NaPoWriMo, Day 3: Lawrence on Artists

As I tweeted, in exasperation, either something other than research happens tonight or I'm out of NaPoWriMo. My muse is unruly and apparently will not write on command.

And I guess I'm out. Though I would like to continue to post bits from the book I am currently into.

From Women in Love, Birkin, who probably closest resembles Lawrence himself, talking to Gerald:

'...every true artist is the salvation of every other.'
'I thought they got on so badly, as a rule.'
'Perhaps. But only artists produce for each other the world that is fit to live in.'

[Project Gutenberg, an on-line eBook, url to the page where this passage begins.]

These few lines [in Chapter 16] sparked something. I am immersed in thinking about the 'gift economy' (as an parallel system to Capitalism, or what Capitalism is founded on rather), about the artist's life, the struggle to live, what has to be sacrificed for art, and why art continues when society seems in nearly every way to wish to abolish it by ignoring most of their artists' need for decent livelihood.

And in this economic predicament, yes, "every true artist is the salvation of every other." And they do get on "badly"? Surely!

But it is the last line, "only artists produce for each other the world that is fit to live in," that had the wow factor. I feel Lawrence himself is doing this for me, even as I walk up and down the streets and across the parks with my dog listening to Women in Love on audiobook.

And, you see, Venus, Botticelli's Venus, does create a vision of beauty that makes the world fit to live in.

Sandro Filipepi called Botticelli: Picture of Birth of Venus - Uffizi Gallery, Florence
from the VirtualUffizi

Sorry to be so sketchy. But I shall have to give up the NaPoWriMo effort as my muse is veiled, absent.

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NaPoWriMo, Day 2: Lawrence on Aphrodite

Because Women in Love is a 25 hour recording, and I listen to it every night on my dog walk, the influence of Lawrence's novel will affect my writing. I've never read Lawrence, though I do have The Plumed Serpent on my shelves, so must have tried. An audio recording, and Sennheiser earbuds, and I enter deep listening mode. The brilliance and beauty of his language marvels me as I walk the dark streets with my dog.

My writing has been compared to Lawrence's, which is far-fetched, surely, and yet I find I am enthralled with his mastery, as a writer, and feel a deep resonance with his work, at least as it is expressed in this novel.

Tonight, listening to Chapter 14 (of 42, I have a ways to go), a passage spoke again of concerns relevant to my Venus Poems. Birkin and Ursuala are speaking:

‘Do you smell this little marsh?’ he said, sniffing the air. He was very sensitive to scents, and quick in understanding them.
‘It’s rather nice,’ she said. ‘No,’ he replied, ‘alarming.’
‘Why alarming?’ she laughed.
‘It seethes and seethes, a river of darkness,’ he said, ‘putting forth lilies and snakes, and the ignis fatuus, and rolling all the time onward. That’s what we never take into count— that it rolls onwards.’
‘What does?’
‘The other river, the black river. We always consider the silver river of life, rolling on and quickening all the world to a brightness, on and on to heaven, flowing into a bright eternal sea, a heaven of angels thronging. But the other is our real reality—’
‘But what other? I don’t see any other,’ said Ursula.
‘It is your reality, nevertheless,’ he said; ‘that dark river of dissolution. You see it rolls in us just as the other rolls—the black river of corruption. And our flowers are of this—our sea-born Aphrodite, all our white phosphorescent flowers of sensuous perfection, all our reality, nowadays.’
‘You mean that Aphrodite is really deathly?’ asked Ursula.
‘I mean she is the flowering mystery of the death-process, yes,’ he replied. ‘When the stream of synthetic creation lapses, we find ourselves part of the inverse process, the blood of destructive creation. Aphrodite is born in the first spasm of universal dissolution—then the snakes and swans and lotus— marsh-flowers— ... born in the process of destructive creation.’

[Project Gutenberg, an on-line eBook, url to the page where this passage begins.]

From my Venus manuscript, this piece:

She Who Came Forth

The Embrace. Their children couldn't emerge into the light. He was heaven and she was earth. Uranus and Gaia, his wife, who he loved and refused to separate from. Creation waited. The embrace was tight, intimate, sensual, blissful, deeply in each other, unending. Cronus, his son, time, cruel time, cut off his genitals and threw them into the sea. Heaven and Earth separated. Out of the foam, Aphrodite was born. Love.

Aphrodite, who she was to the Ancient Greeks, though she was older than that, and linked to Ishtar-Astarte, and probably brought to the Greek islands by Phoenician sailors, Aphrodite, who later became Venus to the Ancient Romans, is one of the world's oldest divinities.

She was born from an act that separated Heaven and Earth. An ancient divinity present at the beginning of time. She Who Came Forth at the birth of the world.

Or, this is Hesiod's version in his Theogony. Aphrodite represents pure and spiritual love. From her foamy birth the Three Graces received her and wrapped her in rich garments and decorated her with gold ornaments.

The Goddess of Love.

Aphrodite Urania, or Celestial Aphrodite.

The Venus Botticelli saw, painted, understood.

And now I understand from Lawrence that her birth from the sea-foam, the sea-sperm of her castrated father, is not just the miraculous birth of love in the world, of poetry, but of death in the world, of dissolution, loss.

Venus' creation out of destruction marks her. For there is also Venus Pandemos, who, in mythology, is born of Zeus and Dione. She is associated, not with celestial love, like Venus Urania, but with the body; Venus Pandemos is the common goddess of the people. A goddess of sensuality, of lust. And hence of death, dissolution.

Once again, I find I am laying the groundwork for writing, for continuing with the suite of poems I began a few years ago, without actually writing. Yet this research is of enormous help to me, never-the-less.

And besides, you get to read a few quotes from Lawrence's Women in Love, which may inspire you to download the audiobook and listen, or the pdf and read it.

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NaPoWriMo, Day 1: Lawrence on Love

An extraordinary passage in D.H. Lawrence's Women in Love, between the characters, Ursula Brangwen and Rupert Birkin, who fall in love (though I am only on chapter 15 so don't know the outcome). When Ursula visits him alone, he explains his position.

Birkin says, "If we are going to make a relationship, even of friendship, there must be something final and infallible about it." He continues:

'I can't say it is love I have to offer--and it isn't love I want. It is something much more impersonal and harder--and rarer.'
There was a silence, out of which she said:
‘You mean you don’t love me?’
She suffered furiously, saying that.
‘Yes, if you like to put it like that. Though perhaps that isn’t true. I don’t know. At any rate, I don’t feel the emotion of love for you—no, and I don’t want to. Because it gives out in the last issues.’
‘Love gives out in the last issues?’ she asked, feeling numb to the lips.
‘Yes, it does. At the very last, one is alone, beyond the influence of love. There is a real impersonal me, that is beyond love, beyond any emotional relationship. So it is with you. But we want to delude ourselves that love is the root. It isn’t. It is only the branches. The root is beyond love, a naked kind of isolation, an isolated me, that does NOT meet and mingle, and never can.’
She watched him with wide, troubled eyes. His face was incandescent in its abstract earnestness.
‘And you mean you can’t love?’ she asked, in trepidation.
‘Yes, if you like. I have loved. But there is a beyond, where there is not love.’
She could not submit to this. She felt it swooning over her. But she could not submit.
‘But how do you know—if you have never REALLY loved?’ she asked.
‘It is true, what I say; there is a beyond, in you, in me, which is further than love, beyond the scope, as stars are beyond the scope of vision, some of them.’
‘Then there is no love,’ cried Ursula.
‘Ultimately, no, there is something else. But, ultimately, there IS no love.’

[Project Gutenberg, an on-line eBook, url to the page where this passage begins.]

Yes, I understand this. In meditation, I, too, have discovered what Lawrence writes about. But can I write about the void that is beyond love? Even a few lines will do - only a draft and a re-entry into my Venus Manuscript.

We can love only when we are emptied of ourselves. When we have given ourselves to the other.

In the depths of this giving, profound, scary, unsettling, is a union beyond self, ego, personhood, the particular state of time and space in the here and now that we are.

If we enter this spiritual state of being, dependent as it is on the erotic, on the sexual forces of attraction, desire and excitement, melt into the beyondness of the orgasmic moment, and allow it to be a portal where we can spin, tilt, go deeper into the mystery, letting ourselves dissolve, even to the point of extinction, giving ourselves over to the enigma, then, yes.

There remains something alone in each of us even in the union of love, and there is a "beyond, in you, in me, which is further than love."

And I apologize, this is as far as I can go tonight. Tomorrow images may emerge to give flesh to these thoughts; who knows.

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Bullion of Hearts

Imagine a love that cannot be tarnished,
not even by us.

We messed the beauty we had,
with our switchbacks.

I demonize you; you decry me as a crazed woman.
We wouldn't speak to each other; my fury unabated

You were a sleazy cheat; I was self-righteous, indignant.

What is this love that continues despite our resistance?

Surely not modern love, with its questionings, choices.

But some ancient love, as old as the gold sun itself,
primal, spiritual, enfolding its mystery.

What is a love that cannot fail itself?

And how can we trust it?

It is strange not to be fighting you
like a bad obsession, like an addiction to street drugs.

To accept your irrefutable, irrevocable
presence in my life.

The forever clause,
it's caught us
Comments (1)

(2:33min) Videopoetry: Magnolia Stellata, an attempt...

Claire Elek wrote:

"You're from another time Brenda..the time of troubadours, "mad" women, the Lady of Shallott, Ophelia.. I don't mean to suggest.. I just love your drama, your temperament, your authenticity.. Your poetry.. It should be in a beautiful box with flowers on it tied with a purple ribbon.. You made my day as I set out to teach small children.. You're a drop of fresh water in this world of hum drum.. thank you for being you..."


I love what you wrote, Claire! Ah, yes, let's be "mad" creative women, Sarah Bernhards & Isadora Duncans... through the weeks of taping this poem the versions just got sillier until this late one night.

Nov 12th

For weeks I have been trying to record a poem, Magnolia Stellata, in various outfits at various times of the day using either the built-in Webcam (as in this clip) or my older Canon GL2 video DV camera. I promised myself to post something, anything since I purchased equipment to produce videopoetry. Hence loading this little hilarious clip to Blogger. It's taken hours to produce, and there was no editing since I used a clip as is! Sigh. Probably I have a better clip, but NaNoWriMo awaits and it's already almost tomorrow.

Mostly the time was taken up with trying to deal with the background issues, which I resolved with a still worked on in Photoshop Elements and imported into Final Cut Express, and then the video made slightly transparent and cropped inside of. I chopped and cooked a chili, ginger, vegetable and pork stir-fry for my son during the time it took to render, and then render again.

The jammies? Oh, sigh. You know, and this isn't by way of excuse, I've lived in or near Chinese communities for many years, and in Vancouver how many dear Chinese folk were out in their pajamas after 9pm at night?

Look, there was the white nightgown Butoh-based dance video. Maybe I have a thing about sleep attire?

I share an enclave with a Chinese woman who's always in her pajamas. And my daughter (who's vegan) lives in hers, putting them on as soon as she comes home.

I got in the habit...

Comments (4)

Mirror of Venus

I am the mirror that I watch my
self in.

Behind the mirror is where I see.

Only ask for the 'freedom to revolt- psychic,
analytic, artistic- a permanent state of questioning,
of transformations, an endless probing of appearances,'
......found on the dustjacket
......of a book by Kristeva,
who wrote about revolt, and love.

Everyone should love wholly once in their life, as
the daughter of fortune knows.

The tenor of love demands it.

Love, illicit, a revolt against the order
of the rest of it.

The amatory moment is poetry, open-ended,
without a story to guide it, what's behind the mirror
where I watch your face.

Venus, Goddess of Love, married to Hephaestus, master craftsman.

Of course love is wedded to art. How else
could it be?

The block was a red clay-baked brick which took two hours to smash. It revealed
itself, heavy, smoldering with beaten passion, betrayals and intrigues, over my heart. Cracks of light appeared that became white-red lava that disintegrated slowly the faster I danced.

When I melted into the mirror, love flowed freely.

Venus, Goddess of Love, but she knew her Ares, Mars, God of Fire and War.

Venus undid her bodice and melted
into his arms.

Illicit. Love.

Sometimes I prefer the quietness
of my own thoughts.

Video of poetry reading of Veils to Clothe Venus

A test, an experiment. I bought a laptop and made this recording with the built-in webcam. It's fuzzy, oh so fuzzy. I wasn't able to figure out how to edit in Windows Media and so it's as is. It's not going to stay up for long - I do have a video camera that will record a person in motion, and seeing this is enough to make me dust it off... more poetry experiments in the future!

Oh, I wouldn't wear my reading glasses, no, no, so I was using a large magnifying glass to read the poem - it's soooo funny. And don't ask what I was doing with my arm at the end, who knows.

Notes for future recordings: memorize, stay in focus, and anything else you the happenstance reader who might bumble upon this site might add if you come by before I delete this, blush, clip.


Comments (2)

Venus like a Visitation

'the state of love in the world...'
...................she whispers

.........tendril of a curl curves
around her cheek, brush
stroke of honey-toned
watercolour; her eyes, full and
frightened, water saffire

..........her lips, parsed & pale, she
hovers on a scallop sea shell
above the waves, though she is tossed
to & fro by the windswept whitecaps

..........her voice a lament,
a soprano singing the ending of
Mahler's Ninth, grief disappearing
but never leaving,
the wind blows more strongly
until she's gone, a pearl of the sea
into the white horizon

..........echoing in the conch shells
held to our ears, her voice
ringing over rising waves, 'we do not
put each other first'

The White Ocean

She stopped to rest.

Momentarily, in the field of pure possibility, her position unfixed, indeterminate.

Without hovering, or insecurity.

It was an image of being in the vast field of life.

Without knowing. In a position of unknowing, positionless, I suppose. Existing without location or momentum. Vibrating with possibility. It wasn't exciting or fearful, just what is.

Nothing is fixed or certain, though there are always solutions to problems.

Then she continued on.

She didn't doubt her certainties.


Out of the fertility of the ocean, sea tides within, rhythms following the moon's wake, I sought you.

My planet of fire.

You'd disappeared into steaming mist. I lost you in the clouds. Perhaps you'd transformed into the raptor flying overhead. Or the dark loam of the shore looming.

You were always only figments,

Pink roses
falling in the wind.

What could be fired her desire, kept her enthralled. Only now she sees what is.

For love is beautiful and painful, this is its nature. "A great love carries within it a mourning for love." [Edmund Jacobs.]

The way the processes of love unite what is disparate, the longings and communions, and hold us to our wanton paths amidst the fluxes of the heart.

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