Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"We are no longer the moon..."

Mayumi Oda, "Bliss of Sea," image from faculty.pittstate.edu

My first blog visit this morning was to Sherry O'Keefe where her quotes from William Kittredge shoved me forward.

This spring, as I followed threads to blogging writers whose work came to reignite my own writing dreams, I pulled many books from the shelves. With these volumes near, I could bind them around me if that was how their juice would leach through, I renewed friendships with sidelined voices.

One of these, still piled next to me, is GODDESSES by Mayumi Oda, in which she transforms the traditional masculine Buddhist Gods into their joyous female counterparts.

Oda tells of seeking liberation, of discovering Japanese women writers, including Raicho Hiratsuka, writing in 1911 for the introduction of a new feminist magazine called SEITO, which means Blue Stockings, from the English feminist movement:

In primeval times, women were one with
the sun and truth of all-being.
Now we are like pale-faced moons who
depend on others and reflect their light.
Women, please let your own sun, your
concentrated energy, your own submerged
authentic vital power shine out from you.
We are no longer the moon.
Today we are truly the sun.
We will build shining golden cathedrals
at the top of crystal mountains, East of
the Land of the Rising Sun.

Women, when you paint your own portrait,
do not forget to put the golden dome at
the top of your head.

With the Kittridge quote, "Stories are a thicket to catch the mind from falling," caroming around my head, GODDESSES was the title that stood out from the others stacked by the computer. As Oda guides us through her life, reveals the stages of her creative emergence, she makes clear the connections of family, tradition, spiritual practice, politics, self-discovery and making our dreams come true.

My experience is not so much about gender as an impediment to finding and sustaining a true voice. My greatest obstacle is me. I respond to the urging that we allow our own sun to burst forth, a light that is so easily blocked by mistaken notions of who we are, of what is possible, of fear.

A conversation yesterday revealed a friend's delight in the focus, passion and ability to retell stories in microscopic detail of an independent young man with life-long challenges of intellect and development. I was humbled by such determination, by clarity of purpose. We possess, I believe, all power to make of ourselves what we will. The colors and truths we contain have no limit. Yet within that I see a necessary balance, as though we are in a process of re-parenting ourselves, encouraging freedom and effort without expectations of where it will lead. I have seen the disappointment on too many faces in my life, I do not want to be one of them as I regard my work.

Rebecca Loudon reminded us to love our own art more. To me, that means embracing the fact that it may have its grandfather's nose and a sneeze so loud it can be heard down the block. To know when we have reached enough, erased enough, revised enough, stripped first AND second gear trying to be faster and better and nearly perfect, is a wisdom that grows slowly, like any meaningful practice. Aspire and accept, unlikely twins - they may have been separated at birth - but they seem to offer a way to do this work and live to tell about it.

13 comments:

Erin in Morro Bay said...

"Aspire and Accept" - a phrase to live by. Also wonderful words for the new year. So many of my friends are now picking words for the year rather than making resolutions - so how 'bout a phrase for the year? Aspire and accept seems perfect.
Erin

susan t. landry said...

thanks...this is good stuff. moonlight is lovely, haunting...but cold.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Erin - A phrase is a thing of manageable size, while a resolution hangs over me, sword-like. What a good idea and thank you. Since "accept" is already slotted into place, having its aspiring friend alongside should not be too difficult. We're good to go and it's only Nov. 30...early, in my case, for once.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Susan - Thank you. I will gladly forgo haunting for greater warmth. One aspires to many things.

Laoch of Chicago said...

Nicely evocative and articulated, well done.

Artist and Geek said...

There is more than one thread here, as usual ;)
Some relates to the previous post, keeping track of ideas, phrases, opinions. A surprising side-effect of flipping through old notebooks was coming across sentences that elicit a startled: hey, this IS good/relevant/still interesting. The inner critic is immediately silenced.

I like accept and aspire too.

As to "love your art more": Marylinn, forgive the impertinence, but when will you realize and accept that you are a good writer, not only in style, but quality as well?

Marylinn Kelly said...

Laoch - Thank you. Your comment reassures me that I didn't wander too far off the path.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Artist and Geek - Your very kind support is much appreciated...it may sound as though I have doubts about my work, I really don't (life itself may be another matter)...it comes back to the "aspire" part of the equation. Striking the balance between being satisfied with a piece, not second-guessing myself endlessly, and thinking ahead to where I may go next. Continuing to reach. I couldn't show up here even 10 times a month if I felt I was offering less than my best in the moment. Getting to play Henry Kissinger between my mind and my spirit.

And yes, doesn't that sniping critic quiet right down when a choice phrase, saved for the perfect unveiling, comes to light in an old notebook? Ahhh.

Artist and Geek said...

Marylinn-I was hoping that's the case. So, I don't have to say your best is very good ;)

I'm familiar with the "drafting sequence"

Marylinn Kelly said...

Artist and Geek - I'm not sure that I know what the drafting sequence is...but then today, as my cell phone was ringing IN MY POCKET, I thought, rats, I'd left it in the other room. I would not be convicted by a jury of my peers.

And thank you for continuing encouragement.

Re: your pen recommendation - the Uniball Signo 207...there seem to be a number of variations, gel, gel retractable...and fine, medium, bold? Any preferences? Thanks.

Artist and Geek said...

Marylinn, by accident saw this previous post.
Drafting sequence, revising drafts and not knowing when to leave good enough alone.

Preference: Uniball signo 207 retractable gel (the 207 series is all gel), black bold or medium. The blue is too light for my taste. It works well on Acrylics, except I destroyed one over the weekend when I used artist grade gesso instead of tit. white to mix. They are allegedly acid free, fade- and waterproof.

I used to get the gel RT, but can't find the new version of it.

Artist and Geek said...

P.S. Also works on watercolor and gouache. Please e-mail if you have any mixed media recommendations to share.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Artist and Geek - Ah, THAT drafting sequence, as in "step away from the manuscript." Yes...sometimes the dots don't connect over here.

I appreciate the additional info about the pen...went browsing on line and thought, oh, so very many. I will think of mixed media products that I've found useful and will let you know. Thank you.