Nowhere in Two Places. Well, it’s out in paperback.
I am working on new material. I do hear a voice in my head saying work harder.
But then again I see bands cashing in on the 50th anniversary of this or that, releasing a box set of singles, with photographs, blah etc. blah.
I don’t blame them. Do I blame myself for not playing the avaricious late-capitalism game? Maybe a little. But then again I used to blame myself for not getting support from family and friends, etc. etc. blah blah.
Blah blah is not much of a narrative. But don’t you feel that way sometimes – the impossibility of explanation? A chewing off of the leg to escape the trap does give rise to phantom pains. Mars is conjunct? Opposite? Somewhere important in relation to Chiron. Basically, all the phantom pains and trauma held in the body are coming up, apparently this is a good time for that. Chiron allows us to heal. But we have to feel first.
Healing is hard. Feeling what has been buried. The blocked emotions still living in the body, coming out if gently pressed and prodded, roaring in anger to leave them and everything else alone. Especially if and when we are surrounded by people who may not be ready to do anything, and resent anyone for even trying something new.
But then there is the unexpected exchange of energy. The acceleration, the sheer freedom that erupts when a simple exchange of words and ideas takes place. Bubbling up like a spring. Water is precious as both resource and metaphor. It’s exhausting to speak after being silent for so long. But healing silence and healing speech are both so far from emptiness filled with meaningless sound, to drown out the echoes of whatever voices you don’t want to hear. Far from phrases that have weight and momentum and risk and mean so much more than the platitudes of the office or the telephone call where a calendar is reviewed. Activity out of fear, duty, expectation. Fear.
Fear is painful. Healing is complicated.
So is releasing paperbacks, it turns out, as I return to what was supposed to be the main point of this. The new release of Nowhere in Two Places in print. The wish for print means you want to see an object. That means debate with actual, tactile reality. Suddenly the choices matter, and surprisingly, you find you must fight for your point of view. Who does art belong to? Does engaging with this process become a dialectic with the material epistemology of existence? Yes, probably. How do I know what I know? And, there is something called contemporary virtue epistemology. According to the Stamford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, and I’m obviously not saying that this is a full definition, or the only possible explanation, as philosophy is fairly endless in its dialogues and nothing is absolute. But it seems what is meant is a move away from the normative control nature of what was meant by epistemology, to looking at other impacts – communities, agents – an opening to diversity. These are not new investigations, as echoes of this idea are found in much older works, in other cultures. Not a surprise really, to find that the move to stop reducing everything to one reality, is nothing new.
Another term – intellectual virtues. Stamford says that “intellectual virtues are characteristics that promote intellectual flourishing.” What conditions and characteristics promote flourishing? Spring is turning the trees and land around me green. What helps us mentally, psychically, physically? Back to the paperback. The creative force as creating an actual object. Not that an online work isn’t an object. But there is still something about the tactile and visual. What fills our spaces? Our hands?
In other words, I’m engaging with the fact that my book is not found in shops or on the shelf. And now there is the potential. Especially if I go around to the shop and ask if they will give it a bit of room on their shelves.
I did that once in Brooklyn. Goodness me, the response was so friendly.
I plan to try it again, in my new surroundings. I will report on the comparison.
So it does come around to an engagement with whatever reality might mean or be. How far do we go? Who holds us back? Who do we give power to as gatekeeper, as mood wrecker? What do we welcome in as giver – of spring, of hope, of invention?
I’m a big fan of Tom Cox, the British writer. Steven Fry wrote an encomium about his work. But even with this accolade and his success and his books, he still must do the late-capitalist thing of endless self-promotion. He writes quite eloquently about the difficulties he experiences doing so. Writers and artists seem to tend to self-flagellation, self-blame. Why must we do everything?
People are taught to accept reality. The two high school students that I came across in the supermarket yesterday were so withdrawn and faded, that they nearly seemed beyond reach. When anger and fatigue become endemic, even in those who should be filled with energy, seeing possibilities – they have won. The mysterious they, who are making the reality we are told to accept. The rules that are given us – some recipe for success. The advertisement for the dream says work hard. The actual experience says it’s usually down to knowing people and having that mysterious strong personality that makes people believe you. Not to mention the elements of gender, race, class. In America your writing must be clear and choppy and short. Hopefully someone in your family went to Harvard and is involved with (as no one ever seems to “work for”) a hedge fund. Good luck!
But. To be an artist already means you are strong. It doesn’t necessarily mean you are advertising the fact in a way that those in the in crowd – Bryan Ferry song jumps into head, I will link below – accepts. Sheer outrageous talent, the kind that makes you believe in the endless spaciousness of the universe, like David Bowie, or Prince – that’s another level. Most success doesn’t involve anywhere near that degree of sheer brilliance.
Thank goddess the two of them exist still, on my 3am YouTube feed, after a particularly bad nightmare.