Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Summer Is Gone

Later the ducks
Bob under dusk
And we sit. 
Later still,
The moon shines through 
The traffic never stopping, 
Through the window.
Come morning.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Carving in a Cathedral

Oh, horse...

"Thus am I connected forever to the child that I was; the moment in which I first felt love has been preserved intact inside the pain of learning that it also presumes some loss...

"I never quite nailed it: the call of Eros, child substitute, tool for power, life companion; all of these yet none. In attempting to explain this weird deep love for a large equid I have been like a child at the beach, digging too near the water line for the hole to do anything but fill up again with each shovelful of sand I remove." - Melissa Holbrook Pierson

"I thought it was Easter time, the way the light rose,
Rose that morning.
Lately you've been on my mind;
You showed me the rope,
Ropes to climb
Over mountains
And to pull myself
Out of a landslide
Of a landslide.

I thought it was harvest time;
You always loved the smell of the wood burning...
She with her honey hair;
Dalhousie Castle -
She would meet you there
In the winter.
Butter yellow, 
The flames you stirred,
Yes, you could stir.

I raise a glass, 
Make a toast, 
A toast in your honor.
I hear you laugh
And beg me not to dance,
'Cause on your right, standing by, 
Is Mr. Bojangles:
With a toast, he's telling me it's time
To raise a glass, 
Make a toast, 
A toast in your honor. 
I hear you laugh, 
And beg me not to dance. 
'Cause on your right, standing by, 
Is Mr. Bojangles:
With a toast, he's telling me it's time
To let you go, 
Let you go. 

I thought I'd see you again. 
You said, 'You might do,
Maybe in a carving
In a cathedral
Somewhere in Barcelona.' "

- Tori Amos

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Your Thing to Ponder (Wombs and Ashes)

Walking Around

It so happens I am sick of being a man.
And it happens that I walk into tailorshops and movie houses
dried up, waterproof, like a swam made of felt
steering my way in a water of wombs and ashes. 

The smell of barbershops makes me break into hoarse sobs.
The only thing I want is to lie still like stones or wool, 
The only thing I want is to see no more stores, no gardens, 
no more goods, no spectacles, no elevators. 

It so happens I am sick of my feet and my nails
and my hair and my shadow. 
It so happens I am sick of being a man. 

Still it would be marvelous
to terrify a law clerk with a cut lily,
or kill a nun with a blow on the ear. 
It would be great
to go through the streets with a green knife
letting out yells until I died of the cold. 

I don't want to go on being a root in the dark, 
insecure, stretched out, shivering with sleep, 
going on down, into the moist guts of the earth,
taking in and thinking, eating every day. 

I don't want so much misery. 
I don't want to go on as a root and a tomb,
alone under the ground, a warehouse with corpses, 
half frozen, dying of grief. 

That's why Monday, when it sees me coming
with my convict face, blazes up like gasoline, 
and it howls on its way like a wounded wheel,
and leaves tracks full of warm blood leading toward the night. 

And it pushes me into certain corners, into some moist houses, 
into hospitals where the bones fly out the window,
into shoeshops that smell like vinegar, 
and certain streets hideous as cracks in the skin. 

There are sulfur-colored birds, and hideous intestines
hanging over the doors of houses that I hate,
and there are false teeth forgotten in a coffeepot, 
there are mirrors
that ought to have wept from shame and terror, 
there are umbrellas everywhere, and venoms, and umbilical cords.

I stroll along serenely, with my eyes, my shoes, 
my rage, forgetting everything, 
I walk by, going through office buildings and orthopedic shops,
and courtyards with washing hanging from the line:
underwear, towels, and shirts from which slow
dirty tears are falling. 

-Pablo Neruda

Friday, August 6, 2010

All You Need to Do...

"I am confused because I do not understand how photos of naked or half-naked women are connected with the sale of practice products for asana, an important part of yoga. These pictures do not teach the viewer about yoga practice or themselves. They aren't even about the celebration of the beauty of the human body or the beauty of the poses, which I support. These ads are just about selling a product. This approach is something I thought belonged (unfortunately) to the larger culture, but not in Yoga Journal." - Judith Hanson Lasater 

Judith, one of a handful of practitioners who founded Yoga Journal, offers some valid thoughts. Having watched the publication evolve over the last 35 years, she also holds a perspective on it that few of us share; I wouldn't enter the world until nearly ten years after Judith and company's living room brainstorming. But I'm going to debate with her a bit, anyway. Notice I did not say "disagree". I said "debate". Ruminate. Unravel. Consider. Dig. 

Before I dig, I'll say that I do agree with Judith's broad non-statement that the magazine basically follows the formula of every other mainstream magazine out there: not much genuine substance. You get some watery articles that feel like a rehash of stuff you read last year lost in between ads for watches, body wash, hybrid cars, clothing, fish oil, deodorant, dog food, super-ridiculous props... If you relate to the expression "food for thought", Yoga Journal is the equivalent of when you forgot your lunch at Catholic grade school and they scraped together some stale Saltines and old peanut butter for you, if you were lucky. Most magazines take this approach, and why shouldn't they? People aren't all that interested in wading through and savoring a mental banquet - they just want something useless that tastes good to occupy their unhappy brains for a little bit.

Now the digging. 

Advertisements serve no purpose and exist for NO reason other than to sell a product. So, to say "These ads are just selling a product" as if you want advertisements to somehow be educational or thoughtful or not driven by consumerism serves no purpose either. Advertisements exist or they don't. Nothing stands to change about them. They simply aren't that complex or even worth worrying about. 

Speaking of consumerism: yoga in the Western world (and probably in many parts elsewhere, too) absolutely, undeniably can be called an industry. If you think it's something else or that its mystical spawning protects it from that, you've got your lululemon blinders on. I am not suggesting that within the lives of individuals yoga is anything but genuine, but... on the bigger scale, in our overall culture, yoga is one of the many, many industries. A money machine. Another circuit to exchange twenty-dollar bills in. Therefore, everything that goes with industry now becomes part of the mainstream exchange of yoga. 

To some extent, why worry about this? I know, and I'm assuming that every other intelligent person knows the yoga that's sold and marketed and DEFINITELY feeds off of elitist culture isn't the yoga that we understand at the dawn juncture, in our gaze dissolving, in our lonely moments that no one will ever witness and don't need to witness, anyway. Those little secrets, those little shocks, are the real deal. Life itself is the real deal. So...let them market and whore out what they refer to as "yoga". Ignorance goes on, you know. It's part of the human fabric. Let it be. Live as a testimony against it, but stop making yourself insane actively trying to eradicate it. That obviously does not work. It never has. 

Finally, this:

Obviously, it's an advertisement. For what I consider a pretty silly product, too. Again...find your sense of humor about this stuff, and move on. The point: here is a photo of a naked woman performing an asana, juxtaposed with the info meant to assist you in buying these unnecessary socks. I am not interested in arguing about the advertising end of this - we did that already and you know my stance on advertisements: JUST FUCKING IGNORE THEM if you don't like them. Nobody is making you look and nobody is making you buy anything. The idea of "toe sox" doesn't just make you laugh?!

What I'm interested in arguing about is: how can you say that this photo - THE PHOTO ITSELF, THE ART ITSELF - is not beautiful and does not celebrate the beauty of the human body? I'll even go so far as to say that this photo does indeed educate the viewer about yoga. If you need it pointed, I can't really help you right now. Go stare cross-eyed at the point between your eyebrows a bit longer or something. Yoga Journal has been running these Toe Sox ads for at least a year now, using these photos by Jasper Johal of Kathryn Budig, and they are the most nude ads I can think of in the magazine, so if this isn't what stimulated Judith's complaint about naked women, I'd love if she'd tell me what did. 

Anyway. This photo is just one example of a beautiful expression of the human body, of yoga asana, and even the deeper soul of yoga beyond the myriad of practices that make it easier for us blunt humans to understand. Also, the photographer himself couldn't possibly gel with his subject to accurately capture the beauty of yoga and the human form if he didn't understand it. I think the beauty of the art and the ridiculousness of the concept of the product sort of cancel each other out. I'm not quite sure what I'm trying to make clear here. 
This photo - of yes, a naked woman in asana - is totally beautiful, totally tasteful, totally wonderful. Personally, that makes me forget that the advertisement is even there, much less care about it. I just think, That is incredible, beautiful, that is IT. 

I guess it goes back to my original suggestion that advertisements only mean as much as you let them, and realistically, I don't think there's anything exploitative about this particular one. It's just stupid (not the art itself), like all the other advertisements out there. Just like all the other advertisements out there, get over it. Go live your yoga and stop splitting hairs and giving yourself ulcers. Live your yoga the way you wish others would live it, and then forget them. That's all you need to do. 

Yoga in America has become part of the larger culture you despise. That's just reality. And we are a culture of consumers. What did you think was going to happen?...

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Your Thing to Ponder (Machine Bleeding to Death)

My weekend consisted of being utterly nocturnal, spinning glow sticks, and yes...a masquerade. Among other things. Nothing left right now. Ponder this brief section of "The Dead Flag Blues" while I put my brain back...