(the entries about dance as a metaphor for life are going to have to wait for some updates as this workshop here unfolds)
Today the summerwork started. It's a workshop created by Doug Rosenberg that is designed to mimic, to some degree, the Slow Food movement. Call it "Slow Art"; it's about taking the time and the locale and simply seeing what comes out of it. The workshop is non-genre-specific, as in there are video artists, dancers, sculptors, performers, writers...some of us are collaborating on work, and some of us (like me) seem to be wanting to use the time more for personal introspection.
The idea is to challenge, as much as possible, the "Known": what we know is beautiful, what we know of aesthetics, of technique, our ideas of good & bad. Even to challenge the use of language, of the idea of "art" per se. Rather than the idea of teaching & learning, there's a process of mentoring & collaborating, being anti-monolithic (as in the monoliths of "sculpture", "dance", and the related canons).
To continue the food metaphor, there is a question of "seeds of intentionality." In other words, let's assume there is something you want to develop. In farmwork, you plant corn seeds with the intention of growing corn. What would you plant in yourself, in your time, to achieve whatever it is you want to achieve. As he put it, what do you want to harvest.
In my notes, under that question, is a simple sentence:
I'm looking for my voice.
Not that I don't already have a lot to say; my work in performance, education, and activism to broaden the sexual freedom and equality of our culture is extensive enough. What I'm missing, though, is the integrity of vision to unify those works. I spend, I think, too much time thinking about what my audience wants to hear, how they will perceive, and not enough time remaining true to my own message.
And there's also trying to figure out what that message is, exactly...
The theme to think about, I think, is Authenticity. The idea that being your True Self (yes, I hate the Flagrant Use of CapS, but sometimes it works to emphasize concepts) is not only your right, but your duty to the human race. You have to be yourself, the best self as hard as you can, because culturally and genetically somewhere the human race decided it needed someone like you. And if you aren't going to be that person--then who is?
This is not a mantra for over-achieving. Exactly the opposite; the harder you try to be something, the more likely you're going to end up being someone else's something. If I tried to make a blog like 43 Folders, it would truly suck; I am not Merlin Mann. However, in my own blog, you will see his influence, just as you'll see it in my own lifehacking attempts. I can acknowledge his mentorship (even if he'd probably gack at the word) without even having to remotely emulate him; it's open-source, this lifehacking thing, and we can steal snippets of codeliving and splice them into our daily operating systems at will.
In talking about art, especially performance art and dance installations, Rosenberg talked about his response to people's criticism that some pieces didn't "go anywhere": "So what? What if the object doesn't go anywhere, it simply is what it is, and in the process of watching it, you go somewhere?"
Shortly after that, we went for a walk. Here is what poured out of my pen afterwards:
Went for a walk.
Exactly the kind of walk I hated as a child, a pointless, wandering, end-up-exactly-where-you-started walk. No point to it but to, well, go for a walk.
I heard far off highways.
I felt the myriad textures of leaves and flowers and grass.
I enjoyed the shiny black ripeness of the blackberry ready to fall, plucked weightily into my palm, then a smooth bursting onto my tongue with unbearable tart richness.
I had several.
I saw my wife, pensively walking behind me, and admired her skin and appreciated her presence here with me, sharing the walk in spite of our separate journeys.
I resented, a little, following the path. But I stayed with it, because I know there will be time later to cavort.
Most of all I was reminded that it really is all about intention. The quality of any experience–sex, a walk, a meal, your life–is directly proportional to the amount of presence you bring to it.
There's a part of me that wants this walk to have resulted in something, to have catalyzed some part of my creative self towards a Work. But on the whole, I'm surprisingly willing to just let it be what it is, and see where I'm going, instead.
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