So many boats in my dreams, this last while. Boats and boats and then again boats. I like boats, always have (particularly those powered by muscle not motor), maybe as the result of having for a father a man who in his youth was a sailor or maybe as the result of my Piscean nature.
sometimes you have to lie on a bed
so your brain can be all in a floaty place
I would be brief on the day I didn’t have a lot to say or, really, had a lot to say but wanted to make the thoughts in my head all compact the way a wintertime child can take a puff of snow and squeeze it into a ball of ice, to make it all hard and small.
What I’m doing right now is I’m writing a thing, a beautiful thing, a bookstory thing. It’s hard going — oh god, it is — and for all the wild-ride moments of outpour, there are many many — many! — ice ages of brainfreeze. When you write a thing as a pen-for-hire, you push through the brainfreeze, because money and somebody else’s deadline are great motivators. But when you make something with joy in your heart and when it’s a collaborative effort to boot — I’m making this thing with James Cook, whose delicious photographs will join up with the words I write — you let the going be slow because you’re waiting for a strange kind of knowledge — epiphany, I guess you’d call it — waiting to see in a way you’ve never seen before, waiting to understand, waiting to make connections.
If tomorrow I were to walk away to some other place, go live in a where that is not this where, the place I would go would have lots of snow and the house I would live in would be made of cold, a house of snow — or of-snow-adjacent.
I don’t know how it works, how to do the math, but it’s like every emotion I’ve ever felt somehow gets wrapped up in trees. Trees become some kind of conduit for thought and feeling, for understanding, for epiphany, for optimism, for love.
think of awaking one morning, some morning
with the tail of a fox
or platypus feet
with a hard crunchy shell
or suction-cup legs
with a body of quills
or a soft feathered belly
with a set of long antlers there on your head
If I had to categorise this unruly thing, I’d say it’s poemical, not polemical. It’s not really a blog about art, not in any sort of analytical way. I don’t take a stance; I’m neither critic nor academic. What I am, actually, is an unruly hoyden with a permanent case of chaoshead, a throbbing love-on for the made things of the world, and a hot ‘n’ saucy need to write things down, to write things out (as you’ll know if you’re one of the people I e-mail 972 times a week. [Hi, forbearing friends! Love ya! Smooches!])
Often I think of the poetry of objects
about the way a seam is resolved
or the way a spine grows
about the things we make with our bodies
and the bones from out of our bodies
Sometimes I feel like Reepicheep finally arrived at the edge of the world and sometimes I feel like I’m standing way up high on a tall place where I have to make a choice about whether I’ll step off and float away, or not.
The world spins on its axis, on and on and on, no matter who comes here or leaves here, no matter how happy or sad you are, no matter, no matter.
I read a blog (very intermittently kept) written by a Korean artist who writes in English, which is not her first language. Her tiny strange observations are often very beautiful and made more so by the flaws in her English, a lot more so, I think, because those flaws can be very illuminatory — that skewing of language can make you look at a thing from a whole different perspective. The accidental nature of some of the beauty she writes makes her observations fresh and astonishing.
A couple of nights ago, a friend e-mailed me with the news that singer Lhasa de Sela had died of breast cancer at her home in Montreal on January 1st, at the young age of thirty-seven. I had had a hard day and my head was full of black miseries, and this news, which I would under any circumstance find dreadfully sad, just undid me, and I cried a long, long time. Which in a strange way is fitting, not just in a crying-is-an-appropriate-response-to-death way, but in a to-hear-Lhasa-was-to-be-moved-by-her way. I’ve had her on my mind since then.
I don’t know why I always want to know “why” but I do. Even when the answer to “why?” is “because” or “dunno” or “what’s it to ya, mofo?” Even then, I still wanna know. Why, I wonder. Why am I like that? Dunno, really. Because, I guess. What’s it to ya anyway, mofo?
This is the postcard you might’ve received when you were 11-1/2 years old and your father was in Munich covering the 1972 summer Olympics and there had been a brief period one day the 5th of September actually when you’d thought your father might be
I listen to a lot of music. A lot. And while I think my taste is fairly wide-ranging, ultimately I have to recognise that I am particularly drawn to and moved by music that is odd or broken or primal or otherworldly. I want from music what I want from poetry and fiction — I want to be moved. I want to be taken to a place of sentipensante, feeling-thinking, to borrow Eduardo Galeano’s most beautiful word, because sentipensante is “language that speaks the truth”. And my god, that is a powerful notion.
Once I wrote this e-mail to a friend:
There is chainmail and then there is trainmail. This here is trainmail.
Out the window of my train, I see a freight train, enormously long, car after car marked “CornProducts”. One car marked “cationic corn starch”. I don’t even know what that means but I like how it looks and how it sounds in my head.
Last night was mad where I live. A storm blew up in the early evening and the sky went black and the rain was a swirling chaos and the thunder and lightning were slamming wildly in the atmosphere, and it was all feeling almost too close for comfort, and for me to say that is something, really something, because there is almost nothing I love more than bad weather.
How to Craft a Cello from Parts You Have
by Tanya Laramie
The other night I was drinking whiskey and thinking about Fibonacci numbers and thinking about Katinka Matson’s scanned flower images and thinking about how once upon a time I looked at her daffodils and realised how
Awhile back I did a meme on Facebook that involved making a list of sixteen albums (CDs, for you whippersnappers) that had been really influential in my life. Only one musician got two spots on my list.
Oh my god, they are my unmaking, those photographs. I have watched the BBC DVDS and thought and thought and watched the DVDs and my sleep has been interrupted by the storm of it all.
I recently watched a five-part BBC documentary on the French banker and philanthropist Albert Kahn and his Archives de la planète project, at the turn of the nineteenth century, to document the planet photographically, and I was utterly unglued by the intense beauty and sadness of those hundred-year-old autochromes. Altho’ it has been some months, I am still deeply roiled up inside about those photographs and am still having trouble sleeping properly because of them.
The backbone of the backbone.