Dancing Chameleon

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usSince, of late, I've changed my profile pic rather too frequently, I set out to create one today. I'm trying to post something I can live with. This one's okay, the hall corner we (my daughter's behind the camera) took it in drab so I dabbled a bit with the background, whitened out the window with the tea towel hanging as a curtain. We liked the silhouette; the lines of the body; the painterly background. Perhaps I can leave this photo as a profile for awhile... going to try. I'm not just in an 'identity crisis,' shifting semblances of the self, but a 'life crisis.' Oh, sigh. Who are we anyway?

My favourite creature as a child in Zambia, where I lived in the jungle, were chameleons which I played with for hours. It's hard to stay the same, and yet we never change...
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moon under ice clouds

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Pearl in an Iced Web of Light

Tonight, the landscape iced, the streets, parks, roofs of the houses, encased. The branches of the trees I passed were glossy and fragile. I went out to photograph in the alley behind the house where I live, and came home with a pearl in an iced web of light.

Update: I left this image looking like a stage set, the 'pearl' so flagrantly hung, as a postmodern homage to "Pearl," a 14th century poem by the 'Pearl-poet,' thought to be the same author who wrote, "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight." My hommage doesn't have reference to a Pre-Raphaelite or New Age female muse, doesn't refer to the courtly love tradition, nor even to the Christian sensuality of "Pearl," with its open adoration and jewelled luxuries, which must have been a relief after the austerities of the Byzantine era. But the "pearl" is imaged, held in a web of light: it's been found, is still shining all these centuries later...

Since I can't offer a url with a translation of the poem itself, but only guide you to a site where it may be found, for anyone interested in long read, I have pasted the entire poem into a comment below.
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Dance of the Dual

This is about a third in to The Move.

Entering an enclosure of great transparency and light where things name themselves.*

Fulfillment of our desires is not fullness in itself, but a counterpoint between lack and abundance. To know one is to know the other. They are twin forces, balancing each other through all the cycles.

The creative force is the force of entrophy. An oscillating dance, each necessary to life and death.

Life cannot exist without death; so death cannot exist without life.

In counterpoint we know each other.

Dualism enables us to straddle the middle, the golden means, the pivot of the centre. Even in uncertainty.

On the threshold of being, non being.

The dialectic of our soul.

*This line, I'm sure, is from Michael Hamburger's introduction to Poems of Paul Celan, which I would've written onto one of the copies of this mms. but which didn't get onto the computer, and which means a trip to the library...
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A working printer, so editing...

After She added salt..., which was problematic obviously, this, which comes before On the edge of, which wasn't, and which I posted way last year. I have a working printer finally, am editing, but not in any order; since it's all I'm really writing these days, I'm posting little bits...

This is a piece on, hmnn, security, but it's poetic, so what I consider "the glue," connective images running through the whole book; She added salt... and On the edge of I think of "as bones."


Is feeling safe in your domain security? Protecting your assets, information, property, who you are? She is without domain. Skinless, visceral wandering. Every abode temporary, a borrowed shell.

Without firewall, dam, divider, enclosure, screen, buffer, barricade. Nowhere to hide. The parchments of her words peeled back, shorn of the sheaths of a fragmented grammatology.

Exfoliate. She is peeled, pared, scraped, sloughed. Shorn of her home, its belongings, the collection of a lifetime.

To bruise, cut or injure the skin of.

The petals of the rose, like dried fragments of blood she carries with her.

Living life in uncertainty; in reality, not philosophically. On edges, where nothingness is, a fall into the irredeemable. Shouldn't the irredeemable be a footnote, the never-realized fear, the 'what happens to other people,' never oneself?

Bleeding, a release of. Sloughing. Shedding the impotency of harm.

A woman without armour, a shell, accoutrements, can disappear quickly.

The weight of things so very important.

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The last post, on Core Values

I am surprised that my last post garnered not one comment. My site meter showed a healthy number of readers. I wonder what the problem was? And I wonder if I should consider it for the upcoming conference on the ethics of care; I worry, as ever. Writing always has to be poised, somewhere where it doesn't slip over the edge nor is too cliched, conventional.

Of the last piece, I could say, 'You can take the woman out of the Third World, but you can't take the Third World out of the woman."

Although it takes place in this culture, perhaps it's too alien to this culture? Too Africa or India or South American or ...

In that piece I aligned with probably 70% of the mothers of the world. Who do live in poverty, who do hold their families together in often impoverished conditions, who have a strength beyond reckoning if you really think about it.

I'd still like some comments, a discussion of any sort, encouragement, criticism, attack, it doesn't matter. Silence is the hardest of all. What does the silence mean?

Really bad writing? Way too whatever? Someone tell me!
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She added salt...

This is a later section from my story, The Move, and any criticism or feedback is appreciated. I want to submit it to a conference on Carework and Caregiving: Theory and Practice (deadline March 1st), but find it onerous, or perhaps I am fatigued with it. Some other responses, or readings of it, would help enormously. And give me a way to introduce it...

She added salt to a bag of trail mix in the bulk foods store before sitting down with a coffee at a table to write. The colours of the street had became fainter and her step less sure on the wavering sidewalk, and she had sat on a bench until everything recombined. The doctor recommended eating something salty and drinking if this happened.

In the past few days she had eaten little and her stomach hurt from the lunch of minestrone soup and a pumpernickel bagel that her friend had served; this small bag of nuts, seeds and raisons seemed excessive. But she continued nibbling. She had lost too much blood over the past week.

Surely it was only perimenopausal bleeding. In the heat wave, on the weakest day, she'd gone out to find a drop-in clinic, walking slowly along the main street, resting frequently. Those she asked looked at her strangely. That day she did not have bus fare to go across town and knew she couldn't walk the distance. With such impossibilities thrown at her, she decided to forget medical help until she had moved and was settled. The woman she was staying with had become crazy with frequent and protracted hysterics over imagined infractions. Every few days, or oftener, she exploded with paranoia and accusations. Only when the woman smoked up was there peace in the house.

She sat at a table in the small cafe and considered her options. The situation where she was living was not good. It had been a mistake, but she wasn't trapped, soon she would find another home. In the interim she tried to stay balanced in her heart, stable in the inner alter of her mind. She was flying a migratory route, on the way from somewhere to somewhere, the general direction known, but not the details of the landing. She bled along the way. That's how it was.

She had lost over a litre of blood in three days; she had counted how many times a day her diva cup needed emptying, calculating the amount. She was anaemic. She didn't care if it might be cancer, endometriosis, fibroids, or a thyroid problem. She hadn't a place to call home, hadn't transferred her health coverage when she'd moved, and who would look after her child and cat if she had to go for tests? It was better to leave medical procedures alone. She took iron pills from the small supply she had, ate when she could, and in meditation focussed on healing the tearing in her tumultuous womb.

"You look pale and tired," Cheryl said when she arrived earlier in the afternoon for a visit. "I'm probably perimenopausal. A very heavy cycle, flooding. But then I'm a bleeder- bled a lot after my first birth. Coming to the end..." she smiled wanly. The two women nodded: the female body, with its life-giving powers, was also a body that bled monthly, and went into hyper-drive when the fertile years were drawing to a close. "Only I didn't expect it to be so physically taxing! It's like the early post-partum bleeding, just after giving birth. A final dramatic flourish before it stops for good." Cheryl smiled, "There are herbs that might help, and homeopathic remedies." "Yams are good," she concurred, "I don't have hot flashes, at least. That must be so hard."

She entered the cool house. Cheryl brought out two glasses of carrot and papaya juice and they sat on the couch catching up with the events of years when she was away, their children's schooling, problems with their ex's, the jobs both of them had had and the employment they were looking for, and their spirituality, meditation, yoga and how they were handling life. They were comfortable together, both knowing the struggles of single mothers. They both believed in the miraculous, too. Often, on the edge of unutterable loss, a threat of deprivation, where she was now, a reprieve occurred that made them both trusting of the beneficence of life. If you were open to survival, to maintaining a stable course, and stayed loving in your heart, generous in ways that count, things worked out. The tornados narrowly missed you; the hurricanes didn't destroy your plot; there were no major break-ins or fires or other calamities. If your inner emotional terrain was stable, so was your outer one. You could fast undo your fragile world by giving into despair or anger. Blaming would destroy the network of support around you, cause a collapse as you were abandoned.

Despite their employment worries, her heavy bleeding and its accompanying weakness, the way key people in their lives treated them, they agreed it was crucial to remain loving, optimistic stable emotional forces in the network of relationships they lived in. They were strong women. They could smile everyday even though they lived below the poverty line. Women like them didn't crumble easily. Despair was a luxury they couldn't afford.

For a moment, during their conversation, feeling the desperations they spoke of, the difficulties, she felt connected to millions of women over the globe who struggle with poverty, grief, racism, violence, but who keep going. Women who are the emotional centres for their families, who are anchors, who place food on the table miraculously out of almost nothing, who dress their children, their spouses, themselves somehow, who clean and maintain their homes, who work for menial wages, where they are essentially labourers, who never allow themselves to succumb to madness, or drugs, or a furious destruction of the world around them, who keep loving their families in profound ways. They grieve, yes, there is sadness, but they have hearts of compassion. It was here that she felt a bond with the strength of women throughout the ages. She knew she was alive, living in her generation, carrying the flame of continuous love through the marathon that history is, only because her foremothers had also carried it and passed it on. If mothering is a stable, conservative force, if that's what happens to women as they take on the responsibility and role of motherhood, then she was grateful for it. This was where there was meaning, the staying-with-it through everything, the power to endure, to continue.

She rose, feeling the light flooding in the window of the store like an illumination, and stepped into the steaming heat, inhaling the humidity, letting it loosen her, as she made her way to pick up groceries before walking across the park to where she temporarily lived, celebrating the loving core, its continuance.
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The Move, Section #59 (An aesthetic of intimacy)

When you are making love to the light rippling in the window, the alter of streaming candles and precious leaves on the silk mat, the colour and movement and sensuality of the dancers around you.

When you are making love to the man or woman of your heart, dreaming your God or Goddess.

When you no longer care how you appear, when you've forgotten yourself, when you hold nothing back, unrestrained, and give everything, your entire passion -pain, suffering, anger, compassion, joy, love- to us.

This has become my theory of art.

An aesthetic of intimacy.
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The Move, Section #80 (on miracles)

When I post a section I have to work on it, which is good, and so is feedback. Much of "The Move," an autobiographical novella, is about synchronicity. Creating new patterns and connections. Unfolding previously unknown paradigms into new realities, to be superceded by yet newer paradigms in the process of a life...

Section #80

She continued probing how what she needed, an apartment, furniture, kitchenware, appeared seemingly miraculously. She was like a magnet. Attributing it to divine intervention was just a form of metaphor to explain it; angelic beings weren't carrying items to her. Anymore than the way any church, synagogue or mosque attempted to co-opt the process of miracle to justify their version of godhead. No-one can claim ownership of this process. What religions attribute miracle to, the stories they create to explain what is unexplainable, because it can't be willfully recreated, are just metaphors for the process, a way to explain the way to.

She had her own metaphors, ones not relying on a moralistic theology. She likened eruptions of the miraculous to an alchemical process. That the deeper work was at the atomic level. Where the vibrating energy flies to form molecules which form things. Before gravity binds them. Once they are bound, they remain that way until the forces of chaos and entrophy break them down. After the molecules fly and before gravity fully solidifies was when it was possible to shift the making of the world into new forms, models, paradigms. Where it was possible to wish a future into being and have it happen.

Where miracles happened.
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How do we think.

Do we know how to think? That's not as crazy a question as it seems. It started this morning with my wondering why we become entrapped in stories that we take to be reality. Like the Bible, or Koran, or the Tao te Ching, or the Mahabharata. These books are holy books, yes, and at the core of their culture's belief systems, but they are only stories. Stories that tell us how about the meaning of the world, how to act in it, and how to think. Because our thoughts are where we are most puzzled. The rest is easy, eating, sleeping, making love, working. Yet our thoughts affect our day-to-day reality and shape who we are and what we do. They are crucially important to our self-identities. Our thoughts compose us and compose our view of the world around us. But the ability to do this is a relatively new creation, entirely dependent on a 2mm layer on top of the cerebral hemispheres, the neopallium (Latin for "new mantle"), or neocortext as it is more commonly called, only about 200 million years old. This tiny layer, which is wrinkled into deep grooves in humans, thus packing in the neouronal columns, composed of some 10 billion neurons, is responsible for "sensory perception, generation of motor commands, spatial reasoning, and in humans, language and conscious thought."

It is the language and conscious thought part that I am musing on. It seems to me that our thoughts are a giddy, wild place, composed of giddy, wild language bits, and that, to tame the inner riots, we create stories that tell us how to think. Because we don't know on our own. We are all busy searching for 'states of consciousness' that will enable us to exist peacefully with the rampant energies of the synaptic connections in our modern brains. Afterall, we're not just thinkers, but conscious of our thinking. And being 'self-conscious' is one of the most difficult states to be in.

Is that why we believe the powerful stories of our culture? Why we take them to be accurate versions of the truth? Because it settles our thoughts, having a specific set of ideas to work with, a certain way to think?

This post is only about some questions I had preparing an omlette for my son, who is visiting for a few days.

Did the omellete curve and bellow like a neopallium? I can't say, but perhaps.
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