Life Support II

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THE LONG, SLOW SCENE

There’s a reason why, in popular movies, it’s rarely the moneymaker…

Time is work now, so time needs a reason.  One way to sell the long, slow, or quiet is to use the word meditative, as if to assign the act or experience a proper function.   Otherwise the word used is boring.  Meditation – an intentional act of focused attention – has a functional purpose, and more than that, an exciting one.  Self-improvement, personal growth, etc.

For its existence to make sense, to have some value.

April 9, 2020

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ART

There needs to be a point.  What’s the point?

Well what’s the point of anything, really.  Can’t anything be considered pointless, from one perspective or another?  How much is cheap, superficial, manipulative, etc., but is also entertaining?  How much is considered valid, is considered a success, just because it makes money?  Is that a good point to make?

If someone chooses writing poetry over television in the evening, if someone almost never watches television, are they just being an elitist asshole?

Who decides what is really valuable – the group, or the individual?  It is a real question to ask, and difficult to answer.  I speak for myself on clashing with enough stress and anxiety over the group, about being a worker among workers and the other roles I play, daughter, girlfriend, associate, fellow and etc, about not causing offense, I have to talk myself into being an individual also.  That this is not only ok, but essential.  This individual, the closet poet.

As an artist or writer, of course, function should not have to be the biggest consideration.  Nor simply placating – another form of mere survival, of utility.  This is part of the whole point of making art.  If anything it is helpful to resist functionality which culture already boasts well enough of.  Because there is more to life than functioning, plain and simple.  There is more to life than spending time, energy, and effort only on practical considerations.

It seems obvious, until you have to fight for it.

May 12, 2020 – May 15, 2020

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SELF-ABSORPTION, SELF-PITY AND BEING SPECIAL

  1. Reflected in cultural values via consumption or covert invalidation.
  2. Natural to the human experience in phases, as is generosity of spirit, understanding, kindness, caring, and empathy.
  3. Escalated by rejection, marginalization, and isolation.
  4. Add one of two words, for giggles: HYSTERIA or EGOTISTICAL.
  5. Things people say to dismiss certain temperaments, occupations, or situations that they don’t value or don’t understand.
  6. Things people say when they feel superior to certain emotions, occupations, or predicaments.
  7. Things people say when they disown aspects of themselves.
  8. Toxic or counterproductive when overapplied.  Unless it’s the basis for a whole career, then it could be a success.  See #1.

May 14, 2020

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The obvious part is the absolutely majestic creature gliding in the wind over the dark bay cliffs, rising and falling gracefully, confidently.  Then there’s the subtle part.  The feathers opening and closing slightly at times, partly by the wind, but partly, it seems, for personality, for fun, like dancing.  Delicate details that need to be observed very closely to be seen.  Or it might as well be a garden-variety bird in the sky.  Kinda cool, nothing special.  Nothing unique.

The time it took.  The sense of space it created in the moment.  I felt a brief sense of reverence, before going back to my urban life where I survive like anyone else by way of destruction of the natural because I’m no different in that way.  Maybe I just take more time than the average person to watch, to see, to take in — before joining the crowds once again to the disposable lifestyle of take-out containers, fast fashion, high-volume traffic, smartphone apps.  We won’t be getting away with this unchecked, as we’ve already begun to reluctantly note.

Now is the perfect time to regard nature, to recover a sense of respect for it within this sudden struggle to now survive the elements that we can not control.  Now is the perfect time, because we actually have time, to observe and be with the subtleties in life if we want to, not just gloss over everything.  Plenty of time.  To appreciate its delicate elements.

We have been the most interesting species, to ourselves.  The most worthy of survival, at any cost.  Even at our own peril, we are too precious.  This sounds harsh but isn’t it true?

Sustained attention to nature is more important now than ever.  Nature has more than a functional purpose for us.  It is more than just a physical resource, which most of us know, but we need to start acting like it.

May 2, 2020

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_E_F-A_SOR_TIO_, SELF-P_T_ AND BEI_G _PE_IAL

  1. Ozone layer of collective consciousness.
  2. Amnesia of self as culture, ideology.
  3. Disaster versus appeal.
  4. Mirrors.

May 18, 2020

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That flap of roof

Curled up

Just like a quail

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Life Support

 

 

September 2, 2019

 

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I want someone

to linger

with me.

 

May 13, 2020

 

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AFTER THE SHOCK

Long, meditative, simple, slow, mesmerizing scenes.  This windy cell phone clip was just a spur-of-the-moment snapshot from real life, but I’ve always admired the often-dreamy or poignant motif when used in actual movies.  I’d love to see even more movies daring to decelerate.  To conduct more subtle representations.  Daring to prioritize the art of the film over and above other considerations.  Daring to embrace less lucrative choices.

Daring, just by their existence, to subvert ACTION.

Lingering, sustained scenes that extend a moment out in time and space.  Like a poem can do – maybe that’s what’s so appealing.  Asking for attention to be held.  Attention held on a moment.  A moment easily overlooked, easily taken for granted, a moment to be experienced more intensively.

Scenes to yield into.  To take a kind of refuge in.  Akin to stretching muscles after a long sleep.  Or scenes to be challenged by, too.

This is not elitist.  This is about the quiet things.

Quiet things need time, space, and attention to be let in.  To be let in.  Because they are not attention seeking.  Versus the rather violent presence of that which does grab our attention, demand it, steal it, and in a way, corrupt it…

 

April 3, 2020

 

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SIXTY-FIVE SECONDS

The hawk.  Something about all this reminded me of it from months ago, and I dug it up again.  And I’d like to post the video.  But WordPress doesn’t allow for posting it in the format I want.  As I intermittently avoid the issue amidst the other chaos, then venture to search again for a workaround, I keep thinking about it, writing about it.  I am lingering on this a bit longer than I’d like, but maybe that is just the point.  To linger.  To slow down.

I do not work in the movie industry, I am just someone with a camera and a perspective, who happens to also make money with cameras, who happened to have only a cell phone on hand on the day I encountered the bird.

“It’s a bit LONG,” someone said.  Yeah.

But I like that.

 

April 16, 2020

 

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This is not possible

 

Something that’s truly original must have something unplanned about it.  Something that couldn’t have been predicted.  Something that couldn’t have been controlled.  Something that couldn’t even have been wholly imagined from the start, since that’s what originality is — something heretofore unimaginable.  These are the qualities that make it unusual, that make it special.  And fascinating, and difficult to place.

They are also the same qualities by which the original resists being owned.  As a creation the original comes as an inadvertent and incalculable gift, not merely as a product of effort or ego.  The truly original is beyond “practice,” because practice does not require openness, nor does it require surrender.

To allow the original to happen is to take a step back.  To fade previously held notions and ideas into the background, to make space.  To forget the ego, the control just enough to allow some other voice or vision to speak clearly, without noise.

You can not have originality, can not nurture originality, can not embody it in any part, can not hope for it, can not strive for it, can not hold it, can not truly value it, can not prize it, yet also expect to hang on to old ideas for dear life.

Interrupted or intercepted, its quality becomes disorganized and eventually lost in confusion.  But fear will simply neutralize the offering.

This is why the original is available to anyone, but few accept what they would take instead of a blessing, for a curse.  Or at least a liability, not worth the risk.

We could be more brave.

 

By Choice

 

I have been saying it is almost time, for a long time.  But now almost is very near.

My life is almost becoming a dream.

Soon I will smell, feel the paint again, the ink.  I will light candles again and sit down at my large clean desk and forget the rat race again.

With the door shut.

 

 

 

My Stranger

 

The earrings I wore
like tiny weapons
bounce light

Off the shine
Of mountains,
Like sunrises flash

Through the curious
Peaks of your
Clear eyes crossing

The table.  Summer glows
Off weeds outside, drills
the roots in so deep.

Our history envelopes
One glance, gone
I wince.

We share a glass house heart.
A new sap trails off peaks we’ve been.

Sofrito and crème fraîche fall
Over thick red meat
And we saw something there

Really worth drowning for, then you
Face south.  Like curtains dropping
Over a river, eyes

At the border of beef.  Each cut
Slowly sawn I watch.  Edgily
Feeling it out.  Then,

Without saying anything, you
Reached up
And took off the checkered
Cloth.

 

 

 

Night Water

 

–Thoughts from October.  I dig up this saved draft I’d hesitated to share but now it’s wrapping its arms around a sleepless night and my travel bug, that escapist impulse to jump in a car, on a plane, a train, a boat, anything–

All that really needs to escape is that toxic tendency toward self-censorship.

Writing is still elusive.  Writing is hard, unforgiving in a way at times.  Writing involves so much organization, I often can’t even handle it without also making visual art.  Words have felt like pressure cookers, images like rivers.  Images like relief.

It’s said that words, language, are limited and inadequate – but which mode of expression isn’t?

Images aren’t enough either, as enamored as we are of them.  There’s things that pictures just can’t do, can’t show the same way.  Pictures can not take the place of words.  So then it’s the writing that happens by surprise in the midst of creating art.  Writing is the relief.  Out of a sudden desperation, exasperation that  can’t be expressed immediately enough without switching mediums, turning to words.

Images and words have never been separate to me.  Two sides of the same coin.

There’s the times none of it seems to satisfy – images, words, whatever.  The moment’s raw and the only thing to do is keep going.  With the current project, with any project.  Whatever’s in front of you.  The medium hardly makes much of a difference.  It might make you feel better, or just more like crap but you don’t stop.  I feel strangely serene now in the face of intensity when it’s there.  Its presence doesn’t scare me as it once did.  As if my brain partitioned into two coexisting sides of reality, dark and peaceful.

When the inspiration gets intense, weird, dark, I imagine some of the reactions and opinions those pieces could incite.  Ah well.

Mixing beige paint in my room and laying it over black I contemplate my favorite person to be with.  Wanting this man is futile.  Will you leave once again and call me months from now, and what will I say then?  No more?  I love you?

Even the worst of you could not make me cold for long.  An inescapable fact, love.  I want out of here, too, restless.  It’s the middle of the night.

I toss this whole situation into question.  My job, my expensive life here in Oakland.  What am I doing?  This art.  These photographs.  This writing.  How much could I sacrifice to be able to do this all the time, nothing but this for as long as it takes?  Almost everything, I’m thinking.

What if I just said, everything?  What would everything look like?

 

 

 

 

Turn To the Quiet

 

It’s one of those mornings when I’m on the road again in my head.  Packing sleeping bags in the cold mountain air.  Blowing steam off my coffee in a circle of other travelers.  Packing up to leave, pulling on heavy boots.  Twelve thousand feet above sea level.  Hungry but exhilarated.

It’s easy to forget the struggle: what it takes to choose the adventure over the safe.  To get to those places and exist in them longer-term is mostly a matter of willingness to abandon fear, to detach from whatever status or position achieved, and then there’s the objects of our affections to be suspended or let go of.  An apartment, a car, a job, a semester, a social circle, a mentality, an ideology, a lover, a life dependent upon the comforts of the known.  Easier done when you have less to lose, but even then most will naturally balk.

For me, all this was nothing compared to what it took to return.  To reintegrate back into a culture built on and fascinated by the concept of freedom, yet embracing a type of freedom warped by comparison to the freedom you’ve just experienced on the road.  A freedom that almost looks like imprisonment – a rat race.  Yet this is the same rat race that gave you the road, the resources and privilege to earn it by struggle.  You yourself, you realize, love the rat race too.  Each day suppressing true feeling, true significance in order to keep up.  From time to time you wholly accept its superficial qualifications and you strive to reflect them, become them.  You get off on it, at least one small part of you feels this is natural.  Until the day that you just can’t take it anymore.  And then you turn to the few people whom you’ve ever really loved, in your mind.  You turn to the waves, the trees, the birds.  Sand, rivers, the clouds.  Tiny lights flickering in the shadows.

 

 

No Power, No Master

 

 

birds 4

 

 

 

 

Rain.  Blue-grey-violet light filling the room.  It’s late, 10:45 am.  Waking to dreams of the one I’d loved the most until finally many years later I didn’t – not that same way, pointing at a studio apartment for rent in the paper.  A large hexagon shaped space with beige floors in the photo, possibly carpet but nice, facing the street through bay windows.  I wanted to live there instead of him, could I – but hadn’t I already?  The thought makes me feel a bit sick.  Something bad happened there?  Can’t remember.  Many years ago, yesterday.  Being alone, wine, my computer, music, emails and IM, that’s it.  Scribbling in my journal in red and purple ink in bed, at my green desk covered in scraps of paper, notes, purple orchids and pots, flipping through thousands of photographs taken traveling and academic papers, lost in a foreign history of my own.  Plants, tall stacks of drafts, paintings beautiful amidst abstract misery and desperation.  Had I really lived there?  Or just imagined it?  The memory makes me ill.  Did I just make it up, the feeling?  The place?

 

 

 

 

Birds 2 revise again 2

 

 

 

 

Now staring into asphalt and a partly cloudy sky, intermittent city trees, standing in the street, waiting.  Forever.  Where is my friend?  We’re going to eat some sort of special bread from the bakery, a sweet bread or something?  As the sun falls hours later she finally shows, separating from a group of people I don’t recognize, surprised when I bring it up as if she’d never really intended to go.

Another fuzzy event I can’t recall, another one putting me off for some unidentifiable reason too.  So out of character for her, I don’t understand.  There was no one to be with.

 

 

 

 

Birds 11 draft

 

 

 

 

Birds 5 redo

 

 

 

 

Sitting outside on the sidewalk uncertain of what to do now.  Nobody around.  The air is fresh and bright.  There must have been a porch there, or some stairs, then a book appears in my hand.  I open its nearly eight by ten cover and skim.  50 or so pages, with illustrations.  Joy.  It was about joy.   This was written by a friend, a pianist, he’d given this to me.  No longer conscious of the street, completely absorbed in its lyrical writing and sparse, minimalistic line drawings lightly watercolored until an elation grows and spreads too immensely to look down any longer, too much to process any more information mentally.  I close it to feel its weight in my hands instead and look up lifting up into the air like years before, planes floating off a runway above shapes shrinking and tightening viewed through tiny windows.  So happy.  Magical.  Then I’m here.  Rain.  Blue-grey light filling the room.  It’s late, 10:45 am.  Curtains.  Oakland in the window.  My room.  No one’s around.

 

 

 

 

birds 4 redo with exposure plus extra contrast

 

 

 

 

Were all of those people trades for someone I really want to be with today?  Not sure I care what it means but it resonates for a few minutes.

 

 

 

 

Birds 8 shape edit

 

 

 

 

Birds 6

 

 

 

 

IMG_Birds 12 exposure change extra

 

 

 

 

Birds 9 idea not final.jpg

 

 

 

 

Birds 10 idea not final

 

 

 

 

Shaking off these dreams I get up to go out to the cafe.  The significance doesn’t feel so important, but I’m pretty sure I know why I’m remembering them so readily.   Vacation – no work for two weeks.  Whenever there’s more space, when more time is sensed and freedom and days ahead open, the volume of dreams I remember increases and changes: popcorn strings of memories like momentary portals into a higher consciousness about these experiences, mixed with creative currents more otherworldly and imaginative, like being inside of a hidden universe that rarely reveals, suppressed by routine realities.   Routines both necessary and destructive.  I used to take them too seriously.  And now I just don’t believe that I have to anymore.  Everything in my spirit won’t even let me anymore; it’s over.  My own way of seeing and being wakes up and takes priority and the space just has to be made for it, or it’s like I’ll just die.

This is the thing that may not make sense from the outside but it’s been said before many times over that a certain type of artist – perhaps so-called “real” artists – create because they have to.  We have to.  Maybe this is not true of all artists but in my own experience the choice has been to create, or to suffer a progressive downward spiral into an internal hell, self-imprisoned.  I’m fine to coast for a while but finally these become my two options and for others who are like me I wouldn’t doubt them to feel just as lost and miserable without creating.  Not that creating functions as a universal remedy for bad feelings – that would be silly.  For me though feeling bad and not creating would be an even worse if not dangerous condition than feeling bad and creating.  I didn’t desire this aspect of an artist’s life to be true of myself and I thought the idea sounded corny and overdramatic when I read about it in Rilke’s “Letters to a Young Poet,” at nineteen.  Coincidentally it was the only idea from the book I never forgot: write if you must write, if your need for writing is as though your life depended upon it.  I was too young then to understand these words more comprehensively, but cross the age of 30 when the focus of your generation suddenly becomes status and success and power and out of nowhere you feel like a complete loser.  Your dreams of being an artist or writer become even more naive and irresponsible and idealistic than when you were nineteen.  They’re beyond merely objectionable now, if not borderline reprehensible in a way they weren’t before.  Those benign impractical fantasies of young adulthood suddenly become things you could actually harm yourself with.

Was it Henry Miller who pointed out something like anyone can be an artist — until the age of 35?  This is not the same thing as declaring an intention to go into teaching or law or nursing or politics or business.  Creative ambitions might be treated as a curiosity or a bit of fun at best, but taken less and less seriously as time progresses.  It’s especially challenging for those choosing to abandon their former career path, to pursue art no longer as a hobby but as a primary occupation.  Are you published?  No.  Do you have a professional website?  No.  Business card?  No.  Portfolio?  Not in any organized fashion, not yet.  Not yet.  Not yet.  Not yet the unsatisfactory answer to every question.  Some start early, going ahead despite the odds to establish a position for themselves in the creative arts, publicly – others like me punish themselves for years first instead.  Just for inevitably being who you are despite every attempt to be something else, yet not quite understanding why you just can’t fit in to the occupations or places you’ve wandered into for safety and security.   By the time you finally come out of it to recognize what the trouble really is and you’ve already spent your money on degrees in other fields for other careers, who will indulge your grandiose aspirations now at this point?  But if you find that this is something you have to do – and you know this to be true of yourself because of the consequences you’ve experienced in avoiding this truth for your entire life, then the choice is clear.  Whether or not you’re any good at what you create at this point, whether or not you have everything you need for success in place, it ceases to matter.  You’ve worked your way to the top in places you didn’t even want to be, simply by showing up and working hard.  If you have to start at the bottom all over again, it will be worth it.  And how long will it take, exactly, to get to somewhere in the middle, if you even dare to imagine you could?  This ceases to matter also.  You’re tired of pretending, of lying.  You don’t think about the people who would criticize you as much anymore, or the what ifs, or the opportunities you’ve turned down or run away from in the past.  You think about what you need to do to make it happen.

I don’t feel sorry for myself or for those in my shoes.  I feel for those who are like me but still unable to create for whatever reason.  I know these people are out there so when somebody says they’re an artist, I tend to believe them no matter their current occupation or lifestyle or hobbies.

Two weeks of taking pictures and assembling them, drawing, writing, cups of tea and coffee, sleeping, planning, going to the gym, seeing friends.  I pour cream into my coffee as I only do in cafes – anywhere else, it’s black.  It’s noisy in here, there’s nowhere to sit comfortably.  Each conversation this morning is too loud and too much as I move from table to table seeking a place where I can think.  Think and write.  I’ve been desperately needing solace from these crowds.  Yet appreciate an unexpected sense of relief in this scene too, full of friends telling stories rather than singles with their devices.  I settle in near the speakers, faint music, not overbearing mainstream sounds like they often play but sounds with real feeling, though not especially edgy.  I realize I’ve forgotten to put in earrings this morning, which I’ve been wearing since I was three months old.  It feels oddly troubling.

My mind and body are glowing, not in a physical sense.  Something else.  I remember all the other times like this.  I remember the soft sunshine and the libraries and the roses in the window and the moped and the kissing and the airports and the poems scribbled out for fun with no concern for editing and the smells of cattle in foreign places and the miles and miles of road and ancient redwoods and the river.  I remember the intense dreams.  Stories of living life as art.

You’re free today.  You have two weeks.  Sit down.  It’s been a while since I’ve written, instead relishing the easy relief from words I enjoy so much in working with images.  Writing is so exposing, really so scary.  It doesn’t matter.  Text messages pop up, you ignore them for now.

Go write.  I’m dying to write now.  It doesn’t matter how it turns out, doesn’t matter if it’s good writing or bad, doesn’t matter if it’s real art.

 

 

 

 

Volunteers For A World With No Editor

 

IMG_6305 copy smaller 5 copy

 

 

This was taken from scraps.  Cutouts produced incidentally while creating other black and white paper designs, extras tossed aside in the moment: the true first negative space of those projects, their waste, their remainder.   Sifted through the pile of odd shapes belonging nowhere, randomly assorted without purpose.  Four pieces chosen quickly, without thinking and no plan, without altering them further in any way, and within minutes assembled together and pasted up this leaning figure.  Looks like a lot of things to me but speaks like an example.

Urging to make significant or even delicious more of those elements in us and in the world so easy to reject, to cast out, to trample on, or to simply pass by.  Art and poetry are not luxuries but necessities for this reason.  To allow the unattended or just what looks like refuse to be seen and voiced and appreciated rather than tossed a token now and again, hardly a crumb.  The expendable, impractical, unnecessary – yours and mine too.  With poetry especially we have a marginalized form expressing the marginalized in apt communion.  To celebrate mystery, quiet amidst the noisy, or to place the unwanted or left behind because are we not all neglected or forgotten in some way and do we not all feel this.  To serve the imperfect, the difficult, the unsavory or troublesome, even the scary at times.  Our beauty does not exclude these flaws in a culture pretending to disown their existence.

What nobody would detect or consider without looking very, very, closely – art changing our minds about what’s beautiful and worthy, what we’re capable of discerning.  Not just a world in which we consume choice fragments of one another relentlessly and treat ourselves so, but a hunger for the whole range and process of a more private experience admired, an intelligence beyond the conspicuous so that every day just a little bit, even just a little to be able to show up and not be afraid to look further.  Since it’s the not looking – hiding – that’s more dangerous.

— And since culture’s infinitely richer than it could possibly be credited in any given moment — momentarily magnificent or bewildered or painfully plain.  So are we.

 

 

 

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