Monday, June 21, 2004

the urge to create

Today I made this:

I had the design in my head for a day or so and this is how it came out (an unusually short time from concept to execution, for me). It's still shrinking as it dries but it's about 5.5" tall. I threw it from Laguna's B-mix-- a very fine, smooth, porcelain-like clay body that's a pleasure to throw. I'll lay even odds that the funky handle will stay attached; I scored and slipped it but this clay doesn't take attachment easily--I might have let it dry too much before I tried-- and I'm a novice. I'm keeping it loosely covered so it'll dry slowly; I hope that will minimize internal stresses as the clay dries and shrinks.

Otherwise I feel pretty good about it. Something I learned about myself in recent years: if I don't engage in creative acts fairly frequently-- every few days or so-- I feel terrible. My artistic/creative interests are pretty broad so fortunately I can do any number of things to satisfy the urge, the powerful need to be creative. I can write, throw, perform in a play or improv show, make a graphic design-- even fix something broken. I love taking things apart and seeing how they work, so that counts too.

Where does this urge come from? How much is my need to satisfy it-- and the negative consquences when I fail to do so-- a matter of my innate being and how much a sign of psychoemotional disorder? I've determined that the best, most satisfying life for me would be one in which I engage in a variety of creative acts as a matter of course in my daily routine. It would be just what I do-- supposedly to make a living, though I'm open to other options.... such as the old-fashioned arts patronage model!

Speaking of which-- whatever happened to patrons of the arts? Wealthy folks who supported one or two or even a stable of artists-- to satisfy whatever stifled creative urges they themselves could not express, perhaps?-- so that those artists would be relatively free to follow their muses. That's what I'm shootin' for. And it would be so inexpensive! For a mere six grand a year someone could cover my rent, freeing me up from an enormous burden of wage-earning that stands in the way of my headlong pursuit of daily creativity. (In this town, that 6 grand takes a lotta working hours, lemme tell you...)

Any takers out there? You there! With all that money you don't know what to do with! Yeah, you! It's a burden, am I right? You feel the weight of guilt, having all that dough in a world where most folks don't have a pot to piss in-- am I right? So go ahead and give a few bucks to the Bill and Melinda Gates malaria vaccine fund and then, conscience salved, throw a morsel my way and support artistic expression in a wonderfully creative, multifarious talent such as myself. I'm even great at parties and soirees (part of the whole arts patronage experience, don'tcha know)-- I can do the effete cultural banter with the best of 'em!

Anyone? Anyone? Buehler....?

a quick thank you to Michael Moore

I haven't seen Fahrenheit 9/11 yet. But I've heard that it contains a scene that I've been telling people about ever since I first saw it, on 9/11/01, and have wished over and over could be seen by the wider public; the actual moment that Resident Bush heard the news about plans crashing into the World Trade Center. I don't know what channel I was watching when I saw the scene originally, but it was probably C-SPAN or CNN, or maybe the Int'l News Channel.

As I recall, it went something like this:

Bush is sitting in front of a classroom of 2nd graders, reading to them from a big children's book.

An aide steps into the frame from the right, goes up to Bush, and whispers something in his ear.

Bush nods, as if he's heard something that he expected to hear or at least wasn't that surprised by. It's an "OK, I see" nod. He doesn't even turn in surprise toward the aide. He goes back to reading.

Bush continues reading, blithely, as if he hasn't just heard that not one, but two planes have struck at the heart of capitalism and that the twin towers of the World Trade Center are burning.

I want to thank Michael Moore for including this scene because I believe it is one of the most damning pieces of evidence we have that Bush II is either criminally disengaged, or criminally complacent, or criminally complicit. Pick one.


... but better for whom?

The MSN tagline teases, the nice guitar-riff warbles, and the butterfly does his butterfly dance, helping our hero get through life's challenges -- from relationship disasters to pregnancy -- while changing guises accordingly. (The dating-disaster butterfly is a Hollywood hunk, while the pregnancy butterfly is a zaftig, mensch-y guy, you know, the kind of guy who shares & cares, & would be caught dead sitting in on a Lamaze class). Which brings me to my one burning question about this whole MSN butterfly notion ... why the heck is the butterfly, in the pregnancy-themed commercial anyway, a "guy" at all?

If a couple is faced with a pregnancy, let alone a pregnancy involving surprise twins (if you've seen the commercial you can follow along with the plot, here), wouldn't it make sense, wouldn't it just be common sense, for the help to be required by, and offered to, the woman -- the one who is actually going to have to do the 9 months of gestation, and pop the puppies out in the end?

Apparently not in MSN's world; more specifically I guess, not in MSN's ad agency's world. See, in their world, it's guys who use the Internet, ipso facto, it's guys they advertise to, even if the topic is, yep, the only thing that women do that men simply can't. Namely, give birth.

I posit an alternative butterfly for this particular scenario. A female butterfly. A butterfly who's been there, who can offer expert advice on morning sickness (not just "dealing with a crabby wife," which seems to be a big theme in the existing 'mercial), ultrasounds (which are not, hate to break it to you MSN folks, primarily intended to find out if you're having twins), and the birth process (trust me on this, there is a bit more to it than making sure you know which freeway to take to the hospital).

See, there's a problem in the United States around birth. An epidemic of Caesarian births, Caesarians-on-demand, voluntary over-drugging ("convenient" but bad for both mom and baby), and all-around disengagement from birth as a natural event. (It follows on our disengagement from death, but that's another topic). Women need good information when they face pregnancy. Men do too. My proposed butterfly would turn our heroine on to a good midwife and doula, teach her about birth as a natural event, talk to her about nursing and attachment, and basically reassure her that she is built for what she's about to go through.

But, and here I sigh and turn off the TV, I know this would make for what is known in the industry as boring television. Sincerity is out, most definitely feminism is out, and good information for birthing women is just about last on the list of what TV and advertising folk think makes for compelling watching. (We're not counting that "all births all the time" channel that I couldn't stand watching when I was pregnant myself. Focusing entirely on medically-entwined hospital births is not what I call "good information for birthing women". Actually it's pretty much the opposite.) So I'll dream of an alterna-butterfly, a truly better butterfly; one more akin to my own use of, and appreciation for, the Internet and its resources when I was pregnant. Is it really so radical a notion to posit that (to paraphrase a popular 80s T-shirt) a woman's place is on the 'net?


Saturday, June 19, 2004

night sky

There are a few things on my list of
Essential Items for a Satisfactory Existence.

I try to keep the list short and sweet; it won't do to add any old thing you come across that gives you momentary pleasure, like the latest coffee concoction from Starkbucks-- I don't drink coffee anyway (yeah, yeah, get over your over-caffeinated self!) and I don't prefer to support Evil Corporate Empires-- or some new music that's caught your fancy.

Give a good look at that word Essential-- say it a few times, let its suggestive sibilance slide off your tongue-- and now rein in your leaping imagination and cull your own burgeoning list accordingly. Let it mean "that without which, though your body might well continue, your spirit and mind would wither, either quickly or slowly."

The list at present:

1. Clear night skies, free of light pollution, so I can see the stars.

I've always been a lover of astronomy. I don't know when it started but I do recall a book we had in the family that was filled with illustrations of all the major (Western culture, northern sky) constellations. I used to look through it quite often. But I spent the first ten years of my life in a city. I could probably see a few dozen stars on a good night. At age 10, we moved across the country to a small mountain town. That's when I really fell in love with the night sky.

I've since lived in even bigger cities with worse light pollution and, though logicians may find fault with my reasoning, I attribute my unhappiness in those places, in large measure, to the fact that I couldn't see the stars at night. For the last five years I've lived in a rural setting where the stars are brilliant enough to pluck from the sky. I don't go out and enjoy them as often as I should (sometimes I have to remind myself of the Essentials) but I know this is one for the List.

2. Clean air.

Same story, similar progression: city, rural town, bigger cities, rural town = breathing okay, breathing great!, choking to varying degrees, breathing again. I don't have asthma or other respiratory problems. I just think air should be invisible, healthy to breathe, and easy on the nose.

3. Relative quiet.

Maybe I've got a mild case of environmental sensitivity-- the kind you hear about ever more frequently these days where typically mild annoyances create serious problems for some people. I don't know. I've become something of a hypocritical Luddite in my early middle age: here I am, after all, worshipping the digital god one again. But danged if I don't like things to be quiet-- at night at least. I don't know how well I could re-adapt now to city life, a frequently recurrent thought as I consider making certain changes to my life.

4. Organic tomatoes.

I don't get it. What the hell did they do to the poor tomato? You ever put a commercial, grocery-store 'mater next to a home-garden version? There's no comparison. They're two completely different fruits. Store-boughts are hard, invariably tasteless, and of a strange color that doesn't belong in the tomato spectrum. Sure, nowadays you can getcher "hothouse" and your "vine-ripened" varieties (Yes, folks, still attached to the real tomato vine!) but they're still mostly chemistry experiments for the better-off. Nothing quite like the feel and smell and taste of a real, JAN-U-WINE, all-American-red, organic tomato.

And think of all the luscious varieties! Agribusiness, in its infinite capitalist wisdom, reduces all produce to a few species-- probably genetically altered and always designed to serve THEIR needs first (principally of transportability and uniformity) while duping us into thinking we're getting what we want-- but the truth of the tomato is in its extensive speciation. Red, orange, yellow, purple, green; humongous, grape-sized, elongated or fat, this berry has got it goin' ON.

Yeah, life without good tomatoes is just not an option.


Friday, June 18, 2004


this morning's delight
is the alchemists' grail:
with a simple press,
I transmute dripping hemispheres to liquid gold.

pity the ancients their fevered labors,
their greedy thirst for knowledge and wealth!
with a swallow, I quench firey desire
in a draft born of the Sun's primal alchemy.

threefold alchemy:
sun's magic,
juicer's work,
my delight.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Egad! I've been digitized!

Not that I hadn't done it to myself before now (spending, as I do, far too much time seated, like some hypnotized supplicant, before my digital god), but somehow it seems that launching into one's fresh new blog-- the pixels haven't even had a chance to dry yet-- requires some sort of recognition, a ritual or something....

[Note to self: future blog subject-- The Role of Ritual in the Age of Cyncism.]


Scenario: A light-filled room. Algernon is seated before terminal XB02703M-HSE of the Digital God.

Digital God (on display): username?

Algernon (typing login): XXXXXXXXX.

Digital God: password?

Algernon (typing password): XXXXXXXX.

Digital God: identity confirmed. access granted.

Algernon: Praise Be to the Great Digital God! Connect me to the Binary Stream, O My Silicon Master; hear my humble ASCII plea and jack me into the digiverse that I may suck the binary teat of the electronic zeitgeist.

Digital God: jacking in..... connected.

Algernon: Thank you, O Master of the Digiverse! Keeper of Binary Wonders! Giver of the Lurid Light of the CRT! Ruler of the----

Digital God: you're being silly.

Algernon: Quite so. Sorry, boss.


In commencement of our mutual bloggage, I hearby coin the term DIABLOG. It's a blog that breaks the self-serving, isolationist egotism of the solo blog and attempts to bring context to commentary by that old and venerable method: dialog. Oooooo, what a concept. But really, what's an idea if it ain't shared? Let its nature as virus be encouraged and explored and let it pass among minds that it may find its fruition in collaborative enhancement. I mean, if an idea falls over alone in a forest, does it make a thought?

In this blog/diablog, we'll bandy ideas about like badminton birdies with the aim to explore them to their utmost (or at any rate to the utmost of our intellectual capacities). At the risk of engaging too much in prognostication, it'll be by turns engrossing, irreverent, silly, moving, enlightening, stultifying, monstrous and invigorating. Or not.

Read at the peril of infection: though we won't distribute digital virus, we will promulgate idea as virus.

Lector emptor. Here there be dragons.


Wednesday, June 16, 2004

An experiment in shared blogging ...

Late one night, over a succession of emails, an idea was born ... to do a blog ... together. Long distance friends and email correspondents with too much time on our hands in the wee hours, we've been sharing our (ahem) profundities privately for a while and now have taken the fateful step of going public with our wit and/or wisdom.

Incidentally, and completely arbitrarily, this bouncing baby blog is being born on Bloomsday. Not just any Bloomsday, either, but the 100th Bloomsday. What better way to celebrate a literary meandering than to venture out on a virtual one ourselves. Don't forget to hoist a pint to Molly & Leopold.