Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Swoon


It may very well be the sort of psychological distortion that occurs in a perfectly explicable, neuro-scientific way—that process can give meaning to some people. I don’t' like to generalize too much, but it seems that 'scientifically' oriented people—who place a great deal of uncritical faith in the conceptual foundations of science—are suited to their own explanations.

I envy them this surety, even while they scoff at me and my philosophy.

A case in point. There is A Certain Place I had not been frequenting. Not because the coffee wasn't good. Not because of the ambiance or other patronage and certainly not because of the staff… well, that's not entirely true. Through no fault of his own, one of the baristas there served as an unwitting locus of my own associative engine and concomitant romantic stupidity. In short, the sight of Andrew's smile alone could conjure continents of a life together that simply wasn't.

To whit, I am sure a neuroscientist could explain the entire chemical process—since I am only machine—but that doesn't help me with any meaning, which Andrew's smile seemed to suggest in an orgy of aesthetic detail.

When I found out he was dating someone it came as relief. I felt free of the possibility of love. Not asking me out because he is dating someone is acceptable, I thought. I realized that my conclusion of him not asking me out because I am older and unattractive to him had become a wearisome burden.

Today—making sure he wasn't there—I went in. I chatted with another fellow, who, I realize is an equal to Andrew in terms of… what I fancy. And then some. Somehow, the daily trivia question fell to books. I am terrible with things like statistics and sports, but fiction I am good with, but today the question was something about Jonathan Franzen so I was left in the dark.

"You should have something else. May I make a suggestion?" I said. The day was slow, so we could chat.
"Certainly, what would you put down?' Carlos asked.
"'Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buenida remembered'... what…? "
"that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice. " Carlos replied. 
My heart did not skip. It fell flat on its face and then slid off the mountain. My head was dizzy and I swelled tight in certain places… a phrase I stumble over not from prudery but from long absence of such feelings.

Andrew had never said anything like that.

It will be a relief when neuroscience can explain why the vast timescapes of dream can occur within mere seconds. The first dates, sharing the fried squid in Chinatown, the confession of deep regrets and the validation that life continues in ways we couldn't understand even yesterday and how the hair grew on his knee because it is bare in the morning and the sheets are crisp blue linen, and which of us would die first in old age when this fire was a pleasant memory if not already lost in oblivion. In short, the dream of life.

From one line of Marquez. But...

Dear Gods, read it if you haven't already.*
How could I be sure? It is a lovely dream. But my life feels more like One Hundred Years of Solitude. The poetic irony of the title, my fantasy, my conversation, Carlos, his dark hair and eyes that reflected more than the grey sun of Seattle—it jumbles together suggesting meaning.

But the meaning is like a cat that does not want to be picked up. I am making a novel, a dream of something that doesn't exist. This one line of Marquez, as suggestive as it seems, may not mean anything.

I breathe easier (the flow of hormones and transmitters are subsiding, but still offering no meaning), take my coffee and sit down.

And there is that other man again. A slightly younger guy who lives near me, or must. He is sitting over there, wearing headphones and is intently listening to music on his phone. He has a magazine about salmon fishing. I've seen him here before. From a distance, I used to confused him with Andrew, but this guy is shorter, more furtive. He drinks drip coffee too, and glances at me. There is a hint of smile. He seems perfectly nice, which is of course a problem.

I stew on this a while, and get lost in composing this post. Maybe neuroscience will allow me to take some sort of exorbitantly priced pharmaceutical that will allow me to fall in love with the right man. Even feel a sense of meaning. Perhaps.

*cover art from One Hundred Years of Solitude copyright Harper Collins, provided here as a link to the book's Indiebound page.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

The Shadow Well: Unleashed

Cover artwork for The Shadow Well
Hagengard Studio is proud to announce that The Shadow Well is now available for purchase.

Composed of thirty-three narrative aspects, in words and images, The Shadow Well is a sensuous journey through blindness and regret, music and magic.

Beginning with a girl who buys a new pair of eyes at The Carnival, and through to a birthday party when she is much older, The Shadow Well gracefully touches on the moments of life’s insight that can only be understood in the clarity and obscurity of dream. Friends and enemies appear and irrevocable decisions are made, revealing that dream, memory, and waking life are but three facets of our manifold existence.

Each page of text has an accompanying illustration, or each drawing has an accompanying page of text… the reader is free to choose which aspect to linger over and the order in which the scenes are read. The result, we hope is a sumptuous dream that you can return to at your leisure and desire.

This edition also contains the illustrated fabulist story “Let Me Fly Away;” where another heroine must find her way to sovereignty in the world in which she truly belongs.

Find it on the Indie Bookshelf at:
 or order online at Amazon.

More locations to come! 




Monday, March 6, 2017

The Approach

Wherein Ada is running toward the pole vaulting bar
Whether one believes in free will or destiny, in the fluidity of the world or absolute unchanging truth, one has a choice before her. She may look around, and decide “this is where I am” or simply find herself there. Most often it is that wide and vague frontier between the two poles that leaves deeper questioning a circuitous journey around the track of thought.

And so at some time—let us not quibble over when—I began. I knew where I was going and I could either run toward it with my eyes open, with courage and strength, or I could wander aimlessly until I was thrown over.

Stripped down to essentials, I started.

Bauhaus Coffee—where less is more—reminded me of that today. Upon a time, it was a place on Capitol Hill—and therefore it was a time when I was younger. The portrait of Walter Gropius has moved there, just as much of my hair is still black. Yet of all places, Ballard—once the proverbial home of the elderly——is now the new home of Bauhaus Coffee and there I am reminded of how much gray has seeped into my life.
I was the oldest woman, probably the oldest person there.

I could have hunched like a curmudgeon over my cappuccino and given in to the easy allure of resentment. I could have made an appointment on my smart phone for a microblading session so that my eyebrows would match those around me. Perhaps I would take a selfie later with Walter in the background looking on while I took a long swim in That River In Egypt.

But I lift what wisdom I have and run toward the bar.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Ephemera Forever


A rare surprise began when I slept. It rarely snows here in February, much less late February.

It is a place where snow rests in precarious positions. The rain comes swiftly, mixing with the snow itself to slush the road. A patch will remain here and there, sheltered by a wall, a tree, or the turn of the sun at this point, late in February. 

“This snow” is the phrase I use to touch the snow with part of my mind. Another part, the part which sees something very similar to the illustration above, simply experiences that. But here, in words on this page or screen, I am attempting to touch the snow. Which is only metaphorical.

And also problematic once the weather begins to warm and the snow changes to rain which it almost invariably does here. Snow, like many of our ideas, is a conglomerate. “This snow” is nearby to me and “that snow” may have occurred last month or last year. We consider it in singular form because of its sensory natures although English does use snow in plural form from time to time, which is the key to the matter.

The snow is made of flakes, proverbial in their unique natures. The snow upon that branch is a picture in my mind. My mind blurs the flakes into a unity, a dream, a thing of beauty. But it is greater than the sum of its parts. This phrase becomes better with age and snow as is the recognition that I too may be snow. 

I think of my lover's face in the pale light of the morning. Or is it the grayscapes of bluing shadow left in the pillow after he has risen? The snow has similar features, not only in the blank fabric of thought, but in the fact I find a certain timelessness in the pillow and the frozen water.  

In the moment of first sight, a new world irrupts into my dream and I don't think of my lover returning or never returning. The ache of longing is not there. Not yet. So it is with the melting of the snow.

The difference in the ephemera we all are is duration which is naturally relative and impossible to define categorically. When you really stop and think about it.

Should I stop to think about it? Is the metaphor something else? As soon as it becomes these sounds in my head or these abstract symbols you are reading, the metaphor creates itself from the residua of the former world—the past, in other words.

In the warm sheets, or upon the cold branches I find that words are part of my world as well, and do nothing to diminish the beauty of the morning.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

March

The cherry blossom is aloof and impersonal. It grows among many and does not care if one or a thousand bees settle upon it.

When spring dissolved into drops of white memories, for a moment, I saw no blind and unrelenting Will. There was only beauty: a contract between myself, a cherry tree, and time.

Behind us, steel tore apart a home, those homes: where people lived, had sex, died, were born perhaps. They were told that because they were not rich, in spite of having lived here all their lives, they did not deserve to have a view. Someone else should. And pay someone even richer for that privilege.

The tree and house are gone.

The speakers and proponents call this "change" in the forum of the shallow, the heartless and the greedy. It is described like a flood or wildfire. Natural. Meant to be. How dare they usurp the dignity of natural mutability for a few years of worrying about the money they do not need.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Fairies on Ferries: Commuting

While sunset is her favorite time, Elise also likes it's opposite: dawn. On brisk mornings, when the fog clears away on the sound, but lingers over the Kitsap Peninsula, you can sometimes see her flying out to meet the Kaleetan to pick up a shift.

Happy Birthday, Arthur

Arthur Schopenhauer: Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain
In my younger years I got a bachelor's degree in Philosophy. While the school I went to was (at the time) very analytic in its culture, I was allowed a great degree of freedom to study continental philosophy: mostly because I speak and read German very well, and Germany dominated continental philosophy from the 18th Century up through the 20th.

This means I got to know Arthur Schopenhauer fairly well. I will not go too much into his philosophy here, because regurgitation is something I find boring to do and read. 

I had issues with Arthur during my undergrad years because of his rather nasty attitudes toward women. It took me a long time to realize through the lens of Nietzsche (himself a misogynist) as to how emotional damage and prejudices can infiltrate even the most rational of thought systems.

For example:
“The fundamental defect of the female character is a lack of a sense of justice. This originates first and foremost in their want of rationality and capacity for reflexion but it is strengthened by the fact that, as the weaker sex, they are driven to rely not on force but on cunning: hence their instinctive subtlety and their ineradicable tendency to tell lies: for, as nature has equipped the lion with claws and teeth, the elephant with tusks, the wild boar with fangs, the bull with horns and the cuttlefish with ink, so it has equipped woman with the power of dissimulation as her means of attack and defence, and has transformed into this gift all the strength it has bestowed on man in the form of physical strength and the power of reasoning.” 
Charming, eh? As so often with angry men, there is a lot more, but I will stop there. No wonder he died alone, never married and was frustrated in his dealings with women all his life? Perhaps he hated only Hegel more.

As I got older, I realized that while wrong-headed, he did have one amazing insight buried in all that vitriol. "as the weaker sex, they are driven to rely not on force but on cunning"

Poor Arthur hated women so much he never really applied his own Principle(s) of Sufficient Reason to question why women were "the weaker" sex, but the insight into how someone deprived of power is despised for her survival tactics struck a chord.

Today, Schopenhauer's bleakly pessimistic (yet very Buddhist-friendly)  philosophy strikes similar harmonic chords in me: that we are all driven by the false alignments of desire and the representations we create that render us incapable of satisfaction and happiness, leading to Blind Irrational Will doing what it does best.

I think it's useful to consider Vorstellung here. It is in the title of his best known work Die Welt als Will und Vorstellung. It is the "presentation" of the world to us. Put-before-us is a way of translating it. It is what our sensory apparatus and minds are constantly doing. It's why it's so easy to create illusions. As an idea, it's really an ancient one, but neuroscience is finally learning how to explain the old wisdom.

But really, in the above passage, it's the idea of power that grew and blossomed. Follow it from Ida Wells, and through de Beauvoir up through to contemporary thinkers such as Crenshaw, and it is more important than ever, especially when we consider resentment as a complicated, manifold power relationship between people.

I am not saying these thinkers were influenced by Schopenhauer directly. Such precise genealogy is not in my interest or purview. Consider it more of a zeitgeist that has been growing.

I wonder:

In this day, would Arthur have been a callow little troll? An angry yet intelligent, sexually frustrated white man hiding behind the Internet with personal issues that are inextricably bound up with the culture he lives in and its definitions of gender, success and worth?  Would he have sought the solace of an automatic weapon to take revenge?

More importantly, could he have overcome all of this and let it go as the core of his philosophy suggests?

I like to think of him as the eccentric, but essentially peaceful man who lives in the same building that I do. We need to say hello. Perhaps talk about his poodle or something at Cal Anderson park and start the long respectful path to understanding one another in this irrational world.

I have no answers, only the suggestion that you read  more and consider it yourselves.



For a good place to start… Feminist Perspectives on Power: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.