Best days

"The days you work are the best days."

- Georgia O'Keeffe

booby prize

"In life, understanding is the booby prize."

- Werner Erhard

The aim of the painting

"The aim of the painting is that the eye should find out what it likes."

- Marion Milner

A Dazzling Illusion

“You fight your superficiality, your shallowness, so as to try to come at people without unreal expectations, without an overload of bias or hope or arrogance, as untanklike as you can be, sans cannon and machine guns and steel plating half a foot thick; you come at them unmenacingly on your own ten toes instead of tearing up the turf with your caterpillar treads, take them on with an open mind, as equals, man to man, as we used to say, and yet you never fail to get them wrong. You might as well have the brain of a tank. You get them wrong before you meet them, while you're anticipating meeting them; you get them wrong while you're with them; and then you go home to tell somebody else about the meeting and you get them all wrong again. Since the same generally goes for them with you, the whole thing is really a dazzling illusion. ... The fact remains that getting people right is not what living is all about anyway. It's getting them wrong that is living, getting them wrong and wrong and wrong and then, on careful reconsideration, getting them wrong again. That's how we know we're alive: we're wrong. Maybe the best thing would be to forget being right or wrong about people and just go along for the ride. But if you can do that -- well, lucky you.”
Philip Roth, American Pastoral

Black Rook In Rainy Weather

On the stiff twig up there

Hunches a wet black rook

Arranging and rearranging its feathers in the rain.

I do not expect a miracle

Or an accident

 

To set the sight on fire

In my eye, not seek

Any more in the desultory weather some design,

But let spotted leaves fall as they fall,

Without ceremony, or portent.

 

Although, I admit, I desire,

Occasionally, some backtalk

From the mute sky, I can't honestly complain:

A certain minor light may still

Leap incandescent

 

Out of the kitchen table or chair

As if a celestial burning took

Possession of the most obtuse objects now and then ---

Thus hallowing an interval

Otherwise inconsequent

 

By bestowing largesse, honor,

One might say love.

At any rate, I now walk

Wary (for it could happen

Even in this dull, ruinous landscape); skeptical,

Yet politic; ignorant

 

Of whatever angel may choose to flare

Suddenly at my elbow. I only know that a rook

Ordering its black feathers can so shine

As to seize my senses, haul

My eyelids up, and grant

 

A brief respite from fear

Of total neutrality. With luck,

Trekking stubborn through this season

Of fatigue, I shall

Patch together a content

 

Of sorts. Miracles occur,

If you care to call those spasmodic

Tricks of radiance miracles. The wait's begun again,

The long wait for the angel.

For that rare, random descent.

 

-- Sylvia Plath

RAISING CAIN, OR LAZARUS

“Thomas Merton wrote, “there is always a temptation to diddle around in the contemplative life, making itsy-bitsy statues.” There is always an enormous temptation in all of life to diddle around making itsy-bitsy friends and meals and journeys for itsy-bitsy years on end. It is so self-conscious, so apparently moral, simply to step aside from the gaps where the creeks and winds pour down, saying, I never merited this grace, quite rightly, and then to sulk along the rest of your days on the edge of rage. 

I won’t have it. The world is wilder than that in all directions, more dangerous and bitter, more extravagant and bright. We are making hay when we should be making whoopee; we are raising tomatoes when we should be raising Cain, or Lazarus.

Go up into the gaps. If you can find them; they shift and vanish too. Stalk the gaps. Squeak into a gap in the soil, turn, and unlock-more than a maple- a universe. This is how you spend this afternoon, and tomorrow morning, and tomorrow afternoon. Spend the afternoon. You can’t take it with you.”


― Annie DillardPilgrim at Tinker Creek

Mistakes

Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes.

Art is knowing which ones to keep.

- Scott Adams
 

Be Wild

Be wild; that is how to clear the river. The river does not flow in polluted, we manage that. The river does not dry up, we block it. If we want to allow it its freedom, we have to allow our ideational lives to be let loose, to stream, letting anything come, initially censoring nothing. That is creative life. It is made up of divine paradox. To create one must be willing to be stone stupid, to sit upon a throne on top of a jackass and spill rubies from one's mouth. Then the river will flow, then we can stand in the stream of it raining down.

- Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Women Who Run with the Wolves

Happiness

The Suitor

Jane Kenyon, 1947 - 1995

We lie back to back. Curtains

lift and fall,

like the chest of someone sleeping.

Wind moves the leaves of the box elder;

they show their light undersides,

turning all at once

like a school of fish.

Suddenly I understand that I am happy.

For months this feeling

has been coming closer, stopping

for short visits, like a timid suitor.