You cannot fight darkness by resolving to eradicate darkness. Instead you must commit to generating light. You cannot fight the cold by resolving to eradicate the cold. Instead you must commit to generating heat. Similarly, consumption cannot be fought by resolving to eradicate consumption (as I had), but only by committing to creation, to the creative act (which I hadn’t).
Things to think about: What am I really aiming at? How good am I really in comparison to my contemporaries in regard to:
(b) Do I really understand about people and am I able to get along with them?
(c) Am I trying to make my body a useful instrument or am I neglecting it?
I try to live by L.P. Jack’s notion: “A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play; his labor and his leisure; his mind and his body; his education and his recreation. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence through whatever he is doing, and leaves others to determine whether he is working or playing. To himself, he always appears to be doing both.
1. You must not dilly-dally. 2. You must be your word. 3. You must have good intentions. 4. You must admit to being the maker of meaning. 5. You must not feel sorry for yourself. 6. You must have a vision that you are striving for. 7. You must tie creativity and experimentation with survival. 8. You must be the change you want to see. 9. You must rally others with your vision. 10. You must stake your reputation on your better self. 11. You must be comfortable with the consequences of being who you are. 12. You must share. 13. You must make your own advice and take it. 14. You must manage your stress, health, and clarity. 15. You must study your mistakes. 16. You must retry things you don’t like every once in a while. 17. You must make time to enjoy things.
The rules, according to Buster Benson.
Have I not posted this before? Really? I probably have. I know. That’s lazy. I should probably check. But hey. You probably won’t. And if you missed it the first time round, it won’t hurt seeing it this time, right? And if you caught it the first time round, let’s just imagine that I think it’s worth being reminded of. Because I really do.
I tell my students not to wait for the right time or surroundings or materials to make work, but to make whatever they make now and to call that the work (and I try to practice this myself). I had just forgotten, in the depths of other people’s information, that I still could do what I wanted. … No more aspirational living. I am ambitious, hard-working, skilled, quick. What can I make, now? What can I do, now, to make things in my life closer to how I imagine them or want them to be? I’m trying to tell myself, every day: No more waiting and only looking and looking. Act on that desire. Whatever it is, it is. Take the materials you have, the time you have, the abilities you have, and make something. Let’s go.
And it’s almost as if reflagging this post stands against the point of the post. Almost. Eirann Lorsung writes on the impetus behind her publishing initiative, MIEL. In doing so, she authors a battle cry for makers in this connected age. Go read the whole thing. Then, y’know, make something.
Try stuff. Make your best stab and keep stabbing. If it’s there in your heart, it will eventually find its way out. Or you will give up and have a prudent, contented life doing something else.
Also: “Place 2 and 2 right in front of my nose, but make me think I’m seeing 5. Then reveal the truth, 4!, and surprise me.” That’s working methodology for a poem, right there. Poetry = magic. ‘Nuff said.
- Work on one thing at a time until finished.
- Start no more new books, add no more new material to “Black Spring.”
- Don’t be nervous. Work calmly, joyously, recklessly on whatever is in hand.
- Work according to Program and not according to mood. Stop at the appointed time!
- When you can’t create you can work.
- Cement a little every day, rather than add new fertilizers.
- Keep human! See people, go places, drink if you feel like it.
- Don’t be a draught-horse! Work with pleasure only.
- Discard the Program when you feel like it—but go back to it next day. Concentrate. Narrow down. Exclude.
- Forget the books you want to write. Think only of the book you are writing.
- Write first and always. Painting, music, friends, cinema, all these come afterwards.
Exercise tenacity. It’s not what you take from something, it’s what you bring to it.
Had the opportunity to work with Frank on a PAL project: If Not You Who Else. It was a blessing, really, to share the space with so many accomplished and open-hearted people, and it’s the kind of space I wish I could inhabit much more of the time. Spring cleaning, I came across this in a pile of notes, and wanted to give the thought a life beyond my archived paper…
You are underestimating the future. You are fretting about the now; worrying about little things that don’t matter. You are wasting precious energy obsessing over irrelevant details. You don’t believe that a better future is out there and can be built, that it can exceed people’s expectations, because you’re spending so much time considering the truth of the present and the seemingly important lessons of the past.