Monday, November 30, 2009

Not Ready Yet . . . . with Updatey Goodness

Tomorrow I have to do something because it's:

  1. Prudent
  2. Something I promised a friend
  3. Something that should be easy for me
  4. Something I may have to do soon anyway
  5. Better if I do it now

But I'm not ready for it.

As a matter of fact I'm getting a really good example of why anxiety attacks are medicated and why that's a good thing.

For some reason all I can think of is Pooh saying "Oh Bother" and feeling like Rabbit trying to keep leaves from swirling in the wind.

Nope. Not Ready At All.



I have done the not-ready thing.

And I did it without having had coffee.

It went pretty well, questions were asked, I had answers and then I remembered,

"Oh yeah, I'm pretty damn competent."

Funny how I forget that sort of thing.

At least I impressed myself. I'm a pretty rough audience.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Confessions - Zen and the Art of Friends on the Internet

*A note - I started writing this before I left for World Fantasy Con. And then I thought I would just leave it be. But every time I was trying to write something else here, this would come back in all its unfinished glory. I think I might have been trying to tuck it back in, but it just won't stay tucked. So here it is in all is rambling . . . .

I've been making stuff - Lisa will be writing about the stuff shortly and then I will be writing about the stuff here.

I was going to write about Yom Kippur and Kol Nidre, but I think that I'm going to take a break from all that and be about the Halloween of it all for a while.

However I will write about the interesting things that have happened while making stuff.

I remembered I'm shy.

I knew I was shy really, but like many introverts who end up in the arts ( and control freaks who like to bring things in on time and on budget) I developed an outward face that looks confident and comfortable. Since most of one's experience is on the outside that outward being becomes a part of you. For the most part, it's true that I am outgoing, confident and comfortable. However, the truth is I'm reacting to signals that I get from other people in live interactions. What I learned is that when you take all the human "tells" away, apparently I revert back to my inner nature which is shy.

I sometimes feel rude when posting on a stranger's blog. I wrapped myself in knots for days after pointing out how someone's religious post was religiously intolerant and targeting a minor. I was polite about it, the writer wasn't nearly as viscous as her commenters, and I backed myself up with examples from her text as well as mine as to why you shouldn't do that and her interpretation ran counter to what she claimed was her purpose.

But I didn't know her and I was worried that she might figure out how I got to her blog and be mad at someone who did know her. I knew I was right to do it, but I was still embarrassed that I did.

That's one example. Here's the opposite. I posted a "thank you" to the Librarian's blog from the other day, He was well into the higher 200's on responses. I almost didn't post because "Well, he didn't really need to hear from me." No one else had said exactly what I was posting, but the next thought was sort of "Well, he'll never read my post anyway, the link is almost two months old." I did post, but it did feel weird.

Then there are the other internet weirds. My communication with Lisa has been over the internet. We will meet in real life over Halloween. This is a hundred percent different than other internet or long distance things because first there was the art. Poppets are wonderful, but Lisa did a fine art series of hanging scultptures called "Relics"and because of the Relics all of the shy came back in force.

I know artists and writers of note in real life, I am not easily starstruck, or really startstruck at all. They are human, some are wonderful, some not so much, some are just normal with a great deal of talent, some are very good at self promotion and some are very lucky that they have someone in their lives who are good at promoting them. So meeting an artist or writer that whose work I like can be very surprising. I like that, and I expect them to be different than their work.

I am constantly bewildered for example by people who claim that Heinlein is sexist. Half of his female characters do more in a day than Buckaroo Banzai, but he writes about men who are surprised by that and some readers assume he identified with those male characters. Obviously they paid no attention to his message or his body of work. It usually tells me more about those people than it would say anything about him. My general rule is that the work should be interpreted first by itself and it's effect on you, and then you can layer in additional information and context.

Note the "layer". Your reaction to the work is important, but it's not the end of the process. I'm not a huge fan of abstract modernisim, but after studying it I can now at least walk through a museum and see that it's not "something my kid can do". I understand the structure of it now. It's a language responding to art that went before it and theories about what should and should not be and how to invert them. That's why it's called "art appreciation." Not- "Did it make you cry".

I still don't like most of it though. That's OK. It's Ok not to like something without minimizing or destroying it.

Right - back to the point. So Lisa's Relics.

When I was at the convention where I first saw her work and poppets, I had no access to internet. I was speaking with my son who was home and he went online when I gave him the address. At that time she had her gallery work online as well. The Boy of the House started telling me about it. It was an accident really. He was supposed to pass the information on but he told me about her larger art and he fell for it in a big way, The Girl likes the Poppets best. But the hint I got was the picture in Strange Roads, when I read "Uncle Chaim, Aunt Rifke and the Angel." which you can get here. Peter S. Beagle wrote it. I can't tell you anything more about it except that it's correct, and if you've read it I will be happy to discuss it with you.

Peter and I also met at that convention. He was human and real, and I met him because I was speaking with his manager first, but he is a generous soul and it wouldn't have mattered if I met him on a line. We spent a lot of time talking about New York. In all the times I had read his work, I never thought for a minute that we shared any cultural background. I just loved his work. Interestingly, re-reading his work knowing we share it, changes nothing about his work. The work stands alone. Sometimes context changes nothing.

I loved the angel that graced his story, because she represented angels the way I think of them, because of the expression, because of the things behind her that she was protecting or holding back or both. Because of physicality. Because she was neither 'spirit" or "dead". I discovered later that Lisa refers to at least some of her angels as "indifferent angels" - Exactly.

But that is context, which is still later. Poppets and Relics and Soup Topography

How much does this say about culture? about being? about the fundamental and complex act of interacting with the world? About survival?

I loved the fact that she used patterns as negative space, I do something similar although nowhere near her ability or level.

The big art, where the poppets are a component makes me think. It's the electroshock in the bell jar. It's not just "wake up" it's the caterpillar's "Who. Are. You.?"

And then the poppets by themselves follow up and go "Well, are you going to answer?"

But the relics, more than the poppets - I know them. I recognize them from stories so secret I never tell them, sometimes not even to myself.

I know them so deeply that seeing them is like joy and pain and a primal scream and flying all at the same time. And I was a little shaken, that it was not just the crack-like poppets that were made by this person, but the relics, full of the things I never say and full of things that no one could know. Not spiritual things - I need to make that clear. Real things, actions, dreams, pasts.

That was what the art did when I didn't know anything about her. And it didn't go away. The art wound around in my head. It got the Boy too and let the words loose. The Boy rarely shares his words.

It was so much, it was too deep. So I thought that maybe since she had a blog, if I read about it maybe I could sort out why there was a connection. Why the art made me feel? Why I couldn't shut the feeling off?

So I started reading about the relics, and the fire, and the painting. I was afraid really, that what went into the art would be too different than what came out and I would be lost in all the things that were happening inside me.

But that's not what happened. It was something different, and I started reading in order from the beginning and it felt uneven. I knew about her, she was affecting me, but she had nothing of mine at all so when she wrote to me I would share some things because the karmic register was short.

I had made myself so small in a way that no one could see. I had packed myself up so that I could be the strong steadiness that was needed. And there were the Poppets with their "Wake Up" and the indifferent angels looking straight into me with the "You can't hide, we know you know."

But I've gotten good at hiding.

And now they have all gathered together as a chorus in my head, running around all independent of their choirmaster.

Whom I will be meeting shortly.

So, I guess that "shy" is no longer a real option - "awkward and gangly" is trying to step up to the plate instead.

Niether the internet, nor age make some things any easier.

It's still a variation of the same question you ask when you're the new kid on the block. "Hi, I'm new here. Will you be my friend?"

And all of the worlds of creation and destruction that hang in the minute until the other kid answers wait suspended. Have you noticed how we don't just come out and ask that question as grown-ups?

I think we're afraid of the answer, or maybe we're afraid of the answer mattering. Grownups never do anything that straightforward if it matters.

Sometimes I don't have the whole adult thing nailed much at all.

Maybe that's why I'm making stuff now. To nail it all down.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Poppets Play Noah's Ark

The Poppets are playing Noah's Ark.

They are all lined up.

How sweet. Are they being the animals Professor Crow?


They are being the Flood.


Friday, November 13, 2009

Am I Blue?

I seem to be full of complicated lately.

I think trying to keep informed is a destructive addiction. Trying to move past your own bias and running smack into someone else's is demoralizing.

Knowing I can make small differences, but feeling overwhelmed and defeated because I cannot affect the large ones.

I do believe in continuing to fight the good fights, but worry the scale is just to large. Not just the big things, but the little ones too. Family, people, me.

But all the big things keep trickling down to the little things, they're all interconnected. I can't not see it.

Sometimes I am very, very jealous of the people who live perfectly contained lives with their families and their neighborhoods and really don't want to know much more about the world as long as their world stays safe.

I don't begrudge them that.

In reality I would like to protect that choice for them.

But I am torn, because I can't stop looking at all the "wrong" like a kid at a horror movie or a teen finding fetish porn. I keep peeking through my fingers knowing what I see will just make things worse. My view will become ever more jaded.

Things known can be revised with new information but they can't be unexperienced.

And the fact that it is all purveyed by hackneyed, jaded, lazy, substandard writing and reporting is part of the pull. Just like the "b movie" production values in horror and porn. You can dismiss it, you can accept it and just say "Oh well you know that's how they make these things. What were you expecting?"

Maybe that's why I don't watch horror movies now. And I've never liked porn. It's too much like trying to read the news.

But I know I'm going to click open the various "Posts" and "Times" again.

Like a poor woman's Diogenes . . . .

I am an inadequate Cynic. Diogenes was proving a point. I actually keep hoping.

Friday, November 6, 2009

World Fantasy Con - Collaboration Happens

Here is what is now officially titled " The House Where Halloween Things Live When It Isn't Halloween"

This is a picture when it was still in front of Poppetropolis Proper.

(Poppetropolis is the area in NYC where the Embarrassed Embassy is based, it's like Chinatown, or Little Italy but where all the expats from Poppet Planet live).

The Embarrassed Embassy is not yet a year old - but it's 1st anniversary will be soon. Like many construction projects in many cities, it has undergone some changed scope and is behind schedule. It is part and parcel of my reaction to Lisa's art. Lisa and others have told me that my reaction to her work is art. I'm still struggling a little with that.

But it is what it is.

In September, when she asked if I would do something with her for Halloween, I said yes. I had an idea that didn't belong to Poppetropolis and it would be more fun to do it with her. Then later we decided to bring it to the World Fantasy Convention and debut it there. Which is really grand but a little scary because we hadn't met in the Meatworld.

And so we got to explore a little of the surreality of our relationship and reaction to each other. There is no question that we had a relationship, but it was in the new ether of the internet, which is not the same as in person. We were now collaborating cross country, but the first voice contact we had was a phone call to let her know I was at the hotel.

We had emailed and shipped and consulted, and had pictures of each other and, I think a place in each other's lives, ( unbalanced, but equally real) and yet we were still introducing ourselves to each other, but we do know things.

One of the things we knew, is that we were both people who had been involved with conventions before. This ended up being a very useful thing over the weekend. I helped with the set up, I was very happy to be useful. I am always happier when I'm useful.

We set up the art show together and talked while we did. Here are the pictures of most of it without the bid sheets - for posterity . .

The sculpture in the center of this shot is called Blackbirds, and I believe Lisa will be making an 8ft version of it in the next year.

I was not the only person who travelled from distant coasts however, Lisa met with a Poppet Collector from Australia, who asked for a picture of the Poppet that Has Travelled to Australia and Back and the Creator of Poppets.

She is a wonderful lady and an excellent dinner companion. She was actually Queen of Australia and New Zealand, so I was honored by her Poppet's acceptance of an invitation to visit The House Where Halloween Things Live. This marks the first Visiting Poppet to that House.

He is an Outside Steampunk Poppet.

Here he is being greeted by Elul, who made the trip out to show off the House along with two of the Jackos and about 10 other East Coast Expats.

The Australian Outside Steampunk Poppet converses with the Raven and peruses the House Where Halloween Things Live Library.

Of course there was Poe. The book on the table is The Purloined Letter.

Many things happened at World Fantasy Con, I'm still sorting a bunch of it out. I'll write about it while I'm processing it. I have funny anecdotes, and weird ones, and serious ones. I will probably not tell them all. I have anecdotes that involve food:

Anecdotes of Lisa and the Poppet who lives on her desk.

Our mutual love of coffee.

and what it means when people ask you questions like "What do you do?" or "Don't I know you" or "What do you want out of this."

And of course the big one "Why are you doing this"

I think I have begun to have an answer for that last one -

I used to process all the things I couldn't say through words, but I put the words aside. It stopped being safe.

I used to use all the things I felt to communicate, when I was wearing the skin of someone else, so the personal could become universal. It was like breathing, but I learned how to hold my breath and now I cannot exhale.

I used to build things to create small worlds or hold other worlds at bay. I'm still doing that.

The words are too complex, the feelings are too deep to show in someone else's skin, I may have spent to much time trapped in my own. I can't use the older tools I have to process what happens to me when I react to Lisa's art. So I'm building things to help me understand my own reactions. I'm building things to share and show what's going on on the inside.

I'm having trouble telling the story, so I'm building it instead.

It's a stealth story, I've hidden it inside things you might use to tell your own.

And if you see or play with something I've built, then you're wearing my skin, sharing my world which is all ajumble and full of art. So it shouldn't surprise me at all that there are Poppets there.

I am just a little (very!) surprised that other people like it too.

The thing is, I would make it anyway. I don't think I could not make it.

Maybe that makes it art after all.