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.
A minimum standard of living guaranteed. If the system isn’t trying to trick you, then people don’t need to scheme back to get through its loopholes.
Call me a dreamer but I’d like to see a safety net of basic living wage where the objective of the system is not to drum people out or make hoops to prove they are trying to learn a skill, a language, or get a job. Cooperation rather than presuming only those who don’t need it won’t sign up and those who would cheat would. What does the person need from the width of the system? What other parts of the person need to also be prioritized?
A network of quality of life of public water fountains, bathrooms, public showers, heated indoors spaces without programming. Shelters which are guaranteed no questions asked without religious indoctrination as fee. Signs of washrooms for patrons only all over the city is hostile and miserly. The only option of sugar drinks, caffeine drinks or plastic bottled water is unnecessary.
A culture where cycling and walking is the default. A habit of people dancing and exercising in the parks and squares.
Well-being embedded in schools and the everyday. To train citizens on conflict resolution, compassion, principles of logic, numeracy/budgeting, and the nature and biology of hundreds of species.
Funding to cover and easy access to dentistry for life, physiotherapy, abortion, therapeutic massage, autism programs, medicines, home help support for seniors, and counselling for mental health issues. Funding for faster on demand service. If a pet needs an MRI, it happens that week. A person with compromised health may wait months. There’s a bottleneck that could be addressed.
Two years of paid maternity and paternity leave. Universal childcare. Recognition of the fluidity of family where a child is raised somewhere in the extended family or step-family or can be adopted with more ease.
One system of education, public. Or two, public and privately funded, whether elite, science, arts, or based on religious or linguistic lines. Earlier apprenticeship. Some children are held in the school system past the point of use. If cultural principles aren’t across by age 13 or 14, another few years won’t help. Options for all children to learn hands on skills in any field.
Suffrage for children. Voting by age 10 so that they don’t spend their first 20 years exiled from having a say and being sub-citizens.
Continued budget for measuring things: the full census, status of women, the polar measurements, the assessing of state of water and ocean.
A culture propelled by curiosity. Research for its own sake to learn in field biology, astronomy, other hard sciences, art, social criticism and literature.
Top-down and bottom-up controls on sound. Mandated enforced sound pollution laws so that planes and busses and motorcycles and etc, all run at lower volumes. What can be done for the engine design and tire design. Air shows, fireworks, music concerts. We are overcompeting for noise we don’t even care about while drowning out other species that need to use sound for communication and finding mates.
Light pollution control. There’s no reason lights need to blaze while businesses are closed. Rollback the culture of always-on to presume 6 weeks of universal paid vacation. Leading up to new years might be good. That way the consumer mania of Christmas could be tempered.
There has to be a certain amount of top-down or else people will continue using toxic but cheap paints, importing tomatoes and apples from Brazil and Mexico during peak tomato and apple harvest season here from economic contracts with corporations ahead of getting the freshest food to the nearest person.
Protecting lakes from factory effluent to motorboats that leak petroleum that isn’t maintained. A conscientiousness of citizens.
Should the state get out of the business of marrying? Naturally, but if in it, it should marry whoever wants to pay the licence, regardless of gender. Three or four marrying if they choose.
A habit of gender neutral names, an animate gender neutral pronoun as default, a shift in ingrained assumptions of gender so people enter careers independent of gender baggage.
What to do with religions? China and Russia have had limited success in reenculturating to non-superstitious minds. Luck is a pervasive thought-gnat. Our brains are pattern seeking. How to tilt them towards a Carl Sagan balance?
What to do with the 88 languages and the cultures tethered to them and what they have to say about what the world is?
What to do with gun lobbyists and those who want a model of “strongest surviving” and justify bullying in all forms as a symbol of strength? What to do with dissent in all forms? How to respect the disrespectful? How to nudge those who celebrate brokenness into considering less violence?
What to do with the fisheries? Or general natural resources exploitation that is major industry, the mines that poison waters and the forestry pressed on as market demands toilet paper to printer paper that isn’t post-consumer fibre?
What to do with Quebec and its history? Regarding natives? What to do with nation versus international? The continued mass consumption of the U.S. media? We can’t be safely blissfully oblivious to trends there and people are one people moving through these lines we draw. Some Canadians are also American, half time or have family in various countries.
What elements have I missed?