The islands of ourselves

Thinking about empathy. The power it holds. 

If the boundaries of the self are defined by what we feel, then those who cannot feel even for themselves shrink within their own boundaries, while those who feel for others are enlarged, and those who feel compassion for all beings must be boundless. They are not separate, not alone, not lonely, not vulnerable in the same way as those of us stranded in the islands of ourselves, but they are vulnerable in other ways. Still, that sense of the dangers of feeling for others is so compelling that many withdraw, and develop elaborate stories to justify withdrawal, and then forget that they have shrunk. Most of us do, one way or another. 

- Rebecca Solnit, The Faraway Nearby

An Arrest of Attention

I feel that art has something to do with the achievement of stillness in the midst of chaos. A stillness that characterizes prayer, too, and the eye of the storm. I think that art has something to do with an arrest of attention in the midst of distraction.

Saul Bellow, the Art of Fiction No. 37, 1966
Found on the Paris Review Daily 

It says that if you fool other people into thinking you aren’t afraid than you won’t be. And I don’t believe this at all. I believe that you can only be unafraid if you find out what it is you fear and conquer it. All the pretense in the world won’t help you otherwise. At least that’s what I believe. It is a thin show which covers its thinness with luxury. 

-John Steinbeck, Journal of a Novel

Seams of ore

Sorrow is so woven through us, so much a part of our souls, or at least any understanding of our souls that we are able to attain, that every experience is dyed with its color. This is why, even in moments of joy, part of that joy is the seams of ore that are our sorrow. They burn darkly and beautifully in the midst of joy, and they make joy the complete experience that it is. But they still burn. 

-Christian Wiman

California cacti

California cacti

Blue eyes

Oregon desert in spring; working on Josi Faye’s Spring lookbook. 

Iceland is an absolutely other world. 

Recover our senses

Transparence is the highest, most liberating value in art—and in criticism—today. Transparence means experiencing the luminousness of the thing in itself, of things being what they are. 

Ours is a culture based on excess, on overproduction; the result is a steady loss of sharpness in our sensory experience. All the conditions of modern life—its material plenitude, its sheer crowdedness—conjoin to dull our sensory faculties…What is important now is to recover our senses. We must learn to see more, to hear more, to feel more. 

-Susan Sontag, Against Interpretation

Some growing meaning

You are the crazy acrobat.

You are the witch, I am your cat. 

I want to be a bit like you, I hope you don’t mind 

if I do. 

I want to be made out of love, 

I want to be made into life. 

I love the way you take a walk, 

and all the things that you see with your eyes. 

Oh to be that distant thought, 

some growing meaning in your mind. 

Acrobat, Angel Olsen

Absolutely unmixed attention is prayer. 

-Simone Weil 

Denmark has my heart. 

Weird and good early spring adventures. Snowed-in Portland and a truffle festival with a truffle dog (named Tom) that only responds to commands in Italian. 

Take me back to Palm Springs and Joshua Tree. Please.