Monday, September 7, 2009

Illusion

There is no magic, only apparent magic, which is to say illusion.

There is no work except for chores and activities that are not play, an equation that forces you to conclude that you must find illusions to make the work seem more like play and the play at your craft seem more like work.

There have been times when you have done both, work and play; times when you only worked, and times when you only played.  When the play began to seem like work, you knew it was time to move on to something else and, indeed, tried such stratagems as work, study, practice, even imitation.  In an irony, work only brought you into conditions where you thought, spoke, and acted on the very play you had ridden into a dead end; you were now teaching about writing and you were editing writing of others.  Although both of these were still work, you became curious enough about each to decide you would like to become proficient enough in each to make them as well become play for you.  The clock began ticking.  You could only teach up to the point where you had begun to discover that writing was no longer play.  Worse yet, you could only edit up to the point of being effective up to the point where--you guessed it--writing was no longer play.  If you did not improve all three, you would soon catch up to yourself, reaching the point where not only writing was work but teaching and editing as well.

Back to the one thing that was not work.  Reading.  Once again you read, working only when you needed money to support your habits.  Read, thought, was able to begin practicing again.

Through this process you become increasingly less mainstream and in another irony less likely and simultaneously more likely to move from having to work to being able to play as you wish, becoming, if you will, more removed from your statistical relationship via age and other demographic to the society in which you live.  The very qualities you practice make you less a fit, more out of step, more likely to attract attention as a person on the margin.  There are times, playful times to be sure, when you see yourself as one of the wretches in a Dostoyevski novel, slightly mad about the edges, going forth, looking, reading not merely books but landscapes, either those to inhabit or those to avoid.

You have evolved slowly to a happy, optimistic individual who experiences bouts of cynical despair then sets about finding some transformative writing project that will readjust the landscape for a time.

Hindus often use the term maya to reference illusion.  The more devout the Hindu the more he or she works (or plays) on the theory that only God is real, all else is illusory.  Thus you hear from them, It's all maya.  All illusion, except...

There is just enough wisdom in Hinduism to stop short of defining the reality that is God because, they continue, once you do you have limited God by giving it form and purpose and quality and who are you to do these things?  If you wish to lead the religious life, pick some particular form or aspect of God and attempt to see it.  But be aware that there are all these other aspects which you have not recognized.  Best approach is to treat everything as though it were God.

You, as you look for play, take some heart from your Hindu friends and from that crazy Hindu poet, Ramprasad, but as well from that equally crazy Yeats and Hopkins, and not to forget e.e. Cummings or, for that matter, Albert Goldbarth, and treat everything as though it were the playful illusion of writing.

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