What is the Value of Art?

Here is a bit of spoken word poetry I just wrote called, What is the value of Art.

“Center of All”

What is the value of art?

It is our birthright, our education,

it’s the smashing of all our limitations,

it’s the last breath as death collects us

In an ever winding energy nexus

It’s the movement of words and thoughts and dreams

Of a plurality of reality, and a sequence of scenes  

It’s what’s delicious and nutritious for the mind and soul

So luscious and rich with wonders to behold

It’s our essence and presence as a universe to witness

A study of truth and the quickest path to fitness

Of our species survival all threatened by meaninglessness

In the hearts of greed where we find only deafness

Or daftness and a lack of meaningful madness

This Art is our madness, our collective sadness,

All balled up and beat up long past the gladness

It’s the laughter of life and the meaning of love

It’s the universe in our hands and as below so above.

So you ask, what is the value of art?

It’s all this and more

For our humanity

is lost

if we lose

it’s core.

Mimi of the Nowhere Cover Reveal

Today I am happy to present the official cover of my very first novel Mimi of the Nowhere. This book is the very first chapter in the Chronicles of the Great Migration. A series about life, death, and war in a Giant Walking Cities in a post-climate change era. Mimi of the Nowhere begins with the story of a Homeless woman living in the Giant Walking City of Manhasten, which was once, long ago the island of Manhattan.

A synopsis:

Life on the street is hard. Drug dealers, thieves, and even the security officers of the giant walking city of Manhatsten are up to no good. But somehow, Mimi’s done it for centuries. Of course, it helps that she is able to peek into other people’s minds and avoid trouble most of the time. Unfortunately, that same talent is about to get her into a whole other world of trouble. One that she never even knew existed.

The cover was created by the very talented Kayla Rose. You can find more of her work at her Instagram page here

Don’t forget you can read the first 6 chapters of the book free at the page for Mimi of the Nowhere

 

Front Cover

 

Want to read this book completely free? Sign Up for our Email Newsletter here and get access to this book for free beginning 5/17/18 as well as a number other great perks. 

 

 

Return

Return

Return

It is beckoned by gravity’s song,

Pulled ever forward, ever along.

Dodging left and right,

Hoping to stay out of sight.

The secret is here, in the act,

In the movement, in the contract.

Down it goes, it jerks, it resists,

Until it mergers from a single kiss.

It kisses some more and increases its speed,

It becomes heavy, weighted down, a larger bead.

It clings tight, to the metal, all it knows,

But it cannot grasp forever, it must let go.

It loses its grip and cascades down,

It lands in the water but does not drown.

Instead, it merges, it melds, it becomes,

Connected existence, it succumbs.

And remembers it forgot all that it knew,

Connected and one, the only real view.

Space and potential, potential and space,

Here, at last, it knows a joy it can embrace.

Thinking About the Tedious

Verse 67 of the Tao Te Ching (via Ursula K. Le Guin’s translation) opens with the following lines:

Inside

Everybody says my way is great,

But improbable

All greatness

Is improbable.

What’s probable

Is tedious and petty.

I think every artist, every researcher, every teacher (or really every human being ever) asks at some point, why do I bother? Why do I bother to create art? Do students even care? Why do I even try? Why am I important anyway? Why do I wake up and go to a job I hate? As anyone reading this knows, self-doubt is a common human experience and for those of us who have chosen to try and create, it is perhaps even more potent and possibly more devastating.

I know I sometimes find those thoughts echoing in my mind as if I was screaming repeatedly into the Grand Canyon, until the feedback of my own mind feel like a high pitched aching distortion of misery. Sometimes, when I stop and watch this, it makes me laugh a little at its utter absurdity. Other times, I allow myself (like many people) to become enveloped by what feels hopeless. It is when we identify with our own thoughts, that we allow this hopelessness to persist.

All identity is crafted from a mix between our internal life, our social interactions and the wider cultural sphere(s) in which we exist. Therefore, identity is ever-changing and ever-moving. You are not the same person you were at the moment you began reading this.

So often, social pressure and cultural history interplay with our own consciousness in such a way that we ignore the small still inner voices that rage so quietly in the back of our mind. We allow the judgements of others, of our wider culture and perhaps most dangerously the wave of expectations from both the outside world and our own ideas of what the world should be, blot out the fact that we have created something beautiful or wonderful or unique. Or perhaps we forget the amazing amount of conditions that have coalesced to create this particular and quite miraculous moment in which we reside.

The easy path is to give up and allow our own misery to wash over us. The easy path is to continue with whatever tedium we have surrendered too. We urge ourselves to repeat the same cycles, because a new one is perhaps too scary or might be harder. But the path towards our own truth, towards the end of suffering is much more difficult. This is the path of honesty, of authenticity.

By the way, I am not going to tell you to take the road less traveled, or present you with some hollow interpretation via Robert Frost because in all honesty, that poem has been grossly misinterpreted.  (http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/what-gives-robert-frosts-road-not-taken-its-power-180956200/?no-ist )

We need to be the Hermit, The Shaman, The Buddha, the Christ Figure (or any other symbol of a retreat in the wilderness and the exploration the inner life), seeking to understand the nature of our own suffering and the limitations we put on ourselves. We must ask ourselves, how have we been in our own way lately? Doing so, is the only way we break from the probable, from the tedious, from the petty. That is the only way that human beings as a whole will reach the distance future, for so many systems of suffering have been created by relying on structures we want to last forever, but are in fact impermanent.

In short, find trust in yourself. And for those of us who create, “Do you work and Step Back, The only path to serenity” (via Tao Te Ching verse 9). We must accept that the inner voice or our creations may never be shared with the wider world. That’s okay. Recognition, Fame, Respect, these things are all fleeting. Instead focus on the fact that the mere ability to create is the essence of remarkable beauty.

To Me Writing Is…

Moth-in-handsI am a bit in danger of waxing philosophical here… but here goes. To me writing is the solidification of the very potential of the human experience. In other words, writing takes the empty spaces of existence and creates via a spectrum of possibility and imagination.

Lots of big words I know. But this isn’t just about writing, this is about art.

Art has no easily definable value for immediate survival. What purpose does it serve exactly? It does not keep us alive. It does not nourish us or keep us warm during the cold winter. It does not quench our thirst or fulfill any of our other basic needs. Art is primarily based on social interactions and imagination.

Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s not important. The very fact that it is beyond the meager nature of basic survival means that it is something entirely important. Art and writing are a demonstration that we, as human beings have discarded the fear surrounding the acquisition of our primary necessities and taken another step forward into the realm of all that is possible.

In particular, writing shares other worlds, other ideas, other possibilities for humanity to interact with. Ultimately all writing is some sort of fantastical thought experiment (yes even dime novels) asking the question, what would the world (or my world) be like if…

That is the beautiful nature of all art, to ask the questions that we may not be able to ask in our everyday working grind. So many of us work multiple jobs these days or are distracted by sitcoms and reality TV that demonstrate the same plots and patterns over and over again. In a time when humanity is undergoing a sizable crucible, when we have to collectively decide what role we would like to play in the future of our species, art has never been so important.

I believe that experimentation, imagined or real, is the only way forward through the fires of human suffering. I believe (there is an awful lot of my beliefs in here isn’t there?) that art and writing to help create a space for the flowering of all human potential. Fiction in particular gives us the opportunity to step back from ourselves and allow questions to be asked, that we would not normally not ask (A master of this was the well-known author Ursula K. Le Guin) and try on a different pair of shoes or clothes or skin.

So, to me writing is… the nourishment of the soul and a meal for the mind. It is the birth of what we can be and perhaps in time, what we will be.