That was something.

How rarely anyone says, Now watch it disappear outside the performance of magic, and yet. This flame, once so bright, now gone. Where did you last see it? We can wave a hand, but can we name it? Right here, sure, but it wasn’t exactly touching the fuel. Neither was it not touching.

Maybe this is why we speak of the states we are or aren’t in, as if this being were one of these, firm and four cornered for collecting projections, as if they were shells on sand.

Clunk. In goes another. But what is the sound of disappearance?


Actors in space.

Whose space is this, and who is allowed to dream here? Whose imagination shall be lifted, and who may perform? Who may not, and will? Which displays are sanctioned, and which hidden, and which of those in hiding will emerge today? If performance is a negotiation between revelation and concealment, any public space may be its locus.

What is happening now?

Let’s go. Bring your costume and your instrument.

What is happening now?

Now is the time.


Inspired by art historian Nada Shabout’s article, “Whose Space Is It?” and my love of people watching.  

In Our Absences

Fractal fragments.

True, you can drift on a euphoria of loss.

Hello, memory.

Say goodbye by sampling tracks of former selves and gather the once-sacred objects, stale talismans now, to us.

Realities may come and go like weather systems. How much harder to lose a fantasy.

Here is a presence so full of absences. What now?

Hesitate, mourn.

The pieces are withdrawing now, withdrawn.

But they leave these ghost traces everywhere, for breathing in.

When you exhale, there they will be again, blended with bits of you.

Stay, friend. Pull up a chair, a stool, an instrument. We can sing about the endless disappearing.

Fear and the Living

Wicked naming conventions.

Flourishing life tends always to be irregular and unruly, thwarting efforts to tame its abundance in the name of the gods of progress and reform. Contrast the fecund jungle with the neat lawn. One of these thrives.

They called our disorder ungodly, our love a danger. We called it nothing. It was more action than word. Show me a fish with a word for water.

We were often depicted in the company of cats, those mysterious shapeshifters, notoriously hard to catch and easy to love (for the loving), famously resistant to authority.

It was an art, how we lived, but the enforcers of absolute power renamed it. Not art, but craft. Not sister, but witch. To rhyme with a popular slur. 

One way to remake what you fear is to recast it in caricature. So, they made us: black, dark, weird, dangerous. Sure, love and life were all of these and more, but they would have none of it. The dangerous alchemy of a tiny morsel of knowledge in a boundless pool of self-righteous confidence.

We loved and protected. They guarded, refused. We grew; they took. We watched, waited, listened, shared. They announced, stockpiled, amassed.

Our most transgressive act, as some saw it, was the giving of a familiar spirit to the daughter or granddaughter, along with strategies for survival.

And, that we lived. In loving community. In later caricatures, one of us will be pictured as ancient, outcast, poor, and alone. She was our great-grandmother. She raised and taught us. When they burned our village, she was in the field. She survived.

Our detractors persist. Always in the name of progress, reform, order. We know them by their obsessions with mechanized gadgets and purity; acquisition and the order of lawns. And we know them by their mistrust of music, dance, the wild and untamed arts––and cats. And by the names they call those who challenge their systems of order, and their fear of women (and numerous others) who speak against authority.


This morning, while looking into the work of the American scholar and artist Deborah Willis, I came across an article by another scholar of the same name who seemed (to me) to be exploring parallel lines of interest to the Willis I was looking for, albeit in different focus areas. The article is “The Witch-Family in Elizabethan and Jacobean Print Culture” (Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies, Winter 2013). As (the other) Willis explains, the idea of the solitary witch was preceded by a longstanding suspicion of witch families. Matriarchal and poor families were especially prone to suspicion, and mother-daughter bonds created “a special locus of anxiety.” Pamphlets warning of witchcraft tended to correspond with a growth of Protestant handbooks on the godly household, as part of a (patriarchal, colonial) effort to make “family central to a vision of absolutist rule.” I found the discovery timely on many levels.

Double Exposure

What haunts a body.

With a flash of brilliance against the eye, here comes another reminder that it is still possible to meet the heavens, here. Things fall, after all, and each of these may carry layered ghost images of what it was before. How many suns have fallen into this stream?

Invisible landscape, what was here before? What is also here now?


For Andrey Tarkovsky.

A common impulse: to return to the comforting womb, but you offer alternatives, where opposites swap places: the dream is waking; the old, young. After the before, a whisper: Watch the rain inside.

In your gaze, apocalypse becomes a monochrome street, disappearing into sky. You vanish the expected plot, the comfortable heroic character, show a living man instead, and the others we know well in secret: those mystics, depressives, and recluses that rarely join the table.

Everywhere these pools and puddles, reflecting. All this silence, its maker unrepentant. In this layered universe, no part of nature is ever fixed. Emerging from earth and water, leaning toward air and fire. 

There is no need to return, after all. There are no opposites here.

Topography in Time

And spatiotemporal slippage.

Sure, I can nod when I hear the term. I can even use it myself. Watch. Space-time continuum. Like I know. Like I’m not still wondering what any of this actually is, and why this witness, this now, if that is what this––is (Was? Will be?).

Perhaps this is not a term for me to be using. Frankly, I’m not even so sure about some things that appear to be much more concrete, like, say, the salt flats, or pinecones.

I will confess, I have not experienced time as a continuum, although I have played along with the idea. I have no way to verify whether others are also playing along, but I always seem to be sliding in and out of whatever this is, like a tiny microbe in a net designed for larger creatures. Now in, now out, and if the net is pulled up, will I know?

If time is like movement and place is like a pause in the current, does it follow that a witness can only know a place because of time, and does this mean that space is time made visible? 

My mind is surely porous, but what about time itself, and to what extent is this mind made of it, and if space is the clearings between known points, is it infinite?

Don’t answer. Whatever you tell me, I’ll probably just nod like I get it, and float on.

Art Friends

In loving conversation.

Dear friend.

Caro mio.

Fellow artist.

How good it is to share this devotion.

Let me soothe your self-doubt, and you can remind me that I am not invisible.

Let us venture forth, co-conspirators in these dangerous, obsessive, sometimes gallant adventures in our separate mediums. 

Here is a womb for your thoughts.

Here is a loving gaze.

Here’s company in your distaste for certain fashions of the moment.

Let us be proudly unfashionable, together! 

Alas, confidence ebbs.

My love, let this encouragement flow.

A reminder: to nurture those odd traits most vulnerable to misunderstanding among strangers.

Also, here is a spicy retort! Now passionate disagreement! Tart reply!

Stand with me, friend, when the wasteland offends to the point of nausea.

By the way, why must you be great? Why not be more like yourself?

You know, sometimes you need to forget this pious improvement.

Remember to play. Eat!

You notice I am silent when you speak.

Because with you, dear, there is just so much to watch!


I don’t know why a query about hyperbolic surfaces led me to Joel Salzburg’s article, “The Rhythms of Friendship in the Life of Art: The Correspondence of Bernard Malamud and Rosemarie Beck,” but I was intrigued to read about the long friendship, lived mostly through letters, between the American novelist and the abstract expressionist painter (Salmagundi, Fall/Winter 1997). Several phrases above are adapted from the excerpts and commentary provided by Salzburg.

Between the Word and the World

For John Clare.

Some remember your madness, your poverty, your unusual grammar, your melancholic breaks, but you loved the land and had some of the wild pasture in your blood––and the blight.

An eager listener, a student of nature’s music, you let yourself be carried on the wizard noise of the wind. You were always inviting others to join, but your neighbors preferred to count the land in parcels. To no end.

For you, poetry was the means of hearing, and by it you learned to read the living land, a music unto itself.

You found the world through the word, learning to name its birds by the sounds of their wings in flight. Listen a minute, you reminded, and hush.


When I learned that today is the birthday of poet John Clare (1793-1864), I decided to spend some time with his work, as well as with an essay by Stephanie Kuduk Weiner, “Listening with John Clare,” which highlights the poet’s particular sensitivity to the sounds of the land he walked so well (from Studies in Romanticism, Fall 2009).


An artist elaborates.

The goal: to arrive at a truth endorsed by life.

For example, how war is often experienced not as explosion, but as tension, a concentration that feels like a rumbling in the ground. For example, the expressiveness of a death. For example, the fact of a vast cloth of undivided time between the living and the dead.

So many aspects of human life can only be faithfully represented through poetry, the inner power of the image, the fact of accounting for the participation of an audience, a listener, a viewer, as an essential aspect of any genuine effort to connect.


This post is the result of notes made while reading the opening chapter of Andrey Tarkovsky’s Sculpting in Time, which my love gifted to me in response to my newfound adoration of this artist’s work. I expect that several future posts will be inspired by this remarkable volume of the director’s own words (translated by Kitty Hunter-Blair).