In the waiting room, I wanted
to say–––something, because
such places, with their anxious hum
always seem to want relief. From
the pretense of containment,
or into song. But when it was time
I left and the hot wind hit
my eyes which slid across
folded falcon wings as if
to learn how my own hands
clutching plastic bags
might know that poise.
A nest nearby, its swallow
gone, a lilting plainsong
behind me. I turned, eyes
wide, to trace the mouth
of the storm’s long suggestion
in the ears as though to
blow me empty. Howl,
I wanted then, as now, to
share some sighting
with another face.
And the heart of the matter.
They come to see us, hungry for our size.
Look at our faces. We tower. They dance.
One says, walk slower. One says, closer.
There are more of us now, as though prayers.
Into clouds. No command is needed from this height.
They sing us. A dirge, they sing for beloveds
and the birds call back. From their ovens,
the smell of bread. When they taste,
they will look. Up, they will see us,
our suspended faces
Inspired by a recent New York Times article about Peter Schumann’s Bread and Puppet Theater.
the zone of exclusion,
all thought begins with remembrance
and this renews an order
before the rule of any king,
threading beginning, now,
The space between fiction and nonfiction is often a no-man’s land, but the artists know it. Which is to say, they have become accustomed to its strangeness. Which is to say, accustomed to not claiming to know anything about a space so wild.
Now it is dense to the point of opacity, now translucent. Now deep dives under desert waves, now a barren ocean. Now the weather is a cat.
We asked one, what is your work about? When they were done laughing, they told us. It is about encounters with other people, they said. And water. Also, the search. For water, and for the others. In some places, both are elusive.
Inspiration: While considering the work of Ivan Vladislavić, I came across this article: “Diving the Reef: Water Metaphors in the Work of Ivan Vladislavić” and today’s post sprouted from my notes.
Each body has its signature, each a mystery. I know only awe for these, and nothing else of faith. Expect no unveilings here, no grand revelations. Only the presence of someone with nothing of importance to say, breathing between bouts of getting lost. Are you looking for something? Me too. I am trying to remember what.
In answer to your question. About art. No, I don’t think it’s necessary, but it is a means of survival. I hear there are other ways. Maybe if I spent less time in the folds of this fog and more among the purveyors of proven practices and ten-step solutions, I would be able to tell you what these are.
Instead, here I am, without even an explanation for this body’s central sacrament, which is listening to a cloud. All I can offer is this ritual: wait, wander, listen, repeat––and this open hand.
Notes while reading the opening to Carl Phillips’ My Trade is Mystery. What a beautiful gift.
Eventually, talk turned to having and spending; to getting and maintaining, as it often did, and you could feel the way we became coiled springs ready to fire and everyone was excited and no one could sleep, it was so much.
Another time, there was nothing and no talk anymore of what could be got. Even our resistance to loss had gone out of us, and it made us porous. There was no more talk of keeping, except when it came to someone at the hearth and the babies fed.
A vessel, once emptied, can only carry what comes into it. A hand, outstretched toward another holds the world in its emptiness. The fist is what you get when the cold is too much for too long and the hand forgets itself.
In warmth, it remembers its radius, star-like. Then cupped with another, it cradles what is delicate and brings it to the lips, an offering in earnest––or to another, saying here.
An (expanded) video version of this post is available here.
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).
Developments in architecture.
There is a floating bridge. It is made of cardboard, carried by balloons. After a few days, it will fall back from the sky, landing somewhere other than the place from which it left. It will be taken apart, piece by piece.
In an alternative scene, here is a floating bridge made of cardboard and balanced with each of its anchor points in a canoe. It will float downstream to be collected somewhere else for the ritual of its deconstruction.
There are scaffolds floating over the crowds, over the city streets, reflections of themselves over still waters before they move again; serious arches flying like children’s kites, and what could be the point of any of this, except to raise certain questions about some commonly accepted points among us? In their brilliant uselessness, they gently remind us of our own architecture, leaning ever toward the next beginning.
Inspired by an article I found this morning about the work of French artist Olivier Grossetête, who gathers fifteen to thirty workshop participants at a time into the communal effort of constructing a floating bridge out of cardboard.
If loving begins in recognition, then practice reading one another is an essential beginning, and a sincere effort demands that some limits be placed on noise. One of the effects of oxytocin, the bonding hormone, is to turn down the static so the neural signals––of, say, the smell of another’s body, or a distress cry––can come in clearly, which calls to mind some old questions about trees falling in the forest, and the health of forests and one another. If a cry happens and no one hears, what are we? Any loving observer, beholding another’s vivid hues, exquisite detail of sparkling eyes, wonder of resting face, music of laughter––will tell you, mystery. Only mystery.
Loosely inspired by Bob Holmes’ recent Knowable Magazine article, “Oxytocin’s effects aren’t just about love.”
Considering the message board as installation piece––or as altar to a mysterious deity.
From time to time, when I am looking for material, I look for anonymous inspiration on various message boards. It feels like being at a museum installation where a thousand notes are penned on backs of cardboard boxes and gas station receipts: some in pen, some in green marker, others in something that could be ketchup. I like to imagine that I am a time traveler from the Bronze Age, puzzling over this strange shrine, with these messages from the mysterious god, Anon.
Today, it seems that Anon is concerned about the people who do not follow through when they inquire about the availability of motorcycles, and is also very disappointed with this heat pump. They want certain things known, these are enthusiastic points, and want it known that they are praying.
They would like whoever was driving the busted black four-door to stay off the freeway, especially in early morning hours, and wants you to be forewarned that if you have your baby at St. Mary’s, you may be waiting awhile to take it home.
Anon is happy to help, but not if it enables those who take advantage, like a co-worker who never– Not once!– offers gas money. Anon would like an explanation, if not for themselves then for the children, as to some recent decisions. Plus, they would very much like the woman who wore a red dress into Hobby Lobby to know that an encounter by the check stand was much appreciated.
Also, it is written: they are still looking for a few things: an old flame, old classmates, Mr. Thursday, surf girl, the guy in the sidecar in Hillcrest, some help, a missing Siamese, a new home for this bearded dragon, and a phone call from whomever is awake, also looking.
More in this series: