Tuesday, October 28, 2008
I is other said Rimbaud, and why not add I is other is I, which leads me to the mirror neuron. The empathy neuron. This cell located deep in the brain, in the premotor cortex, the insula. Also found in a place I'd like to be right now (rain pounding all day) -- the superior temporal sulcus.
Smile and the whole world smiles too, but the rest of the song (cry and you cry alone) may not be accurate. As they probe, neuroscientists learn we're all lost in the looking glass when the mirror neuron fires. I look and imitate. You raise your hand to wave. I lift the soup spoon. Let's share a meal.
Such tree-like structures -- these neurons of pigeon and chick drawn by the great Spanish Nobel neuroscientist Santiago Ramon y Cajal. Did he find his way out?
I am musing on mirror neurons. Especially the delicate rendering by artist Judy Moonelis. I appropriate in language. My muse is about breaking and entering. "Tell me, Muse, of the man of many ways, who was driven far journeys," said Homer. "Tell me the causes, now, O Muse," writes Virgil as he opens The Aeneid, "how galled in her divine pride, and how sore at heart from her old wound."
Who do I invoke? Is it inspiration or simply the excitement of looking? A synapse fires. I'm obsessed. My mirror neurons tingle, awed by representations of cells. Wire and bead collaged in air, or branchings penciled on paper -- all such beautiful construction work. Everything rising, converging. And my small heart running to catch up.
I was trying to love matter.
I taped a sign over the mirror:
You cannot hate matter and love form.
It was a beautiful day, though cold.
This was, for me, an extravagantly emotional gesture.
tried, but could not.
I taped a sign over the first sign:
Cry, weep, thrash yourself, rend your garments--
List of things to love:
dirt, food, shells, human hair.
tasteless excess. Then I
rent the signs.
the naked mirror.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Week of October 16, 2008
Week of October 16, 2008
Describing the poet Kenneth Koch, his colleague John Ashbery said that his work "gives you the impression that you are leading an interesting life; going to parties and meeting interesting people, falling in love, going for rides in the country and to public swimming pools, eating in the best restaurants and going to movies and the theater in the afternoons. By comparison, most other modern poetry makes me feel as if I were living in a small Midwestern university town." In the coming weeks, Libra, I exhort you to have an impact on people that's like Koch's poetry. Here's the best way to do that: Live the most interesting and imaginative life you can dream up.
What a hoot -- and under a full moon even.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Monday, October 6, 2008
My neighbor drained his pond. The muck and mud-covered boulders are visible, the silt that has built up along the edges. There's the man-made dam that slows the stream, which creates the pretty lozenge of water reflecting tree branch and sky light.
A few years ago, the Met had an exhibition of prints by Chuck Close. It included proofs and woodblocks and etching plates of his work. There on the walls were the drafts, the carved out spaces, rough, unfinished. Work in process. Remains of ink.
I've been thinking recently about beauty and memory. How we remember and especially how I look in order to remember. The link between memory and what is beautiful as well as ugly and why I remember what I remember and how looking informs all of this.
I like the grid, the horizon line, the fragment, the shard. I like Rothko's blocks of color. And Diebenkorn's cartographies of blotched and colored land mass. I adore Agnes Martin quilted grids. I don't mind at all if a poem is broken. I can sometimes knit the poet's language together, or not. I prefer it when a poem isn't made neatly, even though I do this myself occasionally. I am not an orderly person.
At the end, he was just face, mostly mouth. That's what I memorized. The twitch of breath on lip and lid. The pale canvas of his cheekbones. Half-closed eyes. The cell phone that rang, or sounded. Step back from the blank page and fill it with a block of images, or a shadowy line. Draw up close. Pull back. Look at the years. There are waves, not just blocks, of color and story. Or words. Do I remember what is ugly better than what is beautiful. Does my recollection of anguish become lovely in the recreation.
Oh but we wanted to paint what is not beauty, how can one paint what is not beauty...? (and you must learn to feel shape as simply shape whispered the wind, not as description, not as reminiscence not as what it will become)
from her book The End of Beauty