Friday, November 12, 2010

23/ Dignity

Ultimately there is but one audience. The writer must write for himself. He must try to free himself from the winds of opinion that blow him this way one day and that way another. The writer must constantly return to the spontaneity of the act itself, the dignity and joy must be found there. To return to the creative impulse, to work without hope or fear of praise or calumny is indeed dignified. It is a life's work, a struggle more important than any particular book or essay, more important than any passing criticism or hyperbole.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

8/ Questions and answers

Space is an attitude, a state of mind. Space the locus of creation, a void that is charged and potent. The creative begins with space. For the visual artist, space is the empty canvas. For the musician, space is silence. For the writer, space is the blank page, terrifying, voluptuous, irresistible.

We begin with an open mind. Beginning means refining and honing the question. If you come to a final and definitive conclusion, an answer, the space fills up with that conclusion and nothing more is possible.

The question that is asked is alarming and amazing because there is both danger and possibility. If there were no danger there would be no possibility.

But let us not forget about space – left-handed space filled with roaring dreams: if you try to describe space, it fills up with your words and is gone. Turning it over, it looks the same on the bottom as it did on top. It is always waiting and ready, charged and candescent.

(Note: There will be no new entry for the next ten days or so. Thanks for reading!)

Monday, July 12, 2010

7/ Letters ubiquitous

We glimpse letters everywhere: the H in the ladder and the fence, the S-bend in river and road, the alphabet on the telephone keypad, in the tangled garden, in the limbs of bodies walking the crowded street.

The taps pour out letters in foaming chaos, so too do letters fly from the banner whipping in the wind. The Tibetans believe prayer flags, when fluttering in the breeze, release over and over the prayers printed on them. Cars and buses make sounds that represent alphabetic nonsense. Every mouth has a balloon attached, a bubble filled with words. Another balloon stretches and swells inside our heads.

The three electric wires passing over my back yard are a lined page waiting to be filled in. The city is a kind of text, Borges’ infinite library broken free of restraint and gone mad, as if the letters and words have been liberated and come pouring out of the neo-classical building like inmates released from an asylum.

The letters are a kind of God: ubiquitous and omnipresent. Like some primal foundational energy, they magnetize themselves, gather, cluster, resonate, creating an ongoing story of infinite complexity.

Friday, July 9, 2010

6/ The letter A

The alphabet is a profoundly adaptable and fecund system. What tales can be told from the assembling and orchestration of twenty-six letters and a space!

The letter A was originally drawn as an ox-head (Proto-Sinaitic pictograph, 1500 B.C.). Turn the capital letter A over and one sees the prongs of the ox's horns. How it evolved from a pictograph of an ox-head to an A is a development that can be followed in Proto-Canaanite script.

In its etymological sources, the word ‘ox’ suggests fertility. It derives from the Sanskrit, 'uksati', he emits semen. The Indo-European root is 'ugw', to make wet.

Turn the ox horns upside down and one sees a rudimentary plow. At the end of nomadic cultures in the Near East, with the founding of cities and the beginnings of agriculture and written language, it is fitting that the alphabet had an ox leading the way.

The connections between the ox and written language appear again in the form of Greek writing called boustrophedon (bous = ox) in which the line moves left to right and then right to left on the succeeding line, going down the page as the farmer would plow a field.

The etymological connections grow ever more intriguing when one considers that one of the sources of the word, verse, is the Middle Latin, versus, a furrow.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

5/ Boredom

Is there anything we fear more than boredom?

Boredom, it turns out, is our only hope.

Wittgenstein said there were only the variables of reality, the details, with no unifying factor behind them. But, the groundlessness that humans glimpse when they are bored, the nothing they fear, is indeed that unifying factor.

Boredom is our only hope because it is precisely the place where new things are illuminated and born. That emptiness, that space, is the locus of the creative, it allows all possibilities. Without it, nothing is possible. Wonderfully empty and terrifying, the leap into the abyss. The source of left-handed blows and roaring dreams.

Monday, July 5, 2010

4/ Fragments of a story

Story is what we use to conjure order out of chaos.

We charm chaos into narratives that replicate and reflect established perceptions of reality.

Though it appears to be nothing but fragments, the world is in fact a unified field: of cities, thoughts, food, language, dreams, bodies, hopes, fears and passions. The unifying factor is story, the ongoing whisper we hear in our heads, the tale we tell ourselves, no more real than any other story, a play we imagine, a dream we dream.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

3/ Roaring dreams

"Roaring dreams take place in a perfectly silent mind."
-- Jack Kerouac, The Scripture of the Golden Eternity

Roaring dreams are not separate from perfectly silent mind. They are the purest indication that perfectly silent mind is prowling about, a leopard in the jungles of night.

Roaring dreams are continuous like a river, like breath, like change. Roaring dreams thread in and out of time, double back, leap ahead.

When they disappear we remember them, before they come we long for them. Roaring dreams roar loudest when the silence is strong. When the silence grows weak, roaring dreams cannot be heard.

As soon as roaring dreams are noticed, they change, as if a chameleon were wired to the foreground rather than the background.

Meanwhile, left-handed blows only hit you when you aren't looking.

Roaring dreams only arise when mind rests in perfect silence.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

2/ Left-handed blows

"All the decisive blows are struck left-handed."
-- Walter Benjamin, One-Way Street

2/ Left-handed blows

Left-handed blows are ideas that tear vents in the facade of accepted reality. They blow convention to smithereens. They knock the entire universe exactly one foot to the left – or the right. Left-handed blows have nothing to do with politics, and yet politics is controlled ultimately and entirely by left-handed blows.

Left-handed blows come from Rimbaud, Basho, Benjamin, Apollinaire, Joyce, Kerouac, Lao Tzu, Beckett, Trungpa, Eliade, Whitman, Gautama, Molly Bloom, Emma Bovary and many others known and unknown. They come from crazy people, enemies, allies, lovers. From the sun and moon, from the planets and stars, up from under the earth.

Left-handed blows come like lightning, like water, like dreams. Left-handed blows sometimes curve all the way around and appear to come from the right. In any case, left-handed blows always come from the void, from the far reaches of the dusty nebulae, from inside the chest.

They are magnificent, astonishing, ultra-simple, silent and empty. Left-handed blows are beyond interpretation, even this interpretation.

Monday, June 28, 2010

1/ Colourless Green Ideas

With this blog I plan to present a new short blog entry every day (almost), offering a series of short essays, titled:
Colourless Green Ideas
Short Essays and Alternative Versions

Here's the first entry:

1/ Colourless green ideas sleep furiously

"Colourless green ideas sleep furiously." Noam Chomsky meant this to represent a phrase that sounded like English, had the flavour and structure of English syntax, but made no sense.

For me, however, the phrase is a precise and poetic definition for dreaming.

Hi eWorld,

Welcome to my infant blog. Hoo-ha!