Saturday, September 1, 2007

Apres Moi Le Deluge

Tip-Toe on the Water - Night Goddessy, from DeviantArt.
Check out more of her work here.

This morning, I wake with the writing bug biting firmly at my ass. Not an altogether unpleasant experience, I rise and head  - for the first time in my short duration at The Loft - straight for my desk.

I restart my morning pages. If you haven't heard me mention these before, the morning pages are an idea of Julia Cameron's in The Artist's Way, a six week course for anyone with an interest in creating (and to my mind, that's all of us). She teaches the reader about channelling your creativity. The morning pages consist of writing three pages of A4 as soon as you wake up each day. You are not allowed to go back and read any of your pages for three months after they are written - you rise, you scrawl, you file.

I spent months keeping the morning pages faithfully, then over the last couple of years, only sporadically, but I feel an urge increasingly to return to them. It's interesting what I end up writing, a bit like therapy, in the sense that sometimes what you say surprises you in both its truth and its means of expression. 

As you know from my sporadic entries over the past couple of weeks, I have been struggling with my creativity's relationship to happiness. I received some great feedback (surely the breakfast of champions) from Miss Sally about my last couple of posts, which she said were more interesting than the writing I do as a tortured spirit (my words, not hers), or perhaps, as the Chief would say, as a human being having a spiritual experience.  I think her comments have been gradually sinking in this week as the desire to write is now foremost in my mind.

Last night, I dreamt that Portsmouth (actually the place I was in was Portsea) was flooding. The community was being evacuated and for some reason I ended up sharing a rescue room with two Japanese people - one middle aged woman and a young man - and a burly Dutchman, who made me write down his name, letter by unpronouncable letter until I could say it. Of course, upon waking, as with most things I write down in my dreams, his name was lost again, if it ever existed. In the meantime, the dreamtime, outside, the rains kept falling and falling, and we watched from windows as cliffs slid home to the sea, settling to their new beds at the deep. Sweet dreams, what do these things mean?

The closest relationship I can consciously build to this dream is that somewhere within, I feel the centre of myself shifting, unsettling old certainties and revealing new landscapes, frightening in the drama of their unfamiliarity but no less beautiful, no less glorious for that. It has been a long time since I felt so constantly, so consistently close to life and its infinite capacity for change.

What fresh art can I give you, gentle (and so very patient) readers that captures this sense? I think it has to be Mary Oliver.

Reckless Poem

Mary Oliver

Today again I am hardly myself.
It happens over and over.
It is heaven-sent.

It flows through me
like the blue wave.
Green leaves – you may believe this or not –
have once or twice
emerged from the tips of my fingers

deep in the woods,
in the reckless seizure of spring.

Though, of course, I also know that other song,
the sweet passion of one-ness.

Just yesterday I watched an ant crossing a path, through the
tumbled pine needles she toiled.
And I thought: she will never live another life but this one.
And I thought: if she lives her life with all her strength
is she not wonderful and wise?
And I continued this up the miraculous pyramid of everything
until I came to myself.

And still, even in these northern woods, on these hills of sand,
I have flown from the other window of myself
to become white heron, blue whale,
red fox, hedgehog.
Oh, sometimes already my body has felt like the body of a flower!
Sometimes already my heart is a red parrot, perched
among strange, dark trees, flapping and screaming.

Yes, that's it.

Some other gems from my varied week:

  • Staying up to 3am watching Noam Chomsky on - this man is one of my ultimate heroes, the triumph of voice over violence. There is something so innately peaceful about his expression and his ideas are so gently accessible in his presentation. His volume of work takes my breath away. Check out the video of him debating with one of the most pernicious, arrogant and manipulative speakers I've ever encountered, William F. Buckley. He almost made me spit at my own laptop, and that's not a sentence you hear every day.

  •  Infamous, the 'other' biopic of Truman Capote, which I caught the same night as Noam Chomsky. This was a stunner of a film and I never thought I would say that anyone could beat my heart's own Phillip Seymour Hoffman playing Truman Capote, but the entirely captivating Toby Jones brings something entirely new to the portrayal of Capote and the director's choice to contextualise more deeply the other characters in the movie, particularly Perry Smith and Nelle Harper Lee makes the film something more than Truman Capote's biography. There is something more deep, something more tender about this Capote than the brutish Capote of the eponymous film. I loved it. And I learnt that Dill, of To Kill A Mockingbird, is based on Truman Capote, who grew up with Nelle in the Deep South. I've read reviews where audiences gave this film a 15 minute standing ovation, and I can well believe it. You should see it.
  • Kate Nash's album, Made of Bricks, has not left my stereo much recently. There are some great songs on this, and some great lyrics. Nash captures something of my sister's generation that is too often missed in the judgements of outside commentators - the tenderness, the confusion and the wisdom. Her delivery is awesome and all the more powerful for the double negatives (though I'd be lying if I told you that I don't correct them instinctively each time I hear one).