Friday, December 18, 2015

Love me like the Earth itself



All we wanted when we harnessed the power of Agriculture, was a place to put down our own roots. To leave our mark in Space and Time, to grow wide in all directions, but also to know ourselves, separate from everything else.

All we wanted was it All - strawberries in Winter, to be forever young, to never know Cold.
Freedom from the constraints of nature, of our ancestors, of time... even as we reveled in their riches.

Maybe we did not know the nature of what we wanted.

Any other time of year, these past few balmy December days would have been deemed beautiful, perfect. Why is it anything less than that now?

Because it isn't following the rules?
Because it is Unusual, Unfamiliar?
Because, maybe it is becoming too familiar?

How fiercely we cling to traditions honoring these ancient relationships - between seasons and harvests, stories of survival and familial warmth, of resilience in the fine articulations of soul and flesh that carved pathways through dark times, cold times to here and now - but we have long since moved beyond those relationships' ability to regulate our lives. Tradition feeds economic structures now, instead of our hungry hearts; motions we blindly repeat instead of things that inspire us to act.

What will Winter mean when it is a story we tell our children?

When our children's children live in a world of eternal warmth, will a creeping coolness strike fear into their hearts because it is too Unfamiliar?

Instead of the inward turning, Loss-of-our-Leaves, Death of Identity that Winter asks of us, perhaps we are now required to live inside the identity we've crafted for ourselves. Have we not clamored for most of our history to find our way back at the Gates of the Garden? - for Eden too is eternally warm, where everything fruits out of season, a place where time does not pass and we never age. A place where our only responsibility is to not question Authority.

How desperately we have toiled as the Human Race, to replace the Laws of Nature with technologies to Manifest our every Desire. Closer and closer it comes, out of our own mythologies, to walk amongst us.

Why then does it strike us with fear?

Saturday, November 21, 2015

cazimi, or “in the heart of”.

I haven't dreamed about bridges since I was really young, 4 or 5 maybe. It was always the bridges my mother later told me were probably the ones in Tampa, but I don't actually remember that part. I think most of my childhood memories are dreams, actually. I do remember being in the car with my father, a weird, desperate man, one of many con artists that handled me during my early cognitive development. in the dreams it was always him and my older brother, and the bridge just ended in the middle of sunny blue green expanse, the water of the gulf coast. Sometimes he stopped the car in time, sometimes he didn't. Maybe that's why roller coaster have always inspired deep fear in me. what do you orient yourself around, anchor yourself to?

Last night, I am not sure who was driving the vehicle we were in, there was a handful of other bodies though. the bridge we were on looked more like the Brooklyn bridge, sturdy with high points that remind me of photos of Notre Dame, the cathedral, weathered by the elements, still standing as a testament to the power of faith. It was raining, I think, there must have been some reason for the obvious storm surge that had brought the water level to the edges of the tall bridge - maybe it was the video I watched of a large glacier breaking apart before I went to bed. We were unaware of the intensity of the surge, though I can't help but feel like it was an evacuation, like the ones I grew up with in Florida, from the hurricanes that batter the shore constantly. The rolling waves were suddenly towering stories higher than us, with a quiet, awesome malevolence. There was no choice but to keep driving and watch in horror as the walls of water crashed around us, all we could do was hope with a desperate fear that the rhythm of the waves would just miss us in our trajectory.

The last thing I remember before waking up was feeling the pull, to my high right, and the shape of the monster wave forming itself, and the deep internal stillness being held in my body, inside the vehicle, as I accepted the inevitable, as the driver stepped on the gas.

when I woke up, I was 29 years old.


Friday, November 20, 2015

twisted geometries, centerless plans, and shards of glass and metal

Post class reflection on the nature of memory and its relationship to object:

We cannot deny the idea of Sacred Space, that it is something everyone finds somewhere in their lives. Maybe it is the comfort of cooking and embodying a kitchen. Maybe it is the yoga studio or gym where we take an hour or two to reclaim our bodies, to remember our movement and breath as belonging to ourselves, after all the other time spent using them for money, to accomplish other people's tasks and priorities. It could be a church, or going home for the holidays, a museum, a forest.

Where does the resonance of any of these places come from? Was the kitchen inherently sacred, or was it the actions of my body, repeated through time feel like grooves already existing on a cosmic record, is it my memories clawing their way out of my subconscious to breathe a few more sweet breaths of life? The worn floorboards soft in specific places I find myself standing in declare a physical truth of other bodies and lives having been lived in this space, with that evidence, how can I deny the possibility that some piece of them isn't alive in my apartment still?

Memorials offer a concrete and visceral relationship to our past. The act of burying the dead was one of our earliest distinctions of man being no longer ape, and though the shapes of mourning continue to shift, our need for marking what we've lost has not. Things like the 9/11 memorial remind me of Indian burial grounds, where the generations of us who experienced it are unable to release the dark energy of that place. It is now a place for the dead, and for some time, no new ideas will grow in the space that was made. That loss is defined by the massive emptiness of its design, allowing us to stare down into the footprints of giants and imagine what it felt like to still be alive inside of a dying star. There was a shift that we may not even be aware of yet, in what we consider the patriotic heart of the USA. This is a dead end. But we are far from processing why it manifested in the first place, so maybe this part is necessary before we can move on and reclaim it. Maybe it will be a scar that remains forever.

Maybe like the ruins of Pompeii it will have to be forgotten and rediscovered much later, so we can fold it in to our collective experience, humanizing our past and giving us permission to live inside it for a moment of empathic time travel. Much like the voids in the ash that we filled with concrete stuff - turned ancient people's last breath into a truly physical experience, allowing the distance of time and the most elementary human experiences seem so small and so close to us in the here and now. Like seeing a million Jewish children's shoes at Auschwitz, or every hand that has ever touched the ancient Wailing Wall in Jerusalem and Juliet's Breast in Verona, or stood next to a stranger and looked at art on a museum wall, it is the mundane and repeated that unites us - we are connected through the touch of our fingers and eyes through time and space to something true, to ourselves and each other as part of the fabric of humanity.

The idea of temporary 'memory-less' structures with lightweight rigging and tent fabric made me think of the kinds of things that get erected in the aftermath of devastating weather/land shifts. I suspect that, whether or not the intention is there - something primal exists in the idea of shelter from the 4 elements - that confining the 5th element (ether/space) is vitally important to survival. That if you strip away the noise of culture, shelter is almost like a platonic solid of being. The human body is two walls of muscle, front and back, wrapped around empty space at the center. Plato suggested that god used this 5th element/solid for arranging the constellations in heaven and Aristotle also postulated that the heavens were made of this element.

For many artists there is an inherent fear of the white page, the pregnancy of emptiness, filled with potential that we may or may not be able to live up to the brevity of, and when I translate that to bodies and buildings, I am reminded of the coral reef, whose act of shedding skin and bone become the building materials of its residence, like certain bone cells in our bodies literally produce the fibers that they construct their environment with. How a build up of history and resources and skills and marks on a page are incredibly important - which I build up quickly through a wash of graphite powder and light pencil measurements to escape the scary expanse. There was a time for the behemoth buttressed churches and rose windows, and there is still so much evidence on our landscape of that part in our history. But while those communal places of worship were being constructed, the shifting human narrative suddenly saw us as children to God, our Father, and all the deep wisdom about the human body from ancient Greece was lost. The paintings of this time look like children's drawings. With the industrial revolution, defined after large scale slavery, the free market helped change our relationship to self in our story. Maybe the communal and collective experience was no longer the church, but the factory. Maybe as we were turning the body into a machine, there remains a reciprocal ghost in the shell of these old factories as the lines between the two were increasingly blurred.. As industry left and continues in America to shift to information/insubstantial, these old industrial bodies littering our collective periphery are the churches of the 20th century, and worshipped at the altar of Capitalism, of the self made man, who was born as blank as a white page in Locke's estimation.

I don't know that we are far enough removed from that place and those ideas to wipe out the proof of that part of our history. We may forget, and have to repeat it again if we can't slowly start to reabsorb the polluted land, for what it represents, and allow it to grow and mature past the intentions of its birth along with us. Just as Penn Station being destroyed gave birth to the Preservation Act, we cannot always see the lineage we are apart of - things we create or destroy or ignore or forget or never notice have implications all their own, and we may never cross over or come in contact with them, they may have a rich life all their own.

"Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
You may give them your love, but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,...
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams."

- Khalil Gibran

Friday, November 13, 2015

Part 1. Kinship


Post class reflection on Deconstruction themes in Literature, Art, Philosophy, Mythology, Pop culture etc:


When providing us with a lens through which to view something, whether you define what that is or not, there is an agenda - because there is something made uniquely available in the process of looking with specificity. A vantage point that makes clear in the contrasts what binds the things being looked at together, what kinship exists between subjects and their objects, and the threads that hold it all together: ideas. Ideas and how they are transubstantiated into matter and become the cultural fabric we build the structures of self with. Ideas, sturdy as institutions. Mythological characters that only lived on the lips of a blind man in ancient Greece became some of the core structures of Freudian analysis. This particularly human trait of finding narrative threads to lead us and to inspire us creates so much the contexts we live inside of, but it is hard to feel and listen for the insubstantial when faced with the substantial - how much easier it is to feel something under our fingertips than it is to feel the edge of a new way of seeing the world.

Which came first - the Wall as metaphor, or the Wall as physical? Is a boundary a thing or an idea? Is there even value in drawing distinctions between the two, if it becomes a vessel for cultural expression, potentially a vehicle for communicating shifting ideas of Self and Other in concretely physical ways?

Institutions are susceptible to ossification when resistant to the changing tides of human need and curiosity, and it is the connective tissue in our body that shows us what we do over and over again, as it molds itself around our habitual movement patterns. At some point the walls we build around our ideas of Self will hinder our ability to respond to new things, and massive upheavals, like devastating weather patterns and falling in/out of love may shake that sense of Self so deeply it feels like we no longer have a sense of who we are.

This is maybe the greatest gift Art, Literature, Philosophy, Mythology and Pop Culture have to offer us - ways to process our past, to define and redefine our narrative according human needs inside of their context. To fully embody our multiple facets and know ourselves inside of them still - like our current myth/theory of the wave particle duality, we exist materially here, in this moment, but what do we orient ourselves around as we are constantly pulled forward by the Current into a place we have never been ourselves before, the Now. Does it help us to bother distinguishing between current/Current and now/Now? How do you know yourself betwixt the two?

What is the difference between Sacred and Rigid? Between Artifact and Idea? Self and Other? Creation and Destruction? Whomever's responsibility it is to draw the boundaries, define the maps, to build the semiotic/literal walls around the stories we tell  - requires a reflection in the mirror, a shadow self that exists in the in-betweens and constantly asks us to reassess who we truly are.

Perhaps this is the role of Artist, Philosopher, Architect, Writer, Priest, Performer - to embody the questions that can be so scary to ask, to craft with language things impossible to name, to live in the world of ideas and to transform word into deed, idea into matter, knowledge into power, communion into flesh.

Friday, November 6, 2015

every tool has a genealogy

Post class reflection on the History/Process of Deconstruction and where it might be headed:

It strikes me as hugely important, the ways in which buildings were brought down much earlier in the growth and development of modern civilization - the idea that people paid for the opportunity to be involved, because almost every aspect was salvaged and sold immediately, that the building's components were considered valuable even if the building itself was no longer meant-to-be. How breathing a new building into being involved exhaling an old building and that something could coalesce and disperse without degrading some other aspect of the life cycle of the urban landscape.

But what really changed?

Human Labor began to require expenses previously uninvolved in the process? Or was it the development of technology and new kinds of building materials? What was driving the American frontier that made creating mechanized muscle so profitable? As the scale of cities and human potentiality also expand, how easy does it become to un-see the cellular matrix, to consider the brick and the human vessel for mechanical force as necessary but essentially un-special units of any structure.

There was a time in our past where history was considered valuable, in people and in things, institutions and ideas. I have no idea where the shift was - that made virginity the ideal - that an all consuming drive for the newest thing means that once put into circulation, everything we come in contact with is depreciating in value to society. In our attempt to avoid the necessity of entropy, we facilitate the speed in which it takes hold. It is like we are choosing to define the world not as a system fluctuating around us, but as a system slowly dying.

This idea of modular construction that allows complete break down and reuse of entire structures may be something that gets looked back on with disdain, like the boxes scattered over the landscape from the modernist movement - sometimes it is important to see the brush strokes in the painting, since it gives clues about the artist's thinking, the specific problem they might have been working out in the paint, about shadows and reflected light, about what color laughter in the eyes might be. If we looked at every piece of the mundane process of constructing things, buildings or human beings as if every moment and particle were somehow divinely inspired, how might that affect what they grow up to become? If we could feel respect for each brick and the job it will do, would that respect extend itself to the individual placing that brick into the skin of its building? Are they common laborers or Priests shaping Matter, carving our history onto the earth?

But what of the Architect? Where does he live in this painting? What is the nature of the piece of music he is conducting?

I think it depends on the nature of the building. If longevity is involved in the thought process, than the utility of a building will have to shift along with time, or get swept away by the future. How would we interact differently with space if it was designed to ride the waves of human need and expression? Does it mean that the essential creator of that design is lost in the fluctuations? Are you any less an artist if what you have made is rich earth for people to grow in, rather than monuments to god, ourselves and posterity? And by offering the option to co-create space, how does that fold in the inhabitants - how they might claim a space, relate to or identify with it, and how they might also consider the people that helped craft it?

How can construction/deconstruction be an invitation, rather than an attack?


Friday, October 30, 2015

The plumbing talking in its sleep.


Some interesting things about Havana via Wikipedia:
The national government does not have an official definition of poverty/People living in slums have access to the same education, health care, job opportunities and social security as those who live in formerly privileged neighborhoods/In the 1980s many parts of Old Havana, including the Plaza de Armas, became part of a projected 35-year multimillion-dollar restoration project, for Cubans to appreciate their past and boost tourism

So it sounds like housing standards don't actually tell you about the standard of living for its occupants in Havana, that they might not even have a negative category for people to feel trapped inside of as far as where they fit into the economy, and there is a strong sense of positive cultural fabric for the people in/from that city to feel connected to and proud of. It makes sense to me that Urban Renewal cannot live here. Taking things down makes sense when things stop working - but what if they haven't? I don't think we all need to live in the future together, that it's hard to appreciate how far we've come if we've wiped out everywhere we've come from. It seems like a high functioning slice of history, as opposed to the dying behemoth of Detroit. Modern ≠ Better?

As the scale in which we do things, inside of an increasingly globalized economy, gets larger and larger - I think Detroit can be considered a boomtown at this point, one that outlines the rise and fall of the automobile, of the factory, which died to birth modern corporate monsters - cutting costs to shift production overseas at the expense of local economies. Who were those factory workers when not producing things? What cultural identity did they have left after industry collapsed in the Rust Belt? With no roots to cling to/help stimulate growth of a new kind of identity and very little history to tie anyone to that place, it is quickly becoming the largest ghost town in America. It almost resonates in the way Chernobyl does, with our deep desire to witness it as nature reclaims this specifically manmade disaster - there is a lesson in the rotting carcass of the city, with scraps of flesh and meat that still hold the pinkish tinge of life.

We did this.

I do think the wound/Detroit is still fresh enough to feel the heat from its history, but maybe it is too close for us to really assess the nature of the damage. To do so would mean admitting some deep and true things about the system we've set up and what we had to buy into to have manifested that particular reality. That seeing human labor as a mechanical function and matter of efficiency and profits, instead of living breathing beings filled with dreams and desires and basic human rights and needs is a particular blindness unique to the corporate beast, and feeding it will only extend the landscape that Detroit deteriorates into.

Katrina was an act of nature or of God, but is a foreign Other we can band together against, something that shows us exactly where our weaknesses are to 'intruders', and has forced us to recalibrate our relationship to the landscape, to consider how we can work in tandem with rather than against it. As so much of our history was washed away in the floodwaters, the things that we rebuild there mirror what we valued about it, while giving us room to build a hybrid creature of past and future. The story we want to tell our progeny. Like most of our stories, it will live in half truths until everyone is unable to escape the inherent responsibility we have had in manifesting these Acts of God/Nature with increasing frequency.

I Am That I Am.
Natural Disasters are not unlike our own immune system I think, whether it is fire or flood or wind, it sweeps away the underbrush, the insubstantial, the not-meant-to-be and inspires new growth, hardier growth, and maybe does the thing that we cannot - rips from us the things that used to be a part of us, like a parent pulling out your loose tooth.

In dream analysis teeth represent our roots. But space needs to be made for more mature ones to grow in their place.




Friday, October 23, 2015

These endless catacombs of self-reference.


conflict (v.) Look up conflict at
early 15c., from Latin conflictus, past participle of confligere "to strike together, be in conflict," from com- "together" (see com-) + fligere "to strike" (see afflict).

In the first stages of development after we are born, we begin to define ourselves in space - it is pushing against things that lets us know ourselves, and I don't think that ever changes, that what we come up against shows us who and what we are. What we really believe in. How what we risk can also reveal what we value. How what we attack can tell us what we are afraid of admitting about ourselves most. And finally, how necessary discomfort is to inspiring change.

There exists a number of primal urges for survival that we share, especially predictability, certainty, structure. There is a refuge in rules. Rituals, habits, landmarks are all ways to synchronize ourselves in time and space, moving to the metronome of our breath, but maybe without conflict it is hard to tell where we stop and another person begins. I have a hard time arguing that war and injustice are unnecessary when they have taught us so much about ourselves. That maybe there is something uniquely powerful about being stripped down to your core, so you can build a house that YOU want to live in, on a foundation you believe in - and not be constrained to the limitations of its previous identity. Maybe the idea of catharsis is deeply intertwined in destruction of anything, but manifests as violence against other, since destruction of our own identity calls up the question of what we have left to orient ourselves around - and in choosing what we value automatically implies a devaluing of everything else.

Is there a way to honor something in its destruction? Like a Viking funeral, can we also dispatch of our history with reverence? To honor the life of a fallen building and all it has silently witnessed of our trials and tribulations? Mourning the death of an identity is necessary. Healthy. Valuable. Cathartic. Maybe extending an invitation to affected communities to be participants in the mourning of that symbolic relationship and the shift in their emotional landscape might make letting go just a little bit easier.

I recently learned that in the Torah, there are prayers devoted to people who have committed suicide - and the language focuses a lot on the individual having nowhere to go, nowhere to turn... that they didn't have space.

Maybe there is deep psychological value to considering how we orient ourselves in time and space, how it can help us, as well as how it can hold us back, and how it can be used against us. How making space can be an invitation rather than an attack. How it can honor the past by being a sacrifice to the future. That an inhale is just half of a breath, and exhaling its necessary conclusion to make space for the next one. How choosing what we keep and letting go of things that no longer serve us can be a powerful language for expression of Self.


- from an article about the evolution of rap

''There was a sea change in organizing when [NWA’s] “Fuck tha Police” came out. Before, even dope dealers I knew had this feeling, like, the police are the good guys. “Fuck tha Police” changed that orientation; it kind of chronicles that. [Their songs have] got misogyny, they’ve got glorifying murdering each other, things like that, because it comes out of the culture that capitalism has created. I think it’s important for us not just to edit the culture that capitalism creates, but to create the material basis for a culture that we want."

- Boots Riley
an American poet, rapper, songwriter, producer, screenwriter, humorist, political organizer, community activist, lecturer, and public speaker

Sunday, August 9, 2015

and I said to the star, "Consume me".


As my yoga apprenticeship draws to a close, I am engulfed by waves of feeling that are completely unfamiliar to me. I have one class left, and am already mourning what may be lost in my day to day. I had thought my previous class was going to be hard in my emotional state, but as soon as I walked into the studio, the wash of calm came over me, and I was too filled with a sense of rightness to feel anything else.

Having the break from construction work, from constantly having to ignore my body's needs to serve someone else's purpose, the teaching and taking of yoga is such the opposite - reminding self and others that conversation with body may be the most important conversation of our lives - the push and pull in such opposite directions feels almost like choosing between life and death in a very real sense. And that starts to bleed into other aspects of life, like expression of creative self, of feeding curious, hungry parts of self, of inspiring growth in self. So I have looked with clear eyes on other parts of my life that I am giving time and energy to, but will not render out into something I want to be or have in the future. Sometimes we need things, like habits or jobs, to keep us moving forward into some kind of future and sense of security. But there comes a time where those things can begin to hinder us, because they are easier to continue doing, than to explore our boundaries and move beyond them. The yoga reminds me how much more is to be had inside of my own body - all of the things we aren't taught to explore or question or listen to. If, the more we do something, the more we become it (the mind AND muscles develop neural pathways and bulk up in the areas we exercise the most), the feeling of rightness when I walk into a yoga studio makes me increasingly aware of the opposite feeling in other places. Of how much more there is to be had in Life.

So I have been slowly turning down the freelance jobs I get offered that I am more than capable of doing, but that feed a future I am disinclined to be a part of. A lot of the entertainment work fosters aspects of the economic and cultural structures that I am finding myself fiercely against, and what is perpetuated in real lives that feed that machine, which only cares about money. But as I let those things go, so too do I lose the power I had to fulfill other people's needs, to be filled with and validated by achieving other people's desires and deadlines and budgets.

And the people that formed vast networks of support and deep understanding of the worlds we crawled around inside of together - the farther I remove myself from those layers of knowing and getting through the bullshit together - the less connected I am to those webs of people, as the similarity of our priorities and experiences evaporate. There will always be love, but our beliefs about our needs and desires are suddenly diametrically opposed. Awareness of the subjugation of our flesh and time and soul incites a revolution against those things, and not everybody is ready to fight that battle. The cost seems too great when you have learned to look at the value of your flesh as relative to the value of money.

Those things have meant life to me.

I learned so much about how to wield my body with power, how to use my words to move small armies of men with precision. I was able to find things that were stripped from me in childhood and rebuild a powerful seat for my soul. But redefining my sense of power means allowing myself to be emptied of previous concepts. Refusing to be defined by other people's needs means I have to let go of the feeling of being purpose driven by them. I must become a Vacuum, before I can be filled my own needs and my own purpose.

I never anticipated feeling so uprooted, because I have never had a sense of being rooted to something. The sting of feeling disconnected, untethered to time and space, and my sense of where I exist in proximity to those things has become suddenly overwhelming. But like the practice of pouring ourselves into asanas (yoga poses), something that shows us how we respond to intense and unfamiliar territory - I have always backed off too quickly to reach whatever lessons may lie on the other side. Missed out on the strength that may be born from learning to feel without running away. Of course I can't take anybody with me on a journey inside myself - turning inward is a necessarily singular path, even if I mourn the loss of what I once had. There are different rules in this game than ones I have gotten used to playing, so I have to let my habitual reactions fade away as they do not serve me here. The ways in which I communicate needs and desires will inherently have to change, as I navigate a landscape that has no map, and all of the external images and associations I've consumed in my lifetime can provide no assistance to an internal compass.

We must unlearn the constellations to see the stars.
- Jack Gilbert


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

"I" was a performance not an essence.

Time pressure had narrowed their 'cognitive map' ; as they raced by they had seen without seeing.


Running into a café to grab a latte, I noticed an old stained glass window hung on the wall like a picture. As I waited for the espresso to brew and the milk to be frothed, I thought about what that out-of-context window meant in the larger scheme of the atmosphere, of attitudes, of life.

Sure it fulfilled some generation specific fascination with all things 'vintage' in the hipster world of re-appropriation, but having spent so many years building things with people who will never be thanked for their participation, let alone noticed by the kinds of people that consume the things we produce, my heart swelled for a second. This piece of functional history was given the opportunity to grace a wall in the manner of artists. There are few names we know in the world of metalworking or construction, but someone allowed this errant piece of craftsmanship imply that an individual did craft this thing and it was beautiful in the way art is beautiful.

Even though sunlight will not pierce its glass and give color to the dust motes in some child's memory, something about removing it from the structure of houses, which we wear like skin, ours alone - it allows me to contemplate the individual who made this thing. To wonder if he liked his job, to respect the cleanliness and straightness of his lines and soldered edges, to guess at the time this piece was born by reading the weathered wood framing, and to place his meticulous, rough hands inside of its history.

It is a portrait of its creator. It is a depiction of the place where drudgery and art define the life of a man. Just as it exists everywhere around us, from carpenters to garbage men, so many unsung heros in our day to day that have jobs too boring for us to remember or acknowledge. When I look at this piece of salvaged architecture on the wall I am filled not with thoughts or opinions, but a strong sense of a person, faceless, focused.

And hands.

Sure, steady, meticulous, patient, rough hands.

if ritual is art, then it is stretched over the frame of habit.

All art is autobiographical. The pearl is the oyster's autobiography.

Pearls are commonly viewed by scientists as a by-product of an adaptive immune system-like function.

Monday, June 29, 2015

tiny rectangles of infinitely reproducible emotion

In some of the discussions about human development in my yogic study of the body, our observations of babies has brought up a theory of how an infant begins to discern reality - mouth to nipple is the first true and real thing in a new human's experience of world outside of womb. It will be some time before their eyes come to focus on objects, they have little to no muscular awareness of fingers and feet, playing with a toy is the earliest form of training the hands to work cohesively together.

So nothing is real until it has been perceived by our mouths. Tasted. Given a multidimensionality that gets lost as we get older, as other sense organs gain dominance over our brain's real estate. It is the tasting of our own hands that eventually empower our fingers to define reality-at-a-distance, and as we get older and begin to touch less, as physical/cultural boundaries regarding touch are instilled in us - we rely more on seeing-is-believing.

As an artist, I have spent years and years honing my eyes as a tool for measurement, drawing is the art of learning how to really SEE what is there, and our visual relationships become as refined and intimate as touch... but at what point does the experience of seeing and recording 'reality' become an act of Ego, rather than an exploration of true and not true? At what point are we filled with the expectation that the marks we make on a page must essentially be reality, so every stroke becomes a desperate attempt to prove our knowledge, rather than actively posing a question in the form of flesh and shadows. How each finished piece is then viewed as a final answer, rather than an exploration of form and space and boundaries, as well as our relationship to them.

One of my favorite parts about teaching yoga, is that we are so used to answering questions and doing things right, that we forget how much everything around us is a conversation, especially the dialogue we have with our bodies inside the yoga studio. I like to talk about how once we were so new, we didn't use words to think our thoughts and feel our feelings, and even though mind wrapped itself around human language, body still communicates differently. Breath is a powerful way to break that language barrier, I tell them. We turn asanas into statues, to prove we are strong, instead of exploring the subtle shifts and compromises of flesh wrapped around muscle that wraps around bone. So focused on an outward proof of our validity, we forget that we come to the mat to find something more, something deeper, something new. To change what is true. To question what we perceive as true. But if truth in the body is so purely an internal experience, the strongest connection I've found to verbalizing the all encompassing opening of awareness to body is that infant relationship to the world around us. Watching these babies roll and fall and crawl and taste through the world reminds me that we are designed to explore, that we have forgotten we are allowed to constantly question the nature of reality and the world around us, and that we can do so from a place that is not fraught with judgment and expectation.

How many other aspects of our lives could benefit from a lens of newness, of pure, unadulterated exploration?

A close friend of mine is often the subject of my exploring hands. Affectionate, friendly intimacy of overlapping space and belief systems, experiences and expressions of self, my hand on his back is like folding into downward facing dog, where my shoulder blades slip into the space carved for them, as they learn to free themselves from the intense relationships contained within the shoulder girdle. Home. Having spent time watching these babies bring everything to their mouths without a thought, it reminds me of the instinctual desire to replace my hands with my mouth in the most innocent of moments, so similar in my mind are those forms of touch and the feelings behind them, I have to physically catch myself. Watching the magnetic hand-to-mouth gestures of the sprawling, drooling life forms in these observations, I feel I recognize on a deeply intimate level a magnetic hand-to-mouth pull that is so fierce and new to me that perhaps I allow myself to resonate too deeply with this earlier stage of life.

It makes perfect sense to me, that exploration through my fingertips or my tongue and teeth and lips, can free me to disregard the hierarchy of my eyes and ask the kinds of questions that only have wordless answers, a conversation composed of salt and breath instead of words and rules and expectations. That inquiry via smell and taste and flesh boundaries are important in defining realness on multiple planes of existence, to know the fullness of another being's dimensionality in space.

To know truth from projections, real vs hologram.

One of the people leading the observation/post discussion responded more sharply than I had anticipated towards my interest in bringing the baby's newness into adult life, cutting into my romanticized notions of the baby experience, reminding us how knowledge would have to be relinquished to be in that place, that they are moving through the world without conscious awareness yet - how returning to that state involves a letting go of what we've learned, to be what we are now. It must seem bizarre, sitting inside our armor, built up from the wars we've fought to survive and flourish to look at a place where emotional callouses aren't built into the smooth pockets of baby flesh yet. It seems natural to mourn our own necessary loss of innocence, to want to crawl back to a place where our only responsibility was to taste everything around us. I think that desire manifests often in our cultural awareness, a constant desire to return to Eden, of innocence, in the unbroken, something contained within virginity of all sorts, from gadgets to people. But those soft creatures, the babies rolling and falling and drooling around us are only possible because we are there to protect them until they can wear their own armor. I do not touch my mouth to his skin because there is an inherent responsibility inside of that action, a reality that will never be as weightless as a toy in a baby's mouth, or as simple as when I kiss my puppy's face.

I need the knowledge of anatomy to draw a human, so I can communicate through form and gesture a myriad of other things, I need the cultural history of words to speak the things I believe, and I need the history of knowing those things inside of other people's brains for the things I do and draw and say to be received, to respond and be responded to, to have any kind of power or presence. And I will continue to let my fingertips say the things my mouth cannot verbalize or texturize yet.

Boundaries are powerful too.

You set me straight, just like an arrow,
Until we lay, caught in the afterglow,
My world was gray with all the others,
Until you came, you showed me colors

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

weigh anchor in the harbor of my thighs

I was searching for the tall green-and-white subway stop markers, that indicate a stairway that descends underground, while a few MTA workers screamed 'NO' and pointed. Flustered from the noise they made, I moved anxiously - and nearly stepped off into an abyss. What I had thought were subway markers were actually the top of a roller coaster, its steel bracketed frame fell steeply away from me, plummeting to a depth I couldn't gauge in my surprise. Stepping back to glance around for the true subway, the MTA workers yelled and gestured wildly to my right, across the park towards ancient semicircle concrete steps. I decided to take a few minutes to explore the area, since I had visually located the correct subway entrance. One of the MTA people close to me misunderstood my body language, assuming I was still lost (or stupid) and started pointing as he hollered in my face. He fell silent with shock as "Leave Me The Fuck Alone" fell out of my mouth. No one was going to tell me when and where I should go, I was distracted by something, and it was MY life and MY time to wander and explore. It was their noise and violent hand motions that had caused me to almost step off a dangerous path in the first place, I was not going to let them rush my process, my curiosity or when I chose to arrive at my destination.

As I descended the stairs, I realized that they wrapped around a forgotten, overgrown public pool. Thick trees grew along the sides and reach out across the water to caress each other from opposite sides, and the water was cool and blue as my grandmother's pool when I spent all my summers brown and smelling of chlorine, even though scum floated on the top, in the deepest shade of the trees overhead. I waded in towards the cool darkness in the bright of day, to the woman I knew was waiting for me, chest deep, her long hair swirling around her, like when my hair was long, long and golden, when I used to pretend I was a mermaid in my grandmother's pool. My short, dark bobbed hair now seems like a symbol, the contrast is so highlighted. My conversation with the long haired young woman is knowing and familiar, she is like a sister to me, though she looks more like me when I was still fresh faced, than my sister ever did. She had warm, encouraging things to say to me, about my direction, assuring me in the face of my chagrin at my circumstances, but her face expressed no emotion, her eyes have no pupils to make eye contact with. The sweetness of her words hit me so sharply it almost felt like pain and my arms wrapped around her for a farewell embrace, a loving embrace. The cool skin of her arms hug me back, though her face does not. The intensity of moving on, for her forgiveness as I said goodbye filled me with so many points of sharp bright feeling that I couldn't hold back sobs that wracked my body so fiercely I woke up in bed, tangled in the sheets, still sobbing.

Years and years ago, a psychic who used symbolism to communicate her visions told me she saw me wade into a pool of water, and before I got waist deep, I stepped on something incredibly sharp. I backed out of the water the way I came, and for a long time only circled the outside of other pools of water, never getting past my ankles in any of them.

For years I have not dreamed, as far as I can remember, and the deep, dreamless sleep afforded me by doing physical labor have felt like a gift. But recently, dreams are surfacing. This was not the first time I have seen my subconscious draw parallels between subway trains and roller coasters, and they always involve MTA personnel directing traffic in some frustrating/distracting way. I have been in pools of water before, and for some reason, I find direct or indirect references to my grandmother floating in the fabric of the dream. As I notice images manifesting over and over, maybe it is important to pause and study them a little bit closer.

We can only ignore ourselves for so long.