Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Hiatus from this Blog and Thanks!

I am discontinuing this blog. I am shortly to celebrate a year of complete sobriety and freedom from the usual forms of psychological slavery which go along with that. I am extremely grateful for a year lived correctly and in self-possession with the person I love most on earth and for the discovery of a new love for the visual arts as a daily means of personal expression (read: creative furor).

I feel empowered creatively and look forward to what I hope are many years of constant expression. When you aren't saddled with an addiction, even bipolar disorder is manageable. I still have to control my environment very carefully. Overly negative people (even myself on overly negative days) can quickly bring me down, collapse my sails pretty fast.  I still have down days and suffer from bouts with protracted depression occasionally. I don't mind the mania, because without an addiction to make it skyrocket out of my control, it can be channeled into pretty much nonstop creativity for long periods of time. This is a gift bipolar people are given along with that unfortunate darkness.

I see there seem to be a few regular readers here and I express my gratitude to you folks (some of you are mysterious to me!) for having given me a sense of not having typed into the void every day of my life.

But lately I notice a trend where people seem to have decided against me in terms of nobody ever wanting to link back to my blog or to comment. For those of you who have commented or who emailed me, and we are all on a first name basis, Thank You very much! And for your friendship! I will always appreciate our friendship and feel free to call on me at any time if I can be of assistance in any way.

Of course, I will not stop writing and making visual art. I am just going to do it elsewhere (possibly pseudonymously) for a while. I don't even know what sort of online platform I will use or if it will be a blogging platform. Probably it will be though. Old bloggers are notoriously hard to reform. Maybe I'll try to push the buttons of controversy a little. It feels good to start things fresh as a seeming unknown in people's minds. Maybe that's the only way to get the benefit of the doubt sometimes.

I'm not leaving in a huff or angry or sour or feeling as though I failed at the project of blogging. I respect blogging. Sure, there's lots of fluff and trivial stuff on this blog and the previous incarnation of the blog, but I know there's also much of interest (I certainly always blogged about others who fascinated me more than I did myself or my own art) so I certainly won't delete either of these blogs. But I don't feel capable of editing the millions of words for content, and I don't feel like even looking at the chaos that so often accompanied the fertile moments, and the years of writing under the influence of both addiction AND bipolar disorder sometimes made for some interesting surprises, writing-wise, and sometimes some serious emotional crashes I will gain nothing by revisiting.

These blogs suffer from being too much omnibuses. I realize that now. I realized it then too, but I couldn't focus too much on narrowing them down to blogs that would focus only on the belletristic or the visual arts or criticism or poetry. Probably I should have sorted them out like a set of drawers (the logical thing) and kept the separate worlds apart. I could do that now. But I suppose I wouldn't think of doing it then.

In the end, I have learned that I think I really am an outsider artist. I might have won a few major awards and published a book through one of the best presses for which any author could hope, corresponded and become friends with some of the most amazing writers of my day and then fallen into a world of amazing visual artists who dazzled and continue to dazzle me every hour of the day. But the funny thing at the end of the day is I think I really am an outsider. Part of it is where I choose to live and a larger part of it is my agoraphobic tendencies. And then part of it is the tendency of bipolar artists to be ostracized and stigmatized and judged by their worst periods, when they are prey to their own minds in the worst ways imaginable. As awful as your interaction with bipolar A or bipolar B was, unless that person was physically abusive or predatory in some other way (I never was) you probably came through the experience much better than your bipolar friend, associate or ex-friend or ex-associate did. But who is to tell you what you should put up with in life but you? Life is short. My mouth was often terrible. I suffered the worst fits of paranoia frequently. No one is ever guaranteed a second chance with anyone, let alone a third chance, bipolar or otherwise.

I've said my apologies in past to the people I've offended when I was out of control. My Blogger profile carried an open apology for about a year. And then as I realized I truly was changing, becoming a person more in control of my life, an ex-addict, I deleted that part of the profile and kept the positive notes and the accomplishments I wanted people to see, rather than displaying some Biblical hair shirt on view in a glass case, 24-7. Like Lenin's corpse used to be.

I have been very grateful for the opportunities which arose this past year in the visual arts and for the recognition I have begun to receive there from so many people in so many surprising places (most of them amazing artists, making the compliment of attention that much more meaningful to me!) Thank You.

I will say I don't know where I'm "going," but I feel optimistic and I want to treat writing as a profession again. So I am seeking to publish. If you have any interest in publishing any poetry, fiction or off-genre writing of mine you find on this blog or on my previous blog in either an online or print journal, or have interest in publishing a book of any of these, feel free to contact me. I would be able to put a manuscript together for you in short order. With regard to visual art, if you are interested in using or publishing anything (my Flickr Photostream is pretty large, but I wouldn't recommend going too far back into it chronologically, as the first year or so is rather inchoate!) similarly feel free to contact me.

I realize editors rarely come to you and you have to go to them (uh duh) and I will force myself to do that as well. But if someone is reading this and has a press and is willing to work with me on this, you will find me receptive and very much grateful for the opportunity. I am probably most interested in publishing a book of prose poems/micro-fiction compiled from this blog. I'm looking to publish a book of standard(ish) length, somewhere from the typical sixty-four pages to close to a hundred. I am open to ebooks (and will send mss. out in those directions shortly as well) but I will confess I am in love with old school print books. Is it vainglory? Oh, I don't know. I just love to read in the tub and those books are better there. None of my favorite books accompany me in ebook form into the tub. They're all paper.

With regard to visual art, you can use anything without notifying me first, as long as it is a non-commercial venue or project (anything else, please inquire).

I will continue to make visual art every day and I love pure design as much as I love the more personal or conceptualist projects. I like pretty and grotty about equally with regard to design. Digital noise and sacred geometries are all good. If you see something you'd like to use, let me know. For a c.v. of visual art, see my Flickr profile.

If you'd like to collaborate on visual art or on some writing project or perhaps something sui generis, feel free to contact me. I enjoy creative challenges and maybe we will click. I tend to isolate myself too much, so I'm throwing that out there with the understanding that I can't guarantee (just as you surely can't) that anything will come of it. Please nobody impersonating someone else. If you write me, be who you say you are. I've had a few bad experiences with kooks. I don't plan on repeating that frustration. (I shouldn't call them "kooks." Maybe they felt the need to hide behind personae to protect themselves just as I describe above. But it is psychologically jarring to me.)

And, lastly, if you feel you'd like to say anything to me (that's not some misplaced hostility) then feel free to contact me as well. It doesn't necessarily have to be art-eh. I'm trying to break my own tendency to self-isolate so much. Or if you want to know where I'm blogging once I settle somewhere else, just ask. I honestly don't know at this moment.

I'm never lonely or bored, so I'm not giving out my email for those reasons. I'm saying it because I believe in other minds and their capacity to (sometimes) fertilize us and change us in ways we did not expect. I will say up front I can't deal with overmuch negativity or hostility. These come too close to my own past behavior as an addict, so I try to avoid them in myself and in others.

You can reach me at IceStationPoetry@aol.com.

I have this horrible habit of not checking my email but in weird spates, but I will try to alter that habit now. I almost missed a number of opportunities in the past year because of this bad habit. Luckily, I did not.

Lastly, I'll say if you are dealing with an addiction, I can tell you that longterm (permanent) escape from this addiction is capable of restoring to you the most amazing moments of lucidity and possibilities. Although, if you are trapped in an addiction right now, you probably won't believe it. But know that your not believing it is sign of the ability of your addiction to render your mind misshapen beyond the power of imagination. You might end up standing there and staring at the world like a five-year-old for a while, once you are stripped of your usual "coping mechanisms" (read: the dagger or daggers with which you used to repeatedly stab yourself and which you called your "coping mechanisms"). And then you will almost certainly realize you do indeed feel like a five-year-old in the best possible way: everything can be experienced anew at last. You are free to reinvent yourself and to strip away old paint without drinking glorified paint stripper (or whatever your poison is/was). And the cessation of the erosive guilt! That thing that was constantly eating at you because it was your great secret and constantly breaking forth in ugly eruption when you couldn't conveniently keep it secret! Its power is suddenly gone.

I feel blessed to be without temptation. I must have really hit bottom. It's so great to know we can decide at any single moment in our life that cartoon existence is not for us. That doesn't only apply to addiction. So many people fall into one cartoon existence or another. There is a stylized sense of self that they find themselves stuck with. There are dance steps. Addiction is like many other forms of personality dysfunction in this regard. I don't separate addiction of the substance abuse order variety out as completely qualitatively different from other forms of harmful personality dysfunction and socially maladaptive behaviors as most do. I realize chemical dependencies are chemical dependencies. But chemical dependencies don't stop through chemical solutions. It's a bit more complicated (and simple) than that. There are certain literary critics, for example, that I think of as the functional equivalent of alcholics. The junk or smack there is just human meanness. I see it as so similar. It's whether or not you want to find a mechanism by which you can become numb, an asshole, whatever, any means by which you can basically abdicate the real human responsibility that being a moral person requires.

It is my experience that if you stop dead in those dying tracks, that if you allow this "horrible" kindness to yourself, if you actually completely turn back to who you once were before this happened, you finally find it possible to see others much more kindly. Everyone had a child mind, a generous mind once.  I'm not trying to be too Pollyanna here, and I realize everyone has different avenues of escape from their dependency and needs different support networks to make it work. Everyone is different. I am fortunate that I ultimately didn't need a social network to do this, to break free. Because with my agoraphobic tendencies and the problems I had at the time with socialization, I would probably have gotten much more stress from that experience. But it is my understanding that most people seem to benefit most from that environment. Because most people are much more naturally social than I have been able to be for most periods in my life. I'm just saying, I don't walk around numbed, looking backwards. I still have bipolar disorder and its sometimes draining problems. I still realize we're all ultimately doomed (of course we are!) And I realize the best we can do is help others deal with this doom and through that hopefully help ourselves deal with that doom. (Of course, it's best not to introduce the "doom" topic with children, who have absolutely no idea. Lucky them! This is more for us doom-conscious adults. :-) ).

I can really only speak to my own experience with addiction, which is (true to me) typically weird. I just know the person you are on alcohol is not the person you really are. That "in vino veritas" argument is absolute bullshit. You can imagine how many people are spending the rest of their lives in an 8x8 cell for acts of which they honestly have zero factual recollection (let alone understanding of motive). Alcohol only showed me that anyone (even a garden-variety neurotic like myself) can be turned into a total monster through the metabolism of fermented whatever. I don't have a body count, Thank God. And I kept my relationship count to one. (And that was probably good old kismet anyway.) It nearly became two. So if I'm lucky with longevity like so many others in my family, I can now turn my attention to doing what I was meant to do, writing and making visual art every day for a few decades. Nothing is guaranteed, but that's my humble hope. I realize seven billion plus other people are pretty much doing the same thing. So that's where I find it hard to cleave too strongly to the ambition side of creativity. I don't have the talons or the desire to bite it all off. Unlike some, I don't believe that's what proves an artist is interesting. The meaning of your work to the culture or cultures at large is not necessarily going to be be directly proportional to how much you cram yourself down the throats of others. Most of my appearances online or in print lately have been due to the kindness of strangers who asked or just found me or told me they really liked what I was doing and wanted to share it. That is quite an honor. Because they had about seven billion other people to choose from. So, that is where my understanding of gratitude begins. Someone speaks to you and they didn't have to. But nobody is speaking to me on this blog, so I will try another form somewhere else and maybe you (or other beings like you) will talk to me there. :-)

I remain open to hearing from anyone. So feel free to contact me. Spammers who grab this email here will not get replies. So maybe be so kind as to put something in the subject line that lets me know you're a human and not a Bayesian formula. :-)

I probably won't check my email every single day but I will try to remember to check it every few days.

Til soon,
I hope.




4 comments:

  1. Dear Bill,

    This makes me feel sad because I will very much miss your always interesting take on things in words and your amazing pictures, and guilty because I should have let you know more often, and yet happy too that you have had such a great year of clarity and personal growth. Congratulations on this important milestone. You are about the only one who ever comments on my poems and it's always a great feeling of gratitude when you do, but I think we have to make our art for ourselves and for its own sake, put it out there and let those who will find it, find it. Most of the blogs I read have only a handful of commenters, while a lot of people read and follow them while remaining 'mysterious' as you say. A lot of the contacts you've made with pictures have come through this blog, but if you feel another path offers your talents a wider audience, then go for it, but where will I get my pajamas tomorrow?

    Let's stay in touch.

    Love,
    Peter

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  2. Oh thanks, Peter. You're certainly one of the people I'm referring to as on a first name basis, and as a good friend! Usually when I stopped blogging in the past it was dysfunction, but now it's the opposite. I have an idea for some other writing projects and I exhaust too much of the "expressive substance" with blogging, I think. Of course, I will still visit your blog! Just because I'm not blogging doesn't mean people who do cease to exist to me. I'm on Flickr almost every day, Peter, so you can always get a dose of the images there, if you feel the urge. If you have a Flickr account, add me and I will happily add you back. And I tend to check email there much sooner than the one I reference above. Thanks for staying a friend in my proverbial darkest hours. You spoke sanity to me and threw some cold fresh water in my face and my life is much better for listening and taking your advice to the letter! People think everyone should naturally know what's the common sense thing to do but sometimes when people are very lost, the fact that someone cares enough to say those words can mean a lot more than anything their own intellect can "say" to them. I don't know why that's so--in something so important as the struggle for actual survival--but I know it's so. One of the mysteries of the spirit, I guess! So...much love back. Til soon, I hope.

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  3. I will write to you more at length soon but I just read this and want to thank you for all you have shared on this blog and would like to know where to find your writings in the future.

    I especially appreciate this last post.

    Thank you,
    Alisa

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Alisa. I only check comments here every few weeks now. But...thanks! Cheers.

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