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Videopoem: The Wall

Something appropriate for this storm-filled season.


direct link: The Wall (video, words, voice, music by Brenda Clews, 2010).

It cannot be cracked, splintered, knocked down, for I've tried all this and more; it can only be burnt. Like karma, though it is not like karma because there is no cause and effect. No lesson. Rather, irrational, what we can never fully know. It sounds like glass, but it's not. There isn't anything it's like except for an impenetrable, invisible wall. There is no reason for this, none at all. Kafka's trial.

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I typed this text into the box at the P22 Music Text Composition Generator:

the wall of resistance the impenetrable wall the wall that is invisible that is everywhere around me the wall of permanence try to imagine no wall I cannot I have lived behind this invisible wall I have flung boiling water at it I have attacked it with hammers I have attempted to pierce it with the lasers of my consciousness the wall stands tall higher than I can climb deeper than I can fall the wall is real the wall is karma the wall is what I cannot surmount I can touch the world

That's not all of the words, but it still made for a midi track longer than the recording. I did a lot of things to the midi track to make that background, which came out the way I had hoped in the end.

I meditate regularly and often do yoga sets. Especially I do this when I am working through issues. During one of my sessions last week the metaphor of the wall arose, and while resting after the yoga set I picked up my iPhone and began speaking, intending to write a prose poem from my voice notes. I left the recording as is, and added the background of sounds and instruments. My speaking of the words is not a performance but an embodiment of the meaning. Then I began to work with recent footage of a lightning storm I had shot. Initially, when looking at the rushes, I was perturbed that I hadn't removed the mesh screen. Yet the footage is perfect for this video. The subconscious is all of a processing, mobile, energy of constantly equilibrating unity, and what we are voicing here is what we are filming there. Our lives are always moving beyond their boundaries as we push into deeper processes of who we are, alone and together.

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When I say karma, it's not that I fully believe in it either. But where there is no cause that can be discerned, it's like Fate, or Karma. And, really, you musn't try to throw karma away, or slip out of it, these don't work. Face it, and burn it. That's what you do with karma - and actually I am doing a very difficult meditation that will help with this process - you purify the essence of yourself. Fire is the most common metaphor for this - and what better than high voltage lightning. That's the set of metaphors I am working with.

But, also, surrender. Surrendering is very hard, and crucial, no other way. Surrender to your walls, the strange and irrational limitations on your life. Only then can you see them and perhaps understand why. Choice didn't get you here. It's something else, Fate, the Wheel of Fortune, the nature of life itself. How you handle it is where you have choice.

Thank goodness!

I'm not at the place where I believe all our trials and challenges are good for us - are the devastations of earthquakes and hurricanes good for us? But we do have to surrender to events however they are, mishaps or disasters, if we are to make it through with any semblance of sanity. To surrender to what is. And, there, be.






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When the Grey of the Sky

When the grey of the sky descends with a feeling of chaos. A windless night while a thunderstorm ensues. We shut the windows, water pouring in.

The basement floods, where my son sleeps, an inch of water; we mop and lay old towels wringing water out for hours until it is dry. The vibrant orange vegetable dyes of his kilim carpet bleeding a little, otherwise no damage. My birth paintings are stored there but the water didn't go that far in.

My son is sad on the night of the flood, it's interim, his staying with me, nothing was damaged but a right mess and will it happen again?

The morning after the flood, the rush of muddy water, clothes that were on the floor, towels, laundry half the night, storm waters, what washed through us?

We threw the wet high density foam mattress in the basement that was a buffer protecting boxes of files, my paintings, out. It dried in the Summer sun beside the building.

Last night it was comfort for a dreaming homeless tattooed man. The white waterproof cotton sheet that covered the old mattress crumpled into a soft bed for his dog sleeping beside him.

I see him in the morning, he sleeps late. The day is sunny and cooler, and I photograph him between the trees, past our swatch of backyard.

In this neighborhood of millionaires and university students, the city will quickly remove such comforts for the outcasts who beg on Bloor Street.


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