It’s time for another administrative post. I’ve been focusing on establishing this new place on line, a place where I can consolidate what I do; developing a better sense both for how I see myself, how my varied productions fit together; and finding ways to communicate that interconnectivity to others.
It is so frustrating facing how slow and tedious a process it is to sort oneself out – shy of a bolt-out-of-the-blue epiphany – it is so much easier to see connections and find ways through the muddle when it is not one’s own.
A painter who mentored me, once said in exasperation, I “attempted to transcend transcendence!” He was responding to a fundamental trait of mine; always looking for a wider container for whatever is under scrutiny. It is maddening, has probably cost me more than any other trait. It has kept me from “making nice” without giving me the chance to play the obvious “rebel,” with all the associated perks that role can confer. My tendency is to erode assumptions, my own and others. This tends to confuse people, especially when I am not putting out an easily categorized “vibe.”
“Who is this guy?” That’s what people wonder. I’ve never had a good answer. I’ve never really had an answer for myself, so busy tearing down assumptions or running away from any label, finding them either too limiting or false. Still it’s a valid question, one that should have an answer, one that would help me as well as those I’ve confused up to now.
“Oh, great! Another lost soul looking to find himself!” I’ve lost my squeamishness at this charge. These days, I see the only advantage available to anyone is to be confused. Those who maintain their certainty, are certainly wrong; that’s the over-riding condition of our time.
“I am lost.” Sounds like a religious statement. It is, although I don’t expect it, or any other religious question, can be dealt with effectively within assumptions we currently share of what it means to be religious. There’s that annoying trait again… Whether seen as a first admission along some path to faith, or simply as a declaration of confusion, to say one “is lost” is a prerequisite to finding any truth worth pursuing. I can live with that.
Back to the question of confusion. As anyone who’s followed me this far will know, I hold confusion to be a foundation of truth, not something to be wiped away so truth can be found, held, established and promoted. It just doesn’t work that way. There is always, always will be the next question, “And then?” And there can never be a clear answer.
So, yes, there is a radical foundation of unknowing, call it confusion, that must be accepted – as I see it – but that doesn’t remove the need to be clear, it only places the value of clarity into perspective. I still need to be clear, to myself, to others, as much as I can. There’s enough confusion to go around! This is the arena in which I seek to find myself, to clarify what I’m about and find a way to present myself so others have a working sense of who I am. That this is muddled is my responsibility, I’m the only one who can fix it, however provisionally.
This search for a provisional clarity is one of my basic tasks. I firmly believe one always does best by sticking to the basics, so here we are. In this case we have an established “trajectory.” However chaotic or rambling my path to date has been, it can be encompassed, the challenge is to find a container that represents its overall trend most accurately, a form of The Calculus, I expect. I begin by putting the varied aspects, the bits and pieces in this one place, that’s going to take a while, though the broad outline is taking shape.
So here we are, a new year, a new decade – in this particular case I find the move from 2009 to 2010, from “double oughts” to a single zero, more significant semantically than the literal, mathematical truth that a decade ends at the end of its tenth year. I keep going around on the subject of this decade we are leaving, “The Oughts,” a time presenting us with a recurring theme – at least one that seems to have held true over the last several hundred years of western history; an opening decade that lays out its century’s questions, and then spends its energies avoiding their consequences, deferring them into the next decade, when they’ve had a tendency to break out in what Barbara Tuchman states as, quoting a soldier after the First Battle of the Somme, “This is how God teaches the Law to kings.”
We face such lessons today. We, at least all of us with the access, and the time and literacy to read these words, are all in that position, the one which in 1914 was still seen as the prerogative of kings. We are all complicit and powerless to avoid the results of our “Oughts” left unattended….
Well, enough Enormity for the moment, this is supposed to be “an administrative post” after all! Welcome, Happy New Year! We all continue to have some room to act available to us, let’s celebrate that!
Let’s make one thing clear, this place is not meant as a playground for solipsistic self-reflection. It is my desire to use my own experience as the only springboard I have to discuss questions and face concerns with wider implications beyond any elemental satisfaction at calling out, “I’m here!” This declaration, I hope, will be a part of that foundation I hope to build on to provide a useful answer to that question, “Who is that guy?”
Another mentor, of even longer standing, recently dropped a line that may be a way in for me and you. He told me to focus on my experiences as a “student and practitioner of the creative process in human knowledge.” I’m still wrestling with what that means, but it sounds like a good start!