Packing books, I come to a shelf on love...

Packing up my life. And moving I'm not sure where. When I come to my section on books on love, I hesitate, should I pack them all, or carry some with me? Here's Chopra's, Path to Love, and Ackerman & Mackin's massive anthology of love letters, poems, fiction, essays, memoirs, The Book of Love, and the Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh's, Teachings on Love, and Joudry's & Pressman's, Twin Souls, and Roman's, Soul Love, and Gurian's, Love's Journey, and an unauthoured collection, One Hundred & One Classic Love Poems, among too many to mention. I decide on John Gray's, Handbook for the Heart, with beautiful essays in it, and Sarah Bartlett's, Mythical Lovers, Divine Desires, which I haven't fully read yet, and carefully slide the rest into a box.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usAh, then my books on tantra, how many are there, two dozen? Lots of art books on mandalas and yantras and academic books on tantric art and tantric thought. But there's this, Tibetan Arts of Love: Sex, Orgasm & Spiritual Healing, yes, Gedun Chopel, it is brilliant. Or the large and cross-disciplinary, Sacred Sexuality by Mann & Lyle, a lovely book with many illustrations from art history, and of course, The Complete Kama Sutra, Danielou's translation, no tantric collection would be complete without that, and California Tantrism, The Art of Sexual Magic by Margo Anand, or a Dorling Kindersley picture book of photographs of lovers, The Art of Tantric Sex, and books on full body massages...

I leave you with a photograph of a fun tarot deck: Tarot Sutra, games for lovers, which I've never used, sigh, it's in its original wrapping.

For me, romantic love combines of the erotic and the spiritual, the emotional and the intellectual, of eros and philia and agape, where there is meaning, wholeness, an intimacy with spirit, ourselves, our lovers, each other. (The other two great loves are differently configured: parental love, and I guess married love; but both, ideally, are weighted in philia, or friendship, being together on the path.)

I think I really do like the word, intimate, intimacy, intimacies... and perhaps can spend the rest of the day packing up my life, feeling my way through an aesthetic of intimacy.


On Uncertainty...

Do I like being a deck of cards in the air, a swirl of ocean foam, a migratory bird without a home, having no place to live that I know of in this moment? Maybe...

It doesn't feel free; it just feels like life. Where we can only be certain of uncertainties.

And so should I give up the need to know what's next. Anything at all could be next. Anything at all...
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Image Hosted by ImageShack.usPacking is a laborious process. We, my son and I, are numbering boxes. It's screech, cut, slap; screech, cut, slap - oh ho, taping boxes! Then ka-thump, ka-thump, there go the books; after being swiffered with dusters or RRGrindRRSuckRRGWhirrRRGrindSuckRRR with the hand-held vac, from which the dog has run and hidden. Followed by UUHMPH, UUHMPH, which is me lifting heavy book boxes and stacking them; my son lifts weights, he has no problem. Then of course I have to run out to the supermarket, all that work has us way hungry. Now I'm finishing a home-made cappuccino, and am ready to tackle Science, Philosophy, Art, English Literature, Psychology and Religion. Or the filling of another 30 boxes. Then we'll call it a day. Whew.

And how're you doing today?

Making Love/Art Making

Art is created in the dance of love between the artist and their muse. The best art is created by the artist for the beloved, with the beloved.

The dancer, poet, writer, painter, actor, muscian makes love to their lover, symbolically, to the fragrant air, the rich and fertile universe, the intimacy of the medium of their words or paint or music. To see a harpist or a pianist lovingly caress their instrument into singing, or a rock star playing his electric guitar like it was his woman, this dance between lover and beloved is where art is created, deeply, profoundly. It is created in a loving that is erotic and spiritual, emotional and intellectual, that is an act of pure faith, a risk and leap into the unknown.

I feel art can only come out of absolute vulnerabiltiy, when all the veneers have been stripped. When we are naked and unashamed before the beloved. When we have left the safety of our patterns and are in the present moment in its entirety. Even if this moment be one of pain, anger, ecstasy, or a kalaidescope of it all. A moment of presence where there is stillness and flow, wholeness and unfolding, eternity and the onrush of time, nothingness and everything. Where it all works without willing it to; where it just happens – the fruit ripens, it falls in its sweetness, the birth of art occurs.

What I learnt in dance is that creating your movement is best when you are dancing with your beloved. When you are making love to the light streaming in from the window, the alter of burning candles and precious leaves on the silk mat at the front of the room, the colour and movement and sensuality of the dancers around you, the energy of the life-force itself. When you are making love to the man or woman of your dreams, or your God or Goddess. When you no longer care how you look, you're not self conscious, you're holding nothing back, not restraining yourself, and you give everything, your entire passion ~pain, suffering, anger, compassion, joy, love ~ where nothing is excluded, everything is present.

And so this has become my theory of art. The intensity of love-making. Only from this place of union of self and soul can a power erupt that can be carried on the wings of the words, music, paint, dance that it is produced in. And in this way we who partake in the art as viewers, readers, listeners, are touched at our deepest core, feeling our own pain, sorrow, anger, joy, compassion. Our vision is expanded. We are not alone. For we, too, are the beloved, and the artist is making love to us.
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Tonight, a love poem...

At the request of Vexations, I have made a quick MP3 of 4 recent pieces, entitled Body Texts I (6.5 min): Her Hands, Calligraphies; The Artist As Model; Scattered Drumbeats; and In the Wake. If you have any responses or suggestions, I'd consider redoing the recording if I have time before I move...

Friday, July 8th, tonight, a love poem...

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London Bombings...

The bombs in London, the underground, the street ~ terrible! Such an assault on a city. A thousand injured; over 30 dead: yet a bigger weapon than the bombs, fear, which will paralyze millions.

Passengers evacuate an underground train at Kings Cross (Photo: Alexander Chadwick)

Comment I left at thenarrator's site: It will never end, will it. Prayers. Prayers that the conflagrations may end. Prayers that mediation in the world may ultimately win. Prayers for the mediators; our hope lies in those who can calm the extremes, bring about resolution, who do not see the political world in terms of black and white. I don't know how mediation can occur with terrorist groups and organizations, but it can, somehow. Mediation is the only thing that ever works. Prayers for the fear and the suffering...

That view...

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Image Hosted by ImageShack.usSome photos of the inlet that the Pacific Ocean flows through where I was working - I have brought work home to do, where I don't have a view like that to distract me.

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Scattered Drumbeats...

This will reveal what an incurable romantic I am! I have to admit it was partly motived by a Rumi quote that I wanted to use somewhere; this seemed like a good place. It's also touching on that very strange area of "internet romance" and its expectations, hopes... It's my entry in the Creative Writing Challenge:

A light rapping, knuckle on wood, breaks my solitude. In the dark warmth of the evening, I stop, listen, not expecting anyone, and ignore it. The light but insistent scattered drumbeat on the door tugs at me, continuing until I rise from my notebook, pull my cotton shirt around me. On one side of the door I breath into the soft darkness, unsure; my hand on the handle, I whisper into the crack, “Hello…?”

In the silence of an almost inaudible gasp, I hear indecision, an awaited moment from which one could yet flee, even if what one was looking for has been found, it’s fearful, and holding back for what seems like minutes before the response, “Hello…I, Miriam, I know you weren’t expecting me, I… needed to come, I’m sorry…”

“Who are you?” I whisper into the darkness and silence of the Summer night that spreads itself around the rustlings of moths whirring in the dim porch light, a light that reveals a man, in a soft summer shirt and jeans, standing at the door.

His arms almost tensed, yet awkwardly beside him, his heart full of desire, knowing his need and her recalcitrance, and feeling ashamed and exhilarated to be at her doorstep, looking at her tired and worried face as if it were a vision, “I … had to ...”

On the doorstep of my house, at the threshold of my life, in the night, I found myself wrapped deeply in the loving arms of a man I had never met, but always known. And I whispered to him lines from Rumi in the tightness of our embrace, "The minute I heard my first love story I started looking for you, not knowing how blind that was. Lovers don't finally meet somewhere, they're in each other all along." We became two sighs in the enveloping darkness, a twin blossom of a moonflower, a double rainbow in the night sky, another hope for the future..


last rites

me to ash
me to dance
my last dance
on the rich earth
sanctify flowers
bright unfolding
caress leaves
with fragments
of bone dust
fly with the wind
scatter my
white residue
light as breath
& illumined love
finally dissolving
into the lake
a dream

©2005 by Brenda Clews, all rights reserved
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Writing the Middle-Aged Erotic Body...

This is a piece on the aging erotic body; it comes perhaps out of my difference feminist stance. It is in the tradition of body writing: the writing of the body of the woman. When I did the birth paintings nearly 20 years ago people found the red flowing vaginas of some of those paintings shocking and often uncomfortably averted their gaze at the wall of paintings I had up in the dining room of my house; a decade later those paintings took on new life, were used as journal covers, in art shows, copies often requested, and I am working on a poster of them. This writing is perhaps similar in that, like exploring the sensualities of the hiddenesses of the pregnant body, it explores the sexuality of the aging body. It is honest, open, vulnerable, hopefully sensual and erotic writing, but not pornographic. It is hetero. It is not my intention to offend, or shock, but to show the realism of the beauty of the body. This is the final piece in a small series, beginning with the red flower, an ethics of sexuality and relationships, the woman's gaze of her erotic desire. In Portrait of the Sexuality of a Middle-Aged Woman I want to throw light on her hiddenesses, how she sees herself. There is an element of the rebel, the woman who can be outrageous here too. This writing is a version of a response to a lover who I requested a self portrait naked in a mirror from and who then asked for a portrait in return...

Portrait of the Sexuality of a Middle-Aged Woman

Which sounds so, middle-aged...

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usShe's never taken naked photographs. O, not true, a lover in her 20s did, but they were so faint, it was too dark; and her ex-husband took polaroids a long time ago. But not since then.

Though one night, when she was alone, she did, in the oak cupboard mirror, first seated, naked, only one breast showing, and she didn't like the photo but played with it, re-creating it through various filters that disguised her.

Then she surprised herself. The rebellion of those passing over the proverbial hill? She opened her legs and took a photograph of her vulva. When she displayed the photograph on screen, what she saw was larger than it is usually shown in medical text books. What she saw was beautiful in its own way, the folds within folds, the way her sex spread opulently from front to end. The white creamy remnants glistening. She had taken it after pleasuring herself, just to see what she looked like. Swollen, full, rich. She liked the photograph, felt it was a coming of age recognition of a sexuality she had never really seen before. She hid it on her computer, and then rushed over to delete it when a friend was looking through her photographs, mumbling about a naked photo that embarrassed her.

She'd never intended to keep it. It was not the sort of self portrait that you keep. Not what you'd want your children to find among your effects after you'd passed away. Or anyone else, not even a lover. It was an elaborate cunt, not something she'd ever seen in a Playboy or Penthouse or at any of the online porno sites she'd stumbled on, the ones with cum all over the woman's face and hard, hot cocks still beaming and glistening. When "holes" were shown, they'd be those small slits that the medical text books show.

It didn't make her feel any better, but maybe you had to be older, not tight anymore, to have this gland with its folds and glistenings and outrageous pearly opulences over which you place panties and forget about, or against which you place pads when you are bleeding with your monthly moon.

She's in her 50s. Hard to believe. She's white, Caucasian. She wears a size 8 comfortably, a bit baggy, a size 6 is more fitted. She is about 5'5", weighs somewhere around 125 lbs to 130 lbs. Her hair is long and curly and ash brown but is coming in with much more grey. Her waist isn't bad, but she doesn't know the circumference. She wears a 34C bra size; usually with an under wire for support. Though she loves bras with no under wire for hanging around the house.

She had a 'sex-goddess' body once, flat stomach, rounded breasts. After the birth of her second child, her thighs were left mapped with cellulite, which she accepts gracefully as a remembrance of the bearing of children, but which her husband found most unappealing. She's not comfortable in a bathing suit because of it. Before kids she wore string bikinis, the less fabric the better. Things change when your body is stretched with a child growing within. It's not that she doesn't love her body, she does, just in a private way. She prefers to be seen in clothes, that's all. When she was younger she preferred to be naked. Things change.

And now the little spider veins on the legs, around the feet, the larger ones that are showing on the hands, that's bothersome. But more in the way she thinks it makes others uncomfortable. The tiny veins remind her how the body is like a tree, with tiny branches or capillaries carrying life blood, and it's a beautiful creation no matter how old or what size one is.

Her breasts do sag a little, but she doesn't mind. She still has an awe of her breasts because of the breastmilk that flowed through them so freely once. And because if they're caressed and squeezed gently and sucked on she becomes very aroused and her vulva responds in ways that...

She's slim enough, not skinny, making the signs of aging both less and more pronounced. If she was heavier, her hands wouldn't be so carved with maps of veins. But she can still bend her body with as much flexibility and freedom as she ever remembers. She just can't fall onto the floor on her knees anymore, or even bend her knees for too long without pain. Her eyes are blue, or perhaps grey, with little brown specks around the pupils. Her skin is good now, but she has rosacea, it runs in her family, and has to wear a hat always. The skin on her face is very sensitive to sunlight. She babies her skin. Her teeth, oooh la. That's maybe getting too personal. Talking about vulvas is easier than talking about teeth! Save teeth for another day... Only one scar on the shin. Her skin is soft.

Orgasms are easier than ever. She believes orgasms are very healthy and would like to have at least one every day. She thinks everyone should agree that orgasms are healthy and that everyone should have at least one a day.
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