Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Self Reliance Part 2

A warning for our time: do not let anyone or anything take your concentration away.

We've all seen it. We've seen the people who drive their car and they have a cup of coffee in one hand and a phone in the other. They are not focused on any one thing. They are not focused on the coffee, probably not on the phone and certainly not on the road. I am not above it, I have been distracted too. I have had my attention split in many directions and I have had my concentration shattered. I've just tried to keep this at a minimum and not in a chronic state like it would be should I be careless.

The term “multitasking” has become increasing trite in recent years. Multitasking implies that a person can carry on with many things, none related, at once and get everything done. To me, this just creates confusion. Back in the car with the coffee and the phone call and eyes that should be on the road, is it really whole the hassle? I imagine if automobiles did not have any safety features, like seat belts, airbags or crumble bumpers, and if instead had a large sharpened metal spike that stretched from the steering wheel to the driver's face, multitasking would not be reserved for the car. I think if there was a reminder of the immanent outcomes of just one moment of carelessness, everyone would treat the operation of a motor vehicle with a level of mindfulness none of us currently understand.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Self Reliance

I have been blessed. My entire life has been a blessing. I have never felt otherwise. Like many of us, I have gone through those rough times, those dark times, the trouble times. This is what it means to be alive and to be sure, I would fear for anyone who has not seen rough times. These down times in life, whether it is financial, emotional or physical serve only to make a stronger person. When I say that I have been blessed it is for many, many reasons. The biggest reason, perhaps, is that I have been able to do everything that I wanted to do. All I ever wanted to be is a writer and that's really all I've ever been.

Another blessing that has occurred to me recently is one that is seemingly ridiculous. There is a very real and strange sensation that happens in my gut when I am subjected to a television. It happens when I look at a computer screen too, particularly an ad filled web page with flashing and blinking banners and boxes. And unlike most people these days, I do not carry a hand held device that constantly tells me what to do and what to think. It's a blessing that there has never been a television in my house and a blessing that in the these days of smart devices that I do not subscribe to them either. Like I said, this was not a conscious choice, I refuse to have devices that invade my thoughts, but rather a reaction to a physical sensation.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Higher Laws Part 5

In this complex world of making a living and obeying higher laws, I would be naive to suggest that we would all go one way or the other. It would be impossible, or next to impossible for all of us to throw away all confines to modern life and simply make art. It would not work. It just wouldn't. How could it? Who would teach the children? Who would grow the food? Who would fix our teeth? No, if all of us really listened to those higher laws, those driving forces, those things that compel us to make art, and then followed those laws to the letter, not only would the system vanish, we'd all die of starvation.

However, the opposite is nearly as bad. I do not want to make a grim prediction for the future much less the present. However, I think the higher laws are blatantly or at least lazily being ignored by way too many of us. I really do feel like we are bombarded by too much all the time. I feel like there is too much media, too much allure of the next great thing. I feel like the old fashion constrictions like church and state do not seem so bad now in light of pills and screens. Again, this is just my observation, and I am doing my best not to be so grim.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Higher Laws Part 4

Unfortunately, we do not live in a world in which all of us can focus on the intoxication of the day, the day spent in creative tasks. We have to negotiate the practical. We must, most of us on a varying scale of wealth and living expenses, pay the rent. We must earn money and procure the food and cook the food and clean up after the food. We must, all of us, live, make a living, make a life.

This balance between paying bills and living life overlaid on the making of art seems like it is in direct conflict with the path to the higher laws. Perhaps it is. Many years ago, I worked with a very talented and very artistic man. He could play just about any musical instrument he handled. He could paint pictures reasonably well. He could work with metal and made tables, chairs, beautiful structures. His home was a work of art, every nook, every corner. I loved him dearly, and in many ways all these years later, I still do. We had a friend who was an inspired artist. This artist was a printmaker and he engraved copper plates for his relief prints. As for me, I was an aspiring writer. I had, at the time, been writing short fictions and bad poetry rather unsuccessfully for a few years. I had had a handful of publications.

So, enter the welder, the printmaker and the writer.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Higher Laws Part 3

Something that has always dumbfounded me is the lack of time we are led to believe unavailable to us. It's like everything is instant,and instantly we have less time that ever. There are the 24 hour conveniences, the 24 delivery and the world of instant data at our fingertips 24 hours a day. And we are made to think we have no time?

I cannot and will not subscribe to this. I have all the time in the world, and time is all I really have. When we listless or perhaps haplessly float in a sea that pushes us this way and that at the whims of racketeers and marketers, we are too busy torn every which way. Our minds are muddled. We begin to comply with those terrifically organized things that make us a part of a whole. Being a part of a whole, despite sounding comforting, serves to make each of us slower as a group than any part individually.

We become pitted one against the other, at least in this modern age of commercialism. Buy this and be that and you will be happy. Buy more and be more. How does this serve anybody? This serves only to remove the image we hold deep inside and puts us in a state that shows not what we are but what others think we are, or should be.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Higher Laws Part 2

I would define Higher Laws as something that can never be written down, reread by others in authority or teachers. Higher Laws cannot be spread over the whole populace as an unifying theory. Your Higher Laws and mine can never be the same. Like me, you must obey the laws that govern you.

In this modern world of legal ordinances and societal regulations, we all know that the laws of men do protect us as a whole. We know that we must not steal, we must not murder, we must not imbibe in all those things legal or illegal and then drive a stole tank through the streets of Los Angels. I do not find the higher laws of the artist or the writer to be in direct opposition to the laws or morals of modern society. Rather than complementary, the laws of the system the laws of the artist are both parallel and perpendicular.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Higher Laws

The sun came through that famous brown cloud one bright November morning. Lit like it was, complete with the soundtrack of suburban commuters in individual cars, the wash of the morning was at once peaceful and depressing. The dirt worn asphalt seemed like it was a century old, and neglected nearly as long. The errant weeds of summer were dry and in their spiny grasp were the wrappers of fear and consumption: cigarette boxes and butts, beer cans and soda bottles, the waxy wrappers of fast food burgers and tacos. In each car, hermetically sealed from the outside world, animals that resembled human beings moved along this road, insular and cellular.

At the base of it, there seems to be an order. People wake up alone or in small families inside individually wrapped houses. There, they turn on any number of electronic media screens and get the news of the world. The news seems to give off a little more than events, it seems to give off a little of xenophobic fear which can easily be quenched with the purchase of any number of things, mostly data packages, big cars or small pills. Then, when the morning sermon finishes, it's time to seal up in a vehicle and move off, alone, to an institution.

One the bright November morning in question, along that route in the suburbs, there seems to be nothing more than the task at hand: getting from one place to the other. This is the appropriate time, this is the mandate. This is the system: get up and go, get to work and make money and pay it all out to tax, to utilities, to all the things the media said you need. These are the unwritten laws than govern the system. We all know this, some of us minimize it, some of us fight it and some of us glorify it.