Sunday 8 October 2006
9:12am. A quieter morning. Fewer feet. At a glance, seventeen people, one dog, four pigeons, a blackbird and a squirrel. The meadow daisies have closed their tiny white umbrellas. The peach on my desk has turned to a pear. It is a treetop day for the crows. Total cloud cover. Barely a breeze. Mild. Maybe 50F. I am prepared today with a hat, fingerless gloves, wool socks, stockings, a sweater, a jacket and corduroy pants. Mmmm, autumn.
Not a soul has bothered me. All the energies of autumn are fueling the search. Beneath the Aurora bridge this morning, dozens of sculls, a crew regatta, a collection of fans on the shore. One bright spirit on the bridge looking down. Usually I am the one. Rarely a walker, twice a bicyclist, across this half mile span. It is at my age that men and women make their break, free themselves. Soar. Yes, my age is the age to consider. But I cast only wishes from The Middle Place. And today I wished for… it is not what you wish, but what you desire that counts. And that cannot be named. But this doesn't keep me from wishing. No, today I wished for laughter.
The apple trees by the troll are under their full load, pathways lined with yellow and red globes. Leaf litter most of the way. Even my tulip meadow is scattered with willow blades.
Song and music from the east. Light from the east. Harmonica and voice. And now it is sprinkling. Pinpoints freckle my pear. My half-sheet handouts begin to wave.
"Truth is a progressive conquest" (Colette Gaudin, On Poetic Imagination and Reverie: Selections from the Works of Gaston Bachelard). Truth and conquest come of facing fear. What do you fear? Do you fear being alone? Becoming dependent? Do you fear meaninglessness? Stasis? Certainly you don't fear struggle or pain, and yet you fear death. You don't fear bad relationships, but rejection you fear. What tangibles frighten you? Being buried alive, forgotten, drowning, freezing to death? Spiders? Stray dogs? Disease? Something.
The Zone, does that frighten you? The Zone, the cordoned off acreage in Tarkovsky's film Stalker, the forbidden place, impacted by a meteor, suspected of alien encounters. The place where myth is born. Rumors of A Room . A Room which, when entered, fulfills your darkest wish.
Terrifying, the prospect of the supernatural. But terrifying, the resignation to what is carnal. But the shackles of association, are they more or less terrifying than threats of excommunication? Of questions or answers, which confuse more? Do you know either? Have you access to your desire?
I feel neutral today about the Circlers. They have a job to do. Their work is a cause of their lifestyle. They are here to balance their lives. They have no choice. They have slept badly, eaten poorly, or too richly, have taken their worries too far, let themselves be upset by what is out of their control. And so they run or jog or walk in circles until their lives are plumb. They think and gaze and inhale in circles until their paths are rhumb. Until they can set their eyes back on the treasure, the end and final treasure, without doubt of mistaking good for bad, filthy for fine or wrong for right.
This Circling Place, it doesn't frighten me. What frightens me is The Zone. It was a passive moment when I mistook The Zone for a child's game, Chutes & Ladders, the tamped down trails, the dirt beds leading up the ivied hill. They aren't what I took them to be. A young man sleeps at a fork in the path within view of the walk, his head on a pack. Beyond this, nothing of the field is visible. What do you imagine? Not a game or a camp, but a zone of refugees, a web of desperation. We have learned, when comfortable, to fear this desperation. What is desperate shoots us to the core. When our eyes meet such eyes, the desperate greets the desperate. However dormant, the desperate muscle awakens to its purpose and flexes in revolt.
I walk four miles along Aurora to Green Lake every Sunday. It would mark my greatest challenge to turn off Aurora between the pedestrian overpass and Aloha Inn and head into The Zone, to navigate that greenway, walk up the ivy table and out of sight into the dark above, covered with soaring trees, still leafy in October. Crawl up to the million dollar homes on Taylor Avenue. Yes, this would awaken my fear. My fear of the desperate, lecherous, drunken, preying one, the one waiting out of sight. The zone of my imagination.
Stalker, the guide for clients who would venture into The Zone in search of The Room, throws nuts in tied cloth squares to test his way, to guide them through. I would take another kind of offering to make my passage. I do not mean a defense, I mean a gift, a token, something with which to buy passage. What gift? Meat, I think. Dried meat and poetry books. It would be too simple to suggest a male counterpart, a guide. You might as well brace my legs, crutch me. Send another to face my fear. No, this is something I must do alone. And will.
"I see it as my duty", Tarkovsky writes, "to stimulate reflection on what is essentially human and eternal in each human soul, and which all too often a person will pass by, even though his fate lies in his own hands. In the end everything can be reduced to the one simple element which is all a person can count upon in his existence: the capacity to love. That element can grow within the soul to become the supreme factor which determines the meaning of a person’s life" (Andrei Tarkovsky, 'Sculpting in Time').
Gaston Bachelard says "the poetic act has no past" (Bachelard, The Poetics of Space). The poet has no past.
Proust's definition of the past is "real without being actual, ideal without being abstract" (Proust, Le Temps Retrouvé, ch. III). Regaining childhood requires losing childhood.
Toru Takemitsu composed, for solo violin and string orchestra, an inspired piece performed here by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, "Nostalghia, In memory of Andrei Tarkovsky" (1987).
Memory is what we dreamt, the signifiers we attached to the world we were wrapped in. The sort of fabricated super-significance that can never be found again or re-achieved, which accounts for the disheartening trips we take to our past locales. There is no going back to a fiction. Memory isn't a place, but a dream. Just as today's experiences are being made into dreams, so yesterday's were all fabricated. All we have is the present and what we're willing to make of the future.
This ought to offer memory enough for a week.
"The end is not a resolution. You fall back to the beginning. It's a way to resist an equation" (Pierre Huyghe, Issue 85 Contemporary 21).
If I were to resist the equation or "reject the notion of finite meaning," as artist Carsten Holler does, I would have to admit that every day I am disappointed and every day astounded again. Every day I make new meaning and every day drop it into a well. I suffer disappointment all of the time. I cry and laugh and they mean nothing. You cannot describe a state of happiness without seizing a moment of laugher. Nor sadness without cutting out an instant. Growth and destruction rumble daily. It is not necessary to outweigh one with the other, fight destruction with growth. "For Deleuze, the one substance is an always-differentiating process, an origami cosmos, always folding, unfolding, refolding" [Wikipedia, Gilles Deleuze].
Substance with no meaning.
"Everything that ever happened is still happening. Past, present and future keep happening in the eternity which is Here and Now. Everything is Song. Everything is silence. Since it all turns out to be illusion, perfectly being what it is, having nothing to do with good or bad, you are free to die laughing" (James Broughton, "Free to Die Laughing," from an interview with Martin Goodman, 1997).
Artist Dan Graham's Video Projection Outside Home (1978) consists of a projection screen on the front lawn of a family home displaying whatever TV program is currently being watched inside. Maybe this helps us understand? Meaning is like this. The image of the image of our life conveys so little. Not only art, but our understanding of the world, is a viewing experience. Sometimes, oftentimes, our view is a distant with moving images. If this is what we know of the world, what can we say of knowing?
Signifiers have to be looked at together and alongside our works and systems if we are to locate meaning. Compare an eating habit with a religion. Compare a hobby with a hair style. Compare a stance on war with a stance on physical education. Piece together a dimension. Compare eye-level with body-induced information. What a person is willing to wear, say, and work at, says who they are as much as the image on their screen, the color of their walls and the name on their towels.
If I am to make meaning of the bells I hear, or do not hear, from the Zion Lutheran Church on Aurora Avenue, I must search for these bells. I must bring these bells into my dreams, build upon them, attach them to signifiers, make them more than they are, dissolve them into air again. They had to construct a French valley of red clay roofs with sandal-shod monks pulling an octopus of chords. They had to be melted down into bronze guns, shooting red cakes across Aurora, which needed to burst into mesmerizing crumbs. Crumbs capable of stunning the Circlers. Of breaking their measured feet, their rhythm. For a velvet crumb of time. The crumbs were exquisite. The sort of red you see nowhere else. Policemen and women stop by, on duty, to savor them. Lines of workmen form. No one outside Murano sees this kind of red.
"What is fashionably known as the 'postmodern condition' is really the condition of people who, having given up on their fundamental anxieties, find it easier to conceal them. Such people no longer know what to hope for or how. […]the goal of all art […] is to explain to the artist himself and to those around him what man lives for, what is the meaning of his existence." (Sapna Anu B. George, Author's Den, 2003).
GREEN LAKE QUOTES
"It doesn't look like you have anything for sale." --Unnamed visitor
"If there's a language of the gods, it has to be poetry." --Unnamed visitor
"The nature of life is the ambiguity of everything." --J. Tufel
"Thank you for the inspiration." --Unnamed runner
Green Lake artist, Faith Van De Putte, granted permission to reprint her poem here.
Crow Poet by Faith Van De Putte
If I were a crow with a clever eye
I would swoop down and steal the
sparkle "P", tinsel "O", glitter "E"
and your dragged in from Vegas "T"
but would leave the shabby brown desk.
If I were a crow in the morning
I would take inventory
feather by feather and choose
a single plume to leave fallen in the dew.
Then watching from my crooked branch
for the Sunday woman (a woman so full of words)
to find my gift left in the grass
I would wonder- what will she do.
I found your feather, kept for a spell, let blow to the ground once more before pinning to the tulip tree.