Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Come quickly! I'm tasting stars!

And, I would add, sparkly, at times.  At least I mean it to be, I pledge that it will be so this upcoming year, my head already full of New Year's foolish resolutions.  My usual resolution follows the line by John Maynard Keynes,  "My only regret in life is that I did not drink more Champagne."  In fact, am doing my best to get a head start on this resolution by drinking pro secco, not being on a champagne budget.  However it's a fine one, extra dry.  Just the way I like it.  And it is still rather like drinking stars, as Dom Perignon was said to have called out upon tasting champagne. 

 "Come quickly!  I'm tasting stars!"   

Whatever else 2011 will be, it will be a year to re-group, re-think, re-invent.  My most important goals - to have one book accepted for publication, my strange and lonely art forger book, and to finish the other, my strange and lonely book about a purse obsessed woman.  I picked up a book of Deleuze essays and found small signs.  Do you know what I mean by small signs?  Just some tiny clue that I'm not mad, or that I'm on the right path.  For the current book,

"Style in a great writer, is always a style of life too, not anything at 

all personal, but inventing a possibility of life, a way of existing."  

Actually, it works perfectly for both.  My art forger book, Hive, is all about the possibility of a woman art forger existing, possibilities.  And maybe the second book, though completely unrelated in topic or design or even in language and style, is a continuation of the first.  Of course it is.  The Grand Obscurity of the Soul is about inventing a way of existing in a particular set of circumstances.  A way of life.  So.  There.  And thank you Gilles Deleuze for telling me I'm not entirely crazy.

Okay, and here is a short list of books that I've read, been reading, that maybe fall into the 'weird' category.  This is my other goal for this year, to continue to seek out those books that are weird.  Which I mean in the most flattering sense of the word.  A word whose origin can be traced to a connection with destiny.  The Possessed, by Elif Batuman.  How Should a Person Be?, by Sheila Heti.  Steppenwolf, by Hesse.  O Fallen Angel, by Kate Zambreno.  The Paper Garden by Molly Peacock.  The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, by Aimee Bender.  Some of these books are not weird weird.  Maybe just weird to me because I came upon them just when I needed them.  The ending of The Particular Sadness still haunts me.  Mainly I'm interested in the blurring of writer and narrator and story in many of these books.  How we enter the stories of others. How we appear and disappear. How difficult it is to live with the unbearable, with the frailty of life, just that sometimes.  In short, I felt in reading these books, all so different really, a connection with destiny.  Though for me always, the weirdest most gorgeous book will always be The Stream of Life.

I mean, in Hive, I wrote for 5 or so years, or 10 depending on where you want to start counting, about a woman art forger, about what is real and what is fake, and yes, how the hell to be, to be real and not fake, even though we commit mad acts of fakery every single day, or at least most of us do.  I do.  I try not to.  Also about fragility.  From the introduction to my Deleuze essays, regarding the frail health of artists, "This frailty, however, does not simply stem from their illnesses or neuroses, says Deleuze, but from having seen or felt something in life that is too great for them, something unbearable, "that has put on them the quiet mark of death." "  The frailty of my art forger, of all my current characters, this is central to the writing.  My frailty is central to the writing.  God I am frail, a frail writer.

Okay, and lastly a photograph of a teapot.  Puzzle pieces.  The blurriness of life.  A whole other side of things.  My daily escape into colour and light, if all goes well, it is daily.  It does not always go well.  However, today it did, indeed.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

the atmosphere of happiness

The nest is a lyrical bouquet of leaves.  It participates in the peace of the vegetal world.  It is a point in the atmosphere of happiness that always surrounds large trees.

~ Gaston Bachelard

Of course I return to nests in this season.  The attempt to make one's own nest a point in the atmosphere of happiness.  The home as a lyrical bouquet.  I look forward today to cleaning, sorting, putting the house into some semblance of order.  And listening to Joni Mitchell's Blue.  And River.  I've always found these melancholy songs to be a source of happiness.

What a strange and difficult year it's been in so many ways.  We resolved early on though, R. and I, that we would make something of it nonetheless.  One great thing about the poor art market and subsequently slow sales for him, is that he's felt liberated to paint exactly what he wants, to pursue subject matters close to his heart.  So it's been a year of gorgeous book paintings.  And other experimentations with things like crushed coke cans.  And why not?  You can tell he's had fun with these, coaxing the paint into these mangled contortions.  Yes, they're crushed but still recycle-able.  It's been another year of reinvention, always a good thing, albeit painful at the beginning, and the uncertainty ongoing.

As for me, my pledge to write most mornings, early, however mad and tired and fragile and weird it makes me for the rest of the day, has I think paid off.  I have maybe written, in 100 word intervals, half a novel.  Or so.  It's difficult to tell when you're in the midst of it.  My 2011 goal is to finish it.  And today I think that's even possible.  And meanwhile, also for me, these small escapes, excursions into photography.  I don't try to analyze them, but I know the snapping makes me happy.  A strange liberation, too, to make things, for nothing, no reason, other than for pleasure, to uplift my scrawny soul.  To capture these insignificant moments.  Nice capture, people say on Flickr.  Yes.  Which is really all about the light, a split second of light.  The slant or scantness or abundance of it.  So, for me, too, it's been a year about thinking about light, as a way of being.  Noticing how the light enters our Northern suburban nest.  Even on the greyest days, the shortest ones.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

When I type I dream...

I wrote a poem in my undergrad inspired by reading Kate Chopin's The Awakening in a women's lit class.  The wonderful professor had brought in a CD of Chopin and for half the class we listened.  THe poem was inspired by childhood dreams of wanting to play the piano.  (I'm not really musically inclined).  And then learning to type in high school, on an IBM Selectric I think it was.  How liberating - to capture thoughts with such speed. I've since lost the poem, lost the longing to play the piano.  I still like typing though.  I think the line in the photo above probably says everything the poem was trying to say.  Nothing too deep I suppose.

I'm often getting these ideas for series, then realizing that I have no time to carry them through.  For example, I'd love to do a series of writers and the things, substances, they write with.  Typewriters, computers, pens, pencils, certain types of paper.  Those kinds of obsessions.  The how and why and what of them.

I copied this quotation out in a tiny notebook this past week:

"It's not time we lack, but concentration."  (Adam Zagajewski)

And you know, as much as I complain about a lack of time (and sometimes energy), I think this is true.  It's the focus for things, the concentration.

For a few months now we've been rising at 5am.  Rob goes to his studio, and I go to my study.  It takes a while for me to wake up, be able to stare at the screen.  I have a notebook I scribble things in, and I usually read a few lines of one of the books I call magical.  Usually something by Clarice Lispector or Helene Cixous.  Or Duras.  I have until 7am, when it's time to wake up our daughter, make breakfast etc.  The secret is not to look at email or facebook or flickr.  I don't always succeed.  The other secret is to look out the window into the dark.  There's a lot that can be seen.  My goal is to write one sentence a morning.  I set myself small goals that I know I can reach.  I concentrate.  Most days I will write at least a paragraph.  Maybe it's terrible, the whole narrative, the writing, everything, I don't know, but I do adore my characters, am happy living with them.  Am happy pouring everything I am into this manuscript, early mornings, alone and fresh from dreams.

But back to typing.  You know, I also love writing with a fountain pen.  Ink.  Choosing the perfect colour of ink for the season.  (Summer was green, fall was amber, and winter so far is a smoky shade of blue).  But I do like typing.  Have created a set on my Flickr page to continue exploring this.

I've also always loved the act of writing.  Moving hand over paper.  Just that.  You?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

a refuter

Again.  More of the same.  It's really just to get these odd bits out, so that one can go on with spilling, also known as writing.  I go on dispirited, but with the conviction that it makes more sense than many other possible conditions.  The psychic distortions, contortions, that go into my writing these days.  In fact it's taken a long time to achieve these painful states, so I won't wish them away.  I always am reading C.L.  and it seems even more so now, more deeply.  Which seems really odd I suppose.  To keep reading the same books for years and years.  Circling it, coming back, diving into different waves of the text as it swells and recedes.  Well, I've been thinking about obscurity, which is reasonable given the working title of my novel. (Above).

"Consider the infinite freedom of the individual who is without fame and unknown; this is the kind of freedom the philosopher must guard for himself: that every day he may be someone new, a refuter of himself."  (Rilke)

I don't mind being a refuter of myself.

Also. Have been thinking about how we see, always thinking about that.  How we see ourselves.  Thinking about blurriness.

About the length and breadth of shadows.

I was also going to talk about self-portraits, particularly those by women.  I'm trying to write a portrait, in my novel.  Apparently I scared some people with a self-portrait I posted on Flickr a while back.  A lack of make-up was mentioned, which I think is funny, because I don't much wear eye make-up.  Sensitive eyes and all that.  But there is a sort of nakedness involved in this sort of picture maybe.  It's not edited, not photoshopped.  Nothing against photoshop, but there is a point when it becomes silly.  Not real, even.  Yes, definitely not real.  Maybe I'm just saying that because I'm too lazy to learn how to use photoshop.  Anyway, after taking these photos of myself, I dug up some paintings I did in my 20s from the basement.  I painted a fair bit back then.  I also painted when I was writing my first book - it seemed to me to be fraudulent to write about paintings, without doing it myself.  The self-portraits I did actually amuse me quite a bit - but they're pretty scary to anyone else who has seen them.  All of these different sides of myself - some are pretty zen looking, and others are really full of anguish.  What I like about them is that they're pretty unadorned and raw.  They're pretty ugly I guess too.  It seems like I've been yelling this question out to the universe for a very long time - what the hell is beauty? truth?

Anyway, I've been looking at self-portraits on the web and in books.  Rosalba Carriera, Alice Neel, Paula Modersohn-Becker and many others.  Read somewhere in my wanderings (and now can't find it) the story of how Georgia O'Keefe was given a make-over by Elizabeth Arden and after went home to wash it off as quickly as possible.  I've linked before to Diane Wakoski's poem "I Had to Learn to Live with my Face."  There's something so totally shocking about the poem, and yet endearing and funny and kind of heartbreaking too.  Looking at certain self-portraits, there's a similar shock that I've felt.  A weird recognition thing maybe.  Seeing yourself exposed in someone else's self-portrait?

I'm drawn to the confessional, no matter how out of fashion it is.  Drawn to what is raw and strange and weird.  The off-kilter, the obscure.  As much as I love looking for beauty in the world, I'm terribly interested in what is ugly.  The many facets.  Clarice as she confronts the cockroach:  "For now, the first timid pleasure that I feel is being able to say that I have lost  my fear of the ugly.  And that loss is a very great good.  It is a delight."

Thursday, October 21, 2010

a whole lot of randomness and etcetera.

To begin with: etcetera etc.  Which is a beautiful book about beautiful things beautifully and often surprisingly arranged.  

I don't think the photos have much to do with the post.  I've been rambling about it in my head for days, but really the crux of the thing is that I'm mindnumbinglytired.  Not just physically but mentally.  Which has something to do with the state of being a writer more than anything else.  So I'm surmising.  What it is - is that I'm tired of carving out these little spaces in time. It takes a monumental effort.  I'm lucky if these sessions turn into 50 words of anything half decent.  I'm not satisfied with what I'm writing but I guess I also know that I felt like this exactly last time out.  It's a good thing to feel, because it means I'm going to go back and go back and keep bashing at the thing until it takes the shape I want.  Years will pass.  That's okay too.  Having done this once, I know that it's worth it in the end.  So, I'm in that constant state of complete and utter and somewhat weird and insane dissatisfaction and unhappiness about the work, while also feeling that I'm effingontosomething.  Have you heard about the Happiness Project - book and blog?  I like that whole idea you know, but it's so not for me.  

Okay, some more leaves.  Told you the pictures would have little to do with the post, though in part, what it might be about is sorrow, (are not leaves sorrowful in their bright glory?) and writing sorrow, and taking on that sorrow a little. Some days, a lot.  And there's something about fallen leaves that kill me.  So.  Partly, I'm blaming my current frame of mind on Steppenwolf by Herman Hesse.  Which I suddenly somehow knew I HAD TO READ.  And weirdly, I was right.  I'd read in the Gorgeous bio of C. Lispector by Benjamin Moser (Geez I give thanks for this book so often it really is brilliant) that she read Steppenwolf early on and it gave her the freedom, mentally, to "pursue her vocation, to describe the inner life."  The last couple of weeks I've been slowly reading and re-reading this book and having my mind blown every time I pick it up, and have it take me into its wolfishness and spit me out each time.  I'm telling you this is an exhausting sensation especially in its ongoingness.  I'm not done with the book yet.  I'm now going to read it up against The Hour of the Star and etc.  (Etc, meaning the rest of C.L.'s works).

There are a lot of quotable bits in Steppenwolf, the most known I imagine is:

Not for Everybody!  For Madmen only!

This reminds me of the preface to C.L.'s The Passion According to G.H.:  "This is a book just like any other book.  But I would be happy if it were read only by people whose outlook is fully formed."

But for me, this is the line that repeats in my head:

You have a dimension too many.

Meanwhile, the character I'm writing has this element, this destiny of having a dimension too many.  She's dealing with a grave moment of sorrow.  Or will be as soon as I can crawl to it, because that's what it feels like, I'm on my hands and knees crawling down a gravel road.  Something like that.  I don't want to take her there, I don't want to go there myself.  But it's real.  It's difficult.  So that's the test right?

I feel like I could start a project called the sorrow project.  No disrespect to the happiness project.  Honestly.  They almost go together if you think about it.  The thing is that the more I write, the further along I get, the more I understand the depths of the revisions I'll need to do, the number of tunnels I'll need to dig - thousands.

Anyway.  As soon as I finished the Hesse book, I had the idea that I had to re-read The Story of the Stone.  (Above).  Illusions, dreams, reincarnations, consciousness, the soul.  For all of these ideas.  Etcetera.  (One of my favorite words, I think, etcetera).  And it's weird, (also a favorite word), weird to be holding so many books in one's head at once, and that's not necessarily including one's own.  It's also weird to have been a 'poet' and then write prose for so many years, invisibly, more or less.  And not think of oneself as poet at all.  And though I spent 7 years in university and a couple more in college, I'm not at all an academic.  I'm respectful of all these things I'm not, you could say that.  I feel like I'm in a very in between place.  Neither this nor quite yet that.  Which is excellent, but wearing too you know?

And lastly, randomly, the boots.  The socket.  Table legs.  Well, paths.  Travels, inward travels.  The path of art.  Moser talks about C.L.'s possible reading of Steppenwolf.  "The path of art, and the independence it requires, is a terrible one, he seems to be warning the adolescent Clarice.  But Haller also notes, "Those who have no wolf inside them are not, for that reason, happy." "

Those who have no wolf inside them are not, for that reason, happy.  

Friday, October 8, 2010

We are so lightly here.....

So come, my friends, be not afraid.
We are so lightly here.
It is in love that we are made;
In love we disappear.

(Leonard Cohen, Boogie Street)

Thinking about lightness, about flight, about who and what I love, about tenderness.  Wishing for more time.  Alas.  

From Helene Cixous:

One can die from being unable to write in time
the book one has in one's body.

This is what writing feels like this week.  A death.

So melodramatic.  So true.

All of these fluctuations.


Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Mystery Does Not Get Clearer

"The mystery does not get clearer by repeating the question,
nor it is bought with going to amazing places.

Until you've kept your eyes 
and your wanting still for fifty years
you don't begin to cross over from confusion."

That's Rumi.

I've been yearning for amazing places, which actually is not like me.  I'm usually quite content to stay in my room.  Read about Dakini's Bliss this morning on Facebook, with thanks to Pema Chodron.  I have a new name for the anxiety and rawness of emotions I've been feeling lately and this makes me happy.

When I've lost my nerve for writing, or just generally lost my nerve, I usually go to Clarice Lispector.  This week it was The Passion According to G.H.  "All you need to do is see the initials G.H. in the leather of my luggage to know that's me.  And I have never demanded of anyone else anything more than the mere coverage of the initials of their names."  

Do you remember when a person put their initials on suitcases?  Monograms seem to be all the rage - I suppose they have been for a while.  That impulse though - to put our initials on things - I find that interesting.  To be known in that small way.  It's something, I think.

The weekend was restorative.  Filled with hiding, escaping, not answering the phone (sorry A.), baking, cooking, cleaning, gardening and even napping.  We spent time together, doing nothing, reading, taking photographs.  I feel almost human again.

I feel so blessed to have a kid who when you say, do you want to go and fly around the front yard with swaths of fabric so I can take photos of it, says, sure.  She seems to get what I'm after right away.  And she's also a great hand model.  : )

Meanwhile, have had this song stuck in my head all weekend:

It's only life after all.....

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

up down up down

After a week of going madly in all directions, ridiculous interruptions, and general despair at the absence of the muse, today - a decent morning of writing.  The thing to do when mired down in bog of despond: read.  Take photos.  Take a walk.  The photo above makes me wildly happy, who knows why.  The colours, the silliness, the slightness of it perhaps.

A person should always read this bit from Woolf's diary when feeling a failed and stupid writer:

"A note: despair at the badness of the book:  can't think how I ever could write such stuff - and with such excitement:  that's yesterday:  today I think it good again.  A note, by way of advising other Virginias with other books that this is the way of the thing:  up down up down - and Lord knows the truth."

So, yes, today I think my obscure book quite good again.

I repeat, up down up down.  Reassuring somehow isn't it?  Tomorrow it will be back to despair at the badness.  : )

Interesting how I take more photos when the writing is going well.  I also fill my diary up with more nonsense.  Feathers and leaves are suddenly magical.

I read an essay by Christa Wolf on Ingeborg Bachmann this past week.  Re-read.  I'm finding I need to revisit all my old books right now rather than delve into anything new.  What I love about this particular passage is that Wolf seems the perfect reader for Bachmann, and that too is reassuring.  She says,

"When you get ready to read this prose, you should not expect to find stories, descriptions of actions, information about events; neither characters in the ordinary sense of the word nor loud assertions.  You will hear a voice: daring and lamenting.  A voice that suits the truth, that is:  talking about what is certain and uncertain, on the basis of personal experience.  And a voice that truthfully goes silent when it doesn't know what to say."  

I could read this paragraph all day.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Isolation of Writing

What I've been reading (re-reading) lately:  Friendship by Blanchot.  It's strange, but I don't remember reading the part where he talks about Kafka, about the "uninterrupted writing" as an "unapproachable space."  This dream of writing, alone, for months at a time, that's my dream too.  I dream about it, but do I really want it?  No, I don't. Yes, I do.  Kafka (I've read his diaries too and also completely forget them) talks about entering the isolation of writing, not like a hermit, but "as a dead man."  The completion of his books are resolved "in and by interruption (under the spell of the fragmentary)."

I've long been quoting V. Woolf's: "...for interruptions there will always be."  What writer hasn't resolved to write in and by interruption?  Anything else would be mad.  Yet, hovering around me, that dream, the dream of a span of time, uninterrupted.  Maybe it's the dream I want, and what I need is to continue to fall 'under the spell of the fragmentary.'  Let's hope.  Meanwhile, the resolution to write as a dead woman, uninterruptable in my fragmentariness....

And the red typewriter?  It somehow belongs to the book I'm writing, to the character I'm writing.  It came painted red, by a previous owner.

Meanwhile, I've borrowed it.  Photographed it.  And even made it into a greeting card etc. which you could purchase here.  (My ImageKind link is also on the sidebar).

Meanwhile, listening to this album.  Sweet lyrics.

And longing, LONGING, for this exhibit.  Which is only up until end of January.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Summer Blur

Oh, summer was a blur alright.  A good blur, right up until the moment last week when my computer (after a few death throes) gave up the ghost.  Turns out they don't call it the black screen of death for nothing.  A person less in denial might have seen the warning signs and jotted a few email addresses down, saved a few more things to disc.  So, you know, if you haven't heard from me, I'm not ignoring you, really I'm not. I just don't happen to have your email address committed to memory.  Most of the people I know are on facebook, and they've heard me bleat via the status line about the whole computer death, switchover, and my learning curve on my new one, a Mac.  There are definitely some things I need to wrap my brain around.  I also need a get rich quick scheme, cuz, I sure hadn't factored in the price of a new computer to my summer budget.

So fall is here, the apples are ready to be picked.  The kid is back in school.  The writing can begin again.  In my mind, after the labour day weekend, I'm going into hermit-mode for at least a month.  I'm not the sort to go on writing retreats, in fact, have never been on one ever.  Ever.  Weird, isn't it?  Sometimes I think I'm the only writer in the known universe to not 'retreat.'  Nor do I wish to.  Here's what I want.  On my days off, Tuesday and Thursday, to hole up all day and write.  And read and stare out the window and take notes and drink a gallon of coffee and stare out the window some more.  This to me is heaven.  (And sometimes hell, but who said being a writer was going to be fun, or a piece of cake, or layer cake....see photo below).  If things work out I can even get a bit of time to myself to research and jot notes down on the weekends.  I also plan on getting out of bed at about 5am every day, starting on, say Tuesday, so that I can write for an hour or two first thing.  I still think of myself as a nightowl, and not a morning person, but this is what's available, so I'm going to take it. 

All in all, though, it was a great summer.  Great friends, great wine, great friends who brought me great wine.  I can't complain.

Interestingly, I have a daughter who is crafty and also likes to cook.  I'm not so crafty, and I don't like to cook, but because she does, we do.  And really it ends up being a lot of fun.  And since I like to eat, the cooking part is excellent.  She did the narwhal embroidery above, and me, the silly tea towel below.  The quotation is great, but who knows why I thought it would make a great t-towel.  However, sitting at the table and chatting while we worked was really brilliant and I hope we do more of this.  Beats the TV any day.

In conclusion, do not hurry, do not rest.  Welcome to fall, cooler temperatures, more time and the pleasures of a routine.  Happy writing to those of you who write.  : )

And, one last photo, just because.  Pretty colours and all that.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

"Toyota" showed a new minivan for Europe

Toyota Verso-S

The company "Toyota" back in the minivan segment in Europe with a new model - "Verso-S". The car will debut at the auto show in Paris on 30 September and will go on sale early next year. Reported "Automotive News Europe".

The new model the company's portfolio will take place "Yaris Verso", whose sales in Europe were suspended in 2006.

In the "Toyota" noted that "Verso-S" will be compact, but roomy and comfortable car, with the overall length of less than 4 meters.

New product will compete in Europe with "Opel" / "Vauxhall" Meriva, "Citroen" C3 Picasso, "Renault" Modus.

Recall that in 2000 there were sold 34,449 "Yaris Verso". In general, in Europe sales of this model was 158 thousand units

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Sitting, Silence, Sanity

Summer is winding down.  The garden is certainly past its peak.  I just want to sit quietly and take it all in.  I need to be alone more, silent more. I sometimes feel like I spend the entire day scrambling, organizing, contriving, just so that I can be alone for a couple of hours in the garden (see photo below), and then half the time this is kiboshed by some unknown force anyway.  During the week we rise at 5:30 or 6 and I've learned to head right to the spot above.  I write in a notebook and also in my journal for at least an hour.  This has mostly saved my sanity this summer, and I plan on continuing it in the fall, though I have so many notes, there will be a point when I need to work on the computer first thing. 

Other summer sanity savers:  Good books, mellow music, some wonderful movies, and most importantly, a rather ridiculous amount of wine. 

I did read some excellent books this summer: a couple of novels and a book of essays by Siri Hustvedt were among my favorites. 

Am currently loving this song

But mainly, have felt too often like Ingrid Bergman in Gaslight.

Am happy with the increasing randomness of this blog.  Once in a while I get a great idea for a project, or a series of interviews, and then I remember - I'm too damned tired and I'm writing a novel. 

Meanwhile, I've finally figured out my 'comments issue.'  The option to leave a comment has been there for quite a while, but you could only see it when you clicked on the post title.  Long story short, I clicked the appropriate button, and voila, now they're visible on the main page as well.  Also loving the new Blogger spam control which saves me from being spammed by people from overseas trying to sell purses in my comments. 

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Arrivals and Departures by Nina Berkhout

There's nothing more grand than coffee in the backyard when your child is at a summer art camp.  Unless, it's accompanied by a book of poetry written by a dear friend.  To read Arrivals and Departures by Nina Berkhout is to be swept into a Rilkean sea, waves crashing, relentless and delicate, grief-filled and wise.

The pared down lines, the dangerous lull of the rhythmic waves that make up the poems, and the narrator's perfect distance, are utterly breathtaking in combination. 

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Guardian of Your Soul is Near

It is August.  I'm exhausted.  Feeling fragile.  I've been having cravings for winter, the dead cold silence of winter. (This is obviously a form of madness).  For alone.  All these things will pass.  When I'm not writing enough, I'm off-kilter.  I'm falling apart. 

Feathers often find me.  I'm attuned to the sound of feathers falling.  Usually they're white.  I knew I had finished my novel, Hive, when I opened the front door and found a white feather.  The novel ends with a white feather. 

But this black one.  It found me, I found it, it arrived, yesterday. I looked up the meaning on Ye Olde Web, and found this:  "a black feather means the guardian of your soul is near."  I looked no further.  The primary character in my work in progress is interested / obsessed not only with purses and handbags, but with the philosophy of the soul.  She needs a guardian for her soul.  This black feather belongs to her. 

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

that Loveliness was complete

Quite some time ago I indulged myself, and bought this copy of the facsimile of Jane Austen's Sanditon. (I don't think this site existed at the time).  I love having it, and at one time was so obsessed with it, that I thought I might write a book, somehow, about this manuscript, about how I was pacing around it, dreaming around it.  I wrote several poems that I've abandoned, one of which I robbed from and used in my as yet unpublished novel about a possible woman art forger, Hive: A Forgery. I was mainly obsessed with the phrase, "that Loveliness was complete."  In the Austen manuscript (as you can see in the note above) the line appears on the first page, at the bottom, but belongs with the text on page 32.  I find this phrase terribly moving maybe mainly because of its placement, the way that it can be found there, mentally returned to its proper place in Chapter 3.  It's just a moment of logistics, getting things down, a running out of room.  I love this fragment from an unfinished novel, and I loved working on my abandoned poems.  It somehow made sense to me to add this phrase and bits of my abandoned poem into Hive, which also contains fragments, brushstrokes, from an earlier version.  I'd written about 100 pages, when I realized the voice was wrong, the telling of it was off kilter.  I deleted this version, but had printed off about 5 or 6 pages that I though had moments.  Out of the 5 or 6 pages, maybe 2 or 3 end up in the final version. 

I took the book outside today, in the sun, after reading Bachelard's The Poetics of Reverie.  (Another book I often return to).  He writes,

 "Often the dream of flight is a dream without wings." 

I held the book up to the sky, dreaming of flight, dreaming my next book.

This is how reading is, and even more so, writing - a sudden take off, the sensation of lifting off, leaving earth. 

(I've posted the set of photos from this aft on my Flickr page, here).

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Purse Portraits

It goes without saying, the writing life is pretty odd.  The novel I'm writing (it seems odd to call it a novel, but maybe at 80 pages of prose and counting it's safe to say that it won't turn into poetry or transmogrify into a collection of essays) is the portrait of a young woman obsessed with handbags and purses. That's really all I feel like giving away at this stage. Wouldn't want to jinx anything.  Although in truth, it's all likely to change anyway. 

Writing a novel about a person obsessed, means that you get to follow their obsessions around a bit, try them on.  I've got a whole shelf of books by now on purses and handbags.  Books on vintage handbags, the history of handbags, how to divine a woman by her handbag, and my favorite book: Bags which is the catalogue for The Museum of Bags and Purses.  Possibly it goes without saying that my character will at some point end up there.  With some luck, this means that in the next year or so, I also will end up there.  Wish me luck....bags of it, yes?

In the meantime, I'm mixing my obsession with taking photos, with my character's obsession with purses.  The photos here are the result of a shoot this afternoon - a series I'm calling, "Purse Portraits."  I mean, I'm just doing this to amuse myself, but also to think about purses, to really see them, these things that we just sling over our shoulder usually, casually draping a large part of pretty important and revealing stuff, and dashing out the door. 

I'll leave you to them. 

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Conversation About Beauty

Thinking about beauty, looking for beauty, contemplating such things as bird's nests and typewriters.  "I see blue skies, I see butterflies."  (There is Beauty in the World). Re-reading Elaine Scarry's 1999 book, On Beauty and Being Just.  She talks about the 'banishing of beauty from the humanities" and the "political complaints against beauty."    Not, she says, that beautiful things, stories, poems etc have been banished, but "that conversation about the beauty of these things has been banished, so that we coinhabit the space of these objects.......yet speak about their beauty only in whispers."  Has this been true in the humanities since?  I can't say, being quite out of the loop.  That loop, certainly. 

From Blue Studios:  "I just didn't want beauty in my poetry: any hint was an invitation to a slippery slope of the feminine.  Beauty was too nice, too expected, too complicit with what the feminine was in poetry, and by extension, what the female was."  She goes on, "In any event I tried not to write beauty (rhetorical staginess, lovely images, and the mellifluous) but to write language, to write syntax, to write austerely.  Or to compose a beauty so hard and selective, yet in intense visionary images, as to contain its suspect presence."  (p. 220, 221).  You can tell how much I like this book by all the dogeared pages in the image above. 

In the novel I have recently finished, about the possibility of the existence of a woman art forger, I did want beauty in my narrative, in my forgery.  (The subtitle of the book is, A Forgery).  She is undiscovered, my forger. (An increasingly difficult feat as technology advances in forgery detection).  Her motivation is in fact, beauty, the revelation of a mystical colour via secrets embedded in her forgeries.  The best way for a forgery to go undetected?  To be whole, beautiful.  Fake busters, as they're called, experts in forgery detection, have a sort of sixth sense for knowing that something is odd, off, unfinished, off-kilter.  So, in my narrative, beauty isn't hidden, but is what hides, or contains, a suspect presence.   In my mind, the whole narrative hangs together only if the reader believes in the beauty of the narrative, in the beauty of the art forgeries and in their capacity to fool or take in the viewer. 

It's an odd place to be in.  Having one book behind you, not yet published, and working on the next.  It's necessary to sort through in my mind what it was I thought I was doing in the previous book, to be aware of how it's infringing on the one in progress.  Even though they're two completely different works, there is communication between them, if that makes sense. 

Meanwhile, although I've stopped checking my Google alert for art forgery, things will come to my attention like this show at the National Gallery in London, titled Close Examinations: Fakes, Mistakes and Discoveries.  Of course, I'm immediately intrigued, especially by headlines such as "A Blonde's Dark Secret." And though my research has taken an entirely different turn for the book in progress, how could I resist the catalogue for this exhibition?? 

Monday, June 28, 2010

Suddenly Born into Color (Rumi)

"Inside this new love, die.
Your way begins on the other side.
Become the sky.
Take an axe to the prison wall.

Walk out like someone suddenly born into color.
Do it now.
You're covered with thick cloud.
Slide out the side.  Die,
and be quiet.  Quietness is the surest sign
that you've died.
Your old life was a frantic running
from silence.

The speechless full moon
comes out now." 

~ Rumi