Original Words, Music, Video and Antidotes for Living With Uncertainty
Internationally renown fine artist and producer Frederic Iriarte and American Poet Igor Goldkind have collaborated on 9 original tracks of musical interpretations based on Igor Goldkind’s forthcoming collection of poetry also entitled TAKE A DEEP BREATH. The album of 9 tracks is being launched as a complete work at this year’s International Beat Poetry Festival and will be released for download at midnight this coming Saturday, September 5th.
This unique multimedia work was written and produced during the pandemic in Stockholm, San Diego and Moscow. It is intended as an artistic attempt to help us live with uncertainty and survive catastrophe living.
“TAKE A DEEP BREATH is most important piece of Spoken Word Art to come along at just the right time: right when we all needed it the most!” – Henry Rollins
2020 has been a year of both social, economic and psychological upheaval. Humans have been required to adapt to drastically changing circumstances without forewarning and without certainty as to the outcomes.
We are being challenged as a species to adapt. Adaptation is our genus but it is also painful and exhausting. TAKE A DEEP BREATH is a guidebook: a pause for a moment of reflection. Take a break from panic and get a clear view of where we are as individuals, as a people and as a species.
Covid-19 has literally attacked our humanity however in doing so has done us the service of reminding us of our shared humanity, our common mutual vulnerability. These are hard lessons to learn and uncomfortable changes to be made for us to survive. TAKE A DEEP BREATH is a pause in the gloom and a chance to regain our strength and resilience to all carry on.
TAKE A DEEP BREATHis a step backwards in time when poetry and music were used and appreciated as tools for contemplation, meditation and reflection on the most crucial factor in our lives. Now that we are being confronted and overwhelmed with multiple catastrophes, is the time to return to using poetry for what it is designed for:
“The truth is always an abyss. One must — as in a swimming pool — dare to dive from the quivering springboard of trivial everyday experience and sink into the depths, in order to later rise again — laughing and fighting for breath — to the now doubly illuminated surface of things.”
― Franz Kafka
We quest for meaningful truths about our existence and what we bring to bear upon our environments. Mathematics, science and technology enable our mechanical ability to crunch big numbers, calculate near infinite possibilities and deliver probabilistic results.
To be able to knowledgeably predict the multitude of buying behaviors of literally millions of customers using Amazon is an impressive computational accomplishment, in the service of consumer capitalism. Or to be able to use peoples’ most personal and intimate preferences and tastes as unstructured data, to be sold onto those who would better manipulate our preferences for profit.
Profit motivates the interests of those who control data to use it in order to steadily limit the range of free (unpredictable)choices to achieve more predictable decisions. The more predictable the judgements of choice, the better the profit in meeting those wants. The freer the will, the wider the spectrum of discernment between what is needed and what is merely desired. Not ideal customer relations if your goal is for the customer to buy exactly what you tell them to buy and have already prepared them to buy.
But the truth is that we are all free to make choices, even when there isn’t much to choose from.
We are still free to deviate from the predictable norm and exercise our wider, human judgement in our choices. But to do so successfully is to break down the predisposed contexts to our decision making. We would need to embrace the fact of Uncertainty, unpredictability and see beyond the unreliable predilections of Causality. We must, so to speak, break our causal chains as they have been manipulated in advance by pragmatic and diabolic conventions.
To live outside of predetermined contexts, to break out of the “real world” into the actual world, where we really exist necessitates first the understanding of context in the service of truth. To understand the dichotomy between perception and interpretation we should adopt a new vocabulary: The study of interpretation is called Hermeneutics, which is the scrutiny of language mainly text, in the context of interpretation.
However, language is not limited to text. Much of human history (of consciousness), has been devoted to poring over sacred and heretical texts; but there is also the language of dreams and music which are open to both reading and expression.
Then there is of course, the language of the image. The useful lie of representation, predating photography by some 30,000 years.
In so far as hermeneutics is the study of text and its interpretations, Irrealism examines the language of images by posing that no one account or one representation of a reality can accurately account for that reality apart from that one possible narrative. But there are millions of narratives, millions of representations of any event or occurrence in reality. There exists a vast multiplicity of perspectives and vantage points of which no one of which can be designated the sole “true” representation. Namely because the quantum diversity of perspectives is fundamental to that singular truth. This is one of infinite possible worlds but the only truth that can be found in this assertion is within the context of an infinite number of real possibilities.
Thus we each stand on a ledge overlooking the infinite, the universe waiting for us to take a step in whichever direction we choose.
Irrealism casts light on this distinction. There is no one reality or real event, but a multitude of infinite possibilities, some more probable than others in terms of predictive outcome. But to understand this and sustain it visavis perception requires first a relinquishment of the notion of one sole truth or truthful perspective. The truth is not found in once account, one representation; nor it it found in accumulating and theoretically distilling all possible accounts and perspectives. Instead, the monotheistic idea of one truth needs to be exchanged for the greater truth of infinite diversity in limitless combinations.
Irrealism is a type of existentialist literary artform for which the means are continually and absurdly rebelling against the ends that we have predetermined for them. The whole causal relationship between means and ends is brought into question and we gain the insight of restraining from linking events, so as not to fill in gaps with significance.
If we can easily detach significance from coincidental events and understand their own phenomenal existence without added meaning, then equally we can detach significance from events that just happen to follow each other in time. By freeing events and objects from the phenomenal artifice of a causal chain of meaning, we gain an irreal insight into the true nature of events and objects as they exist.
Like existentialism, Irrealism has presented itself as both a philosophical argument and a work of art in which the philosophical principles are demonstrated by the fictional subjective experience of a protagonist. For examp0le, In THE MALTESE FALCON, Dashiel Hammet’s existential detective, Sam Spade is a free man as he is free from the compulsive and lethal greed of the antagonists. At the end of the film and novel, Sam chooses the virtue of duty over love .
By proving the reality of an existential choice as a empathetic human choice, the fiction delivers a more visceral universal understanding of the underlying principle.
Some lies reveal deeper truths.
Breaking attachment to one true account or representation permits the “irreality” of circumstance to become our context. This is akin to wavicle theory in which light is not reduced to one structural account but rather we adapt our contexts to fit the data. Sometimes light behaves like and can be measured as particles and sometimes it cannot. It can only be measured within the context of waves. So is light either a particle or a wave? Well neither, nor both. The truth is that light exists outside of our realm of contexts. It is not unreal to describe light as a particles, but it isn’t solely true either. Nor is the fact that light consists of waves soley true. This quantum perception version Schrodinger’s Cat does not dwell on the mortality of the cat but rather on our ability to perceive beyond uncertainty.
The awkward term “wavicle” is a contrivance of vocabulary: there is no such object as a wavicle. All there is, is a misleading name to make it easier for us to measure and understand the phenomenal nature of light, not its physicality. In this light, so to speak, Irrealism addresses the false dichotomy of physicality vs the phenomenal. Yes, the universe is a physical one and objects and events have gravitas and yes, the universe is merely comprised of what we perceive and subject to the limits of our own perception. The universe is neither singularly physical nor singularly phenomenal; nor is it both. As both interpretations hold weight in their individual contexts, neither are false but again neither by itself is true. The perception is not one of unreality (or falsehood or fantasy) but of irreality, reality is not above what we perceive and experience, but behind it.
So it is with irrealism. The philosophical premise of Irrealism is that both the physicality of objects and events is one context, whereas their phenomenal content, our perception occupies a separate but parallel context. Objects and events exist in both worlds’ the physical and the phenomenal.
Irrealism demonstrates the irreality of events and objects by demonstrating existence as neither/or. An irreality demonstrates objects and events outside of their contextual rules. Viscerally this can be expressed in Art & Music and cognitively, in philosophy and poetry.
In philosophy, the belief that phenomenalism and physicalism are alternative “world-versions”, both useful in some circumstances, but neither capable of fully capturing the other.
Irrealist art and literature features an estrangement from our generally accepted sense of reality. Which explains the often welcome sense of discomfort or unease that often accompanies taking in an irrealist perspective. SF and Horror are good examples of that unease and rumbling anxiety as entertaining.
An example of this would be Franz Kafka’s story The Metamorphosis, in which the salesman Gregor Samsa’s plans for supporting his family and rising up in rank by hard work and determination are suddenly thrown topsy-turvy by his sudden and inexplicable transformation into a man-sized insect. Such fiction is said to emphasize the fact that human consciousness, being finite in nature, can never make complete sense of, or successfully order, a universe that is infinite in its aspects and possibilities.
Irrealism is the Impossible and the Unexplainable laid as foundation for an art form that can directly communicate, by feeling rather than articulation, the uncertainties inherent in human existence and the irreconcilability between human aspiration and human reality.
This suspension of the temporal extrapolation of causality requires a vantage point outside of the law of causality, (that every phenomenon and corresponding qulia has a predetermining cause).
The balls falls down because you threw it up because of therule: what goes up must come down. This fundamental layman’s interpretation of Newtonian laws of motion of course derives from a specific time frame that is pre space travel. To travel back to this context and suggest that this law may not always apply universally and that there are contexts such as weightlessness for which the causal relation does not exist, is an example of irrealism.
To suggest to Newton that what goes up doesn’t necessarily come down is to express an unreality to Issaic based on the context of his understanding. Moreover as Newton’s laws of motion are universally adopted as convention, to assert this truth too loudly will get you locked up in a mental asylum.
Those of us living Newton’s Impossibility know that whether or not the ball falls down is completely dependent on the existing context. To suggest a state of weightlessness to Newton’s context is an irrealism. It is false within the given context but true in a greater but remoter context. What we call ‘real’ appears to be exterior to us and perception-independent when in fact, it is neither. Irrealism exposes the mythic unreality underlying our virtual fixed world, the world we manifest with our minds by responding to certain stimuli in our environment. These stimuli and their interpretation sketch the internal map of our presumed outer world experience.
It is because of this out of context impossibilities that Irrealism is considered to be dream-like in nature, which is a justifiable description so long as we remember that the Irreal representation does not relate a particular dream that we might have had but instead evokes aspects of the dream-state within the work. Irrealist objects occupy our dreams as props for symbolic meanings much as one reads the symbolism within a medieval painting or a film wherein every object captured is there for a meaningful reason.
To understand that reality exists both outside of and inside of perception,( not in one or the other soley nor both together), is to glimpse the tapestry of infinite possibility divorced from the coincidences of causality. Quoting the American philosopher Nelson Goodman “as much as we might try to order our world with a certain set of norms and goals (which we refer to as the real world), the paradox of a finite consciousness in an infinite universe creates a zone of irreality. The Irreal is that which lies beyond [or behind], the real”) that offsets, opposes, or threatens the real world of the human subject.
Irrealist art highlights this irreality, and our fascination with it, by combining the unease we feel from a world that doesn’t conform to our desires; with the narrative quality of a dream state wherein safe and familiar realities are being constantly undermined.
“We are not speaking in terms of multiple possible alternatives to a single actual world but of multiple actual worlds.] Goodman makes no assertions regarding “the way the world is” and that there is no primary world version i.e. “no true version compatible with all true versions.” nor world-versions” of the world”. Instead he describes worlds as “made by making such versions”. As Goodman says, “Not only motion, … but even reality is relative.”
Irrealist art shows us this.
A successful irreal work of art, music or literature confronts its audience with a perception that cannot simply be translated as merely a fantasy, speculative or as a symbolist work. . Thus cut off from the familiar context of what is possible and ultimately explainable, impossible, one is left alone in the company of the absurd. It is thus communicates directly, “by feeling rather than articulation, the uncertainties inherent in human existence or, to put it another way… the irreconcilability between human aspiration and human reality.”
The artist Tristan Tondino writes, “Realism is an Irrealism. Reality is plurality – we partially create it, and we must open our universes and our perceptions to all possible versions of it.
Irrealism is a vaccine for living with the truth of uncertainty
A new acquaintance asked me why I endured relative poverty and uncertainty in California when I could easily take a tech copywriting or PR job and be living comfortably.
I answered, for which I’m sure someone reading this might wonder the same.
The answer is not simple and all has to do with my commitment to art and to the art of writing. It’s somewhat like a religious or spiritual calling; certainly as requisite of sacrifice and discipline as a monastery. (Read James Joyce’s Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man, if you need further elucidation on the subject). To become a great artist, which is what I believe I am becoming at this late stage of my life (or will at least die trying to be), takes total focus and constant dedication.
Not just to creation but to observation. Many of my best friends are not just poets and artists but scientists and mathematicians because they are processing their own observations through their own disciplines. When we talk and share words they read me and hear me, they comprehend how we’re all pursuing the same thing: the truth about life and the lives we are living.
Science and Art are really just two different vantage points in the same universe. During our Rennaisance there was no such separation between science, engineering and art. Just look at Da Vincis’s sketches if you don’t believe me. And this underlines the true failing of the formal education systems. No purely structured system can account for, much less process the unstructured data of experience.
But one truth I have learnt along this way is that we are all connected; both as a species and as sentient beings. Not just to those existing in the moment we all share but for all of us, from the very beginnings of awareness and rational self-consciousness. We are all brothers and sisters of the same mind, the same awareness that is awake and cognicent.
We all share the same biology of the mind. I imagine that when extraterrestrial sentient life is contacted, it will be the poets and artists most open to the new who will not only best describe and communicate qualitative meanings with them but decipher their language(s) to communicate with them (more of “us”?), before the actual scientists can interpret their data and the military can rationalize the threat.
From the point of commonality; this sentience itself has a common shape or form in all of us throughout time and geography. It is our human nature.
My words try to sketch its outline.
Without needing to name a god, the Buddhists have been attempting to describe this commonality of all sentient beings, for thousands of years. In art and yes, in poetry too. It’s what poetry is for: to describe the indescribable that is true for all of us, to all of us.
The known shining its single torch down a darkened corridor to the unknown. The unknown (not the unknowable), has always been our mind’s final frontier.
We weren’t born yesterday. We did not just become aware of consciousness. The history of consciousness is the history of us, of the ‘you’ that is reading and comprehending these words.
You are no different in awareness than the Neanderthal who stumbled out of her cave and looked up at the stars in wonder. Every astronomer I have ever known harbors that exact same wonder. Our tools maybe bigger, faster and deadlier but our minds haven’t changed, just adapted to our tools. They’re physiologically still the same; and only enhanced by the evolution of language, both associative, symbolic and metaphoric.
This is where we alll connect. The commonality of our senses’ perception and their comprehension. This is what is meant by ‘realisation’. When we make the world real. When we realise that the truths we know from our senses connect us to the world as intimately as to each other.
These are the materials I use to create art.
But why not get a day job? I will have to. I have learned all I can stomach for now about the tangible reality of poverty. I have made some great and tragic friends outside my walls of privilege and comfort. But when I first detected my dwindling resources, I panicked. I borrowed gas money from friends, slept in beachside campsites for free and spent too many days in chic cafes nursing one cup of coffee and a refill just to write, just to connect with the non poverished. I. applied for every job I was qualified for and hustled my books even harder.
But this did not avert my panic and the fear, until it passed of its own. And you already knnow: nothing is ever as bad or as long as we first imagine it to be. That’s when I understood how many of my needs, weren’t needs at all and that I could live without the comforting requisites of a middle class existence, just fine. In some ways better.
Less consumption = less waste.
There’s what I want and what I can have and if I diminish my wants, I can have have everything I want.
When you don’t have any money, you don’t spend any money and that initself is a good thing.
The last argument that pursuaded me of the virtue of experiencing this lifestyle is that if I really wanted to write for wider audience in a profound and meaningful way, that I might need to understand and empathize with the truth of our human condition across the entire economic spectrum, not just those who can afford to buy books
And the truth is that the vast majority of “us”do not live a middle class lifestyle and that the majority of “us” struggle every day to earn what is called a living and yet seldom ressembles it.
I have met so many, so many poor people living on the streets in one of the wealthiest cities in the wealthiest state in the union, in the wealthiest nation in the world.
None of us can afford to rest within our illusion of justice and freedom until poverty is no longer the default state of the human condition in America. Remember, poverty is a prison from which escape is difficult. But if we truly want to say that we live in the land of the free, then we must free our citizens from the prison of poverty.
They are “us” as well. Not charitable”us”, not pitiful “us”, not lazy, drug taking, alcoholic “us”.
I have talked in depth with enough of the so-called “homeless”. to recognize them for who they really are: The Poor. You know, those people Jesus was always talking about and Charles Dickens and Emile Zola wrote about? The idea that those without homes choose to live that way is a bigoted urban myth that need to be quashed.
Yes, may of the poor have real problems with alcohol, drugs and severe mental illness. But so does every other group and class of people I have ever known. The rich and the middle class aren’t exempt from alcohol, drugs and craziness; in fact they can afford more!
How then are we less connected as human beings? Or is “humaness” only measured by level of income?
When I moved back to California to look after my mother, I was immediately struck by the avalanche of poverty that had engulfed my home town. As is every other foreign visitor to California, by the way. No tour of Balboa Park or visit to Sea World can eradicate the open poverty that everyone can see on the streets of San Diego. Which now more closely ressemble the streets of Port-au-Prince, Haiti or the extreme poverty that can be found in some places in Mexico, than any American city.
The first thing that went was the last vestage of regional or even national pride. It is a crime against humanity for so rich a city as San Diego to maintain the level of homeless poverty that is evident to anyone who visits us. It is “our” fault. Because we are also connected to the impoverished and the socially weak.
You know, what Jesus was saying.
If I am to write the truth for those who want to read or hear the truth, then I ought to know what is lying outside the walls my middle class habits and worldview. What is it really like, not just for the impoverished but for the vast majority of Californians who also now live beyond the walls of middle class sensibilities, paycheck by paycheck?
Haunted by the memories of its long gone comforts.
What does it mean to be a human being living in America right now, in 2020. Aren’t we all supposed to have jertpacks by now?
What is the Truth of our American selves?
As Tony Morriosn said “The whole point of freedom is to free others”.
To my friends who have offered their support, I thank each one of you. I will never forget your kindness and your humaness.
Yes I have a new book coming out in the fast approaching Spring. It’s entitled TAKE A DEEP BREATH, A Book of Remedies and will feature much of the writing and accounts of experiences of truth that I have had living in California these last 5 years.
San Diego poets are wet gutter snipers Taking pot shots at frivolous affluence and misspent eternities From the street corners and back alleys of our prematurely grey dementias.
San Diego poets cast lines like fishing reels Screaming curses at angels in heels while Humming blues tunes to the damned, under our breaths.
San Diego poets spit surreal spiels into ribbons of unfurling images That rain down like bright pathetic confetti Against a blank horizon of an empty human empathy.
San Diego poets slide their wild, horse hair bows Across taut, tied strings that sing Above a psychedelic landscape of the gradually worsening human condition
You and me are not blind instruments of self-immolation. We do not have to sit at the center of the fire to make it our home. We can play our songs on sad air violins And dance in the rain to drown our sorrows in the sea of greater uncertainty.
San Diego poets press our runny noses against The pained windows of badly lit coffeeshops and crafty bookstores, Hosting poetry readings for the over groomed; Those educated only in the blind arrogance of their own judgements.
San Diego poets litter the streets with our menial typewriters Preaching doomsday fire sales to tourists and Liberation to those still hounded by carnivorous ambitions In the current climate of fear that tries to pass itself off as survival.
San Diego poets never have enough money to buy you a drink But will spare you a cig-regret – –if you’re willing to spare the change you need you to make –to make your tomorrow just a little bit better.
San Diego poets are all clowns, fools and charlatans Keeping ourselves amused on the ragged streets of cold hangover dawnings Whilst skipping around and dancing through the circus of mediocrity that pervades us.
San Diego poets migrate like flocks of hummingbirds Seeking warmer climes and heartfelt compassions. Blurring our wings the whole distance in getting there.
Go Fuck Yourself, you pathetic failure. Leave the arts to the poets, the dancers and the painters Go get yourself a real job, a real vocation. Fuck off and leave those of us who fight for our culture alone. Fuck off and stop leeching the creative spirits of the secular martyrs who have sacrificed their lives on the holy altar of Art, Truth and Freedom. Go Fuck Yourselves! And each other in your sleazy stinking orgy of self-gratifying bigotry and weeping pustule aesthetics.
Go Fuck Yourself in the Ass With Your Own Extended Nose Go let yourself get fucked in the ass by all the bogus arts nonprofits that pocket tax money to further their own finances while cheating artists and reviewers out of their livings.
Go write yourself a grant.
Write up your mission statement in day-glow gold-gilded writing. Put on your ‘supporter-of-the-arts’ makeup Keep counting the coins in your bookseller’s till While prescribing the rules that determines who is in and who is other.
Go Fuck Yourself and try reading a book for a change. Go read Whitman, Bukowski, Anais Nin and Henry Miller on art. Let William Burroughs into your dreams. Go get yourself a self education. In the meantime, shut up, sit down and just listen: You are the enemy of art, the enemy of poetry, the enemy of life. And we’re coming for you. Because all you are is in the way.
She said Hii! I said hello She said let’s go for a drink. I said sure. She asked ‘what are you having’? I said, whatever you want. She said, thank you for thinking of me first. I said your pleasure is all mine.
Later she sent me a text. ‘Have you ever tried phone sex’? She said. I said ‘Sure’. She said how about now? I said I need to go home. She said she did too, She sends me a naked picture of herself.
“Are you hard”? She asks ‘Sure’, I said. “I want you to fuck me”, She said. ‘Shall I come over’? I say. “No”, she said. “Let’s meet and fuck tomorrow. But for right now, just this moment Can you just talk to me”? ‘Sure, ‘I said.
“Right now I just want you to tell me how you’d like to fuck me. ‘Do you want me to come over,’ I said again. “No,” she said, “Don’t come over Just talk to me and make me cum. I just love the sound of your voice”. ‘Sure’, I said. And she did. ‘Are we still getting together tomorrow by the fountain in the park’? I asked, after a while. ‘Of course’, she said. ‘Great’, I said.
The next morning she sent me a message: “I’m sorry but your age is something I just can’t get past, I’m not meeting you next to the fountain, I’m sorry. You’re just too old and I shouldn’t have let things go so far I just can’t get past that; your age” ‘Sure’, I said. ‘Neither can I without fatal results’. She did not laugh “I’m sorry, but that’s how I feel” She said. ‘That’s how you feel’, I said. Later that morning I died my hair black and left dark stains in the sink.
Everyone wants to be free. ven from the things that once gave us comfort. We are like children who swap our blankets For softer ground.
So why do you wait to be free When the keys to your cage Are hanging right outside your front door? Reach through the bars with your hand Stretch your fingers far and bend your will around the bars.
Your mind is your best friend, your best teacher, your best doctor, Whether you believe it or not. In spite of everything you’ve done to yourself, Your mind really does care about you and often thinks of you, quite fondly.
Just let your mind mend itself Heal yourself with a few choice words. Your own words. When you say:
The truth is not a cold tombstone The truth is not a judgement The truth is a flowering realisation inside your own living mind. Pulling you outwards, & forwards, enraptured by Time.
When my breath and My will are as one, The universe swallows me Whole.
13,200 brown children are detained. Taken from the arms of their parents by American immigration authorities. Infants are held tightly, cared for by other children In dirty, neglectful, and dangerous conditions That scar the southern border of the American Dream The SCOTUS Jenny Flores settlement mandates by law that children must be held in safe and sanitary conditions, “Moved out of Border Patrol custody without unnecessary delays”. This is the Federal Law Except children are taking care of children on the south side of Border Town
The conditions the human lawyers found, they found inhuman Flu and lice outbreaks left untreated, Children filthy, Sleeping on cold floors, Guarding each other from the guards. Most have been there for weeks. Constantly switching blankets between covers and floor mats. Everyone is crying, crying all the time Only children are taking care of children on the south side of Border Town
Across El Rio Grande; across that lazy river A scared little girl stands on the safe American shore; then jumps back in El Rio To reach her father and cling to him as he swims back to Mexican shore to retrieve her mother. El Rio’s currents care not of human intent; The river just flows and it flows and it flows, Until the little girl and her father are washed up, facedown on the shore. Her arm still protecting him, curled around his neck. You know, just like your daughters and mine have done countless times before. Dead children are taking care of their dead parents on the south side of Border Town.
A treacherous river divides this nation There are twisting bends and perilous nationalist waters to traverse. When death took the scared little girl and her father, I hope he took them together So that they can be forever together If only in the little girl’s dream. When will we stop murdering the poor just for being poor? The only document you need to prove you’re human is the record of your deeds While children are taking care of children on the south side of Border Town
A 2-year-old boy locked in detention, wants to be held all of the time. He has wet his pants and has no diaper He is wearing a mucus-smeared shirt. He does not speak. Two detained girls, ages 10 to 15, have been doing their best to feed and soothe the clingy toddler. Children taking care of children The 10 year old girl speaks for the quiet boy: “A Border Patrol agent came yesterday and asked me’: ‘Who wants to take care of this quiet little boy who nobody wants?’ So I said us. Because only children are taking care of children on the south side of Border Town
“Nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” ~ The US Constitution
Once again the ghostly powers of Facebook have judged me and found me wanting.
Or wanting of the veneer of non threatening, amiable posts. Nothing that would offend a Humming Bird of nerve endings. A Calvinist shaking in their boots. I’m not a Facebook post, you don’t have to like me!
My grave offence was to post a photograph of the great American poet Allen Ginsberg standing naked on a Moroccan beach. The original naked poet; metaphor and literal combined into one. His words, not his images were deemed obscene way back in the last century. There was a public trial and unlike Socrates, Ginsberg (and City Lights, the publisher) were both found not guilty of obscenity. Howl was deemed a work of art and protected under the first amendment. Why doesn’t Facebook abide by the first amendment instead of hiding like a coward behind their Emerald City curtain of Community Standards?
And why don’t Americans know their own history?
I had the opportunity to meet and talk with Allen Ginsberg during my Freshman year, when he had come to do a reading and lead a group meditation paying his dreadful table accordion. Was I 17 or 18? I was studying Heidegger and Charles Olsen, the Action Poet; Kandinsky’s New York roommate right round 1959 thereabouts, when the photo of Ginsberg on the Beach was taken. But I knew all of his work, inside and out. I was never gay but Ginsberg made me want to be!
I had stopped Allen in an outdoor corridor lined by lawn between two campus buildings. I was armed with my copy of the first edition City Lights Kaddish epic that I had found by blissful chance in the long gone used intelligentia bookstore at the corner of College and El Cajon Blvd, in San Diego, over a lifetime ago.
Allen looked at my book and gladly signed it. “I haven’t seen a first edition of these in years!” I told Allen about the used book store in San Diego where I had gone through all of his poetry and Kerouac and Cassidy’s First Third and Dylan’s Tarantula, Alan Watts, D.T. Suzuki’s 3 volume Essays on Zen, all bought and consumed at this temple to beatitude at the cross roads of the world. I didn’t tell him how in high school we used to climb to the top of Cowell Mountain and howl the words to Howl at the valley unfolding beneath us. We didn’t know what hungry junkies were quite yet, but it sounded good and it was real. As real as the suburbs of San Diego can ever be.
In the past present, Allen handed me my book, more of a pamphlet, back and looked me up and down and smiled. It was a genuine smile and not the least bit lecherous considering what he said next. “Would you like to come up to my room, it’s just over graduate housing? I can show you some poem books you haven’t seen. I knew what he meant but I was so stunned dumb by the proposition (Allen Ginsberg!). I stuttered something still trying to make up my mind before I spoke. But alas, fear of the unknown vanquished my curiousity or perhaps it was my vanity to be loved by a star that was defeated.
Nonetheless I must of said something because we went on our merry ways, my thanking him a little too profusely and the back of his bald head bobbing down the corridor.
So when I posted the photo a young Allen standing nude on a Morrocan beach, I kind of felt like I had earned the right to share his image, naked and vulnerable for the sake of a poetry reading which it was more than certain that someone would recite a Ginsberg-eque poem.
The Philistines may have conquered the machines but not me as of yet.
Existence is a limitless screen of emptiness Vibrant with jubilant celebrations. And gratitude for the joy in rolling a boulder blissfully up this steep hill. Tripping over our own thoughts like loosened cobblestones, We no longer see the reality directly in front of us.
The truth is a truce we struck with certainty ages ago. After losing the desperate struggle… To cling to some kind of hope buried deep beneath the root of ourselves. I am fearful of fully failing myself and yet I love myself best when I am alone with eternity.
This morning after sitting around and paying attention to nothing for a long while, the pedestrian thought that loitered and would not keep moving down the sidewalk became a realisation.
My self, which I know is an illusion, a trick of perception, occupies too much of my time. I know this fully with my mind even if my heart still clings to safe delusions.
The easiest thoughts to dismiss are the good ones, the comforting ones. The memories of past loves long gone. My mother’s unconditional love, my sister’s devoted, admiring love. The eulogies and compliments I’ve received over time from those who have borne the patience to get to know me just a little bit beyond our facades.
The pleasure I took in surprising my friends with my true nature is easily exiled, easily erased from the Book of Illusion resting on my dusty shelf. But today I awakened to the fact that so it is of the slings and arrows my memory flings at me. The regrets, the failures, the self-loathing for being so much less than I imagine myself to be.
I have welcomed hatred like a long lost friend. When I am targeted by malice or false accusations, I somewhere believe that I am well deserving of acrimony; that deep within me is a broken porcelain doll wearing a torn, stained dress. I have sought refuge in self-hatred, in depression, in the idle futility of it all.
After all, cynicism is just another mask worn by our own complacency.
This morning, the light shone on me and I laughed at how insidious my vanity could be. To soak in self-loathing is as deluded as celebrating false glories. None of my past is real apart from what I insist on carrying into this present like a troublesome burden; weighing down my footsteps. Stalling the will to keep on moving, with the current, a little further down the road. Misery, the sister of Narcissus, loves company and the good liquor I buy her. But she’s too needy and crazy and no real friend of mind.
I may feel brave wrestling with my demons but they are in truth, made of the same scattered dust as my angels.
My Buddha tells me that enlightenment lies in the transcendence of seeming dualities. The trick of mind in seeing beyond black and white to the full spectrum and subtleties of the colors surrounding me. I can hold my inner sense of self, both magnanimous and self-damning, one in each hand and then bring those hands together, accepting both as one simultaneous truth.
I can know myself completely, even the parts left out.
Rumi says that beyond right and wrong, beyond good and evil, lies the desert of disillusionment.
At the end of the desert there is an oasis and in the middle of the oasis is a fountain and that fountain is the source of all Life.
Do me a favour, next time you feel down about yourself, undeserving of love, miserable and useless; do not blow the feelings away but rather hold them in one hand. Then with the other hand conjure the feelings of pride, of self-worth of glorious love. Hold each sense of yourself like a ball in each of your hands while substituting either/or with both/and. Now bring your hands together in gratitude for the whole of who you are.
I didn’t get her name.
It was a hot and wet Saturday night;
So I left the screen door wide open
Hoping for a change in the weather.
She strolled in like the queen of Sheeba riding a breeze.
Her inspection was on schedule.
She allowed me to imagine that it was my company she was after.
Earnestly engaging my eyes with her face.
Which she put close to mine and stared into my eyes.
As if she were the only soul left on earth who still loved me.
All the while she scanned the kitchen floor out of the corner of her feline eye,
I became fascinated by her calm, steady gaze.
Once having assessed my meagre, modest, means
She walked straight back out the door she had walked through.
And out of my life again.
Leaving me to gaze at the space she had deliberately left behind.
In the end, it was the numbers that did us in.
They lined us up into military rows
And assigned us all numbers
One after one after one after one after one….
How many, nobody knows.
You see, it’s a numbers game
It’s all the same
You’re not your name
You’re your numbers.
Let me explain how it’s done,
And how this game can never be won.
See, there are good numbers and bad numbers
High numbers and sad numbers.
Sometimes high numbers are good and low numbers are bad
And sometimes low numbers are good and high numbers are sad.
It all depends on who is counting.
Not you or me
Not the numbers either.
They don’t know, they’re just numbers after all.
The numbers are counting on each other.
Just not you or me
Because we will never be free
Of Big Numbers and small numbers,
Negative numbers and imaginary numbers,
You see, it’s a numbers game.
It’s all the same
You’re not your name
You’re your numbers.
Let me explain
How it’s done.
And how this game can never be won.
Credit Score number
Zip code number
Blood pressure number
Heart rate number
DOB & TOD numbers
Dog tags number
Social Security number
Bank account number
Vehicle registration number
Alcohol level number
Height, weight and age number
I hear you scream:
“I’m not a number, I’m a human being!!”
Sure you are,
Now take a number.
It’s for your own protection
There’s safety in numbers.
Numbers can answer all of your questions:
How far, how long, how deep, how high, how many,
Just not ‘how come’?
Anyone can count,
But you can’t count on anyone.
See, it’s a numbers game
That can’t be won
It’s a numbers game
It’s just how it’s done.
It’s all the same.
You’re not your name
You’re your numbers.
Now count to ten
And start all over again.
For Rob Thompson who asked me if Numbers occupy Space.
I am a paper bag, I am.
I am only as good as what I can carry.
I am a paper bag, I am.
I’m not the smart one,
I’m not the successful one.
I’m not the tall one who always won and
I am a paper bag.
I’m only as good as what I can carry.
I am a paper bag,
I’m not plastic or burlap, not I.
I am paper: rough, brown and thin
I’m not waterproof, you know.
And I can’t hold any liquids or gases within.
I only have the energy for stuff that really matters.
I’m a paper bag.
I’m only as good as what I can carry.
I am a paper bag.
Wrinkled and used and too often abused
Thrown on the floor.
Buried deep inside your drawers.
I am a paper bag.
I cannot ask you for anything more
I’m only as good as what I can carry.
This blog is now my sole cognitive link to the outside world.
At least today it is.
I can’t physically be where I need to be so I’m posting here thinking that if enough people read my status, that it somehow puts me in the real world of social transactions and mini Games of Thrones.
Victory is not defeated but ailing.
I put my black steel steed in the hands of Spencer, the young mechanic who plays my Sancho Panza in this story. He’s humble because all of Victory’s afflictions are his fault. But I don’t rub it in.
“Sancho,” I say. “There’s no point in wasting time in pointing fingers. It’s never really just one cause, usually a combination of factors. I’m just glad that you’re willing to drive out here at 7 in the morning to take a look”.
I help Sancho Panza push my bike up into the back of his truck.
One good reason I’ve found for being nice (or civil, as I used to call it), is because so few people really are. Oh, they want to be taken for nice people alright; and would be highly distressed to find that others might think otherwise. Being nice provides a tactical advantage.
Although, I liked Spencer the young bike mechanic. An engineer in practice if not in credentials. My bike is first up this morning so if it can be fixed, it will be fixed in time for me to hit the 5 for San Diego and the Pancakes and Booze Art Market where I’m exhibiting some of my mother’s works for sale right next to Mario Torero. Sell some watercolours, some pastels and loads of books I hope.
I enjoy the role of an “art-barker”.
It feels like an honest effort for very little pay; however, the rewards are luxurious.
There are so many jobs that aren’t so and so many professions that once were and have since gone astray into the mercenary end of pure commercial exploitation. Marketing people use the term ‘exploitation’ to refer to the product they’re peddling but what they really mean is the market they want to buy it.
“Don’t say you support the arts, buy some!” is my shill.
So if my Victory is assured and returned to me by 3, I will make my way south on the 5 lane asphalt ribbon to the City on the Bay.
Last night I missed the ceremony for the official induction of 3 copies of IS SHE AVAILABLE? into the central library’s local author collection. Not just me, but that of my historic friend Chris Ernest Nelson, as well. His book Harvest lying right next to IS SHE? in a glass case.
Just like William Blake at the British Library when it used to be a separate building from the British Museum. And Joe Orton’s mutilated library books for which he spent prison time inside, now under glass inside the Islington Library in London, the very library he stole them from in the first place. In England, they put both the author and the work behind glass. In England, people go to jail for unpaid library fines. And mutilating books into art collages.
So I missed by success at convincing the library to take my book which they rejected at least twice. Once because it didn’t fit into their category system, the second because of Michael S Kane‘s Andy Warhol/Jack Kirby Madonna and child. But no child, just Mother Mary nurturing a revolver.
It’s been the image that has caused the most alarm and offence amongst bookstores, book buyers and of course libraries. I have been closing high order deals with chains on more than one occasion, only to have the buyer happen to land on Shaky’s spread and immediately handing my book back to me. Atta-boy Shaky, I’m living on desperation row thanks to you!
The irony is that our intention from the beginning was to apparently offend. There is nothing specifically offensive or pornographic about the image of a pre-pubescent blond girl holding a big pink gun. Not even the word ‘Vagina’ standing out in Rian Hughes‘s sculptural typography of the text to the poem.
In fact, there’s nothing offensive or shocking about the image at all, just the impression that one will be shocked. And of course, the real content, the real meaning of the poem and the illustration is that gun-violence is what we should really be offended and shocked by and yet are no longer. Judge for yourself below.
At any rate, I am home alone; sound but unsafe, calmly nervous by events beyond my control that are inevitably unfolding. G/d will pretend, when the time comes, that the end of the world was what he had planned all along.
Last night was kind of my XXXmas eve, being a Saturday night, with no ghosts to placate until Monday morning. So I took my Victory out for a long ride, 46 miles down to Chula Vista to drop in on my drunken-angel-poet-brothers Alex Bosworth and Chris Vannoy. As I told them, I’ve never stopped in Chula Vista before, only passed through it; well on my way to crossing the border between Mexico and Madness.
Back in the Beatnik Days, when America was still a Great Shining Beacon of Golden Intentions and jail-breaking freedoms, going south of the border was a euphemism for leaving the straight rational world and exploring the psychedelic corridors and hallways of the unconscious mind, where the muses played poker to the sound of Gabriel’s saxophone under a streetlamp, playing for spare change, playing for the end of time. Kesey, Cassidy, Timothy Leary had all spent time south of the border, hiding from the authority.
But I wasn’t going all the way south or crossing any borders. Instead, like a Boddhisatva practising the discipline of worldly compassion, I was riding south on the great American highway stopping just short of going over the edge. Stopping long enough for the rest of my sentient species to hop on board and cross over with me. How long I gotta wait? The blur of the wind in my eyes transforms Inter-state 5 into a two-lane river of white headlight diamonds on one end heading towards but past me and on the other end, a torrent of glistening rubies speeding with me, flowing around me, carrying me forwards in one high speed direction.
I was carried on a slipstream of glistening rubies last night. Chilled legs wrapped around my angel in flight, carrying me aloft above all thought, beyond all hesitation, in that dangerous living moment when every half second of thought is solid and real with consequence; and any distraction is a trap door thumping open under the hangman’s rope.
That is the fury of mediation. That is my arrival in this moment that we all share. The calm at the center of chaos. Join me, dear reader, at the centre of chaos.
So I’m heading south armed with an unopened bottle of rye, the spirit of the season travels with me. Good whisky is about as spiritual as I get these days. It is my usual Xmas tradition to grab a bottle of good booze and head down to the Greyhound station, or the street corner, outside a homeless shelter or an alleyway or anywhere I can find and join a cluster of the disaffected, the homeless, the pointless, the ones left out of family portraits. Just to share a drink, a joke and the dregs of our mutual humanity.
But this year, not particularly in contrast, I’ve chosen the company of Deadbeat poets, failed self-construction workers, mental hospital misfits, suicide skippers and gravel-voiced prophets capable of predicting the present with uncanny accuracy. Cassandra’s children muttering under their condensed breaths, scratching their prophecies from the oracle down for the benefit of anyone who still remembers how to read; or how to listen. Tonight these are my brothers (and sisters), in arms. Raging against a sea of struggles, believing that by opposing them, we will end them and wrap our soiled blankets of peace around this cold, shivering world’s shoulders.
Dead Beat Poets
I make it to Main Street much too early and agree to meet my comrades in a bar called Sanctum. I have no currency apart from my still untried bottle of rye so I stand outside on the pavement near but not too near two young women smoking butts and laughing. ‘Merry Xmas’, I venture.
‘Merry fucking Xmas to you too’, is their reply. So I listen. A skill I am still mastering. The raven-haired beauty of the pair is recounting her love life to her friend. Telling her how she had met her intended’s eyes at work, a burning penetration in time and how happy she was that at least she knew, that she knew that she knew that there was an unstated passion, thrilling at the unstated, as yet unenacted attraction between them.
The bittersweet anticipation of passions yearned for but still yet to come.
I wanted to tell the dark-haired young woman how lucky she was to be free to express such yearning to another woman. Jealously, I wanted her to pity my poor lame masculinity and the political mindfield I had to traverse to even come close to sharing such a pure moment of true emotion and affection. But I didn’t. Who wants to hear another pitiful man’s story anyways? This was the year of raised female voices. Voices raised in anger, in righteous retribution for all the wrongs accrued., in demand of recognition. Voices of freedom insisting on justice, insisting on equal treatment without unwanted trespass.
Poor me, poor me, pour me another drink. . . .
So instead I pulled out my weapon of virtue, my great equalizer of man and woman, my bottle of rye from my bag and asked if ‘You ladies would like a drink”. “Hell yes”. And for a brief instant, I felt just like St. Peter patrolling the earth and giving comfort to lost souls.
This murdered the time until my wordly brothers finally arrived. We poured from the bottle into bright red dixie cups, swigging them down in the parking lot before entering the warmth of Sanctum Ale House to talk poetry, performance, and what we were going to do with the rest of our lives. This was beginning to feel a lot like a rendezvous of fallen angels pausing for a drink and brief reflection before hitting Hell.
There was no reason to take a picture or a selfie or even take note of the time. We drank, we talked, we tried to make each other laugh and we indulged in our common humanity; a focus on what we shared more than what we didn’t.
My mind spun back in time to the many drinking conversations I had with my late great friend, the writer David Halliwell. The only man I had ever met who had got drunk with Sam Beckett. So David told this story of buying a bottle of good Irish whisky and taking the train to London, from Yorkshire. Easily a 4-hour journey. On the trip, David got nervous opened the bottle and drank half the contents on the way down arriving completely cut up the King’s Road party where San Beckett would be. He did find Beckett apparently and immediately sat down to finish the rest of the bottle he’d brought. David got so drunk he couldn’t remember a word that Sam Beckett had said to him.
Last night, I told Chris and Alex about the year that David called me up to join him for a Xmas drink and The Bull Tavern in the little North East Oxfordshire village of Charlbury, whose village council insisted on calling it a town because it had 4 pubs, a pharmacy and a post office.
I walked down the unpaved bumpy road to the tavern, past the Egyptian cottage with the papyrus reeds of Isis, the Goddess, not the terrorists. I reached The Bull pub and Inn, Opened the heavy oak door and walked into a movie. The pub was nearly empty save for the bar that featured David on his bar stool holding court with his mates. Only his mates were images burnt on my retinas since childhood: John Hurt, Ben Kingsley, David Warner, Freddie Jones and his son, then unknown now better known than him, Toby Jones. I remember blinking in disbelief. I might as well have walked in on Lewis Carrol, Tolkien and CS Lewis downing pints all who had also frequented this pub some hundred years previously.
I remember David smiling, laughing his phlegmatic cough and motioning me over to introduce me to these faces from the screen. “This is Igor, he’s another writer; he’s a Yank but he’s alright”. I was just another writer in the company of actors, everyday workers taking a break from toiling in the star-maker factories behind the popular film. I was handed a bulbous goblet of glowing ruby wine and the rest is hard to remember. But I do recall making them laugh and David Warner towering over me and reminiscing about his one appearance in a two-part Star Trek opposite Patrick Stewart that had earned him enough to comfortably return to the stage for 7 continuous years. Apart from young Toby, these were board strutting actors; indifferent and virtually contemptuous of their movie work save for the vast sums Hollywood paid them for peddling their trade of packaged emotions.
The next year most of them would be dead, David Halliwell included. I would empty his cottage with a Scottish actor of his while his Yorkshire sister wept inconsolably on his stairwell. In England, people let you weep and leave you to the dignity of your grief out of respect for the exceptional display of emotion. If you openly weep in England its because the pain is so hard that you really can’t hold it in.
Back in the Sanctuum, I explained to my companions how David had taught me the true meaning and value of the literary arts, which for David included actors who tell stories with their faces. Storytelling’s place in the human universe, keeping the stars locked in their firmament and the cosmic spheres in perfectly balanced and meaningful rotation. David Halliwell wasn’t famous. He died a virtual pauper, alone, estranged from his sister, a Yorkshire man with an RSC accent from wanting to be an actor, who wrote every day of his life before heading down to the pub to argue with me.
But he was a great success, albeit not by any kind of American Calvinist standard. Rather he succeeded in staying true to his art. He never sold out to better-paid mediocrity. He stayed true to his art, to himself and he survived with the respect and admiration of his fellow artists. When he died, I wrote and read this eulogy at his memorial, after Harold Pinter came up from Hampstead to say a few words about his departed friend. As did Stephen Frears and Scott Hampton (author of Les Liaisons Dangereuses).
I read this poem to David to my friends Alex Bosworth and Chris Vannoylast night. And in my mind, I went hunting and visiting my own xmas ghosts to remind me of the true joys of this season.
Daedalus Afraid to Fly
David, you bastard, you’ve left me
Understanding here alone,
With only these words falling out of my hands
When it is yours I want to hear again.
Words of your mastery, not mine.
So what was all the swearing about then, David?
What were all those Northern fumes really burning from?
I told you the songs of Yorkshire would never play in LA
Or London for that matter):
Two cities equidistant from your Yorkshire mother.
Tell me, David, why didn’t you just sell out?
You could have bought yourself a much better pint of beer
With all that money for old knotted ropes and
Still, have coughed up the phlegm to laugh at us all.
Is death your idea of some kind of joke?
Did you finally track down the film rights to Malcolm, David
And cash them in?
Are you really, secretly living in Barbados,
Making beautiful women miserable?
To think of all this wasted sorrow and
Empty glasses of beer.
You did say that you always wanted to visit other places.
But Daedalus, you were afraid to fly.
If you had been born upside down in America
You would have been a southern writer living in some Northern town.
Spilling your southern drawl over a rum and coke in a New York City bar.
Sitting elbow to arm with Williams, O’Neill, Baldwin and them all.
Your America was always an America of the mind.
So why fear the flight?
Your America David was where Charlie Parker
was forever sharp shooting pool with Humphrey Bogart
in some room behind a neon-splattered bar
Where Chet Baker never jumped or fell but flew, man!
He just flew away.
Just like you.
So you’re off then, David?
Back up the bumpy road,
Turning the corner around the Little Egyptian cottage
Navigating the reeds of Isis, Long past the close of time.
A brown duffle coat ship, bobbing on an unpaved surface,
Weaving a few well-spoken thoughts into your
Can you tell me, David:
Were you X-Centric, or
Merely Eggs Essential?
How about this time I tell you, David:
The spark was always there.
But not like Daedalus, like Prometheus.
The living punishment of Truth,
Chained to your bar stool,
That eternal pint of Carlsberg lager gnawing at your liver.
Like Prometheus David,
The spark is always here.
For the late, great David Halliwell; poet, playwright,
NOTHING has prepared you for This. Nothing ever will.
Because whatever is happening Now has never happened before.
This is a web-nurtured collaboration with 27 artists, sculptors and musicians from the world of Comics, Fantasy, Fine Art and Jazz, including Bill Sienkiewicz, David Lloyd, Liam Sharp, Glenn Fabry, Shaky Kane, Lars Henkel and the cutting edge sculptural typography of the highly acclaimed book designer Rian Hughes.
This illuminated book is a contemporary Dante’s Divine Comedy; a journey through the confessional landscape of a masculine identity. It uses poetry to construct a narrative that explores themes of death and loss, sex and love, and the modern American and Jewish identity design: by the UK’s eminent graphic designer, typographer, illustrator Rian Hughes.
The music is composed and produced by iconoclast, ex-Israeli, Middle-Eastern jazz virtuoso Gilad Atzmon, along with five other jazz artists.
Written by San Diego native Igor Goldkind, this illuminated book will revolutionize the way you view poetry by meshing comics, art, music and animation in a truly unique way. It uses poetry to construct a narrative that explores themes of death and loss, sex and love, and the modern American and Jewish identity. The book is available for download on the iTunes Store andGoogle Play, as well as in a 166 page, fully illustrated in colour hardbound edition available ORDER HERE.
The eBook edition pushes the edge of what is possible with present EPUB3 technology. It is not an App, it is a true book that marries pop art, comics, avant-garde, jazz, spoken word poetry, video and animations, and type design in a manner that we have not seen before IS SHE AVAILABLE? has the feel of an artefact from the near future – a seminal work of a new genre-fusing poetry, graphic art, music, and animation.
Sample interior pages:
IS SHE AVAILABLE? RRP is $34.95, SHIPPING INCLUDED Educational Discount for Students and Teachers:$29.95
Both deluxe hardcover edition PLUS animated and musically scored eBook App edition of Is She Available? bundle: $39.95
Shipping included in orders within the US and its territories.
If you are in Britain and/or Europe, please contact my European wholesaler Fanfare Productions who will take your order and dispatch to your address the same day: email@example.com
Reviews ? Sure We Got Reviews. Why You Wanna See Them? Be my guest.
“Igor’s “Illuminated Book” is like a new genre.It is a wonderful ekphrastic expression; a fusion of the arts.” — Poet Mel Takahara
“His collection Is She Available? has the feel of an artefact from the near future – a seminal work of a new genre-fusing poetry, graphic art, music, and animation.” —(San Diego’s) City Beat
“Is SHE Available?” is an experiment, and reading it feels more like an act of discovery… nonetheless there’s a thrill to scrolling through its pages. It’s an ambitious step toward what digital media can (and will) be.”—The Chicago Tribune
The166 full colour, fully illustrated hard cover deluxeedition is available in discerning and eclectic independent bookstores everywhere.Including Fahrenheit 451 in Carlsbad, Soulscape Bookstore in Encinitas, the Upstart Crow in San Diego, Verbatim Booksand Mysterious Galaxy also in San Diego, City Lights and the Cooperfields chain in Marin County and Sonoma County, amongst a growing number of independent book stores.
Order direct from PayPal and shipping is included!
The only way to explain Zen is by describing the sleepy mind. The sleepy mind describes a tree in terms of attributes and data: the number of leaves, the leaf shape, the number of branches, thickness of the trunk, the colour of bark. Which birds make use of the tree etc.
All these observable and measurable attributes are assembled as data by the sleepy mind and voila! the sleepy mind thinks it knows what a tree is. The sleepy mind can give arguments with citations about the validity of its data. The sleepy mind works well with other sleepy minds.
And the sleepy mind isn’t totally wrong, the data it compiles in reference to ‘tree’ are all real and quantifiable features of the tree. But no matter how exact or comprehensive, the data is not the tree nor even the experience of the tree.
The awoken mind merely says “Look, a tree”, and points.
Because there is no data that conveys the experience of that tree in the moment of your apprehension. The awoken mind, sees the leaves, the branches, the colour of the bark, the thickness of the trunk, which birds fly in and out of the tree as much and as well as the sleepy mind does.
But the awoken mind also sees that the spaces between the leaves are part of the tree. The negative space surrounding the tree. The unseen roots spread beneath the ground are part of the tree. The sunlight reflecting off the green of the leaves are part of the tree. The seat waiting to rest your back against the trunk is part of the tree. The awoken mind ‘see’s the tree; the form of the tree; the tree itself in all its ‘tree-ness’, the tree as a child sees a tree; not what the sleepy mind contrives to substitute as its surrogate.
I think this is the closest I can come to describing the Zen disposition. I say disposition because too much is made of practice and the philosophy of Zen when all are merely aids to assist in the unravelling of illusion and self-deception. Zen is not an acquisition of skills, rituals, garments or ideology; instead, Zen is relinquishment. It is a reminder to keep paying attention.Not acquiring but letting go: unravelling, stripping away layers of calloused skin, leaving your baggage behind and not looking back over your shoulder. In the words of the bard:
“My senses have been stripped, my hands can’t feel to grip My toes too numb to step”.
Buddhists will talk about the Buddha-nature as universal, the same as our original nature. Don’t listen to them. The face that first looked up at your mother’s face is still there, submerged and (sometimes suppressed), within you. All that Zen suggests is that we are encumbered by needless worry, anxiety, expectations, daydreams and nostalgias that have buried your true self under the rubble of your crumbling castle and keeps you from seeing the world and your place in it, with any clarity.
We are all distracted by anxieties and worries about money, about jobs, about partners and children. That distraction is manufactured by the powerful in the society we live in to keep us consuming, acquiescent and very sleepy! It doesn’t matter if you meditate or not; if you read poetry or not; if you drink tea or practice martial arts or not. It doesn’t matter how you get there or what you wear; just that you wake up and experience the miracle of persistent and unwavering creation. The universe is created, then destroyed then resurrected millions of times a second, faster than you can blink; so try and keep your eyes open!
I leave you once again with the immortal words of the Nobel Prize laureate:
“Then take me disappearing through the smoke rings of my mind
Down the foggy ruins of time, far past the frozen leaves
The haunted, frightened trees, out to the windy beach
Far from the twisted reach of crazy sorrow.
Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free
Silhouetted by the sea, circled by the circus sands
With all memory and fate driven deep beneath the waves
You don’t need Seymour Chwast, Chip Kidd and other designers to tell you that cartoons and comics are vital sources of creative inspiration (although they do that here). So maybe you’re thinking about exploring the graphic novel realm, but you’d like something more exceptional than usual, more out of the ordinary. Well, here’s the first of a series of suggestions that either defy or disregard categorization as comics. And the first, Is She Available?, is an eBook that also challenges conventional book classification in the process.
As you scroll through, you hear 1950s cool jazz in the background. Then gunfire blasts out of nowhere. A choir sings. Dogs bark. Bombs drop from the sky. And all the while, letterforms unexpectedly appear, tilt, transform, and vanish while spoken words interweave with the music and sound effects. Is She Available? is a trans-media poetry collection, one that pushes at the limits of eBook technology. It’s also comics, kind of.
Its author, Igor Goldkind, is a 2000AD comics sci-fi writer. He describes his 50 or so poems as “a contemporary Dante’s Inferno… that explores themes of death and loss, sex and love.” He’s included a couple of standard, panel-sequenced comic book narratives, including one rendered by V for Vendetta’s David Lloyd. But the bulk of the book is enlivened with music and other effects that enhance the moody illustrations and minimalist animations from a diversity of other skilled artists. The lineup notably includes Judge Dredd’s Liam Sharp and Shaky Kane as well as Bill Sienkiewicz of Daredevil/Elektra fame. Most impressive is the overall design, by accomplished comics illustrator and self-described “commercial artist” Rian Hughes. With graphic flair and acuity, Hughes proves himself to be a worthy digital age successor to Stéphane Mallarmé and Robert Massin.
If you’re interested in comic books, chances are you’ve heard the names Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. After all, their partnership paved the way for the Golden Age of comics beginning in the 1940s. With The Art of the Simon and Kirby Studio by Mark Evanier, learn more about the duo who invented noteworthy characters like Captain America and Sandman, conceived the idea of romance comics, and created a new standard for the genres of crime, western, and horror comic books. Take a look inside the various aspects of their career, and see some of the works that defined them.
Southern-California based publisher Chameleon Publishing releases its first major publication: Is SHE Available? by Igor Goldkind April 1 via the iBooks store.
Is SHE Available? pushes the edge of what is possible with present EPUB3 technology and how books are created and made. It is not an App, it is a true book that marries pop art, comics, avant-garde, jazz, spoken word poetry, video and animations, and type design. Its creative journey was more than a year in the making, growing from the collaborative work of artists, musicians, editors, and designers on two continents.
The poet, Igor Goldkind, is a San Diego native who lived in France and the UK for two decades while promoting the work of today’s most notable comic and graphic novel authors and artists. As a teen, he was one of the co-founders of San Diego’s legendary Comic-Con.
According to Bleeding Cool, “It was Goldkind who popularized the phrase ‘graphic novel’ with the media and found that gave them permission to cover the previously-considered childish medium of comic books . . . . Now, Goldkind’s vision of what graphic novels could be, is returning.”
Is SHE Available? was produced using an international collaborative model, but the book is one man’s voice and one man’s story. Goldkind’s words and voice inspired the art of over 26 internationally-known artists, including cover art and interior illustrations by Eisner-winner Bill Sienkiewicz (Elektra Assassin, Daredevil and more), additional interior illustrations from other graphic novel illustrators and award-winners including Glenn Fabry (Hellblazer, Preacher), David Lloyd (V for Vendetta and many others), Liam Sharp (Judge Dredd/2000 AD/Madefire), fine artists and illustrators Lars Henkel, Mario Cavalli, Mario Torero, Wendy Farrow, and many more.
Music and spoken word were recorded in New York with UK Jazz Album of the Year winner, author and ex-Israeli Gilad Atzmon. A US-based jazz and spoken word tour is scheduled for July 2015.
The type design and hardcover book are created by the eminent London-based designer Rian Hughes (2000 AD, Vertigo, Dan Dare), who includes an afterward about the collaborative design process. E-book production, incorporating Madefire animations, audio and additional animation, were provided by Chameleon Publishing in Southern California.
Due to the inclusion of video, audio and animations, and fine type design, it is playable only on Apple devices, and available only through the iBooks store. The hardcover (without music, spoken word or animations) will be published July 15, 2015.
Other “enhanced e-books” have been produced with budgets of $100,000 or more, and few have sold well. The “wisdom” is: poetry doesn’t sell. Enhanced e-books don’t sell. Most jazz doesn’t sell, either. Comic and graphic novel artists struggle to show their fine art to the public. And what publisher would take on a completely unknown poet whose claim to fame was selling fancy comic books to grown-ups and co-founding a big comic/media/scantily-clad women-fest like Comic-Con?
Twenty percent of North Americans regularly buy and read books. Nearly a hundred percent can read. Chameleon’s mission is to make books for everyone, not just a selected few.
Published April 1, 2015, in honor of National Poetry Month.
For more information and to obtain a copy of Is SHE Available? eBook for review (EPUB3 only on iOS devices – iPad, iPhone and Apple computers) or an advance reading copy of the hardcover edition contact the publisher: