Sunday, March 29, 2015

"How can we tell the dancer from the dance?" (W.B. Yeats)

I can't, i have to admit. two dance concerts this week, and after they were over i felt i hadn't seen them, distracted by suspense, always wanting to know how the story turns out. yes, i can't see the moment as it flies by. i learned this by taking a million photographs of dancers and performances. later, i'd see the dance again and none of my pictures were in it. 

sometimes at a theater performance or in a cafe, i'd watch a face, closing my eyes for a moment, and each time i opened them: a different face! i'm convinced few of us can see our world as it is. true, a movie should show it, but never again will that same sequence be played. a famous actor said he'd never believe in film-acting again after seeing ava gardner go through sixty takes of one scene.

we live in an edited world. for example, 99% percent of the media news speculation about what might happen. drama keeps it going, facts (actualities) are of no use to it. otherwise we wouldn't sit through the next ad for syrup. and when i can, i always go to a second performance of a piece of particularly like. 

not long ago, i attended an opening theater night astounding me. and i said to myself, "that's a fluke, the actress can't be that good." on the final night i found it the truth: the actress simply imitated her actions from other performances, her partner actors might as well have stayed home. no, i didn't like being right. 

actually, my most incredible bit of street-theater in a parking lot behind the drugstore. a man in derelict condition sat on a curb, video-taping himself. i mean, his clothes filthy and ragged, his hair tangled, his beard a shambles, and yet he smiled into the screen of the smart phone. (the fact he even had one blew me away.). and did he see what i saw? not bloody likely. 

a world in decay taking selfies, now i've seen it all. and yet, nothing, for a moment is a moment unlike any other, speeding past like a goose on a bicycle: did i really see... no wonder witnesses at an accident or crime notoriously unreliable. each glimpsed a separate nano-second, one telling one truth and the many others truths grasped fractionally by similar blindstanders. 

yes, the dance can't be seen apart from the dancer. only the photo can preserve moments and none of them tell the whole truth. even a sequence merely an invention, and film-motion simply an aggravated example of what might have happened. of course, the irony: the dancers simply counting numbers,  that's how dances made and performed. did i get a 6 or a 9? i will never know. 

here are my dance galleries:

Friday, March 6, 2015

we are surrounded by mysteries

                                    The Secret Life Around Us 

"I take pictures to see what things look like photographed." (Gary Winograd) and this means being dumbfounded more often than i would like to believe. most of the time i suspect i'm blind to the beauty around me, even though i'm an eternal tourist. my mind spins with its own images. once in awhile i wake up and think, 'ah, so this is really my reality.' shameless, i must say. i do more dreaming while i'm awake than asleep.

last eve, walking home, i turned on the camera i always have noosed around my neck, and tried a setting said to work better in low light. i took a pic crossing the campus creek, and a few more, just standing there. then when i got home i discovered the face the the branches - no, i had not seen it in the moment:

and even now i get chills looking at it.

i realized the full moon out. suddenly, i felt inspired. alas, none of the photos did it justice. i did get a photo of blossoms in the night, which needless to say i did not see this way: 

and a skateboarder flashed past me. i thought, 'that pic will be blurred' and it was. still i like the mystery of the colors:

but that moon, couldn't i get that moon. shot after shot failed until i tried one through the branches of a tree. i thought, 'maybe that will do'. i tried again with other trees way too green and they failed. when i got home, this is what i had:

okay, i told myself, don't push your luck. no other picture in this short a time can be worth your trouble. i was wrong. another moon shot along the railroad tracks, a red path leading the eye into the distance, so i called it 'the path to the moon'. 

here were five good enough photos (out of many shot), taken in less than 24 minutes. and they only revealed themselves to me as i clicked them to and fro on the computer. how much i would permanently miss if i didn't take aim and press the shutter, even feeling foolish for doing so. am i not missing life by staring at a screen? guess it all depends on which screen i'm staring at.

i've added more pics to my most recent collection: Poet with a camera:

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Exercising on The Titanic

                             Were these the optimists, or pessimists?                                    

that's exactly how i feel, walking my 4 miles a day! am i kidding myself? yes, my ankle working better. my bruises disappearing (mostly). my psyche begins to settle down, which in itself is a disaster. now it can once again meditate on the uselessness of everything. after me, the deluge. 

Winston Churchill said, It's a mistake to look too far ahead. Destiny reveals itself one link at a time." when i'm ailing, i certainly can't look that far ahead. and the human world itself seems to be practicing exactly that. embroiled in continuous war since 1839, it's a way to avoid any consideration of long-term consequences. today's battles lead to no resolution. a kind of grand futility envelops us.

everyday life can't be cured. food must be found, a shelter earned, children prayed for. Churchill also said, "I'm an optimist. Seems like no sense being anything else." and it is true: a pessimist has already lost. do i enjoy floundering around? how much is chemical? the dogs barking next door, do they know something i don't?

when i booked passage on The Titanic, i took a chance, even knowing the iceberg out there. could we swerve at the last minute? would the water-wings keep us afloat long enough for survival? i had lots of concerns and many questions, which no one could answer. 

of course, i have a choice. i can retreat into my divine consciousness and say to hell with everyone else. after all, growing old a process of losing those you love. and doctors have invented the hell of longevity (for some). is it wise to outlive your own brains? doubtful, yet the temptation exists. 

maybe i actually enjoy this last voyage on The Titanic, knowing time will have an end. after getting bounced around by a speeding car, i heard my doctor say, "now, go forth and enjoy yourself!" maybe if i run around the decks for awhile longer, look for love in the kitchen, let go one last spasm of hope? 

                                                   Kitchen on The Titanic
at the moment i'm lying in my stateroom in a state of perplexity. i'm tempted to enter nirvana, but i don't want to do it prematurely, before i've squeezed the last juice out of the lemon of life. 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

My theory of everything

at 18 i realized i didn't understand why people acted the way they do. since then, i've run across many theories: sex (freud), self-interest (la rochefoucauld), power (nietzsche). and every one of them entranced me for awhile. alas, dissatisfaction ensued, disillusionment. i've tried to apply them. say, sex, trouble is, i admit losing interest. supposedly my testosterone normal. then why the devil? 

power attracted me only when i was 12, and as captain of the sixth grade softball team, i threatened not to let a friend play. he squealed to the teacher. i spent my afternoon in tears watching the game from afar. it taught me power a pit full of snakes. as for self-interest, i have pretty much put it in first place. if only i didn't have lapses, like helping my sister stay on her feet.

do exceptions prove the rule? like every theory of everything, a formula breaks down on closer examination. that said, i'm prepared to make the mistake of venturing my own: the whole of human history a fight over territory. in the home siblings go at it. on a global scale tribes struggle to gain the oil, the gold, the prestige. 

obviously, this will end badly. traveling the world, i discovered it's pretty small. think about it's surface repeating itself: sea, mountains, deserts. all like sand running down through an hour-glass. and who will pile it up once again, when time has run out?

true, i do believe in the human equations called aphorisms. i relax when i read them, even writing a few. i've hypnotized myself with these in the last few days:

Without hope life has no dimension.

Our possessions make us poor.

The greatest people unknown, they haven't created an image of themselves.

Nature itself has no story.

Can you accept the world as it is and be an artist?

Vanity makes everything visible. 

You don't know you are a child until you need to be an adult. 

i can pretty much go on indefinitely! and to my detriment, have. to confirm this examine the pages at: 


in fact, i've discovered: if you can't sum it up in a sentence, no one will listen. that may be our tragic flaw, what makes us human. 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Habit is the great deadener. (Samuel Beckett)

despite being thrown over a car, another of my nine lives used up, more time given to make mistakes, i'm having a hard time changing my habits. for example, now i can drive my truck, even with its stiff clutch, and i'm tempted to drive everywhere, most of it unnecessary.

i need to walk as much as i can. and living close to downtown, i can do 90% of what i need to do on foot. and i like to walk, it's my main exercise. lately, i've done three and a half miles just walking to class. and instead of cruising to Barnes & Noble for my cafe latte, i've changed to Peet's where i can watch the passing crowd, and in front of which i used up another life. 

still, this morning i wanted to jump in my truck, drive fifteen minutes to my former rest stop, and use up more time and gas. money, money, in my twenties i could live on nothing. now, the dollars don't even reach my hand, despite making better wages. true, i started adding up my expenses for the last year: two thousand for teeth, five thousand for rent, and so on. even the internet takes it's share. 

and i don't know why the government taxes me twice on unemployment and social security. medicare not cheap, at least three hundred a month. oh, well, i did get my money's worth this time. of course, i could do better if i thought i had a future. i've certainly been disabused of that. and so, i say to myself, if it helps you survive, buy it, even if it's consumer therapy. 

here's a quote from the writer jessamyn west pointing up the problem:

"You make what seems a simple choice: choose a man or a job or a neighborhood - and what you chosen is not a man or a job or a neighborhood, but a life."

habits come to stay, little devils that they are, my life a  a tissue of them. it would be easier to change my name than the time i go to bed or when i feel i must brush my teeth. and, blast, if one alteration doesn't change everything else, upsetting the whole system. and this rocking of the boat can be very unsettling. 

okay, no sense beating myself over the head. as ramana maharshi said: "Put one thing in practice." or as van gogh said, "If you get good a something, you can get good at something else." i suppose this is the snowball school of living. if only it were as easy as rolling downhill!

i've combined and posted more photos in the Poet with a Camera gallery:

Monday, January 19, 2015

On The Madness Of Vermeer

i just watched this four part documentary on vermeer - and it addresses the effort of the artist to tame the chaos of the  world. no wonder artists do go crazy, desiring a perfect world. assaulted by the news, they tremble like a seismograph, unable to avoid the disturbances of the world, even as they work to calm them. 

my friend sent me an article on what makes artists commit suicide, and i answered him with the following:

hi dennis, a counselor once told me, "You are not your feelings." I try to remember that, though it does beg the question, "who am I".
I've done lots of suicide study and thought of it many times, including one night in the 60's on the staten island ferry, a harbinger of spalding gray, the monologist.
I concluded the one thing common to all suicides: withdrawal. even the unibomber kept a connection. we are members of a gregarious species.
oddly, I haven't thought of suicide since getting tossed over a car going 35 miles an hour. I've been preoccupied with getting my left foot/ankle well. I do think I've had some post-traumatic stress, like holding my breath without realizing it, and replaying the accident. and at the latter it did cross my mind all my anxieties could have been ended.
creative people carry an enormous amount of tension, which they resolve temporarily in their work, and then it re-arises. good angel/bad angel, I'd say, heavy bearers of dualisms.
and there's definitely a component of impatience and anger (always a problem with me). mad at the phone company in new york, I wanted to throw myself under a bus.
I think what saved me from the ferry and the bus is: I still like my own body, I don't want to hurt it. alas, age may take it's toll. more suicides because people living too long, no place for old people (except sun city). Emerson said, 'every man after 30 wakes up sad.' no wonder those ISIS guys want to die in their prime, like some american indian warriors.
my therapist years ago said, 'depression is the absence of feeling.' could be those who usually feel strongly despair when then can't care.
before my incident only one person knew where I lived, now at least a dozen do. that has temporarily lifted my withdrawal. knowing myself, I expect it to return. better on the lookout where I have a job, in communication with a lot of co-workers.
keep up the good work and happy new year. wayne  

Friday, January 16, 2015

what can you do when fate starts stalking you?


getting hit in a crosswalk, could happen to anybody. i'm glad to have lived to tell the tale. needless to say, i've been a super-conscious pedestrian. and then, two hours ago, a guy in giant 4-wheel drive, the kind with huge wheels, ran a red light and almost caught me on the busiest corner in town.

i'd just come out of Peet's coffee shop at main and 2nd. distracted by several high school kids behind me, i stepped off the curb, the walk sign up. and whoosh, the lumbering truck missed me by less than a foot. the kids looked at me. i must have been white as a sheet. "are you okay?" i said yes and avoided telling them my almost tragic. previous story. 

needless to say, as i walked home, i re-played lying in the crosswalk last month, emt's cutting my clothes off, half-a-dozen stopped headlights blazing across me. i stopped by the university library and caught my breath with a friend. further on, i suggested to the campus police they post the fine on the no bike, no skateboards sign: $160. maybe money will talk.

the reason they have the rule: a pedestrian killed on the bridge by the natural sciences building. and perhaps it will take another to get the budget for it. like every part of campus, the police strapped for funds and sixteen thousand students flowing in over the weekend. a bicycle whizzing by me makes my skin crawl.

yes, 34 years in town, rode my bike at night without lights, ran stop-signs, i'm no innocent, just lucky. and after a fall ten years ago, i simply stopped riding, unable to trust my own sense of self-preservation. recent events prove this a wise choice. if only walking were safer! and am i the target of some greater force?

sometimes paranoia is the proper attitude. in this case it did provide an epiphany. i'd been trying to decide what to do with the rest of my life. learn interior decorating, go ballroom dancing, read poetry in public. everything i thought of seemed like work. and my doctor had said, "simply enjoy yourself." and that's what i thought as i walked away from the potential, funereal scene in front of Peet's, exactly where i'd told a friend a couple years ago, 'i'd like a memorial bench on that spot.' 

i have been photographing and here a couple of posts:

Poet with a camera:

Monca photographers at work: