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The new cat changes a lot.
Big house, zero lot.
So comes here.
Our lives will never be the same.
They never were the same.
What were we doing?
Waiting for what?
It’s what we do.
How does the new cat change that?
The new cat does not appear to wait.
What are we doing if not waiting?
Wait not, want not.
Want not, think not.
Think not, wake not.
Wake not, watch not.
Watch not, pine not.
Pine not, itch not.
Itch not, cat not.
Cat not, can’t not.
I am a cat.
That I know.
The new cat changes
not that cat.
lit dimple dot
if you like green
leaves shading rust
rolling in the other way
round like a fuzzy bulb globe
plan draw lips over the peach skin
and rub speak into ink flesh until every
juice puckers sprinkle. Don’t handle or touch
this stone. Simply lean in and buss a not waltz,
like this, but first, take the pipe out of your mouth.
We’re in primary school art class, where the students have been told to draw a picture of a house.
Francine draws this:
“What’s this?” Missus Portmanteau, Francine’s art teacher, asks, pointing to the big red circle in the sky. “It looks like a big rock is about to fall on your house.”
Francine is nonplussed in the face of a teacher who doesn’t recognize the sun.
“The sun,” Francine explains.
“The sun isn’t that big,” Missus Portmanteau says, and enters a note in her red book.
The following week in art class, Francine draws this:
“Mister Sapidot [science teacher] said the sun spins,” Francine answers.
“Your sun is too big, your house too small.”
Francine feels like the rock has fallen on her house.
“Now what?” Missus Portmanteau asks.
“Someone is taking a nap,” Francine says.
Missus Portmanteau doesn’t say anything, but she makes a firm mark in her red book with a red pen.
It’s the final art class before summer vacation. Francine’s father has promised a special surprise if her report card looks good. This week, she nails the art project.
Francine has learned that to do good in school and please her father she must conform to her teacher’s view of reality.
Over at Miriam’s Well, an invitation to a haiku. And why not? As it happened, I was working on a post of pics that lacked captions, not that they needed any, but a bit of word garnish on a gallery augments the gadzooks. The haiku, posted on Miriam’s site, came in walking stride:
a long old side walk
a child’s pastel chalk drawing
blue orange bird feathers
Oh blue bird’s posit
bald caw clears scald orange glory
down green wave evening.
Oh quick bird’s message
clear and cold sweet morning wake
again post evening.
Oh to be a bird
who sings each morning sunup
and feathers sundown.
Oh drifted droop bird
lands on hand chalk covered walk
feather dust bath wash.
Oh rabbit molt moon
rises on sun’s dwilting back
enough for one day.
Oh quiet streetlamp moon
paper birds rise up to you
words fall to sidewalk.
Oh artist angel
dance brushes painterly dust
sidewalk chalk drawing.
And don’t forget to check out Miriam’s Well.
Today we gaze into the Abyss of Ennui. What is boredom?
“Excess of sorrow laughs, excess of joy weeps”: In “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell,” Blake understood the Abyss, and sought to correct our assumptions and expectations. “The busy bee has no time for sorrow,” Blake said. But commuting home through an hour of plodding, plowing traffic, loaded down with work we’ve taken home for the weekend, we feel not the lightness nor the fickle flightiness of the bee. “The cut worm forgives the plough,” Blake said. Maybe, come Saturday night and he just got paid.
Some tasks seem intrinsically boring. But we often confuse boredom with irritation, frustration, or addiction. Is boredom addictive? We say we are bored with what we don’t want. Tasks too bureaucratically procedural or repetitive lend themselves to boredom, not to mention carpal tunnel syndrome. What we don’t want to do, we put off, some of us; others, we jump in and get it done, so we can get on to something we find more interesting, those things we are passionate about. The former are the procrastinators, we are told, the latter the achievers. Both, though, we suspect, are susceptible to boredom.
We often gravitate voluntarily to intrinsically boring tasks. What could be more repetitive than typing out another post? Physically repetitive: mentally, spiritually, and emotionally, the blogger flies with the bees of the cosmos! Really? I should try blogging.
When we open the laptop or cell phone, we are not met with the organic breath of the compostable paper page of the book or newspaper. Someone should invent an app for smells, so that when we open the laptop, we are met with roses or the must of an old book. Maude had a similar idea in the film “Harold and Maude.” Harold is a bored rich boy, until he meets and falls in love with Maude. The protagonist is age; Harold is young, and Maude is old. Still, love alleviates Harold’s boredom, and after Maude, and after Harold sends his old life in a makeshift hearse over a cliff, the banjo.
We hear of solutions that would alleviate boredom, suggesting boredom is a heavy and dark load that might be lifted from the bearer. Boredom begins to resemble depression. And boredom blends easily with guilt, for in a world saturated with pain and suffering at one end and glitz and shazam at the other end, who dare the chutzpah to turn the cheek of boredom outward? Quit your bitching and get back to your widgets.
Does Superman ever get bored? Batman, bored? Spiderman? The specialist, it would seem, would be the first to suffer from boredom.
In “Only Disconnect: Two cheers for boredom” (New Yorker, 28 Oct 2013, 33-37), about the relationship between boredom and distraction, Evgeny Morozov maintains that “to recognize oneself as bored, one must know how to differentiate between moments – if only to see that they are essentially the same” (34). When we’re bored, we want to be distracted, to take our minds off the monotony. We look down the assembly line of our lives and see nothing but more of the same, the same terrain, and unless we’ve been able to sustain an endless summer of surfing, we start to crave a fifth season, and we understand the winter and every other season of our discontent. The ability to click off one app and on to another is ongoing, but the solution creates another problem – call it the William Blake challenge: Excess of distraction bores, and we crave more and more distraction.
What is boredom? John Cage provided what we might call a working definition: “It is not irritating to be where one is. It is only irritating to think one would like to be somewhere else” (Silence, 1961, “Lecture on Nothing”).
If the specialist is the least equipped to stave off boredom, the artist is the best equipped. Because artists are generalists, they are able to turn their attention in different directions, outward or inward (whether at will or forced change does not matter) without the quality of disinterest or distraction. A true artist cannot know boredom in the act of art. Artists don’t require passion; passion is for amateurs. This is true for the painter or poet, gardener or dancer, musician or chef, surfer or clown, sailor or walker, potter or plumber.
Got boredom? Get art. At the bottom of the Abyss sits art, doing nothing.
Past posts drop farther and farther down the vertical ramp of the blog, disappearing like sidewalk chalk drawings. One critic walks around the drawing, viewing it carefully, as if visiting a gallery or museum, another walks over it, disgusted with art. The sidewalk artist moves up to a clear space of concrete, or draws over yesterday’s washed out drawing, unconcerned that masterpiece is today jettisoned artwork.
During the day, the drawing grows hot, an illuminated manuscript. The artist takes a break, asks for an ice-cycle stick, kicks back on the grass, considers the remaining supply of chalk, eyes the blank concrete spaces up the block.
At night, the drawing cools off. The artist tells a story of a child with a blue cat on concrete.
Is doodling an art form? The true doodle only appears when the doodler is preoccupied, listening to a lecture, sitting in a staff meeting, caged, drawing absent-mindedly. While the doodler is distracted, the doodles escape. But, as John Cage said, music occurs whether we intend it or not, and when we turn our attention to that music we do not intend, it is a pleasure. And Basho said, whatever we may be doing at any given moment, it has a bearing on our everlasting life (physicists are in the process of proving this as we doodle on, on the doodle). Here are some doodles for your mid-week doodle viewing pleasure:
Some might argue this last piece may not qualify as a doodle. “This guy’s trying to do art, and failing.” But yeah, it’s a doodle. The critics said to Picasso, of his painting titled “Woman Sitting in a Chair”: “We don’t get it: no woman, no chair.” Picasso replied that it is a painting of what it feels like to be a woman sitting in a chair. That last doodle appears to be a drawing of what it feels like to doodle, to watch the doodles escaping.
John Cage, Basho, Picasso, Delmore Schwartz…now here’s some doodling post. Some might argue that blogging is like doodling. In doodles begin responsibilities.