It’s amazing how energizing one cool, cloudy day was. Today, was back to hot and sweaty, but it didn’t feel as oppressive. I finally set up my new mobile mirrorworld to my satisfaction, and played with an interesting purple and green light palette.
I find it amusing that these random globs of dried hot glue in different shapes look like people dancing to me.
Today was the first time I tried using the net-lights with the reflection balls in the fabric-covered pool noodles. I like how nature adds to the abstractions. I’m seeing lots of potential.
When light escapes and comes to play I know I’ll have a busy day Free of night and free of fears as glaring white she appears but in our game I calm her and coax each color forward when light escapes and comes to play I know I’ll have a busy day
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.
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.
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.
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:
What’s fun is it’s similar to something I tried a long time ago with wire:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
and a writing tip from the Shaelin Writes video below, I started a new phase in my study of abstract nouns. Each week I’ll choose two opposing abstract nouns and attempt to create an image representing both. To inspire my work, I’m expanding my research from studying the words, history, and philosophy, to collecting music, paintings, photographs, poems, stories, scientific studies, and anything else I can find that represents the two abstractions, immersing myself for the week.
Using the statement, “Find the despair in hope, and the hope in despair,” I created several filters and tried different techniques. Here is one of the images:
Calm & Agitation
This week, expanding on the idea, I am exploring “Find the agitation in calm, and the calm in agitation.” Let’s start with some definitions: agitate: 1. a. to give motion to b. to move with an irregular, rapid, or violent action 2. to excite and often trouble the mind or feelings of: Disturb 3. to discuss excitedly and earnestly calm: 1. a period or condition of freedom from storms, high winds, or rough activity of water 2. a state of tranquility: free from agitation, excitement, or disturbance
So what could possibly be the agitation in calm? It depends on the person and situation. I’m the kind of person who doesn’t like to lie still for long, so my own thoughts are often the agitation. On the beach, the agitation could be the sand fleas; at the lake, the music from the boats going by, or mowers and chainsaws. The waves themselves are the definition of agitation, though the sound of them hitting the shore may be the calm in agitation.
For today’s images, I noticed light glinting off spiderwebs, and experimented with creating my shapes from that light. It worked! And with the very cool effect of making smaller shapes than the light on the leaves behind the webs.
dVerse Poets Pub
For today’s Poetics prompt, Lisa challenges us to consider fractals in relation to poetry in subject or form.
Rapid Irregular Movement
agitation nags it's tickling through the calm
little bits build to agitate with malice while lying calmly
in the sun even after the years have passed to
a calming age all is distraction dizzying feelings of ions
commingling I see them behind closed lids
and the gate creeks commensurate to the spots gyrating
Today I’m re-visiting motivation. When I explored motivation in April, I talked about it as a force toward pleasure and away from pain. Motivation came up again when I explored need and talked about Maslow’s pyramid. Today I looked up some definitions and found that motivation is a force that imparts motion as if from a store. In other words, I’ve got a whole bunch of motion stored up somewhere and the force “motivation” will dole it out to me. But what is this force, and how do I trigger it at will? I think my definition still needs work.
The sun was out this morning, so I took my net-lights outside for the first time. I am definitely motivated by the surprise of trying something new.
dVerse Poets Pub
For today’s poetics prompt, Merril invites us to think about summer with an ekphrastic prompt. I wrote to the image by Edward Henry Potthast, Summer Day, Brighton Beach which shows children wading into the ocean. I waded a bit into the lake this morning, wasn’t quite motivated to swim.
Hear them shrieking in the distance oh, they must be having fun the waves crashing against them splashing oh, I can’t wait now let’s run
But it’s freezing, my feet are tingling oh, this bite has just begun up it’s reaching, and soon numbing then forgotten in summer sun.
Here we are already starting June. As I mentioned yesterday, this month’s daily abstract nouns include a mix of new words and further study of previous words. And, as before, Sundays are homographs to guide visual poetry (vispo) from the images created through the week.
While defining “poetry” for my online poetry class, What Is Poetry? An Introduction to Literary Analysis, I found that dictionary.com provides circular definitions for everything, not only abstract nouns. I found a much better definition in my physical dictionary, so from now on, I’ll be mining for meaning in my Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Tenth Edition.
Awe is an emotion variously combining dread, veneration, and wonder that is inspired by authority or by the sacred or sublime. What an intense combination: to fear greatly, respect, and be excited with amazement and admiration all at the same time.
I am in awe of the flow of ideas and joy of process I’ve found in this study of abstract nouns. Awe describes
For today’s images, I put the two new reflective balls in the mirrorworld to see what they would do.
On Wednesdays, Robert Lee Brewer offers a poetry prompt on Writer’s Digest. Today’s prompt is to write a water poem.
I Water as I Walk
The air is thick with it the clouds fat with it and yet they hoard their precious cargo, leaving the new seeds thirsty
It makes up seventy percent of me, sloshing about somewhere in there as I tread–new sprinkler head in hand, length of hose uncoiling, dragging behind–
staring out at the lake as I shower the crusted earth, the irony is not lost on me that there is water everywhere but the land needs me to drink
These last couple months studying abstract nouns have provided a wealth of discoveries, great quantities of new ideas, an abundance of new techniques, a profusion of thoughts, and a plentiful amount of new tools. I feel like these last two months have been a 101 course in abstractions–an overview–and now it’s time to take a more advanced look at the ideas I’ve only had a glimpse of so far. But there is still a wealth of abstract nouns to look at and explore. I’m having trouble deciding, so I think I’ll do both.
Continuing this study into June, I will choose some new abstract nouns and some that I want to revisit. I’ll post the new calendar tomorrow for those of you interested in looking ahead at what I’ll be exploring through the month.
Today’s weather was beautiful, and I’m hoping June will bring many more sunny days, so I can bring my new net-lights outside to play with the sun on the lake. And today I got two floating reflective balls that I’m excited to float on the lake. I’m already excited about their potential for bokeh shapes from a few pictures I took of them in the yard.
I hope you’re enjoying this wealth of content and that you are as inspired by the study of abstract nouns as I am. I’m really looking forward to revisiting some of the words I’ve already explored and diving deeper into sensory perception and imagery associated with those abstractions. If you have a suggestion for an abstract noun to revisit, or one I haven’t looked at please let me know in the comments.
dVerse Poets Pub
For today’s poetics prompt, Punam inspires with the work of Amrita Pritam. The challenge is to choose one of her lines from a list and use it to inspire our poem.
In the Little Empty Space
“Look further on ahead, there between truth and falsehood, a little empty space.” ~Amrita Pritam
I believe I can squeeze through the jagged rocks and hard place threaten but a slim, distant light still begs me on.
If I suck it all in tight and purse my lips and set my jaw and close my eyes and never breathe again, I might distract them
from the original question concern them enough to forget, and not suffer while I emerge on the other side
To a vision scientist like me, sensitivity is only a semi-abstract noun. If you look at the state or quality of being endowed with sensation; having perception through the senses, that’s measurable through scientific experimentation. However, the state or quality of being readily or excessively affected by external agencies or influences and having acute mental or emotional sensibility; aware of and responsive to the feelings of others is not as measurable and easily pained, annoyed, etc. is probably measurable per person, but not as scientifically, since we’re getting into moods.
I’ve always been highly sensitive, both emotionally and perceptually. I was told by my advanced biology teacher in high school that I should never have children if I was so sensitive to the smell in the room that I needed to leave. He sent me to the library, and I never had children. He must have had an amazing sixth sense. Now approaching the mid-century of life, I still have perfect vision, hearing, smell, taste, and touch: though my sensitivity to others and ideas of my sixth sense have diminished, for now, in exchange for contentment and sanity, I think. Which brings us to another definition of sensitivity: requiring tact or caution; delicate; touchy: a sensitive topic.
As for my images I like how my sensitivity made me think of anxiety and squiggly lines of too much, but when I looked at the images I saw another definition of sensitivity I enjoy which is: constructed to indicate, measure, or be affected by small amounts or changes~ as a balance or thermometer or microscope.
dVerse Poets Pub
For today’s poetics Ingrid brings corvids to spring. I am surrounded by raptors and corvids and find it fascinating that crows chase bald eagles around the sky. It’s the craziest bird behavior. One would think that eagles would just take out the crows, if they were a threat; the eagle could turn and destroy them: toss their nests, eat their eggs, or eat the crows. But from what I’ve seen, they don’t react much at all. However, this spring I’ve had two rather aggressive Blue Jays, and I am sensitive to their presence.
Strike a Pose
So bold, look at you in my morning window blinds closed, I know you’re there, when I let in the spring sun your striking blue feathers somehow bluer than the bluest sky: not cerulean, not royal, but playing in between, you contrast with the giant pink blossoms of the monster rhododendron not a plant, not a flower, but a life choice, and you have chosen it, next to my bedroom window with your deep, thoughtful, striking pose, I can’t help but admire your bold stare and then you SHRIEK SCREAM make unbird noises not even the semi-annoying CAW which is never at my window but still loud from high above while harassing an eagle and remind me that you are the kind of bird who raids other bird’s nests and may decapitate other birds Am I being sensitive to your horrible sound, or would it bother me so much if I didn’t know you were a murderous tyrant striking such a strong contrast of black and blue
Last week I missed my Sunday visual poetry due to a very fun and special family birthday party, so today I’ll be exploring two homographs: Content and Contest.
Content & Contest
Let’s start with a quick overview of the meanings of our homographs from dictionary.com. Each of these has two pronunciations as well.
Content (kon-tent): Usually contents.
something that is contained: the contents of a box.
the subjects or topics covered in a book or document.
the chapters or other formal divisions of a book or document: a table of contents.
something that is to be expressed through some medium, as speech, writing, or any of various arts: significance or profundity; meaning: substantive information or creative material viewed in contrast to its actual or potential manner of presentation: that which may be perceived in something.
~That last meaning opens up content to be just about anything.
Content (kuhn-tent): satisfied with what one is or has; not wanting more or anything else.
Contest (kon-test) noun: a race, conflict, or other competition between rivals, as for a prize: struggle for victory or superiority: vigorous or bitter conflict in argument; dispute; controversy.
Contest (kuhn-test) verb: to struggle or fight for: to argue against; dispute: to call in question: to contend for in rivalry.
I’m feeling content to create content on this lovely, clear day. I won’t contest the results of my visual poetry experiments, and appreciate the poetic content equally. It’s not a contest.
The Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt yesterday was “clear” which got me thinking about the clear sleeve idea I started playing with “Combine.” I’ve been thinking about using the clear plastic to create blackout poetry. I thought it would be fun to print text in the same size and font and then use a blackout design from one poem on another piece of text.
Since I wanted to use small, uniform text, I photocopied sections from a few non-fiction texts I own. I started with Rose Windows by Painton Cowen. Choosing a random page from the introduction, I created the first image in this post.
Then I switched out the text to a page from Man and His Symbols by Carl Jung using the same blackout and got this:
I used this same blackout with two other random pages from non-fiction I own, and moved it up and down the pages. I highly recommend trying this as an inspirational tool. I’m loving it. It’s like creating a cipher to bring your own, new understanding to any text. I also like that it leaves the original text intact as I change it and make my own choices and meanings.
Dwelling Entirely in the Slime of the Earth
Transfix us equally unexpected feeling elusive awe and wonder
this experience accentuated by interweaving tensions
poured light of infinite shades in the sun
glowing quietly jewels and coloured glass possessing
I’m excited for a little relief today. I’ve had stomach pain the last couple days, so alleviation, ease, or deliverance through the removal of pain, distress, oppression, etc. is greatly appreciated. A rain-free day with some sun is also something affording a pleasing change, as from monotony: release.
While thinking about visually creating relief, bas-relief came to mind. Bas-Relief is a sculpture technique in which the shapes only rise slightly from the flat surface of the background. In this case relief means the distance of the carving; bas-relief is low relief or a short distance, close to the surface compared to high relief. Coins are a good example of bas-relief images.
Because I finally have some relief from the rain and clouds, I can play with all my new transformer filters on the lake. The images I create using the glints of lights on the lake are like bas-relief in a way as the shapes stay connected to the water’s surface.
Stream of Consciousness Saturday
Today’s prompt is “clear.” Here’s an excerpt from this morning’s journal:
A clear blue sky. Finally. A faint half-moon lingers just above the all firs behind the house across the lake. Today’s mission is clear: to plant. I looked at the seeds I have, the herbs my sister gave me for my birthday, the vegetable seeds left from last year: lettuce, spinach, cabbage, radishes, and beans are all going to find homes in the soil today. Here I go.
Clearly, I did not expect pulling that dead plant out of the bed and putting my sister’s little birthday flower in its place would be so difficult. The dirt was hard as concrete and full of rocks. The wayward grass did NOT want to come out. I hope that little flower lives after all that effort. I’m glad it’s supposed to be nice tomorrow too because my nieces are here, and now I clearly have other things to do.
Maria L. Berg 2022
And when I finally find relief release from pain and mind left clear blue sky cloudless and half-moon near,
I hope the moment isn’t brief the sun set free is quick to sear and blinds all thought to steer or veer
Since time is such a greedy thief a heart remembers cupid’s spear a pain that aches renewing fear,
relying on our group belief of control and measured hours: we’re among our peers existing here
to smear the days with its mischief the half-moon leers then disappears leaving a trail of relief’s tears
And when I finally find relief I hope the moment isn’t brief since time is such a greedy thief relying on our group belief to smear the days with its mischief.