I recently stumbled onto a site that immediately became one of my favorites ever. it’s called imagine childhood and it presents the world very similar to the one I attempt to create for myself and my family. if I had a shop I think I would carry the exact same things. important things. soulful things. things for exploring. things for playing. things made by hand, things that make noise. the blog is a wonderful read and brings me back to the earth on a regular basis. It seems the owner and I are kindred spirits.
I immediately sent them “explorer”, I had a hunch they would like it and they added it to their list (and sent me a beautiful letter in return).
*the lion puppet from their store.
I have just a few minutes to write before my guy wakes up. But I had a few thoughts I wanted to get out. I am reading Molly Wizenberg’s (aka orangette) new book, a homemade life. You all know and love her as I do, so I won’t gush too much. The book is a wonderful journey through her life, as explained through the wonderful recipes that mark each passage. It is incredibly tactile, saliva inducing and cozy feeling. That is the best way I can explain it. This is not a recipe book for everyday cooking (though it does contain a few to put into regular rotation). But more for a cook who is also a reader. I honestly don’t know how she does it but she somehow shapes a simple dish into something VERY special. Take her recipe for Roasted Eggplant Ratatouille for example. As an avid cook, I have always found Ratatouille a little, dare I say…boring (and much too acidic in the way that burns your tongue). Her version is actually spectacular, and it has all the same ingredients as other versions. But it is all in the way she puts it together. Molly has taught me a lot about cooking in the last couple of years, just by me reading her blog. Many of her recipes are in regular rotation in this house (channa masala, baked pasta, chickpea salad and many more). the main things I have learned,
1. do not rush things. in the past I was always one to skip steps to get it ‘done faster’.
2. how you prepare things affects the flavor. this means size, shape, timing all count. slivering garlic tastes much different that using a press. I am reformed. press be gone.
3. quality of ingredients is crucial. all chick peas are not the same!
as I look at this list I realize that these things apply to life too. someone should write a book on that subject. I would but I’m a bit too busy with other things.
on another note I just found out that apparently I’m a “cult phenomenon” (or my book is at least). read about it here. you have to scroll down a bit. one of my secrets about what I’m working on is revealed.
last night I watched the film “here is always somewhere else -the disappearance of bas jan ader”, by rene daalder. for whatever reason I finished the film feeling like I learned nothing of the artist, whose work I have been fascinated with for a while now. if I am to be honest I think there was something lacking in the film itself. watching the trailer gives you the gist of the story (which is completely compelling). and yet there are a couple of thoughts that continue to dance around in my head.
there are many ways to look at ader’s work, he often dealt with the subject of gravity. ways of falling. this is what I love about it. it is absurd, brilliantly simple, and completely serious at the same time. a true experimenter. we all know what it feels like to fall, but how many of us have experimented with gravity as a medium. what does it feel like to throw yourself off balance on purpose?
there is an interview with an old dutch sailor in the film which sums up ader’s work perfectly. he speaks indirectly about the process of improvisation (I am making this connection). that the point of ader’s “falls” is not the falling, but the moment (1/10th of a second) where he makes the decision to let go. that is the moment of transcendence where you leave everything behind and leap into the unknown. as improvisers or experimenters that is the moment we are trying to recreate. because we’ve done it before and it becomes addictive, that seductive release (a sense of giddyness mixed with fear). for an instant you get a feeling that you are really doing something worthwhile, living out on the edge of something big. yet unnamable. a kind of opening (with all the vulnerability that comes with that).
all of the great things I have done in my life have involved this sensation to varying degrees.
watching bas jan ader’s falls, I can’t help but think that he often falls short of the mark. that the falls are a bit too calculated or thought out ahead of time. there is a tad too much self consciousness about them. but it is his attempt to recreate that moment that makes me want to watch them over and over. his need to get back to that place if even for a fleeting fraction of a second, where you hover on the edge of greatness.
above still from “Fall II”, Amsterdam, Bas Jan Ader, 16mm, 19 sec
© 1970, Mary Sue Ader-Andersen
sing it to me R.
speak to me of inventions and energy, spaceship earth and the universe, patterns, systems and integrity, ways of solving all of the problems of the earth. you were ahead of your time mr.
“I live on Earth at present, and I don’t know what I am. I know that I am not a category. I am not a thing — a noun. I seem to be a verb, an evolutionary process — an integral function of the universe.” R. Buckminster Fuller
from “I Seem to be a Verb”
a man wrote me a year or two ago and said I had to get this book. which I promptly did because I don’t take these recommendations lightly (thank you whoever you are, you were right). though dated in some of its content, it has influenced me greatly in the last two years. I would actually like to recreate the book in my own way somehow, though this task is a bit daunting. it’s chock full of timely quotes, and images pulled from a variety of media of the time (1970′s). and a direct reflection of the culture. and it takes you on a bit of a weird yet wonderful tour of Bucky’s unique brain.
as if it knew exactly what I was needing, the weather turned warm (50 degrees). I know it’s all relative. while in southern california I overheard MANY people complaining about the cold (it was 60 degrees). let me tell you, this 50 is HEAVEN!
also as if it knew exactly what I needed the universe has sent me a flood of mail full of things that I needed to hear. I am all ears. and my darkish mood lifts. though I do believe these dark periods are entirely good and necessary. they prepare us to enter into a new place or stage. doesn’t mean that they feel good at the time.
move we must. or sit still and stagnate. I feel something big stirring inside these sleepy bones (my little one is cutting molars so sleep does not come easy these days).
so thank you to all who wrote.
p.s. today i am going for a long walk in the sun because it is 45 degrees!
I’ve been having one of those periods that happen every once in a while where your confidence becomes shaken on a variety of levels. Probably nothing out of the ordinary, but as always it throws me off kilter for a time. A friend of mine upon hearing this said, “god, if that happens to you, what does it mean for the rest of us?” Referring to the fact that my confidence appear unshakable for the most part. alas, it is not. and I am entirely human and as fragile as the next guy.
I suppose the lesson is that no matter what level of a career you reach, this process will always repeat itself. You think once you get to a certain stage everything will take care of itself and you will not have to deal with all these messy human things. Ironically when reaching a place of strength there exists some strange internal and external pressure to continue to “perform” and at the very least stay where you are. I ponder the thought that I would be perfectly okay if I had to start over from scratch every single day. actually aren’t we all doing that anyway?
I have many little internal battles going on all at once. Mainly having to do with wanting to let go of anything having to do with the ego or the need to perform, and yet to being a working artist is somewhat incompatible with an egoless existence. Lately I feel like withdrawing a bit as I have become tired with the “look at me” feel of the internet. How can one share their work with the world and at the same time not feel the need to promote it and in turn receive praise and admiration? Why do we feel the need to constantly receive praise and admiration? I suppose if we work commercially it is because our survival depends on it. Oh, how I would love to leave the commercial behind entirely. but then I would have to leave society as well and I am not willing to do that.
so I continue to put my work out there with as little promotion as possible and rely on it speaking for itself. or word of mouth which seems to be the way my work travels best. I prefer people to write about it only if they feel moved to do so on their own, not because of any need to promote or make me or themselves feel good. I don’t want anything to do with any campaigns or pitches, or obligatory endorsements. these things feel icky to me, and I prefer to stick to a kind of anti-promotion. and maybe I will lose many sales in the end, but I am not doing any of this for sales. only to put some of my ideas out into the world. and maybe to act as a bit of a contradiction in this world of selling. this is one of the main reasons why I continue to hold such strong opinions against advertising and sponsorship (most notably on blogs), because I am tired of a world that is all about selling and making money with little emphasis on the more important things. If you believe in a person or product and want to tell the world about it why is it necessary to receive money for this? (If you believe what Marshall McLuhan said, that “the medium is the message” then we have all become walking billboards, for sale at any price.)
This is also why I decided a while ago (after trying a few things that didn’t feel right) not to create products for products sake, (i.e. things that have no meaning, tshirts, watches, mugs, etc. with my designs on them.) I am not making a judgement here about people who do these things, there is nothing wrong with creating tshirts and selling them. But like Charles Eames I like to ask the question before I create something new, “why should this exist?” and the root of my own integrity lies in the answer to that question.
And if I am going to put something out into the world I prefer to have a really good answer for myself. (The difficulty in asking this question is that you can take it as far as you wish. when it comes down to it the planet doesn’t need any more stuff. but we make compromises and justifications, and let’s face it, I’m here to do something, to make something, to feel something. I’ll just try to keep it at a minimum so as to not clutter up the place too much. we all need some limits don’t we?)
Other questions also come into play, where do we as individuals find the most value? What kind of world would I most like to create (because I am creating it on a daily basis whether I like it or not)? I am responsible for what I put out into the world. Is it in line with my beliefs?
(the question that keeps coming into my head in the last few years is “how do you create nothing?” I don’t have an answer yet, I just get excited thinking about the concept.)
My mood also coincides with a very cold and snowy March, which is enough to push anyone to the edge. I need some sense of hope, some sign that new growth is going to occur in the near future. Something green. alas, I look out onto a sea of white this morning as it snowed solidly all night. I pretend it doesn’t exist. I want to get in my car and drive until I find spring.
Reading Jose Saramago’s “Stone Raft” I am reminded that we are all living in a story. and that these little pieces of moods are really just little blips and bumps that make no sense at the time, but later become just small perfectly formed parts of the story. Not out of place at all.
“Don’t worry about things not making sense, a journey only makes sense if you finish it.”
i’m not even close to being finished. I just don’t know exactly what direction I’m headed in right now. guess that’s just par for the course.
whew. I had no idea I was going to write all this today. but I feel a lot better now.
thanks for listening.
p.s. I understand there are many out there who do not hold the same opinions as I do. I do not wish to enter into a debate with you about these things (I am too busy with other things), they are for you to make your own decisions about. I have no need to prove that I am right or change your opinions. I’m just throwing it all out there into the ether. let it be what it is, my thoughts from today.