Saturday, February 25, 2006

There's something about war when it's going on and on--something that can be felt in the pauses between blasts. Meaning thins. The air molecules and people are pushed further apart. In the spaces between them is a new kind of nothing that makes it hard for people to hold together inside themselves.

Friday, February 24, 2006

In 10 different places in Scotland with 10 different never-before-seen productions, the National Theatre of Scotland opens on Saturday, February 25, 2006.

The National Theatre of Scotland has been talked of for a century but has not existed til now.

A big problem was--would the theatre be built in Glasgow (commercial money) or Edinburgh (old money, history, national capital.)

The answer that worked is neither and more. The answer that worked is no building.

The National Theatre of Scotland has organization offices in Glasgow and no intention of ever having a theatre of its own.

The director, Vicky Featherstone, commissioned 10 different theatre artists to do productions in 10 different places.

Message to theatre artists: We support new work, here's some money right now.

Message to people in general: The whole country matters.

All this commissioning cost money, which came from the national government. But the amount of money was much less than a building would have cost. Start with the cost of a big complicated new building as a point of comparision, and other things look cheap. And theatre people all over the country instantly got some of that not-building-building money.

A good way to get a job in the theatre is to have worked before with the people putting the production together. If there were one theatre, one social/work network would be the winner. With 10 productions, more winners, more kinds of winners.

The theme that Vicky Featherstone asked the commissioned artists to work on was "Home," the thing the National Theatre of Scotland either doesn't have or else its home is the whole country.

Asked where she would be on opening night, she said that maybe because the organization's offices are in Glasgow she might go to the production farthest from Glasgow. Or she might go home.

All the decades of arguing about Glasgow or Edinburgh, people weren't noticing imaginatively that both already had multiple theatres, as did the rest of the country. Meanwhile, on the planet we have many buildings already and we have the whole planet. It's up to our various imaginations to make it all really in new ways home.

The information herefrom the February 21, 2006, Financial Times article by Sarah Hemming, "All the land's a stage for Scotland's theatre.", search the site for Vicky Featherstone

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Idiot originally meant someone concerned with the private sphere.

It was freely applied to women by Greeks who invented the word. Part of the implication is that idiots, women, are disqualified to think about public policy because they think about the effects on individuals of public policy.

I learned this from reading Frances Donaldson's biography of the humorist P. G. Wodehouse.

P. G. Wodehouse is really good at what he's good at--setting up and working out complex farcical situations and writing felicitous sentences describing them.

Some very good writers have compared Wodehouse to the best writers in English--Shakespeare for example.

Frances Donaldson, a woman, points out that none of the writers who praise Wodehouse to the skies are women. She says that nine out of ten Wodehouse addicts are guys. She thinks she knows why.

Farce, like Wodehouse writes, involves as part of the set-up "the sufferings of innocent characters," and women, much more than men, don't enjoy that.

She says, to give the quote a greater length, "Because of their greater imagination, women do not care for music-hall jokes, farcical comedy, or any humour that relies on total disregard for the sufferings of innocent characters, while, because of their need to involve themselves, situations of mistaken identity or serious misunderstanding merely arouse their anxiety. They are incapable of isolating the element of humour from other aspects of a situation, possibly because traditionally their range of experience has been so circumscribed."

Or possibly because they have greater imagination and are in an important way smarter?

I have read some Wodehouse and sometimes like it. He is so good at the lovely, easy to read, funny sentence that also moves the plot. No wasted motion.

But I do better with his short stories. I have often started, and then quit, on one of his novels because, essentially, I get anxious, which is not what I want from light reading. The set-up means a lot of these unreal, cardboard characters are going to suffer, at least briefly, and I can't take it.

So who should decide if we go to war? The people who tend to imagine the sufferings of individuals or those who are really good at cutting off the sufferings of individuals from other considerations--plot, policy?

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

That building and the sunlight shining on it now are beautiful together.
If God had wanted humans to certain about what's going on and to agree about everything, God would have made a non-ambiguous world. Which isn't what we've got.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

New green leaves, the tip of the branch, our skin. When something is growing, the edge of growth is tender. Tender is where the future becomes different than the past.
I like fire escapes because they make spindly Z's on the sides of buildings and because they look safe.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Slow way down.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Every president of the United States, the ones I relatively like and the ones that terrify me, has too much power, here in the US and in the world in general.
It's like letting the organism take the time it needs to be the organism it is. Being a gardener is not like being an architect.
* MUNI transfers issued by the underground faregates are on cardstock with the time they are good till printed on them by the gate as it emits them. They also having words printed on them about how you need to have this with you all the time and it's wrong to sell it and etc.

I saw a guy who looked like he might be visiting from Japan turning one of these transfers over and over and staring at it and rubbing it with his hand.

I think what as up was this. The MUNI transfer is just paper. It has no electronic information, no magnetic strip, no way to be read by anyone but a human. I think this guy found that hard to believe. What's the most technologically advanced country in the world, sir? The one you live in, not the one you're visiting.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Your brain and heart together are very, very smart.
To maintain common sense in the prescence of intelligent lunacy can be a life-saving skill.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

"He also told me that a hostess should never apologise for any failure in her household arrangements, if there is a hostess there is insofar as there is a hostess no failure."

--Gertrude Stein, "The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas," quoting Toklas' father

It would be good to have a nylon jacket with the words on the back FACILITY STAFF and a photo of the Earth from space. Then when I put on the jacket I would need to do things that someone working for the good of the whole facility would do.

Hostess/staff it's all your problem. Hostess/staff you can deal with it. You can deal with it because you think you can and start making moves toward dealing and keep making moves toward dealing. People stay calm because hostess/staff has it under control. People pitch in because hostess/staff is making a clear suggestion by doing.

Making moves in a way that other people know they can make those moves means now you're hostess/staff/leader.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The transfers issued now by the Muni Metro faregates are on pink card stock, and therefore perfect for cutting out little pink hearts that combine the mundane and the affectionate to say, "However you move there is something in the way you move that is just downright encouraging."

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Is anything happening here?

It's more peaceful to be able to see that something is happening here even when what is happening is happening quietly and slowly.

If I can't see that what is happening is in fact happening, I might feel that USA drive to make something happen.

Making something happen might interrupt very fine things that are already happening.

Making something happen might create consequences unnecessary at best, or icky.

Will Durant wrote with Ariel Durant a multi-volume history of the world. One thing he learned from that was, "Nothing is often a good thing to do and always a good thing to say."

Happenings are happening always. I can quitely cheer and pray for the best.

Friday, February 10, 2006

"Always Coming Home" by UrsulaK. LeGuin is a fictional book written by a novelist that isn't a novel.

It's a lot of fragments, stories, descriptions of customs from a Northern California society of the far, far future.

It's a small scale society, living at the level of villages. The weather and the landscape and the plants are the same as Northern California now, but fewer people, no cities mentioned.

Written in 1985, it's kind of wildly optimistic because the fact that the plants and life systems are about the same means Northern California got to a much simpler far, far future without a nuclear war, which would have been a very heavy-duty re-set event.

Ursula K. LeGuin grew up in Northern California, lives in Oregon, and a lot of ways "Always Coming Home," is a love letter to the land and weather of her past. She shows how she loves the land and weather by giving it much more room, fewer people to get in its way.

Little bits of this and that is "Always Coming Home." Life is often little bits of this and that. That may be the healthiest most life-supporting thing for it to be.

Stories that take the form of stories as we know them around here may be inherently violent--happening too much, too definitely for this small planet, its hills, its local weather.

I haven't even come close to reading all of "Always Coming Home." I read a little. I argue with some parts--too cute, I think, too heavy-handed. But that isn't the problem. The problem is that certain of its fragments demand that I change my life.

So I have to go off and leave the book and either change my life or avoid the demand.

Then, years later, I go back to find that bit that demanded change and I don't find it. I find stuff too cute, too heavy-handed and then another demand. Of course, the bits I critique may not be too cute or whatever, but making the demands I really am not ready to hear.

When we find how to tell our real stories that may sound nothing like what we've been trained to hear as "story," that may be a life-saving change.
There's a regular DJ dance event in San Francisco called Give Thankz.

There's a regular DJ dance event in San Francisco called Remedy: Music is the cure.

As the weeks roll around and the clock rolls around, God gets many kinds of invitation.

Give Thankz, every Thursday (Dancehall Reggae-Soca-Soul-Reggaetan)
-Club Six- 60 Sixth St. btwen Market & Mission St. SF
$5.00 all night-free b4 11 pm
doors open @ 10 pm/21 & up w/ID

Remedy: Music is the cure
Every Friday/9pm-4am
420 Mason St. San Francisco 425.693.0777
21+ID required
Everybody matters.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

The life force knows a lot of songs. You are creative now.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Yes. Slowly.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Today many San Francisco museums, the Asian Art Museum and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, for example, are free, as they are the first Tuesday of every month.

Tomorrow, first Wednesday, the Academy of Science is free. It is now in a big blue building on Howard between 4th and 5th, close to Moscone Center.

A good thing about going to museum on free admission days is seeing many kids--live and lively, here from school.

This is different for them; it may be the first museum for many of them. They are looking intently. They are looking cute. They are looking like the future is A-OK.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Truth and Beauty on Commercial Street

The figures of humans in the ceramic show at the Pacific Heritage Museum on Commercial Street are about 8 inches to a foot tall and great to look at because they look human and they look beautiful both.


They have very specific human facial expressions, which ceramic figures often don't. That's because the part of them that is skin is unglazed and can take and preserve lots of detail.

So the guy sitting there reading a book and scratching his back has a detailed human expressions appropriate to that activitiy.

Ceramic figures made for aristocrats and royalty in the old days usually were glazed all over and therefore the people had blank expressions, because the glaze couldn't hold details, and because, I think, aristocrats like people with blank expressions so they can fantasize them being utterly obedient and in love the with current power distribution.


These ordinary people shown in clay figures doing ordinary things are wearing great clothes, which are glazed. The glazes are amazing, with different colors running together like fabric dyes or like iridescence. The colors aren't iridiscent but they blend in with each other and dance around each other in the way iridescent colors do.

Ordinary people with every day faces wearing their potentially amazing souls, is how I tend to see these ceramics.

The figures were made by the ceramic artists of Shiwan, who have made pottery containers for China since forever, for 4000 years. including times when ceramic containers were pretty much all there were, so these folks were really churning out the pottery containers and then in their spare time they would play with the clay they worked with at work.

They made among other things human figures for sale to ordinary people, with ordinary people faces and gorgeously glazed clothes.

The figure makers originally discovered how to make gorgeous glazes because they were working with flawed waste materials from the container-making business. The materials'flaws meant that they didn't know how the glazes would turn out. They learned to sometimes like the unpredictable glazes and semi-control their unpredictability.

And they made figures of down to earth people, or of Buddhas and famous people who had down-to-earth vibes, because that's who they were and that's who they sold containers to.

They weren't like the figurine makers in Europe and China who worked for the rulers and made idealized and, to me, boring figures.

"Rustic Splendors--Kiln Treasures from Shiwan"

Pacific Heritage Museum
Commercial Street near Montgomery

Through March 25
Tendrils reaching out to connect. They touch each other, and there is less separation.

This is as real as famous "BOOM!"s that take things apart fast.

The touch that was wanted and happens also makes a sound--the silent hum that keeps us all alive.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

"Almost everything is still a mystery."

--first line of the book "Genius" by Denis Brian, in which the author interviews Nobel-Prize winning scientists.
Charles Darwin and Charles Dickens are Victorian Englishmen who had in common that they married women much less intellectual than they.

Darwin spent some time calling on some women, sisters, who were intellectuals and who had every reason to believe he was going to ask one of them to wed, but in the end he did what people in his family did. He married a cousin. He married a first cousin. He married a first cousin who was utterly unintellectual and very religious.

She had been very close to her sister, who died young. It was essential to her to know that her sister continued to happily exist and that they would meet in Heaven.

When Darwin later developed his theory of evolution which led him and many others away from Christianity, this was excruciating for his wife. She felt he was going to Hell.

If he'd married one of the bookish sisters, they might well have easily understood his thinking and followed his work, and left Christianity without too much pain.

One of Charles Darwin's granddaughters, who never might him but had many opinions about him, felt that his intense and difficult to diagnose illnesses of his later years gave him and his wife something in common, something to focus on.

The reason the granddaughter had many opinions about him without having met him
is that she thought he was a bad influence on the family, her aunts and uncles and father. She thought these people took their own aches and pains way to seriously and used them as a key to relating to loved ones.

Her father was less bad this way because he had married an American woman who would tend each illness briefly and briskly and get on with life and encourage him, by example to do likewise. So presumably the granddaughter with her skepticism about the worship of illness was reflecting her mother's attitude.

Her father married someone from another country, which counters to dangers of generations of cousin marriage. And she, the granddaughter, married a Frenchman.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

To make a soft space, and maybe it will grow.

Friday, February 03, 2006

"Diving into the Wreck" is a poem and a book by Adrienne Rich.

"Diving into the wreck"--all by themselves, those words are helpful for someone wanting to make a new and better way for humans to be together, starting from the bizarre combination of advantages and disadvantages we have right here, right now.

What is good that is submerged and can be gotten by diving?

What is good and right here but I can't see it because of the way I've been trained to see and not see?

Rich's poem begins:

"First having read the book of myths,
and loaded the camera,
and checked the edge of the knife-blade,"

she puts on the rubber suit armor and mask that let her breathe and goes down.

"my mask is powerful
it pumps my blood with power"

(I keep those lines handy to think about the power that comes from having the right mask, and the limits of that power.)

"I came to explore the wreck. . . ."

"I came to see the damage that was done
and the treasure that prevail."

"the thing I came for:
the wreck and not the story of the wreck
the thing itself and not the myth."

The dream of ever seeing the thing itself and not the myth, of seeing something that includes it all, us all, and not the wreck which submerges great vast parts of us.

The wreck that submerged the treasured was partly made by me, by forces, decisions, assumptions I'm still swimming in. I bury parts of myself and parts of other people and it partly works for me. I'm still here.

The poem ends:

"We are, I am, you are
by cowardice or courage
the one who find out way
back to this scene
carrying a knife, a camera
a book of myths
in which our names do not appear."

She never says what the knife is for. I think it's to find the place to cut myself free from a way of swimming that wipes out so many names including some key part of mine.

When I've looked up my first name, Anne, in name books, they say it's from Hannah, in the Bible. and that it's Hebrew for full of grace and beauty.

I'm game. I just don't know how to do it, but grace and beauty sound like a good plant to me. Peace wouldn't be merely no war, but moments ringing with . . . various things in the grace and beauty family,. . . I think.

Hannah in the Bible changed the space by having the propitious kid. I've thankful that other ways to serve are now more available.

Women can change the space. The brave man who wrote the book "Refusing to be a Man" said that men do not need to always express their anger because the entire human space is made of male anger.

I wouldn't go that far--and I don't need to, because he did, thanks be to him and I'll find his name soon.

Male anger in public and private spaces prevents a lot from happening. It prevents some thought from being thought and some gentle moves from being made because of the cringing pre-knowledge of the angry reaction one might get.

Houdini, the magician, said that anyone could hit him as hard as they wanted in the stomach and he'd live.

He meant that first you would tell him you were going to hit him, he'd prepare and live. Some kid walked up to him and hit him as hard as he could in the stomach and Houdini died from that.

Walking around in a society with so very much anger, often male, means the wise person is forever braced for the blow. Which means the wise person can't be as wise as she might be if she didn't need to be forever shielded.

Can we make a different space for each other to breathe and dream in and act in?

I think so.

Why do I think so?

Because I'm wildly optimistic.

Grace and beauty are common things in life, as common as many horrors, but it isn't clear how to give them some room to rev up and move, how to make a garden where grace and beauty can grow. Sometimes space between women can be such a place, a grace and beauty creation zone.

Space between women can also be a pettiness bonanza, which I think is an escape from the call of grace and beauty beyond what we have commonly experienced. Like, a woman can see it just out of reach, more grace, more beauty, feel that it might just be possible--but how?

The how is hard and the knowing that in such a world we would all have to become different people is also hard. So a possible escape is picking at the real and imagined faults of women who one might make new grace and beauty with.

It's been done. What hasn't been done enough is following the good space and letting it grow and be what it is. Then we learn what we are in that space. We live there a while, we'll hardly know us, in a good way. Then we come back to here and by our slightly, profoundly different moves reveal that other things are possible.

We do this while remaining, ourselves, physically safe. That last really calls for wild optimism.

Wake in heavenly peace. Move in heavenly peace. Show that heavenly peace can be a common earthly phenomenon where people can live as there actual good selves. And don't get hit hard in the belly or elsewhere for doing this.

We can move more than we used to be able to. How much more? Pray, listen for the universe's time and check it out, subtly.

The career drunk passing me on the street said, "Are you all right?"

I said, "Yeah, why wouldn't I be all right?"

His drunk buddy said, "Yeah, why wouldn't she be all right?"

The question is, why did he say it then?

He said it then, in my opinion, because I was thinking in public about how things might be really different, and my thinking was getting somewhere.

I was taking actual, technically invisible steps, toward something better for more beings than this. His job was to interrupt me and he did.

The all rightness in question was the idea of accepting this whole set-up as all right enough to live with. I was taking some small step toward leaving this all rightness behind. He was there to stop that process.

Happens a lot. I'm really really thinking and walking and some guy asks, "Why do you look so sad?" or some guy orders, "Smile!"

That is because in my opinion that I am, in public, spending so much energy thinking the way I really think about what I want for us all, that my assumed female cheerleader suit is not evident. ("Oh, I just love the way y'all are running this thing.") and that is scary, so guys come from nowhere to order my moods around.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

"You've got to get me out of this country. I give money to everyone."

--U.K.-sounding voice on Powell Street in San Francisco