Sunday, December 3, 2017

Investigations


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

Memories Of All Time


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.


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Thinking


I could go mad here
my first world soul lusting
for American necessities
while my country dances
Fires burning
deluge after deluge
not suggesting the enormity
of our present predicament

We often ignore the obvious,
distraction being preferable
to more thoughtful tidings

Foolish pastimes clogging
the airwaves
with books unread
messages undigested
lies told, promises broken

Naysayers trampled in this
unearthly light

Stiff-faced malcontents
gesture obscene codes
destroying cohesion

Infection spreads across
waves of grain

My people, oh my people
your shrunken hearts on spikes
at the gates of eternity

Chests caved in

Sick melodies fill corridors
as the world's derision lace
unkempt summer lawns

Glowing molten
near the yard of no trespassing
sirens distort your thinking
as the ship heads
toward hidden disaster

Cruelty blinds deaf fortresses
guards long gone
bubbles bursting eternally

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Unencumbered

Walburga Retreat, Ventnor, NJ 2017

When you awoke, it was as if none of that ever happened. As if the world was a uniquely pleasant place; constant and reliable. The inability to see the horizon moved your imagination to a post of tranquility. Memories of the incurable city no longer haunted you. By stepping back from the world into a clean, calm place where people sympathized, the transport shaped easy navigation. It was as if a grand fairy tale appeared unannounced. Where nightmares were charmed by a protective mist of affection. Gone were the oppressive battlements of an unenthusiastic family. Gone were your personal failings. Instead arose a realm of delightful possibilities. There was nothing to fear. No one to avoid. All it took was the serene vastness of the sea. A roaring lullaby. Friendly faces who took the time to converge. Such a quotient of effectiveness allowed a startling reversal of being. A space full of devotion. Relaxing, unencumbered. 

The foggy substance blotted little cruelties, precipitation anointing the day with sublimity. You knew who you were. Safety arranged inner quiet. Without ghosts, without judgement, without disharmony. Life’s trail routed circuitously coming to a stop. Turbulence dispelled. You reverted to a moment before beastly contents splattered your essence in every direction. All calamity wiped away. Freshened by morning dew, the rain and wind lapped tarnished sand. A continual cacophony from the beginning of time, concerned only with rewriting the story.

An ever-turning planet, as misused as it is, laid its eternal truth to disengage the troubling self. Could it be that simple, you wonder? That in a certain time, at such and such a place, your life began anew. Hope intact.  In this moment, somewhat particular since you had been here before, a swath of path laid clear through the landscape. Lessons were learned. A destiny rerouted. Free from the grief of living to a desirable future where cohesive interactions revealed themselves. Tactility, sensation configured anew. You arose to begin again along a new mode of sufficiency where conviviality was the game. The closed doors of exclusivity no longer matter. Competitive nuances relinquished for hospitable loveliness. 

Oh, here where the spirit runs free and the creative juices flow uninhibited by rules of another house. You glide along familiar halls. The prerequisites forgotten. Another age, simple in its desires, triumphant. The coastal air fills the lungs, the eternal sea, though dirtier than you remember, stays constant. It lulls. It instructs. Its presence as liquid as a millennium. Before civilization and its discontents bellowed oceanic voices to lead the day to disaster. The night coalesced with the moon. All the technology in the world cannot diminish, try as it will.



Saturday, June 17, 2017

Home


She never allowed home. Some skewed memory full of holes and misdirection pounced upon such a possibility. He continued it in subsequent generations not allowing admittance. Closed for familial business. You bit. Were sideswiped by indifference. Stayed in a state of lost. Delved for the deepest corners in search of voyage. A story told for self-flagellation.  Not caring elevated to a virtue. This was not your stance. In the beginning, it confused. Leaving, leaving, leaving. On the street corner. Oh, those times took their toll. Heartbreak almost extinguished the spirit left in you. You sought the most difficult path. In the end, you still do not know why when so much was expected of a life lived in brilliant wonderment.

The spark, though, was never fully extinguished. It burned bright that day when you resurrected yourself. A terrible incubation. How did you ever do it? Rising up to accomplishment. Battered down time and again. Some can respond in acceptance and rebuttal by never questioning or failing to be revived. Some roll over in the halls of discontent. And now, here, out on a limb, you realize you have never made home. You were always so easily interrupted. Your only mechanism a survival instinct. Effective to a point.

Now the refuge of studio is gone. Placement is good but as you peer into a burning hearth, you wonder if the life of being there is perennially somewhere else. Does it exist? Or is it something manufactured to convince. These realities shift with so much to consider. The distractions evaporate and you are left with endless questions. It is not a real fire. Not like the one in the Catskill mountains where he made a home out of heat and light. A memory from long ago nurtured for decades. There was magic in it. A comfort in the unexpected. Tentative but smooth in past tenses.



In another line of reasoning, our lives fill with junk and refuse. The world cannot hold it for much longer. Each person gathering all these things to create a home. Was it always like this? As the thieves meet behind closed doors to put more gold in the hands of the unscrupulous, we worry about our future, left on the side of the highway to lament the choices we made that lead us to this. We cannot give in to sorrow or retribution but ignoring the monsters in the counting house is not a safe bet either. So you sit with various conundrums hoping answers or enlightenment. You can scalp externals away to live in Zen deferment. That is another deflection in the form of an answer. Why must the world be seen as pure suffering? Even I know that not to be true eternally. Eternal is a damaging word. It does not exist outside a dictionary. A false premise in a world of constant change and renegotiation. 

The turning sphere brings joy and tentativeness, often in equal measure. You can create narrative to avoid all this or consider it to enrich the moments of natural transcendence. Who can believe the mind? If its mechanisms are left unanalyzed, we will believe in truths and finalities, which are nonexistent. In the stream of time nothing is lost. We track what we can and leave this world in the blink of an eye.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Chances

First page from October 2016

Staring into the face of the day when the sun has risen or recently set may result in understanding the nature of things in a minor way. You may light your path with these occurrences. As the day changes so does the possibilities of each moment. Some walk an even path. I will do this and then that will happen is often the case. You may find yourself in a system you enjoy and all things can come to you in a generally tidy way. You are in this for the long haul. Acquisitions keep you satisfied. Life is linear. There are many comforts. Or you are frugal and slowly simmer from want. Others are the wandering type. Circuitous. They seek experience. Their curiosity puts them in another mold. The sun must be seen. The road must be moving. This is a somewhat unwieldy narrative. The harvest is at certain times of year. It may not be what you expected. Freedom is what you seek, often to the chagrin of others. No matter though. We all find the place we desire, the place we create, or slide about life in an off handed way.

There are many combinations to interpret, investigate, put forward, discover, analyze and rebuke. The turning world offers many permutations. A technicolor dream can disappear in an instant between the fence and your day job. We may allow for the limitless gyrations since sameness is too dangerous or unlikely. Rain runs downhill to east coast rivers. There may be solace in this phenomenon. We can easily be comforted into thinking, this way is the best, this journey is worth having. Turn around to see how wide the berth and how many rearrangements pepper the land. Too many tulips enact a bubbling market that will soon be scarce. In the three card Monty of investment the joker flashes the carrot. Many are duped into poverty of pocket and spirit. What shall you leave by the alley of your dispersal when all the chips are down? A magical plan tucked in your pocket. Open it and be relieved of the toil and critique on information systems.

When the fox screams in the distance after the city energy bounced from waterway to concrete canyon, a song is heard of ancient revels. Others came before you. The echo of their existence is carried by the wind. You can hear their voices if you try hard enough. What boundless joy or poignant tales breeze by when the biggest story was silenced next to the Brooklyn Bridge only to be resurrected centuries later. Do our dead poets, writers and artists participate in revival or are they disembodied from their task in evolutionary time. It cannot be known but such ideas make a marvel out of living regardless of the price paid now that you are dead. I see gray faces worn by time clocks and progress reports. They worry about retirement and grow old before their time. The color spectrum diminishes. In the end no one is safe. We mark our time in connection, location and spirit. If mirth is denied what could be the point, I wonder.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

America

Photo by Yann Arthus-Bertrand from
New York from the Air

How long is the trail that lead you to this? No place to call home. No solid ground beneath your feet. The innards tremble noiselessly from the shock of the world you knew, now vanished. Adrift. The city points the way. Familiar habits reorient. You have the books to make all things possible. Now more than ever knowledge is important.

In the nation, controlling mechanisms of government slip round the country’s neck poised for an unpleasant end. You and your country are at one. Placeless, harborless, somewhat mute at the unreal occurrences over time. Unforeseen, unwanted, unexpected.

A gray mist floods the Hudson. You marvel at the luck of having a good friend to allow you respite. A helpful audience sending encouragement and money. As you teeter on the edge of a place you do not want to go, these sparks of kindness and hope push you forward. Nipping doldrums of freedom lost eat away at your heels. Shall you let circumstance gnaw at the effervescent day? You tell yourself the only answer is to dispel the sickening miasma of eternal enclosure. Disembark the ship of fools for matching like to like can only taint the soul, mar the patina of age. The American experiment, though faulty, developed from a taste for freedom. Righteous ideas of equanimity arose from a fetid past of gods and kings. The microcosm equates the macro.

During this time of times, when all seems grim, we must not forget who we are. What so many strived for. My people, oh my people, on the graves of the diminished immigrant and the bold reformer our country, ourselves is built. A place where anything is possible, even the improbable. Our Puritan forbearers, promising cleanliness and prosperity, remains evident in the infrastructure. We have comforts most of the third world does not know. Our diversity, constant and incurable, gave us abundant cuisine, culture and crossover. Light still shines in the land of all delights. Do not let fear, busted desire and the need to blame obstruct what ineffective, dangerous men do. They eat at our liberty in order to devour it whole.

We see the hogs at the trough. We allowed a monster to rise in the land, no sense in splitting hairs. Did the dead multitudes fight for our democracy only to have it snatched by the dogs of avarice, conceit and blindness? We must be stronger to maintain what took so long to arrive at. Our policies and laws are being dismantled link by link by the forgers of gold chains of bondage.

When all seems lost, we can begin by re-evaluating the meaning and history of our freedom. When the rudder is lost, the ship will head for the rocks. Move out from the comfort zone onto the thin ice of change that requires courage. What choice do we have when the forests of time, a people under siege, is under the gun of gilded foolishness? Stand up now or lose everything.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Parallel Lives

If your life becomes a series of aggravations from which you have little respite, beware. One can only be smacked around by unsuspecting humans who are on their own quest without thinking about anything but that quest for so long. It is not good for the spirit and it certainly is not good for producing anything of value. If you find yourself two steps from blowing a gasket do not think yourself less than others. We all have our requirements. If you need a quiet place to think, if you do not enjoy the density of crowds you may find yourself alone. You may not have a posse or like-minded people to preserve you from the herd. People will look at you like there is something wrong with your needs since often we only justify those behaviors like our own.

Others may be utterly incognizant of what is needed to operate past the surface of things. They will not understand what you are trying to accomplish. An ocean of talking heads will stream effusive gaggle not stopping for a moment to breathe. With modern technology, that is all they see. Like the alcoholic who is convinced that everyone is drunk, the constant comment crowd will try to hang you for not being like them. Do not fret. It is a very big planet and we get to be who we are regardless of what others may try to make you believe. As misery loves company, yakking sacksters need confirmation that their way is the right way. Don’t be fooled. It is difference that makes the world go round. In the end, they may pay for your bright ideas that stray off the beaten path, often not knowing that is the case. Chin up and find a solution.

Here it is. Somewhere in this very same place is the world you need. All you have to do is to find it and then swim in it. It may only be for the morning, for the afternoon or for the day. Parallel to every place and goings on is another place and goings on. Identify what you want. What food must you have, what temperature, what kind of people do you want to see, what activities do you want to participate in. Do you need a sauna, a massage, a doctor, a plate of spaghetti or glass of wine? When the boiling point is reached one must relax to figure out how the path must go. We cannot live the lives of others for very long or surely we will break. We have to find that place of comfort. You cannot make anyone understand who does not understand. You will only be disappointed. Let It go and fly to your satisfaction. Sometimes you can have a perfect day. Give yourself another reality. If it works well for you reevaluate why you are where you are. What lead you to a place or how did it go wrong. Life is a kind of plumbing. The more the valves produce a sanitary condition the easier it is to be well. Turn on the faucet of your life. It does not matter if you are particular. Fine tune the day. You can only digest the indigestible before your bowels revolt.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Heat

Ambavadi manipulated.

It’s 93 degrees in Ahmedabad at 10:20 am on Sunday. You begin to watch the temperature climb by degrees used in your homeland. Fahrenheit looks more impressive as well it should. By 2 pm it will be hitting 110 plus. Your pale western body sprinkled with freckles fears leaving the shade of your rooms. The locals are not moving. The day will not turn out as planned. You will be forced to stay and listen to the sounds of the neighborhood, as tiresome as they have become. The heat changes everything. Tolerance drops. You wish it to be quiet but it is not. How can anyone yell in this heat, you wonder? What happens without refrigeration? You shudder to think. The offal of cows gives you a good idea. The mad ingestion of spoiled food and other toxic waste. A place were hand wipes are rarely available. How utterly inconvenient and unhygienic. It is a mystery why it is like this, your Puritan society roots gasping in despair. Relentless and cruel, there is nowhere to go and nothing to do. A drink or any such diversion cannot be had. Stuck with yourself. There it is. A glass of water. Over and out.

The world has gone mad. Again. Starkers. Most sit by and watch it unfold. An imbecile in the White House, now turning a putrid shade of gray. We languor behind the screen of internet comforts voicing our displeasure. Doing nothing really. Some march and make a stink but nothing changes. White supremacy on parade. Half the country is in tune with it for Christ’s sake. Drop those bombs. It’s a beautiful sight. Rampant blindness tills the land into mudding mire about to drag all under. Thinking? The act has gone off the road to greatness down a back alley of unfathomable depths, despair lurking behind the door to grab any oxygen left. Sick fumes can be smelled for miles. All the world knows this. We have aired out dirty laundry and now there is no cleaning it to be had. Once we were strong but not now, not now. Even the scorchers of the land, who sell the people back their soul at a cut rate price cannot be saved. Their luxurious lifestyles will come to an end. We may find this a good and just thing but in the end it will not be such.

I watch this all from the heat waiting to fly back into the American orbit. I am conflicted. No longer is this world the place of dreams but then the new world, now old, is no longer either. How to put one foot in front of the other. To keep on. To find hope. It must be done for to let such treachery win would upset world order. Bleakness cannot pervade forever. The pendulum swings, it is a known fact, despite what it feels like at any given moment. Physics will win the day in the long run. We keep our spirits high trying to be the better person, trying to extinguish the darkness creeping over the land. It is the miracle of life that good can overcome bad. It is what so many of us seek and if at least half of us strive toward such a thing all is not lost. It is the way of the turning sphere; a hot, cold, and intemperate thing. Round and round. We will peak this crest and see the sun shine again if we want it bad enough. It is history. Read it and know that all will be well enough to continue despite our fears. 

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Eating Hearts

Stylized heart from Gray's Anatomy, the 
reference work for art students in 1970s.


In the beginning, I left. Choking on the pollution of the east coast. On the rings of restraint surrounding me, I walked through the exit and left. With no money or connections, I fabricated a life for myself, a new narrative walking out the door to something else. I knew I would die if I stayed. There was no money for college, the prospects in the office looked grim to me. What is a paycheck if the innards fry with every minute? I lost my joy before my virginity or with it, I cannot remember now. Constraint. I could not stand it then nor can I stand it now. A kind of sickness, I do not know. It is what I must work with. It is America. You can leave if you’re brave or reckless enough. So I left. Not knowing the time of day, week or month; not knowing how it might turn out, I jumped off the edge into the wide world.

When I listen to young women now, their fears, their self-flagellating behavior, at first I am perplexed. Then I see myself. I clothed my own destruction in literary fiction. Made a narrative out of the destruction of ego, the trip to the void unaccounted for and repeated, repeated, and repeated. The footsteps of my own youth echo in those halls. I had to do so in order to survive. I shut off the actions, the flaccid rapes, the eating away at my body disregarding the person attached to it and flipped it back on the knawing mess around me. Like Khalessi, I ate the fatty red heart of civilization so I could vomit out every piece of trash shoved down my throat. It was an enviable landscape though. On the surface, all looked lovely. The fancy homes, stately and well appointed. Shinier than mean streets. Rough mind games were played, convoluted and bizarre, but it was a place from which you could walk out of the ashes since the mental health care was significant. I watched those from six figure incomes get swallowed in the muck, imitating what they thought was the cool elixir of the ghetto. Pre-Hip Hop veneration. Not the real thing. An imitation that took more than it gave.

Stepping over the bodies of the dead, OD’d or mind gone or religious fanatical, I claimed another piece of life in the Midwest. It looked sparkly with all that silver white snow. Oh, what things lurk beneath the skin of the world. You often are not prepared. You did not read enough or the right books. But step you did, making another life for yourself. Shocking events sent chills down the spine. Surely this supposed god in heaven must be kidding. What have I done? What is the battle with death have to teach? I wandered in circles upon circles of discontent and disbelief. Surely someone must be having an easier time out there. I hope to find it. So much has happened since then. In the end you cannot tell what it all means. You can tell the tale. You can say, you can survive almost everything in time, if you want to. If you want to, you can make it into a song, or a poem or a novel or just another day above ground. When the happy day shows up it is so much more. All is relative and by comparison it will be so delightful, that momentary relief called joy. I can tell you this for sure.

Wait. Continue. Try to know yourself. Accept everything you can. And do something. Do not sit in the hell of your own remorse. I have done that and it does nothing but steal time and wear you out. Go. Go somewhere else. Forget the geographical cure curse. Go, if that is your way of being. Above all else, find out what is you. Your patterns, your needs, your vision of release. For only there will you come to some workable conclusion. All else is so much stuffing someone else wants you to eat. Don’t disregard the others, just know where you are in the scheme of things. This takes time. Give it to yourself, time is all the poorest of the poor, the richest of the rich have. Learn to use it. Reflect. Become. Believe. And live.