Wordgame: Anselm

I’m not the type of person who can walk into an major art gallery and name all the artists. I appreciate art. I have, to a very limited extent, studied art. But I’ve never been very pro-active about the whos and whats and wheres.

Anselm Kiefer, though, left an impression.

I saw a piece by Anselm Kiefer on a school trip to London and I was awestruck. I couldn’t articulate why, exactly. I just was. In love, and in awe, and in pain. I didn’t know anything about the artist, or have any clue of what the piece was, but it didn’t matter. He had me. And follow-up research confirmed my bias. But I didn’t honour the connection; I left it at that.

Ten years later, in Forth Worth, Texas, I entered the Modern Art Museum, and as soon as I rounded the first bend, my feet glided, hastily and of their own volition, across the gallery floor, toward a large canvas on the opposite wall. Anselm Kiefer, my entire body whispered with reverence. I’m gonna feel really fucking stupid if it isn’t, just a tiny little part of my brain warned with trepidation.

It was.

And the date I had left standing at the other end of the gallery, with no explanation, was enamoured with the display.

Do I think that might have been why, the next day, as I was heading to catch my train, he asked me to stay with him, despite the fact we’d met only three days ago? And do I think that might have been why, for months afterwards, he sent me messages to tell me of his plans to improve himself and his life, in what seemed like a desperate attempt to win me over? Well, yeah, actually.

If humans can project emotion – and they can – what I was projecting in that moment was profound. Vibrant, intense, ecstatic, pure. It was beyond me as much as it was within me. And if he caught it, well, that would be it. It’s the kind of thing you would chase.

Off to a good start

I’ve been diverting a lot of my time and energy to working on my novel lately. I had thought, around Christmas, that I would commit to posting every day in the new year, as a way of honouring my faithfulness to writing. But then it dawned on me that my novel draft was written, and I got excited to type and revise it. And then I found out there was a novel writing contest whose deadline was yesterday, and I got excited to prepare a submission. And then I submitted, and got excited about typing and revising again.

I’ve still had lots of ideas emerge that I’d like to post about, but the novel train simply has more momentum right now. As much as I love click-clacking my words into this particular box, I don’t have any notion of where, in particular, it could take me. Meanwhile, my novel, I think, may have legs, and a destination in mind.

Immersing myself in writing in the way I have been these past few weeks has been an exaltation. At a level rivalled only by one other point of light in my life.

It’s a relief to find that exaltation in an activity that is not tied to somebody else. To be free to indulge in the majesty of it – the divinity of it – without worrying it creates a burden upon another. To be able to fully invest myself in the power of it, not needing to hold back for anybody’s sake. I have been waiting for this for a long time. Yet it was right there all along. Glaringly obvious, surely, to anyone with half a brain cell.

It gives me hope that there are other forms of exaltation waiting for me. Forms that will open and welcome me, inviting me to give myself to them in reckless abandon. It gives me hope that my life will, in fact, deliver to me all the things I have been dreaming of.

That is quite an incredible feat, and not something I expected in the first half of January 2022. But there we are.

Wordgame: Norway

I have a weirdly vivid memory of being obsessed with the 2009 Eurovision winner, Fairytale, by Alexander Rybak, for a few days after he won. It was a weird time in my development, as I had all but left my goth stage, but I hadn’t quite emerged into the wider world, so I didn’t like to admit to myself that I enjoyed things like that…but at the same time I kind of wanted to admit it to everyone, as though they should be equally fascinated by the novelty of it.

I think it was the celebratory energy with which he sang “I’m in love with a fairytale, even though it hurts, ’cause I don’t care if I lose my mind, I’m already cursed” that truly hooked me, though.

I hard related to that declaration. That was my mantra. That was the meaning of my life, as far as I could tell. Every single word of it. A weird mix of brutal, unblinking self-awareness and determined, romanticised, exultant masochism.

I played that mantra out to completion. For many years it was, truly, my life’s work. It lost me my mind, and I had to build a new one. And standing several years to the other side of whatever portal it sent me through, I can see that it’s still true for me, but it’s different now. I can’t articulate what the words of the mantra have changed into yet; that’s something I’ll need to sit with. But the core of that journey is there in me, and always will be. It’s part of what makes me who I am: That fatal flaw in my ego has been transmuted into what I believe to be strength.

I will always be willing to lose my mind for the sake of saving my heart.

Wordgame: Cracks

Well I do have plenty of those.

The parts things slip through.

Blind spots. Oversights. Areas of complacency.

But sometimes I can stare at a crack all day and not get any closer to figuring out how to fix it.

Points of friction. Dust collectors.

Bad fucking luck.

That’s why we avoid them after all. Scared we might fall in.

Wordgame: Archeopteryx

My son likes dinosaurs. I like dinosaurs.

My son likes learning words. I like learning words.

Because of this, I’ve learned a lot of dinosaur words. Archeopteryx is one of them. I can’t say I knew what an archeopteryx was before my son was around. I can’t say I didn’t know either, because I know a lot of things that I don’t strictly remember I know until the occasion calls for it.

I definitely did know what a stygimoloch was, because at some point in my adult life I had consciously decided to look up dinosaurs, so I could decide what my favourite dinosaur would be, so that, if anybody happened to ask me, I would have an informed response.

But stygimoloch wasn’t the word I put in my elephant box. Archeopteryx was. I wonder why.