Lanes were closed on 8th Avenue. No cars were allowed to park so close to a skyscraper. Some of the cross streets were also not open to traffic. And that's on 50th Street. The elephants are in town. Who knows what is going to happen today. The elephants are in town, and they are here to remind us, that we have to never forget. Or at least that we should really make sure we focus our memory as selectively as possible and imagine that horrible things happened in the past and that these were then the trigger for some more horrible things, which are quite likely to lead to some more horrible and wrong events in the future. Perhaps. A kid, about a foot taller than me, tried to buy a blueberry bagel at my coffee place. I had no idea these existed. In the subway station parents laughed as their two seven foot tall boys pretended to attack each other with gallon sized chocolate syrup containers. A bunch of scared looking malnourished young men almost knocked me in front of a car as they were running with some box containing probably more of those "Vote 100% Pro Life" t-shirts they were wearing. The elephants are in town. If only some of them knew what it means to be elephants. I was most pleasantly surprised by a little package in the mail yesterday. Three CDs with nature recordings. I have spent the entire morning listening to the (rain in the) rain forest. It makes the trucks outside sound like giant beasts. The police car syrens are now just jungle's mating calls. The soundtrack rearranges itself every time I play it. Oh, and the allergy season also just arrived. Oh, and since Winston Churchill was being named so many times yesterday during the convention... He once said: "A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject." He also said:"Battles are won by slaughter and maneuver. The greater the general, the more he contributes in maneuver, the less he demands in slaughter." and "To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often."... Hmm... ...
August 2004 Archives
One of my favorite little books is one that I am not even sure exists in English, it is by Wislawa Szymborska (we all love her don't we?) and it is called: "Poczta Literacka czyli jak zostac (lub nie zostac) pisarzem" (Literary Mail or how to become (or not to become) a writer)... The cover and many of the illustrations in this little gem are by Andrzej Dudzinski, who lives not very far from here, and to whom I wrote fan postcards when I was maybe 13. The book contains about 140 pages of really incredible rejection. Szymborska used to work for a literary magazine at the very dawn of her literary career, and her job was to write rejection letters to those submitting their poems, short stories and other attempts to get published bit time. (Should I interrupt this post to report that two of my neighbors across broadway just decided to do a variety of things with their naked bodies all in the proximity of their badly frosted bathroom window?) Ahem... so Szymborska's job was to write rejection letters. Had she been a good and efficient worker bee, the book right next to me would probably be the most boring piece of collected memos, or actually not a book at all. But because Szymborska is a blessing to our world and not a curse, these rejection letters are like most stunning and elaborate constantly reshaped gates preventing hundreds of wannabes from entering the literary heaven. Clearly some of the authors were injured in the process, but boy... at least they were kicked off the ladder by a foot belonging to someone who later accepted the nobel prize and for many good reasons. (If you think my neighbors stopped, you are mistaken.) Imagine sending in a poem in hopes of becoming a great literary star and receiving the following answer after a little while (and please forgive my rough translations, I am clearly not a master here...) Dear Marlon (oh yes, your name would be Marlon), not everybody who can draw a sitting kitten, a little house with smoke coming out of its chimney and a face assembled from a circle, two dashes and two dots is going to become a great painter. Your poems currently are, dear Marlon, in a state similar to the just described drawings. Keep writing, think about poetry, read poetry, but also consider gaining some experience in a field completely independent of your need to guard the muses. The muses are hysterical, as we know, and you can't count on those who are. Okay, I got a bit lost in translation on that last sentence... This one on the other hand is pretty clear: "How to become a writer?", you are asking a very problematic question, dear... . Very much like the little boy who asked his mother to explain to him how children were made. After hearing his mother's answer that she would explain it later because she was too busy, the boy insisted:"So at least explain to me how to make the head." Oh well, let's try to at least explain how to make the head: One needs to start with a tiny bit of talent. Or "In case you decide to publish the attached poems, I would like to take on the pseudonym of 'Consuela Montero'. Thank you." – You really arranged this one quite beautifully in your thirteen year old head. I wonder if a Spanish weekly received a similar letter, from a real Consuela Montero who requested to have her poems printed under the egotistic pseudonym of Marysia Nowakówna. [the real name of the Polish writer.] Now this would be a fantastic cultural exchange, wouldn't it be? It is a bit early for a publication. May both girls work a little more and show a tiny bit of more patience. Imagine page after page of these... The rejection letters are a reminded that even some of the less attractive seeming jobs can still contain potential for greatness. I know that the ones I sampled here appear incredibly mean and saturated with a certain Schadenfreude, but the overall tone of the book is more one of serious understanding of the matter, there is a positive, hopeful undercurrent; and also resistance to an onslaught of bad writing, of course. Imagine young Szymborska reading one horrible manuscript after the next. Some of those whom she rejected seemingly did not like to take no for an answer. Certain ambitious scribes wrote her back, often in anger of course. Szymborska's replies to them also sound like words softly whispered, right underneath that giant stick. From time to time even Szymborska had to give up and call other authors for help, even if only by quoting them. One of the submitted texts must have tried to chew on a much too large piece of a much too giant problem. When rejected, the writer must have complained that writing about the little things were somehow boring and not really interesting. And this is when Szymborska decided to quote Rilke. He apparently would recommend that young and maybe not so experienced writers try to focus on tiny things, maybe those surrounding them. "If your daily life seems poor, do not blame it; blame yourself that you are not poet enough to call forth its riches; for the Creator, there is no poverty." Now this is a very depressing one to read on a day when things somehow appear less exciting than usual... Enough with this post. I will now just publish it, and continue with work. Though I much rather would be sleeping. ; )
The plug was pulled for a moment. The machine has not yet regained its full speed. Not all of the wheels are spinning yet. How did it happen? How could it possibly happen? We tried to rest a bit. We tried to get some sleep. Still tired. Not sure what is causing this. It is not good to walk into an exhibition and to see not much more than a room with frames on the walls and very odd looking people trying so hard to look interested. At least in something other than themselves. The trashy looking girl with three layers of what barely made a skirt and that white wide open shirt, how was she in any way interested in the images on the walls? Most of her time seemed spent looking for her own reflection, or at it, or looking for her maybe 50 year old partner, his black dyed hair slicked in various ways over his unfortunately shaped head. He was so much shorter than her, carried giant shoe store bags, uttered some odd combinations of words, tilting his head cautiously towards her. She barely managed to stand on those... I guess they were shoes. "No photography." if this order had been followed at all times, the place in which we all stood would not even exist. Slept for hours, just minutes later. The dreams were so empty and silly that I was embarrassed to even be in them. Fully conscious that this was not reality, made the experience a bit more tiring even. The characters so overdrawn. I wanted to stop the cameras. Such bad acting. All my invention. All of these are not very good signs. This is what I imagine happens to film when it is locked in the camera and goes from underexposed to perfect to more and more and more and then it loses its memory of things and the lens still does not close, the flood of light just keeps washing away what was there using the very picture that was exposed, just there, just split seconds ago. Overexposed. Maybe that's what it is. It happens. My head feels as if it had been forced to be screwed on with the wrong thread. Just feeling sick... again... and it is probably okay... it happens... it is a healthy preparation for great times to come. I should be happy about it. There has to be a balance. It is important. Enough. Good night.
The syren that woke me up, just does not want to stop. It just keeps going on and on and on. All I hear now is the syren and a courageous bird, from across the street, pitching in his 2¢... Now there are some trucks. The syren sounds as if it were... oh it just stopped... now it is the regular new york sound mix. The light of the rising sun completely painted the hills of the New Jersey water edge in orange and yellow and gold. The Columbia house across the street pretends to be a bright rubber toy as well. Now some drivers not far away from here try to add to their shouted insults by honking a whole sound palette of horns. A woman with a stunning skull shape and no visible hair emerged from the subway dressed in a completely black outfit, so monochromatic in fact that through my still almost sleeping eyes all I thought to see was a well shaped shadow. The pigeons on the sidewalk move around in what appears like giant undisturbed flock. The bright light sign on the subway entrance keeps bravely advertising the 1012 Olympics to me and me alone, it seems, as there is not a person in sight, for the few seconds at least. I can hear the cleaning truck brush the edge of broadway. It might be the perfect time to go brush my sleepy teeth. And maybe it is also time to take something against that raging pain in my throat. Good morning, fly by helicopter... Does nothing never happen?
The experience was a bit odd. It felt a tiny bit as if I had landed from planet New York, where there is danger around every corner and where sidewalks act as sponges for anything dropped, change, cameras, action and ideas. The neighborhoods I walked through this weekend were like jewelry, placed on purpose onto a soft carpet in the middle of the room. Houses with their doors wide open, cars with their trunks ajar, cats siting by the street watching me walking by as if I were myself a cat and they were watching me on ca-tv. I felt a bit inadequate. Maybe the doors were open because I was supposed to be in a car. I was not supposed to use my feet to get from one place to the next. Taking a walk in suburbia, especially with not even a bag on my shoulder, I really must have looked like some very strange being. Things were peaceful, nobody attacked. A little park by the bay was arranged neatly around a cute kind of lake. There was a small island right in the middle. On the island were ducks and geese. The birds seemed to be very concerned with their social status on the island. One poor chap actually had to sleep on the dangerous shore off the island. He had been voted off completely. He was quite ashamed, probably scared as well. I watched the amusing poultry interaction for a few minutes. I had not brought anything to write or draw and so I eventually got up an decided to take the road up a near hill. ON the table next to me was, in plain sight, a loaded classic nikon photo-camera. The lens was a good one as well. This was a beautiful classic tool. Next to the camera in the grass, in a carton, there were some jackets, some sort of net. I was for some odd reason worried that somebody might just come by and steal the nice camera. Somebody obviously had left it there, on that stump. I took one of the jackets and covered the camera with it. "Excuuusee mee!!!"... there were little humans, somewhere on the hill, in a car, one of them must have been the owner of the camera. I tried to shout back some explanation. I am somehow bad at this kind of explanations though... I just walked away from the newly combined arrangement. I walked up the hill, and past the people in the car, who avoided looking at me, as if my looks could kill, and i walked up the hill and further up the street, named after some trees, past more, bigger houses wide open, and cars with open trunks. And I imagined the odd things that were probably happening behind, well, not really even behind, these open doors... And the openness was of course an illusion. It was a bit of a challenge... or maybe not at all. Maybe I had really spent too much time on planet New York City. Maybe in the near future i would find myself right next to a very open door, waiting for somebody to just wander in... In some ways this site here is a location with wide open doors, isn't it?... doors and windows ajar... and yet it is not as easy as one would think to get to the private chambers... and not many even find them. And even I get lost sometimes. And this is probably an interesting thing to do, just in general. Though I am certainly not sure. I am never sure. And that is probably a really great thing.
We did not have those fancy glass marbles in Poland. At least I was not aware of them. The little round pieces of glass were something I was introduced to in Germany. This is where kids made up certain value systems for these round objects and then played with them to get them out of each other's hands. I did not really understand how this whole thing worked. Some of the nicer little pieces were less valuable than some really ugly ones. I guess the strongest kid with the cheapest marbles sometimes wrote the rules for the neighborhood. The only way to get the good stuff was to win it all. (And then give some away and make some new friends.) The games kids played with marbles in Germany were the same, or very similar to those we used to play in Poland. One would dig a little hole into the hardest possible patch of pounded dry soil, or one would use a well tested battle ground with a hole that had been passed on by generations of players and then the game would be a bit like golf, I guess. One would try to be the first one to get ones marble into that wicked little hole in the ground. Whoever managed that first... would just collect all the other marbles. Those with no marbles left would be sent home (often crying.) We did not have marbles in Poland. So we used... money. Cash. Real coins. This somehow made more sense. These game pieces had a system set up by much badder and stronger boys. This was like playing adults. (Oh, and btw. I tried to bring in some of that reality spirit to germany, just to discover that the kids there really did not get it. Now seriously, has anybody ever bought ice cream with marbles?) It is also far more difficult to play the game of golf with a coin than with a little ball, of course. I guess the putting irons even the playing field a bit. But can you imagine Tiger Woods trying to get a little krugerrand into a tiny hole in the middle of a well designed arena? I actually think this could be a good sport. There would be some really good educational value in that. I would watch superb players snip in vary valuable playing pieces of internationally regulated weight into a tiny little hole in the ground. I think there is some real potential in that... really... (I have worked in advertising for too long. I am corrupted.) Well, we did not always have a fighting ground and not always had the luxury of that little precisely dug round hole. One wanted to win back some of that lost cash during school breaks as well, of course. We knew that teachers would have certainly not allowed for us to crawl around on all fours, trying to get the best position for that killer shot to take the savings away from that slightly less skilled kid. New rules had to be used to be able to play under those much more difficult conditions. We had to be able to run away quickly, leave no traces, be mobile. So we simply used the wall. It was as if we turned the circularity of the game with a little hole in the ground into a two dimensional game of precise aim. Several players would line up at a certain distance to a wall, (and the older kids would sometimes just stand farther away, because they were more professional,) and we would throw the coins in a way so they would land as close as possible to the wall. Whoever managed to throw his coin closest to the wall, would get all of the other, less fortunate coins. Or let's say the equally fortunate coins of obviously less skilled players. Really some really tough kids were often able to throw coins so they would end up standing, leaning against the school wall. I mean there is no way to beat that... (except with a suicide throw that would remove that master of the game from his position, sacrificing the slightest chance to win that particular round of throws.) Oh, the game might sound very simple at first, but it is really a tough one. Coins do roll, they bounce off the wall and of each other. Sometimes a throw too daring would just mean the end of one's game. Hmm... I am trying to imagine this game again, played by a really skilled team of Canadians. Maybe on ice, throwing... hmm... some really beautiful game pieces.... I remembered the game of throwing the coins against the wall when I saw something slightly unusual in front of the building here this morning. It was almost as if somebody had played the game and then just left their coin, or their token, just there. It was the ultimate sign of a winner. The real winner would not even care about the winnings. All he cared about was the honor. The legend.... I really thought that some kids had played that game at night, right here on Broadway, right here in front of mandee's, in front of that sometimes quite cheeky clothing store with pictures of girls in the window wearing t-shirts that would say something like "I partied with Justin." Daring? Almost. More like a teenage thousendeere... (is this a word? I mean like almost millionaire.) Okay, so here is the meat of the story. The item on the sidewalk this morning was a raw piece of pork. It was a pork chop, a raw one, greasy, marbled. I think it was pork. I am not a meat in the street expert. It must have been there for a while. It was't there long enough for the rats to discover that bone marrow could be somehow especially delicious. But it had been there long enough for the rats to discover that the giant piece of meat looked delicious. There were some droppings right next to that found piece of animal. Maybe it was poisoned? Was this some sort of really bad joke? Is there such a thing as the meat joke? A store manager from mandee's saw me hover next to the red and fatty piece of pork. It was on the sidewalk in front of her little empire and so she came out of the store to ask me what I was examining. "It is just a piece of dead meat." I shouted in her direction. "Oh, okay..." she answered, and walked back into the store... Just a dead piece of meat on Broadway. Seems like a pretty normal thing, doesn't it?... I still think that those Polish kid's games could and should be turned into real sport, if only played with the right kind of coins. Imagine... olympians throwing their medals against a well branded wall... or maybe ultra-light airplanes throwing especially designed rings, against a billboard... I think the olympic potential of some sports is not yet fully explored. What about those knife throwing games mentioned here earlier? And did I ever speak about the beer cap tour de France? I do not think the use of meat is a good idea... in any kind of sport or game. Meat is best when it is alive I think... but then it is not really meat I guess? I really wonder where this red and dirty chunk originally came from... doesn't it make us want to hug New York?
The dreams last night were not heavy-lifting after all. And I was so looking forward to the drama, the fear, the close escapes. The dreams were all about architecture. Perfectly built interiors with some beautiful views. Some work needed. Nothing major. Six hours of that. I think. I do not know. Dreams are not something one can know? I remember falling asleep as being an adventure of the childhood. My body would beg me to be scratched here, to be tossed there. I would just be completely still in my bed, with my eyes wide open, staring at the ceiling, trying to resist all of these internal and external distractions. I would often even tell myself that after the third urge to scratch my head the sleep would just come and grab me. And sometimes it would, just perfectly on time. Sometimes sleep would just take over with all violence. It would be like a giant wave that would just grab my body and just make me feel as if I had just been lifted from the sheets and spun around several times and then thrown down again. I would sometimes wake up from the violence of falling asleep. And the counting would begin anew. And the staring at the ceiling. (And of course the fear of the darkness.) I worked in a school for children with disabilities for a while and the ones in my class were the ones that happened to have some issues that were really severely preventing them from doing certain things. And so we had to deal with the problem of seizures or the state right before one quite often. There was a clenching, there was this violence that would take over a little body, or almost. There were some very scary moments. And I really did not envy my little friends for being often trapped in that state where the brain decides that it is going to just make up its own reality for a few moments at least. I mean it maybe does that most of the time anyway, but it is the transition from one state to the next, the awareness of falling from one state of waking into the other. Does sleep still come violently and does it still throw me around? I think I managed to somehow be more prepared these days. I hold on to a pillow (I really sometimes do), my eyes tend to be closed (another thing learned), I listen to that slowly approaching echo of dreams. And then, when it pours over me, like a magic liquid wave that penetrates any aura, I am amazed, I watch myself dissolve into whatever my brain cooked up for me during the day. Just like that. And I actually miss those childhood dreams. Dreaming about architecture is just not the same as rescuing a smart and creative little princess.
We are expecting some heavy dreams tonight. I just managed to eat far too late and far too crazy. At least for this time of night. There will be some very heavy dreaming tonight. Hope I will get out in one piece on the other side. The taco truck on 96th street and Broadway has just some of the best tasting mexican food around. At least in this neighborhood. A good sign might also be that I get my order last, after all of the Mexican workers and writers and families are done with ordering and receiving theirs. I guess this is okay. It is okay. A couple next to me was really getting upset with the slowness of their order. One of the guys was really "kinda pissed, that they were, like, growing their own rice in that truck." His boyfriend was more down to earth. He managed to calm him down. They kissed. For a long and intense kind of time. A German sounding guy in his 40's with probably one of the cutest puppies to live on this island, insisted on ordering his complex food wishes in Spanish. He did not care that nobody understood what he meant or barely. It was okay... at least to him it was. At 10PM there were three Mexican kids making up games running around the truck, playing with the cutest ever puppy. The girl really wanted to play "follow the leader." Nobody else wanted to play that. I got the beverage from that almost 24-hour supermarket. I was one of three customers maybe, which might explain why most of the staff were outside as well, on their cellphones. Some swinging around their heavy keys. Some just doing some heavy lifting of their giant pants. I am now done with my dinner. The piece of lime was so plump it almost exploded all over me as I barely pushed it into that bottle of corona. I am getting ready for some very heavy dreams tonight. My stomach just punched itself. Here we go. Have a very good and incredibly calm night...
I had just dropped off a fedex package at the Rockefeller center location. The lady at the counter had a heart warming conversation with somebody who was, as so many, moving to the east side of town. The rents were supposedly lower there. The west side, so expensive, completely out of range. She asked him to definitely leave an address. Many people moved without leaving even a hint of where they were going to. The deliveries would still arrive. Sometimes for weeks. She told him she would miss him. He said he would miss her too. The temperature outside was not all too bad. Maybe 18?C. We have seen and felt worse indeed. The rain was about to set in. There was maybe a drip here, a tear there, nothing worth an umbrella. The subtle wind made it feel like a perfect preparation for the New York autumn. Only the smells were not here yet. And neither were the colors. Though who knows. It was dark at eight PM. I walked past a few closed restaurants, then Ted’s broiled steak place, then KFC, hiding ashamed under another one of those New York City awnings. I walked through the shadows towards Broadway, towards my train station, it was not really late, still somehow busy, locals and tourists, everywhere. A lady maybe in her sixties, her hair freshly put into a muffin like shape, her clothing a perfectly matching assemble of thin thin layers of beige wool and other natural fabrics passed me under the awning. She was slowly walking towards Radio City Hall, so it seemed. She smiled at me, for the few split seconds when our eyes met. She had this incredibly perfect smile, the best available smile. Perfect teeth. She looked familiar. I smiled back. I think I even nodded. I sometimes nod. Am I a nodder? A few moments later, on the corner, the same lady walked up to me. She must have been quite tall when she was younger. She was maybe a head shorter than me. Impressive for her age. “You look familiar to me.” Her voice was so soft and melodic. I wanted to reply, but noticed that it was not yet my turn. “You work in the city, I bet.” She never stopped that smile. “I do, I actually do. Yes, you look familiar too.” I rushed my words as if to fit them all into the very brief period of time she allocated for her breathing in. “And you live in the city as well?” She was more telling me than asking. Whatever she said sounded as if we knew each other for several decades at least. “Yes, I actually do…” I rushed, and smiled. “I live right here on 57th street. You should come over sometimes. Relax a bit after work.” The entire time while she was talking, I was holding on to the single anonymous bill in my right pant pocket. I had expected her to ask me for some money, perhaps?… Now she was inviting me for tea? I knew that something was not right about the situation, but the images that suddenly took over my mind were completely peaceful memories of friendly past and future conversations. I saw the two of us looking at the photographs of her passed away husbands. The music came from a softly crackling freshly oiled gramophone. She told me of the great time when she performed at Carnegie Hall. Her voice was the one coming from that crackly record… I imagined us sitting on red antique chairs in a very lush drawing room, surrounded by dusty art, old photographs, some landscape paintings, maybe two tiny Picassos. There would be tea on that little art deco table between us. She would then tell me about the arrival in new york, right after the war. She would tell me about the great idea to buy the building she lived in, together with her other singer friends. Most of them had passed away. She was so happy to still be able to do what she loved. She would tell me how she still gave singing lessons. Her housekeeper would be this strange Polish lady, who’s daughter would call for more food from the very, very distant kitchen. Hmm… Maybe she was that photographer I once met at the Guggenheim? I had first seen her in a documentary on German television. Then met her again visiting her own exhibition at one of the side galleries of the Frank Lloyd Wright snail of a building. I got her name wrong back then. I could certainly not remember her name now. Why did she appear so familiar? Where could I possibly know this lady from? “I can do a variety of things,” she continued, “I can do the full body, I can do fellatio.” Her voice never even changed a bit. She said all these things as if she wanted to recall memories we had of riding together on ponies, back in the 30’s in the Normandie. I was ready for a lot. I was certainly not ready for “I can do felatio” from a familiar looking 60 year old on an evening where I myself probably looked far past my age because of the stressful day just passed. I tried not to act surprised when I looked at her, I looked into her glowing, strangely hopeful eyes, her smile, her perfectly made up puffy hair, the wool sweater, the entire matching beige outfit. Her shoes were broken down. This poor lady. Her shoes… the shoes. The black and old broken shoes. I felt as if I had just violated her space. The entire brief memory of me having tea with her, it was all a lie, a violation, it was not right. I really was not ready for this outcome of this encounter. I thanked her for having such kind thoughts about me. (I think I even used these exact words.) I touched her shoulder as kindly and gently as I possibly could. My light turned. There were people standing around us. Now walking. I walked with them. I walked. I walked away. She did not say anything. She stayed on that corner. I do not think I turned back. No, I did not turn back. I watched my feet walk me towards the train station. I felt horrible. I felt horrible on my way home. I felt disastrous on the train… even now. I should have at least offered her dinner. Why hadn’t I offered her dinner? I really wanted to know about Normandie. I wanted to know about her husbands. And what about the Polish housekeeper with her ugly daughter who never left the kitchen? And the pictures she had taken for that show at the Guggenheim. And what about all those nights when she sang at Carnegie Hall? I can’t believe I did not invite her to dinner… will she be okay? Will she be okay? I failed to react properly in one of my most unexpected New York moments. I feel horrible about it. I feel horrible. Where could I possibly know this lady from? Damn it.
Almost burned my tongue now, licking the outside of the lit, hot metal lamp. I should not have tried that. I did. Now... okay, the tongue is actually burned. Just the right half of the front (as I do not have a tip of a tongue). The pain is going to go away. It is okay. Managed to finish about 75% of what I wanted to get done today. At least on that one project, long overdue. The other project... oh and then the other one... Managed to burn myself out this weekend. Not just the tongue after all. The brain, the eyes the back. Right about now should be the time when the greatest ideas grab me by both hands and feet, stick their fingers in my nostrils as if i were a bull and tear me out into the meadows of never explored thought. But the only thing my head is hearing right now is that pounding of my brain mixed with the steady going air conditioning. We went from high to low to vent. It feels as if I had spent the last 48 hours in front of this screen, or at least at this table, in this room, the window invisible to me. The real thing at least. As I have opened and closed hundreds of virtual windows. It feels as if I have managed to disappoint so many in the last few days. It is so bad that shopping starts to feel like a possible therapy. And that's a really bad sign. That's a really bad sign. Especially when there is not enough money to pay the therapist. And there are such beautiful rare things that whisper and sing my name. They are so stunning and important and really, really worth it. I will not eat them. I will only look at them, maybe once a year. Maybe twice. Maybe all the time in my mind. Maybe I will just imagine how they are memories of moments that were so incredibly different than what I am experiencing right now. I know there is a fresh bottle of excedrin in the medicine cabinet in the bathroom. It is behind that middle door, the middle mirror. I am going to go over now. I will open that door. A glass of water in one hand. I will make sure to take two of these little round soothing white inventions by the masters of western marketicine and I will then try to get that remaining 25% of the day done. And may it cost me some sleep. At least the pain will not be there. At least I will not feel that it is there still. I will be like the old man in the painkiller commercial. I will be like the actor who plays the man who runs a marathon after his knee, hip, foot surgery. With a gigantic smile I am going to enter the zone again and I am going to kick some... ach I will just move some more vectors around, then let some more ink bleed into the pages of a little book that does not belong to me. I will then just pass out and dream of a continuation of this beautiful day. Because it is a beautiful day. It will be a beautiful night. This is the beautiful life in a beautiful time. For some. Somehow. In some mysterious ways. Oh, and H.C. on a print means Hors Commerce. It describes a workhorse of a print. It is the print that actually gets to see people. It is the print that gets to see admiration and joy and rejection. It is not the print that actually gets to go home. It is the print that stays at the gallery. It stays at the gallery until all the good ones are gone. Then the H.C. is sold as well then... mostly after the APs, the Artist Prints are sold, I guess. The H.C. is the fruit everybody handles and nobody wants to taste... no it is the representation of the idea. Not as distant and abstract as the picture in a book. Or a picture in the mind. It is the working print. It is equal to all the others... it is just the one that gets touched and handled... a lot... My tongue is fine now. Maybe it was not burned after all. Maybe I could now try to lick the light bulb. Now here is a nice story to remember. Isn't it?
As the journey progressed, the sights became more and more interesting. Each new one became more informed than the last one. The layers of beauty increased with the slow and steady unavoidable progression of things. Nobody had ever told him it would be this way. Nobody had ever prepared him for this. Nobody had ever explained it this way. The darkness was supposed to be all enveloping by now. The pains were supposed to be debilitating by now. The young ones were supposed to rule the world by now. He was supposed to be out of the plains of surprises and wonder... and dug deep in the trenches of disillusionment. But instead the same objects and places, revisited, became more and more informed. More interesting. More beautiful. Deeper. Still new. People became more and more transparent. More interesting. Deeper. Still new. Yes, the clarity of vision was slowly giving way to the warmth and comfort of decisions made in the past. But that was not as bad as he had feared... Every single one of the moments given could be declared glorious. And there were miles and miles and years and years of those ahead. He never stopped being amazed. Ever.
Just swam through the warm waters of an imaginary lake. Swam minutes after sunset. Just managed to reach the island, the small patch of land. The center of the body of water. The sounds of the shores seem far from here. The voices of others seem distant and muffled. The sky above seems to rest on an open trap, ready to snap shut. I feel as if I were the tiny human bait, sitting, soaked, waiting for the animal to be caught? Something is telling me that the moon is not going to come out to even see me tonight. I will now curl myseld into a small, compact object. And wait for the sun to crush the silly setup. Will the moon still make the waters let me float on a soft wave towards the not so dangerous shore? Let's really hope it happens, let's really hope it happens. The greenish waters are rising.
This one I had heard before. And it was in many contexts. It must have been a few weeks ago, at an Indian restaurant. A man with a whispering voice was seducing a woman by detaching her spirit from her body. He explained to her how much he cared for her spirit and how unimportant her bodily attributes were. He seemed especially concerned with her breasts. She apparently was using them in some unspeakable way. He explained to her how little he cared for them. Or their size. Or... I could not see either one of them. They were behind me I mean the man or the woman. I could hear him a bit better than her, as he was facing me. She tried to somehow make a case for her breasts. He then switched the topic to food and how it is our bodies. It was very interesting to see how he was managing to explain the woman away. She was right there in front of him (and behind me), breasts and brains included. He had the courage (as I do not want to use that other term), to remove parts of her slowly, to put them on the table and then to explain that each one of them did not really exist, making it easy for him to later somehow devour her, or the idea of her, I guess. He was spinning a web made out of clever little escape ladders. It was incredibly unpleasant to witness. Yes, evil requires the sanction of the victim. But here was this man turning a woman into pieces that were obviously lacking the ability to protect themselves. I wanted to just get up and spill some curry on that sneaky little guy. One of the things he said was the piece of knowledge which actually is as profound as simple. He stated that we are, in fact, what we eat. Yes, this is not a new thing to say by any means... he was just very serious and direct about it. It is an American thing to see food as a fuel for that machine we call body. What he explained to her though was that this machine that we fuel with food is actually also made out of the food digested by the very machine. It does make sense somehow. Where else is that matter supposed to come from. It is not like we can lean against a wall and then make parts of it our body. The food we eat is indeed our future body. The water we drink will, at least partially, be turned not only into a carrier of nutrient. Parts of it will actually become us. We are, as systems, much more open than we dare to realize. Somebody told me a few years ago that our body structure and the body structure of pigs is so similar, that certain pieces of information contained in the pork meat digested are reused in similar places as where they used to be on the animal. Interesting to know when eating that prosciutto. (Though I really have no idea how much truth could be in this one... though I know that we are indeed similar enough to pigs that they are called horizontal humans by some and are definitely "good enough" for some military medical exercises.) Okay... so it does make sense that we are made of all those pieces of nutrient that we push into our bodies. And it might be a good thing to remember that led can not be turned into gold. Just in general. Hmm... It was interesting to sit at a Japanese restaurant today ("Sir, you make the order more japanese than a Japanese person.") and to listen to the conversation next to me. It seemed as if two men were having a life altering talk. One of the men was older, and yet he looked as if he just stepped out of a Morgan Stanley commercial. The other man was younger, maybe less experienced, at least in life. Here it was all business. They spoke about money, (lots of it,) and about the stock market and about certain meta levels of thinking and how some people think in terms if short term thought and how some are portfolio building investors. I really do not really know what they were talking about exactly... It was fun to discover that they had a pad in front of them that actually was from Morgan Stanley. (It was also funny because of This little piece of info. We were basically in the Lehman Brothers Building which used to be Morgan Stanley and ... oh well... ) I first thought that the younger guy was the adviser, but in the course of the conversation the flow of information somehow switched. And things really became good when the older man said something that reminded me of the conversation mentioned above, and yet on a somehow different level of course. He said something like: As one goes through life, one has more and more of these important conversations. With each conversation a part of information is passed onto one. So as one goes and talks to the right people, ones mind becomes filled with this collected wisdom, or pieces of it at least. If one chooses to talk to the wrong people, ones mind becomes filled with the wrong kind information leading to further bad conversations induced by the wrong decisions and conclusions. Each conversation is important. Hmm... food for thought? Or as Nietzsche put a rather scary angle on it... "Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you." So would this also work in a positive way? When we manage to find access to the best people and to feed ourselves with the finest of thoughts and ideas... there is a better chance to somehow become helpful to others?... In the long run, as all of us can become carriers of some actually useful wisdom. I think the greater thought here might also have been that no matter what happens, it is a state of transition. Learning should never ever stop. On the way back to the office, I stepped into the St. Malachy's Church on 49th street as it appeared to be the only place where I could just sit down and think slower about the strange connections I was just noticing... no drinks needed, no service provided... just calm. I grabbed one of the worn out red books in the corner, stacked on a bench. I opened it somewhere in the back and the page seriously opened on this: I Corinthians 13:1-13 (I just googled it now and there it was.)... and it was a bit spooky... But in a good way... I have no idea what this all means... if it actually does mean anything. Because somehow "meaning" feels like a pretty silly thought to have right now. After all this...
All of the pins have been removed from the wall. What remains are tiny holes leading to nowhere. The pet Orka is going to get a good scrub at home. The universe as we know it is contracting again, we will speed up processes and then reappear stronger and smarter on the other side of the warm warp door. Is this one of the original ideas of the universe in general? In order to survive, it has to change at all times. Expansion and contraction and some direction are the basic important states of things. A never ending transformation is on the way. Always, at all times, everywhere. The metal surface of my desk pretends to be made out of a giant slab of wood. The image is of wood, the texture is of polished stone, the temperature is clearly plastic coated metal. Orka has seen a lot. Orka will get to see more. Do you remember w-orka?... I think he is a workaholic. ; )
The place is not very far from here. And little parts of it are even right here, right now. Observe, listen, smell. Do you sense how it feels to experience what at some point used to be the cutting edge of cutting edges? How deep do we have to dive to touch the golden floor of this pool of freshly filtered water? What if the windows of your home were not supposed to open. What if the view of the city were just the very tiny tip of a far away tower? Luxury is a very special, well groomed, golden garden state of mind.
"Now that's a giant lamp," he said, sitting across from the pretty girl who would not stop telling him about the world: China and India were declared to be trouble. Once they were to "grow up" and started demanding things, they would become trouble, she explained. They would want vegetables and watches and cars and we would not be able to keep up with that giant demand. "There are really dark times ahead of us." She was not so worried about Africa though. Africa was a country that was just so ridiculously behind. She really meant it. He understood. He put one hand on the giant paperback he had brought with him and the other, just casually on her knee. The top one. "I like this bar" he said, "I would not mind coming back here." "You know, when I read the daVinci code, I mean it might be a cheesy novel, but there is so much truth in it, I mean how are you supposed to believe that there is this guy who never has any sex and even tells you to never have any. I mean this is totally ridiculous." "Do you think this giant lamp makes the room bigger, or smaller?", he said. "Mirrors make a room look bigger." "I have two mirrors." "Where, across from each other?..." "no, like this...", he created an angle with his hands... "where is your apartment?..." "in the west village..." "i am tired..." "let's get out of here..." and the giant lamp glowed on over the purple pool table where everybody happened to be a winner... but that really depended on the point of view...
The large tomato began to grow a bit of a penicillinesque culture in the place where it used to be attached to its plant. It also leaked some sort of yellowish liquid; I did not want to try out what it might be. One of the pots contained a whole variety of seeds in its soil already, and so it seemed like the perfect burial ground for the expired red fruit. I used some of those single use chopsticks to dig a hole into the center of the patch of soil. I dug by sticking the wood into the center and then spinning it around a few times. It eventually looked like a pot filled with funnel of soil. I placed the tomato over this hole in the ground. The fruit was far too large for even this opening. And so I pressed it with the chopsticks. This is when the tomato burst. It became two very wet halves spilling liquid and seeds all over the patch of soil. I tried to push the halves again, but they were also very soft and fragile. It took just a few seconds and I was looking at some sort of combination of edible red fruit-flesh, mixed with very black potting mix. It was a very odd combination. I was not really wasting food here, this was a moment of enriching the soil, of giving back to the soil. The tomato seeds just came with their first watering included. I began to stir the mix. It took maybe a minute or so for the tomato completely become part of the now very wet content of the pot. Even the sounds produced here were of a pleasant and soft nature. I was changing the proportions of a tiny living part of the universe. This morning the soil was still wet, covered completely with what almost looked like a layer of perfectly white snow. The mold cultures are of course the first result of the burial of an overly ripe tomato. A continued mixing of the ever drying soil is going to soon move us beyond this stage, at least on the surface of things. I am allergic to mold, btw, and this kind of mold is not the kind that seems to irritate me in any way. It was more of a soft and completely white kind. Almost as if the soil were impregnated with a camembert. I feel like an antibiotic gardener... selecting which life forms will be allowed and which will be not. It is all a game in which I am just teasing the eventual winners. I hope that one day some part of me is going to make a fertile ground for some yet to be born kid's gardening experiments.
An article in a recent issue of Der Spiegel, pointed out a strange little assumption. According to the writer we are fooling ourselves into the illusion of progress by further and further compressing our music. Yes, we all know that an MP3 contains much less information than the original recording, but we have been told that it does not really matter, since the compression happens in the part of the spectrum that we are not able to hear anyway. I had no idea that CDs actually were already a compressed kind of data carrier. There are supposedly some super-CDs out there and also audio DVDs which also contain the frequency range that are somehow closer to what we used to hear when putting that needle on one of those giant disks, called, appropriately: records. There were two more issues which concerned the writer of the Spiegel article, (Spiegel means Mirror, though it is more like the guardian,) if we believe that our brain is not able to catch some of the frequencies that end up being kicked out of the handy and quickly downloadable MP3s, then maybe the recordings are not done in a way that would preserve that inaudible part of the spectrum as well, making it somehow difficult to ever reconstruct the full and amazing effect of the entire music, which could become so very useful once one of the generations after us finally manages to use talk to other species, (Like cats, or dolphins, or maybe even squirrels,) and would like to use some early 21st Century recordings to do so. Oh well, so the frequencies are missing. We should not really care too much. It makes more commercial sense to pack 10000 songs onto a little portable device than let's say... 100... the music that fits into the pocket does not need to be perfect "just fine" is just fine enough. The second interesting issue, and this one is a very nice theory based on some home made non scientific experiments: supposedly our brain craves those missing frequencies compressed out of the music. I know it does not seem to make too much sense at first... How could the brain possibly miss something it never heard in the first place? Apparently some tests were made and it appears that listening to MP3 compressed music was more tiring than listening to those old giant black disks. It was almost as if the brain used some of its energy to fill in some of the blanks created by compression, as if it were trying to recreate the original, uncompressed music experience. It was as if the brain were busy decompressing the music we hear, in real time, as we hear it. Okay, this is really all very unscientific. I hope no government will ever use this post to preemptively attack some country made part of the axis of compression... but it somehow does make sense. I mean... just looking at this screen in front of me it does. I remember the very first time I pressed my nose against the thick glass of the vacuum tube of our giant Russian TV set in Poland. Gone were the happy adventures of Jacek i Agatka, my handmade early childhood on-screen heroes, and what appeared were little lights, the red, the green the blue, blinking at some intelligence bearing frequency. I stepped away, and there were my little heroes again. I stepped closer... again the blinking lights. The illusion of closeness to my little friends only worked when I actually stepped away from them. Intimate distance... A similar experience at a Helmut Kohl election poster a few years later in Germany. (No noses pressed this time.) The giant, self acknowledging smile of a politician with a PhD in history when seen from a distance, turned into a dirty mosaic of yellow and magenta and cyanide, with maybe some little specks of black here and there, when looked at from up close. (I later learned that Black in printing was named Kontrast but that's beside the point.) Clearly the manmade visual world around us is a compressed illusion of what we could maybe find in nature. We have just recently learned to imagine our world as something translatable into megapixels. So when we look at a JPEG, with its blocks of "good enough" approximations, what is our brain busy with? Is this why looking at the real thing is so much more relaxing? I know... the things we do not really get to see are probably not really relevant to that daily life stuff anyway... The stuff we do not take pictures of, does not really matter, much of it just does not even exist... (ahem... no I don't know that.) But just the thought that whatever object is around us, I mean the real thing... I mean... everything around us and in us has an almost unlimited resolution, doesn't it? Anything we touch, or all the other things we never get to touch. All of this stuff has a resolution far, far, far beyond what we can probably imagine. It is probably a bit embarrassing that I even express a fascination with the resolution of the things around me... this is the thing we are supposed to shed when about four years old, I guess. After pressing my nose against that TV set and seeing my childhood heroes disappear, I should have gone on and kill some time, some toys, something... and never press my nose against that TV again... (Why do I remember that there was a time when it fell?) Some 30 years later, my eyes are getting worse and worse. I spend my days and good portions of the nights in front of some sort of screens, or looking at some sort of other man made things, presented with better or worse compression... I read things that are most of the time just emailed to me... and they arrive in front of me on the same screens... all 72dpi, maybe 100dpi when in front of the right computer... I have not even noticed that my eyes got worse... my eyes were good enough for the man made environment and are even good enough now. And a similar experience with the hearing. The iPod is the loudest of the MP3 players because of Steve Jobs' hearing... If I can not hear something well, I also crank it up. I wonder if such compression and adjustments happen even beyond of what we see and what we hear. The thinking in general must also adhere to compression and decompression standards... the world is no longer made of little thoughts and fragile, subtle emotions, it is made of the good guys, and the thugs, the friends and foes, the prosperous and the evil doers. Even me thinking so immediately puts me into the fuzzy and the soft category I guess... but that's somehow fine I guess? I don't mind? I guess?... Sitting at the table in the living room, the shades closed because of the overwhelming brightness of the sun, I am looking at the roots of this plant in a glass of water right next to me. (It is here, no pictures, can you imagine it?) Over the last few days she has developed these pink roots with hard, bright red tips that look as if they were filled with fresh blood. The tips are slowly crawling out of the water. The roots themselves are covered with barely visible, soft, pink hair. The plant is developing some spectacular air roots as well. They grew from a few millimeters to sometimes 10 centimeters. Red and brown and pink. Their bark looks like old skin and it flakes like after a sunburn. A new leaf, still enveloped in a dark red hull looks almost moist as it is getting ready to unfold into another one of those chlorophyl factories the size of my hand. There are little droplets of dew, or whatever this might be, on some of the stems of the plant. The original remains of the plant, which was cut off its original roots because it seemed too large for its pot, are spawning a little green plant as well. This is all really insignificant stuff when it comes to the future of most of us, so they say, but boy... it is all happening in real time, uncompressed, at an almost unlimited resolution, and probably accompanied by sounds that are far beyond the reach of whatever is attached to our heads. And that's just a "simple", brainless plant... And I will have to draw it tonight... as it feels the right thing to do. Create something that is not compressed but rather a new arrangements of ink on some paper, inspired by the existence of something far beyond my comprehension... I guess that's how things can work... Am I glad I never threw away this little plant. And I am glad my eyes are still good enough to let me see it... or is it really just the eyes?
Oh boy, how much I wish more things worked as amazingly well as the Textdrive support... I had lost three entries of this site during the move from server to server... (I had ignored tech support's warnings that I was still posting to the old server.) So I just assumed that the entries were lost and forgotten... I've just received an email containing all three "lost" entries, with pictures and all. How brilliant! Am I glad to be with Textdrive.
A mother-to-be emailed me a few weeks ago. She had a dream about her unborn son. In the dream he was a maybe four year old boy, running around, laughing. She called his name in her dream. And the name she used was... Witold. She could not remember hearing this name ever before. Witold just appeared as this little boy, with a name, happy. She shared this strange boy-in-a-dream discovery with her husband... Her husband told her that he had had a similar dream. He also had dreamt of a boy whom he called... Witold, a name unfamiliar to him as well. Both parents-to-be were very amazed about their synchronic dream experiences and because we are in the 21st Century, they decided to just "google" this dream boy's name. This search brought them to my site. I unexpectedly became the ambassador of the name, and I was asked in a few emails if it served me well. My name clearly works quite well for me. I tried to supply some additional background material about the original Witold or Vytautas, or Witek... I gave them some information about the most common misspellings and mispronunciations of the name in the countries I had been lucky to have visited... I gave them some info on the many diminutives... and I somehow assumed that this would be the end of the story. The whole thing just felt too incredible to be true... I received an email today that indeed *Witold* Heimbold was born on 07/31/2004 17:56. He measured 57cm and weight 3.6kg after birth. Mother and Witold are doing fine... I even have a picture here... Amazing little miracles... amazing... photograph of Witold Heimbold © 2004 Hans Helmut Heimbold.
The sun is sneaking in the rays between the shades and under the monitor and so my thumb and the middle finger of my left hand are glowing as if I were excitingly calling home. And yet I am not. I spent an oddly long time looking at the finest details of the Kenro Izu print that arrived in the mail yesterday. It is a platinum print of the entrance shown on the cover of his latest book, "Passage to Angkor" The photograph looks so much like a finest pencil drawing. The detail however is so fine, that even the most skilled draftsman could not come close to diving this deep into the mystery of the temple. And quite honestly, I do not even know how Kenro Izu managed to create such a perfect photograph. The detail is perfect in the light and as well in the shade. Superhuman photography. The sun is on the move. It is now the palm of my hand and the ring finger that are glowing. How could this weekend just slip away between the hands of the clock? The hands tried to catch every second. There was a deer mother in Fort Lee today, watching humans quietly and with a silent patience. Her two calfs, and I am not sure this is the name for those small deer kids with white dots on their coats, did not dare to cross the path with her. Standing right between the animals was not the best spot for any human... All was peaceful. Only chipmunks were fighting for their territory with a vicious passion. A groundhog looked stuffed on the simulated fortifications of the fort. They are his home. The dreams locked in my recently very short nights have been packed with symbols that would make Dr. Freud reward himself with some especially potent medication. I feel as if the giant waves of expectations broke through all barriers on the shores of my imagination. Now would be the time to burst with creative energy. And yet I am imploding. It is just good to know that such feelings, as all, are very temporary. And the sun set.