Sunday, March 11, 2018

on being a cranky old man

ouch, every once in awhile it comes over me, especially in the middle of the winter. too many cold days. too much coffee. not enough conversations to take me out of myself. i find myself critical. especially of those i know best, impatient with other people's answers to the meaning of life. like now, i have to sit down and shake myself, give myself a conscious talking-to. 

no stranger to all this, i still let myself slip into the doldrums. much of it comes from not having a 'project,' nothing to work on, nothing to create. i have been focused on the thought of finally becoming a street performer. lorraine, in australia, kept convincing me to give it a try. even in katoomba, though basically tourist town, she could pull in twenty dollars an hour playing the harmonica. 

that's more than i've ever made. so i've acquired more harmonicas, a couple of american indian flutes, pulled my ukuleles out of storage, and read a lot of street busking diaries from new york city, winchester, england, and london, a couple of novels of folks on the road. amazing amount of information out there, and watched dozens of videos on youtube. and now i've decided it's too much work! still, i wouldn't have to be that good.

it would pay, at the very least, for trips around the world and i'd meet a lot of interesting people. the trouble is, playing music always throws me out of orbit. instead of becoming more gregarious, i become more solitary, self-contained. i stop looking closely around me the way i did taking photographs or writing plays. this is not a new problem. i've been an angry old man on and off my whole life. 

music, though, why does it have such a deleterious effect? i remember putting on recordings and dancing alone around the house, in my father's churches. i tried to make a guitar out of a cigar box. in those days guitars not everywhere. i did take piano lessons, trumpet lessons, singing lessons. nothing lasted. i simply didn't have the patience for practice and repetition. i just liked to improvise.

that hasn't changed but has it's limitations. i know i've been improvising a whole life and i really wanted the artist's freedom. process has always been more important than product. alas, i, and maybe most of us, judge ourselves by results and can't help being envious of what others have to show for their endeavours: fame, fortune, kids, products of one sort or another. i've always known we leave with empty hands, birth giving us a return ticket. 

transience is haunting, yet every time i look into buddhism i'm appalled at its denigration of the body. desire as a motivation has its faults, it comes and goes, yet while it's alive, i feel alive. my urologist just gave me some samples of viagra. maybe that will drive this crankiness out of me. or will it prove the buddha right and i'll even be more nasty...

Saturday, February 10, 2018

obligations as a source of existence

yes, limiting my obligations has been a way of life. no children, no career, no matrimony. at this point it seems rather strange. most of my friends have kept themselves busy. first school, then kids, then finding something to do after the house empty. though everybody loves a vacation, too much idle time weighs on one's hands. as has been said, "people yearn for an eternal life who don't know what to do with themselves on a sunday afternoon. "

true, i have had routines, many of them. in the greece of the 1960's i laid on the beach, drank wine, hiked the island, and chased women. this doesn't mean i didn't have bleak moments. eventually the romance of the famous and beautiful village of lindos on the island of rhodes wore off. the alleyways grew grim and the tourists tawdry. to re-stoke my fires i made for berlin. 

that's what i mean. in place of challenges on the job or in the home always shifting, i had to put my peddle to the metal. and without a little bit of difference in each day, i fall into desuetude. for the past month i've been shifting coffee shops. drinking caffeine, taking a few pics, and surveying the passing scene. plus, weather too gorgeous for februaryhas kept me going. i've signed up for african art history and history of art in the early 20th century. unfortunately they are both on tuesday, a long day of sitting.

and sitting is what i'm finding hard to do right now. four days ago i had a hydro-cele reduced. for those who care to know: fluid gathering in the sack around a testicle. starting as a chicken egg  grew into a goose egg. i decided not to wait for the football. the outpatient surgery a piece of cake. alas, now comes the waiting. i've never been good at standing in line. and especially not since i've found my power of reading reduced.

i got through about sixty years doing it. and as cicero said, always have a book with you and read everywhere. once i actually read a huge chunk of dostoyevsky and i got through coast guard boot camp reading thomas mann's joseph and his brothers, two thick volumes. in those days retreating to the library my action of choice. even today walking through a big library calms me down, like a ramble by the ocean. 

having missed being an artist, i shifted to photography and digital art. my site on the web has 35,000 pictures and over four million people have visited it: 
 so, i kept myself busy for fifteen years running around taking a making pictures, spending a fortune on upgrading my cameras. at last the gas ran out of that and i sold all the high-priced stuff and satisfied myself with a couple of smart phones. of course, i don't have the illusion of being a professional, which i enjoyed for a long time. 

i guess this is all about keeping busy so i don't worry about mortality. being cut into makes me all-too-mortal once again. i want to run out for a cup of coffee, walk in the nearby park, go to a movie. the time will return. someone said, success is spending time as you wish. i agree, but sometimes the minutes grow  longer, even as life grow shorter. 

Saturday, February 3, 2018

is all art pornography?

i've always resisted this point of view. now i'm not so sure. john berger claims every classic nude created by men for men, women the plaything desired. i'd hoped art would add a subtlety not reduced to mere exploitation and desire. in the age of advertising every thing's meant to sell me something, and every work of art, at one time or another, has been used to do so.

what makes sex such a hot commodity? is it merely the inheritance of puritanism? human reproduction not sacred enough? i tend to think we live in a world so highly structured with goods, house, streets, jobs, we're afraid to move too spontaneously. it may cost us our jobs, our family, our reputation. and sex the most powerful tool to throw us out of orbit.

at this moment in time many men honored for their creativity and power being dethroned by women accusing them of sexual misconduct. in many cases the men condemned as guilty without any trial: their pictures pulled from museums, their images as movie moguls and fun objects of entertainment toppled from their expensive pedestals. 

and here's where a definition of prostitution might be useful, i.e. selling the use of your body for profit. and i wonder in how many cases these women gained work and stardom by doing just this, letting them be used to sell movies, cars, dresses, paintings? and historically, an argument could be made prostitutes create fashion, if not today's, tomorrow's. 

who was it said american men so obsessed with work the women have to entice them away? and one friend came back from working in africa, amazed at the sexualization of our whole culture. and how can art be separated from it? i suppose one could say art creates a sense of peacefulness instead of desire. or, as in the religious past, it lifted one's mood from the trials and tribulations of being human. 

and yes, it was used to put spells on people, to cure them or to kill them. and that hasn't really changed. unfortunately, by making all art pornographic, it's more alleviating aspects get lost. and then when one stumbles onto a genuine  porn sight on the Internet, one is stuck by the pure animality of it, the lack of finesse. is art this defense of our losing control of ourselves?

as a long-life lover of art, a wanderer in the great museums and galleries of the world, i can't helped being alarmed by the renewal of censorship. politics and morality take a lot of humor and fun out of life. to reduce the graciousness to mere seduction, what does that do to us? 

Friday, January 26, 2018

re-constructing the world every day

                                            "Consciousness is a form of logic."

sometimes it happens by itself. i have to simply open my eyes, stand on my feet, and it's all there, wayne's world. alas, it often slips away as my thinking (reason) kicks in. suddenly i despair of ever getting through the day. effort, putting on my socks, shaving, fixing breakfast, it all becomes a matter of WILL and i soon use that up. 

i don't always have a strategy to move on, especially if i don't have a plan. addictively, i can swallow a couple of tylenol. this my cheap way of escaping depression, despite the fact i don't know what it's doing to my liver. traveling, i discovered i recover upon taking a hot shower. maybe it's the pure pleasure of the warm water like a newly born immediately put in a basin and bathed. 

yes, i still take prozac and usually that takes the edge off, even if i've lowered the dose. and if i can get through to noon something else kicks in. consciousness has done its work and reassembled enough of the universe for me to feel safe. think about it: at night i give up reason. that's the main thing i have to do for the mind to reboot twice. 

and evidently my brain more active in slumber than in what i call waking. during the night  everything is thrown up in the air: elephants, dragons, ladies-in-waiting. golf-carts transform in to spaceships and other freudian symbols. i've heard of lucid dreaming, where the sleeper can keep a measure of control. unfortunately, i've never reached this divine state. 

one must be a god, i suppose, who never needs rest in order to keep everything in position, probably that's the power they have as gods. i have to let go, then in the morning put the table and chairs back together, i have to take everything i don't recognize and say to myself, 'this is the room where i live.' otherwise i fall into a form of stage fright.

an actor, suffering this condition, has to draw a small circle around herself and look carefully in it: her dirty fingernails, the split hair lying in her lap, the cracked glass from which she is supposed to drink. once she's grasped this tiny universe, she can gradually expand her vision, thus taking over the many floating impressions hitting her eyes.

hard for me to believe but four billion bits of information hit my eyeballs every second . i'm capable of perceiving forty at most. a person suffering schizophrenia can't do even this, overwhelmed by the treasure flooding the brain. there's no way out of it. i have to constantly form the life in which i can live. it's very tiring. sometimes i'd rather just jump off a bridge. and sometimes i survive by watching an ant in the dust. 

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Travel as an escape from time

finally, i know the face of my enemy: the clock face. just back from a month in australia and suffering the time between solstice and the new year, the dead space, i'm falling back into the abyss. can time ever be on my side? only in the case of sickness it seems, or maybe in a time of war. in other words when the dark clouds loom. 

otherwise, the minutes and hours rope me in as though i were a wild steer. i'm driven to make appointments for the dentist, to arrive at work on time, to submit to deadlines. ah, dead indeed. true, the ultimate fear of hitting a wall can motivate me to do an astounding amount of work at the last moment. as someone wiser than myself said, "A goal without a deadline is but a dream."

how can travel, then, be an escape from time? don't trains have to be caught, museums opened. banks in business? can these treacherous waters be successfully sailed without a watch! no, but being on the road and not constrained by duty, that's where the freedom comes in. vacations exist as a timeless space, despite beginning and end. yes, the termination has to be forgotten in the luxury of spacing out. 

and here we choose what to adhere to and what not. a journey of the best kind consists of our choices, not somebody else's. can there really be a working holiday? i doubt it, not for me. AND WHY DO WE WANT THE SPACE WHERE MINUTES DON'T TICK. they take us, those ticks and tocks, to an ultimate end. i still find it strange i am to die. it's very hard to imagine a universe without me.

and i think it's the human condition. as buddha said, 'try to find someone who has not lost someone.' can't be done. and aging seems to be a desperate attention to the time we may or may not have left. and we're around people obsessed with the same question. i see the worry in their eyes. and retirement isn't a vacation, having no end except the inevitable, simply a waiting game.

and what is sleep but death and the abolition of time. in the dream-state everything exists, side by side, morphing into opposites. i start the night male, as i fall asleep. soon i'm a prostitute on an empty street, suddenly picked up by three giant mice offering me a piece of cheese. if this isn't the beyond, i don't know what is. and isn't insomnia simply the fear of not returning? when i can't sleep, i find myself trying to solve the everyday problems of existence. 

yes, time and sleep equal death. yet, if we can fall into the right rhythm, i escape both time and death. that's the paradox. and any journey to foreign territory is the same. "Everything you ever wanted lies just outside your comfort zone." time, death, and depression, what can they be but pattern repetition, wearing out our ability to focus on what's near us. and science reinforces time, everything in it based on it. no wonder so many people come to hate science. 

what about art? can it do anything for us? hopefully, art takes us into a timeless space. the techniques and visions of art, when they work, have us floating free, in a brain wave of trance. art is a spiritual vacation. those who want us to be working drones fear art, downgrade it.'keep to the wheel', they say. no, if you want to defeat mortality, if only for a moment, go on the road, and stand before the mona lisa. 

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

how long does it take for things to become commonplace?

for me i guess it's anywhere from 20 seconds to three weeks. the first might be called 'buyer's remorse'. the minute i have it in my hand the long-for objects seems colorless and crude. it could be something simple, like an apple, or an outrageously expensive watch. the first i eat. the second? it only proves time isn't really valuable!

having come back from traveling, where i lived out of two small backpacks, i have a room and more 'stuff' than i wish. two extra boxes of odds and ends weigh me down. not only that, out in my storage space in the dark and the cold, contending with mice, a dozen boxes of photos and manuscripts drags me down with the past. toss them, i thought the other day. finally commit literary hari-kari. 

that ruthless moment passed, after all i'm paid up for a couple of months. i did just throw out six boxes of clothes and cameras. i've given myself permission to save a few books. two hundred boxes scattered all over berkeley four years ago, my contribution to intellectual slavery. and i've saved maybe four cameras. if i added up what i spent on photography in the past fifteen years i would cry.

over a lifetime what have i spent my money on? old vans, trucks, and cars. nothing less than ten years old. supplements and organic food, which saved my life when a car slammed into me in a crosswalk. books - thousands, and i practically stopped reading when i stopped writing. now i have my doubts about any knowledge i might have gained, though i'm looking desperately for a new passion to give me a sense of purpose.

clothes? very little, a matter of last resort and mostly visits to the salvation army. leaving sydney i thought it would be cold as hell in san francisco, buying two dollar shirts and sweaters at the thrift store, and throwing them away when the plane landed, the bay area experiencing summer weather in december and southern california on fire. 

i have frittered away any surplus currency buying on line. i beat myself for not being able to live as i did in my twenties, on nothing. now i treat myself saying, 'hey, this old body isn't going to last that long. comfort is okay!' and i used to think comfort a mortal sin. (part of me still does, yet i never regret a hot shower in the morning on the road, especially in third world countries. it keeps me from throwing myself into a mine-shaft.) 

yes, here at the end i ask myself what did i spend my money on? not a house or high-maintainance women, though i now think i should have showered the latter with luxury instead of being so cheap. no children, my family in debt the whole time i was growing up. that taught me having a family meant doing a lot of things i didn't want to do, and i'm sure my kids would have been drug-addicts and near-do-wells. alas, maybe all of that spending would have bought me happiness, while being thrifty just keeps me out of trouble. 

Monday, November 27, 2017

Speech to text is hell

Bleeding Kafka in a foreign country naturally after three weeks on the road going to museums wondering strain streets and generally I’m getting my sea legs I stop and start wandering in the bookstores and I want to start reading and I don’t know what this is from exactly except that when we left Montana where in the middle of the third grade and my mother drove us in the model eighth through snowy Idaho roads to California I I finished the third grade and then I started reading two books today that was after the alienation of living leaving they town in Montana where everything seem to dies we dramatic town all the streets and telephone poles and houses everything just sort of faded into a kind of Nancy Lane stay so that summer I am retrieved I suppose are used books to find a place to live where I had more control over the situation and I think this is probably what happens when I’m traveling after about three weeks I start the demo the place itself starts becoming normal wherever I am and that is the kind ofLack of feelings day thanks don’t have the same impact because I’ve gotten used to them or whatever and they just don’t fly with same matching so anyway now I’m in Australia and I standing looking for something to read and I ran across the early and early biography ie. Kafka n have a France, so this seems weird to be confident in Australia but it makes perfect sense in that I have a fast night with fascination with that cough going on with that Thursday and didn’t aversion state version of metamorphosis and I myself lately insects and so I had this long identification with Africa and it’s so interesting tAnd find out all the things that I didn’t know I mean I didn’t even know his family ran a fabric store I didn’t know much about his three sisters and especially his attachment to the third sister Atlanta who ended up helping him a lot at the end of his life also it talks a lot about the situation of the Jews in Eastern Europe at that time which I didn’t know much about him which was very complicated and fraught with anxiety and with none possible violence and I’ll kinds of stuff so I anyway that’s what I’ve been reading until like last night I started getting in there is a adolescent years and I said ceiling onto nervous maybe about my own adolescence. So anyway I I drafted for the evening and I came back to Danberry ban the trip that he an he and Max Brode need to Italy around 1911 and the fun they had and the times they had no trouble ahead and cover them cut copper I always felt has a sense of humor there is not translated into the stories in English it’s like in German they start out well well maybe this afternoon maybe this didn’t happen or something like that and that uncertainty about reality and the Viagra says that in his early years and he had a lot of broken attachments that he was because of the family situation because the helpers hours folks Rob is working in the store and his helpers were being fired and hired and he never had a consistency of all people when he was young and and I can identify with that myself since we move 32 times by the time I was out of high school change I mentioned above was when we left Montana my father was a minister and he went in the army and so now we’re going into a whole different world and mode being and so I don’t know exactly what the thing about reading is but that’s for coffee then fuck off to became of SAST with reading and he read all kinds of stuff not just literature and this led to his light on in his later writing but at the time it was simply a place to escape to come so I assume that’s what I was doing was escapingAnd I Soum all I’m traveling that the external on changing circumstances ultimately upset me even though I’m really enjoying myself and so by retreating back into this world and myself her cough car whoever I want I am somehow become grounded again and I don’t understand how people who don’t rain can really be grounded that in which sounds very odd because you think they go off into foreign world are not attached to the world they’re not seeing what’s around them but I think maybe it’s that temporary kind of meditation exclusion separation that helps this mode of being in in foreign places and I can imagine being in jail o or a concentration camp and seeking some kind of solitary confinement that’s why I was like book the chorus by the rationale thorough about his experiences in the work camps up north in Russia has a session I love literature that time so here we are wearing pajama Straley on and I’m talking into my phone and I don’t know if this will work for the first time I’ve tried it but I’ve got to do something it’s faster than typing with my fingers my god how did those kids do it I see in racing through messages with her thumb is going like I don’t know shotguns are machine guns and I just can’t do it so anyway I guess I can talk let’s try and see what this really is like theme of this reads like thank you very muchrdo

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