Despite diversionary breaks to warm tea or vacuum my studio, I have been staring at my work in mid-progress (to be generous), and to borrow from Heidegger, I am waiting for the thing to thing itself. Others have put it this way: It’s the moment when a painting tells you it needs a swath of red running through it, or a writing shows you the need of a certain word to push the narrative along. For Heidegger, a thing does more than exist merely for human awareness — that there is a quality about a thing, especially in art, in which a representation of it does not reveal its inner life, an inherent quality that somehows withdraws from human grasp. And we silly artists chase it like a cat after a bug on a string. (Who or what is holding that string is another question.)
So what else is there to do but read poetry, written by another faithful feline servant to bugs being yanked by string — one who happens to write an homage to these “things” I speak of. Somehow I feel as if he may have got it all in his claws, if only for the most fleeting of moments.
Only in Things.
Some days, who can stare at swathes of sky,
leafage and bad-complected whale-gray streets,
tailpipes and smokestacks orating sepia exhuaust,
or the smaller enthusiasms of pistil and mailbox key,
and not weep for the world’s darks on lights, lights on darks,
how its halftones stay unchanged in their changings,
or how turning wheels and wind-trash and revolving doors
weave us into wakefulness or dump us into distraction?
This constant stream of qualia we feel in our stomachs.
The big-leafed plant lifts its wings to greet the planet’s chemistry,
the sun arrives on rooftops like a gentle stranger, rain rushes us
love to love, stop to stop, these veins of leaf, hand, storm and stream,
as if in pursuit of us and what we are becoming.
– W. S. di Piero
Today’s Advice: “I have torn speech like a tattered robe and let words go;
you who are still dressed in your clothes, sleep on.” Rumi