Photograph by Eric Johnson

Photograph by Eric Johnson

It was two summers ago: 2011, to be exact, when I first saw the photograph. It was an image of an older woman laying in bed, her hand reaching forward and clasping the hand of the photographer.

With one hand he managed to take the photograph while being in part of the image itself. The intensity of the image, the skill it took, to the power that transcends the moment, it drew me close. I could feel her hand clasping my own and somehow I was drawn into the photograph like Alice through the looking glass.

And so it began. But I did not know. Where it would go, for the circle has no beginning or no end once we set forth. The photograph remained in my memory. It’s effect could not be forgotten, undone. Months later that I re-approached photographer Eric Johnson about writing a story about his grandmother, Mrs. Idell Marshall, for Le Journal de la Photographie.

I didn’t know what or why; I just needed to know more. My curiosity can be insatiable and journalism is nothing if not a license to ask questions that polite society might otherwise ignore. To ask questions is to express interest. To listen and to learn and to consider from where the fascination stems and what truths can be discerned.

And so it was that we began to talk, and as we spoke, stories began to surface. From the depths, they came alive. Little by little, from memories that had receded into the distance, things untold. Justice to be served. Truth to be spoke. It began in death, as so many things do, only this was not death as I had thought death was, but a revolution too.

The completion of a circle as it spins round, the snake eating its tail, no beginning and no ending but it is here that I entered and I—

—saw it. Heard it. And I knew.

“Pull up a chair and sit down,” the voice told me as I looked through the doorway at the kitchen table. I was inside the photograph, here, in this space. I was returning to from whence I came: Books. That’s all it has ever been.

It had been years, long enough to forget. Long enough to remember that I never thought of making a book again. Never thought of it until it called to me: “Pull up a chair and sit down.”

“Eric! This is a book!” I gasped through a hazy glow of rose.

Eric is cool. He smiled and said, “Okay.”

And so it began.

Just like that. In his grandmother’s last days, Eric stood before her with a camera. She, who never liked being photographed, became so powerful she transcended the planes of reality. Three dimensions into two and then back into three. Through time and space, she called to me. Maybe not to me, specifically, but I cannot help but listen when I hear things.

I believe.

It began a year ago. Photographs and stories and stories and photographs were like puzzle pieces without a cover image. It began because it never ended and there was work to be done. And there was no intention, except love and respect, patience and trust. Patience as I have never known. Trust in being able to not know, being able to listen.. to the space in between the words.. so that I could begin to write them down. And, now, one year later, the circle turns once more.

We come to this. By way of faith. By way of belief. By way of an understanding for which there are no words but in the photograph, the spirit remains. Forever eternal. Forevermore. Grandmother Power. Power as the dictionary defines it first and foremost: the ability to act or to produce an effect.

Transcendence is beyond the rational, as well it should be. Transcendence is not a thing of the mind but the connection to a higher plane. It speaks through the soul, and it is heard in the heart, and finally, ohh finally, it reverberates in words that give it physical form. But it is not physical, nor rational; it is beyond our ability to comprehend through logic. It is meaning without reason and it calls to me and to it I answer and dedicate my life to it.

To this. To something I cannot full express. But it begins with gratitude for each and every breath. For the darkness that has brought me into the light. For Eric Johnson, Mrs. Idell Marshall, and the entire clan.

And for Paola Gianturco whose commitment to the magnificence of the female spirit I honor with these words. Grandmother Power. I thank you.

Read Eric Johnson’s Story at
Le Journal de la Photographie

More about Grandmother Power,
the inspiration for this post

Daniele Tamagni, 'Gentlemen of Bacongo' poster

Daniele Tamagni, ‘Gentlemen of Bacongo’ poster

A month ago I was asked to write a small piece, a tribute to the great Gigi Giannuzzi on the occasion of the forthcoming publication of TROLLEYOLOGY, a ten year retrospective of one of the greatest illustrated book publishing houses to ever exist. I won’t look back, I won’t re-read what I wrote. I shall begin again, speaking from my heart.

Gigi is dead. Long live Gigi. His spirit is eternal. I knew this, as I know so many things that are without words and yet I am charged to find a way to express the ineffable. Gigi is (not was) a force of Nature, a triumph of the will, a prince among men. He walks the earth with the express purpose of bringing light into the dark.

He does this, as only he can. He produces books, book unlike anything the world has seen before. Books that take on some of the most difficult stories to tell, the beautiful dreams and horrific nightmares that cannot be erased when we close our eyes. We cannot and will not look away. Gigi understands the photograph, the heart of the photographer, the witness who bears evidence, proof, and testimony of the ephemeral made eternal. Gigi makes us look. He makes us understand. We are all complicit in the damnation of the world, and we are all charged with its salvation.

Though Gigi has passed from the mortal plane into the spirit world, he is still here and his legacy carries forth, not only in what he has achieved but in how we carry on. And it is here the opportunity arrives to show heart. TROLLEYOLOGY is on Kickstarter. It doesn’t ask for much, just for each one of us to do our part. And what that is, you may discover when you step into a world, a world that lies right outside your door, when you open your eyes and see it anew.

Please Support

Philip Jones Griffiths, Gigi in Venice whilst making the book Agent Orange, 2003

Philip Jones Griffiths, Gigi in Venice whilst making the book Agent Orange, 2003

Brandt Nudes

May 3, 2013

Nude, London, 1951, February ©The Bill Brandt Archive

Nude, London, 1951, February ©The Bill Brandt Archive

The body as landscape, object, sculpture, and form, as costume, architecture, or anything else you could imagine it to become in all of its glory. It is both positive and negative, being and nothingness. It is present and absent, past and future, paradoxes intertwined and connected as one. In a state of simultaneity that is impossible to recognize fully but at the same time it is the thing in which we are forever traveling, consciously and unconsciously.

The body is both object and symbol of the object itself, and the female form most of all assumes the passive role of being that which we act upon, as we exalt its beingness into an abstract meditation on life itself. It is a thing of beauty to behold and perhaps no one does it quite like Bill Brandt whose female nudes have been collected in two volumes twice in his lifetime. The first in Perspective of Nudes (1961) and again in Bill Brandt: Nudes 1945–1980. Now, the oeuvre is brought together in a single volume, Brandt Nudes (Thames & Hudson), which includes a preface by Lawrence Durrell and commentaries by Mark Haworth-Booth. It is here, in Brandt Nudes, that we can consider Brandt’s relationship to the female form throughout the course of his esteemed career.

As Brandt recalls in quoted text from a piece first published in 1933, “It was after the war, when I was busy photographing London celebrities for English and American magazines, that I began to feel irritated by the limitations imposed by such jobs. I was taking portraits of politicians, artists writers, actors, in their own surrounding, but there was never enough time for me to do what I wanted. My sitters were always in a hurry. Their rooms were rarely inspiring backgrounds, and I felt the need for exciting backgrounds to make pictures of the portraits. I wanted more say in the pictures; I wanted rooms of my own choice. And so I came to the nudes. Nudes, at that time, were photographed in studios. I thought of photographing them in real rooms…”

And so it began. Brandt took the nude out of the artist’s studio and set her free in the world. His photographs from this period have a tension inherent to this, a surreal feeling of being in a place they do not quite belong but making the most of it. Brandt’s women are never come hither so much as they are lost in their own worlds, even when they look at the camera they are no more aware of their nudity than they are of the curtains open in the window behind the bed. There is a mannered naturalism that is pervasive in these images, a sense of the female embodying her femininity without using it in a vulgarly eroticized manner.

AS Brandt continued working, his nudes began to take shape, not as women themselves but as larger more luxurious landscapes. They slowly become a form unto themselves, sculptural masses of bone, muscle, and flesh, or personalities somewhere inside, sometimes alluringly coming to the surface in frozen glimpses of a fiery soul. But for the better part Brandt’s nudes are forever in a state of monumental repose. They are languid fields of flesh, sometimes nothing more than a part that takes on a stately shape unto itself. Consider the feet crossed, seen only from the sole, slowly becoming a kind of creature that is both foreign and familiar. The nudes transition into graphic expressions of positive and negative space, and offers a peaceful mediation between the organic form of the body and the constructed form of the human landscape of the interior room and its insistent regularities that make it comfortable and confining at the same time.

It is Brandt’s nude that reminds us of a life spirit that pervades the body itself, that makes it more than just a mass of flesh but the vehicle for a spirit that is luminous on the page, a play of light and shadow, motion and stasis. As Brandt continues his explorations, his images become more intense in the contrasts between black and white on the page itself. The body is cropped into sharp angles and soft folds, curves and forms that echo each other as you move about the woman herself.

As John Szarkowski noted of Brandt’s word in 1970: “These pictures—at first viewing, strange and contorted—reveal themselves as supremely posed and untroubled works. It has been said that these pictures concern the world of pure form and space, but surely they also concern the bodies of women… not abstract but depersonalized, their content is I think after all a transcendent eroticism—a suspended, euphoric celebration of the flesh. In photograph only Edward Weston has made nudes of equal power.”

Nude, Baie des Anges, France, 1959, October ©The Bill Brandt Archive

Nude, Baie des Anges, France, 1959, October ©The Bill Brandt Archive

This Is The Re-Launch

April 3, 2013

One Night in Beverly Hills, photograph by Charles Peterson

One Night in Beverly Hills. Photograph by Charles Peterson

It’s been a long time… I shouldn’t have left you. Not that you’d know it since I’ve been posting on the regular here for four years but—

Four years is a long time to be lost. Lost and found and back to the beginning that never ended and the end that never began as the ouroburo spins like Dead or Alive, round and round.

I ramble, I often do. I’ll make it short and sweet, cause I gotta go. Today I am pleased to announce the re-launch of my website, MissRosen.us

I created the site when I set forth on my own back in summer 2009, thinking I knew which end was up. I didn’t, but you couldn’t tell me ishh. I was no longer listening. I had long since gone deaf.

But, the Universe being what it is, made sure I got my come-uppance and undoubtedly, yes. It was a mess—chaos in it’s most glorious sense. The other day, Mr. Brown mentioned The Sublime. Then DJ Disco Wiz tweeted, “Know how sublime a thing it is To suffer and be strong..”

That’s how it went down. And down it went. Now I’m on the upswing and I begin where I am, starting fresh. I re-launch, remix, rebrand, release, refresh, renew, regenerate, do-re-mi e.t.c.

I thank each and every one who has stood by me through .. this (smile). The clouds are gone. Let the sun shine again.

Peace.

MissRosen.us

Photograph by Jenn Ackerman

Photograph by Jenn Ackerman

Please welcome Adriana Teresa,
my dear friend and colleague,
as she introduces Visura Magazine: Special Issue

~*~

In 2008, my life changed when I married my husband Graham. Together, we began to grow our own garden of dreams. Our first seed was Visura Magazine, which features personal projects by individuals worldwide, mostly photographers. Visura became a product of love at a time when the world was facing an economic crash and a war. As a result, we received hundreds of emails from students, alumni, and emerging photographers and individuals from all professions, who were just like us, seeking inspiration, opportunity, and a sign of hope.

These messages motivated us to plant our second seed, FotoVisura.com—a self publishing community and resource center for art and documentary photography; a platform for those who believe in being a part of and supporting the power of the visual voice. In two years, our dreams of creating a family without cultural boundaries became a reality. During this time, our work was our life and life was our work. And we were very happy.

Then one day, like any spirits in search of an ever evolving and changing life that could lead to fulfillment, or a least a sense of belonging in this world, Graham and I realized that there was a missing piece to our lives. This missing piece had nothing to do with what we had built. We realized that we really wanted to become parents.

Art has been a canvas to materialize our ideas, values, vision and dreams with the hope that we could share them with others. And we have done so with millions of unique individuals worldwide, most of whom we have never met and will never meet in person.

The reality is, this online phenomenon only furthers my need for human warmth and interaction. In the same way, these stories that all of you contributors have shared about life enrich me intellectually, they inspire me to be a better and more honest human being. You inspire me to live with purpose and to keep moving forward.

This experience has filled our life with so much love, that it has given us wings. FotoVisura is a big part of my life—I wake up every morning to work with enthusiasm; I want to fight with and for it, regardless of any obstacles around me. To be completely honest, in the past two years, as we struggled to have a child of our own, it was you—the photographers, editors, and readers—who many times gave me strength when I was down.

As I witness injustice, inequalities, separation, divisions, and hideous acts in this world, this is the shelter, the source, this is an extended family that I turn to find courage and strength. I do not give up on FotoVisura because you have not given up on me. And for that I am so grateful.

Recently, my father reminded me of something he once told me during my rebellious years: exclusion is the main reason for error. Feeling left out is the main reason why many of us live with pain, and the best way to heal and move forward is to create something you truly believe in, where you can include others. This is what FotoVisura represents to us: a model where people can join and contribute on their own terms. In January 15, 2009, Graham and I launched our first issue of Visura Magazine, a few months after we co-founded FotoVisura Inc, a company we truly believe in. On January 19, 2013—4 years and 4 days later—Graham and I learned that we were expecting our first child.

So, I decided to publish a special issue to celebrate family, connection, unity, inclusion, and rebirth. I dedicate this issue to all of you who believe in love above all else.

To my father, thank you for never giving up on me; and, to my co-mom, Laura, thank you for loving me and treating me as an equal. I love you.

Poco a poco y sin nada de alboroto.

VISURA MAGAZINE
Special Issue
~*~

she is me when i am

March 21, 2013

Screen shot 2013-03-21 at 9.23.27 AM

I been meaning to write this story but I neva did cause the phrase Bow Down always sounds wrong, no matter how you try to say it. So over the top, soo too much, so fascist and thas not the look I’m trying to effect but how can it be that things happen no matter what you intend?

It all began way back when I was sixteen reading Jackie Collins on summer break, lounging in my chaise chair slowly getting gold in the afternoon rays and I’m on page two and Jackie talkinn about this panther prowling through the Vegas airport named Lucky Santangelo and she’s walking like she owns it and—

Thas all it took to get me hooked. My first real addiction. Ownership. My body, my world, my dominion over which I can do unto as I wish. Own it. Own everything, every last drip drop. It went straight to my head like Dinah Washington said, ohh lawdamercy on the earth that stood beneath my hips when I set them to work. I started and I neva stopped. Even when I’m not doing it people notice, especially men. Men. Yes. I didn’t get this was about them but of course it is, that’s what the scene in the airport was about. First impressions are everything.

Now this is my point, cause I do go on. It’s like this. I started walking when I was sixteen, seventeen, eighteen years old. I started doing it, and by twenty one I was up in heels, traipsing across town in hours after and kept going forth til I was daytime doing up and down Fifth Avenue for miles at a time in these roachkillers aint no one trying to rock without a ride.

And by the time I’m twenty-three, twenty-four I’m noticing that people drop their heads when they see me, like they don’t even know they are doing it until after it’s been done and they were like What the fuck just happened. Awwwkward. I see people fight the feeling, heads flailing in indignation to the side, or even that woman on Grove that time who tossed her nose so hard into the sky I swear I felt the whiplash lock. Soo not a good look, when I’m not trying like that.

No doubt there are times when I let it all go and I swear I am Rihanna because if not she, who else. Who else feels alla that, in all this FTW way? In all this glory of 2013 to just Be Free, like right and wrong don’t even matter none. And when I’m in there, I am nowhere else, and people around me exist but it’s none of my business cause I am just passing through, soaking up all the sun, air, water, and earth as I sway back and forth across the Brooklyn Bridge.

But yea back to the beginning, full circle we come. I wouldn’t write Bow Down except Beyonce be talking about it. But my point is, It’s a happening. It’s not a demand or a command or even an exaltation. Really, it’s humbling and not so flattering so much as it is imperious. I’m not saying, Don’t be imperious. I’m saying The Imperial don’t really talk about it.

Sometimes I feel sad, like I feel people’s fear of me, or something lesser in themselves because they don’t own every last inch of their being. But I believe we’re all Lucky, if we want to be. Lucky is not my idea, She is an attitude, an aspiration, an affect. She is not a thirst or hunger or desire even. She is openness, a channel, a vessel, to a power that makes the walk feel so good. She is Me when I am One with the Universe.

Photograph by Jianai Jenny Chen

Photograph by Jianai Jenny Chen

The Kingdom of Eternal Night, the first novel by former art book publisher Miss Rosen, has just been published on a blog of the same name, serialized in thirty nine parts, reminiscent of nineteenth-century authors such as Charles Dickens who established themselves by first publishing serialized novels in monthly magazines and newsprint.

A gripping portrait of decadence at the end of the second millennium, The Kingdom of Eternal Night mixes drugs, sex, violence, and degradation with the spoils of a lost generation. The Kingdom of Eternal Night is the story of unlove, of what happens to abused children when they become young adults.

At the age of 25, Jade Fontaine has a Master’s Degree and no marketable skills, a mortgage she does not pay, a drug problem, and an unfinished novel inspired by Oscar Wilde’s last play, Salome. Hell bent for leather, Jade crosses path with Nino DiNapoli—an ex-con, gay prostitute, junkie, and stick-up kid who is swinging from the bottom rung of the ladder just trying to stay alive. He was sexually abused and debased, then abandoned by his mother and raised in juvenile halls and jails since the age of fourteen. Now in his early 20s, Nico is lost and alone. No one ever taught him anything except that love can destroy your life.

Set over the course of three days in New York City during the summer of 1998, the novel moves at a fast pace, with the history of the characters unfolding on each page. It is the fusion of dramatic action, dream sequences, and flashbacks that provide an intense sequence of seemingly unrelated events that culminate in the tragic but inevitable demise of one of the protagonists.

Serialized into 39 parts, each chapter of the novel is illustrated by a photograph as it begins. The photograph is essential, not just to breaking the monotony of the text on the screen but to the energy of the story itself. Many of the gems selected for The Kingdom of Eternal Night came from the treasure troves of artists including Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Erwin Blumenfeld, Rene Burri, Jean-Claude Claeys, Bruce Davidson, Sergio Larrain, Daido Moriyama, William Mortensen, Nadar, and Francis Wolff, as well as photographers close to Miss Rosen including Jianai Jenny Chen, Eric Johnson, Colleen Plumb, Ruby Ray, and Lilla Szasz.

Miss Rosen notes, “When I began The Kingdom of Eternal Night, I dreamed of it as a finished book, an object that could be held by the hand, page turned in rhythm with the scene as it unfolds. But necessity dictated otherwise. Intervention became innovation in the creation of the Internet Novel. It is not an e-book. It is not for sale. It is free to be read by anyone fluent in English. What’s more, the form allows for changes to be made, should I be so inclined. ‘Art is never finished,’ as Da Vinci said.”

Miss Rosen, photograph by Cass Bird for Paper Magazine.

Miss Rosen, photograph by Cass Bird for Paper Magazine.

Author Profile

Miss Rosen is a writer, editor, curator, event producer, and publicist based in New York. Currently the features writer and book reviewer for Le Journal de la Photographie, Miss Rosen has previously contributed stories to Code (Netherlands), Staf (Spain), Swindle, Telegraph (UK), L’Uomo Vogue, and Whitewall magazines.

From 2000–2009, Miss Rosen was Senior Vice President of Marketing & Publicity for powerHouse Books, a photography and illustrated book publisher now based in Brooklyn. In 2005 she launched Miss Rosen Editions, her own imprint focusing on contemporary urban culture. She published 15 art, photography, memoir, and fiction titles with authors including Boogie, Martha Cooper, and Charlie Ahearn.

As curator, Miss Rosen has organized several exhibitions including the Lucie Awards’ “Best of Show” (2009); “Nature of a City” launching the Timberland store in New York (2009); “That 70s Show” (2007) and “No Sleep ‘til Brooklyn” (2006), both at powerHouse Arena, Brooklyn; “Ricky Powell: Public Access” (2005) and “Peter Sutherland: Autograf” (2004), both at colette, Paris, and at the former powerHouse Gallery, New York.

In conjunction with the exhibitions that she curated for the Arena, Miss Rosen launched powerHouse magazine (2006–2009), a twice-yearly publication organized around a single theme, which was in equal parts a provocative cultural investigation, innovative exhibition catalogue, and sophisticated product brochure.

As Vice President of Marketing & Publicity, Miss Rosen conceptualized and executed campaigns for some 45 books annually. Her career highlights include the Vandal Squad panel discussion at the powerHouse Arena, (2009); “We B*Girlz: A 25th Anniversary Breakin’ Event at Lincoln Center Out of Doors” (2006); the graffiti episode of NBC’s “The Apprentice” (2005); and the Hilhaven Lodge party at Robert Evans’ Beverly Hills estate (2003).

Photograph by William Mortensen

Photograph by William Mortensen

sweet dreams

March 9, 2013

For the first time in my life, I had the dream of being naked in public. I dreamed I was jogging through Central Park, wearing pink panties. At some point, I grabbed my breasts, partly to cover them, partly to stop them from bouncing up and down.

I remember in the dream, finally having the courage to look at other people. When I did, I realized most of them were undressed as well, though all of them were wearing more clothes than me. Strange thing was, no one even glanced my way.

I realized, as self conscious as I felt, maybe I was also an exhibitionist; after all, I left the house in this skimpy little outfit. I remember feeling proud of my body and ashamed at the same time, fascinated by how emotions are not mutually exclusive. And so it was then that I understood the real risk I took—

What the hell was I doing jogging through Central Park without any shoes on?

When I saw Erykah Badu’s video for Window Seat, all those emotions came back vividly. My fear. My pride. And the realization inside: The world cannot see what is stripped bare right before its eyes.

upon my lips ~

February 21, 2013

tumblr_ma70elaw4a1rppppio1_500-1

tha smella weed is in my hair and my skin and my very being. It smells like early mornings with the window open and the sky turning violet blue lilac pink bliss, like late lunches or brunches with ice coffee and cigarettes, like fun afternoons with mixed drinks maybe mojitos made by hand and dinner parties, dinners made in the kitchen while bottles of wine go upside down into glass decanters that pour through lips over and over again, like cocktails after work (work) (what is work), like sunsets never seen and stars blocked by the haze of New York at night and it’s after midnight, afterhours, after all we are alone in this.

it smells like ten o clock in the garden of nineteenth and dinner is on the table, a spread for kings and queens and me I don’t eat meat and still I am living for this is life and me, I am in the presence of so many people I would never otherwise know were not for that which seems random but maybe thas not so. Ju know what I’m talkinn bout, I’m sitting in the garden on a chair of wrought iron with a plate fulls goodness and the spliff’s cominn this way and I’m sure to be drinking white wine, eternally frozen in this moment, and I’m inhaling and I’m holding and exhaling and inhaling and I feel this thing and it takes over me so slowly like I’m swimming through a cloud and wow I like this cause I’m not goinn anywhere everywhere at the same time and I am lost then found then nothing at all, evaporated and all that remains is this, a puff of smoke coming out my mouth and floating through the world until it smells like nothing so much as heaven and I am here, dirty and pure.

And I’m in the garden with the snake —what up— talkinn about munchies and I have to stop eating because you can’t have it all because less is more and the laws of style always apply. I’m thinking apple, something big and shiny and red and it gleams like my eyes, like your blood upon my lips. what. Yes. I’m thinking I don’t crave blood even tho I am Transylvanian. But I don’t crave anything except —shit—I crave it all— give me the apple & I will learn.

Weed smells like weed smells like did I just say that twice. Yea I love to hear words as rhythms and tones and flows until they stop making sense and that’s Talking Heads, THC, did I eva tell you bout the time I saw David Byrne? Neva mind me, HE was wearing seersucker and his hair was perfectly white and it’s lush, a pompadour of historic heights. And that’s what happens to me, words become brushstrokes only I am using my fingers to paint and sometimes I’m not listening to the words, just the sound of the keys on the board going la di da di everybody just hey hello how you doinn like somethinn is happeninn here if it’s only me goinn one two one two ~*~

Mirella Nania. Giuradei / (Picicca Dischi, 2013)

Mirella Nania. Giuradei / (Picicca Dischi, 2013)

I’m on the town, cobblestones under the Manhattan Bridge. Four after noon and a glass of Malbec. I sit at the bar with my notebook but I ignore it for my phone so I can type these words ::

Eternity exists beyond all frames.
We connect across lifetimes.
We are souls that flow through the ether,
time collapses even if
we haven’t seen each other since 2000 BC.
Fruit loops truuu but thas me.
.
And then I return to the page, and make lists, stack words alongside each other, break it into components and suddenly I see .. me .. a story half written and one two begin. Time collapses and my curls spin. Might be the wine. Thas just possible. Check, please.

“It’s on the house,” bartender tells me. “Our floor manager finds you .. fetching .. ” he continues, brushing over that awkward pause casually. And I’m thinking, Ohh, I’m pulling women again.

It’s gotten—well. Tonite, I pulled a daddy. Real papa bear. Had his cub with him and he smiles and says, Hello. Just like that. And I smile bright and say G’nite or some such some yeaa. So odd it is to me, these men on the street. Gentlemen. Even the thugs. Be on their Prince Charming when they see me. I gotta give it up. God’s showing me Love ~*~

Suddenly Last Summer

February 12, 2013

Artwork by Hayley Barker

Artwork by Hayley Barker

The sun was dipping down, all kindsa low, low like a limbo, how low can you go. The sky was thick with soot and clouds and dreams and, me, I was wasted and I was feeling things, all kindsa things. I settled into a lawn chair of red and white stripes, my slipper covered feet treading through the Astroturf. In my hand was a glass of rose that wafted about like a min-tsunami before it hit my mouth. Some of it made it in, some of it made it out, some of it I wore like Chanel No. 5 parfum.

I grabbed by pen and paper, and slid into the seat, and I sat before Mr. Johnson with unbridled thirst. I didn’t know how to do what I was doing so I reverted to habit. I would simply take down every word he said and figure it out later. Notes. I was good at notes. Something happens when I set my hand to page, something happens when I am listening and writing and reading at the same time, when my brain uses sound and sight and touch in the service of the Word.

And as I sat there with my pen poised, we began to talk, and as we talked I soon discovered, it would not work as I thought. I did not control, could not control, I did not own. It was not mine to have and to hold, but mine to watch patiently, silently, allow it to unfold. I had to listen, and listen with my whole being. I had to let the words in, let them wash over me, let them wash me of my preconceptions not only of who and where and why and what but of the how itself, of the how it is the story gets told.

Mr. Johnson continued to speak, as he often does, leading me to ideas without spoon feeding them to me. Because these ideas are not his, and they are not mine, but they are what exists in the space between us and it was this night, this night that I listened and then I heard something I never knew. Meaning is found in the space between the words.

Negative space. It is what holds everything together. It is always what you cannot see that creates a presence. It is the space around the letter than holds its form, and it is the space in between the words that allowed Guttenberg to typeset the very first printed book on earth.

Of course it would come to pass that I have begun meditating on the very idea of the written word, of how aberrant it is in the course of human history, about how illiteracy has always been and remains status quo for most people born. About how the written word has accelerated “progress” to the point that we are at odds with Nature herself, about how the written word is perhaps the problem, the cause of all horrors we never speak, do not understand, refuse to acknowledge. About how the written word is a curse and a blessing and my métier. The Word is my cross to bear. It is what I do, what I must do, why I am here, why I have suffered, why pain is real.

But more than this, the Word reminds me there is a way out. That permanency is an illusion and all I have is this moment. That even if, even if, even if, or even if—none of that matters. All I have is what I am and how I manifest so long as this flame burns.

Day One: What is your greatest strength as a writer?

Listening. To the voices that guide me. To the space in between the words. To that which is beyond our understanding but demands that we acknowledge it on our own terms. Listening to the unspoken, the untold, the unsaid. Listening to the pitches and the frequencies the human ear can’t hear. Listening to the laughter and the screams and the sobs. Listening with my heart and mind, body and soul.

16424_10151503600236667_2118274169_n

541503_10151503600166667_326390412_n

487703_10151503600921667_605783335_n

487739_10151503600341667_1373019669_n

395734_10151502750711667_286764949_n
Photographs by Tim Horn

theme from a dream

February 5, 2013

Artwork by Ruby Ray

Artwork by Ruby Ray

J. Krishnamurti said—

OF THE MANY things we might talk over together, one of the most obvious and important is about why we do not change. We may change a little bit, here and there, in patches, but why do we not fundamentally change our whole way of behaviour, our way of life, our daily nature? Technologically the world about us is advancing with extraordinary speed, while inwardly we remain more or less the same as we have been for centuries upon centuries.

Caught as we are in this trap – and it is a dreadful trap – one wonders why we don’t break through, why we remain heavy and stupid, empty, shallow-minded, superficial and rather dull. Is it because we do not know ourselves? Leaving aside the ideas of the various specialists, with their peculiar assertions and dogmas, we see that we have never really investigated ourselves, gone into ourselves deeply to find out what we actually are.

Is that the reason why we do not change? Or is it that one has not got the energy? Or because we are bored – not only with ourselves but also with the world, a world which has very little to offer except motor cars, bigger bathrooms and all the rest of it? So we are bored outwardly and, probably, also with ourselves because we are caught in the trap and don’t know how to get out of it. It is also likely that we are very lazy. Furthermore, in knowing ourselves there is no profit, no reward at the end of it, whereas most of us are conditioned by the profit-motive.

These, then, may be some of the reasons why we do not change. We know what the trap is, we know what life is, and yet we go trudging along monotonously and wearily until we die. That seems to be our lot. And yet, is it so difficult to go into ourselves very deeply and transform ourselves? I wonder if one has ever looked at oneself, known oneself? From ancient times this has been reiterated over and over again: “Know thyself”. In India it was postulated, the ancient Greeks repeated the advice, while modern philosophers are also attempting to say it, complicated only by their jargon and their theories.

Can one know oneself – not only at the conscious level but also at the deeper, secret levels of the mind? Without self-knowledge, surely, one has no basis for any real, serious action, no foundation upon which to build clearly. If one doesn’t know oneself, one lives such a superficial life. You may be very clever, you may know all the books in the world and be able to quote from them, but if you do not know yourself, how can you go beyond the superficial? Is it possible to know oneself so completely that, in the very observation of that total self, there is a release?

As human beings, I think we should be able to find out what death is while still living; and also what love is, because that is part of our life, our daily living. Can we inquire into ourselves without any fear or bias, without any formula or conclusion, to find out what we are?

Such an inquiry demands freedom. One cannot inquire into oneself, or into the universe of which one is a part, unless there is freedom – freedom from hypotheses, theories and conclusions, freedom from bias. Moreover, to inquire one needs a sharp mind, a mind that has been made sensitive. But the mind is not sensitive if there is any form of bias, thus rendering it incapable of any real inquiry into this whole structure of the self.

So let us go into this question together, not only through verbal communication but also non-verbally, which is much more exciting and which demands a much greater energy of attention. When one is free to inquire, one has the energy. One has not got the energy, the drive, the necessary intensity, when one has already reached a conclusion, a formula. So, for the time being, can we put away all our formulas, conclusions and biases about ourselves – what we are, what we should and should not be and all the rest of it – put these aside and actually observe?

male privilege

October 23, 2012

So it happens like this. I get off the train and cross the platform and I’m typing on my Blackberry. Lists. Everything is This. I am on escapades and I didn’t smoke no weed so I got energy. Gotta burn it off so I set my brain on whirl & I’ve got all these ideas, all these pieces of the pie, flavor for days like Baskin Robbins, say I heard they got this peanut butta cup number so umm ..

What I’m talkinn bout? Ohh right. Train station, I’m doing that annoying thing, typing while walking along. But I do it all the time and don’t think nothing of it so I’m kinda surprised when this guy steps to me talking about, When you got off the train you lit up this place. It’s your walk.

And he talks but real low and I do not move forward. Hell I don’t even put the phone down. I’m looking at the screen trying to type thinking he’ll walk away but he don’t and he keep talkinn but low like I miss half of it til finally he just say, Can I leave my business card with you?

I’m not available.

Ohh you got a special man in your life?

But on the real, can you look a man in the eye and say, No. Thas just cruel so you smile and look at them like, Bye?

Guys never think it’s them. Male privilege.

i want candy ~

October 18, 2012

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 842 other followers