Tuesday, August 14, 2018
Walburga, a residency of sorts. Ventnor, NJ
You may think you know your limitations. Tests of endurance may appear so extreme, you think you will never make it through. During these kinds of days and months, it is not how strong you are but how willing you are to go to the end of the road. The strength of your purpose carries you from the intolerable, the inexplicably disastrous situation, to a frame of mind where you can endure. If you are prone to such situations, you will develop the skills to pass from suffering to transcendence. You may be eager to share these periods that move beyond the ordinary. Many will have no interest. This thing of yours has no relevance to them. Your travels through hard space appear as a string of awful complaints, which often they are. There may be no interest whatsoever. It will be hard for those around you to comprehend since their lives do not include such things. They have other trials and tribulations to pass through. Different from yours and unwilling to share the intense human experience, unless, of course, they take the stage while ignoring the feverous brilliance of your own efforts. You must sigh and walk away since most of life is like this. The reverberation of your spirit so inflamed will seem like a dead spark. Your ardor is not their ardor. Vice versa, as well.
Do not shrink from this accomplishment, that you live still. You may fall off the face of the earth at the multitude of harpies left shrieking in your ears. You battle your way back to the world you now inhabit. You wonder, “Who are these people here? Surely I know them but also I do not.” A strange mood to place yourself in. There it is, though. You operate on the edge of their world, tottering into your own. You drink a cup of tea, looking at them with vast eyes, wanting to exchange beyond tawdry human interaction but you cannot. They do not ride that ship. Whaling men and frigates do not interest them. You are lost in a zone where your unconscious proclivities wrap around ordinary swells where you bob and weave eternally. Self-help books can only go so far. Motivational enthusiasm cannot solve your conundrum. You balance along an endless sea of misconceptions, failing to make your case for the moment. But there are others who will put forward those who write about the experience. The right poet can make the world well again. The waiting for resilience, for communion, may always pass you by but there are strings of finely wrought words out there that will comfort and keep you on the road to your true self, unencumbered by the way things are.
Friday, May 11, 2018
|St Walburga Monastery front yard|
Sparkled reflection on green grass fluttering.
Different sunlight than the last.
Cool, sharp but not obliterating. Light blue silence.
Hear the leaves tremble. Hear the end of anguish.
Over the rainbow surly nomenclature ceases.
America, America, my heart is with you.
Though the walls outside shake with your mistakes,
blustery men who ruin everything gather.
They cover their deeds with misnomers,
making unconscionable decisions,
hiding in their own darkness.
I know your name. I know your intent.
Here in the sanctuary, I forget your awfulness.
Possibilities fill the voids left by events past.
The psychic tendencies of such a place remain
powerful against your destructive foolishness.
See the torment melt. Evaporated in the
seed of creation.
With every hope comes a smile of justice.
Perhaps it inhabits the mind only, but no matter.
The day is done when new breath emerges
on the page of your life.
Drink in the verdure freshness.
Thursday, May 10, 2018
|Vemali, Baroda, India|
You awoke out of the bad dream of unending ghetto blasting beyond a level that you could not explain or do anything about. It was a kind of attack almost every day and night for eight months. Your rage knew no bounds. You could not understand the benefit of it in this foreign culture where noise is glorified. The ceaseless firecrackers sounded like guns. The ear-splitting music ruined days and nights. Work was put on hold. No one cared about the health dangers nor the torment. This is not your country. This is not your apartment. No one thought to tell you that this would be the case here in disco India.
The return home was unlike any other. The jet lag dragged on. Your mind remained confused and fuzzy. The tension would not drop. You were out of shape since the heat, dust, lack of sidewalks and destinations prevented activity in a physical sense. That is not an issue now and with every step in the cool summer air, profuse with greenness, you realize the weakness of muscles. You feel you have aged prematurely. You feel old. The trauma of the mother’s passing becomes evident. The torment of your residence with her exacerbated by this time battling a daily assault on the senses. Post-traumatic issues burned into the mind, the body, the spirit.
You proceeded with work, with reading, with research. You could not use power tools on metal sculptures for fear of injury. The mind was so rattled, the nerves so spent, concentration difficult. You began to paint with gouache on the many gatherings of handmade paper that you treated with Damar varnish for translucency. The texture of the paper merged with the texture of the gesso, accommodated by the medium. All emotion transmitted through the method. Your international audience online responded profusely. You would not have survived without social media and pharmacological assistance. A dry state ruled out cocktail hour, but you thrived anyway. The language and cultural barriers prevented interaction as did your own proclivities. The power in those moments of creation every morning, though, gave you the strength to stand it all.
You think of the revered Rothko who came to the day when the black swallowed the red. He ended his life so drastically, so messily, so violently. You have not reached as deep into the paint, into the canvas, into the beyond. You appreciate his torment. Work of such encompassing beauty. Is it dangerous? You do not know. Additionally, you appreciate torture victims. During the moments of the torture, you strive to get past it. It is only until later that the true cost is realized.
You connect with things that are important because of this. The experience loses it pointlessness and becomes useful. In this life, there are many who wonder, why me? Why am I in this boat crossing the Atlantic looking for sanctuary? Why am I ripped apart by bullets as the world ignores my country’s violence? Why was my son killed in front of our home by a police or thug’s bullet? Why? Why?
There is no reason but that the world goes on and you may be caught in its crosshairs. The only solution is to find the worth in what life has handed you since there is always someone who has it far worse. You have not been sex trafficked. You are not under daily fire from mortar. You are not starving. You survive and succeed. That is a gift. Make the most of it. Yes. Make the most.
Sunday, February 4, 2018
Father wrote to me once, “Do not forget the story of Icarus, who wanted to fly to the sun and arrived at a certain height, lost his wings and dropped into the sea” (Vincent Van Gogh to Theo, Paris, Oct. 14, 1875, letter 43)
You came to this incessant land fleeing the closure of walls. Broad bends of no exit. In search of enchantment, in search of a better chance. Solitude. Escape from the torment that lasted far too long. The horizon always receding as you chased after it. Looking to discharge the fetters, to ride the wind. To free the spirit from torture. Why it was so hard you could never surmise but that was the fact of it. Worn down year after year, try as you may to stay strong, the challenges proved relentless. You found every piece of armor to supplement change so you could go on. Coming here, you hoped to gain a new life, a new perspective. You did not see it at first but you were heading into the same dungeon you left as malfeasance rose across the ends of the day into the night. A different species but hard tackle nevertheless. Joy sweeping occurrences.
The arrival did not begin well but you hovered above avarice to a state of goal-fulfilling bliss. Wonders to behold, a narrative unknown. Beguiled by difference, by a society so foreign that every step alluded to something else. Pungent with possibilities. You stood alone as always. The previous difficulties allowed you to continue with an idea, for that was all you came with. The heat made you sick filling every pore with a dot of blood. A common malady among the locals. Rx fixed all that. You continued. Lost everything at home due to family circumstance. You continued. Bad translations hampered the rest. You went on. Disappointment and loss. Loss and disappointment.
The Himalayas inspired trust so you remained and sought others. The ring of fire rounded by fellow practitioners. The world made sense, not so icy. Then the hardest iceberg of them all receded into the grave. You thought the trials were over. You were wrong. Perhaps the castration of self flooded the brainwaves with a destination compassed toward dereliction. You thought you were past all that. It took so long to correct the atrocities of your youth where every ounce of effervescence was nearly squeezed out. You rallied hard and often. You thought at some point it would become easier. Childish expectation. You were heard saying, “I’ve been in the meanest streets for the longest time but still, still I am surprised by what people do, how they behave. There is endless copy to be mined here.”
You go to rooftops to gain perspective. It is there among the rising planetary certainties that ghosts who lived before you speak with a hint of grace. It is here, as it is everywhere, that affliction lessens with the inconsequential breath of tomorrow’s forecast. If you continue to trust in salvation a way will be found to release you from the mire that engulfs us all.
Monday, January 8, 2018
You walked into the sunlight after confronting darkness for a decade. The sweet early years stifled at the hands of men eager to satisfy appetite on your smooth loveliness. Between the pouncing and your iceberg of a mother, you descended into a carcass so stripped of identity it took 20 years to resurrect some semblance of self. Most of the perpetrators never paid a dime of time or money for what they erased. Your mother went to her grave paying the cost of relentless separation.
Forgetting the person you left behind echoed through sordid dreams and oppressive reveries. Steeped in narrative real and imagined truthfulness pulled shards of infection from body to the therapist’s chair. You either recognized them or tossed them to the ends of the earth. Either way, it was never enough. You could not isolate the origin of self-destruction. It was stopped in time nevertheless. Your emotions were scrambled in the quiet afternoon sun allowing you to function in society. Achievement became the catchword – the distraction needed to keep the gasket from blowing. Your coffers were generally empty, but you were never poor. The outline of your being, gray as slate, shook off the desire for revenge. Seeing the wonders of the world became your raison d’etre. Every locale exuded possibilities for redemption, for elation, for forgetting the past and renewing the soul.
At times you romanticized corridors of the lost, making them shine with Baroque accouterments. Characters wilder than imagination came and went whether within icy tundras of unspeakable white beauty or tropical exasperations where elephant ears and night jasmine dripped with dew. The stories unearthed bodies extinguished by time. They floated past as if jettisoned from a Magritte painting. You called their names but they did not respond. An entire epoch vanished before your fortieth birthday only to resurface retroactively by young people who wished they had been there. If you could rearrange it, you were heard saying, you would eliminate the intoxicants since clarity eluded you. Lastly, that was all that made sense. To clarify, to make known, to understand. Time became elusive as the most desired actuality. Recovering time, reusing time, making the most of it. You wanted to add as many years as it took to make your lifespan significant, not merely exciting or dramatically eventful.
The stark beauty of your loneliness propelled an austere refabrication of artful environments – good copy the driving force, you said. Somewhere in a parallel universe, the dead spoke where broken spirits corrected their mistakes. Meanwhile, lovely fabrics graced your walls and soft blankets warmed the unmade bed. If atonement could not be had at least a pleasant place to consider what came next sufficed.
Sunday, December 3, 2017
Let us be mortal. Let us contemplate existence. ̶̶ Charles Dickens
You can wind up in the not so foreign land of despair with some regularity, telling yourself myriad stories as to why this is the case. For me the term ‘relentless’ is key. Relentless abuse, relentless financial disaster, relentless noise. For a long time doctors convinced me I was bipolar until Dr. Max after three months of observation said the assessment was bunk. I believed him, never labeling myself as clinically ill again. It allowed freedom from that restrictive way of qualifying my behavior and/or thought process. It did not restrict or reign in the intense anxiety or fear of not being able to withstand living.
Contemplating suicide as a solution to my predicament started when I was 15 years old and has not left me completely, although it has tapered down considerably. It is site specific. The persons and things that made this a consideration are generally gone now. The new problems challenge. They do not urge me off the edge, per se. The constant racket of India – its unbelievable volume, length of application and mind-boggling variety leave me exhausted and wildly discontented. They do not make me want to go up to the terrace to take a long walk off a short ledge.
What happens instead arises from constantly searching for solutions other than the aforementioned. This involves a great deal of reading and writing. Making art is a completely different endeavor. While the reading and writing are part of my art practice the space they inhabit contradistincts that of making, in a vital way. It is a different zone from the physical compared to the intellectual.
But I digress.
The point I want to make is that whenever I reach a critical point of destitution, I search for meaning. Often what appears almost magically, is a cure. An intellectual elixir in the form of a person and their words gives me my circulation back and I am relieved. Their words, personality, scope, buoyant my restless self so that I am recircuited to continue happily. This occurred today with Min Lin Lee, author. I received an email about a talk at the Strand in Manhattan. I am very fond of the Strand, being part of my reading culture since I was a teenager. I did not know of the women who were going to be speaking on the current topic of these terrible times being OUR TIME, meaning a time of empowerment and such for women. Taking the stand against all the abuse, the limiting ways of the patriarchal world, the gruesomeness of certain men and their penises.
I began to Google the lineup, reading bits of their work and a few reviews. Ms. Lee stood out after watching a video taped interview. I read her introduction to the 10th anniversary printing of Free Food for Millionaires. While another author’s content made me feel low, Ms. Lee inspired. As a writer who looks to historical information and research, she piqued my interest. We are quite different but there is enough common ground to make her encouraging outlook just the thing needed. After I finish reading Paul Auster and Peter Ackroyd, I will read Min Lin Lee. I will be so much the better for it.
Tuesday, September 26, 2017
Picture who you are right now. Not the fabricated mask orchestrated by a million motivational obstacles courting your personal best. Look in the mirror at the interior, hiding behind bells and whistles, the fractaled, less than optimum, though genuine self. The one flitting about when no one is looking. Know that person, for it is all that is left of the child who came into this world – the elemental self before the world formed the person to be. If created by myriad influences, images and narratives singing like demented sirens through the airwaves, then uncover the vibrant being from before all that. The path may rock this way and another by circumstances you did and did not create. There is no getting around it. You can forget what is best about you, located within the confines of initial wonder.
The mirror transforms over time. If we live by story, let us create unfathomable myths from our origins since all we are and do is connected to this elementary idea. Regardless of material possessions, status truthful and negligible, we respond to archetypes slathered with culture. Look at our most precious and long-lasting images/ideas, and you will find most transcend time, place as well as culture. While meaning may vary, we long for the fantastic, for something not of this world. Dragons, mermaids, angels, aliens, giants, various monsters, heroes, ghosts. What we call reality, the ordinary issues of life, does not serve us fully, especially in times of great turmoil, great dissatisfaction or fear. Turning to the imaginary bolsters the day no matter what the current administration or the university’s president’s office may think. Circumvented art, once it became a slave to commodity, lessened in its universal properties by imitating the market it serves. The notion of wonder, or of philosophic understanding of ordinary reality, moved to the supermarket shelf. Buy this or perish. Can we really go on with such content-less machinations?
Put aside the need to comment on current issues per se, to look inside the human condition. If there is no attempt to consider other worlds outside the daily practice of living, spiritus mundi suffers. Without delight, or the sublime, we never move out of one view. Art, poetry, dance, all those things provide a glimpse of elsewhere, allows a reprieve from wanting too much order, and the inability to maintain it. Without elsewhere, we shun the other. When order/disorder eliminates the day dream, our existence becomes thinly regimented.