Thursday, April 28, 2011

"You Can, You Must Proceed" - Poem and Painting Pairing

Paul Cezanne - The Sainte Victoire mountain seen from les Lauves - 1904-06
Oil on canvas - 60 x 72 cm - Kunstmuseum - Basel

At about the 7 minute mark, there is this poem:

For Those Whom the Gods Love Less
(Denise Levertov)

When you discover
your new work travels the ground you had traversed
decades ago, you wonder, panicked,
'Have I outlived my vocation? Said already
all that was mine to say?'

                                      There's a remedy -
only one - for the paralysis seizing your throat to mute you,
numbing your hands:  Remember the great ones, remember Cezanne
doggedly sur le motif, his mountain
a tireless noonday angel he grappled like Jacob,
demanding reluctant blessing.  Remember James rehearsing
over and over his theme, the loss
of innocence and the attainment
(note by separate note sounding its tone
until by accretion a chord resounds) of somber
understanding.  Each life in art
goes forth to meet dragons that rise from their bloody scales
in cyclic rhythm:  Know and forget, know and forget.
It's not only
the passion for getting it right (thought it's that, too)
it's the way
radiant epiphanies recur, recur,
consuming, pristine, unrecognized-
until remembrance dismays you.  And then, look,
some inflection of light, some wing of shadow
is other, unvoiced.  You can, you must

from Sands of the Well

"There's Just No Accounting for Happiness"

That happiness takes its leave, abandons, this is also true.  That it's possible to be thankful for those stretches of unhappiness, too.  

by Jane Kenyon

There's just no accounting for happiness,
or the way it turns up like a prodigal
who comes back to the dust at your feet
having squandered a fortune far away.

And how can you not forgive?
You make a feast in honor of what
was lost, and take from its place the finest
garment, which you saved for an occasion
you could not imagine, and you weep night and day
to know that you were not abandoned,
that happiness saved its most extreme form
for you alone.

continue to read here.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

You Can't Have it All

No, you can't have it all.  You can't always get what you want.  But if you try sometimes....well, you know the rest.  I read this poem early this morning by a poet I'd not heard of before, Barbara Ras, titled "You Can't Have it All."  And it's so lovely.  Here's an excerpt:

But you can have the fig tree and its fat leaves like clown hands 
gloved with green. You can have the touch of a single eleven-year-old finger 
on your cheek, waking you at one a.m. to say the hamster is back. 
You can have the purr of the cat and the soulful look 
of the black dog, the look that says, If I could I would bite 
every sorrow until it fled...

And here is the link to the poem in its entirety.  The ending is wonderful.  

And another poem by Ras here, titled "Voices from the Corner of the Sky" which ends:

Now, please. Let us go 
like a meadow of balloons let loose to the sky.

She's a poet I definitely want to read more of.

It's wonderful, anyway, to start the morning thinking about what you can have.  This must be a thing that is calm.  I say this because I noticed on the blogger stats for this site that "things that are calm" is one of the most common search strings that lead people here.

It would also be an excellent writing prompt:  write about the things that you can have....

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Bedside Tables

Books migrate from one side of the bed to the other.  This is Rob's side.  He read Man with a Blue Scarf: On Sitting for a Portrait by Lucian Freud, by Martin Gayford last week, and now it's my turn.  

You'd think my side would be the tidier one, but it's usually a leaning tower of books.  

I've been thinking a lot about confidence, and maybe partly it's because of this book that has been passed from one bedside table to another.  I have one novel that is hoping for a publisher.  Meanwhile, I'm deep in the next.  This is a fine place to be in many ways - the anonymity, the complete loneliness of the project can be good for the writing.  I'm trying to remember that.  What a free space it is.  Nothing or nobody to mess up certain thought processes.  The struggle is to maintain a level of confidence in what I'm doing, even though there's been no real outside affirmation.

The endurance of the artist, the writer.  Gayford says, "When we look at an artist's work - the seventy-odd years of Picasso's output, say, or Titian's - we are encountering not merely a lot of pictures, but an index of their vitality and tenacity, the vigor with which they continued to move and think and care about what they say, day after day, year after year."  This is comforting somehow, right?

I've been out of sorts this Easter weekend.  At Christmas I'm always hiding my out-of-sortedness, so it feels.  This is what Freud says about Christmas holidays:  "I shouldn't want to look forward to anything that wasn't work, it would be too destabilizing."  It's in the insanity of writing that I find my equilibrium.

I'm in that spot where I just want to get back to the writing, the early morning sessions. But am also rather terrified that I've lost my nerve, something that happens frequently enough, but this feels a bit larger than usual.  Who hasn't had the thought that it would be smarter to chuck the whole so-called creative life, in my case the life of an obscure and decidedly minor writer.  But usually in the next thought, I'm chucking the idea of chucking it.  Honestly though lately I'm afraid of how long the idea remains in my head.

Friday, April 22, 2011

For I am Convinced that Life is Beautiful

"For I am convinced that life is beautiful."  

(Clarice Lispector)

I spent the day thinking about light.  Doing housework, computer stuff, took some photos, read some poetry, some of my beloved Clarice Lispector.  Happiness.  Who knows why, but these are among my favorite photographs, I know they will be.  It's this way that you feel when you're shooting.  I felt the same way this past week, writing a particular scene for my novel.  Maybe it's something like runner's high.

When you read how-to books on writing poetry or painting, you often hear the advice that at times you must delete or paint over the part that you feel is the best. Sacrifice this area that doesn't seem to work. I've always felt like this is bullshit somehow.  What do I know.  But I always feel like it's important to consider what is contrary.  I'm a contrarian.

If it's beautiful, keep it.  Maybe you want to keep that passage because you felt beautiful when you were writing it.  You were soaring.  It was full of light.  You were happy.  Convinced for once that life is beautiful.  Keep it.  Maybe it's a flaw, but it's a beautiful flaw.  Let it in. Find a way to keep it.

One of the poems I read today, by Charles Reznikoff:

One morning, I sat down at home
to read or write and for a moment thought:
how wonderful the light!
It lit up table, room, and street,
the neighboring houses and the sky;
how clear each object in the room,
how clear the sight of room and street;
how even, mild, and wonderful the light - 
just sunlight.

Here is what the room usually looks like - I took Rob's shell painting down so there would be more space around the cages.  

How wonderful the light....

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Completely Unscathed - Dog and Painting Blur

Now that the lost paintings have been retrieved and unpackaged and found to be completely unscathed - we can sit back and enjoy them for a while.  It's sort of like meeting old friends.  The paintings are only from a few years ago, but Rob hasn't really painted flowers much since then.  Other obsessions have taken over.  So it's nice to bask in the glow of these light filled paintings.  I imagine he will paint flowers again one of these days - the shapes are so intriguing, the light that flowers draw to them and emanate can be wonderful.  I'd be perfectly happy to keep the white lilacs, and the one below of lilies.  My blurry photos don't do the paintings justice, but I wanted to show how we live with art too.  

The living room is often loaded with paintings - they're stacked up on our sideboard several deep and wherever else there's room.  Sometimes Rob will put them on the floor which isn't the best viewing position, but allows us to see more of them at once.  Later today, my plan is to pour a big glass of cheap white wine, and sit there and drink them in.  So much better than watching Tv.  When I sit in our red living room, and look at the paintings, the stress disappears.  I know they'll find a home eventually.  They're too beautiful for it to be otherwise.  We've often over the years had people ask, but what if the paintings stop selling?  what if they don't sell? what if beauty or paintings or traditional art or etc goes out of fashion? (You can see this often panics the asker more than it has troubled us).  I guess that question is always there.  And in truth the sales haven't been exactly huge the past couple of years.  But the paintings are still there, the work is still being done.  Eventually sense will be made of it all.  It's not as though paintings go bad, right?

The dog, I think, likes guarding the paintings when they're on the floor.  When he was a pup, Rob had brought a freshly varnished painting up to put on the table in the front room.  At the very end he goes over the painting with a layer of varnish to even out the pigments.  He left the room and came back 20 minutes later to find that the bottom righthand side of the painting had been licked clean off, signature and all, right down to the bare canvas.  Luckily it wasn't an elaborately painted section, and luckily the dog has always had a cast iron stomach.  Even though I doubt Mr. Ace would do such a thing nowadays, Rob lets the paintings dry in his studio for an extra day.

Hard to believe such an innocent looking pup would do such a thing:

Nope, I think the paintings are completely safe with this guy on the job.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Spring Morning, Letting the Light Enter

It seems a miracle that there is light in the morning now, at breakfast time.  But we'll soon be used to that.  Our neglected and somewhat bedraggled bonsai above - the light, still low and all is brown outside.  A reverence for light, that's what poetry is in so many ways.  Its possibilities.  Possible illuminations.

I keep running into this quotation that I love by the filmmaker Sven Nykvist:

Light can be gentle, dangerous, dreamlike, bare, living, dead, misty, clear, hot, dark, violet, springlike, falling, straight, sensual, limited, poisonous, calm and soft.  

And the light this morning is springlike and living and limited. Maybe it's gentle too.  There is birdsong right inside of it, and jasmine tea. I think that light can also be sharp and worried and slight.  It can be full and revealing and watery or blue.  What else?  

Yesterday came across this poem.  And had been thinking that light is what we need more of, all of us. Here's an excerpt of "Let the Light Enter."  You can read the whole poem on the Poetry Foundation site.

Let the Light Enter
    The Dying Words of Goethe
“Light! more light! the shadows deepen,
        And my life is ebbing low,
Throw the windows widely open:
        Light! more light! before I go.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I have my books

"Now I'm going to speak of the sadness of flowers in order to feel more fully the order of what exists."  I quote this fairly often.  It finds me, this line, by Clarice Lispector.  The Stream of Life has been the book I carry with me for years and years now.  It was in my purse when I worked at the library, and when I went to grad school I carried it in my book bag.  In fact, I have two copies.  Each is underlined in different ways, dogeared on different pages.  This is strange I suppose, but it also feels normal.  Sane.  I don't carry it around physically so much any more, though it does end up in my purse from time to time.  Depends where I'm going.  It's a talisman, but it's more than that.  Every time I open it, I find something new.  Measure myself against it, my own writing against it.  Today I'm reminded that I want to feel more fully the order of what exists.  Can't remind myself of that often enough.

Well, remember the line in the Simon and Garfunkel song, I am a Rock?  "I have my books / and my poetry to protect me." There is something very powerful about carrying with you a favorite book, an actual book with signs of its travels.

We woke up early this morning so that I could begin returning to my manuscript.  To see if it would still have me.  It did. I like writing in the dark, knowing the sun will soon rise.  Writing into the illumination....In the morning I don't need the courage so much to write my book that no one will read.  (Knowing it's the book no one will read, I need less courage).  This afternoon I have plans to sit in the upstairs window and write the notes that I'll refer to in tomorrow morning's writing session.  I'll visit my stack of favorite books, listen to the spring birds sing, and dream a little.

I handed in the marks yesterday for the course I taught, so yes, I think that's done.  Then I bought myself three flowers to commemorate the day, and as a consolation for lost things. Rob and I were singing the Chet Baker song yesterday, Everything Happens to Me, because the paintings that went missing in shipping were still lost.  (If you've read my book Calm Things, you'll remember his fun with shippers when several paintings were driven through by a fork lift...).

This morning he received a call that the paintings had indeed been found.  Who knows really how or why or what, but they're safely in our living room.  We'd honestly given up on them being retrieved, at least in an undamaged state.  

And so now I'm going to return to my books, my flowers, pen and paper, my window.  Because the day goes by so swiftly and a daughter to collect from school. And there are flowers to look deeply into and toward.  Their gestures to memorize, the light they hold within them to absorb.

(from last summer, in the garden....that dream)

Friday, April 15, 2011

A Mantra- Don't Waste a Moment

I have this quotation by the 7th Century Chinese Chan Buddhist master Hongren posted on my desk:

"Work, work!...Work!  Don't waste a moment...Calm yourself, quiet yourself, master your senses.  Work, work!  Just dress in old clothes, eat simple food...feign ignorance, appear inarticulate.  This is most economical with energy, yet effective."  

Thursday, April 14, 2011

"We can't afford to pine..."

We artists and writers, we look for signs, wait for messages, empty.  Our business is to look for hidden meanings, forget them.  To tell ourselves secrets, write them on scraps of paper and slip them into books we will later re-read.

Helene Cixous, in Stigmata, says, "...we cannot hope to receive the message; the person who will receive the message must not expect it; if it is waited for, it does not arrive."  We know the message will never come, it arrives.

It's April 14th and the snow is falling, small and steady.  For a while the flakes were large and pretty, but now it is the mean snow of spring that comes at an angle and arrows into your skin.  The sky is grey and low and lovely but you can't see it because the snow hushes your eyes.  Rob's Montreal gallery sent back some paintings via Greyhound he'd asked for so that they could be included in his upcoming show in Edmonton.  They sent two packages and one arrived about a week ago, and he's spent the last week on the phone several times a day trying to find the other one.  Mostly the people he talks to are uninterested, say they're going to start a file, look into it.  At one point he talked to someone in Texas.  These are large paintings, the box is large.  It cannot be found.

The course I taught at the University this past term ended on Tuesday, so there is only marking to do and then I'm free. I'm handing the marks in on Monday and then I'll be free.  Which is to say, I'm not free at all.  But need to reinvent myself.  Because the stationery shop, where I work two days a week, will not be enough.

I want to write, just write.  I spend a lot of time dreaming about what that would be like.  Betsy Warland in her book Breathing the Page says, "Although we can understandably long for a period of full-time writing, we can't afford to pine too much for this."  She also says, "It is essential for us to be inventive, tenacious, wily." This is very wise advice.  I know I spend far too much time pining.

And it does seem to me like I've been receiving messages.  I receive an e-newsletter from and they show off their new offerings with quotations sometimes.  This is what was in my inbox a couple of days ago:

And this had me thinking about the process of teaching and how much I have loved looking at other peoples' writing with an eye to seeing what they are capable of becoming.  I'm not naturally a teacher; it's not something that comes easily to me, but I think I'm quite good at seeing the potential in people, in seeing where their strengths lie and pushing them to develop them.

And then there are always the little messages one receives when drinking Yogi tea.  I like thinking about adopting an attitude of gratitude.  Which seems an easy thing to do, but isn't always.

Here is something else I've always thought to be profoundly true, so it was neat to see someone else write a blog post about it.  That:

Your obligation as an artist is to create opportunities for others.

The word opportunities keeps cropping up, just when I need to start looking about me.  I'm also pretty crazy about Rumi's famous line:

"Let the beauty we love be what we do."  

So, this is all just me thinking aloud, wondering what I'll do next.  Figuring out what I need, and also what is possible.  How best to balance things.  I'm a dreamer, but a fairly practical one.

Rembrandt and Marin Sorescu - Poem and Painting Pairing

Rembrandt - Bathing Woman

An excerpt from Marin Sorescu's poem titled, "Paintings."  Please read the full poem here.

All the museums are afraid of me,
Because each time I spend a whole day
In front of a painting
The next day they announce
The painting’s disappeared.

Every night I’m caught stealing
In another part of the world,
But I don’t even care
About the bullets hissing toward my ear,
And the police dogs who are onto
The smell of my tracks,
Better than lovers who know
The perfume of their mistress.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

How To Live

IF I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.

(Emily Dickinson)

I'm reading Dickinson, then Rilke this morning.  Thinking about what each has to say about love as a stance, about kindness and its radiant effects.  It's not a bad way to start the morning.  Here is Rilke:

"There is no force in the world but love, and when you carry it within you, if you simply have it, even if you remain baffled as to how to use it, it will work its radiant effects and help you out of and beyond yourself: one must never lose this belief, one must simply (and if it were nothing else) endure in it!"  

What does all this mean to the creative act?  Yesterday I was re-reading Kristjana Gunnar's Stranger at the Door.  "It has always seemed to me that good accomplishments are unlikely unless the life they come out of is good," she says.  I'm sure there are examples that would contradict this, but I believe this also.  She quotes Laura Riding, "if what you write is true, it will not be so because of what you are as a writer but because of what you are as a being."  Learning to write is a lot like learning how to be, how to live.  Which brings me to the title on my bedside table:  How to Live: A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer.  (You can see that I'm just traveling, I'm flitting, from book to book these days, restless, wanting answers, trying to calm myself down).  I guess it's a question that's always obsessed me, and you can see that I'm not alone.  How to live?  The thing is that you come close to figuring it out, and then something new is thrown into the mix, something that makes it difficult.  Probably this is the way it should be, a constant re-thinking of the question.  The question a nest that we build, over and over again, with twigs and mud and feathers and shiny objects.  Love.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

If Not This

Here is a phrase I've often repeated to myself, when the uncertainties in this life of artist and writer become too overwhelming:  "If not this, then that."  Which comes from reading a book ages ago by Stephen Batchelor titled Living with the Devil.  He writes about contingency - that "whatever is contingent depends on something else for its existence.  As such, it need not have happened. For had one of those conditions failed to materialize, something else would have occurred.  We make 'contingency' plans because life is full of surprises, and no matter how careful our preparations, things often do not turn out as anticipated."  He goes on to say that "embracing contingency requires a willingness to accept the inexplicable and unpredictable."

For artists/writers, embracing contingency is part of our daily existence.  Some days I'm better at it than others. In fact, right now it's all a bit crazy making.  However, I think that practicing photography as a type of meditation is the one thing that keeps me closer to centered.  So, when I looked up Stephen Batchelor and found this video where he talks about mindfulness and photography it made me happy.  I've thought about it in the same way for ages, but it's always nice to hear someone else's thoughts in a similar vein.

-  I took the above photograph on our recent trip to Amsterdam - at the Artis zoo which was our daughter's choice for the day.  There had been a big random acts of knitting project on there which was lovely fun.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Silence and Insomnia

I took this photograph yesterday, in the still and silence of the morning, after a night of insomnia.  I'd stopped on the stairs and looked up to see the dog asleep in the sun and Rob's just completed painting on the table behind him.  The night had been long and worried and full of odd voices and I had the thought that it would be nice, too, to find a spot in the sun and doze.  The pile of post-it notes on my desk, my reminders and lists, indicated otherwise.

A night of staring at the ceiling has, for me, sometimes led to interesting daydreams and scribblings the following day.  When one is exhausted, it's possible to see things differently. Is it a bit like being drunk?  The world is at a different angle.  Off-kilter.  If only there was time to enjoy these unbalancings, the view from half-opened, slightly swollen eyes.

The night has things to tell us, if we listen.  The fullness of its silence.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Seeing All the Vermeers

There's a poem by Alfred Corn called "Seeing All the Vermeers," that I think is pretty wonderful.  We went to Amsterdam in February and I can still close my eyes and see The Milkmaid.  We also took a day trip to Den Haag and saw The Girl with the Pearl Earring and View of Delft.  We haven't seen all the Vermeers - and there are 34 that a person could see.  I do know a number of people who keep a running tally of those they've seen, those they want to see.  Over the years we've seen quite a few, not entirely by design.  Rob has seen some more than once.  Together we've seen the ones at The Met and The Frick in NYC, the ones at the Louvre, in London at the National Gallery, and now these in Amsterdam and Den Haag.  Though it's likely a long way off, we've decided that our next family trip will be to Washington D.C.  If you're thinking about traveling to see all the Vermeers, this would be a good site to look at when making plans.

When we were in NYC (above) a couple of years ago now, I broke down.  It took me completely by surprise.  Our daughter still talks about it.  I still can't really explain it.  I remember sort of hyperventilating and letting out a few big sobs, so that the docent's attention was drawn.  The docent didn't seem alarmed, either.  Had probably seen these types of behavior before.  I had to sit down.  Tears streamed down my face for an interval.  I think I was pretty discrete about it, but who knows.

So when we went to see the Vermeers in the Rijksmuseum and then at the Mauritshuis in The Hague, I think our daughter was wondering if the same thing would happen.  And it didn't. But I do remember feeling as though I were dreaming somehow, or having an out of body experience.  We spend a fair amount of time sitting in front of certain paintings when we travel.  And then we'll have lunch and then go seek them out again, which is what we did with the Vermeers on this trip.  In The Mauritshuis, there was a fairly large crowd during our first viewing.  But after lunch we had the bench in front of the painting to ourselves for a pretty large span of time.  We could sit and look at Girl with the Pearl Earring and then swivel around or look over our shoulder to see View of Delft. But still, it's not enough.  Even though I can close my eyes right now and picture The Girl with the Pearl Earring, I know it will fade.  I just don't have that kind of visual memory.  You can look at the reproductions in a book or online, but it's not the same.  The glow isn't there.  The light isn't the same.  You'd think that on the screen you'd get the same idea of the light that Vermeer's paintings emanate, but you really don't.  On the page the reproductions flatten it out, and on the screen, the back lighting muddies it, drowns it out.

We went to The Rijksmuseum on two separate days, I guess because we knew that a couple months later we'd have the feeling that I have now.  This yearning to experience that feeling I had sitting in front of the Vermeers, especially Girl with the Pearl Earring.  I'd seen it reproduced so many times, I assumed I'd be a bit numb to it in person.  Not at all, not at all.  Okay, maybe this sounds dumb, but here is the best way I can think to describe it - that light entered my heart.  Also, a lightness, but more like a sharp and real shard of buttery light. And so if there's an ache in my chest right now, I'll ascribe it to that moment in February when I so desperately wanted to feel something so beautiful, as beautiful as love and other annunciations, and that I did.

And it makes me smile now to think that my experience was this poetic and divine submission to the earthly glow, the inner fire and silence of the painting, where I melted right into it, felt myself looking over my shoulder and pierced by the pearl earring that I would later buy a replica pair of in the museum gift shop - but Rob, was roaming around the room, getting close as possible to the painting, hands behind his back.  And maybe what was running through his head was more like, how?  I think he must be able to feel the movement of the brush, and the mud of the colours being made on the palette.  And he must know what size of brush for what area. When he's thinking about the light he's wondering how this shadow or that daub of paint make it happen.

And all those people swirling about, in and out of the room, sitting, some of them, for a time beside us on the leather bench.  What of them?  The craning necks, the waiting for an opening, the peering through those at the front, seeing this sliver of the painting, or that one.  It seemed to me there was a patience at work in the room, building, inspired by the painting.  And maybe this was due to the general politeness of the Dutch, the fact that in February there are many fewer tourists than would normally be.  I can't help thinking that it would be a brilliant study - to just look at the people looking at a particular painting over the course of a week, or even a few days.  Recording what you saw.  One day, I think I'll find a way to do this.  Because what I remember seeing, when I wasn't busy drinking in the painting myself, was awe and just happiness.  A serenity, is what I felt, intermingled with excitement.

You can see that I'm meandering, trying to work all this out for myself.  The way I look at art, the way others look at art.  The whys and hows of it.  And I suppose this is why, in part, that I resurrected this blog - as a place to do that, to think things through.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Do You Love This World?

The peonies in our snow covered garden are a long way off.  But here, this one from a flower shop nearby, one I have been visiting often of late.  Buying oneself flowers in the dregs of winter - now that is a calm thing.

Have you read Mary Oliver's poem, called "Peonies"?

Here is the full poem, and here is an excerpt:

Do you love this world? 
Do you cherish your humble and silky life? 
Do you adore the green grass, with its terror beneath? 

Do you also hurry, half-dressed and barefoot, into the garden, 
and softly, 
and exclaiming of their dearness, 
fill your arms with the white and pink flowers, 

with their honeyed heaviness, their lush trembling, 
their eagerness
to be wild and perfect for a moment, before they are
nothing, forever?

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Object Which Doesn't Exist

By now all the poets have weighed in on the poetry issue in O magazine.  It's so incongruous, I suppose, because it's so visible. Because it's examined as though it might be fashionable.  We're used to practicing a disappearing act. We're used to being dowdy and dusty and overlooked. We're used to having black bars across our eyes. We're used to being objects that don't exist.  To me it indicates a real thirst for poetry, and this is not just something reserved for poets alone.

I was thrilled to see Zbigniew Herbert's poem "Study of the Object" on the Oprah website.  Here is an excerpt:

Study of the Object


 The most beautiful is the object 
which does not exist 

 it does not serve to carry water 
or to preserve the ashes of a hero

 it was not cradled by Antigone 
nor was a rat drowned in it

 it has no hole 
and is entirely open

from every side 
which means 
hardly anticipated

 the hairs 
of all its lines 
in one stream of light

can take away the object 
which does not exist

Resurrection, or Calm Things Returns

I'm constantly seeking calm.  I can't say that I constantly find it.  I sometimes think that when I say "calm" this is just code for freaking out inside.  Finding calm definitely has to do with the ability to compartmentalize.  Certainly the more I freak out (admittedly I'm usually freaking out about money, as I imagine a lot of people are these days, particularly artists and writers and those with intermittent and precarious incomes at the best of times) the more I seek out what is calm.

I've been on Flickr for a little more than a year now.  It's become a part of my practice.  My practice as a writer, as an apprentice to delight (to quote the title of a C. Lispector book).  I think taking photos has been a bit of a sanity saver for me, because it's something I can do in a pretty limited window.  I don't need the quiet and the span of time that I seem to need to get into my writing.  And the Flickr community, at least the one I'm viewing, is honestly lovely.  At first, I was a bit disconcerted by the litany of comments, 'good capture, nice pov, great dof, lovely!'  But then I realized, that the comments are a way of saying, 'I saw this.'  It's more than that, of course.  After a year of looking at many of the same contacts' photos, you start to realize what a privilege it is too - all these glimpses into a person's life.

Also, by constantly looking at pictures, one begins to see differently.  It's a stance - a conscious decision to be looking for something beautiful or calm or lovely, or to see how light changes things, or to be changed by the light.

When I have time, I like to add a line of poetry that goes with my a photograph I've taken.  This has really renewed an interest in pursuing the ways in which images and texts interact and act upon one another.  So.  Thus the resurrection of this blog.  I'd like to say that I'll be posting every couple of days, but I know that's pretty unrealistic.  In truth, I'm pretty exhausted and worn down by life lately.  What I do hope to do is to talk myself into a calm state of mind from time to time, and would be happy for company as I do.
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