Category: prose


soul of a bird

Soul Of A Bird

Anaïs Nin, A Woman Speaks [excerpt from her lecture The Artist As Magician 1973]

~~~

“We have this marvelous power to escape, but it is not escape in the negative sense of the word. It is an escape similar to that of Olivier Messiaen, who while he was in a concentration camp, composed the wonderful piece for clarinet called “The Soul of A Bird.” That’s the kind of escape I mean. This composition probably helped him to survive that experience, and I can’t imagine one more terrible than that. Whereas when people cannot look over the walls and do not have this story-telling power and perspective, have no separation from events, then disintegration takes place and we despair. We drop out or even commit suicide, like Sylvia Plath. When we have no capacity to look beyond the sorrow or the experience which strikes us, we give up and die.

If you’re negative, you’re going to find causes for negativity. You will yourself build a case. Because we’re very clever. We’re much cleverer than we think we are. We build cases for our own moods. If you are convinced that you can’t make it, and you want to drop out, you’re going to find reasons for it. You can always build a case. There are all kind of things lying around. But if you want to build a case for life being worth living then you build that too.

It wasn’t enough for me to weep every day because there was war. I felt that you had to create an antidote, you had to create another world, which was called escapism because those who escaped were hated. But you couldn’t call “The Soul of A Bird” escape, yet that is what it was, the most beautiful poem of escape. It was proof that you cannot kill the spirit. In the midst of war and horror it was creating something in opposition to the horrors and montrosities.

I have a friend, a painter, who often used to call me and say: “I’ve just read the papers and I can’t paint anymore today: there are such horrible things happening in the world.” And I would say to her: “Paint first and read the papers afterward.”

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the goddess maia

“Many a night I saw the Pleiads, rising thro’ the mellow shade,

Glitter like a swarm of fireflies tangled in a silver braid.”

~Alfred, Lord Tennyson 1837-8

goddess maia

It is May! Well, not quite but very nearly. It is called, deeply living in wishful thinking. But May will come like a storm of sunshine even though April is still on its way. I need for May to arrive. My winter was long, cold, and complex. Winter always is. I was alive but I was not living. April does not mean as much to me as May does so I am going to skip and jump, splash and move into the month of new hopes and beginnings.  So here I will start singing to the Goddess of May though it is still March. I will walk Her path.

♬♪For Rejoice. The time to sing the Song of Songs has come. It is deep spring, the season of rebirth, rejuvenation, renewal, and growth. Colours all ready to burst open and expand into greater and grander forms and colours. Faces look for the sun and find it. Living becomes a joyful celebration, a dance, a song, a fiesta. May gives birth to the desire to give rather than the desire to receive. ‘I would scrub floors for you, oh Goddess of May, if you would promise me to last, to last a million days.’

The Goddess of May, her name is Maia. She is an ancient earth-goddess, and in ancient Roman religion and myth she is the Goddess of springtime, warmth, and growth. The month of May (Latin Maius) was named supposedly for Maia. In Greek mythology she is the daughter of Atlas and Pleoine the Oceanid and the eldest of the seven Pleiades sisters who are stars. And so she has become the first, and the eldest, of the seven sisters I was inspired to create with ink, glue, and paper in my art journal. Everyone can find her in the night sky with a prominent place in ancient mythology and the Pleiades star cluster. Her song of songs is worth singing straight into our spirit hearts for her name has its roots in Latin magnus ‘great or powerful.’ See here Goddess Maia still waiting for her birth month to arrive so she can radiate, dance, blossom, and rise into her powerful sense of life. I will walk Her path.

three sisters

The world is a dream.
We don’t exist, we only think we do.
So what difference does it make?
(from Three Sisters by Anton Chekhov, Act 4)

unbearable lightness of longing

Honoré de Balzac wrote “an unfulfilled vocation drains the color from man’s entire existence.”  I think an unfulfilled dream has the tendency to do quite the same. So it was difficult to add color to my three sisters. My Olga, Irina, and Masha. They are comparable to Chekhov’s Three Sisters and a bit like the three Brontë sisters. However, these three sisters in search of fulfillment and fecundity in ultra modern times (or is it post-modern or post-post modern times) are all mine. In what way are my three sisters related to those of Chekhov and Brontë? Their dreams, hopes, longings, and passions are the forces that also govern their lives. Can you see? See. They are all tangled up in their potent passions and emotions. Dance, dance, dance through the unbearable lightness of longings. Dance, dance, dance through the unfulfilled portions of life. “If we only knew… If we only knew.” (Olga)

ariadne’s thread

“There is enough abundance in the universe for everyone.”

~ my sister to me ~

~~~

For my sister

At the park today, I looked up to inhale the cosmic beauty of the trees. In that sky upward tree gazing moment, a door in my mind opened for my thoughts to spring ever green. The colours swirled into poetry and perfection unlocking cycles of self-discovery. And there I saw you in a vision with underlying spiritual meanings, and I thought, perhaps, the trees do reflect the perceptions of our minds.

As the branches of the trees began to dance on this breezy summer day, I realized how you have become a spiritual adult flourishing into a gorgeous tree of life. All your years of development, change, and growth have yielded fruit that nourishes. You have always been there to fill my vessel and replenish my spirit. Your energy and visions, your diligence, motivation, and hard work causes my own soil to shift and wake. Your joy, your wisdom, and especially your giving spirit are a gift, which I prohibit myself to take for granted. And in those moments that I do, I am touched again by the way in which you water my life with buckets of love. There is no path that leads to taking you for granted. No path.

I stopped today to celebrate you, my dear sister. I stopped to feel your knowledge within me: there is enough abundance in the universe for everyone. Stay in the light, you are not alone. In togetherness we can do so much. Your threads, your hands always ready to hold. You connect me to world trees, cosmic trees, and interconnectedness to spiritual learnings. With the multiple insights you offer on how to get through my maze, I restore myself.  I apply you and proceed forward.

Ariadne’s thread.

In the park today, I looked up to inhale the beauty of the trees. I saw you in a vision with underlying spiritual meanings and I thought, perhaps, the trees do reflect the perceptions of our minds.

Rooted in your light, I love you.

~ta petite soeur

out of oz

Dorothy Gale taught me all about the power of rainbows, courage, strength, and right living. She was one of the most important fictional characters of my childhood years. When I think of her, I still think of miracles, dreams, blue birds, yellow bricks, and the green Emerald City. And of course, Dorothy’s magical shoes and the Wicked Witch of the West comes to mind. Defeated!

How ravishing when my love for one of my favorite fictional characters of my youth is rekindled in an unexpected arrested moment. Memories of Dorothy, the wonderful sparkling character created by L. Frank Baum, author of the children’s novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, came flooding in when I was recently reading Lucy Pollard-Gott’s latest review: In and “Out of Oz:” Dorothy in the “Wicked Years” series.

Pollard-Gott’s reviews are always thrilling to me. Thrilling, because I am reminded how the lives of fictional characters have the power to recreate themselves into new landscapes and stories. I learn how a character’s  life always has a new potential for life when he or she falls into the hands of a divine creator. Creators are keepers of immortality.

And so in her latest review, author Pollard-Gott takes the beloved character of Dorothy, created at the turn of the 20th-century, and expands to explain how she as well as other characters of the classic tale inspired author Gregory Maguire to refashion the Oz world in four volumes of his works. Now, I have never read Maguire’s Ozian books, but I am sure if I did I might not look at Oz ever in the same way. In what way might I see Dorothy today?

Well here then is my Ozian collage. I did not use a picture of Judy Garland, famous for her role as Dorothy in the film The Wizard of Oz (1939) who I adored. Instead, I collaged the beautiful face of my dear cousin, Esther, who seemed perfect for my postmodern Dorothy Gale project.

I like to think of myself as a creator whose mind is open to being arrested at any given moment on any given day. And so Lucy Pollard-Gott’s review stopped me in my tracks to in- and exhale Dorothy into my own artistic environment. My encounters with wonderful poets and authors inspires me to take fiction beyond the moon, and beyond the rain… Lucy is one of those authors who touches the heart of my creative spirit by her literary knowledge, her kind and generous being, and her passion to share the lives of some of the most influential characters in world literature and legend. And so I thank her for inspiring me to create my Out of Oz collage.

“There is no place like home.” Dorothy Gale

 ~~~

Lucy Pollard-Gott, PhD, is author of The Fictional 100. The list of The Fictional 100 ranks the most influential fictional persons in world literature and legend, from all time periods and from all over the world, ranging from Shakespeare’s Hamlet [1] to Tomi Morrison’s Beloved [100]. Dorothy Gale ranks [83].

Lucy Pollard-Gott also on twitter as @Fictional100 and her blog at fictional100’s posterous

For some delicious dishes, please visit Esther’s Food Talk blog

une femme est une femme

Three days ago was a special day, it was March 3. Normally, this day would be the 62nd day of the year leaving a remaining 303 days until the end of the year according to the Gregorian calendar. However, 2012 is a leap year so March 3 was now the 63rd and not the 62nd day of our year. The reason why I remember March 3 and wish to mention it here is not because three is the magic number though it is. On this day 51 years ago the free spirited and beautiful Anna Karina married Jean-Luc Godard, a pioneer of the French New Wave. On March 3, 1961, during the filming of Une femme est une femme, they were married. Four years later in 1965 they were divorced.

Around this time of year I am drawn to remember these colourful creative talents who came together to love, collaborate, and create. Unfortunately, for only a few years. Around this time in March I am also reminded to remember the entire Nouvelle Vague, a fascinating time for lovers of the history of European art cinema. In fact, it was “an artistic movement whose influence on film has been as profound and enduring as that of surrealism or cubism on painting…” [Craig Philips in his essay French New Wave]  And so I spend time especially with images of Karina – then actress, singer, later also director, and writer – [she wrote four novels Vivre ensemble (1973); Golden City (1983); On n’achète pas le soleil (1988); and Jusqu’au bout du hasard (1998)] and with the films of Godard.

I also have the tendency to return to some of the fascinating writings of the influential French film critic and theorist, André Bazin, to his selected essays on ‘What is Cinema.’  And of course, I revisit some of the works of film critic and filmmaker, also one of the founders of the New Wave, François Truffaut. It has become my personal tradition to return to some of the great creative spirits of 1950s and 60s Paris who have influenced me in my own artistic ways. But my cinematic pilgrimage into deep focus usually takes place always in March.

Along with my image, I have selected one of my favourite book scenes of all times from the film A woman is a woman, directed by Godard and the film that won Karina the Best Actress award at the Berlin Film Festival. I have always loved to love my books. So I happen to adore visiting Anna Karina and her books in Une femme est une femme in 1961.

 

 

I know what love is

A letter found me and entered into the pores of my being. This happens, sometimes. In these moments of word illumination, I start to wonder about the nature of words and how words are like living particle beings with unique energies all of their own. How can they not be when they have powers to illuminate. In such moments, I have no words to respond to words but respond I must.

This was the process I experienced when I created this image I know what love is. It was made in response to the words written in a letter by legendary American landscape photographer Ansel Adams to his friend Cedric Wright. I do love rising letters so this one came to me by way of Letters of Notes. Upon reading these beautiful words, I closed my eyes and drifted into the arms of another language. Words now within me. In infinities of space, I know what love is…

June 19, 1937

Dear Cedric,

A strange thing happened to me today. I saw a big thundercloud move down over Half Dome, and it was so big and clear and brilliant that it made me see many things that were drifting around inside of me; things that related to those who are loved and those who are real friends.

For the first time I know what love is; what friends are; and what art should be.

Love is a seeking for a way of life; the way that cannot be followed alone; the resonance of all spiritual and physical things. Children are not only of flesh and blood — children may be ideas, thoughts, emotions. The person of the one who is loved is a form composed of a myriad mirrors reflecting and illuminating the powers and thoughts and the emotions that are within you, and flashing another kind of light from within. No words or deeds may encompass it.

Friendship is another form of love — more passive perhaps, but full of the transmitting and acceptance of things like thunderclouds and grass and the clean granite of reality.

Art is both love and friendship, and understanding; the desire to give. It is not charity, which is the giving of Things, it is more than kindness which is the giving of self. It is both the taking and giving of beauty, the turning out to the light the inner folds of the awareness of the spirit. It is the recreation on another plane of the realities of the world; the tragic and wonderful realities of earth and men, and of all the inter-relations of these.

I wish the thundercloud had moved up over Tahoe and let loose on you; I could wish you nothing finer.

Ansel

going off-track …

“Sometimes I think that we could all benefit by returning to that state of naive innocence

when we didn’t know any better as artists/writers/musicians.”

~ @Skinnyartist ~

 

There are moments when I do not feel like doing the usual. I want to forget my to do list and go off-track. I love these fabulous off-track moments in what I call: endless possibilities in creative goofiness. They are left over ingredients from my childhood when I would lock myself up in my room and just experiment.

I do not have much time for my experiments anymore. And frankly, my challenge is to keep a certain amount of focus in my artistic life. But it does so happen that at night time I still sometimes feel this urge to learn something new and be experimental. It’s just like when I was a kid in a world that went dark and quiet. The stillness made room for new sorts of sounds when nobody else was around.

Here then two of my off-track experimental moments. The first one, Undercover, was made when I was sitting in front of my computer at around mid-night playing around with Garageband.

Pendulum, the second one, was made at the height of a concussion in 2009. I had injured myself twice in a matter of a few months and for more than eight months I suffered from severe head pains as well as numbness and tinglings in my hands, arms, and limbs. On my off nights, I spent hours just lying on the floor trying to cope with my physical pain and exhaustion.  In one of those unbearable moments I decided to distract myself by taking my camcorder and film some of my body movements on the floor, which I later learned to edit in iMovie. I looked paler and sicker than a vampire, so sorry I kept the lighting nice and dark.

I do not take my experiments very seriously. However, after reading this colourful post ‘A Return To Innocence’ by Drew @Skinnyartist, I made a shift in perception and consider now some of my off-track moments as equally important as my on-track moments. So, this is my reason for blogging now some of them. Hope you enjoy my tiny kaleidoscopic experiences.

Undercover

Pendulum

We are living in a period of intense transition. This idea that the human experience is changing faster than fast is a topic, which fascinates yet chills me. Slowly but surely we are rewriting our humanity without having any control over the script. We are being sucked and seduced into a technological entity and experience, which is charging and changing everything we are about.

In the next 20 years, the emergence of a conversational user interface between human beings and computers will set an explosion of new capabilities and transform all aspects of society, says Phil Bowermaster, writer of The Speculist in an interview with Ian Jukes. Hence, we may witness “… a hybrid of machine and human intelligence, which will replace human intelligence as the primary power on earth.”

In The World Wide Head, David Weedmark poses an interesting question. “Have you asked yourself how you would be affected if the internet suddenly came to stop one day?”

Not too long ago, I found myself in a state of deep reflection as I was examining who I am becoming as I communicate more often with like-minded spirit-minds inside the Big Brain. I was rethinking my connection with people whose eyes I can not see, whose voice I can not hear, whose silence, and whose sounds, I am unable to seize in person with my senses. I even thought about the lack and loss of seeing the manner in which people move and the colors in which they like to dress.

A world wide head without a body has a lost dimension.

If the system collapses, and it just may – we do live in a world of fatal accidents –  I believe some of us may fall into a coma, a blur, a deep sleep. My only hope is that those of us who fall will awake to rediscover that the touch of true hands, not virtual ones, will illuminate our body-minds and save us. But then again, I hope by that time we humans will not have lost the art of how to use our hands to touch and to save.

In the face of change, I cling to it. I sing to it. I make art to it.

The real touch between the hands.

Each time I create a collage, whether it is on canvas, wood, paper, or with my digits, I am in awe of the process. To create is a mystery and to be in the presence of this mystery is an enigma. And to explore this enigma is a gift ~ I feel this deeply.

I love the creative process. I look at it with a sense of wonder and realize fully that I will never achieve to understand its path. This space is beyond space. Sounds can no longer be translated into words and words no longer carry meanings. A new language arises out of wordless stillness or even at times out of wordless restlessness.

It is almost impossible to communicate but when I am entrenched in the process, I become keenly aware of the emptiness and conscious of the nothingness within the fullness of it all. Whatever word, poem, thought stirred me on to create, translates now into a force of energy, a living energy. It was Henri Bergson, the French Philosopher (1859-1941), who referred to this energy in his book Creative Evolution, as the vital impulse or élan vital.

Into the Mystery

 

As I create, I feel deeply in touch with my intuition or is it my spirit. Perhaps, it is just both. Pieces, colours, forms, flow in and out of me and the impulse moves through me. What did not make sense one moment makes perfect sense in the next moment.  As long as I keep moving the fragments around, I see the story unfold. And at that moment when all the pieces of the collage come together to form a whole, I understand the mystery of unity. I can feel that what passes through you lives within me.

Space, breath, wind, air, trees. We are that.

All of us different and yet ~ all connected to the same.

I feel the certainty of our oneness and the certainty of that which binds us all together.

 

At moments, I have illuminations that the process is so much greater than the results. I feel the path leads me into an unlimited ocean of self-knowledge. My intuitive choices show me who I am, they reveal what I am about and what I wish to be expressing.

Let me take a moment here to drift out of my words into those of Jacob Bronowski (1908-1974) who wrote about the creative process and touched upon this very point:

If we appreciate the thing, it is because we relive the heady freedom of making it. Beauty is the by-product of interest and pleasure in the choice of action.

 

I am in dialogue with the process of art often. It is my teacher, a teller of new tales and a creative energy, which consumes and intrigues me.

 

~ Art liberates ~

 

I must stop to inhale these words three more times. I love these words. I am these words.

They are the experience.

 

There is inherent creativity in all of us, it is our vitality, our ~ essence ~ this is where our voice begins and where it will end. It is the door into our shadows, which then come to meet us.

Does my process sound more beautiful on paper? I wonder about this question as I explore what it feels like to reveal parts of my creative process on a page. It is difficult to express what to me is a mystery. And it feels almost impossible to explain the enigma. Nonetheless, I have an irresistible urge to search for the right words  ~‘le mot juste’ ~ in my attempt to explain it.

But perhaps it just is beautiful ~ painfully beautiful ~ this creative process that gives birth to mysterious images of energy.