Tuesday, May 31, 2005

PERILS OF PERFECTIONISM

OR LOSING CONTROL TO GAIN YOUR SOUL: on how my poem
BECOMING (THAT MOST HOPED FOR) I was composed


During late March and early April of 2000, I spent a month writing and tweaking a single poem. That was the first time I spent more than a day or two on any one poem. Usually they come to me nearly complete, almost like automatic writing. I think that’s because I had been thinking hard about a certain theme and a phrase or two will attach itself it and won’t leave me alone. Somewhat like a phrase of music that keeps playing in your head for hours after you listened to the song. Then over the next several days or weeks or months that phrase starts to collect images, emotions, words and phrases that expand on the theme until something swells inside me and I feel like it will pop if I don’t start writing.

But this time it was different. This was also the first time I had composed a poem entirely via keyboard on the computer, watching the words flow across the screen. I wrote the first two lines for no reason except I needed two short lines to experiment with centering a poem on a page in the word processor. I was on the phone with my Dad who needed my help to figure out how to do this for a poem my Mom had written for her brother’s birthday card. I needed to go through the motions to be able to explain the steps to him. When we finished, I walked away from the computer, leaving that unsaved document sitting there. It confronted me when I came back later that night to do my journal and I started to kill the document but something stopped me. Those lines had been meaningless as I manipulated them earlier but as I looked at them now they became loaded with meaning from the spiritual path I’d been on for several years by then. So I left the document alone. It sat there unsaved for several days before I added a couple more lines. I didn’t save it until I had six or seven lines. And only then because it had started to matter to me enough that the specter of a loss of power or one of my cats stepping on the keyboard began to haunt me. It was for want of a viable title that I had not saved before. I hated to lock myself into a title too early and it bugs me for some reason to create files with throw away names. But I did that time and have many times since. (I learned the magic of renaming files in the computer’s file management window)

I finally did save the unfinished poem but I did not close the file. I had no idea where it was going. Which was unnerving for me as usually the last line of a poem is among the first phrases I write down. I didn’t find out where I was going this time until I got there and recognized it as the Truth my Self was trying to tell me. This was the first of my poems to tell a plotted story. It taught me to trust the process and expect a miracle and to show that confidence by starting something even if I don’t know where it is going. I’m planning to try that on a short story or novel next.

It is that perfectionist’s need to know exactly what a thing is going to look like, be like, work like before I take the first step toward the goal which has caused most of my projects to fizzle in the planning stage. Not just writing projects either. Now, releasing control does not imply abdicating responsibility. For the creative process consists of a series of reciprocal responses between the art and the artist. Each response both effects and affects the response it is soliciting in a back and forth interweaving of responses. Warp and weft. So, to relinquish control is to give up the need to dominate the process and dictate all parameters of the finished product, refusing all input and fearing all deviation from the pattern. Such a product could only be a pale copy of a true creation anyway.. It might be artifact but it would not be art. An insistence on control insures the still-birth of all your creative endeavors whether the products of your art or the products of your heart. Giving up control activates the principle of creativity which is the heart of all art, including the art of becoming.

Now that I’ve teased you with all of that, here it is:
(Well, I was going to include the poem here, but I can't figure out how to get the line formatting right and since presentation is important to poetry and for this particular poem especially so, I gave the link to it's page on my Joywrite site. The title of this post is a link to an earlier version of this essay posted as a Reflections essay on Joywrite. One of a series of occasional musings on the art and craft of writing and living a writer's life.)

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Saturday, May 28, 2005

Grab & Get & Guzzle With Gusto--For Tomorrow We Die

Tho I could have aquired this quote from a number of locations since it has proliferated on the net like lice on mice, I chose Molly Ivin's essay on Alternet to introduce two of my favorite and most depended upon news and information sources. Molly is informative while being entertaining, helping you find your sense of humor in the face of outrageous offenses to justice and truth. Alternet is an assiduous collector of articles and alerts related to the progressive aggenda.

"The aide (a senior adviser to President Bush) said that guys like me were 'in
what we call the reality-based community,' which he defined as people who
'believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible
reality.' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and
empiricism. He cut me off. 'That's not the way the world really works anymore,'
he continued. 'We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality.
And while you're studying that reality – judiciously, as you will – we'll act
again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how
things will sort out. We're history's actors ... and you, all of you, will be
left to just study what we do." – Ron Suskind, New York Times Magazine, Oct. 17,
2004.

It isn't new to most us that this administration holds itself above the law. But that they also hold themselve above all reality-based principles with the possible exception of gravity--that is news of the 'man bites dog' catagory. So they think that being an Empire makes them unaccountable to any authority except their own? Too bad we can't channel the spirits of Nero and Caligula and ask them How'd that work for you? Hey, did they stop requiring reading of Gibbon's Decline and Fall in the Ivy League schools? If so, my own audodidact aproach has given me a better education than any diploma could account for. But the reading of history would have little effect on those who think they are all about making it but never about being subject to it. And as Bush has been quoted saying about history, regarding future historians' take on his administration: We'll all be dead then. Ah, yes. Grab and get and guzzle with gusto for tomorrow we die. And he claims Jesus is his favorite philosopher?

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Friday, May 20, 2005

Who Are We To Judge Then?

Bow your head in shame and repent, all ye who reap the rewards of the West's monopoly of power in the last century. For the blood of many innocents is on your hands, on the money in your pocket and the gas in your car. Even the blood shed by the hand of Saddam and his henchman who was from the start the henchman of our own leaders.

Selah. And sigh.

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Saturday, May 14, 2005

Orcinus on the Bush Court Appointees Disdain for the Right to Privacy

Take note all progressives. The Right to Privacy as a Constitutional assumption is under attack by the Right. Read Orcinus' erudite take on this. Orcinus is one of my fav blogs. Neiwert's analyis of current events is spot on. His expertise on the issues of homegrown hate and the erroding of rights and freedoms is extensive. He has been researching the agendas of those Bush considers his base for decades. It is not paranoia when the facts back up perception. Neiwert is a meticulous researcher and insiteful analyist. I have grown to trust him in the year I have been reading his blog. His posts never get stale either. They are worth reading even after the event in question is no longer in the headlines.

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