Saturday, July 30, 2016

Talkin' 'bout things.

Dear Wondering, 
You remember a few days ago I mentioned cello music and I didn't want to forget to tell you to listen to this fine cello music here.  My dj played a track called Things Fall Apart* a few weeks ago and I rushed right out to the internet and bought the whole production, called Reversal
Some of you remember the night, so long ago, when I fell for the cello and its' player.  To say I fell, to say I crushed on, as they do say now, is like saying, at the edge of the Grand Canyon, "Look, there's a little water carved depression in the landscape here."

This is family show, though, so I won't describe the feelings I have for a cello and its player, whomever they may be.  Let us say that the way the cello and its player breathe together is shockingly intimate and to see it and hear it is a very fine treat.

*  Which makes me think of Der Lauf der Dinge.   A little more on the artists, right here.  I am also thinking now of Things.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

open road


Dear Drivers,

I know, you have heard a lot, maybe even too much from me on this of late, but this beautiful song for today gets at the heart of my thoughts on the self-driving car.  I am neither ready nor willing to hand over all the beautiful motion of driving to our robot overlords.  What, I ask you over and over, is it to be human essentially?  What is the thing that makes humans different from machines or devices?  Does our dependence on devices and data storage threaten essential human-ness?

At the last of Garrison Keillor's Prairie Home Companion's broadcast a few weeks ago, President Obama called in and said he thought it was stories that made humans human.  I think it might be empathy, but I love a good story, so I will make room for that being one of the markers as well.

Another idea is that what makes a human a human is asking questions.  Or maybe more properly, seeking answers.  Here's to being human, whatever it means, and I repeat:  What is it to be human?


Yes, you are thinking:  What is empathy?  What is story?  What is artificial intelligence?  What is inquiry?  Once we have definitions for all of those terms, we will return to 'what is human?'  In the meantime, get out there, man, and don't delay: grab whatever you can of the pleasure of the open road, and write it down, draw it, paint it, save it; but not on your hard drive.


Saturday, July 23, 2016

Fairy Tale


Dear Readers,

My friend M. is an artist- many of my friends are- and this is a fairy tale, not because it isn't true, but because it is. 

Once upon a time, when I was a Young Reader, I read about salons and happenings and clubs of people throughout history who met to talk shop -- to change the shape of meaning of all kinds,  These were my people, as they say now.  But they were all in books, weren't they?  to begin with, perhaps, but now I find all my conversations, all my thoughts and ideas are witnessed and comprised of folks who adore thinking and making manifest their ideas.

My pal M. the artist collects snapshots of people.  They come from thrift shops and antique stalls, and they are selected, in part, for consonance with a theme;  "A gaggle of women," say, or "people dancing."  They are all sizes and dates.  They are like a handful of human time, grabbed out of the great gyre of the anthropocene, and they have become un-tethered from their stories, from their kin, their families and friends. 

They are a little sad and a little lonely, to my mind, and I think, perhaps, to my friend M.'s mind also.  In fact, I think that 'collecting' these photographic orphans of time is actually a way to repair the losses.  To find a way to treasure these moments anew.  She has not seen their alone-ness as a deficit so much as a reason to care, an impetus to love these relatives and friends of who knows who -- they are her family and friends now, and they join many more.

In my initial one dimensional thoughts, I saw only what was missing, and not a place that invited something -- invited narrative and affection.  I have a few photos like this myself.  I collected old postcards, and when you flip and sift through them in antique shops, sometimes a stray snapshot of similar dimension is in the between.   I have a few, a very few, portraits of women like this, and I have adopted them as my audience, my readers, and my viewers, in my studio.  One, in particular, in a hat, with a very intentional gaze is the muse of elegance and strength.  Another woman, on the running board of a car, she is my muse of adventure.  For many years, I carried an image of Lucy Lawless as Xena, Warrior Princess and Martha Stewart in my wallet- because any question of what to do under any circumstance can be answered by their combined expertise. 

These orphaned photos after all, belong to our family, they are us, really.  We had a book, you know, on the shelf, all my years, called The Family of Man (which we all know means the family of all beings, because we are not so foolish as to let semiotics keep us from trying on a glass slipper).

This book's spine is all I remember of it- who knows now what was in it, and I won't check, but you can, if you must -- because that is all I needed of that books' message:  we are family, the family, one family.

This is why, dear friends of time and space, near and far, today's suggestion for a project for you is to seek out the glass slipper;  to find artists and thinkers to talk with.  Or, to find some people to imagine you would like to meet,  Or, at least to read the spines of books.  Or, to love one another.


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Perfectly right.


Dear Everyday,
I go out everyday and arrange things into a kitchen sink drawing and I paste and cut and tape and mark and put it all under a Dover edition of Ulysses to dry while listening to cellos play; and this is all so terribly correct, so perfectly right, that I just had to write and let you know.  Please tell everyone for me, won't you?

These are sculptures, not drawings, but you know that already.


Friday, July 15, 2016

Listen to This.

Dear Eared,
My dj brought me to this song a few evenings ago-  Don't you love the jangling bells and the rinky-tinky wall of sound redux?  And how about that Jackson Miriam Makeba Mahalia Jackson Nina Simone voice?  Nothing at all wrong with that!  If your dj don't play Mahalia, Miriam or Nina, y'all better turn your dials.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Good Morning.

Dear Disrobed,
Are you dressed yet?  I am not; I often write to you first thing, from my bed.  Yes, it is intimate, and you might blush a bit;  I do.  I write to you after a cup of coffee and when the cat has settled into a furry puddle, and while the birds are still singing outside the window.
I keep my legs under the covers, and set the computer on my lap- this always pinches my wrists oddly, and I look forward to saying one day "I have these problems in my wrists because I wrote letters in bed for many years."  I have a tatty old silk robe that I put on for cooler mornings, and on warmer ones, like this one, I am usually in a short knit cotton nightgown, a nightie.  Both the tatty robe and the nightie are pink.  I have been sewing my own sleepwear these days, embroidering the binding in small trailing blossoms, because it looks better than the stuff I could buy in stores.  Sometimes I dab on a rose scented perfume before I go to bed.  Think of all this la vie en rose as you read on.
Yesterday I heard a compelling collection of short stories on Selected Shorts-  it was from a compendium of pieces on Women in Clothes.  The last work, titled Nothing, is a gem of a poem by Lisa Robertson, and I hope you will take a few minutes to listen to it- I would rather have given you the text to read, but, just like my viscose navy floral short sleeve blouse with the lilac piping I could not find it anywhere.  The poem can be found on the audio file at 50 minutes and 50 seconds.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

North, to Alaska











Wednesday, July 6, 2016

A fine manifesto.





Dear Dwellers,
Come, adopt with me some of the fine stipulations of this manifesto for living.  Here, in the house, there is a loom where the sofa should be, and a stack of guitars where the bin for recycling would be.  There are roller skates under the answering machine.  There is a drum kit and a mixing board in the ceramics studio, and a sewing machine and an accordion in the painting atelier.  We keep it pretty well muddled here already, but I can easily get behind further exiling the dining room by stacking a few more books on the table!

Sunday, July 3, 2016

roadside libraries


Dear New in Town,
I was thinking that this might be a good way for us to get to know each other-  We could have a Little Free Library.  We could build it together, or if you don't want to participate in the collection, if you don't want to work in the 'stacks,' you could just borrow some of the books.  I think we should paint our library a color that will look nice in front of the house- nothing too ostentatious, nothing too gingerbread-y. 
I am very excited to select the books we shall put into it!  Educational, yes, of course, but we cannot ignore the soul.  I thought Ariel by Sylvia Plath, and On The Road, by Kerouac, and we will have everything written by Italo Calvino, and lots of Annie Dillard books too, plus Borges, and we must have The Dud Avocado, and the mysteries about the pig, and we should have Ray Bradbury and Terry Pratchett, and Rumer Godden, Diana Wynn-Jones, Lloyd Alexander, Nabokov, Joan Didion, Neruda, James Joyce, Tove Jansson, John McPhee, Wodehouse....

I am going out to see how much old redwood fencing is left, and to see about some scrap roofing.  Meet me in the cool of the evening, and we can draw up some plans.  Bring a pencil.