Thursday, June 30, 2005

In Stages

Gleaned from Alexandra

"The world is full of stages.
Here where I stand is mine!"

These thoughts are meant to 'add to'
the fine, heartfelt words above --
yet also to give a different view
that all may savor here thoughts and words.

By Stages

The world is full of stages,

here where I stand is mine --
yet as I dance the Goddess tune,
the world may then swirl me by.

Each new word is lonely
as scene on a static page --
and the audience must see
the stages of creativity.

Thus, I must write in stages,
rather than a bounded page,
for with each word made manifest
I am a different person.

A poem is a birthing,
attended with blood and pain;
and the resulting Child of Light
cherished beyond form and rhyme.

This child is its own reward,
Though others may bill and coo.
By faith alone I do the work,
and know that some heart will sing.

It is the silent applause
of inner balance and peace,
That gives plot and theme and setting
real purpose -- Light upon the stage.


Wednesday, June 29, 2005

My Duende Posted by Hello

The world is a stage

But I am no actress!
I stand here in the middle of the stage
waiting for the spotlight to shine upon me.
But there is always someone else.
A person, a voluptuous woman
who takes the light away from me.
I feel small, unworthy.
Invisible to the naked eye.

I stand there but now one is watching
They see beyond me.
What do they see?
There without light, darkness falls.
I am standing in the middle of the stage in darkness.
Then I smile with pride, confident.
I have seen beyond them
and beyond those who have taken the spotlight away from me.

The world is full of stages.
Here where I stand is mine!
My stage is like no other
My stage is a book
My stage is a sentence
My stage is a page
A blank page and I am the pencil.
Black and white we become one.
There where the page is my stage
no other person or voluptuous woman,
can take the light away from me
For here I rein.
This is my world.
This is my stage!

I proclaim the page my stage.
Every day and every night.
Word by word.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Compliance -- but you may not like it

as requested --
a poem based on the line;

"drawn by the vibrations of our hatred"

The pulsing, throbbing drumbeat in my beleaguered soul
Is not in tune with the nat'ral rhythm of earth and moon,
But drawn from insistent pounding of senseless hatred
Into ev'ry heart and mind by those who worship power.

Am I to be a martyr on a funeral pyre
As the fragile structure of our freedom is kindled
By savage vengeance and unreasoned bigotry,
Until naught is left but the embers of forgotten justice?

A last moment’s eternity before a rushing death
Is aspired to be of prayers and impassioned pleas,
For sure release from naïve doubt and peaceful swell of faith,
To guide us forth on rightful wings unto ennobled skies.

But a soul’s divine search does sway before an ego’s claim
Upon a guest for purpose and proud relevance of self.
Is this world enriched somewhat or put to helpless shame
By my tiny thoughts of wisdom never suited for dusty shelf?

Who will stand up to plead for peace, a place I scarcely fill?
Pray do not count my carcass charred among the moving voice
That screams for reasoned vengeance; rhetoric stench of practiced drill
For steeds ready saddled in the field, and knights who do rejoice.

I had thought that to leave no mark was sign of living hell.
Please scratch my name from life's list and dare not cry for me,
Rather than I provide spur or lash to support vengeance's knell
And be held up by false principle as banner for the free.

Grind my life to forgotten dust 'tween stones of greed and power
As freedom is reduced to a whimper, mercy but a thought,
But do not use my humanity as a prop for ego's horror,
Protect me Lord from savagery, this terror we have bought.

papa faucon

Friday, June 24, 2005

Strange Gleanings (from a radio sermon)

A radio program I heard last week started me musing about the "Wonders of the World." Not the ancient ones--the pyramids, hanging gardens, we're all familiar with or even the new lists that pop up and include the "found" continents' Grand Canyon, Angel Falls, etc. I'm interested in your personal current wonder.

So, just for this fleeting moment, what has grabbed hold of your imagination and has you in a state of awe or admiration? Is it as emotional and traditional as a baby's smile, or do you have some strange quirky bit of knowledge occupying your time and your brain cells?

My wonder, you ask? I am taken with the power and beauty of script, not fonts, but the symbols we use for written communication: Oriental ideagraphs, the calligraphy of Arabic, alphabets in all their myriad forms, lovely, mysterious, minute bits of ink imprinted onto paper and cloth, lines and forms etched into precious metals, carved in stone, traced in sand only to be consumed by the lapping waves, treasures that can be opened only by those who have the key of knowledge, but that can be enjoyed on a different level by "appreciators". Here are some. Unfortunately I couldn't copy many of the Oriental ones. Go to for some beauties. Artists see the absolutely gorgeous glyphs (sigh.)

Посмотрите силу русского алфавита (Russian: Look at the Russian alphabet.)

وقال خامنئي اثناء ادلائه بصوته في احد المراكز الانتخابية في العاصمة طهران:Arabic ( I have no idea.)

Και ητο πασα η γη μιας γλωσσης και μιας φωνης. (Greek—Tower of Babel )

וַיְהִי כָל-הָאָרֶץ, שָׂפָה אֶחָת, וּדְבָרִים, אֲחָדִים.(Hebrew Tower of Babel)

At some point do try to copy and paste Arabic and watch as your comments are added backwards. LOL

For 'believer' -- "Earth Pride" extended


When they came, there were no monstrous ships, or light displays or churning clouds. No show of strength or attempted contact with those who have assumed control of our world. They just were here! Their appearance was unfamiliar enough that all would know they were not earthly bound -- Terran that is, for all species have an 'earth'. Yet, they were familiar enough that all would know of their humanity, if we speak of a common bond of all sentient things. The Farlin. Actually, they appeared slightly differently to each of us, as part of their communication was ingrained in emotional reflection. One thing was uniquely and universally disturbing. They had no fear, and therefore generated no fear. They were neither friend nor foe -- the terms simply did not apply.

For men, given our history, nothing to fear meant nothing to love either. With neither love nor fear to direct or divert our passions, emotions quickly turned to hatred. That is why the Farlin were here. They did not understand! Of all the creatures in the galaxy's sweep, only Man turned hatred into a religion.

We never knew if they were few or many, as all Farlin looked the same and somehow shared a common memory of events and human interaction. They understood our attempts at communication, regardless of language used. We could understand them also -- sort of. Ideas were exchanged through a combination of emotional flux, shifting body hues and tinkling music. It was a type of telepathy, I guess, but not 'in the mind' as much as 'of the mind'. Nothing obtrusive. Perhaps they could have read my mind if they wished. Beyond effort? Beneath effort? Actually, they had severe limitations. They weren't really here at all!

We came to understand that they laughed at our attempts to construct physical capsules of air and food to bridge the planet pace and the expanding wealth of stars. It was economically impossible! Any expenditures in such folly obviously depleted resources more useful in other ways. Food from the mouths of children? Conquering of disease? Contemplation of God's glory? They never gave guidance. It was clear our choices were a matter of maturity. Time was the essential element that would destroy our vain desires to reach beyond, and out, and new! No useful life should be expended on a century journey in a steel coffin just to satisfy curiosity. Not when an hour of internal contemplation could open worlds of discovery. Not when the mind could be trained to embrace many traces of thought and dream at once. Life is too short. Of course, life has little value to most men -- even their own. If I have nothing important to do, I may as well build a spaceship, no?

The Farlin, and others, had learned to send their intellect across the unfathomable drift of galactic dust. More importantly, only part of their mental effort was expended in the process -- there were more important tasks to attend to. Children had to be coached in how to make the flowers grow. Emotions from thousands of spirits, near and far, had to be blended into symphonies. Each being had to spend an eternity in seeking a balance between the force and attraction of willful control, and the simple blending of will with the pulse of chaos that Guides. The sending out, the mission to another star, was not instantaneous. It had taken about fourteen of Terran years to reach us, drawn by the vibrations of our hatred. Each attending Farlin set part of his (heash?) mind to the effort, perhaps as a type of hobby. They had curiosity too -- it just had nothing to do with control. We were a mirror in which they could observe themselves in a new light, a new passion. They meant to give nothing and take nothing away. For them, man called to man, species to species. It just was!

It has been years since I felt the brush of peaceful emotional caress. They have moved on. New religions have started up to deify their 'second coming'. Old religions have sought to integrate or deny. The Farlin Passing is now relegated to a historic phenomenon, or epiphenomenon, depending on the state of your soul. Soon it will be myth or legend or parable. No one expects them to return. Why bother? If we want more, we will have to learn to 'send out'.
The feverish chase to physically jump the void had lessened a bit, but it is truly driven by monetary greed more that life enhancement. World strife has lessened a bit, fueled by a drop in birth rate more than any lesson of compassion. Hatred, if anything, has increased, though it seems more directed toward emotional posturing than violence. We should be brought together in common bond now that we know that we are not alone -- that 'in God's image' is a matter of mind and spirit, not form. I sense that until we leave this chrysalis of despair behind we will never extend beyond our untrusting thoughts. We clothe our bodies in shame. We cloak our spirits in shame.

Well, we were sent the prophets and oracles and Christ and Mohammed and Buddha and Chief Joseph and Mother Theresa - more. Now the Farlin. Will we ever learn?

It is not really a question?

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Nugget or Fools's gold??

I have always liked Taylor Caldwell
as a model of writing imagery and
vocabulary usage -- as well as meaningful plots.
My reading now is usually limited to a page a night
before the book falls on my face ...

but here is a line, just found, that could be
a seed for many poems, methinks --

I will attempt one later today.

enjoy, papa

"Emma had had a very tragic life,
and therefore seldom seemed sad."

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Earth Pride

Gleaned from Shiloh,

"T'would be fascinating to see what the future would be like in eight, nine hundred years--if the Earth last(s/ed) that long, to see the answers to my many questions unveiled."

and yet ...

we are not looking to earth, as much as yearning for the stars ..

sad ...

We are daily stroked by messages of man's yearning for discovery on planets and stars so distant that even thought stumbles in passage. Nothing new! With the passing of decades and centuries only the terms have changed and the gathering of alleged 'facts'. New perhaps is the courage (or exposure) of scientists now willing to say, "we are looking for life out there." They are not afraid. I am!

We imagine that we can detect and recognize life should it be found -- out there. Yet we cannot recognize life in our neighbor, or our children, or, heaven forbid, a stranger! Is that flicker of light in Grandma's eye a sign of life, or it that only a concern of the nurse there in the home? Look into the telescope and dream. When did you look into the eyes of a homeless, sexless mass of rags and search for life there? What of your own signs of life? Are you best reflected in a make-up mirror, or TV screen or monitor's glare? Would you recognize life if you saw it? Will these great scientists?

What if this life
-- out there -- does not resemble our hoped for dream? Will we destroy it like we do those of earthly claim with only slight differences? Will we attempt to mold it into our own arrogant image of which we know so little? Will we welcome these strangers into our homes and hearts -- as we do surly now? Ha! If we now rape our children and youth -- what of them -- any 'others'? Do we feed off of life -- are the scientists hungry?

What will we give them -- out there? Perhaps there is in this world a source of peace and charity and -- humanity. Can we export it -- can we even recognize it here, or are we decades away in squabble over what we would even like to be? Those with the power and possible ability to send a message to the stars are of a common bond -- what would they give except what they know? Greed. Terrorism. Character subversion. Technology supremacy.

Fortunately, I won't last long enough to see a destructive blast to man's star based destruction. I hope I live long enough to see an earthy man approach me without fear and say, "hi there -- I am a stranger."

(aka Ken Muller and faucon)

Friday, June 17, 2005


Over recent days, as I have sat, reflecting and meditating during long hours at the hospital, I have had cause to ponder upon Duende, the creative force that propels our creative endeavour and fills our well with droplets of steel in times of need. Now I feel compelled to ask each of you to consider not only the angel and the muse but Duende.

Duende came in search of me once more when Winnie, in a pensive, philosophical mood, asked me how I teach writing. I admitted that I do not really teach writing but I encourage people to put their hands in the loam and experience duende. I encourage people to grope and feel duende for it is only when duende is present that writing becomes authentic.

Read the following article by Frederico Garcia Lorca and talk about your views on the 'life force' that drives creativity, the mead we each seek.

The Duende: Theory and Divertissement
by Frederico Garcia Lorca

Whoever inhabits that bull's hide stretched between the Jucar, the Gaudelete, the Sil or the Pisuerga - no need to mention the streams joining those lion-coloured waves churned up by the Plata - has heard it said with a certain frequency: "Now that has real duende !" It was in this spirit that Manuel Torres, the great artist of the Andalusian people, once remarked to a singer: "You have a voice, you know all the styles, but you'll never bring it off because you have no duende."

In all Andalusia, from the rock of Jaen to the shell of Cádiz, people constantly speak of the duende and find it in everything that springs out of energetic instinct. That marvelous singer, "El Librijano," originator of the Debla, observed, "Whenever I am singing with duende, no one can come up to me"; and one day the old gypsy dancer, "La Malena," exclaimed while listening to Brailowski play a fragment of Bach: "Olé! That has duende !"- and remained bored by Gluck and Brahms and Darius Milhaud. And Manuel Torres, to my mind a man of exemplary blood culture, once uttered this splendid phrase while listening to Falla himself play his "Nocturno del Generalife": "Whatever has black sounds has duende." There is no greater truth.

These black sounds are the mystery, the roots that probe through the mire that we all know of, and do not understand, but which furnishes us with whatever is sustaining in art. Black sounds: so said the celebrated Spaniard, thereby concurring with Goethe, who, in effect, defined the duende when he said, speaking of Paganini: "A mysterious power that all may feel and no philosophy can explain."

The duende, then, is a power and not a construct, is a struggle and not a concept. I have heard an old guitarist, a true virtuoso, remark, "The duende is not in the throat, the duende comes up from inside, up from the very soles of the feet." That is to say, it is not a question of aptitude, but of a true and viable style - of blood, in other words; of what is oldest in culture: of creation made act.

This "mysterious power that all may feel and no philosophy can explain," is, in sum, the earth-force, the same duende that fired the heart of Nietzsche, who sought it in its external forms on the Rialto Bridge, or in the music of Bizet, without ever finding it, or understanding that the duende he pursued had rebounded from the mystery-minded Greeks to the Dancers of Cádiz or the gored, Dionysian cry of Silverio's siguiriya.

So much for the duende; but I would not have you confuse the duende with the theological demon of doubt at whom Luther, on a Bacchic impulse, hurled an inkwell in Nuremberg, or with the Catholic devil, destructive, but short on intelligence, who disguised himself as a bitch to enter the convents, or with the talking monkey that Cervantes' mountebank carried in the comedy about jealousy and the forests of Andalusia.

No. The duende that I speak of, shadowy, palpitating, is a descendant of that benignest demon of Socrates, he of marble and salt, who scratched the master angrily the day he drank the hemlock; and of that melancholy imp of Descartes, little as an unripe almond, who, glutted with circles and lines, went out on the canals to hear the drunken sailors singing.

Any man - any artist, as Nietzsche would say - climbs the stairway in the tower of his perfection at the cost of a struggle with a duende - not with an angel, as some have maintained, or with his muse. This fundamental distinction must be kept in mind if the root of a work of art is to be grasped.

The angel guides and endows, like Saint Raphael, or prohibits and avoids like Saint Michael, or foretells, like Saint Gabriel.

The Angel dazzles; but he flies over men's heads and remains in mid-air, shedding his grace; and the man, without any effort whatever, realizes his work, or his fellow-feeling, or his dance. The angel on the road to Damascus, and he who entered the crevice of the little balcony of Assisi, or that other angel who followed in the footsteps of Heinrich Suso, commanded - and there was no resisting his radiance, for he waved his wings of steel in an atmosphere of predestination.

The Muse dictates and, in certain cases, prompts. There is relatively little she can do, for she keeps aloof and is so full of lassitude (I have seen her twice) that I myself have had to put half a heart of marble in her. The Poets of the Muse hear voices and do not know where they come from; but surely they are from the Muse, who encourages and at times devours them entirely. Such, for example, was the case of Apollinaire, that great poet ravaged by the horrible Muse with whom the divinely angelic Rousseau painted him. The Muse arouses the intellect, bearing landscapes of columns and the false taste of laurel; but intellect is oftentimes the foe of poetry because it imitates too much, it elevates the poet to a throne of acute angles and makes him forget that in time the ants can devour him, too, or that a great arsenical locust can fall on his head, against which the Muses who live inside monocles or the lukewarm lacquer roses of insignificant salons, are helpless.

Angel and Muse approach from without; the Angel sheds light and the Muse gives form (Hesiod learned of them). Gold leaf or chiton-folds: the poet finds his models in his laurel coppice. But the Duende, on the other hand, must come to life in the nethermost recesses of the blood.

And repel the Angel, too - kick out the Muse and conquer his awe of the fragrance of violets that breathe from the poetry of the eighteenth century, or of the great telescope in whose lenses the Muse dozes off, sick of limits.

The true struggle is with the Duende.

The paths leading to God are well known, from the barbaric way of the hermit, to the subtler modes of the mystic. With a tower, then, like Saint Theresa, or with three roads, like St. John of the Cross. And even if we must cry out in Isaiah's voice: "Truly, thou art the hidden God!" at the end at last, God sends to each seeker his first fiery thorns.

To seek out the Duende, however, neither map nor discipline is required. Enough to know that he kindles the blood like an irritant, that he exhausts, that he repulses, all the bland, geometrical assurances, that he smashes the styles; that he makes of a Goya, master of the grays, the silvers, the roses of the great English painters, a man painting with his knees and his fists in bituminous blacks; that he bares a Mosen Cinto Verdaguer to the cold of the Pyrenees or induces a Jorge Manrique to sweat out his death on the crags of Ocaña, or invests the delicate body of Rimbaud in the green domino of the saltimbanque, or fixes the dead fish-eyes on the Comte de Lautréamont in the early hours of the boulevard.

The great artists of southern Spain, both gypsies and flamenco, whether singing or dancing or playing their instruments, know that no emotion is possible without the mediation of the Duende. They may hoodwink the people, they may give the illusion of duende without really having it, just as writers and painters and literary fashion-mongers without duende cheat you daily; but it needs only a little care and the will to resist one's own indifference, to discover the imposture and put it and its crude artifice to flight.

Once the Andalusian singer, Pastora Pavon, "The Girl with the Combs," a sombre Hispanic genius whose capacity for fantasy equals Goya's or Raphael el Gallo's, was singing in a little tavern in Cádiz. She sparred with her voice - now shadowy, now like molten tin, now covered with moss; she tangled her voice in her long hair or drenched it in sherry or lost it in the darkest and furthermost bramble bushes. But nothing happened - useless, all of it! The hearers remained silent.

There stood Ignacio Espeleta, handsome as a Roman turtle, who was asked once why he never worked, and replied with a smile worthy of Argantonio: "How am I to work if I come from Cádiz?"

There, too, stood Héloise, the fiery aristocrat, whore of Seville, direct descendant of Soledad Vargas, who in the thirties refused to marry a Rothschild because he was not of equal blood. There were the Floridas, whom some people call butchers, but who are really millennial priests sacrificing bulls constantly to Geryon; and in a corner stood that imposing breeder of bulls, Don Pablo Murabe, with the air of a Cretan mask. Pastora Pavon finished singing in the midst of total silence. There was only a little man, one of those dancing mannikins who leap suddenly out of brandy bottles, who observed sarcastically in a very low voice: "Viva Paris!" As if to say: We are not interested in aptitude or techniques or virtuosity here. We are interested in something else.

Then the "Girl with the Combs" got up like a woman possessed, her face blasted like a medieval weeper, tossed off a great glass of Cazalla at a single draught, like a potion of fire, and settled down to singing - without a voice, without breath, without nuance, throat aflame - but with duende ! She had contrived to annihilate all that was nonessential in song and make way for an angry and incandescent Duende, friend of sand-laden winds, so that everyone listening tore at his clothing almost in the same rhythm with which the West Indian negroes in their rites rend away their clothes, huddled in heaps before the image of Saint Barbara.

The "Girl with the Combs" had to mangle her voice because she knew there were discriminating folk about who asked not for form, but for the marrow of form - pure music spare enough to keep itself in the air. She had to deny her faculties and her security; that is to say, to turn out her Muse and keep vulnerable, so that her Duende might come and vouchsafe the hand-to-hand struggle. And then how she sang! Her voice feinted no longer; it jetted up like blood, ennobled by sorrow and sincerity, it opened up like ten fingers of a hand around the nailed feet of a Christ by Juan de Juni - tempestuous!

The arrival of the Duende always presupposes a radical change in all the forms as they existed on the old plane. It gives a sense of refreshment unknown until then, together with that quality of the just-opening rose, of the miraculous, which comes and instils an almost religious transport.

In all Arabian music, in the dances, songs, elegies of Arabia, the coming of the Duende is greeted by fervent outcries of Allah! Allah! God! God!, so close to the Olé" Olé! of our bull rings that who is to say they are not actually the same; and in all the songs of southern Spain the appearance of the Duende is followed by heartfelt exclamations of God alive! - profound, human tender, the cry of communion with God through the medium of the five senses and the grace of the Duende that stirs the voice and the body of the dancer - a flight from this world, both real and poetic, pure as Pedro de Roja's over the seven gardens (that most curious poet of the seventeenth century), or Juan Calimacho's on the tremulous ladder of tears.

Naturally, when flight is achieved, all feel its effects: the initiate coming to see at last how style triumphs over inferior matter, and the unenlightened, through the I-don't-know-what of an authentic emotion. Some years ago, in a dancing contest at Jerez de la Frontera, an old lady of eighty, competing against beautiful women and young girls with waists as supple as water, carried off the prize merely by the act of raising her arms, throwing back her head, and stamping the little platform with a blow of her feet; but in the conclave of muses and angels foregathered there - beauties of form and beauties of smile - the dying duende triumphed as it had to, trailing the rusted knife blades of its wings along the ground.

All the arts are capable of duende, but it naturally achieves its widest play in the fields of music, dance and the spoken poem, since those require a living presence to interpret them, because they are forms which grow and decline perpetually and raise their contours on the precise present.

Often the Duende of the musician passes over into the Duende of the interpreter, and at other times, when the musician and poet are not matched, the Duende of the interpreter - this is interesting - creates a new marvel that retains the appearance - and the appearance only - of the originating form. Such was the case with the duende-ridden Duse who deliberately sought out failures in order to turn them into triumphs, thanks to her capacity for invention; or with Paganini who, as Goethe explained, could make one hear profoundest melody in out-and-out vulgarity; or with a delectable young lady from the port of Santa María whom I saw singing and dancing the horrendous Italian ditty, "O Marie!" with such rhythms, such pauses, and such conviction that she transformed an Italian geegaw into a hard serpent of raised gold. What happened, in effect, was that each in his own way found something new, something never before encountered, which put lifeblood and art into bodies void of expression.

In every country, death comes as a finality. It comes, and the curtain comes down. But not in Spain! In Spain the curtain goes up. Many people live out their lives between walls until the day they die and are brought out into the sun. In Spain, the dead are more alive than the dead of any other country of the world: their profile wounds like the edge of a barbers razor. The quip about death and the silent contemplation of it are familiar to the Spanish. From the "Dream of the Skulls" of Quevedo, to the "Putrescent Bishop" of Valdés Leal; from La Marbella of the seventeenth century who, dying in childbirth on the highway, says:

The blood of my entrails
Covers the horse.
And the horse's hooves
Strike fire from the pitch

to a recent young man from Salamanca, killed by a bull who exclaimed:

My friends, I am dying.
My friends, it goes badly.
I've three handkerchiefs inside me,
And this I apply now makes four.

there is a balustrade of flowering nitre where hordes peer out, contemplating death, with verses from Jeremiah for the grimmer side or sweet-smelling cypress for the more lyrical - but in any case, a country where all that is most important has its final metallic valuation in death.

The knife and the cart wheel and the razor and the singing beard-points of the shepherds, the shorn moon and the fly, the damp lockers, the ruins and the lace-covered saints, the quicklime and the cutting line of eaves and balconies: in Spain, all bear little grass-blades of death, allusions and voices perceptible to the spiritually alert, that call to our memory with the corpse-cold air of our own passing. It is no accident that all Spanish art is bound to our soil, so full of thistles and definitive stone; the lamentations of Pleberio or the dances of the master Josef Maria de Valdivielso are not isolated instances, nor is it by chance that from all the balladry of Europe the Spanish inamorata disengages herself in this fashion:

"If you are my fine friend,
Tell me - why won't you look at me?"
"The eyes with which I look at you
I gave up to the shadow."
"If you are my fine friend
Tell me - why don't you kiss me?"
"The lips with which I kissed you
I gave up to the clay."
"If you are my fine friend
Tell me - why won't you embrace me?"
"The arms that embrace you
I have covered up with worms."

Nor is it strange to find that in the dawn of our lyricism, the following note is sounded:

Inside the garden
I shall surely die.
Inside the rosebush
They will kill me.
Mother, Mother,
I went out
Gathering roses,
But surely death will find me
In the Garden.
Mother, Mother,
I went out
Cutting roses,
But surely death will find me
In the rosebush.
Inside the garden
I shall surely die.
In the rosebush
They will kill me.

Those heads frozen by the moon that Zurbarán painted, the butter-yellows and the lightening-yellows of El Greco, the narrative of Father Sigüenza, all the work of Goya, the presbytery of the Church of the Escorial, all polychrome sculpture, the crypt of the ducal house of Osuna, the death with the guitar in the chapel of the Benavente in Medina de Río Seco - all equal, on the plane of cultivated art, the pilgrimages of San Andrés de Teixido where the dead have their place in the procession; they are one with the songs for the dead that the women of Asturias intone with flame-filled lamps in the November night, one with the song and dance of the Sibyl in the cathedrals of Mallorca and Toledo, with the obscure "In Recort" of Tortosa, and the innumerable rites of Good Friday that, with the arcane fiesta of the Bulls, epitomize the popular triumph of Spanish death. In all the world, Mexico alone can go hand-in-hand with my country.

When the Muse sees death on the way, she closes the door, or raises a plinth, or promenades an urn and inscribes an epitaph with a waxen hand, but in time she tears down her laurels again in a silence that wavers between two breezes. Under the truncated arch of the Ode, she joins with funereal meaning the exact flowers that the Italians of the fifteenth century depicted, with the identical cock of Lucretius, to frighten off an unforeseen darkness.

When the Angel sees death on the way, he flies in slow circles and weaves with tears of narcissus and ice the elegy we see trembling in the hands of Keats and Villasandino and Herrera and Becquer and Juan Ramón Jiménez. But imagine the terror of the Angel, should it feel a spider - even the tiniest - on its tender and roseate flesh!

The Duende, on the other hand, will not approach at all if he does not see the possibility of death, if he is not convinced he will circle death's house, if there is not every assurance he can rustle the branches borne aloft by us all, that neither have, nor may ever have, the power to console.

With idea, with sound, or with gesture, the Duende chooses the brim of the well for his open struggle with the creator. Angel and Muse escape in the violin or in musical measure, but the Duende draws blood, and in the healing of the wound that never quite closes, all that is unprecedented and invented in a man's work has its origin.

The magical virtue of poetry lies in the fact that it is always empowered with duende to baptize in dark water all those who behold it, because with duende, loving and understanding are simpler, there is always the certainty of being loved and being understood; and this struggle for expression and for the communication of expression acquires at times, in poetry, finite characters.

Recall the case of that paragon of the flamenco and daemonic way, Saint Teresa - flamenca not for her prowess in stopping an angry bull with three significant passes - though she did so - nor for her presumption in esteeming herself beautiful in the presence of Fray Juan de Miseria, nor for slapping the face of a papal nuncio; but rather for the simple circumstance that she was one of the rare ones whose Duende (not her Angel - the Angels never attack) pierced her with an arrow, hoping thereby to destroy her for having deprived him of his ultimate secret: the subtle bridge that links the five senses with the very center, the living flesh, living cloud, living sea, of Love emancipated from Time.

Most redoubtable conqueress of the Duende - and how utterly unlike the case of Philip of Austria who, longing to discover the Muse and the Angel in theology, found himself imprisoned by the Duende of cold ardors in that masterwork of the Escorial, where geometry abuts with a dream and the Duende wears the mask of the Muse for the eternal chastisement of the great king.

We have said that the Duende loves ledges and wounds, that he enters only those areas where form dissolves in a passion transcending any of its visible expressions.

In Spain (as in all Oriental countries where dance is a form of religious expression) the Duende has unlimited play in the bodies of the dancers of Cádiz, eulogized by Martial, in the breasts of the singers, eulogized by Juvenal, and in all the liturgy of the bulls - that authentic religious drama where, in the manner of the Mass, adoration and sacrifice are rendered a God.

It would seem that all the duende of the classical world is crowded into this matchless festival, epitomizing the culture and the noble sensibility of a people who discover in man his greatest rages, his greatest melancholies, his greatest lamentations. No one, I think, is amused by the dances or the bulls in Spain; the Duende has taken it on himself to make them suffer through the medium of drama, in living forms, and prepares the ladders for flight from encompassing reality.

The Duende works on the body of the dancer like the wind works on sand. With magical force, it converts a young girl into a lunar paralytic; or fills with adolescent blushes a ragged old man begging handouts in the wineshops; or suddenly discovers the smell of nocturnal ports in a head of hair, and moment for moment, works on the arms with an expressiveness which is the mother of the dance of all ages.

But it is impossible for him ever to repeat himself - this is interesting and must be underscored. The Duende never repeats himself, any more than the forms of the sea repeat themselves in a storm.

In the bullfight, the Duende achieves his most impressive advantage, for he must fight then with death who can destroy him, on one hand, and with geometry, with measure, the fundamental basis of the bullfight, on the other.

The Bull has his orbit, and the bullfighter has his, and between orbit and orbit is the point of risk where falls the vertex of the terrible byplay.

It is possible to hold a Muse with a muletta and an Angel with banderillas, and pass for a good bullfighter; but for the faena de capa, with the bull still unscarred by a wound, the help of the Duende is necessary at the moment of the kill, to drive home the blow of artistic truth.

The bullfighter who moves the public to terror in the plaza by his audacity does not fight the bull - that would be ludicrous in such a case - but, within the reach of each man, puts his life at stake; on the contrary, the fighter bitten by the Duende gives a lesson in Pythagorian music and induces all to forget how he constantly hurls his heart against the horns.

Lagartigo with his Roman duende, Joselito with his Jewish duende, Belmonte with his baroque duende, and Cagancho with his gypsy duende, from the twilight of the ring, teach poets, painters, and musicians four great ways of the Spanish tradition.

Spain is the only country where death is the national spectacle, where death blows long fanfares at the coming of each Spring, and its art is always governed by a shrewd duende that has given it its distinctive character and its quality of invention.

The Duende that, for the first time in sculpture, fills the cheeks of the saints of the master Mateo de Compostela with blood, is the same spirit that evokes the lamentations of St. John of the Cross or burns naked nymphs on the religious sonnets of Lope.

The Duende who raises the tower of Sahagun or tesselates hot brick in Calatayud or Teruel, is the same spirit that breaks open the clouds of El Greco and sends the constables of Quevedo and the chimaeras of Goya sprawling with a kick.

When it rains, he secretly brings out a duende-minded Velasquez, behind his monarchical grays; when it snows he sends Herrera out naked to prove that cold need not kill; when it burns, he casts Berruguette into the flames and lets him invent a new space for sculpture.

The music of Góngora and the Angel of Garcilaso must yield up the laurel wreath when the Duende of St. John of the Cross passes by, when

The wounded stag
peers over the hill.

The Muse of Góngora de Berceo and the Angel of the Archpriest of Hita must give way to the approaching Jorge Manrique when he comes, wounded to death, to the gates of the Castle of Belmonte. The Muse of Gregorio Hernandez and the Angel of José de Mora must retire, so that the Duende weeping blood-tears of Mena, and the Duende of Matinez Montañes with a head like an Assyrian bull's, may pass over, just as the melancholy Muse of Cataluña and the humid Angel of Galicia must watch, with loving terror, the Duende of Castile, far from the hot bread and the cow grazing mildly among forms of swept sky and parched earth.

The Duende of Quevedo and the Duende of Cervantes, one bearing phosphorescent green anemones and the other the plaster flowers of Ruidera, crown the alter-piece of the Duende of Spain.

Each art has, by nature, its distinctive Duende of style and form, but all roots join at the point where the black sounds of Manuel Torres issue forth - the ultimate stuff and the common basis, uncontrollable and tremulous, of wood and sound and canvas and word.

Black sounds: behind which there abide, in tenderest intimacy, the volcanoes, the ants, the zephyrs, and the enormous night straining its waist against the Milky Way.

Ladies and gentlemen: I have raised three arches, and with clumsy hand I have placed in them the Muse, the Angel and the Duende.

The Muse keeps silent; she may wear the tunic of little folds, or great cow-eyes gazing towards Pompeii, or the monstrous, four-featured nose with which her great painter, Picasso, has painted her. The Angel may be stirring the hair of Antonello da Messina, the tunic of Lippi, and the violin of Masolino or Rousseau.

But the Duende - where is the Duende ? Through the empty arch enters a mental air blowing insistently over the heads of the dead, seeking new landscapes and unfamiliar accents; an air bearing the odor of child's spittle, crushed grass, and the veil of Medusa announcing the unending baptism of all newly-created things.

Lorca 1930

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

The Truth About Me

I've not intentionally ignored the Alluvial Mine, but as I've not successfully completed an exercise or two for it in quite awhile, I feel like I have been. Two or three pieces are in various stages of completion, but are coming along slowly. I guess the nuggets I initially saw in each piece are more stubborn than I thought and require more effort and more inventive ways to extract them. They will be extracted, but it may take more time. In the meantime I returned to the surface in temporary defeat. But every so often I've gone back in with my miner's digs and gear and tried freeing the nuggets I glimpsed a few months ago. Still no such luck with the big ones. But, unexpectedly, this nugget below and another one a few days later, though smaller than I what was hoping to get free, broke off. In my single-mindedness to work free the bigger nuggets, I didn't notice these at first at my knees.

I dunno why, but I feel like doing another prompt from Daydreaming on Paper. I've been doing several of them lately, I know.

This is the truth about me:
I'm happier. I'm to the point where, most of the time, I can honestly say I like who I am. I can be better, I readily admit, but, even with all my faults, I like whom I'm becoming. I have a long way to go yet, but at least I'm feeling more positive about myself and am moving in the direction where I know true happiness lies for me.

This isn't to say life has gotten easier or better for me or for my family, because it hasn't. We're still plugging along like everyone else, still trying to work through a hard family situation that has left my youngest sister heartbroken, depressed, paranoid and withdrawn emotionally two years after the traumatic event. It's only now that the signs of the damage and hurt she's felt and is feeling have come to the forefront. The past several months here at home have been tense and uneasy, but thank goodness, we are seeing a glimmer of a silver lining finally.

I'm a good person, most of the time kind and compassionate; a softie whose marshmallow heart is almost too tenderhearted. I tend to tear up or cry at the least degree of moving or heartwarming stimulus. (Which is the main reason why I try to or tend to avoid tear-jerkers or movies with sad parts in them as often as I can. Which is why I have yet to sit down or even felt like watching Finding Neverland with Mom...even though it has Johnny Depp in it. I know I'll boo-hoo through it.) Really embarrassing, it is and I wish the waterworks weren't so easy to turn on.

I once said I'm fairly open-minded. More open-minded than many I know. I honestly believed this too. But my experience with Heather in the last months of our dying friendship taught me differently. I'm not nearly as open-minded as I thought I was. I have a stronger sense of what I feel, what I know to be right or wrong or in the gray than I thought, and I cannot comfortably put myself in situations where I'm rationalizing it's ok this time or compromising my standards for the sake of keeping the peace. I just can't. However, that doesn't mean I'm narrow-minded to the point of inflexibility either. I'm still open-minded; I'm just more discerning and aware of it now.

I'm a contradiction. I like breaking out of the mold, trying to think outside the box. While others are 'X,' I like being 'Y.' Even so, on occasion I'll catch myself slipping into Mode X, doing so to be like them, to be cool and to please whomever I'm around. When I do this, I find myself less than pleased or discontent; and I know this is because I'm not being true to myself. It's a habit I need and am trying to break. I also like things orderly and neat or put into categories. Yet, my room looks cluttered and well-lived in. My desk always ends up in disarray, as it is now. That's another habit I need to break.

I'm bossy. I'm concerned. I'm a nurturer. I'm a mother hen. I care about animals; I care about people and their welfare. I care about keeping them safe and keeping the harmony around us intact. Regarding my younger brother and sisters still living here and any of their friends who come over, I know the rules. In my eyes most of the rules set forth by our parents are good and fair and necessary. I don't mean to be bossy, I just don't want them (my siblings) to be ragged at by our parents; it's not pleasant for either party, or for myself, an involuntary witness and fellow sufferer of the unease which seeps into our home environment. But, of course, this is a third habit I need to break, because I realize their bending or pushing the rules to their limits or the outright breaking of them is not my problem. They (the kids) can't learn anything if they don't make mistakes.

I can be a motormouth. I have the nervous habit or defense mechanism of talking to someone to fill the void if I feel the silence is an uncomfortable one. I hate it and yes, this is definitely one habit I would love to conquer. I feel like people should tell me to shut up, but they are too polite or too lenient with me to do so.

I'm stubborn. I'm tenacious. I'm a thinker. I can be ingenious. And I'm optimistic. I have to be. These qualities are what get me through (them and Heavenly Father's help, that is) the hard times that come upon me due to my disability. I've realized this recently, and I have a lot to be grateful for. The degree of my disability is worse than some, but better than others. Still, if I'd have let it a long time ago dictate how I respond to and view the world and the trials my disability brings, I would have been a miserable, cantankerous ol' soul who delighteth in making others around me as miserable as yours truly would've been.

They even add to my sense of humor. A few nights ago Jon was dead tired when he put me to bed. He left my overhead light on. All night long. I called out to him three or four times, but he either was so far gone he didn't hear me or was already upstairs when I tried catching him. Thankfully, under the surface irritation I was amused. I was exhausted in my own right, and half the time when I get that way, I'm as onery as a mother bear watching out for her cubs. And in a situation like that, where one is unable to get out of bed by oneself, walk over to the doorway by which the light switch is and flick it downward, it pays to be able to laugh. Because if one can't, all that's left is crying and cursing.

I'm a bridger. Let me explain. I'm old enough to be of the Old School when it comes to values and standards and such, but I'm enough of today's generation that I want instant gratification. I want what I want when I want it and it's usually NOW! Today's generation doesn't want to wait, and some of it doesn't even want to work for what it wants.

And lastly, but by no means have I plumbed the deepest fathoms of my soul here today, *mysterious smile* I am curious. I like to be in the know; I like knowing what people are talking about or what the heck they are laughing at. Though in recent months, I've discovered it may not always pay to have my curiosity satisfied. I learned more peace might be gained if I let other people's problems be their problems and not mine as well. Why borrow trouble? Being blissfully in the dark about some things can actually be better and healthier for my frame of mind. So, I started trying to tune out what I consider is none of my business.

Though, when living with more than two people it's not always easy to escape seeing or overhearing what goes on. In some cases I would love to, but I can't always do so. Because I'm the only one home during the day a lot--big surprise there--I've been given the nickname, by both Dad and Kami, "the wall who has ears." Flattering, eh? The premise is that I know most everything that goes on here, so therefore I'm the source to come to if somebody wants to know something somebody else did, said or what have you.

Thank you very much, I've always wanted to be thought of as an inanimate structure.

This is the truth, and I've barely scratched the surface. I'm happier. I can be better. I'm more positive. I'm a good person, kind and compassionate, a softie. I'm more discerning. I'm a wheeling contradiction. I'm bossy. I'm concerned. I'm a nurturer. I'm a mother hen. I can run off at the mouth, wishing somebody for the sweet love of Heaven, would stop me. I'm stubborn. I'm tenacious. I'm a thinker. I can be ingenious. I'm grateful and optimistic. I'm a bridger in my own generation. I want what I want when I want it and I want it NOW, thank you. And I'm curious, but am learning to curb it. I'm flawed and I love it, with several obvious bad habits that will take time to change. I'm a woman. I'm human. I'm me; I am Shiloh.

Future Earth

This is yesterday's journal entry. I knew Gwen would get a kick out of it, so I showed it to her, and she suggested I post it as a possible writing challenge. I remembered Barbara suggesting Gleanings, so I'm posting it here. Please enjoy and please do take up the writing challenge presented in the many questions I posed.

A random thought ocurred to me yesterday--I find this happening a lot more, or it could be I'm just following up on these piques of harmless curiosity more often. Whatever the case, I found myself thinking and wondering from a literary and historical point-of-view: If the Earth had several more centuries to reveal yet, what would future generations have to say about us? What would they consider to be classics, timeless and of the same magnitude as we find The Illiad and The Odyssey to be today?

What events or people from the 20th and 21st Centuries would be thought of or revered as legends and myths come their time?

Though Egypt, Mongolia, Greece, Iraq (Persia), England, Italy and many more countries have stood the test of Time and are powers of the modern world, they're not the same as they were thousands of years ago. The Ancient Egyptians, Sumerians, Babylonians, Romans, Ancient and Classical Greeks, Ghengis Khan and his Empire, the Saxons, Mayans and Aztecs--all were proud, intelligent civilizations with distinct and different cultures. But in the end they all...collapsed. Or were absorbed into the conquering, rising cultures that followed their falls. What new countries and cultures will have come about by their time? What countries and cultures will still be around, but changed yet again? What countries and cultures will no longer be on the modern map or be a way of life? What will civilizations be like then?

Aaahhheemmm. Yeah, my mind was really going to town with this train of thought. But after searching for a Greek/Roman myth to add here, I got to wondering. History, myths and legends are fascinating--at least to me--and I got to thinking about how we marvel and admire civilizations past. And I couldn't help but wonder. T'would be fascinating to see what the future would be like in eight, nine hundred years--if the Earth last(s/ed) that long, to see the answers to my many questions unveiled.

Another thought similar to this vein of deep thinking came to me some weeks previous, but until now I've not pursued it. I can't remember exactly what sparked it, but I got to thinking about discoveries and explorations and the many animals (some now extinct, sadly) found on such excursions. As I stated before, there are myriad species of animals and plants on this Earth with us. Who's to say they're all discovered? Wouldn't it be exciting, I asked myself, if they really found the Loch Ness Monster? Surely not all species of animals [or plants] are discovered?

Scientists would definitely have a field day if ol' Nessie was, indeed, discovered. Personally, I have no doubt she may actually exist. The seas and oceans are many fathoms deep and there's no telling what secrets they have yet to reveal. So who knows what unknown creatures reside in the deepest waters? And besides, if I remember right, sharks and crocodiles are prehistoric creatures that have survived millennia, so why not an aquatic dinosaur (a plesiosaur)?

And going a lil further to tie this altogether, what species of plants and animals would be extinct or endangered eight, nine hundred years from now?