Forget Special, by David duChemin - Photographer

Name an artist or inventor, anyone that affected social change on the most massive scale. Who were they before they became, say, Gandhi? Pasteur? Picasso? If they had waited to make a name for themselves, doing the very things by which they made a name for themselves, were deemed special, they’d have never done a thing. Gandhi didn’t know he was Gandhi until he became, you know, GANDHI. He just did his thing. And even then I’m pretty sure he didn’t know what all the fuss was about. Who others thought he was and who he knew himself to be were probably always different. And I guarantee you it was not easy. Have you read his biography?

David duChemin, photographer.

I have been selecting photographs for the exhibition at the end of this month and so, it goes without saying, David duChemin's article, Forget Special, was incredibly timely.

The risk is more than we can imagine ... And until they get the answer they think they need to hear, they remain paralyzed, their art undone, their business unstarted. Waiting to be special, first.


Woman Enough ...

Writers are often asked, How do you write? With a wordprocessor? an electric typewriter? a quill? longhand? But the essential question is, 'Have you found a space, that empty space, which should surround you when you write?' Into that space, which is like a form of listening, of attention, will come the words, the words your characters will speak, ideas -- inspiration.

If a writer cannot find this space, then poems and stories may be stillborn.

Doris Lessing.

This ... this is so true for me.  I recently deleted my facebook account and experienced a most astounding silence.  It took time to adjust to a life without interesting voices crowding in but I did.  And I loved it.  I wrote.  Eventually though, I realised how little people-contact there is in my everyday world and so I went back to facebook.

The alarm goes every morning at 6.45am here.  I have breakfast ready by 7.30am, when I'm home, and I'm usually here at my desk by 8.30am.  And then I read my way into the place that I work from.

It's a mixture of going through email, a scan of my facebook wall for news of the world, catching up on my blog feed and picking through a selection of new reading there.

There's no physical journey, beyond climbing the stairs to the first floor but there is some kind of journey into that place where I work.

So much can go wrong ...

I think it's why painters have studios, photographers too.  Ateliers.  Mine would be locked some days, with no visible signs of life showing.  I have this 4 hour window of time where I can concentrate intensely.  It's the time when the best of my creativity comes out to play.  I know this but I can't always hold onto it.

I'm studying the 'how' of it because I have had 5 disasterous days in a row, with life crashing into me, again and again.  I think, in the process of opening your self to dig deep and create something that didn't exist before, or to write of something you love so that the passion leaps off the page and convinces people ... you need to go to a place where you can take off your skin and just kind of feel your way with your nerve-endings, with your senses perhaps.

An argument can lay waste to that 'place', to that state of being.  Or realising that this person or that really needs you, or that the house is a mess.  That particular 4 hours out is all that I require but it's so difficult to actually take that much time in the world where I live.

Exit Stage right, and Genova.

I have a favourite poem by a writer I've loved for years. I've posted it before so forgive me if you have already ready it.  Otherwise, maybe this captures something of the struggle ...

Woman Enough

Because my grandmother's hours
were apple cakes baking,
& dust motes gathering,
& linens yellowing
& seams and hems
inevitably unraveling
I almost never keep house
though really I like houses
& wish I had a clean one.

Because my mother's minutes
were sucked into the roar
of the vacuum cleaner,
because she waltzed with the washer-dryer
& tore her hair waiting for repairmen
I send out my laundry,
& live in a dusty house,
though really I like clean houses
as well as anyone.

I am woman enough
to love the kneading of bread
as much as the feel
of typewriter keys
under my fingers
springy, springy.
& the smell of clean laundry
& simmering soup
are almost as dear to me
as the smell of paper and ink.

I wish there were not a choice;
I wish I could be two women.
I wish the days could be longer.
But they are short.
So I write while
the dust piles up.

I sit at my typewriter
remembering my grandmother
& all my mothers,
& the minutes they lost
loving houses better than themselves
& the man I love cleans up the kitchen
grumbling only a little
because he knows
that after all these centuries
it is easier for him
than for me.

Erica Jong.

I had to shower, dress, go find a birthday present for a party this afternoon.  I had to get lunch from the supermarket.  After it all, I came back upstairs just after midday and experimented with layers and frames for my photographs ... trying to 'play' my way back into writing. 

Let's see how the rest of it goes.  The shot ... a city street in Genova.

Artists, Julia Cameron

As artists, we live in a separate culture, embedded in the world of mass media but separate from it. For us, the paycheck is not what says 'Job well done. ' The power to buy is not what constitutes our power. Our worth is not quantified in fiscal terms.

As artists, we are engaged in the process of self actualization, and it is our success or failure at producing a body of work that determines our stature. side by side with a culture that tells us our worth is our net worth, we must hold to a different standard, knowing in our bones that as we embrace life, life embraces us.

Julia Cameron.

Artists ...

Artists are some of the most driven, courageous people on the face of the earth. They deal with more day-to-day rejection in one year than most people do in a lifetime....
Every day, artists face the financial challenge of living a freelance lifestyle, the disrespect of people who think they should get real jobs, and their own fear that they’ll never work again.
Every day, they have to ignore the possibility that the vision they have dedicated their lives to is a pipe dream. With every role, they stretch themselves, emotionally and physically, risking criticism and judgment. With every passing year, many of them watch as the other people their age achieve the predictable milestones of normal life - the car, the family, the house, the nest egg.
Why? Because artists are willing to give their entire lives to a moment - to that line, that laugh, that gesture, or that interpretation that will stir the audience’s soul. Artists are beings who have tasted life’s nectar in that crystal moment when they poured out their creative spirit and touched another's heart.
In that instant, they were as close to magic, God, and perfection as anyone could ever be. And in their own hearts, they know that to dedicate oneself to that moment is worth a thousand lifetimes.
David Ackert