When the Obsessions are Conceptual, the Writing is Surreal

March 23, 2010 Leave a comment

The only “artistic” writing that I do is the occasional bit of poetry. Yeah, so does everyone. I like to think I’ve passed the usual “poetry club” level. Anyways.

Your art should be a part of you; you write, you paint, you photograph, draw, sculpt because you have no choice in the matter.

Language is great at describing things. Its great weakness is in conveying experience, and yet that’s exactly what we lean on it for the most, on an interpersonal level. Our mouths are our most sensitive organ. The best language can do is invoke the experience in another person.

So they say, show, don’t tell. “He was pissed off” doesn’t have the same impact as “He raged his way incoherent through fifteen painful minutes”. I’m just making this up. You can probably tell.

It’s process, of course. We live our language, but take it for granted. Stop taking your language for granted, please.

When an idea, a partial poem, runs through my head, more often than not I won’t write it down. Wait, aren’t we supposed to keep a notebook on hand at all times for ideas?

Naw. You can feel how fully formed an expression is. The general idea might be fine to record, but after a couple minutes you can tell when you’re forcing the words.

With haiku, I do usually write them down immediately; there may well be lots of rewriting, but they’re such delicate structures that every initial nuance, however forced, is a necessity for maintaining the idea later on.

With any longer form, I have to pare down.

Usually, whatever passes through is a spin on something I already think about- it’s pretty much given that it’ll come crawling back later, in better shape than it began. Better to let it roam for a while.

When I say fully formed, I mean that it is usually two or three lines, and perhaps bits of a couple stanzas, with gaps to be filled. The focus provided by the formed lines generally overcomes all of it, with only a few scratched-out words marking the way. I will have a first draft in ten to fifteen minutes. Even forty lines worth, if that’s the way it leans. If I push on, I may work for up to an hour, in a constant revision process. This may need minor tweaks later, but after such effort, it is almost flawless, within the scope of my ability.

Except for when I do a drastic rewrite a month later. That happens sometimes. Writers cannibalize their own thoughts.

I often write free verse that turns out to have almost perfect meter. Woops. All that reading and close reading in college helps out. It’s practice, physical practice, until it’s not just automatic, but rhythmic. Poets used to copy out previous poets’ work repeatedly, the way apprentice painters copied paintings. It drives the work home.

The rhythm then exists naturally, without effort, without force, pulsing through the flow generating each following step.

I may revise twenty times. Or not. “Fully formed” is a relative term. A nice couplet becomes an entire stanza, or is unrecognizable outside of two key words and a concept. Context, context, context.

The passing concept startles me. Catches my attention. That is fully formed. You see your everyday ideas in a new light. And you learn.

“Writers end up writing about their obsessions. Things that haunt them; things they can’t forget; stories they carry in their bodies waiting to be released.” pg. 42, Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg


An Expression of Tea:

Sweet cabbage

Camphor breath ripples

gold green rust.

Categories: Poetry, Tea

On Communication, or, Why I Suck at Asking Questions

March 9, 2010 Leave a comment

You see that word in the sub title of this blog? Introvert? Are you wondering if I’m ever going to address the subject? Well, here you go. Time for some serious business.

Guess what? My social interactions are often a little odd. Besides being draining. Probably for everyone else, too.

Let’s go down the checklist:

Do you look around the room, and feel like you made eye contact with every single person broadly facing your direction?

Do you wonder if they’re judging you for staring, even though you’re pretty sure you aren’t?

When in the middle of a group of acquaintances or casual friends, do you feel like you’re observing?

When the group you’re talking to moves off, a couple at a time, do you wonder how they knew what to do?

When you approach some of them a few minutes later, do you figure they think you’re hovering or pushing yourself on them?

When someone asks you a question, or hell, you get on a topic you like or just open your mouth, or something someone says triggers a response, do you Infodump?

You might be a heavy introvert.

Ahhh, lovely frustration. How isolated do you feel today? (no, it’s not a contest. I find it difficult not to smirk, however.)

Let’s see where this leads.

Mind the gap.

Read more…

Categories: Introvert

Day of Mindfulness 3/7

March 7, 2010 Leave a comment

Mindfulist link.

Life’s a game we can not win.

Both good and bad will surely end.


Categories: mindfulist

Yes, dear, we make it up as we go.

March 2, 2010 Leave a comment

The problem of evil, as it applies to atheists.

I have a few thoughts in response to the following article.

A brief quote that is central to what I wish to address:

“1. For these reasons, the problem of evil is a greater challenge for the non-theist, because it reveals the extent to which they borrow the absoluteness of their moral framework from theists (Christians in particular). Any moral authority they have is borrowed.”

Mind the gap, please.

Read more…

Categories: Religion and Atheism

Mindful Sunday

February 28, 2010 Leave a comment

Enhancing: As you go about your Day of Mindfulness today, note if there are any ways you can make your home more conducive to mindfulness throughout your week. What one mindfulness-enhancing change can you make today?


…that I’m not able to share my world…

Any relationship

can end

at any time

and you may never


understand why.

More on topic, we have a thing for putting dishes to dry by the sink. I’ve been more on top of not letting things collect lately.

The little things I keep in the kitchen, like tea paraphernalia (since it’s a shared space), help me to pay more attention to the shared areas.

Categories: mindfulist

I’ll just link this here.

February 24, 2010 Leave a comment

Long story short, this is a good example why, even if you wouldn’t do it yourself, you should still support legalized abortion, and avoid laws that limit what we already have available.

I know- some pro-lifers will say, but we would allow for them if the mother’s life was at risk. Okay, fine, but where do you draw the line? The author of the article has successfully had one child. It could be claimed that her risk isn’t as high as all that. Who makes the decision, but the mother, the person actually responsible?

Categories: Religion and Atheism

I’ve got blisters on me fingers!

February 23, 2010 Leave a comment

DSC_0541-1  …I’m sure this isn’t usually associated with tea…

My cute little gaiwan arrived today. These are a simple, and cheap, way to get started in Gongfu Cha, which is basically the Chinese tea ceremony. Much simpler than worrying about the kind of tea pot that is preferred.

And potentially dangerous. Realize that it’s fairly thin, and small (90ml=~3.5oz.), and you’re using very hot water.

My favorite sources for basic technique are at Tea Nerd. This video demonstrates the most common method. This article demonstrates a simple alternative. I used the simpler technique for the first few infusions.

The water crawled up the lip of the lid when I tried the common method. It’s a good thing the gaiwan is tougher than it looks. And a good thing I was almost done, so the tea didn’t really go to waste.

At least the tea turned out nice. You know, before then.

Yes, I’m putting together some thoughts on ritual and tea. This has been in my head for a while. It’s ultimately the same, regardless of brewing vessel. My cast iron teapot, at somewhere around 30oz. (visible in the background), provides excellent results. Part of that is practice. I’m used to it.

Soon enough, we’ll look at the next step.

Categories: Tea