Wednesday, August 31, 2005

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On the edge of not knowing. The flow forward about to begin. Knowing without surity. Already the energy has begun its motion; already the future is in place. Yet it hasn't happened yet.

She sips a cappuccino under the green awning. An empty cigarette pack falls to the ground. A tiny Chinese lady pushes a shopping cart with a hundred yellow plastic buckets stacked in three leaning towers. The musician playing the guitar strums bluegrass in a straw hat and a pale cream linen suit. It is a cloudlessly sunny Summer day, not humid, perfect. People are casual, happy. Life is easy on a Sunday in the city - Kensington Market is closed off to traffic and there is an ambling street festival of musicians, dancers, food, shopping.

Does time stop for such moments, these pleasant hours? Even now the future is drawing nourishment, like tendrils of roots in the present. The question I want to ask is, does it happen before it happens? Or are we only and forever creating a lattice of possibilities for the flowering of the future? Even on the edge of.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Finding your creativity in your body, its sensuality…

From Fruitflesh by Gayle Brandeis [paraphrased for women & men who write]:

Relax, perhaps lie on your back, let your breath circulate in your body, “When you feel quiet, open, bring your awareness to the inside of your body. Explore your inner regions, the space inside your skin. Can you feel where your creativity pulses right now? Is it located in your vulva, or phallus, your rib cage, the arch of your foot? What shape does it take? Does it have a colour, a sound, a density?”

I am dreaming my way in. Glimmering rainbows, electrical, channels of energy pulse, throb, unfolding, hovering, swiftly moving currents. Is there a location for this energy? More deeply, envisioning this creative energy, its locus in my body, moving into it---an apex in my vulva, in the folds and membranes, but also floating above like an orchid, sensitive, delicate; and sliding across my thighs, radiating up and down the sides, where my body retains its memory of childbirth, in the skin there, its puckers, spots of cellulite like the remains of a cocoon my babies slid from, losing the elasticity of tight skin, youth, the years of serving others winnowing me, my creativity in the folds of life; sparking in my breasts, curving out from my breath, this place of giving, radiating, the warmth of the loving heart, beating; I feel my creativity rising out of me like a phoenix, rising again and again from the ashes of my existence. And in my graceful hands, in a dream my palms multi-petalled roses exuding softness, tenderness, wild and winsome scent, a lusciousness, hands I barely respect, don’t cradle them, don’t cream them, veins showing like markings of jade across their white skin, but from which everything flows never-the-less; my creativity in my mouth, auras of rubies, sapphires, opals, tourmaline and serpentine and raw diamonds, multi-coloured, rising as if from some volcanic source within; and my creativity flows from behind my eyes, where it is always swirling, thick, dense, blindly seeing the rhythmic music of sounds, images, forming, creating the dance on this caress of canvas, of parchment…

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Sunday, August 21, 2005

This is inspired by the photo I took to go with the last post and is a whole series of images in itself. Today I wrote this prose poem, away from the images in photo, in my notebook at a cafe, remembering.


Follow the curve of birth. Images of fertility. How did they appear with such intimacy? Seeds, eggs, vas deferens, oviducts, ovum, egg sacs, a winged maple seed helio-revolving, honey combs, womb, scrotum, the tubes where living cells spawn. Cracking apart, breaking, blighted, ideas and wishes that form, eggs bursting without yolks, and one perfect moment that rises whole into the world. What is viable, what happens, where desire and its fulfillment are one unfolding. Purple, blue, insect, fowl, animal, human, whirring. Moonscape, the deep unconscious. Libido an overflow of the deep forces in motion, possibilities appearing and disappearing, where the shape of the future occurs. Incipient wholeness. Where it is never still. Three hundred million sperm entering the central canal of the testicles of each man every day. In excess. An abundance of fertility. Eggs waiting, releasing one at a time, a slow, sensual journey towards union. For the one perfect being, the eternal hope of the generations of the future. Striving, giving, living. The deepest music of creation, unbroken, even amidst the shattering, the shards of the half-made, the untenable, the profuse attempts at what are works of art. Then the perfection of the way the unbroken energy flows, syncopates, beats staccato, creates stillness, chaotically refines, prays, meditates through what lives. Solidifies into living form. Strange magnified continents, an image of silence on the edge of creation.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Body Painting on Saris

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Body Painting on Saris

I am moving through a landscape of strange passion. The air is scented with a mixture of hyacinth, pine and memories of seabreeze. With wild fruit. Raspberries glisten redly amidst thorns, and I greedily pluck them from the bushes until my palm is overflowing and my tongue alive with sour freshness. The wind dances in the treetops, plays with racing clouds. I breathe deeply. The warmth of Summer and the ease with which I glide across the urban terrain, even with my unsettledness, unsettles you. I am like a tendril falling across your face; a glance of wind on your cheek; a sudden rush in your heart; a woman swirling about you like a dervish. You thought you had forgotten me, turned me into a speck of dust that you blew towards the mountains. And here I am, my mouth full of raspberries, red juices trickling. And I hold my hand to you, heaped with berries like jewels. But am I real? How quickly can I swirl in my colourful sarongs, beads and bracelets jangling, and disappear again?

[Image from Mythical Lovers, Divine Desires, by Sarah Bartlett (Blandford, 1988) listed only as L.Vallet.]

I'm still working with ideas of the muse as speaking subject who is consciously playing the role traditionally assigned to her. The "I" is not 'me,' it's just a poetic convention, a persona taken on for the moment, a flurry of images that have written themselves across the page of my notebook today. The woman in this piece, for instance, is much younger than I am. And she is caught in a myth of entrancement; perhaps that's it. Her laughing eyes. Think of nymphs, sylphs, devis and tantrikas.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The River

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What is the surface
of this river
that I am flowing with?

Gliding where the water
paints the trees and sky
in liquid colours,
calm, steady, tranquil, smooth;
underneath, I am a torrent of emotion,
a riptide of passion, flux of feeling
affirming, reeling, denying, spinning
into my own whirlpool.

My journey
back to my city
re-invokes memories
endings, untenable relationships that have lost their power,
that time has spun into the eye of the whirlpool,
currents of emotion, burdens of loss, gone.

I can look at you now
without flinching.
I am not trapped in cycles of unending irresolution.
Because I can leave, wash myself
of algae, reeds, sand and grit,
let the waters rush the detritus that remains
into a spining watery vortex.

This knowledge alone


I am the gentle
lapping on the shore,
fresh water of coolness...

Do you not see or hear
the thundering waterfall that I am?

I have lotuses growing on my still surface
like stepping stones
of flat jewels, of full moons, of honey cakes.

If you wish the beautific vision
of the saints,
it is here. But stay on the edge where the
stars meet the water.
Underneath, the currents rage like a woman gone
wild, frenzied, writhing, torrential,
hot, and uncontainable...

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Friday, August 12, 2005

Courage My Love

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usCourage My Love grows on you. Eventually it becomes the place where you always stop, browse each week before continuing on to buy fruit and vegetables and other health foods at Kensington Market. Occasionally you buy some silver jewelry, earrings or bangles or a pendant, or sometimes just beautiful loose beads that you'll string later, sometimes a vintage slip or skirt or shirt. You'll always touch the jingly silver dancer's belts, for belly dancers or strippers perhaps. You'll run your fingers through the sheer silk scarves from the 50s in the basket on the floor, knowing the last time you bought one it developed moth holes and so you can't again. But touching is okay. You'll admire the silk kimonos hanging almost out of reach, their elegant patterns, cloud-dance colours. You'll look through the dress shirts, dozens of them, wondering if they'll all sell and be worn again. In the Winter you always run your hands through the cashmere, some of the sweaters in mint condition; in the Summer through the silk or cotton skirts. You'll remember the styles of bygone eras; the way women fit themselves to the lines of then current design that is now retro-in. You'll silently talk to the primitive masks on the walls from obscure parts of the world about where they've been, what they're doing here now, where they'll end up. You might ask whoever's behind the counter where the turquoise rings in the jeweler's case came from, or the rich amber bracelets. And you'll see calm browsers like yourself or shoppers who have that hungry look, searching for an item, a bargain, of which there are lots, or something to make them feel fresh and new again. And you'll always find a small satin bag for a semi-precious stone or a tiny carved box or an exquisite card or even some incense if you need to take something with you for the rest of the day like an amulet.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Tristan and Iseult...

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usIt wasn't that Tristan and Iseult were victims of a love potion that they couldn't remove from the DNA of their cells once eros had altered their chromosomes. It wasn't that they were enslaved to their passion for each other without choice because the potion had altered them forever, opened them to each other fully and definitively and without respite. It wasn't the potion at all. That was a myth. Iseult's mother didn't make a love potion for her daughter and her amour (oh, she knew they would inadvertently drink it on the voyage from Ireland to Cornwall) so they could be trapped in unredeemable desire for each other. She knew that their hearts had already opened to each other. She hoped the love potion would encourage them to follow their passion for each other. But it didn't work. What was wrong with Tristan and Iseult was that they were always trying to do the 'right' thing, to 'please' everybody but themselves: King Mark who Iseult marries, Iseult of the White Hands who Tristan marries, though Kaherdin negotiates as Iseult of the White Hands' brother and Tristan's friend and attempts to help him choose between his divergent loyalties to a peaceful unified state or to his heart. Because of the choice Tristan and Iseult made, to serve others, they found no relief, no solace, no blessing in their love for each other. And their tragedy unfolded and they eventually died because of the jealousy incited among those they tried to live by the rules of convention for...

Pre-Raphaelite Tristan & Iseult painting by Anonymous:

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

On Uncertainty...

I've been wanting to write on uncertainty for a few days, and this has emerged, a prose poem, philosophical, in the dream-time...

"Make your own flute, and learn to play it from the innermost center of who you are, play it from you soul... the woman who loves your song, as you love hers, is the one." Tony Macasaet
Floating on the face of existence, wide ocean of unknowing, do the waves bring us closer, draw us to each other? In the darkness of our isolation, our lives, their solitary attachment to the energy of it all, we can live together, we can die together, but still we are born and die alone. There can be no escape from it. Together and apart, fathom this in the dark sea around us.

In the dream from which I wake in the hot night, we are lying next to each other, sheets over bare bodies, comfortable, touching, on a bed floating in a vast and dark ocean; we can hear water lapping to the edges of all the horizons around us. We are illumined in the night, diffuse spotlights, chiaroscuro lighting, a golden sepia whiteness, our faces warm and content, the soft white pillows we rest on.

Finding closeness in the vast uncertainty, we can agree on this beauty, even as we gaze into the darkness glimmering with stars.

There is comfort in unknowingness.

In the closeness of love in the vast unknowing.

Writing and Line Drawing © 2005 by Brenda Clews

Monday, August 08, 2005

Travels on the road of uncertainty...

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As I share my travels on the road of uncertainty, I am now in a residential area of Toronto. My beautiful friend is away for a few days and I am allowing myself much needed rest. This is the garden house, yoga space, sanctuary, tiny sacred temple that my friend had built at the end of her garden and where I am staying. In the Spring there was a fire, cloth over a bare light bulb, but she managed to get it under control without too much fire damage. The ceiling's been repaired, the soot washed off, and I'm to paint more coats of sealant inside, and offered to compose images of Kuan Yin on parchment paper either to transfer to the walls where I can paint them in a delicate wash of rainbow lotus colours, or that she can keep to use as she pleases (these drawings on parchment are meant to be hung over fabrics). It's a sacred space where she has conducted her healing practice and each night I sleep in a radius of love that dwells here, and that remembers the purifying healing work of this locus, and I am here until the end of the month...and then who knows...

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Lovesongs in the darkness...

Like a continuous natural chant, the cicadas sing their lovesongs in the darkness. An awning of leaves spanning overhead from two trees, one on either side, are still. A dog barks ferociously in a neighbour's yard, perhaps at an intruding cat, and the owners come out, the woman speaking emotionally in Portuguese, then they go back in, and the silence which carries in its background the songs of the cicadas emerges again. I sit on a white wicker love seat under a spray of tiny white lit stars gracing the tree awaiting my lover's call.

A plane passes overhead and as I look up I see that a third tree fans over me, high up, leaves with fronds like palms. The plane moves across the soundscape invisibly except for its moving lights and soon the distant roar is gone. The stillness of the trees and the way I am canopied by them feels like a sacred grove.

After a hot, humid day of nearly unbearable discomfort, the evening is soft and inviting and enwraps me. A stone Buddha, seated in lotus, meditating, faces my direction; he sits before a prayer mat of washed white stones amidst a fan of leaves. Peace emanates from him, calm, serene. Near him a small statue of Kuan Yin stands; this house a veritable shrine to Kuan Yin. White clay and porcelain statuettes of Kuan Yin are everywhere inside the house, and two large hand-painted colour-glazed porcelain renditions of her, edged with gold in the way only the Chinese who worship her can create, reside in the garden house or yoga space or sacred little healing temple I am sleeping in at the end of the garden.

I feel blessed in the Goddess's radius of energy as it emanates from this house where I am staying, the house of my dear friend. The phone rings, and I answer it, my soft voice, his quieter one over the receiver, joining the singing of the lovesongs of the night.

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Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Written on the Plane, Monday Aug 1st...

The aeroplane taking me home, not to a home but to the city that I call home, the city that has enveloped me most of my life, rumbles through the sky. Today Vancouver was a vision of ocean and beach and city and mountains in brilliant sunlight as we rose spectacularly into the sky. With my camera in a bag in the overhead compartment, I wasn’t able to take a picture. The only photograph is the one I carry in memory now.

Will I ever forget those white lines appearing and disappearing as we flew over the waves and up through the scattered clouds? White lines of seafoam writing on the ocean like a calligraphy, signifying the creativity I found there.

Yet it was a city of much difficulty for me. My children not adjusting even after 2 years. I began to feel I just didn’t belong there; but, in the ways of the energies of the world, before I left I found not only a job in a wonderful company, but a possible community through a newfound friend. I left feeling much better about my time there for these simple reasons. And I know I will be back, if only for a holiday.

The uncertainty ahead unfolds with the unrelenting wings of the strange bird I fly on, the drone of a metallic butterfly swooping across the landscape, crossing mountains, prairies, lakes.

In the balance, Toronto weighed in heavier, with a number of different communities, family and probably a university I know well; I never felt like a Vancouverite, but like someone who alighted from another world, that my energies didn’t suit the city, or that Vancouver, as beautiful and fertile as it is, wasn’t my city.

Yet I return with 3 books that I’ve written in the last 2 years, and while they need much editing, they might never have been written had I stayed in Toronto. The natural fertility of the city, its abundant greenery, inspiring creativity perhaps. The creative energy of that part of the world is extraordinary. Surely it has something to do with the beauty of the surroundings.

Creativity on the West Coast is in tune with the flow of the natural energy of the land; in a city like Toronto creativity erupts despite the pollution, traffic, crowding of an intensely built city of brick and concrete and manicured parks. The one an effortless extension; the other a determined statement in the midst of an artificial world, a city where beauty is not a paramount reason for being. In comparison to the casualness of Vancouver, Toronto is a business-oriented city with multiply positioned goals to achieve, to succeed. The natural landscape is a human one, one created by people for people and it is about people. Is that what I missed?

I like the energy of the people of Toronto. It’s a big city energy, even if it only approaches the truly large megalopolises of cities like New York or Tokyo or London or Rome.

It’s a city on the edge of a lake that it has cut itself off from by putting a highway between itself and the expanse of water.

That highway is where millions of people stream, driving in, out, working, loving, living their lives; it’s fast, the expanse of Lake Ontario to one side, the city risen from the flat landscape on the other.

Where I am going, into that core. Where the buildings are high, where the crowds move like large packs, herds, where the beat pounds.

And what will I find in this latest re-entry, this my third time heading back downtown to live in the busy core? The first time I was there in my 20s, I stayed 18 months; the second time, I stayed 20 years. I leave, and am always pulled back...

The plane takes me steadily across the country, my dog and cat in the hold below, during the passage between cities.
The landscape below me is veined with roads, mapping pathways, blanketed by fields in a patchwork of warm earth tones, grain yellow to dark green to dusty oranges to dirt-coloured to pale green, until we come to the vortexes of towns and cities where knots of community energies coagulate.

I feel a sureness of trust that this return is good, that the city will envelope me again, that I will find myself inspired by the wild and crazy and gentle and brilliant and ordinary and beautiful and loving people around me.

In 2 hours the plane will land in Toronto.

I follow my heart and return home.

Monday, August 01, 2005

That Terry passed away so quickly is, well, I was expecting to be blogging with him for years to come. I glad he is out of pain. I am glad I came to know him, his empathetic poetry and brilliant personas. I will always love him, his humour, his compassion, his creativity...

I am staying at Stephen's, voxcat's, and have met another blogger too - Bonnie, Literature_Chick most wonderful, and she glows in real life, vibrantly. There've been lots of hugs here.

The move yesterday was pure chaos, and packing your personal life, what you surround yourself with, in boxes and watching them slide out of the house and onto a van for transport is unsettling. Especially if you don't know where you're going to be living...

I pulled a marathon packing session of about 38 hours, only sleeping from midnight to 2am Saturday night. Bruises ripening all over my legs and arms from filling boxes, carrying boxes, bumping into boxes...

I filled a 22' truck and it took 6 guys about 6 hours to move me... I'd like to thank yet another blogger for being there by phone for me throughout the insanity, he's an amazing friend, Ira, thenarrator...

And on this overcast and cool day in the fertile beauty of Vancouver, my son's cat seems to have disappeared and I have to leave in an hour to catch a flight, and I'm worrying. Oh, and the movers left all my art from university and high school, and my Winter boots! So Stephen will keep a box for me for shipping later... and also I can take an extra box on the plane, it's cheaper than shipping by courier actually... I'm gonna be loaded down by the time I emerge at Toronto International Airport.

Stephen and Bonnie have been most wonderful to me and it is with some sadness that I leave extraordinary people like these, but the next part of my journey, this living in uncertainty, calls...

I'll be staying at my brother's tonight, and then at a beautiful friend's house till the weekend, though she's away a few days so I can completely relax, then I have no idea...

I live on trust.

Be well, write great blogs, I'll get around to reading as soon as I can.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Lifedrawing before I take to the skies...

While I'd rather be at home packing, and there is still way too much to do, until Friday I am at a job where I can while away my time, between calls and mailings, on the NET (instead of finishing packing, oh such stress). For Jean, Adriana Bliss, e_journeys, Mary Godwin, Richard Lawrence Cohen, and Dale, who left such heartwarming messages and a welcome back whenever that may be, and Tamar who sent me an email, thank you, my dear blogging friends...

Last night I went with my new friend Stephen, Voxcat, to his weekly lifedrawing class, and then to English Bay to watch the fireworks, a magnificent display of light and colour and explosion over the ocean and against the backdrop of the mountains, a most wonderful way to say goodbye to Vancouver.

I post three of my lifedrawing efforts. They were 3 minute poses. A challenge for one who likes to linger over drawing. By the third hour I was exhausted with the speed, and began to colour instead. These images contain stories, reflections, ways of composing life and being and may become photopoems later on...

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Meadow Dancing
©Brenda Clews 2005

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Her Figments and Shadows in Half Tones
©Brenda Clews 2005

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Are Those Her Wings, Has She Yet to Put Them On?
©Brenda Clews 2005

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Time to take to the skies...

With many behind-the-scenes crises and negotiations, it's finally official. I'm moving back to Toronto, where I expect to be welcomed by quibbling but supportive family and a whole group of beautiful friends. I plan to fly out of Vancouver on Monday, with my dog and cat in tow. I have nowhere to stay, and will have to rely on the kindness of friends for the first bit (my family can't help, my brothers live in a no-dogs condo and my mother is in her 80s and couldn't handle me & my pets)...

I'm gonna miss you all! I am working this week, and packing like a halycon now that it is actually going to happen, and don't know when I'll be on-line again, it could be a day, a week, a month...

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usI'd like to thank all of you for your supportive, encouraging, warm and sometimes humorous comments as I struggled through my uncertainties. You've all made it an easier journey, and my last post, Sky Songs in the Park, was particularly inspired by our connections to each other. I'd especially like to thank a fellow blogger who has been most kind to me throughout the ongoing crises and practically hand-held me through the worst and most unsettling parts, Ira, thenarrator. And Pru, ydurp, for your support behind-the-scenes too. And Laurieglynn, for your long and encouraging magical emails. And dear Bonnie, Literature_Chick, I hope to squeeze some time out of this busy weekend of packing and moving to go to the Slough to meet you, the Japanese fishing village in Richmond, where a most amazing woman lives in a little house on stilts. And Stephen, Voxcat, it sure was wonderful meeting another blogger and hitting the town to dance last Saturday night, and how you took me to that magical house in the Slough last night, ahh; we'll keep in touch with each other through the blogosphere...

Until we meet again, my beautiful writers, friends, confidants... big hugs, lots of kisses, and tons of delightful laughter... & keep on posting! xoxo

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Marriage Mandala

Ok, it would make an interesting tatoo. I painted it 20 years ago when I had a dreadfully sore throat and fever. I remember lying in bed, sipping codeine-laced cough syrup straight from the bottle, journal on my knees, acrylics beside me, painting. I was into snakes and mandalas, just coming out of my Jungian stage. It's a small image. Then I got married that year and used it as the image for our Wedding Invitations. My sculptor friend was the only one who remarked on it, and he said, "O my g-d! For a wedding?" C'mon, dear old friend, two ouroboros' are intertwined, the serpents are kissing and forming a heart, there's a wishing star of blessing and guidance, a pearl or moon holding the secret of wisdom, and flames of passion leaping out of the sun... Sigh. Did the marriage last, well, no, but that's beside the point.

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"Marriage Mandala" ©1985 by Brenda Clews

Ouroboros: a circular symbol or a snake or dragon devouring its tail, standing for infinity or wholeness.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Mismatched Coordinates, or Resting in Uncertainty?

Uncertainty continues only because the coordinates are not coordinating. Desires and their fulfillment are slightly off. And that variation sends the compass spinning into chaos.

I'm attempting to plan a move back East because I have not been able to find permanent work. My children are presently in Ontario and their plane tickets back to Vancouver have been cancelled. Everything is nearly in place, but not quite.

Late yesterday afternoon I received a call asking that I stay on as a temp receptionist at my favourite company in Vancouver for a month; and I have been asked to do a maternity leave for a year beginning in late November too. Had the offer of a month's work occured even a few days ago, it would have changed everything.

I've been doing well living in uncertainty. Making plans based on the lack of work here, yet with no certainty when I arrive back in Toronto either. That's equally up in the air. But this call yesterday threw me into chaos, a sleepless night, the sense of inner explosions imploding...

Then it turns out that the mover I discussed my move with has booked nothing, not checked into the cost of shipping by rail, and so it's like I'm not leaving at all. Although I am leaving a house I haven't been very happy in; at least that's definite and certain. Or is it?

So, for a week's work, and hopefully growing clarity in the confusion, I wasn't going to say anything about my uncertainty. But I did. HR, who I adore, truly, wasn't too happy with me. But, hey guys, I could have lied, said yes, I can do a month, then sped out of here when everything else was in place, if in fact it did fall into place. They decided to give me another week of work here, a week I can definitely commit to.

At this rate, though, I may be out of a good job that gives me parameters I'm comfortable with, with great people, and a good move back home, and with the coordinates swinging wildly and without connection in the starry sky, end up on the street...

Now those universal co-ordinates where desire and event meet in action, why aren't they matching up? They're slightly askew, just off key, and all it's serving to do is make me feel badly about lost opportunities. You can only push the event continuum so far in a direction, and then it takes off, like an avalanche, and there's no stopping what you've started. I'm almost at that point, or have I jiggled it enough so that a move back is already immanent in the Great Ledger of Life? A move back into the uncertainty of no job, no house, and having to start all over again from scratch? When I suddenly, and at long last, have work here now, or at least a real offer of it?

Or, why do I get offered exactly what I was looking for after I've given up and decided to leave?

I mean, I'm only talking interim; I was also going to tutor at an agency in the evenings for more money than a temp agency pays, and, hopefully, return to university in the Fall of 2006. This, merely a bridging strategy. So why is the bridge suddenly offered when I've given up and almost gone the other way?

What does it mean? Or am I to listen to the sardonic laughter of the Gods of Fate as they watch me squirm? Giving me what I asked for after I given up the thought of getting it and had begun to make other tenuous plans...?

I still have an enormous amount of packing to do this weekend. I feel like collapsing in a heap of tears and resignation. Arghhh.....

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

What's Hidden in the Crevices?

I wonder what is hidden in the crevices, the tiny tide pools, the obscure and wayward parts of ourselves? There is a central story, our main narrative, who we are, what we've experienced, the way we think of ourselves, the way we tell our stories, the way we present ourselves to others, but what if that falls away? What if sometimes our own mainstream is still, empty, non-existent; what if it disppears for awhile; what then? What would come creeping out of the shadows, slithery, bat-like things, or fairies, gnomes, sylphs and undines, or a cast of characters of every shade and tenor, or visions of sublime beings composed of light? Would the inner child come creeping out -- who's full of fears and magic? Would we release pure poetry like the kisses of soft breezes and rays of warm sun? Would stray and incoherent thoughts stream by, fluffs of seeds floating into view, and allow themselves to be thought, their blossoms already promising, even if for a moment? In what ways do we surprise ourselves? In what ways don't we know ourselves? In what ways are we open to other stories of our lives, ones that don't fit the main narratorial road we've carved often painfully out of the mountains and the sand and the ocean of our lives? In what ways are we willing to change and to accomodate our own inner minorities, our own submerged selves, and create an inner democracy between all the aspects that compose us? When you listen to stray thoughts on the edge of your consciousness what do you hear...?

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On the way home, after I had posted these thoughts, a butterfly landed in my open palm and stayed for a photo...

Monday, July 18, 2005

MP3: On Paintings in the Sand

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Prose Poem ~ On Paintings in the Sand ~ at SoundClick, 6:42min (text here). There is some fun discussion of time in it, and other insights into the creative process that our lives are...

Jean, whose photograph inspired my piece, has written of the Tibetan Buddhist Sand Manadala created by monks visiting from Tashi Lhumpo Monastery in India in the basement of Clerkenwell art gallery in London. The monks, who had preplanned this by months, started the day after the recent bombings and the pouring of the sand to create the mandala went on for a week during the aftermath. Jean has written a beautiful entry. I urge you to read it.

(Photograph by Nancy Jane Reid, click on the image for its source URL.)

For more background information, here is an introduction to Mandala Sand Painting. Here is a site that shows the Mandala Construction process in photographs. And here's another series of photographs of the astoundingly perfect creation of a Sand Mandala and its being swept away...

On Representations of Ourselves, or "The New Profile Pic," or Myths of Self-Imitation...

A discussion on the self-referentiality of imitation of the self...Oh, ok, I'll stop being so veiled, in my travels through the blogosphere today I saw a comment by someone that said that all the bloggers they met were nothing in real life like they portrayed themselves in their blogs. Which got me thinking...

On Representations of Ourselves, or "The New Profile Pic," or Myths of Self-Imitation...

"...many people put on masks to discover who they are under the covert masks they usually wear, so that the overt mask reveals rather than conceals the truth, reveals the self beneath the self; and it tells us that, although such masquerades cannot change people into other people, they may change them into others among their many selves"....Doniger goes on to say, "the essence of a masquerade: to present something known in such a way that people mistake it for something unknown (or the reverse.)"
Wendy Doniger, The Woman Who Pretended to Be Who She Was (Oxford, 2005), p.3-5.

Now, hmnnn... My new profile photo doesn't look like me. I'm not sure who it looks like... it was darkened considerably for the profile. Here is the original photo (click on it for a larger size), and another of the painterly things I did to the background with the impressionist brush and with the midtones darkened. Neither look like me, the light washing away the wrinkles, the years, the spots and arrows of outrageous time, but I found it an interesting photo in itself, not as representation of me as I see myself, but as representation of an image of self that is just plain different. I'm a soft woman, not the way it looks in the small version, which I think of as inclining towards heavy metal... *chuckles*~

If you met me, though, I might have to impersonate the image of myself that I have created in my blog... ! Oh, it's so interesting, persona, representation, who we are, the ways we present ourselves to each other! And how we might need to masquerade as ourselves were we to meet. Or, another approach, perhaps we masquerade as an aspect of ourselves that helps us to discover who we, in fact, are. So I masquerade as a writer in my blog, only to discover that I am a writer! The mask and the central persona become interchangeable so that life imitates art...

And he said, "You are nothing like the woman you are in your blog. In your writing you present a completely different person.' Which shocked me. Who says I have to be like the woman I portray in my blog anyway? I never said it was the 'real' me any more than any of the other 'me's' are real. *giggles & giggles*

I might not be at all as you imagine me to be were we to meet. And vice versa. Isn't this scary to contemplate? That the mask of the narrator of the blog and the central persona of the person might be far apart rather than simply interchangeable. Makes you wanna fret, doesn't it.

Especially if we are trying to discover a writerly voice, our best one, in our bloggerly lifewriting.

How does reality intersect with illusion anyway?

Friday, July 15, 2005

On Paintings in the Sand

The weaving's come undone. Stitches untied, unraveled. Strands of lace and bright-coloured yarns lie like fragmented, melted, Surrealist Dali paintings. Time itself has unwoven its tight grip. What was is spinning undone, the wheel unweaving each strand of memory, each flashback, scattering the cloth that was worn into the unrelentingly ragged. All that remains are tatters of a way of perceiving, a way of composing, a perception that gave coherence to the confusions of meaning.

The wind that sweeps across the damaged landscape of meltings and obscurities scatters what's left, taking even the mementos of a way to compose the picture that made sense, that held it all together. There is no centre. Or circumference. Only the burning, the ceaseless burning of the fire in the sky. And the light that pulls consciousness with it, into recognition, into awareness.

Into weaving stories, making patterns, creating forms, dramas about the world, personas for ourselves, staging scenarios because we don't know. What lies under the fabric of our lives? When the weaving shreds, and is lost, do we busy ourselves with raw yarn and our spinning wheels and our pots of dye and our artistic forms and create new pageants to express us and to create us over and over by reiteration? Why does what flows have to adhere to processes of fixing, stabilizing, pinning, eternalizing?

If I throw away all my weavings, crumpled and shredded and scattered, recycling into the earth, and let time undo itelf through me, will I levitate through the landscape of the unburdened heart? And will I feel the soft rain like glistening petals on my naked skin?

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At Jean's blog, This Too, today. A Tibetan Buddhist sand painting of a mandala. Isn't it exquisite?

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Sacred Symbol of Female Creative Power...

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usThe relationship between Goddess, hunter, and prey is shown in this ancient rock painting from Tassili in the Sahara.
Rufus Camphausen, The Yoni, Sacred Symbol of Female Creative Power (Vermont: Inner Traditions, 1996), p.58.

While packing books today, I was deep in my maternal body section, and found a stunning cross-cultural book on The Yoni. Which I haven't read but will. And I also found this roaming through the blogosphere over my morning coffee. Is there any connection? In the way of things, yes, I'm sure there is. This delightful wisdom from Dave Bonta's blog, Via Negativa:

A woman with the right kind of fat is a joy to others and a joy to herself. Her body is pure lubricity, able to move in several directions at once: go watch a belly dancer if you don't believe me. One night with such a woman, my friend, & no skinny woman will ever again be able to entrance you with her momentary cry & one-dimensional hunger. The exclamation point soon loses its power to astonish, but the round curves of a question mark? Ah, there's something to ponder! A thousand queries flood my tongue with the tang of olives.

Yes, hmmnnn...

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usNow isn't that line drawing of an ancient cave painting most interesting? The way they saw it, the woman's yoni feeds the man's erection and gives him the magical "hunt" power to enrapture/capture his prey...

I could keep you occupied for many posts with images from this book, photographs of natural formations, very beautiful, ancient art, where the yoni is revered, and modern art, where, well, it can be strange (see Gottfried Helnwein's Lulu), or natural & sensual (see Georgia O'Keefe's Gray Line), or as worthy of worship (see Judy Chicago's Cunt as Temple, Tomb, Cave or Flower); if all that isn't enough, there are close-ups of different shaped vulvas (padmini "lotus," chitrini "fancy," shankhini "fairy or conch," and hastini "elephant") classified according to the Kama Sutra, the Anganga Ranga and the Koka Shastra of India. Camphausen wrote this book before Eve Ensler's, The Vagina Monologues, or else that'd be in there too. I don't know of a counterpart book on male mythic sexuality, do you?

Alas, I have to keep packing.

But you can expound prolifically in the comments if this post has caused a springload to flourish in you...

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Packing books, I come to a shelf on love...

Packing up my life. And moving I'm not sure where. When I come to my section on books on love, I hesitate, should I pack them all, or carry some with me? Here's Chopra's, Path to Love, and Ackerman & Mackin's massive anthology of love letters, poems, fiction, essays, memoirs, The Book of Love, and the Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh's, Teachings on Love, and Joudry's & Pressman's, Twin Souls, and Roman's, Soul Love, and Gurian's, Love's Journey, and an unauthoured collection, One Hundred & One Classic Love Poems, among too many to mention. I decide on John Gray's, Handbook for the Heart, with beautiful essays in it, and Sarah Bartlett's, Mythical Lovers, Divine Desires, which I haven't fully read yet, and carefully slide the rest into a box.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usAh, then my books on tantra, how many are there, two dozen? Lots of art books on mandalas and yantras and academic books on tantric art and tantric thought. But there's this, Tibetan Arts of Love: Sex, Orgasm & Spiritual Healing, yes, Gedun Chopel, it is brilliant. Or the large and cross-disciplinary, Sacred Sexuality by Mann & Lyle, a lovely book with many illustrations from art history, and of course, The Complete Kama Sutra, Danielou's translation, no tantric collection would be complete without that, and California Tantrism, The Art of Sexual Magic by Margo Anand, or a Dorling Kindersley picture book of photographs of lovers, The Art of Tantric Sex, and books on full body massages...

I leave you with a photograph of a fun tarot deck: Tarot Sutra, games for lovers, which I've never used, sigh, it's in its original wrapping.

For me, romantic love combines of the erotic and the spiritual, the emotional and the intellectual, of eros and philia and agape, where there is meaning, wholeness, an intimacy with spirit, ourselves, our lovers, each other. (The other two great loves are differently configured: parental love, and I guess married love; but both, ideally, are weighted in philia, or friendship, being together on the path.)

I think I really do like the word, intimate, intimacy, intimacies... and perhaps can spend the rest of the day packing up my life, feeling my way through an aesthetic of intimacy.

On Uncertainty...

Do I like being a deck of cards in the air, a swirl of ocean foam, a migratory bird without a home, having no place to live that I know of in this moment? Maybe...

It doesn't feel free; it just feels like life. Where we can only be certain of uncertainties.

And so should I give up the need to know what's next. Anything at all could be next. Anything at all...

Tuesday, July 12, 2005


Image Hosted by ImageShack.usPacking is a laborious process. We, my son and I, are numbering boxes. It's screech, cut, slap; screech, cut, slap - oh ho, taping boxes! Then ka-thump, ka-thump, there go the books; after being swiffered with dusters or RRGrindRRSuckRRGWhirrRRGrindSuckRRR with the hand-held vac, from which the dog has run and hidden. Followed by UUHMPH, UUHMPH, which is me lifting heavy book boxes and stacking them; my son lifts weights, he has no problem. Then of course I have to run out to the supermarket, all that work has us way hungry. Now I'm finishing a home-made cappuccino, and am ready to tackle Science, Philosophy, Art, English Literature, Psychology and Religion. Or the filling of another 30 boxes. Then we'll call it a day. Whew.

And how're you doing today?

Monday, July 11, 2005

Making Love/Art Making

Art is created in the dance of love between the artist and their muse. The best art is created by the artist for the beloved, with the beloved.

The dancer, poet, writer, painter, actor, muscian makes love to their lover, symbolically, to the fragrant air, the rich and fertile universe, the intimacy of the medium of their words or paint or music. To see a harpist or a pianist lovingly caress their instrument into singing, or a rock star playing his electric guitar like it was his woman, this dance between lover and beloved is where art is created, deeply, profoundly. It is created in a loving that is erotic and spiritual, emotional and intellectual, that is an act of pure faith, a risk and leap into the unknown.

I feel art can only come out of absolute vulnerabiltiy, when all the veneers have been stripped. When we are naked and unashamed before the beloved. When we have left the safety of our patterns and are in the present moment in its entirety. Even if this moment be one of pain, anger, ecstasy, or a kalaidescope of it all. A moment of presence where there is stillness and flow, wholeness and unfolding, eternity and the onrush of time, nothingness and everything. Where it all works without willing it to; where it just happens – the fruit ripens, it falls in its sweetness, the birth of art occurs.

What I learnt in dance is that creating your movement is best when you are dancing with your beloved. When you are making love to the light streaming in from the window, the alter of burning candles and precious leaves on the silk mat at the front of the room, the colour and movement and sensuality of the dancers around you, the energy of the life-force itself. When you are making love to the man or woman of your dreams, or your God or Goddess. When you no longer care how you look, you're not self conscious, you're holding nothing back, not restraining yourself, and you give everything, your entire passion ~pain, suffering, anger, compassion, joy, love ~ where nothing is excluded, everything is present.

And so this has become my theory of art. The intensity of love-making. Only from this place of union of self and soul can a power erupt that can be carried on the wings of the words, music, paint, dance that it is produced in. And in this way we who partake in the art as viewers, readers, listeners, are touched at our deepest core, feeling our own pain, sorrow, anger, joy, compassion. Our vision is expanded. We are not alone. For we, too, are the beloved, and the artist is making love to us.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Tonight, a love poem...

At the request of Vexations, I have made a quick MP3 of 4 recent pieces, entitled Body Texts I (6.5 min): Her Hands, Calligraphies; The Artist As Model; Scattered Drumbeats; and In the Wake. If you have any responses or suggestions, I'd consider redoing the recording if I have time before I move...

Friday, July 8th, tonight, a love poem...

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Thursday, July 07, 2005

London Bombings...

The bombs in London, the underground, the street ~ terrible! Such an assault on a city. A thousand injured; over 30 dead: yet a bigger weapon than the bombs, fear, which will paralyze millions.

Passengers evacuate an underground train at Kings Cross (Photo: Alexander Chadwick)

Comment I left at thenarrator's site: It will never end, will it. Prayers. Prayers that the conflagrations may end. Prayers that mediation in the world may ultimately win. Prayers for the mediators; our hope lies in those who can calm the extremes, bring about resolution, who do not see the political world in terms of black and white. I don't know how mediation can occur with terrorist groups and organizations, but it can, somehow. Mediation is the only thing that ever works. Prayers for the fear and the suffering...

That view...

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Image Hosted by ImageShack.usSome photos of the inlet that the Pacific Ocean flows through where I was working - I have brought work home to do, where I don't have a view like that to distract me.

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