under you need courage, or
great fatigue. To float
requires a skeptic’s mind.
To breach into light, first the
surface must be expecting you.
The fact is that we are living in a time when the decision to be an artist, to continue to create in spite of everything that’s happening around us, IS a radical political act. This is, I feel, quite a dark time, potentially destructive to the best and most noble aspects of the human spirit. And that’s precisely why it is terribly important for artists in all disciplines to continue to create, even when it feels like there’s little market and little appreciation for our work. Just doing it, and making the difficult decision to continue to do it — to live creative lives that celebrate what life is and can be — is both defiant and affirming, and it’s crucially important. People need to know that someone they know — a neighbor, a friend, a cousin — is committed to the arts. Young people particularly need to know this.
You can make a bold claim — God is a delusion — if you exclude all good thinking on the subject and only focus on a straw man. Like Dawkins, I reject the fairy tale and instead use religion poetically. Thing is, we are not all eloquent poets. Many theists use the language of religious tradition but the essence of their belief is the same awe at the grandness of nature. I dusted off my old Psalter Hymnal and its Confession of Faith begins by saying that we know God by the “creation, preservation, and governance of the universe”.
The best cup of coffee I’ve ever had remains the one I drank in southern Tanzania after spending one of the least pleasant nights of my life (so far, as Homer Simpson would qualify) at a large warehouse-like structure near the Tazara railway station in Mbozi. After sleepless hours of giant fearless rats, lying over my rucksack to mitigate attention from fearless (if not giant) thieves, accompanied by a naked man with floor-length dreads dancing round a fire reciting verse in a mellifluous voice in at least four different languages (I only recognised the Shakespeare) all night – well, almost any fluid would probably have tasted like the nectar of the gods.
It’s hard to keep the focus on the ridgeline before us, isn’t it? We are so given to keep looking beyond. And we tend to look beyond not so much with our eyes, as with our feelings, whatever those may be, from fear to hope to greed. We set out to map that beyond with our complicated compasses: some of us look for adventures, while others for more territory to claim for our sprawling desires. We go from surveyors of experiences to purveyors of schemes in a heartbeat.
So much of what I’ve written before feels like innocence.
I could no more write it again than the earth could cool.
How did I find this pencil? Was I reaching in the kitchen drawer
for a twist tie, or did I fish it out of my old shorts?
Note: When you write your article about online roleplaying games, do not say: We are not possessed by demons, we are possessed by our own life force, our incredible power is bent back on us in a world unequipped to accept the magnificence of our offerings. Poetry no longer decodes our desires and if any does, we don’t know where to find it, so we pour all of our nobility and our repressed physical courage and our keen intelligence and our telepathic connection to nature into little pixelated beings that resemble us, that remind us of why we once came to this planet to be alive. Because you’re pretty sure someone probably already said that.
In the aftermath,
the hollies with
their green leaves lean
all the way over,
as though they were
listening for something
through a door
in the air.
A man and a woman were standing in front of my painting Green George, and he was speaking with lively enthusiasm about the work, explaining to her what the artist had been attempting in it, and the technical tricks he’d used to pull off the effects. She gazed up at him adoringly, basking in the light of his knowledge. What he had to say sounded most interesting and plausible. Even I was impressed.
Like holding a telescope to the bones —
the cat’s purr, gurgling a dirge for hours.