This longform post is a collection of a few of the week’s many letters, posted here just for the sake of commemorating this small little segment of time and where I’m at with things…which, lately, is a little all over the place, but it’s working out, as such things do.
The trick is just to keep going, to keep fucking moving.
A Letter To Myself
It’s not like I’ve forgotten. The thought is pervasive, still.
Everytime I look up, I remember what I wanted to do, what I saw and what it inspired.
However, the urgency left a long time ago, its departure ushered in by the realization that I simply do not have the skills to launch and sustain an initiative to persuade a proof of God based on cloudforms.
I wish I’d gone to art school, not to learn how to make art…I can teach that to myself…but, to learn the art of being an artist…to become familiar with the messaging and ingenue that put the artist to work with the most coveted media…culture, ideas, and the human heart/mind.
I think, right this very minute, I am appreciating something about art that I didn’t fully appreciate before…and that is the extent to which so very much is little more than a crapshoot, and therein lies the art.
It’s no secret that I’m an analyst and it’s certainly no secret that the world cannot be fully figured, ever.
There’s your mystery.
As for God, that’s not too mysterious…though so much can happen in the exchanges between love and fear, creation and destruction.
We’re storytellers, adapting myth.
To radically shift topics, which I can do because I am writing this email to myself and there’s no need for it to make sense to anyone else, as it serves primarily to serve as an eventual prompt by which I will remember this day…which is the Tuesday that I rekindled my belief that somehow I will figure out how to do what I want to do and that I will find people that will help me.
There are clouds piling up, like “pillows on a queen’s bed” (a phrase taken from an artist’s statement that I wrote for my oldest childhood friend sometime in 1998, when I was living in a 3rd floor room and watching the cars come off the bridge, the buses pulling along the street in their measured merging.)
My god, I love words. Sometimes the pleasure I feel with words like “measured merging” is…physical. I cross my legs. I squeeze my thighs together, and deep in my mind there is something perfect like a pearl, a small polished spot made of syllables pulled together that blush with a hundred different possible meanings and associations.
There is thunder.
Today I went to work, and I listened to stories that had been written by the people who come to my Tuesday Creative Writing class. I do not tell them what to write. I tell them: “Write anything you want…it doesn’t matter what you think of it.”
We talk a lot about finding voice. It’s interesting that some of the students ask me to read their work for them. I think, in ways, it may be a good thing for the person who is still claiming their voice…to just hear the story they had written, without worrying about ownership or quality of voice or what anyone might be thinking. To just be able to listen to a trusted person read one’s words, to hear your story and what someone else’s voice may find in it.
The same piece of writing could be read many different ways. Words we read when we are doubtful can be jagged and flat…while the same words, read with love, can make us feel what is most beautiful in the story…no matter what it is about.
I think that stories are amazing. Today is the story of how I changed, again, my thinking about art, what it is and what it does, who makes it and how.
During my brief how-to-be-an-artist-in-one-year phase, which was brief because…I realized this: We are all artists.
Just by being alive and even by dying, we make art because we make stories.
This is the day that I had to think real hard about the degree to which I have begun to think of myself as a story and just how unhealthy that has the capacity to become. On one hand, it can be a useful perspective, because if I am a story, I want to be a good one…one that is true to who I am and have the potential to be.
Though there are many fine stories about losers, about people who lose things…people who lose almost everything.
I want my story to be about winning…I want the losers, myself included, to win in the best possible ways.
I want, for example, an odd out-of-line person from out of left field to prove God.
So, I set out, in some ways, to become that person…which is, admittedly, completely absurd and a bit audacious.
I believe that, somewhere in here, there is a post concerning my realization that I would be near perfect as the character who proves God, with my scattered and tragiromantic history and endearing humiliations, the ink in my skin and the very real scar on my arm, my earnest efforts toward an artful and honest life and my more epic fails…these eyes that seem to have changed and this face that seems to look a certain way to certain people, at certain times…all that and the fact that I really did prove God or at least something about how states of grace might work and the likely origin of written human language and a whole lot of stories.
It’s a little absurd that people would expect me to be able to present this information, which I came upon accidentally, as if I weren’t the sort of person who would spend the whole summer taking pictures of clouds, as if I were the sort of person who would spend the whole summer cataloging photographs and sending out inquires and doing research on ideological markets.
I did a little of that, albeit in incredibly 1/2 assed and, in some instances, inappropriate ways.
I seem to forget that people do not know everything about me. I forget that they read my words with no idea of who I am and that even if I tell them my story, they still only know it in woefully limited ways. They do not know how I felt, typing out the words, or that I was laughing sometimes and crying at others. They do not know that earlier in the day I had been cross with my mother on the phone or that my hands are lovely.
I was just some “crazy” person, saying things “crazy” people say. The difference is I’m not “crazy,” well…maybe I am…but, really, I am just very clever.
I’m so clever, in fact, that I realize that even my saying this causes a resistance, a push-back if you will…a reflexive doubt in my cleverness…a skepticism, a mild dislike.
Nobody likes a smarty-pants…and, it’s true, I’m not really that smart.
One would think that someone who spent so much time considering her own story and the boundaries of her identity and attributes may be an egoist or even a narcissist…and, in ways, maybe I am. I know though that the only reason that I do much of anything outside of my small, personal sphere is because I happen to have been given a story to tell…and it is told because…it is told because I want to help…
…inspire liberation and the end of all wars?
…by proving God with clouds?
Thank goodness I have day jobs and that it’s not really all up to me, regardless of what the songs on the radio may suggest.
To A Person Who Has Written A Book
Hi – I guess I’ll just call this off-list/non-group communication, because that is what it is.
I’ll be forthright in saying that I knew that your book is a very important book as soon as I saw enough words casually flipping by on the pages to have an idea what it is about.
Truth be told, I did find it odd that I found some hulking and tremulous feeling in my chest upon carrying it. It’s not a feeling I have very often, and, as I noted at the time, I usually take it to mean that something is magical…not in the sense of fairydust, though there may be some of that?
When I say magical I mean that something is important, and by important I mean that when I interact with said important thing, a certain exchange or thematic reinforcement is bound to occur that bears significance in the outcome of this story, which is the story of my life.
I’ll demonstrate grounding and perspective by saying that I am aware that the tone and content of this message may sound “crazy” – but only to people with a rather limited perspective on how things work in the world.
I’m not going to spend any time at all talking about “It’s just all sounds so crazy!”
Due to my engaged reading of 39 pages of your book (as well as my having noted your ideas and apparent interests), I suspect that you’ll likely be able to follow the content and spirit of this message, which I am suddenly faltering in writing.
Who wants to hear some 1/2 mad woman’s musings about how curious it is that I was handed a book that I completely understand.
I’m sure you’ve noticed that a lot of people who end up with labels of “mental illness” seem to have these experiences that involve shifts in theme, signals, codes, numbers, and peculiar sensory phenomenon augmented by a sudden capacity for meta-gestalt conception…and it seems to have occurred to you, as it has many others, that perhaps there’s something to it all.
For a while, I’d ask the people who showed up bearing absurdly complimentary resources of knowledge and experience, “Do you know who I am? Did you read my story?”
…and they never had. They just shook their heads and laughed a little, wondering what exactly I was talking about, whether or not I was delusional, and why my eyes were so lit up.
There was the vegan “schizophrenic” ex-army man, who was working on a detailed re-visioning the English language, based on the original etymologies of words that had – over time – been transmuted to the point of misspelled corruption. He was also redesigning homeland military installations for peace time sustainability, rather than war time defense and deployment. He inspired me to think about light spectrometry and its effects on consciousness, due to his recounting of particular programs his father had been involved in.
He was homeless and traveling. I saw him on a street corner and something about him reminded me of Will Oldham and I felt I should stop my car and talk with him.
There was the similarly homeless young brown man, who could learn any song by hearing it once and who spoke a lot about Christ and the evils of the Illuminati.
I had, at that time, begun to think that perhaps there was and is a Real Illuminati and that maybe they weren’t so bad after all and were trying to somehow remedy the dreadful situation within the dispersed organization and so I wasn’t quite sure about that fellow’s ideas.
There was my friend who rode a bus from California to spend a summer on the porch with me, who had read all of Philip K. Dick’s books, who played a white violin, badly, and knew how to do real magic with playing cards embodied as tarot.
He poured ink on my bed and left town on a bus from the same station he had arrived at.
We’re still facebook friends.
There are lots of other people, women and men, who have shown up in such a way that I have felt I had to ask, “Do you know my story? Do you know who I am?”
…because it just made so much sense, how they knew things I needed to know and vice versa.
…But, they never had, they never did. I was just some person to them and they only knew of me what they knew based on what I had told them, or what they had gleaned or assumed, which was never the whole story or even – in many cases – a remotely accurate version.
The times I tried to tell the whole story, I never got far, because it is not a story that is well-told in casual and linear conversation…and so I stopped asking if people knew me and I stopped telling the story.
That is why I won’t bother to ask you if you know who I am.
I know that you don’t and, really, I’m a nobody.
However, I did figure a few things out…mostly on my own. It is not so much that I figured them out. They’ve been figured out before. It’s the way that I figured these things out that is, objectively speaking, remarkable.
“People know about this.”
I’ve written that more than once.
I would say ‘this’ as a double entendre, meaning that there are people who are well aware of the workings I described (mostly in rants and broken syntax) and that very little of this knowledge is anything newly constructed…except for one thing, one big thing that might be a new conclusion.
I was certain that there were people that fully grasped both what it was that I was seeking to establish and, moreover, there were people who believed that I might actually be quite spot-on in my thinking about something that has the potential to change everything.
There is so much that can change everything.
Therefore, it seemed to me that there must be someone who was paying attention, because shouldn’t people be paying attention to things that can change the world?
Yes, I know. I was very naïve.
It is worth noting that all of my suspicions are completely unsubstantiated, but that most of my paranoia is well-reasoned, based in the confidence that I have in the strength of my conclusions and my faith in the possibility that a few people might *know* and *feel* what they are seeing when they see it.
In reality, I understand that it is highly unlikely that anyone is conscientiously paying any attention at all whatsoever to me or anything I say or do.
However, in a world that differs only ever so slightly from this one, it would make perfect sense that people are watching me, that my ideas and my evidence and my story were and are being noted.
It is possible that this may only make perfect sense to me, that this world exists only in my mind, because I know the whole story and all of the coalesced themes, the play with archetypes, the hundred thousand signs, the songs I hear on the radio.
Did you know that I really did try to join the Illuminati? It was sort of an experiment.
Those efforts led to a brief but very supportive and encouraging correspondence with a young Serbian who himself fancied the Masons and thought the Illuminati to be Satanic.
He was one of the few friends I had during the worst winter of my entire life.
It’s funny that I should think that people are consciously orchestrating so much that occurs in my life. It’s not people. People would not be so clever.
It’s just how the world works…
I really like your book. I guess that’s all I’m saying.
I had fun writing this message, which is written from the perspective of the primary sub-reality that I actively maintain, inhabit, and participate in. Here, I am a scarred and tattooed divorced mother of two who for years went unnoticed as having a fine atypical intelligence and after enduring the heartbreaking details of her own little history somehow figured out how this thing people call God, and everything else, might actually work.
She sorted it all out by finding shapes in the clouds and writing down what she was thinking about as she drew.
(Sometimes she writes herself in 3rd person, because in many ways her life has become a story.)
It’s not so much that any ideas are new (except maybe one, which is also not new, but which has been woefully obscured), but that I figured them out without much reliance on the work of others, except when such work or idea was interjected into my consciousness via the bits and pieces of information that the world spins into our stories.
I learned, and am still learning, what to pay attention to and what to trust.
That being said. I think I’m going to just write you a very brief email and say, “I like your book.”
No, I’ll send this.
I mean, all I’m saying is I like your book and it makes sense to me that you would show up with this book you wrote.
I have never read Philip K. Dick. I have never read Vonnegut. I am not a Discordian, except maybe I am because what the fuck is a Discordian anyway?
Thanks for letting me borrow your book. I’m going to read the whole thing.
To A Person Who Asked Me to Draw Some Pictures For Them
Isn’t it weird to think that those places we were are still there, that those realities still exist…and to be outside of it, free…but, knowing there are people inside who were and are just like you and I and so many.
Sadly, I find myself hoping for an economic collapse that will bankrupt the system of psychiatric hospitalization and prisons and the military and WalMart…(it’s all connected, from the psych ward to the gun aisle)…because I don’t see a lot of other ways out, aside from a critical mass of broad strategic nonviolent resistance, which we are far from…because this is a violent society…or maybe people and banks could just go broke and slowly peaceably adapt to non-capitalist means out of necessity…um, I have a hard time seeing that happening without a lot of support.
I went to an interesting talk the other night and a person was speaking about an activist exercise that involved visualizing and communicating the world we imagine wanting to live in, what it would look like, how things would work…and the person reported that there were tears in people’s eyes, longtime activists who looked up and admitted that they couldn’t, that they really couldn’t believe that the world they wanted to live in was possible…and, damn, there is something about that that feels very important to me.
So, I’ve been spending a lot of time seeing if I can imagine the reality of the world I want to live in…and it seems like the only way I can get there is to picture everything coming apart at the seams, a metacrisis of sorts…and maybe that is because I see crisis as a pathway for growth and change (because everything is, some things in ways that are more radical than others) and so it seems unavoidable to me that things would have to fall apart.
I think the world is prodromal toward a full-on breakdown.
Which is why it seems so vital to me that we figure out other ways to approach humans who are freaking out…because it seems like more and more people are struggling.
I don’t know why I went on and on like that…I guess cause I just went running in the rain and I haven’t had a chance to think about a hundred things that need thinking about. When I feel scattered, I re-orient to the bigger picture…but because the picture is so big, that sometimes just casts me out to the edge of the open and then I remember a bill to pay or a chore to do and I have to reel myself back in, set my feet back down.
As for drawing, I think I will continue to work with the idea, which is now very clear in my mind and I can actually see what you mean and that feels good…it’s a nice process, and I’m thankful for it.
An Old Letter, as part of my ongoing effort to remember…
MEDIOCRE POEMS FROM A MEDIOCRE WEEK
We were just bones
in the hours before the miles
the days before this flooding
while the barefeet
a new world
that can and can’t
and does and doesn’t
in a conference room
near the check-in desk
with its plastic keys
That first day
was the last day
it was Summer
its been Fall
or some late-Spring
I was 16 years old
and I barely knew
sex and/or power
State of grace
State of grace
and that tired eyes
can’t hardly see
where God is
depending on what you think
about all of that
and whether or not you agree
that we were living
a 24 hour window
that day that summer died in the air conditioning
and was reborn
as strange fruit
on a starched spread
and whether or not you agree
that I just may be a trickster
and possibly a muse
not unlike the Holy Mother
or any other run-of-the-mill
the 4th came, went
smoke caught in fog
and alarms going off
as a hundred grills went cold
in the rain
and in the quiet living room
with the archangels
that couldn’t save me
from the ghost
of who I was
…or something else
that some man said
in a poem that is much better than this one
with these ants
and with this water
all the things that will not
in the hearts and minds
What I Did This Afternoon and Evening
I paid the fee
to get into it
I leapt a curb
Note: because my computer was wrecked by electricity, I am relying on recycled images from an external harddrive, because I do not have my recent files anymore, they are stuck inside a dead computer, quiet data.
I am aware that, at this point, I am just telling parts of the story over and over again…at this particular point in time, this space is static…somewhat spinning, working out what it wants to be…though a random depository of my life’s ephemera, both real and imagined, isn’t such a terrible thing to be.
I just realized:
IT IS NOT ENOUGH TO KEEP MOVING.
I HAVE TO FIGURE OUT WHERE I AM GOING.