Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Art is a Lie

In this season of discontent, where people are left feeling worried, fearful, and discouraged at the political climate, I found myself sleeping for long hours—and still remaining tired and listless. I began binge watching the 2013 TV series, The Fall. 
(A psychological thriller that follows the lives of two hunters, one being the serial killer who preys on his victims in and around Belfast, Northern Ireland, and the other, the female detective from the London Metropolitan Police who is tasked to catch him.)
Is it any wonder I awoke one morning with a terrible feeling that the world is crumbling into chaos. It led me to reflect on something the serial killer, Paul Spector, said.  (Did you know they have a whole page of his quotes? His character is a well read, intelligent serial killer.)

 “Art is a lie. Art gives the chaos of the world an order that doesn’t exist.” Spector

I spent the morning researching and reading, trying to understand Chaos Theory. (Whew, that’s a tough nut to crack!) Life is always in chaos, I just hadn’t thought about it in that way before. 

With this election many feel the effects of chaos. Especially the artists, the sensitives, the empaths. But it shook us to the new reality. And how we react going forward will determine our future—any number of possibilities.

People act irrationally—against their own interests, because of the pain and patterning we all receive in childhood. (more about that can be found here; A Chaos of the Mind. )

There are an infinite number of combinations to the “why” people do what they do. From the above link on depth psychology, quote:
As adults, we like to think we’ve put away most childish things. But infantile and childish ways of experiencing ourselves and life linger in our unconscious mind. That child in the adult’s psyche can be highly mischievous and harmful, producing chaotic reactions. Early childhood’s influences on our adult experiences have parallels to the scientific concept of Chaos theory.”

Why did so many Germans look the other way at the rise of Nazism? They listened to all the “reliable sources,” that pandered to the needs of the human psyche at the time; all is well. Nothing to be concerned about. This will pass. He doesn’t really mean it. Hitler is not really a threat. Just make nice and everything will turn out okay. The childish need to assure ourselves that all is well; the big people in charge will take care of us.

Gore Vidal said, “At any given moment, public opinion is a chaos of superstition, misinformation and prejudice.” 

“People don’t change when they are comfortable. We cannot just legislate our way out of human problems. We cannot change the world by changing the rulers.” Prince Ea

“In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you.” Deepak Chopra

“Chaos is inherent in all compounded things. Strive on with diligence.” Buddha

Some want to go back to the way things were. But “back” no longer exists. And back to where, to what? Like a painting that captures a moment in time, the conditions that existed are gone forever. The artist grows in skill and knowledge but that painting remains as a representation of his knowledge and expression at that moment. There is no going back to unknowing, to naiveté, to innocence, to a dream that’s now faded. 

If you were able to go back, that would mean unlearning all you’ve learned, giving up all you’ve gained, un-meeting all who’ve come into your life—you don’t get to pick only the good—you get the pain, sickness, evil as well—all of it. And our minds tend to soften and forget the unpleasant things we wouldn’t want to repeat. 

So wake up to the new reality of now. 

I’m especially troubled at the calls for love and peace and harmony—in the guise of being spiritual—but passivity does not equate with spirituality. Wanting to go back to the way things were. A happy ending. Putting our head in the sand and pretending the world did not just change in a big way is childish. 

Spector was right, we (the artists of our experience) try to give the world an order that doesn’t exist. From here we have to awaken and become responsible for our actions. Know that our actions and choices have consequences. Have we made a choice that really just gives power to someone to make our choices for us? Oh, the Hitlers, the Caesars, the Kings and Emperors of the world love that. They like to wield power over people—make choices for them—the sheep, the children, the ones who don’t want to have to be responsible. 

It comes down to working on ourselves; making ourselves knowledgeable and thoughtful so that our choices going forward count for something we really believe in. 

As artists, writers, musicians, poets--do we mirror the chaos of the world as it is so we can see ourselves more clearly and be the still small voice of thoughtful reason in the noise and clatter. Or, do we idealize the world and continue to live in the happy illusion that everything is fine? Each must decide for himself. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Accidental Inspiration

I go to other artists for inspiration to move my writing along. Sometimes for technique, sometimes for ideas and sometimes, just to get my bum in the writing chair. I was researching something this morning and found these wonderful quotes by Isabel Allende on Brain Pickings

This one inspires me to get to my writing even when I’m not in the mood:

I start all my books on January eighth. Can you imagine January seventh? It’s hell. Every year on January seventh, I prepare my physical space. I clean up everything from my other books. I just leave my dictionaries, and my first editions, and the research materials for the new one. And then on January eighth I walk seventeen steps from the kitchen to the little pool house that is my office. It’s like a journey to another world. It’s winter, it’s raining usually. I go with my umbrella and the dog following me. From those seventeen steps on, I am in another world and I am another person. I go there scared. And excited. And disappointed — because I have a sort of idea that isn’t really an idea. The first two, three, four weeks are wasted. I just show up in front of the computer. Show up, show up, show up, and after a while the muse shows up, too. If she doesn’t show up invited, eventually she just shows up.” 

This one reminds me to use economy of language:

I try to write beautifully, but accessibly. In the romance languages, Spanish, French, Italian, there’s a flowery way of saying things that does not exist in English. My husband says he can always tell when he gets a letter in Spanish: the envelope is heavy. In English a letter is a paragraph. You go straight to the point. In Spanish that’s impolite. Reading in English, living in English, has taught me to make language as beautiful as possible, but precise. Excessive adjectives, excessive description — skip it, it’s unnecessary. Speaking English has made my writing less cluttered. I try to read House of the Spirits now, and I can’t. Oh my God, so many adjectives! Why? Just use one good noun instead of three adjectives.

And here is wonderful advice for new and well established writers (something my last editor reminded me to do more of):

It’s worth the work to find the precise word that will create a feeling or describe a situation. Use a thesaurus, use your imagination, scratch your head until it comes to you, but find the right word.

When you feel the story is beginning to pick up rhythm—the characters are shaping up, you can see them, you can hear their voices, and they do things that you haven’t planned, things you couldn’t have imagined—then you know the book is somewhere, and you just have to find it, and bring it, word by word, into this world.

When you tell a story in the kitchen to a friend, it’s full of mistakes and repetitions. It’s good to avoid that in literature, but still, a story should feel like a conversation. It’s not a lecture.

Because I’m often inspired by the quotes of other artists, I put together a journal with the quotes of writers, artists and musicians; one for each of 30 days. A perfect gift for those who like to put pen to paper. It’s light and handy for those ideas that come at odd moments.It's on Amazon.

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Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Do We Need Electric Sheep Now?

As I mentioned a few blog posts back, I’ve always loved the Scifi movie, Blade Runner. It’s only been this past week since I bought and read, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, the book upon which that movie was based. They are not the same. The novel was eye opening and now I see why Philip Dick is so acclaimed. 

One big thing that made an impression on me that was left out of the movie (thus the name change from book to movie), is a future much like the one we might be headed toward. Of course there are all kinds of time lines/possibilities in our future, but we have stepped onto a sad and dangerous path that appears to be heading toward more annihilation of the environment and the people and animals on it. More and more species are becoming extinct as the land continues to be ravaged for greed’s sake. 

In the novel, man has killed off almost all species of animals (most extinct)—and poisoned the environment. He has then made android animals. This allows Rick Decker (our android hunter, main character) to be able to pretend empathy by feeding and caring for an electric sheep he keeps in a pen on the roof of his apartment building. 

More and more ‘kipple’ floats to the ground every day, swirling in the air from all the poisonous stuff made and discarded, or left behind after a cataclysm that sent most of humanity to “outposts” in the sky.

With all this desolation around, the people remaining have to have mood adjusters to deal with the depression and emptiness that abounds. There are machines to hold onto that raise one’s mood and the 24/7 TV show of the man god called Mercer who talks endlessly. 

This dystopian novel prepared me for the feelings I would have at the results of our Presidential election. I hope we are not headed into this nightmare scenario: the snake oil salesman whips into town promising the perfect elixir to cure all your ills. But being the master at diversion and deceit, he has no real cure, and is only there to take your money before moving on to his next opportunity, leaving disappointment and worse behind; no cures, no hope and no money.

But there is hope—there’s always hope. After this election season, we still have the concerns of our daily lives and local issues to deal with. So I’ve decided to open up my other Facebook page that some of you might like to visit for new/old ideas and speculative, creative solutions for a brighter future. I’ve called it ANCIENT WISDOM ~ RE-IMAGINED. If you go and find that it stimulates your own creativity and gives you hope for a brighter future, like and share it. But above all, stay centered and positive.

Maybe each human being lives in a unique world, a private world different from those inhabited and experienced by all other humans. . . If reality differs from person to person, can we speak of reality singular, or shouldn't we really be talking about plural realities? And if there are plural realities, are some more true (more real) than others? What about the world of a schizophrenic? Maybe it's as real as our world. Maybe we cannot say that we are in touch with reality and he is not, but should instead say, His reality is so different from ours that he can't explain his to us, and we can't explain ours to him. The problem, then, is that if subjective worlds are experienced too differently, there occurs a breakdown in communication ... and there is the real illness.
Philip K. Dick