Sunday Morning

Except for Aunt Maria. Unlike her father, my grandfather, she belonged not among the Enlightenment’s disciples, but with the deeply religious, the deeply silent. I know she read serious works on theology, I would guess that she knew how to pray (an ability far rarer than it seems), but she was a quiet person, like all in my family…Aunt Maria’s silence, it seems to me, grew from her religion—I sensed her conviction that things linked to faith must be left unexpressed, that they’re lost when spoken, they become banalities. I admired her for being different, for the deep devotion that she wouldn’t, couldn’t share with us—she was the opposite of those pious hypocrites who place their religious fervor on public display…Maria kept silent for different reasons. Perhaps those who pray truly and deeply inevitably watch their words around others.

~ Adam Zagajewski, Slight Exaggeration: An Essay (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, April 4, 2017)


Notes: Image – Farm Hands, via Mennyfox55

Everyone knows this. Everyone knows what it looks like.

Everyone knows this. Everyone knows what it looks like. I can’t count how many pieces I’ve read about how alienated we’ve become, tethered to our devices, leery of real contact; how we are heading for a crisis of intimacy, as our ability to socialise withers and atrophies. But this is like looking through the wrong end of a telescope. We haven’t just become alienated because we’ve subcontracted so many elements of our social and emotional lives to machines. It’s no doubt a self-perpetuating cycle, but part of the impetus for inventing as well as buying these things is that contact is difficult, frightening, sometimes intolerably dangerous Your favourite part of having a smartphone is never having to call anyone again, the source of the gadget’s pernicious appeal is not that it will absolve its owner of the need for people but that it will provide connection to them –connection, furthermore, of a risk-free kind, in which the communicator need never be rejected, misunderstood or overwhelmed, asked to supply more attention, closeness or time than they are willing to offer up.

~ Olivia Laing, The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone


Photo: Luca Pietrobono with smartphone

Flying Over I-95 N. With Radar O’Reilly.

sky-clouds,aerial

I’m 39,800 feet up and heading home. I receive a text message from my Assistant.

“7:30 am tomorrow. Meeting just hit your calendar.”

“OK”

It was 3 years ago. I had slogged through a conga line of candidate interviews – job hoppers, unexplainable gaps on resumes, typos, gum snappers…and…poor chemistry.

She stepped into my office.  I scanned her resume. Professional presentation. No typos. Higher education. Limited job hopping.  OK, so what’s the catch?

It was late afternoon. We walked through her work experience, why she was looking to leave her current role, how she’d found me.  Her responses were polite and brief, no extra words. Two introverts suffocating the silence. Do I bring this out in all candidates? Is it me?

I pivot to my concerns. [Read more…]

It’s been a long day

I am not a person to say the words out loud

I think them strongly, or let them hunger from the page:

know it from there, from my silence, from somewhere other

than my tongue

the quiet love

the silent rage

—  Keri Hulme, from “Against the Small Evil Voices,” in Strands.


Notes:

 

Walking Cross-Town. With Marrow.

It’s 6:38 pm and I’m rushing across town to catch the 7:12 at Grand Central.

It’s 6:38 pm. I note the coincidence – I boarded the 6:38 am morning train, must be some significance in that. Or absolutely none at all and you are delirious.

The thought evaporates like mist and the mind shifts to The Feet.  Still 75 minutes from home. The skin has been scraped raw off both heels from new shoes – I wince with each step. How about a few shots of Novocain Doc, hit me. Inject a few blasts in the forehead and let it slow drip, down the bloodstream, relieve the weight from the shoulders and back, and let it settle in my feet, just camp out right there.

The day ended with a semi-social event. Whatever marrow is left, is being sucked out of this introvert’s bones.  A career development event for twenty high potentials. I step in the restroom a few minutes before the session, splash cold water on my face, and look. There’s me in the mirror.  Thinning hair, and this is kind. Gray. Bags under the eyes, a raccoon  Shoulders slumped. Suit rumbled. And they’re looking for some secret sauce from you?  Try, please, try, not to repeat yourself. Try not to curse. Try not to be too authentic.   [Read more…]

Deep shame, maximum self-consciousness.

walk-through-walls-marina-abramovic

Deep shame, maximum self-consciousness. When I was young it was impossible for me to talk to people. Now I can stand in front of three thousand people without any notes, any preconception of what I’m going to say, even without visual material, and I can look at everyone in the audience and talk for two hours easily.

What happened?

Art happened.

When I was fourteen, I asked my father for a set of oil paints. He bought them for me, and also arranged for a painting lesson from an old partisan friend of his, an artist named Filo Filipović. Filipović, who was part of a group called Informel, painted what he called abstract landscapes. He arrived in my little studio carrying paints, canvas, and some other materials, and he gave me my first painting lesson.

He cut out a piece of canvas and put it on the floor. He opened a can of glue and threw the liquid on the canvas; he added a little bit of sand, some yellow pigment, some red pigment, and some black. Then he poured about half a liter of gasoline on it, lit a match, and everything exploded. “This is a sunset,” he told me. And then he left.

This made a big impression on me. I waited until the charred mess had dried, and then very carefully pinned it to the wall. Then my family and I left for vacation. When I came back, the August sun had dried everything up. The color was gone and the sand had fallen off. There was nothing left but a pile of ashes and sand on the floor. The sunset didn’t exist anymore.

Later on, I understood why this experience was so important. It taught me that the process was more important than the result, just as the performance means more to me than the object.

~ Marina Abramovic, Walk Through Walls: A Memoir (October 25, 2016)


Marina Abramović, 69, is a Serbian performance artist based in New York. Her work explores the relationship between performer and audience, the limits of the body, and the possibilities of the mind. Active for over three decades, Abramović has been described as the “grandmother of performance art.” She pioneered a new notion of identity by bringing in the participation of observers, focusing on “confronting pain, blood, and physical limits of the body.” The passage above is from her recently recently memoir.

Over 30,000,000 viewers have watched her performance on this Youtube video: Don’t miss it here.


Saturday

sleeping-dont-wake-me

The best thing about the bedroom was the bed.
I liked to stay in bed for hours,
even during the day with covers pulled up to my chin.
It was good in there,
nothing ever occurred in there,
no people,
nothing.

~ Charles Bukowski, Ham on Rye


Notes: Quote – Schonwiener. Photograph: Aveline Gunawan with Don’t wake me up

 

 

3:45 A.M.: Yes, all that.

night-light-window

I need solitude.
I need space.
I need air.
I need the empty fields round me;
and my legs pounding along roads;
and sleep;
and animal existence.

~ Virginia Woolf, from The Diary of Virginia Woolf


Notes: Poem – thank you Beth (again) on Alive on all Channels. Photo: Mennyfox55

 

 

Riding Metro North. And dragging it around.

train-station-light

Who are we, really? Who is dragging this body around.” (Zen Koan)

4:55 am.
Just another Hump Day in August, but less torrid, and pleasant, really.

It’s a short walk to the station. The digital counter on the wrist flashes Step # 63, a reminder of the failure to reach 6500 steps by last day’s end.

A Lady, in her early 30’s, hair still damp, rushes onto the crowded train car, steps over the gap, looks down the aisle, lets out a sigh. She sets down her bag and stands. You watch. She stands. And stands. And stands. This weekend you opened the mailbox to find junk mail inviting you to join the AARP, and flung it with disgust into the recycling bin. Hey, at least she wasn’t pregnant.

The 7:30 morning meeting is cancelled, 15 minutes before start time. The same meeting requiring you to catch the first train. You launch an e-missile punctuating the finish with an exclamation mark.  Shrapnel hits the target — its impact boomerangs in a Return To Sender. Necessary?

You interrupt another mid sentence, again and again, to steer the discussion and to drive the pace. What is it that is so unsettling that flows in your blood? [Read more…]

Saturday

sleep-rest-weekend-Saturday

It’s not you.
It’s anyone.
Sometimes I don’t want anyone around.
Some afternoons I lie on my bed and
the light comes through the shutters on the floor and
I think I never want to leave my own room.

— Joan Didion, Run River


Notes:

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