29 November 2005

Is This Me?

Colleen said she thought of me when she received her email:
The Writer's Almanac for Friday, 7 October 2005.

Poem: "Instructions" by Sheri Hostetler,
from the anthology A Cappella: Mennonite Voices in Poetry ©


Give up the world; give up self; finally, give up God.
Find god in rhododendrons and rocks,
passers-by, your cat.
Pare your beliefs, your absolutes.
Make it simple; make it clean.
No carry-on luggage allowed.
Examine all you have
with a loving and critical eye, then
throw away some more.
Repeat. Repeat.
Keep this and only this:
what your heart beats loudly for
what feels heavy and full in your gut.
There will only be one or two
things you will keep,
and they will fit lightly
in your pocket.

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28 November 2005

October Urban Camping Spots

Urban camping spots in October included a one-night stay with Marek and a one-night stay with Frederike, both from the CouchSurfing project.

I house-sat for my friend, Karen, (and her cat) while she went to France for a week.

Then, my friend, Carol invited me to stay over for almost two weeks while I was studying for mid-term exams.

The other few remaining days were spent working and camping in my studio/health club.

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20 November 2005

Based on a True Story

Recently, I overheard someone say, "That's not being illogical. That's just being flexible."

So, when my friend Bill told me, "You're the most flexible-minded person I know," I had to ask what he meant by that.

He said, you're making artwork and then blogging about non-fiction.

You're making visual artwork, but talking about the principles of a different artistic discipline.

Is Picasso's Guernica non-fiction?

Is it fiction to hang up a picture?

After thinking about this (as best I could since we'd had several beers before initiating this conversation), I told him that maybe I wasn't communicating clearly.

I don't want to get rid of fiction (or TVs) because amazing fiction (and smart TV programs) exist.

It's just that sometimes fiction feels too vicarious, too passive and too formulaic.

I'm trying to describe my urge to search for a less vicarious experience, something more engaging and less predictable.

Guernica is based on a true story and hanging up a picture is great ... but sometimes going out and TAKING the picture is more interesting.

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15 November 2005

Who Hasn't Tried Fake Fruit?

When I was in Kosovo for an arts festival, I met an artist from Delhi named Sudarshan Shetty.

He told me that he was considering, at that time, why we fill our homes with fake fruit and fake plants.

He wondered why we hang paintings of mountains above our couch instead of having windows that look out on the mountains.

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10 November 2005

Nonfiction Captures Today's Complexities

My friend Kate sent me a link to the article called "The Irascible Prophet: V. S. Naipaul at Home" written by Rachel Donadio in the 7 August 2005 of the New York Times.

She sent it to me because the article has Sir Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul, Britain's only living Nobel Laureate (2001) in literature, saying that the novel was dead and "only nonfiction could capture the complexities of today's world."

He said,
"What I felt was, if you spend your life just writing fiction, you are going to falsify your material ... and the fictional form was going to force you to do things with the material, to dramatize it in a certain way.

I thought nonfiction gave one a chance to explore the world, the other world, the world that one didn't know fully."
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08 November 2005

The Real Thing

I liked watching CSI when visiting my family in the States.

So, I flipped the show on while urban camping at Carol's house.

I tried to enjoy the show, but this voice in my head kept repeating, "This is SO fake."

My reaction surprised me because I, of course, already knew the show was fake.

Had my many months of not watching TV made the contrast between 'real life' and the 'neat and tidy TV slot life' noticeable to the point of distraction? That idea seemed silly.

Days later, I was further surprised to coincidentally run across a link to an article (rather an 'advertorial') called "Is CSI For Real?" by Paul D. Rosevear that discusses the difference between "forensics and faux-rensics."

The article explains, "The investigator position on TV is an amalgam of a police officer/detective and lab scientist. In reality, this position doesn't exist."

Much closer to reality, the article says, is the show called Forensic Files where each episode looks at real-life cases and the techniques used to solve them.

Real-life cases

My love of creative non-fiction is based on my love of real-life cases.

My desire for mobility and perspective has a 'channel surfing' element to it.

When traveling life in a non-tourist way, I've started hearing people's life stories and it's become difficult to tune out.

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05 November 2005

Appreciating the Everyday

I loved the passage on p. 296 of My Life in Orange because it was another take on perspective, an important part of my urban camping motto.
"My mother and her friends left behind the world that had hurt them, in order to build a new one to the dimensions of their desires.

They left the earth and went into a new orbit. (Some of them went so far out, they couldn't come back.)

Perhaps that was what needed to happen; maybe we needed to see the world from an extraordinary vantage point to realize the preciousness of the everyday.

We had to look down from orbit in order to fall in love with the ground.

I was born into that orbit; all I ever wanted was to come home."
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04 November 2005

I Didn't Mean Share EVERYTHING

The other 'creative non-fiction' book that Claire lent me was My Life in Orange by Tim Guest.

The back cover reads:
"Imagine growing up with 200 mothers and 200 fathers.

What would it feel like to dress entirely in orange?

What would it be like to grow up in a commune with daily chants, meditation and muesli on the menu?

What would it be like to swap your mother for a whole new orange family?

At the age of six, Tim Guest was taken by his mother to a commune in a small village in Suffolk.

It was modelled on the teachings of a famous Indian 'guru', Bhagwan, who preached an eclectic doctrine of Eastern mysticism, chaotic therapy, and sexual freedom.

Both were given Sanskrit names, dressed entirely in orange, and encouraged to surrender themselves into their new family.

Tim -- or Yogesh, as he was now known -- spent the rest of his childhood in Bhagwan's various communes in England, Oregon, Pune and Cologne.

While his mother meditated and chanted in her quest for perfect freedom and perfect delight, Yogesh lived a life of unsupervised freedom, occasionally catching glimpses of the strange behaviour of the adults around him.

In an extraordinary memoir, by turns deft, humorous and poignant, Tim Guest reclaims a lost moment of madness in the recent cultural history of the West.

He chronicles the hilarious and heart-breaking plight of being left alone on earth while his parents hunted heaven."
When I said 'share everything', I really did not mean that I wanted to share EVERYTHING.

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