Poetry Month Challenges Day 28: Xanadu and Xylography

Xanadu Satellites in Xylography by Maria L. Berg 2023

Xanadu & Xylography

Last year I had a lot of fun with Xanadu, the mythical paradise from Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem Kubla Khan, and the muse’s roller-rink in the Olivia Newton John movie. I made a rollerskate filter and attempted a shape poem in the shape of a rollerskater. Today and tomorrow, with this wonderful faux-summer weather and my family coming out to enjoy it, this is my Xanadu, right here where I am. My “stately pleasure-dome” with an ice-cold lake and an awe-inspiring view of Mt. Rainier. I’m so glad I mowed yesterday. So how could xylography be a contradiction to an imagined paradise like Xanadu?

How is xylography even an abstract noun? Xylography is the art of making woodcuts or wood engravings; the art, craft, or process of printing from wooden blocks. You may say, I know what a wood block is: I can touch it, I can see it, I can smell it. Yes, it’s a bit of a stretch to say that xylography is an abstract noun (like Xanadu), but right there in the definition it says it is an art. And what is art? There we have the abstract nature of xylography.

Xylography has a permanence. The image carved into the wood, the relief image left on the surface, can be painted or inked and printed again and again. Xanadu is impermanent, a fantasy, always changing.

Today’s Images

To find the xylography in Xanadu and the Xanadu in Xylography, I found some laser-cut wooden puzzle pieces I designed when we were just starting Artifact Puzzles, and tested one of my puzzles on a thinner wood.

Xylography in Xanadu or Moonman by Maria L. Berg 2023

The Prompts


Today’s prompt is to write an index poem.

Poem A Day

Today’s prompt is a title prompt “You Are (blank).”

The Poem

You Are Xylography of Xanadu

Aggression and apathy, 1
Like a woodblock carving of my dream destination

Beauty and barbarism, 3
slathered in every sparkling color and pressed to every surface

Calm and chaos, 4
everywhere I look, you are art, you are craft, you are the first

Desire and disdain, 5
you endure, changing with each replication, creating

Expression and ego, 6
wonder and surprise with wear and tear

Fear and faithfulness, 7
every chip and ding a new depth, an interpretation

Gossip and graciousness, 8
of time, I remember when I carved you

Honor and helplessness, 10
a simple quarter note on a staff

Idiosyncrasy and integrity, 11
the curved blade slipped and somehow turned

Joy and Justice, 12
like a serpent burying its fang deep into my index

Kindness and knowledge, 13
finger, and the blood, and the pulsing pain

Luck and loss, 14
they are all in that wood block to be printed

Misery and mercy, 15
again and again, in every color not only red

Need and nonsense, 17
my only print was all indigo on brown paper

Opportunity and opportunism, 18
thick and textured like paper towels from school

Pleasure and patience, 19
bathroom dispensers, I’ve never understood carving

Quality and quirk, 20
wood without fear, xylography is not

Reality and romance, 21
the art for me, though lovely

Sadness and satisfaction, 22
perhaps my Xanadu is a land

Thrill and tiredness, 24
where I never carved my finger

Urge and use, 25
and carve you in every relief

Value and vanity, 26
to illustrate every fantasy

Wonder and wisdom, 27
in an ever-changing, ever-growing

Xanadu and xylography, 28
book of life, we share in the calm

Yearning and yield, 29
moments between

Zeal and zealousness, 30

Poetry Month Challenges Day 27: Wonder and Wisdom

Wonder in Wisdom by Maria L. Berg 2023

Wonder & Wisdom

Encyclopedia.com says wonder is “a state of mind excited by the perception of novelty or of something strange or not well understood. Both plato and aristotle speak of wonder as the point of origin for philosophy. In the Theaetetus, Socrates is recorded as saying, “Wonder is the feeling of a philosopher, and philosophy begins in wonder.” The word philosophy means the love of wisdom, so one would think that wonder is the beginning of wisdom, so how can they be contradictory?

Wisdom is knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action; sagacity, discernment, or insight. Wonder is something strange and surprising that causes one to be amazed, doubt, or ponder; a cause of surprise, astonishment, or admiration. The contradiction of wisdom and wonder is that wisdom is knowledge of what is true and right and wonder includes doubt. Wisdom is the removal of doubt.

Today’s Images

I had a strip of transparency paper left over from the transparencies I printed yesterday, and I thought it would be wise not to waste it. I wondered what it would look like if I drew on the printable transparency paper with sharpies, so I drew designs similar to previous filters I made inspired by Kandinsky and Mondrian, and added the morse code dots and lines for “wisdom” or “wonder” then took pictures of my floating studio. Then I put one of my earlier Kandinsky-inspired plastic filters under a brush shape cut filter. I’m really enjoying how the sharpie-drawn colors are interacting with the pool noodles.

Wisdom in Wonder by Maria L. Berg 2023

The Prompts


Today’s prompt is a title prompt “The (animal or plant) of (abstract noun).” The poem should contain at least one simile that plays on double meanings or otherwise doesn’t quite make “sense,” and describe things or beings from very different times or places as co-existing in the same space.

Poem A Day

Today’s prompt is to write an anapodoton poem. “An anapodoton is an unfinished phrase that a person can fill in the blanks, phrases like “When in Rome,” “If life gives you lemons,” “Speak of the devil,” and “Where there is a will.” For many (if not all) of these, you probably filled in the second half of the phrase, because you know it so well.”

dVerse Poets Pub

At dVerse it’s Open Link Night.

The Poem

The Wise Woman of Wonder

The wise woman builds her house
and watches the sand castles fall
every block of thought interlocks
as she gazes over the beachcombers

Early to bed, and early to rise
she respects that wisdom takes time
stealthy when she finally decides
to observe the others rushing

The wisdom of a fool
is caged in constant wonder
as she flits from the mother tree
to test how high her heights

The wise woman builds her house
solid and steep like the overlook
she tries so hard to avoid when socked
in a thick fog of information overload

Poetry Month Challenges Day 26: Value and Vanity

Value in Vanity by Maria L. Berg 2023

I have often wondered how it is that every man loves himself more than all the rest of men, but yet sets less value on his own opinions of himself than on the opinions of others.

Marcus Aurelius

Value & Vanity

I found the contradiction of value and vanity in the definition of vanity itself: excessive pride in one’s appearance, qualities, abilities, achievements, etc.; lack of real value; hollowness; worthlessness. Vanity is a lack of value, but what is value? When I talked about value last year, I talked about both relative worth which is value in outer control and its meaning as aspects of art and music. Then in August, I discovered Calvino’s Memos and his values of literature (Lightness, Quickness, Exactitude, Visibility, Multiplicity, and Consistency), with value meaning: something (as a principal or quality) intrinsically valuable or desirable, which would be value in inner control. So does intrinsic value exist, or is it always relative worth? This is a question that intrigues me.

In The Mind at Mischief, Sadler sorts vanity and pride by gender:

5. Vanity—Vanity grows out of the primary emotions of elation and sex, plus those secondary feelings we commonly include in the term pride. We are vain because we enjoy the emotions of elation associated with the instinct of self-assertion, and vanity is peculiarly associated with the sex-instinct in the female. In fact, in a way we might say that vanity is peculiar to the human female, tho men may share this emotion to a lesser degree. Vanity also sometimes takes on the nature of self-directed pity, sympathy, and love; and when thus exercised it may become a source of much sorrow before we awaken to discover how much unhappiness can be generated by self-pity and overmuch introspection. The simple vanity of the average woman is certainly harmless and altogether wholesome as a promoter of happiness.

6. Pride—Pride is built upon the primary instinct foundation of elation and hoarding, plus the psychic state of egotism. We are proud of and enjoy the elation associated with self-assertion. We are proud of our ability to accumulate, to hoard, and are conscious of the poise and power that come with possession. This element of pride is more distinctly a male emotion as contrasted with the vanity of the female. It has more to do with the masculine egotism, self-confidence, courage, and chivalry that go with the male consciousness of superior physical power and endurance. We must not confuse the impulse of pride with normal and legitimate self-confidence—a sort of self-regarding sentiment. Again, we must not overlook the fact that pride of a certain sort may add much to the satisfaction of living; while if our ego becomes too highly exalted, we may find ourselves entangled in an unfortunate maze of psychic difficulties and social rebuffs that will effectively destroy our peace of mind and undermine our happiness.

William S. Sadler, M.D.

Though I disagree, and find the generalized gender ideas dated (the text is from 1929), I still find the ideas of vanity and pride interesting. Here’s a woman’s point of view on the difference between vanity and pride:

Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us.

Jane Austen

Today’s Images

When I first wrote about Calvino’s values, I had just come up with the idea to sew fabric sleeves for my pool-noodle floating studio. Today, the lake is up, the sun is out, and I pulled out the fabric-covered pool noodles and floating reflection balls. To find the vanity in value and the value in vanity, I looked past the vanity of appearance and thought about the vanity of qualities, abilities, and achievements. I selected images from this month’s posts to make printed transparencies to bring pattern and color to my floating studio. I ended my photo shoot by trying a Kandinsky-inspired sharpie on clear plastic filter. I am so excited to try all the filters I made over the winter, with the floating studio. I had so much fun today (except for the splinter in my big toe).

Vanity in Value by Maria L. Berg 2023

The Prompts


Today’s prompt is to “write a portrait poem that focuses on or plays with the meaning of the subject’s name. This could be a self-portrait, a portrait of a family member or close friend, or even a portrait of a famous or historical person.”

Poem A Day

Today’s prompt is to write a response poem.

I tried the Melinda’s Whimsy form for the Nonce Scavenger Hunt.

The Poem

When Levi Follows

We join in harmony
an awkward family
twitchy like a bunny
a sudden itch then he’s gone

We buzz like honey bees
and vibrate harmony
bare feet and bony knees
in his softness I’m undone

With one bulged eye he sees
something in me that sings
Together, harmony,
we curl and calm in our song

Poetry Month Challenges Day 25: Urge and Use

Use in Urge by Maria L. Berg 2023

Urge & Use

An urge can come from without—an act of urging; impelling action, influence, or force—or within—an involuntary, natural, or instinctive impulse. An urge may come from within but then one may urge another to act on one’s urge. I’m not sure how I’m going to place urge on my chart. I found this interesting statement about “urge” in The Mind at Mischief:

Disgust is the emotion associated with the instinct of repulsion and is aroused by bad tastes and smells. It seems to be especially stimulated by the sight of slimy creatures such as snakes and lizards. It no doubt lies at the bottom of the development of the esthetic taste in primitive man, and unquestionably constitutes the inherent urge which propels modern civilized peoples along those lines which lead them to look for the beautiful.

William S. Sadler, M.D.

Use is harder to define. Use means employment, employment means use. I got really excited finding these circular definitions last year until I realized they were usually an internet dictionary short-cut and I could find definitions in my physical dictionary. So I looked up “use” in my trusty, red Merriam Webster’s Collegiate: Tenth Edition and found: the act or practice of employing something: Employment. So I looked up “employment” and got . . . You guessed it! Use, purpose. At least we extended the meaning to purpose, but that’s not easily defined either: purpose, noun, something set up as an object or end to be attained. I like purpose’s definition as a verb: to propose as an aim to oneself (There you go, clear as mud). But that’s not what use means, is it? We all know what use means: we use stuff, we use and are used by others—doesn’t sound great, but it happens. So why is it so hard to define?

Looking up “the psychology of use” online led me to the works of psychologist Alfred Adler. “Psychology of use was Adler’s view that behavior is understood in terms of the use the person puts in. This is not necessarily the traits in which the individual is assumed to have, but the way they make use of their opportunities and capacities.” ~AdlerPedia However, I haven’t found Adler talking about the psychology of use in his texts yet. I found copies of Understanding Human Nature and The Practice and Theory of Individual Psychology and the only mentions of Use I found so far were in the Concluding Remarks of a chapter on Child Psychology and Neurosis. I do like the Realities in (e).

The foremost task in the study of the psychic life is to reckon with the tentative attempts and exertions of strength, growing out of the constitutionally given powers and the initial and subsequently well- tested efforts for utilizing the environment.
V, Each psychic phenomenon must therefore be interpreted as a partial manifestation of an integrated life– plan. All explanatory attempts that refuse to follow this course and, instead, attempt to penetrate into the child’s psychic life, to analyse the manifestation itself and not its synthesis, must be regarded as unsuccessful. For the facts ” of the child’s psyche are not to be taken as finished products but rather as preparatory movements in the direction of a goal.
VI, According to this view nothing consequently takes place without subserving some tendency. We shall therefore attempt at this point to call attention to the following guiding principles which we consider the most important.
Realities. — {a) The development of a capability for attaining superiority.
{b) Coping with the environment.
(c) The feeling that the world is hostile.
The amassing of knowledge and piling up of achievements.
(e) Use made of love and obedience, hatred and defiance, of community feeling and the lust for power.

Imaginary. — (f) Development of the As-If (phantasy, symbolic successes).
(g) Use made of weakness.
(h) Procrastination in making decisions.
Search for protection

Alfred Adler

Today’s Images

This morning when I thought of “urge,” I thought of the pull I feel to create. The want and have to that gets me out of bed to make new filters to express new pairs of contradictory nouns in new ways in the mirrorworld. When I thought about “use,” I thought of tools, especially my favorite tool, my camera. So I sat down to cut out a “camera” shape, thinking I would put my circular arrows transparency in it, but as I drew, I took off the lens cap. In the lens cap I not only saw the circles within circles of the lens, but colors and shapes from the windows behind me.

To find the urge in use and the use in urge, I used sharpies to draw what I saw in my lens onto a clear plastic filter, then turned off the blue curtain lights and added the multi-color string lights to the mirrorworld.

An Urge in Use by Maria L. Berg 2023

The Prompts


Today’s prompt is to read e e cummings’ poem [somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond]. Then to write a love poem, one that names at least one flower, contains one parenthetical statement, and in which at least some lines break in unusual places.

Poem A Day

Today’s prompt is the two-for-Tuesday prompt:

  1. Write a dream poem, and/or…
  2. Write a reality poem.

dVerse Poets Pub

At dVerse the Poetics prompt is music. Specifically, “write a poem about music in any form. You can mention music fleetingly or write a poem dedicated to music. BUT please include any two titles from the following list. These are all taken from Linda Perry’s albums.”

  1. Edge Of Your Atmosphere
  2. Sunset Strip
  3. Life Despite God
  4. Sunny April Afternoon
  5. Bang The Drum
  6. Life in a Bottle
  7. Fruitloop Daydream
  8. Tiny Box Of Lies
  9. Knock Me Out
  10. I Am My Father’s Daughter
  11. Don’t Touch Me While I Am Sleeping
  12. Secret Lover

Looking at all my prompts, I chose “Sunny April Afternoon,” because it’s afternoon in April and the sun came out for a moment, and “Don’t Touch Me While I’m Sleeping” because it will work well with the NaPoWriMo requirement for a line break in an unusual place. I guess I chose to write a reality poem.

The Poem

instruments others use, urged further
~after e.e. cummings

instruments others use, urged further
than I, your hands form other chords
stretch to different notes that resonate in me,
vibrating deeper because they are outside my range

your hum will misuse me
though I have plugged my ears like wine bottles
you uncork each one with a thunk in a Sunny April
Afternoon trill (hearing the daffodil open) of dark-eyed juncos

Only the user perceives a frequency
equivalent to your creative urge: whose vibration
moves me to refuse interruption. Don’t Touch Me
While I Am Sleeping, I dream your symphony

(I want to make sure to write it when I wake
and reuse your hand patterns to find how we resonate
in the frequency of us, a melody and harmony of waiting)
so clear and sweet and still open to the street

Poetry Month Challenges Day 24: Thrill and Tiredness

Tiredness in Thrill by Maria L. Berg 2023

Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Thrill & Tiredness

Yesterday I felt a bit of a thrill—a sudden wave of keen emotion or excitement—while cutting out and arranging all of the photographs I’ve created and chosen to post this month. I’ve felt a tiredness—a state of wishing for sleep or rest, a heavy weariness—most of this month, due to frustration from physical injury and ailment, but yesterday, seeing all that I’ve accomplished despite the pain, gave me a thrill.

In The Mind at Mischief, Doctor Sadler sees both Thrill and Tiredness in terms of fear:

“In adult life we sometimes become reckless in the presence of fear. We get a sort of thrill, a “kick,” out of daring adventure. We deliberately court danger in order to get the thrill that is born of recklessness, to enjoy the fascination of daring to defy danger. We should remember that fear is not necessarily abnormal. It is only when it becomes an obsession that it is able to harass us and interfere with health and happiness.”

“When the sympathetic nervous system has learned to short-circuit this affair, and, as the result of chronic worry, to produce—on its own initiative and quite independent of any participation of the adrenal secretion—these psychic and physical manifestations of fear, it is little wonder that it acquires the trick of bringing on this spontaneous, ever-present, and distressful fatigue. It seems to say to itself: “Since the end-product of all this business is fatigue and rest, since all this false alarm I am turning in has no other objective than to wear the patient out and bring on fatigue, I will cut the whole process short and give him an ever-present tired-out feeling. Rest is what he wants. The purpose of this whole performance is to escape from reality, to get out of doing things. Then why should I produce these frequent upheavals involving rapid breathing, thumping heart, increased blood pressure, dizziness, nausea?” And so the chronic state of fear comes to be associated with the chronic state of fatigue. Biologically, the end-result of all fear phenomena would be physical fatigue; therefore, in the modern nervous counter-part of primitive forest experience, we indulge in psychic fear and immediately experience nervous fatigue, a fatigue which is so wonderfully perpetrated as to possess all the earmarks of genuine physical tiredness.”

William S. Sadler, M.D.

So thrill is a contradiction of tiredness in that thrill is a positive, enjoyable reaction to an instance of fear, where tiredness is a negative reaction to chronic fear.

Today’s Images

While looking for a glue-stick yesterday, I happened upon my glitter collection and some clear-drying “tacky glue.” I’ve tried glitter on clear plastic before when creating a snow globe effect with my fish-eye lens. Today I thought it would be thrilling to make “thrill” and “tire” in Morse Code with glue and different gauges of glitter, and see what kinds of textures it creates. Though the glue and glitter only acts to block the light, creating a resist, the changes in thickness due to the glue created a vispo symbolic language effect I enjoyed.

Thrill in Tiredness by Maria L. Berg 2023

The Prompts


Today’s prompt is to write a poem in the form of a review.

Poem A Day

Today’s prompt is to write a touch poem.

For an extra challenge, I tried the Helipad form for the Nonce Scavenger Hunt.

The Poem

The Touch, the Feel of Tiredness

Here we see tiredness. I do not recommend it. To begin witH
Heavy, droopy, glazed over eyes don't take in all that mucH
Haggard, slovenly, neglected humans aren't a pleasant toucH
Having gone mushy and pokey at the same time, always flincH
Held to get reinspired. Tiredness needs a thrill in a pincH
Hope the sky will fall in or the floor will fall out. PlusH
Harm-free comfort holes could give tiredness positive blusH
Howling wild fear-facing is rough stuff and draining enougH

Poetry Month Challenges Day 23: Fear and Control

Fear and Control by Maria L. Berg 2023

Fear and Control

I added this week’s contradictory nouns to my chart of fear and control. It now looks like this:

Then I printed and cut out all of the images I have posted so far this month and used the chart to place them into a collage:

My Images on the Axes of Fear and Control Maria L. Berg 2023

Today’s Images

For today’s images I continued yesterday’s work with Morse Code, making a dot and line patterns of “fear” and “control.” I started by putting the dots and lines in a “house” shape. I had the interesting experience of seeing the shape as grave stones when fear was in the center, and graven tablets when control was in the center. Then the shape filter tore and became a different shape without meaning, and I combined the fear and control filters. I used other shape filters, enjoying the effect of a tiny brad movable line filter.

Control and Fear by Maria L. Berg 2023

The Prompts


Today’s prompt is to write a poem that has multiple numbered sections. Attempt to have each section be in dialogue with the others, like a song where a different person sings each verse, giving a different point of view. Set the poem in a specific place that you used to spend a lot of time in, but don’t spend time in anymore.

Poem A Day

Today’s prompt is to write a fear poem.

Since I’m attempting to catch up on the Nonce Scavenger Hunt, the prompts inspired me to try an “Inside Out” and several instances of “The Mouse.”

The Poem

The Ravine

  1. It’s steep. It’s far. It’s slick. It’s rotting. It’s dirty.
    I could slip and fall on a rock,
    break my leg, my arm, or my head.
    If a tree falls in the forest, it could hit me.
  2. I hurry down the steep hillside.
    Halfway down there are mushrooms and I squish a slug.
    As I near, I hear the creek rushing over rocks.
    I can’t wait to cool where it pools.
  3. The only way across is over a nurse log.
    Who knows when the giant tree fell?
    I grasp at every limb I can.
    My gut churns because I’m sure I’m going to fall.
  4. I imagine dinosaur paths
    that I’m playing in brontosaurus stomping grounds
    that if I follow the creek the ravine goes on
    forever, but I will stay close.
  5. It’s where the deer and thieves arrive and go unseen
    where they left our pennies after
    our little hearts and dreams shattered
    like the deer eating every one of Mom’s roses

fear fear

  1. fear fear
    fighter, flighter
    life’s preservation drops blinders
  2. fear fear
    beating harder
    pulsing alarm of disaster
  3. fear fear
    gasping, shaking
    never enough pure oxygen
  4. fear fear
    muscles tensing
    what objects offer weaponry?
  5. fear fear
    darkened shadows
    feeling lingers, nothing appears
  6. fear fear
    steeper faster
    spreading over more stimuli
  7. fear fear
    growing, taking
    like ravine pathways eroding

Poetry Month Challenges Day 22: Sadness and Satisfaction

Sadness in Satisfaction by Maria L. Berg 2023

Sadness & Satisfaction

Satisfaction has two different meanings. It can be a feeling of contentment, fulfillment, or gratification. But it can also be the opportunity to redress or right a wrong; or compensation for a wrong or injury. In this way satisfaction is tied to revenge. Its relationship to sadness—distress caused by loss, affliction, disappointment; grief, sadness, or regret—is a complicated one.

In Kant’s Perpetual Peace, he sees this relationship as necessary for humans to reach their potential:

Man’s will is for harmony; but nature knows better what is good for his species: her will is for dissension. He would like a life of comfort and satisfaction, but nature wills that he should be dragged out of idleness and inactive content and plunged into labour and trouble, in order that he may be made to seek in his own prudence for the means of again delivering himself from them. The natural impulses which prompt this effort,— the causes of unsociableness and mutual conflict, out of which so many evils spring,— are also in turn the spurs which drive him to the development of his powers.

Immanuel Kant

Today’s Images

To find the satisfaction in sadness and the sadness in satisfaction, I hung a blue light curtain that I bought at the new year but haven’t used much. I asked myself what shapes, lines, and points would bring me satisfaction through sadness and pain, and I thought of Morse Code. I drew Morse Code of “Sad,” “Ease,” and “Pain” on clear plastic and used them with blotch and brush shapes. I found satisfaction in the results.

Satisfaction in Sadness by Maria L. Berg 2023

The Prompts


Today’s prompt is to find an Emily Dickinson poem – preferably one you’ve never previously read – and take out all the dashes and line breaks. Make it just one big block of prose. Now, rebreak the lines. Add words where you want. Take out some words. Make your own poem out of it!

Poem A Day

Today’s prompt is a title prompt “What (blank)”

Today’s prompts seemed to me to lend themselves to trying a couple more Nonce forms for the Nonce Scavenger Hunt. I started with Emily Dickinson’s poem 178 “I cautious, scanned my little life—.” First I tried the DoReMiDo, then I made an attempt at an American Paragraph.

The Poem

What Sadness in Satisfaction

I cautious spy
my little life
I winnow fate
by satisfy

till Heads laid still
should be dreaming
what fades blew; lasts
fill the Barn’s mill

One winter dawn
my dear hay gone
and from farmer
done cynic won

Thief or wind’s grief
my job to find
so I ransack
brief Love’s relief

What Satisfaction in Sadness

I cautious, scanned my little life, winnowed what would fade from what would last.
Till heads are dreaming, put the latter in a barn; the former, flittered.
And lo my dear hay was not upon the scaffold nor upon the beam.
And from a thriving farmer, in my anger, a cynic I became.
Whether a thief did it, or whether it was the wind, I need to know!
I ransack, and wonder if you’re in the little barn Love made for you.

Poetry Month Challenges Day 21: Reality and Romance

Romance in Reality by Maria L. Berg 2023

Reality & Romance

The question of defining reality continues to be one of the main questions of philosophy, psychology, and every belief system. I’ve explored it while reading Calvino’s memos in my post Visibility: Fantasy in Reality, and Reality in Fantasy and in contrast to dreams in my post #SoCS: The Reality of a Half-full Plate of Dreams: On Second Thought It’s Half-empty. Since I talked about Freud’s pleasure principle the other day, today we’ll continue to the reality principle.

In Beyond the Pleasure Principle Freud says:

Under the influence of the ego’s instincts of self-preservation, the pleasure principle is replaced by the reality principle. This latter principle does not abandon the intention of ultimately obtaining pleasure, but it nevertheless demands and carries into effect the postponement of satisfaction, the abandonment of a number of possibilities of gaining satisfaction and the temporary toleration of unpleasure as a step on the long indirect road to pleasure.

Sigmund Freud

In The Mind at Mischief, Sadler defines reality through Freud’s pleasure principle:

Very early in life the child is forced to abandon its conception of the world as merely a pleasure resort. It is compelled increasingly to give up its life of fantasy and to accept an existence of reality; and concomitant with the development of this concept of the reality of the world there comes gradually to be built up this ego system of non-sexual complexes. It is the system of conscious urges which is coordinated with the enforced recognition of the reality of existence.

William S. Sadler, M.D.

Reality, by their definition, is facing that life isn’t full of pleasure, and we can’t always get what we want when we want it. Romance would be the opposite of this reality. It is feelings or demonstrations of love or desire, especially idealized love. We think of romance as love affairs with happy endings, but romance is any idealized belief, wanting an ideal over reality.

In Kant’s The Critique of Pure Reason he talks about reality, ideals, and romance:

Although we cannot concede objective reality to these ideals, they are not to be considered as chimeras; on the contrary, they provide reason with a standard, which enables it to estimate, by comparison, the degree of incompleteness in the objects presented to it. But to aim at realizing the ideal in an example in the world of experience— to describe, for instance, the character of the perfectly wise man in a romance— is impracticable. Nay more, there is something absurd in the attempt; and the result must be little edifying, as the natural limitations, which are continually breaking in upon the perfection and completeness of the idea, destroy the illusion in the story and throw an air of suspicion even on what is good in the idea, which hence appears fictitious and unreal.

Immanuel Kant

Today’s Images

For today’s images I continued to explore using transparencies with brushstroke filters.

The Prompts


Today’s prompt is to choose an abstract noun from the list, and then use that as the title for a poem that contains very short lines, and at least one invented word.

I am drawn to “Delight” and “Confusion,” “Honesty,” and “Deceit” would go best with today’s focus on the contradictory nature of reality and romance.

Poem A Day

Today’s prompt is write a poem using at least three of the following six words:

  1. Bow
  2. Lean
  3. Park
  4. Saw
  5. Tear
  6. Wound

Today’s prompts inspired me to start my Nonce Scavenger Hunt with an Inetersperse.

The Poem


Reality caused a tear,
a wound when I saw
how my ideal by it
didn’t match.

How lean
the real to romance fat
with desire wound
in a fat tear that falls
blue not red

It is a saw
down the cheek
and through
the mind

I mind the match
that falls blue heat

romantic ideal burns
a red cheek to blush
when facing the real
embarrassed and
disillusioned by

Poetry Month Challenges Day 20: Quirk and Quality

Quirk in Quality by Maria L. Berg 2023

I’m really glad I read the A to Z Challenge post about Querying first thing this morning, because for some reason I had skipped over Q in my mind and was planning to write my R post today.

Quirk & Quality

A quirk is a peculiarity of action, behavior, or personality; mannerism. Peculiarity is a trait, manner, characteristic, or habit that is odd or unusual; eccentricity; a distinguishing quality or characteristic. If a quirk is a distinguishing quality, how can it also be quality’s contradiction? Quality is not only: an essential or distinctive characteristic, property, or attribute. It has another meaning: high grade; superiority; excellence; good or high social position; the superiority or distinction associated with high social position. These understandings of quality come from expectations, judgements, and norms and thus contradict peculiarity.

Searching through my books, I didn’t find any uses of the word “quirk” (which bummed me out because I love that word), so I looked for “peculiarity.” I found this interesting passage in Art as Experience by John Dewey:

WHY IS the attempt to connect the higher and ideal things of experience with basic vital roots so often regarded as betrayal of their nature and denial of their value? Why is there repulsion when the high achievements of fine art are brought into connection with common life, the life that we share with all living creatures? Why is life thought of as an affair of low appetite, or at its best a thing of gross sensation, and ready to sink from its best to the level of lust and harsh cruelty? . . . Life is compartmentalized and the institutionalized compartments are classified as high and as low; their values as profane and spiritual, as material and ideal. Interests are related to one another externally and mechanically, through a system of checks and balances. Since religion, morals, politics, business has each its own compartment, within which it is fitting each should remain, art, too, must have its peculiar and private realm. Compartmentalization of occupations and interests brings about separation of that mode of activity commonly called “practice.”

John Dewey

This made me think that understanding expected qualities that define quality, is the only way to appreciate quirks. Peculiarities wouldn’t exist without norms. In Dewey’s examples, the definition of art are the specific peculiarities that separate it from other studies and activities like business and politics.

In Art and Visual Perception by Rudolf Arnheim, peculiarity may be an aspect of weight that influence perception of balance:

Weight depends also on size. Other factors being equal, the larger object will be the heavier. As to color, red is heavier than blue, and bright colors are heavier than dark ones. The patch of a bright red bedcover in Van Gogh’s painting of his bedroom creates a strong off-center weight. A black area must be larger than a white one to counterbalance it; this is due in part to irradiation, which makes a bright surface look relatively larger. Puffer has also found that compositional weight is affected by intrinsic interest. An area of a painting may hold the observer’s attention either because of the subject matter-for example, the spot around the Christ child in an Adoration-or because of its formal complexity, intricacy, or other peculiarity. (Note in this connection the multicolored bouquet of flowers in Manet’s Olympia.) The very tininess of an object may exert a fascination that compensates the slight weight it would otherwise have. Recent experiments have suggested that perception may also be influenced by the observer’s wishes and fears. One could try to ascertain whether pictorial balance is changed by the introduction of a highly desirable object or a frightening one.

Rudolf Arnheim

Today’s Images

What normative quality of expectation can I create to then twist and show a quirk? What is a quirk that I appreciate as having quality? For today’s images I created a normative quality by only using white lights, then for my quirk I used transparency filters which are printable clear plastic printed with my photographs then cut out and used as filters. I placed the transparencies of my brush stroke and paint splatter filters.

Quality in Quirk by Maria L. Berg 2023

The Prompts


Today’s prompt is to explore a particular object or place from the point of view of some far-off, future scientist.

Poem A Day

Today’s prompt is to write an animal poem.

dVerse Poets Pub

At dVerse it’s Open Link Night, so though I missed the live reading, I’ll link this poem to the list.

The Poem

A Quirky Quality of Life

After the earthquake
after clearing the rubble
and destruction, one
devastating landslide
left a new cliff-face
revealed a new history
in its layers , mysterious
objects jumbled and protruding
in the rock and sediment
hidden for hundreds of years.

We’ve only begun the excavation
but a picture of a quality of life
quite different from our own
emerges from the clustering
of preserved objects and bones.
We believe they were symbiotic
fused with miniature animals
with similarities to our predators
One fused a tiny saber tooth
to her chest and arm
Another was attached at the
calf to a mini dire wolf.

These fusions must have
been their only form of relation
for we’ve found no evidence
of any ability of communication
Not a single implant, or manipulation
not a symbol, sign, or extension
of extra-sensory perception.

We can only hope to discover
their machine, or whatever magic
there must have been to turn
our giant predators into beloved
friends, but we also need to find
what horror made it all end.

Poetry Month Challenges Day 19: Pleasure and Patience

Pleasure in Patience by Maria L. Berg 2023

Pleasure & Patience

Pleasure is the state or feeling of enjoyment or satisfaction derived from what is to one’s liking; gratification; delight. In Civilization and Its Discontents Freud says that “the purpose of life is simply the programme of the pleasure principle.” The pleasure principle is Freud’s belief that man’s activity develops toward the absence of pain and to experience strong feelings of pleasure. He says:

“What we call happiness in the strictest sense comes from the (preferably sudden) satisfaction of needs which have been dammed up to a high degree, and it is from its nature only possible as an episodic phenomenon. When any situation that is desired by the pleasure principle is prolonged, it only produces a feeling of mild contentment. We are so made that we can derive intense enjoyment only from a contrast and very little from a state of things. Thus our possibilities of happiness are already restricted by our constitution.”

Sigmund Freud

In other words, we live for pleasure, but find the most pleasure in things denied us. He also seems to say that patience dampens pleasure’s potency. Patience is an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay; quiet, steady perseverance; even-tempered care; diligence; the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain, without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like.

Today’s Images

My original idea of using the tri-pod and long exposure to represent patience, and glints of light on the water as pleasure wasn’t working because the sun went behind the clouds and I ran out of patience. I thought I would try to replicate my idea in the mirrorworld using a fan, but my shapes were distorting and the lights were too bright at the long shutter settings, and I lost patience. So I thought of when I have found pleasure in patience, and thought of the panoramic setting: it takes patience to make it work, but the results give me pleasure.

Patience in Pleasure by Maria L. Berg 2023

The Prompts


Today’s prompt is to cast your mind back to your own childhood and write a poem about something that scared you – or was used to scare you – and which still haunts you (if only a little bit) today.

Poem A Day

Today’s prompt is to write a taste poem.

The Poem

The Patient Boogeyman

The present pleasure of dark chocolate peppermint bark
takes patience to savor—not bite into, chomp down,
and grab another— to let it sit with the flavors,
letting them melt in my mouth like the large bag
of M&Ms I used to eat while reading a novel
in the tall antique bed with the small pink
rose patterned canopy, so tall I had to run
and jump to get in, so tall that the scary
man had plenty of room to wait under there
at night until I needed to go to the bathroom;
I would wait and wait, knowing the second
my ankle dangled low enough, his hand would
dart out and grab it, and yank me under;
not that I was afraid of the space under the bed,
I liked it down there during the day,
but the scary man only waited there
when it was dark, really dark and cold,
and came from the place of dark things.
Sometimes in the dead of night,
he still reaches from the darkest corner,
and I want to scream, but instead
I turn on all the lights and savor
some dark chocolate peppermint bark.