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Reflections on choices...

Why does the process of living entail choice-making? Ideally, shouldn't everything be accommodated? Isn't there room for all aspects? But evolution operates through choice. This way; not that. An increasing balanced complexity of unfolding. Thus we are creatures of choice. It's buried in our Biblical myths too. Free will, with a hidden clause: choose the 'right way' or suffer. So we make continual choices based on a wide range of criteria. I can be more of who I am here rather than there: this is a better fit for me; I am more useful here; I can better fulfill my ideals in service of this.

The underside of choice is rejection. Turning away from, shutting down, negating, shaking yourself free of. I leave this for that: that opportunity suits me better than this one- it could give me greater happiness, success, wealth.

We are always considering our choices, hoping they're the right ones, seeing if we can make better ones. People who have definable goals generall…

Noctilucent Clouds

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(click on image for larger version)

"Noctilucent Clouds," 2007, 14.5cm x 22.5cm or 5 3/4" x 9"; oils, India ink, on paper coated with acrylic matte medium; photo taken in bright sun (colours not bad on my iMac).

A lucent state of consciousness, my fingers thick with oil paint, spreading it quickly, curves, folds of the drapery, her ecstatic, graceful form, the broil of the night sky...

Do I sense what will emerge? I have to find the 'right moment' in the streams-of-consciousness to paint, and painting is always a fearful act where I throw my spiritual life on the line. And then it becomes accepting what emerges, and working with it.

This little piece has a specific purpose - to remind me of dance, movement, freedom, the sky.

Noctilucent Clouds - first wash of paint

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"Noctilucent Clouds," 2007; 14.5cm x 22.5cm or 5 3/4"x 9"; oils, india ink, paper, acyrlic matte medium.

14.5cm x 22.5cm or 5 3/4"x 9"; oils, india ink, paper, acyrlic matte medium

Sorry! I guess with flickr's new limits, this image is gone. You can view a page of Celestial Dancers at my website, however: Art & Writings of Brenda Clews/Celestial Dancers.

It took longer to photograph this little painting under the flourescent lights in the kitchen near midnight and to colour correct the image and upload it to flickr than it did to paint!

My fingers thick with oil paint spread the colour so quickly, me in a lucent state of consciousness barely aware... that calf of hers, the one she's holding herself aloft on, needs more shadow, today I can see that.

An Amatory Moment...

Dear Reader,

Amatory intoxication bursts all our stories. When we fall in love, we are not only in a state of lyricism, metaphor, joy, but we forgo narration, allegory, moral messages. Forgotten are the sermons we carry around with us of our lives and instead we sing the song of love, complicated, exhilarating, prey to a states of divine madness. It's not that we lose boundaries, but that we lose composure, surety, safety; we forgo the stories, the novel of our lives, for the poetry of the moment. Possession of the loved one cannot exist in the motion of love's excitement. The 'I' collapses into the 'Thou.' A state of enlightenment, surely, surely, this incantation of love.

How to be there, remain there, without owning, holding?

In the unknowingness.

Forever yours,

Brenda

ps Inspired by what I read today, it all suddenly coalesqued as I poured through Kristeva's analysis of the lyricism and grace of the songs of courtly love, their idealism and joi, in the 14th c…

If only, before...

On a bridge, as if on the Great Wall of China, before a wide green valley and drop into a canyon of rock, the Siberian shaman standing beside me, sharp blue eyes, neck thick with middle-age, threw out the line with the sinker on the end, small metallic piece like a tiny boomerang, and caught floating flocks of ghostly men in black. They are like children's Halloween puppets, black cloth pulled over a head of cotton batten and tied, empty bodies. A group of them appear, drifting in the air. I am alone, the line and sinker in my hand. While I'd watched him throw it out and the way it looped around and back corralling the ghosts in black cloth, causing them to fall into the deep rocky canyon below, I hadn't been shown how. As I looked at the sinker in my hand, the ghosts caught a woman and took her out over the precipitous drop, hovering about her as if she were a doll, and cut her long blue-black hair and sliced the back of her white neck, a thin line of blood, and I couldn&…

ravishment of light

Ravishment of Light - listen to a recording

Or go to the Internet Archive page for this recording and listen there.

When I have more pieces I'll upload this tiny recording to my poetry reading website, Aural Pleasure, in the meantime I copied this over from a gmail email I'd sent to a friend. It's small -800k- and short -1:21min- for your enjoyment... xo

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just playing... but I do want to see the movie, Sunshine, not for the plot, which hasn't received great reviews, but for the images of the sun... and then, oh, perhaps this little piece will expand with light ::twinkle::

At 28 years of age...

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I now go on a 'treasure hunts' in the packed storage unit in the basement that will be a small studio whenever I can get help clearing it out... and find, oh, things that give me pause. Like these photo-booth photos at 28 years old, the only ones from that era, found in an old journal. This one in particular haunted me for about a weekend. I'm not sure who I was, or who I thought I'd be, or what I've become, but the fire is still there, though, ::grinning:: a little wrinkled now.





A couple more... the last one looks rather 'Pre-Raphaelite'- something I heard a fair bit in those days. Oh, it makes me laugh to remember!




(click on photos for larger versions)

Lacemaker

In a moment words will appear from which everything unravels.

Or begin with an explosion of lace.

Lace that is white, or whitened with the sun's steaming. Looped, twisted, braided threads, sewn with sharp needles, shaped like a cutwork of leaf veins in the sky. Finely-woven stitches, not broken or lost. Florals in white; sun-rises in white; waves in white. Spider webs of lace floating, an organic garden of cotton and linen and silk.

How many fine stitches I see everywhere.

Seams of perfect clothing, backs, shoulders, arms, waists, hips, the tight stitching of form-fitting shoes, the interlapping folds of purses. Fabric. Like skin. Woven tightly or loosely. Draped, tucked, formed, fitted. The soft velvet of the armchair in the cafe in which I sit, rounded, plush.

Colours in swathes, patterned. Different attire for different scenarios. Layers of warmth or mere covering if it's cold or hot. Whether a garment can open or close or covers in one swoop. Pieces of cloth fitted to hold the …

Little Dancer Sketch

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14.5cm x 22.5cm or 5 3/4"x 9"; india ink sketch on archival paper coated in acyrlic matte medium

How long ago did I do this little sketch? It must be months. I taped it to a small board and it's still awaiting a fast wash of paint. Since it'll only take 5 minutes to paint, perhaps it's that I have to be in the right 'zen' frame of mind to finish it?

And when is that going to happen?

Burning Star

Writing stopped its ceaseless flow and I don't know why. Something occurred in my interior life that jolted me severely and I lost the imaginal figure who fired my desire to write. I'm shifting, transforming, unable to see or know what's ahead. The shock remains. I am sundered, unsure. Is it that the star came too close?

But perhaps the point is the obscurity, confusion, incomprehension. Inside this burning star where I blindly feel exploding energy without graspable form.

Lacework

When I came back to writing, a simple image. Proustian, perhaps, but I shall let the lace unravel. It's taken me back to my grad school days, at the little apartment in the Annex area of Toronto I rented after the university year had begun and almost nothing was available.


It could begin with lace.

Lace that is white, or yellowed with the sun's steaming. Threads that are looped, twisted, braided, sewn with sharp needles, shaped like a cutwork of leaf veins in the sky. Finely-woven stitches, not broken or lost. Florals in white; sun-rises in white; waves in white. Spiderwebs of lace floating, an organic garden of cotton and linen and silk. Threads weaving the world...

That hangs over the door's casement glass.

On the hot Summer's night I pass the house that resembles the one that I remember.

The same brickwork, windows, placement on the land. Perhaps the orange lilies are descendants of the those when it was a boarding house and I lived in the kitchen become a bachelor apart…

Light Catches Diamonds

The Pool of Gazing

Pleasure and Happiness

"But if one begins by having pleasure, it is like knowing how to swim: one never forgets it." Helene Cixous

Now I wonder if the half an hour of "happiness" last night, and this morning, of allowing myself to feel as pure a joy as I could, which is not easy, wasn't an evocation of 'pleasure' rather than 'happiness.' I took great pleasure in the mystery and miracle of breath, body, experienced an inner ecstasy of being, of those I love, and the unfolding of my life and talents, indeed, for moments, this happened, but was it a sensual pleasure of loving life rather than deep happiness?

It was in the range of the orgasmic, that kind of ecstasy, but not localized or specific. It was like I let my brain produce all the high endorphins, neurotransmitters of ecstasy, and my mind was filled with light.

But happiness? I sought to allow what a full and complete happiness would be like. My seemingly huge issues and problems and worries kept nagging at the edge…

blindgaze

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"blindgaze," 2007, 32cm x 25cm (12.5" x 9.75"), oil on acrylic matte medium, india ink, paper.

Playing with a sketch from a lifedrawing session last Fall - perhaps not as fluid as my figures usually are, but I enjoyed melding colour... I had forgotten how sensual paint is, especially when spread by your fingers.

Turbulence

Pale as a Moonflower

Slow breath. Dark bulky sweatshirt, folds and creases rising and falling. Inside you are elsewhere. Floating where it's frayed. Trying to be where it doesn't matter, except it does. Electrodes taped to your chest and abdomen, I watch with the machines, count the depths of your breath. Most of the night I hold your hand, or rest my fingers by your arm. I never take my eyes off you, your closed eyes, the way you are distant and so very close. I understand the frailty; I wonder when a love of life will bloom like dawn across your consciousness. How did we come to this impasse, my love. How do we turn from it?

He is there, loving, bereaved, regretful, angry, guiding you through. Eventually he lies on the cold hospital floor, resting his aching body, while I keep watch. Unwavering my eyes never dimming. The love doesn't go out for an instant, not the whole night through, nor the next day as the watch continues. Unevenly breathing, heart rate fluctuating, I trace every motion on …

Spaghetti Straps are Verboten

Perhaps it's the scapula, or maybe it's the clavicle that's more dangerously libidinal. The scapula is a beautiful bone. A half white wing, a bone that billows over one edge like a wave, a molded piece of clay shaping into a musical instrument, a flute or a set of pan pipes. It's a bone caught in the moment of undulating. It arches from the spine in two melodies, the supraspinous fossa and infraspinous fossa, and the notes slide concavely. The upper part of the scapula is so thin as to be almost transparent. Is that why we can't show the shoulder's delicacy of skin? Or is it the delicate angles of the claviculae that arrest? I once met a woman whose criteria for dieting was until her clavicle bones showed in their sinewy slender grace. Is it the soft shadow of the cleft between the clavicles, or the rounded caput humeri of the humerus, the shoulder bone? Those pectoral girdles are certainly enticing. What drives men to distraction about a woman's bare shoul…

Dance of the Solar Wind

encrypted prose poem
"...behind thought I have a musical core. But even further back there's the beating heart. The deepest thought is, then, a beating heart." (Clarice Lispector, Stream of Life, 36)

Appearance of the Glass Blowers

Presently I am immersed, cannot appear clearly. Leaves unfurl in the Spring; who knows how they make the immovable movable, unwrap and flutter in the wind. Fresh, opalescent green. Discovering the sun for the first time, before the caterpillars come, or dry spells of Summer to dim their colour. I write blindly, onto a blank screen because the system can't keep up. The Windows 'hourglass' blinks furiously. It's trying to save me as I write, but so slowly that I write onto a white screen without words; in minutes they will appear. Is that me groping along the white pathway, waiting to appear? When will I, and how to, even in time-lapsed words that foreshadow.

Is love loving me in ways I cannot comprehend. I watch glass blowers, hand-held poles, in and out of the furnace, pure sand from the ancient ocean bed in the middle of the continent, melting silica, forged into light-filled opacity, interior glow, thickness of transparencies, an art. In the furious alembic, boiling a…

Reunion

Reconnection with what is familiar. Like deja vu, only not the strangeness of the unexpected familiarity of a memory that doesn't exist. Rather reconnecting to memories evoked by what has accompanied one through years of living. Scratched perhaps, a little tacky, needing refinishing, but redolent with the past.

As I unpack, my past unfolds before me like one of those cut-out stand-up books of children's illustrations. From each page something springs forth that's newly found. It might be as simple as my Tibetan-patterned duvet or as complex as a filing cabinet of old journals.

The distant rocking of the subway coming into the station in the earth below is like a dim thunder traveling through the soil into my bones. It's simultaneously a rocking, comforting sound and electric. If I am sleepwalking through the days it's because I'm mesmerized by the dream that life is.

It's not just unpacking my household but a voice from the past that's shaken me from the i…

Shapes of the Phantasmagoric World

I couldn't bear the incoherencies. I wanted writing to fall neatly over the world like a well-made garment, to drape, with tucks and darts, flowing and fitted. But only stitches, bare basting.

Then your visionary eyes, blue like the sunlit sky of the ocean where you fly, composed of brilliant blue light. It's all I can see of you, nothing else remains.

I couldn't establish which seam of thought to follow. It became filled with complexity. Though the simple euphoria of being still existed. How long would I stay where I was? Updating Excel files was a type of work that left me time to write discreetly. Not secretive exactly, but hidden. I don't think anyone cared why the honeybees were abandoning their hives.

Huge chocolate-dipped strawberries, a slice of white cake layered with whipped cream icing lying on its side on the plate, everything dusted with icing sugar, confectionery moments of an office birthday. And fat peonies with rays like white suns, elegant purple irises,…

A gentle and quiet euphoria

Every morning I awake in the unfolding petals of my beautiful life, my head cushioned on a soft down pillow, and I let go of everything except the ecstasy of living. Perhaps it's years of meditation, but slipping out of the slipstream of thoughts, letting anxiety go, isn't hard. Being in the joy of living, the breath, the beating heart. At night I try to go to sleep in the same state, relieved of my life so I can embrace and affirm it. I am in love, of course I am in love. How could I not be?

Coronal Loops

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How Writing Renews Itself

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Impasse with writing. Editing bits of, and only on whim, the last 4 books I've drafted. Considering structure, flow patterns, what the passage might be like for a reader. How much I wish to reveal and conceal of my life. What sorts of connectives and links the story of the stories needs. If it feels intuitively right, I go with it; otherwise, I keep working, trying different image patterns, polishing.

The flow patterns of the people walking past that I sit and watch from a bench in the underground concourse tunnels. Converging motion of intention. Routes. Auto-locomotion of the body, legs and limbs. The women in their high heels seem crippled in their motion, though they compensate for the tilt forwards, the way it bends the spine forcing it to balance to an unnatural gravity.
When I dance I can't wear heels. Bare feet is what I like best, and a black danceskin, and a small skirt - a silk sarong or large flowing scarf to tie around my hips. Maximal freedom.

Sometimes with dancing…

On the Strange Coherencies of a Life

What of what hasn't happened yet?

I want to write this story, the story of what hadn't happened but then did, but I surely cannot impart the sense of strangeness and wonder it elicited. Still, I shake my head in surprise.

When I returned to Toronto in 2005 I came without a job or a place to stay. All my household goods were stored by the moving company in Mississauga. For the first two months I stayed with an acquaintance. My compass spun wildly. Everything was open. The only magnetic centre was the school my daughter wished to attend, and for that we had to be in area and from out of province, since enrollment was over capacity. I did a specifically focused extended mediation on where I would live (meditation a significant part of my daily life for 13 years now). Because I don't want to reveal exact whereabouts, let me call it Albion, after Blake's 'primordial man' from his prophetic books. In the meditation it came that I would live on Albion Ave. That is a ver…

Heart Tones

My heartbeat woke me. My pillow soft, the darkness of the cold Spring night, beneath covers, warm, hours of luxury to think, imagine, slip into underlying streams of thought, fascinated by wondering, exploring routes and trajectories, ideas and sensations, memories and future possibilities, yet sleep is crucial, work tomorrow, and so a mantra over and over, for stillness, to locate the cliff-edge of drowsiness, to fall into it. Why is it so loud, this beating? Blood filling with oxygen, the network of arteries, arterioles, capillaries and veins. Diastole and systole. I hear it in my left ear drum. It pulses, throbs with a steady beat. Pluck out the earplug. The clock ticks too loudly; my dog snores slightly. Squeeze the foam and push it back into orifice of ear. The steady thumping of a sea of blood thrown like a metronome against my inner ear. Usually I can't fall asleep on my left side because my heartbeat is too loud. But the thuds of heartbeat are loud no matter what side I li…

A Bouquet of Unopened Bulbs

A woman walks across the square holding in both arms a large bouquet of unopened bulbs, the top of the clear cellophane wrap in which they are encased is unfurled and open. Like wet paint strokes, the brush flat and full of green paint at the base of the bulb and thinning to a point, dozens, or more. One could not know from across the way, sipping afternoon tea. The imagination looks for corollaries: domes of Persian temples, fat and ready to open; sepals the colour of Green Tara; or Celtic sidhe, mounds, hills, where the fairy folk live who love beauty and wealth, fertile, magical, of the realm of promise.In the resurfacing of the Zocalo in Mexico City in 1790, Antonio de Leon y Gama discovered the greatest archaeological find of 18th century Mexico. Twin stones. A statue of Coatlicue (she of the feathered skirt of serpents) and the Great Aztec Sun Stone.She is TeteoInan, Mother of the Gods.For centuries prior to finding her, Mexicans laid flowers on the square for the Mother of the …

Papilionoidea

You have no idea who you are. Razed, skinned, muscles exposed, then stripped to the bone. Marrow beating inside the sheath where you melt. Reorientation of neuronal patterns, old connections gutted as you renovate yourself from within. When the new circuits activate and energy flows, your thoughts aren't the same. A richer depth, a deeper resonance. You're more complete. New perceptions of the world and your relationships unfold like visionary wings inside your chrysalis. One day I'll see you gliding over the plains, an angel.

A Creation Story

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The Creation of Adam is a fresco on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, painted by Michelangelo Buonarroti circa 1511.


Otherwise it would all happen at once. Our births, lives, deaths. In an instant, a tableau of everything. Time slows it, lineates it, notches it. We experience ourselves event by event. We attempt to feel the fullness of the great expanse in our awareness of the moment, pure, insightful.

Time is a way of perceiving: measuring our lives, our moments of meeting, that we age. We are time travelers touching each other as we pass by. We know the wholeness of which we are a part; we reach for each other, our feather-soft breaths.

Is time an interpretation carved out of the undifferentiated? And space a way to spread it out, a place to live? The way we are separated in our individual beings. How our egos map the terrain of the unknown. Ropes we grab to cross the ocean of raw life. Without fixing ourselves in time and space, as coordinates, would it fly apart?

My pathway to you wh…