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.