on writer’s block and performance art

blockI have to write a speech. It has me in knots, not because I’m afraid of speeches, but because every time I sit in front of the computer or journal or notebook or pile of scrap paper, or, for heaven’s sake, a napkin, I get a brain cloud.

It’s pretty annoying, as folks are starting to ask what I’m going to say. I don’t think it’ll fly if I respond with, “Oh, I’ll let the Spirit move me when I get up to the podium.”

Ha. I could do it, too. Get up there and just talk, I mean. That doesn’t scare me nearly as much as having to prepare a speech. I don’t even get a teleprompter. It seems to work for some people. But then again, I’m not running for public office.

What I most want to do is avoid the helpful people…people I’d no more allow to put words in my mouth than cut my bangs. They are everywhere. And they scare me. Ha!

Not really. I’m mostly amused, by them, my predicament, the fact that ordinarily I never shut up and now I need to dig for words.

I think it’s a good thing. I feel like I’ve forgotten how to write. I’ve been dwelling in the underbelly of the writer’s world these past many months — writing very dry, very boring, very technical reports. Stephen King would have a thing or three to say about my overuse of adverbs. I’ve replaced poetry with formula –replaced the beauty of a well-turned phrase with passive voice so as not to offend.

I need to find my writer’s heart, and I better find it quick. The clock is ticking.

I can draw, too.

I just can’t make a living at it.

Luis is a bit hard on himself as he adds a different type of illustration on his blog this week.

Silly boy–anything that isn’t a stick figure is art.

today is Marc Chagall’s birthday

I know this because Google has its usual tribute to the day’s event in its header. It’s important to me because Chagall is actually one of those artists that I happen to adore. I want to be very careful here and not sound pretentious or goofy or like a poser. I’m not a connoisseur of anything, but I know what I like, and I tend to really like the things I claim to like.

I first encountered Chagall quite by accident. I was living in Aix-en-Provence, a beautiful city in southern France not too far from Marseille and the Riviera. I was attending school there and enjoying the wonderful host family that coincidentally had many of the same interests as I. The whole flat was covered in books, and as an English major minoring in French (who knew I needed French to study the medieval literature I loved?) I was in absolute heaven.  More about these wonderful folks another time.

Anyway, I ended up at the Chagall Museum in Nice and couldn’t tear myself away. His work, to me, seems whimsical but very symbolic, and I couldn’t read enough about his life. I think I was drawn to his work because of his use of color, particularly blue, and absolutely fell in love with this painting:

I couldn’t put my finger on the significance that this painting would have on me later, but at the time I was drawn by the color and the contrasts he created. It turns out blue is a very meaningful color–suggestive of the Divine. Hmm. Who knew? Certainly not I. I was just mesmerized by the art on display.

It reminded me a little bit of another painting that I love, The Old Guitarist by Picasso:

This painting is unique because if you look above the old man’s head, a woman’s face emerges–like Picasso may have painted over something else, or, perhaps, his muse is faintly visible.

Anyway, that’s my tribute to Chagall. I’ll forgive him for the atrocity that is the ceiling at the Paris Opera.