It’s important to ask why. But sometimes we have to ask, “why not?”
It’s important to ask why. But sometimes we have to ask, “why not?”
There is no life without risk anyway. Life simply can not exist without risk. Not even on a basic biological level, there is just no avoiding it. However we attempt to control for it – life itself is a risk. We could quite literally perish at any given minute. Or simply lose our footing. Be tossed around by sudden circumstances, peripheral forces and storms. We are driven to survive each turn of events, and we will, and we do.
This is ultimately what makes it worth it to be alive. Is this pressure. Is to survive the unforeseen. Is to be pushed to make radical changes again and again. To be pushed to grow. Because you had to stand on a precipice at some point. Because there was no going backward from there. And it is fundamentally this challenge, even the inevitable and ultimately beautiful conflict, which watered us. Which inspired us.
Which enabled us to drink in and appreciate our existence from moment to moment. Which brought us to the core of who we are and what we are doing here. Which brought us to our dream, manifested, and another new dream, our hope. Which enabled us to contribute to what we believe to be a better world.
Certain risks taken arise by surprises from unexpected instigators, which corner us, and so we must (necessarily) prevail. Then there are the elective risks we are brave enough (or motivated enough by curiosity) to instigate on our own, in pursuit of our dreams. As we consider not only our true selves and our wishes, but also how we fit into a whole picture and our connection to it and our function within it, and the spirit we bring – we do inevitably prevail, all by choice from beginning to end.
Dreams are everything of course. A life without any dream at all – any imagination – is just dead inside, a soul drowning itself in sorrow or slowly withering to a crisp. And there is no just pursuit of any dream without any risk. The rules of give and take, of divine balance, apply. It would not be a dream if we had it already. If we didn’t have to take the leap.
Like anyone, I want it to be easy. But too easy can also be the waste of us and our fullest potential. Because nothing was at stake. There was no collateral. The risk we had to take, is what made it so valuable. You could call it an adventure. Life is an adventure automatically. So we might as well steer our own wheel.
By this whole process of striving we find ourselves in a totally new world, perhaps even better than previously imagined. One realized by an imposition of change, by exercising our free will to overcome any and all odds. Diving head-first into fear. Who can do it? I ask myself to what extent I can.
Yesterday’s best change – even today’s best change – will not be tomorrow’s best, not for long. Not likely. This is where it gets tricky. And this is the role of creativity. We will step out into the open field of the heart, mind, spirit. And we will so often be told,
because that is their fear.
And if we don’t? Who or what would that serve?
And… what if we do?
What if we do?
If risk is inevitable, and fear – inevitable in life – well then we might as well take the dream. Or at least, include the dream. We inherit so much. For better and for worse. This is beautiful too, and we naturally cling to some of it, with respect and even admiration. But we didn’t actually ask for any of it. At least, not in this dimension of consciousness. Because in another dimension, this situation, this exact scenario was perfect. Some of these legacies were precisely what we needed and desired from which to fly away from, just to prove that we could, just to embody all that is possible. And to project this image of an aspiration fulfilled – into consciousness, and the material world. We are not here just to die. We are here for the inherent risk of life. Which expands life. But this is deep in the ocean of ourselves. On the surface, on shore, we have got to feel that there is a pay off for the risks we have taken, for it all to be worth it… and we don’t always know that there absolutely is and there will be. Why not restructure our whole lives toward the light of our wildest dreams?
Will we dive into the abyss?
Roads less traveled. I’ve taken them. Lived them. And I have also taken the comfortable path. The soft place to land. Because I, too, needed that. But….
July 2, 2022 (#2)
A better world isn’t always created by taking the safest journey. Or the more agreeable journey. So why keep myself restricted, protected, enshrouded as an artist, even as a person?
In a truly better world for ourselves- a freer world we’d want to be in – a world where we can see opportunity and we actually take it – where we embrace the fullest expression of ourselves – we’re even more alive. This world already exists (especially here in this place). Whether we live that truth or not. So, why not?
There’s the risk of course. And the fear. But why are the risk and the fear really so bad? Objectively, they aren’t. I could come up with some excuses, and also with legitimate reasons, for allowing the fear to halt this whole process. But are those good enough for me today? And what if we choose to simply ignore all of that? Even fully disidentify with it? We could. Separate the fear from ourselves, objectify it, look upon it with a bird’s eye view, own it rather than allowing it to own us. And so transforming the sense of risk. Can true freedom even happen, without risk? There needs to be some baseline of stability, a foundation from which to build. Yet how could we feel optimally alive – so alive, without the contrast of a prior fall, or at least the prospect of peril? As we have earned this aliveness precisely by conquering fear. Which is only the fear we inherited – others’ fear! Not even ours to begin with. So, we can begin to give that back.
I speak from my own “successes” and also my “failures,” because I want to be proud of them both the same, because they have fed one another, and because the total fullness of life is upon us for the taking. And I have been the type of creator to leap off of metaphorical cliffs. I am no stranger to that type of risk, the experiment. At times, even fully allowed for the judgement of certain peers who would rather we corral and contain ourselves into one coherent message. Yet, all this without an underlying willingness to get past myself and honor all of it, and be truly free. But that closet is full now, so full. Why? I hardly want to know because that feels like a detour — on a day-to-day basis I just want to do.
Do for today, like yesterday and all this other stuff doesn’t even exist. It’s survival. Right? Do my job in the straight and narrow, linear professional world, and the artist in that moment doesn’t exist. Be the romantic in one project, a punk in the next, and the twain never meet. But why can’t I embrace the whole?
Why compartmentalize all of this incredible existence? Why live for poetry, and then pretend to be a five-paragraph essay? What do I feel I need to represent, that would disallow the artist? Do I think that I’ll die and life will be over if I dare to take on all that I could possibly give? It’s some type of irrationality, a purgatorial prison. But it absolutely will be temporary and I am going to kill it off. I am going to kill this character, this persona who won’t let me have all that I am destined to be. If I can not do it, bring these ideas to light, then who else can? They are out there, and the ideas may not wait for me. And the others like me too, afraid to the point of paralysis? They are out there also, I know. We’re never the only one. Right? So, what are we doing?
What is going on today that makes some of us who have so much to say, want to hide? Like this part is ok but this part is not. Elevate this, but disown that. It doesn’t matter. Forget all of that. All the dumb stuff that there is, out there, and what are we worried about? Are we afraid to look stupid? To disappoint? Any stupider and more disappointing than the stupidest most disappointing junk that is already happening all around us? What do we imagine we will lose? How can that seem so much more than, what we will certainly gain? Who is going to punish us? But then, who will reward us? To those who would leave us just for having an imagination, just for having the daring – are they even good enough for us? Perhaps not. That has got to be okay. Are we here on this planet just only for them? Are we? Our imagination is our power. This manifests our best possible world. There are more like me out there. We have our day jobs. We have our lives. We keep our act together. Our… act. But deep inside we know we can do something else too, perhaps something we are even better at.
Why limit ourselves? What if, creatively, we had no limits? What would we do? What if we woke up today and we had a brand new life, and we started over from scratch? Who would we allow ourselves to become?
July 6, 2022
Everyone wants to be right and it’s the most important thing in the world. It feels exciting and invigorating. But this rarely resonates with any lasting profundity.
To be right, sparks a temporary glow… but also, to be right… sucks. It sucks the life out of everything. At least, the way we are treating it now. It’s rigid and unintelligent.
It’s nothing inherently original; nor super interesting in and of itself. To be right has become the most banal aspect of contemporary existence.
And writing? is easier than ever, if it’s all you have to do is affect such righteousness that the veracity of your statements doesn’t even matter. As is the apparent collective trend with our speech.
Yet writing which strives to maintain some level of integrity, is more difficult than ever. Because of this culture of RIGHT which negates and insults the entire process of inquiry which writing is meant to provoke.
If you think about it too much, it’s almost enough to make you feel done with language, with writing. To just… give up. Give up altogether this burden. Because to write, to use your words – this involves taking a position. Do I need to be right, to write? Because there is more to life than being the one who is right.
The trouble is, we now shoulder an actual and deliberate cultural detachment from reality, sadly underwritten by leaders who only stand to benefit from our dysfunction. We act as if what we say is the realest thing there is, and so it is done. Deeply consequential actions abound as a result. But as much as we propose to speak truth, and as much as we sometimes DO speak truth, truth is not only what we are speaking at any given time; truth does not end with our statement. We’d like to believe that it is, that it does; but truth changes as quickly as we figure it out.
What is truth? You can’t only be right and also have the truth. It’s impossible. Truth is filtered through the material world, but it can not be caught by you. Truth is a phenomenon created by the sum total of an infinite multitude of ideas and perspectives. Truth is a multitude.
And this is why we need poetry. And all those other art forms which we might also call “poetic.”
Poetry calls us to remind ourselves how foolish we are in being so right. In pretending to have all the answers. In our righteousness against the assholes.
Because there is no right answer in poetry. There is no “figuring it out” once and for all. No one single truth or perspective. And there isn’t supposed to be. Because this would not be possible, and it would not even reflect all that art is capable of – nor all that we are capable of.
Art expresses multitude. Art can understand us even beyond ourselves, because art is perspicacious. Because art is a universe, within universes. Because art reflects reality as this complex multitude beyond one single person’s ego — one single ego whose tragic flaws art is also sure to reveal, so that nobody can be a god (but perhaps, merely part of the god we envision).
And in that spirit, this is not to elevate the poet or artist who creates the art too much. The “one single ego” of the artist or the writer – that’s just a personality. The artist, or one who creates, serves as a medium for an aspect of truth. But not all of the truth. Even the artist who specifically concerns themself with what they call “the truth” – even this does not mean that they need be considered right (though they may be at times).
To be so right and so perfect, even so irrefutable — that would be the creation, ultimately, of something stagnant. Irrefutability is stagnation. And what would be the point of that? To end ourselves?
…What is the actual end game of RIGHT?
To end ourselves, no? To be altogether done with it?
Or do we want to be in and of this universe within universes? Where opportunity and growth and meaningful progress abound? As we are in the space of art, of poetry. Art and poetry which, like science, insist that we will never be done. And that there are rarely any easy answers (especially to life’s most important questions). And we had better become comfortable with this, unless we’d like to end ourselves.
We don’t need to be right, much as we act as if. And artists don’t need to be right to create, nor writers – especially not to write poetry, which neither needs nor strives to be irrefutable. The creator just needs to show. And this is why we won’t give up. And this is why one may have all sorts of feelings about it, including being pissed off and confused and offended. Craft will continue to excel at creating more questions, than answers. More perspectives, than egos. And we must defend this liberty, this freedom and this responsibility. So that the culture of RIGHT may not undermine, enfeeble, cripple art and all its most important functions and its beauty too.
There’s people out there who really wish we would, just give it up. We all know them. Perhaps they would prefer us to be simpler, to think and speak in absolutes, to quickly pronounce reductive and hasty conclusions based on our own personal prejudices, to be more simple and easy, to dumb down. To pretend we know more than we do, pretend we are better than we are, forget we are part of a whole, and act like little gods. Or simply to just abandon our purpose, pretending we know too little, pretending others’ ideas are superior and we don’t have a right to create a space. There will always be someone who wants to take you down a peg that you were never even on. Some half-assed response to your imagination. And we can’t help but disappoint them. Truly. And this is okay. In fact whatever we do, it will disappoint someone. And that’s marvelous.
This is the reason it is worth it to keep going. Not to get more “points” as it were, because we won’t. Not to be more right than they are. But to imagine. All of what is possible. And in doing so, we will not please all. If we existed only to please, then nothing original would ever get made or done (or originality would be severely limited). Because so often, what is original begins by embodying what is not-right.
And as for the whole? Not just the artists. The “everyone”? There is the idea that if we compromised on everything so readily, then nothing would ever change. And we could not dare to hope for a better world. And this is a point.
Our better world is always possible because, in actual fact, there can be a right and a wrong — but there is in fact also, a space in between, a grey area, and a spectrum.
So if we speak truth, this does not mean we are the god of intelligence either. Thankfully, some of us already know this and embrace it and that is because we are not stupid. And because after all, it is not too much to ask ourselves, to ask others: Is our opinion seriously, honestly, the highest intelligence possible? Does our opinion represent the highest world order? Please.
We’ll do better, in today’s climate, to celebrate how wrong we can be.
This gives us a future.
We respect the known, the definable. But we also hold this too tightly.
A stable foundation prevents total chaos.
But all that gives life so much meaning – exceptional meaning – comes by
Part of the beauty of words is their definitions. But poetry understands definition to be a light thing. Lightness. An inexact art. Yet also a very precise art. But art requires flexibility, mutability, permeability, transformation. Art requires the flowering of unexpressed potentials.
Poetry is obviously the art of words. But because words are also useful, because they are also practical, because we associate them with a function, a very necessary and functional part of life, we want to understand them. We must understand them. We must, essentially, conquer them. Force ourselves upon them.
Poetry can not be forced upon. Poetry will always resist conquering. Not necessarily on purpose, but by nature. Meaning can be beautiful or it can be tyrannical. Poetry resists tyranny.
This is the problem with poetry. “America” does not like to think that there is anything that can not be conquered. Poetry is an unacceptable defeat.
Where we do not win, we reject.
There’s no real problem with words. Words are not the problem. It’s the meaning we assign to them. The values we assign to them. What we decide they’re worthy of. What we decide they’re used for. That’s the trouble.
Words are not inherently stupid. It’s opinions. Opinions can be so cheap.
Poetry isn’t cheap.
And we love cheap. We treasure the truly cheap. That’s the problem with poetry.
Poetry captures the invaluable. All that is invaluable.
All you could not hope to capture.
i find myself moving away from writing. but i will always write. but it’s not the grand central station of my imagination right now.
i am more interested in pictures. writing is too perfect, or mirrors all that strives to be so.
so often i don’t know what to say anymore. because in an odd way i think all opinions, even the smartest ones, are stupid.
my world is full of words. communication is easy. but also i need to create in a world beyond words. i need to express without words. i know my words can be stupid. and banal.
as all words can be. and this is why poetry exists. and one is not always equipped to write it.
words are to be respected more than they are.
Bad art isn’t low-quality.
Art itself is neutral. It assigns neither meaning nor value to itself. Art is just various manifestations of consciousness that already exist anyway.
In truth, low-quality has nothing to do with art.
Low-quality is a state of mind. Low-quality is when you think you are better than other people — or, it’s when you let yourself think that other people are better than you.
Our spirits are bigger than the argument
To create something of this time, speaks to the now. And may realize impact now. But with no guarantee of a future.
To create something ahead of its time, could only realize that level of impact later. And may not have significant influence now, nor enjoy full appreciation now. But its value may increase beyond expectation – later.
Nobody really knows exactly what later will look like. Nobody really knows the values of the future.
But the now has its flaws, and the future is more likely to admit it. The future’s success lies in the inevitable incompleteness of the now.
And the success in the now, is in that which is concerned with yesterday’s weaknesses.
There’s no real future, and no real and true present, without the past.
You can only “outgrow” someone when they aren’t willing to grow with you.
I rarely used to write as candidly as I’ve done on certain recent occasions. Breaking the rules of what I’ve felt would be a better thing to write. A more worthy thing. Not sure how long it will last. I’ve felt the impulse waning, and the writing shifts into other topics. But that’s partly a diversion from my tolerance level for my own stories, which aren’t always so comfortable. But – I’m a little bit of the mind that one’s own story is the most (perhaps the only) quasi-honest thing that they’ll ever have to offer. Writing involves persona, but a persona does have roots.
When venturing into the darker places, I’ve thought “am I making myself look bad?” Aside from the heart-to-heart with close friends, I would try to be more enjoyable than what is real, in real life. Try to avoid subjecting people to actual reality. It’s the polite thing to do, right? But this is a blog. On the internet people have a choice to tune you in or turn you off, or just turn your page to a better day. A more productive, enlightened, insightful, less self-indulgent, more palatable day.
I’m inclined to get personal because I’ve wanted to see more of it around and the brand of “truth” that it offers. And because people like to say things in life aren’t personal, even though sometimes they damn well are. And because some like to say that you shouldn’t write about the personal, and especially that you shouldn’t blog about the personal. Why not? I do it because I don’t want to be a vegetable. Because I am not an emotional zombie. Because nobody is.
Nobody is any of these things, and yet with current trends of cancel culture, conspiracy violence, and a revolving door of media-corrupted and debased relationships underscored by apps treating people as a pizza to be ordered, a mounting loss of respect for basic humanity is upon us. To write the personal is, in a way, to stand for humanity.
It seems tragic to have to remind ourselves that humanity itself is intrinsically worth something. And that it deserves respect on this basis alone. And that humanity is why we are doing what we are doing — everything we do. Because of love. Because of need. Humanity is everything to us in fact — even when we forget this. And we were not put on this earth merely to exist as an extension of somebody else’s agenda, or for whatever our value is or isn’t to them.
So how can the personal be so offensive? Does it seem too… feminine maybe? Too low? Too self-important, unless you’re a celebrity whose stories are automatically more valid than yours because they are rich and famous and you aren’t? And so everyone wants to hear their story, but only for the tabloids to take them down later also? For their humanity. Or is the personal just too real, as if we are not even grown up enough to handle that? What exactly do we need to reject about it? Don’t write about yourself, we’re told. Don’t talk about yourself. Why not?
We have stories. Why not tell them? What exactly is so offensive about a first-person narrative now? Is it really that much more “selfish” than anything else? Or is it just that it doesn’t sell as well as a how-to? Is it less practical and functional? Is it less… “good business”? Maybe even less…. bullshit? Does everything have to be monetized to have any kind of value? Does human experience have no value? Are our most unusual personal narratives “crazy”? Obviously that’s all total nonsense. Yes I said obviously. Let’s stop playing dumb because we can do better than this.
To understand humanity one has to get personal. To piece together a complete picture of history, even, we study people’s letters and diaries. Women’s history would hardly even exist without such accounts. Without the surviving poetry of World War I and II veterans, that entire front-line perspective of the very real horrors and consequence and the human cost of those wars would be missing. What about works like Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass? We’d just never know. All the history we’d have then is “big history.” Only life’s biggest winners — the most powerful and influential. And grossly incomplete. The personal does have its place — even in the most important research.
Everyone has their take on what’s going on in the world. Everyone has their take on what’s going on with another person, with groups. To write the personal is almost more responsible, because one presumes only to know oneself. Of course we do not really know others, much as we like to think so. We can only theorize. Yet if you write yourself and pretend that the writing is of others — of characters or even real players — it would seem more respectable to forge that little white lie.
Shouldn’t we pretend to be “above it all” to help our career and reputation? I struggle with my own cowardice too. To write the personal is to actually share. To allow oneself to be seen, beyond hiding behind signifiers that would elevate our status. But to write the personal is also to subject oneself to something as fraught and complex as the ideology of our own existence. And as fraught and complex as the admission of ourselves as sensory and emotional beings. Sensitive beings. Souls, even. In doing this, our stories propel us all into bridging the gaps of our differences. Enabling myths to be dispelled and theories to evolve and opinions to expand. Is this why the personal can seem so offensive in theory? Is it simply too demanding to step into another person’s experience, or even to dive more deeply into our own? The personal can be as antagonistic to core beliefs, as much as it can be seductive for its intimacy. Does its seductive quality make it too easy?
In the darker times I’ve had the thought, would I be writing like this if I were happier? Perhaps no. But I would still be writing something if I were happier. So do I just pretend this current reality of my humanity doesn’t exist? What good will that do? Convince or encourage more people to sit alone on the couch by themselves crying in their own worst moments, thinking no one understands and fearing what will happen if anyone discovers their grotesque vulnerability? That’s no great service either. Will I ever be happy again? I assume so or can only hope. For now, I will at least do something with whatever is going on in the moment. What could I give, as an artist, more than these diverse momentary truths of my existence?
To worry so much about saving face is to never be free. And, I would argue, to worry so much about saving face is to limit what you have to give. To worry too much about saving face — maybe that’s the true self-serving disease.
Sensitivity is anti-market