Thursday, February 28, 2013

Fascinating Couple

Dolly Parton's husband is an asphalt paver. She is all white and curvy and in the public eye and he paves swaths of black rectangles, privately.

Dream

I was in a tunnel with Lily. It was an under-construction detour tunnel and it was metal painted cadmium yellow with small rectangular window-like openings. It was very narrow. I decided to try to get out. A lady tried to help us. There were hanging bats wrapped in spider webs and I didn't want to disturb them.

Colum McCann

I actually find New York to be a strangely friendly place. Because people are coming from all over, there is a sense of the everywhere there. It doesn’t even feel to me like it is part of America at all. It’s its own place. All these refugees are coming from different places. All these stories that are there. I love that energy.
-Colum McCann
source

Colum McCann

You’re always scared that you are not able to do it again. And the older you get and the more you get into writing, it’s really interesting how terrifying each new novel becomes.
Each time you finish you think, “I’m a charlatan. What am I doing in this world?”
-Colum McCann
source

Colum McCann

I was with the homeless people in the subway tunnels, I got to talk to them in various different situations, they were out of hospitals, mad, mentally ill. Others were refugees from the Vietnam War, hiding away, wounded. Others were temporarily there—they had lost a job or had a divorce or whatever. Something big had happened in their lives and they were trying to get things back together again. No matter who they were, across all spectrums—race, gender, economics—every single one of them said, “When I get out of here.” Not “If I get out of here,” “When I get out of here.” There is that deep place—no matter how dark the darkness, there is a part of us as humans that says, “We will eventually get to some sort of light.” That’s what keeps you going.
-Colum McCann
source

Colum McCann

The thing is, we all have a deep need to tell a story—that’s the thing. Everybody needs to tell a story, whether it be to your shrink, whether it be to your publisher, whether it be to whomever, that’s the vast democracy—the only democracy, in fact, that we have that goes across every geography, every age group. We tell stories in different ways, obviously, with the clothes we wear, with the car we drive, and things like that. But at heart, everybody wants somebody to talk to and to be listened to. That’s the function of literature. This is why we do get charged up about talking about books, because it’s somehow how we have our finger on a pulse that’s alive.

It’s not like working in the bank. It’s not working in the insurance company and going home and sticking in the DVD and not talking to anyone. So it seems to me the writer and the good reader, they are almost the same thing. [Each] gets out and does look for those stories. And then they find them sometimes in books, too. That’s why you like Harrison. Why do you enjoy reading Harrison or Peter Carey? Or John Berger or Ondaatje or Toni Morrison, it doesn’t matter who. Louise Erdrich. Because you feel like you are being talked to, you are listening, and it’s dignified.
-Colum McCann
source

Colum McCann

You enjoy that moment of surprise when you wake up and you are in a body that is not your own. The phone rings—or, for me, a child slips a note under the door that says, "Daddy, let’s go play soccer." And I think, "I’m a sixty-eight year old gypsy woman—I can’t go play soccer right now."
-Colum McCann
source

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Herman Hesse

For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone. They are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche. In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfil themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves. Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree. When a tree is cut down and reveals its naked death-wound to the sun, one can read its whole history in the luminous, inscribed disk of its trunk: in the rings of its years, its scars, all the struggle, all the suffering, all the sickness, all the happiness and prosperity stand truly written, the narrow years and the luxurious years, the attacks withstood, the storms endured. And every young farmboy knows that the hardest and noblest wood has the narrowest rings, that high on the mountains and in continuing danger the most indestructible, the strongest, the ideal trees grow.
-Hermann Hesse

Hermann Hesse

Whoever wants music instead of noise, joy instead of pleasure, soul instead of gold, creative work instead of business, passion instead of foolery, finds no home in this trivial world of ours.
-Hermann Hesse

I have been and still am a seeker, but I have ceased to question stars and books; I have begun to listen to the teaching my blood whispers to me.
-Hermann Hesse, Demian

There is no reality except the one contained within us. That is why so many people live such an unreal life. They take the images outside of them for reality and never allow the world within to assert itself.
-Hermann Hesse

Gaze into the fire, into the clouds, and as soon as the inner voices begin to speak..surrender to them. Don't ask first whether it's permitted, or would please your teachers or father or some god. You will ruin yourself if you do that.
-Hermann Hesse

We must become so alone, so utterly alone, that we withdraw into our innermost self. It is a way of bitter suffering. But then our solitude is overcome, we are no longer alone, for we find that our innermost self is the spirit, that it is God, the indivisible. And suddenly we find ourselves in the midst of the world, yet undisturbed by its multiplicity, for our innermost soul we know ourselves to be one with all being.
-Hermann Hesse

To hold our tongues when everyone is gossiping, to smile without hostility at people and institutions, to compensate for the shortage of love in the world with more love in small, private matters; to be more faithful in our work, to show greater patience, to forgo the cheap revenge obtainable from mockery and criticism: all these are things we can do.
-Hermann Hesse

Orson Welles

You know from past experiences that whenever you have been driven to the wall, or thought you were, you have extricated yourself in a way which you never would have dreamed possible had you not been put to the test. The trouble is that in your everyday life you don't go deep enough to tap the divine mind within you.
-Orson Welles

T.S. Elliot

My greatest trouble is getting the curtain up and down.
-T.S. Elliot

Franz Kafka

Don't bend; don't water it down; don't try to make it logical; don't edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.
-Franz Kafka

Writing is utter solitude, the descent into the cold abyss of oneself.
-Franz Kafka

You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.
-Franz Kafka

The truth is always an abyss. One must — as in a swimming pool — dare to dive from the quivering springboard of trivial everyday experience and sink into the depths, in order to later rise again — laughing and fighting for breath — to the now doubly illuminated surface of things.
-Franz Kafka

Dream

We were living in a loft. I said goodbye as Bill left for the day. I noticed a big gray bug following me. It looked like a walrus but it actually resembled a praying mantis. I tried to shoo it away and it kept following me. It was animated like a puppy. I contemplated squashing it but I couldn't, it was too fascinating. I ran into another part of the loft and found myself in another couples residence. They were sleeping and I was running from this bug climbing over their coats and furniture trying not to wake them up. I noticed one eye opened.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Bruce Lee

Ever since I was a child I have had this instinctive urge for expansion and growth. To me, the function and duty of a quality human being is the sincere and honest development of one's potential.
-Bruce Lee

Carl Gustav Jung

Man needs difficulties. They are necessary for health.
-Carl Gustav Jung

Herman Hesse

I wanted only to live in accord with the promptings which came from my true self. Why was that so very difficult?
-Hermann Hesse

Adrienne Rich

The channel of art can only become clogged and misdirected by the artist's concern with merely temporary and local disturbances. The song is higher than the struggle.
-Adrienne Rich

You must write, and read, as if your life depended on it.
-Adrienne Rich

Sufi Proverbs

Before we can learn, we need to learn how to learn, and before we can learn how to learn we need to unlearn.

If you pick up a bee due to kindness, you will learn the limitations of kindness.

When a pickpocket sees a saint, all he sees are his pockets.

Freedom is the absence of choice.

We cannot steal the fire. We must enter it.

When the heart weeps for what it has lost, the spirit laughs at what is has gained.

He who tastes, knows.

André Gide

The want of logic annoys. Too much logic bores. Life eludes logic, and everything that logic alone constructs remains artificial and forced.
-André Gide

It is not always by plugging away at a difficulty and sticking to it that one overcomes it; often it is by working on the one next to it. Some things and some people have to be approached obliquely, at an angle.
-André Gide

Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.
-André Gide

To read a writer is for me not merely to get an idea of what he says, but to go off with him and travel in his company.
-André Gide

Fish die belly upward, and rise to the surface. It's their way of falling.
-André Gide

The color of truth is gray.
-André Gide

Throw away my book: you must understand that it represents only one of a thousand attitudes. You must find your own. If someone else could have done something as well as you, don’t do it. If someone else could have said something as well as you, don’t say it — or written something as well as you, don’t write it. Grow fond only of that which you can find nowhere but in yourself, and create out of yourself, impatiently or patiently, ah! that most irreplaceable of beings.
-André Gide

Be faithful to that which exists within yourself.
-André Gide

Honoré de Balzac

Solitude is fine but you need someone to tell that solitude is fine.
-Honoré de Balzac

All happiness depends on courage and work.
-Honoré de Balzac

Reading brings us unknown friends.
-Honoré de Balzac

A letter is a soul, so faithful an echo of the speaking voice that to the sensitive it is among the richest treasures of love.
-Honoré de Balzac, Père Goriot

Thomas Merton

Art is not an end in itself. It introduces the soul into a higher spiritual order, which it expresses and in some sense explains.
-Thomas Merton

Ralph Waldo Emerson

There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe your critics are right.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

As long as a man stands in his own way, everything seems to be in his way.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Dreams

Yesterday I had a dream that M and Bill and I were making a short 4 minute black and white film on Sigmund Freud. Bill was playing the role of Freud and M and I were Victorian women dressed in period clothing. We came to speak to Freud and played our accordions for him.

This morning I dreamed of a web site for Dylan Thomas:
nakedversewelshpoet.pub

Monday, February 25, 2013

Pema Chödrön

Sticking with that uncertainty, getting the knack of relaxing in the midst of chaos, learning not to panic - this is the spiritual path.
-Pema Chödrön

LeRoy Neiman

There's no greatest moment in the arts. It's a life; it's a continuity thing. You can't have a great moment because it's spiritual. It's a belief; it's a calling. If you're an artist, doing your own thing on your own, it's while you're doing it that counts. It's a process. If you get too elated, you can get too depressed.
-LeRoy Neiman

Bridget Riley

Painters have always needed a sort of veil upon which they can focus their attention. It's as though the more fully the consciousness is absorbed, the greater the freedom of the spirit behind.
-Bridget Riley

An artist's failures are as valuable as his successes: by misjudging one thing he confirms something else, even if at the time he does not know what that something else is.
-Bridget Riley

I work with nature, although in completely new terms. For me nature is not landscape, but the dynamism of visual forces.
-Bridget Riley

An artist's early work is inevitably made up of a mixture of tendencies and interests, some of which are compatible and some of which are in conflict. As the artist picks his way along, rejecting and accepting as he goes, certain patterns of enquiry emerge.
-Bridget Riley

The word 'paradox' has always had a kind of magic for me, and I think my pictures have a paradoxical quality, a paradox of chaos and order in one.
-Bridget Riley

Constantin Brancusi

Create like a god, command like a king, work like a slave.
-Constantin Brancusi

To see far is one thing, going there is another.
-Constantin Brancusi

Things are not difficult to make; what is difficult is putting ourselves in the state of mind to make them.
-Constantin Brancusi

What is real is not the external form, but the essence of things... it is impossible for anyone to express anything essentially real by imitating its exterior surface.
-Constantin Brancusi

When you see a fish you don't think of its scales, do you? You think of its speed, its floating, flashing body seen through the water... If I made fins and eyes and scales, I would arrest its movement, give a pattern or shape of reality. I want just the flash of its spirit.
-Constantin Brancusi

When we are no longer children we are already dead.
-Constantin Brancusi

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Snow Moon

February's full Moon is traditionally called the Snow Moon because usually the heaviest snows fall in February.

Hunting becomes very difficult, and so some Native American tribes called this the Hunger Moon.

Other Native American tribes called this Moon the "Shoulder to Shoulder Around the Fire Moon" (Wishram Native Americans), the "No Snow in the Trails Moon" (Zuni Native Americans), and the "Bone Moon" (Cherokee Native Americans). The Bone Moon meant that there was so little food that people gnawed on bones and ate bone marrow soup.
source

Khaled Hosseini

That same night, I wrote my first short story. It took me thirty minutes. It was a dark little tale about a man who found a magic cup and learned that if he wept into the cup, his tears turned into pearls. But even though he had always been poor, he was a happy man and rarely shed a tear. So he found ways to make himself sad so that his tears could make him rich. As the pearls piled up, so did his greed grow. The story ended with the man sitting on a mountain of pearls, knife in hand, weeping helplessly into the cup with his beloved wife's slain body in his arms.
-Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner

Voltaire

Let us read, and let us dance; these two amusements will never do any harm to the world.
-Voltaire

Love truth, but pardon error.
-Voltaire

Dare to think for yourself.
-Voltaire

I don’t know where I am going, but I am on my way.
-Voltaire

Every man is guilty of all the good he did not do.
-Voltaire

Le secret d'ennuyer est celui de tout dire.

(The secret of being a bore is to tell everything.)
-Voltaire, Sept Discours en Vers sur l'Homme, 1738

The human brain is a complex organ with the wonderful power of enabling man to find reasons for continuing to believe whatever it is that he wants to believe.
-Voltaire

Cherish those who seek the truth but beware of those who find it.
-Voltaire

Man is free at the instant he wants to be.
-Voltaire

Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.
-Voltaire

May God defend me from my friends: I can defend myself from my enemies.
-Voltaire

The happiest of all lives is a busy solitude.
-Voltaire

Don't think money does everything or you are going to end up doing everything for money.
-Voltaire

Paradise is where I am.
-Voltaire

The instruction we find in books is like fire. We fetch it from our neighbours, kindle it at home, communicate it to others, and it becomes the property of all.
-Voltaire

Being unable to make people more reasonable, I preferred to be happy away from them.
-Voltaire

The greatest consolation in life is to say what one thinks.
-Voltaire

Life is bristling with thorns, and I know no other remedy than to cultivate one's garden.
-Voltaire

No problem can stand the assault of sustained thinking.
-Voltaire

If there’s life on other planets, then the earth is the Universe’s insane asylum.
-Voltaire

To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.
-Voltaire

Henry Ford

Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs.
-Henry Ford

Charles F. Kettering

No one would have crossed the ocean if he could have gotten off the ship in the storm.
-Charles F. Kettering

Paul Theroux

Notice how many of the Olympic athletes effusively thanked their mothers for their success? “She drove me to my practice at four in the morning,” etc. Writing is not figure skating or skiing. Your mother will not make you a writer. My advice to any young person who wants to write is: leave home.
-Paul Theroux

Tourists don't know where they've been, travelers don't know where they're going.
-Paul Theroux

You go away for a long time and return a different person - you never come all the way back.
-Paul Theroux, Dark Star Safari: Overland from Cairo to Cape Town

Friendship is also about liking a person for their failings, their weakness. It's also about mutual help, not about exploitation.
-Paul Theroux

I added that it was no fun to grow old, but that the compensation for it was that time turned your mental shit-detector into a highly calibrated instrument.
-Paul Theroux, Dark Star Safari: Overland from Cairo to Cape Town

Farley Mowat

I have to go on writing because I wouldn't be able to go on without writing. It is the only function that works for me, and without that function, I would die.
-Farley Mowat

Alice Neel

It's a privilege, you know, to paint and it takes up a lot of time and it means there's a lot of things you don't do. But still, with me, painting was more than a profession, it was also an obsession. I had to paint.
-Alice Neel

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Quotes

A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.
-George Bernard Shaw

The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts.
-C.S. Lewis

You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star.
-Friedrich Nietzsche

God allows us to experience the low points of life in order to teach us lessons that we could learn in no other way.
-C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis

If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair.
-C.S. Lewis

Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.
-C.S. Lewis

You can make anything by writing.
-C.S. Lewis

Dream

I dreamed I was in a K-Mart and a bunch of women I seemed to know were hanging out in beach chairs having a get-together in amongst the colorful umbrellas and coolers. I told them they looked like they had planned to have a party in the store and they said 'We did'. I kept slipping on the shiny white floors as if I was performing a physical comedy routine. I landed on my back and stayed there laughing and it felt good to laugh.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Jorge Luis Borges

I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library.
-Jorge Luis Borges

Wesley Bates

There's no need for a piece of sculpture in a home that has a cat.
-Wesley Bates

John Muir

Bread without butter or coffee without milk is an awful calamity, as if everything before being put in our mouth must first be held under a cow.
-John Muir

Igor Babailov

The purpose of Art Education is to teach you how to draw.

Even when you paint, you never stop drawing.

The more you paint the more fluent you are with your brush.

In visual art it's better once to see, than one hundred times to hear.

Envy derives from insecurity.

Insecurity prevents young artists from 'flying' and older artists from being 'down to earth.' Young artists should work on their confidence and the older ones on their humility.

-Igor Babailov

Habit is the Muse

There is no more miserable human being than one in whom nothing is habitual but indecision.
-William James

When you work you learn something about what you are doing and you develop habits and procedures out of what you're doing.
-Jasper Johns

The skeleton of habit alone upholds the human frame.
-Virginia Woolf

Habit is more powerful than will. If you get in the habit of painting every day, nothing will keep you from painting.
-Irwin Greenberg

Habits can be bad things or good, but the reasons they become habits is because we do them so often, they become natural to us. Painting or not painting can become habit. It all depends on you...
-Carolyn Henderson

Paint something every day.
-David Hockney

When patterns are broken, new worlds emerge.
-Tuli Kupferberg

If there is some art involved, I'd like it to be that it came through the cracks of daily work.
-Martin Mull

I paint the way someone bites his fingernails; for me, painting is a bad habit because I don't know nor can I do anything else.
-Pablo Picasso

As you get more and more into the habit of painting, you develop your inside relation with the process.
-Joseph Tany

Ninety-five percent of each day is habitual; if you create you leave the familiar.
-Doris White

The beautiful flip side of inertia is that it can also work in our favor. Once you've developed your habits properly, it starts taking more effort to stop the process than to keep going.
-Clint Watson

Marcel Duchamp

The word 'art' interests me very much. If it comes from Sanskrit, as I've heard, it signifies 'making.'
-Marcel Duchamp

The life of an artist is like the life of a monk, a lewd monk if you like, very Rabelaisian. It is an ordination.
-Marcel Duchamp

I've decided that art is a habit-forming drug. That's all it is, for the artist, for the collector, for anybody connected with it.
-Marcel Duchamp

It's true, of course, humor is very important in my life, as you know. That's the only reason for living, in fact.
-Marcel Duchamp

The thing to do is try to make a painting that will be alive in your own lifetime... -Marcel Duchamp

Art may be bad, good or indifferent, but, whatever adjective is used, we must call it art, and bad art is still art in the same way as a bad emotion is still an emotion.
-Marcel Duchamp

Marcel Duchamp

I am still a victim of chess. It has all the beauty of art - and much more. It cannot be commercialized. Chess is much purer than art in its social position.
-Marcel Duchamp

All this twaddle, the existence of God, atheism, determinism, liberation, societies, death, etc., are pieces of a chess game called language, and they are amusing only if one does not preoccupy oneself with 'winning or losing' this game of chess.
-Marcel Duchamp

I force myself to contradict myself in order to avoid conforming to my own taste.
-Marcel Duchamp

The creative act is not performed by the artist alone; the spectator brings the work in contact with the external world by deciphering and interpreting its inner qualifications and thus adds his contribution to the creative act.
-Marcel Duchamp

Since the tubes of paint used by the artist are manufactured and ready made products we must conclude that all the paintings in the world are 'readymades aided' and also works of assemblage.
-Marcel Duchamp

To all appearances, the artist acts like a mediumistic being who, from the labyrinth beyond time and space, seeks his way out to a clearing.
-Marcel Duchamp

If a shadow is a two-dimensional projection of the three-dimensional world, then the three-dimensional world as we know it is the projection of the four-dimensional Universe.
-Marcel Duchamp

Among our articles of lazy hardware, I recommend the faucet that stops dripping when no one is listening to it.
-Marcel Duchamp

The most interesting thing about artists is how they live
-Marcel Duchamp, The Writings of Marcel Duchamp

Marcel Duchamp: The Art of Chess

In the early 1920s a rumor circulated through the art worlds of Paris and New York that Marcel Duchamp—the artist best known for Nude Descending a Staircase, the sensation of the Armory Show of 1913—had decided to stop making art in order to devote his life to playing chess. Although Duchamp made no effort to refute this claim, and had indeed entered into regular tournament play, he would never abandon his career as an artist. For the remaining years of his life, he sought opportunities to combine the two endeavors. Not only was the theme of chess an ever-present motif in his work—from his earliest paintings to works of his final decade—but on more than one occasion he buried coded messages in his art that could be fully comprehended only by proficient players of the game. He went so far as to suggest that the activity of playing chess be considered a component of his artistic expression. “I have come to the conclusion that while all artists are not chess players,” he memorably remarked, “all chess players are artists.”

Marcel Duchamp: The Art of Chess is the first major study in the English language devoted to exploring how Duchamp’s activities as a chess player affected his art. Francis M. Naumann’s essay, “Marcel Duchamp: the Art of Chess,” shows that the chronology of Duchamp’s life runs parallel to the various phases of a chess game—from opening, to middle game, to endgame—revealing how various events that he subtly orchestrated resemble the unfolding pattern of a game, one that, insofar as the game of art is concerned, continues to be played. Bradley Bailey’s essay, “Passionate Pastimes: Duchamp, Chess, and the Large Glass,” demonstrates that Duchamp’s identity as a chess player is so thoroughly interfused with his work as an artist that the two activities are aesthetically and conceptually inseparable, an interrelation especially evident in Duchamp’s masterwork, The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even, 1915-23, better known as the Large Glass (Philadelphia Museum of Art) and in the preliminary study Nine Malic Molds, 1913-14 (Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris). Jennifer Shahade selects and expertly analyzes fifteen of Duchamp’s chess games, which are laid out by Jean Sabrier in a font that replicates Duchamp’s Design for Chessmen (1918).
source

Issa

little snail
inch by inch, climb
Mount Fuji!

-Issa

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Lorenzo Carcaterra

Live then, beloved children of my heart, and never forget that, until the day God deigns to reveal the future to man, the sum of all human wisdom will be contained in these two words; Wait and Hope.
-Lorenzo Carcaterra, Sleepers

I was now well prepared to be a career criminal. I had the proper training and a natural feel for the business. I had a respect for the old-liners like Angelo and Don Frederico. I had been a witness to both murder and betrayal and had my appetite whetted for acts of revenge.

I just didn't have the stomach for any of it.

I didn't want my life to be a lonely and sinister one, where even the closest of friends could overnight turn into an enemy who needed to be eliminated. If I went the way Angelo had paved, I would earn millions, but would never be allowed to taste the happiness and enjoyment such wealth often brings. I would rule over a dark world, a place where treachery and deceit would be at my side and never know the simple pleasures of an ordinary life.
-Lorenzo Carcaterra, Gangster

We do many things we shouldn’t in the course of a life. It doesn’t make them right or wrong, just a part of who we are.
-Lorenzo Carcaterra, Street Boys

Lorenzo Carcaterra

I wrote A Safe Place for one reason -- I was a married man in my mid-30s with children of my own and thought it time to make peace with my father. I felt writing a book would do that. It didn't. What it did was make me realize that despite all his horrors and faults, my father was the person most responsible for shaping my life. He was a bad man who happened to be a good father to me. He was an abusive husband who made me strive to be a good one. He was functionally illiterate, but by forcing me to read to him every day -- newspapers, sports magazines, and the occasional book -- fed my love for and appreciation of writing. By the end of the writing of that book, I wished he were still alive. It was a very difficult book to write. It was a first book and with that you travel down roads you've never seen before, always unsure of the next step. It was a book about my parents and, at a certain point, it hits that you are exposing a closed life to an outside world. It was a book written out of pain and anger. I'd probably write it in a much different way if I wrote it today.
-Lorenzo Carcaterra
source

Lorenzo Carcaterra

My parents never owned a book. None of their friends, all living in railroad cold-water tenement apartments, did either. Few spoke English, preferring the comfort of the language of their homeland. They were working class people, the men putting in long hours inside dark hulls of piers or the cold interior of the downtown meat market, their hands hard and callused, their faces lined and weary. The women stayed at home, cooking meals, washing clothes by hand, shopping and bartering for fresh produce at reasonable prices, taking their kids to school in the morning and to the park in the afternoon. Each one longing for a country they left behind.

Some of the men had criminal pasts, complete with years served behind state prison bars. Many of them gambled their much needed and hard-earned money on daily doubles and nickel numbers. Too many cheated on the women in their lives and spent too many of their nights in dark bars, drowning the dreams of their youth behind the hard taste of an empty shot glass. The women were devoted to their church, spending countless hours under the glow of lit votive candles, praying to an indifferent God for a way out of their impoverished plight.

They had made for themselves a lifetime of struggle and strife, working jobs that never paid enough and were destined to damage their health, living in apartments that were saunas in the summer and were so cold in the winters that the window panes would often crack. They had no grand designs on the future and little hope for the present. There was never any talk of summer vacations or camps for the kids or having enough money saved to lay down on a small house. I am a writer because of the people I grew up with and the world they allowed me to witness and live in. Men and women who could not read above a second grade level formed the foundation of my literary education. Their lessons were simple, heart-felt and meant to last me a lifetime. It was their gift to me and one that they expected me to respect and pass down to others. I have done my best to do so. Most of those men and women are now long dead, their voices and tales alive only in memory. And in the pages of the books I write. I will never be able to thank them enough.
-Lorenzo Carcaterra
source

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Painting

What does the painting want? I have to listen and make a move. It is all about receptivity and risk. I am in the jungle, playing chess.

Dream

I dreamed that a miniature sheltie dog, no bigger than a cat, and an extra large gerbil the size of a bunny, suddenly appeared in our apartment. The gerbil and dog started fighting over my mechanical pencil, snapping it in half. How did these strays get in here? It must be the maintenance man letting them in through the back door, I reasoned. Then an all-black snoopy-dog resembling the Peanuts cartoon more than a real beagle appeared, wearing a huge black Salvador Dali mustache. I hadn't noticed until then that the other pets wore huge black Salvador Dali mustaches too, so I knew it was all a hoax.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Clothesline

I took a walk with Lily. We both needed to get out in spite of the cold especially since we missed yesterday due to the frigid winds. The sun was getting low but luckily it was a bit warmer than it was earlier this morning. We walked down the street to Precious Blood Cemetery. When we entered the gate I could see a long thin clothesline with colorful garments flapping in the distance. The clothes were strung from the third floor window of the corner triple-decker to a very tall wooden pole in their backyard. The bright colors stood out against the snow and granite-gray of the tombstones. As I got closer I looked up. There was a bright and cheery beach towel with the purple donkey Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh, a flowered red and white bathrobe, a flannel flower-print nightgown, and a bath towel all fluttering in the orange light. It's not often that you see clothes put out to dry on a 24 degree day.

Judi Dench

Excerpt from and interview with actress Judy Dench
But somehow fear creeps in. "Always," she says. "The more I do, the more frightened I get. But that is essential. Otherwise why would I go on doing it?" The fear may come from her own belief that she doesn't know how to play the part, that her performance is not quite ready, that she wants a particular night to go well because someone special to her is in the audience. And of course she's "gone up" onstage. "Oh, ya!" she exclaims. "First night in [Eduardo de Filippo's] Filumena, with Michael Pennington, I had a whole list of Italian towns to say. And I completely dried on them and came out with a lot of Italian food. And he also went completely awry. One night in The Importance of Being Earnest I cut all the bits about the handbag, and a woman wrote to me and said, 'You've ruined my Christmas.' But mostly I see the absurdity of it, and I laugh uncontrollably. I've got myself into such trouble."

She refuses to conquer her stage fright. At least it's not debilitating. "Not yet," she quips. "But, oh, God, I have the fear. I wouldn't be without it. It makes me laugh. The fear tips over, and I become hysterical. And you get on because you have other actors who are in the same position."
-Judi Dench, The It Girl, By Dany Margolies

source

Shirley MacLaine

There's no such thing as time when you're really relaxed. That's why meditation works.
-Shirley MacLaine

Yo-Yo Ma

I think of a piece of music as something that comes alive when it is being performed, and I feel that my role in the transmission of music is to be its best advocate at that moment.
-Yo-Yo Ma

Shirley MacLaine

I don't need anyone to rectify my existence. The most profound relationship we will ever have is the one with ourselves.
-Shirley MacLaine

If anything interferes with my inner peace, I will walk away. Arguments with family members. All that stuff. None of it matters.
-Shirley MacLaine

Of course, we're all a mass of contradictions.
-Shirley MacLaine

Johnny Cash

I love weather. I'm a connoisseur of weather. Wherever my travels take me, the first thing I do is turn on the weather channel and see what's going on, what's coming. I like to know about regional weather patterns, how storms are created in different altitudes, what kinds of clouds are forming or dissipating or blowing through, where the winds are coming from, where they've been. That's not a passion everybody shares, I know, but I don't believe there are any people on earth who, properly sheltered, don't feel the peace inside a summer rain and the cleansing it brings, the renewal of the earth in its aftermath.
-Johnny Cash

I love songs about horses, railroads, land, Judgment Day, family, hard times, whiskey, courtship, marriage, adultery, separation, murder, war, prison, rambling, damnation, home, salvation, death, pride, humor, piety, rebellion, patriotism, larceny, determination, tragedy, rowdiness, heartbreak and love. And Mother. And God.
-Johnny Cash

Jiddu Krishnamurti

To be creative, which is to have real initiative, there must be freedom; and for freedom there must be intelligence. So you have to inquire and find out what is preventing intelligence. You have to investigate life, you have to question social values, everything, and not accept anything because you are frightened.
-Jiddu Krishnamurti

Jiddu Krishnamurti

Have you ever thought about why you are being educated, why you are learning history, mathematics, geography, or what else? Have you ever thought why you go to schools and colleges? Is it information, with knowledge? What is all this so-called education? Your parents send you here, perhaps because they themselves have passed certain examinations and taken various degrees. Have you ever asked yourselves why you are here, and have the teachers asked why you are here? Do the teachers know why they are here? Should you not try to find out what all this struggle is about – this struggle to study, to pass examinations, to live in a certain place away from home and not be frightened, to play games well and so on? Should your teachers not help you to inquire into all this and not merely prepare you to pass examinations?
-Jiddu Krishnamurti

Governments want efficient technicians, not human beings, because human beings become dangerous to governments – and to organized religions as well. That is why governments and religious organizations seek to control education.
-Jiddu Krishnamurti, Education and the Significance of Life

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Jiddu Krishnamurti

You must understand the whole of life, not just one little part of it. That is why you must read, that is why you must look at the skies, that is why you must sing, and dance, and write poems, and suffer, and understand, for all that is life.
-Jiddu Krishnamurti

The highest form of human intelligence is to observe yourself without judgment.
-Jiddu Krishnamurti

It is truth that liberates, not your effort to be free.
-Jiddu Krishnamurti

Freedom and love go together. Love is not a reaction. If I love you because you love me, that is mere trade, a thing to be bought in the market; it is not love. To love is not to ask anything in return, not even to feel that you are giving something - and it is only such love that can know freedom.
-Jiddu Krishnamurti

The more you know yourself, the more clarity there is. Self-knowledge has no end - you don't come to an achievement, you don't come to a conclusion. It is an endless river.
-Jiddu Krishnamurti

Anne Lamott

If something inside of you is real, we will probably find it interesting, and it will probably be universal. So you must risk placing real emotion at the center of your work. Write straight into the emotional center of things. Write toward vulnerability. Risk being unliked. Tell the truth as you understand it. If you’re a writer you have a moral obligation to do this. And it is a revolutionary act—truth is always subversive.
-Anne Lamott

But you can’t get to any of these truths by sitting in a field smiling beatifically, avoiding your anger and damage and grief. Your anger and damage and grief are the way to the truth. We don’t have much truth to express unless we have gone into those rooms and closets and woods and abysses that we were told not go in to. When we have gone in and looked around for a long while, just breathing and finally taking it in – then we will be able to speak in our own voice and to stay in the present moment. And that moment is home.
-Anne Lamott

Becoming a writer is about becoming conscious. When you’re conscious and writing from a place of insight and simplicity and real caring about the truth, you have the ability to throw the lights on for your reader. He or she will recognize his or her life and truth in what you say, in the pictures you have painted, and this decreases the terrible sense of isolation that we have all had too much of.
-Anne Lamott

Carolyn Knapp

The freedom to choose...means the freedom to make mistakes, to falter and fail, to come face-to-face with your own flaws and limitations and fears and secrets, to live with the terrible uncertainty that necessarily attends the construction of a self.
-Caroline Knapp

The dog’s agenda is simple, fathomable, overt: I want. “I want to go out, come in, eat something, lie here, play with that, kiss you." There are no ulterior motives with a dog, no mind games, no second-guessing, no complicated negotiations or bargains, and no guilt trips or grudges if a request is denied.
-Caroline Knapp

Bill Calhoun

Read.

Dream

I dreamed my friend had a full grown milking cow in the city. He milked her twice a day. There was a party going on in his house and I was one of the guests. He said the cow was a secret and I mustn't ask him about it in front of his family. I was allowed to go see the cow but I had to climb a ladder inside his house to reach the backyard which was on a hill. The cow was hidden back there.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

May Sarton

There is no doubt that solitude is a challenge and to maintain balance within it a precarious business. But I must not forget that, for me, being with people or even with one beloved person for any length of time without solitude is even worse. I lose my center. I feel dispersed, scattered, in pieces. I must have time alone in which to mull over my encounter, and to extract its juice, its essence, to understand what has really happened to me as a consequence of it.
-May Sarton, Journal of a Solitude

Thomas Merton

What can we gain by sailing to the moon if we are not able to cross the abyss that separates us from ourselves? This is the most important of all voyages of discovery, and without it, all the rest are not only useless, but disastrous.
-Thomas Merton

You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith and hope.
-Thomas Merton

If you want to identify me, ask me not where I live, or what I like to eat, or how I comb my hair, but ask me what I am living for, in detail, ask me what I think is keeping me from living fully for the thing I want to live for.
-Thomas Merton

Do not depend on the hope of results. You may have to face the fact that your work will be apparently worthless and even achieve no result at all, if not perhaps results opposite to what you expect. As you get used to this idea, you start more and more to concentrate not on the results, but on the value, the rightness, the truth of the work itself.
-Thomas Merton

Many poets are not poets for the same reason that many religious men are not saints: they never succeed in being themselves. They never get around to being the particular poet or the particular monk they are intended to be by God. They never become the man or the artist who is called for by all the circumstances of their individual lives. They waste their years in vain efforts to be some other poet, some other saint...They wear out their minds and bodies in a hopeless endeavor to have somebody else's experiences or write somebody else's poems.
-Thomas Merton

Discovering vocation does not mean scrambling toward some prize just beyond my reach but accepting the treasure of true self I already possess. Vocation does not come from a voice 'out there' calling me to be something I am not. It comes from a voice 'in here' calling me to be the person I was born to be, to fulfill the original selfhood given me at birth by God.
-Thomas Merton

Quotes

A close, daily intimacy between two people has to be paid for: it requires a great deal of experience of life, logic, and warmth of heart on both sides to enjoy each other’s good qualities without being irritated by each other’s shortcomings and blaming each other for them.
-Ivan Goncharov, Oblomov


But the great artists like Michelangelo and Blake and Tolstoi--like Christ whom Blake called an artist because he had one of the most creative imaginations that ever was on earth--do not want security, egoistic or materialistic. Why, it never occurs to them. "Be not anxious for the morrow," and "which of you being anxious can add one cubit to his stature?"

So they dare to be idle, i.e. not to be pressed and duty-driven all the time. They dare to love people even when they are very bad, and they dare not to try and dominate others to show them what they must do for their own good.
-Brenda Ueland, If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit


Painting is just another way of keeping a diary.
-Pablo Picasso


When I write, I disturb. When I show a film, I disturb. When I exhibit my painting, I disturb, and I disturb if I don't. I have a knack for disturbing.
-Jean Cocteau


If I didn't start painting, I would have raised chickens.
-Grandma Moses

Walking and Writing

When I was growing up there was a man who walked around the neighborhood all the time. He lived up the street. He's a writer, people would say. This really stuck with me. It was only later in my life that I realized that walking was part of his writing.

Henrik Ibsen

To live is to battle the demons
in the heart as well as the brain.
To write is to preside at
judgement day over one's self.

-Henrik Ibsen

Sam Shepard

My first job was with the Burns Detective Agency. They sent me over to the East River to guard coal barges during these god-awful hours like three to six in the morning. It wasn't a very difficult job -- all I had to do was make a round every fifteen minutes -- but it turned out to be a great environment for writing. I was completely alone in a little outhouse with an electric heater and a little desk.
-Sam Shepard

I've heard writers talk about "discovering a voice," but for me that wasn't a problem. There were so many voices that I didn’t know where to start.
-Sam Shepard

I think without writing I would feel completely useless.
-Sam Shepard

Farm country -- you know, hay, horses, cattle. It's the ideal situation for me. I like the physical endeavors that go with the farm -- cutting hay, cleaning out stalls, or building a barn. You go do that and then come back to the writing.
-Sam Shepard

The funny thing about having all this so-called success is that behind it is a certain horrible emptiness.
-Sam Shepard

The great thing for me, now, is that writing has become more and more interesting. Not just as a craft but as a way into things that are not described. It's a thing of discovering. That's when writing is really working. You're on the trail of something and you don't quite know what it is.
-Sam Shepard

You're never going to see the truth. It's what you're shooting for always and you always miss it. Every once in a while, you catch an edge of it. That's what's you hope for, I think, as an artist.
-Sam Shepard

Margaret Atwood

When you are in the middle of a story it isn't a story at all, but only a confusion; a dark roaring, a blindness, a wreckage of shattered glass and splintered wood; like a house in a whirlwind, or else a boat crushed by the icebergs or swept over the rapids, and all aboard powerless to stop it. It's only afterwards that it becomes anything like a story at all.
-Margaret Atwood

Richard Ford

The thing about being a writer is that you never have to ask, 'Am I doing something that's worthwhile?' Because even if you fail at it, you know that it's worth doing.
-Richard Ford

Friday, February 15, 2013

Margaret Atwood

Love blurs your vision; but after it recedes, you can see more clearly than ever. It's like the tide going out, revealing whatever's been thrown away and sunk: broken bottles, old gloves, rusting pop cans, nibbled fishbodies, bones.
-Margaret Atwood, Cat's Eye

Another belief of mine: that everyone else my age is an adult, whereas I am merely in disguise.
-Margaret Atwood, Cat's Eye

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Edward Albee

I write to find out what I'm talking about.
-Edward Albee

Plato

According to greek mythology, humans were originally created with 4 arms, 4 legs and a head with two faces. Fearing their power, Zeus split them into two separate parts, condemning them to spend their lives in search of their other halves.
-Plato

Dream

I dreamed I asked a group of nuns at a monastery if I could swim in their outdoor pool. They said yes. I swam alone and when I looked down into the water I could see it was very deep. Everything was the same color blue: the water, the light, the time of day. I was afraid I could easily bump my head on the diving board and sink to the bottom.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

John Patrick Shanley

I am not a courageous person by nature. I have simply discovered that, at certain key moments in this life, you must find courage in yourself, in order to move forward and live. It is like a muscle and it must be exercised, first a little, and then more and more. All the really exciting things possible during the course of a lifetime require a little more courage than we currently have. A deep breath and a leap.
-John Patrick Shanley

Doubt requires more courage than conviction does, and more energy; because conviction is a resting place and doubt is infinite – it is a passionate exercise.
-John Patrick Shanley

Hal Sirowitz

Some people argue that you should write about what you know. I think you should do that to a certain extant but at the same time you should be writing about what you want to know. When I start writing a poem, I seldom know how it's going to end. I let my unconscious decide. The novelist Graham Greene used to go to bed each night and dream about what his characters did next. I don't go to such lengths. Maybe I'm exaggerating a little when I say my unconscious finishes the poem. All I'm saying is that I try to give up control and let the poem write itself. It brings to mind something Robert Frost once said: "No surprise in the writer; no surprise in the reader," meaning that the author has to let go of the conscious part of creating and allow the poem to develop independently.

-Hal Sirowitz

source

Frederick Buechner

We must be careful with our lives, for Christ's sake, because it would seem that they are the only lives we are going to have in this puzzling and perilous world, and so they are very precious and what we do with them matters enormously.
-Frederick Buechner

Of the Seven Deadly Sins, anger is possibly the most fun. To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past, to roll over your tongue the prospect of bitter confrontations still to come, to savor to the last toothsome morsel both the pain you are given and the pain you are giving back--in many ways it is a feast fit for a king. The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself. The skeleton at the feast is you.
-Frederick Buechner

To be wise is to be eternally curious.
-Frederick Buechner

My story is important not because it is mine, God knows, but because if I tell it anything like right, the chances are you will recognize that in many ways it is also yours… it is precisely through these stories in all their particularity, as I have long believed and often said, that God makes himself known to each of us more powerfully and personally. If this is true, it means that to lose track of our stories is to be profoundly impoverished not only humanly but also spiritually.
-Frederick Buechner

Listen to your life. All moments are key moments.
-Frederick Buechner

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Tony Kushner

I find writing very difficult. It’s hard and it hurts sometimes, and it’s scary because of the fear of failure and the very unpleasant feeling that you may have reached the limit of your abilities. You’re smart enough to see that there’s something that lies beyond what you’ve been able to do, but you don’t know how to get there, how to make it happen in the medium in which you’ve decided to work. I can be very masochistic, but that kind of anxiety is something I tend to want to avoid.

The lesson I learn over and over again—and then forget over and over again—is that writing won’t be so bad once you get into it. One’s reluctance is immensely powerful. It’s like what Proust says about habit—it seems tiny in the grand arc of a person’s life narrative, but it’s the most insidious, powerful thing. Reluctance is like that.

When you feel most terrified—I think this is true of most writers—it’s because the thing isn’t there in your head. I’ve found it to be the case that you’ve got to start writing, and writing almost anything. Because writing is not simply an intellectual act. It doesn’t happen exclusively in your head. It’s a combination of idea and action, what Marx and Freud called praxis, a combining of the material and the immaterial. The action, the physical act of putting things down on paper, changes and produces a writer’s ideas.

-Tony Kushner, Paris Review

Tony Kushner

After my mother died, in 1990, I felt a kind of bafflement. There is simply no way to comprehend the vanishing of this person. The first night after the funeral, I had a dream—it was raining outside and she was sitting on her grave in her nightgown, just getting soaked to the skin, and I had to go and find the cemetery. I think that’s how I came up with the idea of the homebody disappearing.
-Tony Kushner, Paris Review


When I’m writing a new play, there’s a period where I know I shouldn’t be out in public much. I imagine most people who create go through something like this. You willfully loosen some of the inner straps that hold your core together. You become more porous and multivalent and multivocal, so that the multitudes you have inside yourself can start to get up and walk around and emerge. Then, hopefully, you put them back into the cave. But to really play Linda Loman, you have to go there every night. So you live in a state, I would imagine, of permanent looseness in the core, which I find frankly terrifying.

I’ve become close friends with very few actors. They are of course dazzling people and I need them to do my work. When I meet a new actor with whom I want to work, it’s like discovering a new color. But I’ve always had an instinct of maintaining a certain distance from actors, because I find them uncanny and unnerving.

Sometimes a phony-baloney actor will hoodwink the public for decades, but the actors we really revere aren’t kidding around when they act. They suffer. Part of what we are paying to see when we go to the theater is suffering. We want to see actual suffering. There’s a certain Christ-like thing going on—the actors are suffering so we don’t have to.
-Tony Kushner, Paris Review


When you’re just starting to write a play, you don’t know who these people are, so you just have to listen. They’re singing a song through you, and if you can hear their melodies, then you have something to start to work with.
-Tony Kushner, Paris Review


But production is also the great thing about being a playwright. When your work is reasonably close to completion, you get to go into a room full of wonderful people who will then help you continue to write your play. The solitude of novelists and poets and nonfiction prose writers is a terribly frightening thing for me to contemplate. Actors and directors make my life so much easier, and even sometimes happier. The only problem is that, as my friend George Wolfe always says, a playwright has to be able to know when it’s time to leave the party. Rehearsal rooms are hotbeds of suffering and agony and joy and sex, or at least eroticism and excitement, and you can get very caught up in them. It’s hard to leave and go back and be alone with a blank page. This is something that every writer, playwright or otherwise, goes through. But as a playwright I don’t think you quite develop the same talent for solitude that poets and novelists do.

I wish I were a poet

. . . it’s the most important writing. The greatest writers are the great poets. When you bury your head in poetry, it has all the mind-exploding power of serious philosophy, but it’s also music. As a child of musicians, I find rhythm and melody very important.
-Tony Kushner, Paris Review


I found a line in Glenway Wescott’s journals that’s become my mantra - “A day’s work every day now. Now, now, now!”
-Tony Kushner, Paris Review

Sharon Olds

I have learned to get pleasure from speaking of pain.
-Sharon Olds

Writing or making anything—a poem, a bird feeder, a chocolate cake—has self-respect in it. You’re working. You’re trying. You’re not lying down on the ground, having given up.
-Sharon Olds

Dream

I dreamed I had four three foot square canvases and I made the same sketch on each one using a thin brush of black oil paint. The idea was to see how I develop the same start of a painting, developing it four different ways.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Compassion

Sometimes I can travel to the compassionate zone and other times my anger blocks me. Shame is another blocker. Compassion is an amazing, worthwhile quality to develop but it often means examining excruciating stuff. It is worthwhile, though, to peel the onion -- the pain, love, and fear we discover is ultimately human and universally connecting.

Chinese Wheelbarrow

The Chinese wheelbarrow - which was driven by human labour, beasts of burden and wind power - was of a different design than its European counterpart. By placing a large wheel in the middle of the vehicle instead of a smaller wheel in front, one could easily carry three to six times as much weight than if using a European wheelbarrow.
-Low Tech Magazine
Read.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Dream

I dreamed I was making pancakes in cast iron decorative molds over a fireplace - an open hearth fireplace. I was thinking I should move my easel here. When I visited our painter friend Jacob his easel and bed were right beside the fireplace. I was thinking this morning about Carl Jung's meditative stone tower he built with an open hearth for cooking.

Today we are thinking we ought to shovel the roof of garage so rain expected tomorrow doesn't cause disaster.

The sourdough I baked last night had a 30 hour incubation. It is sour and good.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Snow

I never like to feel trapped, so I got up early and immediately started shoveling. I shoveled a path for the oil man because we will be calling him this week. I shoveled a path for Lily at our side door and leading around the big yard yard. I shoveled the front steps and finally the back steps, slowing down as I tired. Then Bill and I walked Lily for the big walk around the pond. Very few cars were out due to the driving bans so it was quite festive and easy to walk in the street. There was a sign in someone's yard that read SNOW. The word PLOWING and the phone number were buried in the snow. It was hilarious - thanks, I was wondering what this white stuff was!

Everyone was out shoveling and it was very social, which I liked and very much needed. When we got home and finished a late lunch we started to attack our car buried in the parking lot. There were mountains of snow left by tenants burying each other's cars (and ours) while trying to get out. We shoveled away, digging a path through mountains of snow that we were trying to move without burying more cars --- and then the neighborhood landlord finally arrived with a plow and spent hours clearing the lot. Hurray!

Huge swaths of southern RI are without power. We are very lucky up here in the north. Tomorrow we'll shovel the flat roof and that will seem easy and quick after today's work. I baked some slow-rise sourdough breads and then sweet potatoes in the residual heat. I steamed up a batch of broccoli. I know I will fall asleep the minute I sit down.

Friday, February 08, 2013

Roberta Smith

More and more when we look at art, what we’re looking at is money: art that is big and expensive to fabricate or transport in spaces that are expensive to build and maintain; art that is public and spectacular rather than private and intimate; art that most people could never live with, even if they could afford it, arrayed in spaces they would never live in. It is the Grand Canyon approach to art making and showing, deeply depersonalizing.

-Roberta Smith, from the NYT review Large Visions in a Large Space

source

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Painting and Reading

I have six or eight pictures in various states of unfinished-ness. Some days I just sit and stare at them and other days I can't even walk in and look at them and some days I work on three at once.

I have discovered that if a writer has great things to say but his language is klunky I can't read him. But when an author writes magnificently I'm ready to read his writing even if it's a book about asphalt paving.

Marya Hornbacher

That state of devastation, of despair — a state we fear and run from, most of us, all our lives — is a spiritual state. It does not feel like it at the time. It feels powerfully, absolutely alone. We have reached an ending; we know that the path we've been on goes no further or leads only deeper into a private hell. It is what they call the dark night of the soul.

But it is a spiritual state: because in that darkness, we become aware of a spiritual hunger that we know must be fed. And that awareness of ourselves as spiritual beings is in fact a gift. It is a turning point. We reach an ending, yes, but it is at that ending where we hear our spirits, which we'd thought were long buried or dead, choke back to life.

-Marya Hornbacher Waiting page 2

John Steinbeck

In writing, habit seems to be a much stronger force than either will power or inspiration. Consequentially, there must be some little quality of fierceness until the habit pattern of a certain number of words is established. There is no possibility of saying I'll do it if I feel like it. You start out putting words down and there are three things - you, the pen, and the page, then gradually the three things merge until they are one and you feel about the page as you do about your arm only you love it more than you love your arm.
-John Steinbeck

Rollo May

Dogmatism of all kinds--scientific, economic, moral, as well as political--are threatened by the creative freedom of the artist. This is necessarily and inevitably so. We cannot escape our anxiety over the fact that the artists together with creative persons of all sorts, are the possible destroyer of our nicely ordered systems.
-Rollo May

Mass communication--wonder as it may be technologically and something to be appreciated and valued--presents us with a serious danger, the danger of conformism, due to the fact that we all view the same things at the same time in all the cities of the country.
-Rollo May

Rollo May

Anxiety is an even better teacher than reality, for one can temporarily evade reality by avoiding the distasteful situation; but anxiety is a source of education always present because one carries it within.
-Rollo May

One does not become fully human painlessly.
-Rollo May

Intimacy requires courage because risk is inescapable. We cannot know at the outset how the relationship will affect us. Like a chemical mixture, if one of us is changed, both of us will be. Will we grow in self-actualization, or will it destroy us? The one thing we can be certain of is that if we let ourselves fully into the relationship for good or evil, we will not come out unaffected.
-Rollo May

Human freedom involves our capacity to pause between the stimulus and response and, in that pause, to choose the one response toward which we wish to throw our weight. The capacity to create ourselves, based upon this freedom, is inseparable from consciousness or self-awareness.
-Rollo May

Finding the center of strength within ourselves is in the long run the best contribution we can make to our fellow men. ... One person with indigenous inner strength exercises a great calming effect on panic among people around him. This is what our society needs — not new ideas and inventions; important as these are, and not geniuses and supermen, but persons who can "be", that is, persons who have a center of strength within themselves.
-Rollo May, Man's Search For Himself

To love means to open ourselves to the negative as well as the positive - to grief, sorrow, and disappointment as well as to joy, fulfillment, and an intensity of consciousness we did not know was possible before.
-Rollo May

The opposite of courage in our society is not cowardice, it's conformity.
-Rollo May

A myth is a way of making sense in a senseless world. Myths are narrative patterns that give significance to our existence.
-Rollo May

Good art wounds as well as delights. It must, because our defenses against the truth are wound so tightly around us. But as art chips away at our defenses, it also opens us to healing potentialities that transcend intellectual games and ego-preserving strategies.
-Rollo May, My Quest for Beauty

There can be no stronger proof of the impoverishment of our contemporary culture than the popular - though profoundly mistaken - definition of myth as falsehood.
-Rollo May

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Martha Graham

The body says what words cannot.
-Martha Graham

First we have to believe, and then we believe.
-Martha Graham

We learn by practice. Whether it means to learn to dance by practicing dancing or to learn to live by practicing living, the principles are the same. One becomes in some area an athlete of God.
-Martha Graham

No artist is ahead of his time. He is his time; it is just that others are behind the times.
-Martha Graham

Every dance is a kind of fever chart, a graph of the heart.
-Martha Graham

You are unique, and if that is not fulfilled, then something has been lost.
-Martha Graham

Theater is a verb before it is a noun, an act before it is a place.
-Martha Graham

John Philip Sousa

At the age of 13, his father, a trombonist in the Marine Band, enlisted Sousa in the United States Marine Corps as an apprentice to keep him from joining a circus band.

I can almost always write music; at any hour of the twenty-four, if I put pencil to paper, music comes.
-John Philip Sousa

Grand opera is the most powerful of stage appeals and that almost entirely through the beauty of music.
-John Philip Sousa

Any composer who is gloriously conscious that he is a composer must believe that he receives his inspiration from a source higher than himself.
-John Philip Sousa

American teachers have one indisputable advantage over foreign ones; they understand the American temperament and can judge its unevenness, its lights and its shadows.
-John Philip Sousa

There is one thing that freezes a musician more than the deadliest physical cold, and that is the spiritual chill of an unresponsive audience!
-John Philip Sousa

From childhood I was passionately fond of music and wanted to be a musician. I have no recollection of any real desire ever to be anything else.
-John Philip Sousa

These talking machines are going to ruin the artistic development of music in this country. When I was a boy...in front of every house in the summer evenings, you would find young people together singing the songs of the day or old songs. Today you hear these infernal machines going night and day. We will not have a vocal cord left. The vocal cord will be eliminated by a process of evolution, as was the tail of man when he came from the ape.
-John Philip Sousa

Claudio Arrau

Since in music we deal with notes, not words, with chords, with transitions, with color and expression, the musical meaning always based on those notes as written and nothing else - has to be divined. Therefore any musician, no matter how great an instrumentalist, who is not also an interpreter of a divinatory order, the way Furtwängler was, or Fischer-Dieskau is, is somehow one-sided, somehow without spiritual grandeur.
-Claudio Arrau

An interpreter must give his blood to the work interpreted.
-Claudio Arrau

Thoughts on Success

Success is doing your art. Success is regular engagement, not money
or fame, just engagement in the art-making.

Robert Bly

If a human being takes an action, the soul takes an action. When a hair enters the water, the soul adds gold to it. That is what the soul is like, apparently. This spring water, with gold snakes and fish in it, is the soul itself which does nothing if you do nothing; but if you light a fire, it chops wood; if you make a boat, it becomes the ocean.
-Robert Bly, Iron John page 48

Robert Bly

During the hunting era the man's emotional life, and even his religious life resonated to the empty spaces of forest and plain, and he learned about God through hunting animals, as the drawings in the Dordogne caves make clear. If a shaming mother or father blocks a boy from living that time through, he will never arrive at contemporary time. He will still be bringing a deer back to Detroit on the top of his car when he is fifty.
-Robert Bly, Iron John page 46

Richard Strauss

At the final rehearsal for the first performance of the Alpine Symphony:
At last I have learned to orchestrate. I wanted to compose, for once, as a cow gives milk.
-Richard Strauss, On Music: Essays and Diversions By Robin Holloway

Robert Bly

All stories of the blacksmith with a wound—the Fisher King, the man whose wound won't heal—help us to see our own wounds in an impersonal way. And we know from the shaman stories that their wounds were impersonal. Wounds need to be expanded into air, lifted up on ideas our ancestor knew, so that the wound ascends through the roof of our parents' house and we suddenly see how our wound (seemingly so private) fits into a great and impersonal story.

Mythology helps to give weight to our private wounds. To feel the wound in a particular part of the body gives the wound weight, and to understand it as part of an ancient story gives it weight. Without the weight given by a wound consciously realized, the man will lead a provisional life.

-Robert Bly, Iron John page 45

Pond Skaters

Last night there was a family skating on the pond. I could hear their voices when I was walking Lily through Precious Blood cemetery. I had to walk over to the pond and watch. When I was a kid I used to love to watch the skaters on the pond in my neighborhood. I'd sit on top of the warm radiator box in my bedroom and watch through the bare trees. I wanted to be in a Pieter Bruegel painting.

Dream

I dreamed I was smoking a stub of a cigar. My mother was in a comfy chair semi-napping. She said "When I was a young man. . . "
I said "You were a man?"

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Nin Andrews

Nin Andrews poem read aloud: The Art of Drinking Tea accompanied by my painting. Listen and watch here.

Marie-Louise von Franz

Many myths and fairy tales tell of a prince, who has been turned into an animal or a monster by sorcery, being saved by a woman. This is a symbolic representation of the development of the animus toward consciousness. Often the heroine may ask no questions of her mysterious lover, or she is only allowed to meet him in darkness. She is to save him through her blind faith and love, but this never works. She always breaks her promise and is only able to find her beloved again after a long quest.
-Marie-Louise von Franz

As the anima does with men, the animus also creates states of possession in women. In myths and fairy tales this condition is often represented by the devil or an "old man of the mountain," that is, a troll or ogre, holding the heroine prisoner and forcing her to kill all men who approach her or to deliver them into the hands of the demon; or else the father shuts up the heroine in a tower or a grave or sets her on a glass mountain, so that no one can get near her. In such cases, the heroine can often do nothing but wait patiently for a savior to deliver her from her plight. Through her suffering, the animus (for both the demon and the savior are two aspects of the same inner power) can be gradually transformed into a positive inner force.
-Marie-Louise von Franz

Marie-Louise von Franz

The ego must be able to listen attentively and to give itself, without any further design or purpose, to that inner urge toward growth. ... People living in cultures more securely rooted than our own have less trouble in understanding that it is necessary to give up the utilitarian attitude of conscious planning in order to make way for the inner growth of the personality.
-Marie-Louise von Franz

Marie-Louise von Franz

One of the most wicked destructive forces psychologically speaking, is unused creative power. If someone has a creative gift and out of laziness or for some other reason doesn’t use it, the psychic energy turns into sheer poison. That’s why we often diagnose neurosis and psychotic diseases as not lived higher possibilities.
-Marie-Louise von Franz

John Callahan

Comedy is the main weapon we have against ‘The Horror,’ With it we can strike a blow at death itself.
-John Callahan

Monday, February 04, 2013

Rabindranath Tagore

Everything comes to us that belongs to us if we create the capacity to receive it.

I have become my own version of an optimist. If I can't make it through one door, I'll go through another door - or I'll make a door. Something terrific will come no matter how dark the present.

Don't limit a child to your own learning, for he was born in another time.

The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough.

Death is not extinguishing the light; it is only putting out the lamp because the dawn has come.

Faith is the bird that feels the light when the dawn is still dark.

You can't cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water.

Trees are the earth's endless effort to speak to the listening heaven.

Music fills the infinite between two souls.

We gain freedom when we have paid the full price.

-Rabindranath Tagore

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

We do not have to visit a madhouse to find disordered minds; our planet is the mental institution of the universe.
-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul.
-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

A person hears only what they understand.
-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

A man sees in the world what he carries in his heart.
-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust

Avital Ronell

I used to study weather and the scandalous beginnings of weather forecasting. Do you know who set up the first meteorological prediction center? My main man, Goethe. At the time, in the 18th-century, the very idea of grasping weather competed with the prerogatives of the gods. Mortals should not have access to such clusters of immateriality, it was thought. Only gods and poets should try to divine weather conditions.

The inability to mourn or let go is sometimes called melancholy. Many of us have slipped into states of melancholic depression for one reason or another, for one unreason or another—one cannot always nail the object that has been lost or causes pain.

In America, we are often encouraged to “let go,” “move on,” “get over it,” even to “get a life,” locutions that indicate a national intolerance for prolonged states of mourning. Yet the quickened pace of letting go may well mean that we have not let go, that we are haunted and hounded by unmetabolized aspects of loss.

Nearly every philosophy I have known has built a sanctuary, however remote and uncharted, for the experience of mourning.

-Avital Ronell, NYT Stormy Weather: Blues in Winter

source

Robert Bly

Jung remarked that all successful requests to the psyche involve deals. The psyche likes to make deals. If part of you, for example, is immensely lazy and doesn't want to do any work, a flat-out New Year's resolution won't do any good. The whole thing will go better if you say to the lazy part: "You let me work for an hour, then I'll let you be a slob for an hour - deal?" So in "Iron John," a deal is made: the Wild Man agrees to give the golden ball back if the boy opens the cage.
-Robert Bly, Iron John (page 9)

I think we can regard therapy, when it is good, as a waiting by the pond. Each time we dip our wound into that water, we get nourishment, and the strength to go on further in the process. Initiation, then, does not mean ascending above the wound, nor remaining numbly inside it; but the process lies in knowing how or when, in the presence of the mentor, to dip it in the water.
-Robert Bly, Iron John (page 41)

The wound that hurts us so much we "involuntarily" dip it in water, we have to regard as a gift.
-Robert Bly, Iron John (page 41)

Wherever the wound appears in our psyches, whether from alcoholic father, shaming mother, shaming father, abusing mother, whether it stems from isolation, disability, or disease, that is precisely the place for which we will give our major gift to the community.
-Robert Bly, Iron John (page 42)

Jacques Ellul

Propaganda tends to make the individual live in a separate world; he must not have outside points of reference. He must not be allowed a moment of meditation or reflection in which to see himself vis-à-vis the propagandist, as happens when the propaganda is not continuous. At that moment the individual emerges from the grip of propaganda. Instead, successful propaganda will occupy every moment of the individual's life: through posters and loudspeakers when he is out walking, through radio and newspapers at home, through meetings and movies in the evening. The individual must not be allowed to recover, to collect himself, to remain untouched by propaganda during any relatively long period, for propaganda is not the touch of the magic wand. It is based on slow, constant impregnation. It creates convictions and compliance through imperceptible influences that are effective only by continuous repetition. It must create a complete environment for the Individual, one from which he never emerges. And to prevent him from finding external points of reference, it protects him by censoring everything that might come in from the outside.
-Jacques Ellul, Propaganda
source

Bones Found

Bones found under Parking lot belonged to Richard III
Read.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Bill Calhoun

Teaching or filtering?
Read.

Ann Leary

I’m snubbed by the supernatural.
-Ann Leary
source

I try to write every day and I always write in the morning. We have a lot of animals–-dogs, cats, horses–-and I get up between 5 and 6 everyday to tend to them and then I return to my bed-desk and write. I write on my bed with my four dogs and there are papers and snacks and cold cups of coffee all around me. Really, it's disgusting. Think Grey Gardens. But that's how I write best, in a semi-prone position surrounded by snoring dogs.
-Ann Leary
source

Frank Zappa

If you’re going to deal with reality, you’re going to have to make one big discovery: Reality is something that belongs to you as an individual. If you wanna grow up, which most people don’t, the thing to do is take responsibility for your own reality and deal with it on your own terms. Don’t expect that because you pay some money to somebody else or take a pledge or join a club or run down the street or wear a special bunch of clothes or play a certain sport or even drink Perrier water, it’s going to take care of everything for you.
-Frank Zappa

Drop out of school before your mind rots from exposure to our mediocre educational system. Forget about the Senior Prom and go to the library and educate yourself if you've got any guts. Some of you like pep rallies and plastic robots who tell you what to read.
-Frank Zappa

Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible.
-Frank Zappa

If you want an education, go to the library.
-Frank Zappa

A mind is like a parachute. It doesn't work if it is not open.
-Frank Zappa

Frank Zappa

The illusion of freedom will continue as long as it's profitable to continue the illusion. At the point where the illusion becomes too expensive to maintain, they will just take down the scenery, they will pull back the curtains, they will move the tables and chairs out of the way and you will see the brick wall at the back of the theater.
-Frank Zappa

J.D. Salinger

I was six when I saw that everything was God, and my hair stood up, and all, Teddy said. It was on a Sunday, I remember. My sister was a tiny child then, and she was drinking her milk, and all of a sudden I saw that she was God and the milk was God. I mean, all she was doing was pouring God into God, if you know what I mean.

-J.D. Salinger, Catcher in the Rye

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Issa

O snail
Climb Mount Fuji,
But slowly, slowly!

-Issa

J.D. Salinger

Not a wasteland, but a great inverted forest
with all the foliage underground.

The little girl on the plane
Who turned her dolls head around
To look at me.

Franny was staring at the little blotch of sunshine with a special intensity, as if she were considering lying down in it.

Some people you shouldn't kid, even if they deserve it.

-J.D. Salinger, excerpts

J.D. Salinger

When the weather's nice, my parents go out quite frequently and stick a bunch of flowers on old Allie's grave. I went with them a couple of times, but I cut it out. In the first place, I don't enjoy seeing him in that crazy cemetery. Surrounded by dead guys and tombstones and all. It wasn't too bad when the sun was out, but twice—twice—we were there when it started to rain. It was awful. It rained on his lousy tombstone, and it rained on the grass on his stomach. It rained all over the place. All the visitors that were visiting the cemetery started running like hell over to their cars. That's what nearly drove me crazy. All the visitors could get in their cars and turn on their radios and all and then go someplace nice for dinner—everybody except Allie. I couldn't stand it. I know it's only his body and all that's in the cemetery, and his soul's in Heaven and all that crap, but I couldn't stand it anyway. I just wished he wasn't there.
-J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

Robert Bly

Those of us who make up poems have agreed not to say what the pain is.
-Robert Bly, My Sentence Was a Thousand Years of Joy: Poems

J.D. Salinger

If only you’d remember before ever you sit down to write that you’ve been a reader long before you were ever a writer. You simply fix that fact in your mind, then sit very still and ask yourself, as a reader, what piece of writing in all the world Buddy Glass would most want to read if he had his heart’s choice. The next step is terrible, but so simple I can hardly believe it as I write it. You just sit down shamelessly and write the thing yourself. I won’t even underline that. It’s too important to be underlined.
-J.D. Salinger, Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters & Seymour: An Introduction

Dead End

What is it about dead-end streets? In all my years of walking the city, it's only on dead-end streets where people have ever come out and said You can't walk here.

J.D. Salinger

What really knocks me out is a book that, when you're all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn't happen much, though.
-J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

Dream

I dreamed I married a meat-head mookish guy I'd never met. He was blaring a really dumb radio station in his house. I didn't know who he was or what he did for work. He had dressed up for the wedding in a white shirt black vest cuff-links. I'd written my name on a little piece of light blue paper so he'd know it for the ceremony. I spotted it when he emptied his pockets. He had the fattest fingers I'd ever seen. I wondered how many days until I get a divorce. A week or two?

Friday, February 01, 2013

Marya Hornbacher

I’m an early riser—a cross between a night owl and a morning person—and I generally get up between 2 and 3, when most of my night owl friends are abandoning their desks or late-night walks or easels or what have you, and head for bed. That’s when I’m making coffee and sitting down to work. So I’m a counter of stars, a student of degrees of dark, and a connoisseur of sunrise details.
-Marya Hornbacher
source

Robert Bly

We will have to call especially loud to reach
Our angels, who are hard of hearing; they are hiding
In the jugs of silence filled during our wars.
-Robert Bly, My Sentence Was a Thousand Years of Joy: Poems

New Tool

When I am expecting a visitor to my house the phone will ring. Where are you, are you lost, I ask. No. We're at the back door. How do I say my phone is not a recipient of door-bell-ness!