Monday, November 23, 2015

Change the blood

"The essential function of art is moral. Not aesthetic, not decorative, not pastime and recreation. But moral. The essential function of art is moral. But a passionate, implicit morality, not didactic. A morality which changes the blood, rather than the mind. The mind follows later, in the wake."D.H. Lawrence, an analysis of Walt Whitman in Studies in Classic American Literature. This quote from the essay "The One with ..." written by Joel Derfner (Serialboxpublishing)
A shift is taking place. It might be an individual one, personal growth taking place in the second-half of life; reflecting on the many people around us who are at the tail ends of life. We live uniquely, and it doesn't change when it comes to the last breath. Or, maybe its one of the collective shifts taking place because Saturn is now in Sagittarius (where real education is the talisman for everyone!) after almost three years of deep and heavy Scorpio Season. Taken together my observations of people I know making room for the young couples with Saturn's transit through the heaven, I question the value of my art as Scorpio storyteller. Esoteric or astrological the meaning comes for me in the wake of the Big Wind Storm of November, 2015. Like so many of the beings -- trees, friends, family members -- a new story is unfolding. I have been upended and wonder: Where is up? I wonder about the stories I write. I wonder about the morality of my stories. Add to that the conversation I had with my son who is visiting the islands of my birth, and not living where he and his wife have lived for the past two years (just outside Paris, France) and my gut stirs while the moon grows fat pulling the covers from my natal Capricorn lunar predisposition. She, the moon says: No hiding now ... it is the time of na'au au. Daytime gut during the night.

The medicine of myth-making and fantasy has served me remedies making adjustments to my attitude and my sensitivities. Characters not totally unlike myself conjure pathways around the obstacles; making choices, decisions and narrations I did not or could not make myself, One after another the short stories, and the genealogy of a family of characters led me through the dark nights in the dark woods. Surrounded as I truly am, in the woods that are my closest neighbors, the mythic realm has sorted so much of my illness. Through story I did not fear the shame of revealing my mind to the reader, whoever she might be. There is a powerful soup when you can share that recipe. But, in the past few days I have come to taste and read a slightly different take to story as I slowly resettle myself from the upendedness. From the recovery quilts of a gentle woman of words, and mythic art, a 'Recommended Reading' list is feeding me new, intelligent, and relevant stories from storytellers.

I've been working my way through Terri Windling's generous list of reading, and as this post suggests my blood is changing. Joel Derfner's essay starts out as a review of Buffy the Vampire Slayer a genre way out of my gyroscope. But, Terri wisely encouraged her readers to read it whether you're a Buffy fan or not. I trust Windling's sensibilities, I read it and well ... my blood is changing. 1) I've been introduced to another writer unknown to me prior 2) he introduces me to old wisdom from Walt Whitman; I like Whitman whose words are shared once a week via our local email subscription grapevine 3) the space surrounded me, as I wait for word about my 'success' with grant writing is accepted as a period of grace ... and not punishment. Which led me to yet another of Terri Windling's suggested readings, "Saved by the Invisibles" by Jonathan Carroll

Late yesterday afternoon I read "The First Person on Mars" by Sarah Marsh. Again it was Windling's one sentence review "I love Marsh's autobiographical essays, drawn from her working class background...and this one is particularly good" that hooked me. Autobiography. Working Class stitched to that title did it for me. The essay begins in a field in Kansas in the 1980's, it's her story, the autobiography part. Deft and unexpectedly the technology of social networking starts up a paragraph and a pathway to Mars. Marsh introduces a character real or mythic, not easily separate, who also starts in a field. Different country. Same planet. By the time I have finished the essay I have relived my own working class girlhood, and know something different as my sixty-eighth year on this planet gets on with its unfurling. Sometimes, Kansas isn't big enough to contain the blood or the mind of a girl who narrates her own story (aloud or onto paper). The first person on Mars, or the tenured professor from a history of alcohol and women who name their children after themselves has told a story that leaves me feeling less lonely. My son's phone call came with an invitation 'put out there' for me. "How could I possible do that?" I hear myself say. My gut churned as I considered visiting the Fire Island. I wonder have I? Have I made peace with fire enough to sit with my son and his wife with blood that has changed?

P.S. A good friend sent me this link to watch on Vulnerability. I liked the message.

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