Tuesday, December 10, 2013
If I get stuck on a page, the most effective means I know of to get through that wall is to sit still and go for Dharana. It snowed today, and so I decided not to drive all the way to baltimore to the cabinet shop to make $160. Instead I stayed in and have been working on page 9 of the second issue. I had a slow start this morning. Yesterday I lifted and moved cabinets long distances for most of the day. I had most of the page sketched out already, just loose layouts I had been gradually tightening up. This page has been incredibly difficult to get out of my head AND the holidays have given me less uninterrupted time so it's been slower going then usual. This tends to eventually aggravate some old dwindling demons. So this day off was a blessing. From the semi tight sketched I got about 7/8 of the page pencilled tightly. But the last little bit required that I draw "walking". Ohmnath is moving through space, so a map with his walking route, and a panel between the before and after Brahmari Babas to show that he has walked. I showed the rougher pencils to Pauline last night and asked her what she thought. In this panel I had two hastily sketched legs and feet shown from the side that were in the middle of walking. "You should put something more iconic there, like what you did in the last book." Still couldn't get it out today, went through a dozen thumbnails. Today I finished my tight pencils and breathed deeply seven times. Then I crawled downstairs and sat in Padmasana and went for Dharana. Now I'm pouring over a book of yantras looking for feet I know that I saw.
Sunday, February 10, 2013
Just leaving the mucus thickened woods. Developed a reasonably severe viral bronchitis this week. Coughing fits lasted all day and all night for the first couple of days, painful, forceful and completely unproductive. What came out was the consistency of glue or thick spiderweb. Eventually down to 2 fits lasting several hours a day, more and more productive. Afraid I might cough myself into pure exhaustion and give up the ghost. As a child, when this would happen it would invariably develop into something worse and long lasting. The anxious connection not lost on me.
Deep breathing when impaired. I couldn't help but remember Bob, a student of mine from one of the retirement communities where I taught Qi-Gong in Maryland. Bob was 88, had chronic bronchitis, not emphysema, COPD. He was in the hospital for about 2 weeks during my tenure. I missed him and worried. I started every class with a slow and directed series of deep breaths, working their way up from the belly, through the ribs, then up to the chest and back out just as slow. During this part of class, Bob would often cough into a stained handkerchief that would appear and disappear into a pocket in his shirt. 2 weeks later Bob comes back to class.
"Before we start Chris, I have to tell you something. I used to think this breathing stuff we did was all bullshit. I was getting really bad, went into a tailspin at the hospital, then I started breathing slowly and deeply like you teach us, [tears in his eyes now] and I think it's what pulled me out of it. Thank you for this."
2 days into my illness I propped some pillows up and leaned back to open my chest and breathed as deeply and slowly as I could. The next morning my cough started producing. In my youth: Pneumonia. In my adulthood: deep breathing. Thanks, Bob!
Sunday, February 3, 2013
I recall, as a child, occassionally encountering a strange sensation, usually the same peculiar sensation. Complicated, as if splitting in two directions at once, paralyzing in its choice. Allowing me to do nothing on the threshold of one or several things. This uncomfortable liminal space where the picture gets larger. Clearly there was nothing to do. All I could say was "I'm bored".
I hear it often at my job. We have a time set aside during the course of the day where kids can engage in a free choice inside. The structure of their school day melts away into our own fabrication into what do you want to do? We provide legos, blocks, board games, cards, drawing supplies, scissors, glue, paper, you name it. Sometimes one of us takes them next door and watches them run around a bit, to get that out. Invariably, even in the midst of all this choice a child approaches with that same song on his/her lips, "I'm bored, there's nothing to do."
Their boredom contains, at least, an implicit bifurcation of potential action. The emotions and feelings that generate as a result of this bifurcation can seem quite alien, strange and unusual even to an adult. Humans require novel stimulation to keep interested. Ideally this stimulation has an internal locus of generation. One path to this has its end in the realization that every moment has little to no connection to any other moment, keeping every individual moment novel in its experience. In this way one can do anything and enjoy it permanently so long as one follows a steady plan for the maintenance of its practice. Along the way this practice begins to cultivate detail seeking behaviors, making it ideal for those with artistic and prosean leanings, I have encountered few limits in details, they seem always to lead to something smaller and something smaller, or something softer and something softer.
Getting there requires tremendous effort. Working through this feeling time and again begins to beat the wrinkle back. But the practice requires lots of heat and determination. I recall, during my early experiments with discipline, the last youthful tears of boredom leaving my eyes, the last kvetching "I don't wanna's" leaving my brain. This happened, happens, repeatedly. I still have far to go. The emotional body holds great power over all the other patterns we find ourself interacting with. Still: disciplining oneself to keep interested seems a noble preoccupation to me. By allowing the flow of emotion a proper and concentrated outlet, over time, clarity develops.
Sunday, January 27, 2013
Summer rushes through fall, long after it should retire. It's bones and sinews older, ragged, kept awake at night by rheumatism and indigestion, powering through the day on a steady drip of adrenaline. Hits winter's wall: Slow down! Winter cracks its whip, ice where once was blood. Movement becomes impossible, the body wants hibernation. To go underground until spring, exploring caves in darkness where the temperature stays the same. Wiping chalk and blood on the wall, leaving a lasting human legacy like garbage, like plastic, forever. The sun spit back out again, and the sleepers wake, leave the cave.
At 11 below 0 farenheit, the first breath I take in the morning hurts. Nose hairs and snot freeze immediately. The ache that takes 20 minutes in 20 degree weather sets in within 20 seconds. 3 minutes later frost begins to form on my mustache. Having lived in the south for most of my life, I have yet to adapt to this experience. Cold infiltrates. Drills to the marrow, can feel it all day. Even after I've sequestered myself back in the warmth of my cave for a few hours.
The fascicular spiral, wound tightly round bone in summer has less torque, less potential with frozen tissue. Warming up seems to take more time, I have yet to master tummo, but still grasp at stoking cellar heat. I won't give up. In winter I feel my age, or older. Aches and pains don't disappear and remain for days before abating. The heat of practice stills them somewhat, but distracting my neurons seems more effective in most cases.
In the absence of movement I can watch for transmissions issuing forth from the hole in my brain. Make something out of nothing. The active brain searches, watches. The tired brain interprets. Winter questions survival, brings out the death trance, very peaceful, very visionary. I write everything down now. I draw it all into a story. Winter provides the opportunity to get work done without the distraction of the out of doors. I can stay in my warm, modern, cave: drawing and dreaming until the harsh season's secret explodes into spring.
12 more pages by September. I think I can I think I can I think I can I think I can.
Sunday, January 20, 2013
Do you remember the first time you saw something that changed your life completely and immediately imprinted some new possibility for reality that you would never have otherwise considered?
The first time I can remember this happening, I was about 5 years old. My father read a lot, a lot a lot, the house of my childhood had walls lined with shelves full of dusty books. The living room in particular had 2 large bookcases all full of various articles of classical literature and thought: works by Homer, Chaucer, Aristotle, Erasmus, Keirkegaard, Aquinas, Shakespeare, Huxley, etc. All great magicians in their own right. On the lower shelves were books with wonderful pictures of dinosaurs, sea monsters, aliens. A small space on the bottom of the lefthand bookshelf held my father's small comic book collection. His mother disposed of the collections of his youth (except for a few vital items) when he left for college. Sometimes, very wisely, he would read to us from this small collection letting our eyes linger on the pictures while he did the voices for the each of the Avengers or for Spider-Man. I remember having an affinity for "The Vision", but only vaguely.
No, what really stuck, and changed me, happened on one fateful day while I was home sick with strep throat, or walking pneumonia. My father stayed home to take care of me and I asked him to read a comic to me, so I could follow along. On this day he pulled three oversized comics off the shelf. These 3 were reprints of Tales from the Crypt, the Vault of Horror, and the Haunt of Fear, respectively. For the next couple of hours my father good lord, -choked- his way through every story, pausing after each to survey my wide-eyed, fearful, face to ask if I'd had enough. "More" was my answer. On this day I was reborn. My brain permanently changed. Bernie Wrightson, my new hero.
Art and magic have an inextricable link. Change in accordance with personal will broadly defines the goal of magic. What change? Environmental changes, physical changes, internal changes, really any change as long as the will accomplishes it. These changes come much easier when a practitioner learns to communicate with whatever they wish to change, by learning the language either through careful study or intuition. Change occurs first in the mind, as an idea takes root and begins to prune away long-seated opposition with nimble and dextrous fingers. As the process continues it works its way through the body, altering motor units to produce, ultimately, some manifestation, some pattern for others to follow.
You can never know what lies inside of another person beyond their anatomy. The information they spit out through their various signals has a high degree of noise, as does a person's ability to receive it. Through constant meditation and practice, people seem the same, oneness steps forward, the clay all mashed together, all brown and grey. Then because sensitivity to certain things inside creates a type of knowledge through its experience, this can apply itself meaningfully to others. Thus begins compassion and empathy. Learning the language of people.
I draw to communicate. The tandem paradox of spoken words both abstracting and specifying renders them mostly meaningless. In order to understand someone by speaking to them, so many words have to come out of both people, this vocal torrent constantly checking and editing itself on the fly to ensure the other party understands. With a drawing or painting, the effect occurs almost immediately, and the viewer can linger in silence. The imprint can happen immediately. Art allows the inside to come out, so people have the opportunity to acknowledge internal processes, and sympathize, or empathize with them. It causes long lasting or permanent change in others as well as in the creator AND it manifests some critical internal idea.
I started writing and drawing a comic in July after a lengthy daily practice and meditation with a singular goal in mind: to reconnect myself to my will (HGA). What emerged was the germ of an idea I had carried with me from childhood to know, that has taken many shapes and had many false starts. All signs said "THE TIME HAS ARRIVED". The Crowelyan true will. My will's flow interrupted by life, work, sloth, etc. But I always come back to work on it. Getting faster every time I sit down. Working hard at communicating clearly. Sometimes I have second thoughts. The trickster universe throws so much in front of what I feel I need to accomplish. Crowley would say that means I've found the right track. Slowly but surely, all blame on my father for instilling me with a love of comic books as a child.