Page taken from a post at Matilda Magtree. Did the categories, being careful not to scroll to see the legend until I was done.
My Ideal Dwelling:
22-29 degrees. Dry air. Clear dark night skies. Mix of exposed rock, scrub grass, pockets of wetland and good open soil. Mixed forest. Some pine, large, cedar, ironwood, sumac, pin oak and various deciduous. Mushrooms and slime mould. Birdsong. Visiting reptiles and amphibians. A few rooms without windows as a little cave with walls for many bookshelves. An open area with big windows for sun. Iridescent green curtains that can pull. Thick walls. Exposed wood. Beams would be nice. Sauna. Shower and tub. Wifi. Near enough to friends. One room painted green, one blue, one yellow. Big kitchen with long counters.
From urban streets, gadding at window displays, picking up some apples to take with me, walking with company until we hit the river and walk along its spray-edge where we see birds and turtles.
Out along the edge of the long grass, there’s movement. It’s hard to tell scale. Did the grass move or the dark part inside it? Could be a Newfoundland dog. Or a boulder. A funny shadow. Sense of another presence, life energy. Standing motionless, almost breathless with the gift of being granted the gift of another life nearby. Feeling the sun and wind more keenly.
At the edge where the stone caught in the groove it makes a kettlestone deeper for itself, the flood not enough to lift it out of its years. The stone darker where my wet foot stepped. The kayak lifted to shore but I pause to relaunch and go back for more poking around the shoreline, seeing what more I can see.
The glass smooth to palm, jewel colours thrown across my hand faster than the heat. I can’t tell you with the words covered what they read but if I saw the same cup elsewhere, and I did, I’d know it was the twin. I won it by random spin of the wheel at a fair. When I went to pick it up, I perhaps had heat stroke. I fainted between one step and the next at the nurse’s desk as she went to pass me my prize. I came to even as I was crushing through the empty cardboard boxes in front of her desk, leapt back to my feet. It still somehow feels lucky, the blue glass, larger than any drink I need. Half full is enough.
I used to collect keys, rings of them like other useless bits like cans of pencils too short to be of any use, or erasers too pretty to use. A skeleton key tarnished silver, black in its creases seemed cut out of the Hardy Boys. I never found a lock the universal key would fit. All the old holes have changed shape.
Perennially open. Even it forgets it has hinges. It’s the symbolism of the thing. Like a no that is never exercised. I may as well hang the door beside its opening and paint it with acrylics and googly eyes.
Carin did hers “in Susan Musgrave’s workshop at the Kingston Lit Festival last month.” What?! We were at the same conference and saw the same person and didn’t know we passed the same harbour.
House = how we see ourselves
The Walk = direction in life
The Bear = how you react to trouble
The River = sex
The Cup = love
The Key = knowledge
The Door = death
Now that’s easily the most amusing thing today.
How alert and present is conscionable before you’re just paining yourself to no one’s benefit? Does emotional investment make any difference? Is it the action or how you feel about it? What’s regurgitation vs. risk? How to be competent, purposeful but not habitual scripted or knee-jerk non-scripted? How to be useful without making role identity and oversimplified mandate?
What is the gap between creative life and life-life? Heather Havrilesky’s How to Contact the Author how far does the continuum go?
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There is no upper limit to connection. How much knowledge of another is enough?
What is “authentic”? What proportion of imagination and projection is reasonable before it becomes deluded? What is? What isn’t? What’s fair fodder? Who and what to prioritize? Or does too much planning displace spontaneous opportunities? What is worthwhile in a very short ephemeral life?
How accurately can we map who we think we are to who we are? In the last bit of Mark Goldstein’s Tree reading he had a series of poems from Ocean Road,
Whoever can push past the angles
of the street can sit with me
at the edge of the world [...]
I say I practice as I go astray.
In private I eat meat and fish.
I public I chant ma-om.
If this is how I cultivate my practice
how will I deal with death?
It cross-ties in big questions of what is solitude, death, self versus others in My Dinner with Andre (1981) which is on best movie lists of movies about writers and movies about food. (Spoiler: Apart from being in a restaurant, it’s not about food but is about the writing life in part.)
How do we balance the levity and beauty and satisfying lack of significances, our own human nature’s attempt to assign symbolism against the body’s conflicting desires for excitement and comfort?
How does one balance art which is a compressed version of life with the distortion of compressing and slower real time life? How to keep accuracy of perception and of representation when your narration makes a mandala of a world which must omit some things in time and space?
In the movie Andre says,
“Bertolt Brecht, he somehow created a theatre in which people could observe that was vastly entertaining and exciting but in which the excitement didn’t overwhelm you. He somehow allowed you the distance between the play that two humans need in order to live together. the question is whether the theatre now can do for an audience what Brecht tried to do.
[…] People today are so deeply asleep that unless you’re putting on superficial plays that helps them sleep more comfortably it is very hard to know what to do in the theatre[…] [With serious plays] you may only be helping to deaden the audience in a different way[…] How does it affect an audience?[…] terror and violence does that wake up the audience?[...]
The picture of the world you are showing them in a play like that is exactly the picture of the world they have already.[…] they end up feeling passive and impotent”
People blithely accept. What counts as a trigger is relative. A history of literature where women are only referenced at incidental, hags, plot devices of murders or abstract loves is triger-offensive.
That 31% of all speaking parts in film worldwide go to women. [source] That “Only 10% of politicians in films worldwide are portrayed by women.” [Source] Is life propelling art or art propelling life?
Is art to propose new solutions, criticize what exists, find pleasantries among what exists or report like an anthro[a]pologist?
We live in very strange times. Perhaps every time is peculiar but when exactly did saying pollution is bad become partisan? Everyone seems to be jumping on the bandwagon of war, claiming respect for veterans and history as the war machine gears up. Those with anyone in the lineage—and with conscription of past wars, that’s many people—claims a cause to remember a loved one with idea of war. As the novel put it, “The frightening thing is that everyone has their reasons.” But whose chess game is being played?
Any amusing story of look a room left untouched since WWI is itself but also thoughtlessly promoting the narration of soldier honour.
Is it futile to oppose the zeitgeist of one’s time? Always there are countertides, pockets of parallel lives largely untouched by the large movements just as there are swathes of people unaware that segregation by “race” and gender largely stopped some decades ago locally. One lives one’s immediate life, one’s contiguous life, not continuous with all that occurs.
What elements of our lives are built on the premise that we must make more money than those we get goods from? That some must sell labour cheaply, for example, that the only possible way is for the rich to get richer, for kids to get less innocent, for males to lose power, for people to average out to one mid-brown tone, for us to use standard money to give to people who sell it by lending at a profit to “blue chip”. So many embedded and conflicted assumptions. We can’t challenge everything every minute, can we?
The proposal of Andre is that to be in comfort is an unnatural insulated state, isolated away from truth which is nature its seasons and viruses. It is a logic that toys along the same lines as human zoos, the colonial practice of othering people and keeping them in their natural state of dress, or to presume that the poor and rich are a result of character and birth instead of all the factors. Or to presume people of certain kinds of intelligence should not be educated and should be sterilized. To put any human-raised primates in “wild” zones, even if used to tvs and clothes, they should be put in zoos to learn to socialize with their species. There are all kinds of slippery slops and muddy slopes there.
At the same time he’s right in that a lack of sun and moon and nature sounds make for poorer health. And that people can confine themselves in habit instead of deciding to choose optimal actions. But how to determine that?
It’s uncanny the overlaps between it and Jacob Wren’s Polyamorous Love Song in themes of the real film-making being real life performance and people’s search in theatre for affecting drama. From the novel,
[The visual artist said] “Before they kidnapped me, I had wanted to come here, to meet them, to become part of all this,”[...] Being here has simplified thigs. I am chained down. I am brought food. I am unchained to wash and exercise. It has simplified my thoughts”
[...]I was fascinated. With no knowledge of the new filmmaking, that artist chained to the radiator was in the moment, everything he experienced more precarious, more vital. His struggle never paused, white our knowledge of each activity as being ‘only’ new filmmaking somehow dampened our understanding of it. With the Centre for Productive Compromise I had always felt if we got bore, we could stop at any moment, but if the Mascaots stopped they would be rounded up and killed.”
Back to the movie,
Andre: Things don’t affect people the way they used to. I mean it may very well be that 10 years from now people will pay $10,000 in cash to be castrated just in order to be affected by *something*.
It’s a satisfying complexity of things to synthesize. Most movies, novels and poems leave you with nothing to contemplate, or discuss.
What does it take for people to look up from one life to all lives, to move from satisfied to Satyagraha? What would right action look like?
I know there’ve been an awful lot of people to keep track of but still, whole lifetimes unheard of often astounds. Such a variety of lives. Such as the playwright mentioned in the movie, Bertolt Brecht who also wrote Mack the Knife. Huh.
Complex life and intersections. From 4 directions reference within a couple weeks Mrs Firth’s Tavern of 1830s Bytown.
Then the idea of performance vs. living from two disparate directions.
“In in order to cook, you have to know how to eat, know what you’re looking for.”
“There’s always a moment of beauty, even in the moment of worst atrocity.”
She lived thru war, refugee camp, going from a house/family compound of servants and a chef for each cuisine to living starting again from nothing as part of an immigrant family in Quebec.
Less verbatim she said, we can choose. There’s enough beauty in life to occupy us. An abyss can happen at any time. You can die looking down the abyss or die with the last image being the beauty of the sky. Why would you want to see the abyss all the way down?
Kind of elated, kind of tired. Kind of incomplete because there’s so much left.
Still, headway is headway.
Our renovation is coming. We have a floor most of the way across a room. Camping out in the downstairs is actually kind of fun. There’s a nice morning light there. There’s a heating vent shooting right at my elbow all night.
I have slept well for feel-like-unprecedented 4 days in a row. Good sleep = optimism.
I’m knee deep in 3 different manuscripts of mine and in the layout of 2 others for others. Knee deep isn’t nearly deep enough to swim but it’s a start.
I have sent out the second newsletter. (If you want to sign up, here.)
Return to the gardening’s slow lane. We’ve only have the slightest lightest touch of frost. Kale, cucumbers and tomatoes are still producing. The beans would have been too had we got to them first.
Not your type of thing? This for type geeks may be fun to explore: Typewriter Database.
There’s also this rather delightful article on punctuation. Beth Hill writes, “the semicolon brings a rhythm to sentences that other punctuation can’t offer[...] sometimes you want the feel that only a semicolon produces.”
Yay Words has flash fiction hybridized with haibun. Interesting dense effect.
It’s hard to remember to not keep busy-busy momentum going until depletion. Full stops have their uses too.