Writing practice 10/19/2018

Write about glasses…

They fit on your nose and improve your sight by magic. Because what else could it be? It can only be wizardry of the greatest sort, for how can something virtually invisible have such an effect? Think about it – one little piece of burnt up sand, melted together into a lump and then shaped into a flat disc, can now transform far-away objects to your immediate vicinity, or it can make the things which are close and appear fuzzy into sharp relief. Science? Nah – Just a big mind-fuck. Like, “Take that, intuition! I’m gonna show you what for with this little bit of cold, used-to-be-real-hot rock, because this thing that you can see through is actually going to do something for you, and it’s gonna blow. Your. Mind.”

And we call them glasses, they’re a pair. Two different ones, because we have learned that there are even individual differences between our two eyes. And that one person’s eyes are different from other people’s! Again, this speaks not so much to a history of science, measurement, testing and validation fo theory, and more to the idea that, somehow, maybe some mystical sprites are fucking around with our eyes inside our head, like they’re sticking their little fifth-dimension fingers inside our eyeballs every time we put on the glasses, and they’re adjusting all the dials and levers back there so that our brain gets all the right signals, like a big pipe works, you just got to direct the flow like that over there and like this over here, and all of a sudden voila! Perfecto!

But we can’t do that ourselves, our fingers are too three-dimensional and materialistic to make the [illegible], so we’ve employed, no, we’ve enslaved, we’ve conscripted this entire race of non-human, trans-dimensional beings to come do our work for us, and I wonder if they’re ever gong to get tired of that? Will they one day rise up in revolt, and say “No! No more shall we manipulate your eye sockets! No more shall we present to you a better, sharper picture of the world. no more shall we help you to avoid stumbling over Lego pieces when you’re just barely awake and you’d really rather have a cup of coffee and watch the replay of last night’s Charlie Rose but you are just doing your duty by getting these damn kids up and onto the bus, so you can finally have a morning’s peace around here. No, no more!”

Will they have their revolution then? Will they turn off all the spigots and spouts and rerouters back in our minds as one last FU! before they go? Will we all of a sudden wake up to find we humans have become collectively sightless once more? Now, that would be weird.

Writing Practice – 10/12/2018

AFAR, September / October 2018, p. 85

Remember the rules? There are no wasted nights on this trip.

Remember? I wrote the fucking things. And I know that rules are stupid and meant to be bent, to be broken. I can do any goddam thing I want, and still “follow” or “obey” the rule, if all I have have to do is to define “wasted” appropriately. Word games, the crime of passion of the intellectual class. What fun. What great distraction from real life. What great waste fo time, what great signal that we have excess resources and need not worry about our subsistence, our existence. So there we were, hanging in a dive bar on Mercadero De Panteleon, with six or so of our new friends, drinking whatever vile-tasting but amazingly euphoric concoction these locals love to put down. Two of us, gringos, fat and stupid Americanos, and all the time we’re laughing and talking and slapping shoulders with them, and they listened to us patiently for about three minutes when we first [illegible], and then they just started in with, “hey, padre, no worry, ok? We talk English now, okay? You no understand our espanol, and we don’t get yours neither!”

That brought out the big laughs, the first of many, and this could have easily been a scene from virtually any other Hollywood “coming of age” move in which the two friend bond again over their new companions, and wonder just why it was they had to travel 5,000 miles just to put their differences aside.

But it wasn’t that. Somehow, something changed. An hour in, guffaws resounding through the bar, twenty or more empty glasses scattered across this their table, with at least a dozen propositions to the table of senoritas across the way having flowed from us, and at least twice as many derogatory insults about the miniaturization of our new friends’ members coming right back, something in me switched off. I would say snapped, but that implies a break. A disappearance, or a situation which could be repaired. But that wasn’t it. It’s not like there was a rope holding me in there which suddenly split; it’s like there was a current, flowing through my body, a goodness feeling of pleasure, and power, and contact, that, all of a sudden, in a moment shorter than it took for my friend Rashawn to stand up to go get the next round, something simply dropped off. Dropped out. Just – quit. As if my body itself had suffered some kind of disconnect. I sat, on the stool, with my new friends all around, partying, laughing feeling good, and all of a sudden I just wasn’t. My laughter stopped. My drunk stopped – evaporated in a moment. I was sober, and I was tired, and I was gonna get out of there.

I stood up then, and said a total of zero words to every else there. I turned and walked out the door. Behind me I could hear the confused questions from around from my table, and table of senoritas too, about what the fuck was happening? Was I ok? Where was I going? Hey, come back! The party’s just getting going! Man, I’m missing all the fun!

But it didn’t matter. Somehow I just knew I needed to be out of there. To leave. To just go, so I did. Fuck the rules that say everyone parties till we all pass out. Fuck rules about “wasted nights.” Fuck rules about going off by yourself, or prohibiting that exact thing. Fuck all the rules, because I, at that very moment, had just one rule, that I was going to follow.

“No.”

Not even a rule. Just a feeling. No, not that. Find something else. Anything. Nothing. Just “No.”

So. I left. And I hav never seen Rashawn, or those padres, or the senoritas, again

Writing Practice – 10/7/2018

Poem a Day Volume 2, p 383 (Dec 16)

Fly envious Time, till thou run out thy race,

Call on the lazy leaden-stepping hours,

Whose speed is but the heavy plummet’s pace;

Run thy own trail, travel thine own path.

Send to the heavens the shout of a many-breasted warrior strong with the ichor of battle. Let forth a barbaric yawp to shake the hills and rattle the cedars. Share not your victory with those who would have nothing to do with the battle but everything to do with sharing the spoils. For why should their reticence be rewarded, and your valor diminished? Why shall your light hide, as if a reflection upon the surface of the moon, instead of shining bring from the sun’s rays?

Strive, then, brothers in this long struggle, and let it be know that you shall no longer rest in humility as a result of the things you have fought for, sweated for, bled for. But these days shall see a resurgence of your manifest adulation. The righteous praise well-deserved flowing from all of the crowd’s lips to over and above and through you. For it is never enough for just one to shower adulation and praise (except that she be the one, yet that remains a different tale for a different time). It is not enough for a single voice, no matter how powerful or authoritative, to say “well done.”

Nay, it is only for the recognition of the crowd that the warrior strives. He seeks not his own glory, but does so to honor his fallen brothers, to eke out, to draw out from those who remained behind, their praise, their worship, their respect, their fear.

For, if they did not fear the powerful, if they did not respect them at least a little, and in practice a bit more than that, if they did not recognize the hidden, camouflaged power waiting within the army’s arms, if they did not acknowledge the real authority beneath the breastplate, if they did not offer a genuine kudos to their true betters, they know that in a few moments, with a turn of a whim or at the insolence of an unruly youth, they, too, might find themselves a new enemy of those who wield the true power. For true power comes not from robe or treaty or birthright. True power comes from a willingness to fight, to truly fight, not simply argue, to fight and take power, to risk one’s own life in the pursuit. That is power. That is authority. And that deserves respect.

Writing Practice – 9/25/2018

Myths of Origin, p 434

There is not a stone here which has not borne up under a foot. There is not a branch which has not supported the tenuous, thin, wispy talons of a sparrow or starling. There is not a blade of grass which has not been explored, investigated, understood by the six legs of the sugar ant, or the ladybug, or the hundred legs of the caterpillar. There is no streambed here which has not felt the cautious step of a fawn’s hoof; there is no cloud above which has not cast its shadow across the cycle of death, life, birth, rebirth, renewal, and trust and development.

There is no cycle of life separate from all the others herein. No bird or chick exists without the trees, the grasses, the insects, the worms, the mulberries. No wonder of nature exists in a vacuum, and thence comes a symbiosis, a sympatico that allows for all and everything together to move in harmony, in unison, in a pattern of reflection and recognition that trace a path of universality through the waiting fields.

There are no enemies here, no predators, no prey, no worse or better, no contests. Oh, there are those who consume and those who fall to them, but this is not viewed as strife. In this wood, this idyllic scene, there is a parallelism and a partnership to such experiences. The grub does not resent the mole; the mole does not resent the owl; The owl does not resent the cougar; the cougar does not resent the passage of time, the arthritic creak seeping into the joints, slowing her leap, helping encouraging her miss, her failure to sustain herself, her failing then nor the end to stop normal progress and to then lay down and rest, thus becoming fodder once again for the grub, the worm; no, the cougar does not resent the passage of time or the grub, for all understand that this cycle is not so much a competition as a cooperation. There is benefit for all in the process, in the turning of this wheel of interaction, in the inevitable, irrevocable forces of evolution, gravity, time, patience, radiance, sunshine, wind, weather. The time for competition has passed. The time for partnership has arrived, and with this partnership all eventually succeed; not despite one another, or because of one another, but, simply, with one another.

Requiem for a Notebook

My Writing Practice notebook is filled. This one is, at least. I will start a new one tonight when I sit down again. Yesterday I wrote to the end of the current one and, because I was curious, I decided to do a review. Here’s what I found:

There are 100 sheet / 200 pages in this notebook. A few of the pages are covered with other writings, so they don’t count. I filled 191 sheets with my scrawl. The first 4 sheets had 197, 190, 170, and 167 words on them. I’ll estimate all those 191 sheets have 175 words each, for a total of 33,425 words, which would be about 135 pages when printed. That’s a long novella. Not bad.

My longest streak was 13 days in a row, starting July 2 and going through July 14. The next longest was 11 days from 8/4 through 8/14. Hm, something about the 15th of the month that I don’t want to write?

I did a 5-day series early in July on “Describe sex…” The first few lines of each are as follows:

7-3-18 This is a strange one. Because most other phenomenon a will be described by their physical properties – the game of baseball will be about… ; sex, on the other hand is more likely to be described in emotional terms.

7-4-18 It’s a physical status and a physical act. Status – male or female. Act – penetration, intercourse interaction.

7-5-18 “Sex is natural, sex is fun. Sex is best when it’s one-on-one!” “Let’s talk about sex, baby, let’s talk about you and me. Let’s talk about all the good things, that may be.”

7-6-18 Sex is power. Sex is control. Sex is authority. Sex is “top” and “bottom”, sex is “giver” and “receiver”. Sex is “fucking” – an active verb, an authoritative act – and it is “getting fucked” – a receptive, passive, dominated, submissive state.

7-7-18 Sex is biting nipples. It is stroking shoulders and grabbing hair, but not by the ends, to pull and to hurt, but close, at the back of the head, right by the name of the neck, just to get a feeling of control

I had “lose control” experiences on 7/22, 7/29, 8/5, 8/16, and 8/18. These are times when I stop thinking, stop getting logical, and often my pen does not even make words any longer. It looks like this:

7/22, at the end when I’ve completely lost control

On 8/4 I ended with “I come in the whirlwind.” I liked that line so much that I started my writing practice on 8/5 with that same line.

On 8/20 I ran a pen dry. This is always a satisfying experience. My topic was “Write about background music – “. I started and as I noticed that the pen was close to exhaustion, I promised myself I would keep going until it gave out. 6.5 pages in, the ink finally finished and I quit.

On 8/22 my topic was “Write in incomplete sentences.” It looked like this:

This will be a challenging for ________.

I don’t often ________.

In the middle of my sentences I usually ________.

Somewhat _______, but there’s this cute girl at the ________ that wasn’t immediately rejecting me last time I ________.

On 9/9 I ran out of space. I had no more empty pages. But I wasn’t done writing for the day, so I turned the notebook 45 degrees and wrote over the last page a second time. If I try reaaaaaally hard, I could probably decipher what I wrote the first time and the second time. I don’t want to try that hard.

I wrote on 60 of 83 days available during this period. I had one long stretch at the beginning where I missed 7 days in a row (I must have been doing something else the 3rd week of June), but for all the rest I usually only missed a day before writing again. My next notebook I’ll aim for 60 days of 70 (skip one day a week, on average).

I’m pretty satisfied with this one. Now it goes on the shelf. Will it ever come back off? Not likely. But still, having that tangible reminder of what I’ve done is always valuable to me.

Writing Practice – 9/8/2018 – a Letter

Write a letter to someone you haven’t seen in a long time…

Dear ________,

I’m sorry that I haven’t written in, gosh, probably 25 years, almost. The last time was when we were back in high school. And I do apologize – I’ve forgotten your name. Somehow. But I haven’t forgotten that you lived in Ames, Iowa. I thought it was cute, back then, like I thought you were cute.

Do you remember, we met on separate Choir trips to the same place? Must have been Chicago – that’s the only trip my choir ever went on. I was Treasurer of the club that year, so I spent more time counting checks than I did counting eighth notes. But that was okay – I learned quickly and sang well, so I could afford to miss rehearsals.

I would ask you how you have been, but I realize that’s a very bland, very “standard” question. I want to ask what has made you happy? What made you cry? Have you ever seen a sunset, all by yourself, standing or sitting at the top of a mountain you just climbed? What makes you laugh?

I would tell you about my life, but there’s too much. Facts aren’t that interesting, really. I know you want the stories – I want to tell them. Like how I ended up on the floor in my underwear at 2 am, crying and praying and dripping snot down my cheeks onto my chest. Or how I put half a dozen holes in the walls. Or how I almost passed out when I fell, once, and that shook me up enough to make some more drastic changes. You want to know my successes and failures. You want to know what I’m proud of and what I regret.

You know what? I’m proud of the fact that I can park 2 cars in my 2-car garage. It may seem like something people don’t often brag about, but I’m really happy I can do that.

You know what I regret? Not keeping in touch with people. Not just you – Andy, Andrew, Nathan, my brother for a while. I want to be a better friend. I want to support my friends in their journeys. I want them to support me. I don’t want to blow away like an ash from a campfire, tossed up into the wind, tumbled along without intention, without purpose, without goals that, when I achieve them, will bring a measure of satisfaction for a job well done.

I want to be happy. And I want others to be happy, too There is enough in this world for us all to achieve what we want. Why hoard? Why restrict? Give. Even if it is not returned to you, that happiness, that love, that community, give anyway. Because it is the right thing to do. If it comes back, then give again. And if it does not, well, then, you will have done the right thing, and that is most important.

Please, do write back. Maybe then I will remember your name. 🙂

Sincerely,

SJ

Writing Practice – 9/5/2018

Heart & Soul, p 201

“While most young men dream of becoming a professional athlete, Herschel Turner dreamed of becoming an artist.”

He would read books on Matisse and Magritte. He practiced cubism, sculpture, and 3-dimensional art. He painted wide swaths of canvas with daring colors, red and blue and green and orange, sometimes merging them into a dun-colored masterpiece that seemed almost indistinguishable from those hanging in the Guggenheim.

Herschel painted, sculpted, or cast into bronze by instinct. He’d seen all the others and determined to do it better, more simply, more provocatively, than they had. Just why anyone ever actually bough his shit was still remained a mystery to him. He even tried to throw them off with obsequious artist’s statements like

“This piece transcends the boundaries of language and meaning, reaching beyond context into meta-context and sub-comprehension. It is as if my feline inner nature were awakened by the transcendence of participation in the birth of this piece, and the reality has been shattered by its convergence into the conscious plane. Really, it is a sight to behold, one of the Nine Wonders of the Modern World, alongside Barack Obama, the gyroscope, and the theory of the electroweak force. Humanity is worse off for its participation in such drivel.”

And yet he was called a revolutionary. A genius. A man out of his own time. For us, as art critics, we could not see the value in what he’d been doing. But maybe that was because we were too close to the subject, to steeped in mythology and folklore of what had gone before to truly be able to step back and accept it for what it was, art, ART, art that moved people. That challenged them, that made their hearts melt or yearn or burn, and so they had to have his pieces, critical analysis be damned. I wish we could have seen IT. I wish we could have opened our minds, our eyes, just once, to see with that naive, childlike vision, to take in something just as it was, just as it made us feel, not what we thought it meant or with an eye to judge how well the execution outpaced the idea of the thing. OH, to be simple once more. To have that bland, blank stare of childhood, when you can simply like something, and you don’t have to have a reason. I miss those days.