Friday, October 14, 2011

On staying disorganized

Contemplating space - not photoshopped
My friend Suzanne keeps Facebook alive these days by posting a question of the day.  Yesterday's was---If you could wake up tomorrow morning having gained any one ability or quality, what would it be? 
First thought, best thought I believe . . .

. . . and tracking down that phrase led me to a review in the NY Times of a book by that title, selections from Allen Ginsberg's interviews over the years. Wonderful where wasting time can take you.  Just this description of how Ginsberg worked in-spires me, fills me with the breath of creativity.

I suppose I was influenced by Ginsberg in my own method of writing poetry, as well as by an English major's immersion in the great modern poets and, like him, by Buddhist theory and practice.  It is a sort of mysticism.  The reviewer says--
Indeed, Buddhism taught him to eschew rationality in favor of ''ordinary'' or ''spontaneous'' mind, the vast sea of consciousness upon which our concepts and categories, anxieties and prohibitions, float like so much junk. Hence Ginsberg's compositional method, the moment-by-moment transcription of thoughts and images as they passed across his mind.
You can work like this in the visual arts, too.  Recently I marked some words by my current favorite artist, Joe Brainard, on how to make a collage.  He too was actively exploring the visual arts in the sixties, and developed on his own, with almost no academic training, a spontaneous way of working. His studio was a mess.

Back to Suzanne.  My first thought on seeing her question was, I'd like to be much more organized. To have everything in its place.  That would be in the material world - I am reconciled to a mind that is "a vast sea of consciousness" as long as it doesn't get to extremes.  And I realized as I wrote my reply to her that to be organized is fundamentally the opposite of being a spontaneous artist. (I am choosing that term, carefully - you do not "make spontaneous art," you live spontaneously, your discipline is being with, you are an artist.)  [Should that be parenthetical?]

I have sometimes thought of writing studies of the women I've known who were exemplary housekeepers, who kept their domiciles (they didn't feel like "homes") like new.  Not that one can argue from a few examples, just illustrate.  As far as I could ever discover in knowing them (relatives by marriage, alas), their minds were neat and sterile, too.  Interesting how men seldom or never concern themselves with the problem of housekeeping, isn't it?  Insert feminism here.  Have a day.

1 comment:

  1. That's why men are often more interesting to talk to, present "company" excluded. Well my house is a mess, and I hate small talk! Hooray!

    Is optimism an ability that can be gained? That would be fun!