Upstream of Consciousness wants to be a collection of interviews that only contain answers. I will provide 5 phrases, words, quotes, links, pictures, or videos (in italics) and your consciousness will provide the rest. Responses can be short or long, real or fictional, words, links, or anything in between. In return, each of my "subjects" will give me 1 item back which I will then respond to (under the heading Ripple, with a number next to it). Come, swim for a while.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Hard, for me. Words are everything. I think in words, in narratives and phrases. When I see an image or hear music, my first impulse is to attach words to it. I connect to other people in words.
Sometimes, I think I would be a lot more honest without words. A lot braver. If instead of trying to express something, I just did it. But it is all that I know.
Friday, December 26, 2008
1. Sarah Kane
Sarah Kane. Sarah Kane killed herself at age 28. I have her complete plays. There are five and they are increasingly brilliant and heartbreakingly on the brink of sanity.
Sarah Kane wrote Blasted at 23. At 23 I was smoking too many clove cigarettes and playing at being A Serious Artist.
At 28 I will not be writing works of theatrical brilliance. I will also not be hanging myself in an asylum bathroom with borrowed shoelaces.
I directed one of her plays in college. We referred to her as "Sarah.". We got to know her. We had one of those only in academia rehearsal processes where we covered a wall with images of rape survivors and anorexics on the brink of death and suicide bombers and child beauty queens and the little girl running naked after the bombing of Hiroshima. We had a rehearsal process with the secrecy of FIght Club. We started every day by reporting our highs and lows.
I was fucking one of my actors and desperately in love with another. It was all terribly complicated. I'd found a bunch of broken, misfit toys and I was queen. My professor came to watch midway through the process and took me aside to sternly say, "Beth, theatre should not be therapy."
I disagreed with him. I think it's sometimes the best therapy there is.
The production was a huge success. A year and a half and 45 miles away, a girl came up to me and hugged me and told me she had never been so affected by a play in her life.
I am significantly crazier now that I am not making theatre.
2. to unlock
To set free. Possibility. Hope. Power.
There is no other artist (pair of artists) in the world who get people to CALL LOVED ONES during a show so they can be serenaded. That's something I love about Amanda. There's so much unexpected and joyful that happens at her shows.
This clip is from before I was part of Team AFP. Now when I see videos on YouTube, more often than not I go "Oh, right... I was there, just to the left of the frame." And there's a lot of warmth in those thoughts. Being part of something meaningful. They're off-key (and it seems a little drunk) but this is meaningful. I actually remember watching a video of this, maybe even this video, a few days before I went to the New Year's Eve show last year. It's amazing and a little unsettling to think of the girl I was then, watching this video and tearing up while thinking about who I'd call. (The tearing up was because the only person I could think to call was my very recent ex.) I remember wanting so to be a part of the experience that audience was having. Of course, now I'm at many, many shows and I'm still not a part of that experience. I am slowly accepting the fact that I don't go to the party, I help throw the party, and it's a totally different thing. Beautiful in its own way, but not the same. But sometimes I wade out into the middle of the crowd and let their energy crush me and bring me back different. Those moments remind me who I was.
I wish Amanda would let her hair grow out like that again.
4. "My portraits are more about me than the people I photograph." - Richard Avedon
The way I feel about someone translates in my photographs of them. I can't make a beautiful photograph of someone I don't find to be beautiful. This is why in awful at shoot for hire... There's no time in those situations to know the person, to find the beauty.
Beauty evolves for me. I met an extraordinarily beautiful woman, but as I got to know her, I found her to be cold and distant. She became less attractive to me. I found it difficult to shoot her.
It works the other way. I met a girl who was initially only vaguely pretty, or perhaps even plain, but as I got to know her I found more and more beauty. She had a lot of teeth, or, rather, showed a lot of teeth when she laughed. I fell a little in love with her. By the time I shot her, she was all beauty, and it showed in the photos. A mutual acquaintance told me he'd never seen what I'd seen, but the photos were unmistakably her, and in them she was unquestionably beautiful.
But my photography is about interaction with my subject. Its a collaboration and I rarely try to make a person appear as they are not. They bring themself and I do my best to see them through the distortions of my own perception.
I remember, years ago, showing a series of photographs I'd done of a girl I knew to a friend of mine. They were simple portraits. He looked for a few moments and then looked me in the eye and said, "You're gay, aren't you? And you're in love with her."
Yes. And yes, I was.
I find often that the more complicated my feelings for someone are, the more interesting the photographs I take of them.
This is love. I took this photograph more than five years ago. That's not the ocean... it's the roof of an abandoned car dealership. You can see a frying pan in the water. I'm surprised the girls didn't get the hiv being in there in their bare feet. The blonde, incidentally, still lives in Pittsburgh. Her name is Meg. I invited her to the show and she showed up while I was selling merch at the Vermillion Lies table. She took my hand and smiled and I looked at her and said, "I'm sorry, where do we know each other from?" I was so in "work" brain... when I'm on the road, sometimes people come up to me and hug me and I have to ask where we met and they tell me "Oh, we met in City!" and sometimes I remember them. Sometimes I don't. So Meg showed up at the table and smiled and grabbed my hand and my brain just misfired. She responded, "... Beth?!" and I said, "Oh! I know you from the fact that we've been friends for SIX YEARS."
1st response: Reminder. Permanant post-it note. Often come in dreams, frequently full of symbolism.
It's a choose your own adventure! But real emos don't have girlfriends. We suffer alone in our rooms.
8. your mom, me, some exotic fruits, and a tub full of Jello
A recipe for a super-hot Thursday night. Obviously.
Complicated. I am a girl of too much.
10. "I think most people who maintain blogs are doing it for the same reasons I do: they like the idea that there's a place where a record of their existence is kept -- a house with an always-open door where people who are looking for you can check on you, compare notes with you and tell you what they think of you. Sometimes that house is messy, sometimes horrifyingly so. In real life, we wouldn't invite any passing stranger into these situations, but the remove of the Internet makes it seem O.K."
- Emily Gould
For me, my blog is 100% about connection with other human beings. I love being able to say, "This is my experience" and have ten people reply, "Yes! I identify with that, but I do it this way." I like dialogue. I love communication.
It's a huge sign of trust for me to let people see my actual messy apartment. My blog-mess... I go back and forth. I definitely have started only showing parts of the house. It used to be I showed the whole house, but only to my friends. Now I show everything but the bedroom and the attic to everyone. Friends get to see the bedroom. No one goes in the attic unless we are face to face and very drunk.
Showing either kind of mess to people makes me feel very vulnerable. But I do it. I can't not be honest in my blog. It's a diary where I vent, it's a forum where I keep friends and family up to date, and it's a place where I can go to say things I think are important for other people to know. Being less than open is insulting to the people who read it. If they care enough to read my blog, I should be brave enough to give them something Real.
This is the messiest I've ever been on the internet. I posted this video to my blog a little over a year ago. People agreed that it's either hilarious or heartbreaking. I think it's probably both... it is definitely Real, though:
When you begin to recognize someone’s smell, their walk, their laugh. They become an unspoken part of your world. I rarely recognize the beginning, and am surprised at the end to find that without a particular person the air around me is incredibly different.
I know you,
you who are
a part of me,
like the wind
is a part of the leaves
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Friendship is something I seem to struggle continuously with. The longest I have ever lived in one place is 3 years, the shortest, about 6 months. Usually it's around a year or so. And we don't just move across town, we move to different states, different countries... So my friends always change. I'm disorganised and I used to lose all the phone numbers and addresses I collected. I have had to just forget about people so many times. With e-mails and instant messenger, it's easier, but I still lose details and things. My best friend lives in Australia and our friendship started with me kicking him in the nuts. Which is a great way to start anything, isn't it? I think that really set the tone for it, though. I have put him through a lot and he is incredibly accepting of almost everything I do. Moving around so much as a child and a teenager and never having that one group of friends who are for a while has made me really awkward and it's wonderful knowing that there is someone who knows me so well and still loves me for what I am.
That was kind of weird. What I got out of it was that the moth was the spirit of the bunny's dead husband. Or wife. I couldn't tell if it was a male or female. And they went and joined them in some form of afterlife. I'm not sure if I believe in an afterlife. I was big into Christianity at one point. When I was 12, I managed to sit in front of a poster that said 'GOD' and had a rainbow behind it, just thinking about God for well over an hour. I don't understand how anything in the world can convince a 12 year old do sit and think for such a long time. I believed in an afterlife then, of course. I'm not sure what I believed Heaven or Hell to be, but it wasn't glowing lights. Death is something I try not to dwell on. I remember having an existential crisis (but not actually knowing what one was) when I was about 9. I didn't sleep for weeks after. Right now, it's just something that happens that I don't want to think about. I want to 'live in the moment' and all that. When it happens, it happens. I cannot change that and I am okay with that. Yeah, it does scare me and yeah, there will always be more things I want to do... Sometimes I just need to take a deep breath and say to myself 'if it happens, it happens.' I can't see myself ever having a firm believe on what comes after.
3. NORAD Tracking Santa Claus With Google Maps
That's kind of lovely. That they put so much work in keeping that belief alive in children. I can't remember believing in Santa, but apparently I did. I remember one of my brothers becoming horribly upset when one of his friends told him that he didn't believe in Santa. When I was little, I can vaguely remember being told that the Santas we were meant to take photos with were actually costumed elves, because Santa couldn't be everywhere. I suppose that in a way, that is true, because the elves are Santa's helpers, right? And these people are kiiind of helping to keep Santa alive. Is this beginning to sound tacky? I am writing this at 1am on Christmas Day, so I think it's bound to happen. Haha.
4. body piercings
Body piercings are important to me. I, at the moment, have a navel piercing, a nose piercing, a lip piercing and several ear piercings. I have also pierced the ears of a few of my family members. Most of my piercings have come from quick decisions. I got my navel piercing because my mother asked if I wanted one and I said yes. An hour later, I had it. I had been talking about getting my lip piercing for a while before it, but never intended on going through with it until the appointment was actually booked. My piercings are a part of my appearance that I decided on. They aren't my nose or my eyes, the appearance of which I had no say in. I am not offended if someone else doesn't like them in the same way I am if someone doesn't like my face. I chose them, I love them. If someone else doesn't, fine. I still do. They aren't me trying to be an individual, so many other people have the same things. They are something I liked and wanted to add to myself. I feel like I look wrong without them. My mum says I look like a little girl without them.
I have kept a journal since I was pretty young. It all started when I read an article on the fact that keeping a journal benefits your health. I feel a lot less stressed after I've written down the things buzzing around in my head. Sometimes it helps me sleep. When I am keeping a journal, I need to feel comfortable with it. With the book, that is. I can't write everything down in a book I don't trust. Sometimes I will write a bit in a book, realise it's the wrong book, rip out the journal pages and use it for drawing in. I give my journals away after I fill them up. I give them to people I love and people who I want to remember me. Sometimes it's a way of closing a chapter. If I've been somewhere a while and I know I'm leaving, I will give the journals to whoever has been through the most with me there. Normally I do it in groups, giving the lucky recipient 3 or 4 journals or notebooks or sketchbooks. Whatever I can use to show them that they made an impact on my life and, I guess, as a memento of that point in time.
6. “If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn't. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn't be. And what it wouldn't be, it would. You see?” – Alice, Alice in Wonderland
Oh wow. My brain hurts!!! I think real life is like this, sometimes. Haha. There is always a different side to things and sometimes when you look at the two together, you have two different things. Even though it's one thing. And if you look close enough at most things, they tend to stop making sense pretty, eventually.
This is a painting I did for my mother... I usually only do half a face or a profile when I paint faces. This is out of laziness. And fear, actually. I am always scared I will get the other half wrong...Although faces aren't symmetrical anyway. I guess I am just not that confident about these things. This painting had brown paint water flicked at it so it has spots from that, which is sad. You can't see that in the photo because the photo was taken before it happened!
I like the background on this and I remember painting it and enjoying painting it. I love it when colours come out strong and thick and I love it when the edges of each stroke are clean and straight. I love painting. I love the idea that we can use images we've created ourselves to put across emotions and make people feel things that they might not have felt before. I don't really like watercolour paint, which is what that one is mostly done in, but for some reason, it's sometimes the only thing I have access to
8. “leave me alone”
Mr. Leave Me Alone is a username I use in two places on the internet. I don't like being left alone. Sometimes I do, we all need time alone sometimes. But there are few things I like more than having someone next to me to talk to or even just to know that they are there. I like people. I tend to be quite impolite towards other people, but I do like them. I like noise and I like looking at things and I like response. I tend to gravitate towards people who dress weirdly or have strange stories or things to say. Or both. I like to talk a lot and that would be boring if I were alone! When I start writing, I write a lot (as I may or may not have shown here) and when I find someone I like talking to, I send them long messages. Sometimes I call them. I try my very best to keep them in my life.
I don't really want to be left alone.
Ohhhhhh boy. What is the world coming to, where people wish to smell like fast food? Each to their own, I suppose. Maybe it's like when it was found out that some people found the (hopefully faint) smell of sweat more attractive than perfume or deodorant? Maybe some people find burgers even MORE attractive than that.
But then, hopefully not.
Hopefully it's all about the novelty value.
10. “it’s so polite, it’s so polite, it’s offensive, it’s offensive, it’s so unright, it’s so unright, it’s a technical accept it” – “Leeds United”, Amanda Palmer
I don't have anything to say about those exact lyrics, but rather the full song. I hold that song pretty close to my heart. I got to be in the music video and that was a truly wonderful experience. I accidentally turned up in an 'Alice In Wonderland' costume. A blue dress and a black headband, basically. And I had long blonde hair. It was a lovely accident. I didn't realise it looked like an 'Alice' thing until someone else pointed it out. I have heard 'Leeds United' countless times and I never get tired of it. When I listen to it, I want to jump around and dance. I don't...But I want to. Amanda came to London to film this video and she invited us, the lucky fans, to play soccer with her. And be in her music video. I met wonderful people on both occasions. I have new friends. I am about 10 times happier than I was before any of these things happened. I feel like I am a part of something.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
1) poetry or the What [Kovacs]
I think the two are definitely connected, so I’ll answer both. Kovacs is referring to the book What is the What by Dave Eggers, something we both read/are reading. First of all, everyone should read that book, but also balance it out with something light, because it is some heavy shit.
Without going into a big summary, my impression of what the What is, is the Dream or the Unknown… something you don’t have right in front of you that you covet or work towards. Like any dream, this means it can be both inspiring and motivational or it can be entirely destructive.
Sometimes, I have a dream of running away from my life, opening a bookstore, and writing poetry until I die. Is this type of dream productive? I mean, it motivates me to keep writing, but it also keeps me unsatisfied from what I am currently doing, which is a pretty good occupation in itself.
Poetry is in some ways my What. I live for the perfect poem, either written by myself, or more often by someone else – something that captures exactly what I am feeling and desiring in a few words.
I saw this quote in NYT today by Philip Seymour Hoffman which pretty much captured how I feel about poetry:
“But that deep kind of love comes at a price: for me, acting is torturous, and it’s torturous because you know it’s a beautiful thing. I was young once, and I said, That’s beautiful and I want that. Wanting it is easy, but trying to be great — well, that’s absolutely torturous.”
I went through a period of time, from middle school to my senior year of high school, where I hated any poetry I wrote and I wrote very little. I thought I was writing poetry out of laziness, and it’s true, some of my crappier poems are because I can’t be bothered or don’t have the control and patience to write in paragraph form. I then took a Creative Writing class senior year, and it was one particular poem I wrote that my teacher told me was better than anything he had ever written, that really sent me on my way.
I got to respect the poem as being this form where you try to say everything without saying too much. You get rid of all the extraneous crap and you try to figure out what is at the core of whatever image or feeling you are trying to get across. For someone like me, who tends to write and say way too much, that type of restraint – allowing some things to be left unsaid – is what makes poetry beautiful and incredibly difficult.
I’d say about 95% of what I write is crap, and I say that sort of objectively. I was on the editorial board of the oldest lit mag at my college and during selections (where authors were anonymous) I would regularly get to see my poems ripped apart or worse, basically ignored. It taught me that I have flashes of good writing, but most of it can’t stand up in the real world. It humbled me. And it frustrates me continuously to recognize what beautiful is and not be able to achieve it, just as Hoffman said. But that 5% or less where I’m almost there—that’s the reason I try to write a poem at least every few days.
But I guess my larger What, and why I’m in my current job is because I’m fascinated by the human mind. I mean, how could you not be? We love, yet we kill… we remember, yet we make the same mistakes… we create, yet we destroy… all of it is beautiful and boggles my own little mind, and the fact that I am allowed to play with a very small piece of that very, very large puzzle is something I am very thankful for. It pushes me to go to work everyday and it pushes me to examine my own thinking and to write.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Release, guilt, frustration, passion, peace, zen, trepedation, work. Taking pictures takes the turmoil in my life and exemplifies it. I adore the act of taking a shot, looking at it, and feeling like you captured a moment, something unique, that you added to the art of the situation. I hate carrying around a camera, being noticed because of it, and taking pictures of people that don't want them taken. Being in front of the lens makes me extremely uncomfortable.
The best part of photography for me is going through the shots, finding what I like, and finishing them up. That's when it's all worth it, when I feel like what I did had value further than just the act of creation.
Release - It's something to do and think about, it keeps me busy.
Guilt - I still feel like part of it is work, and put off doing it because of this. I want to be drawn to it all the time, but it doesn't work that way. And I feel like I should be learning more about it, to increase what I can do, and make things easier.
Frustration - Knowing that there is so, so much more I could be doing if my drive was focused on it. Knowing that 90% of the shot is getting out and grabing it. Feeling the drive ebb and flow when I just want it to be constant.
Passion - There are moments where it possesses me, and I let it.
Peace - I can look up after capturing a shot and feel like I accomplished something. This doesn't happen with very many of the pictures I take, yet.
Zen - In Yellowstone, and during shows, I think about nothing but the photography. It's nothing-space.
Trepedation - Due to not being schooled, and having to carry the camera around like some sort of trophy, I get very cautious.
Work - Some of it does feel like work. And that sucks. But I suppose not very many things are all play, regardless of how you feel about them.
2) “Happiness is a how; not a what. A talent, not an object.” – Herman Hesse
Hesse was troubled. But correct by all accounts. He states the complexity better than I ever could. Wanting a certain thing to make you happy, never works, for long. That's why goals are so important...they aren't always a specific thing, but a state of being. You don't want the camera, you want the skills and body of work, the mindset...and the camera.
However, he does make it seem like you can make yourself happy (a talent, a how) which I disagree with. Life goes up and down, to make yourself happy all the time is futile. I'd argue for an appreciation of sadness, in equal amounts. I wouldn't call it a talent, I'd call it an...outlook? Phase? Mindset? Something that you can create, but can be fleeting at any given moment. A muse?
Right now all that means to me is four years wasted. I'm going through withdrawal and don't want to talk about it. The thought of where my life would be without that game existing...well that not only ignores my own personal responsibility towards it, making me frustrated, but presents a potentially drastic difference in where I am in life currently, which eats at me.
I feel like I have a long way to go in coming to terms with those years and moving forward.
...Blood Elves are pretty prissy though. Roll a female, they're hawt.
4) chicken recipe
All of these seem to pertain to me in one sense or another, and I have no idea how this one does. I'm pretty sure I've forgotten, which is embarrassing. I tend to lie when this happens in person, though it used to happen a lot more during my drinking days.
When I was a kid, we had chicken 4-5 times a week. It's cheap, and can be made in so many different ways. I have a distinct memory of my mom showing up at the local pool and showing me her new cookbook, 101 ways to cook chicken. In the pool, I at first mock played dead because I was certain it said "children". I think I then proceeded to brood on chicken always being a part of my life, and what I can do to change that. In a fun way though.
I'm constructed of chicken.
...needless to say, I don't eat it much anymore.
5) Sara Quin
Oh, Sara. Though my feelings towards that band was complicated in general, as of now the feeling is pure and clean, which I like. It took me a while to get to that point.
To expound upon that, briefly, because it's fucking embarrassing. Hearing the Con sent me into a 4-day depression. Lame, right? I wish I could chose what moves me. Some of the songs on there are heart-breaking, and somehow compounded into forcing me to take a look at my relationship actions/goals (i.e. none, see number 3). That along with career/life goals (I needed to have more art in my life, and socially am hanging out with the wrong people, all drawn from that album and band) created huge turmoil. I guess I'm grateful, but I truely feel like I havent been myself since. I know, deep down, that the album was a catylyst, and this wouldve happened sooner or later. And that it's what needed to happen, and that it's always changing month to month, leading towards something. But its still embarrassing. Fucking let me be moved by poetry, it's more respectable.
Sara Quin is awesome, for a few distinct reasons. She's hilarious. She's adorable. She reads a fuckton of books, which by default makes her a beautiful blogger/writer when she wants to be. And she's progressing musically. Like right now. At this second. The difference between her songs on If it Was You versus the Con is insane. Tegan's are the same album to album. Sara's are changing, and I can't wait to see what she comes up with next. Her career, like Amanda Palmers, I will probably follow until I'm 50. When you develop an affection for the artist as well as the art, loyalty sets in, and for me, it's solid.
Plus, she's one of the few rock stars that I feel like I could actually hang out with, after getting over the shock, and don't feel like I'd be at all creepy. Most of the artists I have rock-crushes on, I know that I would never actually interact with very well in person. She's different, and would be a great friend. Or wingwoman.
6) “Have you ever been in love? Horrible isn't it? It makes you so vulnerable. It opens your chest and it opens up your heart and it means that someone can get inside you and mess you up. You build up all these defenses, you build up a whole suit of armor, so that nothing can hurt you, then one stupid person, no different from any other stupid person, wanders into your stupid life...You give them a piece of you. They didn't ask for it. They did something dumb one day, like kiss you or smile at you, and then your life isn't your own anymore. Love takes hostages. It gets inside you. It eats you out and leaves you crying in the darkness, so simple a phrase like 'maybe we should be just friends' turns into a glass splinter working its way into your heart. It hurts. Not just in the imagination. Not just in the mind. It's a soul-hurt, a real gets-inside-you-and-rips-you-apart pain. I hate love.” – Neil Gaiman
Perfection. And with me believing every word he says, truthfully, totally, completely...all I want to do is get love over with. Fall for someone totally, focus on that, and don't let it hurt me ever again. Shelter.
7) dance party
If I'm dancing, and I'm sober, I am truely at one with the universe. The act of dancing almost has nothing to do with it. It's the release of saying "I really, honestly, could give a fuck what everyone thinks" and believing it. Because you can't dance and have a good time unless you do, fact.
I can think of one time when this happened, at least recently. But I can't wait for it to happen again.
And in terms of drunken dancing, the first thing that came to mind was the stripper pole we used to have installed in our house, and an impromtu dance party to foreigner at 4 am, in complete blackness. Documented by photography, meaning nothing but dark until the flashes went off. Another memory is the numerous dance parties held at the karaokee bar, now burnt down. These things have their merits. But more as a way of canceling out regrets later on in life. I'll never be able to say I didn't party like a rock star, thats for sure.
8. to engineer
To want to know how everything works. And to get pleasure in figuring it out. To a certain extent, for me, an adoration of pushing buttons. It does not mean that I'm smarter than you though, world, so stop being a fucking dick and assuming as such when I tell you what I do. Honestly, don't make me immediately self-depreciate to put us on the same percieved level. Just realize exactly how many different kinds of intelligence there are, and you're ranking one far too high.
9) Proposition 8
I found out about most of the issue through TnS, and love that fact that it inspired me. It's not my fight, and I know this, so I keep my distance to a certain extent. But it's such a clear cut violation of human rights, it's easy to get behind. I don't take one side, ever, I see both sides, constantly. Not here, and that's how you know it's fucking wrong, world. If you want my opinion, which you do.
Yeah, lets oppress love, because we find a certain lifestyle icky. Good plan.
If it continues to face opposition in other areas (such as the courts), I'll contribute more to fighting it. As of now I'm happy to have been a small part, and gotten into the conversations I've gotten into.
Claiming ignorance is funny. No one can truely, effectively, completely claim that you're lying. But his other kid is named "Aryan Nation". I mean. He's surprised at the uproar? He's like some sort of highly repressed racist. Or the definition of extrordinarily passive-aggressive. Like he's going to donate to a temple then name his next kid Sean Kill All Jews.