I’ve been thinking about a quote by Toni Morrison, from her book, Sula:
In a way, her strangeness, her naïveté, her craving for the other half of her equation was the consequence of an idle imagination. Had she paints, or clay, or knew the discipline of the dance, or strings; had she anything to engage her tremendous curiosity and her gift for metaphor, she might have exchanged the reslessness and preoccupation with whim for an activity that provided her with all she yearned for. And like any artist with no art form, she became dangerous.
Idle imaginations lack of form(s) danger, not just depression, or anxiety a torch the lights the wildfire, or a knife that kills and skins a cat and pins it to the wall. No good comes of this kind of “dangerous.”
How then to find form(s), to create work that is dangerous in another way: dangerous in it’s audacity (which may mean its subtlety); in its honesty, its breath taken in
( inspiration )
its willingness to surprise to changes to wiggle and slouch
to face not only the saber-toothed tigers of oneself, but all those screaming hungry ghosts of not self.
OK then: Here’s an exercise for today: write something,( or dance, or paint, or stain glass, whatever medium you would like), in which you explore something that is absolutely forbidden for you to explore––fucking your mother for example. If that just sent a chill through your stomach we are on the right track. The late, great writer, Grace Paley, once said that whenever she got stuck somewhere in writing a short story, she would just drop in a horrible character and find out what they’d do.
I once explored the psyche of a torturer in my performance, THREE: a risky, irreverent and curious look at the things that keep us awake at night, I am horrified by torture and it was frightening to enter in to such a person, yet it ended up bringing great depth to my performance. The late writer, Tillie Olson, just came to mind. In her classic work, I Stand Here Ironing, (I read this about a hundred years ago and I haven’t thought of it in years), the action is internal, fragmented, the overt action is a woman ironing, how boring is that, in fact, I haven’t ironed anything in a year so maybe we should talk about dusting, and yet so much is explored and discovered. You do not have to think of something horrible to investigate, even the banal can be forbidden (I know someone who will not allow herself to read People magazine, or watch American Idol-– go, go local boy, James Durbin!). Pick something; enter in; find out what happens. Risk this kind of danger.
And happy spring.