I can now be found at my new blog, Jenny’s Conjecture.
I’ve posted new writing samples in the Poetry and Prose sections.
Also, don’t forget to come hear me read on Monday at 7PM in Steuben Hall South Gallery at Pratt Institute for the Ubiquitous Literary and Arts Magazine release party. There will be great art on the walls and great art in the air. Plus, FREE BOOKS!
Be there or be square.
The first snowflakes came and went. I let one fall to my tongue while I walked to work on Monday morning. There is an elaborate beauty to them that I have been attempting to mirror with paper. Origami is my latest interest. I find it soothing. Somehow, between books and jobs, the satisfaction I feel creasing a leaf of paper is helping me to find my center.
In “Personal and Impersonal,” William Matthews writes, “An apprentice not only learns the tools and materials of a craft, but commits to memory and muscle memory the characteristic motion of an activity. Such repetition is not only a sort of calisthenics. We know that in human evolution greater brain capacity is linked to greater hand-to-eye coordination. Presumably, the increasing complexity of physical chores stimulated more complex brain activity. Perhaps lifelong immersion in intricate processes such as writing poetry or playing the piano works similarly. In any case, an apprentics begins by confronting those parts of a craft that are easiest to describe with words like anonymous, collective, and traditional. But a skillful apprentice moves toward a condition of mastery by which quite opposite words are invoked: hallmark, signature, style. ‘You only have so many notes,’ said Dizzie Gillespie, “and what makes a style is how you get from one note to another.'”
I try to keep this in mind as I near graduation. I am not thinking of the completion of my BFA as even remotely resembling the completion of my education. Rather, it represents a shift in the model by which I will learn. Rather than continuing to apprentice books, I am transforming into an apprentice of business practices. I am thrilled to complicate my rehearsals, combining the exercise of my skills in many areas–words, web, zest–all those things I do best but can do so much better. The possibilities are keeping me on my toes.
Fold origami to leave between the pages of library books.
Colleen Caporal’s a half-remembered life is an act of pasteurization. On display at the Pratt Institute Digital Arts Gallery until November 12, 2010, her images celebrate that which is left behind when a family photo album is boiled free from the grief bacterium. The obsessive process of re-photographing by which each piece was constructed mirrors the conscience of the bereft human being, who both craves to remember her mother’s loving embrace and desires to be free of the complementary memory of its loss.
The work’s palette is warm with the radiance of human bodies: the glow of a father’s arm reaching for a daughter or the robust light that falls upon a mother’s chin when filtered through her baby’s blond hair. Every piece floats off the wall, pinned down at only two corners. “You can touch them,” Caporal says, and you do—it makes sense to press your fingers to the paper, acting out the intimacy that is rehearsed in each image.
Anchored at the gallery’s center by the presentation of two letters (one from living mother to artist and the other from artist to the ghost of mother inside her head) and a collection of photographs from Caporal’s early childhood, the series of eight images takes on a narrative. The visual gesture toward the smallest physical connections reminds us that we can use up our whole lives yearning for a sensation so ingrained in our humanity that we barely even remember it existing at all.
a half-remembered life
November 8-12, 2010
MFA Digital Arts Thesis Exhibition
Pratt Institute, Dept. of Digital Arts
536 Myrtle Avenue, 4th Floor Gallery
Recently, the media has devoted an uncanny amount of time to reports about “Generation Me” (people currently in their 20’s and 30’s…a.k.a. talkin’ ’bout my generation) and it’s proposed narcissism. The New York Times recently followed up with an article briefly discussing the existence of opposition to the view that Gen Y lacks empathy and suffers from swollen ego.
At the very end of this article, there is this tidbit:
“[The Narcissistic Personality Inventory] is not a diagnostic tool for narcissistic personality disorder, a serious psychiatric condition; it is simply a rough gauge of self-confidence, vanity, and self-importance, traits everyone has to some degree. And scores have gone up significantly, at least in some college samples. ‘This is particularly true in women,’ Dr. Twenge. ‘That is where we see the most dramatic increases.'”
Could it be that the overall increase in “narcissism” shown by the data is actually a result of the advancement of feminism in American society? The Inventory doesn’t just measure narcissism–it measures confidence, and the two are lumped together. With half the population transforming into a more empowered social group, how could the composite score for a generation not increase?
Man, feel like a woman.
The urge to write curdles in me sometimes. I stare at the screen or my hands or I am biting my lip so hard my eyes water but the only movement I experience is the quiver of static. As many times as I push on my nerves, they just push back, like a self-healing polymer.
All changes are difficult: bearning into existence (words or children, I imagine, are similar to spring), reaching the limits of being (and therefore ceasing all forward motion), conversion of the foreign to the intimate (lovers not excepted), relocation of the internal organs (as from surgery or growing taller), the energy of activation (and, usually, the procurement of a catalyst).
Today’s attraction to the parenthetical comes from reading a wonderful book called Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl. I took it from my sister’s bookshelf on my last visit to her slope-ceilinged attic apartment. She said, “Yeah, it’s good. The narrator is very self-aware, too self-aware, like annoyingly self-aware, so a lot of people are like, ‘I don’t like it; she’s too young to be like that,’ but I’m like, ‘Yeah, she’s just like my sister.'” It made me read the book, anyway. And I love the book. But beyond its being a novel, I must now read it as a review of my sister’s critical analysis of me. Or maybe that would only lead to what I already know, which is that in family, there is much blindness and many treacherous slopes.
Enjoy the typing sounds.
A pair of cardinals lives near this house. Sometimes they drop onto the feeder. Sometimes they clutch the telephone wires. Their red feathers are such a bright spot in all the brown and green of the Possum Creek environs.
A place named Soddy-Daisy should be from a Faulkner novel, maybe. But I’ve had a pedicure here, and every day I go swimming in the lake. Sometimes, a lightning bug flashes past my window at night, and I make a wish. Other times, our mostly blind neighbor waters his grass just before nightfall and all the lightning bugs go into a tizzy, flashing and flashing like a Pretty Lights concert.
If I had grown up here, I think I would have believed in fairies.
There is a red spider on my screen. The other day, my aunt and I saw a baby beaver trying to cross the highway. The value of a truck on a country road is that it is bigger than the car with which it will inevitably collide, head-on.
The loneliness of old age is primarily self-imposed. Or maybe it isn’t loneliness at all. Maybe we just get tired of making conversation because, after many years, we realize that no matter how great our passions have been, the world really doesn’t change. Or no matter how much the world changes, there is still only one way to go about being, so what’s the use in chatter.
Our needs are finite. Meeting them is inherently dissatisfying. To be human is to suffer, and wouldn’t we just be so bored if it were any other way?
Run with the dogs awhile.