Saturday, December 26, 2009

enlightenment, the red herring

you can chase it as much as you want, but the moment of glory comes and goes. the brilliant sunset transforms into night, and you have to accept the milky way. the unifying sun divides into a thousand thousand stars. your choices become harder, given the potentials. the poet william everson says americans driven crazy by the endless possibilities.

once i compared studies of zen and therapy. they led to the same conclusion. once you've accepted your own authority, you've a freedom you haven't known before. you bowed at the zen master's (the therapist's feet) until you say, 'fuck you, i'm seeing things for myself and going my own way.'

of course, this can lead to terrible misadventures and mistakes. so be it. the flute teacher made the disciple play the same tune over and over again, until he really got disgusted. so he escaped into the world, accumulated a fortune and lost it, found love and destroyed it, decayed in his body. when he returned to the village and played the tune the master had taught him, people said, 'we have never heard anything so beautiful,' and they wept.

let's face if, enlightenment comes and goes.

suddenly, i'm bored with photography. i can't bear this particular relationship to the world, being the fly on the wall. yet i recognize it has been a way to ecstasy: 'everyone is enlightened but me.'

i look back and think, 'i've been so lucky, never to stay in one state so long.'

i've always loved utopias, fairs and festivals. leaving them, a great shock. do we only grow through loss?

Friday, December 25, 2009

think for yourself

now, i have to admit it. in general i avoid social gatherings. i used to get a fist-like tightness in the stomach. that has disappeared (much like the fear and visions i had in the early days at the lookout: crazy people throwing rocks through the windows). now i merely regret afterwards all the stupid things i said!

yes, i can be very competitive and forceful. yes, i try to fight it. no luck. and so, at the xmas dinner in the co-housing common-house, i shot off my mouth.

today the conversation turned to heidegger (nazi or not?), the holocaust, civil war in sri lanka, the philosophies of josiah royce and wittgenstein. everything someone else said made me think of something. alas, all-too-often i was eager to say it and cut in.

this reminds me. i took a night class in dramatic literature when i lived in oxford uk. most of the people in class were americans from the air force base. since drama my passion and study, i knew a lot and did an enormous amount of talking. suddenly, i realized i wasn't learning anything. i fell pretty much silent. and you know what, eventually almost every point i would have made would be made by someone else.

well, there it is, i've defeated myself! and perhaps that's the answer. a friend wrote that i seemed tortured. at first i thought, 'that's ridiculous. i'm enjoying all this. i believe in the present.' but of course, i'm always arguing with myself. joyce cary said, 'to be a fiction writer you must express the opposite of what you believe as strongly as what you do.' or as i once so famously said to myself, 'put your drama into your work and not into your life.'

the number one point is you must have a passion about your project, idea, whatever it is you believe other people need. ach, no wonder i've never been a good salesman for myself. i want you to be like you and not me. what a dilemma. maybe all these blogs mean 'whatever this guy's done, it's the last thing i want to do.' and yet...i thought i was setting an example.

anyway, reading the jobs book, i've been asking myself, 'what's your messianic mission?' and all i can say is what i was saying at dinner, 'think for yourself.' with the proviso you must study the history of everything. 'nothing can come from nothing,' said king lear.

the psychologist c.g. jung said, 'everything important in culture created by the individual.' i couldn't put it any better.

just posted scanned bali slides: yes, live your own life, not the one other people want you to.

boy, that pint of celebration ale from sierra nevada brewery makes me feel like a genius. could everything i've said here be wrong?


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

thank god for film (video)

cause it erases time. (a friend, sandy pepper, once said, 'time is what makes us human.')

does the future exist? that is the most important question you can ask. if you say no, you're a process person. if you say yes, you are able to sacrifice much to reach goals. absolutely two different ways of living.

personally, i'm a process person. when i was in college, i remember saying, 'the future does not exist.' hell, there it was, the curse of a life. it meant i would never really be able to plan anything. i envisioned myself as a clown tumbling through the universe. damn, i still do.

ah, if only i could have been a new yorker, working my way through an mba, setting myself up in paris as the head of american express, letting the dollars roll in, living in the fourth arrondissement

suffering succotash, not to be. i had to roam around bali, the pictures here: wandering in and out of night-time dances, climbing volcanoes in the early hours. the imperative: life has to be an adventure.

well, here it is, the verge of old age. very little in the bank. don't drive a new car. renting a room (which actually feels very luxurious and which i love), not concerned for a plot in the cemetary, ashes scattered in the woods enough.

on the other hand, the process person needs those who live with goals. they've helped me enormously. and i recommend if you're an old hippie who can't stand setting up a retirement fund, that you team-up with those who can.

the two need each other. the present-obsessed person supplies the needed energy for the one who would live to save for a comfortable old-age. and the latter supplies a certain continuity for the future-challenged.

we don't live to be alone, and fool ourselves if we think we are.

new photos searching for shamanism: and

Sunday, December 20, 2009

sound in mind and body

video, what's that? i was raised on radio. we weren't invaded by a television set til i was fourteen. and that was too late. at seventeen i decided you either watched television or did something else in your life. so i've seen very little of it.

i can't stand the hype. it's not the ads, rather the over-the-top energy everyone displays. tough on the nerves. and i always hated the fact it killed conversations. sure, you can share a football game or a talk show, however usually everybody sinks into a blank stare and silence.

no, i'm not from another planet, but sometimes i feel i am. and though i'm passionate about movies, video art seems wasted on me. i like the still photograph, the unmoving painting, the sculpture which, unlike human beings, invites me to walk around it and caress it with my eyes.

so, it is a bit of a personal revolution to have a miniature hd camcorder myself. up to this point i've used it in snippets. and that's led to some unexpected perceptions. here's a bit from fall at mt. hough lookout, amidst a storm:

what strikes me is the quiet, despite the rain and wind. and here is one taken on the train pulling into oakland, ca:

the scene feels much harsher, not just visually. taken out of context the mechanical sounds scrape the brain. and here's one waiting for a play, reservoir dolls, to begin:

obviously you have to be in the mood for companionship. the audience adds to that push which turns stage performers into miniature gods. (never fall in love with one until you've known them offstage!)

putting these pieces of an autumn life together impresses me with how much not only scenes but their audio affect me. to leap from one to the other is energizing, as long as one state or another does not go on too long. variety is the health of life, not just the spice.

here are the final photos from chico dance theater 2009. a real pleasure for me and i think everyone involved.

i've also posted video nippets from the class. now this is where video gets useful!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

your dreams at night your other life

isn't it terrible to waste your time sleeping? well, here's the key to not doing so.

regard those dreams as a parallel existence. the wise say we're dreaming all day anyway. we rarely wake up. and when we do, it's such a shock we go right back to sleep, inhabiting the past and future, never the present.

yes, these thoughts proved by last night, when i once again wandered my magic city which goes by the name of 'new york.' no, it bears no resemblence to the real city. rather it's a combination of new dehli (which certainly can't be real, it contains such contradictions), tokyo, wellington, munich. obviously, if you cross all those cities with each other, you end up with - xanadu.

i tossed and turned. revolutions. the communard of 1871 paris. plenty of foolishness and dead bodies. in the end i escaped (after being a temporary revolutionary) in a laundry basket. am i really a conservative? the thought disturbed me so much i woke up!

yes, don't try to interpret your dreams. they don't mean anything, except they're the diary of a life you live alongside this one. it's your chance to multiply experience. to feel less bounded and controlled.

chang tzu dreamed of being a butterfly. then he woke up. or did he? was he chang tzu, who dreamed of flying? or was he a butterfly, dreaming the gravity-bound philosopher?

like every dancer, i sometimes feel airborne. only to land on bad feet! yet, perhaps i've only dreamt i've come to earth. why bother? who's to say that second beer not the real truth, the feeling of being blessed?

more chico dance theater pics at

Friday, December 11, 2009

age cannot wither you

the fact is you will never, never grow old. not in your own mind. we each have an ideal age, and that's what we will always be.

mine probably 25/26 when i traveled, met a lot of women for sexual adventures, explored the world, thought i would be significant in history, and suffered.

yes, i did have some pretty miserable moments. i tend to idealize people, overrate their accomplishments (a counselor eventually told me: 'do not fall in love with someone's potential'), and this particularly leads to disillusionment in love.

of course, we must idealize the other in order to get involved. and the species depends on illusion for it's propagation! the other must see us as a king or queen before we squeeze the toothpaste.

alas, for the past 28 years i've seen the real person almost instantly. even actresses, who appear adorable onstage, turn into complex personalities as soon as they exit. (and i used to fall in love with thespians a lot.) dramatic characters are just that, meant to fire up our imaginations.

yet i must be a degas at heart (as sue pate has so aptly pointed out). i see the informal moments, when women yawn or scratch. the real person leaps to the fore. and all my anima dreams shatter.

still, i would like to find the sugar-plum fairy under my tree at xmas. the delight of the soul-mate, we can never give it up.

cdt photos:

alas, i always love living in utopias: fairs, circuses, festivals. how can the shock of the return not be profound?

Saturday, December 5, 2009

the present is a foreign country

well, shut my mouth. usually, i don't like talking so much! but a friend said, 'your blogs depressing. i feel so old.' that is not my purpose. as long as y0u do not seek the approval of other people, you will be free.

of course, you may be considered obnoxious, unsocialized, a child. that can't be helped. to live in the present is to be aware of the moment. for example, the sound of traffic . i keep realizing as i sit here in my chico room, the white noise i hear really what i woud hear in paris or new york city. it's the quality. and when i really listen, i'm transported.

the secret of life is no great secret. all you have to do is be aware. the moment's where you can truly meet the one you love, the extraordinary adventure. we travel to foreign lands in order to be completely here, and that's why a journey to india or belize so spectacular. as in an auto-accident time suddenly slows down. the shock puts us in a moment that becomes eternity.

this is why actors act and dancers dance. past and future disappear. crime and savagery have the same source. a very temporary action can decide our life, despite our best intentions. and maybe we will spend the rest of our life in an italian jail. luck follows us or deserts us.

if we practice gratefulness, perhaps we can experience what we, as an individual, are all about. tragedy is no different from ecstasy. each brings us back to our essence.

yes, it is transitory. and we must grab the moment as it flies.

don't miss chico dance theatre. you have three more performances.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

politics, the great sadness

what a shame it is, the fact of life. everything in which you will be involved for your working life will include the push and shove of politics.

i know it hurts. you will be promoted, demoted, lose your job, gain prestige according you how you play the game.

i wish i could let you off the hook. to say that virtue and the best of intentions rewarded. alas, it is not so. every job, every enterprise, means you must gain allies, demote your opponents.

how odd it is, some love the politcal endeavor, which means gaining allies and mentors, those above who will protect you, further your interests. and your ability will determine your success in social life, if you want to be a nice person, to hold your place, then everything will depend on your connections. who likes you, who doesn't. as a friend once said, you don't lose your job through incompetance, but through a personality conflict.

social animals, good gravy, we are that. freud, late in life, believed our primal urge the desire to belong to a small group. exile means death. and this is our limitation.

if we can go to the bars, love sports, then we will be beloved. and if we cannot, hiding in books and intellectual endeavors, no one will protect us when we need aid. politics is a fact of life, in the office, on the diamond, in the home. being primates, we must find influence within the group, in order to further our cause, whether it be personal or social.

and depending on this ability, we will rise or fall in the social order. we will find people to support our causes, or not. what a difficult fact of human life.

i've posted more rehearsal photos of the chico dance theater:

the program is being gutted. where is the afficionado who understands life is a dance? without it we will all wither. even when we think we're standing still, we do a small dance. doing it well is the difference between life and death.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

stay away from imaginary places

my last trip to greece ruined me for greece. ah, i could cry. my time on the island of rhodes in the sixties a mythical experience. you can see the novel here:

and my trip to russia extinguished its dream:

it wasn't that i didn't have lots of luck and a great time. the cabin of peter the great, the homes of dostoyevsky, rimsky-korsakov, pushkin, chekhov, pasternak, a visit to the hermitage and the moscow art theater. everything fell into place. prostitutes wandered in and out of the hotel next to red square. i roamed the kremlin (how cramped the churches inside).

yet the reality harsher than my adventures in russian lit. yes, i'd read everything. almost all the novels of dostoyevsky, the plays and stories of chekhov, gogol, pushkin, tolstoy. the list is endless and the fascination lasted for years. alas, reality destroyed it all.

the same happened in india (i didn't have a camera with me). true, indelible scenes imprinted themselves on my brain. i made it to the taj mahal, then to nepal after thailand and sri lanka. a friend once said, 'we travel to see ourselves in a place.' all too true. unfortunately, we'd better go to places we've never romanticized. india the actual obliterated the india of my imagination, all the stories i'd read, the history. garbage replaced the pristine fantasies.

actually, i'm looking a tiger in the eye right now, one from bandhavgarh national park, india, a bengal beast. it's a screensaver that opportunely popped up. how magnificent it is. the real thing would probably leave me cold.

yes, matisse always looks better to me in books, and the paintings of bonnard worse. only picasso seems to reproduce easily, his work illustrative, the colors not complex and the lines strong. so, go see the work of the last two in paris - it won't disappoint. avoid the work of matisse. he always looks more pallid than his reproductions.

someday i want to write about the lady of shallot. transfixed by images in the mirror, she had a vibrant life. running after the actual sir lancelot, she died a miserable death. don't take the risk of making certain dreams come true. pick and choose.

here are the pics of the chico dance theatre run-thru before thanksgiving. this reality will definitely be better than the dream:

and i've re-worked some of my native-american collages. i'm not sure they aren't more intriguing than any photograph. these last often tell you more than you want to know.

and many of you have already seen the pictures of the blue room fall ball:

yes, it is embarassing, but i've also posted pictures of the production i directed several years ago, 'incorruptible':

Monday, November 16, 2009

look into the abyss

and the abyss will look back at you!

that's one of my favorite sayings from nietzsche. what does it mean? who knows? guess you have to experience it to understand it.

a couple years ago i read an article by hugh macleod and now he has a book you can pretty much get the gist from this web-page. i've been browsing the book at barnes & noble.

and what strikes me most is how doing some kind of odd artwork can lead you out into the world, but 'successful beware.' and i especially like 'Dying young is overrated.' true, i have wandered in and out of keats' house on hamstead heath and the room where he died by the spanish steps. gazed up at the blue house in oaxaca where d.h. lawrence wrote 'mornings in mexico.' the fanatic, as he lay dying his wife had to grab the pen out of his hand.

this reminds me of my world-traveler companion, berta gardner. she would never part with her pack anywhere. the damn thing must have weighed sixty pounds. as she lay dying in the hospital, her sister finally convinced her to let her take the pack out of the room. and that was the end.

the moral from macleod: "You are responsible for your own experience.' if you tempt the abyss, have your passion and the proper tools to deal with it. and "Nobody cares. Do it for yourself."

have you ever sat in class or in the theater, looked around you and thought, 'none of these people will be here in a hundred years?" i have, and maybe that's the abyss. the artist francis bacon thought of himself as a snail crawling across the canvas and leaving slime. hmm, being francis bacon he may not have been being hard on himself after all.

hugh maintains if you've got the creative urge you're stuck with it. compassion, not pity, my friends. if you've seen ben allen's performance of 'johnny got his gun' at the blue room, you know what i mean.

new photos:

Saturday, November 7, 2009

purity is not an option

germany invaded norway the week i was born. my first memories: newsreels from battlefields, burials at sea, a hospital-trained dog searching for wounded soldiers.

later, from our home in a converted barracks (my father joined the army as a chaplain just before korea, where he served - he died of a heart-attack a few weeks after returning from a year in vietnam), i could hear machine-guns chattering on the practice field.

ironically, as berta and i took a side-trip to sri lanka on the way to india, i had no awareness of their civil war. going thru checkpoints and abandoned villages in the middle of the night, i wondered what the hell we were doing. at 26 i lived in a half-basement room, learning to be a poet, in berlin, not far from the gun-towers and and the wall.

on the presidio of san francisco at 16, i wandered thru the halls of letterman army hospital, selling the chronicle to waking patients with hollow eyes and burned backs.

in college i attended courses in the russian and american revolutions, and realized violent upheavals create a violent society. that made me a temporary pacifist. eventually, i understood the reality, you had to nip aggression in the bud. instead of stopping the serbian tanks roll into croatia, the europeans let that war drag on til bill clinton got them to bomb serbia. once the serbians couldn't act without being hurt, it all stopped.

alas, not everyone learns the lesson. if the battle comes home, the attacked may very well lash out (pearl harbor and 911). i loved being an army brat and living on bases. i hated coast guard boot camp with a passion. it's taken me a long time to appreciate a restrained military, responsive to civilian control. yet now i do.

that said, i've just come from a performance of johnny got his gun by dalton trumbo. the monologue of a soldier, a basket-case in a hospital, no arms, legs, eyes, ears, or jaw. he's completely isolated in his mind and memories. the cost of war borne by many warriors, in the past and currently.

oddly, the play a hymn to life. i came out simply happy to be able to walk and see and breathe the night air. unless a country gets hurt, it sees today's war as a video game. that remnant of a reptile tail remains in all of us. as elie wiesel said about the holocaust:

"Those engaged in its practice (murder) did not belong to a gutter society of misfits...Many held degrees in philosophy, sociology, biology, general medicine, psychiatry, and the fine arts."

if you can attend johnny got his gun at ben allen's performance riveting. pics:

and for an example of what you may have to fight to protect, in more ways than one, look at the final critique session of chico dance theater in preparation for the fall concert, dec. 4-6.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

love slobs, or 'floundering profoundly'

that title came from a wonderful dream last nite. my best inhabit a mythical new york city, one with hills, open doorways so you can wander into different scenes: a crowd where i shouted out 'congo lines', meaning hair in the armpit, and everyone picked it up as a chant. in another i worked with a bunch of theater people on 'love slobs.' i liked the title so much i made myself wake up and write it down.

i collected rare books, almost walked into a plate-glass window, invaded the lobby of a elegant cruise ship travel agency. all in all, i loved it, and felt sleeping not wasted on oblivion.

yet self-forgetfulness what i seek these days, the days of transition, unemployment, the freedom to choose how i spend the day. it's overwhelming. i realize i traveled so much not to fill a void, but to see myself as a poet, someone learning about the world, absorbing events and people unconsciously, sights and sounds. it gave me a sense of purpose, what a writer must do.

since switching to photography, it's been a different ballgame. to merely be a tourist isn't interesting. i have to photograph what i love. a small town, theater, the lookout life. and i can trick myself into believing i'm finished, done it all, why bother.

yet i do find things new. berkeley, for instance:

and when i think i've done everything, i put a flash on the camera and come up with shots i really like: i love actors and they surprise me every time.

the seasonal life, the task of eternal renewal, teachers face it, gardeners, field hands, farmers. not always easy in the transitions. we get used to one way of life and it changes. that's the challenge. after work or freedom, it's hard to switch places. i suppose the fairy tales of the past carried the idle through the winter when they'd rather be out rustling in the corn.

i could have titled this blog love and alcohol. the two get all mixed up for me and confuse me about what's going on. the psychologist jung said in romantic love we seek the divine, something to take care of us and which we can worship. alas, in the everyday human world this task fails and we take to alcohol to dream and feel good in our bodies (the one continuum in happiness).

or we fall in love with actors, characters on the stage, larger than life, and simpler than real people.

i have to remember what i really want: a state of meditation. i can get it by spending a few minutes in the huge local university library (why i moved to this town), even though these days i smile as i pass the rows of books, thinking, 'it's all guesswork!!' or, 'human beings have to occupy their minds, otherwise they go crazy.'

yes, a visit to the tomes has always relaxed me. and i have to remember to knock on my head three times to short-circuit negative thoughts. (for me, it works). as the sculptor henry moore said, "The secret of life is to have a task, something you devote your entire life to, bring everything to, every minute of the day for your whole life. And the most important thing is, it must be something you can't possible do."

i haven't found any better answer.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

the facebook experience

my family got me involved. i suppose it's like the old family letter my parents and grandparents participated in. did we get lazy? or merely drift apart in search of independence?

whatever happened, we resisted ties that seemed accidental, merely a matter of chance, meeting through the womb simply a throw of the dice. yet strong emotions remained for me. visiting my brother last fall i realized we had a lot in common. not just personal history, but a view of the world and similiar interests. the visit a great pleasure - and a great surprise.

i still feel we need to form our own families. not everybody's lucky. and the great virtue, i feel, of being an american, is choice. the chance to meet and bond with kindred souls from all walks of life. (and to reject the bastards we encounter along the way, as well.)

personal choice is pretty amazing, something very rare in the history of the world and now available to so many (but not all). true, it's a burden. i'm sure many would prefer to follow orders, and we've seen plenty of that. however, i enjoy the loneliness of this freedom. and a huge number of my decisions based on keeping this avenue open.

what does this have to do with facebook? well, for one thing we've multiple lives. lots of our friends don't know each other cause they live in different worlds. our family never meets our work-mates, and the latter have no idea you once met a girl in indonesia who's now married with six kids and with whom you still correspond. the first psychic i visited (and i've found psychics to be the quickest therapists) told me we're living fast these days, six lifetimes in one, as though evolution demands it. no wonder we're part of far-flung planets which never meet.

and so for me facebook amazingly brings these universes together. and whether or not actual contact ever happens, the possibility remains for those who desire to reach out and meet before your funeral.

the great hope, of course, is unifying your life into some meaning. that would be a relief! on the other hand, just to see how the people i've known progressing through their lives a real satisfaction. losing contact not fun. the sense of living in an ever-returning void.

true, there's exposure, a certain transparency. schools of thought differ. the psychologist jung believed we needed secrets to maintain our individuality. yet, i've often thought, 'if you've nothing to hide, you're free.'

whatever the outcome, we live in the digital age, and it's fascinating. what's required is a kind of courage us older folks have to summon in order to participate. the reward: a sense of human time and continuity, a feeling we might matter, despite being discarded by evolution.

new photos of dance and travel at

if you haven't seen the pics from reservoir dolls, a show i really, really enjoyed,

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

is solitude the beginning of wisdom?

maybe a quiz is in order. do you wake up in the morning, totally alone, thanking god you don't have to talk with anyone? when you break wind, are you relieved no one can hear or smell? stumbling over your syntax, does a wave of relief wash over you, knowing the constant critic of the other not present?

well, on personality tests i assume you'd be pegged as a loner. and mostly, that's bad! yes, we're meant to be convivial, so the the social code goes. if you spend too much time alone, you'll begin to send mail bombs from a cabin in montana, just to have a feeling of being connected.

on the other hand, what if you can't stand solitude? you find yourself talking with the 411 or 911 ladies, making up excuses? or you turn on the tv and yell back at it? the famous walker of baudelaire hits the streets, rubbing shoulders with all kinds of riff-raff, simply to prove he/she is human. in the shower he/she sings love songs to the ghosts of steam. don't we populate our world, no matter what we do, talking with cats and dead relatives?

imaginary friends can be a madness, but so comforting! and what is the point of being alone? the owner of an ethnic clothing store recently returned from africa. the villagers wouldn't let him go to the outhouse by himself. once he got back to the u.s.a, personal distance seemed like heaven.

i hate to repeat myself, however my mother really did say to me, 'you spent so much isolated time as a child, i never thought you'd have much to do with people.' maybe i learned it from her. the psychologist winnicot maintains we learn to be individuals by playing about our mother's feet. we go off on our own, play awhile, and come back. yes, mother's still there. happening over and over again, it gives confidence.

and look at the fact many if not most of us had our own rooms as children. this stimulates the imagination. in fact, as opposed to ghetto kids sleeping five in a bed, middle-class kids don't fear other people as much as they do their own fantasies. lacking external enemies, they find them in their dreams. no wonder facebook and cell-phones save them from anxiety. 'you are not alone.'

unfortunately, if this sometime hermit can say so, the ability to be by yourself does seem to have benefits, and i'd like to quote from an interview with the photographer tina barney, who at 28 began spending time in the darkroom. the interviewer says, "Why do you think spending time alone is so important?" and tina barney replies, "It's the most important thing of all. When you're by yourself, you have to be able to have a discussion with yourself. You have to be able to turn your own self on. Nobody else can do it. If you can continue to do that, you are going to continue to be switched on for the rest of your life."

there it is, the definitive answer. at the end of my 47th fire season, i'm grateful to have tina barney on my side.

some final lookout pics, as well as re-entry dance pics from last week:

this blog is dedicated to my friend laurie who is finding an empty house (except for the cats, gracie and lewis) trying and hollow.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

replicating history (in more ways than one)

"Any paradigm can be proved true, thus the world remains a mystery." said it myself, if i don't mind saying so. (quote yourself and you'll never forget who said it.)

so i'm saying, 'buyer beware.' that said, i'm astonished to suddenly discover what i've been doing with my life as writer, photographer, lover, and traveler. i've been re-creating time! like one of borge's characters, i'm re-writing don quixote, if not exactly word for word.

go to my writing page and you'll discover i've explored every form and style, in poetry, theater, the novel, letter-writing, etc.

this wasn't my conscious intention (unlike james joyce). merely the result of not wanting to be bored. alas, this always drove me crazy cause being able to support yourself by art means having a recognizable style.

as for photography, i've done it again. yes, twice i've audited the history of photography, read many books on the subject, and enjoy doing it now one way and then another, each reminiscent of an historical mode. check it out and i think you'll see what i mean.

as for other areas in life, for example as traveler and lover, i've been the blind romantic, repeating the journeys of others in my own way. it occurred to me i've been to every kind of country, if not to every country. belize and jamaica could serve as africa, japan for china, turkey for egypt. true, the corollaries not exact, but close enough to take the steam out of my travel urge. as for loves, i've visited most of it's states and colors.

when young, two ideals guided me. first, i desired to be a citizen of the world. and secondly, feeling supremely ignorant of what made people tick, i sought to understand them. whether or not i've succeeded or failed, it's quite surprising to discover with one foot in the grave what i've been up to.

here's a specific example of replicating history, a 19th century style of photo:

this wasn't my conscious intentions

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

200 sticks of dynamite

or, 'is that what it takes to escape your comfort zone?'

my freshman year in college english class we read an essay on comfort, how it was the main enemy of the artist. and those few words determined much of my life. not that i seek pain and unrest. they just seem to come as a by-product of thought. and as richard carlsen so wisely said, 'our thoughts create emotions, and we're thinking all the time.'

of course, it's a fine-line between starvation and inspiration. the ravenous stranded in the desert dream of nothing but food, as the character in 'night' by elie weisel did at the end of his concentration camp stay. yet one must remain lean, both to live a long life and to fill it with creations.

ben shahn in 'the shape of content' said pretty much the same thing, describing how the teachers of art drift away from making it to analyzing the process. many have called divine discontent necessary. certainly, it's a pain in the ass, but it can keep you going at a remarkable pace!

the dynamite metaphor has a basis in today's reality. yesterday, on an isolated piece of private real estate in the middle of the forest, some wandering miners discovered 200 sticks in a mine-shaft, only thirty feet down. today the bomb squad from sacramento sought to burn the cache while a high wind blew at three in the afternoon, the humidity at eight percent. it took the forest fire bosses to call in a large crew, several engines, and a whole day of pleading to put it off until 6 a.m. tomorrow morning. i imagine the shaft having another exit half mile away, a huge blow-torch shooting out that end to ignite a major conflagration.

we'll have to see what this means for my dreams - and what i wake to in the morning.

meanwhile, my photo site is back up. i've posted pictures of the silver fire:

and last friday's cdt dance class:

and i've added a potpourri of photos to:

the temperature dropped twenty degrees last nite, and winter dances on the horizon. however, i expect i've a month to go. summer i love, winter's a disaster.

Friday, September 25, 2009

be glad you didn't marry me!

that's what the central character in neil la bute's play 'some girls (s)' could have said last nite at the rogue theater ( . or he could have said with shakespeare and my mother 'timing is all' but then there would have been no play. he visited old girlfriends to secretly record the conversations so he could use them in writing. this made him a cad, of course. would a woman playwrigt have let the girlfriends get away with murder?

in 'defense of the caveman' rob becker says he got the idea for the one-man show when everybody at a party, men included, said, 'all men are assholes.' he then brilliantly explains the difference between men and women - which i can't remember. broadway long ago.

yet after the show last night, i wondered if i'd have married any of these women. perhaps the anti-hero avoided a divorce. he inspired them all with visions of a beautiful future. could he have realized it with any of them? i have to really hand it to the director and the actors for being more even-handed than a local review gave them credit for.

obviously, this led me to examine myself. after all, i enjoyed twenty years with a wonderful variety of women and part of me really regrets nothing worked out over the long-haul. hopefully all found a profound and lasting relationship, which i know some have, my being merely a footnote to their history. as my mother told me at one of our last meetings, 'you played alone so much as a child, i didn't think you'd have anything to do with people!'

i did see one film, made in montreal, about an immigrant poet who put his wife and two kids through hell, cause he couldn't do more than write, day-dream, and play chess. i understood the situation completely. and three psychics have explained, 'you've had so much responsibility in past lives, you get to have fun in this one!'

okay, it's all self-justification. that said, i figure it takes two to tango and i was an adventure not all bad. 'timing is all - and be glad you didn't marry me.'

still, a partnership would have been a blessing.

latest photos: scroll to the bottom.

best to all of you. and success in love, the only real accomplishment.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

one foot in reality

the other in fantasy. that's the way it's always been, fascinated first by picture books, then by the movies.

when i was very little, four or five, a member of my father's church owned a movie theater. he said i could watch whatever i wanted, whenever, free. and i'd wander in, sit down and absorb the mysteries of hopalong cassidy, the prince and the pauper, and inside the theater and outside all become one.

using the fancier term, i still love films. as a student in berkeley i visited studio a and b, the pics chosen by a local, pauline kael, who later became a famous critic ('i lost it at the movies', etc). she played every classic: 'children of paradise', 'the naked night', 'streetcar named desire'. european and american, they flooded my imagination. and even now as i talk about them, i'd rather be in a movie than sitting here on a mountain.

actually, i almost was, in a movie, here where i'm writing, as the fall weather rolls over me and the sky clouds up. a columbia crew came from hollywood, rented my clothes, painted the inside of the lookout, and for four days on two weekends in october i lived the life of a fellini character, hot lunches for all on the edge of the cliff. kevin bacon starred. we'd be talking and he'd be called. i'd never seen anyone focus so quickly.

they had a terrible time with the film. the producer a lawyer who knew nothing about the business. he'd sit in his chair like a lord mayor, making everybody nervous. and they complained about his cheapness, his willingness to spend only forty thousand dollars a day.

and in the end, they filmed the rest of it in new zealand and never released it into theaters, the lookout scene cut, after all that. maybe you can find it. 'whitewater summer' that's what it was called.

so at four and five i slipped into the darkness whenever i wanted, and at six i wanted to be an actor. alas, as soon as my mother wanted me to memorize the poems of winnie the pooh, i knew it to be too much work. besides, i wanted to repeat my own words, not the words of others, and i did monologue performances for the neighborhood instead.

of course, i wanted to rival my father's sermons, a habit i've never lost. and i keep learning lessons from the silver screen myself. after a viewing i absorb the energy of the principal actor and walk like him/her, talk like him/her, all the next day, one foot in reality, one foot in fantasy.

here are a few examples of dreaming a life away:

i can't recommend it too highly.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

some things you can't do by yourself

i'm not sure what they are. i mean, you can dance alone, cook by yourself, walk along the beach, even sex... no, i won't say it!

however, they say you never really do anything alone. after all, someone had to write and play the music, grow the food, crawl out of the ocean (years and years ago), and... well, enough said.

alas, that doesn't really solve the problem. supposedly orangutans the only primate that thrives in solitude. (why they look so sad in the zoo.) baboons scratch each other's back, chimps play with jane goodall, even gorillas have the good taste to fight each other over who gets the goods.

no, no, i'm not sure about any of this. yes, people (lovers specifically) perk each other up. somehow all those glances, laughter, touches, fights, they make the circulation go faster and the immune system resist depression. of course, the ending isn't always happy. some people do ruin each other's lives (if they try to prolong the endorphin attack), yet we always have a choice. and if our challenge is misery, that's fate.

no, no, that's not it. i mean, what about those who actually help another realize him or herself, their ambition, their dream? for example, i just saw the film julie & julia, two cooks who made it to fame and fortune because of their husbands. and isn't the power behind the throne...? my better half, haven't we all heard that?

so what is it exactly you can't do on your own? you can't get out of yourself, perhaps that's it. and why would you want to? cause you're a smuck? no, i mean seriously. probably it has to do with lightning. they say it created life. maybe the spark has to jump, even if it creates a forest fire and mayhem. and we grab the happiness, the energy, as it flies.

so here are a couple of examples, theater and dance:

Saturday, August 22, 2009


do people really have their pictures posted, them standing next to jaguars they don't own and swimming pools they actually clean, in order to impress? i guess it is that easy. how do you separate the fakes and forgers from the true? maybe you can't. love's a desperate game of need vs. fantasy.

lately, i've been watching a lot of romantic comedies: notting hill, kiss the bride, love actually, about a boy, runaway bride, and so on. a happy ending makes me feel good, yet i'm suspicious. do people only really change in the movies?

for that's what it takes. the busy, the self-obsessed, the high-roller, they need to be hypnotized by a man or woman who takes both their breath away and their self-assurance. resistance, that's what it's all about, resistance overcome. and maybe memory, a memory of childhood when love actually existed.

i do like movies about france and ending up on a vineyard in the south. no, i have no desire to get my hands dirty. alas, french kiss and a very good year make me wish i could be a wine baron with the beauty of my life! (for friends who've actually done a great winery, california style, check out ) i suppose it's the weather and romance that give flavor to it all.

trouble is, you do have to make room for another person. live alone too long and you fill up all the spaces, no room at the table or in the bed. and those who use dating services often those with no time, who'd simply like to add a little spice to their life. i learned that when a roommate years ago started such a service in chico. helping to review the forms and match people up, i soon discovered the unavoidable fact: people who can actually (financially) afford ecstasy, prefer to keep their lives comfortable and normal, and not rock the boat with anything more than sex!

yes, movies like something new give me the hope i may one day open up, make a space for the other, if not in this lifetime, then the next.

obviously, i'm too obsessed with making photographs. perhaps we can only have one real passion at a time. in the past the spark always ignited when i wasn't writing. maybe my imagination must go blank before reality can stir it up. here are the latest pictures:

Friday, August 7, 2009

nobody knew what was coming

that seems to be the essence of the human condition.

i spent the day with the photos of andre kertesz. they span 1912 to 1987. only the early ones have heart. the move from paris to new york took away his eyes. in hungary and france soft, round figures balanced the sharp shapes of the background, war and the city. america gave him too much geometry and not enough sympathy.

ach, that's a tangent. what i meant to say: those times before wars, between wars, the disasters and the peace, people acted as if this moment would last forever. and given the photographs, it has.

that said, it's so impossible to know what will come. how do we cope with this fact? well, we try to learn something about how to live. for example, in 'don't sweat the small stuff' richard carlson says, 'thoughts create emotions.' hmm, a very buddhist perception. put this way, it's hard to swallow. yet, if we can let the thoughts go, the emotions do calm down.

or, i toiled many years through books on zen and therapy. finally, i decided they both led to the same place: assuming your own authority. that's what enlightenment is. suddenly, you no longer have the passion to please and you don't fear death. realizing only you have the answers for yourself (not for others), you awaken to the moment in which you're living, and you stay there.

okay, the bottom drops out of the bucket, and the zen adept hears the crows. that's all there is to it. the responsibility for yourself conquers all.

let's take another tack. only a child can love, so you must become like a child. this doesn't exclude selfishness. after all, the desire to survive is part of love. and parents love to brag about their children. most wouldn't care to confess, 'my son's in san quention. killed a couple of people. the poor kid, he always did have a temper.' that story most likely goes untold. however, if he has five children, runs a corporation, well, that you can admit with love.

what would we do if we knew what was coming? even death up for grabs. eternal salvation, bliss, return, non-existence. the hope of the suicide is the resolution of inner tension. alas, the violence involved seems to cancel the advantage! if we knew what was coming, could we really be carefree?

my favorite saying found on a men's restroom in berkeley, california: the price of freedom is loneliness.

i don't know if i agree, however it always makes me pause for thought.

new photos at:

Thursday, July 30, 2009

i'd love to be a trust-fund baby now

no, of course, it would not have been good for me when i was young. you don't have to tell me. i've watched people who get it and flaunt it, until it's gone and they have to wake up, or they hoard it, living like pensioners at twenty-four. (i've just viewed the movie about a boy again. everything having been given, the main character is not about to take any risks, with his money or his emotions. boy, is he in for a surprise.)

the trouble is, if things go too easily, we don't need to take chances. yet it's the anxiety that gives us a personal history and a sense of satisfaction, if we're lucky. (i never, ever discount luck and good luck is all i ever ask for.)

you see, if you miss the adventures of youth, you can't have them later. sorry. take all your chances now, while it feels like your time will last forever. that's considered a fault of the young. don't be fooled. it's that carefreeness you can't have later. if you rush around at fifty, trying to have the experiences proper to twenty-five, you will have a sense of desperation, time is running out. this too makes you frantic or careful.

i've been foolish. i'm the first to admit it. forty-two years without health insurance! what person in their right mind would have done that? or riding in luggage racks across turkey, living in a berlin basement to revive dostoyevsky (a hero of my youth), lying on greek beaches never considering skin cancer. had i been smart i would have invested my money, bought a house. those crazy choices in jamaica and on bali, why bother?

alas, most of my memories will disappear with me. i guess it's only just. i threw away my youth on romance and now it's difficult to pay for dental work. (medicare doesn't cover it.) i've become lazy, wishing to really dig in where i am. for example, here are more photos from the forest. i guess i'll never have a better subject.

i will never be able to pass on better words than my grandmother's at her eightieth birthday (the last time i saw her): DO IT WHILE YOU CAN.

won't someone make me a trust-fund baby now?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

the performance artist

do we all yearn for the aha moment? the experience of certainty, knowing what you want to do or be, no reservations at all?

i've had a couple. once, in Chico Children's Park, eating a bag lunch, watching a family play music, i realized with clarity i want to direct plays.

actually, i didn't follow up immediately, though this park across the street from the blue room theatre where i eventually perfected my directing.

no, it took a similar experience two years later, sitting by a lake in nepal, the himalayas towering over me: i want to direct plays.

so, i came back to more theater classes, finding the book which dropped everything into place, 'a sense of direction' by william ball.

alas, alas, alas, once i'd directed the plays i needed to do, i pretty much lost interest. in other words, the goal once reached left me empty. and for the past few years i've been dying for another aha moment. and yesterday morning, at three a.m. it happened. once again i revised my life!

i'd been looking at a book on the performance artist james lee byars, admiring his life and his work. yes, this way of bringing focus and joy to other people seemed to me the ultimate. and suddenly, it hit me, my whole pathway could be seen filled with the staggered footprints of a person who always did solo performances, mostly for himself, dancing in boathouses, skating on lakes, banging on decayed trucks in death valley.

yes, i'd seen and loved many performance art pieces. mainly they'd been less than an hour, involved voices without words, symbolic transformations, plenty of humor. yet it never occured to me i might be a practitioner.

aha! certainty! how delightful! three a.m. and i couldn't go back to sleep for the longest time.

this morning i browsed my photos and picked a bunch where i'd performed for the camera (not another soul in sight) and posted them here:

if you can't change your life, you can certainly change the way you see it.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

enlightened irreverence (pratfalls)

pardon the picture. it's the entree into my theme.

yes, that's me, after i lept, while taking pictures, thinking i'd heard a rattlesnake. the rocks and brush, completely unforgiving, rushed up to hammer me. so much for reptiles.

of course, i'm grateful i broke no bones, avoided blindness, my glasses and camera intact. and perhaps if this hadn't happened, i'd have sat on a black widow in the outhouse five minutes later, though i always lift the seat. thus, disaster saved me from death.

perhaps it's no accident i've been watching marx brothers movies every evening, absorbing groucho's iconoclastic style and and his brothers pratfalls. i've never forgotten my childhood love of 'night at the opera'. i didn't laugh so hard this time, yet i knew here cavorted several of my masters.

you see, i wanted to be a charlie chaplin, dancing around machinery and thumbing my nose at the high and mighty. a clown, that's it, who never managed to join the circus, yet kept jumping in his heart.

i can't tell you how many times i fell on my head as a child, twice breaking my nose. and i danced around my father's churches when they were empty, something no one else ever knew.

even then, i realized, you have to give the devil his/her due. whatever we believe to be true is also false. that's the nature of being a human being.

for example, i say to myself 'all the troubles of love come from asking the wrong questions'. and still, i'm very aware asking any questions at all causes pain and prevarication. ignorance is bliss.

or, let's see, another aphorism. 'don't judge others cause it means you yourself have to be perfect.' however, if we stopped judging others, how bored we'd be on the job. only complaining makes the work we do bearable.

the writer joyce cary put it succinctly. he said, 'the great artist expresses the opposite of what he/she believes as strongly as what he/she professes.' obviously, this means external warfare and inner struggle. without an enlightened irreverence, even for your own convictions, you might as well be a preacher as an actor.

next time you take a tumble, turn it into a pratfall, if only for your own amusement. that's what i've done in the following photos. everyday i try to say to myself, 'everyone else know everything, and i know nothing.' yes, growing older means learning how much you don't know. wisdom at sixteen comes easy. at five we were doing what we were meant to do. at sixty-five we're probably saying, 'i should have embraced failure and forgotten success.'

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

as for living, our servants will do it for us

oscar wilde showed great foresight when he wrote those lines in 'the importance of being earnest', for it has come to pass.

it's with sadness i watched videos of michael jackson after the marx brothers in 'a night at the opera', one of my favorite memories from childhood.

not being of jackson's generation, i didn't understand him as a phenomenon. not only did he show energy and talent, he made strong statements against racism of any kind. that certainly helped prepare the way for things as they are today.

alas, as an icon, he couldn't be allowed to grow old. andy warhol and marilyn monroe had to vanish before the wrinkles and trembling set in. what a rush, to be celebrated. yet a cause for fear as well.

what i mean to say is, we need stories. rather than wearing a uniform and being blown up, we need to watch 'a night in bagdad' and live that life as well as our own.

there's perhaps a certain melancholy we all feel from not being able to experience a dozen lives at once. luckily, we've the movies, novels, heroes, performers, to do that for us. it's much more fun to watch 'devil in tahiti' than to be bitten by sandflies.

yet we need our own life too, a sense of its trajectory. albert camus stated every life has a shape, no matter when it ends. he also said, 'there's no substitute for a long life.' he should know, surprised by death at fifty-one, sitting startled in the back of the car that had hit a tree.

in the don juan books carlos casteneda declares, 'erase your personal history.' supposedly, that will make you free. i've found the opposite to be true. when i listen to the three and a half hours of audio my mother made about my early life, i feel reborn, in a strange way.

it seems important to revisit your personal history every once in awhile. each important event in the present affects everything that has gone before. when it became apparent my friend berta would soon die (you can see her pictures here: ), her sister sat her down with a map of the world. they stuck pins in every place berta had travelled, and the earth covered with them. a lesson in recovery of memory.

a few days ago i strung a series of personal snapshots together, myself as the subject. and afterwards i again felt refreshed, as though i had confirmed something, grounded myself, and let something go. as vague as that sounds, it felt good.

revisiting your life

usually, i'd say it doesn't pay. why glean the old fields with the straw all gone? i try not to repeat a wonderful experience. for example, in kandy, sri lanka, i stumbled into a tree ceremony, lots of beautiful hangings, incense, elaborately dressed women chanting buddist sutras. like all travelers who go to asia, i felt i'd been transported to shangri la. alas, i was dumb enough to go back a day later. the whole scene appeared burnt out, dead, like the day after an lsd vision and transportation. suddenly, the heavenly world turned to ashes.

i did have similar experiences in kandy, the windows of the english church blown out by a terrorist bomb (they were actually after the buddha's toenail in the temple next door), the pathetic elephant being examined for weapons by the police, and so on. yet, i do remember the place with affection, thinking, 'a civil war creates stable power structures, especially when it last longer than 20 years.'

yes, i'm rambling, but it has a purpose: to re-arrange my memories. this is actually a happy practice. for example, a couple days ago i put all the snapshots i could recover of myself online. and i thought, 'yes, i have had a life."

before my friend berta died, her sister sat her down with a world map. they put pins in every place berta had been: china, rwanda to visit the mountain gorillas, borneo. her sister demonstrated berta had had a full life. true, only afterward did i find from the sister a mysterious black hole in berta's history when she'd left home at 16 to escape an acoholic father. that piece of her life remained her's alone.

you can see pictures of my travels with berta here: www.pbase/wwp/berta strange, we never know which person in our life we will miss most. it will certainly be those who keep our stories.

the most amazing thing can happen when a neighbor, now grown old, suddenly reappears and says, your father, that horrible man! and your memories confirmed. a little bit of self-knowledge goes a long way.

my mother once transcribed three hours of my childhood. she's long gone, but the voice and anecdotes remain. each time i listen to them i feel refreshed. in 'the tales of don juan' carlos castenada mandates, 'erase your personal past.' however, my experience refutes him. if you remember enough of your life, you realize how full it's been.

my snapshots at

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

celebration or elegy?

the art of photgraphy explained.

lately, i've been looking at a lot of snapshot collections. and the people seem happy, unaware of mortality, living in the moment.

the composition of the photographs reflects this quick and unaffected apprehension of reality. arms and legs are cut off, things out of focus, the horizon tilted, as if the subjects intent on escaping the frozen moment, eager to depart for further adventures.

and that seems to me the way we live. we do not want our souls stifled by 'the decisive moment.' to be captured completely means having nowhere to go! that's it, we're finished.

and that's exactly what the great photography of its best artists does. they structure the photograph so perfectly, it's the end. the horizon is flat, the triangles hold the subjects in place, the rule of thirds means this person can't step out of his clothes and go to a less auspicious place.

true, the best snapshots echo the 'rules'. they imitate the masters, but they toss a variable into the mix. the edge of the frame remains pliable and broken, not definitive.

and this is the way i've been feeling these days. for example, our bodies are so complicated, how the hell do they keep walking around? and consciousness, what is it? after our exit the memories of most us will remain unexpressed. old george standing on the doorstep, what a tale he could tell! only he's gone to his next reincarnation.

if you step back and assume nothing, since every paradigm can be proved true, you're left with a mystery. why does one life slide along on greased rails while another cut short by war or given a bumpy ride by cancer and the ultimate questions (which can't be answered)?

i love looking at snapshots. they give me hope. while the work of the masters puts me in a museum and my mobility stunted, the butterfly with a pin through its heart, a speciman caught in a net.

ah, and the same place can be experienced so differently, depending on your perspective and state of mind. i invite you to see this for yourself:

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

how do you end a perfect day?

i mean, nothing happened! o, there was a little fire on the southern part of the forest, which i couldn't see. and the forest law guy stopped by, after having an abandoned truck towed from the lake. and i had a new lens for my infrared dslr, so i snapped pictures all day and took a walk in the evening.

yet none of this explains my blissful feeling. i woke up with difficulty, returning from my days off last nite. i thought, o god, i'm going to be dragging during this one.

but it didn't happen. and i think it might have been the weather, the clear sky, the warm east wind, and the absolutely perfect temperature. yes, there's a thermometer reading which puts me in heaven, a dry heat. i'm ecstatic, glad to be alive, nothing else needed.

maybe i lay in the womb at exactly these degrees, yet my mother had an apendectomy while i was inside her, the scar huge across her belly for the rest of her life. i can't imagine that invasive procedure didn't affect me. i wonder what drugs they gave her? maybe my love of daydreaming started then. i zoned out under those conditions and felt it in the air passing across the lookout today.

i do think a companion consideration might be in order.

leaving town, i stopped at barnes and noble for a cup of tea. now, i know traveling eased enormously by a book on tape. i'd listen to the stories of artemisia brunelleschi, the concentration camp saga of elie weisel, and another of a painter getting his delicious revenge on a critic in 'the portrait', as i traveled back and forth from the dental school in san francisco last spring.

and on the way to baja years ago with friends, we listened to 'west with the night' , all about flights across africa. i remember that story better than anything else on the trip!

i bought 'the castle' by franz kafka and listened to the first two disks on the way back into the mountains. i remember nothing but the story. and it reminded me so much of my favorite books, the alice stories of lewis caroll. no wonder i loved kafka, adapting his 'metamorphosis' for the stage years ago and playing the cockroach myself.

you see, it's the dreamlike, outrageous actions and humor that put me in a good mood. our everyday life depresses me, i might as well admit it (as if you didn't know already). true, i did nothing but lie around my house-sitting job this past weekend, enjoying the sense of having a home. within an hour i'd spread cameras, clothes, computer, grocieries, throughout the whole house. and for four days i enjoyed myself in lassitude, though i did take pictures and you can see them here:

breaking the rather dire story i'd been experiencing the week before at the lookout:

this still begs the question, how do i end the day? ah, yes, making out with the beautiful german art student, underneath the stars and a giant oak outside the youth hostel once the home of mussolini's mistress, florence, 1965, that's how i'd like it to be, perfect as the memory, high on wine.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

sometimes you need words

why is that? today i od'eed on images. finally, they couldn't tell me what i needed to know. i had to open a book of poetry 'the ink dark moon' and read:

Even when a river of tears

courses through

this body,

the flame of love

cannot be quenched.

theoretically, one of my books on photographing nudes could express this very thought, a body twisted in passion, blue on a dark background, light streaming from behind an almost closed door.

yet too much is left open for interpretation. she could be fearing an intruder, dreaming of an empty hallway experienced in childhood. the mystery of images remains just that, something we can only filter through our present mood.

but the flame of love cannot be quenched, that gets specific, right to the point. even if we don't know what love is - as la rochefoucauld said we would never experience love if so much hadn't been written about it - we imagine passion as though it existed. at least there is longing, and that is something we've all felt.

love is a disaster, i read that somewhere, and love is a misunderstanding between two people or i suppose it could be between more, like in a family.

i'm not defaming the great desire of us all, however it seems pretty questionable. even the love of a parent for a child depends upon (usually) being able to brag about them. still, this weekend, standing in line at the post-office, i watched a mother give her down's syndrome son a loving and affectionate kiss. could i take it at face value? of course not! i've known too many divorced mothers who ended up enjoying only the attachment to their sons.

gosh, this sounds awful. have i felt love? often i've wondered if it isn't simply an abstraction. is it my desire for survival i love? do i really miss people, need them? i've probably already quoted one of my mother's last revelations to me: 'you played so much alone as a child, i never thought you'd have much to do with people.' she thought i'd done pretty well to have any friends at all!

i'm sometimes convinced love is the desire for a return to childhood, even if we had a miserable one. there's something about the ache for protection, the feeling we'll be supported when we stumble, the source of all religions. however, with dependence comes the limitations of someone else paying the bills. 'the price of freedom is loneliness', i once read that on a men's room wall in berkeley, california. (where else?) but i'm not sure this is right. being alone can be a great delight, as along as we feel we'll land on our feet, no matter what happens.

who was the psychologist who said, 'the child gains confidence simply knowing the mother is there?' i can't imagine how children who grow up in orphanages survive.

ah, we've come full circle. perhaps we thrive when we accept the earth as our mother, from whom we come and to whom we shall return.

this message may have been the through-line of the latest 'fresh ink' at the blue room theater:

be sure to see the show: