Monday, December 20, 2010
Sunday, December 19, 2010
I KNOW it’s an illusion. I know that the wild doves I leave birdseed for every morning grow old and die, as all creatures do, but when you can’t tell one dove from another and you never see any dove eggs, it’s easy to believe they’re immortal.
Friday, December 17, 2010
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
image courtesy Chere Labbe Doiron
AT FIRST GLANCE she floats. The photograph eventually orients you, but for a moment you are confused. “What is this woman doing here,” you ask yourself, “hovering in the middle of the scene?” Then you see that what she’s standing behind and tucking her folded elbow over isn’t a cloud, as you first thought, but the fluffy ghost of a gate, white with the chalk lines of memory.
Monday, December 13, 2010
Friday, December 10, 2010
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
A Scandinavian man vacationing in Acadiana returned to the home of his hostess after an exhilarating drive through the countryside. In recounting his day's journey, the tourist spoke with spirit about a beautiful tree he had seen. The tree made such an impact, in fact, he was breathless as he described it. The hostess could not imagine which exotic tree he had happened upon. The man took his hostess by the elbow and pointed through the window to some trees in the distance. “What is the name of this tree?" The hostess didn't see any trees. The man went outside and marched across the yard to the trees growing wild in the ditches. He reached up and pulled down a low-hanging branch, blossoming with lavender flowers. “This one,” he yelled back the question to his hostess, “What is this wonderful flower?”
Fruit come from flowers and flowers become fruit, so plants which bear flowers bear fruit. The fruit of the plant, however, may escape our collective attention if we treasure the plant only for its flower. We prize, for example, rose plants and lily plants for the flowers these two plants produce. A rose plant will make roses as everyone knows, but a rose plant will also make fruit. We savor the fragrance and the beauty of the flower: the fruit of the rose is invisible.
A person starts out as an egg. Inside this egg, a set of instructions tells the egg how to grow. And the egg unfolds: each set of instructions is unique, so each egg is unique. Also, each egg is ejected into a unique geographic location, at a unique hour in its planet’s history. To paraphrase Emerson, each man is an egg new to Nature. Now, the egg has a permeable membrane and is highly impressionable, so as it travels forward, it soaks up not only gases and fluids but also pollutants and intoxicants which color the egg as it grows. Life dyes the egg with living. The egg becomes the shape of its journey.
Monday, December 6, 2010
photo: public domain
The first emperor of China wanted to live forever. Or did he want everlasting life in an afterworld shaped much like this one? Was heaven really heaven-on-earth? Delirious from the toxic elixirs of jade powder, chalk and mercury favored by his wisest advisors for the promotion of immortality, the emperor lay on his deathbed. Swollen, purple and bald, dead skin peeling off of him in layers, his vision and his hearing long departed, his fragile grasp of reality filtered crudely through prickling fingertips, the emperor genuinely wondered if he had already left the planet. “So this is what heaven feels like,” he thought, “or is this heaven-on-earth?"
A wooden redbird went begging for bread. Motherless, fatherless, starving and growing weaker, he combed the streets of the city in search of a crumb. There wasn't a morsel to be found. In a plush yard a mother sparrow cracked open grains of millet with her beak and brought tiny pieces of it to the cocked-open mouths of her babies. The baby sparrows chirped. “Sing me a pretty song you funny bird” the sparrow said. “Go on, flap your wooden wings and sing!” The redbird tried to chirp and coughed. The sparrow harrumphed. “Sing you ungrateful bird!” It was the same story everywhere the redbird went. “Birds sing,” the birds would ask, “don't they?”
My friend Uri is a fan of guessing games, and he knows I enjoy a challenge, so after exhaustively describing a meal he'd recently enjoyed, he finished with a guessing game about the dessert course, a sumptuous duck-egg custard.
Friday, December 3, 2010
WHAT WAS THE LAST Walt Disney film Walt Disney made sounds like a trick question because it feels like he’s still making movies somehow. He isn’t alive anymore, but His name continues to echo, each story in the growing collection a new chapter in the same bible, that long shadow of His existence. And what with all the churches, I mean temples, I mean amusement parks built in His honor, you’d swear He never died.
The rumor that His body was powered down into a state of suspended animation is an apple too tempting to refuse: it’s too perfect. Walt Disney is still alive – or so we tell ourselves – just sleeping for a while, floating in a cloudy solution in a vat in the bowels of Disneyland. Surely He’s a regular skeleton somewhere, bones in a bed of dirt. Surely Santa Claus is some senior citizen I have sat on at the mall.
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
My grandmother gave me a sewing basket when I was seven years old. At the ripe age of nine, when my passion for embroidery had faded, the basket eventually settled, forgotten in a distant closet. My mother found it earlier this year. Inside this time capsule, tucked under thimbles and coils of colorful floss, beneath panels of light blue satin onto which nursery rhyme characters had been traced and embroidered, was a folded sheet of loose leaf: a simple drawing of a horse colored in brown and black. Thirty years after I buried him, I brought him back as my muse. Pootail captures the unbridled exhilaration my crayons channeled in 1979. He reminds me that I am the same child, only bigger.
How much to its work, Rose works in the digital way (digital photograph), however Rose works very in the fusing of the painting with the digital composition. According to same, all its work is born of the imaginary one of the adventure, either this adventure of the psychological or physical forum.
Monday, November 29, 2010
Friday, November 19, 2010
17th c. Byzantine icon
His right hand weaves the ribbon of his blessing into a tangle of crooked fingers and, finding the precise arrangement, knots itself into a bow. The bow-shaped blessing exits his body as well as the plane of the icon, sailing across millennia and the ocean between his fingers and your eyes where the gift is visually received.
Death is an unsolvable riddle. Religion is the ornate untying of death.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Standing on one leg, she fluffs her feathers then combs the pick of her beak through her darker and downier places. Handlessly, she removes debris from the tops and the tips of her claws, fluffs her feathers again and stretches her neck skyward, showering in the sunshine. I know how she feels.
It was 1666. A culture of reform was sweeping through the hierarchy of the Russian Church like a wildfire, overturning long-standing traditions in the process.
Monday, November 8, 2010
Photo: Public Domain
When I walk into my gym and head toward the locker room, I pass behind rows of machinery – treadmills, elliptical trainers, small revolving escalators – each topped by a person struggling to move. In fact, the whole point of the machine is to provide a person with a struggle, a resistance to be overcome. If they weren’t difficult to use, after all, they wouldn’t be effective. Because the exercise is tedious, at the eye level of the joggers are carefully positioned distractions: rows of television screens. The televisions face the joggers, engaging them in visual conversations. They are alluring no matter their display, transporting the mind of the jogger away from the struggle of exercise, enabling the jogger to jog farther and longer than she might have otherwise jogged. No matter how long you stare at them, televisions continue to deliver. Even the most rancid sit-coms are colorful displays of light.
Bundled nerves are the brain’s fibers and when you exercise them they grow. Brains are not made of meat like muscle, but the workout is the same. The more you flex your brain, the stronger it becomes. How do you learn to thread needles? By threading needles. Want to learn how to thread a needle really well? Thread one thousand needles. Repetition is the weight-lifting of learning. The brain is just a numbers game.
Sunday, November 7, 2010
Image: Brooklyn Projects
If the body were one big hand – a walking high five if you will – and three of its fingers curled over to scratch an itch on the ball of its thumb leaving the index finger uncurled, would people assume it was pointing upward? Would they marvel at the walking hand or would they look toward the sky in the direction that the finger is pointing?
Photo: Public Domain/Jon Sullivan
Thinking is like kneading dough . . . except dough toughens more easily than brain. You can knead bread all day long; bread dough turns stiff with kneading. And bread: you bake it for a few minutes and it’s done. Brain, on the other hand, you can never overbake; rather, it is always baking.
The gymnastic element of yoga is perhaps the most characteristic aspect of this multi-faceted tradition – at least for Westerners to whom even an adult merely sitting cross-legged appears exotic – but there is much more to yoga than forming the dough of the body into the shapes of human pretzels. In yoga, the mind is posed as much as the body is posed. In fact, the two cannot be separated. The mind is yoked to the body and where one goes the other goes too, so sculpting the body also sculpts the mind. Yoga leverages this wholeness for the purpose of shaping the soul, uniting and reuniting the self with itself, with the world and with God.
Friday, November 5, 2010
Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Fifo
I was maybe five or six when a needle broke in my buttock. At least that’s how I remember it. I remember being held down squirming. I don’t remember how the needle felt piercing the skin and the muscle, but I do remember the scene that erupted before the needle was eventually removed. I swear the nurse said: “It BROKE!” It probably didn’t break. I’m sure the image in my mind of a sharp spike of metal, cracked in half, its ragged end protruding from the dart buried daggerlike in my buttock, was the product of my imagination. Whatever happened, I bet it was because of how tightly I clenched my muscles as I dodged to avoid the needle. All I know is that a sense of heightened emotion spread throughout the room, emotion I interpreted as panic, and that after a first failed stick – oh joy – I had to get another one.
Saturday, October 30, 2010
A CROOKED PAINTING of an olive grove hangs in the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam, crooked in the following sense: the horizon of the painted landscape isn’t square with the edges of the canvas.
Monday, October 25, 2010
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Sunday, October 17, 2010
Saturday, October 16, 2010
After cutting the bodies of the airplanes from the book "Cut & Assemble Paper Airplanes That Fly" by Arthur Baker, I mounted the remnants on foamcore and had them framed together.
Monday, October 4, 2010
The sound of two riding mowers mowing the same field of grass: criss-crossing in counter-clockwise spirals outward from the center of the field.
Sunday, October 3, 2010
The sound of two riding mowers mowing the same field of grass: criss-crossing in counter-clockwise spirals outward from the center of the field.
The sound of a single siren interrupting the sound of the mowing, echoing through the skyscrapers of Houston. Or else the sound of two sirens out of sync, heading from different locations to the same emergency.
The sound of a baby blue jay echoing the frightening siren with a call of alarm of its own.
The sound of one mower staying in place, holding a higher, more strained note in the background while the sound of the second mower approaching and receding echoes the stillness of the first. The mowers and the blue jays continue the conversation that the siren and the blue jays began.
The sound of the metro whizzing by.
The sound of a mower mowing newspaper.
The shine of morning-glory.
The scent of freshly mown grass.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Bishop T. D Jakes
Lord we lift up our, we lift up our, we lift up our hearts to you.Lord we lift our praise.
Lord we lift our praise.
Lord we sing to you.
Lord we sing to you.
Lord we magnify.
Lord we glorify.
Lord we lift you up.
Lord we praise your name.
Lord Holy Holy Holy Lord.
Come on and glorify Him tonight.
Just sing a song out of your heart.
Sing a song out of your heart.
You’re not here to be entertained. We’re here to entertain God.
Just sing to God right now.
Let this sweet sound go up to heaven to him.
Lift up your voices all over this place
And just sing out of the abundance of your heart.
Sing out of the abundance of your heart.
Just let it lift up to God.
God we love.
God we magnify.
Lord we praise you, Lord we lift you up.
Lord we glorify your name.
Glory Glory Glory
Holy Holy Holy
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Emotion, in its journey from the soul of the brain outward through the body, is expressed through the movement of muscles. In fact, it’s impossible to express an emotion without moving muscles: the muscles of the limbs, the muscles of the face, the muscles of respiration and digestion with which we speak words and wail. The human vocal apparatus – the lungs, the larynx, the mouth, etc. – gives voice to emotion, but the hands also speak the language of emotion with a vividness of their own in something akin to a voice. Rage may seize the muscles of the agitated hands, drawing the fingers into punching fists. The muscles of the hands press the palms together thoughtfully and the hands make the voice of an arrow.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
This morning at the gym, a plasma screen television caught my eye. In general, I try to avoid looking at them – usually it is a stupid commercial and, besides, I should be looking where I’m walking – but the image was too alluring to pass up: a field of bright green grass dotted by miniature figures in red and yellow uniforms. The screen seized my attention, dazzling me for a spell. My eyes were pulled toward it like a nail toward a magnet. A soccer player had just scored a goal. He held an arm up victoriously and, drawing the muscles of his mouth and his neck into a sort of joyful scream, pierced the sky around his head jubilantly and repeatedly with a single pointing finger.
Self portrait based on
the ancient Egyptian hieroglyph
for man in adoration
After the terrible earthquake in Iran in 2003, a photograph appeared on the front page of the paper. You have probably seen, if not this exact photograph, a photograph almost like it: a man kneels on a pile of rubble, rubble which once was his home, sitting back on his heels, half screaming, half crying, shaking his fists at the sky. A similar photograph appeared after the recent earthquake in Haiti: a woman on a pile of rubble, aiming her open mouth and her hands toward the sky. The gesture struck me as uniquely human, an instinctual response to epic devastation. It was more than emotion. There was an upward quality to the gesture suggesting a conversation with the sky or with something in the sky. It felt like God had dragged a giant rake of destruction across the garden of the Earth and in response to this calamitous scratching, humanity stretched its arms and its voices heavenward like seedlings to the sunlight. What was this universal gesture and what did it mean, if it meant anything at all?
Monday, September 20, 2010
Illustration: W. W. Denslow
I am thinking of reproducing this illustration by W.W. Denslow, also the original Oz illustrator, in fabric, perhaps felt. The text would be machine embroidered. The brickwork and the smaller lines of Humpty could be either stitched in fine thread or else painted. The panel would then be turned into a pillow. When I was a child I used to trace characters from coloring books onto satin panels and embroider them with colored floss. Looking through the sewing basket my grandmother gave me and finding those old satin panels gave me an idea to try it again.
A rosary, on the one hand, is nothing more than a string studded with beads and baubles. On the other hand, it is a cosmic connection. This is the essence of the rosary: it is a bridge between the earthly present and a higher, more sublime realm.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Thursday, September 9, 2010
Photo: 2010 Earthquake in Haiti
One partly cloudy Sunday in Port-au-Prince, not long after the epic earthquake, a photograph was taken of a throng of congregants as they prayed and chanted beside the tall pile of rubble that once was their cathedral.
shoes by Christian Louboutin
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
by Georges de la Tour
Of sitting, kneeling and standing, kneeling is the most precarious and most difficult to endure. When you are kneeling, you don't forget that you're kneeling. A genuflection stops you in your tracks and freezes your existence. It staples you to the present, only for a moment, then releases you. At the moment of genuflection you are nowhere else but in a state of genuflection, falling from a standing position onto a precariously buckling leg.
Photo: Muslim Man Praying
A black-and-white man stands with his hands behind his ears. His thumbs are placed behind his earlobes and his fingers are splayed open like collecting horns receiving an invisible broadcast. His mouth moves as he speaks but only the sound of the projector clacking can be heard.