Grief in Happiness and Happiness in Grief

Grief in Happiness by Maria L. Berg 2022

Exploring the Big 5 abstractions is proving an interesting challenge. Turning my attention to happiness, I found some interesting websites:

Happiness Academy

World Happiness Foundation

happiness.com

https://www.dayofhappiness.net/

https://happinessday.org/ outlines 10 steps to Global Happiness:

  1. Tell everyone
  2. Do what makes you happy
  3. Give and spread happiness to others
  4. Attend a world happiness event
  5. Celebrate
  6. Share what makes you happy on social media
  7. Promote UN Resolutions 65/309 & 66/281
  8. Advance the United Nations global goals for sustainable development
  9. Enjoy nature
  10. Adopt Happytalism

They define global happiness this way:

  1. Happiness as a fundamental human right and goal for all
  2. Happiness as a universal aspiration in the lives of all
  3. Happiness as a way of living, being, and serving communities and society
  4. Happiness as a north star for individuals, communities, governments, and society.
  5. Happiness path toward achieving the sustainable development goals
  6. Happiness as a “new paradigm’ for human development
  7. Worldwide celebration of the international day of happiness that is democratic, diverse, organic, and inclusive

Of course, none of those definitions actually define happiness which I contemplated a bit in my previous post Oh, What Two Little Letters Can Do.

Happiness in Grief by Maria L. Berg 2022

Turns out last week was “International Happiness at Work Week.” Does that mean people are expected to be in a steady-state of unhappiness at work except for one week a year? Here is the International Week of Happiness at Work “manifesto”:

And here’s the “manifesto” from Happiness Academy:

And here’s an article about happiness as work Happiness As a key Performance Indicator from Forbes.com.

Agony as Outburst by Maria L. Berg

Good Grief

So now that we know nothing new about Happiness, I tried to explore the grief in happiness and the happiness in grief which made me think of the phrase “good grief.” I looked it up expecting some fantastic story of how grief can be good, but instead only learned that the word grief was used in replacement of the word God—because it started with the letter g—to create a mild oath. So that also didn’t get me much of anywhere.

I didn’t think I was going to find inspiration this week until I sat down with a line from the poem “On Good and Evil” by Kahlil Gibran. The line that really stuck with me is “For what is evil but good tortured by its own hunger and thirst?” I started thinking of how grief is torture. Then I thought of the line as a form and wrote, “What is grief but happiness tortured by loss and regret? What is happiness but grief minus torture?”

I felt like I was finally getting somewhere and did a dictionary deep-dive. In the definition of grief it said to see Sorrow. Anguish also said to see Sorrow, so a deep distress, sadness, or regret especially for the loss of someone of something loved links grief and anguish. The definition of torture links anguish and agony. At agony, I found what I was looking for.

Agony is defined as intense pain of mind or body: anguish, torture. b. the struggle that precedes death. Since every moment from birth is the struggle that precedes death, that puts us all in a constant state of agony and thus grief. However, agony has another meaning: a strong sudden display (as of joy or delight): Outburst. Thus, through some circular definitions, I have found the happiness in grief.

But what is the grief in happiness? Thinking specifically of the happiness I find in this work. Visually, is it the obsessive desire for ever increasing beauty and perfection? In a way, each new discovery and technique though it is exciting and makes me happy, also brings grief because I can’t lose what I don’t have, and I don’t grieve what I am ignorant of. In this way a discovery is grief in happiness AND happiness in grief.

New Poem

Today is Open Link Night (OLN #324) at dVerse Poets Pub.

A couple weeks ago in my post How to Capture the Love in Apathy and the Apathy in Love, I mentioned I found a treasure of Home Ec Magazines from the early 1960’s. I’ve been going through them, and this week I collected phrases from three Vogue Pattern Books and a McCall’s Pattern Fashions. Whoever was writing for VPB was a poet (I couldn’t find a writer listed in the Staff). The language used to describe one outfit at a time was very creative, and I found so many interesting phrases that when taken out of context are rich with meaning. For today’s poem, I used some of this found language to help me express my ideas of grief in happiness and happiness in grief.

what’s RIGHT right NOW!

Here—along
my struggle that precedes death
I hunger for kaleidoscope coloring
and thirst for firm but fluid texture
aching for the shape that expresses
most perfectly

And now, further along
my struggle that precedes death
I agonize with possible discovery
the ecstasy of expected but unknown result
exhausting abundance for a glimpse of beauty

And now, continuing
my struggle that precedes death
I hunger for stronger solid colors harmonizing
and thirst for an incendiary force
aching for the evolutionary change
for anything that is not changing
isn’t alive.


Do Our Ideas About Beauty and Ugliness Change When We Close Our Eyes?

Do You Hear What I Hear? by Maria L. Berg 2022

This morning I did a search for “the ugliness in beauty” and found a couple of really interesting articles:

The Biological Response to Beauty and Ugliness in Art [Excerpt] by Eric Kandel 2012 from Scientific American

Experiences of Ugliness in Nature and Urban environments by Fatima M. Felisberti from International Association of Empirical Aesthetics

The first, by Nobel Prize winner Eric Kandel is an excerpt from his book called The Age of Insight. The study of art through neuroscience excites me so much, I ordered the book and it arrives on Sunday. Hopefully, it will inspire for a long time to come, so you will be hearing a lot about it. Guess we’ll find out on Sunday. For today, I want to share what I found most exciting from the Scientific American article.

“Beauty does not occupy a different area of the brain than ugliness. Both are part of a continuum representing the values the brain attributes to them, and both are encoded by relative changes in activity in the same areas of the brain. This is consistent with the idea that positive and negative emotions lie on a continuum and call on the same neural circuitry.”

This physiological connection between contradictory abstract nouns is really exciting. I wonder if this has only been studied through visual stimuli.

Yesterday I started thinking about how visual definitions of beauty and ugliness are, so today I wanted to focus on the other senses. Though beauty and ugliness are particular to the person perceiving the stimulus, are there consistencies within an individual across the senses? If someone perceives a beautiful smell, do they also find the stimulus visually beautiful? If she finds a texture uncomfortable or painful, does she find the stimulus ugly, and vice versa?

New Poem

For today’s Meeting the Bar: Critique and Craft prompt at dVerse Poets Pub, Laura Bloomsbury invites us to write in couplets. She introduces the prompt speaking of marriage which I think goes well with the physiological marriage of contradictory abstractions as laid out in Eric Kandel’s article above. I haven’t tried the Côte form before, so I thought I would give it a try.

A Movement that Married Right and Left

Become,
a fevered dreambook brimming

Survive,
a wooded area secreting

Discuss,
absolute wilderness loving

include,
visions of annihilation

predict,
variations of our ruination

until,
a poisoned well is flowing

Produce,
divided people by labeling

Attract,
all within orbits spinning

Cover,
the shadowy trails leading away

This poem was a culmination of many ideas I was playing with this week. First, a friend mentioned working on bringing meter into my free verse. Then I watched a ModPo discussion of Lorine Niedecker’s work that talked about how the she didn’t use strict meter, but created meter like bars of music. And I started reading The ABC’s of Reading by Ezra pound in which he writes:

“music begins to atrophy when it departs too far from the dance; that poetry begins to atrophy when it gets too far from music: but this must not be taken as implying that all good music is dance music or all poetry lyric.”

So I looked at some piano music I enjoyed playing and listened to some records. Rêverie by Debussy worked with the Côte form in my mind.

At the beginning of the week, while contemplating how to look at the beauty in ugliness and the ugliness in beauty, I thought about how society and culture define physical beauty and ugliness which made be think of a stack of Playboys that were left in this house before I moved in.

I thought about the joke that men always say, “I only read it for the articles” and thought it would be interesting to use Playboy articles for blackout poetry about ugliness in beauty and beauty in ugliness.

The magazines are from 2002, so they are strange little time machines to twenty years ago. I chose the imperative verbs from words in an article called “The Death of Network News” by Bill O’Reilly and the couplets were inspired by phrases from “Virtual Reich” by Michael Reynolds.

The Ugliness in Beauty and the Beauty in Ugliness

I thought about continuing last week’s study of love and apathy, there is so much to think about and explore, but I decided I’ll let that simmer as I continue through my planned overview of the big five. This week I’m looking at the ugliness in beauty and the beauty in ugliness.

Remember back in January when I was going to put a word on the world every day? Like this: A fish-eye lens view of the lake and sky with the word "WONDER" in orange floating in the clouds.

Probably not, like many of my exciting ideas, it didn’t last long before I moved on to the next exciting idea. However, yesterday, while pondering this week’s contradictory abstractions and how to capture the ugliness in beauty and the beauty in ugliness, I remembered these words, and found Beauty in the box of plastic filters. When I was originally putting words on the world, I used my fisheye lens which won’t work with bokeh. This time, I tried my zoom lens and got the result I wanted.

Five textured light circles with the word Beauty written in cursive in their centers.
Full of Beauty by Maria L. Berg 2022

I can’t believe it took me this long to try this. I looked back at January’s posts and found a comment in my post Unlocking New Doors that seems to say that I tried it, but it didn’t work, but I think I was focused on the fisheye lens and trying to make the fisheye work with the zoom lens, so I could increase its distance. At the time, I wasn’t thinking of the words themselves as shape filters.

I think it took reading The Last Vispo, becoming interested in text and type as visual poetry, and my more recent discovery of the negatives of my filters also making great filters (which I talk about in my post Thinking About August) to finally realize that I can combine my word filters with my shape filters.

So, of course, I had to make one that said “Ugly,” and took some pictures.

Pretty Ugly by Maria L. Berg 2022

New Poem

For today’s Poetics at dVerse Poets Pub, Merril invites us to spice things up by choosing a few spices from her list. I recently picked and dried (baked) my own herbs to refill my Italian Seasoning container. The process was aromatic and the result, delicious.

In Search of a Spicy Muralist

A Mural Of Flavor—
blankness redefined
What palette do you offer?
What shapes to delight
this mind?

Ginger, first to answer
with fire atip her tongue
wisps Arizona Dreaming
in acrid cactus tones
but when pressed for any detail
she feels pricked and leaves for home

Basil was a little green
but did not shy from leafing out
He proposed a Tuscany Sunset
and all that it’s about
but when asked for some specifics
of what that would entail,
he curled up inside himself just like
a little snail

I thought about the mustard seed
and how it grew and grew
how it was tiny but then spread out
and how I could do that too
So I made a mark
then many more
and filled the blank
with every flavor
and some that had never been before
here for everyone to savor

How to Capture the Love in Apathy and the Apathy in Love

Foundations for ME-ECO-CHANGE by Maria L. Berg 2022

Contradictory Abstract Nouns

Since I finished studying Calvino’s Six Memos, I had to decide which contradictory abstract nouns to dive into this week. I printed out an extensive list of abstract nouns and started thinking about grouping them to narrow down the list. I went back to Feurbach’s list of “Legitimate Aspirations” that I talked about in my post “The Beauty of Dissonance.” Since I had four colors of highlighter and a pen, I decided to attempt to group the list into the Big 5: beauty, happiness, wisdom, love, and truth. This was a fun, and challenging exercise. Many of the words fit into most, if not all of the categories.

When I had finished, I realized that it made sense to begin with the big 5, like an overview. The interesting challenge came when I thought about their contradictory abstract nouns. Here are the first five contradictory abstract nouns I’ll be looking at which I started this week:

  • love and apathy
  • beauty and ugliness
  • happiness and grief
  • wisdom and naivete
  • truth and fiction

If you have been following this study of contradictory abstractions, you may remember the writing tip that inspired me: “Find the despair in hope, and the hope in despair,” which you can read about in my post, “Contrasting Abstractions: The next phase in my study.

Applying that idea to this week’s study, I am looking for the apathy in love, and the love in apathy. That’s a difficult one to wrap my head around, but I’ll give it a go.

The other day when I was pulling out some fabric to change the sleeves on the pool noodles, I found a box of treasures I had completely forgotten about. It contained “Vogue Pattern Book” and “Penny’s Fashion and Fabrics” magazines from the early 1960’s. I absolutely love these pages full of information about the newest fabrics and other wonderful home-ec goodies like “Good Grooming For Young Men: the Why and How” and “A new approach to Table Setting.” It’s hard to believe I had forgotten I had them. This made me think of the two contradictory sayings (proverbs):

  • Out of sight, out of mind
  • Absence makes the heart grow fonder

So is the first one the apathy in love, and the second the love in apathy. Was the answer to my query hanging out in a box in my closet? If so, it’s probably hanging out in many boxes in many closets.

Continuing my idea of quilting, or knitting with light, I thought I would print some of my grid-images onto transparencies, and see if I could make some fun blackout poems with my found, re-treasured magazines.

Bold Odor by Maria L. Berg 2022

New Poem

Today is Open Link (#223) at dVerse Poets Pub, so I thought I would use a couple of today’s images to inspire my poem.

Her Head by Maria L. Berg 2022
Their Head

It all began on the ski slope
                        10 years ago
what yarns weave excitement
                  with a skier's move
It's all been shaped
            better fitting, taut, sleek
to spring back
                   tendency to "cling"
this not-too-flat construction
                    flattering, beautiful
a feature being exploited
              influencing the popular
and filling the stretch
                  all a result of texture
to permit cutters
          It's interesting lengthwise
and still be comfortable
                  shaped to resemble 
being made with function
                                a memory
unnecessary lock
                     divided into two
His Head by Maria L. Berg 2022

Looking Forward to October

Readers Imbibing Peril (RIP) I’m starting this reading challenge late again, but earlier than usual. I’m going to start with the short stories in The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories edited by Jeff and Ann VanderMeer and see where it inspires me to go from there.

Tourmaline .’s 2022 Halloween Challenge I found so much inspiration from this photography challenge last year. The calendar is up:

It looks similar to last year, so it will be interesting to see how my study of contradictory abstractions, and new techniques change my approach to these prompts.

#Writober 7 This year I’m going to return to the original idea of #Writober which is to write a flash fiction story each day. Click on the link to see the thirty-one images I have in this year’s collection. I may do some revision and numbering before October first, but they look pretty inspiring. I hope some of you will join me this year.

Calvino’s Sixth: The unwritten memo – consistency

A Consistent Inconsistency by Maria L. Berg

This week completes my study of Italo Calvino’s Six Memos for the Next Millennium. Calvino died before writing this final lecture in his series on values of literature. So I get to extrapolate from the other memos and imagine his ideas of consistency as a literary value.

I found Andrei Codrescu’s attempt to do just that: On Consistency: Italo Calvino’s Sixth Memo.

AND

In her article “Calvino’s Values in Literature” in The Journal of Educational Thought Vol. 24, No. 3A, Marylou Miner presents her belief that the sixth memo would explore harmonious structure explored in a musical sense. She also presents the image of consistency to be a circle or a wave.

Let’s start with the word “consistency.” It has two different meanings that could each be a value of literature:

  • a degree of density, firmness, viscosity, etc: the condition of cohering or holding together and retaining form; solidity or firmness

OR

  • steadfast adherence to the same principles, course, form, etc.: agreement, harmony, or compatibility, especially correspondence or uniformity among the parts of a complex thing

I had only been thinking of consistency in the latter definition before I looked it up. Now, I’m thinking of the viscosity of my images and the density of my images.

Yesterday I tried to explore consistency through staying in one place and only creating shapes with the light on the waves. I wasn’t excited with the results, but the practice with a focus on consistency led to exciting results today.

Using Marylou Miner’s ideas for forms, I pulled out all of my circular, spiral, and wavy filters and found some fun ideas for improvement.

An Inconsistent Consistency by Maria L. Berg 2022

ModPo

This is also the first week of ModPo, a free online introduction to modern and contemporary U.S. poetry offered year round through the Kelly Writers House at the University of Pennsylvania and Coursera.org. It is also a yearly ten-week symposium for poetry lovers. If you haven’t tried it, I highly recommend it. I attended my first “office hours” session today and really enjoyed the discussion. The first live webcast to kick off this year’s symposium is Sept. 7 (tomorrow at noon) at 3PM Philadelphia time.

New Poem

For today’s Poetics prompt at dVerse Poets Pub, Mish challenges us to play with some unusual words.

In my aliferous dormiveglia

empyrean orenda arrives as
reflections upon late summer leaves, as
gleams in glittering eyes, as
glints upon the waves, pushing me
to querencia—a timeless space, an
ephemeral place—where
I am sustained by isolophilia.

My logolepsy borders on the obscene
in this foggy pause
as I wake from the dream.

Multiplicity: the dot that becomes a universe

Bursting by Maria L. Berg 2022

Let’s continue to explore that smallest thing–the dot, the pixel, the eye mote, the speck of dust, the atom, the cell–that when multiplied “spreads out, encompassing ever vaster horizons, and would end by embracing the entire universe. (Calvino)”

In an old set of geometry tools, I found two compasses: one regular with a point on one end and a place for a pencil on the other, and one with two pointed ends. I’m not exactly sure what this tool was made for, but I find it is perfect for puncturing interesting dot designs in paper filters.

Pointy Compass

Inspired by the white details in Georgiana Houghton’s paintings (found in the great book World Receivers) and the intricate moving dots in James Whitney’s films Yantra (1957) and Lapis (1966) and the pixels in his brother John Whitney’s film Permutations (1968), I created several filters of dot patterns, and some of random dots.

Jeremejevite by Maria L. Berg 2022
Secret Writing by Maria L. Berg 2022

New Poem

It’s Open Link Night (OLN #322) at dVerse Poets Pub which means anything goes, so I thought I would try a new inspirational tool/form I came up with inspired by Calvino’s “scheme of the network of possibilities” and my net lights.

Here’s my quick sketch of my “net of possibilities” (which I apparently called the net of connections yesterday):

I recently pulled out a bunch of stuff left over from the puzzle company. I found many card-stock labels from the small puzzles with pictures of the artwork on them. I cut these images into circles, cutting slightly different sections from the image for three circles of each image. Then I put all the circles in a bag, and pulled them out without looking and placed them in my net. Here is my net of possibilities now:

Each image can inspire in so many different ways and on multiple levels:

  • subject
  • setting
  • time
  • color
  • texture
  • metaphor / simile
  • sensory detail
  • a word
  • a phrase

And then the net creates connections between the images, and repetitions of images could inspire word or phrase repetition, or other rhythm. I’m exited to see where this goes.

The Net of Connections I.

In the deep shadows under the metal erection
ballerinas spring in sprightly toile, swirling
pastel dots like the spots of spring colors
bouncing off the structure and filling the sky
through a cubist’s window, its shutters
removed to create a unicorn enclosure
in a hotbed of literature where every
captured unicorn sees the world as a jumble
of cubes–inanimate, sleeping, lying upon and around–
while the men of metal erect towers–monuments to
their masculine powers that birds will break
their bills on–while underneath, somewhere
in the shadows, curling and coiling like golden scales
of dragon tails, and ebbing and flowing like the tides,
the ballerinas echo the shapes like a bridge over
a lily pond, the spring flowers floating in patterns
only understood in the abstract, and the mighty
dancers set sail to new worlds like viking conquerors
while the sleepers sleep
the metal erection stands.

Mr. Kitty working on his poem (or not helping)

Calvino’s 5th Memo: Multiplicity – The finite in the infinite and the infinite in the finite

Knitting Light by Maria L. Berg 2022

“Literature remains alive only if we set ourselves immeasurable goals, far beyond all hope of achievement. Only if poets and writers set themselves tasks that no one else dares imagine will literature continue to have a function. . . . the grand challenge for literature is to be capable of weaving together the various branches of knowledge, the various ‘codes,’ into a manifold and multifaceted vision of the world.” ~Italo Calvino

So here we are in the final days of August and the last completed memo (lecture) from Calvino’s Six Memos for the Next Millennium. Though the contradictory abstractions aren’t as clearly stated in this lecture as in the first three, I found four to examine this week:

  • The singular in the universal and universal in the singular
  • Connection in isolation and isolation in connection
  • The infinite in the finite and the finite in the infinite
  • freedom in constraint and constraint in freedom (which I looked at before I read Six Memos)

August has been a month of synthesis for me. Everything I’m studying in art and poetry and literature are all working together to inform and inspire. Calvino’s ideas about the least thing being seen as the center of a network of relationships, “multiplying the details so descriptions and digressions become infinite” reminded me of an interview with abstract film maker, John Whitney, whose work I discovered in the fabulous book World Receivers which I highly recommend.

The idea of the dot or pixel as the smallest denominator to line, then shape, then form is not new, but expanding the ideas through all the connections to everything in the universe through eternity is a fascinating thought experiment.

Calvino begins his memo on Multiplicity with a section of writing by Gadda. He says that Gadda represents the world as a knot, a tangled skein of yarn. This got me thinking about the final segment in Whitney’s film “Catalog” that looks like moving elongated loops to me, which makes me think of yarn or thread. So for this week’s images I started by cutting paper “loops” and taping them around a square. The result was really fun. It was like knitting with light.

Light Knots by Maria L. Berg 2022

Fractal Verse

I am reading Feeling as a foreign language: the good strangeness of poetry by Alice Fulton. Her ideas for a form of free verse called “fractal verse” appears to fit Calvino’s definition of the value of multiplicity:

“a literature that has absorbed the taste for mental orderliness and exactitude, the intelligence of poetry but at the same time that of science and of philosophy . . .”

I’ve been interested in fractals for a long time. I even designed a puzzle with pieces that made fractals. So I’m enjoying the idea of searching for fractals in free verse and creating fractal verse. This morning I found a couple more resources to explore fractal verse:

Fractals in Poetry Activity
Fractal Poetry examples

New Poem

Today’s Poetics prompt at dVerse Poets Pub fit perfectly (as often is the case) with this week’s study. Christopher Reilley offered a great post about choice, and challenged us to write a poem about choice. Choice is such a great topic for fractal verse. I couldn’t help but give it a try.

The Multiplicity of Choice

A simple choice        to put pen to paper
to pen a poem        about choice is choice
but a poem is        a multitude        of possibilities
a network of eternal connection
each a choice        each choice made
opens a new dimension of new
possibilities and new choices ahead
each person creating choice-dimensions
every moment        every day
and one choice contingent on another's
creating dimensional portals 
to pet Schrödinger's poor cat
before it chooses to hiss or purr,
lick or scratch        if one arrives
in the box where it's alive
but all of that implies
there is choice        which negates fate
and steals the threads from the Destinies,
runs with their scissors toward
bad cuts and bruises
mistakes and bad choices
How many dimensions have blipped into existence
or popped out of possibility because of this poem?
How many unseen cats clawed out of their boxes
or met their doom        due to word-choice
and white space?
Within the knot of creation, the network of connection,
the web of words that make a poem
there is no easy choice.






			

Visibility: Fantasy in Reality, and Reality in Fantasy

Emerging Pegacorns by Maria L. Berg 2022

This week I’m looking at Italo Calvino’s fourth value of literature: Visibility. After reading the lecture, I still wasn’t sure what he meant by “Visibility,” but after some time with my dictionary, I think I figured it out. Visibility, or visibleness, can mean “conspicuousness” or “conspicuity”–which I like the sound of–which means: Easily discovered, seen, or understood by the eye or mind. This definition fits well with his discussion of the importance of being able to close one’s eyes and visualize vividly. it

His lecture leads to the contradictory abstractions and exciting study for this week: fantasy in reality and reality in fantasy.

When I first started playing with bokeh shape photography, I thought of it as a way to put fantasy into the real world. I cut detailed filters of pegacorns, dragons, mermaids, aliens, and monsters and had them fly among the flowers and over rooftops. But my work has turned toward abstraction and I’m wondering how these fanciful creatures fit into my new reality (and floating studio).

The mermaids liked the floating studio. I had thought I needed to re-cut the filter, but today, I like it.

Mermaids by Maria L. Berg 2022

New Poem

Today at dVerse Poets Pub it is Quadrille Monday. A quadrille is a poem of exactly 44 words and today’s prompt word is “Morning.”

Is Today Fantasy in Reality or Reality in Fantasy?

This direct-to-swimsuit morning arrives sweaty, hot as dragon’s breath,
and hoarding treasure.
Its tentacles reach across the sasquatch-hair grass, coarse and brown
under my feet as I watch
fish jump like mermaids, their ripples sparkling with tiny sun-promises,
each glint a world of possibilities.

Tentacles by Maria L. Berg 2022

The Values of Literature

A bokeh shape image of feathers in house shapes.
Gathered Feathers by Maria L. Berg 2022

Last week I stumbled upon Italo Calvino’s Six Memos for the Next Millennium which are a series of planned lectures about literary values he was working on when he died. He died before he finished writing the sixth. His six values of literature are: Lightness, Quickness, Exactitude, Visibility, Multiplicity, and Consistency.

In each of his lectures he discusses his ideas of the stated value and its opposite which inspired me to use these values as my contradictory abstractions for August and into September.

First, I considered the word value, and its many meanings. When I looked at value at the beginning of this study of abstract nouns in April, I was thinking about value in terms of exchange. Calvino appears to be using the seventh definition for value in my Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary which is “something (as a principal or quality) intrinsically valuable or desirable.

Three pool noodles covered in patterned spandex and tied together in a triangle, creating a cage for six reflection balls floating on a lake.
My Floating Summer Studio by Maria L. Berg 2022

Artistically, what I was desiring was a changeable color palette for my floating photography studio. So I chose some garish spandex I had collected from bargain tables over the years, and sewed colorful skins for my pool noodles. The results were surprisingly subtle, yet interesting.

Colorful Cogs by Maria L. Berg 2022

Calvino’s first value, “Lightness,” he sees as the opposite of “Weight” as in the weight of the world, or gravity of thought. When he discusses lightness as a quality of literature, he describes it as “the sudden agile leap of the poet-philosopher.”

Calvino says that lightness in writing is precision and determination, not vagueness and the haphazard. Then he quotes Paul Valery who said: “Il faut etre leger comme l’oiseau, et non comme la plume” (One should be light like a bird, and not like a feather).

This idea really appealed to me. Where I live, I am constantly surrounded by birds, from tiny hummingbirds and dark-eyed juncos to great blue herons, osprey and bald eagles. The mystery and grace, flight’s sheer defiance of gravity is exciting to watch.

I had already collected some small feathers the neighbor’s cats so kindly left on my porch. so I tried using them as filters.

Feathers on the Mat by Maria L. Berg 2022
A Bird in the Dry Grass by Maria L. Berg 2022

This week I am looking at Calvino’s second value Quickness which he sees as the opposite of Lingering and Digression. Yesterday, to begin my study, I tried a technique I found in Abstract Explorations in Acrylic Painting by Jo Toye. Jo used hot glue to create stencils to create resist patterns in her paintings. Now that I am look at my filters as both positive and negative space, I saw the potential for this technique with my photography. Here’s my first attempt:

Sudden Agile Leaping by Maria L. Berg 2022

What’s fun is it’s similar to something I tried a long time ago with wire:

Wire Lines by Maria L. Berg 2019

Guess it wasn’t that long ago, but it sure seems like a very long time ago. I think the changes in the thickness of line from the glue are much more dynamic.

The reason I chose to try the glue technique this week is because once the glue gun is hot and I’ve cut the basic filter shapes, I can create many different designs with quickness, then linger in all their image possibilities.

New Poem

Today’s Poetics prompt from Merril at dVerse Poets Pub is to write a poem about a restaurant. The example poem by Margaret Atwood “They eat out,” was an odd surprise, opening the prompt to all sorts of possibilities.

Restaurants bring up so many memories fraught with conflicting emotions. I think Lightness and Weight, and Quickness and Lingering can all find their way into a restaurant.

Gathered at Another Steak House

Restless in this restaurant, her eyes rest
on the fake, flickering candles and cloth
carnations, on the bleached tablecloth and
folded cloth napkin swans swimming
in place on gold waves rippling
at the edges of shiny plates waiting
for waiters to replace them with
appetizers, strengthening hunger’s desire.

Tense utensils clang in past and future tense
Tumblers topple, ice tumbling, sliding across
tabletops, and topics are quickly tabled as
secrets spilled splatter saucy and juicy
stains that will never completely come out
and after desserts are devoured
no one lingers to feel sated.

Thinking About August

Last week, as I continued my study of contradictory abstractions, I looked at freedom in constraint and constraint in freedom. Studying opposites inspired me to think about photo negatives and negative space, so I tried putting the sections I cut out to create my filters into their own filters, creating negatives of my filters in a way. The result was exciting.

Man in a Box by Maria L. Berg 2022

My further study of freedom and constraint led me to attempt using flowers considered weeds over a piece of clear plastic, so I wouldn’t get pollen or petals in my lens. Again, to happy results.

Free to be Appreciated by Maria L. Berg 2022

Today’s Poem

The Poetic’s prompt at dVerse Poets Pub was to write a poem about August. I didn’t get the poem done on Tuesday, but it got me thinking. Today, is the Open Link, so I gave it a go.

Here in the Puget Sound we just endured an extensive period of excessive heat (for here), so I’m actually looking forward to a cooler August. Even today, the coolest day in a while, I have the fan going because it’s humid.

One of the things I love about ExperienceWriting is it acts as a record of my work over the years. I looked back at what I was posting in August the last couple years expecting one or two posts, but it appears August is a time of discovery for me. Last year I was working on my first bokeh and poetry video “Pathways.” That feels so long ago. The year before that, I was writing and revising a short story as part of Writers in Motion. If I didn’t have this record of it, I wouldn’t believe it. So what is August deep in my bones? Work, exploration, discovery, and sweat.

Another August

The fan whirs in the window
chopping boat motors
and children screaming
into beads of sweat

suntan lotion coconuts
and pineapples fight
UV rays breaking through
ozone and the odor of scales

working outside in the shade
every break a dive in the lake
and yet somehow I burn and yearn
to create which makes more heat

sweat drips on the page
under my breasts and down
and allergic to myself
I recognize the coming boils

and pain like an anniversary
of a coming storm swirling
a time to reevaluate
wind and water and fire