Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Drafting, pt. 8

Part of the reason I continue to pursue this conversation with you, pretending that the you exists outside the borders of brain-jail, is because I'm interested in the collaborative and multimedia potential of art. I was a musician before I was a writer* and so I can't help but want be part of something that I don't refer to as My art, and say deplorable things like, "What I try to accomplish in my art..."

So, in an effort to help laterally dislodge the cork in the revision process of the book-in-progress, I'm starting a new, shorter (I think) book that is kind of about my artist friend Grant Hanna, kind of about his obsession with rabbits, kind of about me, and kind of about semiotics.

I want there to be multiple layers involved, culling the text from instant message conversations with Grant that had nothing to do with this book idea, rabbit dissection manuals from the 70s, and my few memories of the one cat my family had for a short time. Of course I can literally write/paste all that in, but I want the layering process to be visible somehow. Something like the centuries old method of encaustic (painting with translucent layers of hot wax) or--despite the grotesque sound of the word--a palimpsest (word origin is "scrape" and "again").

I'll save the definition for palimpsest and let you (me?) and wikipedia hash it out, but the general idea is that the work that is on the top layer is informed, heightened, and contradicted by the still-visible work below it. The act of reading then becomes a multidimensional act of reconstruction on the part of the writer and reader. It is a written work of art, but involves visual and tactile elements one experiences at an art gallery or a concert.

I'm still stabbing blindly with this one, but here are a few projected titles that'll most likely disappear in subsequent drafts, but here, in this electronic palimpsest, this vulnerable part of the creative process will remain intact:

1. The Rabbit Book in Progress
2. Little White Rabbit: An Essay on Progress
3. I Scrape Again

*I speak of levels of awareness. I try to avoid that whole, "I was always a writer because I drew comics in 4th grade about a chemically-mutated dog named Oddball."**
**My mother still has the only copy.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Letter to an IC, pt. 1: Post-Script

P.S. -

I realize I kind of sounded like a jerk. What with all that humble talk that wasn't actually humble. Don't think that it's because I don't like you, or want to be near you. I just don't know where you are.

Recently, I believe myself to be in the midst of an epistemological crisis. That is, I'm aware of what I know, but that seems to be as far as it goes. I can't apply that knowledge. Sometimes, I wonder if awareness is a trap--that so many lights go off that you go blind, or at least see dark smudges in front of the objects and places you desire most.

So, basically, it means that it's probably not a matter of you not being there, but that I've created dissonance that I first thought would lead to transcendence, but now it's just making me see spots.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Letter to an Invisible Church: No. 1

Dear Church of the Holy Abstraction:

I can't see you. I'm beginning to think I never will.

The thing is, I don't think you quite understand where I'm coming from--that I have, either by my own unwitting design or not, placed myself between worlds. Basically, regarding you and my prospected participation in your congregation, I will always sound elitist and prideful. Which will then cause me to act in 'humility' and say the opposite of what I just thought/said.

But is that really humility? Am I being humble when I first think that I would go to a church if they had a book club dedicated to reading Joyce's Finnegan's Wake, but then say, no, that's asking too much--the church should be shaping my ideas of it, not me shaping my ideas of the church? It seems that, in order to be humble, you have to expose your pride first.

Don't go turning that into an anecdote in your next sermon.

But really, though: is it possible to be humble when you are constantly aware of this fact? And further, how am I supposed to know the difference between humbling myself and selling myself short? When I catch myself daydreaming about a book tour, I immediately feel that if I'm daydreaming about it, it means I don't deserve it. Then I lament the fact that I'd never be able to sit through another office job whose duty to society was as some intermediary service to something else that may or may not be useful to anyone. Then I think about how egotistical it is to put myself above 60% of the American workforce. Then I feel awful that 60% of the American workforce is working to work. Then I think, who am I?

Then: I don't stop asking that last question.

So: at the end of these thought cycles, what am I left with? Where have I gone--or, have I already disappeared years ago, and when I thought I was humbling myself, it was my spine cracking as I shoveled sand over my head?

Waiting, Always,
a sleeper

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


Essay in Embryo #7

Every few months I start thinking about what I would want as a tattoo. I go through the same litany of pros and cons, be they cliche (what would you want on you forever?) or guilt-induced by my upbringing in a generally tat-unfriendly culture (don't you know that your body is a temple?).

In the beginning was the Word

A few months ago, I had a dream that I actually made the leap and went to a tattoo parlor. I didn't tell the artist what to draw, so, he/she drew a rose on my arm, and wrote "Rose" underneath it. Image and text, married, but not happy about the union. "No! That's so obvious!" I yelled, and had them remove it. I then had an epiphany: I wanted a tea plant drawn on my shoulder blade, with the scientific name underneath it (Camellia Sinensis). Why this was any different than the previous rose is a Rose, I don't know.

And the Word was with God

In high school, I learned about Nazarite vows, the most famous exemplar being Samson. He was bound to God by strict adherence to certain dos/do-nots, namely, not cutting his hair or drinking alcohol. Even though things don't go so well for him, I took the idea of binding yourself to God as something I should do, and came up with my own version: I wouldn't dye my hair, pierce my ears, or get a tattoo. It was a ridiculous thing that wasn't officially vowed before anyone, and I saw it mostly as a reaction to the trend of dying your hair with Kool-Aid that was popular in the 90s. As a junior in college though, I had my ear pierced. It never healed, and when I gave up and removed it, it left a nodule scar of cartilage on the top of my ear. "Be careful of vows, no matter how idiotic," my soon-to-be father-in-law said.

And the Word was God

I had the idea today of getting something that used the idea from the opening of the Gospel of John, where he describes the coming of the messiah as a word being turned into flesh. While I doubt I'd ever actual do it (though, maybe in Latin? viscus vox? Doesn't Latin=Cool?) it made me wonder. As a writer, I'm constantly trying to turn words into flesh, via the imagination of my perceived readers. So, in one sense, are writers in general doing the work of messiah-bringers? But, then, I pull my content from the past--from preexisting flesh. So, really, am I turning dead-flesh into word, hoping it will re-flesh itself? Resurrect it into something restorative, transcendent? If that's the case, then something that was truly word first would be nothing short of word-world-warping. It would also explain why prophets are perceived as crazy: they're acting as if their words have already grown legs.

I am a voice shouting in the wilderness

Just that: a voice in search of an image, a body, a future.

*Italicized portions pulled from John 1, New Living Translation