Wednesday, February 04, 2015

I'm on fire

Plymouth library--my new studio
I'm back now, and it feels like during the last month I slipped into an alternate dimension.  I used to have that same experience upon leaving from or returning to boarding school--this bewildering sense that one day a person can exist at one point on the planet, and, mysteriously, through an uncanny process called travel, can arrive at a completely different point 24 hours later, as if the other place never existed at all.  Of course it goes without saying that everything can change in a day.  Yet there is a real feeling of solipsism:  can this world have really existed unchanged while I was gone?  Can that other world really be existing without me?

You close your eyes and poof:  everything is transformed around you.  And yet nothing changes.  Here I am, back at the Plymouth library, my writing desk when I can get to it in Massachusetts--different and yet the same from my studio in Vermont.  Louder.  When did libraries abandon their prohibition against noise?

I listen to ambient drone to drown out the chatter:  but I did that in Vermont anyway.  I look out at snow instead of a snowy river.  I feel like my time away fed me in surfeit, a nourishing abundant meal of time, respect, creative energy, positivity.  The sheer numinous power of fifty artists independently working by following their least inner voice cannot be overstated.  Here I feel that lack.  The distraction of having to fend for myself when it comes to food and caffeine, the distraction of driving--the sensory overload in even having to walk past stacks and stacks of books in the library--all of these burdens were relieved from me in Johnson.  As Richard Wilbur said:  these things "Call to me now. And weaken me. And yet/ I would not walk a road without a scene."

The things I came back to again and again in my conversations with fellow residents are the two things I come back to again and again on these pages--my current ongoing obsessions:  climate change and Carl Jung.  I am afraid about climate change.  That inner voice of my subconscious, the voice that Carl Jung first named for me--that voice is a conscience that cannot be silenced.  It points me to ever more revolutionary, incendiary words.  The world must change or be destroyed.

And the only way for it to change is for artists to hold the mirror up to our exhausted consciousness, the tired materialist mind of our culture, and to say:  look.  This is what we are.  We are tired and we are depressed and we are sick.   We are beings made of both flesh and spirit, mind and soul, consciousness and unconsciousness.  Integration--health--for us as individuals and as a culture comes from facing that which we are most afraid of--our darkest demons, the other, the chaos of the uncontrollable unconscious, the failure of our civilization, the stark fact of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere--and absorbing this truth into ourselves.  And then awakening.  Becoming active.  Changing.

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