28 September 2010

While Listening to Eno's Dark Trees

I came at the draw. At the absolute. I knew only what I heard with these new ears of mine. I walked slowly and forward. I discerned limited amounts of space, time however, fell heavy and thick on me, from above like syrupy rain. I knew nothing of control--or measure. I walked pass the solid forms and soon the darkened ambiguity of tone. I held breaths and reached ahead for fear of collision. I wasn't sure but walked all the same, I wasn't there but nowhere else, absolutely soluble, solubly inabsolute. I stepped further and narrowed my heart beat. I made quiet of my nerves and tension, I exhaled and closed my eyes--there was no difference between such darkness. Only in my mind forms did visit, tones made way, spoke and danced. Branches held most of my air, like bronchi, like grape stems, I made usual my question of ease, I made content my answer of truth, nothing was here at its best. I ran dry of heat. I drew close and motioned terribly to an exit. I guessed at words and spoke at phantoms. Taking useless turns with decisions. It came to me there. At the bed, at the end of the night, at the edge of my lips, at the only moment left. I moved forward, opening my eyes and walking them to you with something to say.

22 September 2010

I Need the Time but I Got the Energy

This afternoon I felt, among other things, a decent amount of energy. Good energy. The kind of energy you become conceited about. I couldn't keep still and what seemed then like a permanent smile, had conquered my face. I wanted to create something; that, I knew instantly. That energy is very familiar, when your senses open like floodgates and roaring waves of external influence crashes in all at once, sweeping away the standstill, the paralyzed, and uninspired. I was walking around like a crackhead, hearing songs in my mind and laughing at invisible jokes--

Only problem, I was at work, on the busiest work day of the week.

My thing about my energy is if its there, I am going to use it--there's no such thing as storing it for later with me. I want it all and I want it now. Wasting all that good energy on work was and still feels like a shame. I didn't even have time to write this entry at work, I had to wait till I got home and then only after an epic power nap. No one is ever around when I feel that way, at least not anyone that I would want around me. Its always a solitary experience to feel excited by and with creative energy. "Is that premeditation or is it by design?" as Illogic asks.

Anyway who cares! As far as energy goes, all I have to say is there's more where that came from--Its probably as easy as convincing my body that 3-5 hours of sleep per day/night doesn't help and may possibly account for why I'm generally too tired to do anything but work during the week. When I confess that I do do more than just work during the week, I remember why I'm so exhausted most mornings and am obsessed with my face on the very seldom occasion when I don't look like a zombie in the early AM. I mean, these bags under my eyes are carrying enough for 4 vacations and its been 4 years since my last vacation.

17 September 2010

Suddenly Last Summer

Letter to a Rainy Day

Good friend, as you drop lightly, from the room where I type this letter I can glance over my shoulder and through a window observe the gray you've casted and framed. It is September and the air has cooled. In the morning I commute on trains that once again carry students, still refreshed by their summer vacations, some sobered by the dawn of their freshmen year. Everyone looks so stern and rigid, stubborn as the last leaves that cling to branches; everyone has returned to September with their collection of reluctance, anticipation, and nostalgia. Memories of past Septembers, prospects promised by a fading summer, threats whispered by a not too distant winter--the day you fall upon, my dear friend, is a subtle Friday where no one can any longer doubt, September has arrived.

It is only a few days before fall officially opens. If counted in steps, it is no more than three forward; fall, stands away just as far and no further--she knows there's no need to move, everyone is walking towards her. Perhaps friend, you are the last rain of the summer. How would you feel if you were? No one usually takes note of such things. A gray Friday with fields of clouds like a silver fleece of cotton, covering us in from above; the last Friday of the season. With it, what shall the summer take? What is it you're washing away? Don't answer any of these. Hopefully these questions aren't boring you. It is my only intention to take note of you, address you, introduce myself and say farewell when the time comes. Still, you must notice it yourself, do you not? The change in the air. Everything gains gravity, heavies and becomes dense. The cold, first as a breeze then a restless chill, will soon howl in an icy frenzy. This is when the soul hibernates, so to speak. Hiding in the deep warmths of the heart, safely tucked and wrapped in all the electricity that plainly vibrated through the skin during the spring and exploded throughout the summer. The soul is away and the rest of the body and mind, observing its absence, searches for their missing peer. The less its available, the more desperately valuable the soul becomes as winter approaches through fall. Without our soul, our lives gain weight; the lightness with which we commanded action swells into a clumsy bulk.

Have you ever observed this about us my friend? Our life under our calendar also follows its own set of seasons. Soul and Sol are more than homonymously linked. Within you, your soul shifts, expands and contracts; leans forward intensely, and later withdraws in arctic ambience. At its closest, the soul is magnificently ignored, its in use like a pair of good legs that walk almost involuntarily without the step by step command of the mind or body. When hidden, its adamantly desired, analyzed and stressed for its lack of presence. Here, I laugh. Embarrassed at my words. I am getting ahead of myself--sorry. I don't mean to imply these things to be true, its only my imagination getting carried away like a newly wedded wife out from the altar. If there were such a material or immaterial as a soul, and if it were impressionably receptive of environment--then what a thought to imagine the season of a soul. The shying of a soul, decreasing in size and brightness, buried carefully and living off the energy it stored during its fall season. Which leads us back to September and the sense of seriousness and responsibility, much contrasting the frivolity of June and the two and third months that follow.

Anyway, so long friend. I've kept you long enough, you are a saint for reading my wrinkled thoughts. Goodbye, thank you for the morning.

16 September 2010

For in That Sleep of Death What Dreams May Come

In the Solid Solitude of a Dreamer

My sleepy eyes, your quiet little smile, the heavy evening over us like a sheet--no, not a sheet, over us like a casket that we must carry into the burial of the night, the hours dug out as by the spade of want and need. Prayers for the morning by the forward pulse of our lips and their secret names that part backward, out of rooms and into the dream of a bedroom. There it be that my sleepy eyes whisper out through the fog of sense to find you, that which it seeks, that which appears there for it. A tremor possessed hesitance when across does this feeling take you by the face, blooming your cheeks and reflexes pull like a curtain and the actors dance upon the merciless stage. Wish I to close my eyes and invite gravity to wrap its hold tight about me, press these rhythms dry from the sponge that beats nervously in the closet of my chest. Take care to note my shade, make haste to observe its shift, its discord, its improvised maladjustment and obscurity; from whatever clarity of light it may find an object from which to cast its contrasting signature. Hollow me from that quiet smile, make louder your worry, your distrust, your instinct and its prejudiced prophesy. As my eyes beg to close, shut you out and myself within myself--A perfect dream will make true desires of me till the dawn, my dawn and the dusk of my sleep.

14 September 2010

A Beautiful Mind

The Mating Mind

After finishing Dawkins' classic The Selfish Gene, what remained clear in my mind was certain mentions of game theory and sexual selection. Wishing to read further into the subject of the latter, my search began, delivering myself into a few bookstores each offering me, in return, the same result for Matt Ridley's The Red Queen. It wasn't available at any of the bookstores I visited, though I did find it on Amazon. Matt Ridley and his work were sited on The Selfish Gene, it deals with sexual selection and its shaping of natural animal behavior. I discovered The Mating Mind on the shelves where The Red Queen should've sat had it been available.

Since hearing of sexual selection, I've been a bit awe inspired by this additional concept to the natural selection evolution theory. I feel, as does The Mating Mind's author Geoffrey Miller, that sexual selection has been rather slighted if not downright ignored by not just the ridiculous curriculum offered by my limited public schooling; but by cultural and social avenues through which one cannot escape hearing about evolution regardless of your education. Evolution in general is a very tricky, need-less-to-say sensitive, topic. There are too many impressions based on impressions just as there are many incorrect notions of Christianity based on inferences rather than what's actually written in the bible. I had an idea of what evolution was before I knew Darwin's first name, I still have yet to read Origin of Species but its ideas have been presented to me countlessly through pop mediums and scientific references such as Richard Dawkins and Geoffrey Miller, to name the most recent. Still, the phrase "something lost in translation" seems paramount to note. Most of what I thought I knew about evolution was generally related but not accurate to Darwin's original findings. I usually thought of biological evolution in terms of natural selection and survival of the fittest.

It never dawned on me that a more subtle, intimate force may act on Life, where sexual choice determines the behavior, appearance, or evolution of a species. Once you hear it, it seems obvious; after all, most species regenerate through sexual reproduction, passing their genes to the next generation. Even if you hold on to the ideas of competition for survival, wouldn't it seem logical that sexual mates are discriminated for weak traits and chosen for favorable traits that will benefit the offspring and thus, the next generation will be healthy enough to carry on the genetic legacy.

Geoffrey Miller's book was a serendipitous find because it focuses on Human Nature. The Red Queen, I imagine to be a general examination of what sexual selection is, not necessarily grounding itself on one life form as an exclusive example. The full title of Miller's work leaves no room for doubt regarding the book's topic, The Mating Mind: How Sexual Choice Shaped the Evolution of Human Nature. Miller is not only insightful but also playful and fun even when borderline corky. He references Hamlet as easily as he does David Bowie or Howard Hawks' Bringing Up Baby, he illustrates vivid scenarios that seem comedic but are effective at once at communicating the message without wasting energy on extremely scientific terminology and complex analogies. The chapters are all broken up into small passages that make for good pacing. The passages are all titled and relevantly add up to the chapter which in turn adds up to the book itself--at first, this annoyed me because it felt like I was being undermined as a reader but after a few chapters you become grateful for the easy-reading layout, considering the otherwise complex material. I applaud how light this book is to read, I feel it could be really easy to make this subject very complicated and confusing.

Despite my overall joy at being properly introduced to sexual selection by Miller. What The Mating Mind has also achieved is the opening of a smaller pair of eyes that now cannot close and fiendishly analyze human behavior in terms of sexual selection. To be told that my intelligence and its displays are fitness indicators for the opposite sex, this brings about an insecure self-conscious pause to me as an "artist". Meaning, if my drawings, paintings, music, jokes, morals, and even this entry about The Mating Mind, are all executed at some level to get attention from females, that sort of bums me out, makes me feel one-dimensional. Although Miller clearly states his stance, Artists are Artists and they are such for their own reasons but the practice and adaptations available to them for when they feel the need to create were evolved in our ancestors due to pressures of displaying the mind as an advertisement of genetic fitness. And that males have a more natural need to be creative, though they are not any better equipped for creativity than females. This differs tremendously from the impression of human intelligence I previously held, that intelligence is the survival tool us humans evolved as a result of being otherwise, a delicately designed species and that art, music, etc. were side-effects; based on adaptations originally meant for exclusive survivalist functions.

Finishing The Mating Mind clears up many curiosities I had after The Selfish Gene about sexual selection and leaves me with fresh obscurities about the human senses; cognition and neuroscience. I want to learn more about the specific adaptations that encourage and support our creativity. I'm as excited by the doors sexual selection had opened for me as I am mournful of the romantic ignorance it has partially buried. Still, for the most part a really great read. I'm really interested in what my female friends would have to say about this book. According to Miller, women read more than we do and faster, but men write more books.

08 September 2010

Its Been a Long Hot Day's Travel into the Cool Evening

Last Days of Summer

I slept really well last night. I placed myself in bed at about 2:40 AM after pacing about in a spontaneous frenzy when a friend drew up questions on life and living. I won't get to into it but she spoke about feeling unsatisfied. I can relate. I was surprised I was able to drift into sleep the way I did, usually when such thoughts climb into my brain its nothing less of a war to ignore them and find a quiet corner to escape into unconsciousness. Nevertheless, at about 3:32 AM I awoke as if in the blink of an eye, amazed I had slipped away. Interestingly enough, my phone was off, it was the first time in weeks, perhaps months, that I had shut down my phone before going to bed.

The morning was dark--my room, a cool, distant gray and the temptation to pull the sheets over my head, and return to the cuddle of sleep was only dismissed by the currents of energy that begged for movement. I was too awake to be tired but the day was perfect for a tired body. I could feel a breeze through the blinds, I should've made breakfast because I certainly had the time for it but instead a rested on the living room sofa, by the window. I made sure to not forget Miller's Mating Mind, I had some catching up to do. I could hear a 2 or 5 train in the far off distance reminding me to walk to Third Ave. so as to not be mocked by the 5 trains, who have returned to their express rush hour service and therefore no longer stop at my station in the morning or afternoon.

This change of train service, though expected, further reminds me that the summer is indeed closing. Somehow, the end of August made me sad. I'm not sure why. I suppose it might be due to September being a pretty good indication of the end of summer but my summer wasn't that amazing. Don't get me wrong, my summer wasn't lame or as awful as it could've been but in no way was it a grand old party, a memorable milestone that landmarks a prime era of life. It was alright and mostly hot and difficult, I want Fall to walk into the year, its something I look forward to in fact, which is why I'm not sure why the end of August made me somewhat melancholy. I've had better summers, but all the same I'll miss this one. I feel the year drawing into a serious air; a darker, heavier tone and an absolute demand of me from it.

If anything, what this summer supplied for me were a series of carefree days, days in which I wasn't responsible for anything creatively, I just walked and listened, observed and responded very minimally, perhaps a nod or a soft smile--definitely no albums, no paintings, no drawing journals or volume of instrumentals. I did write, I've re-opened that door; with words I am re-learning what language is to me and how to use it for the new things I've been storing inside myself.

Imaginary Keys, Imaginary Locks

Before the Lightning Hits the Clock

My creativity is like a lightning bolt. Useless. Sure, you can marvel at it, awe at its power, its sudden mystique and unattainability. But for all practical purposes, its useless, un-utilitarian. All useful electricity needs direction, needs a current, otherwise its just a quick lightning bolt that sparks a quick flash of light, startles you, but for the most part is gone just as suddenly as it came, without any real impact or impression.

2:31 in the Morning Before Sleep

My Adrenaline is the Only Poem I Can Offer

I wish I could still write from a bleeding heart. I wish I were lying when I say its dried out. My romance is a ghost, or better yet its a blink, or a twitch, an involuntary movement, independent of me. A muscle spasm that acts mechanically, automatically, like the tongue of an alligator connecting nerves and muscles to its locking jaws. You place a romantic situation before me and I can react romantically but its really all gone. Not the act, just the words. I cannot write poems and love letters like I did when I was younger--I felt they meant something then, they came directly from the pipeline that lead to the explosion of feeling that could find no other exit, success or failure, it jumped out regardless. But after jumping out so often, it developed technique and style, became aware of itself, grew mirrors and admired what it saw. I cannot write a poem without finding almost default feelings that approach my lips like ready-wrapped presents at department stores. This is why these days, I prefer the unexpected surprises of actions over love letters, my words have been replaced by smiles and body movements; by the heart beat itself rather than any iambic pentameter or metronome. I'll speak the truth when I just keep silent and move because I don't have time to think up or analyze a rhythm or strategy--I don't have the luxury of preparation, so instinct seems the only choice. Maybe it'll succeed maybe it'll fail, that's irrelevant, all that matters is that it once again, is coming from that familiar pipeline I thought would never find its way back to the explosion. Its been awhile, I miss that explosion.

04 September 2010

And We Sing the Body Electric

Bodysong (2003) - Directed by Simon Pummell; with original film score composed by Jonny Greenwood.

Birth. Growth. Sex. Violence. Death. Dreams

These are the words that appear under the title as the film closes, right before the ending credits roll. These six subjects flesh out the main body of this somewhat visual essay that, accompanied by Greenwood's hauntingly tense yet fragile score, follows the human body from life to death. The film compiles footage, both vintage archival and contemporary, mostly amateur but seasoned with biological content such as x-rays and cells under microscopic observation. And even though it spans a large history of time, there isn't an adherence to a chronological narrative other than that of womb to tomb. The film doesn't reel from past to present, which makes sense as the six subjects mentioned are not specific to one particular time spanned throughout the film. Similarly, Bodysong isn't faithful to one country, people, or culture. Again, the six subjects are internationally worldwide; so much so, that there are some instances in the film that you have no idea what nationality, race, or social status the people represented happen to be--they slowly disappear in details and become solely, Common Human.

Pummell achieves this, I think, by grouping the images as he does so confluently. The subjects are immediately recognized long before they're spelled out for you at the end. Identifying the six subjects is what helps you forget any difference between us; regardless of geography, religion, sexual preference, etc. we were all born, we all grow and we will all die. Sex, violence, and dreams are not as strictly certain as Birth, Growth, and Death but they repeat often enough in various if not all parts of the world that it isn't by very much that we can consider them lesser of a certainty.

The film maintains an unbiased eye, open and absorbent. The explicit frankness of the Sex portion is just as innocent as the preceding childhood images from the Growth segments. The frankness of the Violence segments are what make them unsettling but they too also seem innocent. In seeing images of crowds and riots, I found myself unconcerned with who was right or wrong--there was no judgement of the violence, only the admittance of its existence. Perhaps its this unbiased presentation which inspired Pummell to set the footage to music, much like a silent film, and leave the human voice out up until the final portion of Bodysong. He chose, to begin this group, examples of deaf subjects learning to pronounce words through alternative therapy, which felt very much like the earlier footage of watching toddlers taking their first steps. From there, Pummell builds speech and language as well as expression through art. The collage is never random. Its to a great affect that the voice finally makes it appearance in the film. After all the footage, which quite effectively spoke volumes visually, I was very pleased and impressed with any sound produced by the human voice. It was a very coherent journey.

What Bodysong results in, for me, is a film that delivers a quick impression of human activity. Its a snap shot that holds you for a moment, the way you would pause if you were shown a photograph of yourself taken while you weren't aware. You feel yourself to be naturally beautiful but you're also embarrassed by the unconsciousness of it all. You feel unfamiliar as well as slightly insulted--like you're viewing a stranger who possesses a very true, if not one of the truest, confessions about you. It gives you an objective glimpse into how nature possibly views us. We're all one, the way an apple is an apple regardless of what sound your mouth makes when you pronounce the word in your language, that names the particular fruit. Bodysong is a human portrait, a general definition. Its a grouping of physical grammars, which effectively summarize who and what a human is. This solidarity is the answer, if it is of any extraterrestrial wonder, what are humans? And how do they spend their time on that planet?