My most recent prose is below
Some older works are listed under the list on the left.
Sleep, perchance to ... 'left-a-bit'?
I sit in a busy cafe, writing, and wonder if the night crickets and frogs of this wet spring have trouble sleeping amongst the daytime rabble that is humanity.
They are undoubtedly thankful that at night, at least, they are able to drown out our noise.
Do they toss and turn, as I did when I first moved into a new flat this spring, among an unaccustomed nighttime cacophony.
In time these noises will sooth, as I found the ebbing of the sea did in a Pitt Water boat shed we used to rent, for a bottle of wine, during Easter. The tide lapping under the floorboards is a treasured memory but one I was not immediately content with. It took time for my minds suspicions to be subdued by this most natural of sounds.
So, while waiting for the coming subduction I lay, turning the snippets of repeated sounds into phrases that almost fit the meter.
'Left-a-bit,' 'right-a-bit,' 'up-a-bit,' rebbit these night time workers. I think of their human 'glow-worm' equivalents, with their colourful clothing, wonder if they have such clothing then realise the frogs, of course, have eaten theirs.
Another sounds, as I half dose, like the critical fault chime a windows computer makes. These managers have the same problem we have. Getting the workers to work is easy, getting the computers to compute, it's the hard part.
There being no better words to describe the crickets song, I turn to Tu Fu (712-770 China)
House cricket . . .
and yet how his mournful song moves us.
Out in the grass his cry was a tremble,
but now he trills beneath our bed, to share his sorrow. I lie still beside you, finding no release:
you, old wife, you suffer quiet through till dawn.
The song of our selves may move us, restless, through long nights.
The cricket's song of autumn holds us still.
A plover, in a cracking staccato, screams at something. No doubt it's mothers lesson, 'it's better out than in', has obviously been put into practice.
There are other noises I cannot place, more species of frog, no doubt as the full moon provides an open mike night most find hard to resist.
Of the many that provide acoustics accompaniment a currawong warbles an ecstatic introduction to an aria then, perhaps embarrassed by how loud it sang, falls silent for the rest of the night.
My mind returns, smiling, back to the cafe and its day time dance. Turning from my memory of separating night sounds, I immediately pick up notes from the chorus around me now.
A chortle erupts from a table of wise women who, because they know how serious the world can be allow themselves a small release from it.
The ubiquitous uninteresting man talks loudly and obnoxiously on his phone, but, because he is obviously uninteresting, I don't listen and can't tell you what was said.
A perambulated baby crys, softly, in its proud mother's rocking carriage, trying to stave off the coming sleep lest it miss something important. Its siblings sit, their hands reaching up from the low chairs to a tabletop just a bit too high for them.
These little children are surround by that silence that surrounds the charismatic, for in their hands, books, both open and being read. Passerby, particularly the wise women, pay homage with their eyes to a family that either reminds them of the one they came from or one they wished they had!
The day time glow-worms drop in with their heavy boots and light, young faces for a takeaway cappuccino, bringing the sunshine in with them and leaving its echo, when they go.
The poet sits in a corner, pen down and soaking up, struck by the similarities, awestruck by the similarities. Brought to mind is a quote he heard on the radio, attributed to a Russian Prime Minister?? that evaded googling so I can not tell you more, its apt words.
'It's never been like this,
now it's exactly the same,
Alive, Alive ... Oh!
The living nature of words, particularly the written word, is dynamic. Written intent is automatically overtaken by the individuals consumption, their particular tastes flavor the interpretation.
This is something that is ignored in the pretense of today's culture, in much the same way as homelessness is ignored, in fact more so. Where we are prepared to admit that the homeless are a problem, we seam unable to accept, where words are concerned, that context defines meaning, just because it's written down it's not dead. Words original truth, (if any?), is recontoured like beach sand, by successive waves of both individual and corporate understanding.
The coloform mark of ancient Babylonian scribes on there work, more often than not, was the original works title, not their patrons name or, indeed, their own. The words themselves were paramount. These scribes swam in that ever so rare water such that intelligent embellishment was expected. In a clear sea that was free of that judgement shark, plagiarism.
The physical nature of their craft meant that each word was picked up by their eyes, deciphered and reimagined by their mind, then transported to their hands to carve into clay. These living words could not help to gain new meaning, and perhaps insight, during this process. No one was blithely copy / pasting in their day. Yes, those learning to write may be near this space but those who are mastering this skill, both then and now, strive to awaken new meaning in old words.
A tacit nod to the liveliness of words is still given by some, while, confusingly to me, the populous looks for truth in words. I suggest If truth is to be found it is not in the province of words that we should look.
We turn to the justice system to find the truth then act surprised when a case turns in a word. Often we are told that written evidence is the greatest import. Yet while the intent of these words consumes us all we find, at best, is an itinerant truth that is easily moved on.
Science and truth are now synonymous despite concepts like quantum theory which dictate that position and velocity cannot be determined together. Measuring one distorts the other so their is no absolute truth, only a localised one, delimitated by both space and time.
Religions, both outside and within themselves, turn on words. Among many others this is recognised by John in the New Testament, 'In the beginning was the word.' Though the ages religious men have tried to hold the meaning of words in a static context to stop them straying.
Gandhi observed, "all religions are more or less true ... but all are imperfect because they have come down to us through imperfect human instrumentality." Some of this imperfect transition is born in the fact that the very words that are transcribed are themselves alive.
The same alivelessness that frustrates the search for truth, through art enlivens us. When Shakespeare's cobbler announces he 'works for awl', I smile.
When the Toa Te Ching (a ching (authoritative book) on the Toa (way) and it's te (distinctive power) ~4C bce China) says
'Thirty spokes converge on the hub of a wheel but
The use of the cart
Depends on the part
Of the hub which is void'
Within words I find their wonderful, toffee nature sticking to my excited mind like a child consuming fairy floss. This child's hands, like words in my mind, evolve multiple layers. Where the mother may, in vain hope, despair of reaching clean skin I revel in the multilayered journey.
The capaciousness of art lies in its direction.
True art descends.
Descending to a clarity.
Coalescing to a purer form, like potato peels to vodka.
The large mass of art is produce by those who, in themselves (I include myself here), do not possess the gravitas to draw from this spirit so are left making peel pictures. That though they are of us they do not truely reflect.
This mirror is smeared with an unqualified purpose.
A purpose that is, in part, the common demanding call to all to make art.
A call to an art that need not be framed.
Weather it be the margin doodle during a tiresome lecture or, far more often for me, the newly realised juxtaposition of two words, eliciting, in me, the flash of a smile.
I'm sure Shakespeare smiled a lot:)
Arts call does not discriminate, though some feel the call louder.
Paradoxically, in these the call to art is not always followed by that intangible descending of brilliance.
That which takes away breath.
That where purpose is made whole.
The call is to everyone.
The reply, it is for but a few.
When art descends, purpose is made complete. The mirror is polished to such an extent that what is reflected is greater than the original image.
As Aristotle put it, "The whole is greater than the sum of its parts."
What the rest of us produce may well be art, (I find I am too close to my work to judge with the required perspective), but it is only an ascending art.
Ascending, like incense smoke, towards a greater whole.
We are unable to find the combination of elements that, like the Toaist alchemist, we both seek to achieve immortality.
Unable to coalesce from the boundless ether something that is without bounds.
What most produce is a consumable, combustible art that is like fairy floss to a banquet and often left half eaten.
When you rise from the easel full, but not sated, do not be contrite.
All are not marked for producing descending art.
But all are able to consume.
If your wings be not spread in the making then let yourself soar in the taking.
You may ask, why descend.
Our culture defines descent as retrograde and backwards, surely you could reverse descend and ascend and increase the meaning?
My answer, this is not about winning and progress.
This is, among other undefinable things, about earthing.
One reply that comes to mind is 'art descends' is the phrase that came to me as I walked across Centennial Park in Cooma today.
No doubt presumptuous within my context but perhaps the phrase 'descend' to me.
Within it I saw the whole feeding back an to an art that expressed more than was.
The problem with ascending is its too easy to get to the sky, or as often translated in the early Chinese philosophy I am reading, 'heaven'. Once in heaven intent and control is almost impossible to wrest from god.
Yes, in descending you may think I'll have the same battle with Hades.
In truth I saw not good nor bad but an intangible whole.
A whole that was complete within itself.
Without good or bad we are still part of a whole.
A whole that we are always adding to but one which takes considerable skill to enable it to add to us.