Saturday, May 23, 2015

"Get yourself a wife..." (socrates)




you'll either be happy or a philosopher. hmm, i've tried to be happy and a wiseguy. it's been a bumpy road on my own. and watching 'the salt of the earth', a documentary on the photographer sebastian salgado and reading his autobiography, 'from my land to the planet', i accept his statement, 'i could never have done it without leila.'

damn, that's the missing piece. a wife, for a man or woman, gets the creative goods out into the world, plus washing the dishes while you paint, sculpt, write, or sing. without that support, i've fallen through the cracks! yet, to be fair to myself, i always preferred women who had a destiny devoted to creation. they needed the wife i could never be. 

let's see: virginia woolf had leonard woolf, william wordsworth had his sister (his poetry went to hell when he married somebody else.) what is a wife for the artist? a man or woman dedicated to your work. for example, sam wagstaff devoted to photographer robert maplethorpe, supplying money, collecting photographs, giving him presents of significant art works. both died of aids, if i remember rightly. 

and that happens to many a creative being (symbolically) while helping someone else. it's so easy to become busy being the handyman every sane woman wants. i watched my father doing it all: fixing the plumbing, working on cars, repairing the the roof. with her last partner, my mother had a blackboard in the kitchen with lists of things for him to do. and there was always a lot, since she switched from one fixer-upper to another. 

and speaking of space i've always lived in small rooms, presently happy in a 214 square foot cottage (at least with advancing age, i can grab something when i start to fall). yet to bring a wife and a dog (let's face it, it goes with the territory, and i'm not a dog lover, though five dogs live next door). it's very easy to feel crowded and claustrophobic. alas, it's happened more than once. i do admit i love cats and am feeding a neighbor's calico for company.

i'm between a rock and a hard place. money needed to woo the woman, which i don't have. young ladies expect to be treated, older ones don't want you living off them, too many men searching for such security. and i've never been properly trained. true, i remember a french-canadian film where a czech  immigrant poet survived on his wife's sewing, making his children absolutely miserable. 

and accidents happen, kids arrive surprisingly, and then what? boy, the documentaries like the one of painter alice neel filled with her two sons' bitterness. if creativity the first love, the second and third get short shrift. 
and actually, i find myself letting go, much as i enjoy reading my poems and looking at my pictures. a lot of people out there creating, who do have wives, far be it from me to expect to compete. 




Monday, May 4, 2015

can human beings evolve out of their reptile brain state?



blast, i promised myself an early sleep. unfortunately i've been watching YouTube videos on ayahuasca, a brew concocted in the amazon jungle by present day shamans. videos of people throwing up, emptying out into their pants, not exactly inspiring, and there's endless images (paintings) of the visions participants see. 

despite all the upset, the drinkers state that the next morning they feel purged of the lousy childhoods they had, the pressures to conform, the anger resulting from the suppression. having had my hands hit by a ruler in the first grade and paddled with plywood weapon by the principal in front of the fifth grade class, i can attest such experiences exist, perhaps for all of us. 

i've watched enough different episodes to come to a few conclusions. everyone seems to agree they go through an honest life-review and have to face up to all the evil things they've done to people and the guilt they carry. or the rapes, etc., they experienced as children. the result: self-hatred, nothing new to the psychiatric establishment

yet such wild and seemingly uncontrolled (and profitless for business) ceremonies simply shake the foundations of our science, upon which we depend for our sense of reality. after the life-review, participants express experiencing visions of another reality. and all claim this is not a matter of hallucinations.

of course, i read all the don juan books when they came out, i read tarot cards for several years, i've gone through a drumming journey, so all this stuff is not new to me. what is new, however, is the confirmation of my conviction human beings must be changed in some way, or they'll kill each other off. 

if this chemical concoction under the tutelage of an experience (very) practitioner can change people to the point where they absolutely wish not to harm others, then the essential problem of the reptile brain solved. alas, this can only be done in small groups. i can't imagine a TV shaman putting every human on the planet into this condition. 

where am i then, in la-la land. that would be nothing new. i have been in the scientific mode about my body and it's depressing knowing incredibly complicated it is. how can i manage to get on my feet in the morning? after being hit by a car and flipped up in the air, i staggered around with a huge boot on my fractured ankle, and i can't tell you how afraid i was of falling. 

if the fear of falling is a human beings worst fear (and i've heard it proclaimed so), then i've been thrown back into childhood, when i learned to walk. and it's little wonder alice's trip down the rabbit hole has enchanted so many children with hope: hey, i can deal with chesire cats, broken egs, pink rabbits. l won't die. they say ayahusca ruled by a benevolent deity who reassures folks they'll survive. 

i'm not ready for it. there has to be an easier way. now i don't want to go to sleep, snakes crawling through my dreams. i even battled one the other night and fell out of bed. luckily my mattress only a foot off the floor. still, not a pleasant experience. i would like to be a nice guy. it's too late. my optimum state is indifference, nothing to be proud of.





Monday, April 13, 2015

no, it's not willpower, my friend




how does it happen, slipping into these morning depressions? i wake, stand up, feel fine, and immediately head toward downbeat thoughts, which quickly subdue me and rob me of my actual physical strength. all i want to do is lie down again. and if that's not a sign of being depressed, i don't know what is. 

i have tried various methods to combat it, beginning the day reading poetry, for example. alas, even if i love poetry, it's a two edged sword, about love and death, and often love leading to death. yes, the love aspect can lift me higher, if i'm in a lovely mood. ultimately, it merely intensifies my inner state.

and food's a remedy, almost, if i could just figure out what doesn't make me sluggish. bananas claim to be mood enhancers,  so i've begun many days with a banana, and once i've consumed it, i lie down again and float like a cork downstream. or apples, food of the gods. i must be affected like adam was by eve's offering. 

and now we're getting to the heart of the matter: the tree of knowledge. i realized the tree branches in all directions, carrying me hither and yon. how did i find this out? by once again indulging in a drug called wellbutrin. this time i carefully timed it and watched my changes in consciousness. lo and behold, after an hour i began to focus outward naturally, avoiding the magnet in my mind which draws the force of investigation back to myself.

oddly, i don't have to force myself to be interested in something, i just naturally am. my divided self joins together in one direction, in this case art, and i don't have to choose. in other words, i have so many interests, so many shoulds, i jig from biography, to history, to essays, to the making of donuts. everything under the sun must be investigated and understood. 

a little while ago the welbutrin wore off. suddenly, i did feel like myself, the comfortable state of mind agonizing over what i must do next: watch a talk on brain chemistry, bounce on my trampoline, write to the technical company threatening to renew my subscription in eight days. and it's this very state of writhing over possibilities brings on the dreaded dark night of the soul.

now, the world recommends willpower, and what i've discovered is the will to power lasts about fifteen minutes, then i'm exhausted, i have to rest for an hour to get it up again. jung would say this all has to do with the erotic flow, and the end of an orgasm comes to mind, arousal must wait for replenishment. it is something like that. every orgasm requires prepping, especially getting older. 

no wonder americans love drugs. they unify the mind, they erase all the inner tensions and contradictions. the inebriated flow in one direction, to dance, to flights of fancy, and it all happens naturally, it just comes. and for the time of the high, i don't really seem to be me, less empathetic, more arrogant, and decisive without having to make a choice. 

the question is: how much do i need, and is the dependency worth it? i wish i could reach the level of this chinese poet:


WRITTEN ON A WALL IN THE BOSHAN TEMPLE TO THE TUNE OF "UGLY SERVANT"

When I was young I never knew the taste of sorrow
yet loved to climb up towers, 
to climb up towers,
and just to write poems I pretended to be miserable.

Now I've exhausted all of sorrow's flavors
but stop before I say it, 
and finally just say, "What a cool autumn day."  

                                                                        Xin Qui



Tuesday, April 7, 2015

the world won't be a better place



                                            (they tried to domesticate David, too)

i hate to admit it, not because i've been here. i haven't stopped a war or saved a village or invented a cure for selfishness. the battles go on, children live in poverty, and the human being hasn't been improved, even if i have ideas how it could be. 

trouble is, shifting one part of the anatomy alters all the rest. take away the reptile part of my brain and i'd sink into sloth and enjoyment. subject my brain to pleasing chemicals and i'd be nobody without my perversity. you could give me a million dollars and see what happens. i would welcome your experiment.

alas, i've always worried about money. somewhere back in my mind is an empty coffer, a waiting grave, a subdued love. all exploration in solitude hasn't brought me to the diamond mines of satisfaction, fulfillment, i keep yearning for the end of torment in an epiphany.

that's not to say i'm suffering. what preposterous statement it would be: he's drinking tea, he's just had crackers and cheese, playing games of self-elopement on the computer. i've the luxury of myself in expanding in comfort and dreaming. if i want a few extraordinary past lives, i can conjure them up and blame them for making this world sordid. or slide down a glacier like an ace. 

all fulfillment comes from the imagination. i'd like to quote from 'the book of disquiet' by fernando pessoa, a Portuguese poet:

"Everything for us, is in our concept of the world. To modify our concept of the world is to modify the world for us, or simply the world, since it will never be , for us, anything but what it is for us. That  inner justice we summon to write a fluent and beautiful page, the true reformation of enlivening our dead sensibility - these things are the truth, our truth, the only truth. 

alas, the responsibility thrown on my sloping shoulders, half an inch of my actual height lost, while my feet have become a half-size larger, the burden too much for me. in my sleep last night murders occurred, sane people tried to escape in vain, the marauders had the advantage of guns and mobility. if even in my nightmares, i can't reform the world, save humankind from drowning in rubber tires and plastic bunnies, how could it do so here, fishing for the fluent and beautiful page?

just to remind myself how many have disappeared from my memory, i open the tattered address book. yes, him, her, them, the time and place. the only gift i have to give is my presence, and i guard it like an angel among devils. not very flattering is it? 



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: http://www.pbase.com/wwp/dancepics



Friday, March 6, 2015

we are surrounded by mysteries


                                    The Secret Life Around Us 
                                    http://www.pbase.com/wwp/summer_2004


"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:

http://www.pbase.com/wwp/poetcamera

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.