Wednesday, June 27, 2007

A Perfect Circle

What does it look like? Is it closed? Is it open?
Does it look anything, or nothing.. the void or the sum?

Does it look like Green Lake?
Does it look like your life?

On his death bed, visual and performance artist James Lee Byars said to his friend Tom McEvilley, "Tom, why can't we make anything perfect!?" This from an artist who spent a lifetime searching for the perfect. Attempting the perfect.

"His oeuvre had begun over thirty years before with the theme of Question - an open interrogative stance which lent an airy sweetness to the early work. But now, a lifetime later, his oeuvre was ending, in darkening Egyptian sunlight, with a troubled emphasis on Perfect. In the mid '80s the shifting relationship between these themes began with the Perfect Question. As things unfolded, it seemed increasingly clear that Perfect was not in fact a question; it was an answer. Perfect was the Answer to Question" [Johnny wakes.(James Lee Byars), Artforum International, 9/1/1997].


This Sunday (1 July 2007) marks one full year of poetry at Green Lake (Seattle, WA). This is it. The end of the line.

I'm invigorated. I'm tired. I don't want to go. I'm ready to move on. I've got a million things to do. I won't know what to do with myself (oh yes I will). I'll miss it. It hasn't yet dawned on me.

My poetry desk is (still, yes still) the most important thing I do. It is the dog I walk. It forces me away from myself and into the community.

What will I be without it? Where will I be? Who will I be? And how can I leave?


One year ago today, I walked out of my apartment, in despair. I had no community. I had no collaborators. I had work to do. I had no way of doing it. The people I knew fixed boats. The people I knew climbed mountains. The people I knew sailed boats. The people I knew were not making the kind of art that changes things.

I left my apartment in despair one day. I knocked on every door. Cindy Fuda opened a door for me. I walked in. I occupied a space for a while. The people I needed came to me. The art I needed came. The community came. The work I was called to do became apparent.

I stood for me. I stood for you. I stood for the poet. I stood for all of us. And the things before me became for me as I think they became for you.


The people I have come to know at Green Lake say they will miss me, they will miss the poet, the poet's presence. Do you hear?! They will miss the poet! That means they will be looking for you.

Dear Poets,
Have you heard? The world misses you!

Dear Poets,
They need you. They want you.

Dear Poets,
Wait at the door no more. Go to them.

This Sunday, 1 July 2007

You're invited... to the closing ceremony (at Green Lake of course).

Not just I, but you have survived a full year of poetry. Bravo! You did wonderfully. You were curious, as I knew you would be. You responded. You turned your head. You held your camera up. You whispered as you went by, "poet." Then you came forward. You asked questions. Some were hard questions. Some easy. You gave answers. Very good answers. You enlightened me.

You made this happen as much as I. We met in the middle. I leave in full hope that this conversation will keep going for a long, long time.


I am preparing an installation for you, a present, to bring the year to a close. Local labyrinth designer, Dan Niven, and I are preparing a temporary meadow labyrinth for you. Come walk it. Come make a perfect circle. Come answer a question. (Isn't it fitting that the project should close with a collaboration?)

It's free. It's anonymous. And it lasts all day (9-5). Let's celebrate our new community. It'll be nothing without you. It'll really be something with you! Please come.. to the meadow where 72nd street intersects with Aurora Ave, near the Shell gas station.

Less and less and less until you are,


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry to have missed you on your penultimate weekend, and sorry you were ill. Came to get your take on Hejinian’s The Cell in reference The Radish King., but was called away to the vineyards.

In the park, a poet, come to find the missing souls who have forgotten their need to test poetical depths, afraid to seek a source without proper preparation, yet driven to seek the community of a walk about the lake. What? An artist come to share art with those unschooled in Art? An intriguing proposition which called out to be examined. I was impressed, and in Liebowitzian form prepared to be the priest, though always envisioning myself in the other form. Reversals are always welcome.

Now this follow-up blog is another matter, with other character. I seem to be attributed knowledge and sensitivities I recall coming from the other Michael, which seems to do him personal disservice, though I understand that poetical dialogues often require devices to round out form. Who can say who spoke what to Socrates to get the needed answer?

Is knowledge the thing, a thing, anything? Knowledge is another dialogue; always shifting, changing and evolving; only a tool for communicating, always wrong and inaccurate, but, like a song, evocative. As such, is a study of music disenchanting? Is only the native savant truly wondrous? I don’t know or care, just so kindness is present in all human endeavor, be it ever so brutal. Knowing the squirrel is unwell does not alienate it’s squirreliness, but bonds it to my faulty knowledge of condition. I may faultily empathize concern only to overlook some pernicious rodent behaviour it is about to indulged in. A knowledge of some dialogue in pidgin-grape does not define a wine, but I look and see that there is no potassium in the ground where the vine flourishes and have spent the weekend filling this void so that when the sun (if) causes growth in the fall the plant will have the wherewithal to store the sugars to attract the bird, even knowing the vineyard man will thwart it all to harvest the grape. Does it blight the wine? Perhaps, but I am motivated by the desire to participate in the dialogue of my foolbegotten culture, and it is that participation (even with knowledge that actions have consequences) that drives the sale. If the result is a knowledge that folk on a dock have enhanced an evening by responding to a culturally driven desire to expound when tipsy, I win. Though I do understand that I may also have been involved in a ragged, vomitous night of self destruction and despair, and it is a risk I accept. Things get complicated.

Actions have consequences, and it is good to examine and see how things go, just so we behave a little more carefully, but even so, life is active and changing. Mr. Kawasaki may have been right (if he existed) when he said “If the unexamined life is not worth living, the unlived life is not worth examining.” I, personally, think that is a little brutal, and would say rather that all lives are lived (tautology). Aurora is the ghastly highway, but it is also the wandering Pan American Highway. Eventually freeways will evoke nostalgia. The track that brought the first humans wandering down from the North drove off some idea of a Arcadian past, but what of the lives that wandered or waited? Who got a ride and who was left to leap from the bridge? Who wept and was comforted and who was slaughtered as fuel? What do we see, and where do we take it? As I recall the dialogue refered to goes something like:
“Beyond that road there’s a world that’s shining!
Beyond that road lies despair!”

Sparkle and Shine,

The Wart

5:15 PM  
Anonymous cehegarty said...

Bravo Mimi! You have completed an heroic task. All the best to you!

9:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Mimi!
We love you!
Scott & Nancy

1:34 PM  

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