Sunday, March 29, 2009

On Creative Endeavor

A passage from The Art and Craft of Novel Writing by Oakley Hall prompted the following.

Some say the craft of fiction writing is the use of skills learned, borrowed or stolen from past practitioners of the craft in recreating events for others previously existing only in the mind of the author. This may be true in part, but I believe this system is but a small, limiting part of the creative endeavor.

Yes, we do pick up skills from others. Our teachers, and the reading of our preferred authors give us a framework for creation, but the foundation of story, its genesis, already exists—on another level, a field beyond the mental realm, in the experience of all. Furthermore, the teachers of great writers are more often past masters of the craft that work directly with, though most often not even conscious to the current apprentice.

Creation to me is not so much the manipulation of ideas and language for mood and possibility, but more the reading of what is and the acceptance of pure inspiration. And this applies to all true art, whether it is of a factual nature or rendition, or of the fanciful. The story, the song, the dance of light and color in performance and visual arts—are all already in being. We could not imagine them were they not of a living form. The idea that we must channel our creativity through the laws of physics is quite elementary in the evolution of culture. Recollection and tuning-in, with the masterful assistance of one’s non-physical staff, are the skills predominant in the art of evoking profound experience in the being of others. So much more than mental reality, a creation in performance or observation evokes all the senses, not just the five physical ones.

To watch the still expression of a mime,
to ponder the Mona Lisa from the bench in the Louvre,
to whisper a word in the ear of your lover
or to imagine it, or all of these events
are … dot dot dot . . .

Who wrote it?
I just transcribe.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Awake - Asleep ??

Still trying to gain an understanding of the mind's working in that altered state while trying to stay awake. It happens all too often lately.

It’s not like the place of comfort upon awakening from a night's sleep, where the moments linger in bliss and it doesn’t matter if you succumb to slumber a few more minutes or seconds or thirds. For past experience prepares the body, the mind for a degree of alertness. Whether the transition is drawn by the tail of a snail or the start of a jackrabbit jumping the restless leg anxious and running, there is always peace knowing the place you came from. There you can return should the day turn out wrong.

This is different--a reversal of awareness. Though as unreal as the process of gaining consciousness, it is not a place of peace. More the torture of returning to a hell thought long gone and never even then deserved. Still it would be so good to just give in to the blackness, like the sweet death of afflicted pestilence. No. There is the bounce back and forth – light to darkness, from life to death. And an expanse in between where the inner and outer senses mingle...
an attempt to grasp my psyche’s dynamic
in that space between conscious thought
and passive reception of impression’s whisper
I see an amorphous image—
formless, yet spherical,
a cloud of silver,
a tree of tissue teased by breeze
and seasons color.

Symbols, words, thoughts in a storm, swirling
I try. I try and fail. I try again. I try to catch with my mind
like the mouse clicking to capture or escape in a game of video pursuit
variable, flowing, fleeing
the leaves of a tree
in a fire storm
life or death
no answer...


Friday, March 13, 2009


All I want is to hear the truth.
To tell the truth
To live it
But what is truth?
Is it the record of objectively observed events?
Or is it the source of initiation
of all events?

A stone is thrown into a lake
The smooth surface is disturbed.
A wave of liquid compression
is radiated outward
and at once reflected back to the source.
Each wave spawns a duplicate
but lesser child—
all in depreciating effect
resulting from its own reactive offspring
which passes back through the source
to follow in successive generation
its mother’s mother
until the reactive force
weakens to the point of
imperceptible motion
as the final tail hairs of
this long line of events
the thread-bear coattails
of great grandmother.
Yet each radiates out,
and back in when it reaches shore
and any other object in the lake
including other waves
seeded by similar events—
affecting the genesis of many new family lines.
A disturbance, an action
a decision of conscious manipulation
or blundering unconsciousness
applying an element
of truth.

What is the original element?
If truth exists whether it is believed in or not
Is it static?
Or ever-changing?
If my belief
does not align with truth
does my acting from it
have any less effect?

What wave will regenerate without depreciating?
What act will most benefit myself, my mother, my Source
And all life?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

High Cuisine -- It's About Love

It's not poetry, but also of the heart.

It's About Love

The other night while enjoying my bowl of soup, I had to reconsider what really makes food good. This was not just a warmed up can of Campbell's. Marily makes a pot of soup most every weekend in the winter. We enjoy it in the evenings the rest of the week. And she does other cooking on the weekends too, for our lunches. For her it is a way to eat good and save money. That, I appreciate. Not just with gratitude for a job well done within our household budget. What others may consider left-overs, I relish with joy. I realize now that what Marily has done for me all these years is not just her best effort to fulfill certain traditional duties in our marriage. It is a matter of love.

This week's soup was apple-brie. Last week it was vegetable bean. Other dishes we've enjoyed over the past few weeks are butternut squash, cubed and steamed, over ravioli and wilted spinach, Swedish meatballs in cream sauce with Chardonnay, on brown rice, and crusty butter-crumb vegetables. Why is it all so good?

It's the love. I have to say, the love. We do eat out occasionally, probably twice a month on average. And we enjoy some good meals out. But why are they good? Again, it's because of the emotional experience. I can't imagine having a pleasant meal at a cafĂ© or restaurant by myself. It is the friend or friends we share the meal with. Or even better—just the two of us. Menu selection, ingredients and technique are a small part of cuisine. Love is the larger part.

And of course, besides the love shared in the company of others, there is the same energy applied by the chef. Is that why some restaurants stay in business year after year, and others fold? Is it the love that is put into the recipes and presentation by the chef? And the staff? Love infused into what we do, I feel, is the key to success.

Think about it. We love our cat, Miles. We treat him with love and he loves us. He is a living, breathing entity sensitive to energy, to feelings—to love. Food too is of a living life-form. Life detects life. All matter can be considered a storage device for energy. Energy it re-radiates. Transformer of life and of love.

Food, being closer to life than say, a rock, has perhaps more potential to redistribute energy. But anything we handle with positive intent will pass on the uplifting energy. Our craft is an art when we give it our love and out of love.

Marily puts a lot of that love energy into her food and cooking. It starts the day before when she is thinking of what might be the menu for the following week. Upon awakening Saturday morning, or maybe even half way back from a dream, the decision is made. As I start my day of writing, or basement cleaning or needed repairs, Marily is starting an orchestration of kitchen utensils, grinding flour or chopping vegetable. Checking the culinary score sheets and amending the recipes as she proceeds has advanced the quality of her productions over the years.

I am a lucky man. I would have it no other way than to be married to such a woman. I'm a lucky man. But it didn't start with us. Marily's mom has always been an excellent cook, as well. She passed on the tradition of loving service to her family.

My mother too. I remember taking Marily to mom's kitchen after we were married. I wanted to have her learn to make the bread I grew up with. She learned it well. From a city girl to a gourmet chef, who uses the harvest of my garden through the winter—I couldn't ask for a better partner. In March we are still enjoying recipes with the butternut squash stored in the basement and Ramano beans in the freezer.

Marily's Swedish and Italian heritage serves us well. With love. Love nourishes, love heals, love grows.

See a related peice about my garden: The Kitchen Garden. It is in poetic form.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Lightning and Fog

Have you ever had a time staying awake at the keyboard?
Not that it has ever happened to me.

I write, but I should have slept more the night before.

Sleep. So good. But trying to stay awake. Not so. First the fog, then—a cold-sweating wave of torture. Worse than the pangs of death remembered of past incarnations. O, give in. I give up. Take me out of this condition of schism. I try to stay alert—forcing thoughts of consciousness, of reason. Rationale. Objective observation. Simple math or alphabet. But it does not hold. Milliseconds seem like minutes, and minutes—hours, while lifetimes of strangers pass through the visions dancing. Advancing. Retreating. Edicts and off-hand compliments. Criticism of each unexpected appearance—saints applaud and demons mock this stream of unconscious flocking. Though grand insight and dull devotion intermingle in this distortion of space and time, a wealth of story, intrigue, inspiration unfold in silent succession. Plot and character pours forth from the final place of muse reflection. Song-writers, poets and mystery writers take weapon and battle to death for this. But death stops no pain, and not is retained. Memory gives way to a starry voyage. A river of light. The cave of echoes mocking. The fog is closing. Soft. In peace. And Snap! A crack of lightning. Bolt awake. No going back. And forth—the raging storm of peace. Succumbs to apple pie, the crumbs of hope and holy stones complete. It's all a dream somewhere. The fog and shocking truth that all is of a plan. Harmonic in its light. A stab now right to soul. So lonely in the snow. Keeps calling. All in the last seven seconds. Calling me awake. Takes a gentle rocking, despite a desperate attempt at return. But no. It’s not to be. Eyes clamp and chin drops. Hand to key repeating Vs, unending. Tapped the place of ancient passage. Slipping. Slipping. Sleep—so good. Damn the keeper of bad dreams.