Saturday, April 5, 2014

Me the Artist of Myself

Maintaining the striders** against the wind, waves, and currents: ongoing

Whatever I may be, currently, feeling/doing etc, it must have been caused by something I've done, thought, or felt myself, now or in the past.

This is the obvious, but seldom observed, fact of who's really responsible for me. After the mystery of how I became to be in the first place, of which I have concepts and notions but cannot personally attest, and after that unconscious first few years of semi-dependency, and setting aside scenarios of power and control*, well, that would be me.

The consciousness of that, the minute deconstruction, analysis, understanding, and construction of the next moment with clear understanding, is the art.

The engineering, from cinder blocks to ropes, to electronics and metal fabrication, of twelve foot long green canal bugs

Minute deconstruction, what do I mean by that? Nothing fancy. Just asking: where am I? What am I doing? Why am I doing it? Where did that purpose come from? Who taught me that? Where did they get that idea? My ancestors, in both their successful biological propagation and their teachings, must've played a pivotal role, tracing back, since they made it possible for me ask these things and to consider the answers carefully. So what did they do to make these possible? Why did they do those things, and not others? Where did they get those ideas? These are biological questions, but also artful: why did they make what they made, do what they did, think what they thought, believe what they believed, and pass it on? 

I note in passing this intriguing concept from I think Richard Dawkins: for me to be here asking those questions about them, all my ancestors have to have been successful ones, both in the biological and artful senses, since "failed ancestor" is an impossible concept. The ones whose genes and ideas failed to be passed on to offspring are not ancestors.

Pre-maintenance, the striders got shoved around the canal by winds and currents

What does this have to do with the bicycle? Directly, for better or worse, these words grew from seeds planted in my mind by seeing the strider being pushed around by the winds and currents, then later watching the SRP guys fixing them, and then by mulling it over while riding home. I worried, by the way, about potential problems of twelve foot long green bugs floating around the waterfront unmoored, but they appear to have been both relatively stable in their movements, and benign in their meanderings.

As we generally find ourselves, here and now, both profoundly free and equipped with tools, technology, and opportunities beyond the wildest imaginations and craziest dreams*** of any of our ancestors, who within many of their living memories lived lives, employed tools, and followed ideas which would have been familiar to medieval city-dwellers four hundred years earlier, these inquiries appear vital to me, along with the careful and sober consideration of their answers and the implications of them. Those may lead us onwards, but first we must ask them. It just happens that I am both comfortable, and enabled, to consider them on my bicycle. That's the connection, while spinning and relaxed, that I make with me, the artist of myself.

*scenarios which I in fact mulled over quite thoroughly, yielding some intense emotional reflection and rather dire memories which I omit here due to essential blog filtration rules. Believe me, I have personal understanding of this, and also have what I think would be cogent and valid reflections on it, but don't think that would be very appropriate to go into here. Perhaps another time.

**Canal Convergence 2014, Water Striders by Jeff Zischke.

***except for Asimov, Clarke, Robert Anton Wilson, PKD, etc, who are not, unfortunately, my biological ancestors  


  1. It would be interesting to see those Striders floating on the Lodes in the Flatlands of England (Fenlands of East Anglia)


    1. Jamie, I agree, and the larger the better, so that giant bugs loom over the landscape. And once in a while light up at night. Controlled by remote tablet, like these were.

  2. Those striders would be at home on Duck Lake in Ocean Shores, WA.


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