Saturday, April 25, 2009

memory as a virtual vuseum

ah, that's not quite right. in the usual museum the objects remain in their cages and the notes below them do not change.

memory is a pile of rubble and from it we reconstruct the past according to how we feel at the moment. our past never stays the same. one day we pick out the postives, the love we shared, the events in which we triumphed. alas, the next day, being in a bluer mood, we remember (and regret) the mistakes. we tally up the positives and negatives, and find we have greviously erred at the latter.

the same event, the same love affair, the same trip across europe changes it's shape and meaning as we stumble through today. for example, recently a friend told me a visit with a possible lover rendered her catatonic, that she could merely mumble and couldn't be touched. recently, aroused to defend herself, she described the same experience as ecstatic, that she was dancing, singing, and writing poetry.

you see, our history never remains the same. one day we feel pride in it and all our strength. but as i've said, should a blue mood overtake us, we construct the past as a disaster.

in reality, we're full of floating images, some actually from dreams, others from distortions. true, long ago on a greek island, a friend, david hamilton, said that when he dropped acid he could relive a memory in all its detail and complexity. perhaps (unless we have brain damage) everything we've lived remains within us. i have, to my detriment, a very clear remembrance of what people had said to me, expecially friends. forty years later i'll quote them, to their astonishment. perhaps this talent will desert me. before thirty, i could recall my childhood in amazing detail. that has slipped away. perhaps with acid...

even if we base our identity upon it, we cannot take the past for granted. hopefully, all of you have kept a diary and taken lots of pictures. this, at least, might be a corrective for the creative present, the moods that redefine us everyday and drive us crazy.

here are some strange bedfellows. as as they are bought and sold, they re-group and gain new meanings. if only we could enjoy the fact we are not one person but many.

Monday, April 20, 2009

sticking to your guns

hmmm, put that way it sounds rather bad. like going down with the ship or something. i could say 'stick to your guns'! alas, the imperative is not for everyone. a therapist friend says most people happy to be in the mainstream, depression coming when they wash up on the bank for awhile.

nevertheless, i know it's cheezy of me, but i'm inspired by movies where the hero won't give up and gets the girl ('adventureland' 'slumdog millionaire') or where the hero suffers an appropriate death, as in 'the wrestler'. the ram, as he was called, died flying in the ring. of course, an inappropriate death in the movies can depress me for days. 'milk' an example. he, in no way, deserved the end he received.

what's true for the movies goes for real life too. an example: years ago the university art gallery had a show of fantasy miniatures done by a painter who lived in a small valley town near here, gridley or biggs. he'd spent a bit of his youth in san francisco, yet retreated to work in solitude and be a complete unknown. i wish you could see his work.

true, rimbaud quit writing poetry by twenty and sailed off to be a gun-runner in north africa. maybe he knew he was written out. or perhaps he had to go proactive as a romantic. or maybe it was his way of rejoining the mainstream, being a businessman (unfortunately not a very successful one). blake says 'a fool who would persist in her folly would become wise.' who's to say what that wisdom might be. in eugene o'neill's 'touch of the poet' the hero eventually abandons his aristocratic pretensions and goes off with the boys to drink in the bars. somehow he made a better american than a false brit.

all this said, i admire those devoted to an honorable personal mission. i say 'honorable' cause i'd like to except serial killers and corrupt politicians. and i suppose it's naive of me, yet i pretty much accept what is 'honorable' to the world. it can be poetry or soldiering, parenthood or a nunnery. it's not easy to survive the self-doubts which will assail you on your path. this is not for those who always think they're right. that gives them energy, not necessarily courage. without a sense of service, the term doesn't fit.

you can persist beyond your talent and skill, imitating yourself. i'm thinking of wordsworth and hemingway, however the latter did write 'the old man and the sea' and 'a movable feast' before doing himself in. i'm always sad when a great pitcher leaves the mound for the last time.

humility must be part of this, i suppose. to know you're not a genius and still strive to make a tiny contribution. after all, civilization is an ongoing process, not something we wish to end.

speaking of continuation, here are some recent theater and dance pics. persisting in a small community may be your honorable destiny.