This is a collage. Two feet by 18 inches or so. The canvas is painted black along the edges. A layer of glossy gluey finish holds it all together. A painted on kind of glue-gloss that ruined old cheap red-handled brushes, where the soft bristle became stiff sharp and gouging. Upper left hand corner, perhaps too obvious, is a magazine cut-out of a piece of plywood with the spray-painted words “Welcome to L.A. Some Assembly Required” (the book was a small volume about the 1994 L.A. earthquake and the structural damages it caused on buildings and on human bodies – picked up in a Goodwill in Canoga Park, California).
Hydroplaned on the 520 but didn’t lose my cool. Thought about the boundary between myself and the black, cold Lake Washington, and how the company van would break through it like a kid kicking over a sand castle, if I slid out. But no. Kept my cool, tapped the breaks, flirted with the disaster of breaking, of stopping suddenly, without warning, letting the drivers behind me fly through windshields into the back among the boxes of stuff, of books and t-shirts I have to deliver between stores, the magic inner workings of an overnight guarantee, no one ever thinks about me. I am known as the night-man, the night guy, and I accept the cloak of dark skies, the end of sunlight as we know it, I accept the Imperial Stout and the Nabokov. Both a cartoonized outline of St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow, Russia. You know Red Square, UW students. There is one here but no colorful candy-toned spires up at the tops of roofs in swirls of bright, contrasting colors, adorned the roofs, tear shaped, chess-piece shaped, you know, you’ve seen them, you’ve google searched Russia and found them, it happened to be an irony to pick out this Ninkasi beer for an evening of unwinding and the design to be the same as Nabokov’s English-written autobiography Speak, Memory. Cheap class offered teaches a class on Ada, also. Might just sign up for a lesson on outcast fiction. A library schooling of earthquake prevention, when books fall off their shelves, shedding dust and crushing into dust on the granite floors, the polished floors, the libraries with the earthquakes with the stacks toppling like cities collapsing, really though, cities created by someone, who painstaked, labored, sweated, in a small study, in a different library, with the threat of erosion all around, eroding of coastlines of thought of ideas that never latched on because their execution was too standard, subpar, underneath, and the creation of a community sounded a bit better than just creating some loops and throwing them online to the delirium of other painstaked, sweating musicians and writers and painters and outcasts and the isolated Icelandic artists that see the aurora but freeze their spit mid air.
from Speak, Memory
“At times, however, my photisms take on a rather soothing flou quality, and then I see – projected, as it were, upon the inside of the eyelid – grey figures walking between beehives, or small black parrots gradually vanishing among mountain snows, or a mauve remoteness melting beyond moving masts.”
and then he goes on to describe synesthesia. in his case, the visualizing of certain phonemes, of small chunks of word sounds from his vast repertoire of known language. French, English, and Russian, namely. He compares his large alphabet with the colors he sees when he hears the individual sound… the English “a” has the tint of weathered wood, yet the French “a” evokes polished ebony.”
and from the beer label
“The ancient sumerians worshipped the beer they made and praised the goddess Ninkasi for the miracle of fermentation. Beer is a staple of civilization.”
listening to Icelandic isolation music.
my mind was full of jazz, windshield wipers on blast, sometimes hip/hop like El-P and Killer Mike or some sort of Flying Lotus remix. I played Kevin Devine & The Goddamn Band on mono yet this annoyed me because the studio trickery (the panning of one guitar part to the left and the other guitar part to the right) did not come through. For jazz I forget the names. Everyone in the room at the time of a jazz recording is chronicled by radio DJ’s by first and last name, nickname, and favorite hobby. I do love jazz. Absolutely. Improvised perfection, with some of Monk’s students carving their own paths and Billy Erskine back there on the drums, and a female bassist I’d never heard before, but tore it up, and terrific.
My mind was also full of the potential of recording any possible sound I desire, putting it to tempo (say Icelandic depression) and piecing together a track, a lesson, a piece of clay molded by me into incoherence by you and yet I say “this is a finished product.”
I will make strange, strange music. Can you see why?
1. The Nature of Creativity edited by Robert J. Sternberg circa 1988
2. The Twentieth Edition of Oxford’s Atlas of the World
3. A notebook I filled during end of 2012 and the beginning of 2013, while in California.
Context A: Benson, a grey and white 7 1/2 year old maine coon I adopted three months ago perches on the atlas and periodically climbs onto the computer in attempt to reclaim my attention. I push him off and he bites my finger.
Context B: It is 4:25 in the afternoon. Bottom edges of flat clouds in the direction of Mt. Rainier are rosy-lined. I just drank a mug of black coffee and I’m listening to the Lonely Forest (R.I.P). At 8 I have to work for the University of Washington, delivering transfer items from downtown Seattle to Tacoma and back. The bookstore has a guarantee for customers who order books to/from specific branches. If ordered, I make sure the item is at whichever store by the next morning.
Context C: Nothing here. Author left it blank.
Context D: I just took migraine medication for the onset of bleary vision, which usually precedes an attack of my body against itself. It might make me fall asleep for awhile. Surely, it will ruin my capacity to study French or revise a short story on creation/destruction or write about Washington Irving’s opinions on Shakespeare’s writing process. Talk about a transition.
Paris has 10,620,000 inhabitants. The second most inhabited city in France is Marseille at 1,489,000.
Creativity is a mystery, and many people believe that it should remain a mystery. It should not be scrutinized too closely, says the anxious Romantic, because there is a danger in knowing too much about it. If we discover its sources, they may dry up.
//// November 11, 2012 Hey what’s good, insomnia? Oh you know just thinking about how it would be to drink champagne on the floor cross legged on straw mats with soft introspective music soothing from a non-intrusive source, the lighting dim aside from flickering candles, hear me, here me yell wonderful stories and elongate details to the depth of our shadows as never before, never again, we’re well aware. The crisp voiced angel comes to mind again. Manifest. My legs kick ceaselessly, restless, off-beat, thinking about naked women and color wheels. I don’t like meeting with 3am like this, like being jumped in the alleyway of the night, so violent and uninvited. I want to sleep peacefully with you, 3am. Instead, even with the Arizona dreamcatcher hanging directly above me, I keep having vivid lucid dreams about incredible sleeplessness.\\\\
The cynical Realist asserts a different proposition: Those who cannot create study those who can.
Few students of creativity have stopped to define what it is that they are studying.
Beethoven is a particularly interesting case, because he improvised with such fluency and brilliancy that his extemporaneous works were considered by some of his contemporaries to be better than his compositions. Yet his notebooks show that he composed with the greatest of difficulty. (Melody lines crossed out and replaced infinitely, pages torn, blood spilled.)
Large sprawling cities are often considered unsustainable because they consume huge amounts of resources and produce vast amounts of waste.
//// beauty pervades everything, your smile is jazz club sunshine, bite your nails to the quick, and choose the easier written words to decide\\\\
True originality evolves as the individual goes beyond what others had done before. Paradoxically, this means that in order to produce something new, one should first become as knowledgeable as possible about the old… to modify early products that are not satisfactory.
(people awakened at night; unstable objects overturned) They usually happen at depths varying from 5 to 20 miles. Most initial loss of life occurs due to secondary causes such as falling masonry, fires, and flooding.
“I admire their brash impracticality and wonder if, in some way, their reckless enthusiasm for art, conceived and nurtured in an increasingly money-driven age, represents their unconscious protest against the age… as well as the lovely madness of their dreams.” -Roger Rosenblatt
1. He has specified the wind, to make it the wind of autumn, and therefore the dying of the year.
2. He has made the presence of oncoming death unseen, save in its effects on the leaves – presumably once green, they have lost the sap of springtime and the vigorous hue of summer and are now pale, black, yellow, or hectic red, the last overwhelmed fling of impulse.
3. The leaves are driven like ghosts, fleeing from a tyrannical enchanter; they are scurrying, eager to get away.
4. The leaves are multitudes: frightened exiles, old folks and orphans, all homeless, driven by the onward rush of pestilence, an unchecked destructive power.
Depression: large area of low barometric pressure, a few thousand miles across.
//// If every time I hit a note on a guitar a word came with it, I’d pay a hell of a lot more attention to what I’m playing \\\\
Images like these proved too difficult.
Heaviest snowfall (continuous): Bessans, Savoie, France, 68 inches [1,730mm] in 19 hours, April 5-6, 1969.
Highest recorded temperature: Al Aziziyah, Libya, 135.9 F. [57.7 C], September 13, 1922.
How is the choice among options made? Sometimes it depends on principle.
////learn natural harmonies with the metallic objects in my life\\\\
“A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving” -Lao Tzu
Shuffle the music, sit under the medieval cathedral inspired archway of the suzzalo library quiet study room and pick a few books at random off the shelf. Today, the randomness was a little biased, my decisions based on snappy flashy titles. Waves & Plagues or The Human Relationship With Nature and others, surrounded infinitely by others, other cities in a huge sprawl in all directions, save the ocean. (Except the ocean). Save the whales. Now I sit with a cold lingering behind the front of my face and wonder if my grumbles of revolt in my stomach are audible. My intestines are rejecting my coffee sans food lunch. I spend a lot (oops qualifier!) of money to caffeinate my consciousness. I wonder why English separates verbs and the word “to” in the infinitive tense rather than combining them as in French. I got a red squiggle under my attempt at making ‘caffeinated’ a present tense verb, an action that can be done to something, to a consciousness perhaps.
Moving away from the linguistic intellect of a degenerate in training. Scoot away from the word play of the wasted green arrows, the collateral damage of the stream of consciousness, the river runs dark with blood and coffee, the stream, the river, the metaphor, “in the background is a substantial settlement ringed by a dense forest. Three mountains dominate the horizon.” and I am totally unprepared for a view of such an unknown shoreline. To show up to critique the works of others, the sporadic collage, the decade, the sickness, and to have no work of my own to throw in the hat, seems like my commentary shall remain limited for this purpose. “both ports languished in inactivity.” and I hope I can keep sailing further and further away from a statement cold war calm sea windless feeling inside of my head, one caused by prolonged drunkenness followed immediately by a slight cold and then the subsequent medications to help pull me through and out, as in breath through a bent straw instead of esophagus and lungs.
So I have nothing to submit. The collage I’ve written feels choked and I have about 50 hours to complete it, 49 hours to practice for a spoken French examination. Sheer minutes until death at all moments, in the hypothetical, sudden asteroid, sudden gunman, sudden car accident, kind of way. This cold won’t kill me and my antibodies are already cleaning me out. But. Mais.
My mind feels a flatline blur. Yeah, Kevin Devine, I know I steal your thoughts sometimes. This is because they are so god damn beautiful. You know how to write about things without squeezing the life out of the topic even if this choking sensation is the topic itself.
“It’s the same dollar drafts
the same whiskey words
the same hanging hearts
the same old scorched earth
further and further from the truth…”
I wanna stop it…
“We like to drink the clock backwards, and pretend like nothing’s changed.”
from ‘Me & My Friends’ from Kevin Devine from Put Your Ghost To Rest from 2006 from Capital Records from Brooklyn from Many Years of Practice and Strong FELT Emotion, etc.
“At this point I became earthbound again…”
IN the cathedral arch room of quiet listening to loud music in my little white headphones reading about japanese art (the la brea tar pits amusement park) wondering why I continue to neglect my collage story, my bipolar illness sister conflict terror of a story that feels so simultaneously overthought and neglected and such a godawful conflict when trying to make a composition sensible. Insensibility can only serve my purpose if there is a purpose.
Okay. I’m going to talk it out a minute. There are a few entries included (mood-stabilizing medications) and (bloodletting) that indicate different historical practices used to in attempt to treat or help those with cycles of psychotic mania and weighty depression. These are juxtaposed against anecdotal accounts of my sister’s own experiences with these sensations, a general distrust of the mind, an overmedication, and a volatile reaction to much external stimulation. She often seems like a cornered animal, sensing aggressive behaviors in those who mean no harm whatsoever. A corner animal in her thoughts and lashes out like a lion against a man with a chair and a whip. I also try to include a narrative of the likelihood or possibility that I could develop such an emotional disorder and that it is a genuine fear of mine.
Three thoughts weave through. Bipolar people are often super creative in their manic episodes. My sister is a real life example of the violence involved in the disorder. History shows the treatment of these people as monsters. I am afraid of falling in to the current of mental illness.
That’s four. The question lingers. How can I write about this stuff in a literary mash up of seemingly disparate parts with clarity?
How do I sound natural when I write?
Back to the books.
Waves projecting long finger-like extensions seem to aid an octopus as it ravishes the young diver.
biophilia: an innate and genetically determined affinity of human beings with the natural world.
“traditional Japanese nature appreciation activities – bonsai, haiku, flower arranging, the tea ceremony, rock gardening- reflect a refined appreciation of nature, even at times its veneration, but also a belief that wildness requires the creative hand and eye of humans to achieve its perfection”
see: environmental generational amnesia, obligatory morality, the carousel of gender roles, children’s understanding of the value of the amazon rain forest
where is a dissipating plume of smoke when you need one?
(somewhere in Canoga Park, California)
Blonde waitress asks, “Hey do you come here often?”
“No,” I say. “This is my first time.”
Conversation ends with an exchange of names and a handshake. The joint offers beer with breakfast and weekend jazz. These are crucial ingredients to a fulfilled life here in this harsh, unforgiving valley. The valley of the damned. Language barriers (English/Spanish) and many cars in lines attempting to get out of parking lots. The valley of lost and broken souls spans from each equator to the northern and southern poles. (The entire world is a valley of lost and broken souls).
Unforgiving blonde waitress with arms cradling plates and coffee mugs. She has to deal with the yahoos who take advantage of the $2 miller lites on special, to chase down scrambled eggs and french toast. She has a blurry tattoo on the back of her neck. Drunk tattoo artist maybe. I don’t look twice.
Because, I’m captivated by the swirl of creamer in my coffee cup. Is there a pattern? This chaotic swirl of white mixing with the clear black of the weak coffee, in a tan whirl pool. I mix things up with my coffee spoon. An ample comparison for a drunk young women who go out on lakeside docks with stoned friends, trespassing on private, though unarmed and vacant, property. They send naked pictures of each other to boys. They mix things up into tan profusion.
My thoughts drifted to the young women on the dock due to parts of an overheard conversation while eating dinner elsewhere last night. They have nothing to do with my current caffeinated meditations.
There is a painting of a rainy city block where people and their umbrellas take off into the sky. Watermarks of impressive precision. Some careful, trained hands created these streaks with the artistic certainty of the totally insane.
Cut off a chunk of your ear and mail it to your ex girlfriend.
Spend the final years of your life in an asylum staring at clocks and gardens.
Water flowers with your salty tears.
Imagine tree removal surfaces. When everything becomes a liability in such an interwoven clusterfuck of man, machine, and nature. In that order. Dystopian future is machine, man, then nature. The age of the cave man was nature, man, and what in the hell is machinery.
Blame me for the removal of your tree. I pissed on it because I didn’t want to waste the water of a flushing toilet just because I had too many vodka-tonics in big plastic double-lined cups while playing drums or bass or guitar inside the hot box of the wax-scrapping studio, where magic music manifested and wax widened wits.
Blonde waitress, will you come to my show? Will my shifting perspective put you off entirely?
It should. It damn well should. I’m impossible to follow and you have better things to do.
So thank you, my second mother, (from last night’s dinner) for giving me advice. You talked of tolerance. Of what it takes to bite my tongue and when to choose battles.
It hurts me to understand where you are coming from. Clearly, you do not speak up every time something bothers you. It gets tucked away somewhere hidden. Somewhere behind the tight, wry smile. Somewhere behind the cooking/cleaning habits. The habits of a dead world, buried in the 1950’s.Your blonde streaks do not hide the emotional disturbance clawing at the floorboards. You are not alone in your absent speech. Instead of allowing words to hurt, you take yourself to paradise in your mind and everything is more vibrant and beautiful… This makes you absent from the unpleasant present. An acknowledgment of the sadness of the world is there, like a fucking meteorite speeding toward earth, but it’s simpler and happier to just ignore. To cancel the weight of strong, intelligent thought.
This dinner party all fall victim to illogical thoughts in a mass delusion. The kind of thoughts that shared ignorance plus isolation creates. In this cavernous isolation, people speak out of their asses and tolerate each other’s nonsense with a yip and a yaw. They yell filth and rumor out of their over-privileged mouths. It sounds the same as vomiting to me.
They talk over me like their words are a train and I’m tied to the tracks, shackled and bound, with duct tape over my mouth. My words aren’t even acknowledged. I must wonder if I’ve even said anything. “Go back to your books, fucking democrat,” they say. And I wonder what what politics has to do with ethics. i.e.: death penalty, angelina jolie’s tits, terrorism/drone bombing. How is it so easy to completely ignore a well-known bias? i.e.: fox news, their reputable, down-home safe and sound news source because it spews obfuscation when issues are too complicated to understand after a tall vodka club and a chew. Spitting in a red solo cup.
I have crucial points to express. Please, dear lord, offer me your fucking ears. You may not like what I have to say. But, in your ultimate thoughtlessness, your immoral gibberish, have you ever known what your idiotic words do to me? To my heart? My sensibilities?
Beside justifying my personality to myself before it gets wiped clean, which is ultimately positive, most everything you say is nails against a chalkboard. Grating me in the worst possible way and I hate you for it. I can’t deny that. I must accept that. I die to tolerate your bullshit.
I can’t change you or the stupid, fucked-up-to-the-well-being-of-the-world things you do… although, god damn it, I wish I could… I only have my own perspective in the end. I only have my reaction to you. To your senseless, thoughtless garbage.
All I can do for now is avoid you. Why associate with something intolerable? Something that doesn’t listen carefully to what I have to say about my place in the world? What can I do about a person who talks over me without realizing it. Who understands nothing. Who believes in an entire world that does not exist. Who lives in a fantasy of pipe dreams and wasted water. Who watches television in rapture and plays video games like they mean something to the developing seed of their soul. Who sleeps in late without alarm and with no drive to think singular unique thoughts. Who feels comfortable in crowds of racist marching assholes.
They must be eradicated from my head, blonde darling.
Sorry for the rant. I see you scratching that tattoo on your neck like a nervous tic. Let’s change the topic. Is that new?