By Brian George
“Eternity is in love with the productions of Time.”—Blake
Hi CJ (Moore),
You wrote, “Obviously, there are a lot of layers to how revision works. How you hone your skills—it's a secret process, but it's also just a lot of tweaking the nuance. It took me many years to find that point where I would just be able to write off the top of my head.”
My own method is an altogether more cautious mix of adventure and reflection. A corollary to my openness to edge-of-consciousness intuition is that I must guard against any tendency toward “inflation,” against the sense that my every off-hand utterance is a breakthrough. To be on the cutting edge I must keep my cutting edge, and be willing, with the coldness of an alien doctor, to employ it on myself. There are plenty more images where the last one came from. An a-causal web connects one image to another. The correspondences may be tenuous, yes, but I must probe to insure that they are not frail.
Out of the 7 ½ billion people on the planet, I had thought that it was I alone who had been chosen to speak fluently! Has a spontaneously arising insight come from beyond the context of one’s culture—as an answer, perhaps, to a question that one had not thought to ask—or is it only a bit of random data, spit out by one’s automated response system?
“Doing” must be counterbalanced by “not doing.” Worlds of information can be transmitted in a flash, but that split-second can take an hour or a day or a month or many years to fully translate into human terms. The process unfolds in what I call “Caribbean time.” Time moves as fast or as slowly as is demanded by the action; one’s mood in response to its passage is irrelevant, and, in any case, alters as one surrenders to its flow. For 26,000 years I have turned an image in my hands; only lately has it been turned into a three-dimensional object. A creative climax can be indefinitely postponed—without any damage to the organs of perception.
Life is what happens when one is doing something else. Having exited, with great cacophony, from the womb, one then plays ball and graduates from school, gets pointless job, and, on weekends, continues to do art, falls in love, becomes a parent, all the while lifting up one’s life’s blood to the daimon. If one follows an almost indecipherable code, he will, in turn, reciprocate with breath.
I write in order to give instructions to myself, or rather to receive them, after whacking myself, as well as others, in the head. If my images seem obscure, so be it. Let the reader wrestle with my “free associations.” To myself, quietly, I laugh at the ordeal that they often represent. However much my craft might seem non-linear, I am actually trying very hard to be clear. One small paragraph in "Birds of a Feather and the Playthings of the 12” took somewhere around 10 hours to write. Nonetheless, it is probably true that my work is not so much intended to be "read" as it is intended to be "re-read,” and lived with. In their sockets, the blind eyes of my duplicate roll—to space turning back. His tongue cleaves to the roof of his mouth. Most often sealed, his lips are the doors to a library that may, at certain intervals, open. The strength of one’s intention is the key.
Always, I prefer to be working at the cutting-edge of my understanding, but I have also reached an age at which the tone of my work is somewhat retrospective; I am attempting to synthesize and master the past 25 or so years-worth of what Eliot described as "raids on the inarticulate." At the moment, my favorite composer is Franz Joseph Haydn, who I regard as a kind of undiscovered continent. No self-respecting avant-guardist would see Haydn as a role model, but I do. A few years ago I would have scoffed at the idea. Thus the "classical" and the "experimental" aspects of my work are held in a precarious, and each day to be renegotiated, balance.
Acts of metaphysical violence have removed the seer’s eyes. So be it! In the end, the true explorer must be willing to start over. It is he who must become visible to the powers that would find him, who may, if they are not busy, help. He is glad that it is dark, for the sun does not actually illuminate very much, nor does its light travel far out into space, however much we think that we cannot live without it. He opens stars with his feet. The opacity of the sign is in no way accidental: See he must—by alternate means. As was done to him, let him also do for others. Into the eggshell of the head we must reinsert the Macrocosm. The swelling will be temporary—a year or two, at most!—but some pain may be involved. “If we do not expect the unexpected then we will not discover it,” said Heraclitus, “since it is not to be searched out and is difficult to apprehend.”
(Illustration: Brian George, Head with lightning bolt, 2004)