Today is Open Link Night at the pub, so I get to write about anything I want. There are already lots of little green starts coming up from the seeds I planted, and I painted the big rock I dug up from my garden.
When Mixing, It’s Important to Know There Are Warm Shades And Cool Shades to Your Colors
I made sure she came out and saw it: I don’t know why I needed her to see it
She instantly said, “It’s like one of your images. You made it look like your photographs.” I couldn’t believe it, with all its imperfections, she saw it, just as it was.
The rock, the huge-to-me rock that I dug up out of the garden plot I’ve been working for so many years; it was so big I knew I had to paint it, to turn it into a marker, a greeter, a part of the garden.
When I asked him if I could use the plot, the square of overgrowth where my grandfather had planted potatoes, he said, “Go ahead, but the soils bad.” After I’ve tried all sorts of different seeds and plants and worked and worked that soil for a decade, when I showed him this year’s planted garden, he said, “We’ll see. That soil’s bad.”
How can the soil that fed me those incredible baby acorn squash —that I didn’t even plant when the car wasn’t running and I needed food—be bad?
I was so surprised when I dug up that rock after digging in this same square of earth so long. But then, that’s what roots do: they reach down, and around those rocks, and while they reach, they grow and forget about those rocks as their reaching and growing pushes rocks to the surface.
It was hard to decide what to paint. I wanted to create something that would invite me into my garden to work, to weed and to tend, to pay attention. I wanted something that I would want to visit. That’s hard to paint for oneself. It had to have something right and wrong with it, change with the light.
And she was right, I tried to recreate overlapping colored lights with paint, to turn the curled metal of my small mirror into a vine. And she saw it. And she saw me without a word, she just knew it was me, inviting me to my garden.
For today’s Poetics prompt, Sarah invites us to verb animals and use those verbs or verb phrases—like “horsing around” or “pigging out” or our own inventions like “eagle over” or “ant the whole hill”—in our poem.
This Animal Kingdom
He is always sharking— dead-eyed stare, open mouth full of sharpness always moving—prowling for the next morsel to come too close
Me, I emu Unable to fly, I present a feathery girth over questionably designed legs with a deadly kick primed if he gets too close.
In the rare moments he’s not sharking, he squirrels—all his pouches full of nuts and seeds (mostly mine and the morsels’ he sharks)— but he squirrels lazily: I’ll find his burrow
When I don’t emu, I hornbill I spread my striking wingspan, and my caw, generated in my bulbous head, carries elation under the thick canopy, then using my curved, sharp beak I crack the nuts from his hollow.
Inspired by today’s poetics prompt, I thought it would be fun to use some animal filters with my new light-wrapped forms in the mirrorworld, to see if I could make them verb. I really enjoyed searching through my filters and picking out all the different animals I’ve created filters of over the years. The shark and the emu filters pictured above, I created to use with the fireworks last Fourth of July.
Arnheim says, “Walking downhill, dropping, or falling is experienced kinesthetically as acceding to one’s own weight. One is being pushed downward by a force situated in the center of one’s own body. . . .The dominant pull of gravity makes the space we live in asymmetrical. . . .Human beings experience the dynamic asymmetry, or anisotropy, of space by means of two senses, kinesthesis and vision. The physical effect of gravity is perceived as tension in the muscles, tendons, and joints of the body. Visually, the world is pervaded by a similar downward pull, whose influence on the dynamic character of the things we see may be illustrated by the difference between what goes on visually in horizontal and vertical surfaces.”
He continues to state that the horizontal orientation is centric composition, since all points have the same relation to the ground, but because of our physical interactions with gravity, vertical orientation is strengthened by a gravitational vector and is thus interacting with an outside center and an eccentric composition. He states that since we must put effort into upward movement, but not into downward movement, we perceive an element in the upper part of the vertical image as having more weight than an element in the lower part. Thus the element in the upper part should be smaller to counterbalance an element below.
I liked the new compositions I was making with the wrapped ring in the mirrorworld, but wanted to see if a smaller ring that actually fit inside the frame of the mirror would have better results. While looking for materials to make the form, I noticed some old wire hat stands I had and decided to try wrapping them with lights. I had three, so I stacked two of them, and wrapped them with colored lights, and left one as is and wrapped it with white lights. This idea has so much potential because they stand freely and I can move them around in relation to each other.
Inspired by Arnheim’s discussion of horizontal and vertical weight, I made a clear plastic filter and drew a symmetrical cross in black sharpie, and I cut out a paper filter with a symmetrical cross in the middle of a circle. The plastic filter creates texture, and I can layer the two filters and move the paper one over the plastic one to cross the crosses at different angles. These images show the paper filter.
What do you think? Do you feel a gravitational pull in the vertical image, but not the horizontal?
For today’s Poetics prompt, Lillian provided some portraits by Thorvald Hellesen (1888 – 1937) as inspiration. I chose “Portrait of Eivind Eckbo” painted in 1914 for today’s poem.
The Man in Motion
He is a whirl of spring air spinning, spinning always turning but with one eye holding my stare like a ballerina in an eternal pirouette one leg steady—in the shadow under there under his billowing cloak rising and falling, a dangerous snare— the other continuing the momentum pointing in, pointing out, so beware
He is fluttering soft petals on a fragrant breeze whirling, whirling, but that eye on me stares the head almost appears to have a plan to stay still as the body turns, but then all hair it snaps around and is back and then it does it again—SNAP! the head has come around, never losing that stare
And the spinning never stops as with each turn he becomes more aware that he’s a pastel shimmer in motion more breezy, more one with the spring air and forgets he has a leg on the ground in the shadows under that cloak that has flown off somewhere.
For those readers who are wondering where my Reading Novels Like a Novelist (RNLN) post is, those posts are on hold for now. I’m still reading and taking notes on a novel a week, I’m just not into spending the time writing about them right now. We’re having some early summer weather here in the South Sound, and I have flower beds to find, and ants to battle, lawns to mow, and a garden to plant, and the weird thing is; my back gets sore, and I get tired. What’s that about? This crazy excitement for working outside will hopefully last through next week and then I’ll probably get back to talking about noveling (and revising my novel, of course).
I finally found some new pool noodles, so my floating studio has a new façade! I made a new tiny brad filter with a moving triangle on a triangle inspired by a diagram of Jean Victor Poncelet’s treatise on the projective properties of figures in Visual Thinking by Rudolf Arnheim.
While I was setting up my floating studio, a ginormous fish swam under it, and then came back to see what I was doing (sorry I didn’t take its picture, I was kind of stunned, and my camera was still on the porch). I think it might be a bass and live under the dock. I hope it comes to visit again, but not when I’m swimming.
It’s Open Link Night at dVerse Poets Pub which means there’s no poetry prompt, so head over and link up one of your poems and enjoy reading poetry by poets from all over the world!
For today’s poem, I’m continuing to focus on contradictory abstract nouns. I’ve collected and printed out an extensive list of abstract nouns ( I’m hoping to eventually have a definitive list of all of the abstract nouns in the English language to put in my three dimensional chart of where they fit on the continua of fear, control, and bias). At the moment, the words are on strips of paper in a cup. I selected peculiarity and sympathy to think about today.
She says peculiarity is orange
like this Fanta orange? zesting fizzy, bright and sweet? she ponders, head tilted, then smiles and shakes her head
like a construction cone (worn as a hat), or safety vest (over an evening gown)? she laughs, then frowns, then smiles, her orange lips stretching almost to her orange hair staring into me, waiting silently
the orange peculiar to oranges?
she knows orange is my favorite color I’m in my orange flightsuit, drinking an orange soda, under an orange tree in an orange plastic chair
I would say that orange is sympathetic in an agreed juicy taste and spherical shape sharing an understanding of orangeness
but do they feel sorrow—as they fall from the tree—in the falling; do they feel peculiar in their oneness; do they feel compassion for the others still clinging, and afraid?
Arnheim proposes that there are two compositional systems: the centric and the eccentric. The centric is the self-centered attitude. The eccentric is the recognition that one’s own center is not the only center, and stands for any action directed toward an outer center, and is in turn affected by the outer center.
Arnheim states, “The tension between the two antagonistic tendencies trying to achieve equilibrium is the very spice of human experience, and any artistic statement failing to meet the challenge will strike us as insufficient. Neither total self-centeredness nor total surrender to outer powers can make for an acceptable image of human motivation.”
So Arnheim has set up a dialectic of composition: The centric system gives rise to the eccentric system which is in conflict with it, and the two create tension while trying to come to equilibrium. As he talked more about centric and eccentric systems they seemed to correlate with my ideas of inner and outer control.
Though I’m just beginning to read the book and think about centric and eccentric composition, I was inspired to try something new in the mirrorworld to change my compositions. In December of 2021, I tried making “wreaths of light” by wrapping lights around a metal ring. Today, I wrapped the metal ring in lights and put it in the mirrorworld. I tied it to a bar overhead so it would stand up. I’ve always draped the string-lights between the mirrors, so this changes many aspects of the compositions. The most interesting change is that the wires between the lights are no longer part of the composition.
That explains a lot, really— It’s the waves (in the dip between the crests) that lull us into believing the fluffy clouds are harmless the crows cawing as they chase past the steeple carry no omen the open barn doors only invite the cattle home not to slaughter, not to ruin It’s so easy to forget the bottle will soon be tossed the upheaval will arrive
Outside the glass, the eccentric, the other center pushes and pulls, cycles and swirls, always
But in that lull, when the sun hits just right the water splashed and dripping could be a refreshing rain, not the evidence that I am only in a bigger bottle.
The dictionary says the ego is the “I” or self of any person; a person as thinking, feeling, and willing, and distinguishing itself from the selves of others and from objects of its thought. But reading through Freud’s Civilization and Its Discontents, I found this interesting explanation of ego:
“One comes to learn a procedure by which, through a deliberate direction of one’s sensory activities and through suitable muscular action, one can differentiate between what is internal—what belongs to the ego—and what is external—what emanates from the outer world. In this way one makes the first step towards the introduction of the reality principle which is to dominate future development. In order to fend off certain unpleasurable excitations arising from within, the ego can use no other methods than those which it uses against unpleasure coming from without, and this is the starting-point of important pathological disturbances.
In this way, then, the ego detaches itself from the external world. Or, to put it more correctly, originally the ego includes everything, later it separates off an external world from itself. Our present ego-feeling is, therefore, only a shrunken residue of a much more inclusive—indeed, an all-embracing—feeling which corresponded to a more intimate bond between the ego and the world about it. If we may assume hat there are many people in whose mental life this primary ego-feeling has persisted to a greater or less degree, it would exist in them side by side with the narrower and more sharply demarcated ego-feeling of maturity, like a kind of counterpart to it.”
He’s saying that the only reason we learn we are separate from everything around us is because we innately seek pleasure and avoid pain. In avoiding pain or “unpleasure” we learn that things that aren’t us give us unpleasure so we are separate from that, and thus the individual’s ego is realized.
I found a really interesting passage in Art As Experience by John Dewey that talks about this self awareness through “unpleasure” as well: “Nor without resistance from surroundings would the self become aware of itself; it would have neither feeling nor interest, neither fear nor hope, neither disappointment nor elation. Mere opposition that completely thwarts, creates irritation and rage. But resistance that calls out thought generates curiosity and solicitous care, and , when it is overcome and utilized, eventuates in elation.”
Dewey believes that expression only comes from conflict and challenging life experiences:
“. . . provided that the adverse conditions bear intrinsic relation to what they obstruct instead of being arbitrary and extraneous. Yet what is evoked is not just quantitative, or just more energy, but is qualitative, a transformation of energy into thoughtful action, through assimilation of meanings from the background of past experiences. The junction of the new and old is not a mere composition of forces, but is a re-creation in which the present impulsion gets form and solidity while the old, the “stored,” material is literally revived, given new life and soul through having to meet a new situation.
It is this double change which converts an activity into an act of expression. Things in the environment that would otherwise be mere smooth channels or else blind obstructions become means, media. At the same time, things retained from past experience that would grow stale from routine or inert from lack of use, become coefficients in new adventures and put on a raiment of fresh meaning. Here are all the elements need to define expression. The definition will gin force if the traits mentioned are made explicit by contrast with alternative situations. Not all outgoing activity is of the nature of expression. At one extreme there are storms of passion that break through barriers and that sweep away whatever intervenes between a person and something he would destroy. There is activity, but not, from the standpoint of the one acting, expression. An onlooker may say ” What a magnificent expression of rage!” But the enraged being is only raging, quite a different matter from expressing rage. Or, again some spectator may say “How that man is expressing his own dominant character in what he is doing or saying.” But the last thing the man in question is thinking of is to express his character; he is only giving way to a fit of passion.
I really enjoy those examples of how the viewer sees expression in action that isn’t expression.
How then are ego and expression contradictory? Ego is realized through avoiding conflict, expression is realized through enduring and facing conflict. Ego is separate from the outer world, expression is manifested in the outer world.
From all my reading, my understanding is that ego is the separation from the outer world, recognizing the self through avoidance of pain. Expression is using pain “squeezed” through a medium to show the self to the outer world, or perhaps re-connect the self to the outer world. I really connected to the yellow and gray effect I made yesterday. For today’s images I tried using that effect with some brush-stroke and splatter filters I created to see what I could paint with that effect that would express my ego. Turned out my ego meets expression with all the shiny colors.
Today’s prompt is “Take a look around Poetry International for a poem in a language you don’t know. . . . Now, read the poem to yourself, thinking about the sound and shape of the words, and the degree to which they remind you of words in your own language. Use those correspondences as the basis for a new poem.
A. Choose ONE of these paired opposites for your two poem’s theme whilst also including the chosen word somewhere in the body of each poem
admit – deny;
amuse – bore;
beg – offer;
condemn – praise;
fix – break;
mix – sort;
scatter – collect;
B. And with your chosen antonym pair, write your poem(s) in ONE of these poetry forms:
THE CONTRAPUNTAL – 2 poems that are distinct from one another but together can be read as one poem. They can be adjacent columns or fit alternately (italicised , boldened, indented to distinguish one from another if desired) There are lots of examples HERE or read Pauls’ MTB prompt in 2018 The Contrapuntal
THE CLEAVE –so similar to the above to be almost indistinguishable – I’ve seen it defined as 3 poems but ‘the inventor’ only states 2! Seems the poems blend together across each line to make one poem -see examples of CLEAVE POETRY HERE
Ego or Expression
Me, I am real, in a real time I age
I record temperatures of the real
scents of octopus and squid
sort and bear the problems of the real
of eel and guano
and rot with the passage of coming age
of dark mulberries squished
and boiled down to sauce
Send ears of healing and other swings
the swaying not sent here in cars somewhere
a mix of horrors
a mess of somewhere and the notes
in the a fondue of peppers
can roam and sway and in the music
a laundry of Swiss irons
I am fond of the page
a paste of tamarind,
an art inappropriate for care
chamomile, and sweat
in the dark where you will not find provisions
beware the purée's gone bad
irrational cares hone me
and the yogurt is terrible
Learn the uses and share your knowledge using #WeedAppreciationDay on social media.
And I’ll add:
write poems about weeds
pick weeds and use them as negative space filters for photographs
Last year I discovered that I can put a small weed on clear plastic and use it as a shape filter for my images. I hadn’t tried it in a long time, so this morning I took a walk and finally found a couple of Early Blue Violets to use in my filters this morning.
A Weed is a Flower in the Wild
My driveway is a testament to the futility of forcing nature to form.
High-pitched human wind of the leaf-blower may keep it at bay for about a day but that is all.
It is no match for nature’s howl.
This morning the lake flowed like a raging river as branches broke and scattered fir cones fell and skittered fir needles re-carpeted the pavement splattered white by appreciative bird-life.
The early blue violet boldly holds its symmetry against the chaos. The weed among the plants, its beauty confounds its label. A deep purple jewel against the gray and green misvalued and rejected yet persistent and free like truth and love only softer and more prevalent.
For today’s Poetics prompt at dVerse Poets Pub, Ingrid urged us to “write the poetry of the places and/or spaces which inspire you the most.” What a wonderful prompt for the first sunny spring day of 2023 here at Lake Tapps.
Once Upon a Lake Tapps Spring
Today the Mountain peeks from behind the clouds like a coquette behind a fan flirting with her eyes. She catches mine from across the still lake, reflecting clouds with slight ripples, offset like a panoramic image poorly seemed.
The sun shines so a saw blade growls, a fishing boat cuts the shallow water, and a dark-eyed junko atop a budding rhododendron announces spring.
I say hello to a fat, fuzzy, orange and yellow bumble bee on the purple heather. He chases me buzzing bigly. When he’s gone, I return to the heather and I’m surprised to smell licorice.
The lake is rising, fed by the river, fed by the melting mountain snow, but sits at the bottom of the ramp. The water is so clear. I can see every rock, every striation of every rock, fuzzy clumps of algae on and around the rocks. I put my fingers in.
The water’s cold but doesn’t bite. I smell my fingers expecting fish and decay, but smell nothing. I scoop the water in my palm, but still nothing. Fresh nothing like the air.
I pick up a large white feather from the grass. Its stiff stem is clear. I can see into it to another layer where the feather begins. Shed from an eagle’s tail, or the wing of a goose or a swan? I am never without bird possibilities.
The lake is choppy now. Sun glinting on the tiny waves is almost blinding, but I don’t want to look away. Strange yells pull my attention across the lake. A man bounds from his house, I think he is suffering, is panicking, but he returns to his house calmly, having chased the geese back to the lake. My eyes return to the blinding sparkles.