Restraint

July 25, 2012 at 8:12 pm | Posted in writing | 12 Comments
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“every artist’s strictly illimitable country is himself … and thus I readily conjured a gorgeous and dangerous play world”
ee cummings

My imagination is not a world in which I feel restrained. In fact, like ee cummings, I build the idea of ‘illimitable’ into the concept of imagination since that is how it differs from reality. Reality is a restraint, we are faced with the limits of the possible and the existing, the process of imagination is the act of going beyond perception into the realm of that which does not yet exist.

For a long time I toyed with the idea of imagining things into being. This is not a ‘magical’ concept but a practical one. All things human made, except those which occur by accident or chance, are imagined into being. Before they are created as objects or ideas in the world, buildings and bridges are imagined by architects, nations by founders, books by writers.

“The Way bears sensation,
Sensation bears memory,
Sensation and memory bear abstraction,
And abstraction bears all the world”
Tao Te Ching

Of course the reverse is also true, it is simply a matter of direction and flow. A kind of oscillation or expansion and retraction. The process, in this two way formation, is not so much abstraction as fictionalization. I was trying to write a poem in which a simple object, a glass bead, exists in total isolation from any context. I found it impossible.

The bead, as it exists in my imagination, instantly creates a context, so I placed it in a painting, the painting then existed in a frame, the frame in an easel, the poem in the world. The painter, distracted momentarily by thoughts of Louise, returns to his realm of imagination, and remembers Bede.

“This is only a connection because of the empty sound of the words,” he says. But the confluence of vowel sounds, ‘bead’, ‘Louise’ is a pleasure to him in and of itself. It seems that this process of imagining things into being requires some bridge and that bridge is not silence.

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Ratbags and smartarses,

February 23, 2009 at 6:07 pm | Posted in genre isn't dead yet but it should be, writing | 8 Comments
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You’ll find lots of them at sea.
(insert- Don’t say Jackie Chan style)
or give away your lack of education, son.
He says,

balancing the whiskey on the very edge of the piano.
You see this here tiny one is the high ‘C’
haha and Bootsy!, he says turning around just
as the sunglasses prophylactic appeared.

Air.

January 21, 2009 at 7:03 pm | Posted in writing | 18 Comments
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There is a constant atmospheric pressure insistently determined to create a sense of smallness. But inside me was an equally constant pressure outward, toward grandness and the large gesture. I wanted to assert that all those names you know, Shakespeare et al, Al who?, Capone?, were mere humans but they did not live in an age where someone had crossed every horizon only to meet someone else crossing in the other direction.

It was the urge to create not merely repeat. As a young man I mistook it for destiny and then in my middle age for arrogance. This sentence should start with the word ‘now’, as in, ‘Now I…’ He coughs. The nurse is from the Philippines.

I thought it was about attaining immortality, not so much a fear of death more a dread of not existing, and as a consequence forgetting to remember would be an invaluable skill. I discovered the complete unreliability of memory. She complains that I should only push the red button if I cannot breath at all but I like to watch her walk away. I had a dog. It died as all dogs do.

There is a constant atmospheric pressure, he coughs again reaches for the oxygen mask. The nurse is from the Philippines, “Still breathing, old man?” as she checks his chart. I liked to watch her walking away.

The Mythology Of Robert

December 20, 2008 at 5:27 pm | Posted in memoirs, writing | 9 Comments
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The great achievements of the modern age, post-Pharoahs, were rarely singular. Generally they were bought with the sweat and blood and lives of ordinary men and women, driven more by need than desire for immortality. You expect me to tell you there was some nobility in their honest poverty but that is a myth designed to comfort you and keep you silent.

There were lamed wufnicks, of course. A beautiful image of the wandering innocents, a handful of redeemers with no thought for themselves, unaware of their purpose. Should one realise their state they would die and be replaced.

And the star vampires of H. P. Lovecraft who consumed not only your life but all trace of your being, memories, mistakes, til the world becomes just as it would have been if you had never existed.

I told her on the telephone that Andrew found him blue. She said I’m sure you did all that you could do, please never contact me again.

I lived by the ocean in a wide bay of mangroves and at low tide vast mud flats stretching off to two horizons, one the line of the shore and one the line of the sky and in between the vast welcoming silence of the sea with ospreys for companions and my shock.

(The story behind the second last paragraph can be found here. A True Story.)

A True Story.

December 12, 2008 at 7:22 pm | Posted in memoirs, writing | 18 Comments
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which happened a short time after I had my heart broken the second time. The first time I walked in on my best friend and my first love (and I should point out in the interest of full disclosure that I have no brothers and my father was emotionally absent but I despise Freud.) I was a lonely and difficult child, to see them and here we apologise for our divergence into the hieronymous poetical, fucking
I woke up in a stupor and saw it and wondered if I had encouraged it in some mad fantasy of Berlin in the 20’s vintage which devolves into a drab Catholic graveyard, a grieving mother and us, like his pack, shuffling our feet in the dust in the background.
I don’t know why that war started but I don’t blame her. We just are and things just happen. I said, mate, a shotgun will make so much mess, he said, i love her, i said, mate. His brother, Andrew, found him blue on the toilet floor. Later that night I woke up, in a stupor and saw them sleeping and thought fuck, that’s not the right ending.

Independent Publishing.

December 9, 2008 at 6:44 pm | Posted in writing | 17 Comments
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Squirrels hoard apparently. We don’t have squirrels, we have possums. Sorry, little in-joke there. Independent publishing, as in independent films and independent music, at some point every writer of anything other than cookbooks will consider it. Especially these days. It’s free. You can get a high quality book out on the market very quickly.

The only problem is that people who were schmoozing their way up the food chain will sneer at you without having read your work or your blog. The first thing they will do, is check your publisher and if it is Lulu, they will ignore you or steal from you. Can you believe there are still people in the world who call it ‘vanity’ publishing? Vanity is holding on to it because it might be worth something someday.

Personally I didn’t want to wait and I don’t care how many copies I sell. Just opening that package and holding in my hands something about which I had fantasised for twenty years was reward enough for me.

I’m hopeless at social networking. The chances of me getting published before the day I told some over-educated young ‘editor’ with an MFA that I know better than they do because I spent twenty years writing it? The limit approaching zero degrees.

That’s cool. Have a simply fantabulous day full of tiny miracles like unexpected fields of tulips bursting into joyous spontaneous splendour. I am off to the post office to check for a package.

One Shift Ends.

September 8, 2008 at 6:31 pm | Posted in writing | 17 Comments
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The silly old coot is hammering the wrong buzzer again, she thinks. She had explained to him at least twenty times that the white button delivers more morphine and her buzzer was the red one but either he didn’t care or couldn’t tell the difference any more. By the time she arrived at his bedside he had fallen asleep again. This one always falls asleep with his right hand wrapped around his penis. At first she had thought it was funny seeing as the ugly grey lump couldn’t have worked for at least a decade. Now it seemed so sad to her, less like he was trying to pleasure himself and more like he was trying to protect it from something in his dream.

She checked the monitor and there was the familiar peak of activity just before he had pushed the buzzer. It was reassuring. He had stopped speaking nearly two weeks ago and the occassional blip on the screen was the only sign of anything at all happening inside of him. Apart from the constant buzzing of course. She adjusted the line from the morphine drip which had become tangled in the blanket. Her feet were aching. It was near the end of her shift and she should be looking forward to going home but the lonely empty apartment held its own horrors. She looked down at the shrivelled dribbling husk in the bed and just for one moment felt an urge to climb into the bed with him and curl herself up into some shared dream of morpheus. The urge faded and folded into some lines of poetry she had read so long ago,

“There is no ceiling and no sky
No calming words nor lullaby
This is not dream nor mystery
A passing scene wherein we lie.”

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