The thing about perspective…Ten for Today

What a thing to do, this getting away to change the scenery. Being on a family trip to France and Spain has brought not only refreshment to a pretty stale when it wasn’t toxic year, even years (I’ve had some years), but also a much needed perspective check. Seeing new lands, even if they’re the old ones, helps shift awareness into the absorbing/observing mode and backed out of the constant spewing mode.

The women I travel with, my daughters, are entwined in memory and making memories. My mother in law’s home is filled with childhood memories, flashbacks and glimpses: one was six and the other three the last time we visited. It was summer then. But this time they’ve brought themselves to their mamie’s house: inquisitive, cynical, wry and wondering. They’re excited but skeptical about this new outlook they were promised in this more socially conscious historically and gustatorily fermented with history country. It’s all about food, everywhere, every day.

They want to believe this land holds lure, romance–and it does–but they’re wise enough to know, despite the language barrier, that their 82 year old grandmother can sound as narrow-minded, silly, prejudiced, stereotypical and judgmental as any American. It’s both a national and a family thing. Their mamie is…well, their mamie. She is all of France and all of her. They love and hate to see themselves in her. 

And yet, the strangeness and familiarity of it all gives them, us, the comfort and discomfort to sit back and play compare and contrast, and practice some serious appreciation. They have options to be part of the world, not just their world. 

Oh, and internet access is sketch at best. The better to see their sometimes scowling, sometimes intent, oftentimes laughing faces.

No one looks through the window…

jordyn            jordyn                                                                                                                         jordyn             jordyn

No one looks through the window with my eyes; no one sees my vision nor thinks my thought. Banal but true, each of us is uniquely combined.

My grip on daily do’s is looser or tighter than others’ but my hands are singularly mine. Touch sense cannot be duplicated–just exactly mine, touching you or you, me.

I am me, the way I shave, for instance–some parts meticulously, rather obsessively like lower legs and big toe knuckle, pits and “v” of the sparsely endowed V.

Everywhere else, I pay no mind, just like brows, a sometimes clearing, or second toes but never my thighs or head, the latter which has grown with abandon for 15 years or more.

My hair curls more on the left than on the right, and I walk straighter if my hair is parted on the left, my face aligned with a hidden equilibrium too far from even inner sight.

Or the way I write for me and you, unconsciously and consciously, using the words historically poured into me, picked at and ingested, belly caressed and gut tossed.

My marks, my dots and tees, my birth, tragedies and strung notions like beads on a broken string these days, cannot deliver you, not even reach you mostly.

Busy peering through windows with your own eyes blue-green-brown just so, retinal glow reversed like everyone and no one else projecting images archetypal yet speckled new.

No glory gained or praise due for the aggregation I am, you are; simply being the being hatched in space-time warrants no celebration in the just-is-ness of all seers.

 

 

The Measure of the Times

  

Rousseau walks on trumpet paths. Joni Mitchell, “The Jungle Line” in Hissing of Summer Lawns.

I always wondered what Joni meant in that line from the “Jungle Line.” At first I thought she meant Jean-Jaques Rousseau, the philosopher of Confessions and The Social Contract fame. In college I read the former and only remember the book as a journal of the man’s affairs, extra marital and political, and wondered why he ranked as an important philsopher since the content seemed trivial. I later revised my opinion after reading The Social Contract, the underpinning of early social justice and democratic government theories. 

I once searched for a Rousseau painting with trumpet paths when I realized she referenced the painter not the philosopher/author. I had never seen nor recalled seeing a Rousseau painting and the internet was not at my disposal then. The Hissing of Summer Lawns album came out in 1975. I checked books and found Rousseau’s work, which I found pleasing, colorful and fun. The man appeared to have a sense of humor, squeezed joy from days. Unfortunately, I broke the limited art world I knew then at the ripe old age of 16 as serious and unserious art, Rousseau deemed too childlike to be serious.

Today I read the following:

With a kind of perverse timing, the child’s paradigm emerged in art at just the moment when Newton’s mechanical view of reality was most triumphant. The Chinese yin and yang symbol is a graphic representation of this relationship between opposing principles. The rival viewpoint makes its first tentative appearance at the height of the power of its complementary obverse.

How very appropriate that just before Einstein’s discovery, a naïve artist like Rousseau, whose paintings could be the settings for fairy tales and who routinely distorted forms, would be hailed as one whose view of the world was a valuable contribution! It is an amusing exercise for anyone to specualate upon the reception Rousseau’s work would have received at the court of Lorenzo de’ Medici. Then the Humanists were proclaiming that man was the measure of all things. For a long time, children were not to be trusted to measure anything. Leonard Shlain, Art & Physics

At the tender young age of 55, I understand Rousseau with his child-vision. The world he paints for his audience is important to see, again and again, not just as counterbalance to the cynical, practical world of the adult in politics, technology, science and economics, for instance. But to remember the special conception of space and time that children hold. They experience lengthened time and unconfined space compared to their parents’ lived time-space. Children know the science of happiness instinctively.

Earlier in class, before I read the above Shlain excerpt, I reminded students about child time vs. adult time, temporal elasticity, and technology’s time effects. Hopefully, my stories illustrated time’s illusion, for example experiencing child time as a dragged-along, unwilling captive of Mom’s department store shopping as a 7 year old or an 18 year old sitting in a two-hour lecture course at 7:20 a.m. (mine) as opposed to sleeping or playing/partying with friends for the equivalent time. Time slows or speeds accordingly even as time ticks unceasingly in even increments.

I was not much younger than my students now when I first heard Joni’s lyric and then went searching for Rousseau. And it was only a matter of hours between narrating child-like time visions in the classroom and reading Shlain’s commentary on Rousseau’s yin to Newton’s yang or vice versa, the innocent artist and sophisticated astronomer, ending with the situationally ironic children as the measure of nothing.

I love that the world and mine are round.

  
credit: wikiart.org

Cave

 
 

My cave surrounds me wherever I go, shrouding my aura in darkness, oft-colored midnight, even then rich cabernet red and other so charcoal and dirt, depending where the eyes.
 
A child’s pinched lips and piercing wail at a dropped candy in a sweet shop, an obsessive loss and raging irreconcilable remedy no time will heal, deflects from the walls of my helmet.
 
But inside this dank hollow lie dusty old book traces by the scores with yellowed leaves of lingering tales in smidgeons of dribs and drabs hooked on peek-ish memory bites and
 
Tasty morsels of cookbook glossy tongue shots gleaming moist bread puddings, fired sugar crisp tops of creme brulet fine firm fork poked and 77 chicken crockpot recipes.
 
Flickering in the black are 35 millimeter reels spinning snowy memories cast in 60’s vintage plastic coating like clear crunchy couch covers that thigh-stick on humid summer days.
 
My cave halos me in shadows, protects me from seeing too crisply, feeling too widely and stepping too recklessly from coral blue wave-walls framing family, clutter, oranges and Picasso.
 
Within I carry the cavernous dim where the entryway light blazes shimmer on passersby or then again, maybe yet, the innumerably shot clear through rays shine outside in.