revolve.  One cupboard cleared, one old pine chest emptied, two rooms of six reconfigured. Three boxes of books off my shelves and into the car for passing forward, a trunk full of clothing for VV. Winter wear rediscovered, pared down, and stowed in one kist, guest blankets in the other.

I now have a better practice setup, a reading place where the views are interesting (for looking up from a thought in order to process it), and a comfortable desk in the western window for writing, with the trees right there. All the dusty corners have been cleared out; the dining room table is covered in swans.

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evolve. This is a thought I look up from and stare with, down Gage Avenue South. I’m thinking of what has brought me here.

It rains and rains in Hamilton. Purposeful rain, punctuated with flashes of white.  A constant big throaty rumble dominates all smaller sounds. Every so often a crash I flinch from, even snug in my enduring love for storms.

I laugh aloud, like a kid:  Thunderbird flies above us, immense, benevolent, alive. NOW.

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volution – a rolling or revolving motion; a spiral or twisted formation or object. A turn or twist about a centre.

It is well past midnight, but how can I possibly sleep through the crash and flash? Now splashes of lightning, but the rumble is distant. I can hear crickets, drips – tree frogs!? through the open windows – all of the windows are wide open.

My soul’s centre has always been the powerful, living breathing lady of Georgian Bay; my life continues to spiral around her. I imagine that the water now falling on Hamilton came from there – pulled up by the sun, pushed by the wind, dropped on this house, on the asphalt of Gage Street, on the ancient park trees I can feel the deep hum of, from here.

We are cleaner, clearer for this rain; we drink it down like a blessing.

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volition. A voluntary service, an offering of personal resources to support something valued. Yes. I will do this.

Such a subtle distinction, isn’t there, between obligation and volition. The former tends to beget resentment, the other gratitude. One is often inherited, the other deliberate, chosen, in a selfless moment. Makes me think of how some gifts are actually hooks. More like investments, with an uncomfortably undefined assumption of return. Is this in part why it can be so difficult, in general, to receive? Over time, too many manipulative, conditional offerings; best just to say No Thanks.

Thankfully, and perhaps increasingly other gifts – of time, energy, food, a roof, effort… are just what they are. Simple. Human, compassionate, generous. Drink it down with gratitude for this kind world, pay it forward when you can.

Gage Avenue is quiet in the wee hours, dripping and cricket-ed. I’m here quite deliberately, but what of my gifts? My offerings? I begin to think they are simpler than what I’ve believed them to be. That this is part of what I’m here to find out.

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ignition. The act or fact of igniting; state of being ignited. A means or device for igniting.

A phrase has been niggling – shall I call it an aphorism? What brought you here won’t take you there. While Marshall Goldsmith has been highly successful at dominating a google search for this thought (his book has popularized the idea, which he unpacks in bullet-point form for folks looking for life and career hacks), the concept is as old and as wise as the hills. As reassuringly complex.

In the last two weeks of August I stared at the lake as often as possible. Swam in it, played in it, paddled on it while holding this complexity quietly in my mind. I am not what I have learned. I am not what I do (the push of those things is what brought me here though. I’m in a good place, grateful I made that effort).

I’m what I can’t yet imagine understanding, what I can’t see from here. What draws me like a heartbeat. What moves me. Forward. In. Out. Through.

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cognition. The mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses. A result of this; a perception, sensation, notion, or intuition.

I’ve just walked down the street to the 24-hr corner store to get cream for coffee #2. Brought the umbrella I paid 5 euro for in Florence four months ago, didn’t need it. The whole world out there is rain-soaked & breathing.

Aha. The difference between inclusivity and inclusion. The latter is policy change (e.g. de-segregation), the former an action taken in full acknowledgement of the complexity and contradiction in any evolving situation. Policy does not change minds. Thoughtful, articulated action, does.

Aha. At its best Art is healthy connective tissue between other-than human beings and human beings, humans and humans. As mycelium connects plant life in a forest – information, nutrients, shared resources and understanding. Propaganda and pornography are toxic versions of this. They connect through extortion.

Aha…

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recognition. Coming to understand something clearly and distinctly. An acceptance (as of a claim) as true and valid.

I have the strongest sense that what I’m actually doing now is dismantling what I’ve learned – belief systems, artistic practices, cultural assumptions, a scaffolded understanding of the way things ‘work’. That beneath all the accumulated data of what I’ve learned about the world is a deeper, older world of what I’ve always known.

More like remembering than learning.

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Wordplay, then.

Revolve, evolve;  volution, volition.  Ignition, cognition; recognition.

= Revolution?

As if I know how to do that.  Of course I don’t.

As if not knowing how has any bearing whatsoever on the fact that I will do it, regardless.  Honestly, what utter nonsense.

I’m feeling rumpled.  It’s not a comfortable feeling, through not a dangerous one either – I wouldn’t classify this as a mental health issue, for example.  I believe it’s easily managed.

I just don’t want to manage it. Not at all.  I’d rather feel all the way rumpled.  Taste what this feeling might be suggesting to me that seems so unpalatable.  Taste then spit, if necessary.

I’ve been investigating examples of the applied philosophy of inclusion, mostly in higher education.  Treatises, exhortations for reform, sincere and accurate laments.  This has made me prickly.

Just now I’ve taken a short break to read about “Manifesto”, a video installation project by Munich-born artist Julian Rosefeldt which features Cate Blanchett playing 13 diverse characters. Each one spouts “a call to action without a care for consequence” (Guardian review), “about the need to wake up, tool up, use art to revolutionise humanity and humanity to revolutionise art”.  I’ve bought the movie since as an artist I’m fascinated by cultural action and reaction, by art and revolution, and it’s another, artistic interpretation of my reading focus.

I’ll watch it when I’m through the day’s tasks.  I’ll also watch more video installation made by Rosefeldt (lots to see on his website).  After, I’ll dip into DJ Elliot’s new book, Artistic Citizenship.  I’m thinking it will all piss me off, but hoping I might instead be surprised, and find humour.  It would be a welcome relief to find myself snorting with laughter.

Perverse.  Reverse.  Re-version, re-story.  Open and closed ‘forms’, i.e., classical baroque versus collaborative composition.  A spectrum of open and closed applies to everything we participate in, every choice we make.  Dapper Dan and Haute Couture; collaborate or conduct; don’t participate in the old toxic systems with their embedded, power-distorted rules, or cling to them in desperation; people or sheeple, dualism of all kinds, gender-based habitual thinking.

But, by god, if you’re a voice for inclusiveness, for open forms that invite collaboration, innovation, and creativity, that encourage voices that have not been heard to speak, make it relevant to us, all of us, right now.  If you see or hear something important that is not accessible to those of us that don’t read, that don’t ever enter galleries or concert halls, that struggle with poverty and have been dominated all of their lives (by white people, for example)…it’s your job to interpret.

I don’t give a damn if you don’t know how.  Figure it out.  Find a meaningful way to connect to people you can only imagine right now.  To people way way out of your comfort zone.  It’s not supposed to be comfortable.

There it is, that’s it – not a bad taste, just different.

I’m uncomfortable because this is my job, and I haven’t the faintest clue how to do it.  But I will figure it out.

Door = way through.  Window= view beyond yourself.  Kitchen = where people gather.

 

 

What happens when we don’t take responsibility for healing our own lives, and instead project our buried trauma out onto other people – our children, our families, our friends, our colleagues? 

What happens when we use all our energy in criticism and complaint, when we use charity and judgement as a way of maintaining privilege and superiority over ‘weaker-thans’?  When we use power like a gun and intelligence only to manipulate?  Is this not a way of describing blight?  Does this not weaken the entire system of life?  Weinstein.  Ghomeshi.  Trump.  Any person of any gender who identifies with embitterment, any person who inflicts their own still-festering injuries on others. 

So, at any point in our lives, each and every one of us, until we choose to do the work and grow up.

Mill Dam, Owen Sound. Fall 2014

What happens instead when we don’t accept diminishment, and instead use our considerable strength to knit together, to hold space for change, to join, to empower and build.  What happens to us.  What happens to the world.

Harriet Tubman.  Georgia O’Keefe.  Emily Carr.  Gord Downey.  Elizabeth Warren, who persists.

What happens when a small, any or multi gendered group gathers in the kitchen to wash, dry, put away dishes from the meal they made for 30 people? What happens when they gather to weed a garden, repair or build a quilt, build a house, make music, block out a play, collaborate on a project, get something done together…  the conversation knits and weaves, joins and clarifies, connects and strengthens.

It’s about the doing, but the doing isn’t the point.  The weaving, the connecting, the building, the sharing and comparing is the point.  The anchor of hearth, the rhythm of ritual, the resources of valued difference.

In this contemporary culture, many-gendered, magnificent embroiderers, quilters, designers and fabric artists have taken the diminuitive notion of ‘women’s work’ and transformed it into empowerment – an actual, functional, powerful approach to healing our homes and our bodies and building the world anew.  Artists and musicians, actors and writers are more and more equally represented by all cultures, all genders, who have empowered themselves to speak from their own power, to openly share their hard-won strength and dignity with us.  Does this not strengthen us all?  Is this not another way to describe nourishment?

Endurance, independence, perception, wisdom.  Strong opinions, well informed by context and shared with humility.  To do something valuable with one’s anger.

Not the pursuit of virtuosity as an identity, but for joy.  Not to claim then fight nasty to maintain one’s trumped-up value .

Instead, always to include, to hold space for. Powerfully.

The We, the Us, without the Them.  We, the ecosystem from which no living being is excluded.

This requires courage.