Oh, there’s power in those dreams

The fantasy of power, of course, invokes control. The freedom to boss others, for one thing – something so alien in my own reality.

What’s the ultimate dream of power? Setting sexuality apart from everyday activity? Especially secret?

(Oh, secrecy! Now there’s a dimension of power.)

As is the appearance of knowing what to say, how to move. The willing response.

The great secret hunger you, alone, can fill. (More to the point: I alone can fill.)

In reality, I have no imagination here, and no language.

I think I’m finally getting the attraction of action-adventure movies for many males. That, along with Triple-X.

Making a home for alternative arts

Passages in early drafts of my novel What’s Left ran the risk of becoming manifestos for certain strands of the fine arts. Here’s one Cassia ponders as she considers her father’s work:

In the period he spent between college and moving here, he falls into a rhythm of settling down into his own humble life and looking sharply at what’s right in front of him, no matter how chaotic and confusing his quest for amorous companionship is going. He’s still ambitious, mind you, with lofty goals. But he’s also deeply wounded and trying to recover, however furtive the pathway appears, but I’d say that he’s been opened and becoming more sensitive to discovery. In that way, everything is new, seen for the first time. High on his priorities is a knowledge that a true artist has to discover a voice – and that means focusing on some smaller scale, no matter how bad that pun is for a photographer. Well, Manoula would share that need to focus – as a violinist, she stays classical rather than veering off into jazz or folk, and even there she has the pieces she works on repeatedly. As for a signature, some say it’s a Gypsy fire.

So just what is his signature?

In that period right after college, he’s baffled. Everything’s changing. He just has to keep doing whatever he’s doing and hope a message comes clear.

In fairness, few newspaper photographers push that hard. They just want to get good shots in crisp focus and deposit their skimpy paychecks. For Baba, though, something else is percolating. It’s not just another baseball game he’s shooting – it’s a once-in-a-lifetime contest.

Look close and you can see a signature touch in his work all along – something crystalline, abetted by impeccable work in the darkroom, as he investigates whatever’s in front of him. Maybe it’s basic chemistry taken in a fresh direction.

Every true artist – and I have no doubt Baba is one – is drawn to individuals to admire and perhaps emulate. For American photographers, Ansel Adams would be a given. Edward Steichen, well, you can fill in the rest. Looking through his papers, though, I’m surprised to find Francesca Woodman and Sarah Moon among those who capture his imagination. If anything, I’d say their work is the antithesis of his. Theirs are filled with fantasy, even ghosts, decay – so much appears out of focus or fragmentary, even merely suggestive. They evoke history, while he celebrates a present moment.

~*~

Cassia’s a smart kid, but you can bet she never would have spoken like that. Strike one! Even in her 20s, she wouldn’t have. Strike two! It really is too much of a curveball for the story. Strike three, and it’s out!

The tone, especially, is way off.

Elsewhere, though, she does observe that her father had his own signature style.

Tell me of a visual artist you greatly enjoy. What do you find most inspiring? If you’re a visual artist yourself, what are your own goals? What do you want to stand out in your work? What are your favorite subjects?

Ten basic yoga terms

As yoga spread as a form of physical fitness across America, some of its terms have become widely used by the general population. These arise in Sanskrit, one of three recorded languages that are believed to be close to a proto-Indo-European root of many of today’s languages that stretch across much of Asia and Europe.

Here are ten you may hear.

  1. Namaste. Often translated as “that of God in me greets that of God in you.”
  2. Karma. Action or doing, leading each individual to reap the consequences of his own actions, good and bad.
  3. Mantra. A word or phrase that is sounded repeatedly to aid concentration in meditation.
  4. Om. Also spelled Aum. The greatest of the mantras. Repeated properly, it produces great harmony in the body and the mind.
  5. Ahimsa. Non-injury.
  6. Chakra. One of seven points of subtle energy threaded along the spine, each one opening like a lotus and unleashing related awareness.
  7. Asana. Sitting or posture. Each of the physical exercises is known as an asana.
  8. Shanti. Peace.
  9. Ashram. A hermitage or dwelling place of a teacher and students.
  10. Jnana. Discernment or spiritual knowing.

Mixmaster? Just look at ‘Yoga’

What, me as a Mixmaster?

Just look at the topics percolating in Yoga Bootcamp.

A beater like this was once a common utensil in household kitchens, used for mixing ingredients in cooking and baking.

Here are ten:

  1. The origins of yoga as a popular American practice.
  2. Yoga as a way of life. It’s much more than a means of physical fitness.
  3. Back-to-the-earth lifestyles. There’s a lot of basics to learn from a hands-on perspective when it comes to gardening, firewood, well water, construction, and the like.
  4. Sharing a household. It’s another way the resident yogis come to know each other deeply. That includes faults and failures despite individuals’ idealized professions. Their goal, of course, is to help each one become a better person. You can’t do this part alone.
  5. Authentic identities. There’s no room for holier-than-thou facades in this maverick laboratory. Swami’s faults are front and center.
  6. Meditation and selfless service. These are emphasized more than the physical exercises, for good reason.
  7. Celibacy and sex. It’s a struggle to stay focused on the spiritual path. Just look at all the males in their bramacharies.
  8. Vegetarian as more than a diet. They also garden and make their own bread. And then there’s the coffee, which other ashrams would ban. Oh, yes, and they fast every Monday. Care to know why?
  9. No recreational drugs, no radio, no TV. The ashram is a place for detoxing from addictions of all kinds.
  10. Counterculture identity. The story is set in the high hippie era, and despite their prohibitions on sex and drugs and the like, the residents are more counterculture than ever in their lives. They’re seen on its cutting edge, in fact. It’s a curious paradox, in its own way, but it is colorful and exciting.

Be among the first to read it!

Ten threats to the hippie vision

When I first started to reflect on his, I was inclined to cite the obvious big forces – the superrich, their military-industrial-financial complex, and a host of similar drains on the common good. I’ll let Bernie Sanders carry that side of the argument for now.

Instead, I’m thinking of some of the themes that play out in my novels Daffodil Uprising and Pit-a-Pat High Jinks.

  1. Individualism. The do-your-own-thing outlook had its upside, but it also dampened our ability to come together for sustained work toward shared goals. Ultimately, it lessened our common identity. Like Kenzie’s housemates at the farm, finding much common ground could be elusive.
  2. Fuzzy goals. Knowing what we were against, often fueled by anger, was rarely balanced by knowing what we were for – nobody had a clear idea of how to go to the better world we sensed was possible. Lifting the draft, for instance, was only one step toward making a more peaceful world. And not wanting to have a marriage or a job like those our parents endured wasn’t the same as raising children in a new way or running a small-is-beautiful successful business.
  3. Disrespect for labor. Yes, I know the “lazy hippie” slur, but I did see a lot of effort put forth, too. An expectation of something for nothing, though, had a divisive impact. Respect for labor also means knowing how to perform a job well and how to earn a livable wage. We were so naïve on so many fronts here.
  4. Drugs. Admittedly, passing the pipe had a tribal quality, but too much simply removed an individual from action. In that sense, the rumors of CIA involvement in the importation of hard drugs as a way to blunt the peace movement begin to sound deviously rational. And LSD left a lot of wreckage.
  5. Sexism and racism. It was there, one way or another. By the way, we didn’t see a lot of black hippies, did we? That in itself could be another topic of discussion.
  6. Free love fallout. For many, it was fun while it lasted. Some even ended up in marriages that have lasted. For many, though, it led instead to betrayals, breakups, and bitterness – not exactly the ideal image when you define hippie as happy.
  7. Irresponsibility. Think of the vanishing food from your shelf in the refrigerator or the things that got permanently borrowed without anyone asking. The list of examples will be long.
  8. Aging. It was a youth movement, maybe the first generational tide in history. Geezer is not part of the definition of hippie – never has been, never will be. Besides, can we trust anyone under 30?
  9. Violence. Few of us have turned out to be as consistently gentle as we’d like. Even if we never crossed over into physical hostility, we’ve likely been verbally wounding. Anyone else remember a few from back then who bought a gun – for self-defense, as they always argued? Especially if they were involved in dealing?
  10. Global warming. I’m not kidding. This will completely thwart any Revolution of Peace & Love as everyone runs for the hills. Or tries to swim in the riptide.

What would you add to the list?

 

 

Ten points about Brooklyn

Brooklyn has long been overshadowed by its more commanding neighbor, but it is undergoing a renaissance among trendsetters.

Here are ten random bits about the borough also known as Kings County.

  1. If New York City were dissolved and the borough became an independent city, it would be the nation’s third largest, after Chicago and Los Angeles. It was merged into New York City in 1898.
  2. Forty-five percent of the population speaks a mother language other than English.
  3. The Brooklyn Museum houses the city’s second-largest public art collection. It is especially renowned for its Asian collection. At least on the days when those galleries are open. There are serious budgetary problems.
  4. The Brooklyn Children’s Museum, founded in 1899, is the oldest such institution in the nation.
  5. Coney Island on the Atlantic has undergone a rebirth an amusement park. It’s also famed for Nathan’s hot dogs.
  6. Prospect Park, 585 acres, was designed by Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux. It includes a zoo and a 60-acre lake.
  7. The Pratt Institute, one of the leading fine arts schools, is situated in Clinton Hill.
  8. Subway stations: 157.
  9. Public schools: 540.
  10. Crime: The acting district attorney declared 2017 the safest year in the borough’s history in terms of homicides, shootings, and shooting victims; 101 homicides occurred in the year. (If Dallas, Texas, were the same size, the figure would have been 332.)