Let us cultivate our garden

Six years ago around this time, when I was 38, I visited Europe for the first time. I flew from Miami to Düsseldorf, stayed three nights in Cologne, three in Paris, four in Amsterdam, and one back in Düsseldorf. I don’t know how many poems and short stories I wrote about that trip – a lot – but one thing was for sure, I fell in love with Europe. Germany in particular. I knew I wanted to live here the moment I got off the plane. And I knew if I saved up enough money, I could live here for at a year, maybe two. It was all just a fantasy though. I never really thought it would happen, having been stuck in the same town, working the same job, living in the same house, and seeing the same tired faces of my customers again and again, and again, for so many years, decaying right along with them. Finally, on May 14th, 2011, I stuffed my backpack with clothes and books and took a plane to Berlin, meine Traumstadt. It was the great turning-point in my life. It was like when a cocoon turns into a butterfly or a crayfish casts off its carapace. There was nothing heroic about it at all. In fact, it was probably just another form of cowardice. Anyone can run away. And every turtle hatched on shore is drawn back into the sea for reasons unknown to itself.

There’s a line at the end of Voltaire’s great book Candide that says, “Let us cultivate our garden.” And then there’s the famous line by Archimedes:  “Give me a place to stand and I shall move the earth.” They both mean the same thing I think:  find the place where you belong, and work, and work, and you will bear your rightful fruit. I just never felt I belonged in Florida. I felt like it was a place my parents chose for me to live at a very young age, and I was too lazy and too cowardly and finally too attached to do anything about it. Now that I’ve been living far away for four years though, I am beginning to see things in it that I never did before. Mainly, it’s a great place to write about. I never would’ve imagined. I am now cultivating 25 years of material for my next novel which I’m more than half-finished with, and it makes me think of Joyce, who wrote best about Dublin when he was in Trieste and Zürich and Paris. It just goes to show, the garden is in the mind. You just have to figure out where to go – if anywhere – to give it the best light, and soil, and weather conditions.

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Jean-Francois Millet ~ Hunting Birds at Night (1874)

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Eugene Delacroix – A Poet in Painting

Delacroix has long been one of my favorite painters. But it’s not only his painting I admire. Like Van Gogh, even his writing was beautiful. I am now reading his journals, which have inspired me to keep a diary myself. Not something I intend to publish, just something that sets things straight for myself.

The painting below, which is now the background photo on my computer, and which shows Christ asleep during a tempest (Christ on the Sea of Galilee), was done in 14 variations by Delacroix. The myth obviously had a very special meaning to him. To me, it’s a reminder that sometimes it’s best when things have gone sour to just get in bed, throw the covers over your head, and let the demons of that seemingly impossible time pass by, as though they were nothing more than dreams. When they are gone, you will wake up like you have so many times before – like you were encoded by nature to do – feeling reinvigorated and alive again. It’s easy to be self-pitying or let the past or people or ill-fortune get you down. The tougher thing is to go to the place in you where nothing outside of you can find.

“Delacroix is the most suggestive of all painters, the one whose works, even those chosen amongst the minor and inferior ones, give the most food for thought, and recall to mind the greatest sum of poetic thought already expressed, but believed to have been engulfed forever in the night of time.” ~ Baudelaire

Eugène_Delacroix_-_Christ_on_the_Sea_of_Galilee_-_Google_Art_Project

A collection of things I’ve said recently in various places… and a Dali (Argus)

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  • Berlin is a beautiful woman I’m trying to embrace, but every time I think I’ve got her, she disappears.
  • I think by now everyone knows a libertarian is really just a republican in a gorilla suit.
  • If circumstance doesn’t make you, you have to make circumstance.
  • Is it just me, or do ALL white guys with dreads reek of fraud?
  • I’m going to be lesser-known Theo Bronkhorst for Halloween, the hunter posing next to Walter Palmer in many of the fotos.
  • Talking about your next writing project w/ a buncha social media sods is about as fun as pulling out all your pubic hairs with yer bare hands.
  • Cowardice is the place where passion goes to die.
  • Nothing good ever came out of being told by your girlfriend your new haircut makes you look like a member of a 90s boy band.
  • No, I don’t think better of you for once having been very pretty; I condemn you clinging onto skin that should’ve been cast off long ago.
  • You know a party’s jumped the shark when ‘Tainted Love’ comes on. It’s the ultimate reaching for sumptin better, but failing miserably song.
  • I was at the park today sitting near two guys talking about their startup company, using terms like, ‘we need all hands on deck,’ and ‘new normal’ and ‘ballpark figure,’ and ‘synergy,’ and ‘at the end of the day.’ But it wasn’t till I heard ‘sea change,’ that I started wishing I had switchblade or a gallon of turpentine and a book of matches. ‪#‎deathtoallcorporatebuzzwords‬
  • Furthermore, I will never forgive you for what you did to my Bukowski reading experience. It’s now like sitting down to a beautiful steak and lobster dinner, and a bottle of good chianti, while just around the corner in the hallway, a dumptruck load of monkey shit festers.
  • I need to be dead to the world outside my art as often as possible.