A Moment, in a sea

The sheltering sky, the rain, and the singing moon.

Moments. The heart clings.
Is that the content of life past… the points of light we recall, and the rest fall into the dark interstices of memory.
Isn’t that the most normal thing… like losing skin cells, all but unnoticed, they go quietly back into the churning wheels of life.
As shall us all.

Why then, this clamoring, this binding that comes unbidden, springing from the pit of my being, to hold me in thrall. Breathless for an instant each time these fractions of a second, these created moments, are experienced again.

What wondrous mechanism brings me to treasure these moments so deeply… is it not the same which will one day wash them all away. Life knows nothing of irony, only of progress and Love. Therefore I must assume that to love, is progress; to love what has passed, normal – and to know that loving as I feel it, this too shall pass, is part of the perfect cycles of the cosmos.

 

Capa Taro

Gerda Taro & Robert Capa

Indochina
Capa jumps Jeep
two feet creep up the road

To photo
to record
meat lumps and war

They advance as does his chance
very yellow white flash

A violent wrench grips mass
rips light
tears limbs like rags


Burst so high
finally Capa lands

Mine is a watery pit
Painless with immense distance

From medic from colleague, friend, enemy, foe
Him five yards from his leg, from you, Taro

Do not spray into eyes
I have sprayed you into my eyes


3:10 pm, Capa pends death, quivers, last rattles, last chokes
All colors and cares glaze to gray, shriveled and stricken to dots
Left hand grasps what the body grasps not, le photographe est mort

Three, point
one, four
one, five
alive no longer my amour
faded for home May of ’54

Doors open like arms my love
painless
with a great closeness

To Capa, to Capa, Capa dark after nothing
re-united with his leg

And with you, Taro

Do not spray into eyes
I have sprayed you into my eyes

Hey Taro!

 

This post is a test of the audio post capacity of WordPress, as well as a little vignette of Song + Story… A truly amazing story, no matter how brief it was.

Gerda Taro & Robert Capa

Gerda Taro & Robert Capa

 

NOW In Thrall

IMG_5906

Here I am.
Certain that this is it. The middle part of my life has arrived.
Thick.
Thick with life, and fat with the juice of the past.
Choked with the present, stuffed to the gills, awash, in thrall.

I do not know how to adequately describe this present moment.
Maybe a scene on a beach, amid a storm, when nothing moves on the sand but the pounding waves.
Or a narrow creek that finds itself swollen over its banks, and everything conceivable runs through it at horrible speeds, but nothing living can be found or seen.

Something like that, is this. Like a balloon open at both ends, but still so full it is about to burst. That is now, this is that.

The moment fills my mouth, stuffs my ears, swarms my eyes, flattens my mind, shortens my reach.

The moment is all, this being, can digest.

IMG_5906

Roxanne, Rumi and Nomi. In the evening light, and grass. Friday, the dawn of our respite arrives.

 

Occasional thoughts stray, beyond the immediacy of NOW, their ends like hurt nerves report back of horizons once attainable, now distant over oceans of time and needs that shall not be crossed. NOW forms my shores, NOW circumscribes me like the second encompasses a flicker of my eyelashes, or my carcass defines the span of my breath. NOW presses down on me with greater force than gravity, or the order of day and night. This is now, and Now is all this is.

Tomorrow too, when it comes, Now will be. Like this one, but then. It is greater than I am. Spanning more than a lifetime. Defining the very arc of humanity. This NOW feels like the end of my rope, the extent of my leash. The new normal, the inevitable consequence this whole life was leading up to – as implacable an outcome as the mill upon which countless generations of Man have cast themselves in with the grist, and become dust in the grinding maw of time. NOW this is life. And in it there is no real room to breathe, or to ponder, to wander or to spare. NOW there is no room for art. For me. For anything but the merest shell of who this is, or might have been. Like an insect drained from the inside out, NOW consumes without killing.. too fast.

Maybe this is a chrysalis. Maybe this is the way things seem when matter in one state is about to phase into another. Maybe this is what death feels like. Maybe this is just one death among many. Maybe these are the convoluted dark alleys of Maya. Maybe this is the banality of life. Maybe this is the ordinary. Maybe this is a reflection of matter alone, and not spirit. Maybe this is defeat. Maybe this is the way it must be, for now to become then, this to turn into that, for one thing to pass and another to arrive. Maybe, this is simply the way things are, when we don’t succeed in making them into the things we wish them to be. Maybe this hurtling of life into the mundane tasks of being here, NOW, is simply one way of separating mind from matter, purpose from task, spirit from flesh, soul from dirt. Maybe all we need is to experience discomfort and discontent, and from those draw the fortitude to forge ahead, broadening horizons for ourselves and those who follow us. Maybe this is alright, just as it should be.

I can say this – suffering is optional.
Living and dying on the grindstone of obligation and necessity may be a totally adequate reality, but suffering in that position, is optional.

My moment of escape from the crushing urgencies of the present environment is over.
I must return and attend to the needs of the NOW, or fear the consequences of inattention and absence – like falling down a long slope of the interminable mountain i’m fated to climb – it just means retracing lost ground, expending precious time where it was already spent, losing more of myself into the nameless abyss of work. Plod ahead, you grudging draught animal, or you will be whipped and starved, and told to do more with less, until the cycle ends in its inevitable consequence. You will be a moist spot under roots, which some other poor lurch must mow with redoubled vigor rather than spend his time practicing living, rather than toiling.

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The remains of dinner, Friday evening outside. One of the joys of life as I know know it.

 

 

Crisis and Concern

Life by the Yard II

I think this is the simple truth: for me, art is an impossibility when set within a landscape of crisis.
Art requires room to breathe, room to feel. If The soul is cramped, nothing wondrous there can grow.
I’m not saying that life has to be some sort of panacea. Strife, anger, fear, lust, joy, beatitude, these are all valid states of being as afar as art production is concerned. What is antithetical, again I speak of personal experience, is being locked into a struggle where TIME is scarce. Where thoughts and energy are sapped for the sake of the struggle, and no room for other concerns remains.

That is an interesting turn of phrase, “other concerns”. I guess that is one way to view artistic expression, it is expressed* of what concerns you. Concern denotes more than interest, carrying with it notions of care, a personal involvement that is something more than topical.

For a great many artists, finding that vein, what concerns them, is a delicate and difficult target. Too little concern (care, curiosity, interest, engagement, availability) leads to a flat experience and flat work. Too much concern can mean that the topic consumes the artist and no mediated record gets created, that is NO ARTWORK gets done, the cause absorbs them in toto.

How does the mind, or the soul (which ever you make art with… or the balance thereof) alight on those portions of life that offer the right experience to be explored and mediated? Through time, mindful awareness of feelings, care, and thought. By having time to breathe that is not totally blotted out by more pressing concerns, and following where the heart goes.

* expressed: squeezed from

Life by the Yard

Black and white image of foliage growing in the yard.

 

Black and white image of foliage growing in the yard.

Life by the yard.

 

So I called up the local PD. Asked them if I am allowed to keep goats in town.
*Laughter*
“Just a minute sir, let me look that up”.

No. We are not allowed to keep goats within city limits (no ruminants at all, for that matter).

Very well.

We’ve let the yard go “native”… grasses, the remnants of what was once planted here (amazingly, the lettuce has self-seeded from last year and has been quite prolific), plain ‘ol weeds, an occasional flowering annual, and a heap of dandelions, all jostle and crowd each other for sunlight.

It is quite amazing. Really. When looked at closely, when seen for what it is, the yard glistens with all the same kinds of joys, ambitions and struggles that are on every surface of life, everywhere. There is a whole world full of action happening just outside my back door…  how glad I am that I’ve had the chance to see it for the first time.

More to come.

 

ps.  We then (that same day) received a warning from the PD code enforcement officer that our “weeds” were too tall, and that we would need to cut them within seven days or pay a fine.

Slip Past, Love

Roxanne & Rumi, Louisville Co 2014

something slippery
slither
slierty
the kind of long jello-like-blood-clot that forms when you stop a nose bleed
one of those things
seems to drain from me
pulled from my chest arms loins feet
drawn out by I know knot what net
wither cast
why ensnared
where, when
was it something I did? my fault? does everyone know this sensation
this ache of loss

life bloom vigor
slowly changing
every, the very
experience, being alive
a distillation, fermentation, digestion
the full bright volume of the palate pulsing
mulled, mellowed, dulled, soothed, smoothed, smothered
the sugary fruit, body and mind
transformed into some other substance, more cloying, more powerful, less
jovial

there is a process at hand within the body, with it, the mind
coloring my very sight, every thought
that I know not by any name
it has me, I do not have it,
immersed
it pours through me in entirety
and what it is washing away I can only remember
what it is leaving behind I hardly know
erosion

is this clearer
this pared down swatch of colors and thoughts
is it a truer, crystalline form
this mummification of the surfaces

isn’t this all
the way it should be
how come no one ever told me
this nameless thing
would take what it wants
I’d better not be attached
I’d better not throw it all away

let me come along for now
life
for soon enough we part ways
let’s hand in hand
laugh a while
you are all I have
love

 

Roxanne & Rumi, Louisville Co 2014

Roxanne & Rumi, Louisville Co 2014

 

Stranger in Your Life

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What do you do when one day you wake up and feel like a stranger in your own life?

Things seem familiar, the couch, the dogs, the kitchen utensils, the reflection in the mirror (vaguely), the people in your life… but the whole just does not seem to be what you might have though it was.

Maybe I’m getting the cart before the horse, or looking at the experience from the wrong way..

It is not so much that the view from the inside fails to recognize the outside world as a coherent whole. It seems to me to be more profitable to see it from the other direction – first to view the entire cobbled together world of the surroundings, and then … mystifyingly, to try to place oneself in that whole, and finding that the seams don’t line up, the purposes are mismatched, the shapes don’t fit in their prescribed holes.

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That is more like what I feel. Not that the world around me is strange, because it is not. It is that I am a stranger to It. To the purposes and shapes and ways of the space I find myself in. Vaguely out of balance.

I suppose, just “listening” to the words as they form on the screen before me, that one of the first things I’d pick apart from the statements above is that “being in balance” can be approached with either a holistic or atomistic tack. I would think that the former would be an easier and more satisfying means of getting there, but if it does not “flow” naturally to an individual then the latter approach would at least be a move in the right direction.

I don’t actually think that you can achieve an enteric, gestalt kind of experience by “mounting the pieces together”, vis a vis the atomistic approach. None the less, better the diligent attempt than to just abandon the effort as being too far out of reach.

This whole line of inquiry makes me think that there is only one place in the world where I believe people are “taught” how to achieve holistic ends – zen monasteries. Even then, I don’t believe that everyone entering into the study succeeds in opening those doors of perception.

That is really what it is, holistic, gestalt, integral … it is a way of perceiving things that includes an awareness of, I’d even say knowledge of, things that are irrational and not able to be verbalized, yet applicable to the efforts of the individual with that perception. Because they are irrational, and resist being compartmentalized or separated from the whole in which they exist, they are not easy to transmit in the forms which we normally use to impart knowledge to one another. They are not teachable in the ways we usually think of “teaching”. In fact, as I said earlier, I don’t really know that it can be taught.

I think people come upon a holistic, enteric way of perceiving by chance, by osmosis when in contact with others who perceive the world in that way, by having their perceptual apparatus severely distorted (be it by physiological or psychological means) until it “breaks” for long enough for a new coherent order to be understood, or simply by gift.

I liken the effort to teach someone about the gestalt, or about the experience, like trying to teach someone about how an orange tastes and smells, without ever introducing an orange to the pupil. Like trying to describe to a human being how objects appear in the dark when you look at them with echolocation. Or more specifically, how the face of your loved ones, your mother, your child, look like on a molecular scale. Hard to imagine? Impossible to imagine! Not a single person has ever, nor will ever, know what that is like, and no amount of “teaching” will ever impart the experience to a person. So what’s the problem? The problem is that experiences are inseparable from their observers. We can no more impart a new experience by using words, pictures and concepts, than those tools are able to become what they describe.

You can lead someone to a situation, to a perspective, to a point of view, but you cannot make them see.

And where then does all this come back to the origin of this post? So what of the person who feels strange in their own skin, out of place in their own life?

I don’t know.

I don’t know, but I feel that the way this all ties together has something to do with a thought that crossed my mind yesterday: Life has high points and low points. Some people seem to strive very hard to pack as many high points into their experience as possible. Most people live a life that is a series of points with neither many high or low points. Is one group more Alive than the other? I think not. The measure of Life is not in the number of “highs” had, but in two facts: that there are points to be strung together at all, and to the way those points relate to one another.

In more concrete terms – being really ALIVE is not so much a matter of globetrotting, thrill seeking, and consuming luxuries, but in how each of us makes sense of our day to day experiences, be they cleaning homes, delivering pizzas, composing symphonies, raising food, caring for children, sweeping streets, loaning money, inventing gadgets, fixing all manner of things…. Living is not in the highlights, it is in the connective tissue that binds all of our heartbeats together from moment to moment.

Enchanted Princesses and their maids are no more or less able to be ALIVE, despite what common sense or opinion has to say on the matter.

And back again… to the start… where should a person go when they find “themselves out of place”?
Now I have an answer of sorts: Into their head; For “place”, “person” and “out” are all defined by who is doing the looking, and how they understand what they see.

it sas low love

himdenaver exnomus

slummering

flamingkling fladingles

klipperan dribbleres druminpler an est

thisening that

dink                        mmmmmm

flop

cometh rinering runneren

so droloth of blubbering fullnemess

frothing with blopsun

your petals flicker flittering flimsily in the breathering gush

wind

meu pup

poo pooo pooooo

it all is i am folds down

folop

slum rimpleming messss

it sas low love

himdenaver exnomus

Rindemanveres peix marloveran.

The Swim

Writing "The Swim"

One of my favorite quotes from Joseph Campbell:

The mystic swims in the water where the common man drowns.
                                                                                                           - J.C.*

I have been trying to catch my breath. Partly drowning, partly swimming, mostly treading water. Yet I have noticed that even when I think I am just keeping my head above the froth and foam of each cresting swell, there are currents sweeping me far and fast away. I know not where.

Is it all bad? Hardly.
As to whether I’m drowning, that is a more complex question.

The answer is yes.

It feels clear to me that parts of me are indeed drowning. Drowning, drowning, dead. Small withering carcases of who I was clinging to me like scabs, soft and ready to be washed away after so many days submerged in this fluid of life, life so fluid.

There is no other day to describe this moment, for me, in me. Should I say – as me? That is yet an entirely different question, whose answer might be interesting but does not tell the story of how I got to where I am now (lost, reforged, germinating).

The past year – since November of 2012 … that is a long story. Much too long for me to spell out now. I will pick up the yarn near the end, the climax:
On December 10th, 2013, our daughter was born. She came at the end of one of the most dramatic and contorted years of my life. Several moves, an intercontinental stunt to “rescue” my father,  a new job, meeting my half-sister for the first time, and the reformation of my marriage behind us, Rumi’s arrival after almost two weeks of suspense and anticipation felt like reaching the top of the tallest mountain I’ve ever climbed.

On the fourth day after Rumi’s birth my father was rushed to the hospital after suffering a massive stroke. Within twenty-four hours it was put to me whether to commence a series of invasive interventions which may have prolonged his life, or choose to allow the body to wither and die. I choose the latter.

I do not know that I made the right choice in that regard.
I do not know that I will ever feel entirely satisfied – if that is something that can be acquired in time – that I made the right choice.

These … things. Not things at all but events in a life, all leave me feeling like I’ve lost all my bearings. Almost everything that I knew is gone, or has been remade in the wake of this internal tsunami.

It is the familiar lines of my character, the pillar of my world – the relationship between Roxanne and I, the constants of friends and family, and the memories of a life lived, that convince me that this is still the same “me” that walked the earth two years ago. It feels like so many of the things I held close and dear have been torn down or re-shaped, while new experiences were cobbled onto the surfaces of my heart … all of the landmarks are new and unfamiliar. I feel displaced within my skin.

Writing "The Swim"

Writing this post, looking out onto this new world. Seeing the new through the old.

Again – is it all so terrible?
No. It is just difficult, sometimes painful, sometimes so delightful I am overwhelmed at the grandeur of the new earth beneath my feet.

Rumi has brought with her a host of new challenges for us to meet and overcome. She’s added soaring new peaks of joy and heart-bursting gobs of loving to our lives.

The universe of parenthood unfolds new petals each new morning, noon, and night; this, along with living in a new place, being farther from family, losing my father, and accepting the yoke of a new job, have me grasping for something firm in the New, and clinging on to what was cherished and beloved in the Old.

Mostly, I recognize but refuse to surrender to, these things feel larger than me, and beyond my control. But this is no reason, I believe, to stop kicking, to go limp and allow the currents of life to sweep me along like so much flotsam. Part of the survival tactic has to be recognizing what is flotsam and what is jetsam, in the wreckage of my prior life; that, yes!, is work that must be done.

There is an imperative I must answer each new day, “What is salvageable, and what – if clung to and brought aboard – will cause this tender new vessel of life to tip and sink”.

As before, even as battered as it may be after these recent mash-ups, I know my compass is still true. Love will point the way. For this I am grateful: the heart is still the best guide any can have.

In passing I wonder – Are we not all castaways in this ocean of life?

Sink or swim, my dear heart, depends only on feeling rightly when to rest and float, and when to kick like your life depends on it.

 

 

* apparently - but not to my utter shock - I have this quote a little askew.

Art and Mysticism

from You Are Here.2009

At the core of any Art practice there is a hard kernel of mysticism. An ineffable and irreducible something. It is inscrutable to logic and words. This “thing” is implied (and not a thing at all), but not grasped, by ideas like: gestalt, nous, and the apeiron.

That “thing”  is both irrational, and the source of order. Therein lies my claim for mysticism. There are no other means to study – to be a student of – the process by which the two contradicting principles (order/randomness) can be understood to work together to produce a coherent whole. By coherent whole I mean the full scope of the cosmos, including the human experience.

from You Are Here.2009

from You Are Here.2009

Think of it – one process, leading to both the astounding regularity and rationality of our mathematics and science, as well as the unfathomable origins of what passes as the full range of human experience. Is it possible to imagine resolving those two universes of knowledge into one? I cannot. To me, it seems like the exercise of visualizing a “red round square”. Do it. See a red, round, square in your mind. When you succeed, please get in touch with me.

Until then, be in awe.
Be in awe of the regularity and the profoundly unfathomable which is found all around us, the two jumbled and encrusted together like the structures of a christmas cake, a colloid.

So it occurred to me that I still find it impossible to both  practice (study) my understanding of art, (that is – a mystical process enacted) and simultaneously produce something that is supposed to fit into the contemporary art market’s dialectic of “What is Art”.

In short – I don’t know (yet?) how to both perform something which is totally unpredictable and ineffable in such a way that it will neatly conform to the dictum of contemporary art markets.

So I don’t try.

Bill_Huber_2012_20121103-1

Scene from 238 Tavares Bastos, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil. 2012

 

I am willing to entertain the multiple notions (none are mutually exclusive) that I either need to hone my practice, or learn more about the marketing of art, or that the above are mute points because of the impossibility of bending a an unknown quantity to a precise end.

And here I will tell you something, then I will contradict it (twice) – and I’m perfectly alright with that:

I don’t know that it is possible to be a Student of the Arts, a devotee of its mystical roots, while simultaneously  producing works that fit into the ongoing dialectic that defines contemporary art practice. In other words – I don’t know how to bend the irresolvable and irrational to a rational end.

I believe that the two seemingly disparate worlds – of creating works of art, and placing them within a rational framework where they can be understood as a further advancement of the Project of Contemporary Art – should be accessible to any artist who is fully “turned on”. By that I mean that the practitioner of Art who is effecting and effective on a very high level should be able to embrace the contradictory nature of these two “worlds”. Being able to both grasp irrationality of art making and the rationality of placing it within the body of Art as historically understood in the realms of the market, museums, and academia.

I believe that once the Art dialectic  arrives at the understanding of Art as an enactment of the fundamental nature of Being – when it becomes understood as the reflection of stable principles – the current pursuit of the “hot new thing” (in academia and museums) will stall out. The discussion will finally be seen for what it is: the re-articulation of a surface and material that has always been there. Like waves on the surface of the ocean, or clouds in the sky. There will be no “further” destination, only an infinite progression, like snowflakes, or fractals, each unique and marvelous, and yet subsumed in the understanding of the principles which give them shape.

Am Doing?

from You Are Here.2009

Every now and again it is a worthwhile exercise to ask oneself: what is it that I am doing?

I’ve recently been through a few life altering experiences, and now, freshly disembarked on these new shores it behoves me to ask:
WHAT IS IT THAT I AM DOING?

from You Are Here.2009

from You Are Here.2009

Before embarking on any expository excursion of my personal goals and present state of affairs (basically tallying up the “wish to do” vs. the “am doing” to see how far from a self-appointed mark I may fall), I should like to make this statement:

Any act of self-evaluation is inherently flawed, as this is like asking a mirror to reflect upon its surface.

So, rather than try to firm up a rather sure sounding edifice of words and syntax I will do this:

I will tell you that what follows is inherently a fragmented and arbitrary exposition of the thoughts that strike me, upon self-reflection, now.

i.e. This is a foolish attempt that will only yield half-truths. On the other hand, if we switch from a Cartesian notion of a Life and the views along its path, to a Campbellian* notion of a life and what might be encountered along its path, then the vignettes I presently offer may be taken as all that can be meaningfully gleaned.

What does that mean?  It sounds like gobbledygook even to me, and I wrote it! I mean to say, in order to make sense of a fragmented and arbitrary series of thoughts (as I stated this account must be) about a coherent whole (the assumption here is that a Life forms a coherent whole) we must ditch the linear (Cartesian) models of thought – planning, objective, incremental – and adopt those more oft heard from the likes of Joseph Campbell – allegorical, subjective, non-hierarchal.

Got it? So – don’t try to understand any of this as if it were to form a whole. Rather, see it like peeking in through a series of holes in swiss cheese – knowing that you will never see all of the holes, and that it is not necessary to actually SEE all of the holes to know that you are in swiss cheese, and more or less what condition that piece of swiss cheese is in.

And that is it.

The above, even though it was meant to be an introduction to something else, and even though it appears to describe next to nothing of my life at present objectively, is in fact (I’ve discovered by arriving at this position, it was not planned) what I have to give as an answer to the question: WHAT IS IT THAT I AM DOING?

I am being the awareness of fragments, seemingly incoherent and disordered, unrelated and appearing to lead off in multiple directions at once. I am the thread that links all of those fragments. I am doing not much about any of them, consciously.

 

* Forgive me for playing loose and fast with the language by coining an adjective meaning “Joseph Campbell like”. I do it with the hope of making the description richer and more concise. 

Heir Apparent

Rumi Huber, the Heir Apparent, being given her second bath ever.

The Heir Apparent declared Mr. William Coachman Huber, when he got to see his first grand-daughter via his iPad. Rumi Huber was two days old when Bill got to “meet” her.

Here are some picture of “the heir” at one week two days of age, with her mother, bathing together in Calendula flower petals from our yard.

With both Roxanne and I intoxicated by newborn baby love, it will hard to pry ourselves away from the cameras for a while. I fear that we may lose this battle for many years to come.

The Loving Lamb

Roxanne, next to me in bed. Tucson, Ariozna _ 2011

I was having, as I so often do, a dialogue with X (a real person, whom I know), on my way home from work today.

n – so what do you do? on weekdays, after work? Do you manage to do anything with your family, your partner, your children?
x – most night, not really. Yes there is (this activity, that event, things that we do together occasionally and as “special” events) … but mostly: No. I get home, it’s late, I’m tired, and within a few hours I’ve gone to sleep.
n – hmm.. ok.
x – well, that’s the way things are (reflexively thinking – that’s the way things are for most of the working folks who have to work for the things that they have).
n – yes, I know. I know. That’s why I’m asking you these questions… because I want to know how you do it.
x – just like everyone else (and just like everyone else before me too).
n – and … so what is it that you see yourself doing? how do you portray your role, or understand your role, with regard to your family?
x – what do you mean?
n – like, do you see yourself as being primarily the person who’s made their existence possible? As in, you see your role as fundamentally there to provide for their basic existence and leisure, for their chance to pursue their interests and values, and you are there really as a provider? Yes, of course you do have times where you are the parent, the partner, the (etc. other family member role)… but that most of what you do has to do with the fact that you are there to make sure they get to do these other things?
x – well, yes. I guess that is the biggest part of my contribution to them, to the family. I make it possible for them…

And then here, at this point in the fictional conversation is where I see myself having an epiphany – as conventional, as staid, as commonplace as all this sounds to most people (who’ve grown up with parents and friends and relatives who have all joined the ranks of the numbingly overworked, of those who work every day to the full extent of their capacity and return home empty, pressed for the shelter of bed and who’s main concern is simply how to wade through the evening most expediently in order to try to go to sleep – already later than they’d wish to, but not so late that tomorrow is an unbearable train-wreck from the moment they wake up, an hour before dawn) – I realize this is pathological.

The example that leapt to mind was that of a parent, who in the midst of bounty, slays game for the family meal, and then because of convention rather than necessity, sets fire to themselves in order that the family cook the meat.

Yes, it is a form of heroic martyrdom (born out of ignorance or lack of expectation that it might be any other way) for the parent to sacrifice themselves – their time, their life, their energy, their attention, to some cause which in turn provides the family with its means. It is a trope we have all (in the west) been reared to admire, and inculcated to imitate. It is what makes our society function at all (and the way it does).

And yet, what strikes me, what grabs me so vividly with that hyperbolic vision of a parent charring their flesh that their younglings should eat, is that along with providing, the parent is also withholding. Along with being the source of the material means for sustenance, the parent is not providing something else just as important as food – their time, their attention, their loving presence and company – themselves.

Children, and families, and the love story which can grow between any two or more people, can only really flourish, mature and ripen, with time and exposure. I.e. with togetherness. There are no substitutes, there are no short cuts, there are no proxies for gentle loving care. In person. One on one, face to face, arms and hand joined, stories entwined.

The work regimen that deprives the members of a family the chance to sew and reap the benefits familial ties – strangles the vine of life, and robs it of the very pulp of Love, leaving only the dull surfaces and the hollow routines of every day. And this, this is the sadness and shame of it all, that after these so many years of toil as a people, as a culture, that we are left with a culture that actually enshrines these empty traces and gestures of life, and fills them with the warm glow of the all the promises they held, but never delivered on.

That is what is most twisted and perverse about this situation – his condition most westerners find so very common and justified.
To convince a person that it is normal and good for them to deprive themselves of what is most vital and precious in life, and then shower accolades onto the ghost for its warm fullness of being.

Roxanne, next to me in bed. Tucson, Ariozna _ 2011

Roxanne, next to me in bed. Tucson, Arizona _ 2011

Turn your fat throbbing heart into a rattling dust fulled scab. That is what it takes to be great among the many, strong among the weak, outstanding above the mediocre – that is what it takes to survive and excel among the middle class. This is how to be  above average, and not live a moment of the life that should be naturally yours. All for them. All for the next generation, for the comfort of your partner, or parent, or loved one. All for someone else, when the most precious thing they could possibly have is earnest and rich time, face to face, with you. Not a minute, or a moment, or a glimpse, but however long it takes.

The West if afraid of intimacy. It is a culture reared on weaning. Grown on salt water rather than mother’s milk. Less of each of us, for each of us, is more. At least that is what the culture believes is good for itself as a whole.

Yes: people still have to make sacrifices.
Yes: there is still room for genuine selflessness – good for the other.
Yes: there is still and always will be a time and place to test the moral rectitude, the strength of character, the brilliance of mind, the depth of compassion and the full measure of the social ties that bind us.

Without those things life would not be whole either. But to distill all of those dimensions into a single focused methodology of behavior – work to your limits – in such a way that it deprives the worker of the real purpose and value their toil proposes to support and nurture. That is the heart of perversion. That is robbing one of life and giving them the sapped husk as a trophy.

Worse, because of how our young learn, and how we establish and maintain social equilibrium, the precedent yoked upon one generation serves to ballast the next when they would most likely reach for a change. Almost invariably and inevitably the balance of the masses fall and follow suit. The few times the social order has been shaken by the masses in revolt against this system are all moments we are all taught about in history. Each revolt is followed with a period of idealism, of striving, and with a longer period of gradually returning to a more and more imbalanced power structure among the many.

In the macroscopic view, social structures breed inequity. There seems to be little escape from that fact.
It is only in the myopia of an intimate sphere that we can have any hope of true harmony, of true nurturing untainted by gain for another. The name of this place is home, and the name of the ambrosia produced by life fully lived, is Love.

Remnants. Kitchen sink, home. Tucson, Arizona _ 2011

Remnants. Kitchen sink, home. Tucson, Arizona _ 2011

 

 

 

 

(D.A. … anyone… The Restaurant at the End of the Universe)

Love, the question.

N&RH, Boulder Park _ August 2013

It might seem easy, but it is elusive enough that – I  believe – many (if not most) people never get to this point.
The point at which you ask yourself “Why? Why are we doing this? Why am I doing … any … of this?”

Asking, like that, asking why in that open and vaguely winey way, that yes, that may be common.

Asking that question and coming back with the answer : “Love. It is all for Love. I realize that I am doing all of this (life) for that which I Love”, is not so … prevalent.

I think it is more likely that many people mistake other things, external things, objective things, or even objects themselves, for the reasons “why”, rather than perceiving that the reason those things seem to captivate and motivate them is not in and of themselves,  but in and of Love as themselves.

So as natural and obvious as it seems to me, arriving at “this is all for Love”, is not the refrain I hear most often when people speak out about their motivations, their values, their reasoning.

Still, let’s assume that you do arrive at that clear and resounding conclusion. “This is all for Love”.
Then what… then.. then the next question that comes … is one thousand times harder to answer truthfully.
“What do I Love?”.

And that one, that question, may just be as difficult to answer entirely honestly as it is difficult to see the ground immediately beneath your feet; because at that point you and the ground are continuous, and you can only see it when you move yourself onto another bit of substance and (mistakenly) peer “over there” to study “where I was”… all the while not really seeing where you are.

In other words, it is hard to answer the question of what it is you love because Loving is a force that surges through us, not a “something” that exists in a static state.
Love is a verb, like breathe or sing, and like those examples it cannot be bottled and held for scrutiny, it is an elixir that is only known as it pours through us and into something else. Without the intervening person, Love is not.

And so what I am, and what I Love, are inseparably commingled, like oceans and the properties of water.

And yet, despite the difficulty in answering this second question, the question is indispensable, if Life is to be organized meaningfully around the “WHY” of existence. Knowing what you love, and living your life to maximize those experiences, is the only defence against misplacing the worth, the thrust, the power of Love -squandering it, and yourself- on false idols.

What do you Love? What does Love through You?

A few loose thoughts…
- Love is for Loving, and not for anything else. It is not for personal gain, or for sociopolitical postures, neither is it for itself.
- While digging, in quiet earnestness, for the answer to what Loving is in you, don’t be surprised to find that the You you think you are begins to fall apart under close scrutiny.

 

I can’t tell you everything that Loving is through me.
But I can show you a few moments that Loving has seen as me…

N&RH, Boulder Park _ August 2013

N&RH, Boulder Park _ August 2013

 

Breakfast like any other on early Sunday afternoon _ September 2013

Breakfast like any other on early Sunday afternoon _ September 2013

 

The Artist

Roxanne. Windy Vista Point, Santa Catalina National Park, Arizona_2009
Roxanne. Windy Vista Point, Santa Catalina National Park, Arizona_2009

Roxanne. Windy Vista Point, Santa Catalina National Park, Arizona_2009

 

I married this woman. Or should I say, she married me.
That reminds me a bit of the action/reaction of forces in the universe as described by physics (there is no action, then reaction – they exist simultaneously).

We found, were found, by one another, like a spark finding gunpowder.
In a flash, a femtosecond, everything changed. My life was transformed, catalyzed, catapulted. It was given the shape I now feel was ever there under the surface noise of interest and social influence – a projectile of love.

When you are in your right place, the place is right for you. Form is function.
Sometimes, I struggle to discern the form en route to an understanding of function.
Clarity trounces will, desire, expectation, projection, and other even less defined psychological introspective chatter.

Since graduating in 2010 with an undergraduate degree in photography a preconception of what it meant to be an artist, live as an artist, work as an artist, tormented me.

Already, just writing the above sentence down I begin to see how weak any position or argument for what it means to: “be an artist”, “live as an artist”, “work as an artist” – really is to hold and defend.

Still, there is an “overarching view”, held by society that those things equate in some more or less faithful adherence to the ideal that “AN ARTIST” does little else besides make art, lives simply and frugally (if not selling in the top-tier of commercial gallery spaces), and exists in some sort of cloud of artistic inebriation – being hardly able to function “like normal people” as a symptom of their extreme creativity.

However misconstrued that popular vision of “an artist” is, some version of it abides in almost all social circles. Even by people whose profession is in the arts.

The thing is: I don’t fit those stereotypes very well. I have a day job that has nothing to do with art making (not to say that I have not found that the artistic process cannot be used, even to great benefit, when confronting problems with undefined solutions). I don’t “make art” every single day, at least not in any way that results in an art object. I do live frugally, but it is not in the “starving artist” kind of trope. And I’m happy to say that while I have no difficulty unleashing right brain thinking – I am not trapped in a miasma of dysfunctional associative thought.

That rift between the avatar of an artist, and the reality of being the artist that I am, has been steadily eroding the ground beneath my feet. Weakening any feeling of legitimacy as an artist I lay claim to.

Returning to that starting point – where I feel things may have gone wrong – my assumption upon graduation was that the natural course would be to get a Masters of Art, then a position teaching art. In that function – teacher of art – I could legitimately claim to “live the life of an artist”.  My deviation from that route has been fraught with the trepidations I’ve mentioned above.

That is – until this past week.
Somewhere along the road that is my daily commute, as my mind flowed along the undulating features of the landscape and pavement, it stuck me that being a professor – first and foremost means that your craft is that of a teacher. The technical nuances of teaching – no shallow pool of knowledge there, certainly – are the defacto day-to-day “stuff” you do. Teaching is not art making (certainly the same abides in teaching as in any field, the creative mind can always be employed to benefit).

This simple shift in perception brought back to mind how many artists – great artists, historically important artists, brilliantly creative, awe-inspiring artists – I know of have supported themselves and their families by doing more than “just art”. The lives of so many of the people in my field whose work I admire – are not “only about making art”.

It suddenly seemed to me that my day job was not the “artist killer” I’d been feeling it was. The socially held image of the artist as an inspired dysfunctional unfit to do anything other than exorcise their internal torment (in as much as needing to get anything “out” can be tormenting, even when it is a grandiose or loving experience) is just not the kind of thing anyone should use as a benchmark.

Within just a few seconds, my unfolding realizations had disarmed the single most caustic assailant of my claim as an artist.
Most artists, most of the artists I admire and cherish, have had to hold day jobs, have had families, have lived lives sharing their time and energy between their creative passions and more mundane tasks that sustain them from year to year.
Knowing that (actually, I already knew that, it is really shifting how I saw that fact) not only reassured me that my life is not that different in form from those who inspire me, but even reassures me that I’m on the right track.

I am in the right place.
The shape of life as I know it is not antithetical to life as an artist.
Its form is part of the function I wish to recognize as myself.

THIS IS THE LIFE OF AN ARTIST.

 


Perception is reception. The medium is the message.
The work of art is that message, digested and regurgitated back as a form into the medium.

Art is a closed loop:
Existence leads to experience.
Experiences are distilled, transformed, catalyze new art.
When that artwork is experienced we close the loop. Existence leads to experience.

To be an artist, it is only necessary to purposefully create a “something” of now, that will continue to communicate “something” to then, using a language other than the linear, the literal, the purely descriptive. Art requires the injection of something of yourself into it, some of your subjective, some of your perspective … interpretive. It is the (spark? the heart? the mystical?) human element that makes any artwork evocative. When that is lacking what is produced is reportage.

 

Afternoon breakfast

A (late) morning breakfast, one of our favorite pastimes.
Roxanne Huber, pregnant, having breakfast in bed.

A (late) morning breakfast, one of our favorite pastimes.

One “morning”, in the early afternoon on a Saturday, enjoying breakfast (and photographs) in bed. Some might say lazily, we say lushly. Time, beloved company, and joy, are the ambrosia of life.

The Space Between

Noah, Windy Vista Point, Santa Catalina State Park. Arizona 2009
Noah, Windy Vista Point, Santa Catalina State Park. Arizona 2009

Noah, Windy Vista Point, Santa Catalina State Park. Arizona 2009

twixt the closest of two points
a cavernous maw stretches seemingly without end
Zeno would be proud

the tortoise – crossing that gap
proves it is
neither infinite
nor empty

too much like
physicist’s void
so teeming with things
each of them nothing

a post
then another post
and life’s swells
gale upon wave
slide upon quake
until terra firma
is found a new

there, set down
another post
upon to build

each time
hoping, firmer
than the weather
filling the space between