Friday, September 21, 2007

men, women, and the androgyne

hi folks,

this time in town I went public. made it to four art history classes, two plays, and a movie. now, of course, arriving back at my post I'm entirely unsettled, especially being up at four-thirty a.m. and driving back. normally, I like to come the evening before to chill-out. no such luck today. luckily, it's supposed to rain tomorrow, maybe snow, and I'll be sitting in the clouds. afterwards, indian summer. this is the typical pattern.

why did I stay last night? well, I had to finish the triple-header, tho it was completely unplanned. let me start at the beginning.

tuesday nite at the university film series, 'the pillow book' a film by peter greenaway. I'd seen it before at the pageant, fascinated by the images. it's quite a visual feast, and of course has the camp atmosphere the director enjoys, with lots of bizarre twists. supposedly about a japanese/chinese woman who likes to write on men's skin, it's really about her androgyne lover played ewan mcgregor. once he dies, the film over, but it goes on for half an hour more on a revenge theme. it would have been more moving and just if it ended when the woman burns her books and the gay publisher turns his dead lover into a pillow book (I won't tell you how.)

wednesday nite I felt very honored to be the first person (perhaps) to see the the rogue theater's production of 'the pillowman' at the 1078 gallery (the 2nd dress before opening). frankly, I rather dreaded seeing this play, having read a summary of it on the web. it sounded really painful. but in the end it proved fascinating from the beginning and very moving at the end. true, I love this group of actor/artists and I am biased. when I see them live up to their potential, it brings tears to my eyes. see the show this week or next and judge for yourself. it is very much about men, their upbringing, their ambitions. I could certainly sympathize with the writer willing to be executed to save his manuscripts! ah, the follies.

thursday nite I decided I had to stay in town for my only chance to see 'doubt' at the blue room theater. I'm glad I did, though it's a very different kind of theater from the rogue (old blue room). the rogue is an actor's theater. over the years the actors in the group have learned to direct the action of the play as a whole and not just the actors moment to moment. this said, their actors work with a lot of freedom and force. it may be a bit messy at times, but it's always engrossing. the new blue room feels like a director's theater. this means the show has a drive and form firmly expressive of the director's hand. either form of theater can be brilliant or stupid. if the actors' theater has discipline, it can do wonders. if the directors in the director's theater have vision and skill, this kind of theater can knock you over.

to wrap it up: peter greenaway dealt with the androgyne, the rogue with men's issues and the blue room with women's. from these latter two I see a pattern emerging. this doesn't mean each can't deal with both sexes. however, it will be interesting watch the groups develop and their emphasis.

let's see if I can get some snow pics tomorrow.

best to you all,


Sunday, September 16, 2007

lessons from the grave

how do you pass on experience without sounding preachy? after all, one person's clean house is another person's sterile tomb. (see the picture of the painter francis bacon in his studio, the room now part of a museum in dublin.)

that said, the hope of helping doesn't die. so i'll pass on a few (hopefully very succinct) observations.

1. most of the troubles of love come from the questions that are not asked. we'll avoid conflict until the war is huge and destructive.

2. physical and mental stress change our body chemistry. (age, diet, and a lack of exercise too.) endorphin highs come from running. all but one anti-depressant work the same way: they raise your serotonin level. simple as that. looked at this way, something can be done, otherwise it becomes a matter of existential anguish - my parents didn't do right, society's to blame, i was born in the wrong age, my character sucks.

3. julia kristeva in 'black sun' maintains all depression comes from not mourning the loss of the mother. (jung calls it 'anima' or 'animus' possession.) whenever i want to be taken care of like a child i get depressed.

4. ach, this morning i don't want to be where i am. which means: i don't want to be who i am. is self-acceptance (self-celebration) the cure for all ills? under such circumstances i have to get back in my body. the famous 20 minute nap often changes my mood.

5. and one last observation from oscar wilde: one doesn't do well in a world where everything is symbolic of something else.

recent posts, including a debate between a poet and a president (1983) and more fire pictures

Friday, September 14, 2007

words last, pictures don't

having been mad about photography for the past five years - and art my whole life - i know this is an odd assertion. how can bits of nothing, passed by pen and breath, outlast stone and papyrus? i don't know!

i just have faith that they do.

words cut into the psyche perhaps more than pictures (even if we dream and think in images). maybe because they are 'other' and do not exist in nature, they avoid our defenses and drive deeper. yes, who hasn't be hurt for life by words? or inspired? what we overhear has a mystery. and what is yelled at us resonates in the bones.

that doesn't mean i won't keep making pictures. i love doing so. yet i have a feeling when a poet meets a president, something memorable has to be said, especially with the rest of the nation taking off in spaceships. see (hear) what you think:

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

moonlight fire 64,478 acres

when the relief lookout called me and said a fire had just made a five mile run out of moonlight valley, i thought i had to be hallucinating (or he was). okay, it was several thousand acres already. for the rest of the afternoon, i felt on pins and needles. how could i stay away from my post? when he didn't answer the phone the next morning, i knew he had to be down in the valley protecting his house (he was). so i packed up a day early and arrived to see an incredible sight, which grew more so over the next couple of days.

you can see some pictures here:

that said, the reality tough to represent. you had to be there. tonight, a week later, i've been able to see the whole forest for the first time, the charred cliffs, the spot fires still burning inside the line. tomorrow, a weather system passing thru with high winds. we'll see if the crews can hold the fire back from exploding all over again.

there it is, more than a hundred square miles. and after almost 25 years of spotting smokes in the area which others succeeded in putting out! and all this from the tiniest of sparks.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

flirting with franz kafka

something strange has happened. i almost don't want to talk about it, maybe it's just a mood (so much is!). for the past couple of days i've lost my fear of death. it's always haunted me. a counselor said i was too impressed by death when young.

this re-enforced at 17 when i wandered through the halls of letterman army hospital at the break of dawn, selling the san francisco chronicle to patients as they woke. haunted eyes. burned backs. a captain whose body withered more each morning with cancer (he finally died and his wife told me to stop leaving him papers). six months of this travelling among the ill and dying surely filled me full of ghosts.

of course, i've tried to counter-act this in every way. for example, 'the fine art of flirting.' advice i enjoyed so much i condensed it into poetic passages: maybe they'll give you a chuckle, or at least a wry smile of acknowledgment.

then i've done the opposite, plunged into the fateful world of franz kafka. in santa cruz i adapted 'the metamorphosis of franz kafka' into a theater piece, playing the doomed cockroach myself! with the object of escaping into another realm at the end. (the process of doing the show as crazy and anxiety-ridden as the story.)

well, i do feel a tightness in my stomach. obviously, i haven't escaped the terror altogether. but i've realized i fear the pain of dying, not the simple disappearing. if i accept the latter as a fact, jumping across the pit of physical misery, i land safely in nowhere. and that seems simply a matter of ease.