1. Pardon. I fell into a crack of my own. Marked your post, to return after deleting the unwanted stuff. Then something, a paperclip perhaps, distracted me. I forgot.

    You work so hard sometimes. Maybe I’m a happy simpleton, but the truth is easier I think. Difference is, sometimes I don’t see what’s in front of my nose ’cause the thoughts are all so big & distracting. My fault, you see.

    Here’s a question. IF this is paradise, do you think we’re seeing it right?

    I work to read everything you write. Always. Whether I understand or agree, or like what you write, sometimes I see you struggle, see you uncomfortable. IF I were there in person, could I make you smile? I don’t know. I try. For now, I’ll read.

    There’s a word, a phrase I’m looking for…

  2. Maybe the truth is everything. Older I get, less fussy I get. Sometimes I look at something common enough, I know what it is, but I see something else. Body feels more rigid, thoughts more fluid. Observation, no meaning meant.

  3. When asked to choose these days, think I choose everything. Who or what am I to make a fuss. Been looking at the end-of-days for a while now. Different when personal. NOT THAT I’m counting days and no element of BooHoo, poor me. Rather the question is what’s-writing-meant-to-be in moments like these. I really really don’t know. I am not “about” my well-being, but neither is it something invisible. There is an element of Liberation in consideration. But then, no shortage of elements! I may continue for some good while yet, but I’m disturbed how ignorant we are about this process of change. Why am I a stranger to myself?

    And then the smallest fraction may provoke a major response of words. Questionable. Unavoidable. Like right now. In their moment everyone knows more than me. I’m pretty sure of that. Thanks for making me look and look again.

  4. I always think the point of life is to live it. No matter how bad the pain in body or mind gets. Although, in truth, I often struggle with that idea.

  5. I must admit I’m never sure academia fits into art (rather than the other way round). Teaching art (written, visual etc etc) must be really difficult, and sometimes I think the aim must be to give people the confidence to express themselves rather than teaching them form and adherence. I don’t know.

  6. I miss my personal library assembled in my study which I have gladly given over to my son until he finds a better place. But I still miss it. And feel divorced from a part of myself.

  7. Year ago or so, bumped into this small college geology teacher whose personal answer to the pandemic was to go on-line & live teaching geology (often right from his backyard). Never thought about the subject much but the man – a funny sort of charisma. So I stayed, week after week. As you began Ren, soon I was seeing the poetry of geology, the many big nuances. (you know, I think my blog title is accurate, not figurative)

    For me too, truth is becoming unfocused, condensed, expansive. Don’t make sense (what sense used to mean to me). I lack a concise statement of what I think – when asked now, mostly I think the answer is “everything”. No justification. Nothing pretty.

    I keep thinking what’s so if I take me out of the equation. What’s left. But, sort of arrogant, cause I am inside, not outside this reality. Messy.

    Maybe the cracks already exist (without our help) and we are just too small, too brief, to really see without letting go of our localized notions about place and self. So yea, the deer like rice cakes. What do we like?

  8. Critical shyness when young was my reason to ignore performance arts. That lingered over the horizon, much too long. But you found a note that’s opened me to look again. Hmm. I remember a very small theatre-in-the-round, when first seen, “The Tempest” left a mark I cherished. Even reading poems aloud in public – took forever to do. My finger hovers just over what I most want to say. Thanks, would be right to say for now. n.

  9. When we recognize we’re just part of the “herd”, lots of questions get easy to answer. Me thinks, life likes us, but it’s also the way gravity does.

  10. Being human is considerably bigger than we think it is. You’re right I’d think.

    Are ‘call and response’ threads? No matter what, we’re not alone.

      • Well, thank you Ren, I’ve got some homework to do. My little mind went some-how-else other way with that phrase. More ‘native’ (tho that’s ambiguous to say). Gotta look some more. You do make me think in interesting ways (being polite).

  11. There is a tenderness here amidst the flexing of muscle. No, no explanation. I feel something about two poles (myself included), but what? Some folk are just driven to “look” I think. (not right/wrong, just another possibility) This much I do know – I don’t have all the conversations I would like to have. What does a tiger think? : )

  12. Oh, I love that you are pondering this question of the unsaid, the between-the-lines part of drama, of poetry, as am I in my own fumbling way. The effect of great writing, I think, is to engender questions, not to give answers. Writing that gives answers is mind-closing, it is propaganda, or dogma.

  13. Read your post with great interest as I just finished reading James Shapiro’s ‘1599:A year in the life of William Shakespeare.’ Are we missing the zeitgeist of the age that filled in the bits that are mysterious to us? – an excellent question. The book provided so much context to several plays- quite fascinating.

  14. Such a lot to think on here. (And thanks for the reminder of Homer’s “wine-dark sea”. )
    One culture’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter. And, right in the here and now, and “battled” over in Wikipedia is their “anti-transgender activist “versus other’s “women’s rights activist.”

    And yes, this: “It seems to me that nothing stands alone. Every word and every sound is tangled with shared experiences of local grasses on bare feet, of the specific steam that rises in this or that day’s weather.”

  15. I wrote a goat poem that was published in something called “Rock Heals,” which no longer exists, so I guess it’s mine again.

    Goat Poem

    You could be a child’s first word,
    easy as dog, dada.
    Poor man’s lawn boy,
    frisky pet,
    reason to claim the buns
    we never eat.

    On the way home from lunch
    with daddy
    I pick you for your looks,
    black and white,
    feed you bread
    through the chicken wire,
    whisper secrets
    over steady hum of traffic:

    I can’t afford my shoes.
    Squishing my toes in the mud
    didn’t feel as good as it should have.
    Being filthy rich would be nice.
    I have lost my way.

    I once loved a goat like you.
    Took him home.
    Named him Goat.

  16. Also, my husband respects and likes art but finds making art to be a product of self-absorption. He does, however, spend quite a bit of time doom scrolling, reading and talking about the hard stuff. I, on the other hand, only want to watch streaming TV.

  17. So where – exactly, specifically – is the real that matters, counts? Does thinking just do what matter cannot do? Why it was, is inevitable?

  18. Think I remember a program like you said at start. Will put it in the hopper and see if anything raises its hand. Not optimistic but we’ll see.

  19. Tam Lin has long been a favorite of mine. Think I first heard it as recorded by Fairport Convention. I read the story and sand the song (badly, I fear) to my kids when they were small, and they loved it too. Particularly my daughter. So, yeah, maybe proto-feminist!

  20. In truth, I have always thought there was a huge conflict between teaching creative arts and being a creative artist. I don’t know how they go together when it’s more than a gentle nudge in this or that direction. I admire that you’ve done it well for so long.

    • I appreciate this, but I don’t think I have done that. I have a lot of emotions about it all, the joy in teaching, yes, (working with my students this year is a seriously healing experience) – but I do have resentment, too (not of the students – not of any students). If I had put more of my creative energy elsewhere (for so many reasons) I might be healthier mentally. The shrink has helped me see a lot more of what I do need to do “as a creative person”- where I have often thought that thinking that way was arrogant and grandiose: “a creative person”. I am sad that I am only figuring this out now – so old 😉 I don’t have to see myself exclusively as a jack to lift other people all of the time. I have this overwhelming fear of “using” my position to step on students for my own ambitions. I’ve watched teachers do that. What do you do with your own ego when you are teaching? How do you keep from squishing it until it is permanently deformed in the back of the closet? Honestly, my colleagues think I am an idiot for worrying about this. Deluded that there could have been an otherwise. Geeze, my little stream of consciousness is like a Catcher-in-the-Rye for high school teachers! hahaha

  21. I have been lurking and reading but never on the right device to comment.

    This is really interesting – there are passages in Rickman’s diaries (which I mentioned on my blog a few weeks ago) where he talks about this (non)collaborative nature of the theatre, and how it often is just a hair’s breadth from just all falling apart. And when he mentioned that one particular play ended up 10 minutes or so shorter because the main actor was tense and ended up rushing her lines in the first half of it, I was actually quite surprised. And how some directors don’t care about how the actors feel about their lines and their delivery (applies to films as well, and he gives quite a few examples of those). Unknown complexities.

  22. Superb.

    I always say a poem is a novel on a page.

    There are many stories we don’t want to hear or read.

    It’s those stories which allow us make them our stories that are great stories. Universal truths.

    You know I have never much cared for structure. Maybe it’s because I don’t understand it. Maybe it’s because life doesn’t really have one either, and when we live ourselves into structures is when all the troubles begin.

  23. Keep faith with what nurtures you. Many toxins look attractive, which is how they work. Don’t think I believe in super-natural. An artist, a tree, what difference? Art is just a human growing leaves. But what do I know.

    • Thank you for reading, Janice. Weird thing- I got my digest from the NY playwrighting group yesterday and there theme was the 4th wall, too. Must be in the air.

  24. Both exciting and relevant reading Ren. Why? Not all certain. Some I take on faith. There’s a root and it looks like this – I have a certain trust in the human you. Not that I always understand or even agree… still, here I am (years worth).

    Recently I visited an AI chat website. Played some. Responses were? smooth, believable – but boring. Hollow somehow. No real edge. Long ago read about a sort’a parallel study regarding art. They analyzed art physical attributes through a human “focus group”. What was pleasing. Yea, they created some “art” from those results, and yes, it had an undeniable appeal. But it lacked any real spirit to my eyes. (pretty is not in itself art)

    The key notion that comes to me is “risk”. AI does not/cannot risk. We humans at our best, we do, we risk. When beginning we don’t know if we will realize what’s in our thoughts and feelings to express. And some of what’s best said draws outside the lines. There’s even a beauty in failing and growing from that labor along the way.

    Ha! You said it yourself, “words and photos (& typos)” are all yours. Yep.

  25. Yes. Those of us who enjoy writing (or ceramics, or photography, or painting, or…) will continue to work because we want to.

    The main cautions for those who want to be artists/artisans is 1)Don’t get hung up on comparisons with AI work (some folks may like AI stuff better than what artists produce) and 2)Don’t get self-righteous or hung up on the unfairness of it all when the so-called market gets flooded with AI-generated “product.”

    Continue to let the process be enough, and be aware that maybe during this transitional time it will be harder than ever for artists/artisans to make a living at what they love to do. I mean, alas, but so it goes. It may not stay like that forever.

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