|from Catalog, Aldon B. Dow Fellowship, 2007|
"No one can tell the difference between the true azure and blue mud anymore."
I haven't been writing much, because, to tell the truth, I've been depressed. I've become virtually invisible. As an aging person, an artist, someone living in 2016, a strange time and place to find yourself embodied. Strange indeed.
I tend to feel that, along with the end of art districts to gentrification, and art to photo shop and commodification, I have become a dinosaur, with no outlet or interest any more for my antediluvian creativity, which endlessly bubbles up anyway. Do we make art just for ourselves? Well, yes and no. Art is a Conversation, and a conversation should not always be about talking with yourself. I guess I'll have to make my own retrospective one of these days, since there is no institution that will do it........although I'm not sure anyone would notice. But I would dearly love to put together just one more grand catalog, and have it sitting on a table along with the wine and cheese................I always loved openings.
I share this sense of uselessness with many others, but it doesn't help "my depression". I go to bed with the darn thing at night, and damn, there it is in the morning, casting its pall over the rising day. I've been so depressed that among other things I have been on the verge of deleting this Blog several times, wondering what is the point, I haven't a thing to say anymore.......but then I look at some of the posts and realize that some of them are pretty good. I might even trace myself back to some point of self-realization in the process of reviewing them, if I have the energy to pursue the threads of my own journey again.
So the story of this synchronicity may take a while to circle into..........but synchronicities are like that, aren't they? Circular, Webbed, ever expanding if one keeps looking. Perhaps, that is the way, as the Romans would say, "the Gods speak". the Goddesses.
With a "webbed vision".
I decided to let myself rant, or try to write about it, to see if it helps to at least concretize the depression, give it words, give it a shape, give it a name, and see it that helps to tame the beast. Yes, even as I wrote, all the cliches of contemporary society come rushing into my mind like a torrent of mediocre shame, buzzwords and New Age positivity. In an extroverted world so relentlessly devoted to accomplishment, achievement, and above all, Goddess help us, commerce, depression has no place at the table.
(I would like to note, for the record, that spiders have been doing strange things around me again........little ones crawling across my pillow, the computer, threads suddenly arresting my attention as they connect this with that.)So a story, and a quote, from my favorite author, Ursula Leguin, came to mind, from "The Farthest Shore". It was about a world that was losing its life force vitality, its "soul", and the travels of the Archmage Ged to find the source of this malady. On an island once famous for the dyers who created beautiful colors into silk fabric, Ged finds himself in a dispirited pub, where the locals are lamenting the loss of artistry and prosperity. "They can't tell the difference between the True Azure and blue mud anymore" says one ill tempered local to Ged.
I've always remembered that passage, and on my grim days, sometimes feel that the same malady has befallen us, in the Era of Cheap, Era of Walmart, Era of Disposibility. So I decided to google "True Azure and blue mud" just to see if I had the quote right. And guess what came up?
Me! Only it took a while to figure that out. The page Google landed me on (posted in 2007) seemed so aligned with what I believed and envisioned that I felt inspired by it, applauding the author for being a kindred soul. Until I realized that, actually, it was a uncredited total plagiarism of my own 2007 post as I pursued my project "Spider Woman's Hands" as a fellow of the Alden Dow Creativity Center. I saw that the blog person, whoever it was, had posted verbatim many pages of my Blog, all without crediting me. Here's the link to, well, me again, without my name attached: http://animabrat.blogspot.com/2007/06/shadow-work.html Did this blogger want to appear as if she/he were me? Or, as they say, is imitation the highest form of flattery? Considering how dreadful the rest of the blog is, probably just as well that my name isn't there.
But then I started to read what I had written, almost 10 years ago. And realized, along the way, that I LIKE MYSELF. It's not bad, and I understand something true from it, something that pulled me from the abyss of my depression, gave me the insight I needed. A "hello" from a younger self.
And I like the idea I had, 10 years ago, of creating a Society for people who have fallen through the cracks. Out of the Loop. Aging Invisibles. The Loopy People. I haven't found them yet, but maybe it's really time to start looking.
In the end, I have to thank (Spider Woman, of course) and the unknown plagiarist for helping me to re-connect to myself. Thank you. Who is the weaver, after all?
June 19, 2007
I'm having a problem working. I suppose that's part of the process. You can't ask a question, a real question, without the universe, so to speak, providing both polarities. Or at least, so it is for me.
"Hello", my demons leer at me, gathering at the door. "Before you get 0n this Unity idea again, allow me to point out the dragon guarding the treasure at the heart of the mountain." By the age of 57, you can have a lot of dragons, a lot of unravelling of heartache and disillusionment to.
I'm going to get a glass of whine, and write. I suppose I need to vent. From this Saturnine point of view, I might as well take a look at the down side of the Web. The Information Highway, the Internet, all this electronic and media connectivity. Are we better off, now that we can "connect" so quickly? (as I write, a tiny spider drops onto my laptop. There She is, reminding me that it's all very relative. And there are bridges over every abyss.)
Well, of course. The Internet is the greatest library ever made, and best of all, it's available to everyone. Yet how has it also redefined communication? Is it possible that we are also becoming so over stimulated, so "busy", that we can no longer tell the difference between real intimacy, conversation, communion - and superficial or even just imagined "connections" with others?
I don't hate email, but I try not to take it seriously. Once upon a time, I lived in a world where people wrote letters. It was personal. You had pen pals. When I put up my website more than 10 years ago, I had this perspective - it was about making friends, having my own cyberspace gallery, not so much about business. I used to receive notes from people. I even had a guest book, and met a few real friends this way.
Then the guestbook began filling up with spam, even pornographic spam. And notes between friends became group emails, then increasingly impersonal things, like political information, or, of course, announcements of openings, books, shows, etc. for me to circulate. And those little chain mail prayers and uplifting stories you have to pass on to "10 more people" in order to benefit from whatever kind of grace so doing so would accrue, all the while being information gathering devices for spam companies. And now there is Facebook and Myspace, where people I once knew well, people I once slept with or cried with or marched with or created with.........stream by so fast, reduced to a multitude of nano-seconds. Images and brief glimpses into their lives that are vaguely unsatisfying.
They depress me sometimes.
Realizing that people receive hundreds of emails to read and process, I share less and less these days. On my not reasonable days (like today), I feel the whole world has ADD and can't tell the difference between a poignant moment of real human contact and a sitcom. Between, as my favorite author Ursula Leguin wrote, "blue mud and the true azure".
Everyone is so very, very busy.
Or maybe the "pace" of our "lifestyles" has continually become more intense, and I'm just one of those who falling through the crevices of modernity.
Could it be possible there are other people like me, fraying, unraveling, beginning to say strange things to electronic answering machine menus that get longer and longer and more labyrinthine........lingering for meaningful conversations at checkout counters........mumbling Rilke or Lessing while ordering coffee at Starbucks drive thru......are they quietly wondering if they really are becoming invisible, and they do these things just to test the waters?
If that's so, maybe we can find each other, start a secret society maybe.
We'll become people who have fallen outside of the loop. Loopy people. We'll have a drink and some of those long, long soul satisfying conversations that went out with the '90's and the invention of laptops and cellphones.
Our membership will include people who were geeks but they reinvented ourselves to become something else, and are now regressing back to our earlier geek template because we're in various stages of breakdown, confusion, exhaustion, overweight, or just waiting for rebirth while still inhabiting a body - all ages, sexes, races and economic backgrounds welcome.
We can have comfortable camp outs (in places like the Berkshires in July, when there are fireflies, and with hot showers and barbecues).......or go to Sumatra economy class and stay in a home stay for $3.50 a night, and drink rice wine and bat at mosquitoes and talk about art, or crumbling temples, or Hindu mythology, or lost loves, or spiritual ecology, or petroglyphs, and live in ways that are frugal.
We will talk at length. Leisurely, encircled conversations that wind and spiral around themselves, with memories that are really stories with no particular beginning, and no particular end, and all the lovelier for a little embellishment. Our conversations will no doubt intertwine, with threads from each woven into the fabric of others, so that sometimes it is not clear if the colors are distinct. That's fine.
We might burn little oil lamps to read cheap paperback books by, and fall asleep without clocks or cell phones or bras. We would allow each other our delights, and our melancholies. Exaltations and Maudlins are welcome as well.
I won't apologize for "creating my own reality" in ways that leave me sad or discouraged sometimes. If any other aging geek in the bunch has a rough time of it, I won't promise I can make things better, or even that I'll always be able to listen. But I won't expect them to apologize either. And we'll never, ever talk about "money" or our various bodily complaints, unless it's absolutely necessary.
We might, however, remember people we've loved, loved in all of its forms and fashions, Agape, Eros, hot or cool, and how privileged we were to have loved them, more so, if they loved us back, for whatever moment or place or time. We might contemplate the real value of things, sweet things, hard things, natural things, vivid things, sad things, but all valuable things because they opened our hearts, and made us not only feel alive, but be alive. The threads in the tapestry that you notice, that stand out in the warp.
We might write poems no one else will ever hear, and it doesn't matter. We might remember the remarkable lives of a beloved father, or an eccentric aunt who ran a boarding house in the Great Depression. If we're feeling risque, we might talk about Dionysus and the mysterious Eros of nature. We might remember more personal examples worth sharing. We might talk about books. We might talk about Georgia O'Keefe and Stieglitz, or read from Walt Whitman. We might talk about jazz, we might listen to jazz.
We might ask what god a gamelan is speaking about, or is it a river, or is the god or the river, or both, speaking through the musicians?
We might come up with reasons why Beethoven wrote the "Ode to Joy", we might toast to every beach and river and forest we had the privilege and pleasure of walking in, being submerged by, and talking to.