Ways to know life: reflections on Anais

“The role of a writer is not to say what we can all say, but what we are unable to say.”
– I look for the things that are hidden or obscured. I’m drawn to the confessional. I want to pour it all out and I don’t care if no one’s listening. No fear or shame in the dignity of your experience (Kerouac). If you don’t like the way I write, you don’t have to read my stuff. If it challenges you or you disagree with something, join in. I love to discuss and develop ideas. Don’t hang back, please. This is how I learn and interpret better.

“I believe one writes because one has to create a world in which one can live.”
– This world falls short all the time. Not the natural world, which astounds me with its awesome, sublime, magical, fierce beauty every day. But the socially constructed world. These days if you can make it to adulthood without being seriously angry-sad and screwed up about the state we’re in, you must be emotionally dead. Wake the fuck up. The rainforests are nearly all gone. What happens then, people? But just keep consuming your acres of plastic and petrochemicals and happy fucking fried whopper-zinger-hormone-pumped dead animal patties and nothing else will matter, ‘k?
Greed and entitlement engulf everything, it seems. I want what’s mine and what I’m owed, they say. So they take it and turn blind eyes to those in society that are unable to stand up and take, have no way to compete for the resources that the few hold while the many go without.

“Ordinary life does not interest me.”
– I reached this point around the age of 10 and started to withdraw from the ordinary. My visions and dreams were so much more absorbing anyway, so I wrote them down. The journey inward began and my exploration of inner space which is endlessly fascinating and limitless. When I’ve had to conform to a prescribed, contemporary lifestyle for any length of time, I’ve become a weak and flickering shadow of myself. I need to be able to leave here and go to the other dimension every day in order to stay vital. Music helps. The sea helps. Drinking tea helps. Loving people helps. These things, I firmly believe are magical, not ordinary.

“There are very few human beings who receive the truth, complete and staggering, by instant illumination. Most of them acquire it fragment by fragment, on a small scale, by successive developments, cellularly, like a laborious mosaic.”
– It doesn’t matter how you get it, just that you do. Pick up the fragments and keep them with you. Piece them together, bit by bit. Notebooks help. Photographs help. Art helps. Dreams help. Connections begin to emerge and take shape when you can put the pieces together in one place and allow them to syncretize. And moments of instant illumination can and do happen. They are astoundingly beautiful when they occur.

“People living deeply have no fear of death.”
– The death urge has always been strong in me. I faced it down, at 10. It was going to consume me if I didn’t. Now, in my 40s, I see friends facing their mortality for the first time: wrinkles and grey hair can do that to you. I wonder how life would have been different if death hadn’t featured on my radar so early on but really I can’t imagine having lived all these years without having come to terms with it. It was liberating.

But your answers won’t be my answers and your way to liberation could lie somewhere else than mine. I just hope that you find it. Seek it out and don’t wait another day. Remember this: Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.

Thank you, Anais.


Submissive to everything, open, listening: inspiration from Kerouac

So, Kerouac was a sub.
I used to keep this list pinned on my wall. I’ve lost it somewhere along the way. I believe it’s the single best piece of advice for writing and living the writing life. Because if you can’t write something worth reading, you should at least do something worth writing (Benjamin Franklin).

1. Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for yr own joy
2. Submissive to everything, open, listening
3. Try never get drunk outside yr own house
4. Be in love with yr life
5. Something that you feel will find its own form
6. Be crazy dumbsaint of the mind
7. Blow as deep as you want to blow
8. Write what you want bottomless from bottom of the mind
9. The unspeakable visions of the individual
10. No time for poetry but exactly what is
11. Visionary tics shivering in the chest
12. In tranced fixation dreaming upon object before you
13. Remove literary, grammatical and syntactical inhibition
14. Like Proust be an old teahead of time
15. Telling the true story of the world in interior monolog
16. The jewel center of interest is the eye within the eye
17. Write in recollection and amazement for yourself
18. Work from pithy middle eye out, swimming in language sea
19. Accept loss forever
20. Believe in the holy contour of life
21. Struggle to sketch the flow that already exists intact in mind
22. Dont think of words when you stop but to see picture better
23. Keep track of every day the date emblazoned in yr morning
24. No fear or shame in the dignity of yr experience, language & knowledge
25. Write for the world to read and see yr exact pictures of it
26. Bookmovie is the movie in words, the visual American form
27. In praise of Character in the Bleak inhuman Loneliness
28. Composing wild, undisciplined, pure, coming in from under, crazier the better
29. You’re a Genius all the time
30. Writer-Director of Earthly movies Sponsored & Angeled in Heaven

Each item on this list makes me want to write a whole, individual post in response. One day I will. I’m currently quite distracted with my work. My new 12-week writing as therapy course has just kicked off and I’m loving reading the group members’ work and their responses to the stuff I give them. It feels good to be sharing my love of writing with others, even if I’m a bit short of time to write myself. Tired and mildly frustrated but always happier when I’m in service to others. Life is sweet.