Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Guided by ex-planet Pluto


"Feeling Sorry for Pluto" by Chris Roberts-Antieau.
















"Let the beauty we love be what
we do
There are hundreds of ways to
kneel and kiss the ground."

from The Essential Rumi
by Coleman Barks

When friend and mixed-media conspirator Lynne Perrella directed me a few months back to look at the work of Chris Roberts-Antieau, I felt I had found something lost, missed and remembered, like the moonstone necklace from my grandmother that slithered off, probably behind some gap in the carpentry in my childhood bedroom.

Everything I found in her work - the color, humor, originality - fueled my stubborn intention to expand my illustrations. We will file that under "work in progress." What had me shrieking, silently, for sometimes that's as raucous as I get, was "Feeling Sorry for Pluto," which left me empathizing with the downgraded dwarf planet or, now, planetoid.

The backstory on my downgrading was that I simply failed to return to my last real job when I became ill, but my exit coincided with the middle years of corporate staff shrinkage, which always came at Christmas. The elimination of one more colleague and one more job caused those of us who would return to play again next year to leave glistening snail trails of survivors' guilt around the office for weeks. Poor Pluto could not have known what was galloping toward him; I doubt that there were rumors. That an artist found this cosmic melodrama a worthy expenditure of her time and talent felt like the signed permission slip which said, (fill in the blank) may create visual or written work on any subject, in any medium, that pleases her and everybody has to be okay with that.

As I wander father away from known roads in bloglandia, the scope of style, content, intention and execution I happen upon seems to yawn open like the movie curtain at an original Cinerama screening. We Who Blog are many. The variety of our tales even greater.

With more examples of unique work to consider, the clearer it becomes that the only voice in which I can speak honestly is my own. To attempt anything less authentic makes me feel as though I've built a wall of cinder blocks in front of what I'm trying to say. In common, human exchanges, I seek precision in words and often fall short...and this is me, being myself, about something simple. Grabbing more nuanced material by its lapels and trying to shake the truth from it will not happen if I think I can channel Cormac McCarthy. I would lean back, smug and victorious, if my pen left in its wake the drawings of Edward Gorey. It does not.

So I write what I write in the words my mind hands me. What I draw is even less predictable; I just wait and see who shows up. I acknowledge that what I contain and what I ultimately drag into the light may not move us further from the apocalypse. It may not carry us closer to even one juicy bite of awareness, but I will keep showing up, criticism suspended, and see what I pull out next.

17 comments:

Elisabeth said...

This is such a beautifully written post, Marylinn. Your poignant words - 'I felt I had found something lost, missed and remembered, like the moonstone necklace from my grandmother that slithered off, probably behind some gap in the carpentry in my childhood bedroom.'- resonate for me with other losses.

I suspect you are right: in the end given the variety of voices within the blogosphere, we can only use our own and wait and wonder who will hear and who will respond.

I never cease to be amazed by the variety of people we encounter in blogland. A much more divers group than I would ever encounter in my own day to day life. That's part of the joy of it.

You are one of my wonderful chance meetings and I value our contact and shared exchanges. Whenever I see your name attached to a comment on my blog or elsewhere, my heart gives a little whoop because I know I'm about to read a thoughtful and beautifully articulated response. And your own posts are even better.

Kass said...

Ditto what Lis said. I'm not sure how I came upon you. Maybe it was Lis, or Sherry, but I'm glad I found you. My favorite blogs are the ones where people are totally themselves and let it all hang out. The honesty, the uniqueness, the spin people put on their lives - it's amazing what you find in blogland.

Claire Beynon said...

Ditto what Elisabeth and Kass have said, Marylinn...

Chance is an intentional thing, I think... We so often zig zag this way and that, and then we overlap, cross paths, enter, leave, re-enter. We shrug, ponder, pick up, hold, release, revive, revisit, restore, recall... so much might not occur without the prompt to 'click on this woman's name', visit her space, put a hand out, say Hello...

I am ever so grateful to have encountered you on Radish King's blog (why, it was only a week or so ago; is that really possible?)... the timing & timbre of exchange could not have been more perfect, nor the space have felt safer. As Elisabeth and Kass say, it's amazing how we meet up with people 'out here' who we might not ordinarily cross paths with in our everyday worlds. More and more I wonder which is more real? This global community that has a lore, dimension and depth all its own, or the 'mundane (often extraordinary, too), physical world' within which we operate most of the time? I am often surprised by the level of connection and sense of trust and intimacy that unfolds in a space such as this one. Do we need to understand it or is it something we simply genuflect before?

There are times when I want to take my shoes off when I enter these places. Do you know what I mean when I say this? It's a privilege and a joy to be a part of this unique community.

Thank you, Marylinn - and Elisabeth & Kass (whom I have 'met' many times on Sixth in Line!) - for all you bring to it.
Claire

grrl + dog said...

.... and I will show up to read...


I just spent two days at an eco artist symposium where instead of calling a polar bear a polar bear, it was dubbed a "charismatic megafauna".

I returned disenchanted and more convinced than ever that guerilla's will call a polar bear a polar bear.

grrl + dog said...

oh -and I'm upset with Pluto's re classification.

it wont matter, because Pluto continues to be a significant force in all our lives, regardless of some boffin's label.

some things defy labels.

grrl + dog said...

oh -and I'm upset with Pluto's re classification.

it wont matter, because Pluto continues to be a significant force in all our lives, regardless of some boffin's label.

some things defy labels.

Laurel Kornfeld said...

Great writing! I can't help with the corporate stuff, but I am happy to tell you that Pluto is NOT an "ex-planet" or a planetoid. It IS still a planet. . Only four percent of the IAU voted on this, and most are not planetary scientists. Their decision was immediately opposed in a formal petition by hundreds of professional astronomers led by Dr. Alan Stern, Principal Investigator of NASA’s New Horizons mission to Pluto. Stern and like-minded scientists favor a broader planet definition that includes any non-self-luminous spheroidal body in orbit around a star. The spherical part is important because objects become spherical when they attain a state known as hydrostatic equilibrium, meaning they are large enough for their own gravity to pull them into a round shape. This is a characteristic of planets and not of shapeless asteroids and Kuiper Belt Objects. Pluto meets this criterion and is therefore a planet. Under this definition, our solar system has 13 planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Ceres, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, Haumea, Makemake, and Eris.

I am actively working with like-minded people to either overturn the demotion or at least convey the reality that it represents just one side in an ongoing debate. Feel free to visit my Pluto Blog at http://laurele.livejournal.com and look for my book "The Little Planet that Would Not Die: Pluto's Story" in a couple of months.

TC said...

Marylinn,

Bloggers may be Many but Writers are Few. The beautiful modesty behind which you do the significant work of putting together your words plays a strong role in the cumulative effect, which is powerful and memorable. As statements of intent go, this is as good as it gets:

"...the only voice in which I can speak honestly is my own. To attempt anything less authentic makes me feel as though I've built a wall of cinder blocks in front of what I'm trying to say. In common, human exchanges, I seek precision in words... I acknowledge that what I contain and what I ultimately drag into the light may not move us further from the apocalypse. It may not carry us closer to even one juicy bite of awareness, but I will keep showing up..."

We'll probably keep showing up too, because you're so good at this.

I too have felt sorry for the downgraded dwarf planet as well as for the Disney character of the same name, by the way.

A while back I went through a period of (completely pointless) meditation upon
the Pathos of Pluto
. Disney would never admit to having taken his cartoon character's name from the baby planet (which, I believe, had got the name only a few months earlier, from a schoolgirl). Pluto was denied the power of speech by Disney (except in one instance, when he fell in love, and uttered one word.) An equivalent unfairness "hounded" the planet until finally it was was put out of its planetary misery by the Great Minds of Astronomy.

But oh well, human speech is a large enough burden for humans to bear, why curse dogs with it. And who would really wish to be a planet anyway?

Robert the Skeptic said...

I sometimes waiver regarding the question of whether I should even be blogging or not. There are many more skillful that I at conveying thoughts similar to mine; I sometimes wonder "why bother"?

Still, though others may express themselves better than I, the thoughts rummage around in the back of my mind. Every day billions of more words, bits of information are added to the world body of knowledge, few will notice whether I contribute to that or not. Besides, doing so has connected me to some wonderfully interesting people.

Marylinn Kelly said...

First I want to say how much I value your visits here. That you are generous enough to leave the comments that you do makes me happy I stepped into this world. Thank you all.

Elisabeth - I, too, value our exchanges and thank you for your words. The joy, indeed, is in the surprise encounters, for how else could we have met such a far-flung and diverse group, yet with whom we find so much in common? Your open-hearted communications are a source of delight.

Kass - That I have found such affirmation in recently-discovered blogs - and bloggers - tells me the direction which pushed me to follow threads was perfect. Thank you...with this forum, we do have such an opportunity to find, or refine, our thoughts, our voices.

Claire - There is awe (the taking off shoes part?) about entering a space where a writer is so open, so real and willing to be known and I am not confused about how fortunate I am in those of you I have met. Thank you, and Lis and Kass for so much encouragement.

Denise - Charismatic megafauna - are you kidding me? And Pluto will retain his hold on us, no matter what they change his name to...but there is an uplifting comment further down that says he will be redeemed. I say, hooray.

Laurel - Thank you and I have to assume the stars or other celestial bodies directed you here to tell us we needn't feel sorry for Pluto. And to tell us that we have even more actual planets pushing and pulling us. I'm very glad you found me and this post and appreciate your information.

Tom - Hearing from you always let's me know that I haven't gone veering off on some lunatic tangent...sometimes that is less clear than others. Thank you for continually making me want to stretch a bit farther. Laurel, whose comment is above yours, brings us news of Pluto and those working on his/its behalf. And yes, how could we know...maybe he had wearied of planethood.

Robert - Please keep doing what you do; your writings, topics, points of view and rejection of knee-jerk assumptions make for very lively discussions. Your words and thoughts are clear and unambiguous and your company is very welcome in the virtual neighborhood that is part of my life, part of my home.

Sherry O'Keefe said...

since i read this post, i was interrupted at work (argh). but this line has stayed with me "i doubt there were rumors". everything you wrote touched me - this line is travelling with me now. a very writerly line, marylinn.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Sherry - "writerly" is received with humble delight, thank you. It struck me that the planets would not give in to gossip...plus they were likely kept in the dark (so to speak) about the heinous plot.

Maggie May said...

the blog world has opened up a world of delights for me. it is fascinating to 'meet' so many...

Caroline said...

Hi there, I came across your blog courtesy of the lovely Penny, because I just loved one of your feedback comments "Not only the impulse to create, but to allow ourselves to be touched by beauty, as we define it" This has to be one of the nicest comments I've yet read on the blogging sphere. Crikey, I feel that I should frame it or something!Glad I visited, your blog is a joy, will be back soon with love Caroline xx

Marylinn Kelly said...

Maggie May - It is the door to new delights, isn't it? I was trying to explain to a friend outside the blog world the almost immeasurable wealth of new people, new information, I have found here. Nice to see you here.

Caroline - Thank you so much for finding me, for your comments and words that encourage me to keep commenting, keep reaching for the right words. I look forward to future exchanges. xo

Radish King said...

Marylinn, I, too, feel loss for Pluto's downsizing. And for what happened at your job. I've felt that too more than once those lingering dreams of wandering the halls of a school that were actually the halls of corporate America, looking for my desk. It has been difficult for me to read this week but I'm glad I'm came here on my only quiet day so far. I'm glad I started here.

Rebecca

Marylinn Kelly said...

Rebecca - I'm glad you started here, too. Pluto and I probably have a lot in common. I think we'd better be on alert, lest he be one of the vengeful astral bodies. Although he could be entirely cool with outsider status...it has suited me.