Saturday, February 21, 2015

let's move slowly to the pulse of the neon golem we sculpted from the bones of this city



Showing up at an odd little storefront, where I had been invited by a friend I hadn't seen in awhile, I walked into a cramped costume shop area that opened up into a kitchen. It was a group of fire spinners and circus folk, a community of rainbow colored hair and expertly fantastic makeup. Descending into their basement-turned-yoga studio, I sat on the side and watched the packed space filled with bodies twisting and turning sticks in a bizarre pantomime, barely missing each other in their pajama-like clothing, moving to music playing at varying speeds in their heads. It wasn't until my friend lead me upstairs and into the ice slicked courtyard that I understood the importance of that awkward room. Once the ends are lit, they swoosh deep and loud through the cold air, and the fearlessness of the body manipulating these flaming batons is fiercely obvious. Enviable. Powerful.

As the J train moves through Brooklyn, it sits above Broadway, so looking out of the windows alternates between looking out across different neighborhoods and staring into upper apartment windows, level with the people inside. There are surprising and silly placements of graffiti, both good and bad to break up the architectural landscape with a hint of whimsy and broken rules. I usually sneer at the unpracticed hand of some of the wannabe artists... but that awkward room of kids twirling batons and balls on string stayed with me - I realized that for there to be truly profound graffiti, there first be massive amounts of bad to mediocre graffiti. That we must all begin at the beginning.

That we constantly undervalue and overlook the importance of Time.

Two different psychics mentioned during readings with me, right before I went away to college as a freshman, that they saw something blocking my throat. It would take me years to eventually realize that I struggled most of my life with feeling like no one could hear me, and it reflected itself in my sexual relationships as well as my work ones. College provided powerful training in how to have a voice visually, but not in what I wanted to say with it. Schools and parents place such high expectations on a fast turn around from our studies to making money that they never pause to consider the human being at the center of it, underdeveloped as a person, but expected to crank out accolades and a reasonable rate of return. Going from home, to school - from parent's opinions about the world to what teachers feel is waiting out there - how can anyone expect us, upon Graduation, to have big, important things to say yet. All we have is other people's experiences to draw from, someone else's story. Someone else's voice.

It might take years to hear our own voice under the clamoring of voices and opinions around us, at us, over us.

In the behemoth machine we are an extension of -the Economy- our time is transubstantiated, from intangible to flesh, its physical form we know as Money. In the entertainment/labor industry, working amongst all these various standards and rules provides me the opportunity to look into the future. Most of these aging stagehands and carpenters in their unions, the ironworkers and the truck loading Teamsters have spent their whole lives, used up their bodies and any bit of good karma in acquiring piles of money, but it is flavorless. Their daily existence is one long whining complaint after another. When you've spent your entire life putting aside freedom and exploration, how do you start, in retirement to even comprehend those things? Especially when you've got no mobility left, mentally or physically?

It's a trap.

We are starting to resemble our meat, packed into little cages that cut of our access to the world and fed a specific diet, so our flesh and memories have no flavor and no color, consuming blindly until we die. We are what we eat, literally.

Pork used to be a red meat. It lived longer and ate a much more interesting diet not so long ago, recently enough that there are people who still remember a more flavorful animal than what we see today. At some point, even the poorest person knew how to slaughter an animal, how to make bread and cheese from scratch. Most of us don't make or grow our own food, we are forced then to buy what the market offers us. As we have less and less respect for Time and its vital existence in every aspect of our lives, we've sped up all of our processes. We give our time-as-money to machines that process our food for us, the things we eat increasingly becoming a singular product manufactured in a myriad of deceptive ways. In doing so, we also relinquish that knowledge, the thousands of years of learning to harness the elements to nourish our bodies, the ability to provide our own sustenance - and the more we buy into the system, the harder it becomes for us to exist outside of it.

There is no such thing as a free lunch.

We have handed over the power we once had over our bodies, from the act of giving birth, to turning healthy food into something torturous (diets), to selling us on Anti-microbial/biotic everything, villianizing the things that make us strong and self sustaining. We've let the GovernmentPharmaceuticalFood industry distance us so far from our bodies that we don't even pause to ask it what it wants. We don't trust our bodies, and we don't allow them to speak with their own voice, because we aren't listening. We go through motions - being taught hygienic standards by unaware parents, washing our hair with shampoo that strips it of its oils, upsetting the balance of the delicate ecosystem that is our scalp, so it over-produces oils to compensate, creating greasy hair that needs to be washed again... allowing a profit based system damage our bodies to justify buying other things to treat the void they created. What would happen if we simply walked away? Opted out?

Would our fears of not being good enough even survive if we no longer let society dictate the things we take pride in?

'When an environment fails, over and over and over again, to provide her with a means to follow her internal compass, then she will leave.'

“Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.”
―Groucho Marx

“Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

-Steve Jobs

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

the absence between her thighs





Truth and Beauty are concepts that got mixed up together when Christianity's star rose in the middle ages, and they have been hard to separate ever since. We know that logically, beautiful people aren't always associated with knowledge or wisdom, but we all have a picture in our heads of the perfect partner - and I bet they are all beautiful individuals. I think its akin to our concept of Santa Claus - all of us knows what he looks like, even though we've never actually seen him, or when I'm talking to religious folk, I like to ask them what God sounds like, or what the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden looked like - the descriptions I get are far richer and more vivid than any church service I've ever been to - because they are a mix of a Grandfather's growl and a willow tree that was in our backyard as a child, they are sourced more from our memories than from our current cultural standards. But Angels are perfect creatures in our minds, because spiritual purity can only be lovely to behold.  

What would Truth look like if it were embodied in human form?

I think we have put so much emphasis on our seeing sense, that we drown out/lose awareness of the messages we get from people through our other (more important) senses. Our survival as a race has been based on this pattern recognition ability, and we add symbolic weight to those patterns naturally - to the point we lose connection to the feeling/sense those symbols are originally derived from. We culturally are a 'seeing is believing' organism and I think that manifests in all aspects of our lives, from consumerism to how we date.
My earthy physical presence I think fits the Laborer's concept of Truth - strong, lush excesses unafraid of being handled by rough hands, a thing that can weather storms and bear strong children. So I inadvertently draw the kind of raw earthy individuals who live almost solely in the physical world, and find it practically impossible to comprehend my inner state of being. My mental presence I think fits the Intellectual's concept of Truth - constantly delving inwards, constantly breaking boundaries, always hungry. Unashamed and fearless when encountering our past and future selves. A Vigilante. But ethereal spirit dancer I am not. I often get forgotten by my creative brethren, and the serious, thoughtful, brilliant individuals I am attracted to because the picture they have in their minds show the sturdy competent exterior lacking even a hint of delicate, transcendent beauty. I think learning how to close our eyes and feel connection rather than requiring physical/visual proof is what needs to happen - but it is hard to find individuals willing to be in that undefined space. We are too distracted.

They are both manifestations of Trueness, so in my mind there is no dissonance between my material and immaterial self, but since the evolution of society, like beauty and the beast from its medieval origins to now, we have accepted this visual relationship as an indicator of internal value, even when our concept of mortal beauty is CONSTANTLY changing. Would we hold Truth to such superficial standards? Can Beauty be an experience rather than a reflection? Something sensed rather than seen?

I find even in work I am torn between the expectation to either be someone who Thinks, or someone who Acts, and I run from job to job in much the same way I stumble through sexual encounters. Truth doesn't fit in a box. Relationship seeks to define. We all crave different forms of the same thing. I see glimpses of myself/stability/progress in chaos, the less I know about something, the faster I inhale it. Standing still doesn't make me feel strong and rooted, it makes me feel stagnant and prone to disease. Just because other people find stability in being rooted, or have found their version of success or fulfillment on a singular path, doesn't negate the power us Tumbleweeds have in the world. I think there is a difference between what we desire, and what the world has need of, and Truth may be born out of the two coming together into the cosmic 'Place' we all feel so compelled to search for. I don't think that it happens for a lot of people - like the guys who decide that I'm pleasant enough and try to turn a boring liaison into a cookie cutter relationship - I think a lot of people just don't want to work that hard.
My thesis professor told me, after years of intense art classes, that I wasn't a Painter. I was one of the better painters in my graduating class, Illustrators paint things, what was he talking about? But after that comment, I began to explore how to utilize a broad range of media to communicate visually. My own (automatic) assumption, based on no explicit experience about what I was training for and planning to define myself with was cutting off the power I could have had, and had no one stopped to show me that, I would be stuck in that box still, and would probably still be in Florida, trying to paint portraits of rich people's grandchildren to survive. I know I have not found the thing that fills me, in work or in love, and the moment I almost feel filled by something, I can already feel it slipping away, much like that river, the one we can never step in again, because it is always moving, yearning towards the ocean. And if that is True, how could anyone else's standards or expectations negate the power of that realization, or attach feelings of Shame or Hurt to it?  By who's standards am I successful or not? Beautiful or not?
How can True feel anything but Right?
I am not ashamed of my sexual or work experiences, because I see my flesh as a doorway/sacrifice to deeper understanding - but I am ultimately terrified of being truly filled, so I'm trying to live inside of that yearning without expectation. To let the river carry me for a bit, so I can save my struggle/energy for the moments that threaten to drown me. Its like glass half empty vs glass half full- except its more like people who see gravity/life/history as something that roots us to a place in time and space, concrete and visually discernable, rather than gravity/life/history as a constant state of free fall, everything relative to something else, and all of it shifting constantly and overlapping randomly (divinely). 

We choose our reality in science and religion equally, they are the same desire and excuse to have answers so we don't have to Wonder, the way we did as children, a state that used to fill us with excitement about the future and the world and the meaning of Truth. Becoming jaded means we lose the ability to appreciate on some deeper level - but once the magic is gone, what's the point? Why stay?

Roll, Jordan, roll.


Time Travel in the Grand Canyon

My boy is too close to the edge,
scanning the cliffs for dinosaurs.

Maybe I should tell him how time accelerates,
how it took four billion years

for these rocks to form
but only thirty thousand

for the river to slice through them.
How last week,

when the wind blew a woman off the rim,
it took her less than a minute

to drop down through the ages,
her shadow on the canyon wall

already a ghost.
-Andrew Merton