Wednesday, December 31, 2014

End of Year Summations

At the end of our lives, they say we get judged.
At the end of each year, we have a tendency to sum up ourselves . . . kind of:

       Here's what I accomplished this year.  Here's what I didn't.  
       Here's what I'm going to/ not going to/  do next year.

Mostly, though, some of us just keep repeating the same old patterns.

It was interesting looking at what some fellow bloggers posted along the line of end-of-year personal summations.  Some had to do with announcement of change of habits (mainly to do with creativity:  I'm going to stop doing this; I'm now going to start doing this, etc.)  The mere mention caused me to reflect on what things I've elected to continue doing, and which things I feel most need changed.

One artist blogger  tells us he no longer feels like painting. Just like that.  Doesn't need it anymore--and it's mutual, he writes, likening it to a friendly divorce. Speed biking makes him happier.  Some things will always (always) make us happy.  But we sometimes have to take a break from even  them temporarily, to concentrate on something of more compelling interest.  It is not always temporary.  Nor always an Either/Or situation. But sometimes it is.

Some writer bloggers list the number and names of all the books they've read during the past year (one noting that 80 of them were written by men and 80 were written by women, disclosing his preference). (Sorry, ladies, it weren't you.)  :)  One writer blogger
reminds us of kitchen pantry 'culling' as a metaphor for assessing what's stored but forgotten and what needs to be discarded.  It's what we do at the beginning of each New Year, we take a look back and assess what we've accomplished (or neglected to), and declare our intentions for the coming year.

These such all led me to examine my own reading, writing and creativity in general during the past year, and in this imaginary scenario I see myself quietly slinking to the back of the Input/Output Judgement Line - the one where you're asked  "What have you learned?  What have you done?  How have you spent your time?"

I haven't kept track of the books I've read but I can tell you, sadly, they're nowhere near the number others report that they've read.  But I do read--constantly.  And I'm always writing something.  So I'm engaged in the process and have produced a certain quantity of stuff.   (Nice try, but what have you actually produced worth bragging about?  I query myself.) 

Voracious and prolific describe actions an Energizer bunny can relate to, in terms of stick-to-itiveness and unstoppability.  But that same energy can also manifest as frequent, instantaneous bursts of direction-turnings  elsewhere, with equally satisfying results.  Some might call this Distraction, because it takes you away from the self-programmed usual run track. What it's labeled is irrelevant, and disruption of  routine is sometimes a necessary wake-up call.  Bread can't stay fresh forever and sometimes you get tired of duplicating the same 'ol same 'ol.  Inspiration is needed.  This year has been a dam-burst of ideas, possibilities, new projects and plans, the mere thought of which has yanked me from certain customary, passive-type habitudes to more active redirection.  Not to say this may have been jumping the gun a bit, dreaming up more than I could handle or am equipped to effect, but this was an unforeseen change where a pattern kind of reversed itself.  A new window opened, I'm deciding to run with it. 

Try to take on too many new things and you can immediately get overwhelmed.  As to the question, what have I (so far) to show for it, that would depend, I suppose, on who this would be important to.  A lot of things one does never gets put out there, intentionally.. And what does is sometimes sporadic, off-the-cuff experimental type pieces as one tries to get better.  (In other words, 'practice.' )   Have I made progress?  Well, yes and no. Depends on which year, which project. 

The stuff I'm more inclined to share on a regular basis is work done by others.  I get real pleasure in discovering and sharing, for example, really good poetry - poets who've written poems I wish I had written - and am  appalled to realize it'll be soon be three years (THREE.YEARS!!!) (!!!)  since I've worked on Salamander Cove, except to tweak the design. That is one of the things that's going to change in the new year.  Look for more frequent postings of more poets' great poems!

One of the new time-takers that's graduated from mere dabbling into full-blown interest, has been researching.  A number of years ago friends asked me to help them find a new job, an apartment, or information about something.  This was pre-Googledom.  I  discovered I not only enjoyed it but apparently was good at it (so they tell me).  I loved the challenge and soon became hooked. It changed the way I deal with puzzles.

Congenital curiosity led me to begin fact-checking when something didn't make sense, which set the pattern, for I began noticing things I would normally not have noticed before, which is, as it's turned out, both a blessing and a curse.  Because I soon developed a real interest in, of all things, investigative journalism.  Some years ago I helped  with certain researches, which sharpened analytical skills.  Who knew, ha ha.  I do so poorly at math.  Scanning documents and pouring over reports, looking at 'wordings', tracing the history of something, noticing anomalies, contradictions, and  intentional obfuscation, led me to probe further, where I'd sometimes find  unrelated, but incredibly interesting 'other' information that proved even more intriguing. 

 You see where this is going, right?  It's like octopus tentacles, you wind up hopelessly entangled. But it did introduce me to fields I'd normally have little to no interest in (the financial field, contracts, legal transcripts, real estate transactions,  regulatory codes and all that boring stuff you avoid getting into because your eyes just start glazing over and you can't decipher the acronyms or understand the jargon.  Not that I do (understand it completely) but it's written in English and there are ways you can say (or not say) a thing which you can learn to spot when something should be there but isn't, or what is that suggests other than what is presented.  Sometimes it's absolutely blatent, and you wonder how nobody's noticed.  

Some people sit down and read a dictionary, the way others sit down to read a novel.  Bizarre as that sounds, it's all in how one relates to words on a page.  Understanding the jargon, decoding the meaning, exploring places one normally bypasses as a dead-end but from a different angle - what can I say, some people spend hours playing digital "complete-the-mission" skill-games on a tiny digital device or days positioning little cardboarded images together or solving difficult crossword puzzles.  I enjoy finding stuff and solving certain mysteries.  Unfortunately, it's taken time from other pleasurable pursuits, which are demanding equal time.  Plus it's probably ruining my eyes.

So, in sum,  there's not much to actually show for time spent this year on personal or selected creative projects.   There are just not enough hours in the day,  but that's no excuse.

My New Year's resolution this year is - to stop making New Year's resolutions.  Stop resolving to act, then revolving back to what went before;  start solving the problem and evolving, stop getting sucked into the whirlwind where you get so involved in something, you forget what day it is.  Change the damn pattern.  Perhaps I could advance a tad farther up the Input/Output Judgment line. Yeah. but stop explaining, Yabbit says.  Wrap it up already.

Happy New Year, all.  Let's all keep trekkin'.



Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Behind the Curtain

Costumes, as symbols.
Ritual, to remind.
Membership, to perpetuate.
These things, you still find.

Meaning doth lie
in the meaning attached;
accepted as "givens"
even if you're detached.
     So it seems.

Enactment a must.
It reinforces belief.
A setting we trust
to bring sought-for relief
     from life's Void,

from all that's unknown
yet we think might be true.
Life without symbol
or myth, just won't do.
     It can't BE.

Image as mirror,
as message . . .  as glue.
The face that you wear -
Is it really you?
     (that one that you share).

I once met a man
quite famous, in fact;
was shown to his study,
to be taken aback
     at his face everywhere

in dozens of photos
displayed on the wall
of himself with famed others.
"Visitors, bow down in awe!"
     was the message it told.

But why shouldn't one show
to the world one's Self,
in a suit or a robe
or dressed like an elf
     or as Everyman?

We're actors here, all
playing our role
on or offstage
cautious or droll.
     We write the script.

Like that self-absorbed man
let us into his room
"Look at me, look at me,"
his hims said in tune,
     and it's true -

talent he had;
influence, in flux,
(I shudder to think
exactly how much
     it rampages on.)

 A legacy left,
 he's so happy, I'm sure
at the zillions of places
it stuck and much more 
     like stealth glaze.

Costumes, as symbols
Ritual, to remind
Membership, to perpetuate
These things, you still find

We're actors here, all
just playing our role
on or offstage
cautious or droll.
     That is the plan.

Now they write the script,
assign the roles,
provide the stage,
supply the trolls.
     We all know the drill.

Clap, clap, everyone.
Did you enjoy the show?

Wait.  You didn't realize it was a show?

*A rhymey, blurt-poemy addendum, of sorts, to yesterday's hastily painted wake-up cards, neither of which adequately expresses the insight that resulted from this morning's sudden collision of a past memory with a sense about a not-so-current but continuing series of events.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

wake up note





Idea for a mini wake-up card.
If there were such a thing
as wake-up cards.

Monday, December 15, 2014


Little stones in the hall outside the library.
They hang suspended from the ceiling.
If stones could dream, is this a playful romp -
or freefall jump toward free?

Saturday, December 6, 2014

"People are Extremely Angry"

Truthout Interviews Dahr Jamail on Electromagnetic Radiation War Games 
scheduled for national park and forest in Washington State

They will be war gaming for 12-16 hours per day
for 260 days

The Navy says these massive electromagnetic radiation pulses
will have "no significant impact" on humans or wildlife, despite scientific reports to the contrary.

"Tens of thousands of outraged residents from around the Olympic Peninsula
have expressed their opposition."

Read the full article here

Friday, December 5, 2014

Ink & Beans

 in the seed catalog -
words grabbed for harvest -
to bean or not to bean

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Threads in Our Life

Went  to an exhibit last summer of the 6th biennial of contemporary sculpture where the artists all focused on the same theme--perdrePied  ("losing one's footing")

"Losing one's footing, to no longer be in control,
being disoriented, being overwhelmed,
no longer knowing where you are"

This was one of the presentations highlighting that theme.  The artist exhibited a model church sculpted entirely of thin, fragile, translucent fabric, held together with thread and suspended from the ceiling in a stark, bare, otherwise empty white room.    At its base, cloud-like tulle hugs at its foundations, as if trying to anchor it.  It seems to move, and breathe, or tremble, as you walk past.  The effect was ghostly.

Nearby, a crane ominously awaits.

Side View.  These photos don't do it justice.  The whole thing  was absolutely exquisite.

"I decided to approach this theme in a figurative sense," says the artist, "exploiting the topic of the disappearance of the heritage built up in Québec, and more specifically, the religious heritage." 


What interests this artist is "the gradual removal of these monuments of the past that allow us to identify with our history, and to position ourselves in relation to it."  

"The church is in some way the physical incarnation that endures through time of a system of values and of an ideology that were formative of Québec society.  Our culture results from key events in our history and is as much coloured by the Great Darkness as by the Quiet RevolutionOn this point, I wonder about the impact of the vacuum produced by a certain rejection of our past.  Won't this loss lead to a search for meaning, a search for identity, a loss of balance?"

"I raise this questioning through the production of a textile installation that notably presents a church where demolition is imminent."

The demolition crane (detail)

"This architectural structure was built by a work of sewing, using sheer fabrics, giving the impression of lightness and fragility to an item that is normally solid, which seems to us indestructible, immutable."

Jannick Deslauriers was born in 1983 in Joliette, Québec.
She lives and works in Montréal and teaches art at the Cégep Marie-Victorin.

To see more of this artist's work, click here.

Her web site is here.

I particularly liked this earlier piece (not part of the above exhibition):

lethe (from series battlefield series) 2009
Artist: Jannick Deslauriers

A poem I encountered around the time I'd gone to this exhibit seemed to speak directly to related thoughts on  the disappearance of familiar traditions, objects or landscapes that are part of one's past.

Of Things Past

                                                                Draw as you will you cannot
                                                                Hold on to them as they slip

                                                                Like water through fingers
                                                                Frozen in marble round

                                                               The ring of a well.

                                                                    ~ ~ Vassilis Zambaras

The artist Jannick Deslauriers wonders "about the impact of the vacuum produced by a certain rejection of our past,"   asking:

"Won't this loss lead to a search for meaning, a search for identity, a loss of balance?"

One's identity--how one defines oneself with respect to one's culture, heritage, country--is subjective.   While loss of a tradition or native language can indeed be unsettling, the loss of the meaning one attaches to them can be even more of a disconnect - because it positions you outside, so to speak  (standing away, apart from, not experienced as "one with" it anymore).  Loss of  meaning in something does not always result in disorientation, however, if one fills the void left by its loss with something more meaningful.  It may actually ground or stabilize, rather than serve to dislodge, one's future life "footing," so to speak  But that's a whole other topic.

A  fragile, soft sculpture that cannot stand on its own and needs support from above, this church floats and  "breathes",  as clouds of tulle gather at its base, attempting  to anchor it.  Take away the strings holding it up and it collapses in on itself. 

What does it mean to think of something as indestructible, a kind of "given" - only to discover that it  perhaps . . . . isn't? 

That beautiful old churches get razed to become trendy new condos saddens me.  When in 2001 the Taliban destroyed two giant  6th-century carved Buddhas at Bamiyan in Afghanistan it sickened me, a loss felt even by those outside these cultures, as a universal reminder of the impermanence of 'things'.

There's a big difference, of course, between changes wrought slowly by time or inevitability, and those deliberately  and systematically engineered to erode or eradicate a people's identity. Native American Indian children taken from their families by early religious groups, renamed and forbade  to speak their own language;  and Tibetans today, having had thousands of their monasteries burnt down, their way of life now tightly controlled by the Chinese, are two examples that come to mind.  When your land is no longer yours, your language no longer spoken, your culture not something succeeding generations find easy to "identify with", except as a handed-down story or inherited label, then not the where you are but the who you are may cause you to examine what this all means to you personally.  Parallels flooded my brain as I was drawn back to the scene before me.

 I marveled at the sheer craft involved in the creation of this floating church.  Anybody who's ever worked with certain fabric, trying to get needle and thread to cooperate, will appreciate the enormous amount of time and effort it took to design and produce this magnificently constructed artpiece.  (I understand  that it was still being worked on up to 40 minutes before the exhibit opened.)

I peeked inside (or tried to) but saw only complete white space.  A gently held Emptiness.  I became fascinated with the black threads holding it all together--their intricacy and sometimes whimsical randomness.  For example, on the crane boom, they appear to be both clinging to and escaping from that which they are tasked with holding together.  I like that the artist allowed for this threadly ambiguity, the visual play of being both attached to and moving away from -- even the church's front bannisters and steps seemed to undulate to this rhythm.

Lost footing with respect to identity--what we identify with, or as--like the meanings we attach to ideas and things--is mutable.  What we accept or reject (or are simply indifferent to), how we respond to their loss, and who we become (or remain) as a result,  largely depends on their meaning to us not just collectively, but individually. Does this loss to "us" (the culture as a whole) make you feel more--or less--connected?  The answer to this question perhaps holds the clue to the nature of the connection, where we stand in relation to its absence, and whether that makes a difference or not.

This particular artist focused on the loss of religious heritage.  Wider considerations presented themselves in the overall theme as well:

  lostFOOTING, is to lose one's physical support, one's usual perspectives, one's aesthetic values, one's physical anchors, whether in a corporal manner, metaphorical, emotional, mental, or creative. It is also a rupture in equilibrium, a change of scenery, a rout, a stumble in the rhythm of walking, in the momentum of a journey, in the thread of life… All artists participating in the various exhibitions, events, and other activities will explore the proposed theme.

 Loss of one's physical, emotional, or metaphorical anchors, stumbles in 'rhythm' (who of us hasn't?!), lost momentum, ruptured equilibrium, loss of creativity (or in interest thereof) - whole pages could be written on any one of these 'threads'.

This all gets so murky.  But the subject is fascinating.  Utterly.  I like art that makes you think.  And this artist's work certainly did that. . . and then some! 

Thank youJannick Deslauriers, for  this visual and reflective adventure.  The exhibit was outstanding.