Thursday, August 17, 2017

Why do I dislike theater, but not film?

    While we spoke via phone when she was still in Argentina, my wife Fernanda told me about the play that she had just seen there. When she returned, she told me more about it, adding that it was only a small, neighborhood production, but had been very good. She added that she wished that there were more like it here in San Francisco.
   Although she knows that I really don't care for theater, she relayed her feelings to me in a way that a person does when they have regrets about a thing. At least that's how it sounded to me. And while I am fully aware that I probably read that aspect into it, it still saddened me. I imagined too that she may also feel remorseful that she married someone that doesn't generally like plays as she does.
   These thoughts set me off me asking myself, yet again, why it is that I don't enjoy theater, but am liable to be moved by certain films, It seems to me to logically follow that if a person likes one, then shouldn't they also enjoy the other?
   In terms of how these two forms appear, how they present, there is something about the lack of border, really an end, that the finite space of a film frame is able to create and define in a clear way that theater does not. The play, whether on a stage or not, is for me too enacted, but not restrictive or discerned enough in a way that makes sense to me as the artifice that I see it as.
   While I often find in-between spaces, such as the difficult physical location that I see plays existing in, to offer a stretch of freedom for me as a viewer, the theatrical place instead leads me to feeling confined, and sometimes, even short of breath. I find that feeling often occurring in art museums, too.
   Perhaps because of this problematic area, the actions of the players in the productions often seem laughable to me. I actually am embarrassed at times for the actresses and actors, as they seem to be trying too hard to convince me of something (though I don't know what). It just looks ridiculous to me.
   In contrast, I rarely question the form of film, even when I don't like what I am seeing, because the artifice is pronounced in a way that I can enjoy without continually questioning it. The same is true for me of television. It seems that neither medium attempts to be anything besides artificial, and this approach is for me both refreshing and easy to consume.
   Of course, I have considered the idea that I have become more naturalized to the television (whose screen, though smaller, is not terribly unlike a movie theater screen), but I don't think that it is the resounding influence.
   Instead, it is more likely the rigidity of the screen's borders that allows me to float more freely as a consumer within the tale it depicts. The subsequent lightness allows me to interpret more freely, feeling less constrained and determined. And for me, to feel even a little less weighed down, is so wonderful.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Perceiving dimensions

   I became aware as I walked this morning my tendency to perceive the world in negative ways, and wondered what might happen if I were to try to comprehend things differently.  I was aware that thinking about things as I do makes me feel bad about others and myself.
   I decided to try a quick experiment, squinting my eyes as if I was nearly asleep or high on marijuana. As I propelled forward, I immediately realized that I had a qualitatively different sense of space. It was beautiful and unexpected.
   Instead of feeling that things around me were static, they seemed to be moving, somewhat like being looked at through a kaleidoscope. The trees moved as I moved.
   As I think about it now, I imagine that if someone were to tell me about the sense I had of those trees as if they had experienced them like that, I would figure that the person had themselves become rigid; the trees had appeared to bounce due to the movement of the individual's gait.
   But that's not how it seemed. Actually, I had perceived that myself and my world had become less rigid, and I had the impression that the less I fixed my view, the less my views were fixed. And although it was frightening to know that things could feel so much less rooted, there was also something wonderful about the fact that the world could seem so different, even for only that moment.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

The smell of my gloves

   In the trunk of my car there are perhaps four or five pairs of gloves that I use during the (sometimes chilly) early morning walks that I take daily in Golden Gate Park. Although I wear the same old stained, Reebok sneakers daily, I do prefer to try to match my gloves in some manner to either my clothing, the weather, or both.
   The gloves that I generally wear on the more mild days are a neutral grey (one of which is shown below), and which I often notice have an odor which is at once familiar and murky. Although I'm not certain, and the association certainly may be misplaced, I believe that the smell reminds me of the blackberry and raspberry jelly candies that my Grandma Jean would have available for us kids when we would visit their home in Jamaica, Queens.
   I find it quite interesting that this fabric, which is made of an acrylic, nylon and wool blend, should remind me of these candies, and wonder if perhaps what I am reminded of is actually of that same grandma's basement (which had a lot of wool clothing, moth balls), one floor below the candies. It's certainly possible that I have attached the association to both levels.
   Whereas I normally write in these blogs to try to better understand my feelings and thoughts, sometimes, as now, I feel the need to elucidate for myself my associations only to give them possibilities. Rather than looking for answers, I find that these wonderful and often perplexing associative mental links make my existence richer. I write in part to understand some of these things better, and to hopefully, better realize the depths of these kinds of wonder.

If only you could smell it from there

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Dog grandma

   There is a car that is sometimes see parked around Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park when I go walking there that has a sticker on it which read, Dog Grandma. Located just behind the gas tank cover, I have only recently noticed it, even though I have seen the car there for at least a year now. I believe that the sticker must be new, because knowing myself well (if only in this regard), I cannot imagine that I have not seen it before. I say this because of the impact it has on me now.
   I find the statement in the picture below interesting not only for what I see as its' ridiculousness, but because I find its' message is so difficult to tease out. Is the driver of this car someone that has three generations of dogs from the same family, and if so, how many dogs might she have? Maybe she is a grandmother to human beings, with one of them owning a dog. Or, perhaps she herself is a a dog and grandmother that is also able to drive a car?
   When I began writing this blog, I honestly couldn't wrap my head around what the sticker was referring to, but as I write, I realize that she must have a grandchild with a dog, but I love that the two words seemed, at least temporarily, so strange together as to bewilder me. I probably would benefit from more of that feeling.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Not known

   I walked by the object in the picture below twice before taking a picture of it, thirty five minutes or so later. I had difficulty making out what it was as I first walked past it, and the second time seemed to add nothing to my understanding. I now believe that it might have taken me as long as it did to stop and take this picture, at least partially, because I did not want to have a record of it to examine more closely.
   It seems that often times, knowledge of things ruins their allure for me.
   I have written quite a bit in these blogs about what I find mysterious, and what I will call here the unknown, hard to know, and not known, even though they may describe essentially the same thing. Still, I continue to write on the subject because I feel so alive when I do, finding so much wonder and freedom in the what I fail to capture adequately. Perhaps this failure is part of what I find most beautiful.
   Just as I seemed to initially, and continue to lack the desire to better understand what is shown in the picture below, I often relish in the fact that the words that I choose, perhaps all words, cannot do better than to point to my own lack of knowledge.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Seeking silence

  One of the things that I enjoy so much about my early morning walks in Golden Gate Park is how quiet it is when I arrive. This environment helps me to focus on what is going on inside, rather than outside out of me.
    Although complete silence is not necessary for me being able to have a clear vision of my thoughts, jarring and difficult to predict sounds do tend to seriously challenge my feeling at ease. If there are sounds, those with a kind of all over quality usually lead me back to the feel of quiet.
    I italicized the word feel above because I find sounds of all kind to create more of a state than a particular volume or cadence that can be measured, though these can influence the senses I have of them.
   For example, the rustle of leaves in the wind, or the tapping of light rain falling on concrete, I find quite relaxing. Mechanical sounds too, such as air conditioners or some car engines running also can help to create a pleasant environment.
   As I think more about the early mornings in Golden Gate Park, it becomes apparent that places like it allow me to think and feel more clearly because I find the stimulation more manageable. When this is the case, I am better able to focus, connecting me more to the outside.
   The key then becomes how to carry these states within me when the world feels loud and blaring.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Company and security

   This morning I had some time before an appointment, so I decided to take a short walk to the ATM to get some cash. Although it was about eight thirty, the Pacific Heights neighborhood I was in was still bustling with morning rush hour activity. As I passed three young adults waiting for a bus (or some other transportation), I noticed that they were all standing, on this beautiful spring morning, heads down and seemingly transfixed by their phone screens.
   It almost never fails to make me wonder what people could possibly be looking at so often and long on their devices. Sometimes, seeing them do so makes me long for the interactive street life I grew up with.
   Let me add here that I'm  not trying to idealize these reminsences, as there were many times that these experiences felt both hostile and frightening; still, people did tend to look at each other, instead of elsewhere.
   After my stop at the bank, I walked up the hill on Fillmore Street, continuing to see people with their phones out, but noticed that many of them were simply carrying them; I immediately thought of baby blankets, and the comfort they provided.
   I want to be clear that I am not meaning to infer anything condescending, or to imply that these people were like babies emotionally, but it made me a little sad. It reminded me of how difficult and scary being in the world can be, and for how many years I tried to numb and avoid these feelings through various methods.
   I felt good this morning, aware of myself and my body, which helped me to see others with compassion rather than judgment.
   I wondered a bit more about these people, their phones, and myself, and my thoughts turned to the notion of companionship. It occured to me that these screens, and the information they contained, could perhaps help one to access past positive experiences to assist in the negotiation of the potentially terrifying streets of the present.
   I realized at that moment that these people's aims were probably not very different from mine, though I personally find it more necessary and satisfying to look for that similar sense of connection within myself and my actual surroundings, in that order. I felt proud at that moment to be as bare to the world as I was.