Tag Archives: life

“All they lack is experience of something other than themselves…”

Day Four of The Challenge: we get a wee bit protesty.

Secret Life

Black death creeps across the streets
Teen girls cover their mouths as the boybands sing
Eulogies to their prepackaged hells
All they lack is experience of something other than themselves

Every surface stained with perfection’s lie
Women starve themselves to fit the ever narrowing eye
And seeking to avoid their karmic pain
The insured pop pills to feel good and act all the same
(forget your prayers and rewire your brain)

Poor man’s cardboard reads: “SPARE SOME CHANGE”
Rich man’s lawn littered with politician’s names
And that eruption on Capitol Hill
Ain’t terrorism but expansion of the shareholder’s will
(All hail the Almighty Dollar Bill)

And those who’d spend their lives in protest
Often end up seeing only what the most detest
And if belief becomes a man’s definition
I’ll put my faith not in defiance, but rather invention

So hush my dear that none of this will touch you
Allow the bitter skin to open up upon the sweet fruit
And if you search beyond the evident Joys & Ills
I promise you, you will find
The secret life that fulfills.


Believing is like Dreaming: a byproduct of intelligence

In which I urge a writer to explore his character’s doubts, rather than the deploring of others’ faith.

 

My personal take on religion is that it is a housing for experiences of an extremely personal and powerful effect, and over the centuries it has moved away from that, to a more or less impersonal aggregator of communal opinion, that seeks to mold the internal verity to an external denominator.

However (and this again is my personal take), both the disbelievers and believers base their beliefs on their own experiences. And when your character declares that he does not believe, that is not a lack of belief, but a (positive) belief in the lack of reality (negative value) of the religious experience, based on his dislike/mistrust/refutation of the religious doctrine.

Were he challenged by a [man] who uses religion not as a way to constellate the self in a cult of belonging — but rather as a way to communicate “deeper” or “uncommon” notions of connection, meaning, faith, and self — what would your character say to defend his belief that religious experience is a lie? How would your character hold up under a patient, reasonable examination of his certainty (absence of doubt) that there is no God? If he were to discuss his “un”belief with an intelligent inquisitor who insists on the psychological value, rather than the cultural influence, of spirituality — what experiences would he share? In his past, were there any moments [in his church] where the rituals fell away and he merged with something greater than him? What were the instances when his doubt emerged—the first cracks, leading up to the final shatter, which forced him to be honest with his own experience?

Believing is like dreaming: it’s a byproduct of our intelligence and imagination. We can’t not do it. And if some are convinced they don’t, it is more likely that they are not conscious of it.

(I in no way mean to say we all believe in a certain Something, but that belief itself is an attribute of human beings)

And a parting query: Can we doubt our dreams, while still allowing for their significance?


The Artist has a Split Tongue, too.

To have at hand a vessel

to restrain the dualness

of my heart’s polluted wrestle

its wisdom, foolishness.

I ever seek to edify

but in the wake of my creation

at once I criticize

my inspiration as inflation.

From The Blackbird Variations, 3 — Chapter 9.) Broken/Open


How I have Failed as a Writer, Part I

Impressive stat number one: I estimate I have written close to 2 million unique words in the last sixteen years.

Realistic and contrary stat: I have had a total of 20 words published, and that was in an article on internet piracy, in which I was wrongly accused of copyright infringement, as well as misquoted.

Both of these stats will change in the next few months, because 1) I have decided to self publish and 2) I have figured out what my freaking problem is.

My problem, in a nutshell: I have been doing every possible thing with the written word except for doing the one thing people want to have done to them, through the written word—which is to be given a moment wherein they forget their own lives and the act of reading, and are “swept up” in a tale.

My problem, mashed into nutbutter(yum!):

There are two positive and two negative moments from my teen years that have effected me as an artist, and only last year, with the writing of The BBVv3, have I been able to pin-point and lay them to rest.

First the positives: at 14 I contracted mono and was blessed with being allowed to do independent study (I loathed my highschool, and the next year secured a transfer). In independent study I was given a book that I haven’t been able to find the name of. It was about right brain/left brain politics and brain storming and such, and it propelled me into written expression. Before then, I had written some stories here and there, but afterwards… Well, there was this girl, named Brittney. She was a year older than me and I knew her from youth group and because I was not so much a ladies man as a girl’s boy I hung out with her and her friends quite a bit. Then I started to have some feelings for her, and I put these feelings onto paper, and as soon as I did so, it was like I had dropped a match onto a in late summer Northern California prairie. I burned through page after page of… stupid stuff, but I noticed that my feelings actually became stronger and more distinct when I wrote them. And, presaging the addictions to come, I was hooked on the act of poetry—moreso than the girl it was nominally directed to.

The second positive, isn’t a specific incident, but I recall several moments in my teens and later where I would be consumed by a proto-physical creative urge. Almost sexual in its intensity, but rather than being focused in my loins, it seemed to radiate from the crown of my head, and I would end up climbing trees and onto roofs, or crawling under tables, brimming over with this almost nightmarish sensation of prescience-without-context. I can’t really describe it. But I knew it had to do with making art—or, making art was the only thing I knew that could act as a channel for this sensation.

So: the contraverse: this unfortunately has to do with my father, so I’m running a little too close to whining by bringing this up, but, in writing the previously linked autobiographical account of my early twenties, these two events really made some sense of the extremity and severity of my “rebellious” actions, post childhood.

At 15 my father found some poetry I had written to a girl—to the girl after Brittany, I think, for after she had convinced me I didn’t really like her, I found another object for my adoration to be ‘inspired’ by—and then another, and then another. But dad found one of these poems and he got quite angry at me for the language I was using. I wasn’t being sexual, but rather highly metaphorical, evoking grand natural imagery to evince the boundless charge of my feelings. He said that only God was to be spoken of in that manner. That only God can be loved like Mountains and Sunsets and great big old storms, and it was wrong of me—I’m not sure if he used the word blaspheme, but that was the connotation—to compare a mere girl to the grandeur of creation. Thereafter, I never showed him a thing I created, and if he came across any of my writings it seemed he would laugh when I was attempting to be serious, and become angry when I was attempting to be humorous. This caused me to have a very, very high standard, but also caused me 1) to hide myself, actually, scratch that, to obfuscate myself, and 2) to doubt the worth of everything I produced, to see its faults and to consider it ‘not good enough’.

The second incident is rather weird, and personal, but if we aren’t personal when we’re navel-gauzy [sic], then what’s the point?

So at 16 my parents took me aside and they told me that, after praying for me, they felt that I had “Something to SAY.” We were in a church and that church was on the boring side, and my parents were on the Pentecostal side, so there was a tension that somehow landed on my shoulders. After my siblings had gone to bed one night, we stayed up praying and they ‘anointed me’ with oil, saying, again, that I had some sort of God-delivered WORD to impart to our community.

This didn’t have an immediate effect on me. I had been graced with enough self-doubt to not feel myself the prophet all of the sudden, but the seed was planted: that whatever I ended up producing had to have a super-normal worth to it. Once I was out of their house and encountered the first wave of depression in my life, that weight sent me reeling into abuses of the heart and the nervous system and… not least of all… the English language.

(it’s dinner time now. part II forthcoming)


Women and God

Man’s understanding of the Universe begins and ends with women.

The theist will proclaim God in his deepest and most meaningful voice, but he cannot deny he is often befuddled by the woman that he lives with.

And the atheist will systematically deconstruct the notion of an afterlife, the notion of a sentient higher power, but he can’t control his fingers when he sees a woman that he wants.

Only in the glimpse that is arrived at, in the moment of giving himself to her fully, does a man begin to understand life.


Existentialism and Children’s Music

After reading an internet discussion about post-modern art appreciation, I began thinking about a song I had written, ostensibly for children, about tragedy and death — and I felt prompted whip up some thoughts on “suitability” and “morbidity” in children’s entertainment.

Here are the lyrics and a music player that should work. Feel free to skip ahead to the chatter, if poetry and music bog you down (there is no shame in this!)

Boom boom, shakin’ the broom
Upside mama’s tomb
It’s true she died too soon
Boom boom shakin the broom (x2)

Then my dad, he went mad
Had to wear a straight jacket
And in the ward he had a heart attack
And its so sad dad had gone mad (x2)

Then my sis, she got kissed
By a man who was like a tempest
She tried to run but he wouldn’t be dissed
And he took her to his mountain fortress (x2)

Then my bro, he got low
Sorta disappeared in the snow
And where he went I still don’t know
If you see him would you give him this note (x2)

And as for me, as you can see
I’ve avoided that tragedy
That has claimed my family
But I’ve been runnin’ til I run outta steam (x2)

*

The question is: is there a place for morbidity in a child’s diet? Is there a place for sadness, depression and anger? There certainly has been — it is only in this past century that fairytales have been spayed, neutered, dethorned, and shaved of all bristles. And while I’m not against pre-chewed food for those who can’t eat steak — I have always been a little edgy, in my relationship with kids. I chide, I kid, I say things how I see them, even if it is a bit brash. On the other hand, when I come into contact with children’s media that is more pessimistic (read: mean) than wry, I find myself thinking: “You guys can do better than that.” But it’s the bitterness and not the depth or tragedy that I dislike.

Who will say that a kid does not understand, even a bit, what loss is. Sure, they do not obsess over death like they would a favored piece of molded plastic, but from simple observation you can see that every child experiences every part of the emotional spectrum, almost as if they were required to. An autodidactic Emotional Education, where the playground is both the locker-room, shower and racetrack.

So the—not problem, but speed bump, maybe, isn’t the kids. It’s us, the adults: we put the moral weight upon not just actions but experiences, we approve or disapprove, steering them clear as well we can from death, abuse, calamities of the mind and isolation and everything deemed “heavy” and “difficult.” We assume that these experiences are the dividing line between innocence and experience. Between what makes the child “pure” and the adult “jaded”.

And I do not know if that’s really the case. I mean, I believe that it’s unhealthy to wallow and brood over shame and rage and sorrow, and yet when we are taken up in those states, when life brings hardship, it is necessary to fully feel those things. Not to run from them or suppress them, but, in the very least, to be present with them. Acknowledgement — an honest and exacting measurement of the state we are actually in — is the first step toward recovery. True recovery, not a temporal plastering of the levy, but feeling the full furloughing flood, and building the dyke back up when the waves have washed out.

(A Jung quote comes to mind: “Neurosis is the avoidance of necessary suffering.”)

So perhaps this song is a “special purposes” song, not for regular day-to-day use, but for times when consolation and commiseration seem impossible.

In summation: When the darkness is at its deepest, maybe it’s best not to ignore it, or forcibly drowned it out with faux-joy and psuedo-smiles, but rather to sing along with it, until a chance wind comes through and clears it away.