Sunday, January 19, 2014

All Shall Be Well

I saw this at the Nickel Diner this weekend, and I need this message. I had only heard the name Julian of Norwich but I didn't know who she was.  14th century Christian mystic.  Very interesting stuff, at least in a theological sense. It's good to remember that people have been thinking these things for a long time, even though they don't always make it through -

"Julian believed that it was inaccurate to speak of God's granting forgiveness for sins, because forgiving would mean that committing the sin was wrong. She preached that sin should be seen as a part of the learning process of life, not a malice that needed forgiveness. She wrote that God sees us as perfect and waits for the day when human souls mature so that evil and sin will no longer hinder us."

Wow, that seems way beyond the 14th century.  From this page, one theory is that because she was a woman the Catholic church did not bother to refute her ideas.  Because of that, they live on today.  She even refers to Christ as mother. Kind of radical.  I'm not into Christian theology, but it would be interesting to read her "Revelations of Divine Love."  Sounds like it would be as valid as anything else. 

What more interests me is that the revelations were dreams during an illness. She wrote on them for the rest of her life.  I wonder how that would be treated today. So many prophets had visions, but they were living in completely devout worlds, surrounded by religion. It's not surprising it filled their dreams. I wonder what we'd say to a divinely revealed text today, or if there could even be one that does not seem full of dogma and personal interest (see Joseph Smith).

People reach for something. We all do. It's a frightening world. Some days are very hard.  When it comes down to it, we just want someone to say it's going to be all right, all will be well.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


We finished our first rough cut tonight for a short film I wrote, directed, starred in, and have produced as well (I guess). It's a rough night.  Okay, rough is overstated - I have much to learn. I've been excited in the process, but I'm reminded of a recent interview I heard with Ira Glass talking about beginners, that most people don't stick through the part of making things where what you're making does not meet your taste level. Right now, I'm feeling that way.  It's still a rough cut. I don't know what will happen. I'm working on editing with someone who is really enjoying it, and we all are. It was fun to shoot, and it's been fun to work on.  I know I will push through. I hope it turns out to be something good.

We took out a shot of pigeons taking off from the ground. It just occurred to me that we should put it back in.

Communicating in any art from is challenging. I've never called myself an artist, as it feels a little high falutin to me, but I've always created. It's a deep impulse. I'm learning a new way. Creating drama in film is hard. I have years of working in the theater, so I know the drill with a play. About 3 weeks into a 4 week rehearsal process it all starts to fail. You get it on it's feet and it's a rickety house. Your body feels foreign, there is no rhythm, everyone despairs.  Then you add tech and it's under water again, and then you open and it somehow comes together.  I don't know this process in film. Perhaps there is a first cut depression.  I'll muscle through. I hope it's watchable.

Saturday I sat with a new friend who is a portrait photographer. We chatted for a couple hours while he took photos in his studio apartment. I got to see him practice his art, to wonderful results.  I enjoyed sitting, but realized how tired I was after, that it makes me a little tense. It's new to me.

I'm too old to be a wunderkind. I'm sad about that, but that ship has sailed. I'm hoping to be an older-kind.  So this is my first film. It's not my first piece of writing. If I keep doing this, in twenty years I could say I've been doing this for twenty years.  If I stop now I wouldn't be any kind of kind. Just the quitting kind, something unkind.  I'm hoping for resilience. I'm remembering that I'm learning.

I suppose it's apt my short is called "Under Construction."  I keep finding myself inadvertently in my titles.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Hearsay of the Soul

As I thought about writing a little today, a concurrent thought that I needed to clean my refrigerator happened.  I did make banana bread, but have held fast to writing about this.

We went to the Getty last weekend to see the Canterbury and St. Alban's exhibit, which was beautiful.  Eight century old glass and illuminated manuscripts.  Quite awe inspiring.  I also love the interactive portions of the exhibit, which instruct how stained glass and illuminated manuscripts are made. I am continually amazed by craft. I don't think I will ever tire of seeing how things are made.

We also stopped at the "Hearsay of the Soul"exhibit, which is a video installation by Werner Herzog of, well - I'll let the Getty website tell you:

Projected on three adjacent walls and eighteen minutes in length, the five-channel video combines selected landscape etchings by Hercules Segers (Dutch, about 1589–about 1638) with the contemporary avant-garde music of composer/cellist Ernst Reijseger (Dutch, born 1954). The juxtaposition of Segers's lush prints of enigmatic vistas with Reijseger's expressive and experimental music results in a richly layered work that is both intimate and epic.

Well, huh.  I read Herzog's introduction, hailing Segers as an outsider artist who was important to his (Herzog's) artistic development. Inside, what I thought about was not about Seger's outsider status, nor that I had not seen his work.  Mostly, my thoughts were about the challenge of communicating one's love for something.  On some level, I was watching an 18 minute video mix tape, in which Herzog was trying to communicate his appreciation for an artist.  What I got from the piece is how hard that is to do. 

I'm a big cheerleader. I'm a cyber sleeve-tugger, forever attempting to communicate my deep love or appreciation for something or other. I do it in life as well.  For instance, I recently teared up during a viewing of "Merrily We Roll Along" from London.  It never fails that if I am watching "Hair," I will start to sob during the "Flesh Failures/Let the Sunshine In,"(maybe it's that I played the role. I don't know. I teared up linking to the video) and when the girl with brain damage tries to communicate to her beloved why she wilalways be broken and he should never love her in "Light in the Piazza," I'm a wreck (whoops, more teary linking).  I know, too, that those three works leave some people cold. It certainly doesn't stop me from trying.

I love many artists. I love Modigliani, for instance, and I'm a fan of Joni Mitchell.  Were I to create a video piece of these two artist juxtaposed to try to communicate my appreciation, you may or may not be moved. In the Herzog piece, for instance, I'm not a lover of landscapes. I don't usually respond to them.  Or to etchings.  I felt that he feels deeply about them, but I remain unmoved. I also get he's trying to create a third thing, a piece of his own. I don't want you to think I believe art has to move people; art can do what it wants and exists as it is.  I can't say what Herzog's intention was.  It did move me to ponder how challenging it is to communicate why we love something, although we continue to try. I love the attempt, though, whether I respond or not.  Someone will more than likely be moved or even curious.  I came away reminded of the ineffability of desire - that what touches us, what we hold dear, is as individual as the strokes in those etchings.  

Monday, January 06, 2014


While I'm figuring out what to say about stained glass from Canterbury and Werner Herzog at the Getty (I have a good idea, but did you ever take notes in the dark during a film? Results not always super-legible), take a look at my friend Ted's blog, Bookeywookey

Frankly, extraordinary. I've always enjoyed it, but his year end lists of what he's read each year are mind-blowing.  45 - 50 books a year, while also getting a PhD. How do people do it?  Really, I actually want to know.

Anyhow, I'm chipping away at the ones I've been chipping away at. Meanwhile, there's a great amount of ideas and recommendations awaiting you at Bookeywookey.