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Friday, July 12, 2013

About Offers to Raven



I've written all my life, longer than I've painted or made stuff of clay. If painting comes from the heart, writing exercises the head. Thinking and writing are very close.

I like to imagine that thought is not dependent upon language. Thought flies, but always returns to language, as to a falconer's fist. There it receives sustenance. No stirring of Logos has substance without language, since all existence at root, from molecular interactions to intergalactic explosions, may only be realized or understood through language, via rules and grammar.

The desire for consciousness not distracted by language, is thus merely a longing for a deeper much more complex rendering of experience. Letters can be so terribly limiting.

Language involves the reduction of experience on a radical scale. To experience the here and now without the intervention of language, is a very difficult state of mind to achieve. It is akin to perfect freedom. As a linguistic being, language intervenes in everything we see, think and do.

This blog got its start from ideas and experiences that have run through my adult life. Equal doses of personal love, devastation after an affair with a lady named Raven (a wipeout is a more accurate way to describe it), studies of myth, combined with real experiences and dreams.

The dreams were about spirit guides, Raven, Ganesh, Hermes, Quetzalcoatl, as well as my attempt to cope through the making of the paintings which I call the Tracing Project. I suffered from bouts of precognition, experiencing events before they happened. My life turned into a raster of previously lived and foretold events. I dreamt at night and then lived those dreams later that day, that week or year. I'm cursed by being able to listen to strangers talking and knowing things about them that I am not supposed to know at all. I wake up in the night dreaming realities of people I've never met, then later, I meet them. I also heard voices for a period of about six months, intermittently.

The name for my blog occurred to me in Pipestone Minnesota, where I learned that Modern Natives of this country still tie strips of red cloth to tree branches, before quarrying stone to make their pipes. This had to be a ritual, re-enacting the ritual feeding of ravens, by tying pieces of meat into the trees.  These writings are my "Offers to Raven".

It reminded me of Tibetan prayers tied up into a piece of cloth, to flap in the wind and send energy out.

Dreams and art are what keep me sane. To live I've had to relinquish assumptions about time and causality that we all take for granted in organizing our life's desk-blotter in a healthy fashion. To keep things together, and I say this not jesting, I have had to take those assumptions, that once helped me to see the world, and loosen them to conform with a different vision about what cause is.

The notion of cause and effect, I believe is one of the greatest myths plaguing Western society and the primary culprit of all its ills. While it was nice reading about synchronicity in Jung's works, it took real experiences to make me realize the Western interpretation of Aristotle was deeply flawed.

I often see that the child is the parent of the father and mother, and that dreams are the the creators of reality.

Perhaps my mind has gone to jelly from too much datura. There are forces at play on this planet that most human beings have taken no notice of. Shamans from our tribal past knew these forces. So lately did the Oracles at Delphi, and other Mediterranean sites, though they were already at the end of their practice when their work entered the logs of the Roman recordists.

I also need to explain something of my political philosophy. I carry huge anger for the deterioration of our nation due to individual selfishness across the land, by Americans, who have enabled the evolution of a simple democratic state, into a behemoth, that cannot pay its obligations, that exports war, imports everything else, and now lies most of all, to its own people. I also am very American. I love Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, as well as Jean Jacques Rousseau. I'm an idealist, angry at the deterioration in our society due to selfish pragmatism.

That said, I'd rather be a poet on the topic of Love, than a political essayist, but there are times that I cannot resist. So I've made a grouping called Political Rants, to absorb some of this ire. Obviously, there are excerpts from my Journal, fragments of prosy stuff that has no other home.

One series of poetic works here is called Muse Poems I, and Muse Poems II. These are pieces that derive from a ritual of paintings that I began in 2005. There's more on that where I detail the history of the Tracing Project and a piece devoted just to the poetry aspect, About the Muse Poems. The ongoing series Song of 81 Poems takes the grammar of the Muse Poems, and weaves it into a multi-dimensional work.

I've also put up my tiniest rhyming pieces, which I've dubbed Tiny Poems. Often couplets or quatrains that are are 140 characters or less that I put up on Twitter as I write them. Most of these are written late in the day, when I'm doing my yoga.The rhymes just occur to me. I struggle with some, others arrive in a flash. Other rhyming works appear in the grouping Short Rhymes.

I've written a lot of free verse, mostly in my journal over the years. The sparse freedom offered by a few words often speaks the heart better than prose, since sentences often wring the essence out of the words they carry. I've grouped these pieces in a number of topics, Free VerseEurope, and The West.

On a more amusing level, "Song of Paul", is about an octopus who 'predicted'' the outcomes for the 2010 World Cup. I also had a go at a Chaucerian moral tale, entitled "The Master", about hungry pilgrims faced with a life or death decision. My friend Julian Reissinger, who translates professionally, 'translated' worked the same poem in to Germenglish, a farcical and humorous structure that can be read and understood by German and English speakers alike.

The grouping, Long Rhymes, is self explanatory. There's also a group of essays, short and longer works dealing with the overwrought Vampire myth, also a longer rhyming poem about an East European vampire who now lives in Pennsylvania.

In the same vein I played with a transliteration (not translation) into Hindi of a poem entitled "Land of Sindh", first written in English, about an upcoming trip to India. I tried in my cumbersome way, to adapt the Hindi-spelled English words into something that one might hear on the streets of Delhi.

As a poet one must first exorcise all of the poems that hit one's eardrum early in life. They are all there, ritualized, and programmed into our linguistic DNA. To get rid of them you have to make them again. So just as Mom read me Dr. Seuss as a youngster, as a poet later in life, I have a lot of rhyming and goofing to work though.

I often work writing with very reduced sets of letters, lipograms, usually taken from someone's, or something's name. "Don Donald's Casas" was written using the most of the words that can be spelled with the letters in the name MacDonald's. Indeed, it ended up being a portrait of what so many of these franchises are like. The Count makes a poem out of a famous fictitious character's name.

Constrained letter-sets, when used devotionally, or propelled by love, or friendship for another person become a meditation on language, and on an individual's future, past and present. These are grouped under the title Onomancy, which means 'name-divination'. These odes require excavation of the possibilities of the language to the extreme. One work, "Dance 4 Danielle Cebilia Duce", was written for a friend, who 'modeled' her name with her letters, D, A, N, I, E, L, C, U, and B. I've done constrained odes of this type for many close friends, family, lovers, as well as complete strangers.

Essays . . . some are grouped in Ruminations on Dimension, others in the category About Poetry. Many are overly long, and badly need editing.

I'll also mention there are a few Stories.. I have a desire to write more short-stories. Perhaps that time will come. Jorges Luis Borges burns in my heart like a torch.

Nature absorbs a lot of my time and attention, and thus far, many of my explorations on this blog allude to my experimentations with psychedelic Mushrooms, though there is mention of my experiments with Datura, Chaga, and other substances. I strongly believe in a natural Pharmacopia, and that the natural world already has ready for us cures for almost every ill. It is our own fault if we cannot bring ourselves to learn and trust these substances, more than the crude killing powders we make and market in commerce. "Ars Viridis Poetica", deals with what little I've learned about healing plants.

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