November 7th, 2002

abstract butterfly

I saw my vision begin to blur and then I realized reality was out of focus

Last night I combed through the beaches of library books my wife had checked out on Carribean islands. Meanwhile, a sea of work awaits me, which I must complete in the next week or so. I spent part of last evening on the telephone with a friend, just in awe at such an unfortunate election result. At lunch yesterday, I pointed out how in my conservative little soccer parent county, most Republican candidates ran unopposed. I have essentially no political bone in my body, really, but I said to my co-workers that I am tempted to run for office next time, because based on this election, it looks to me that Democrats who run for office in Texas get to meet a lot of people and don't have to say anything more profound for a campaign slogan other than "Yeah? Well, me too. I am for that, too". I also pointed out that running for politcal office as a Democrat in my county is really kind of a relief, because one doesn't have to worry that one might actually be elected. Of course, if only I were a Green, then I could run in any county without stress.

I have that feeling of being burdened and working all the time, and yet of simultaneously not getting nearly enough done. Maybe I need some exercise routines in my life, to reduce stress a bit. The thing has been fun, and now I'm plugging roughly 1,000 to 2,000 words a day at dawn before work and after work, but I still hope to put in "hard time" this weekend and finish it. It won't really matter, though, if it takes a while longer--it's just that I'm ready to see it through. I'm not going to have trouble fleshing out the rest of it, as its narrative structure is so ruminative I can literally work any chance thought into the narrative. I'm not sure the result is read-able, but it is at least "write-able".

I've come to realize that my "theme" is loneliness as an idea rather than as an emotion. Loneliness is often a feeling, something that can arise due to circumstances, and then dissipate as circumstances change. This type of loneliness is arguably 'real', but this form of "curable loneliness" or "temporal loneliness", the loneliness which arises because all the other people hang out at the malt shop while the metaphoric "I" am at the drug store lunch counter, is not what interests me. Instead, it's the loneliness as an "idea", loneliness as a working concept that fascinates me. You know, the "we were talking about the space between our souls" stuff. The neat existential patter about angst over the lack of meaning/God is all well and good, but what if one knew the world had meaning, knew there were limitless possibilities, knew day to day contentment, and yet felt that distance, that ennui, that inherited fatigue--which I'll call loneliness. What if I feel good but everyone is so far away?
What if loneliness, and not evil, is the real reason we need Grace? I bit into the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and the problem was that it was neither bitter nor sweet--it was utterly bland.

The conviction of the actress Winona Ryder on shoplifting charges caught my attention. I have mixed feelings about this case. The verdict seems correct to me, and the store was within its rights to prosecute, but I keep positing two hypotheticals. What if Winona had been the daughter of a CEO instead of an actress? Then undoubtedly, the store would have dropped the charges, banned Winona from the store, and required her to pay for the things she took. What if Winona had been a person of color working as a waitress in another store? Then the prosecution would have insisted upon a few days' jail time as a condition of a plea bargain. We imagine that entertainment figures are at the top of our social heap, but my speculation suggests to me that there is a lesson in social pecking order in Ms. Ryder's story.

This morning's improbable 4 in the morning song in my head?
"Theme from the Courtship of Eddie's Father". People let me tell you about my best friend, indeed.
  • Current Mood
abstract butterfly

The Art of Gurdonark

I must admit to a fault here. I love it when mail art documentation for mail art calls to which I submit is posted on-line. I see that heymaggie has set up a web page for the responses to her "butterflies" mail art call. I love butterflies, so I was delighted to whip something up and post. As it involves a great deal of intricate technique (that is, I scotch taped some construction paper to a corruplast card), I thought I'd better guide discerning art fans to the page. Now let's see if I can get the HTML a h ref stuff all right:

Gurdonark's Amazing Sulphur Butterfly Collage, 2002.

Special thanks for heymaggie, a gallery owner who never demands sales or commissions. I believe this call is still open, and details are available in her LiveJournal, so I hope that others will postcard their impressions of butterflies off to her, because, after all, butterflies are free
  • Current Music
    "In a Gadda da Vida"
abstract butterfly

Heady Experiences

"You're spinning me around
My feet are off the ground
I dunno know where I stand
Do you have to hold my hand
(You mystify me, you mystify me, you mystify me)"
--D. O'Riordan, from "Sunday"

People sometimes present first love as a formbook thing, all excitement and cuteness and the deepest profundity. But my memory of my own first love is that it is a very difficult thing--soaring highs encountering crashing lows like raging storm systems on a western Oklahoma plain. Infatuation is a chemical complex, a mixing of the beakers, some evolutionary impulse disguised in valentine cloth. I remember feeling as if my soul could soar to Heaven. I remember descending to Hell, like Christ in the story, only without the glimmer of resurrection. I love that Joan Baez line in "Diamonds and Rust"--"speaking strictly for me, we both could have died then and there".

Even so, first love is not all sweeping highs and jagged lows. It's also a bit like that animal in the Dr. Doolittle books, the Pushme-Pullyou. This llama-like creature with a head at each end seems at first like the perfect marriage of two minds, with no down(or rather, back) side. The wild chain reactions of mutual adoration fade, and what is left are two heads that pull in opposite directions. One cannot believe what mundane matters can arise between the members of a couple until one has been in that couple. One relatively quickly learns, however, that there are differences between people that cannot be so easily bridged as the novels suggest. We wonder that life is not more simple--but I found it very difficult to bridge the gaps with a single sympathetic mind.

I love that episode of the old TV show "The Wonder Years", when the main character, Kevin, realizes that he is not going to "end up" with his childhood sweetheart, the amazing Winnie Cooper. It's not that he's a bad person, and it's not that she's a bad person. It's just that they are going to be two people who live their lives separately. The couple in the program have that moment of realization--they have touched one another's souls, but they are not to be together, and they both taste, like a pungent curry, that foretaste of a life of being apart.

I remember being 21 on a dark winter night, wandering, as I tend to do, off the proper road, onto a little by-way and without intention but as if by magic coming to rest by Table Rock Lake, in southern Missouri. I recall, as if the scene were in a movie, embracing someone as if the world were ending. The world was not ending, but that we both knew that our own time was drawing to a close, and each embrace was merely trying to put a finger in the hourglass as the sands drew out. It's now over twenty years later, and our lives run along very different paths. I do not regret what was or what might have been. But I never forget the poignancy, or the pain.
  • Current Music
    Jeff Pearce, "Bleed"