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. 



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:


www.pbase.com/wwp/poetcamera