Nothing to be done

Where Joyce tried writing everything in, Beckett tried leaving everything out. For Joyce, writing was a process of addition; for Beckett, one of subtraction. In Waiting for Godot, the phrase “Nothing to be done” becomes a kind of mantra. But it’s just an opinion, as Vlad says, even as he considers giving in to it:

Estragon (giving up on his boot) 

- Nothing to be done.

Vladimir
 
- I'm beginning to come round to that opinion. All my life I've tried to put it from me, saying, Vladimir, be reasonable, you haven't yet tried everything. 

“Waiting for Godot,” Samuel Beckett, 1953

Beckett’s characters often seem to have nothing to do. Most modern distractions are taken out, life’s experience parboiled to essentials. There are not many spices on Beckett’s kitchen shelf. Estragon and Vladimir don’t have cell phones. No books, no television, no newspaper. The game is not on. The team is not in town. The ballpark is empty. The surf is flat. While they consider what to do when there is nothing to be done, they can’t sit still. They talk. They have one another.

If they had pen and notebook, maybe they’d doodle:

If they had a laptop, maybe they’d blog.

A Doodle in Portland

Like things that go bump in the dark
night these sounds are not quite
like what we think they are like
old bent and dusty books shelved
in empty house plant pots like books
of poems used to start tomato seeds
in hopeful spring before the last frost
shoves the soil over and worms awake.

Just so like I jump into the fray
with big plans for a newsletter
about things that are not
empty hotels atop sidewalks
full of homeless and fat cats
full of fur surrounded by mice.

On Instagram I post a skinny guitar
and instantly hit the delete button
and just as quickly bring it back
like an usher flicking the auditorium
lights on and off like a strobe light.

And so so on I flicker and go
with the flow now here now there
always nowhere in the act
of writing, of whirling στρόβος
twist about and birl about.

I go for a walk around the block
and step on a glob of adhesive
caulking and my shoe picks up
like a magnet all manner of muck.

Which like a bad sign awakens
me to be more cautious of where
I step like into a newsletter
and so so on I doodle here
while the sun comes
closer more and more near
like a full moon on this
the hottest night of summer.

Trip to Mars

6 New Cartoons

The drawings are done using a simple android pre-installed phone application. The number of colors is limited and the colors can’t be mixed: red, yellow, orange, blue, green, purple, black, and grey. White can be achieved by leaving an area blank or using the eraser. Some variation in color and shading can be achieved using the gallery editor. The cartoons are drawn using fingers and thumbs and a disc stylus touch screen device pen. The font sizes are limited to four dots, each about twice as big as another beginning with a small dot like a period. See more drawings and cartoons on the Comics page. Also on Instagram.

Around Thanksgiving Comics

Dawdle Doodle Diary: Spring Fashions and Other Caution Signs

Spring sNew striped work shirtlowly sprung the environs plush with dawdle walks and doodle weeds, tweets and posts poking up in the usual spaces, out of concrete poetry cracks, but in the midst of this year’s annual rush for life we were learning to breathe. Spring is just such the perfect answer to winter, one wonders shouldn’t one’s writing change, from Irony back to Romance? Never mind; summer will remind us there is no keener irony, no sharper disappointment, than romance. “Beware of all enterprises,” Thoreau said, “that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes.” Advice which is everywhere ignored with regard to romance, not to mention writing. Poetry persists in prolonging winter while at the same time putting out the basil too early in spring. The doodle upper-right depicts a new striped shirt.

Shorts and MuumuuSpring is the enterprise the clothing ads have been predicting since the Christmas ornaments were boxed for the basement. In the liturgical calendar, Lent accentuates the anticipation, slowing the heartbeat to the rhythm of nature. Pope Francis this year clarified that giving things up for Lent misses the point, unless what we give up we give to another. I was thinking of giving up clothes for Lent, but alas, the approaching Spring was simply too wet and cool. To the right we see the doodle remnant of an unseasonably hot spring day, when I broke out the shorts and Susan the muumuu.

Each season puts a special pressure on the breath. In winter, the air Spring weatherinside is stuffy with recirculated dust. You go outside for a breath of fresh air, and there is Cassini taking pics of the ice rings around your heart. The winter cold constricts. The spring cold giggles. Summer laughs. Fall chokes and coughs. One might hold a romantic view of winter, the emptiness, the sleeping squirrels in the sleeping tree hollows, the squirrels quiet for the night in the roof eves. Snow falls from the fir limbs like the down from the mattress when your body is easily the hottest object in the house. Come spring you’ll be dancing in the rain, you sing. But all you do is slip and fall on the mossy deck, the bruise on your leg like a storm on Jupiter.

Jokes mock truth, but as the season moves, truth mocks the joke. On Facebook, we posted a couple of Public Service Announcements (PSA). In one, we reminded friends to be cautious with their ear, eye, and nose drops. We were at the pharmacy, picking up some new off the shelf eye-drops, for the eye floaters, and stopped just short of purchasing instead a box of ear drops. It’s not just that we forgot our reading glasses, nor that our attention span is now the flight of a mosquito. We are simply not paying attention, spaced out, always spaced out, anticipating the next batch of Cassini pics to brighten our day. In the second PSA, we mix the good news that baby wipes can be used by adults to soothe hemorrhoids with the caution not to pull out the bleach wipe by mistake.

Which season is the setup, which the punchline, we remain uncertain. We feel we are beginning to move backwards. In any case, when is it not a winter of discontent? Surely that is the message returning from Cassini. No sooner the heaters shut down the air conditioners fill the air, but you know it’s not still winter; winter was never so noisy.

Spring’s fill flickers, now on, now off. Now shorts, now long pants. One day, we pull a few yard games out of the basement, badminton and whiffle ball and croquet and we get out the patio umbrella, and we even have a picnic on the lawn. We hug a leafy tree.

We grow as silly as bees as the snow melts and as giddy as Cassini descending through the icy rings of Saturn. We clone around, all shook up. We sit out under a major league baseball pop fly. The ball goes up and up and up; it never does fall back to Earth.

Exhausted with the turning from winter to spring, we cave in to sleep, and dream of books, mothers, lovers, and selfies. And we dream of breath and of breathing. We awake and feel our breath. It’s very relaxing, learning to breathe. Such a perfect breath. I’d like to share it with you.

Lust for Like

Just as we might ask a critic not to call not good a work for not being what it is not intended to be, we might remember expecting a like from any particular audience predisposed to dislike the chosen form doomed to deletion. We often think others think like we do, but they probably don’t. We persist in putting our selfie into play in the hopes of turning on an audience to a new experience. But before this post devolves into another discussion of what is good, let’s update the recent doodles, many of which have received welcomed likes from the general audience online community (hover for titles):

Artists like van Gogh who truly lust for life can afford to ignore pandering or otherwise trying to persuade an audience of anything, let alone what might be good, because those artists pursue their work free and unencumbered from the fickle vicissitudes of audience likes and dislikes and market influenced fads. The cost of this artistic stubbornness is usually obscurity, the rat infested garret, fasting; the reward is independence, exploration of the unknown, relaxation.

These various recent venues, if the attempt is art, (facebook, twitter, blogs, instagram, etc.) are as full of activity as the Midwest summer evening near the lake is full of mosquitoes, where each like becomes a bite that draws blood and soon begins to itch like crazy for more. Bites and likes, interchangeably. In any case, each of these venues presents a certain form that challenges the artist to conform with the appropriate content for the coveted like. No likes doesn’t mean no appreciation. One may safely assume lurkers around every post. Or one may at least tell oneself so.

Think maybe for a moment of the undiscovered or otherwise ignored (perhaps worse) artist who has invested much more emotion and investment and expectation in a work longer than the doodle (the epic novel, the still oil painting that seems to move, the play with a cast of a dozen burning stars). One begins to envy the popular doodler who survives on fish and chips and cheap beer, and turns away with the crowd from the hunger artist. What is it we want, what are we looking for when we open a book, look at a painting, watch a play unfold? What does it take for us to simply like something? A like is like a smile; it’s not a kiss.

Some evenings are full not of mosquitoes but lightning bugs, fire flies, glow worms – that light the length of a like. But it’s foolish to lust for likes. What’s important is to like what you are doing. A neighbor recently asked, “What are you doing, Joe?” If I only knew, I’m sure I could stop. Sometimes people ask what when what they mean is why. In any case, don’t lust for the like; like for the lust.