Wednesday, February 3, 2010

'Art and a Day in The Life of the Universe'

Today was a great day. I woke up early, made a pot of coffee and got to work. I worked for several hours on my book, wrote another letter by hand, and then worked on the musical that I'm collaborating on. As pretentious as it sounds, there is nothing like a full blast of Mozart's 'Requiem' to get the melancholy juices flowing. Although I generally like to write to music that is void of lyrics, that is the one CD of classical music that I listen to if I want to get that deep well of nostalgia ignited. Years ago, I went to a Playwriting Festival and Conference in San Francisco. There was a playwright and teacher there, John Orlock who suggested writing to classical music as a way to subconsciously subterfuge a structure into the writing. It was perhaps one of the most profound ideas I learned at the conference, and have been doing it ever since. The trick is to get the right music for the right job. I always thought that Bukowski's love for classical music was a key to much of his poetry. The idea of sitting in a tattered apartment writing the raw poetry he was writing and listening to Beethoven certainly is not what one would expect. Perhaps he was gleaning the same idea, letting the structure of the music find its way into the writing. Try writing a letter while listening to Mozart's Violin Concertos, and I promise you, it will change the way you write that letter.

The rain is still pounding on the rooftops here, still, it feels good today to let it come down, sit at the table and write words, words, and more words. I think I told someone not long ago, that when you start writing, don't worry so much about the exact form it will take, instead, just write what you think and are remembering and the form will begin to appear. A book that is your story is never going to have the same form as someone else. In the same way that we are all unique, your story is unique as well. There are some people who appear to us to have an interesting life, but trust me, yours is more interesting than you might believe. No one has seen the things that you have seen, no one has experienced what you have in the exact same way. If you are persistent, the difficulty of writing that first word will disappear with time spent, just writing. I am so excited about what is beginning to appear in the writing I'm doing presently, and I know from experience, that once the excitement begins to happen, and I hear the 'click' in my head, it makes the writing wind up and release like a top. Writing is one of those actions that makes you feel, and even though the feeling may recall some long ago heartache, at the end of the day, writing it down will always yield a certain kind of healing.

Excerpt from 'the book'.

"…All of these incarnations and experiences are but a flicker in the light that has kept me steady, that of an artist in the theatre. Of all of the disciplines in the theatre, I hold the playwright in me to be the most precious. Although I've explored and experienced each theatre discipline, playwriting is the one vocation I have that allows me to make sense of the strange journey that I have made into the long night of day. Theatre has been my therapy, my muse, my mistress, and my hold on staying alive.

I love the smell of a theatre, the building of flats, the cheap black paint, the light, the darkness, the look of the seats, folded in half. I love the smell of coffee in a greenroom; I love walking into a costume room to see the array of clothes that once adorned a body. I love the reading of a new piece of work, the development, the casting, the rehearsal process, and that final tech and dress night. I revel in the fear and trembling of an opening, from the morning of that day to the drowsy early two a.m. elation after the first performance is over.

I have prayed many times in a theatre, like it was a church, my church, and I have staggered through a set, drunk on whiskey after a review. I have sat on the floor of an empty black stage, professing a vow of poverty. I have questioned my sanity to pursue this path, and have many regrets as to the life I have lived outside of those doors, but never regretted being on the inside of a theatre. It is the only relationship I've had that really worked. It is the only relationship in my life that has offered me complete and unwavering collaboration…"

End of excerpt.

Writing allows us to collect thoughts and have them appear before us, as a testimony of what we have experienced. It is a way for us to make sense of the tragedy, the humor, the life, the death, and the miraculous. As I am close to the end of 'Crime and Punishment', I am struck with two major revelations. The first, as my Aunt Linda pointed out, it is a dense novel on the events taking place in three days! My God! The conversation, the detail! The second is the thinking that it contains within its pages. These thoughts are without question, as relevant as the any theory of relativity. It is something to read a miracle of a book, a work that is so bold in its rhetoric and elegance that I can only assume that there must be a God! This is why art is so relevant. It is why we need it, more now than ever before. Art answers the questions of the universe without judgment or doctrine. When we are in need of comfort it comforts. When we are in need of direction, it directs. When we are in need of answers, it answers. Okay, so I may be going overboard a little here, but don't I always? Is this the higher power that I have been seeking, or is just a small part of it?


caroline said...

maybe it's the only relationship you gave yourself over to utterly?

LaRena said...

Your entry called forth a couple of memories for me. (that is a good thing.)One time my niece's husband Steve offered to fix something on my car as he was a mechanic and truck driver. I stopped by with a friend to see how he was coming. He had classical music playing in his garage. My friend made a comment on how odd it seemed for a mechanic to listen to classical music as he worked. He was quite insulted and I really couldn't blame him. I think this music is for everyone. It doesn't matter whether you are an artist, a mechanic or a farmer, it is still going to get into your subconscious and cause you to relax and accomplish the task at hand.

As to " Crime and Punishment " I remember slogging my way through it in my late thirties, by sheer determination. Unfortunately I don't remember much about the book so I have enjoyed your references to the story. I only remember the agony of getting through it and understanding as much as I could. I don't want to tackle a rereading in my old age but I am always pleased when I hear of someone stretching their mind a bit more than they are used to. Randy always gives my heart a lift when he speaks of understanding "code" and creating something from nothing. And presto, a new computer program is born. He is very modest, as you know, and rarely talks about his personal creations. How does this apply to you and the creation of a new play or a book? Well truth be I believe we are all connected and every new creation helps all the inhabitants of this complex universe, which none of us understand completely.

Hope the sun soon shines in Austin, and in Phoenix for that matter. Rain is great for a few hours but not for days. I like the sun.

Chuckh said...

I used to listen to “Requiem” all the time when I wrote. I even use it in that crazy play I wrote about the phony prophet kid. I love Mozart’s violin concertos as well. Beethoven is very comforting. I find that if I listen to music while I paint it starts to bother me and twist around in my head, especially if it has lyrics. Classical is best when creating I think. Stephen King remarked that he listens to metal while writing. That figures, right?

新衣 said...

生命中最美麗的報償之一便是幫助他人的同時,也幫助了自己。 ..................................................

vooman's voice said...

Happy to hear you are writing. I went to a poetry reading last night. It was another benefit for Haiti. There was some wonderful poems. Pulling in poems from all of these different languages, I think is wonderful. I had given Jack H. my book of ME AND YOUR LOVE POEMS and he had read it and commented on Buk's great love poems. He called him Buck. I didn't now who he was talked about for a minute.
When I took Bukowski's bronze head to my psychic development class and had them say what they thought, one of the psychic said, "This man was a composer." He loved classical music so much I had wondered myself if he hadn't been that in a pastlife. Ofcourse I think "composer" could apply to poetry as well. Accurate...yes.

Gerry said...

As usual I enjoyed this entry. I just got through reading Jill Barney's blog that Cheryl found. It is quite elegant, but she seems to have gotten discouraged and quit. She wrote about her Grandfather John Shurtz getting struck and killed by lightning on the mountain, and a nephew. I wondered who that was. He was a brother to your great grandfather, 'Wall'. I am glad you are busy writing your book. I do love reading about your reactions to Crime and Punishment. I picked that up the other day and wondered who I could give it too. Dostoevsky was my favorite novelist for years, "The Idiot' the one I thought was the world's greatest. I liked Brothers Karamozov a lot, too. Longer, but with your interest in religion...I am reading Kathy Griffin's memoir today. Love these memoirs. You should have lots of people to help you decide where to go with yours back in Utah with Ann finishing her book now, and Cheryl said a lot of good pieces are coming in on the next projected Heritage Festival publication, "Women of Boulder." I finished and sent my piece on Grandma King. Am still in a hole on my memoir of childhood. Don't know how to get out. But I think if you write yours as well as you are writing your blog, you will have a good book.
I did not get used to writing with classical music, but I think people are lucky who have. said...

My book is being read by Tom (Marion's hubby) Lyman's cousin Lyman Platt. I was confused...kept thinking it had to be Platt Lyman, but no. He is THE
(self-proclaimed) expert on Amasa Lyman (old) and kin. He knows about the Kings in Boulder and the other Lyman kin. Who knew? There is always another Lyman to meet.
After all, wasn't it Clyde who said when he heard Truman Lyman had followed his linage all the way back to Adam, "I always wondered what Adam's last name was."