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