“Who gets up early to discover the moment light begins?
Who finds us here circling, bewildered, like atoms?
Who comes to a spring thirsty
and sees the moon reflected in it?
Who, like Jacob, blind with grief and age,
smells the shirt of his son and can see again?
Who lets a bucket down
and brings up a flowing prophet?
Or like Moses goes for fire
and finds what burns inside the sunrise?
Jesus slips into a house to escape enemies,
and opens a door to the other world.
Solomon cuts open a fish, and there’s a gold ring.
Omar storms in to kill the prophet
and leaves with blessings.
Chase a deer and end up everywhere!
An oyster opens his mouth to swallow one drop.
Now there’s a pearl.
A vagrant wanders empty ruins
Suddenly he’s wealthy.
But don’t be satisfied with stories,
how things have gone with others.
Unfold your own myth,
without complicated explanation,
so everyone will understand the passage,
We have opened you.
Start walking towards Shams.
Your legs will get heavy and tired.
Then comes a moment of feeling the wings you’ve grown,
Jelaluddin Rumi (translated by Coleman Barks)
Michael Meade says that inside stories are stored those important things that people keep forgetting. What stories do our lives tell that remind others of things they are forgetting, or remind us of what we may have forgotten ourselves.
As the stories of our lives unfold, what tales are important to us? What touches us, what reminds us that we are more than what we see in the mirror, more than the thoughts running around inside us. As we live out the arc of our own history, some fables in the form of music, poetry, novels, plays, or films I think link us to something deeper. What these stories are, are a clue to that deeper reality – and a clue to what drives us to express and explore and act in this world as we cycle through it. What drives us to unfold our own myth, as Rumi suggests.
The following are a few films that tell stories that touch me. I tend to feel my way through ideas. If the movie has a story or a metaphor that reaches me emotionally, then I tend to embrace it without necessarily being able to explain it. (The double edged sword of being wired as an INFP). These stories are my own clues to the mystery of my life, I suppose. Why they make me feel so deeply is not as important as the fact that they do.
This first clip is from ‘Heaven’ based on a screenplay co-written by the late Polish director Krzysztof Kieślowski. Originally intended to be the first part of a trilogy based on Dante’s The Divine Comedy, this production was directed by the German director, Tom Tykwer – one of my favorite filmmakers who took on the project after Kieslowski’s death. The film incorporates and intertwines themes of guilt, redemption, synchronicity, love and fate.
Cloud Atlas, based on the book by David Mitchell, was co-directed by Tykwer and the Wachowski siblings. It layers six different stories in six different eras with characters that it suggests are part of a mosaic that are connected with each other throughout their respective histories. Can your actions have repurcussions into the future, into a future incarnation? Karma, reincarnation, facets of the soul, The Jewel Net of Indra, synchronicities and the question of whether time is linear or cyclical are the creative concepts this film tries to explore.
Gravity, the masterwork directed by Alfonso Cuaron is about a woman adrift in space separated from the earth and separated from the gift of her life she had abandoned. A marvel of technical achievement that also asks if we have the fortitude after living in the safety of the womb to venture out into the dangers and challenges that life brings. The idea of death and rebirth, the power of our sacred animal natures, the raw heart of our courage – are all called into question. This is a must see.
These films are a few of my personal favorites. If you haven’t seen them and are intrigued by the clips shown here, perhaps you will give them a try.
A brief remix of part of a presentation by Charles Eisenstein at a recent TedX conference
“Our hearts know that a more beautiful world is possible; but our minds do not know how it’s possible”.
The full (20 min) presentation is below
(h/t Matt Cardin)
Having been recently reminded of the recordings of Clarissa Pinkola Estes (C.P.E. for short) with Sounds True (thanks symbolreader and dreamrly), I began revisiting the first part of her Mother Night series, called Walking in Two Worlds. She spends this episode discussing, what Toni Wolff called, the medial nature – the ability to walk in two worlds, to see and draw sustenance from the hidden world, the world of the soul or psyche and to navigate through one’s contemporary life with the hidden world close at hand.
She reviews several mythological tales and personalities, drawing our attention to their significance as a reality that exists within each of us – as aspects of our own medial nature. One such character is Tiresias, the blind hermaphroditic seer found in Greek Mythology. She describes Tiresias as one who though blind has the ability to ‘see’, and whose gift is a way of cutting through BS and getting to the heart of the matter. This is a crucial aspect within us, she says – a part of ourselves that will not mince words even though our heart or our sense of the future may be blinded to the truth. The fact that Tiresias is both male and female, C.P.E. says, also can open up our ability to see beyond gender, to observe others without judgement, to step into another’s shoes with understanding and compassion – to see beyond all of our differences – gender, race, culture, etc.
She suggests using ‘practices’ as a way of strengthening our connection with these aspects of our medial nature. While not defining what form a practice can take, she does offer some guidelines. By practice she is not referring to a repetitious way of learning a new skill or habit. Rather she uses the Spanish word ‘declamaciones’, which she defines as a way to sing or to speak aloud in order to remain close to or to remember something. Here the relationship to stay close to is this feeling of the sacred within. She also suggests that this practice is not the repetition of a phrase like a mantra in order to arrive at a calm center. Rather it is having the intent to find yourself in the center of fire and excitement. A characteristic of the medial nature she says is one of fire, charisma, passion – what excites the soul.
A blind seer who can be either male or female, is but one aspect of the medial nature within each of us. Tiresias’ story as one who can see beyond appearances is a healthy reminder to me as I tend too easily to get lost in the day to day illusion that I am only who I appear to be in the mirror. The ubiquitous influence of the dominant culture would have us all become cookie-cutter identities diminishing our ability to live in two worlds, or at least forgetting that we are able to do so and in fact must do so if we are to live as an alternate culture in one that is dead and dying. C.P.E.’s Mother Night series is a great tool to discover or be reacquainted with that deeper mystery of who we really are. I’m grateful to be listening to this series again.
If you want to hear more about the Mother Night series – Myths, Stories, and Teachings for Learning to See in the Dark, it is available through Sounds True.
Charlotte du Cann in writing about the most recent and last of its kind Uncivilization festival, touches on ideas that echo inside me, touching something that longs for the same level of purposefulness. I do not want to follow in her footsteps but her story as someone who walked away and found an old/new way to be in this world is like a beacon. She is a way-shower. Her words are like a battle-cry, to those who attended and to those of us excited by the possibility of navigating in the dark. She speaks of writers here but I also take it to mean any creative expression. The following are brief excerpts (Bold emphases mine)
“To navigate the wild world, and to navigate the realms of the imagination means you can’t stay in the tight blinkered form society has trained you to live in. You need to break out and move in all directions in space and time: up into the realm of sky, into the underworld, from the left to the right hemisphere of the brain, back into the past, forward into the future. Writers learn by their art to make these shifts. They know it is not enough to experience phenomena, what you see in the dark has to be brought into the light and articulated, grounded in our everyday lives. That’s the work. It is our function as creative beings to give words to everything we see.”
“Writers bridge time by placing events in a circle, rather than a straight line. That’s when you realise, whatever you are doing now has happened before and it’s time to make your liberating move. Time and transformation are the deep mysteries of the earth, which is why the Empire hates the changing nature of the breathing planet, and all who follow its wild contours. It wants to keep its ancient timeless grip on life.”
“What is the fabric that holds us together and yet does not bind us?
…Mostly it’s a culture at a crossroads, caught in a paradox: because it knows nothing in its reasoning mind, and yet knows everything in its heart and bones and sinews, of how things need to be. Knows that at this point not to give your gift, your words, your song, your presence in the space, feels like a betrayal. A culture that does not disappear into its mind or become mute in the face of everything falling apart, including the story of the person you once were. A culture that puts itself on the line and does not go to sleep, though the lullaby of Empire entices us to forget ourselves at every turn“.
“That’s how a network works. It is invisibly connected through the powerful memory of the heart. Everything we experienced is within us, as we inch our way down the mountain, feeling the unknown territory with our bare feet, the roughness of the stone in our hands, moonbeams spiralling through the trees. That’s what I came to say: a people who see in the dark are a people on their way home.”
“I’m not sure I told you around the fire when I was dancing, when I was running from place to place, when I was standing outside in the rain, watching your faces, sitting beside you at that stream, but I can say it now. Now I’m not rehearsing.”
“The story starts at the end of everything.”
Read the rest of her amazing post here
“Dear Mr. Watterson is a documentary film about the greatest comic strip in the history of the universe: Calvin & Hobbes.” IN THEATERS November 15th! http://www.dearmrwatterson.com
Read more about this artist and his tribute to Bill Watterson HERE
(All photos by Paul Caponigro)
“I think the first step is the realization that each of us has [a calling]. And then we must look back over our lives and look at some of the accidents and curiosities and oddities and troubles and sicknesses and begin to see more in those things than we saw before. It raises questions, so that when peculiar little accidents happen, you ask whether there is something else at work in your life. It doesn’t necessarily have to involve an out-of-body experience during surgery, or the sort of high-level magic that the new age hopes to press on us. It’s more a sensitivity, such as a person living in a tribal culture would have: the concept that there are other forces at work. A more reverential way of living.” – James Hillman
Hillman in The Soul’s Code fleshes out the idea of the acorn theory or acorn myth. This is the idea that each of us has within us the kernel of a calling, a gift, a way of being that grows into maturity much like an acorn grows into an oak. It is an effort to explain what drives each of us to live the lives we feel compelled to live beyond the deterministic boundaries of genetics or social conditioning. In his book he gives examples of how this can be seen in the lives of several well known public figures like Judy Garland or Martin Scorcese.
Paul Caponigro, who would become an accomplished musician and photographer, as a child began to exhibit clues as to what this ‘calling’ would look like for him. Caponigro – “My father’s brother was a pianist. And so when we went to visit the relatives, I could not wait until Dad brought us to Uncle Jimmy’s. And he’d open the door and greet us, and I would run right through his legs – I was quite small – and sit at the piano, knowing he would play eventually. And so I’d wait until he played. I couldn’t wait to hear it, you know, because the piano meant something. This is age 3, 4, 5, thereabouts. I knew there was something in the piano for me.”
Sometimes a mentor appears, as in the story of the Hero’s Journey, to help guide or to give one tools so that you will succeed on your mission. Sometimes this mentor is a parent. Many times it is a teacher, as Hillman recounts in the lives of James Baldwin or Truman Capote. Caponigro remembers one man who noticed his latent talent. Regarding his parents,”They were very hard-working peasant types. And it was more [of] keeping a family together and making a living. There wasn’t enough time and space for them to look a little bit deeper, you know. It just was a major outer structure they were trying to keep together. And they did a fabulous job. They took care of us. They gave us love. They gave us a house to live in. You know, I mean, they really did well. But the subtler things of seeing a little deeper, that was seen by Arthur Gavin, who lived across the street with the principal of the high school. They eventually married. He was the art director for that city, the city of Revere. And he caught on that there was something going on with me. And he would feed me paper and colored crayons and pencils and inks and, you know, tell me to have a good time. And he’d do it in front of my mother, who didn’t understand what was going on, wouldn’t have seen that I had an artistic nature, and that it was supposed to have an outlet. So he caught on that there was something going on, and he tried to help my artistic nature.”
This inner calling can sometimes be so strong that it can filter out other responsibilities. What society deems successful can, to this calling, be seen as a failure (or vice versa), or at the least a major conflict. Caponigro – “I was poking around the photo supply stores, and I’d look in the shop windows. I’d go in and just look at things…in those early years, I was not interested in school. I did not want to do the work…I…could not wait for the bell to ring to dismiss us, and I would head out, not go home but go straight to the ocean, which was very close by, or the woods, and hang out there and listen to the birds and watch the waves come in and pick up shells. At an early age, I realized nature was my teacher. I didn’t want all the reading and arithmetic. I couldn’t give it my interest. So nature was really my teacher all through school, up to must have been the eighth grade. At which point I remember coming back from one of my forays to the sea – – – I remember coming back from being in nature, picking up some shells, get some stones. And I was passing right through the school yard where I was going to school, on the football field. And I was stopped dead with a realization: I had to get a camera and photograph this stuff that I see out there in nature…”
Caponigro discovered that his emotional reaction to certain kinds of music or to what he saw in nature was going to be his guide. “[It is] as if the cosmos itself arranged that I would not be a good student in school…in order that the emotional realm that I worked with would flourish and develop…I saw it as a gift that I did not do well in school… in that the excessive intellectual activity subdued my emotional activity. I saw that my emotional activity could get fed and would function quite easily, and was very perceptive that my emotions would do the perceiving. When that happened and I got information, I always felt confident about what that information was…”
At one point he became aware of who he was and what he wanted to do. “In the same way that I got this burst that said, get a camera and photograph what you’re seeing and what you’re working with…In the same way – it was at the age of 11 or thereabouts – I was walking the streets alone. Came from the center of town to go home. And I remember exactly the corner that I turned to get up the street. And again, this burst of something came in and said, oh, my God. I’m an artist. I recognized that I was an artist. And I had a double kind of whammy which said, what a wonderful thing and what a responsibility, the two of them simultaneously. I go, wow. What am I going to do with this? I’m an artist.”
So the choice becomes a question of what is this life going to look like. How does one honor the gift one has been given. How do you stay true to the calling. Caponigro – “So it didn’t take too long for me to realize, no. You know, I don’t want to go through what these concert pianists go through. Sure, I’d love to play at Carnegie Hall, and I’d love to thrill a big audience, and that would all be great. And to this day, I could still think of doing that. But I realized that that turning of the corner when I was 11 years old and saying, my God, I’m an artist, and the other half that said, it’s a responsibility, not merely a joy, and that part really was connected to the idea that art was a sacred act. It wasn’t until I had studied more and more of the Egyptian art and early ancient works in the museums, and certain of the modern pieces that you could tell were permeated with a man’s soul and real being – it wasn’t until then that I thought, my God, yes. This is – this could be a man’s religion. It did not have to be the organized religion of those structures and burning candles and incense and the rituals and the ceremonies. This could be a path to sacred experience.”
“Alice Walker: Beauty In Truth is a feature documentary film which tells the compelling story of an extraordinary woman’s journey from her birth in a paper-thin shack in cotton fields of Putnam County, Georgia to her recognition as a key writer of the 20th Century.”
“Alice Walker made history as the first black woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for her groundbreaking novel, The Color Purple, which has been transformed from a novel, to a Hollywood movie and latterly to a successful Broadway musical. This universal story of triumph against all odds is not that different from Walker’s own story.”
“Born in 1944, eighth child of sharecroppers, her early life unfolded in the midst of violent racism and poverty during some of the most turbulent years of profound social and political changes in North American history. Alice Walker’s inspiring journey is also a story of a country and a people at the fault line of historical changes.”
“Alice Walker: Beauty In Truth offers audiences a penetrating look at the life and art of an artist, a self-confessed renegade and human rights activist. In 2010, Yoko Ono honored Walker with the LennonOno Peace Award, for her ongoing humanitarian work.”
“On Sunday 10 March 2013 Women of the World Festival held the exclusive world premiere, in London, for ‘Alice Walker: Beauty In Truth’, a feature documentary film by Pratibha Parmar about the life and art of the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of ‘The Color Purple.’ The screening took place in the prestigious Queen Elizabeth Hall at the Southbank Centre.”
“In a triumphant and memorable evening 1,800 people roared and applauded in two sold out screenings.”
“After the screening, Mariella Frostrup was in conversation with Alice Walker and Pratibha Parmar.”
We Are Never Without Help
©2013 by Alice Walker
We are never without help.
Look for it always
to surprise you.
There is no end to the joy
just as there is no end
Those who give their lives
for truth and bread
for the triumphant
flash of a vivid
even as they
or whose last notice
is of a simple daisy
in a corner
a drying lawn
have never taken
A Poem for Celia Sanchez
March 27, 2013
Jerry Uelsmann is an idol of mine. I had the chance to hear him speak and present some of his work about 10 years ago. I found him to be personally engaging and delightful while mesmerizing the audience with images of his work. Some have called his work surrealist. There is definitely a connection to the world of the unconscious and the dreamworld.
He is a master craftsman and his image construction is amazing considering that he did all of this pre-Photoshop. This work is the result of hours in the darkroom using a series of enlargers to create the composite imagery.
I had the pleasure of being at another presentation of his work a couple of years ago, this time accompanied by his wife, Maggie Taylor, an artist of comparable talent and depth. Combined they create startling images that, although different, touch on similar themes that could be found in any Jungian library dealing with the dream world.
While Uelsmann uses the darkroom to create his work, Taylor relies on the computer, using a flat bed scanner and Photoshop to create her colorful portraits.
Below is a link to a website that has a 90 minute documentary on this artistic couple along with over an hour of bonus material showing them discussing their techniques and the processes they use to create such striking images. It is a subscription site so there is a fee involved if you want to watch. If not, then please enjoy the 2 minute trailer linked to below to get a taste of what is offered.
Dark transformation: a scene from the Handspring Puppet Company’s production of Ted Hughes’ Crow. Photo by Simon Annand
Jay Griffiths is a wondrous writer. In this essay she weaves in and around in 3D linking her healing trip to the Amazon seeking relief from suicidal depression to the shamanic power of poets and artists, all the while referring to the dark transformation that so many have undergone. It is rich with historical and cultural reference and a reminder of where we have come from and to what we are still connected to.
She writes, “During one ceremony in the Amazon, I had the sensation that one of the shamans had sent his soul out to find mine. Although I was lost in the dark forest of depression, suddenly he was there, in a bright clear pool, healing and sunlit. Shamans use the term ‘soul-loss’, not an expression I had heard before, but exactly what I felt the moment mine was found. A good healer of any kind can find people who are lost in the forests of the mind.”
She continues, “Halfway through his journey in life and lost in a dark forest, Dante began his poem-path. By naming his lostness to his readers, they, if they are lost themselves, may feel understood — found — by him. Artists send their soul out into the world in a parabola, thrown from the heart of solitude so that in the arc of its return it can comprehend and speak to the loneliness and separateness of other minds. A book, as Franz Kafka said, must be an ice axe to break the sea frozen inside us.”
“The shamans I visited used a metaphor common in the Amazon: you have been struck by arrows, they said, poisonous darts designed to kill the spirit. It was a perfect metaphor for what I — like so many artists — had experienced. And, they said, they could suck them out of my mind. So, like powerful dramaturges, they dramatised the metaphor, embodied its meaning, staging the powerful sense of cure, sucking the poison out of my head. It made me well.”
“Placebo effect, a cynic may might say. Absolutely. The word has its roots in ‘pleasing’, and good medicine like good art should please in order to heal: the placebo’s success is evidence for the power of metaphoric medicine to heal mind. ‘My project,’ says the magus Prospero in The Tempest, is ‘to please’. In the Amazon the shamans sang songs over me called icaros, half-whistled, half-voiced, half-heard, half-imagined: exquisite Ariel music, in themselves mind-medicine, curative music sung by these curanderos.”
Read her entire essay here – Forests of the Mind
A movement began in the middle of the 20th century with a couple of brothers, Tom and Bill Dorrance (pictured here with Ray Hunt). Considered the founders of a new way of working with horses, called Natural Horsemanship, they promoted an alternative to what had been the traditional way of ‘breaking’, training and molding a horse to the rider’s will. Instead they used a more gentle approach using the natural intelligence of the animal. Tom Dorrance said, “The thing you are trying to help the horse do is to use his own mind. You are trying to present something and then let him figure out how to get there.” Some folks referred to them as horse whisperers. In a 1999 obituary in the New York times for Bill Torrance, Verlyn Klinkenborg wrote, “There is no such thing as a horse whisperer. There never has been and never will be. The idea is an affront to the horse. You can talk and listen to horses all you want, and what you will learn, if you pay close attention, is that they live on open ground way beyond language and that language, no matter how you characterize it, is a poor trope for what horses understand about themselves and about humans. You need to practice only three things, patience, observation and humility” In her eulogy she said of Bill, “He was one of a handful of men, including his brother Tom, who in separate ways have helped redefine relations between the horse and the human. Bill Dorrance saw that subtlety was nearly always a more effective tool than force, but he realized that subtlety was a hard tool to exercise if you believe, as most people do, that you are superior to the horse. There was no dominance in the way Dorrance rode, or in what he taught, only partnership.”
A few years later after Tom’s passing, Terry Church remembered his kindness not just to the horse but to the people he mentored. “Learning has to come from the inside of a person, same as it does for the horse.”, Tom said. It was that self-reliance that he waited for in each of us, regardless of the hours, days or years that it took to finally happen” “...each of us has the power, the ability to take the journey from our place of ignorance toward being a little more aware, a little more respectful of the spirit in all things. In this way, each of us continues Tom’s legacy, whether or not we were one of the ones fortunate enough to have worked with him. Our daily progress, no matter how small, is our gift – and our proof that we have not really lost the one who may have helped us realize it to begin with.”
In the 1960’s Ray Hunt became a student of Tom’s and continued the work until his death in 2009. His reputation grew as someone who could take an out of control horse and work with it until it was safe for kids to ride. He eventually was in such demand that he started doing clinics across the country. His work helped to popularize the Natural Horsemanship concept.
Which brings us to the present day and perhaps the most widely known practitioner of what the Dorrance brothers started, Buck Brannaman. Brannaman studied under Hunt for a number of years until he began his own series of clinics.
He was one of the primary individuals who inspired the character of “Tom Booker” in the Nicholas Evans novel The Horse Whisperer, and was the lead equine consultant for the film of the same name. Though the book itself was a work of fiction, Evans himself said:
- “Others have falsely claimed to be the inspiration for Tom Booker in The Horse Whisperer. The one who truly inspired me was Buck Brannaman. His skill, understanding and his gentle, loving heart have parted the clouds for countless troubled creatures. Buck is the Zen master of the horse world.”
The publicity from the book and movie, along with Brannaman’s approach to treating troubled horses and troubled humans with equal doses of compassion, has helped promote other fields such as therapeutic horseback riding. In that context, Brannaman has noted, “Horses are incredibly forgiving. They fill in places we’re not capable of filling ourselves. They’ve given people a new hope, a new lease on life. A horse really wants to please you, to get along.”
A documentary about his life and work was released in 2011.
A related movement that has emerged out of this new relationship with the horse is called The Equine Assisted Therapy Program. One such organization that uses this approach is called Eagala.Their philosophy and rationale for using horses in a therapeutic setting is explained like this:
“Naturally intimidating to many, horses are large and powerful. This creates a natural opportunity for some to overcome fear and develop confidence. Working alongside a horse, in spite of those fears, creates confidence and provides wonderful insight when dealing with other intimidating and challenging situations in life.
Like humans, horses are social animals, with defined roles within their herds. They would rather be with their peers. They have distinct personalities, attitudes and moods; an approach that works with one horse won’t necessarily work with another. At times, they seem stubborn and defiant. They like to have fun. In other words, horses provide vast opportunities for metaphorical learning, an effective technique when working with even the most challenging individuals or groups.
Most importantly, horses mirror human body language. Many complain, “This horse is stubborn. That horse doesn’t like me,” etc. The lesson is that if they change themselves, the horses respond differently. Horses are honest, which makes them especially powerful messengers.”
Eagala has members scattered across the globe, marrying therapeutic work with horses with the needs of the local population. One such member is Connections, founded by Andrea Baldwin and serving areas of the northern Arizona community.
Andrea Baldwin and friend
Connections Equine Therapy Program, through its partnership with horses, helps at-risk and disabled children, teens and adults cope with challenges and grow stronger physically and emotionally. They have also started a new program to assist veterans and their families as these men and women return from the circumstances of modern warfare with all of the heightened stresses that result from being in that environment.
Connections is but one example of a variety of therapeutic activity happening under the umbrella of Equine Therapy.
This new therapeutic relationship between horses and humans is the legacy of two brothers who discovered and taught others the value of perceiving a fellow creature as one who deserved to be treated as an equal, with kindness and not cruelty. The repercussions will continue to be felt as we discover that we may have more in common with our fellow four legged travelers (and other creatures) than we ever thought we did.
Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet
My last two posts have been about walking meditation:
I thought it would be appropriate to end this particular series on walking mediation with the “Zen poetry,” so to speak, of my heart teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh. There are so many dharma teachers I love and appreciate, in every single school of Buddhism, but I’ve never had any teacher speak to my heart the way Thây does.
Thây (his students’ affectionate name for him) is a wonderful poet, and his poetic way with words is always reflected in how he talks about and explains Buddhism. I think that’s why his books and teachings have proven so accessible to so many people, whether or not they are Buddhists. He speaks to all our hearts; he speaks to the very heart of humanity with total compassion and wisdom…
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“I think we’re miserable partly because we have only one god, and that’s economics. Economics is a slave-driver. No one has free time; no one has any leisure. The whole culture is under terrible pressure and fraught with worry. It’s hard to get out of that box. That’s the dominant situation all over the world.” – James Hillman in response to this question – – – “Goethe…remarked that our greatest happiness lies in practicing a talent that we were meant to use. Are we so miserable, as a culture, because we’re dissociated from our inborn talents, our soul’s code?”
“We have a seeded self that begins to germinate at birth. Our true goal in life is to become that self.
There’s an African proverb: “When death finds you, may it find you alive.” Alive means living your own damn life, not the life that your parents wanted, or the life some cultural group or political party wanted, but the life that your own soul wants to live. That’s the way to evaluate whether you are an authentic person or not.
Spirit in mythology and traditional cosmology is connected to fire and air, and it rises. Soul is connected to water and earth, and it descends. When we rise with spirit, we get peak experiences and those overviews of life that include moments of freedom. Soul goes the opposite way. Water runs down. The earth has gravity and pulls us to it. The soul wants us to grow down and become deep like a river. When people talk about “connection,” they’re really talking about soul. The real connections are not surface connections. You can have many friends on Facebook, but your real friends are those who know and support your deep self and will remind you when you’re losing touch with your own soul.
What is often missing in modern mass culture is this depth of connection. When you see a culture dividing into simplistic polarities — which is all of our politics nowadays and most of our religion — what’s going on is a loss of soul. People who are in touch with their soul know what they’re supposed to be doing in the world and what their way of contributing to life is, in the same way that people know what music they love and what food they enjoy — not just life-sustaining food, but food that has flavor, that makes you feel nourished, even inspired.
The U.S. has become mired in spiritual materialism. People are substituting material accomplishments or possessions for the things the soul loves, such as music and meaningful speech. The soul even loves suffering when the suffering produces realization. In a mass effort to find superficial comforts and avoid suffering, the whole culture has lost soul.” – Michael Meade
My friend Lee introduced me to Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds awhile back. I didn’t pay much attention to them until Matt Cardin mentioned him in his ‘A Course in Demonic Creativity’ (which I will be referring to more as these posts continue) and in particular this episode.
Once upon a time Nick was nominated for an MTV music award and his response continues to inspire me and make me sit up and pay attention. I was reminded of this again today when I discovered this clip of a mesmerizing performance at this years Glastonbury festival.
Here is his letter to MTV with regards to the nomination,
“TO ALL THOSE AT MTV,
I WOULD LIKE TO START BY THANKING YOU ALL FOR THE SUPPORT YOU HAVE GIVEN ME OVER RECENT YEARS AND I AM BOTH GRATEFUL AND FLATTERED BY THE NOMINATIONS THAT I HAVE RECEIVED FOR BEST MALE ARTIST. THE AIR PLAY GIVEN TO BOTH THE KYLIE MINOGUE AND P. J. HARVEY DUETS FROM MY LATEST ALBUM MURDER BALLADS HAS NOT GONE UNNOTICED AND HAS BEEN GREATLY APPRECIATED. SO AGAIN MY SINCERE THANKS.
HAVING SAID THAT, I FEEL THAT IT’S NECESSARY FOR ME TO REQUEST THAT MY NOMINATION FOR BEST MALE ARTIST BE WITHDRAWN AND FURTHERMORE ANY AWARDS OR NOMINATIONS FOR SUCH AWARDS THAT MAY ARISE IN LATER YEARS BE PRESENTED TO THOSE WHO FEEL MORE COMFORTABLE WITH THE COMPETITIVE NATURE OF THESE AWARD CEREMONIES. I MYSELF, DO NOT. I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN OF THE OPINION THAT MY MUSIC IS UNIQUE AND INDIVIDUAL AND EXISTS BEYOND THE REALMS INHABITED BY THOSE WHO WOULD REDUCE THINGS TO MERE MEASURING. I AM IN COMPETITION WITH NO-ONE.
MY RELATIONSHIP WITH MY MUSE IS A DELICATE ONE AT THE BEST OF TIMES AND I FEEL THAT IT IS MY DUTY TO PROTECT HER FROM INFLUENCES THAT MAY OFFEND HER FRAGILE NATURE.
SHE COMES TO ME WITH THE GIFT OF SONG AND IN RETURN I TREAT HER WITH THE RESPECT I FEEL SHE DESERVES – IN THIS CASE THIS MEANS NOT SUBJECTING HER TO THE INDIGNITIES OF JUDGEMENT AND COMPETITION. MY MUSE IS NOT A HORSE AND I AM IN NO HORSE RACE AND IF INDEED SHE WAS, STILL I WOULD NOT HARNESS HER TO THIS TUMBREL – THIS BLOODY CART OF SEVERED HEADS AND GLITTERING PRIZES. MY MUSE MAY SPOOK! MAY BOLT! MAY ABANDON ME COMPLETELY!
SO ONCE AGAIN, TO THE PEOPLE AT MTV, I APPRECIATE THE ZEAL AND ENERGY THAT WAS PUT BEHIND MY LAST RECORD, I TRULY DO AND SAY THANK YOU AND AGAIN I SAY THANK YOU BUT NO…NO THANK YOU.
YOURS SINCERELY, NICK CAVE 21 OCT 96.”
“I’m transforming, I’m vibrating, I’m glowing
I’m flying, look at me
I’m flying, look at me now”
“Beauty Is Embarrassing chronicles the vaulted highs and the crushing lows of a commercial artist struggling to find peace and balance between his work and his art. Acting as his own narrator, Wayne guides us through his life using moments from his latest creation: a hilarious, biographical one-man show. The pieces are drawn from performances at venues in Tennessee, New York and Los Angeles including the famous Roseland Ballroom and the Largo Theater.
Whether he’s parading a twenty foot tall puppet through the Tennessee hillside, romping around the Hollywood Hills dressed in his LBJ puppet suit, relaxing in his studio pickin’ his banjo, or watching his children grow up much too soon, Wayne White always seems to have a youthful grin and a desperate drive to create art and objects. It is an infectious quality that will inspire everyone to find their pleasure in life and pursue it at all costs.
At its core, Beauty Is Embarrassing is a reminder that we should all follow our passion. It is those creative impulses that will lead us to where we need to go.”
Martha Graham – According to Agnes de Mille:
” The greatest thing she ever said to me was in 1943 after the opening of Oklahoma!, when I suddenly had unexpected, flamboyant success for a work I thought was only fairly good, after years of neglect for work I thought was fine. I was bewildered and worried that my entire scale of values was untrustworthy. I talked to Martha. I remember the conversation well. It was in a Schrafft’s restaurant over a soda. I confessed that I had a burning desire to be excellent, but no faith that I could be. Martha said to me, very quietly: “There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. … No artist is pleased. [There is] no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.”