Spirit Animals

I don’t know what I’m looking at.

Not just now, as I watch Cupid revive Psyche with a stone kiss, but always. I see what you might call ordinary objects and often fail to understand what they are.

People make things, and other people come to marvel at them.

Artists are people who create extraordinary things, things we can perceive with our senses.

Museums are places where extraordinary creations are collected and displayed to us in thematic arrangements designed to convey meaning.

Art is primarily derived from the subconscious of the artist, blended in varying degrees with the conscious, everyday world. It is the obvious cloaked in the obscure.

A visit to a museum is a journey through various subconscious minds. It is a man-made dream world.

I seem to approach museums, and the actual worlds they depict symbolically, in the same way – as an awestruck alien observer beholding the realm of the senses as if for the very first time.

Walking though a great museum is as staggering and disorienting as visiting another planet.

Every room full of humans is the Star Wars’ bar scene and every park, every beach, every neighborhood street is a mind-bending shot from James Cameron’s Avatar.

As I sit here and write this now I am dumbstruck with disbelief.

What is this place?

Who are these beings?

And what manner of spirit-animal am I?

I don’t play around with words like awesome and wonder because I don’t take these states of mind for granted. This is a baffling, confusing and bizarre world that I adapted to once as a child but that I find is even stranger now after half a century navigating the labyrinth without a string.

Here’s what I discovered: the Minotaur is in my mind. I am the Daedalus who weaves his own myths.

*

I don’t know what this is either, this journal, this weblog. Sometimes I think I’m just texting to myself. Is that the modern equivalent of madness?

I must believe that writing affirms, if not creates, a sort of reality. In my arrogance I am either building or propping up my world. Some writers, I suppose, enjoy or even need readers. I have never been that writer. If I cannot, by virtue of my very being, confirm my own existence, value, and sanity then you, stranger, certainly cannot do this for me.

The most important book I’ve read, as a writer, is J.D. Salinger’s Raise High the Roofbeam Carpenters and Seymour, An Introduction. For that was the first time another writer, and one whose work I so admire, explained the process in terms I could relate to. It was the first time I was told the secret.

I write for an audience of one. I am the reader that matters. This means I may not sell a lot of books and maybe it’s the reason why Serpent Box didn’t even come close to making that New York Times list that we use to measure a writer’s worth. So be it. Some writers have that and some don’t and God bless J.K. Rowling and James Patterson but I am 51 years old and that just isn’t my path.

*

Am I Cupid or am I Psyche? Am I an amalgam of both? We all are. Gods and mortals, monsters and saints. And what are these portals I find along the walls of the labyrinth? These painted scenes of love and terror? Whose wishes, whose dreams? My own.

The more I see the less I become seeable. I am fraying. I am washing away grain by brain like a figure made of sand. Amen.

o O o

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