Sunday, July 29, 2018

Sense of Self (3)

How are the pieces put together—that's one way to look at the concept of "self."

Where do the pieces come from—that may be the more instructive question, especially from the point of view of an artist or poet.

Another challenge is to remember to ask about what isn't there, which means realizing there's a missing piece (or two or a thousand) before one is even close to completing the puzzle. And of course, a lost piece (a piece of loss) is still a piece of the puzzle of self.

I have recently read a couple biographies that struggle with this very thing, the pieces that go into the making of the person, the "life lessons" that shaped (or warped) the person's world view, the way loss factored in, the pieces that the person fought to keep despite all odds...It is overwhelming when one thinks of a biographer snooping around, picking out what seem to be the significant pieces.

And why always pieces? Is any part of us whole? Ever? No? Maybe in the way that a collage is whole, or a quilt?

Collage as autobiography...

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Sense of Self: The Keeper of...

Last month was "depth of being" month here on the ol' blog. This month, I'm transitioning into "sense of self." The book I'm reading has me thinking of what goes into the making of one's sense of self, and how that includes all that is lost along the way. Loss as part of the creative process—that's the paradox I'm seeing as I read the memoir of a famous novelist who took a non-fiction detour to explore her family.

It is one thing to keep what one has—that is challenge enough, trying to hold onto love, sanity, friendships, purpose, temper, plus all the many tangible items one hopes never to lose. But to be a keeper of what has been lost—ah, that's the stuff of poetry and art. Of course, one thinks of Elizabeth Bishop's poem "One Art" here (please google it and read it if you aren't familiar with it). But for an avid reader such as myself, it's massive to think back over the past dozen or so books I've read and realize, they are all about the "art" of losing. Louise Erdrich said about stories that they are about change and "learning to hold on to what's important" as change happens.

And by change, we mean loss. Even what seems like a gain—a positive change—is accompanied by the sudden onslaught of the fear of loss.

Continued anon!