To see a reason
To your fragrant body
Your warmth envelopes me
Like the sea you caress me
I release all I hold dear
I am born anew
The velvet night
Joe Battle 4/23/2012
Monday, November 17, 2014
Two of my Favorite Childhood Activities
1. Building with crush proof boxes my Dad brought home when he returned from a months long cargo run at sea.
2. Rowing my boat around the lake in New Jersey I vacationed on every summer.
My dad was a merchant seaman. He'd be gone for months at a time. In those days he'd smoke cigarettes which came in crush proof boxes. He use to save the boxes and on his return give me quite a collection. He never stayed home long, only a few days, then he'd return to sea to support his family.
I played for days building bridges, buildings, and whatever else my young mind could invent. This activity was innately purposeless and completely voluntary. It had an inherent attraction based on a blending of the natural Lego style of building and it's connection with my dad. During those periods of building I experienced a timeless time, free of any other distractions. Hours passes without my knowing. I was completely absorbed in those moments of play, and felt close to my dad who was away. I lost consciousness of myself as a separate individual being absorbed in my creative act. I improvised from moment to moment visualizing real structures into existence, past the truth of simple cigarette boxes. Finally I felt drawn to continue this activity over, and over, again because of the many satisfying personal rewards this experience gave me.
The Lake: I was an only child. I learned how to play by myself. I was never lonely. Just the opposite was true. A wondrous world lay waiting to be discovered without anyone else in between describing it to me in their voice. Every summer of my youth was spent at a lake in the mountains. I stayed with my Uncle and Grandmother in their home. It was a fanciful place because it was a traditional log cabin. It was built in that rustic style previously common in the mountains. It was made from whole logs smooth cut from mature trees. His home was on the point of the lake with water on three sides. Many times, in the early summer evenings, I'd row my small boat out onto the lake close to the cabin. My uncle loved to play piano at that time of day. I still remember how his playing drifted out over the water. I'd set the oars of my boat and listen to the water lap against it's hull combining with the jazz, or classical, melodies my uncle played. It set a certain lyrical mood to the end of the day which still lingers in my thoughts.
Alone, as the day ended and twilight overtook the sky, I was lost in the immediacy of those moments in a certain way which is no longer available to me as an adult. This was play done for it's own sake, for the experience of the moment. It was totally voluntary on my part. No one told me to be there. No conditions were framed around my acts. I was inherently, naturally, drawn to participate in this activity. I cannot describe why I was drawn to do this. I can only speak about the effect it had on me. This effect was truly one of a loss of self, unaware of the passage of time, of living purely in the present, free from any constraining framework, and free of schedule or commitment. One movement, one direction, was as likely to occur as any other. The combination of my uncle's structured melodies and my random rowing set a spontaneous, always flowing, pattern of experience, a pattern I always wished to repeat. A pattern which was never exactly the same.
I Play Two Childhood Activities, identifying and explaining the patterns of play involved.
One word. Lego. Yesterday my 9 year old son and I played together. Lego comes in theme sets. Using pieces from many different theme sets we built our own. Death Star blocks combined with Jungle Palm trees and thatched huts, while X-Wing fighter parts fit surprising well into Hobbit themed worlds.
Overall the experience was one of focused fun. It was remarkably similar to my childhood building. Both materials divested themselves of their original purposed meaning finding new symbolic form in our spontaneous and unstructured journey. My childhood building took the form of classic solitary play. I was completely engrossed in playing. I was in my own world not often distracted by other's activities in the home. This time my son and I engaged in associative play, interested in each other, we were involved in a strong social interaction while we played. We transitioned into cooperative play when organization became a strong part of our play, we had a goal, which was to create a shared vision, and we adopted roles acting as a team.
Later we rowed our canoe on the lake in front of our home. What a marvelous feeling to do with him what I'd done as a child. For a time I resisted the temptation to share my childhood experience and immersed myself in the moment with him. Many ducks swam close by waiting for any food we might have. After a while they wandered off leaving soft wakes behind. The evening sun began to strike brilliant colors in the sky reflected in the water.
I describe what if felt like to play my favorite childhood activity as an adult.
As I rowed i was a Kinesthet, loving the movement of my body immersed in the rowing sport.
Later, as I shared my early experience with my son, I became the Storyteller using my imagination to recreate that time from long ago and pull it forward into the present experience for us to share. The timelessness of true uninterrupted play became intuitively evident in those tranquil moments of rowing and storytelling.
Saturday, May 25, 2013
“Lay down together in the tall grass my sons and daughters. Feel the soft wind caressing your face and rustling your hair. The air around you is full of the sweet smell of flowering trees. You are warm with the thrill of life within your bodies. I am privileged to be alive to share these feelings with you.”
Friday, May 25, 2012
Text embedded in my digital paintings:
For human beings throughout history, love has been considered a mystery, for it is an emotional experience that is both transcendent and personal at the same time. Love is perhaps the most familiar yet most unknowable of our emotions. It can transport us beyond our ego and fill us with bliss and compassion, but it can also be a crucible of rawness, pain, and illusion.
Particularly in an intimate relationship be it romantic or everyday love's power can magically expand our humanity. At its very best, passion is spacious, open, compassionate, and even joyful. Yet how ironic that, as imperfect human beings, we yearn for "perfect love," for it will always elude us—the experience of love, whether painful or joyful, is always perfectly imperfect; this is love's paradox
"If you cannot fall in love, you cannot get enlightened." For it is this state of leaping into the chaos of love—of being open, uncertain, and vulnerable---that becomes a stepping-stone to our highest self. When we truly love another person, we "lose ourselves," or our self is somehow transcended—even in a moment of wild carnal desire, some tenderness for our beloved arises and it cracks our heart open and changes us forever.
If we can remember the fragility of love and see our beloved through the lens of impermanence, appreciation naturally arises; in Japanese this is known as mono no aware, the beauty of the transitory, be it a flower or love itself. As with all of life, within the seed of love is the seed of sorrow and death, which heightens its poignancy. Through loving one other person with this "broken heart," we have the rare opportunity to learn to focus less on our self and more on others—and that is the beginning of "true" love.
(Based on my research into the poetry of Love)
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Saudade, the Place of Longing, and Duende, the Inspiration of Ecstasy
"Life is something that should not have been." (Schopenhauer)
Saudade and Duende are intertwined in deep felt artistic performance. Saudade can be described as "the love that remains" after someone is gone. And as a vague and constant desire for something that does not, and probably cannot, exist. (Bell) It is unattainable love and unrequited love. Duende can be understood as experiencing deep feeling, and even if only for a brief moment, existing in a profound emotional state. Duende has inherent within itself the pure authenticity of creative expression.
Francisco Lorca traces duende to the ancient culture brought by Romani from which Iberian and flamenco traditions arise. These are the ancient Oriental songs brought to Europe through North Africa into Spain by the gypsies, who trace their lineage to the ancient Aryan of northern India. Lorca believes duende is a primeval and prehistoric motivator. It is that ancient remain of an age now forgotten in the dim mists of time. It is remembered only in the emotive aspects of song and performance.
Flamenco is the ideal vehicle for this evocation of deeply felt archetypal artistic expression. As the guitarist plays, for this brief time together, artist and listener transcend the ordinary and enter the sublime. The world around can fade in bright moments of pure bliss. A deep overwhelming primal need will find its satisfaction. An ecstasy uncoils from a hidden core. Starting deep within it blossoms like the warmest memory of all past forbidden pleasures. This is what great art can achieve. And this achievement is done in concert. Without the interaction of the two the one cannot flower. And it is in this flowering that the true intrinsic, unknowable, and unspeakable, beauty of the human situation is apparent.
Duende is the essence of suggestion. It rises from inside the human heart as a passionate response to music, dance and theater. Conversely it also uniquely inhabits the gladiatorial performance of the bullfight. Bullfighting is the sole remaining Roman blood sport within the modern world. Its origins are pagan and remote. Duende is a bodily reaction to an artistic performance that is particularly expressive.
Four elements can be isolated in Lorca's vision of duende. These elements are irrationality, earthiness, awareness of one's own mortality, and an intimation of the diabolical. (Maurer,1998) The Duende is a demonic earth spirit who helps the artist understand the limitations of intelligence, who brings the artist face-to-face with death, and who helps him create and communicate memorable, spine-chilling art.
Lorca parallels the deepest and most expressive style of flamenco "Siguiriya" to the cries of Euripides’ Pentheus when beheaded by his mother, Agaue, when she is under the primeval influence of Dionysus. Dying Pentheus becomes the embodiment of humankind’s encounter with that primeval current which is manifest as Duende. In this birth of Greek theater Pentheus tries to tie Dionysus but he rather binds up a bull. So it is in man’s struggle with the bull, embodied in the bullfight, that death in its most ancient form is confronted. “The bull has his orbit, and the bullfighter has his, and between these two orbits is a point of danger, the vertex of the terrible play.” (Lorca)
Pentheus plunges a knife into Dionysus and the blade passes through shadow, because after all, death is the shadow of life. In the end Pentheus reaches for his mother's face pleading with her to recognize her son. He reaches out to stroke his mother's cheek and begs her not to kill him. In his final moments Pentheus understands the full extent of Dionysus' powers, the power that death has over the living. Agaue driven mad by Dionysus proceeds to rip her son to death. Wanting to see what is forbidden traps him. Likewise it is the folly of humankind in wanting to understand its true nature in the unfolding of time, in the unending cycle of birth, life, and death, which traps us in mortality.
Duende is a dark counterpoint to Apollo's light. It is that music and song in which we hear our death calling to us. We sense the gleam of the knife, we smell the blood. Reflecting on key images of Western music's two-part invention – the duende of the tortoise and the radiance of Apollonian emotional geometry – we are reminded that originality is truly radical, that it comes from the root, from the mythic origins of art. In Greek myth Apollo kills a tortoise to create the first lyre. (Zwicky,2005)
We all experience within us what the Portuguese call ‘Saudade’. It is an inexplicable longing, an unnamed and enigmatic yearning of the soul. It is this feeling that lives in the realms of imagination and inspiration. It is the breeding ground for the sad song and the love song. Saudade is the desire to be transported from darkness into light, to be touched by the hand of that which is not of this world.
The love song is never simply happy. It must first embrace the potential for pain.
Those songs that speak of love, without having within their lines an ache or a sigh, are not love songs at all, but simply romantic silliness. These songs deny us our humanness and our God-given right to be sad. The compulsive modernity of today's artistic expression is littered with them. The true love song must resonate with whispers of sorrow and the echoes of grief. The writer who refuses to explore the darker reaches of the heart will never be able to write convincingly about the wonder, magic, and joy of love. So within the fabric of the love song, within its melody and its lyric, one must sense an acknowledgement of its capacity for suffering. (Cave, 2007)
Saudade lives in the transcendence of deep song. How rightly we call it that. It is deeper than all the wells of earth and seas that surround the world. It is more profound than the heart that creates it, or the voice that sings it. This is because it is almost infinite. It comes from remote races and crosses ancient burial grounds. Its scorching wind stirs hearts across the ages. It comes from the first sob and the first kiss. (Lorca) In our darkest hours the radiant light of life shines brightest.
Sunday, April 8, 2012
Andromeda is a spinning firestorm in the night sky.
A dwarf sits under a bridge smoking a reefer. He watches the slow-moving water swirl and eddy around his feet. A hunchback looks out, over the top of the railing, gazing down at the beautiful creature he sees below. Ten thousand fairies dance on the head of a pin. The sun spins out of control ejecting solar flares. Beyond the morning a chocolate cookie falls off a child's tray. The baby crawls away to avoid a spray of gunfire. The burning pellets pierce his flesh. He is born anew from warmth and oneness into pain and bright light. Black Angels storm through luminous night, raging to the heavens their lonely plight. Madness crawls around behind their fiery eyes, like maggots searching for a sweet surprise. Hornets sing a haunting song. The dwarf decides he must move on. He removes his clothes and wraps a golden chain around his legs. Jumping in the water he floats in clouds so high. Each lining is sewn with bloody entrails from an Aztec sacrifice. He craves a sausage sandwich, with sweet relish, and the eyes of a beautiful woman gazing back at him.
Blood smeared on the chemist's slide. Silken sheets beneath she writhes. Come and sleep with me my dear, crimson concrete flowing near. Coming together we two meet, Bodies alive with our heat. Your armor shines resplendent. It is a glimpse into a hidden shrine. It holds a brilliant mystery. Andromeda is a spinning firestorm in the night sky. You cut off one breast. Your arrow finds the heart of your enemy. Your bow is strung to make a piercing cry. It is the last sound you prey will ever hear. Their last light is your shadow in their eyes. Rivers of blood pour through sand. Frozen sulfur drips yellow icicles. Orange eyed panthers stalk the night, the smell of fresh kill on their breath.
Stay out of my swim lane asshole the buoys are there for a reason. The butterfly is the most beautiful stroke the human body can perform. Eels and octopus are best with wasabi and pickled ginger. The stingray swims with the moray eel. What a boring fucking life you lead you fucking bitch, lost in your bi-polar episodes. Where does darkness end and day begin? Stepping into the light, you blister and burn, this reflective of your psychosis. Everyone calls you normal. We all have two faces, don’t we? I wish I had never known your private persona. The depths of hell reveled to me in your embrace. I fucked you and poured myself into your body. You kept me there for your own foul purpose. Can children of the dammed be embraced in glory?
But I digress.
In the time between the ticks of a clock she rides his dripping body. The sun is unrelenting accusation. The wind is cooling salvation. A dark moon rises over a black lagoon. The night bird screeches hunting. She sighs. It is an exhale of release. All mankind’s hope rides on her perfumed breath. Crows feed freely on a battlefield. She wants the ring and so cuts the finger off to acquire it. Raised high it reflects god-rays to the heavens.
The jester awoke with morning light. He took a hat from the ancient gallery. He walked into town. He came to a window. He looked inside. He saw his mother gazing at her own reflection. She was trying to not to cry. “Where did my youth and beauty go? So very precious was it to me. Now I have lost all that I came to love” He moved toward a window and he looked inside. He found his mother sleeping there and he began to cry. His face contorted with the time a guitar sang a screeching rhyme. His ears are filled with dirt and mud. His eyes look inward, pulsing blood.
They are not two but three as one. The taste of him is salty on their tongues. The heat of his flesh is overwhelming on their lips. The scent of his body fills their senses. All the rest fades away. All that remains is him, only him. In this moment his need becomes their need. They feel the beat of his heart and the strength of his life as their lips caress down his beautiful body. He is that mysterious primitive essence which completes. They yearn for this which is not part of them to become them. He touches their soft hair each in turn. He pulls them towards him to feel their warm breathing against his stomach. He guides their hands to stroke his core sending waves of sensation in a circle between them. Like shining rain in a thunderstorm ecstasy spills from one onto the other.
Every road leads back to you. Every Journey lies in you. Lead me home my lover Savior. Lead me home my sweet Redeemer. Lead me home and I will rest in you.
Luminous Angels mock my journey. My voice becomes a coarse whisper. “I find it soothing,” she says, as she draws me near. Can I survive the experience of this life? Hang the laundry on co-axial cable to dry in the sun. Glue a wing back on a fairy so that she can fly again. I run with a herd of wildebeests. We charge through a cloud of dust raised by a thousand hoofs. We surround our young to protect them from lions. When the butcher Sherman led his mercenary army to the gates of Atlanta, only women, children, and old men stood against his hoard. Only the old and infirm are left to feed the predators.
Sharing a view of the city at night; the cars below us flow around the buildings like a river of light. In the morning in Baja, we swim with dolphins, we hear them laughing in the waves next to us. Sunbathing on an isolated beach, coconut oil drips on hot sand, the salt dried on your shoulder is sweet to my lips. We swim in the blue pacific. Raising my arms, diamonds of sea spray caught in the sunlight cascade down onto us.
Once, in the town of San Miguel Allende, in the Mountains of Northern Mexico, Kayla, Dee Dee, and I ate mango together. The sweet juice ran down our faces. Laughing they told me if I could learn to coax the sweetness from a mango I would understand how to coax the sweetness from their sex. In the ocean, Kayla strapped a knife to her leg when she wore her bikini. She always swam topless. Her breasts were magnificent. At sunset Dee Dee preferred her Bombay Safire Gin stirred gently in a gold rimed martini glass, with ice and one green olive. In the evening Kayla wore black leather and loved my Galliano. Dee Dee was elegant in a red lace gown and favored my Armani. I loved them both but Kayla was my favorite.
"For better or for worse I only stop to look back at times like this. Mostly I live in this moment, right now, and I'm grateful for it. I know that most of this life lies behind me, but what I live for is today, and for the tomorrows that remain. My eyes are bombarded by the sights of this beautiful world. Every breath has the rich fragrance of trees and flowers. I'm privileged to be alive to share these wondrous feelings with you. I toast our fallen comrades, all of whom live on in our hearts.
I can honestly say that I've lived my time here fully. I hope that you'll live the rest of your time to the fullest. I don't see any other good way to go."
Thursday, August 18, 2011
The rain comes...
(A storm is gathering. An actor stands amid a scene of destruction)
Embers drift down in the air surrounding him
Hot melted steel, twisted and deformed, is all around him.
(Close up on actor’s face and upper body)
He pauses to form a “four in hand” knot in his striped tie
The leading edge should reach down to his belt just so.
Lucky Thirteen is the metal buckle on his belt.
(Close up on the actor’s belt and then his hand as he removes the embedded stones.)
Ruby dice form its skull eyes
He tosses them into the fire.
Looking back at him they begin to soften and decay.
(His interior dialog…)
“What song shall I sing?
As I now await the Radiant Face of God.”
Glowing embers mix with long black curls of ash.
They drift down around him in the hot air.
(He senses a female voice coming from a distance…)
It is the sweetest torture any man can endure.
He yearns for the rain to quench the fire of this exquisite longing.
(Actor’s interior dialog…)
“Love is the rarest of perfumes.
It is that ephemeral dream which we all share deep within.
It takes only that one who is different, and yet the same,
to free the fantasy into the light of day.”
(Actress enters the scene. Approaching him she draws her face to his…)
She takes his breath into hers
She releases herself into him with a long sigh.
(She arches her body away from him while still in his embrace…)
She reaches for that very private place.
She goes to where the rest of the world cannot find her.
He is there with her.
He holds her tight in an embrace.
Moments pass like the ages of the world.
The sound of her breathing is the sweetest music a man can hear.
(Immersive sound field is saturated with her lyrical breathing…)
His head rests on her soft body.
She strokes his hair and whispers a gentle question to him.
(Her voice is softly intimate and barely discernable…)
“Whatever you wish of me I will do.”
The rain comes...
(Strong backlighting into the rain…)