"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Sons of the Pioneers theme for TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon artist's musings melding metaphors and journalism, for readers in more than 150 countries.

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

The blurred pages of 2022

fitting that the current book I'm reading, the last of the year at No. 48 in my book log,  is "Why Time Flies, A Mostly Scientific Investigation"  by Alan Burdock, non-fiction, about the nature of time in our lives and history. 

I usually wrap up my year's reading in December on this blog, but time did blur in my life, and with it, the urge to write and blog. Even the blog suffered, with two full months devoid of posts after the computer crashed

By the "time" I wanted to write, the year was gone. By comparison,  there were 54 in 2021, 49 in 2020, and 34 in 2019But here are the books I read, or started and didn't finish from 2022. Total 48. 

Finished Dec. 31, Now rereading
 Spiritual, Religious--8: Falling Upward and   Breathing Under Water, Rohr; and six by Thomas Merton--Finished Dec. 31--A Year With Thomas Merton, daily thoughts, meditations and more from his journals; and When the Trees Say Nothing, Dialogues With Silence, The Interior Life, Monastic Tributes to Merton, Zen and The Birds of Appetite and The Sign of Jonas.

  Poetry--8: Call Us What We Carry, Gorman; Poetry of Remembrance,  Romero; The Leaf and the Cloud, Oliver; Chaco Trilogy, Price; Earth Keepers, Momaday; American Primitive, Oliver; The Potter's Book, Mulcahhy; Kerry Slides, Muldoon.

 Art, Creativity--6; The Gift, Hyde, read most of it;   How to Paint with a Knife; How to Paint Fast, Mollica; Atmospheric Landscapes in Acrylic,  Scarbe; Winslow Homer, Crosscurrents; Paint Alchemy, Oliver,, scanned.

Non-Fiction--13 (including Time Flies): The Writers Map, Lewis-Jones ed.; Greatest Bear Run Ever, Donahue; Desert Solitaire, Abbey (reread);Atlas of Irish History, Duffy; Landscapes of Ireland, Diggin; Sacred Places, Goesty; When Humans Nearly Vanished, Prothero; Road to Rainy Mountain, Momaday; Beatty's Cabin, Barker (Pecos Wilderness, N.M.); Valley of the Shining Stone, Polng-Kemps (Abiquiu, N.M.); The Scotch Irish, Leyburn (unfinished; Burn After Writing, Jones, unfinished; Lone Star, Fehrenback (Texas history  before revisionists took over).

Fiction--7: Fahrenheit 451, Bradbury, reread; Mr. Gone, Triplett; Dune, Herbert; Hell and Back, Johnson (Longmire); Tomorrow, Jospeh Conrad; Fairy Tale, King, in progress; The Little Prince, Saint Exupery.

Self-Help: 2: Memory Guide, Restock; Don't Feed the Monkey Mind, Shannon.

Resource, won't finish but keep--1:Oklahoma Native Plants, Scothorn,

Won't even try to finish--1; Tess of the D'Urbervilles, Hardy. Thought I wanted to read a class. Not after one chapter.

"Let There Be Light"

"let There Be Light," 6 x 6 acrylic on gallery-wrapped canvas

the beginning...it was a very busy time. Still is, especially it seems to me in the beginning of a new year...so much to do.

I don't make resolutions, but have goals, like a long "to do" list...of a new year, that can be attempted or checked off.  One of last year's was "Don't piddle, paint." Alas, there was still too much piddling.

This year, I will try to paint daily, put some paint on something almost every day, whether complete or not, whether in minutes or hours.  And the way I paint is often an interruption between episodes of thinking and evaluating.

But at a beginning of a new year, the idea of one more black and white painting came to mind, for our January member show at  In Your Eye Studio and Gallery in Paseo Arts District.

"Let There Be Light," the first painting of 2023, resulted, palette knives and brushes.

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Future tense?--only in your imagination

"Future Tense," 5 x 5 acrylic on gallery-wrapped canvas


reading "Why Time Flies," by Alan Burdock, a journalist for The New Yorker, who spent years(by our "time" studying time.

He divides his 280 page book into four chapters, The Hours, The Days, the Present and Why time flies. He actually discovered a 25th hour in a day in the Arctic. His is a "Mostly  Scientific Investigation" of how we measure time, what we think of it, how sunlight affects us and all organisms.

Extremely well-written and readable, the book will boggle your mind at the scientific, the history, the biologic, the physiology, the uninsured questions.

My conclusions so far is that linear tense-drive time as we perceive it is largely in our heads--past present and future.

For instance, what is "now"? We live in present tense, but how do you measure "now"? You can't, because by the time you reach the ed of this sentence, or even the next word, "now" has vanished. 

By the time you read the time on your watch or clock, it's already passed. Indeed, those around the world who coordinate time for this earth, for airlines and  your computers, know this. By the time that is "posted," it's already "past," not "now." Technically, you can't give an answer to "What time is it now?"

 Only Yahweh, who is timeless, couldn't say "I am that I am," not "I was" or "I will be." That is the definition of eternity, by the way. Past is only memories in our minds, and future is indefinite, what we imagine.

The biologic circadian rhythms of life on this earth and a rapidly expanding universe are something else, and we're also affected by that--when we sleep, when we're born, the list goes on.

So today's painting, "after" Christmas," and "before" tomorrow (the future), but not "now, comes out of reading, and my mind on our journey.

Sunday, December 25, 2022

"Light in Darkness," 5 x 7 watercolor

"Jesus spoke to them, saying, ' I am the light of the world. Whoever follows 
me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.'”--John 8:12

     "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.
     "In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. ...
    "He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.  He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.  
     "Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
     "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." --John1 1-5, 9-14

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Christmas Eve--Faith is a Verb

 En El Principio era El Verbo, y El Verbo era con Dios, y El Verbo era Dios

                                                    --San Juan 1:1

Faith is a verb. As is God, as is eternity.

Short story: When I taught writing at UCO, I'd use John 1:1 to emphasize the critical importance of verbs.

At a state university, I could usually count on a few students to quote John 1:1, in English. Then I'd explain, assuring the class that they didn't have to believe, but I wanted them to understand the theology behind it, that the "Word" was the agent of Creation ("Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life...."),  the pre-existent Christ.

Then I'd ask for the Spanish word of "word," and a few could answer "palabra." Then I'd put the  Spanish version up on the board, which is closer to the original Latin, and thus Greek: "En El Principio, era El Verbo...!"

Lesson: if you want to  "create" writing, sentences, pay attention to the verbs!

As I painted today's Christmas Eve card, I thought of people around the world gathering in churches, and homes, especially the poor, the paisanos and pueblo people of northern New Mexico. They  gather, walking through snow, to their adobe churches, expressing faith in their actions, seeking peace and sustenance in their humble lives.  Their faith is not something fancy or elaborate or have, but who they are and do.

Those were my thoughts last night as I was considering how to write this today. But then...

My mornings start with a reading from the journals of Thomas Merton. Today's selection, from Dec. 15, 1962,  had to be more than coincidence.

Consider these excerpts (italics are his):

  • " The interior surrender of faith... (is)...an act of obedience, ie., self-commitment... (submitting) to God's truth in its power to give life, and to command one to live.
  • "...Faith is not simply an act of choice, and option for a certain solution to the problem of existence, etc....To believe is to consent  to a creative command that raises us from the dead."

Tonight many of the faithful (those full of faith, a verb) gather to celebrate  the Verb who became flesh, "Y el Verbo se hizo carne...." San Juan 1:14 

No wonder faith  is a verb!

(P.S. I know, two sermons in one post today. Also consider that faith is different than belief. )