Monthly Archives: June 2016

What Is Found in a Liminal Space?

This prolonged heat spell is making me feel as if I am in a liminal state. Between living and dead. Even in the air conditioning I feel drained and sweaty and as if my body continues to swell. What if it never stops and just gets larger and larger?

Liminality is a positive place to be if you are open-minded and ready, but it can lead to negative consequences. The photo is from a HuffPo article about the green tunnel in the Poison Garden at Alnwick Gardens in Northumberland. Click on the photo, and it will lead you to the article. Needless to say, there are poisonous plants in the poison garden, so you have to be open-minded to the experience and prepared.

United Kingdom, England, Northumberland, Alnwick, The Alnwick Garden, The Poison Garden, Tunnel. (Photo by Jeffrey Greenberg/UIG via Getty Images)

United Kingdom, England, Northumberland, Alnwick, The Alnwick Garden, The Poison Garden, Tunnel. (Photo by Jeffrey Greenberg/UIG via Getty Images)

I’ve never been to this garden before, so I can’t help but wonder how animals and birds are protected from so much poison in one place.  Maybe most of them know better, but they don’t all know better.

Back to the heat: I haven’t been working on the play.  I can hardly get the bare minimum of work-work accomplished.

The good news is that Slupe is out and roaming with all the cats, but she paces around restlessly and doesn’t lie down unless she is hanging around the periphery of where the other cats congregate. She is in a liminal space, I guess, waiting to become a full-fledged resident and adopted from the shelter (instead of a foster cat).

Here she is hanging out in the cupboard with my computer printer. Her thought bubble: I hope nobody knows I’m in here. I’m in my liminal space.

Actually Slupe’s liminal space is stressful, not just magical. But maybe there is some anxiety associated with all liminal spaces. What do you think?

On the subject of liminality, I found something I theorized about liminality and poetry when I was up on subjects like liminal space (this was before I had cats):

When a poem is written, creative identity is performed by the poet.  This performance always exists in the liminal phase.  Imagine a two-dimensional diagram with a point on the left signifying the familiar everyday experience and a point on the right signifying the familiar everyday experience.  The straight line connecting the two points is the liminal passage or threshold in which all is unfamiliar.  Importantly, the diagram is not circular because the two familiar points are not the same point.  The threshold allows the individual to adjust to the new point of familiarity.

Every poem is written somewhere along that line between the familiar points and exists in liminality in a relation to one or both of the points.  Some poems may be performed by the poets more in the center of the line, thus farthest away from the points of familiarity–others may be much closer to the familiar.  Therefore, from the standpoint of the writer, all poems are liminal, although some are more so than others.

And not just for writers, but for readers, too. What I like about this is how I discovered through studying liminal spaces and anthropology that poetry exists in a liminal space. That’s why it’s so special. When we read a poem we get to visit a liminal space, full of anxiety and magic.

And now back to cat patrol. It’s time for all five of them to eat. Odds are, out of five, somebody is going to throw up their food with or without a hairball. There’s nothing liminal about cat puke.

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Filed under Arizona, Flora, Garden, and Landscape, Liminality, Poetry, Writing

More Arizona Exploring

To get away from the record heat in Phoenix, we went south for a day. Tucson, at 2,589 ft,  is a higher altitude than Phoenix, which is 1,086. Plus, Tucson is protected from the sun by the mountains and thus has more cloud cover. But we didn’t stay there long. We went to the real mountains. To Bisbee, AZ, to be precise. 5,589 ft.

There are those darn lines again!

It was a lovely temperature for summer. I don’t know what temperature it was, but it felt perfect. There was even a drizzle part of the day.

See that B up there on top? Stands for Bisbee.  No kidding! The population is about the same as the altitude. About one person per foot of altitude.

Bisbee is a very charming looking town because in the downtown area there is very little new construction. It’s almost all “antique.”

The museum had a lovely garden.

And the shops were interesting to me. A honey shop. A custom hat shop. A dress shop where I bought a hat in my favorite color (coral called peony). And a shop with a window after my own heart.

Dolls, masks, old photos, and memento mori. What more could I want?

The only thing they had very little of: gluten free food. Yikes. OK, I won’t go into that rant again.

On the way back from Bisbee, we drove through Tombstone (yup, that Tombstone), where we’ve been before.

I had to take photos out of the car window . . . .

We also drove through St. David, a town founded by LDS pioneers. It’s still mainly Mormon, and it appears to be a farming community, but maybe the farming was in its past. I was glad to get home, though, to my 4+1 cats. Slupe is doing so well! She’s now been out with all the others cats, and I am hopeful that they can be one happy group (when Tiger watches her back so Kana doesn’t sneak up on her).

Slupe

Slupe

My new writing project is a play. I’ve been working on the play with my daughter. I find it fairly easy to write dialogue, but more difficult to conceptualize how it all works onstage. That is her expertise. As an actor, she has a good feel for the physical parts of the play. I expect it to move slowly because of being the work of two people.

Have you ever worked on a project, writing or otherwise, with someone else that you were used to doing by yourself?

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Filed under #AmWriting, Arizona, Cats and Other Animals, History, Inspiration, playwriting, Sightseeing & Travel, Vintage American culture, Writing

The Staircase #liminality

This week’s liminal photo has a name. Haha, pretentious, considering the quality of my photography? Much. But it still has a name: “Stairway to Heaven.”

I like this photo because a perfectly liminal space is that between life and death, earth and heaven.

Have you been watching for #liminality? What have you found?

Here is a poem by H.D. that I thought of because of the record heat wave in Arizona this week. Hilda Doolittle is a poet whose poems I worked with for my dissertation. Ultimately, I dropped her as one of my subjects, choosing to focus on Jorie Graham, Sylvia Plath, Muriel Rukeyser, Adrienne Rich, and Linda Hogan, for the most part.  Her work was so precise and crystalline and so focused on her classical allusions, that it wasn’t warm enough for me (sorry for the pun). But this poem perfectly captures the heavy hot air. The air that makes it difficult for the lungs to expand.

Heat

H. D., 18861961

O wind, rend open the heat,
cut apart the heat,
rend it to tatters.

Fruit cannot drop
through this thick air--
fruit cannot fall into heat
that presses up and blunts
the points of pears
and rounds the grapes.

Cut the heat--
plough through it,
turning it on either side
of your path.







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Filed under #AmWriting, Arizona, Blogging, Liminality, Writing

Playing with Poetry (or T2)

The other day I realized that I do need to be systematic to stay organized and to be organized to feel productive (thank you, Jill Weatherholt). Chaos doesn’t work for me. Neither does too much spontaneity. Some, yes, but not too much.

I keep trying to get organized around poetry, and it keeps fighting back.

I had the possibly annoying brilliant idea that I would come up with a systematic way to share poetry tidbits and trivia (called T2) on a more regular basis. But what structure to use for that systematic organization?

Heh. I tried birth dates of poets. You know, like this: it’s June 20, so I will share something about Irish poet Paul Muldoon who was born on June 20, 1951. Kinda left me cold. Not Muldoon or his work, but his birthdate as an arbitrary choice of tidbit or trivia.

I wondered what happened in the poetry world on a June 20? I found this about Sylvia Plath on Poetry Foundation:

It was during her undergraduate years that Plath began to suffer the symptoms of severe depression that would ultimately lead to her death. In one of her journal entries, dated June 20, 1958, she wrote: “It is as if my life were magically run by two electric currents: joyous positive and despairing negative—whichever is running at the moment dominates my life, floods it.” This is an eloquent description of bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, a very serious illness for which no genuinely effective medications were available during Plath’s lifetime.

I’m sure I read that before because when I was Plath-obsessed I studied her journals pretty, um, obsessively. But I wouldn’t remember that she wrote that on a June 20, would I? And while this is a very important quote for anyone with or touched by bipolar disorder, many other Plath quotes speak to me much more.

What I really like to do with poetry doesn’t have a lot to do with systems or schedules (maybe poetry fights back because it doesn’t like systems). I like to write it, for one. Too hot right now for that (we’re having a dangerous heat wave in Arizona) When I taught future elementary teachers, I had them make big posterboard collages for teaching particular poems.  I like to make collages about poems, too. Too hot for that for sure. I like to read poems and write in a journal the most random idiosyncratic* responses to them.

* When I was a new grad student in Riverside, I had a meeting with a professor about a paper I wrote.  He thought it was good, but very “idiosyncratic.” I had the embarrassment of asking him what that meant. Yes, I was an English grad student and had always read a lot, but sometimes it’s clear I am not an expert on English. If you grew up like I did, this is what idiosyncratic means: “peculiar or individual.”

Yup, peculiar. Hah. Individual. It also means one-of-a-kind. My paper was one-of-a-kind. I had no idea. But I was perceptive enough to realize that it wasn’t good to be “idiosyncratic” in grad school. (It was worth it because now I love the word).

Back to the subject of what I like to do with poetry. Journaling about poetry is therapeutic and creative. It’s lots of fun.

Have I mentioned I haven’t done it in a long time? So it isn’t just the heat over here.

You can see why I want some interesting way back into immersing myself in poetry that isn’t just the poetry I’m writing. I am lazy. And easily distracted. I thought maybe if I shared a poetry T2 on a regular basis, even if it’s within a post about something else, it would be a way of playing with poetry. Like making mud pies or playing with a bucket in the sand. Maybe if it’s just fun, poetry won’t notice that there is a schedule/system in place.

For today, since it’s so hot, how about a quote from a poem I love? I posted a long portion in the fall of 2013, but this passage gets to the heart of my sweet Felix’s nature. From Christopher Smart’s (1722-1771) “Jubilate Agno, Fragment B, [For I will consider my Cat Jeoffry]”. The trivia is that Christopher Smart’s nicknames were Kit Smart and Kitty Smart. Kitty Smart is a good name for some of my cats! The poem is very wide, so be sure to use the slide bar to read to the end of each line if the ends are not visible to you

For if he meets another cat he will kiss her in kindness.
For when he takes his prey he plays with it to give it a chance.
For one mouse in seven escapes by his dallying.
For when his day’s work is done his business more properly begins.
For he keeps the Lord’s watch in the night against the adversary. 
For he counteracts the powers of darkness by his electrical skin and glaring eyes.
For he counteracts the Devil, who is death, by brisking about the life.
For in his morning orisons he loves the sun and the sun loves him.
For he is of the tribe of Tiger.
For the Cherub Cat is a term of the Angel Tiger.
For he has the subtlety and hissing of a serpent, which in goodness he suppresses.
For he will not do destruction if he is well-fed, neither will he spit without provocation.
For he purrs in thankfulness when God tells him he’s a good Cat.
For he is an instrument for the children to learn benevolence upon.
For every house is incomplete without him, and a blessing is lacking in the spirit.

 

For my cat Felix

Let me know, please, if you have ideas for what kind of T2 you would like for me to share about poetry. Maybe it’s not as hot by you . . . . After all, it did get to 118 yesterday.

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Filed under #AmWriting, Arizona, Cats and Other Animals, Poetry, Writing, Writing goals, Writing Tips and Habits

Liminality and the Lake

Last week I posted about liminality, defined as a space between or on/in a sensory threshold. A transitional state. You can read more about it here.

When I traveled to my home state in October 2014, I had not visited Michigan for quite some time, and it was a very intense, emotional  trip for me. Although I’d spent a lot of time with my parents out west, I hadn’t been to see them on the land where I grew up.

There is a way that I could think of that visit as a liminal space because it was the threshold that led into my father’s illness and eventual death in May 2015. It was the last time I saw my father before his illnesses, although he might have already been sick at the time–and nobody realized it. Our relationship began to change after this trip.

I found a photo from that visit that I find to be symbolic of liminality: the dock at my parents’ home. The dock is a passageway between land and water. If you walk off the dock into the water, you had better know how to swim or be wearing a life jacket.

I wasn’t prepared for walking off the dock that fall, but luckily I had had swimming lessons as a kid.

By the way, that wire across the top of the photo? I thought about cropping it out, but it seems important somehow.

Have you found any liminal spaces?

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Filed under Blogging, Family history, Lifestyle, Liminality, Sightseeing & Travel, Writing

A Good Book, A Beautiful Gift, and Help the Shelter Animals with One Click!

RE-POSTING BECAUSE THERE ARE STILL SOME BOOKS AND CHARMS LEFT! DO YOU HAVE $10 TO HELP THE ANIMALS AND GET ALL THIS?

 

I’ve rambled on plenty about the no-kill animal shelter where I volunteer. It’s in Phoenix, and they do a fabulous job with the dogs and cats. Hundreds of animals find their forever homes thanks to Home Fur Good.

If you have a heart for the animals OR like pretty gifts OR want to get a copy of Doll God, my award-winning poetry collection, you can do all three of those things and get free shipping to boot!!!

To raise some funds for the shelter and to promote my book I have planned a treat.

First, I have 12 copies of Doll God that can be signed and personalized, if you like.

Then I ordered 12 purse/briefcase charms from a Home Fur Good volunteer who makes them. Each one costs me $5, and each $5 is donated to the shelter!

 

Some charms have a cat (duh) and some have an elephant (which you know I respect).

You will receive a signed copy of my book and a charm (tell me whether you prefer a cat or elephant, and I will send you your preference if I have one available–otherwise I will send the other) with free shipping all for one lil ole donation to HOME FUR GOOD.

My book is valued at $14 and the charm at $5, plus I am picking up the shipping myself. All I am asking is that you donate a minimum of $10 (for shipping to US address) or $15 (for international shipping)!!! Feel free to donate more if you can, but only one package deal per person, please.

$10.00 donation for U.S. shipping

$15 donation for international shipping

Value $19 + free shipping (and you get a tax write-off via HFG)

CLICK HERE TO DONATE

How can you BEAT that? No more excuses that you can’t spend $14 on a poetry book!!! I’m making it really easy for you ;). Just email me either the email you get from HFG verifying your donation or a little screen shot of a non-private part of your donation. Also send your mailing address and full name to writersite.wordpress[at]gmail[dot]com.

If you already have Doll God (thank you thank you thank you), please think of it for gift-giving!!! How can you go wrong with this deal? If you don’t have a purse or briefcase, I’m pretty sure you know somebody who does who would love a pretty charm.

Thank you so much for helping out the cats and dogs!!!

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Filed under #AmWriting, Book Giveaway, Book promotion, Books, Cats and Other Animals, Doll God, poems about dolls, Poetry, Poetry book, Poetry Collection, Writing

A Good Book, A Beautiful Gift, and Help the Shelter Animals with One Click!

 

I’ve rambled on plenty about the no-kill animal shelter where I volunteer. It’s in Phoenix, and they do a fabulous job with the dogs and cats. Hundreds of animals find their forever homes thanks to Home Fur Good.

If you have a heart for the animals OR like pretty gifts OR want to get a copy of Doll God, my award-winning poetry collection, you can do all three of those things and get free shipping to boot!!!

To raise some funds for the shelter and to promote my book I have planned a treat.

First, I have 12 copies of Doll God that can be signed and personalized, if you like.

Then I ordered 12 purse/briefcase charms from a Home Fur Good volunteer who makes them. Each one costs me $5, and each $5 is donated to the shelter!

 

Some charms have a cat (duh) and some have an elephant (which you know I respect).

You will receive a signed copy of my book and a charm (tell me whether you prefer a cat or elephant, and I will send you your preference if I have one available–otherwise I will send the other) with free shipping all for one lil ole donation to HOME FUR GOOD.

My book is valued at $14 and the charm at $5, plus I am picking up the shipping myself. All I am asking is that you donate a minimum of $10 (for shipping to US address) or $15 (for international shipping)!!! Feel free to donate more if you can, but only one package deal per person, please.

$10.00 donation for U.S. shipping

$15 donation for international shipping

Value $19 + free shipping (and you get a tax write-off via HFG)

CLICK HERE TO DONATE

How can you BEAT that? No more excuses that you can’t spend $14 on a poetry book!!! I’m making it really easy for you ;). Just email me either the email you get from HFG verifying your donation or a little screen shot of a non-private part of your donation. Also send your mailing address and full name to writersite.wordpress[at]gmail[dot]com.

If you already have Doll God (thank you thank you thank you), please think of it for gift-giving!!! How can you go wrong with this deal? If you don’t have a purse or briefcase, I’m pretty sure you know somebody who does who would love a pretty charm.

Hurry now, before the dozen books and charms are gone! Thank you so much for helping out the cats and dogs!!!

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Filed under #AmWriting, Book Giveaway, Book promotion, Books, Cats and Other Animals, Doll God, poems about dolls, Poetry, Poetry book, Poetry Collection, Writing

In the Between

I’ve always had a thing for liminality. Yup, liminality. Doesn’t it feel good on your tongue? According to Merriam-Webster (remember her?):

Definition of liminal

  1. 1:  of or relating to a sensory threshold

  2. 2:  barely perceptible

  3. 3:  of, relating to, or being an intermediate state, phase, or condition :  in-between, transitional<in the liminal state between life and death — Deborah Jowitt>

I love that in between space there. You know, anywhere. Passageways like cupboards and rabbit holes and wardrobes.  The place of process, like focusing on the process of art instead of the finished product. The place of change where you are different at one end than you were at the other.

I thought I’d let my camera start searching for some of those liminal spaces. If you find any, please share!!!

This one is at the Virginia Dare office and shopping center in Rancho Cucamonga, California.

On Monday I have such a deal coming for you! Watch for it!

In the meantime, life with Slupe is sweet.

 

Did you think I’ve forgotten about Kana and Tiger (and Pear and Felix)? Nope. I think I have mentioned that Tiger has a little window seat that is all hers. It’s her happy place. I put an X of double faced tape so that Kana can’t lie there and annoy her. She has an ice cube tray with toys so that I can hide treats under the toys. And I placed a mini litter box behind my antique trunk in case Kana blocks her from the ones in the laundry room. Lots of quail and bunnies and lizards for Tiger to watch.

Tiger has a little squeak like a mouse and runs from Kana which prompts Kana to chase her. Sigh. I guess it’s all that liminal space ;).

 

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Filed under Blogging, Cats and Other Animals, Lifestyle, Liminality, Writing

Someone I Never Actually Met

When I heard that Muhammad Ali had died and I listened to his chronology, I realized that his Parkinson’s was diagnosed before my kids were even born. They don’t remember Ali as I do. When I was a little kid, there were two big celebrities whose names swirled around me on a weekly, if not daily, basis: Marilyn Monroe and Cassius Clay. It wasn’t until 1964 that the Beatles eclipsed these names. For me, the name Cassius Clay itself was memorable, as was his personality and his reputation. He was a bit of a P.T. Barnum, bellowing and insisting upon attention and admiration. He was talented, and he knew it. He was handsome, and he knew it. He had the “IT” factor, and he knew it. He was also willing to stand up for himself and didn’t hold himself back, furthering civil rights by engendering in my generation the notion that OF COURSE all people should be equal. He did that with his expectations.

Then he converted, changed his name, and avoided the draft–and stirred up even more attention for himself. At that point, he tested the sympathies of middle-aged middle America. But for my generation, he showed that you don’t have to accept things just because the government says it is so. You can fight against what you feel is wrong. He showed that some things are worth fighting for. Whether you agreed or not with his political stance, it was impossible not to recognize that he was a FORCE and a TEACHER. We were young. We were blank slates. We learned so much from him.

Until very recently, my kids didn’t know any of this. The only thing they knew was that Muhammad Ali was a big name, an ex-champion, and had a vague illness.

If we don’t teach the history, how will they know that Ali’s importance didn’t lie in his boxing skills? How will future generations understand that teachers can come in unusual packages?

As a student of history, I am sensitive to history as an entity–its identity, its reputation, and its existence. Think of history as a person that you care about. I worry about the welfare of history–maybe that’s what I am saying.

The most important role of history, of course, is to remind us  of the effects of our action and inaction–and to understand the process. As George Santayana so famously said: Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. We don’t want to keep making the same mistakes over and over again.

Even through grad school (where I was working on a master’s in history before I switched to English and creative writing) and my teaching career, I saw that history was sometimes maligned or misunderstood, but had its place in the world.

I’m not so sure anymore.

I could look up a lot of statistics, but I’m writing this on Sunday afternoon and it’s inching up toward 115 degrees. It was 115 yesterday. My air conditioning can only cool my house just so much. I am fogged up with migraine aura from the heat and the thick particles of crud in the air. All I can say is I suspect that we are leaving history in the dust as we move on toward our brave new technologically driven world.

Tangent over. Back to Ali. When my kids were little, a baby in my family was born, and she was related to Ali. We were almost kin. This was exciting news. Just so you know, I am also almost kin to George Burns (“God” and Gracie’s husband) and Anton van Leeuwenhoek (microscope inventor). Anyway, Ali was gracious and generous to the new baby.

I never thought Ali would cross my path again, but I was wrong.

A couple of years ago, my son visited the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center at Barrows Neurological Institute here in Phoenix where he received a diagnosis that had eluded us for years. There he was diagnosed with a rare movement disorder called Myoclonus Dystonia. The gardener and I had been taking him to doctors since he was nine months old, trying to figure out the source of his tic. Thanks to Ali’s donations and guidance, the center at Barrows (St. Joseph’s) is world class. When my son and I walked the hall, looking at all the photos of Ali, he said, “That’s our relative!” Hah, yeah, sort of. Pretty cool.

RIP, Teacher.

###

On a related note about the importance of making a place for history, did you watch the new Roots mini-series? Did you see the original version? If you were old enough when the first series aired and if you lived in the United States, I’m pretty sure you watched it. Although its story is fictional, it’s based on a historical novel by Alex Haley that is grounded in historical research and based on his own ancestor. So the TV series is a wonderful teaching tool.  But if you weren’t around for that show, have you done your reading or is the history of African Americans one that you watch only in current events on your computer screen?

Did you watch the new Roots? I still haven’t found anybody else who has watched the new one. I hope you did. Even if you saw the first one, the new one has some new perspectives. For instance, Kunta Kinte, the first main character of the story, is a Mandinka warrior, not a simple villager. I like this because it gives the story and its characters a powerful guiding force throughout, and instills a sense of pride, as well. There are events, though, where I wondered if they pushed too far. If you watched it, I’d love to know what you thought about that last gunshot near the end. If you respond, please write a warning about a plot reveal!

In other news, we have the first blossom of a new hibiscus bush!

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Filed under #AmWriting, Arizona, Books, Family history, Flora, Garden, and Landscape, History, Inspiration, Novel, Vintage American culture

How Do You Like Your Art–Fixed or Unfixed?

For years, it didn’t occur to me that art could be other than how I knew it: something tangible that existed in a (hopefully) permanent form so that the art appreciator could go back again and again and drink at its well.

I learned that I could have a different reaction at different times, but that the art itself was the same–only I had changed. Or its context had changed.

At the Chicago Art Institute my favorite painting was Caillebotte’s “Paris, A Rainy Day.” Anytime I visited Chicago I could go to the gallery and see it again.

from Wikipedia

from Wikipedia

At six, I fell in love with Tchiakovsky’s “Sleeping Beauty Waltz,” probably because I knew it from Disney–having seen the movie before I turned four–and when my mother bought me the classical album, I even carried it to first grade class for show and tell. I fell asleep every night to the entire symphony for quite awhile.

There is a difference between the Caillebotte and the Tchiakovsky beyond art form. The Caillebotte is a fixed art form. Unchangeable. The Tchiakovsky is, as well, except that it can be varied upon because every time a new symphony performs it, something might change. I still consider this a fairly fixed form, though, because I am unlikely to notice the differences. It takes a lot of musical education to know.

The ultimate fixed form, to my mind, is the book. It’s unlikely to change and, unlike art, which draws part of its meaning from its setting in a gallery or on a street corner, a book is the same around the world. As a writer, I like the fixed nature of the art I work in. It suits my hoarding, controlling nature.

I was interested in theatre and dance from a very young age, even writing and directing little plays for the neighborhood kids and my classmates. I created puppet theatres with, wait for it, dolls, of course. But I never stopped to think about this form of art.  Is it fixed, especially after the play script is written, or is it unfixed because there are so many variables–actors, directors, costumes, sets, props, technical crew, and even errors change the art. The audience has the ability to change it.

When my daughter fell head first into the performing arts, I shapeshifted into one of those crazy dance moms running around with a video camera, always wanting to record her performances, even tech rehearsal, because I had grown up thinking art must be captured to exist. If my daughter danced and it wasn’t recorded, had she really created art?

Then I read and began to teach Leslie Marmon Silko’s novel Ceremony about a half Laguna Pueblo / half white WWII veteran with PTSD. There is a very important scene where Tayo visits a Navajo medicine man for a cure. The ritual involves the creation of a white corn sand painting. The shocker for me was that the painting is erased. Yes, erased. The purpose is in the making, not in the hanging onto it. When you think about it, this is a much more spiritual response to art because it takes the need to control out of the picture. It is not goal or perfection oriented.

When I researched the sand paintings, I discovered that the notion of saving our art, rather than erasing or letting it change over time naturally (like the poems of balladeers), is culturally based. It even intrigued me when I finally read about elephants creating art (I’ve written about that before when I talked about the book When Elephants Weep) that they create and then erase. Of course, they do: humans, not elephants, are ridiculous hoarders. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Or does our culture demand it?

Maybe not. Look at performance art. Poetry slams. Improv shows. “The Million Line Poem” by Tupelo Press. Even New York theatre is reaching out to the audience to participate in many plays. Is this a fad that can’t survive? After all, the sand painting survived as art process because it was a ritualized part of the life of a people. Without this broader context for unfixed art, can these art forms survive?

Another reason we might be stuck with mainly fixed art: iPhones and other technology. Did you hear about an audience member setting up a video camera on a tripod to record Adele’s concert? She was pissed and chastised the person. But it’s a losing battle. No venue can police an entire audience–and what kind of relationship would that produce?

What about your tastes? Do you prefer your art fixed, like books and paintings, or unfixed, like ice sculptures? Or do you prefer something in between–a known script in a new production, a live concert of your favorite band’s best songs?

 

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Filed under #AmWriting, Art and Music, Essay, Nonfiction, Writing, Writing Talk