. The flow reverses its withering away, its letting go, its entrophy undone, and enters the fearful place of the vulnerable, a fragility of the now.
I wrote that in 2001, in a story called, "Story of Angels," about a man I loved. It was the first serious piece of work I'd attempted. It shifted me towards the possiblity of becoming a writer.
For many years I've been working on modalities of healing. In future posts I hope to talk more about what I now call, Self-Healing through Self-Love. This is what I understand about healing: that's it's not about "lessons," forget that, things happen, the body breaks down, there are stresses and strains, the synchronicities of one's entire system are so complex they are beyond comprehension and things can go awry. There is no "rational reason" for it when it does. Accept the difficulty or illness or disease as a given. As Wayne Gretsky famously said, "Focus on where the puck's going, not where it's been."
Mostly what we need to give up is the lament.
The lament keeps us enthralled with if only.
Rather, in conjunction with medical help, view onself with the greatest compassion. With kindness, warmth, love, caring. Do not be angry at where you are suffering. Do not be angry at your failing body. Neither hold onto the illness because of the attention it gives you. Rather see your body as a wounded child in need of protection and security. One that you wish to free from the burden of illness. Surround yourself with your own gentle, accepting, compassionate and loving thoughts. Allow the pranic energy of radiance, brightness, healing to flow from your palm to the area that needs the strength of your loving belief. Over and over, hour after hour, day after day, week after week, month after month, let the years go by. Keep loving your self, keep loving where you hurt. Eventually you will heal; I have.
It's not that we don't want to die; it's that we want to live long, ripe, fruitful lives well into the great night and let go when we are ready. We all deserve a long and beautiful lifespan. It is with this aim that I approach modalities of healing.
To heal surely we have to suspend disbelief.
Friday, September 01, 2006
Tonality of the moon. The deep listening to the speaking that is witheld in the voice. What hides in the silence that isn't silent. Where the gasp, retreat, plummeting. Clouds mull over the moon, concealing and unconcealing like broiling smoke. Deep in the smoking mirror I hear voices speaking. Ceaseless speaking without bodies. Speech that speaks us. Calling across craters, without sound. Staccato choruses and turbulent underpinnings. Your laugh, lilt, the sobbing - glottal, utterance, gesture - cicada of love songs, night life rhythms, beats punctuating words weaving the coiling narrative I speak while hearing you speaking your story. Secret writing that is private out loud. The way we untell the great text we live. Under the moonlight, in the looking glass of the lake, in this silent night.
Note by way of explanation, begging apology: I've been playing with semiotics again, my fingers are sticky with phonemes... and as I ate the vowels and licked the consonants, I got thinking about the speaking subject and realized that that idea precludes a speaking hearer. So I tried to write the hearing hearers vantage who's speaking what the subject's speaking. Ooh la! And beside the lake listening to cicadas on a moonlit night too.
the negative space
the only space
the free space
the filling space
to cover wanderings
to put everything that doesn't exist
all the figments
and all the fears
in the corners of the room
behind that beautiful
is what you can't see
underneath the shadows
spawn the ideas
in the absence
in the negative space
the only space
the free space
One of my favourites:
To see what has become.
Or this one she wrote for a poetry project. She received the highest mark in English, coming in at 89%, oh little girl (oh proud Mama). It's beautiful for me because I, too, usually received the highest mark in English courses in high school. Her Dad's a well published poet, too. She's 15 years old...
If these were your last words, what would you say?
I'd speak about foggy memories.
Fear, and walking in a daze.
I'd scream about being nothing special,
Egging, burning and drawing blood.
About injustice and theory and the snow covered car.
I'd talk about summer wind and sunlight and castles,
A butterfly emerging and the tiny fragile bones of birds.
I'd utter of cottage trips, muddy exploration and discovering new land.
I'd talk about ecstasy and blinding lights,
About bottomless regret and breaking everything in sight,
Rage that feeds your veins and becomes your existence,
I'd whisper about laughing till you couldn't breathe
And crying till you couldn't see.
I'd whisper self-destruction and mind alteration,
Intoxication, self-betrayal and my latest craving.
I'd whisper of breaking down and giving my heart away.
I'd passionately ramble about illusions and life theory,
About religion and everything that starts with why?
About finding a soul and defining a moment.
Life and death.
I'd discuss loving the wind, following daddy-long-legs and falling into comfort,
about campfires by th beach and flying on the swing.
I'd mumble about the hidden feelings,
The ones in the back that blend together
And the unidentified.
I'd mention being liked,
And snail covered roads in the moonlight.
How I can't say anything that hasn't been said before.