Friday, December 31, 2010

my life as a failed messiah

helping other people is not as easy as it seems. every time i try, i give the devil more momentum! for example, before thanksgiving my sister called me with her woes, certainly genuine. so i send her a computer, screen, mouse, etc., etc., not realizing i'd overwhelm this 57 year old neophyte with a whole new vocabulary and way of being. add to this the ineffeciency of a particular phone company (can you guess which?), she's still not online. and my sister not the most patient person in the world.

or yesterday, i posted my blog on a photo site to advertise my friend's photos and got slapped on the hand for advertising myself in the process. boy, i still turn red with embarrassment thinking about it. and what else was there? oh, yes, two friends, a couple, came to town. we discussed our inhibitions and ambitions over coffee. ach, my big mouth, i said too much, being well-meaning and set them on edge with each other. i haven't heard back yet. did it lead to a fight between them, harsh words, a deadly break? of course not, yet i regret giving advice.

yes, i'm not exactly sure when it began, maybe when i turned forty and thought i knew everything. suddenly, i acted like a sage (as in sagebrush). that's the trouble with knowing younger people. my attempts at solving a problem she didn't ask me to solve, a friend in vancouver b.c. eventually walked off the end of a pier. this happened much later after the last time we talked, as did my friend renate's suicide in berlin, but i can't help wondering, did my helping hurt?

anyway, to make a long story short, i learned an important lesson this last week. you can't make someone over into you. your only recourse is to tweak them on their own terms. i'd hoped my sister would begin to write, blog, put songs on youtube. now i understand she'll pretty much go on living the same way, no matter what i offer. (a vacuum cleaner, electric brushes, knives, and scissors - a shopping cart, paying the electric bill, pushing her to apply for disability, which she has.)

put a person in new circumstances and perhaps they'll blossom. do so at your peril. HELL IS PAVED WITH GOOD INTENTIONS.

let me contradict myself. just posted my notes on zen theater: take them with more than a grain of thought!


Thursday, December 30, 2010

the pleasures of living in the past

sure, there's pain, nostalgia, fear, hope, all comes to the surface when your mind slips into the memory gear. that said, it's as exciting, maybe more, than anything you will do today by bravely facing the future which does not exist!

gosh, i listened to matt damon reading kerouac's on the road to berkeley. i've never been able to read it, only the lookout stuff in lonesome traveler, darma bums, and desolation angels (the last has the best account of being on a fire tower anywhere). yet given voice on the way to xmas and back, his most famous book brought up from the bog of my mind past joys.

no, not the rocking alcoholic binges, but drives across country, the wanderings around north beach in the beat heyday (1957-9), me a literary teenager and my father stationed on the presidio. commuting to berkeley, i discovered allen ginsberg when he came to class and read us part of kaddish for his mother. long sunday walks took me in and out of mike's place and the co-existent bagel shop, a big reading at columbia house, all the poets around on the balcony as we looked up from the gloom below and watched them hug each other and declaim.

true, i never spoke to any of them, very much a loner in those days, yet i absorbed what applied to my own experience and i've been writing and wandering ever since. yes, i really should have entitled this THE LAST BEATNIK, however i have bigger fish to fry.

my brother and many others counsel, 'forget the past, create a new life.' alas, a writer's life is his past. plus, how can you travel so fast and so far as in memory? hey, somewhere squirreled away in quarantine is everything you've ever done, dreamed, and far more. consciousness is only a small part of it. a novelist friend, david helton, used to relive complete passages of his past on lsd, down to the minutiae. and as we had a conversation in a cafe, we unknowingly recorded all the conversations around us.

the pundits exclaim: the past is present. on a quiet day at home i'm trying to make the most of it, pretending another year isn't almost gone.

i'd like to put a plug in for a friend's website. i find his photos of Philadelphia very moving:

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

footprints on the moon

as we come to the end of another year, time to wonder what will remain. those imprints of the first walkers on our nighttime companion could conceivably last forever - that is until the exploding sun shatters us. with no wind, rain, or oxygen those imprints may be the last sign of humanity.

and ourselves? what have we created or achieved in the past 365 revolutions of the moon?

perhaps it's foolish to talk of such things at all. readers chide me for my emphasis on the transitory. the best we can do is haiku and zen, an absorption in the moment so intense grains of sand shine like diamonds. a word on the page, a gesture in the air, each momentary sign without time, would be more than a slide into second base.

last nite, i looked through artistic adventures of the past few years. things appeared i'd totally forgotten. for example, my salute to a certain period of japanese art:

and in the moment i'm looking at a book of japanese postcards of the same era, the early twentieth century. for some reason the graphic creations of these islands calm me down. (while traveling there, my friend marilyn pointed out the colors around us meant to be soothing, and the buildings lay low on the earth rather unlike our rising, screaming skyscrapers pushing us toward the stars.

i wonder what else i can find in these files? where in the distant past did i do these imitations of lunar pathways?

i really like francis bacon's description of painting: snail slime slid across the canvas. if bees can make honeycombs and hummingbirds nests, why can't we make a home for our psyches in the cosmic dust? patterns in water might last longer than we think.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

how are you feeling?

this question throws me into turmoil. yes, in my imagination and longing, i yearn for someone close to ask it. alas, when it happens, i go totally blank. i rummage around in my heart for an answer. but the question itself changed whatever was going on inside me. besides, i never really know what i'm feeling, anyway.

now, if you asked me, 'a penny for your thoughts', i might come up with something coherent, unless i'm out on a date and thinking, 'this is a disaster', or in bed with a loved one and i haven't thought about her since we climbed in, rather the question should be, 'i'll tell you who i was thinking about, if you'll tell me who you were thinking about.'

a further problem: our brains supposedly have fifty thousand thoughts a day, and every one of these charges up a feeling (and not vice-verso). good gravy, i couldn't keep track even if i wanted to.

this goes back to einstein, of course. the observer alters what is observed. the very presence of, let alone a spoken word. and what about heisenberg's uncertainty principal: if i know what i'm thinking, i can't know what i'm feeling. and if i know what i'm feeling, thinking impossible. you see how the very proposal changes the world, ie. a butterfly waves its wings in china and a politician in washington drops dead. maybe not right away, but you catch my drift.

the next time you want to know someone's state of being, inject a truth serum first, or try a bit of hypnosis. 'i'm learning this new technique for self-improvement. may i try it on you.' you can fool all of the people, all of the time. don't despair.'

still putting analogue recordings to digital. some of what's been read you can find here:

i'll figure out where to put them on the net eventually. stay tuned.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

let's drink to the end of purity!

i suppose we could drink pure alcohol and die, which would prove my point but leave no one left to get it. or we could take this ball of plutonium the size of my fist, plant one molecule in each person on earth, and celebrate the end of human kind. what if god gave a party, and nobody came?

yes, this quest for the supposedly clean and perfect, what a curse to the world it's been, at least when applied to human beings. the aryan race - what the hell is that? the person without sin, what a prig. could we really wear a shirt starched so white it could stand up on its own?

now i know i've carried this evil wish in my heart for many years: that people would get all mixed up with each other, every shade of color, belief, desire. for example, almost all the species of dogs today invented in victorian times (sex in animals obviously not verboten) and what we call a pure species of great dane and chihuahua laughable. they've been bred into phantasmagorical creatures, no more pure than a roman toilet.

a couple years, after not going to the bay area for quite awhile, i was amazed by all the 'inter-marrying' going on. any concept of race - considering we all came from the same dna primordial mother - disappearing quickly (hopefully) from the planet. and what beautiful children!

as any agronomist knows, hybrids resist diseases. as any cat owner knows, you're wiser to have a mongrel. good gravy, those calico cats spiteful as hell. what's the use of a horse with weak legs? everything, let's face it, a mix up and better for it. a diet of pure lead may have made a van gogh. alas, it undid him too.

so here's to humanity on it's way to the stars. we need a crazy species to make those colonies on mars.

i've been re-recording talks and readings done over the years. you can read the notes for one of them here:

Friday, December 17, 2010

does guilt really exist?

somehow, in some way, years ago, i convinced myself 'guilt' not really real. how i managed to do this escapes me now. but - with the help of ginkgo and a smidgen of mediation - i can recover my original reasoning.

this concerns me because i just thought of something i inadvertently did years ago, and the memory made my face hot, i blushed with shame. such a minor thing, yet it had the power to turn me hot pink. good gravy, talk about social conditioning and effective parenting. they did it, those two, my father and mother, with the help of teachers who paddled me in front of the whole class.

and i never should have skipped a grade (the fifth). from being older and wiser i shrank to youngest kid on the block, this with my first male teacher. damn, kicked off the softball team, sent to little boy's room when i'd been sucking on my ballpoint, ink like a tribal tattoo around my mouth, without knowing it, only discovering the sad fact by glancing in a cruel mirror.

i hope the point well-taken. the world worked to make me feel guilty and ashamed. ah, now i've got a glimmer. no one can actually make us feel anything! not without our doing a reverse-moxie on ourselves. even physical pain can be approached differently. my father in korea - the one who usually wielded the belt - my mother took me out into the barn and tried the treatment. i just stood there like a man, not even deigning to acknowledge the whacks across my back. my mother never tried that again. my attitude changed everything.

thus, guilt is actually a mean term for 'responsibility'. the latter i can take, if i've agreed to an oath, or accepted living by the law. punishment becomes justified and clear, however it doesn't ask my conscience to do a double-whammy on me. nor can i be controlled by false appeals to my sense of self. shame ruled out, i can resist a blush. unfortunately, you have to be lightning fast not to injure yourself, to cut off that evil messenger at the pass.

more pics:

and a reading from the german philosopher arthur schopenhauer:

Sunday, December 12, 2010

only the comedians are free

this is something my wise friend marilyn pointed out during the greatest lies of the past few years. no wonder, whenever i see her at barnes & noble, she's browsing the HUMOR section.

to me, this did seem a bit frivolous and cruel. aren't the wars and subterfuges in our day worth serious consideration? mustn't we weep for the wounded, succor the helpless, cry for the suffering? alas, that's what most of us do, nothing. we love to feel pity while reading the morning paper over eggs benedict. yes, it's very much like complaining, and complaining, and complaining, all way to the bank.

lately, it's become overwhelmingly obvious we don't know what's going on behind the scenes in the wider world. banks eat up banks, countries continue to trap other countries into wars they can't win. the real dangers hidden behind the false declarations of nation states and censorship have never been more effective and dissuading than today, despite the popularity of certain internet leaks, which so far haven't told us anything we didn't already know.

true, i've always maintained it's wise not to fret over things you can do nothing about. the cynical commentator n.n. taleb: you have a real life if and only if you don't compete with anyone in any of your pursuits. alas, nietzsche submits civilizations die without intense inner competition. it's enough to make you throw up your hands and emit HIS LAUGHTER OF THE GODS. unfortunately, human beings make very bad divinities.

so, i come back to my friend marilyn's assertion: truth can be found in the stand-ups (they're called that for a reason) and the cartoonists. kings of lear's time kept a fool close by. and why? to keep them on the beam, to reveal those who cringed and flattered. skip politics, self-improvement, the vampire novels, they only get swollen on your blood. go for a transfusion to the cartoonists.

latest photos:

and i will have more to say about schopenhauer later.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

taking advantage of chance

what a great talent this is! visiting my sister last week and walking around her town of mill valley, i realized she could strike up a conversation with anyone. that made me incredibly envious. it brought back my travel days in europe when i chased women. how did i do it?

and a moment ago, reading the haiku poet buson, i realized he and all the others of his ilk - basho, shiki, issa - opened themselves up to chance, mostly in the form of travel; they had the ability to be surprised anywhere, anytime of day, by almost anything. yes, we live by chance much more than we appreciate.

my favorite flavor of the moment, a cartoonist by the name of macleod. he's written a book called ignore everybody, and 39 other keys to creativity, a wall street journal best-seller. bored in his life of a new york advertising exec, he began whiling away the time in bars, drawing cartoons on the back of business cards. then he initiated a blog the rest is history.

one of his recommendations: find something you can do creatively, anywhere, anytime. haiku a great example. taking pics with your camera phone another. here's an event i stumbled on today while having a double espresso at barnes & noble:

when i heard the announcement over the loudspeaker, i thought, 'maybe a photo op.' and perfect since kids doing broadway songs a delight.

yes, i'm in love with my droid x. all my other cameras look like cameras, and i can't check my email or chat on them. the expensive stuff gives a finer traditional photo, however i'm tired of trying to compete with the big boys. besides, i've always like rough edges, in women and in art.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

we're all renters here

private property changed the world, that's for certain. suddenly, faithfulness in marriage and dna became big issues. barbed-wire fences, surveillance cameras, prisons, they all sprang from the seeds planted.

and it's amazing to me people buy houses with the illusion it belongs to them. first, it usually belongs to the bank. secondly, you spend enormous amounts of time and energy to build your castle or cave. the hidden expenses boggle the mind: leaky roofs, overflowing sewers, frayed wiring. then you have to furnish it, change it, furnish it again.

my mother constantly bought a new/old house to fix up, getting it cheap and blowing her life energy decorating the walls and moving sand. once she had the perfect little stone house atop the oakland hills, a fantastic view of san francisco bay. my god, i'd kill for it now. did she keep it? of course not, the money invested in a track home where she didn't have to climb steps.

she did spring from the depression generation, her desperation for solvency understandable. had she bought rentals it would have made sense. these house the sanest of us. as my friend marilyn once said, 'life is a choice between taking a trip and buying a house'. and steve martin in father of the bride loved his house so much he might have expired from the want of it after selling.

all our wealth based on this market. if you haven't seen the movie inside job, i recommend it. the last crash based on an inflated economy instituted by no money down. that plus deregulation and the bankers off and running. MAKING HUGE AMOUNTS OF MONEY LIKE SNIFFING COCAINE WITH A THOUSAND DOLLAR BILL. yes, the filmmaker backed up his assertion.

alas, americans, being basically gamblers when it comes to business, never seem to get upset by financial skulduggery! sexual indiscretion by congressional leaders, that's another story. we're passionate about illicit passion, maybe cause it can unseat the mighty and bring them low (down with us).

is there safety in property? that's a question you have to answer for yourself. squandering what little time we have to gain a bit of comfort, most of us can't deny it's worth it.

here's some in-house pictures from thanksgiving:

Monday, November 29, 2010

for the love of aphorisms

maxims have always delighted me. one of the best i ever found on the wall of a berkeley men's room: the price of freedom is loneliness. i couldn't have said it better myself.

this an old tradition. quips of the roman martial famous since his time: Conceal a flaw, and the world will imagine the worst. or, A man who lives everywhere lives nowhere. of course, they get nastier and more ribald.

cynicism definitely part of the fun. the consummate maximist la rochefoucauld difficult to top: some silly people know themselves for what they are, and skillfully turn their silliness to good account. or the man who lives without folly is not as wise as he thinks. this master attributes everything we do to self-love, and he's got many an example to prove it.

okay, i admit it, i've written thousands, especially after reading nietzsche for the first time. here's a whole collection influenced by him:

and part of my reasoning this: most authors/intellects remembered for one sharp statement. true, shakespeare penned thousands, coined all kinds of words. no one with any sense would try to compete with him. still, he didn't say everything the way i would. for example, here's a summation of life:

life is one long improvisation.

simple enough, hard to disprove, and the way i've lived. here's another hard lesson i've learned.

all the problems of love come from not asking the right questions when they need to be asked.

that's right. doesn't do any good after the relationship dead. i wonder if i can make some up on the spot?

emotional blackmail means making someone else responsible for your feelings.

you can crow if you're a crow.

the only coin you have to spend: time.

okay, not great on short notice. and you have to write thousands to get a good one. here's another post:

with a brilliant editor i might sound like a genius. (no maxim intended.)

Monday, November 22, 2010

the sister and the madman

early on, wrote a lot about the artist/poet going mad - van gogh, nietzsche. actually, at times, i felt an alienation so profound it seemed to be schizophrenia. in london one christmas i sat in my room, watching the dial of the meter going round and round. japanese tourists in the deserted city took pictures of the dirty thames. a man sitting across from me on the tube transformed into a chicken, very like the famous scene in chaplin's the gold rush.

i visited an army psychiatrist on the san francisco presidio where we lived. 'i'm sure i'll go crazy,' i said, 'if i have to go into the service.' he didn't blink. obviously, he thought i'd do fine. i did and i didn't. coast guard boot camp the worst experience in my life. i learned what it was like to be a slave. however, i read the new testament - only religious books allowed - and survived.

the only reason for drunkeness onstage: a release from inhibitions. and i believed insanity served the same purpose. much later i gave a talk in an english class on the difference between creativity and delusion. my conclusion: the insane repeat themselves over and over again, the same phrases, the same images. the poet, on the other hand, flows in and out of the unknown. true, some have been crazy, gone crazy, or been made crazy. these weren't their productive periods, the images too arcane for the rest of us.

i'd forgotten the pleasure i once indulged, reading the works of nietzsche. and today i picked up the walter kaufman translation i read long ago. friedrich really a psychologist:

Happiness lies in the swiftness of feeling and thinking: all the rest of the world is slow, gradual, and stupid. Whoever could feel the course of a light ray would be very happy, for it is very swift.

one wonderful thought plucked out of many, this brought to mind the play i wrote about nietzsche while living in berlin. here's a speech from it:

and i've just posted a few pictures which might suffice as illustrations:

Saturday, November 20, 2010

good cop, bad cop (emotional blackmail)

or blindsided by attraction. that's seems to be what happened. i asked my friend marilyn about it. she said, 'whenever you get that amphetamine rush, watch out. usually it means you've found someone like a family member who's going to give you what the other one never did.'

alas, my mother did use a lot of sarcasm and threats of abandonment. 'if you don't like this hotel, you can go to another one.' 'gee, that's almost good.' and so on. at the same time she could be very encouraging and supportive. back and forth, back and forth. if it shakes up a criminal, it will certainly unnerve a kid.

but why should i be attracted to the same kind of punishment again? am i merely a latent masochist who let's s&m disguise itself as romance? it could be worse, of course. once on a plane to new york, i sat next to a black fellow who worked in a san francisco brothel. he told tales of dentists who like to be whipped and ridden like horses. he volunteered to show me pictures. at first intrigued, i gradually grew disgusted and refused his offer. yes, i have an intermittent seamy side. luckily, it doesn't last long.

you can't violate the muse. a few years ago, a friend sent his manuscript for a new novel. he'd gone through a terrible divorce and couldn't as yet see how he'd been responsible as well for the mess. and so his new manuscript, set in a hospital, treated every woman character harshly. not surprising considering the last published novel ended with the estranged wife as the heroine who rescues him literally from a himalayan cliff. putting her on a balustrade, he had to eventually push her off the precipice he'd survived!

yes, the promise of being saved, the religious element of 'falling' in love. the human and the divine get all mixed up. the virgin mary transforms into kali, both with way too much power. no wonder all those old movies from the thirties start out with the lovers-to-be hating each other. there's nowhere to go but up.

a zen monk states, 'marriage is a fighting arrangement', and richard bach in pairing attempts to teach couples to be fair combatants. this last book tells the tale truly, how it is. no pain, no gain. ALL THE TROUBLES OF LOVE COME FROM NOT ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTIONS. there you have it, my words to the wise, one of which i'm obviously not.

Friday, November 19, 2010

various versions of happiness

funny, if you have to ask 'what is happiness?' you may never have experienced it! on the other hand, none of us really knows what 'normal' is. the code in whitefish, montana, definitely not that of san francisco. (a movie i remember with a lot of affection: leaving normal. two women in a vw bus flee nebraska and end up in alaska homesteading.)

and it seems like happiness equally vague and transitory. it happened to me the other day, sitting in costco, eating chicken bake. i looked at bright lights above in a criss-cross of steel as though they were stars in heaven. all the decayed and growing people passing held my interest. i didn't flinch or look at the ground as i often do. what i thought was: wow, it's amazing to be so relaxed and at home in the world.

if that were normal, would i know it as happiness? i have realized one element always present with happiness: feeling at home and comfortable in your own body. morphine must help the dying to experience a moment of bliss. when i visited my friend randy in the hospital this summer, his state didn't seem so bad. i came away feeling death not nearly so bad as i had thought. after all, i suspect we never know when we're dead!

that morbid thought aside, i do have to admit over all contentment comes from realizing your five-year-old dreams, the early ones before school and puberty twist us into knots. for example, in whitefish i'd stage one-person shows for the neighborhood, wrapping myself in a white sheet and declaiming to the crowd. what the content might of been completely escapes my memory.

lately, i've been taking advantage of youtube, posting the movie 'mother thunder' made in 1973 by a bunch of neophytes. it's lovely to see my young body before time has done it's worst. i read a poem 'spaceships', entitled a video 'the performance artist' with my mother's voice from the grave detailing a bit of my youth, and mused a bit on 'berlin' and 'therapy' from a series of autobiographical writings written in 1989. i've yet to sing one of the songs i've written, but that's coming.

so, the circle begins to be completed. happiness? maybe. that remains to be seen. at least the technology has caught up with my childhood.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

invasion of the brain termites

many, many years ago, i realized in a biofeedback workshop i couldn't close out sound. as soon as i started to relax a horn from the street or the whirring of a fan would startle me. (as i've said, i now sleep with earplugs as a matter of course.)
maybe it all came from my four month highs-school time in bluffton, indiana. i had a roll-away bed in the living room. the room had no door. my alcoholic uncle would come home, repose by the stove, smoking a cigarette. once he'd dazed himself enough with memories, he'd come sit by my bed and tell me about visiting the whores in ft. wayne. "one i lay on all night. we joked about it the next day. never marry a catholic. they'll get you in the end."

i lay there with my stomach getting tighter and tighter. my personality fled underground as my brain gradually filled full of holes. an older person's disappointment with life can certainly affect you.

and then there's time somewhat before this when my mother appeared in my room. in a breathless voice she told me my favorite english teacher 'HAD BEEN CAUGHT WITH SOME MEN.' we all know what that means. he'd been shipped back to the states the next day, peroxided hair and all. he'd praised my imagination, appointed me sports editor on the paper, wrapped himself in the schoolroom curtains while wildly making a point. he'd rock back and forth on the desk, informing us what constituted manners. alas, my mother's jealousy shot me in the foot. writing became a clandestine activity.

of course, maybe all this mental decay came later. from the french girl who seduced me in an english youth hostel. afterwards, she told me maybe she had syphilis. boy, did she hate men. my nurse sister gave me a heavy dose of penicillin in frankfurt. did it prevent those wicked little termites from doing there worst? after forty years i still can't be sure.

yes, i keep falling for borderline personalities. maybe i've finally learned my lesson. today, i received a note from eva bidding me goodbye and condemning me for my selfishness, even after i wrote i couldn't spend more than two hours with anyone. my focus goes. i damn near kill myself driving my truck. it's a luckless limitation have. o boy, am i relieved! i do feel she's in a good place and will do well. she's moved to a new town and entered therapy. now it's time for me to shake my head vigorously and clear my mind.

here's an account of therapy from the past. we are who we are:

i've also posted the other two parts of mother thunder. relationship are obviously not my forte:

Sunday, November 14, 2010

praise for the makers

is there a gene for reading? i must have gotten one particular habit from my grandfather. after he died my mother found stacks of uplifting quotes. and he read religious passages every morning. (i go for zen and haiku.)

for the past couple of years i've read a mini-chapter from richard carlsen's don't sweat the small stuff - as well as the same from osho's everyday. of course, it doesn't do just to peruse. i always keep in mind what ramana maharshi said, 'put one thing in practice.' sure 'nuff, that can change everything.

lately, i've tried one of carlsen's techniques: when you wake up, take time to think of someone to whom you are grateful. alas, that's pretty tough to do with people you know well, family and friends. our feelings about these almost always tremendously mixed.

so the other day, i looked about the room as i rose from night-time haze. ah, my eye fell on the classical guitar i bought years ago in berkeley. handcrafted in germany in 1967, it aroused an intense thankfulness for the maker. then i realized i had the same feeling about the guys who built my lookout in 1988. yes, it has to do with delicate wood creations that resonate with fingers or the wind.

that was a surprising start in gratitude. and i realized my whole life i've enjoyed making things: plays, poems, photos, drawings. this morning i extended gratefulness to people who'd made everything i use: soap, computer, shower, and so on. pretty soon it reaches astronomical numbers. rather overwhelming, i dare say. thousands of people have created the world in which i live.

for example, i returned to my favorite antique barn a couple days ago and took more pictures: (previous shoot: )

what a wonderful world of memories i never had!

and here's a local hamburger joint full of oddities like a museum:

and last evening, i uploaded the first of three parts to a movie i wrote and acted in 1973:

though fame and fortune never came from these objects, i'm glad to have made them. the painter francis bacon said it's like leaving a snail's trail across the canvas.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

how do you prepare for violence?

since the germans invaded norway the week i was born, may 1940, and we lived in germany 1954-56, i've been interested in my own oblivious perceptions. as a teenager, of course, girls and basketball completely dominated my consciousness. that's a fair excuse.

however, seeking a writer's experience, i lived in berlin the winter of 66/67. you can listen to a bit of that time on youtube:

and i really didn't have a sense of the city's recent history, despite the wall practically in my backyard.

so i've been doing some research. yesterday, i browsed war in berlin by roger moorehouse (it just came out) and have been reading three novels by phillip kerr berlin noir. also this week i watched a woman in berlin (not for the squeamish) and murderers are among us. amazing how few people know what they're getting into when they go to war.

most of us not used to violence unless we live in a ghetto or work on a police force or serve combat missions in afghanistan. caught by surprise, it's easy to disintegrate. this summer i listened to a complete reading of night by elie weisel. his jewish village driven into a concentration camp. most people lost their identities completely and quickly.

except for automobile accidents, violence rarely throws us into an alternate world; and those of you who've been in crashes on the highway know what i mean. our perception of time changes. we act completely in the present (if we can still move). and our focus becomes absolute.

movies don't really get us ready. the vicarious detonations and mock bloodshed on the screen merely thrill us. the imaginary punishment to our nervous system doesn't so much put us into shock as to give us feelings of immortality, riding the waves of terror to a safe harbor. they may even make us less prepared for the real thing, our imaginations warped into delusions of grandeur and being 'the lone survivor.'

i suspect the martial arts might be a partial answer, even if they can't stand up to machine-guns and grenades. perhaps we wouldn't be so surprised by sudden eruptions and sneak attacks. everything in america seems to prepare us for combat, yet few things really do.

Friday, October 29, 2010

you can't step into the same river once

oh, i tried, but even before i dipped my toe the pattern on the surface of the water had changed, and the drop i missed once flowed through caesar's veins. though the amount of water in the world limited and every molecule from the past in our glass, it's hard to find within us what matters most.

i'm always surprised by my answer. i pop to the top of a volcano in bali, i carry bricks of coal down into my half-basement berlin room, i look up in new dehli to see sign-makers hanging from high scaffolding to build a billboard. yes, travel seems to be the only thing i've done for myself alone, and these private memories make me feel i've lived, even as i know they will die with me.

everything else seems to have been a performance for parents, teachers, lovers, even the enemies. the reference lies outside myself. poetry, plays, speeches before crowds, the efforts at love in bed - none of it was mine.

i was reminded of this last nite, watching a traveling troop from bali. in 1958 i heard my first gamelan instrument at a ucla arts festival. later in santa cruz i stumbled into ethno-musicology and banged those brass plates myself. once i moved to chico, i found numerous dancers traveling to bali to study. it wet my appetite.

as usual, i didn't study a map. belatedly, i found jakarta a thousand miles from the island. a minaret woke me up in the middle of the night. i felt part of a cia plot. my first asian taste. a train and boat-ride after, i watched brightly dressed women carrying towering offerings of fruit on their head. the first thrill remains the best.

the music of every village differed, raw except for the tourist performances. the garbage in the ditches impressed me. and the howling dogs. monkeys, i hate to say it, are nasty creatures. dirt paths, frogs in the rice paddies, ducks quacking, dead bodies burned on a pyre. though i followed the tourist track, my adventures felt raw.

and that's the point. when i watched the beautifully choreographed dance last nite, i could feel it as a polished diamond. no, i didn't feel disappointed. i'd suffered enough of cock-fights and flies. i knew where this jewel came from and appreciated the mystery behind it, the placing of offerings, the bowing before buddhas, the half-dressed women washing in muddy water.

the mystery i took away, how had i done it, the himalayas rising up before my eyes and the newlyweds, strangers to each other, walking tentatively by the lakes? perhaps life is an arranged marriage after all.

here are a few bali pictures:

Monday, October 25, 2010

books can illuminate your life

i put it that way, rather than change your life because to do that you must do something differently, or as ramana maharshi sad, 'put one thing in practice.' to merely understand is not enough.

one book did change the way i behaved, or so i thought:

when helping you is hurting me: escaping the messiah trap by carmen renee berry

ever since i can remember i've been sensitive to the emotional disturbances of young women. it's no secret why: my mother ill much of the time when i was young, or as a therapist told me, 'your mother and sister trained you well to take care of women.'

ach, a sword in my side. i tried so many times! and ultimately experienced enormous frustration. berry's book showed me how that probably happened, my mother used me as a confidant from a young age. this overwhelms the child with the desire to resolve a situation in which he/she powerless.

great, i stopped, or so i thought, until eva caught me offguard by the psychic upheavals caused by her mother's death. (thank heavens, she's dived into therapy with professionals and taken the burden off me.) yet, i am not incapable of helping when i can do so practically. my youngest sister called last week with her woes, mostly physical, the arthritis in her thumbs so bad everything she does painful. not only that, a cop set her up with a false dui and losing her license, she hasn't been able to make a living.

well, brother messiah kicked in. she said she couldn't do all the things she likes to do: write, cook, play the guitar, or sew. hmm, i thought, a bit of money will solve that. i've sent her a bunch of new stuff: a laptop and accessories, a dulcimer with music and a book how to play it (look, ma, no thumbs), a pair of electric scissors and an electric knife. i also did research on thumb-splints and found dozens made for her situation.

yes, i did do some legal research. unfortunately, legal aid can't deal with the department of motor vehicles, an empire onto itself. disability turned her down the first time, but the doctor adamant about her need and going after it again. she's behind in rent. i'm hoping assembling all her friends (she has hundreds) on facebook and writing blogs on the dmv will get her help.

am i a sucker or not? i don't think so. trying to motivate a person to take care of herself is one thing, giving tools to a motivated person another. my sister ultimately very feisty. i'm sure she'll succeed. i'll host a blog or two from her when she gets round to it.

other books i definitely recommend: the doors of perception by aldous huxley. he answers why people crave drugs. mescalin is his answer to alcohol. we harbor the extreme desire to really experience the presence about us in all its glory.

flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. this book will give you the means to happiness, how being absorbed in a task can transport you. lots and lots of examples.

and one i revisited a little while ago: doctor Zhivago by boris pasternak, as i browsed at barnes & noble. a new translation out and i spent time comparing it to the first and ended up hating the new one, its choppy, unpoetic style. you can see pictures of my visit to pasternak's house with two russian poets beginning here:

i'd sequestered vodka and three glasses in my pack. as we sat in the snow by pasternak's grave, i pulled them out. we drank a toast to the poet and i asked them to recite a couple of his poems in russian. one of my favorites:

"A candle burned on the table,

A candle burned on the table..."

his book turned me to poetry and i've never gotten over the passion.

Monday, October 18, 2010

retro abend (we never see things the same way twice)

god is in the details. i suppose that says almost everything. alas, i'm coming to fire season's end tomorrow. at least a hundred days up here and now many of them seem the same. that's how life becomes dust!

i do know how to slow myself down. one of the ways is to read haiku. absurd? here's one by buson:

In the aging house

the crooked door being straightened,

a spring-like summer day.

i swear if you read these for half an hour, you'll look up and notice little things in the room as if they were significant. not only that, you will have relaxed and slowed down. here's one by the joker issa:


through a telescope:

ten cents worth of fog.

another way of possibly becoming present is photographing. here's what my favorite photographer bill brandt says:

"It is part of the photographer's job to see more intensely than most people do. He must have and keep in him something of the receptiveness of the child who looks at the world for the first time or of the traveller who enters a strange country."

of course, there's the joke about tourists who snap, snap, and snap, saying "I'll see the country and people when I get home." one mustn't be too eager to stop the present. after all, a photograph one split-second in the continuum of change.

ah, and then stopping to smell the flowers. everytime i go to the university rose garden and bend over a yellow beauty, i'm transported to the present. (the yellow seem to have the most magnificent smell.)

and what slows me down most of all? a walk on the beach, waves crashing, wind howling, and the gulls crying. i'll do that as soon as i can. i've grown too used to the mountain-top, the shock of recognition gone.

i have taken a few more photos. the retro abend:

and a last fiery look at my firetower:

you see how different the same scenes and objects can look.

i've also posted a selected poems: i actually feel i'll stand or fall by the poetry.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

how to be an artist in a perverse world?

after two years in europe as an army brat, i arrived in the philidelphia train station. the noise overwhelmed me. the hustle and bustle set my nerves on edge. what was this insane place with billboards blinding the eyes?

that was 1956. europe's changed. america's gotten worse. if the artist's job to keep all the pores open, the ears wide, and the eyes piercing, how can he or she survive this cacophony?

van gogh cut off his ear. i suspect here he would have cut off both of them and plugged up his nose with lavender. creative folks have a reputation for madness. now you know why. it's nothing personal.

as you know, i climb to a mountain-top every summer. above the foetid air of the valley, my lungs can recover. of course, i take lots of meds and supplements. L-tyrosine, folic acid, different kinds of fish oil, all boosted by prozac and welbutrin.

why do i have to? this is the land of the dysfunctional family. that means most people by no means equipped to become parents. too young, their tempers fray at having children. every adult becomes a time-bomb when it comes to kids. o sure, we dote on them when they're two and somebody else's. the wise elders realize birthing babies extends their nervous system into an independent body. what hurts it destroys them and they've no control.

these semi-robots absorb sugar like alcohol! they speed up and bounce around the room like atoms gone mad. and my point: these the painters, writers, and photographers to be. high-wired how can they be open to the music of spheres as well as the incessant white noise of the highway?

personally, i sleep with ear-plugs. at least i can hear what inner rhythms i have, though the ringing i have in my ear from being slapped by a girlfriend never leaves. our civilization only values what be can be measured. silence has a weird way of escaping us.

new pictures:

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

a cure for stagefright, or

'paying attention to detail.' that's the conclusion of a book on the subject, both in the preparation - making sure it's thorough - and in the moment of performance.

since we live in an onstage society, this an unrecognized dis-ease, often called shyness. yes, our whole educational system dedicated to drama, as our news broadcasts and sports are.

facing the crowd not a natural situation. after all, ethnic groups of the past very small. you knew everybody. you didn't pass a thousand strangers in the street everyday. i'm listening to a book called cowboy & wills, the story of parents raising a high-performing autistic child. only the arrival of a dog finally allows the boy the make friends and perform in front of the class. his inclination: to take refuge in concrete schedules and literal interpretations of the world. obviously, he's overwhelmed by the input of the modern cacophony.

and the author of the stagecraft book wrote, 'when you feel yourself getting shaky, focus on a narrow circle of objects around you. once you settle a bit, expand that world.' the famous actor lawrence olivier could have used this advice. for six years in his fifties, he experienced a terrifying self-consciousness when walking onstage. arriving suddenly, this unexpected state made him say to himself, 'either i walk off and never act again, or i fight it.' and struggle through the terror he did, until it disappeared of its own accord.

as the end of fire season approaches, you can imagine my own concern. i've had months of quiet and solitude (a slow season) and soon i'll be back in town. my room assumes the place of a mountain-top. i seldom entertain and prefer to go out for my socializing. yes, a certain fear of overload prevails. still, i need people and the stimulation of the city. a counselor once told me i needed to commute, the country for quiet, the urban blast to revive my energy. and damned if that isn't what i've done.

a few new photos taken with my droid x camera-phone:

Saturday, September 11, 2010

the examined life can wear you out

i mean, i know what socrates meant, however didn't he really ask too many questions? he could have left the young men alone. oh no, he didn't do it. i suspect he never looked at his own mud-pie face in the mirror. and as for his wife, xanthippe made sure he never forgot she did him a favor (marrying him).

gees, imagine being married to the socratic method. did he have any kids? i suspect he avoided them this way, drinking all night with aristophanes and that crowd, discussing how love and tragedy were the same. here comes all the french philosophy of the 20th century. i exist, therefor what a shame.

okay, i admit it, i scrape over the cold coals of my life day after day, trying to revive the damp fire. true, eva begins to resurrect me, not an easy task. most of the time we joke around. and now she's gone to sit on another mountain. i tell her, "you just rode up this mountain to get away from a job you hated. the tower instilled me with a certain manna." hah, now we'll find out the truth, providing the internet works on her volcano. yes, she'll be waiting for that sleeping giant to awake starting tomorrow.

not only did eva leave, yesterday i visited my dying friend randy in the hospital. he opened his eyes when i spoke with him - and many people tell me those in a coma can hear - however he seemed to look right through me, focused on the pathway he'll be taking in a day or two. he's certainly one of the best human beings i've known. for years i've remembered his phone number and found his voice reassuring. today i felt a flash of survivor guilt. now i know what the people of wwII camps felt, leaving so many behind.

these events actually stun me, and i don't want to ask if my life has served any purpose, done anybody any good, or even if it's been rewarding for me. socrates drank the cup with a quip. unlikely i'll ever do the same.

many new photos taken with my droid x camera phone. this reduces all the mechanical to the most basic. maybe i'll sell my fancy equipment and pay for my ashes to be dumped over the ocean like my friend paula.

Friday, August 20, 2010

a taste for nitty-gritty mating

no wonder it doesn't come to me easily. look at my favorite movies on the subject: mifune, the warrior & the princess, and the secret in their eyes. all of them drag their lovers over the coals before the bond can be complete.

in mifune, for example, a rising business guy about to marry the big-city boss's daughter. his father dies and he has to go take care of his crazy brother on a broken-down country property. in parallel, a lively copenhagen prostitute gets into deep trouble. she reads the ad for a nanny and takes a bus to the very same farm. all the problems ensue, including the hero bound on the kitchen table and tortured by the prostitute's friends.

the warrior & the princess a wonderfully brutal and tortuous and telling tale of a girl who gets hit by a truck. a petty thief, running from the law, dives under the truck and gives her a tracheotomy with a pen-knife. she hides him out in the psych ward where she works. a foiled bank-robbery throws them together in the end.

and if you like the agony of postponed love, the secret in their eyes is for you. an older DA assistant loves the new, young, beautiful DA but feels he's too old and of another class. he retires to write a novel about a murder case they had together early on. a young man's beautiful fiance savagely raped and killed. her man can't give up the search for the killer. going to the gorgeous DA years later to get records of the case, the writer revives their early memories. the ending lovely.

if it's easy it's meaningless, that must be my underlying attitude. yet i'm the one who coined the phrase, 'put the drama into your art and not into your life.' as whitman said, 'i contradict myself, therefore i contradict myself', love only gained through multiple misunderstandings and outstanding inner obstacles can last. the heroes and heroines help each other conquer the fear.


The games of love
are like baking a cake,
you can't cheat on
the ingredients. Trust,
for example, how can
you leave it out,
and as for humor, you
need to make the dough
rise. Never in a million
years can you reach
the heavenly destination
without cracking a few
eggs. As for the icing,
sweets go to the sweet.
If you wish to win
at the lottery of desire,
you must venture all
you ever hope to have.
What you get is what
you give, and in love
expect nothing less.

Friday, July 23, 2010

going crazy in the land of opportunity

the poet william everson stated, "this is the land of opportunity and we're always looking for something better." all too true. we seek forever to be, do, and have something more, seldom satisfied with ourselves. this is not only the way to madness, but constantly unsettling, confusing. we play a computer game with our passions, hoping one will win.

i'm as dumb as they come, so how did i make some choices and stick to them? writing for example. at 13 i said to myself, 'you can either be a writer or an artist.' having been a bookworm since the summer after the 3rd grade, reading two books a day, i decided this the better course. alas, i couldn't draw anything realistically, though walking through the louvre as a teenager, i felt chills go up and down my spine as i watched a girl draw in pencil a picture of a greek statue.

so much for art, though it's been a passion from the day i read picture books. (alice, "what good is a book without pictures or conversations?") and i've haunted museums like a ghost of van gogh my whole life. writing it was to be and i pursued it for forty years, from high school sports editor to learning poetry from jack gilbert and josephine miles at berkeley. i decided to go to mexico at 20, taking all f's in my college classes to assemble a collection of american indian songs in the immense east bay library. (later indian lit became a big deal. not in 1960.)

damn, i toted a huge suitcase of books on the bus to mexico city - and back after 2 weeks, as i got homesick and transferred to san francisco state. there i used every assignment in class as a writing exercise, going in two years from probation to the dean's list. with one unit to graduate, i had a lookout job fall in my lap and i waited four more years before finishing.

on the lookout i read and read, wrote and wrote. after four seasons i absconded to europe for two years: a greek island, a berlin basement, an oxford rented room. forced to come back by the coast guard reserve, i resumed firetower work and haven't had a summer off since. yes, i decided this the best job for me. choice number 2, stabilizing my life. i'd already decided to not watch television at 17 (it was either be a couch potato or do something else with your life), nor would i buy a house or have kids.

decisions, decisions, decisions. when george bush got elected, i felt using words useless, nobody listening or reading. suddenly, digital cameras came on the scene. i'd always taken pictures, however this was something new. i dropped writing like a hot potato, going back to age 13 to pick up the other path of art. and i've been a lot happier the past eight years. people will look at photographs, even if they only glance at them for a moment. it's most satisfying.

it's a mystery to me how i made choices and stuck with them, especially from such an early age. those who grow weary because they can't pick a path and stick to it, how do they manage in this free-fall society?

a few new pics at i love my new phone. finally i have a communication device that will do everything.

Friday, July 2, 2010

the anatomy of selfishness

my god, how many times have we been accused of this: by siblings, parents, teachers, preachers. and that's cause everyone else wants a bigger slice of the pie. what hypocrisy. self-interest rules us all. (just read a quote from tolsoy to this effect.)

last nite a friend said she thought writers selfish. o boy, i love hearing this about artists, creative people, and never about bankers, lawyers, presidents. what makes her (and them) think it's so much fun spending time alone wrestling with angels and intangibles? almost as entertaining as slitting your wrists. i know i was very depressed during those forty years of the endeavor. who the hell reads anyway? i mean, anything that makes you think?

and one of the funniest things i've read lately a review on amazon of the Art 1 videos, people doing all kinds of strange things liking sticking pins in their tongues and calling it art. here's his review:

what a pretentious load of $#!+ !!! WOW, these people are so great, so important, & so much better than you. It is incredible: the arrogance of these people. They think that the world would stop without them. They are so smart; there is nothing they don't know. They work harder than anyone. They are more imaginative. They immerse themselves in some sort of long-lost aesthetic. "they way I approach photograhpy is spontaneous". well, whooppdy-freaking-doo for you. I want my money back. in fact, I think someone owes me a few million dollars for pain & suffering. I can't stand it. seriously. I'm going to cut these discs into a million pieces throw them into a toilet that has just been used for some #1 & #2 action, & I will call it art & that piece will be featured in the next installment of this series, & they will interview me, & I can talk about how inspired I was & how important I am.

amazing how energetic people can get when they're writing out of disgust! and in some sense he's right. these disks used in an art history class a couple of years ago, and i felt a bit of shame myself. on the other hand artists are 'scientists of the imagination.' this requires at times very odd stances and activities. i've written wild, disturbing fantasies in notebooks simply to clear myself of shadows. whether it worked or not, i'd love to call it art.

no, i'm not going to repeat any of it. that was years ago and in another country. however, critics like our reviewer don't understand the creative process. it demands a lot of day dreaming, idle walking, while the brain does a lot of rambling, connecting, doing what logical thought could never do. logic gives us answers we already know, nothing new. often a poet/painter looks back at what she's done and doesn't believe she did it. how did it come about? it feels like it was a vision from another world.

and it was, the world of the imagination. as has been said, 'if you can imagine it, it can be done.'

added many more photos to maybe you can see what idleness on a mountain and days of looking out the window can toss up on the shores of time.

Friday, June 25, 2010

the judge who dyed his socks

all you elders know this story - the foundation of our society - but maybe your children have forgotten it.

long, long ago in the distant, primitive past a judge of the high court found himself glum. his work seemed to be going splendidly and he was good at it, very conscientious. true, he would hang a man as soon as look at him. that was part of the job. yet whenever he shifted his gaze out to the parking lot, he'd see a pile of ashes and bones. those of himself or another, he didn't know.

deciding he needed a pick-me-up, he visited the local prison, where he had incarcerated so many. everything looked tidy: the cells, the halls, the noose. order reigned. usually this buoyed his spirits and he'd say to himself, 'i'm doing the right thing.' this time, unfortunately, it sent him into a tailspin. the lovely jail seemed sterile. maybe if he sent some flowers?

an inmate with a pail and mop, whistling and smiling, came up the corridor. for a moment, the judge felt he was having an hallucination. a happy jailbird, not to be countenanced! someone was not doing his job. 'old man,' he said, 'how long have you been here?.' 'seventy-five years, ' said the convict with a laugh. 'you take it so lightly,' replied the judge. 'yes, i stumbled on the secret long ago.' said the glowing fellow. he pulled up his pant-leg, dismaying the judge, who thought grey the correct color for such things.

good gravy, the socks glowed with all the colors of the rainbow: iridescent blue, green, yellow, red. the judge told himself, 'there will be a new rule around here.' and he asked the man, 'the secret?'

'ages ago, after i killed my wife and her lover, i arrived here in the deepest despair. i tried to kill myself in every way possible. no luck. and one day, assigned to the kitchen, i had to make popsicles. damned if i would do such a thing, if it made other people happy. i threw my dirty socks in the mix and declared, "that will poison the brew!" unfortunately, a guard came along and i had to rescue my socks hastily. they now looked as you see them. that night, sitting in my cell, i found myself staring at the crazy-quilt feet. suddenly, i felt better. i forgave molly and joe, the two who soiled my bed. and ever since then, whenever i feel merely blue, i gaze at my socks and recover.'

'and the mechanism of this great discovery?' asked the scientifically minded judge. the smiling jailbird scratched his head and said, 'near as i can tell this action switches my consciousness, from judging to pure perception, from the past and future to being here now. i think this must be the reason we have art.'

the judge left the prison heavy-hearted. however, unable to shake the tale, once home, he dyed his socks, dried them, put them on, and stared at them as he lay on his bed. suddenly, he felt a deep peace and dropped into a loving slumber. the next day, as he faced another callous thief, a weeping face, a mouth of decayed teeth and black clouds began to descend, he'd sneak a peek at his feet and feel revived. his judgements became less cruel, even-handed, and sometimes he recommended probation instead of the electric chair.

and that was the beginning of true civilization, the one we live in today.

see more pictures accompanying this story at

Thursday, June 24, 2010

the mechanics of abandonment

hmm, a friend said last nite she'd always been the one to be abandoned. and, alas, i have to admit, most of the time i've been the one to run. yet these two forms of action may not be that far from each other.

first of all, as julia kristeva says in the black sun, depression comes from never mourning the loss of the mother. and let's face it, we lose our mothers, to distance, to death, to time. and the psychologist winnecott wrote we learn independence by playing at the feet of our mothers, crawling away, and coming back for the reassuring presence, over and over again.

the lucky few feel the earth as the source and comfort. in modern times most of us don't have the capability. we depend on others, fallible human beings like ourselves. yes, until puberty our parents tower over us like gods. suddenly, we look down and see they have clay feet. my god, we have to go our own way. how will we protect ourselves?

that said, the seeds sown much earlier. perhaps through traumas of divorce, or we have a sibling come along too quickly - in my case my sister in one year - and we're kicked off the throne, abandoned. i remember cutting off my sister's blond curls which every one thought so cute. and i returned to babbling baby talk to rival her. we'll do almost anything for attention, and i was hell on wheels.

jumping ahead, to those fateful romances of the future, it's well known we'd rather be the dumper than dumpee. however, as one of the first, i must say i do it when i feel overwhelmed by dependence on the object of my affection. she begins as a goddess and ends as a fallen angel. i experience a loss of self, and though i've deserted her, it's myself i've lost first.

and i wonder if it isn't the same for those who wait to be dropped. have they facilitated it in some way for the same reason, to avoid the feeling of having given up too much. perhaps they withdraw, giving less and less to the one who asks for more and more?

i don't really know. we desire support and protection, yet at times it comes at too high a price. hard to know our own limits. we learn through experience, dumped and dumping. one of samuel beckett's characters exclaims, there's no cure for life. as our friends leave as we grow older, it feels an awful lot like he's right.

a new series of pictures. i decided titles might help you see what i see:

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

when icons collide, history's longest war

boy, do people get riled up when you talk about religion (politics, money). it's like you're always doing something right or wrong and have to hide a bunch of stuff. me too, i felt lots of times when my thoughts went against dogma i'd be struck by lightning. that's simply part of the preacher's (and chaplain's) kid's existence.

true, when i was six, we did steal parents' cigarettes and smoke them in the furnace room of the church basement. and my father caught me about the same time pilfering from the collection plate. not to mention the time he marched up the grocery aisle to where i was stashing candy bars in my pocket.

all because of this i had to give up lying and thieving. both make me feel bad about myself, even if the temptations haven't lifted after a lifetime.

watching lectures on the northern renaissance last nite, i wondered, influenced by so much christian art, in what the power of this religion lay? to people of other persuasions it seems full of blood, betrayal, battle. a series of stories, not the stuff of a religion. yes, all the major religions have these elements, spread ultimately by fire and the sword, even buddhism with it's zen ninjas. they're meant to protect you and help you sleep peacefully. more often they've led to most destructive wars in history. (the present no exception.)

the last time i read the first four books of the new testament, two things struck me. first, each of the books detailed a different person: the healer, the warrior, and so on. you could take elements from each and create the christ fit for you. this gives the icon universal appeal. second, the poet-performance artist set up the show and wrote the script. when he rode the donkey into jerusalem, he sent his point man ahead to arrange the scene. he knew his old testament backwards and forwards and cut his cloth to fit history.

it's the drama and poetry of his work we experience today. other reasons have been given for the success of christianity - it gave a central place to women and focused on the family, from which all theater descends - however, what a great piece of literature gives is an image you can't forget. think of the old book: jonah in the whale, david whirling his sling, delilah slicing off samson's hair. and none has been as powerful as men hung on a cross.

i hope i have been worthy of your attention and not offended. all things to do with our visions of ourselves must not be refined without expecting hoots and boos.
here are recent pictures from mt. hough. you can find all forms of art and moments in history up here:

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

who's in charge here?

as black oil gushes up from the gulf to soil pristine beaches, i think, 'my god, that's like my life.'

yes, i seem to have no control over my moods, optimistic one minute, desperate the next. true, i like to pretend i've self-mastery, the survival instinct, even common sense. alas, the opposite remains a fact. i tumble from dawn til dark. yesterday, worn out from moving to a new (old) house, i could barely crawl, sleeping for hours. nothing interested me. i'd drunk two glasses of beer before going to bed. bad tactic. it drained me of every bit of energy. the depressant canceled the anti's.

do i need to counter-act the stuff making me feel good, just so i feel normal? or do i need an excuse to be a layabout? i forget tired muscles can be appropriate, instead of an indication i'm digging my grave even deeper.

who is really the boss? the only answer i can give is 'nature.' what the hell does that mean! i suppose it's the lazy man's way of escaping the paradox: life is completely illogical. my only temptation and refuge: the imagination, fantasy, they make sense of what is ultimately random.

that said, i should have been dead a bunch of times, especially in my car, falling asleep and drifting across the line, a coming truck five seconds away. or looking one way and turning another, just barely making it in front of a bus rushing from the left. at such times i assume i must have a guardian angel and immediately i thank it. nonsense? better than no sense.

what i love about the oil spill: they're going to dig two more to relieve the pressure on the blown one. what irony! they get two wells for the price of one. and more chances for disaster. nature? we're a crazy as it ever is.

see what i mean with these few pictures of a hypnotist at work: