Tuesday, September 6, 2016

"...an actual shock of experience..."

Came upon this quote today from a Facebook page devoted to the great Joseph Campbell.

Creative artists ... are mankind's wakeners to recollection: summoners of our outward mind to conscious contact with ourselves, not as participants in this or that morsel of history, but as spirit, in the consciousness of being. Their task, therefore, is to communicate directly from one inward world to another, in such a way that an actual shock of experience will have been rendered: not a mere statement for the information or persuasion of a brain, but an effective communication across the void of space and time from one center of consciousness to another.

Joseph Campbell, "The Masks of God, Volume IV: Creative Mythology" (Copyright © 1968 Joseph Campbell Foundation)
And I thought - what a great way to think about my vocation as a writer. To be a "wakener to recollection." To reach from one inward world to another, the linking of creative consciousness. Poets may do this best because poetry breaks with the rational mind that is so often our stumbling box.

The world is in such crisis, such anxiety, depression, grief, and fear. Because most institutional leaders, politicians, and other protectors of the status quo, or business as usual, avoid talking about the crisis at all, we are left to ourselves and to one another to try to read, to hear, to see accurately what this crisis is and what is bringing it about.

We have to find language for that, metaphors, stories that help illuminate this darkness of ignorance, some of it quite deliberate.

Precisely because our human predicament is so serious, so urgent, so overwhelming, I find myself asking more and more about how best I can approach that predicament with the words I write. But I am convinced that our artists and other creative culture workers are essential to the wakening, a primary vehicle for it. I try to write now with that consciousness, the hope that my work can be attuned to the human experience of the "Great Unraveling" as industrial civilization approaches collapse.

To write: "...in such a way that an actual shock of experience will have been rendered." More and more as we humans continue to speed toward an ecological precipice, I believe that we must render more actual shocks of experience - to help us all to SEE.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

We have some things to talk about, yes?

February - my last post on this blog was in February.

A writers blog means a writer is writing about writing. So, where did it go?

Being a writer means there are times when you back off, get some distance, when you feel changes to which you need to pay attention. It's not that I'm not writing, it's that something about the writing, about being a writer, is changing.

The unraveling of the culture is having an impact. The outcome of years of this nation's glaring incapacity to SEE, much less ponder, discuss, reflect on the massive changes underway in our world is now clearly visible in this stunning political year. We see it now, this clinging to an old way of, of what? of feeling what it is to be a U.S. American, clinging to cultural identities that largely don't exist anymore.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

And then emerging from the darkness...

Yeah, remember me? I last posted in October on the theme of "Writing in Darkness," and then I went dark - like the winter sun over our cold northern Great Lakes.
Steam rises off open water of Lake Michigan



I've been writing in the darkness - of early morning, of frigid cloudy days, of the late afternoon darkness that is so tough for a lot of us who live in the North. It's part of what makes us who we are, living through these cycles. It gives way to tremendous creative ferment, if one is not afraid of it, not afraid of the darkness - both without and within.

I again commit to keeping up with this blog. We'll try again.

It's not that I have stopped writing. Stoneboat, a literary journal based in Sheboygan, published one of my poems in their fall edition, "2070." It's one of my ecological poems, one of my apocalyptic poems. A lot of art these days is full of this foreboding, poetry included, or even especially. Also Hollywood films. We know what's coming. Whether conscious, deliberately unconscious, pushed back from our attention because it is too terrifying and the changes in our lives required to keep the worst from happening too unwanted - we all know...

Monday, October 19, 2015

Writing in darkness

In darkness things merge, which might be how passion becomes love and how making love begets progeny of all natures and forms. Merging is dangerous, at least to the boundaries and definition of the self. Darkness is generative, and generation, biological  and artistic both, requires this amorous engagement with the unknown, this entry into the realm where you do not quite know what you are doing and what will happen next. Creation is always in the dark because you can only do the work of making by not quite knowing what you're doing, by walking into darkness, not staying in the light. Ideas emerge from edges and shadows to arrive in the light, and though that's where they may be seen by others, that's not where they're born.

~ Rebecca Solnit, in her magnificent book, The Faraway Nearby (p. 185)

This really struck a chord for me. Like a string instrument - a chord with a lingering resonance. It feels like the times we're in. It feels like our human moment.

We are dwelling in darkness. Some of that darkness is terrifying. We walk through it blindly. We don't know what's inside it, where the next step will lead us, or if our foot will land on anything solid, anything that can hold us up.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

When the writer isn't blogging....

It's not because she isn't writing, only that life at times overwhelms and it's too easy to let the blogging go.

Why tonight? If you followed me in the past, you know I've been working on a book that emerged from my trip to Alberta - the Athabasca River, Rocky Mountains, boreal forest - and the industrial devastation of the tar sands region two years ago now. I think of it as my ecological lament, and it is that. The lamentation is rooted in the magnificence of the eco-community that is this river, the gorgeous glacial waters, the wildlife, the stunning star-filled night skies, all of which puts the oil sands into context, that accentuates the horror that we now can witness all around the planet as industrial civilization spreads it's tentacles everywhere, and most voraciously and destructively in the extraction and production of fossil fuels for that civilization to burn and burn and burn...