Notes in a Time of Not Writing, #1

There’s so many things to say, so much to catch up on. I don’t know where to begin or end, so I’ll start somewhere in the middle. Somewhere in the middle of a bath on a Saturday night at the end of March or beginning of April.

Water. I love it. All water. The mesmerizing and meditative quality of water. An implied unknown in its depths. The movement, the sound of it, its independent ever-changing form that can’t be shaped or molded, and the overwhelming mystery and vastness of its quantities. Creating patterns while resisting routine. Possibility is the word that comes to mind. When I look into it. Possibility. One place to another, never stagnant.

It calms and it stirs me up. I drag my fingers through it and watch the rings of light flicker across the surface, feel the movement on my knees and legs.

If only we could accept ideas – accept each other – accept unexpected circumstances – as much as we can accept water simply for what it is. This

independent and ever-changing form. That can’t be shaped or molded

beyond what it is doing momentarily.

Water responds but can’t be entirely controlled. No rigid and tired principles and values to cling to. If only we could better accept ourselves the way we accept water.

And experience more freedom. And the paradise before us here on earth. Embracing us. All of us. No it is not stupid to have this thought. It is absolutely not stupid. And

it is not even for you or me to decide

what is stupid. And I don’t even care what you are against. That’s tired. I want to know what you are for.

I start with this excerpt, this particular piece, from the mess of words I wrote for months and didn’t post, because I had the kind of writer’s block that tells you so many lies.

Writing reflects the mysteries of life and consciousness. I can’t tell you what makes me feel so timid and afraid inside one minute, and so bold and carefree the next.

I, too, have been afraid to express the total fullness of life.

And I admire this element, water, that most reminds me what living is. Is to change. Art is this thing that has to embrace a state of allowing. Total and complete. Allowing is really the state of creativity, of touching creation.

But original creation encounters resistance from pre-existing, established entities. Which in some historical sense matters, but in an absolute sense means absolutely nothing.

I consider the fears and the insecurities and the haunted dreams. I consider the histories and the responsibilites and the rebellions and the failures.

And I gather all these thoughts in my hand, with all the feelings attached to them, every single feeling, and I open my hand over the river, and I lean and bend my mouth toward them, I inhale and bend toward the light with all these thoughts, toward the water’s direction, and I blow.



Early Rising

It’s 4:30 am. Not sure why I’m up but I don’t fight it. I decide my colors for today will be lavender and midnight blue. I pull on my black leather jacket. For breakfast, something creamy and green. Matcha tea. Color is what drives me, every day. What gets me going, what wakes me. And the quality of light, and the character of light, on the color.

There’s form – lines, shapes, relationships, concepts – and there’s words. But first there is color.

First there are flowers. And then there is the street. First there are the lime-green trees, the terra-cotta tile, the wrought-iron chairs. And then there is the parking lot. And then there are the words.

The words for these roots of existence.

I’ll wander over to Peet’s, the first place that will be open.

I decide not to write, I mean not to edit something more serious. Thinking is tiring sometimes. I want to do something simple right now. Something easy.

Spanish classical guitar music. This is life, real life. Life is passion to the core. We’ll never truly give it up with age, as the myth goes. But we can pretend. We are free to create our own tragedy.

This why we need poetry. This is why beauty exists. Life is passion.

To the core. It’s the one thing you’ll never forget.

I step out into the dark, the first light just peering through.



The problem with poetry in “America” #2


Part of the beauty of words is their definitions. But poetry understands definition to be a light thing. Lightness. An inexact art. Yet also a very precise art. But art requires flexibility, mutability, permeability, transformation. Art requires the flowering of unexpressed potentials.

Poetry is obviously the art of words. But because words are also useful, because they are also practical, because we associate them with a function, a very necessary and functional part of life, we want to understand them. We must understand them. We must, essentially, conquer them. Force ourselves upon them.

Poetry can not be forced upon. Poetry will always resist conquering. Not necessarily on purpose, but by nature. Meaning can be beautiful or it can be tyrannical. Poetry resists tyranny.

This is the problem with poetry. “America” does not like to think that there is anything that can not be conquered. Poetry is an unacceptable defeat.

Where we do not win, we reject.

Swiftly, immediately.



Observation #6

Bad art isn’t low-quality.

Art itself is neutral. It assigns neither meaning nor value to itself. Art is just manifestations of consciousness that already exist anyway.

In truth, low-quality has nothing to do with art.

Low-quality is a state of mind. Low-quality is when you think you are better than other people — or, it’s when you let yourself think that other people are better than you.

Life is an adventure – remember?

A tea kettle whistling – someone else is up at 5:53 am too. A neighbor.

I’ve had a writer’s block and an artist’s block at the same time – I don’t remember the last time that happened.

Suffering gets boring.

I don’t regret recording it.

Paralysis, though – that’s an empty space – but something happens in it.

In the space of doing nothing.

A mystery to us. It doesn’t seem worth examining.

Consciousness needed to shift.

I prefer the hand just a little bit childlike sometimes.

Like what’s always come most naturally – a style mostly resisted.

What was wrong with that?

Why resist anything? Why resist anything?

It’s not always worth it to be so adult. What is beyond adult?

The struggle is too adult.

But artists aren’t childish, like they insinuate.

Art is ageless. Period.

Two Visions

To create something of this time, speaks to the now. And may realize impact now. But with no guarantee of a future.

To create something ahead of its time, could only realize that level of impact later. And may not have significant influence now, nor enjoy full appreciation now. But its value may increase beyond expectation – later.

Nobody really knows exactly what later will look like. Nobody really knows the values of the future.

But the now has its flaws, and the future is more likely to admit it. The future’s success lies in the inevitable incompleteness of the now.

And the success in the now, is in that which is concerned with yesterday’s weaknesses.


Tell Every Story


It’s not the job of artists to create only uplifting or lighthearted work that makes everybody feel good. That can be part of the job. But the primary job is to tell the truth. Some kind of aspect of the truth. Sometimes the truth is something joyful, elating, comical, optimistic, inspirational. But the truth can also be brutal. Life can be incredibly brutal sometimes. And the worst of it, is when we are made to feel that our less palatable reactions to such brutalities should be any different than what they are.

There is a time and a place to look on the bright side. Or to “act as if.” But the artist is mirroring. Reflecting all of it. Not just the one artist, but all artists. Art is just consciousness. And its patterns. And we will never be done with that. Consciousness is always evolving. Sometimes art needs to show us what we already have and know, cast in a new light. Sometimes it needs to show us what we can’t see. What we would rather ignore. Art can show up for that. It won’t always make the artist look good. It won’t always make the artist look for that moment “enlightened,” at least not in the mainstream understanding of that word. But this is the whole point of art — to bring things to light. To expand what is seen. Whether that is dark, playful, ironic, simple, etc. But art is not here simply to make us feel better. Nor does art need to act like a winner. Art doesn’t need to project a million dollar smile.

To assert that some emotions and experiences are worthy of attention but disregard or insult the existence of others is to fail to recognize the total abundance of all that is, the total fullness of life. So it’s not about just telling people what they want to hear, or only showing them what they want to see. It’s not about what we think should be said or done to “make the world a better place” in the common understanding. It’s about getting all of it down, whatever is speaking to us, and be willing to be that honest. Because what makes the world is a better place is also when honesty and integrity are valued and expressed and held. The result of honesty and integrity should not be to run. It should be to come closer.

A world that just only agrees with you all the time, that’s a world in which no one grows. That would be a very stale world, a world in which we stagnate. Art is capable of appreciating all of it. What we cherish, and what pains us.

Hackneyed optimism and hope — trite, dismissive, insincere, and even inappropriate as they often are — help no one.





All There Is To Remember

I took photographs of the long row of palm trees in the way off distance that we’d soon enough cross in the car.

The palm trees looked like fairy flowers, the kind you pick and blow wishes off when you’re a kid. Like dancers of all different heights, lined up in unison. Like the way your heart feels inside, when free of comparisons and worries.

I watched you as you talked, for the right moment to take a photograph.

The first lights of cars on the other side of the freeway began to flicker on. Dusk was not that near. Some must have been daylights auto-sensing impeding change, prematurely.

I focused on the line of your jaw. You looked handsome but I didn’t tell you. The landscape flat, the clouds thin, orange trees and wiry weeds to the sides.

I wanted to talk to you about music, but didn’t. I was tired of feeling stupid. I do it to myself, I guess I find others to confirm it.

Later, once we’d settled in to the cabin, once we were walking, the mood was about to shift.

I sensed the irritation when I lingered too long at the top of the hill. I love you, I thought. I’m sorry. I had to take more photographs.

I’ve never seen clouds like this in my life. It’s special, I’m sorry. My heart was sinking. I had to get the pictures. I tried to take them faster.

I recall the gorgeous picture of the palm tree in LA, the one you’d sent me in the very beginning, when we first met. Large imperfect leaves reaching into irregular directions that collectively balanced out into an odd symmetry.

Not a banal snapshot; it captured a wildness. It wasn’t about the tree – it was the way you had framed it in the shot. Your style of looking. You get it. You were speaking my exact language. I thought “this is my man.”

I don’t know if it was on purpose or an accident, the innate sense of choice. What’s called an eye. Or maybe not even that – maybe you just understood how to capture a feeling.

“Why can’t you catch the next flight, I’ll pay for it” in a smile I could hear over the phone.

I don’t know if that was the real you, or if this is.

We have different sides of ourselves. I guess I held the sides of you, that you’d rather disown. I held them along with the rest of you, with all of you, or I tried so hard to, but from your point of view, maybe, there was only one side to be on.

It just, wasn’t mine.

Artists are immature. Artists just need to grow up. It’s just, not very adult.

I didn’t understand.

It was all a mistake, a misunderstanding.

I focused the shot on your silhouette in the light. Beautiful.

Hurry up, I told myself.

Hurry.

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