Friday, November 27, 2009

"Silence is the Holy Wilderness."

from Max Picard's wonderful book

"It seems sometimes as though it might come to a fight
between silence and noise; as if silence were secretly
preparing for an invasion."

"The child cannot place by another word
the word it has brought with difficulty
out of the silence; it cannot put a pronoun
in place of a noun. For each word is there
as it were for the first time, and what is there
for the first time, what is quite new, naturally
has no wish to be replaced by something else."

"Silence is like one of the organs of the human face."

"A child never speaks of itself as 'I', but it
always says its name: 'Andrew wants ... '
The child would think it were disappearing
if it were to replace its own name by a pronoun--
its own name that has just come out of the silence
with the word and is there as it were for the first
time ever."

"Silence listens to itself when the mouth is speaking."

"Words no longer arise from silence today
but from other words, from the noise of other words."

"Man today is without sleep because he is without
silence. In sleep a man returns with the silence
that is in him back into the great silence of the
universe. But man lacks the silence today which
used to lead him back into the great silence
of the universe. Sleep today is only a tiredness
caused by noise, a reaction to the noise. It has
ceased to be a world of its own."

"Perhaps silence is not dead, but merely sleeping,

(Reminder: Invite more silence into my life.)

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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Agnes Martin: With My Back to the World.

This is a wonderful woman and painter I had never known
of before watching a documentary on her on Sundance.
I recommend it with all my heart if you have a chance to see
it & if you have any connection to art & matters of the spirit.

I think I like the woman more than her paintings (which
are grid works mainly, simple, geometric, but with a
hand-made child-like touch). Watching the documentary
led me to allow her paintings to tune into me because
they were made by her & because of the way she
talks about them & how they come to be & what they
mean to her. (I actually applied her ideas on horizontal
planes while I was suffering in a dentist's chair the
other day. It allowed me to meditate the discomfort away,
distribute it along the mental plane through my tooth!)

She is often painting as she talks & answers the filmmaker's
questions. She speaks in the most simple way, sometimes with
an almost awkward childlikeness, but the content is so
surprising & radical, extreme. She speaks such a personal truth,
but it is true for me, too, when I listen from my purest
spiritual & artistic aspiration. I fear that some things
she says, in print, will seem arrogant. But in the documentary,
listening to this simple old woman in all her gentle halting
humility, I let in what she says in a way I never would if
she were aggressive in any way.

There's no real way I can convey the quietly powerful impact
of the documentary, but it was one of those introductions to
an important person I will long remember. She gives me courage
to follow my path. Here are some of the things she said:

"I don't believe in influence, unless it's you, yourself,
following your own track."

"I have never painted a grid that had squares,
because a square is sort of harsh & aggressive,
but a rectangle is more relaxed. The square is like
some people that you meet, the over confident & aggressive.
The rectangle is softer, more agreeable."

"The underside of the leaf,
cool in shadow,
sublimely unemphatic,
smiling of innocence.
The frailest stems
quiver in light,
bend and break in silence.
This poem, like the paintings,
is not really about nature.
It is not what is seen.
It is what is known forever in the mind."

"It doesn't matter where I work,
New York, New Mexico, anyplace, it's all the same.
The environment doesn't have any impact on my work,
because I don't paint nature, or this life, I mean,
on earth. (laughs)
It took me 20 years to paint what I wanted.
I didn't like the paintings.
They weren't what I wanted.
I didn't show em, I didn't sell em, for 20 years.
I had to work at something else, you know.
But finally I got the grid, and it was what I wanted.
Completely abstract, absolutely no hint
of any cause in this world."

"There's two parts of the mind.
The intellect--the servant of ego.
It does all the conquering, and all that sort of thing. (laughs)
The intellect is a struggle with facts.
The scientists, they discover a fact, and then
they discover another fact, that's related.
They make a deduction from all these facts.
Well, in my opinion, that is just guesswork,
and so completely inaccurate.
You're certainly never gonna find out the truth about life, (laughs)
guessing about facts.
I gave up facts entirely,
in order to have an empty mind.
For inspiration to come into, if your mind is full of garbage,
if an inspiration came,
you wouldn't recognize it anyway.
So you have to practice a quiet, empty mind.
I gave up the intellectual entirely.
I had a hard time giving up evolution (laughs)
and the atomic theory (laughs),
but I managed it. So, I don't believe in either one.
And I never have any ideas,
I'm very careful not to have any ideas
because they're inaccurate."

"You have to paint by inspiration.
For something new, you have to have inspiration.
Somebody's got to sit down & really want it.
That's all you have to do.
You don't have to make any effort.
Just not change your mind or anything.
I think that everybody should know what they want,
because life is built on it.
Say that you wanted to fly.
You sat down and you just really wanted to fly.
See, that's what the Wright brothers did.
It gradually came into their mind to make an airplane.
What came into their mind, that's inspiration.
I think that the aim of people is wrong,
and education, all this about ambition,
striving forward.
You know, I believe in sitting around waiting for inspiration.
I think that all aggressive behavior is wrong.
You go out and attack things,
like an army attacking.
I think aggression has to be given up entirely.
All this hard fast life, go go go, drive.
I'm absolutely convinced that with a soft attitude,
that you receive more.
The red is not dark enough
so I'm just going to darken it."

"You can see that I'm a pretty speedy painter.
You have to be in this climate. It's a very dry climate."

"It's very hard to quiet your mind.
You have to go slower and slower,
and then stop.
Then your mind is at rest.
And then you have to not try hard.
The best is when I was looking for the truth.
I found out the best way is just look around,
you don't see anything (laughs).
You have to be in the mood for the truth.
It's a happy state of mind,
very small happiness.
You stay alert.
You don't see anything,
but you don't have to,
you just stay alert and then it comes into your mind,
what to do.
You say, 'What can I do?'
and then you wait.
And sometimes you have to wait a long time
for an answer, and for an inspiration.
One time I went five months without,
I had to wait five months for an inspiration.
I almost died off (laughs).
You can tell people who live by inspiration.
They say, "I'll have to sleep on it,"
some kind of decision.
When you go to sleep, your intellect goes to sleep,
and your mind is clear."

"You look at the sky and it's perfect,
and then you look further and it's beautiful.
You enter into it and all that.
Beauty illustrates happiness.
The wind in the grass,
you know how happy the grass looks.
And the shining waves following each other.
The blue sky is a different kind of happiness,
the dark night another.
There are an infinite number of kinds of happiness.
All illustrated by beauty.
When you look around, you see it on all sides."

"I can see humility, delicate and white.
It is satisfying, just by itself.
And trust, absolute trust, a gift, a precious gift.
I would rather think of humility
than anything else.
Humility, the beautiful daughter.
She cannot do either right or wrong,
She does not do anything.
All of her ways are empty.
Infinitely light and delicate,
she treads an even path.
Sweet, smiling, uninterrupted, free."

"I've read all the spiritual stuff.
I have my own.
It's just an everyday experience."

I have to stop. I could write the whole thing down.

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The Verbs of Richard Ford.

Reading Richard Ford's novel A Piece of My Heart.
I've been awakened by his verbs, in different ways,
sometimes just for their uniqueness, sometimes for what
they're doing in the whole sentence.
Here's a sample:

"He let the truck idle, watching the door as if he were waiting for the woman and the girl to come boiling out like bloodhounds."

The wildcat "gurgled at a sinew and pawed it with his front feet, stretching it backward until it snapped."

"The rooster perched on a low branch and studied the raccoons curiously, as if he couldn't understand anything about them."

"The little girl looked up when she heard the screen slap...."

"She bridged her neck..." (During sex--meaning she bent her head back and caused her neck to arch up bridge-like.)

"A.M. or P.M.?" she yelled, but the words got slammed in the door."

"She retired to her elbows."

"He graveled his chin in the pillow and tried to figure that out."

"'I'm tired of talking,'" she said, watching her hand tour around in his trousers as if it were after something that wouldn't keep still."

"Up the Sierras the rain was pulling apart, opening gaps to daylight."

"The car reached the end of the road, turned back into the desert, and the music floated away."

"...He could hear the ducks squabbling and conniving a hundred yards farther in the deep water."

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Friday, November 13, 2009

Off ramp

Today people
are on the freeway even when
theyre standing still even when
theyre doing nothing even when
theyre sleeping

Get off
right here

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Saturday, November 7, 2009

When you see a lanky little pony running

alongside his great mother across the canyon, flying
shadows, lifting dust, drumming hooves, manes
whipping in the sun, you know everything
that your knowing will never know
in this world or any other,
and always only wonder, that your blood, brain,
skin, flesh, forearms, neckbones, toes,
ears, feet, nostrils, muscles,
hair, heart & lungs millions of years old
and running still, will ever understand.

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Monday, November 2, 2009

Does My Soul Have a Surprised Face? (in progress)

Does My Soul Have a Surprised Face?

If it doesn't, then OK.
But if it does, what if
it's different than my face?
What if it's completely unfamiliar
& I look in a mirror & am surprised?

If your mind is messed up in the morning,
say something out loud.
Mine was, so I did.
I was surprised at how much more together I sounded
in my voice than I felt in my mind.
I was reading something where
I thought my name would be mentioned,
& it wasn't, & I felt angry,
or my name did.
I didn't want to be angry, too,
so I said, "That's all right"
out loud & went, "Wow"
at how much more assured, calm & wise
I sounded in my voice than I felt
in my mind.

If it has one,
a lot of people might
want the face they have to be
the face of their soul.
A lot might not.
I won't be happy forever
if I don't care for the face of my soul
unless I got used to it or forgot it
or came to like it.
The thing about forever is,
you can't be certain the way
you think or feel about something
will be big enough & strong enough
to fill that long of a period of time,

At any time, you could say
"That's all right"
& be surprised at the face
of your words, of your voice.

Does my soul have a voice?
If so

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