From the Facebook page . . .
It is just getting light at 10:30 am. Clouds cover the country, but the light will play with the newly fallen snow on the last road North. At the end of the road there is a hot swimming pool and a hot tub whipped by winds swirling off the Arctic and Norwegian Seas, and here we can charge our blood and spittle with the the energy we need to shoot our way out of the North and back into reality: water, ice, wind, the elements on the go, swishing to rhythms and forces we all feel every minute but somehow must displace with errands to Starbux or Whole Foods or the Internet. Every time I come here this clean corner of the world makes its claim to me of being a photographer's paradise. There is sparkle and pattern in every glance, spirits in every study, and the shutter flicked or fondled gives you a small flood of unexplainable pictures, and by saying this I am trying to step across some frontier of expression which I acknowledge and give homage to but rarely bother to cross. It's not a border of abstraction, not some hopeless descent into art or private interpretation, but a true capture of animistic belief, the way we all looked at the soil and sky before polluting it with religion and bottom lines. It is extraordinary to admit that four out of five residents of this island believe there might be or definitely are elves at play outdoors. Over 80 percent of educated Icelanders will not rule out the existence of an elf. And every story in their literature refers to a rock or a mountain alive with face and soul; the unspoken respects paid to unseen peoples means there is a shadow to every transaction or purpose, and the Viking following his fierce will to better real estate, sword in hand and Berserkers by his side, will pause at a bend in a stream to ask for benefits from a tiny pile of stones on a hill, untouched for hundreds of years, and if not benefit at least not ruin. This kind of fright, for the mischief made in the margins beyond daylight, is the sugar in any traveler's delights. The oddity of place, the foreign inner landscape where your sure facts yield to wonder, is the purpose of leaving home, isn't it?
And with a camera to record your voyage, and with a camera instead of broadsword to extend your vista, we temporarily adopt the rules and roles of other lives, become selves strange to our own systems and strategies, become strangers, those lovely travelers. And until I write this sentence, I haven't thought much about coming back, because I am unwilling to divorce myself from this endless moment, of catching spirits in flight. The writer inside snorts at the shooter to get out of his way so the words can be shaped from sight, but the photographer resists, willing to fight almost, ready to give a thousand images to describe that single word, hunted by travelers and explorers ever since we stopped wandering to set up places of worship less than four generations ago, that single element that can be humanized to defend us from volcano and tides, the only thing our intuitions consistently fear: spirit. You morph, here, from looking at process to becoming not just a poem but poetry, unjudged as long as you are unspoken, and when you do speak the spirits listen hoping for explanations they can bring into their own ephemeral lives, and here is the important part: truth in all its forms is not a mathematics but a fabric of rhymes, and the scientist in all of us admits this first among all claims.
I imagine every day Einstein on his bicycle traversing the puzzles of New Jersey, admitting that of all human endeavours nothing is so cool as a sense of mystery. My little duty, here, is to travel that mysterious path, in pictures that make their own rhythms so I can sing a song of seeing when I am home, and made blind by errand and obligation. So off we go, surfing the planet!
A hunter's letter to a young actor:
"I feel profound affection for wild canines. I am ready to execute a man who traps foxes. Why do I feel this way, exactly? People hear this and are horrified because I am breaking a taboo about respecting the sanctity of life. But is one man's life worth a hundred foxes' lives? What if each life is the same value? What if I can imagine what it feels like to be a fox? How does one imagine this? At some point, I had to go out and meet foxes, and I did, and now I can say quite honestly that one man's life is worth approximately one fox's life, and the willful killing of one wild fox for whatever reason results in my impulse to execute the trapper. It would give me pleasure to do so. I'm not breaking any taboos at all, but living up to my own expectations based on my own explorations of the world around me. I like wild canines, and feel deep affection for them, and do not recognise any god-like entity that will punish me in the future because I took a man's sacred life and destroyed it. On the contrary, the winds and tides tell me daily to pull my triggers."
-- from All My Young Kisses starring Maya Nelson Wolfsdottir, written by Mr. Blue
The mightiest forest or the deepest ocean depends on memes sprinkled like stardust from faraway places. You can continue always to be yourself and sink your roots more deeply into your destiny, but ideas and affections and adventures will always fall like pollen onto your curiosity, and that's how we all become pregnant with ambition. The fact that you shoot, that you are always looking, is evidence enough that you are already infected with possibility, and you will never stop looking for more. It's tempting to deny our desire to evolve by getting comfy and clutching contentment, but we're the product of millions of years of nomadic scavenging; it's in our genes to wander and wonder, and that reality we cling to is often a cruel lie. Yes, that family is lovely, yes, that hand feels good to hold, yes, it is good to laugh with friends, but it is always important to know exactly where the exits are, because we can hug and kiss all we like but sooner or later will have to escape. And that's when those delicate connections to the outside world become grapevines to swing out of the crowded jungle into the open skies of your own imagination. I am always intrigued by your trap and how consistently you seem to wriggle free; I joke about following in your footsteps, but I really do study how to walk like you, so I am grateful to this connection with your sense of being outside yourself. You're like a map I can read when I wish to go lose myself and ignore my mountains of promises and responsibilities. Your reality needs to be shared, because it is one in which the woman walks constantly toward her own escape. The question will always be: Does Rachel get away from her own stalker, that demon bent on destruction, Self?
-- from an ongoing fascination with the photographer Rachel McKinnie, who shoots Utah the way all of us should shoot our fantasies.
Photography, in its mysterious way, is the most liberating mask an intelligent person can wear. Everything can be hidden by wearing it; and yet everything gets shown, laid bare, and the viewer may find themselves wishing for their very own mask, for their very own audience, for their very own photographer. That should be what every photographer wishes for. And almost everybody is a photographer, because it is so much easier to do than music or painting and a lifetime easier than writing or good poetry. -- from correspondence with M.P.
Live, love, lust and learn now, in this moment, because nature is beauty shaped from danger: the bird does not sing, it survives ambush on a momentary basis. The quake and its waves must wake me up, push me out of routine and comfort, those two cancers of being. Live now, not next week or next year!
Roar wakes me up, rain screaming down. Texas Stormchasers tweets possible tornado 4 miles NE of Slidell, and damn if I am not 4 miles east of Slidell. Much worse last Fall when I got caught in Indiana "land hurricane" but now flood reports have scared away some Mardi Gras pals, and we are on the lake, which shakes ominously. Tad bless his heart says these rumors happen every year, but he is asleep next door and I am awake and now here again is that roar! He will wake up and say: Wasn't that a treat?
And seconds after I write this, Tad emerges in an all-yellow head-to-toe raingear suit and clamly walks to the end of the property to fetch the newspaper. He does not say, "What a treat." He says: "It is really raining! Holy shit!" and that little panic starts to swell. Then he says: "Nothing we can do but hunker down and wait it out." And we do. And the sun comes out and we go fishing and catch nothing but a soft breeze and a little sunburn.
"I think; therefore I imagine."
Imagine if Descartes had the knowledge to speak this instead of reducing life to a single tense of “I am.” To think is to think, and not just be. One word without limits might have replaced a word that confines the self; if Descartes wrote differently, how would we understand the individual?
It seems to me the most important thing for you, my happily married lawyer friend, is to embrace (admit to) and release (kick the ass of) your "inner individual." But you cannot, because little kiddies get hungry and frightened. How much do your own responsibilities affect your view of a society's responsibilities? It's possible that if you were completely free to do as you pleased, to waste endless time in pointless examination of self and surroundings, you might see the constructs of society as an emancipation of your desires and ambitions, rather than a restriction of all desires and ambitions, right? You could then abuse the system for your own good, and every thief uses a smile as his best weapon; you would make sure to pay lip service to the traffic lights, even if you do not pay taxes, as I do, and you would buy a camera on a credit card you do not intend to pay if that camera was used at least partly for the "social" good. It seems to me that academic depth retards the link between one's responsibility to self with one's responsibility to society. And by "retards", I don't mean limit or prohibit as much as I mean "influence". So the handicapped thinker still wanders society and conducts business freely, often with other handicapped thinkers who congratulate the wanderer for his taste and business, as long as these are similar to their own.
-- from a long-term dialogue with the brilliant Mark W., laid out in a PDF/iPad ditty titled "The Wax," to which his replies and contemplations will be published as "The Wane." Here's a link to my full piece as it appears on Facebook (!) accompanied with a photo of mine:
The lovers become mothers and fathers. A few people want my flirts, but most hope for some wisdom. When did I become wise, when I always saw myself as wild? When did the wolf turn fox? Every friend was once a stranger, and many friends I wish now had stayed that way; they were more mysterious, more dangerous, more of a thrill. And now some of them depend on my flights of fancy to remind themselves of their own escapes and scrapes; my crashes excite their scars. And I see you this way, as the flier who risks herself in unknown skies. You are still the lover to me, and I see you in flames or on ice and feel comfort that you will either help me find my way or be there on the path when I find it myself. I look for you here and try to sense your fights and flights; are you ruffled by wind or rattled by calm? You are bound here by us, the people you love, because we all need to be reminded that we cannot be killed by the pains of our imaginations, and only dreamers can deliver this message: do as you want, desire, act boldly even if your actions are done wrongly, and the dreamer leads these lessons with a million tiny deaths of her own. You are not only your self, Donna, but part of all our imaginations; yes, it's insane to throw away an evening on facebook, but who objects to your loss but you? We're happy to have you here, an example we could all imitate, and we'll wait patiently while you go out and make some thrill. But don't dry our addictions to you because we help you waste your time! The superfabulous Teddy Roosevelt said if you kicked the ass of every person who you thought was responsible for wasting your time on facebook, you wouldn't be able to sit down for a week.
-- from a correspondence with Donna Ferrato
Donna Ferrato, fearless image maker, opens up a discussion after a Guardian newspaper editorial about the "most terrifying word," "vagina." Donna demands an explanation. And Blue complies on her Facebook page:
"But why is it feared, that word? It means "scabbard," or a tool or place in which to carry or hide a sword. So male power is wrapped up in it. Until 50k years ago, you didn't want other males planting seed there, and to maintain exclusive a...ccess to all vaginas is an extremely violent proposition: Goodall observed that all alpha male chimps end up violently tortured and killed, torn limb from limb, and this is a direct cost of controlling the vagina. What better way than to help control access than to demonize it, cut it off or kill it if it betrays? 11K years ago, when the first chiefs and first pangs of religious organization began in permanent settlements, the needs of war or farming meant vaginas had to be better guarded than ever; more propaganda. And women still believe what men say about their vaginas! That's how effective the propaganda was. Pudenda is an even worse word: Latin for all genitals but used far more to describe female genitals, "pudenda" comes from pudere, which is the verb to show shame for or be ashamed of. So the Romans hid the goods by making them something to be ashamed about; the Vatican sings that same song still. So we can infer that fear or revulsion of the vagina is really fear of power or its lack, expressed by males alpha or otherwise. Competition for food made chimps north of the Congo into the violent creatures they are (and we became when proto humans broke from that line 7 million years ago); a separate chimp species called Bonobos (south of the Congo) had no struggle for food and among them the vagina is so lovingly shared that it might as well be called "candy." In Bonobo-speak, females say "if you stop acting like a man I will give you some candy," to which males reply "that would be nice." No Bonobo becomes a banker."
Let me drive out of town, at the wheel or in the backseat, and exhale at the first sight of agriculture, the whiff of manure or pine needles, until the quilt of farming gives way to exhausted lands abandoned or waiting, and then these gold stretches give way to mountains or coastlines where I can look back at the city and snip my ties, at least temporarily, and find myself in a single moment, a tourniquet of simple distance stanching the flow of ideas, and in this moment, timeless, there is an insect or a cloud pattern or a tiny change in the weather and I am again free to ask myself what I wish to do. The justifications seem so much more slight from that perspective, cut away from the urban life. Who cares why? And who cares when or even how? What am I wishing for? What wishes? I zip up my jacket because I feel the cold suddenly, and a grasshopper jumps, and I notice a flower, wilting; winter is coming, for instance, and what do I wish for sunlight? Somebody's tears, splashing on their skin? Some animal loping across the veld toward me or away from me, with the sky dominant in my view, eclipsing all the land for 360 degrees? Africa? Shading my eyes as I walk out of a hotel in India, realizing I have overslept again? But here is Babloo with his rickshaw, waiting since dawn for you, and off we zip into some secret part of the city's shadows where Babloo will introduce me to people who are concerned only with the rasping hunger on their tongues and the inch by inch battle for territory on the street corners they conduct their business and lives; and in these interviews I cease to exist, all appointments mean nothing, there is only right now, the heart of somebody's story, and I am each time amazed that I get to hear it, that I get to see somebody reveal themselves and express their frights or delight. If I listen with respect and curiosity, I often feel as if I am them, and the hurt and the heat and the hope suddenly feel so different from my own neighborhood, and that self I cultivate by accident, "back home," might as well be on Mars and unreachable. Because the language I need in these moments is nothing I speak, even to myself, and the rewards are thrilling as communication is made: Would I like a tea, for instance?
-- from correspondence to Lisa E., photo by Blue of Lisa @ the Deej, November 13
I am paralyzed by fear every day. To get it out of my head, I agree that I am willing to try something interesting or creative even if I fail. So when the project or piece fails, I am not surprised or upset. And of course the more you fail, the better you get at it: Success is what happens to people who aim too low. The trick is to resolve to attempt things without caring whether they are good enough. Sometimes a project blows up in my face and becomes unpleasant and I still muddle through to the bitter end because I know I am learning something about failure along the way. Loss and failure are where wisdom lurks. And you can be affluent among other ffluents only to realise the only thing that matters is wisdom and how much you paid to acquire it.
So this sort of homespun thinking gets me through each day. The thing that's cool about getting involved with creative projects is that you can help push them along without having any skills to do so. If you start telling people you like a certain movie, and why you like it, eventually you'll have a modest readership that thanks you for being able to go see movies they've heard about but never planned to see. And if you didn't want to do the actual writing, fine, you could at least edit the writers and get them all in place; producers are always needed and there is no school to learn how to become a producer. This is sheer field work, grunting on behalf of a product.
-- from correspondence to Cara L.