Two Forms of Memoir Part 2 : the Tactile as Vessels of Transformation

On seeing photographs of Picasso sitting and walking amid large canvases and eating from plates decorated wth his drawings of fish, I realized imagery in my work could take up a larger space. . . More and more I tacked up on the wall cards, prints, and photographs, even carried them with me. Finally I took to Scotch-taping my typewritten pages on the wall. It began to make a difference in my work.

Adrienne Kennedy – people who led to my plays

scotchtape

Make sure you gather every piece of clothing and be sure to handle each one.

Marie Konde – The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up

clothes

Isn’t it strange how in this digital, sensorily-amplified, modern landscape, actually touching objects, and interacting with letters, patterns, fabrics, textures, words, is a transformative, even radical, act?

 

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The Magic of First Takes

The putting together of this project/ feels so analogue and piecemeal/ not at all peaceful/ her friend says to record it when the feeling hits

It’s strange to listen back.

It’s 1995, I’m living at the Parkside, 19th & Aloha. I’ve taken to writing poems on tiny white pads of paper. In my mind, they’re just frenzied mental notes, slated for the scrap-pile. One day I press record on my Sony Walkman and speak the bits into the room. Later, I listen back. The thing that hit my ears is astounding – polished and confident! I’m ashamed that I had thought so lowly of my scribbles. They’ve morphed into something real, something worthy of existing! Now I have something I have an obligation towards, something to preserve and protect. I stash the cassette in a box and later find the tape has tangled with another tape and must be cut. I keep the damaged tape for some time, but eventually throw it out,  tired of seeing it un-mended.

Flash forward to March 27, 2018. I soak in the tub and listen back to a recording on my phone. It’s rough. I’m playing a few coarse chords on the piano and singing words from my journal about the impossibility of capturing the essence of the moment. Body submerged, the sounds coalesce. The content strikes me as raw, yet perfect. Once it’s in my ears, I know it has become a thing that will hold up for me, that I’ll expect. That I’ll defend. If I hadn’t recorded it, I wouldn’t give it the time of day. The recording makes a claim on my memory, fixes it in my brain as something worth saving. What is behind my fascination with first takes? Is it blind obedience, or something higher, something approaching grace?

Day 8: Heartbreak – Heart Improvement

And now ladies and gentlemen. . . we’ve reached the halfway mark on our Love Ride!

And just to show that it’s not all fun and games, I’m gonna drop it down and play a demo I recorded in Fall of 2013. The later version of this song has all sorts of bells and whistles – but I think the early version possesses its own quiet Beauty.  And speaking of Beauty, have you ever noticed how those dark moments of the soul become hinges that let more light into your life than you ever thought possible?

Day 7: Disillusion – Meltdown

This song takes me to the ocean really. It breezes along, actually I used to think of it as a bit Beach Boy-ish in melody and mood.

So why did I match this song with Disillusion, which my dictionary says, refers to an instance of disenchantment?

Let’s go back to the shore, the waves. It’s magical, right? But the ground isn’t really solid, it’s composed of billions of shifting particles, granules of mountains. And the horizon, your point of reference, what is it but vapor molecules condensing and evaporating? Likewise, anything or anyone you cling to is liable to switch allegiances with the waxing, waning moon.

Still, the beach is a treat, it’s ample balm for the divesting of illusions. As is this song – whose catalyst is just about washed clean from my memory. . .

Notes scribbled during a performance of Cineastas, expanded upon and turned into ten rules to live by

1.Two lives are more balanced than one. A double life is preferred, and keeps people guessing.

2. Objects reconstruct life. Look around a space, how everything is placed tells our story.

3. The juxtaposition of two things paves the way for a third idea. The superimposition of fiction upon a life creates a hybrid existence, clarified, rare, potentially immortal.

4. Everything that belongs to us will someday be part of someone else’s film set.  Take as a case in point, adultery.  A husband or a wife is as apt to show up in someone else’s drama as an ascot or a handbag.

5. There’s little time left.

6. “To Moscow we must go!” Ever since Chekhov wrote Three Sisters, this expression has exemplified a longing for poetry and art and culture and a desire to escape the low-brow and the mundane.  In Cineastas, the character goes on to ask, “What will I do once I get there?”

7. We see fictions.  We see our lives through fictional lenses.  Does art imitate life or is it vice versa?

8. In all stories, the inciting incident is what sets a character off upon a transformative journey.  In Cineastas, the filmmaker starts out to make his or her film.  It is the inciting incident which interrupts, transforming the experience of making the film into a harrowing, mind-boggling, revelatory act, which is the play within the play we take delight in.

9.  What changes? What lasts? How does the concept of erasure force us to see the things in life that are valuable and therefore fleeting? Or, is it the other way around: is our ghost life valuable because it is a slate soon to be wiped clean?

10. Fiction lasts longer than lives.  Identity is fluid.  We can identify with the Russian Steppes, we may perceive those hills containing measurable qualities that will sustain us.  In the end, what we have to live on is story-telling and imagination.

Baba yaga and the awkwardness of the present

“It is quite true what Philosophy says: that Life must be understood backwards. But that makes one forget the other saying: that it must be lived – forwards. The more one ponders this, the more it comes to mean that life in the temporal existence never becomes quite intelligible, precisely because at no moment can I find complete quiet to take the backward-looking position.” – The Diary of Soren Kierkegaard

“We delight in our sensuous involvement with the materials of language, we long to join words to the world – to close the gap between ourselves and things – and we suffer from doubt and anxiety because of our inability to do so.” Lyn Hejinian

It occurs to her in this space, in these particular white walls (only in the bedroom did a smell briefly hearken her back to her past; she did not pursue it), in this, present – (though it isn’t anything like that – i.e. static, rather like a conveyance it keeps moving) is a vastness, though a rather awkward gift it is since it is hard to put to any good use. She thinks it could be pleasant to play You Belong To Me by Patsy Cline on a phonograph but she has neither record nor device so there’s little point in that. How to describe it? A ribbon of butter churning in a fairy tale in which she keeps lifting her face up from the masher or grinder or pulverizer, her task to count the granules, to turn the quernstone, to harness the powderiness, to order the pebbles. Right now the best her story can offer is the company of the baba yaga hag; the trolls always hide their spoils behind the wood shed. Of course, in reality she is not lifting a finger, nor is she dropping crumbs to awaiting mice; it’s just that it’s something to fill the void with, the idea of the scraggly heroine in raggy shawls. And her benefactors and tormentors (like baba yaga one and the same), they are threads leading in all directions. If she only knew how the story unravels.

Yes, Cindy; emotions have bristles (explained by neurobiology)

Today I read a great Antonio Damasio interview in which he distinguishes between emotions and feelings, the first coming out of sensation and giving birth to the latter.

“There are certain action programs that are obviously permanently installed in our organs and in our brains so that we can survive, flourish, procreate, and, eventually, die. This is the world of life regulation—homeostasis.”

I’ve always wondered why emotional events play such havoc on our basic functions – sleep, metabolism – and how a loss or betrayal can usher in a fight or flight response.

“We must separate the component that comes out of actions (emotion) from the component that comes out of our perspective on those actions, which is feeling. Curiously, it’s also where the self emerges, and consciousness itself.”

I stumbled upon a playful rendering of this concept today in Maria Irene Fornes’ play, Fefu and her friends.

Cindy: When a person is swept off their feet. . . the feet remain and the person goes off. . . with the broom?

Christina: No. . . when a person is swept off their feet. . . there is no broom.

Cindy: What does the sweeping?

Christina: An emotion. . . a feeling. . .

Cindy:
Then emotions have bristles?

Christina: Yes.

cg_broom

My personal library, or the meritoriousness of due-dates (courtesy of the public library)

books

I love my personal library because it is always being refreshed and it is informed by the blurbs I read in magazines and books and blogs and the performances I attend. If a work or artist is mentioned which I am unfamiliar with, but intrigued by, it is brilliantly easy to place a hold, which means at some point in the future, that book will enter my stacks. From there it’s up to fate, whether I’ll open its spine to peruse its contents or not, though one factor increasing probability is what’s commonly known as the due-date.

Due-dates are desirable, because we’re all procrastinators, right? The due-date is the secret to life, or at least the key to busting open those musty volumes to see what’s inside. Every 3 weeks the bell tolls; and although there’s a superb chance of renewing, especially the more obscure tomes, it serves as a reminder that the clock is ticking and that one’s reading window is finite. Of course, there is infinite grace here; if a book simply must be returned before one’s time with it is complete, one can place a new hold on it as soon as it’s been put back into circulation. This is a perfect closed circuit, in which books are constantly placed in new hands along with the desire that accompanies an experience which is terminable.